Monday, May 21, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors, Favorite Self-Help Site

antique-author-beverage-958164

image courtesy of rawpixel.com

Monday, May 21, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

The best self-help site?

If you’re a writer, it’s Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page.

Talented, savvy, supportive, Lori’s built a community where we shore each other up, fight for each other, teach each other, laugh together.

You’re a writer? Lori’s site will give you something to sustain and inspire with every post.

May is especially exciting because it’s Writers Worth Month, to help teach us to value our work.

Published in: on May 21, 2018 at 2:23 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. April 30, 2018: Overcoming Fear #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 30, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Today’s Upbeat Authors topic is “overcoming fear.” The timing is funny – I recently wrote a post for Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page for the upcoming Writer’s Worth month on just that topic.

The first thing to understand about fear is the difference between fear as a valid warning and fear as an excuse. The first will save your life; the latter will make it a misery.

Since this group focuses about authors, I will focus on those elements, rather than life or death situations where your gut is telling you to be afraid of a person or situation and get the hell out.

I believe that art has a responsibility to make people see differently than they’re used to. That doesn’t mean it isn’t or can’t be entertaining. But it needs to open up the human experience, so the reader enlarges personal experience through the power of story.

I believe art serves a dual purpose: to both bear witness to the flaws in a society AND to find a better way. In other words, to write one’s way to a better society.

Creating a better world is a scary job. Especially since we live in a society that encourages people to be their worst selves and rewards those who cause harm.

I believe we can write our way to a better society.

Not by ignoring this one because we don’t like it or it makes us uncomfortable. We face it and offer potential solutions that make the whole better by supporting the sum of its parts.

That’s scary.

As writers, we always fear our work isn’t “good enough” or that readers won’t like it. For the former – we can work on our art and our craft. We can strive to make each thing we write better and richer than the last. We can work with editors and copyeditors and designers to make the best “whole” we can.

And we’re not going to please all our readers. We can’t.

We shouldn’t.

Some will dislike us because we’re different. Some will dislike us because they see, in our work, characters and situations that hit too close to the bone, and they don’t want to face it. Some just like other writing better. That’s out of our control.

People won’t respond the way you want them to respond; they do the best they can in their situation.

Work on what excites you, challenges you. Do the best work you can. Create a call and response with the world, and never stop learning, reaching, growing.

You forget the fear when you remember it’s not all about YOU, and that the world is a vibrant, vital, complex, interesting place.

 

Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 3:47 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 30, 2018: Overcoming Fear #UpbeatAuthors  
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Fri. July 21, 2017: Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Balancing Act

Friday, July 21, 2017
Day before Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Back to our regularly scheduled balancing act.

Lori Widmer kindly referred to me in one of her posts on Words on the Page as an example of busting a freelance writing myth. I’m honored to be included. I’m in a rough patch now, and that mention makes me realize that I’m further along than I often feel.

I’m having trouble with the mower again, which is hurting my ability to get the meadow finished. That was one of the worst purchases I’ve ever made, certainly the worst house-related purchase. Poulan Pro not only has substandard equipment, they don’t honor the warranty. I spent far too much on this piece of garbage, and it’s never worked properly. Very frustrating. At least I won’t make the mistake of doing business with Poulan Pro again.

Worked on the article on deadline. I’m waiting for one more quote, will integrate it when it arrives, and then off it goes (probably on Monday).

I have to figure out where to pitch next. I’m feeling a little burned out, pitch-wise, and I need to get back on track with a couple of short stories that need to go out.

Pitched for a project out of San Francisco that sounds like great fun; I’d love to be part of that team, if they’re willing to work with someone remotely.

Working on the PLAYING THE ANGLES galleys. Still trying to figure out how I can get the right Facebook page up. The one for Delectable Digital Delights and Jain Lazarus work well; the Gwen Finnegan doesn’t. But I can’t find in the settings what page I chose when I set it up. All very frustrating.

Working on the adjusted outlines for the “between-the-books” novella MYTH & INTERPRETATION and then, BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Prepping for my project meeting next week. I hope we like each other and it works out. The company interests me.

I’ve been reading about web design, trying to figure out if I can create GOOD ftp files for subdomains and uphold them to my current website. I’m intimidated. What I need to do is take a course in all this. I need a structured environment to learn how to do it. It’s a different language; rather than just saying, ” I don’t get it”, I want to find a way to learn it.

The books on Hearst Castle came back, so hopefully, I can dig into them and get that section done on FIX IT GIRL in the next couple of weeks. I’m behind where I want to be on that.

I hope, this weekend, to do a big chunk of work on “Labor Intensive” as well.

Hopefully, the humidity will lessen; I don’t do well in this weather and neither does the computer. I’d like to be clear-headed and productive.

On author Trish Milburn’s recommendation, I’m reading THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin. I’m thinking about doing an essay on it for Biblio Paradise next week. There are things I really respond to in the book, and things I don’t. But then, the book is about HER happiness, not mine.

The day before the dark moon is always my lowest energy day of the month, so I’m dragging today. It’s an effort to dig down and focus. Layer on the life stress, and today is a challenge.

Back to juggling burning chainsaws.

Have a great weekend.

Tues. May 15, 2012: Intoxicating Lilacs

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and pleasant

Got a lot done, yesterday, which is good. Weeded the vegetable bed. Planted peas, spinach, bok choy, and radishes. Started creating a new, round bed in a rather desolate patch (someone used to have a woodpile there) where I will grow herbs. I need to get a few more stones for the edge, and then I can put loam in it and start planting. Got the morning glories and the moonflowers into the ground — the morning glories are starting to bloom, and they’re lovely. The lilacs are absolutely intoxicating this year, and I often just stop whatever I’m doing and inhale.

Revised six chapters of HEART SNATCHER, wrote about 840 words on HEART BINDER, and then went back and tightened things some more in the revisions. I worked on my article, caught up with my students, etc.

Finalized some dates — I’ll be teaching locally for Three Fish & a Ram Community Art Center in June and July — a tarot workshop, a writer/performer workshop, and a writing workshop. The first two are detailed up on the Workshop page here on the blog (I’ll have to update my website later today). And I’ve got some more Fast & Fun topics coming up.

I went to meditation this morning, but no one was there. I hope everything’s okay. So I stopped at Nirvana, got my usual Tuesday morning treat, and came home to enjoy the morning on the deck. I’ve got a lot of work to do today, plus things like grocery shopping, finish my article, and finish the write ups for Confidential Job #1.

I have a meeting tonight about another possible teaching gig in Falmouth — looking forward to it.

Hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page for Writers Worth Week — today’s article is by Susan Johnston about the per word rate.

Onward!

Devon

Mon. May 14: Busy, Productive Days


The Stewartsonian Azalea

Monday, May 14, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Partly sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend, but a good one. Friday was all about all kinds of work, catching up with students, and finishing the prep for the workshop. And working on revisions. I got out the newsletter (yay, rah, rah) and did some work on the Fearless Ink website. I’d like to change the template, but I’m not sure to what. Basically, I just want to fill the background a bit, but it’s not working.

Worked on my article. Worked on the assignments for Confidential Job #1. Looked at some listings, and will send out pitches this week, some of which are in Boston. It would be good to get into Boston on a regular basis! Ran some errands, got in some stuff for Mother’s Day.

I also started mowing the meadow, and I had an idea about an additional bed I want to put in.

Saturday, I was up early, checked on the conference forum, then went out and mowed the rest of the meadow. It looks REALLY good. I’m pleased as punch about it, and the mower and I seem to have reached detente.

The Amazing Antagonists workshop went really well. It was lively, interactive, those who participated got a lot of information and individual attention. I had a great time (I even stayed live for nearly an extra hour). It was fun. I’m adding some extra resources into the resource guide in the next day or two, and then out it goes.

And, of course, I’m prepping for this weekend’s Tomorrow’s Writers Today at the high school, and for the Submissions Workshop for June 2. I’ve got to confirm some other dates and then put up the next round of Fast and Fun workshops, and I’ve got some in-person meetings this week on other projects.

Mother’s Day was good. I wound up the Antagonists workshop, finished two projects for Confidential Job #1, and discovered that I’m back battling ants on the front lawn!

This morning, we were up early to take a walk on Sandy Neck Beach. Tons of fun.

Busy week — in addition to writing up the assignments for Confidential Job #1, getting out the workshop handbook, writing an article and working with my students, I’ve got a project meeting tomorrow night, Writer’s Night Out Wednesday night, and an art opening on Friday night. Plus, a slew of proposals to get out and my own writing. Busy, busy!

I plan to do some work in the garden today, in the vegetable bed, and then put in the morning glories and moonflowers. We’re supposed to get rain, so I better get out in the garden sooner rather than later!

Billy Root and I had an epiphany — check it out on his blog.

And Writers Worth Week starts this week over on Lori Widmer’s blog. Today’s entry is from Ashley Festa on “How To Use Your Time Wisely.” Check it out!

Devon

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Assumption of Right is available from Champagne Books.
Annabel’s website is here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warmer

When you’re finished here, hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page, where I’ve got an article up about how writing fiction helps me land business writing contracts. Yes, it is part of the ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT launch week!

And thank you so much for all the good wishes and wonderful support, making my release day truly special!

Busy, busy weekend. Friends came over on Friday morning for breakfast. We had a lovely visit, and then I raced around trying to get everything done. Can’t remember if I mowed the terraced back last Thursday or Friday — it’s all one long mow for me! 😉

Took stuff to the dump, got some writing done, but as usual, never enough. The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 arrived. So I guess, even with the transition, they’re keeping me for awhile! 😉

Saturday, I got out a press release in the morning, did some promo for the book, and then headed up to Wellfleet for lunch with my friends. It was beautiful. I hadn’t actually been to Wellfleet in years — usually I was up in the winter, when everything was closed. The Wellfleet Preservation Hall has re-opened and the renovation is gorgeous. Really lovely. They have a wonderful schedule of events, so I think I’ll go up and participate in some of them. I also found the Wellfleet Mass Audubon Sanctuary, which I’ve yet to visit — will have to get up there so to do at some point. We wandered the stores, I bought a lovely piece of batik (I’m like a crow and shiny jewelry when it comes to batik), and we walked over Uncle Tim’s Bridge and looked around. There were lady slippers growing wild, which I’d never seen before. Exciting!

We had lunch at a place called the Beachcomber, which lived up to its name by being tucked in the sand dunes. The food was fantastic — I had fish tacos with a black bean and corn salsa that were just terrific. We walked down to the beach and enjoyed the windy day.

I headed back to find my retired neighbor who spends ten hours a day in his garden over in my yard, hacking at things with the edger! I’d like to think it was out of kindness, but, knowing him, it’s more out of a sense that I’m not getting things done fast enough to suit him. Well, hon bun, I don’t have ten hours a day to spend in the garden. I have two, if I’m lucky. And, while I admire your formal beds that you dig up every six weeks and completely replant, I want something more organic in MY yard. I don’t care if it’s a weed if it’s blooming and pretty! Besides, some of the plants you consider weeds, I consider invaluable in my stillroom!

I’m going to work in MY yard on MY schedule. It’s bad enough I get dirty looks if I’m sitting on my deck reading a book while those neighbors are gardening. Not their business what happens on this side of the fence, as long as it’s not harmful or illegal.

I worked very hard not to let it sour my day.

Slept very well Saturday night, was up early Sunday, getting the papers, etc. Came outside early because a neighbor’s kid (I’d say he’s about ten) got his new kite stuck in one of my trees, so brought out a sturdy chair and climbed up to untangle it. I really need to invest in a ladder!

Read the papers, and went out into the garden to try to do some deadheading. Pruned what I could reach of the big lilac, deadheaded the Stewartstonian Azalea in the back and the white fluffy one that popped and faded in the front. Got to work deadheading the rhodie in the back nearest the porch. Got about half of it done when my friend from Martha’s Vineyard called, asking if she could stop by on her way back to New York. Of course, I said yes!

Then I ran around getting cleaned up and setting out lunch things.

We had a lovely visit. She’s excited about the house, and thinks the yard is lovely. She agrees that it’s an awful lot of yard for me to handle on my own, mowing-wise, especially the way it undulates.

Went back to the page for awhile once she left, and also back to reading. I read two books over the weekend. One of them was COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert (from the library), which I liked much more than I expected. I’m going to write a piece about it on the other blog in the next few weeks. The other was KNIT ONE, KILL TWO by Maggie Sefton. Usually, I get very impatient with what I call “gimmick mysteries”, but this one was very well done, and I’d love to read more of her work.

Watched GAME OF THRONES. Jane Espenson’s episode was definitely the best of the season. I’m getting a little tired of the unrelenting brutality, and I keep getting ahead of the story and waiting for it to catch up. The production values are absolutely gorgeous, but the piece takes itself a little to seriously ALL the time for my taste.

Monday was release day, and a very nice one it was, too! I flitted around from site to site in promotions. Hopefully, people will buy the book, and, even more hopefully, people will LIKE the book.

It definitely inspires me to keep going on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY!

Also, yesterday, did three loads of laundry, mowed the meadow, took the clippings to the dump, got more potting soil, mowed the front (which couldn’t wait until the end of the week), worked on a couple of articles that were a challenge because I don’t have the scientific background for them, and I kept having to stop and look things up. It will definitely need someone on staff to fact-check. I contacted the owner about my “list” of things to ready the property for summer, and, hopefully, we can set up a time late this week or early next week, and he can teach me how to do stuff.

Read some last night, did some yoga, but was so tired from the mowing, etc., that I went to bed early. Woke up early, too. Spent about an hour in the yard, watering thoroughly, weeding, etc. Then I showered and dressed (I put on gardening clothes for the morning garden routine — don’t worry, I’m not running around out there in my PJs! ) ;). Had my coffee out on the deck, which is lovely, and then came back to hit the page.

I need to get my daily quota done on SPIRIT REPOSITORY — this chapter is giving me agita — and then tackle the articles again. I’ve got appointments out of office for most of the day, so these early hours have to be very organized. As I leave for my appointments, going to swing by the dump to drop off yesterday’s grass clippings. Gotta love an integrated life!

Devon

Guest Lori Widmer Asks Fiction Readers: What Is Your Writer Worth?

I am on the road today, so the wonderful and talented Lori Widmer has a guest post here, in preparation for Writers Worth Day.

Fiction Readers: What is Your Writer Worth?
By Lori Widmer

You loved that latest book, didn’t you? The story was compelling, and the writer took the time to develop the intricacies of the plot. You felt moved by it, entertained by it, and maybe even changed by it a little. That begs the question – do you know what your writer was paid for all that work?

This week marks the 4th anniversary of Writers Worth Week (extended to a week this year), an annual awareness-building campaign designed to help writers realize their value as skilled professionals. Make no mistake – fiction writers are no less business people than non-fiction writers. Yet many factors in the publishing industry are working against fiction writers. Did you know:

Writers are being expected to pay for book promotion. Once a standard part of a publishing contract, promotion is a bill now being pushed onto the writers. Publishers budget less for marketing and promotion for anything but the top-selling authors. The writer is now expected to pick up the slack. Swag costs money, and most publishers aren’t paying for it. More and more publishers demand a marketing plan as part of the submission package. It doesn’t help that self-styled “marketing gurus” and even other other authors encourage or demand writers to spend the advance on marketing.

Writers are being burdened with more promotional responsibilities. Publishers are requiring writers to put in much more time into promoting their own products. So now writers have to be not only great writers, but also sales and publicity experts.

Writers are receiving lower and lower advances. Gone are the days of huge advances for that killer book. Writers are fortunate to receive four figures let alone six.

Writers are expected to churn. It’s why that last book by your favorite author wasn’t as good as the first one. Writers lucky enough to receive multiple-book deals are expected to supply up to two new books annually.

Writers are being asked to pay for consideration. Some publishers are willing to consider your work – for a fee. Or worse, they promise publication – online – for a fee. This practice devalues a writer’s skills and value in the market.

In the spirit of Writers Worth Week, tell your favorite writer today what his or her work means to you. Also, write to the publisher and let them know, as well. Help writers protect their value and increase their ability to earn a living at their craft. Boycott products from publishers that charge for reading or publication. Let them know you expect better treatment of writers by the industry, and that you won’t stand for it as a consumer.

Lori Widmer is a veteran writer, editor, and author of The Worthy Writer’s Guide to Building a Better Business.” She blogs to the writing community at Words on the Page.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury — What the Hell?
Rainy and mild

Today is Writers’ Worth Day, and go check out Lori Widmer’s blog. You should read it anyway, if you want to make your living as a writer, because she knows her stuff. You need to learn how to value your work and yourself, and, most importantly, if you think writing for content mills constitutes a “career” you need to get a clue as to what it means to be a professional.

So I’m in a Mercury muddle. I hadn’t thought it was retrograde, and then an astrologer friend said it’s retrograde until May 18. My calendar does not say that. In the back of my calendar, I just saw that it said Mercury was retrograde from April 18 until May 5. So now I’m completely confused. I think my Mercury is just in perpetual retrograde right now, so I’ll have to sort it out this weekend with some alignment work.

Drove up to Westabrook, CT to the Tanger outlet center. Shopping is not my idea of fun, unless it’s books, but I had a list of things I needed, figured I could knock them all out in one spot, and, since I mistakenly thought Mercury was retrograde – – –

Let’s just say it was not fun. Couldn’t find anything I wanted and/or needed in THE ENTIRE COMPLEX. Since we’d driven an hour and a half and it was only 7 more exits to go to Niantic and The Book Barn, that’s what we did.

Gorgeous day to wander through the books. I’d crafted a detailed list of everything I planned to look for there, but, of course, since we weren’t planning to go, I had it at home. I kinda sorta remembered, and picked up the works of John Donne and the works of William Blake, both of which I need to read over the next few months for various reasons. I also picked up Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, a book I enjoy, but isn’t on my writing shelf. I got a couple of novels, including Tim Powers’s DECLARE. I am rabidly wild about Tim Powers’s writing — I still think his book LAST CALL is one of the best books I ever read in my life. I’m going to read it over the weekend — it’s too big to take with me when I travel at the end of next week, and, once I sit down and open a Tim Powers book, the world falls away until I’m done. So it’s my Sunday treat, since tomorrow will be caught up in the Preakness and the pottery class. Once I’ve finished and submitted my Preakness wrap article to my editor on Sunday, I get to read the book. How’s that for a carrot? I also picked up an anthology that sounded interesting, and it happens to have a novella by yet another of my favorite writers, Sharon Shinn, in it.

Was in the mood for a burger, and, on the recommendation of the staff, tried The Niantic Diner, which is across the street from The Book Barn. The burger was good and hit the spot. I rarely eat red meat anymore because I feel better when I don’t — but once in awhile, when I crave it, it’s exactly what I need.

Drove back — way too much traffic on both I-95 and the Merritt. Still a lot of infrastructure work going on from the stimulus money. It’s a pain in the ass, but the parts of the road that are finished are wonderful. I’ve been driving these roads for decades, and it’s the first time the bridges feel secure and the pavement doesn’t rip up the tires. Yes, this is one of the few places I want my tax dollars! 😉

Couldn’t find Iris when we got home, and nearly had a fit. She’d made herself a nest tucked down amongst a pile of cushions and ignored us when we called. I should have trusted that, since the other two weren’t worried, there was nothing to worry about.

Heard from the vet. We’re going to add an olive leaf supplement and then a homeopathic nasal treatment, as though she has the feline equivalent of a sinus headache. If she responds well to that, we’ll also switch the cats’ drinking water to an alkaline water because Elsa’s pH is too acidic, and that could also contribute to the problem. We’re switching her from the synthetic steroid to a natural one, and, in about a month, will see if we can wean her off it or if we need to continue. The natural steroid has fewer side effects than the synthetic, so it’ll be better to use long-term, but we’ll eventually want to get her off it. We’re adding and subtracting things one at a time to see how each bit affects her, and kind of breaking new ground here. She’s definitely responding well to the first portion of treatment — she made quite a bit o forward progress just in the last two days — so let’s go with it.

I have to handicap tomorrow’s race card and get that up, then drive up to South Salem to get her additional medication. Hopefully, I can get some writing done, too. Thought of another issue in the screenplay — we know what all the older characters do and what got them where they are — the mainstay caper that broke them apart — but what do Lucas and Jimmy “do”? Are they still in college? Do they have jobs? Are they unemployed due to the bad economy? I need to figure that out, even if it’s not a big deal in the story. Lucas’s girlfriend has a job, so why wouldn’t Lucas? I can add in a line about him having a bit of bereavement leave, but then, what about JImmy? I have to figure it out. It can be solved in a short line, but it needs to be addressed.

I better get going — busy day leading into a busy weekend.

Devon

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Christmas Eve
Sunny and cold

For the curious, yes, I can celebrate both the Solstice and Christmas if I want, and it doesn’t mean I’m being hypocritical to either. The former is my chosen path in my adult life. The latter is a nod towards happy family traditions and memories, since I am one of those freakish individuals who experienced a decent amount of happiness while growing up. And I will celebrate as many traditions as I wish! So there! 😉

There’s a giftie waiting for you under the virtual tree, but you’ll have to wait until the end of the post to retrieve it.

Wow! Natalie Bahm gave me a Kreativ Blogger Award. I am so honored! Thank you so much! Part of this honor is to thank her, and I do.

Part of this honor is to pay it forward to 7 other bloggers and to write post 7 things others might not know about me.

Okay, choosing only 7 is hard, I read more than that on any given day, but here’s an attempt:

Lori Widmer — Words on the Page — she’s an amazing writer and human being, a dear friend, and one of the most spiritually aware and emotionally grounded people I know. She gives back constantly.

Diane Parkin — another amazing writer and good friend. She gets more done in an hour than I can get done in a week.

Michelle MilesYe Olde Inkwell — terrific balance of blogging between writing and life.

Lara Stauffer Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom. A daily must-read from a good friend whose life is very different from my own!

Colin GalbraithFreedom From the Mundane — another good friend and fellow writer, whose blog is a daily must-read.

Brandy Book Mom — because she loves books and cats.

Margaret FinneganFinnegan Begin Again. I just found this blog the other day, and it is amazing.

Okay, now for 7 things:

1. I developed a deadly allergy to shrimp. I used to love shrimp and now I’m horribly, horribly allergic. As in vomiting-for-18-hours-straight-and-going-to-the-hospital allergic.

2. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals, and I trust them even less if the animals don’t like them back. In my experience, the animals are usually right! 😉

3. Three things on my Must-Learn Someday List are: Learning to play the piano; taking a pottery class; learning to paint.

4. Even though I spent over 20 years in theatre, the period where I wanted to be an actor was very short-lived. I don’t like that much attention focused on me. Although many actors look at playing characters as getting to be someone totally different, for me it was always about bringing forward different aspects of my personality, and I like to choose for whom I do that.

5. I loathe tabloids and gossip magazines. Having worked with lots of actors over the years and feeling protective of the ones I like and admire, I am enraged to see such lies printed — and 90% of what goes in those rag sheets are lies. They are lies that hurt people, and for the general public to think it’s “fun” to feed into those lies by purchasing the magazines, reading, and even believing the crap makes me sick. Not only that, they are poorly written. If house guests leave one of the mags behind, I literally remove it from the premises with tongs and scrub the place down.

6. I get twitchy if I walk into someone’s house and there aren’t any books around. I try to get out of there as quickly as possible.

7. I am better at crochet than I am at knitting. I’d love to be a better knitter, but I’m awkward and clumsy at it. For some reason, I find crochet easier and more logical.

On to other things. I realized that I don’t have enough dishes for left overs (I’m taking left overs with me to the site), so I have to dash out today and get some more.

Yesterday was fine. I wrote. All day. Over 6K. Until nearly midnight. Edited, polished, et al, this morning.

So, here’s your giftie:

JUST JUMP IN AND FLY: a holiday tale by Ava Dunne.

When two men have an accident with eight no-so-tiny reindeer on her front lawn, Susanna Wright has to balance thinking they’re delusional with keeping in the spirit of the night and getting them back on the road.

The story pulls from a mix of myths and traditions, sprinkled with a few of my own “what ifs”. Although it’s just over 10K, it’s a fast read, and, I hope, a funny one.

To read an excerpt, visit the Ava Dunne page. The download link is also on the site. It downloads as a PDF.

Enjoy!

Devon

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today’s guest is my good friend Lori Widmer, from Words on the Page. She’s a phenomenal freelancer and an activist for fair pay for our work. She’s also got some great tips for handling difficult clients. She talks about two separate, yet related issues here.

Dealing with Client Insecurity
By Lori Widmer

If you spend enough time in the freelancing trenches, you’ll encounter clients who can’t make a decision without a committee, and that’s where you have to put your diplomatic and contract negotiation skills to the test.

Outsmarting a Posse

The email came in as I was heading out for the weekend. “I see several editing mistakes in the copy.” How is that possible? Simple – the email didn’t come from my client. The email, instead, came from my client’s colleague.

If you haven’t faced a posse yet, brace yourself. It’s one of the most unnerving, irritating wastes of time you’ll ever encounter. Worse, it’s almost impossible to avoid. Without fail, clients writing books or authoring their first anything will want to run it past a few friends or colleagues, who inevitably fashion themselves instant experts. When this happens, run like hell.

As there are many kinds of editors (and some with talent, some without), there will be an equal number of approaches and styles. Likewise, clients and writers have a history that a posse cannot understand. In one case, I had a client who wanted specific things in the copy that were clearly errors, but it’s what he wanted. And yes, he asked a friend to read the copy. And yes, the friend found these mistakes. And yes, the client conveniently forgot that these were things he’d insisted on against my advice. In that case, he was more concerned with getting out of our arrangement without having to pay me. He paid, alright. But not without a fight.

You may not be able to avoid a posse, but you can outwit the posse interference. Since I’ve been burned so many times I feel like a human marshmallow, I now include a clause in my contracts that specifically excludes third parties from taking part in the writing and editing process. Also, I counsel my clients on the dangers of employing non-experts to look over expertly drafted work. Typically, I will repeat in email before the contract is signed and as I’m delivering it that the contract is between two people – the client and me. Any outside input is not part of the process and will not be honored under the current contract. Instead, third party involvement will be priced separately (and heavily).

What can you do when the posse undermines your work? Whatever you do, don’t go into defense mode, and certainly do not start trying to please everyone. It won’t work. In the end, you’re all going to be miserable. I restate the terms of the contract, I restate that I’d be happy to take additional payment in order to work with these new people, and I reiterate that I’m the one who’s being paid to give the client the best possible product based on my skills, research, and interactions. Then I let it go. It’s no longer my situation.

About that email – the “mistakes” referred to were actually factual mistakes and not editing mistakes. That the colleague had called them editing mistakes was unnerving, but I was able to recover quickly by sending a note to the colleague, copying my client, and letting him know I was glad the mistakes he referred to were not editing mistakes but errors in fact. That was my one and only communication with that person, and that was to clear up instantly any misconceptions the client may harbor about my abilities. In other cases, I’ve not been that lucky. There was the client who used Grammar Check and thought it was The Final Word in grammar. I had to quote him Chicago Manual passages before he realized it may not be such a great tool. He still ended our relationship, but on a congenial note. I had a client who took the advice of an acquaintance and began reframing and rewriting the entire book. Some you win, some you don’t.

Yes, you may lose that client to the whims of a posse. So be it. Just make those contracts airtight and don’t you dare work one second for anyone who isn’t listed on that contract.

And that’s’ why it’s important to not only have a strong contract in place but to

Assert Your Contractual Rights

I had occasion recently to work with a favorite client on a new project. He provided the contract and I got to work. I finished the project, sent the invoice, and went about my business. It wasn’t until he came back with edits that I realized it was time to restate to him our contract terms.

The contract was very specific in whom I would work with – him. His contract, his terms. This new twist he’d thrown in had me working directly with his colleagues, who were invisible to this point. If these colleagues had been part of the original agreement, my fee would have been much higher. Working for a group is much more difficult than working one-on-one. As they say, too many cooks.

Despite my great relationship with the client, I asserted my boundaries, restating to him (very politely and very tactfully) the terms of our agreement. I added how happy I’d be to continue and if that was his intention, I’d gladly provide him with new terms. He realized the error he’d made in drawing up the contract minus the additional people involved. I salvaged a tenuous situation by being assertive yet friendly.

Would it have killed me to continue on with the project and work with these new people? No – not right away. See, projects tend to snowball. If Carl wants Jill to look it over, Jill may want to impress Carl with her editing skills to perhaps procure that promotion he’s dangling over her. Or perhaps Carl and Jill have a shaky history and Jill’s itching to stick it to him. Now enter Fred, who’s a ladder climber, and Pam, who took a communications course in college and thinks she’s an expert, and you can almost hear your project blowing apart.

Since I’d been burned too many times to count in the past, I knew I had to halt the misconception before it turned into precedent, for this client had hired me to complete a number of projects for him. Did I risk losing him? Sure. But I risked that simply by taking on the project and doing my best. Risk is part of most business arrangements. It’s also why we have contracts – to minimize our losses should things not work out.

It’s also more professional to alert your client to an issue at the outset than to try working with it, finding out it’s too much for you, and trying to back out later. It’s much better to risk losing a client than to work endlessly for the same client (one client project I had went on for a year) only to be stuck with a set project fee you can’t alter.

If you’re providing a contract for your clients, I highly recommend you put a clause in it dealing with third-party review or input. My contract states the contract is between the named individuals in the contract only. Any third-party input will be contracted – and priced – separately.

Lori Widmer is a veteran writer and editor with over 15 years of experience. Visit her writing blog at http://loriwidmer.blogspot.com.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 1:13 am  Comments (6)  
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page, where I’m a guest blogger while she’s out of town. I write about the Home Writing Retreat.

Of course, yesterday’s post didn’t post when scheduled (et tu, Word Press?), so it’s below this one.

Yet more techno-drama. Yesterday, my mother’s cell phone died. So, today, I’m taking all the phones and chargers and tossing them at someone’s head at the store. Done with tech problems. I want the services for which I pay.

Later that night, the landline where she’s staying went out. I went over and managed to fiddle with it so she can call out if there’s an emergency.

Parchment, quill pens, carrier pigeons. Just sayin’.

I was out of the house yesterday early, having cleaned up, taken out the garbage, cleaned out the litter boxes, taken out the recycling, filled the feeders and waterers, checked to make sure everything was turned off/unplugged/locked.

I couldn’t believe how full the car was: the duffle with my clothes, my yoga bag, my computer bag, my workbag with files/research materials/DVDs/etc., and three bags of food.

I arrived a little early to go over the instructions for the week, and it started raining soon after. I unpacked the food, unpacked the work stuff and clothes, etc. and settled in. Ah! Peace and quiet. I’m happy to say the Time Machine back-ups seem to have worked, and MOST of my files are intact. Those that I have to re-download are easily accessible, and I didn’t lose any original work. I was settled in to work before 10 AM.

That midair crash on Saturday between the helicopter and the small plane over the Hudson is horribly tragic. Nine people killed. There are too many crashes — every day on the roads and now in the air.

Had a reasonably productive day. In addition to the site work, I got the first draft of “Plot Bunnies” into the computer and started getting “Personal Revolution” in. I also managed to work in some work for an editing client. I was very fatigued all day, the fallout from the previous day’s stress.

However, one of my favorite things about working/staying at this site is the kitchen. Last night, I made poached chicken in orange/lime/cilantro sauce, made creamy mashed potatoes, and steamed some peas and corn with more cilantro and just a touch of garlic. Yum! And pizza for lunch.

Had a great yoga session this morning. Started the next short story on the list. Another comic mystery. Got everything sorted at the site until I get back.

I’m headed back home to feed the cats (will probably post this from home), clean up after them, print off some material on my computer, download some more editing projects, maybe finally get my bins from White Plains, and get the cell phone situation sorted out with Verizon before heading back to the site. It’s supposed to take me about two hours, but we’ll see. I’m keeping careful lists as I move from the site to my home office, because specific things have to be done at each, and I only have about an hour or two off-site each day in which to get it all done.

It’s supposed to be nearly 100 today, so I’ve got to make sure I get the apartment cooled off, the cats have cool places to sleep, and there’s plenty of cool water for them.

Enjoy!

Devon

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page. She’s hosting the latest stop on the Jenny Storm DIXIE DUST RUMORS blog tour. I talk about the process of writing this book, and how it was a little different than my usual process — but not because it’s middle grade instead of adult! The comments are open for questions all day, and I’ll be hopping on an off, so I hope you stop by.

Got another project out the door yesterday, and onto the submission go-round. Gotta get them out there or they can’t get contracted, right? Spent time marketing DIXIE DUST (hey, at $3.95, it’s a good buy, if I say so myself).

Converted some more floppies. Only spent about an hour and a half on it, but found some interesting stuff. I think I actually have a completed novel that I finished and forgot. I may have to take a look at it and see if there’s anything worth salvaging (and get another project out the door in the next few weeks). I’ve got another project that needs another draft, and then I’m re-thinking how I want to market it. If I could get two more novels out the door this summer, while still juggling those in process, I’ll be content. Sooner or later, the short stories need some attention. I’m writing them and they’re stacked up, but I’m not doing anything with them, which doesn’t serve any of us.

Of course, some of the short stories are in limbo because they really need to be novels or novellas. So, this summer is about a lot of literary housekeeping on my part. Which is a good thing. And some need to be “retired” and not go out. They were exercises, not pieces of marketable writing.

UHaul pulled another crap move. I’m livid, and at the end of my rope with them.

Finished reading my friend’s manuscript, and sent her the notes. I enjoyed it a lot — can’t wait until it finds its perfect home!

Good morning’s work on the Matty book this morning, and a GREAT session on the serial.

Lots to do today. Back to the page.

Devon

Serial: 4,052 words out of 50,000

Writers Worth Day

What Are You Worth?

Today is the Second Annual Writers’ Worth Day, thanks to Lori Widmer of Pennsylvania. Hopefully, this grass roots movement will grow over the years. Until writers take control of their own worth, their own finances, and their own lives, they will continue to earn slave wages.

What we do consists of a specific set of skills, skills that we have learned and honed over time, in much the same way as a doctor or a lawyer. We take skill a step further, though,and meld it with creativity and imagination. It’s difficult to put a price on it, but it’s worth a living wage.

Yes, anyone can put words on paper. But not everyone can arrange those words to seduce, entice, teach, engage and make someone see the world differently. It’s not all about selling something. It’s about sharing a different view of the world, helping people see and feel.

What is that worth?

Hard to say. But it’s worth a living wage.

Ask yourself why you write. Hopefully, you love it. Hopefully, it’s your vocation and your passion, as well as your business. But never forget that it’s your business.

Because so many people hate their jobs and their lives and are too cowardly to change them, they promote the myth that you can’t love your job AND earn a decent wage. It gives them a feeling of power to keep others as miserable as they are. This IS a myth, and the best way you can bust it up is to earn a good living via writing. You won’t without skill, talent, imagination, and a heck of a lot of hard work. If you’re not willing to put all of that into your writing, keep the day job. But don’t hurt the rest of us who DO write to pay the bills by letting employers get away with paying substandard wages, and training them that this is acceptable. It is not. Every time you accept a crap wage for your work, you don’t just hurt yourself, you hurt others. You cause harm. Even worse, you make the CHOICE to cause harm.

What we do is unique. How we do it is unique to each of us. A hundred of us can write good copy for a website. And it will be a hundred different viewpoints. One of those will be that special, charismatic work that leaps off the page or screen and makes a positive difference in the world. That writer deserves to be paid WELL for the skill, the passion, and the creativity. YOU deserve to be paid well for your skill, your passion,and your creativity.

You know when I’ll write for a “maybe someday” fee or a fraction of a penny-per-page-view wage? When my landlord, credit card companies, and utilities accept the same way of paying bills. I need to know what I’m paid for my work, and then, in cases of the fiction and the plays, the royalties are the gravy. I’ve been lucky that the gravy’s been able to fill in during fallow periods, but royalties can’t be depended on for a living until one hits a couple of best seller lists. Janet Evanovich and Nora Roberts can count on royalties to pay the bills. I’m not there. Yet. And when someone hires me to do a piece of writing that generates income for his business, I deserve a fixed, solid rate that reflects my skills, my time, and the continuing income I generate for that business. If my creditors except to be paid the rates they set and on time, then so do I.

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 1:55 am  Comments (6)  
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