Tues. Oct. 24, 2017: Strange Skies & Pre-Op

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles buy links here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I was basically a waste of food yesterday. I got a few things done, but it was difficult to focus. Had a bad case of both the blahs and the worries. Again, waiting for a payment from a particular publication that arrives later and later each month does not help. Hopefully, I can wind things up with them by the end of the year and be done.

I have an article about building momentum up over on Writers Weekly that’s gotten some good buzz, and readers are still discovering and enjoying the “Tracking Your Banged Bucks” article over on WOW-Women on Writing. I’m glad my experience can give others some fresh ideas.

PLAYING THE ANGLES also got a 5-star review on Amazon, which is a great start.

Yesterday, I got some work done on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN (in a tricky bit here). I worked on notes for the next review I have to write; it’s tricky, because the book pretends to be one thing when it’s really another, and I have to find a good way to express it. Did some research on material I’m gathering for a client for next Monday’s meeting.

Got back a request for edits from the editor to whom I’m trying to adjust (just happens to be the same publication where the payment lags. Gee, what a surprise. Not). I will turn those around today.

I also did some promotion work for PLAYING THE ANGLES.

SAVASANA AT SEA is now up for pre-order (Barnes & Noble and Google Play as of this morning). I still want to do one more proofreading pass before it releases, but I have to get the press out on that, too — probably at the end of this week.

Got the outdoor decorating done for the upcoming holiday. It’s kind of cute. I posted some photos to Facebook and Twitter.

This morning’s sunrise was amazing and eerie. I’ve never seen those shades of orange in a morning sky, and the atmosphere was a grey-green. Very odd. Wonderful, but odd.

Tomorrow, I won’t get to post on this blog — I’m with a new client most of the day, and we’re going to map out how we’re going to work together for the next few months.

Today is my mother’s last pre-op appointment and Thursday is the surgery. I hope to post while she’s there, and Friday should be a regular, late-morning post. Monday, then I won’t get to post at all — with one client most of the day and immediately into another meeting. So, after the weekend, it will be late in the day posting for Tuesday.

Posting times will be wonky for the next few weeks, until I get the schedule smoothed out. My apologies, but it’s all part of the upcoming transitions.

I see the next months as having three planned-for transitions. One is now, one will be in either March or April, with a major one next summer/late fall. Those are the planned ones — who knows how many unplanned will happen during that time? Many things happen during the course of a year!

In any case, off to get things done and then back to the page, and to prep for tomorrow. I’ve got a beef stew cooking in the crockpot, and I have to make a couscous salad, so I have something to bring with me for lunch.

Onward.

 

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Published in: on October 24, 2017 at 10:04 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 24, 2017: Strange Skies & Pre-Op  
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Thurs. Oct. 5, 2017: The Good Kind of Busy

Thursday, October 5, 2017
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy/sunny/mild

Yesterday seems so long ago, somehow!

Got out a few pitches, prepared for today’s meeting. Polished the short story, and it goes out today. Worked on promotion for PLAYING THE ANGLES.

Worked on the galleys of SAVASANA AT SEA — about halfway through. Again, I’m mortified by the copy editing errors. And deeply grateful for my copy editor.

Finished reading John Scalzi’s COLLAPSING EMPIRE. I liked it a lot, but felt it ended on a cliffhanger. Not sure if this is part of a series? Anyway, in the acknowledgements, he talks about the stress of the 2016 election. Amazing how things have gone downhill from there.

As usual, I get most of my best gig leads from Twitter — two were sent on to me by contacts that look really, really cool; one of them I already pitched to; the other, I need to read the guidelines thoroughly, but I think I have something that might fit. Very exciting.

The opening of the Lavinia Fontana play is taking shape in my head. Soon, I’ll be ready to put it on the page.

I’m late posting today; went grocery shopping early this morning, the rounds of the four stores I frequent, all in one swoop. I keep the prices and quality for each in my head, and then can juggle and create recipes and menus by what looks good and what’s at a good price.

I LOVE grocery shopping.

I also love cooking and creating menus with what I buy.

I’m at the library later this morning working, because I want to stay for the yoga class. Then, I’ll just have time to run home, shower, change, and make my meeting.

Today is one of those busy days, but I love it!

Back to the page.

Don’t forget to get your copy of PLAYING THE ANGLES!

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 5, 2017: The Good Kind of Busy  
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Thurs. July 20, 2017: Reinventing the Marketing Wheel — A Personal Journey

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Yesterday, I promised some thoughts on marketing, so that is what this post focuses on today.

At this point, the bulk of marketing falls on the author. Traditional publishers get books in bookstores and to distributors, which is an enormous part of the equation. Some of the smaller publishers give as much support as their overextended staffs can. But the bulk is up to the author.

I just wrote an article for WOW-Women on Writing on how to track the results of where you put your marketing dollars to get the best return and to decide where to put the money for the next go-round. I was lucky enough to have several generous authors and promoters share their expertise. I will post the link when it goes live; it’s a piece of which I’m proud — there’s good research and work put into it, and I think writers across genre will find it useful.

This post, being on a personal blog, is more personal.

I’m preparing my backlist for re-release, and hoping to build on whatever momentum I create to move forward in my career.  Traditional publishers want something new; most of them are reluctant to take on a backlist, unless you’ve hit major traditional best-seller lists.  Many of my decisions are the result of sitting down with people I trust to discuss and figure out what I want and need from my career moving forward, and what was working and not working FOR ME. “This is what’s done” isn’t working FOR ME, and I need to create campaigns that work on both creative and financial levels. Sticking to someone else’s formula limits me. Therefore, I have to come up with my own.

It’s not that I have the ego to think I’m so brilliant that I can create an entirely new model. But I want to find a way to engage and expand my readership with my backlist that encourages them to continue on the journey with me for new releases, some of which will be released traditionally, and some of which will be released in channels that haven’t been invented yet. I have to find the best marriage for each individual project. I need to balance business and creativity.

If I’m only going to focus on sales, on the business aspect, I might as well work full time for a packager and only do for-hire work. Nothing wrong with for-hire work; it can be great fun and a way to build craft, especially if it pays fairly. But the reason I write is to make sense of the world, and to find a greater understanding of the people in it. That means I need to work on whatever interests/bothers/upsets/intrigues me. Which may not coincide with what is thought to “sell”. And yet, it may be what certain readers are looking for or yearning for.

Agents and publishers don’t know what WILL sell. They know what HAS sold. Every submission is a gamble, and they have to make their best guess.  They want the next big thing, but no one knows what that is until it’s there. They have to be careful where they invest their time and energy. Where are they willing to take chances?

I completely respect that. Some projects I write will resonate with them; some will not. It’s like dating — you’re unlikely to find your soul mate the first time out. You keep going. And there might be a few heartbreaks along the way. That doesn’t mean either party is “bad”; it means they’re not a good match. You learn and move on to a hopefully better one.

Far too much of the business is run on “everyone does this” and “that’s the way it’s done.” Not every channel works for every book and author. Readers want good deals; bookstores and libraries face ever-tightening budgets, and they have to be particular about where they spend their money. Amazon, for all its convenience, seems to be turning to a model to actively prevent authors from earning a fair return on their work, between the bots that manipulate rankings, arbitrary dismissal of legitimate reviews in favor of badly written, poorly spelled reviews by unqualified individuals with an axe to grind, and sabotaging publishers by pushing cheaper second-hand deals.

I have several re-releases I want to put back out into the world, with the hope that they’ll start earning their keep, continue to build an audience, and pave the way for the next books in their series, and help build a solid platform while I continue, with new work, to pursue more traditional outlets. The goal of each book is that the storytelling and craft improves from the previous book, which means every book becomes a better experience. For re-releases, I can apply what I’ve gained in craft to the release, and thereby position the next book even more strongly, because I’ve got a firmer foundation on which to build.

But the books still need to find their audience.

The plan and execution for each re-release is easier, at least on the emotional level. Far too often, working with some of the small publishers, I’ve taken the “partner” aspect seriously, working with them on ideas and campaigns, only to have the publisher not fulfill what was agreed, and simply shrug it all off. ARCS not sent to reviewers as promised, books that were ordered far in advance not showing up for special events, “forgetting” or “misplacing” information sent for multiple-author promotions. The most destructive, in my experience, is refusing to put a solid release date into the contract, refusing to commit to a date, and releasing a book when the publisher “gets around to it.” Even if the author is doing the bulk of promotional work, you can’t build a marketing campaign that will get a return without solid information.

Being responsible for all the aspects of the backlist releases myself takes much of that frustration away. That’s why many of the traditionally-published authors I know have decided to go indie or hybrid. It’s not because they “can’t” get published by a more traditional outlet. It’s because the publisher isn’t giving them the support that will actually give a reasonable return.  Granted, they start out with a major advantage over me — they had the support of the traditional publisher to build their audience in the first place.

I’m also tired of all the marketing campaigns being so similar. Far too often, I’m scrolling past book promotion posts, because it all sounds the same. Covers are too similar. Cover blurbs don’t hook me. If I see a review quote from a site I know charges authors for a review, I dismiss it.

How does one set oneself apart?

There’s argument that one shouldn’t. This is what readers are used to; this is what they want. I think that underestimates the reader. Yes, there are readers who read to escape, who want something safe and familiar. They want the category romance where the only thing that changes is the character name and location. They are happy with the ever-more-restrictive formula for certain cozies that is more intolerant, that dumbs down character and motivation, and reaffirms their own narrow view of the world.  They’re free to read whatever they want, and I believe there’s a need for every type of book and every type of reader.  We all have days were we want to escape, and not be forced to think too much, or have our views of the world challenged. If that’s ALL a particular group of readers craves, they’re not the readers for whom I’m writing, so I’m not targeting them.

I’m on the hunt for something different. I have three major releases coming up in the fall and early winter, and several short releases. I have to build the individual campaign for each, and I have to integrate and cross-promote where appropriate. Each campaign has to be unique to the release, while building momentum.

I’m going to experiment. Yes, I’ll use some tried-and-true techniques, but I’m also going to come up with some things that are different. I’ll be sharing them as I figure out what they are and how to use them.

I’m starting with the following questions:

–Who is my target audience?

–What elements have given me the best return in the past, and can I adapt any of them for this particular release?

–As a reader, what catches my attention? Can I adapt any of that?

–As a reader, what turns me off? Can I avoid that?

–What makes my book unique, and what tangible aspects of that uniqueness can I use in promotion?

The answers for most of those questions will be slightly different for each release. Since I write in different genres, the target audience for each of the big releases (paranormal romantic suspense, contemporary mystery, paranormal mystery) will be slightly different. There’s room for some crossover, which I hope to exploit. But there will also be differences.

Elements that have worked for me include good media kits and individual outreach (absolutely no generic email blasts). Radio is also always one of my strongest aspects.

What catches my attention? Hard to pin down, but I have to.

What turns me off? Constant demands that I buy the book; poorly written cover copy or excerpts; covers that I’ve either seen on other books or that are so similar to other books I think I’ve seen them.

Two of the biggest turn-offs tend to happen on Twitter: one is a series of identical promotional posts that are scheduled and keep turning up in my feed. The other is when a new-to-me author follows me, I follow back, and get an immediate direct message demanding I buy the book. For me, that’s an automatic unfollow.

Another thing I don’t do is author photographs. I get a lot of flack for that. I write under multiple names in multiple genres. What I look like has NOTHING to do with my writing. I’m not an actor. I’m a writer. My words are my instrument, my words are what I share with the world. My life (which includes my looks) are separate. Readers don’t need a photograph. I have icons that designate the different pseudonyms. It’s even in my contracts. I’ve lost contracts when I refused to supply a photograph instead of the icon that is recognizable for any specific name. Interestingly enough, the ONLY time that’s happened is when the venue didn’t pay, and they wanted to run a piece of mine for “exposure.” In other words, no loss there. Unfortunately, I lost paid contracts when a newspaper ran a photograph of me that it had agreed not to run (I explained my contract). I should have sued the paper. I didn’t, but I lost a series contract thanks to that, as well as a stand-alone contact.  Because it was specified in my contract that I do not do author photographs; I only agreed to the newspaper interview because they promised NOT to run a personal photograph (I provided professional photos of the topic of the interview, which wasn’t even writing-related).  They lied to me and cost me book contracts, which means income.

I’m sick and tired of fighting with people when I hang out and they want to take pictures to post on Facebook. No. I don’t do photographs. Period. I have personal photographs that are in frames or albums with people in my life who are important to me.  I am not part of the “selfie nation”.  I could go into a whole rant on it, but people would feel I judged THEIR choices, which I don’t.  They can take and post any photo they want — as long as it’s not of me.  I have no interest in posting a selfie of me in front of something. To prove I was there? I don’t need to prove anything. That is my choice. That is my right. People can share whatever THEY chose, and it’s not up to me. But I can also choose what NOT to share.

Social media has done a great deal to expand my work’s reach. At the same time, I’m not willing to stop being who I am for fear of offending readers. I’m politically active — in life and on social media. At this particular juncture in time, my very life and that of my family depends on my so being. I’m not going to stop. That may turn off readers. Chances are, they are readers who wouldn’t like my books anyway, because my characters stand up for social justice and tolerance, and fight against oppression, tyranny, racism, bigotry, misogyny. Readers who don’t believe in those issues aren’t going to like my books anyway. Nor will I let them bully me by threatening not to buy my books if I’m politically active. Then don’t buy my books — you are not my target audience. It is your choice where to put your money. I’m an advocate of conscientious consumerism, and means respecting the choice of those who’d rather put their money elsewhere. We’ll go our separate ways. YOU are not going to change what I write. I write what I write, and I endeavor to get it out to the widest audience possible, who then CHOOSES if it’s what they want or not. It’s fine to be “not”. There are plenty of books and authors that don’t work for me. I wish them well in their careers and move on.  I don’t argue with them or publicly trash them.  I move on.

In fact, an author whose work I used to read fairly regularly (although I feel she’s dumbed down her last few books) complained about authors being politically active and threatened to stop following or supporting any authors who remained active. Although I consider her a midlist author, she is traditionally published, and believes that her platform has strong influence. Fine. That’s her choice. But she’s now dropped from MY list. I wish her well; I hope she’s happy and successful. I didn’t argue with her or try to bully her into changing her views.  But I choose to spend my hard-earned money on other authors, and I choose to spend my time with people who respect my beliefs, even if they don’t always agree with them.

As a dedicated member of PEN, who used to work on behalf of incarcerated authors all over the world when I lived in New York, walking my talk is vital to who I am and what I write. I’m not going to dilute it because it threatens certain readers’ narrow frames of reference.

Again: they are not my target audience.

And the rule of marketing that works, after “write a good book” is “know your audience.”

My goal is to create interesting, engaging campaigns for books in which I believe. I want to expand my audience. I want to write books that interest, entertain, and maybe make readers look at the world a bit differently. I want to create marketing campaigns that are less of “Buy my book, damn you” and more “come play in this sandbox for awhile — you might enjoy yourself.”

I’m still working out the details. I know I’m going to pursue interviews (blogs, print, radio). Once print editions are available, I may start pitching for appearances again. My media kits are vital tools, and the Media Room on my website is the one of pages with the highest traffic.

I also spend time dissecting what is unique about each release. Themes, characters, leitmotifs that turn up in the books. I want to build aspects of each marketing campaign around that, to make the campaigns more unique. I’m not sure what all of those are yet, but I’m working on it.

Will any of this work? I won’t know until probably 2019. I’m going to try different elements. Some will work. Some will not. I’ll adjust.

One of the biggest challenges is handling of all this, keeping on schedule, and maintaining momentum while staying on track with new projects and with the freelance writing that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head, AND dealing with the difficult personal issues that I’m currently dealing with.

But, most important of all, I will keep writing.

I hope you continue on the journey with me. I hope you will learn from my experience. If my mistakes can prevent any of your own, that will be a positive, in my opinion.

Namaste!

July 1, 2015: Writing, Good Conversation, and Tornado Warnings

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and tornado warnings

I cut myself a break over the past few days and gave myself a chance to refill the creative well.

Saturday, I worked my four-hour stint. It was busy, and we were happy to lock the door and get out of there. There was an event at the building next door, and even though there were clear signs where to park, the attendees took our patrons’ half dozen spots, even when asked not to.

Relaxed on the deck Saturday afternoon. Sunday, I was wiped out. Read, relaxed, let the stories percolate. I tried to write a bit, but it was ready to be on the page yet; it was still forming.

Sunday night, headed back to Liberty Hall to pick up the Chicken BBQ dinners (they’re good to us, I’ll buy their chicken dinners a few times a year — give-and-take). It was great, but I overate! It was weird to walk into the Hall and know every person sitting down to the meal, and everyone in the kitchen. I’m used to far more anonymity. But it will be useful to use in a story one day.

The weather was vile on Sunday, so I couldn’t work outside.

Read two mediocre mysteries and started one so poorly written that I stopped reading it. Read another novel, THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS, by Liz Trenow, which was quite lovely.

Did a good bit of research on several projects. It’s going to feed in nicely to them, enrich the environment in which these stories and characters take place.

I was disappointed at the viciousness people displayed toward EL James in her Twitter chat. Her books don’t work for me, for a variety of reasons (as a writer, as a woman, as a feminist). However, plenty of people enjoy them, she’s successful, good for her. It’s hard to make a living in this business. While in the abstract, some of the snarky questions had elements of humor, the overall nastiness of the whole endeavor was disheartening. I was especially disappointed that other writers — most of whom have nowhere near her sales numbers — were positively gleeful that she’d been attacked. If you don’t like someone’s writing, don’t read it, don’t spend your money n it. If you’re a reviewer and it’s your job to comment on it, and you dislike it, that’s one thing (although there are so few qualified reviewers at this point, even that’s in question). But this envy, the jealousy of her success is truly unfortunate. I’m sure she will recover and continue laughing all the way to the bank, and I realize it says more about those who attacked her than about her, but it was disappointing. For people to defend it by saying, “Well, that’s what you get for going on Twitter”, um, no. I’ve found plenty of classy, supportive, intelligent people on Twitter, and landed some of my best freelance assignments on Twitter. I choose not to deal with the stupid, the ignorant, and the nasty on Twitter, much as I cut as many as possible out from my life in general.

The episode was definitely food for thought as I consider how I want to reshape the way I position my work and myself in the world. Not because I’m worried about the same kind of attack (although I’d sure love those dollars), but because I’ve always believed, especially for writers, that the work is public, but the individual is private. In fact, I believe a certain amount of privacy is necessary in order to incubate the work properly.

Speaking of writing, the past few days’ work on BALTHAZAAR is sub-par, and I’m very disappointed in myself. I have to get past this obstacle and move forward on the piece as a whole. Knowing that my editor (whom I adore) is retiring is part of what interfered with the work –suffering from separation anxiety. Now, I need to get over it, and get back to work.

I got some work done for the Marine Life Center and for the Writers Center, too, over the past few days, so things are firing on several cylinders. And I got the grocery shopping done, which was of vital importance! 😉

Tuesday was a lovely, sunny, warm day. The kind of summer day that reminds you why you put up with the summer people on Cape Cod.

I got the last part of the meadow mowed in the morning. It was looking more like an African savannah rather than a Cape Cod backyard, but now it’s under control. The yarrow’s coming in nicely. The chamomile I planted in the front several years ago is now coming up by the back stairs, waving at me. I’ll be moving that to the border in the terrace. The clematis and morning glories are in bloom, as are the geraniums and the gloxinia and the Stella D’oro llilies, with the shasta daisies getting ready to pop. Herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, et al, all doing well. The cherry bush I though was dead and stuck in a bucket has recovered. I’ve given away its pot, so I have to figure how to plant the poor thing. Its twin, who is in the ground, has also recovered.

Lunch with a colleague who is also a friend, over in Sandwich. We got some chatting done, sorting out life stuff, and also some business done.

Home, hung out on the deck in the sun with books and cats, enjoying the reason I live on Cape Cod and not somewhere else.

Out to the Artist HobNob. This month, it was at Pain D’Avignon, out by the airport. We were at tables outside, in the lovely weather, and, if you’re from New York or lived near Westchester Airport (as I am/did), the planes going over weren’t much of a distraction. We had a great, lively table of people. What I love about these monthly nights is that it’s all about working artists inspiring each other (instead of some other events, where wanna-be artists whine and make excuses about why they’re not creating). I knew one person at the table, and everyone at the table is someone I hope to spend more time with, and continue sharing information and inspiration with. The food was great, the wine was good, the company wonderful. A truly lovely evening.

It was nice to have actual conversations with people.

It also seems to have moved me past the obstacles in BALTHAZAAR. This morning’s writing session was better.

I’d promised dinner for a friend, trying a new-to-me recipe for chicken and zucchini, in a sauce out of onion, garlic, celery, white wine, sage, bay leaf, clove, and cinnamon. It was excellent.

It’s summer, which means I’m making batches of lime-and-cilantro mayonnaise (which also contains sour cream). I quadruple the recipe whenever I make it, because it’s so good and I use it for oh, so many things.

It will be a long day at work (and the weather’s supposed to be awful today). Full moon, so ritual tonight. We’ll have another full moon on July 31, just before one of the most important days in my personal calendar. Tomorrow will also be a long day, but no tango tomorrow night. I will come home and sit on the deck with my feet up!

Update: In the time between writing this and being able to post it, we got an emergency alert to get into the basement, because there was rotation in Falmouth (although nothing touched down). We grabbed the cats, cat food, important papers, some water, the radio, and went into the basement. It was awful. We could feel the house shaking from the thunderstorms and the rain was torrential. Once we got the all clear, we came up, but were asked to stay off the roads for another fifteen/twenty minutes. I’d texted work, but no one got it and, even though work is only four miles from home, the storm hadn’t been anywhere near as bad there. So I’m trying t recover from that. Hoping I don’t have to do that anytime soon again. Not fun.

After tomorrow, due to a combination of the holiday, my work schedule, and painting being done at work, I’m away from the library for six days. It’ll be a good, well-needed break for me. I have yard work to do on nice days, and Canal Fest in Buzzards Bay on the Fourth. I know, oh horrors, I have to go over the bridge on a WEEKEND!

But I’m hoping to spend the bulk of the time writing — the historical play, the contemporary play, BALTHAZAAR being the main focus, but I may jot down the short stories just to make space in my head. The vintage theatre piece is taking shape nicely, too. Getting that first chapter down helped enormously. Researching 1938 makes me realize that was a good choice as a starting point for the book and the series. I also realized that, in the theatre piece set in Maine, where my characters have to go to Mobile to retrieve some other characters, I’m going to take them to New Orleans to catch their collective breaths. That’s still several chapters down the road in that piece, but it solves some of the logistical problems (both physical and emotional) that keeping them in Mobile over that adjustment period caused.

So, after tomorrow, I will be offline until July 9th, which will be good for everyone involved! I’ll have plenty to say when I get back, I’m sure!

Hop over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site — I’ve got my mid-year assessment up.

If we don’t get our “morning coffee” chat tomorrow, I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend (my American friends) and just a darn wonderful weekend (for everyone else).

Devon

Published in: on July 1, 2015 at 10:10 am  Comments (2)  
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Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

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Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon

Wed. Nov. 7, 2012: Celebrations and Storms

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Nor’easter

I am so RELIEVED by the election’s outcome! I think the country sent a clear message to the GOP: Stop running lunatic extremists. This is especially true when it came to the Congressional races. People want calm, centered, intelligent, reasoned individuals, and when they’re presented with people who act as though anything they happen to make up should be taken as fact, and the big money puppet-masters pulling strings and deploying those who represent the worst and most base instincts of people out as “leaders” — it’s good to see them defeated.

I’m especially thrilled that Elizabeth Warren got in for the MA Senate. She is one of my personal heroines, especially for the help she gave us a few years ago. I think Mazie Hirono in Hawaii is going to be a wonderful Senator. I’m thrilled that Tammy Duckworth beat Joe Walsh, and that Tammy Baldwin won in Wisconsin. We got to keep Bill Keating here in MA, who’s been working his butt off for us, and Joe Kennedy won the seat from which Barney Frank is retiring (although that’s not my district, I’m still happy about it). Nita Lowey, who was my representative when I lived in NY, and with whom I loved working, was also re-elected. I know, personally, that I am comfortable working with everyone directly representing me, and I will continue to let them know my opinions and follow the votes, so that they can represent me.

Yesterday, I couldn’t concentrate. I managed to get some yard work done. I spent far too much time on Twitter. I got a few things done, but nowhere near what I needed to. I got out a few pitches and other things, but, for the most part, I was following election news. I also shot a quick email to the town office to thank the local poll workers, and the Town Clerk was appreciative.

The Twitter feeds were highly entertaining, although one particular millionaire blowhard’s childish hissy fit about the loss showed his lack of class even more than usual (I don’t follow this particular moron, but his rants were well-reported).

I didn’t get to bed until after 2, until after the President’s speech. Violet woke me at 5. I’m stumbling around.

We’re in the middle of another bad storm, and already lost power once today. I was going to run a bunch of errands, but in 60 mph+ winds — I’m not going anywhere!

Putting my head down and going back to work, especially now that there’s something to look forward to!

I also have to start thinking about Thanksgiving — and Christmas!

But, for the moment, it’s back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on November 7, 2012 at 9:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. July 31, 2012: It’s Cooling Off . . .and not Even August

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s gosh-darned chilly here at night and in the mornings!

Yesterday, I got some work done, but not enough (familiar refrain lately). I’m finishing up an article today, and knocking out a couple of blog posts. I had a chat with the client for whom I’m ghostwriting, and the client is thrilled with the work we’re doing, which is nice.

Finished chapter-by-chapter outline for first book of trilogy and it vanished into the ether somewhere. That’ll teach me to skip printing out a day’s work!

Making plans with the students who are coming in for the conference, getting my materials together, finishing up what I have to do for the auction on the civic activity I’ll be missing, cutting back the faded blooms on the hostas, cutting back other things that are already dying back early.

Tessa is obsessed with Twitter now, because new tweets make noise and pop up!

Costume Imp got home safely. I picked up a new shower curtain liner and some more DampRid for the basement (because mine is all used up).

I’ve got two books to critique this week, so I need to get going, and am distracted by a fascinating novel called THE DEATH INSTINCT by Jed Rubenfeld, set against a terrorist attack/bombing on Wall Street in 1920.

It’s cooler, so the cats are all Very Busy.

My yoga article is up here. Check it out.

There are still a few openings in the three month intensive Tarot for Writers. Well, I was going to promote it, but I can’t get the link on the Savvy site. Sigh.

Back to work — at least I have more energy today and feel there’s a chance of some genuine creativity!

Devon

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 9:01 am  Comments (2)  
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

There’s a new, short post up on Gratitude and Growth.

I’m angry that Borders is closing the two stores within a decent driving distance from me. As much as I prefer spending my money at independent bookstores, there are times when Borders came in handy, and the two stores they’re closing were packed ALL THE TIME. As in, six check out people and a line winding back and forth no matter what day of the week or time or day I was there. There is no reason to close those stores other than Borders Corporate Management is greedy and bad at what they do (hence having to file for bankruptcy). They keep touting the website, but it sucks, and they’ve never gotten a single order correct for me, so I stopped using them. I’ll close out my gift cards and then, to hell with them. I feel bad for the wonderful people in my area who worked for them and were helpful, friendly, and supported local authors. But management in the head office? Deserve to be kicked to the curb. Corporate office management has sucked for at least the past five years, probably longer.

It’s not the death knell for bookstores. What this does is open slots for more independent bookstores (I’m so lucky that the Cape is full of them), and also, make room for a hopefully more successful, literate, book-friendly (meaning both digital and print) model. The death of the Corporate Bookstore is only going to help actual individual booksellers, authors, and readers. There are other business models where everyone wins. I’m not going to bore you with them here, but I’ve researched and written about those possibilities elsewhere, and how to make them work. Unfortunately, because so many publishers are now corporations, too, it makes it harder to convince the big houses there’s a better way to do things.

Someone stopped following me on Twitter because that “person” — I think it was a fake name — kept sending me links to write for content mills & I asked the person to stop, saying I don’t write for content mills and they couldn’t afford me. So I’m “dropped”. So sad. Not. 😉

Working on a set of proposals for some for-hire work. Tight turnaround time, clean copy, write fast and well, mimic the style previously set up. I can do all that. An assignment from a one of these establishments wouldn’t be easy, but I think it would be good experience, so I’m going to toss my hat into a couple of rings and see what comes up. If they like me, they’ll keep me on file and contact me whenever it seems there’s a good fit. It could be intermittent, short-term work that pays decently, and I can manage it with my teaching schedule and my own writing. And I’ve got some more teaching proposals to get out, for in-person, local workshops.

It’s all about time management. We all have 24 hours in every day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us.

And my work is not separate from my life — few fiction writers’ work is. It is INTEGRATED into my life.

I finalized another deconstruction workshop for May — someone dropped out and they asked me to take over, so I have to get up to speed on the books — they’re on my To Be Read list, but now I have to sit down, read them back-to-back, taking notes, and read them for an entirely different perspective than to read it just to read it. Should be fun.

The work on the book went slowly, but pretty well yesterday. I need to get some more done this morning before I pack up and head up to Site #2, where I’ll be for the rest of the week.

Devon

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 9:44 am  Comments (7)  
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10. 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I wrote this last night and scheduled it to post because I signed up to take a Mac workshop in Stamford, CT that starts at 8:30 in the morning. Am I nuts? Rhetorical question. But it’s a Mobile Me workshop, and i just look at the program and go WTF? so It’s necessary. And I didn’t see it scheduled in White Plains. So I’m driving to another damned state to take it.

I finally finished the Belmont article and sent it off. I had facts to check and vet research to perform before I could send it off with a clear conscience.

Spent way too much time on Twitter, caught up on email, worked on client projects, worked on interview stuff, and, most importantly, printed postcards. The HEX BREAKER postcard didn’t print the way I wanted, so I had to adjust the design. I also had to figure out how to feed the paper. Then, the Canon Pixma 860,which is supposed to be this kickass printer, went rogue — it stared printing documents that weren’t in the cue — ON the postcard paper,wasting both paper and ink. Then it started eating the paper. Then it lied to me about the ink levels. I was a fit to be tied and sent QUITE the email to Canon. They’ve always been awesome, and the print quality on this printer is outstanding, but it doesn’t do as it’s told.

It can bite me, okay? Well, it sort of did

We finally reached a truce.

The postcards, both for HEX BREAKER and DIXIE DUST look fantastic. But I have to go buy more ink, like, today.

But I can send the HEX BREAKER postcards out and stat the DIXIE DUST mailing.

That was basically my day.

Hopefully, I had a good morning on the Matty book, even though I had to get up earlier than the cats to get it done before I left for class.

When I get back, I have to go the post office, the bank, and get back to the page. I have to finish a client project, too. I have no idea when I’ll get online today.

Enjoy your day. And hop over to A Biblio Paradise to read the review of Kim Smith’s mystery, AVENGING ANGEL.

Devon

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Okay, it’s the middle of April and there’s still frost on the car windows in the mornings. That’s just wrong!

Yesterday was another odd, interesting day. On the positive side, I spent most of the day working on the play, FEMME FATALE. Act I was hard – I don’t know why, but I had a terrible time with it. I realized I had to introduce the faux villain earlier for it to make sense – the actual villain’s intro still works. I planted a few red herrings, worked in a few surprises, but it took me all morning to finish the act. I started working on Act II in the afternoon, which is much easier. I have a clearer idea of what I want, the dialogue sparkles, the layers are mostly there, it’s chugging along quite nicely.

On the negative side, in the afternoon, I started having computer problems again. I wound up with seven computer crashes. SEVEN. Some of them were caused by McAfee. Some of them were simply because Microsoft and Dell suck.

On the odd/interesting side, I’d downloaded TweetDeck the day before. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. I still need to use the old version sometimes, especially first thing in the morning, when I’ve been off the computer all night; TweetDeck only allows me to scroll down for a finite period & I can’t catch up on everything I’ve missed. But it’s easier to send a message, shorten an URL, track incoming messages, all that. So, using both works.

However, I was Tweeted approximately every 14 seconds. That gets a little distracting. I had the Deck open most of the day, and it pings when a new message comes in. I can see where that can be a time suck. I didn’t mind during Act I, because it was such a struggle, but it got annoying during Act II. Today, I’ll go back to just checking in occasionally.

And, McAfee HATES TweetDeck. The McAfee kept hijacking the Deck and the entire computer and bringing it down. For awhile there, after all the Conficker updates, McAfee was behaving itself, but this week, it’s back to the same old crap. And, of course, neither their Customer Disservice Department nor the Executive Office can be bothered to even respond to the complaints. However, the BBB has, and I appreciate it. The complaints will continue (as will the invoices for lost work time) until it is resolved to my satisfaction.

I made a pitch to an Australian magazine. I’d come across it a few days ago and sent an introductory email. They responded, so I responded back, and we’ll see from there where it goes. I really like the magazine, the pay rate’s decent, and I’d like to be involved with them. We’ll see how it goes.

The sci-fi book surprised me yesterday, in a good way. I’m getting a better idea of the overall structure and plot for this particular novel. The subplots were clear before the plot, which is weird, but hey, one of the things I’ve tried to strengthen in my work over the past few months is the use of subplot. This is where scriptwriting is useful – you need to weave in at least one “B” storyline succinctly into a finite number of pages (especially for a television script). Learning how to do that and then apply it to a novel helps.

I realized this morning that I shut off my phone a few days ago when I went to the library and left it off. Oops.

Some errands, and it looks like a nice day. I think I can walk to all of them, so I will alternate writing sessions with errands and split up my day a bit.

I had a reasonably pleasant exchange with building management yesterday and the hot water was back a little before noon.

DAUGHTER OF BOSTON shipped yesterday. I can’t wait to receive it and read it!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 6:09 am  Comments (3)  
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold
My birthday!

I was going to be quiet and ignore my birthday. Instead, I declare it an international holiday, and if your boss has a problem with it, your boss can come and talk to ME. I decided to give away a signed CD copy of HEX BREAKER, the first Jain Lazarus Adventure (There’s a blurb about the book in the sidebar).

To win, leave the answer to this question in the comments section: Which fictional characters who’ve come on the scene within the last 5-10 years do you believe will endure for generations? Translation to the screen is not the only criteria. I’ll share my answer on Friday!

On Friday, I will do a random drawing of those who participate (actually, I might have one of the cats pick), and I’ll try to send it out early next week. The post office’s weird hours make it difficult to get anything out, and I usually have to drive to a different town (sometimes even a different state) to mail things.

Yesterday was an up and down day. More problems with paperwork; this company is determined to make things as horrible as possible. Don’t worry – there will be consequences. I don’t let this type of b.s. go. But it was extremely upsetting – especially since the problem originates from them and they are breaking quite a few laws in their demands – for which I am determined to hold them accountable. And I am angry that I will lose a good portion of my day again on their illegal obstructionist policies.

The other big step taken yesterday is . . Twitter. Yes, Devon is performing a Twitter Experiment. I’m going to see if this is actually a good way to keep in touch with people and network, or if it’s just another time suck. I’ve come across some random people by accident so far who seem interesting, and they’ve come across me. We’ll see.

If you’re on Twitter, start following me, and I’ll follow you back. I’ve tracked down some of you.

I promise I won’t Tweet 75 times a day. Just when there’s something worthwhile. I’m approaching the whole thing with caution.

Had a nice morning’s work on CRAVE THE HUNT, writing a difficult scene. It will get more work in the revision, but I’ve got the bones of it down and can move on. I didn’t update the word bar, because I’ll probably go back and keep going later today.

Have a great day, everyone!

Devon

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 8:08 am  Comments (20)  
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