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

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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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Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

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Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

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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Thurs. April 4, 2018: Brief Sun Before More Snow

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

They’re predicting another snow storm this weekend. Enough!

Tired, on many levels right now. I’m struggling.

Onsite work with one client was quiet, but busy this week. I’m behind where I want to be on SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but that seems to be a theme for the book. I’m working on the outline for the serial, and need some more time for it. I’d like to get it out at some point next week.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest.

Working on next week’s post for Ink-Dipped Advice, next Monday’s #Upbeat Authors post, and for a guest post over for Writer’s Worth month on Words on the Page.

Need to get back on track with MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, too, although we’ve come up with a potential cover image to start building its cover. We also found some great stuff for the cover of RELICS & REQUIEM, and possibly even GRAVE REACH. SPIRIT REPOSITORY will have its cover reveal tomorrow. My newsletter subscribers got it first!

Working on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA (since the one I’d worked on dumped last week, and I’ve had to start from scratch). I still have a good deal of work to do on the Jain Lazarus site.

The main focus right now is finishing SPIRIT REPOSITORY so it can release on schedule, and get back in gear with both MYTH and RELICS & REQUIEM. I have to get started on DAVY JONES DHARMA pretty soon, too, to keep that on track.

I read Alice Hoffman’s THE RULES OF MAGIC. It’s about the early life of the aunts in PRACTICAL MAGIC, which is one of my favorite books. I loved a lot of this book, but I got frustrated with the characters sometimes, their refusal to learn more about what they are, the lack of curiosity. It also made me think about the thread throughout many books, of the healers in a community who are shunned by day, but people creep to the door for their help at night. Not just in this book, but in literature in general, across genre. It makes me wonder why characters and authors allow characters this type of hypocrisy without consequence. Yes, it happens in life. But I would also like to see some characters, sometime, somewhere, refuse to condone and enable it. It’s gotten me thinking, in a good way. Which means the book touched on something deep in me, even if every reaction to it wasn’t positive, and the book did its job of getting me to think, to feel, and to ask questions. So my final response is positive.

Today, I have to run some errands and go grocery shopping, do some more research on ANCESTRY, do some yard work (if the weather holds), and, most importantly, WRITE.

I feel like I’m juggling two-ton dictionaries right now.

Back to the page.

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.

Fri. Sept. 14, 2012: Writing, Washing, and 7 Things

Friday, September 14, 2012
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I got out a slew of interview requests out for my next article, and I’m also getting responses from authors I’m interviewing for BIBLIO PARADISE over the next few weeks. I pitched for a job that sounds like a lot of fun, although they want someone onsite and I need to telecommute. So, we’ll see. Heard from a dear friend in the UK — hoping she can visit this fall.

Yoga was great yesterday. Helped enormously, on many levels. I wish I could work my schedule (and my finances) so I could take class three times a week, instead of one. Even daily practice as home isn’t as helpful as being in class.

I’m starting the fall cleaning. I’m doing the heavy velour drapes in the living room. They can’t go into the washing machine, because it’s a top load, and the agitator would chew them to pieces. So I wash and rinse them in the bathtub and then set them out on the deck to dry in the sun, with a quick fluff in the dryer. They’re so big and bulky, I can only do one per day. I did one yesterday, doing one today, will do one tomorrow. Washed the yoga mat yesterday, too, and had it dry in the sun. Always smells so nice when I do that!

Also, this morning, I’ve got blankets and chair covers to wash — again, from the living room. I’m working room by room. Switching out the summer covers, washing them, pulling out the cozy fleece covers.

Mermaid Ball wrap-up meeting was good last night, and then we went out to dinner at Lindsay’s, which was a lot of fun.

I’ve got errands to run later, including the most important — getting in cat food. We’re very low in that respect.

Most of the weekend will be focused on writing. I have a lot to get done, and the only way to do it is to keep the butt in the chair and DO it. And finish up the week’s work for the Sustainability Course — the Tragedy of the Commons theory is quite discouraging. Personally, I think Mars was once similar to Earth (with adjustments for being closer to the sun and all), and they overused the resources and that’s why it’s in the state it’s in. We’re probably going down the same path. I love watching what little Curiosity Rover is up to, dashing around up there and taking photographs.

My pal Debra over on Pendrifter gave me the “Seven Things About Me” Award. Thank you!

So here they are:

1. I can’t swim (and I live on Cape Cod)!

2. I will probably never find my Mowing Zen.

3. I do yoga every day.

4. I work with tarot cards.

5. I used to work on Broadway and on set in wardrobe (I’m a recovering wardrobian).

6. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be part of the National Marine Life Center.

7. Moving to Cape Cod was one of the best choices of my life.

Rules:
Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
List 7 Things about yourself. Can be anything you want.
Nominate 7 other people.
Enjoy!

I nominate:
Lori Widmer, Words on the Page
Diane Parkin, Tales from Baggins Bottom
Lara, Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom
Chad, Soundtrack of a Life
Nina Benneton, Romance With a Dose of Humor
KT Wagner, Northern Lights Gothic
Suzanne Purvis, Passions and Pursuits

Enjoy!

Back to the page and the washing machines for me!

Devon

Thurs. May 24: Writers Worth, Writing, and Weekend Prep

Thursday, May 24, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and foggy and pleasant (all at once)

I was felled by a migraine for most of yesterday, so I wasn’t online much. I didn’t get a chance to send you over to the Writers Worth Week post of the day, which is Peter Bowerman’s terrific article about “deserving” or not deserving to make $5 to $10 an article. Peter’s inspiration helped give me the courage to make the leap. He’s always got something great to say, and this is no different.

Today’s post is by the wonderful Cathy Miller on a Freelance Writers’ Dictionary, which is awesome.

Took my mom to the eye doctor — her eyes are healing well, and she’s allowed to drive again. It will be good for her to gain back her independence.

Revised six chapters of the book — only 10 more to go. I’m not cutting enough yet, and that concerns me. I’ll have cut close to 8K in the draft, but a lot more needs to go. Worked on my article. Waiting for quotes. Did some more PR for my classes. Spent time with students. I REALLY need the upcoming holiday weekend break, and I intend to enjoy it thoroughly. I plan to spend a lot of time in the garden, a lot of time reading and writing, and very little time online!

I read Garry Marshall’s new memoir, MY HAPPY DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD, which reminds me of the good things about the business. And I read an anthology created by Mercedes Lackey called LAMMAS NIGHT, which is outstanding — some of the best short stories I’ve read in ANY genre. The controllers of the purse strings might be bitching and moaning that the paranomal/urban fantasy market is glutted, but there’s always a hunger for outstanding fantasy. This volume was published in 1996, and it’s as relevant today as when it was published — maybe even more so.

Don’t forget to vote on Facebook, on Saturday the 26th, for the National Marine Life Center in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program. Winning that Highlander would be fantastic!

Yoga was great this morning, but boy were we worked hard!

Have a GREAT memorial day weekend, people! I’ll put up the link — I’m the featured guest on Words on the Page to wind up the two Writers Worth Weeks tomorrow — and then I’ll see you again on Tuesday!

Devon

Don’t forget the Setting Up Your Submission Systems Workshop on June 2, online. Far too many submissions go unread and automatically rejected because writers don’t submit properly. Learn how to avoid that, and set up a system that makes submissions a breeze! Information and registration here.

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

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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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

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Waxing Moon
Sunny and mild

I survived yesterday, although it seemed a bit touch and go there for awhile. I got steadily worse throughout the day (you know it’s bad when I can’t even read). There was some talk in the evening of going to the emergency room, but since I am one of this country’s 47 million uninsured, in spite of being a union member (thank you, George W. Bush), I don’t go in unless I’m three quarters dead, and I wasn’t there yet.

By about three in the morning, I started to feel better. I went back to sleep (I’ve slept almost all of the past two days), and woke up at my usual 6 AM to feed the cats. Did a few gentle yoga poses, but couldn’t do very much. Still, it was better than yesterday.

Only got a couple of pages done on the mystery. I’ve lost my rhythm with it, and have to find my way back into it – again. Frustrating. But if I leave it undone, it will drag down everything else. That’s an ongoing problem with Nano – one puts so much intensity in getting the 50K done in 30 days, and has such a sense of accomplishment, that continuing on to FINISH the project often becomes a struggle.

Did about a thousand words on the Maine project. I’ll have to do some research on artisan yarn, since my protag is taking over some of the family business of alpaca, a few llamas in there for protection, and some sheep. Llamas can be nasty, but they’re good guardians. Alpaca are too darned sweet for their own good. Near where the family is up in Maine are many wonderful individual artisan yarn producers – I’ll have to do some research on them, and maybe schedule some visits on my next trip. I can read up on it all I want, but it adds an entirely different and more sensual dynamic to experience it. I’ve never been a huge fan of sheep – the sheep on the Isle of Skye were particularly annoying – I had to keep stopping the car to shoo them off the road – they liked to lie on the warm asphalt. They were pretty cute on Lindisfarne, the way they ran and jumped – I finally understood the meaning of the word “gambol”. My mom thinks sheep are adorable. I like them over there – most of them just aren’t very bright and work my last nerve. Although, when we stayed on the estate in Norfolk in 2000 during lambing season and bottle-fed and cuddled some of those lambs, they were awfully cute. And I still can’t eat lamb after that, even though I’m sure most of those little guys ended up as lamb chops on someone else’s table. It’s not that I think anyone should or shouldn’t eat lamb – I just can’t. Which is a shame, because I used to love it.

I’ve got to get the assignment done for Confidential Job #1, and then I’ll see what else I can do. I’d hoped to have most of the hand-made gifts done by today, but that didn’t happen. At least I have all the bits – it’s just a case of making the prototype, taking my time with it to make sure I’ve done it right, and then setting it up so I can put them together efficiently. And I need to get started on the overseas cards – they should get out by the end of the week.

Holiday cards are always a priority to me – I cut back on many things, especially this year, because of deadbeat clients, but cards matter.

Lori Widmer had a great post yesterday on Word on the Page about thinking ahead to one’s freelancing goals for next year. I made a leap in my type of client this year, and I’ve certainly done better fiction-wise than in previous years, but it’s now time to make another leap in the client-base. I don’t think I’m suited to the majority of corporate clients – I lack the patience and diplomacy to deal with their b.s. – but I think it’s time to work on a new brochure and get out a fresh mailing early in the year, targeted towards specific companies whose policies I like and agree with, and convince them they can’t live without me. That’s where I’ve always landed my best jobs in the past. I’ve been lazy this year – that’s the only word for it – relying on job listing sites whose client listings got progressively skeezier as the year wore on. Nothing like a site claiming to support freelancers who then lists jobs that are detrimental to them! Because I always had theatre work as my fall-back position, I allowed myself to be lazy. But the show’s closing in mid-January. Quite a few shows are closing in January, and several shows that were supposed to come in for the spring have cancelled. So, I need to get my act together and now take the NEXT freelancing step up, while still keeping on track with the fiction. Which means being even more aware of time management and honing those skills. I’m decent with time management, but I can be a lot better.

And, still, I have to be able to build in percolation time, because without percolation time, that time where you just sit and stare at the wall and it looks like you’re not doing anything, the creativity doesn’t happen.

I know how much I want and need to earn each month next year. So, this month, I need to clean up the unpaid contracts and implement the procedures that will get me where I want and need to be next year. In many ways, it’s a great time to be a freelancer – because so many companies have downsized, they have to bring in people on a per-project basis. And I’d much rather work that way.

But I’m still not going to write 20 articles/week for $1 each or go on one of those skeezy bidding sites where you pay for listings and the client’s only interested in the lowest bid, not the best writer!

I may still be too sick to do much physically today, but the brain is sort of working again, so I can start to plan so that next year builds on this year and builds on it well. With a new administration coming into power that actually gives a damn about the citizens of this country, I think we’ve got a chance. But the door can’t hit Paulson’s butt fast enough for my taste. Handing the money to corporate institutions that then sit on it and/or hand it out to shareholders or use it to pay their fat cat execs instead of putting it back into the company to generate more jobs is not acceptable, and that guy should have been kicked to the curb months ago. And guess what? I don’t want to “own” part of AIG or any of those companies, thanks to my tax payer dollars – unless I get a say in how they’re run, and part of that say is to fire the people who got the companies into these messes in the first place!

Anyway, I’m going to take it slowly today and see how much I can get done. Hopefully, I’ll feel more like myself tomorrow. I’m better, but I’m not great.

I missed two important marketing opportunities yesterday, and I could just kick myself, but that’s the way it goes. I’ve got some more coming up next week – I just have to be ready for them.

The computer’s done some weird update all on its own, so everything I lost and imported last time has to be re-imported. Sigh. At least I know how to do it this time (thanks, Colin).

Hopefully, I’ll catch the holiday spirit the way I caught this flu. Until then, I’m going to make a concerted effort not to dampen anyone else’s holiday spirit, but enjoy the fact they’ve got it! I’m going to try to pay special attention to anyone or anything that shows positive holiday spirit and write about it, so we can all enjoy it.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW! Too Much Mistletoe A Nina Bell Holiday Mystery by Devon Ellington. Nina Bell is back! Still trying to make a living in the New York theatre world of the 1990s, she’s trying to figure out which is the bigger mystery – a college friend’s disappearance, or her ever-complicated love life, as every man she meets wants to hang mistletoe over her head. Read an excerpt here and purchase the story for only $2.99 USD here .

NEW! “The Ramsey Chase” A Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray By Devon Ellington
Meet the adventurous Cornelia True of Bodwin’s Ferry, whose life changes forever when “fixer” Roman Gray lands naked in her petunias, and they combine forces to track down a serial killer determined to murder thirteen women in thirteen months for their blood, with his latest victim right there in Bodwin’s Ferry!
Only $1.49 USD for this 10K adventure, the very first Penny’s Dreadfuls release! Read an excerpt of the adventure here.
Purchase the story here.

THE JAIN LAZARUS ADVENTURES
Free limited download
“The Possession of Nattie Filmore: A Jain Lazarus Adventure” by Devon Ellington. If you loved HEX BREAKER, you’ll love spending time with Jain and Wyatt as they try to solve a haunted house mystery. Read an excerpt of the story and download it free here


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.

BOOKS FOR WRITERS
Back By Popular Demand! 30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way. A Nano Handbook by Devon Ellington. FREE!
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you could survive National Novel Writing Month, this is the handbook for you! Ideas on preparations, setting goals, overcoming blocks, pushing yourself, tips for each day of the process, and ideas for going beyond, this handbook by veteran Nano-er Devon Ellington will help you survive. Best of all, it’s free! Download it here.
Limited time offer
Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 8:48 am  Comments (9)  
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