Monthly Archives: March 2016

When Life hands you lemons, write a blog post about it

PPP plastics HERE ARE A BUNCH OF LEMONS THAT HAVE COME MY WAY LATELY, AND WHAT I’VE DONE WITH THEM

So many things that make you shake your head, and wonder what the world is coming to!

  1. A moment ago, someone I have never heard of sends me an email (name redacted, but I’m not preserving IP for someone who hasn’t the courtesy to find out anything about me):

Alicia,

I thought you might enjoy knowing about my Shakespeare’s SSS adaptation mentioned on NNN Book Critics Circle Roundup Blog and most recently in the XXX Island News:

Sincerely,
UN Owen*

(* points for you if you recognize the name and source)

NNN and XXX are links. The email address looks fairly normal (a Verizon.net address), but I’ve NEVER heard of this person, am not interested in Shakespeare’s SSS, and certainly not in an adaptation! And anyone who thinks you will click on links in an email from a stranger has rocks in his/her head. Not in this world.

2. From a supplier of plastic bags:

“Dear WWW,

I am not sure if you received the “15% off Trash Bags & Can Liners” email promotion that was sent to you last week.

I was just making sure you didn’t miss out on this great special offer as it ends Today, Friday, March 25th.

You can use the coupon code TB316 at checkout to receive the 15% discount or call me directly so that  I may assist you.

As always, I thank you for your past business and look forward to helping you again very soon!

MMM LLL
Senior Sales Representative
PPP plastics company
(###) ###-#### ext. ###
MMM@’PPP plastics company’.com
http://www.iiiiiiii.com

P.S. Happy Easter!”

with my grumpy response:

“Dear MMM,

This kind of aggressive marketing – we buy your bags for a specific purpose maybe every couple of years – is why I just unsubscribed.

If you had looked at our buying history, you would have known that.

The pushy mail marketing turns people off.

Please do not respond.

ABEhrhardt”

Am I being too harsh? What if I were Jewish? Or Hindu? Or had issues with – oh, just about anything. I’m already creeped out enough by ‘personalized’ mail that comes to me on my birthday with ads for local establishments I would never use because they sell things like nail extensions. Honestly, what in my buying history implies I have EVER used a plastic nail extension – I’m female?

3. From SurveyMonkey, which I checked out once because MailChimp – which I was also checking out ONCE – landed me there and I couldn’t figure out how to undo having created an account:

“Case study: Unlocking market trends with targeted surveys

Get insights from real people, really fast

Buy survey responses →”

They don’t know me from Adam. I have ONE book on the market. If I could figure out people to survey (I did look at their categories of available people for sale), I wouldn’t need to do a survey. As I said, ONE book. Couldn’t we be acquaintances first?

——

This is a tiny sample – I have a bunch of emails from people trying to sell me their services the instant I registered my copyright and published a book (hello, if I already published a book, I don’t need your services!).

WHY AM I RANTING? WHY DOES THIS BOTHER ME?

Because it is rude, intrusive, insists on some of my time and attention, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME and MY needs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg that lands in my inbox – as it must be landing in other people’s (no, I don’t think I’m specially targeted).

I have Mail set up to divert most of it; one out of 100 or 200 is something that shouldn’t be in the Junk file and I need to see, or I’d delete them automatically. The rest is bad enough – I do NOT use Vi@gra, don’t want my teeth whitened by an anonymous product, and certainly don’t want investment advice from you.

But I am SO not enamored of the ‘targeted’ advertising that isn’t. Targeted. It is lazy, annoying, and extremely unlikely to get a response. Okay, make that COMPLETELY unlikely to get a response.

And it sucks up precious time and energy dealing with it.

And no, I can’t remove my email addresses from circulation – I need them.

Hugh Howey’s blog post today says privacy is dead and good riddance

I disagree (about the good riddance part).

Invasion of privacy has reached astronomic proportions – and is likely to get worse.

Is there an answer other than disconnecting the internet, that vast necessary resource for writers? Beats me.

But at least I get a blog post out of it occasionally.

And practice writing snippy responses with nuance to Senior Sales Representatives – who usually wouldn’t take my calls if they were real, at real positions of authority, at real companies who valued my business. If they didn’t make exactly the right kind of plastic zipper bag we use for heavy duty freezer bags (not their intended use), we could have saved them hundreds in advertising over the years. By telling them to jump in a lake long ago.

End of rant. Thanks for listening. Please feel free to include any rants you feel coming on – in the comments.

Inconvenient ideas for your new novel

inconvenient ideas THEY NEVER COME WHEN YOU NEED THEM

The ones you get when you thought you had everything lined up for the novel, and just needed to write it, and the Muse drops a big What If? in your lap, and you go Hmmm!

And it might be a GOOD IDEA, but it is certainly coming at a BAD TIME.
This happened this morning, and I have to admit it is a) a good idea, and b) fills a small plot hole I had, but hadn’t really thought about much except peripherally.

I think what happened is that as I took care of all the other ideas, assigning them to where they will be developed in the plot line, I cleared up some thinking space, and this little one came out, like Hope from Pandora’s Box, after all the rest had gone.

It provides a nice little conflict, and small but connecting plot line, and fills an empty space on the story’s calendar.

CONFLICT FOR READERS – KEEPS ‘EM HAPPY

On the other hand, it is new, puts things in a different light, and will worry my readers.

THAT was the touchstone.

My motto is ‘Torture Rachel.’

This will nicely torture Rachel.

I hope it will torture other readers, too – making them anxious and slightly unhappy, and annoyed, and…

Sorry, Rachel.

REAL LIFE IS NO DEFENSE

And I have a nice solid example from Real Life where I know exactly how things worked out to use as a template, one I actually understand and liked when it happened.

Not all RL is usable this way: ‘it actually happened’ is a sorry excuse for work that is not also story-true. RL doesn’t have stories that open and close neatly – which is why we crave stories, Lisa Cron of Wired for Story tells us.

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO LISTEN TO YOUR BRAIN?

It DID derail forward progress a bit, while I suss out the implications and the necessary connections, and carve it some space, and make SURE it is justified.

Yes, I think it WILL do.

Brains, even brain-fogged ones, can surprise you when you’re not looking.

Have you been strong-armed by your own ideas lately?

Why I cannot read your writing

ask writer for feedbackTHE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: USABLE FEEDBACK

A person who is becoming an online friend has asked me to do the impossible: she sent me a sample of her unfinished work, and asked for me to comment on it.

Worse than that, she has said nice things about my own published work.

She has no idea what she’s done.

I have been agonizing for two days over this simple request.

Why? Because there is no way to fulfill it OR turn it down.

If I didn’t value her friendship, I would merely have said, “No. Sorry. I don’t read other writer’s unpublished work unless we are in a writer’s group.” And let it go at that.

Instead, I’m going to send her back an email that says, ‘Please read THIS blog post about Why I Cannot Read Your Writing.’

With the bunch of links I have gathered (yes, I’m trying to pawn this off on the professionals), and a separate list for those which use bad language.

And the additional information about me:

  1. I have CFS and considerable brain fog: every minute when I’m coherent is fought for with blood.
  2. I am no one. I have published (self-published) one novel.
  3. I have been writing for twenty years, and just last fall got to the point where I had something publishable; it is impossible to condense that experience.
  4. I have NO editing experience beyond working on my own novels.
  5. I wouldn’t know where to start.
  6. I don’t want to. It will take/has taken me out of my safe mental writing place already.
  7. If you really, really need my commentary, my going rate is currently $1200.00 per hour (see 1., above), and we will still have to negotiate about whether I will work for you.
  8. Having to turn down a friend has already cost me those two days of agonizing over how to do this.

Google on your own the phrase, ‘I will not read your writing.’ In no particular order:

Relatively clean links:

dmattricino (Writers Digest)

Peter Clines

Gavin Pollone

Danny Manus

Links with language I don’t usually use (read at your own risk):

Chip Street

Cynthia Haven

Josh Olson

David Gerrold

What to do if you want feedback:

Create a critique group.

Join a writers’ group.

Join a professional association and request a mentor.

Put your work in public – which is automatically asking for feedback. I did this: I posted Pride’s Children, a new polished scene every Tuesday for two years.

Join Wattpad and post your work (they also have groups where you can specifically request feedback).

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? BECAUSE IT DOES

To be absolutely clear, I have not even read the rest of the email which incited this rant: as soon as I figured out what was being requested, I stopped reading the email. I did not read a word of the work sent to me.

And if you think I’m making a huge deal over a tiny request, then remember I take this step with the full expectation that I will lose this friendship which I value AND I will be called nasty names by others who may read this post.

Because… go read the links.

What say you: Am I being paranoid?

In training for a writing marathon

it takes what it takesFOR THE NTH TIME, I TELL MYSELF THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

The title of this post is meant to be ironic, as writing is a long steady race for me – and many others.

But it isn’t just the revising/editing/polishing of the rough draft that is slow, it is the entire preparation period, now complicated by having to use at least a little time for promotion of the previous book – a process which I assume gets worse as you publish more.

Added to that are the nice conversations (via email) I’ve had with people who’ve read Pride’s Children, some of whom have left lovely reviews.

And wondering about who the people are who’ve left reviews with either ‘Anonymous’ instead of a name, or who are people I’ve never heard of.

The latter kind are more exciting – one out of the first 12 positive reviews came from someone whose name I don’t recognize, who created a profile just to write this review, and vanished. (Thank you, Cris, whoever you are.)

Authors with more experience than I have, expect these. For me, each new oddity gets a tiny bit of attention. I scurry to make a copy of the review for my records when I see them, less Amazon decide for some reason best known to themselves to remove them.

VERBOTEN COMMUNICATION: READERS ARE OFF LIMITS

I’m fascinated by the interdiction on authors communicating with readers OR reviewers – and I can see it could easily become a zoo without the proscription. Half of the commentary I’ve read on Goodreads has to do with people defending or attacking two logical points of view:

  • authors should stay out of reviewer venues such as Goodreads and Amazon – those places are for readers only to express their opinions, except where clearly marked ‘for writers/authors’
  • some authors wanting to say thank you, thinking this will encourage reviewers – and lead to more reviews

I removed ‘desperately’ from the second phrase after I realized you can’t be impartial about these things if you use such adverbs. My opinion is that the first group is safest – if someone writes to me or posts a comment here or on the books’ site, they will get an answer, but I’m staying out of mine fields. Not nearly nimble enough, I’ve discovered, from trying to maintain peace and civil discourse on one of the GR threads.

PROMOTION – AN EFFORT HERE, AN EFFORT THERE

I’m waiting to hear from Ereader News Today whether they will take my money and give me a place on their lists; I’ve decided, after reading lots of things, that my primary category need to be ‘Contemporary Fiction,’ which may be the new ‘mainstream’ for stories set in the real world within recent memory.

There will be a Kindle Countdown Deal to go along with the ENT promotion, if they take me on.

I’m looking into Amazon giveways for ebooks and print books – Chris McMullen’s blog post had lots of details.

And I’m trying to get my brain organized to send a few print copies on walkabout via Book Crossing: you label the book a traveling book, get it a unique ID and register it at the site, and then either release the book into the wild (leave it somewhere, preferably where the cleaning staff won’t dispose of it) or give it a controlled release (ie, hand it to someone). If people keep handing it from person to person, or leaving it where someone can pick it up, AND go to the site to comment that they’ve had it/read it, you can see how far it goes in the world. Sounds a little iffy, but I’ve always wanted to do that.

One other advertising opportunity is to a specific group of people – if that works, I’ll report on it.

PREPARATION IS GOING WELL

I keep saying that – and I keep discovering new little areas of plot and characterization that I really ought to investigate BEFORE getting up to my ears in the writing.

It doesn’t help that I keep having days in which I stare at the wall, so I’m instituting some practices to minimize the effects of leaving the house, namely, much more deliberate resting practices before, after, and the next few days. Oh, and fewer carbs – those kill me.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll notice a lot less angst over the above – I do the best I can, and I don’t worry so much any more (because it never helps). Good days, like today, I try to use my time well. Bad days I try to ignore – but they are scary when my brain refuses to check in for a several days in a row (at which point I get really deliberate with those dratted naps – because, for me, the resting/pacing works).

The hope is that the preparation will mean that I can just write, and not have to stop and do research into obscure points, but I do realize you can’t predict everything you’ll need. It wouldn’t be any fun if you could.

But it doesn’t hurt to take a road map when you travel, does it now? Especially if you know you’re going to need frequent stops along the way.