Thursday, June 24, 2010

To podcast or not to podcast - that is the question.

Where I Am: I think I've been at my computer so long, I've become part of it, like the sailors aboard Davy Jones' ship.

What I'm Listening To: My Sims music and my whirling thoughts

I just finished up with a Writer's Digest Webinar on the subject of podcasting your writing in order to reach your readers.


I honestly don't know how I feel about all I learned today. It totallly flies in the face of what one ordinarily thinks of publishing and so on. In this case, author Seth Harwood created his own fanbase which ultimately led to publication of his books. He did this by putting his books online as free serial audiobook podcasts. Obviously, this worked for him. Look him up on Amazon or Google him and you will find he's done very well. He also founded CrimeWAV and co-founded Author Boot Camp with this same idea in mind.

So, do I serialize my book and make it available as a free audio podcast? I don't know. I would like to build the author's platform that is so often suggested. I just don't know if this is the method that I will really most enjoy and be most comfortable following. It does give me a lot to think about. Thankfully, this isn't one of those decisions I must make, you know, NOW. I can ponder it, read about it (yes, I did order Christina Katz' book after her kind and helpful comment on my last blog post), and generally research the heck out of it.

I could, of course, try a seriously modified approach and make audio files of some of my short stories available. It doesn't have the same appeal as a serialized book, I know, but I could get my feet wet that way and consider what I'm comfortable putting out there. That would have the added advantage of something I could try right away as I complete the editing and polishing of my novel.

Argh. For the moment, however, I'm going to go give my poor brain a rest.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Speak to me of platforms.

Where Am I: trapped in the pale glow of my laptop screen

What Am I Listening To: the sounds of My Sims Racing which is incongruous at best

So, the Writer's Platform, huh? It was inevitable that this should come up, really. I'm a new writer, after all, and like nearly all writers, I'd like to be published in the not-so-distant future. I say 'nearly all' because I do know a handful of delightful but sometimes incomprehensible people who write like mad without ever intending to show their work to anyone. I love them even when I boggle at them.

At any rate, here I am without so much as a plank, let alone a platform, to stand on. Obviously, this blog and my associated website ( are my attempts to build. However, I am aware that simply having a blog, a site, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page to not a platform make. Someone has to look at all this stuff, you know? Not only that, I have to provide frequent updates that are actually of interest to more than myself.

But, hey! No pressure! Right? Oy.

I have to admit, I'm still largely baffled by the whole idea of building a platform. I'm not clear on precisely what I'm after here. I know I should have lovely readers for my blog. I know people should be visiting my site. But I have so many other questions yet to be addressed. If you Google my name, should it be the very first thing that pops up on the results page? How do I get it to be the very first thing that pops up on the results page? Am I supposed to be posting samples of my work? How in the world do I determine what is interesting content for my readers? How do I get the following of readers I pretty obviously should have? When, in the midst of all this self-promotion, am I supposed to write the darned books? Do I worry about this platform building after I've begun to query (which doesn't really sound right to me)? Do I hold off on queries until the platform is fairly solid?


I guess I'll seek out answers to these mysteries when I need a break from the rather wearying process of editing the heck out of my manuscript. Any and all advice from my readers (are you out there?) would be much appreciated.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why? Why, why, why?

Where Am I: at the dining room table - they'll have to eat elsewhere

What Am I Listening To: Phineas and Ferb in the background

A seemingly harmless thread over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler got me thinking (now, just keep your smart remarks on that subject to yourselves, please). The question was simple. Would you use your real name or a pen name on your published work?

I am surprised by the number of women (who include myself) who have chosen to use their initials because (though there may be other reasons, as well) they are women writing in a male dominated genre and feel the readers/editors/reviewers will not view them as favorably as their male counterparts.


I don't like this, people! Why should there be any difference? How often have we heard that the most important thing is to write a great story? Sure, we need to be thoughtful when crafting our queries and selecting agents or editors to approach. It isn't a bad idea to build some sort of online presence as well (yet another reason for this blog, right?). But none of that matters if the story doesn't wow the reader. So, can someone please explain to me why anyone should feel that gender indicated by their name should have any influence over the success of their writing?

I don't have any clever hypothesis on this one. I don't have any brilliant articles to link or quote. I just have a sense of indignation that this should even be a consideration.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thank you, Herr Gutenberg!

Where I Am: in my favorite chair, where I do most of my writing

What I'm Listening To: something baroque-ish - dunno what

If you haven't paid a visit to the blog, "Outside the Box" (link in my side bar to the left near the bottom), you should hop over now. Laurie posted an interesting observation on how the changes in communication have changed the world. As she pointed out, there are only three hundred years between the quill and ink and the text message. It boggles the mind.

This lead me to think about how we developed our abilities to communicate so rapidly and in such varied ways. This led me to post long-windedly to Laurie's blog, letting her enjoy my rambling thoughts. I have to tell you, folks, I think we need to thank Gutenberg and his movable type press.

Here. I'll link you to Laurie's entry so you, too, can try to follow my sometimes wandering reason.

So, thanks, Herr Gutenberg! I bow deeply before you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why I Love My Writing Group

Where I Am: family room

What I'm Listening To: nothing right now, which is rather peaceful

I will, no doubt, mention my writing group more than once over the course of time. Why? Because I really do love them. Wonderful people, talented writers, and definitely good friends. I'm very grateful.

For the past several years, in fact, since the beginning of my efforts to fashion myself into a writer, I've had the good fortune to be involved with a group of people who were walking the same path as I. Our numbers have fluctuated slightly over time due to demands of the real world, but on the whole, we've steadily met once a week to discuss our projects and help each other along. Let me give you an example of one of our meetings.

To begin with, we are scattered, literally, over the globe, so we make use of a free online instant messaging program. This sounds impersonal, but it isn't really. We have played with webcams and mics at various times. They're amusing but the truth is, the text chats are more practical. We keep hard copies of our chats so our notes are always available to us as we write. By the way, I don't suppose I need to mention the challenges of having members in three or four different time zones on both sides of the International Dateline, do I?

Before we actually meet online, we have looked over the text to be discussed at our meeting. We take turns each week. If it is my turn, I send whatever I've been working on to the other members a couple of days before we meet. Thank goodness for email! We all have time to review the work, make some notes, and be ready to discuss it in detail. Once we're together in an online chat, we go over our notes. This usually spurs additional discussion about where the story is going, what the characters are like, what the author in question might do differently, what has been done well, and so forth. The number one rule is respect for each other's work. I know, I know. DUH. But it still needs to be said. It's important. Our writing is an extension of the workings of our minds and it's personal, you know?

The next important thing to remember is that the author is never obliged to take all the advice of the group. In the end, my story is my story and while I might consider a change suggested by my group, if it just doesn't fit with my vision, I don't need to use it. Still, if the group sees an issue, I'd be mightily dim to ignore their advice completely. So, suggestions are given due consideration.

This is great, don't you think? It's an open exchange of ideas and we've had lots of really creative things come out of our discussion. Knots in plot threads have been untangled, road blocks have been blasted away. Good stuff. This is so wonderful for a writer, I think.

Writing is a solitary pursuit, really. No matter how often we may log on to a writing forum (I suggest the Absolute Write Water Cooler, by the way. Find the link on the margin of this page.) or how often we meet with a writing group, our work is our own. In the end, our stories fly or flop by our own efforts. So, when we do find a group of people with whom we can exchange ideas and are willing to hear us whine, that's worth a lot.

I've been fortunate enough to find such a group and that, my friends, is why I really love my writing group.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Editing the Novel of DOOM

Where I Am: spread all over the dining room table (well, my laptop, manuscript, and other papers - not me personally)

What I'm Listening To: silence and a constant inner monologue that goes something like, "Erk. Oh, seriously? Geez..."

Editing. Ugh. I'm sure I don't have any new things to add to the litany of whining that generally makes up any conversation between writers on the subject of editing. Suffice to say, I don't like it either.

What does interest me is the totally different perspective I have on a scene that I wrote lo, these many months ago, now that I've had some time to separate myself from it. Sometimes, I think, "Eh, doesn't stink, but it's a little clunky." Other times, I think, "Okay. I'll buy that." There are even a few rare and wonderful moments when I read a few lines and just grin from ear to ear. "YES!" Right now, I'm grappling with a scene that just makes me cringe. I don't know what in the world I was thinking when I wrote it. It's bad. BAD, I tell you. It's like every new author boo-boo ever known all in the span of about three paragraphs. Whoa.

I suppose I should rejoice that I can recognize the problems now. I've come a long way, baby. Really, I am pleased about that part. But, oh my goodness, rewriting that section is daunting. It's that whole fragile self-confidence thing again.

"If it was that terrible then and you didn't see it, what terrible thing are you doing now that you still don't see?"

Thank goodness I have several good friends waiting in the wings to critique this thing for me. Good friends who will tell me the truth, even if it is embarrassing for all concerned.

Now, back to work.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Self-Doubt Is So Predictable

Where I Am: family room (where I usually am this time of evening)

What I'm Listening To: the parrot chattering in the next room

This isn't anything new. I know it's not. In fact, I've experienced varieties of this before. It's the Ever-Horrible Self-Doubt. Ungh.

You know the scenario, right? You stare at your manuscript and think, "Dear heavens, what was I thinking? What ever made me believe this was a good idea? Do I even know what I'm doing here? Geez..." This goes on for awhile until you drag yourself off to bed where a decent night's sleep restores your sense of humor about the whole thing.

Tonight, I am having a new round of doubts. My first draft is complete and I've begun the editing. If you'd asked me a few hours ago, I'd have told you it was coming along well and that I felt I had a pretty good handle on what needed to be done. That, however, was a few hours ago. Now, I'm not so sure. Worse still, I feel as if I may have, through my inexperience and questionable skill, led another writer astray. Logically, I know this is nonsense. My manuscript is on the right track, I'm not completely lacking in skill (though I am inexperienced), and I haven't led anyone anywhere.

The problem is, a manuscript that I have critiqued extensively has been turned down again, this time after a request for a partial. The agent liked the premise but felt the writing didn't draw her in. To this, I thought, "WHAT??? How? Why? Did we read the same book?" *SIGH*

Doggone it, I think this manuscript is good. Now, if this was the first agent who said he/she was not drawn into the story, I'd ignore it. But since this has been said several times now, I guess notice must be taken. Frankly, I feel guilty about it. I didn't think it was hard to get into. I enjoyed it. Does this mean that the manuscript is fine and simply hasn't found its home yet or does it mean I am woefully incompetent? Tonight, I am unsure of the answer.

I expect that a good night's sleep will be the cure for this crisis as it has been for the others. Tomorrow, it will likely look a lot better and, who knows? I may even have some exciting new insights or something. Stranger things have happened. But for the moment, I feel inept, inadequate, and a lot of other 'in' words that aren't good things to feel.