Monday, December 31, 2007

Meet Your Daemon

I'm restless tonight. My hand is throbbing inside the cast, and I'm trying to avoid a pain pill. I'm entertaining myself visiting my friends on line while waiting to get sleepy enough to go back to bed.

My friend Maria Zannini had a review of the film The Golden Compass here. One of the conceits of the story is that humans wear their souls outside their bodies in the form of an animal called a daemon. While you are a child developing, your daemon may take different forms, but by the time you are an adult your daemon is fixed.

The site for the film allows you to answer 20 questions and learn the identity of your own personal daemon. Of course, I immediately went to the site here to find my daemon.

When you get to the site, click on the Daemon icon in the toolbar. Then wait for the site to populate. There will be a "Meet Your Daemon" icon in the lower right of the screen. Then you can either listen to the daemon spiel or click on "Meet Your Daemon" again.

My daemon is named Anicetos. He's a tiger (Interesting since I was born in the year of the tiger). The site said I was assertive, competitive, inquisitive, spontaneous and a leader. It nailed the first four just fine. I have a serious problem getting along with authority figures so the "leader" thing is probably not a good fit
for me.

Go meet your daemon.

Rebuilding A Bridge

One of the things I've learned over the years is that I can overthink stuff. Instead of just going with the flow, I try too hard to analyze or to find meaning where there is none.

This post is a perfect example. I'd been trying to come up with a subject to blog about on the last day of the year. I'd vetted half a dozen ideas, but none felt right.

I ran to the market yesterday afternoon to pick up some black-eyed peas and salt pork for the New Year (a Texas tradition I've embraced). My supermarket runs a loop of soft rock music targeted at Baby Boomers. As I entered the store, Art Garfunkel was singing Bridge Over Troubled Water. I hummed along while picking up the few items I needed. The song ended just as I got on the checkout line.

I never turn off the car radio so it comes on when I switch on the ignition. When I returned to the car, A Prairie Home Companion blared out of the speakers. God love him, I cannot STAND the sound of Garrison Keillor's voice. I've said it before: that slow drawl is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. All that folksy humor makes my skin crawl. There's something about that show that just screams "smug" to me.

Trying to escape Keillor, I hit the first button on my radio, and Garfunkel singing Bridge Over Troubled Water eased my mind. I grinned at the coincidence of hearing the same song twice in ten minutes.

Last evening, a little over three hours later as I was winding down, I switched on PBS without checking the TV listings. There was a reprise of the Gershwin Prize show honoring Paul Simon. And, there was Paul and Art doing a duet of--you guessed it--Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Okay, I know it was a popular song, but that was almost forty years ago. Three times in less than four hours???? I sat on the den floor and watched the two men who've known each other, loved each other and sometimes hated each other for nearly fifty-five years.

At the time Simon wrote the title song to what would be their fifth and final studio album, the duo was pulling apart. They'd been singing as an act for thirteen years and being together constantly was wearing on their friendship. Garfunkel was off filming a movie when Simon wrote the song for him. Garfunkel initially resisted singing it, saying he thought Paul's voice was better suited to the piece. A couple of years later, Simon said giving that song to his partner was his biggest professional mistake.

The album Bridge Over Troubled Water was selected as the 51st greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003. It was also Columbia Records' best selling album.

As I've made my goals for 2008, I've thought a lot about friendship. I've been blessed with friends I've known since junior high and high school. I also have newer, very strong friendships.

2007 has been the best of times and the worst of times for me. I saw my first novel released and a contract for a second novel offered. I also had three (count 'em THREE) auto accidents in 2007--my first in more than twenty years. I've been stretched thin and distracted a lot of the time. Most days I barely covered all my responsibilities. I suspect I haven't been as good a friend as I should be.

Two things brought this home to me. One was my critique partner disappearing from sight. I'd known she was under a lot of stress, but my own daily burdens prevented me from realizing how serious the situation was. I'm not suggesting I could have prevented her from falling off the grid; I'm not that arrogant. I just wish I could have offered more support.

What goes around, comes around. My feelings were wounded last week when one of my best friends didn't call, just sent a terse "good luck tomorrow" email before my surgery and then didn't check in for more than three days afterward. I didn't need help, but I could have used a shoulder to whine on {grin}.

Among my personal resolutions for 2008 is to be a better, more supportive friend. To do that, I'll need to manage my time better, which means not over-scheduling myself. Perhaps that will also prevent my being so distracted.

And maybe . . . just maybe . . . hearing Bridge Over Troubled Water three times was what it took to get me to pay attention to the message.

Happy New Year, everyone. The video below is my rainbow, shared freely with you.

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water,
I will lay me down.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008 Can Be Your Do-Over Year

I returned to work this past Wednesday. I'm figuring things will be relatively peaceful until January 2nd, which should give me a chance to catch up on everything I've missed. And to think about the coming year.

My critique partners and I are working on our goals for 2008.

I'm a huge believer in goal-setting for the important stuff. It's a quirk in my personality because most of the time I wing it. I don't know what I'm going to wear until I look in the closet that morning (right now, I'm wearing a turquoise sock and a Kelly green sock); I don't think about what I'm going to eat until I'm hungry; and I love spontaneous road trips.

However, when it comes to the really important things, I set goals. If I needed to drive to Quebec from Dallas as quickly as possible, I'd use a road map to plan the trip. When I finally decided I wanted to write professionally, I scratched out a five-year plan for myself. It was so detailed (and I was so determined), I achieved all my goals in three and a half years.

I love the beginning of a new year. No matter how awful the previous one has been, you get a do-over, a chance to try again. You get to wipe the slate clean and re-write your story for the new year.

Such tremendous opportunities should never go to waste.

In this post, I'm only going to address my writing goals. I have separate goals for my personal and "other" professional life.

I divided my writing goals into four categories:

1) The actual writing: What I want to accomplish in 2008

2) My craft: How I plan to go about improving my writing this year

3) Contracting: What I'd like to accomplish in terms of obtaining new writing contracts (and how I'm going to do that)

4) Marketing: Growing my own name and marketing my books

After I establish my goals, I break each one down into very specific steps. These steps are the way I reach my goals. For example, if I were to say I wanted to complete an 85K-word paranormal by December 31st, I'd need to write about 1,650 words a week between January 1 and December 31.

If, however, I have another deadline in 2008 (which I do) and could not start on the paranormal manuscript until later in the year, I'd need to upgrade my word count goal to accommodate this shortened schedule. As it is, I'll have to write about 2,400 words a week in the latter half of the year to reach my paranormal goal.

Under Craft, I included the obvious: take two classes this year and read four books--one a quarter. Two of those will be books on craft, but the other two will be writers writing in my genres so I can see the devices they use to move a story along.

Also under Craft is something less obvious that I've been putting off. I need a new critique partner to replace one who dropped out of sight four months ago. I've been putting this off because I was harboring the hope she'd return from wherever she's gone. No one who knew her knows what happened. My phone calls and emails have gone unanswered. She'll continue in my thoughts and prayers, but it's time to fill the cavity.

There was talk on my agent's blog recently about the difference between getting your name out there and getting your books' names out there. Obviously your publisher is more interested in marketing the books. You need to be doing both--marketing you and marketing your books.

So, have you started your 2008 goal list? If not, why not?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Update on Writers' Strike

Yesterday, Entertainment Weekly reported that the American Film Institute listed the writers' strike as their top moment of significance for 2007. "The AFI called the strike 'part of a larger paradigm shift,' adding that 'the ongoing digital revolution has upended conventional economic models'..."

The ongoing strike, involving more than 12,000 writers, began on November 5th and targeted the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Talks broke off on December 7th, according to the Orlando Sentinel, when "the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, insisted it would not bargain further unless the Writers Guild of America dropped proposals that included the authority to unionize writers on reality shows and animation projects."

The writers' union responded by telling its members two weeks ago today it was going to try dealing directly with studios and production companies, thereby going around the AMPTP.

The writers' union has followed through on its threat to pursue "separate talks with smaller, independent production companies."

Yesterday, Yahoo News reported that "Late-night TV comedian David Letterman has reached a deal with the union representing striking screenwriters that will let his show return to the air next week with his writing staff..."

This deal comes at a time when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is considering cancelling the Golden Globes, one of the top Hollywood award shows. The Golden Globes is scheduled to be broadcast live on January 13. Writers have threatened to picket the show, and celebrities are concerned about crossing that picket line.

The Writers Guild of America has also threatened to picket the Oscars on February 24 if the strike has not been settled by then.

The ironic thing is that Hollywood had a terrific year in 2007 according to AP writer David Germain. "Unlike many years when one or two studios might dominate while others are stuck with flops and underachievers, every major distributor had its share of hits."

Stay tuned for more . . .

Friday, December 28, 2007

Google Takes On Wikipedia

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on December 15 about a new initiative by Google:

Google Inc. is taking aim at popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia with a new service that will let users write authoritative entries on subjects they know about -- and provide the Internet search engine with more content that can carry ads.
The new platform, which is being privately tested, will allow users to create pages that contain their photos and entries about a wide variety of subjects. The pages will be known as "knols," which Google said stands for a unit of knowledge.

Readers will be able to review and rate the entries as well as suggest edits. Google insists it will neither edit nor control content. Authors will have the ability to place Google ads on their knols, and Google will share the revenue with the authors.

The big question is whether Google will give preference to its own knols with ads over Wikipedia's ad-free content. Google insists they will rate the knols the same way it ranks all other Internet pages.

Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, says he isn't concerned about Google's new venture "because it seemed to him that Google would end up compiling a series of blogs rather than an authoritative encyclopedia. With more than 75,000 active contributors, 2.1 million English-language articles and a dominant position in search results, Wikipedia has a huge head start."

It will be interesting to see (1) if Wales is right, and (2) if Google abides by its promise not to favor its own program.

Remember your motto, Google: Do no evil.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Predictions For 2008

This morning's Online Media Daily had an article by Karlene Lukovitz in which she asked various media pundits to make predictions about next year.

I've selected half a dozen predictions that I found interesting. Here they are:

• Mark Zagorski, chief marketing officer, MediaSpan Group, Inc.
Prediction: A user-generated news portal will launch and become the most highly trafficked news Web site in the world. Google will purchase it and finally do what they said they wanted no part of-- becoming a content producer. But they will do so without hiring a single writer.

• Mitch Lowe, CEO, Jumpstart Automotive Media
Prediction: 2008 will be the year that targeting by audience, rather than context, will become the norm.

• Dana Ghavami, CEO, CheckM8Inc.
Prediction: As 2007 was the year that validated the online medium as a crucial part of the advertising mix, 2008 will be a defining year for how online ad inventory will be brokered. The major media portals and networks will attempt to become clearinghouses of online advertising, while media sellers and buyers will be jiving with marketplace exchanges for direct ad placements. All in all, ad dollars will find the best ways to reach content-specific sites, rather than increased spending in broader strokes.

• Thomas Ordahl and other executives from Group 1066, LLC
Prediction #1: Google stirs up telecom. Google has been rattling its saber about the January spectrum auction, to the tune of at least $4.6 billion. Google's intention to provide open access to the data network could mean a new kind of broadband access that would be significantly cheaper for customers than the telcos' current, closed offerings. Whatever the auction's outcome, Google's participation will shake up what has become a very staid game.

Prediction #2: Open-sourcing will be the strategy of the year on the campaign trail. The 2008 primary season has already seen the emergence of the open-source campaign. The rabid supporters of Ron Paul raised over $4 million in one day, independent of the Congressman's campaign. YouTube and other social networking sites are overflowing with supporter-created content intended to sway opinion.

Prediction #3: "Crowd" will be the word of the year. Businesspeople love buzzwords, and none will be buzzing more than terms paired with "crowd." They'll replace 2007's mashup as the most overused, over-hyped phrases. Get ready for crowdsourcing, crowdstorming, crowdbursting and who knows what else.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Great Debate(r)s

Let's talk about my baggage.

While I have never had the least interest in organized sports, I grew up with three brothers, the youngest of whom became a sports columnist for one of the country's top newspapers.

During high school, I dated the school photographer so I spent a lot of Friday nights freezing my tush off while he photographed football games.

As an adult woman in the company of males, I have watched probably every sports film ever made--either on television or in the theatre. I've seen Rocky (boxing), Karate Kid (karate), Hoosiers (basketball), Remember the Titans (football), Seabiscuit (racing), Miracle (hockey) and countless movies about baseball, America's national sport.

So, believe me, when I say I'm as familiar with the formula for inspirational sports movies as any fan.

Like half the country, we went to the movies today. We opted to see The Great Debaters.

On its surface, the film is the standard David-versus-Goliath tale based on a true story. In 1935, the debate team from tiny Wiley College, a black school in rural Texas, defeated the top national team in the country. Denzel Washington reprises his role in Remember the Titans as a tough, uncompromising coach who leads his team to victory.

The film takes some dramatic license. It portrays Wiley defeating Harvard when, in fact, the top national debating team was USC--the University of Southern California. The win was not official because blacks were not allowed to belong to the official debating society. Nonetheless, the fact that an underfunded poor southern black team could defeat an affluent white team was a huge triumph.

A lot of critics panned the movie for being predictable. Well, duh. Let's remember it's based on a true story. A true story that is special because of its "underdog triumphant" theme. If the debate team hadn't won, there wouldn't have been a story.

And The Great Debaters is so much more than that. Like Seabiscuit did in 2003, it shows a slice of Americana: at the time, the U.S. was only halfway through The Great Depression, and racism was alive and well. The infamous Jim Crow laws--mandating the supposedly "separate but equal" treatment for people of color--were thirty years from being overthrown by the Supreme Court. The Great Debaters shows what it meant to be black in the south in 1935 ("They lynch Negroes in Texas").

The film is wonderful. It is a testament to determination, pride, and the American spirit that I grew up admiring.

I started this post talking about my baggage, and it's fitting that I should end it the same way.

Over the last six years, my pride in being an American has taken a beating under the current administration, which I've seen as arrogant, condescending, opportunistic, corrupt, unlawful, untruthful and--quite frankly--stupid. This film reminded me that, while this country sometimes loses its way at enormous cost to some of its most vulnerable citizens, its people eventually do the right thing. Frequently, the nation has to be shamed into doing the right thing, but people of good will do triumph. The fanatics at either extreme are defeated by people of good sense and good conscience.

I am going to start 2008 in an optimistic and constructive frame of mind. And I'm going to stop being politically correct. We got into this mess by ignoring the outrageous behavior of the Bush Administration. I'm not going to stand silently by any more.

Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman who supported the young American colonies, is often quoted as saying "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Whether he said it or not, it's a good sentiment.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Ultimate Question

I just finished watching the Christmas night version of Nightline.

Cynthia McFadden interviewed four icons: Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Bono and Paul McCartney.

I was working on my blog so I wasn't really paying attention until they got to Paul McCartney. The interview only included one question and one answer. I'm paraphrasing here:

CMcF: For thirty-seven years there's been one question I've wanted to ask.

PMcC: Okay, then. Ask away.

CMcF: Did Yoko Ono break up the Beatles?

PmcC: [snorts] No.

CMcF: [shaking hands] Asked and answered. Thanks.

For unto us a Child is born

For the past week, I've slept something like eighteen hours a day. Yesterday was the first day that I managed to get by with just a two-hour nap.

For most of the day, I played sacred music while writing or reading. I stopped what I was working on to listen to Handel's Messiah. It is truly one of the most inspiring pieces of music in Western civilization.

George Frideric Handel borrowed heavily from the Bible for his three-part oratorio celebrating the birth and Passion of Christ and the promise of redemption that He offered the world.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given:
And the government shall be upon His shoulder:
And His name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

The libretto for the famous Hallelujah Chorus comes from Revelations. George II of Great Britain stood during the Hallelujah Chorus. Tradition has it that he stood as a sign of respect for the King of Kings. Because he stood, the rest of the audience followed suit, beginning a custom for audiences everywhere.

I went looking for a copy of the Hallelujah Chorus as my gift to you today.

I hope you and yours will enjoy this day. If you are not a Christian, I hope you may enjoy the day as one in which you are offered the hand of peace and friendship. One need not be a Christian to appreciate the Hallelujah Chorus.

May the Maker of us all grant you warmth, peace and love.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas Eve

Texas has had many colorful characters, among them a number of independent-thinking writers. One of those writers is a name you may not recognize: John Henry Faulk.

Faulk was born in 1913 in Austin, Texas. His parents were Methodists who hated racism. He studied under J. Frank Dobie at the University of Texas where he earned a Master's degree. For his thesis, Faulk recorded ten African-American sermons from churches along the Brazos River, inspiring his life-long interest in civil rights.

Faulk taught English at UT. When turned down by the U.S. Army during WWII, he joined the Merchant Marines and then the Red Cross. After the war, he moved to New Jersey where he hosted a variety of radio programs from 1946 to 1957.

The following is from Wikipedia's entry on the Hollywood Blacklist:

[T]he entertainment industry blacklist...the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or associations, real or suspected.

A key figure in bringing an end to blacklisting was John Henry Faulk. Host of an afternoon comedy radio show, Faulk was a leftist active in his union...He was scrutinized by AWARE, one of the private firms that examined individuals for signs of Com-
munist sympathies and 'disloyalty.' Marked by the group as unfit, he was fired by CBS Radio.

Almost uniquely among the many victims of blacklisting, Faulk decided to sue AWARE in 1957. Though the case would drag through the courts for years, the suit itself was an important symbol of the building resistance to the blacklist...

On June 28, 1962, the jury awarded him the largest libel judgment in history to that date — $3.5 million. An appeals court later lowered the amount to $500,000.

Legal fees and accumulated debts erased the balance of the award. With this court decision, the private blacklisters and those who used them were put on notice that they were legally liable for the professional and financial damage they caused.

After the court decision, Faulk went on to speak about the First Amendment and civil rights at universities around the country.

In his later years, he appeared on the television show Hee-Haw as a humorist/storyteller.

Protest singer Phil Ochs recorded a tribute to Faulk titled "The Ballad of John Henry Faulk."

Faulk was awarded the Paul Robeson Award in 1983. He died in 1990.

Every Christmas, I listen to Faulk's "Christmas Story" on NPR. He recorded it in 1974. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do. The link is here.

No matter how you celebrate this time of year, I wish you the happiest of holidays.

Warm regards,


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Update Time

Sorry to have fallen off the radar screen. Between the broken hand, the pending surgery, the online class and the upcoming holidays, I've been stretched pretty thin.

Update time. My surgery has been postponed until this Tuesday. I won't return to the university until the day after Christmas.

The online class is going well. It ends this Friday. Next commitment: I'll be talking at the Dallas Area Writers Group on January 8.

My wonderful agent, Jacky Sach, advised this week that Grupa Planeta purchased the rights to Bad Girl in Spain. The advance was enough that I'm probably ensured of earning out the NAL advance to me on Bad Girl [Thank you, God]. Next deadline: Hurry up and finish Bad Boy .

My plan is to resume my regular blogging on January 1st. Until then, I'll probably continue as I have with intermittent, odd emails. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What a Feeling

I saw another commercial that tickled me tonight. The Kia salesman dancing to "Maniac."

"Maniac" was one of two Oscar-nominated songs for 1984 from the film Flashdance. The other one, the Flashdance theme--"What a Feeling"--won the best original song category.

Just for fun--which I need--here is the commercial as well as both the songs from Flashdance in one video.


In the unlikely event that you don't know the Flashdance story, it's about a young Pittsburgh welder named Alex Owens who also works as an exotic dancer. Her dream is to be admitted to a prestigious dance company. "Maniac" is a song she practices for her act at the nightclub. "What a Feeling" is the song she performs for the five judges of the school. She incorporates break dance moves--the street dancing that began in the South Bronx in the '70s.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday, Monday

Today was just one of those days. One of those good-news/bad-news days.

The good news: Dinah has resigned herself to her life of captivity. It didn't come easily. This morning, the little stinker slashed out at my good hand--my only hand right now--when I bent down to stroke her head. I bled like a stuck pig.

Not being one to turn the other cheek--or hand--I scooped her up and threw her out the door into the cold rain.

Bobbin was thrilled. He took up post at the French door with the air of a Dallas Cowboy fan watching his 12-1 team play.

I left her out there for thirty minutes before letting her back inside.

It was magic.

She hasn't growled, snarled or slashed since.

The bad news is that I'll be having surgery on Friday. I went back to see the surgeon today for a checkup of my broken hand. My plan was to trade out my Kelly green cast for a crimson red one for the holidays. Instead I learned that my index finger bones had separated and slipped. It will take surgery to put them back and pins to hold them in place.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Life As A Screw In A Prison

Four in the afternoon, 38 degrees outside with a wind chill of 29 degrees. We're expecting our first hard freeze of the season tonight in North Texas, nearly three weeks later than usual.

And I'm living in an armed camp.

Some of you will remember that I adopted a six-month old kitten last October that I named Dinah. It has not been all sweetness and light. I got her the necessary shots and had her spayed. Even so, she has been a wild thing, sneaking out of the house whenever a door was opened. I finally accepted she was more feral than domestic. For the last four months, I've allowed her to come and go at will.

About every two days, she shows up, eats like a piglet and leaves. She is still very small--not yet two years old--and probably about eight pounds. She's a tough little bitch, snarling whenever Bobbin even looks at her.

We've had a weather alert for nearly three days, and I'd been concerned because it had been four days since I'd seen Dinah. Yesterday afternoon as I was coming home from the market, I saw her strolling up the hill nearly six houses from mine.

My feelings were a combination of relief and alarm. Relief because she was alive and alarm because she was so far from my house. In my experience, a cat who has accepted a home does not wander farther than three properties in any direction.

I called to her, and she came running. She let me pick her up but--when I put her in my car--she jumped out the open window.

I drove home and parked, walked to the corner and called to her. She came running, raced into the house and went straight for the food.

The trouble started when she realized I was not going to let her leave again. With the sleet storm expected tonight, I wasn't willing to risk her not returning.

She started by standing at the door and whining. Then she began pacing between the front door and the French doors in the den. Finally she resorted to throwing her undersized body at the glass.

I ignored her. Bobbin was fascinated. Unfortunately, she took her bad temper out on him, attacking him.

Now the house is divided into two camps. Dinah owns the den, breakfast room, kitchen and laundry room. Bob lays claim to the rest of the house. Neither is happy. Bob resents not being able to prowl his entire domain. Dinah hisses and growls at me when I pass her.

Heaven help me.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

e-Book Update

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Guests, like fish, smell after three days." He should have thanked his stars he hadn't smelled a cast after three weeks.

Everyone tells me I'm imagining things, but I KNOW this flipping cast stinks. A close friend has started calling me LB--for Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare's character was made crazy by the blood on her hands; for me, it's the smell of the hand.

I go back to the surgeon for X-rays on Monday, and I'm determined to get a new cast. A friend tells me that would be a mistake. He argues that the swelling has gone down, giving me a tiny but crucial bit of extra room inside, and says that a new cast would be tighter and more uncomfortable--for the next month.

Peter Svensson, the Associated Press' Technology Writer, had an article on Tuesday titled "Slow-Starting e-Books Find Niche Markets."

Svensson says, "if you look away from the mainstream publishing industry, e-books are already a success in a few niches, where they are giving rise to new ways of doing business. The standout example is role-playing games, but buyers of college textbooks and even romance novels are warming to e-books.

Steve Wieck, publisher of role-playing games, and Michael Skarka, an e-book publisher, "estimate that e-book sales make up 10 percent of the $25 million in annual RPG (role-playing games) sales...By comparison, the Association of American publishers puts 2006 e-book sales at $54 million, .02 percent of total book sales of $24.2 billion."

Role-players buy shorter length books containing the elaborate rules for their games in e-books; school and college textbooks are also turning up in e-books; and homeschoolers are getting interested in e-books.

"Toronto-based Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. publishes 120 to 140 romantic novels per month, all of which are also sold as e-books. But it's also started selling short stories exclusively as e-books, selling them for 89 cents. E-book sales still make up less than 1 percent of Harlequin's sales, according to Malle Vallik, the company's director of digital content."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Writer As Self-Employed

Okay, so I lied. I intended to post last night, but my Outreach International class had so many questions, it was after midnight before I answered them all. I just posted Lesson 2, and I'm hoping it will keep the students busy for a while.

There are twenty people in the class. In Lesson 1, I had them assess their strengths and weaknesses. By far, their chief concerns were lack of motivation and discipline.

I don't remember addressing that issue on this blog before.

Most of us have jobs where we're surrounded by infrastructure. We have bosses and co-workers who--by their very presence--bring accountability to us.

Writers need to think of themselves as being self-employed. Self-employed people need to be self-starters, able to motivate themselves without outside prodding. It can be tough; especially when the words aren't flowing.

I'm preaching the virtues of BICHOK: butt in chair, hands on keyboard. What worked for me was to have a specific place, a specific time and a specific goal for the number of words required. Rituals and expectations help substitute for bosses and co-workers.

Think of it as building up your muscles as a writer. It takes both practice and experience, but eventually when you put your butt in the chair, it becomes automatic for you to start writing.

One of the most prolific modern writers is romance writer Nora Roberts. She answered questions for readers in this week's Time here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Slow Lead-Up To Blogging Again

Okay, I'm going to ease back into this blogging thing. For today, I'm just going to give you a link and a YouTube video.

First, the YouTube video. I've probably seen more television over the last two weeks than I've seen in the last two months. Since the accident, I've had trouble concentrating enough to either write or read. So, on the nights I'm alone, I've spent an inordinate amount of time watching television.

I have probably seen this Verizon commercial a dozen times. It never fails to crack me up. I hope the girl with the pony gets more acting gigs.

And now for the link to one of the newer blogs on the Internet.

I have to admit I'm conflicted about this blog. The nurturing female in me goes "Awwww." The realist in me worries about domesticating a wild animal. See what you think.

Here's the link to The Daily Coyote. Be sure to go back to the month of September to see the first photos. They're priceless. I've just made this one my screensaver.

I'm Back

Hi, everyone. I'm back--sort of.

December is going to be a busy month for me. I resume blogging today, of course. I'll probably have another post later in the day.

I'm also teaching a three-week online class starting Monday for Outreach International titled "Developing a Business Plan For a Career as a Writer." And I still have my job at the university, my WIP and the small matter of the upcoming holidays.

I don't yet have a final count on the class size because December 1 is the last day to enroll.

If you have never visited Outreach International's campus, you should. OIRW is a chapter of RWA, but they offer classes for all writers. The link is here.

I've decided to resume blogging slowly--mostly because of the freaking cast on my left hand. Since I broke the bones leading to my index and middle fingers, I can't use them. My poor left thumb is doing yeoman's duty.

Since I'll be posting lessons on OIRW on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, until I get the cast off, I'll plan to blog on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Of course, I'll probably get exercised about something and post a blog in-between times, too.

Thanks to everyone who sent their prayers and best wishes both on and off blog. You helped a lot during a very dark time.