Publishing, Reading, Writing

Libraries vs Pirates

PiracyI write. I love doing it. I also work full-time. Most writers must. Even writers that have multiple books published. Yes, there are writers who make quite a nice living from their craft. They are the exception. Most of us don’t.

I follow the publishing industry quite closely. The other day, on social media, I stumbled upon a book pirate, a thief, trying to justify illegally downloading a novel to the author from whom he was stealing. The pirate was confused at the author’s irritation with him. He seemed to think the writer should be flattered that he wanted to read his book at all. I found this quite disturbing as a writer. I know how much effort goes into getting your book from conception to publication.

I work at a local school system and pretty much live pay check to pay check. I work nights writing my books and blogs. Not much sleep happens. This is the way most writers live. And stealing their work is so damn disrespectful.

Please, don’t support piracy sites. A reader with nothing but lint in their pockets can go to their community library.  If the library does not have the book a reader is jonesing to read, most of libraries will order it for the reader free of charge.  This saves the cost of the book and supports writers and communities. Win. Win.

Stealing by downloading from piracy sites hurts the writer whether that writer is self-published or with a big  publisher. It’s stealing and it can tank the writer’s career.  The first book is a test for a writer. The publisher will look at sales to decide if the writer gets to keep his or her career. Pirating books can tank those sales numbers because those downloads do not register.

library university books students

Furthermore, stop thinking of big publishers as big, mean cooperations that deserve to get screwed. Publishers are made up of lots of hard-working people – editors, assistants, interns – people who need their jobs.

Pirate a book, that thief is also stealing from that new graduate working her way up through the first rungs of her career, living on ramen, barely making rent in an 8 x 5 room a forty-five minute train ride from the office. That’s who loses their job when the publisher starts to have to cut back because of selfish asshats stealing their product.

Then there’s the agent. For the most part, agents are super-heroes who work way over forty hours a week and only ever get paid if the author gets paid. They are the shepherds of the writer’s career, allowing the artist to concentrate on their craft, while taking care of all the business end of things. The pirate is stealing from the agent too and all the staff at the literary agency. Once more, it’s the bottom of the rung that finds themselves without work.

Piracy is illegal. Stealing is wrong. Going to the library, however, is always the right thing to do. And if a reader must own the book, there are contests, discounts, give aways they can participate in. There is also book sharing. Try that. Why be an asshat if there are so many better alternatives?

Thank you for not pirating art by download.

#WD17, Writing

A Yokel in QOTKU’s Court #WD17

So day 2 in New York is day 1 of the Writer’s Digest Conference 2017. The thing I am most looking forward to at the crack of dawn, after bidding my daughter a good day on set, is meeting my queen, Janet Reid.

I make my entrance to the first real day of the conference with an over-priced cup of coffee. Turns out I could have gotten it for free but who knew? The first session I attended was “Pitch Perfect” because as I mentioned in the last post, even though pitching is a tool of the devil, I was doing it.

I had no idea how to pitch my weird-ass fantasy novel. The best I had that morning was Paradise Lost meets Robin Hobb. I would figure it out later, maybe five minutes before walking in the pitch room. I still have beta readers to meander through so I wasn’t worried. I wanted mostly to avoid any terrible pit falls like “don’t stab agents with sharp objects.” I am a writer and ever so slightly psychotic.  I need to be told this.

Then there was the first page seminar. Great openings are a good way to get agents and editors reading. I knew about 90% of the examples given as great openings to several masterpieces. I felt so well read, but again, I have no idea if my weird book has a fantastic opening. Someone gets punched in the face. That is more or less a stock opening, wouldn’t you say? Maybe, I should change it.

Finally, it is time for “Ask the Agents” panel and my queen approaches. Janet Reid is a force of nature as you would expect a shark to be. She, Abby Zidle, and Barbara Poelle should go on the road as a comedy act. They were hysterical and super informative all at once. What a perfect combo, two agents and one editor.

Yes, Janet Reid is a shark. She is probably a very tough negotiator. Also, she is quite direct. She tells it like it is. She is also the most generous person in publishing. The word has gotten out despite all her bluster.

After the session, a huge gaggle of writers flock around her with their questions. I hang back until I can say hello. I agree to try and see her after her last session. She changed my writing life. I want as many other writers as possible to experience that whatever it is that keeps them writing. Already, the conference feels complete.

There is one more panel I am really looking forward to, the fantasy world-building seminar. Will Jeff Somers wear pants? At this point, we don’t know but Janet assures me that there is bail money in case the pants and Jeff are not properly joined.

Turns out fantasy writers simply don’t wear pants once they are all published and stuff. The conference cleverly put a skirt on the table they sat at, and all was well. What a great panel! I even said hi to Jeff and he bore my nervous chattering surprisingly well. He’s nothing like scary as one might expect.

I felt accomplished and now it was time for drink. It’s a writer’s conference, right? My daughter arrives earlier than expected this evening so we can visit somewhat properly. We try leaving the hotel in search of food close by hotel. We are both tired, her even more so than me, and it starts pouring rain. Of course it does. So back to the hotel for bar food and more drinks. The kid is on the verge of a breakdown, and this is when we spot my queen at one of the two bars in the hotel.

I suppose it was a little crazy what I did next considering my daughter and I both looked rather like drowned rats.  I introduce the kid to my queen. She is, of course, gracious and we bow and take our leave across the lobby to the bar with the food. I am happy. I would call that a successful day.

The next morning, I do the pitch slam thing, 3 minutes per agent to get their interest in my book. Yes, food of the devil. Whatever. I pitch to 4 agents, one who I would love to have represent me (based on his client list and the possibility of getting signed books from those authors) I get 4 requests. Excellent. I know, it doesn’t mean anything. I still must prove I can write.

I leave early. I need to go to Brooklyn to spend the rest of the day with the kid. I feel like I have a very marketable concept based on agent reaction so all is right the world, and it is a perfect sunny Saturday in New York.

I have an email from my queen instructing me on the best way to get to Brooklyn via train from Manhattan. I step out of the hotel. A street market has broken out. I take a right turn toward the train station. What could go wrong? Funny you should ask…

To be continued

#WD17, Writing

Life is All a Prologue #WD17

Where does this story begin? For the second time, I decided to go to the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. The first time changed my life forever so why not give it a second go?

I am always startled by New York. It reminds me of Mos Eisley space station in Star Wars – a meeting place for all the universe. All are welcome but you must adapt quickly or the city will eat you.

People from another galaxy seem as likely as the myriad of people from the other side of the planet. I think Men in Black was serious on that account. I do think I saw a Wookie at 6th and 53rd street where my Uber dropped me off at about 3 PM.  There I stood, just another alien on Broadway attending another writer’s conference with my pocket full of dreams.

My cell phone buzzes.

My daughter, who now lives in New York and is working in the film industry, texts me to say she thinks set will wrap by 6 PM, plenty of time for us to have dinner and a visit before the conference really gets started.

That is perfect. I check into the hotel, drop my bags in my room, and register for the conference. I got a ribbon for being a repeat offender, I mean attender.

I am happily playing with my ribbon when my phone buzzes again. Another text from the kid.

It’s looking like 7 PM for a wrap and she has to go out and buy swim suits for the shoot. Fine. Fine. It’s New York. I can find something to do.

I make like I’m brave and walk out of the hotel. No direction or anything. I find an Irish Pub around the corner and decide my mission has been accomplished. Kate and I love pubs. It’s close to the hotel. Even if she’s a bit late, we can make the walk, have a couple of pints, share a couple of nibbles and laughs, and there will still be time for me to prepare for the morning.

Cell phone again. It’s going to 8 PM on the wrap. Sorry mom.

Not a problem. I am tired anyhow. It has already been a long week. Back to the hotel room. Turn on my laptop and play with my WIP. I paid for a pitch session, and although my queen tells me pitches are the tool of the devil, I’m doing it.  I find I, myself, have always been one of the devil’s favorite tools, and I think a little face time with agents and editors can only help. I can tell if they are worthy if I get a good sniff.

Why did I write such a damn weird book? What was I thinking? I mean I love it, but are there millions of other people out there willing to go full weird? I worry. I order room service.

Cell phone once more. Another text. A long barrage of random curse words from my daughter followed by, maybe 9 PM. Maybe. She’s starving, she says.

I order salad and sweet things. We can crash in the room. She has to be back on set at the crack of dawn the next morning. Paying those dues sucks and honestly, it never ends.

I continue playing with my WIP – it really is just playing at this point. Parts of it are pretty damn good. Parts still need work. I should get it to my beta readers soon. Oh, perhaps I should formalize the whole beta reader thing soon? I make a note of it. Some of you may get pleading emails from me in the next few days. I’ve been at this writing thing for a bit so feel free to reject. I’m used to it.

Maybe the structure needs a tweak or small explosion here and there. Why did I write such an odd book? I must be as insane as my reputation claims. Ah well, what can you do?

Cell phone buzzes in another text a good bit after 9, another barrage of curse words and murderous thoughts. The kid no longer has an ETA.

I caution the kid that homicide of directors is not a career building activity despite the wisdom of that movie, Swimming With Sharks.  What a fantastic film.

The last moments of Thursday are almost gone when my daughter appears at my door. She woofs down the salad, strips off her clothes, gets in the shower (after rifling through my suitcase to borrow some clothes), and then collapses on spare bed. I was marginally prepared for this so she has a clean t-shirt to sleep in.

So I am at the gift shop at dawn, 6 Am on Friday, buying clean underwear and a toothbrush so the kid can be marginally less grimy when she returns to the set. And so this story begins.

To be continued…

Writing

Hot Pug in the City

Frankie  is a bit unsure how she feels about this new fangled city living. She is learning about elevators and little parks with area designated for dogs. There are no little streams and woods, and she laments the turtles, foxes, snakes, and rabbits we no longer encounter on our walks. And it is hot and muggy with many hills and stairs to climb. 

Everything is changing, but Frankie has all of her beds and toys, and her odd writer human to walk her, feed her, and rub her tummy. She is content. 

Frankie worried for a day or two that the human who feeds her might be devoured by all those boxes. It was a close thing too, but they were unloaded and their contents put in order.  Why does one human need so many books?

Frankie is pleased at how excited her human is about the recent feedback she received on her WIP from an actual editor. As Frankie sees it, if her writer human can publish, then perhaps the frequency of her day job jaunts will be shorter, and there will be more tummy rubs for her. 

The office has 2 beds that suit Frankie. That will make enduring the writer human’s long hours of revisions easier.  

With each hour, Frankie is happier and really, it is almost like that other place with the foxes, turtles, rabbits, and snakes was a dream that evaporates in the morning late. Time for a new chapter. 

Writing

Week 26 2016 -A Pillow Fort

IMG_0048My air conditioner died. During a heat wave. My daughter came to visit, and so with the heat and lack of air conditioning, we built a fort and played board games because why wouldn’t we? It’s what we always did when life threw storms at us when she was growing up. We would build a fort from pillows and blankets, and there we would play games, read books to each other. It was magical. The world would go away, and we would have this safe space isolated from the slings and arrows of life. Back in the days when my daughter had a bedtime, we would often play well past it, playing and reading until we both fell asleep in our little enchanted castle.  Things always seemed better in the morning. Both of us were kids living in paradise for a few hours once more. I can’t say the magic returned this weekend, but it was still a lovely little respite from our troubles.

My daughter only stayed the night because she’s all grown up now. She was in town for her father’s third wedding. She does try to go to all of them. She took my dog home with her for the week because it will be some days yet before my air conditioner is repaired – holiday weekend and part that needs to be ordered. I did not want Frankie to get too hot. Pugs do not do well in the heat. At all. 

IMG_0567I started working on three different new books. I can’t decide which one to commit to. I have the most invested in another book set in the same world as my last book as I know that world so well now. Then there is this lovely little science fiction/fantasy fusion sort of piece about a genetic engineering experiment going awry, a kind of Jurassic Park with dragons meets I Am Legend with Dark Elves. The other is about an enchanted roadside café for the lost and those in despair. This one is based on a short story I wrote that is hiding somewhere in this blog.

Perhaps, once I get my personal climate back under control I can start to focus again. Right now I feel like I am spiraling toward oblivion. It’s been that way for a while. I have good days, even months, but that is less and less. Now I am horrified that my writing ambitions will come to naught. I am so far from being able to get an agent now that I am starting over again, and I feel like I am running out of time. After all, I am not getting any younger, and I am not one of the immortals from my tales.

Game of Thrones, Publishing, Writing

Week 18 2016 Darkness My Old Friend

DarknessSo this week I totally lost my mind. It happens now and then. After the A to Z challenge, I picked up my manuscript thinking I would go ahead and indulge in another round of queries. Instead, I decided to rewrite the whole damn thing. Like I said, I have lost my damn mind.

I told folks at The Reef (writers, you do read Janet Reid’s blog, yes?) my plans, and Janet advised me to notify the agents I have outstanding requests with of my insanity, er, rewrite just to keep them in the loop. I know these agents are not anxiously awaiting my every written word. They have active clients and a full inbox of hopeful little queries. Still, it is the thing to do if Janet says so and I don’t want another shark bite or exile to Carkoon.  I spent the afternoon writing those agents. So that will probably slow down my upcoming “How I got an Agent” post by some time. How dreary.

I suppose those of you eager beavers who just jump right in with draft 1-3 will think me dangerously insane to be working on draft big number just shy of infinity. Quite possibly. Remember, each writer’s journey is different. Some are fast. Some are slow. Most are nuts. We all end up in the same place in the end.  Padded room. Strait jacket.

kingofdeadSo I am going to put on another pot of coffee, fuss over every other word in my manuscript, and then switch to whiskey before finding out who will be the next to die on Game of Thrones. I wonder who wins this game in the end. Is it the one who kills the most? Or the one that kills the exact right people? If I was a gambler , I would be betting on the dragons. But my instincts tell me the good money is on King of the Dead. He’s awesome as far as zombie making ice lord thingies go. I wonder if he’d be interested in being President of the United States? Loads of people would vote for him. I guarantee it. Even if he shoots someone on 5th Avenue.

 

 

A to Z Challenge, Beer, Publishing, Writing

Week 16 2016 -Headaches and Anticipation

QueryCatThis week saw me go O to T in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Is that the end of the alphabet I see there? I hope so. I must admit this has taken away from time I might, perhaps,  have better spent editing, revising, proofing, and polishing my current project for submission. Ah well, publishing isn’t going anywhere and this has been terrific practice and enforced a bit more discipline on me. I had a migraine that stretched Wednesday – Friday and I still managed to keep up.

Here is the week that was:

Ommegang_2– MondayOlde Town Bar #atozchallenge . This story told of a young girl kidnapped from the UK twelve years prior and taken to America, assisted by mysterious forces, and finding her way back home. In anticipation of tonight’s premiere of season 6 of Game of Thrones, I featured Ommegang’s line of Game of Thrones inspired beers. These are actually very good. Ommegang is a brewery out of Cooperstown, New York.

PirateBombTuesdayPirate’s Pier #AtoZChallenge  – I revamped a story I wrote in high school which eventually resulted in my fantasy series The Idylls of Alleysiande. It featured an American Double/Imperial Stout with a hell of kick (14.00 ABV) called Pirate Bomb from Prairie Artisan Ales out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

QueensLagerWednesdayQuery Pit – #AtoZChallenge – I was inspired by my time spent swimming in the Reef, an affectionate name for agent extraordinaire,  Janet Reid’s Award-Winning Blog which is frequented by writers, agents, readers, and editors of all walks of life. Regardless of what your career model is as a writer, traditional publishing, self-publishing, or hybrid, this is a literal treasure trove of knowledge that will only help you as a writer. For this tale, I featured Queen’s Lager out of Queens, New York in honor of QOTKU (The Queen of the Known Universe which is Janet’s official title and should be on her business card).

RedHare_WatershipThursdayRabbit’s Rebuke – #AtoZChallenge This little story was in many ways inspired by my daughter and my own struggles against societal norms. She is graduating from college in two weeks and does not wish to take the normal road. I believe she will be happier for it. A lot of my knowledge of beers comes from her. She is a bartender and loves it. She is also artistic and full of wanderlust. I hope she sees the world instead of hides from it as most seem to do. For this little story, I featured beers produced by Red Hare Brewing out of Marietta, Georgia.

StoneRuinationFridayStorm’s End Cafe #AtoZChallenge Finally, the week drew to a close and I challenged myself to take a broad cast of characters and bring them together. I really needed several more drafts, but it was a good exercise. I love stories that take seemingly unrelated lives and crash them into one another. I also left much in this tale up to the reader’s interpretation because I believe the best writing involves the reader bringing their own voice to the tale. I don’t know if I managed that, but it is something I strive for. The great stories do that. It’s why something like Harry Potter works so well because so many readers can bring their own experience to it and take something more out of it. I feature California’s Stone Brewing Co’s Ruination IPA as the beer in this story.

HatTrickHopSaturdayTower Peak #AtoZChallenge  A very short tale of an angel that falls quite unintentionally by trying to help. This rides along a theme that has long fascinated me ever since I encountered J.R.R. Tolkien and his Inklings. It shows up over and over again in literature through the ages. It is a constant struggle that so much evil done starts with a good intention. For this story, I featured Montana’s Tamarack Brewing company and their Hat Trick Hops IPA.

So now my watch is done for this week. Thanks for stopping by. For one more week we will travel to the end of the alphabet. For all of you participating in the A to Z challenge, good luck. See you on the other side of Z.