It’s complicated. Part II (or The road to publication)

Last time in this complicated series, we talked about my friend, Danny, who asked “What does it take to become a published author?”

I know you’ve been patiently waiting, so here’s my looong answer:

“Wow. First of all, learn to write really well. Whatever every English teacher has ever taught you becomes gold you will continuously mine. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but spelling, punctuation, dialogue, story structure, and proper grammar are paramount. Next, practice, practice, practice. Keep journals, write articles and/or stories in long and short form. Read and study poetry, because they are excellent forums for learning colorful descriptions, analogy and flow. Also, read everything you can get your hands on, from newspapers, magazines, to classics, and current bestsellers. Oh, and study. Take classes from pubbed authors, attend workshops, conferences, etc. Be a student of life. Observe, watch, listen, notice smells, the way people speak…and then hone your skills to a genre or form to which you are drawn. When you have work to share, join a critique group (or two) and listen to what others tell you about your work. No rubber-stamping allowed, because no one improves by being told how wonderful they are! And when you get close to being ready to offer works for sale, the process becomes a business. Which becomes an entirely new discussion about pitches and marketing, platforms and branding, royalties, agents…you get the drift.”
Deep breath.
The short answer: Write a really good story. Really good. And if you can, write really well. (I say “if you can” because lately it seems to me that  good story trumps proper style. That’s another episode, but certain bestsellers like >cough< Twilight >cough, cough< come to mind.

If Danny (or anyone) has the desire and drive to write, not even the mightiest of obstacles can stop you. Because like any art or passion, wordsmithing, storytelling, poetizing…the desire bubbles from within and must be released.

Pow!

So surround yourself with resources to hone your craft, see below.
And pray. Without ceasing.
After a quick survey of my bookshelf, these are the most dog-eared resources I keep handy:

Writers, what do you find useful to stay the course?

In a future post, I plan to compile answers to this question: As a reader, how do you find authors you like in the midst of the millions? (Don’t we all hope to find the next jaw dropper, like this lucky little girl?)

2012 toys with retro roots.

TRS 80, Model III

So I married a geek. When I married him, I knew what I was getting into, because we had one of these displayed prominently among the new china and pottery. Yeah, that’s a computer, kids. Notice the two floppy drives. Very industry forward in 1980.

I know. Not a toy. At least at the time it wasn’t.

I’ll make the connection, bear with me.

So around here, we’re uber interested in what’s coming out at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas this week. Seeing as how we’ve always been “early adopters.”

I didn’t realize I’d always been somewhat of an early adopter. Even before I married a geek.

I was looking through some of the stuff at CES and ran across the MakerBot Replicator. Now under $2000! Say what? A 3-D printer kit, y’all. What every household needs.

I had a 3-D kit way back…ahem. Several years ago. Early adopter? Oh, yeah.

"Make your own toys, boys and girls!"

Who remembers the Vac-u-Form?

I’m surprised now I didn’t seriously burn myself. Or the house down.

Because you placed a metal cast (it came with little cars, various shapes) in that square window, laid a plastic sheet across, (that green square is one) plugged it in, then when the plastic got warm and started to droop…you really had to pay attention to make sure you waited until it got soft, but not so long it melted down inside and you had to get your mom to clean the goo out and she put it away for a month. Or two.

Anywhoo, at just the right moment, you pumped a little lever to suck the warm plastic down over the little mold.

Hold on. Do they really send old toys to run free on a farm in the country? Huh.

Before it disappeared and I never saw it again… you were supposed to then glue together the pieces into toys and gifts to “amaze your family, surprise your friends!”

But I usually just melted, pumped and dumped, that was the funnest part.

Whenever I smell hot plastic to this day I remember that thing. And now I realize I was into 3D toy making. Back in the day.

I think I’ll check eBay, I’ll bet Vac-u-Forms are quite a bit cheaper than that replicator-thingy.

And I can once again amaze my family, make gifts for my friends. Put in your order now for a sportscar. Or…well, I can’t recall what the other molds made. I’ll have to surprise you.

Maybe you were one of those Creepy Crawlers “Thingmaker” owners. 

I admit I envied those. But Mom was not a fan.

Wonder why? I could have saved us a ton on gifts.

What’s your favorite retro toy?

Got your eye on anything coming out at the CES?

Finding your next perfect read. It’s complicated. Part I

Sorting through all the books in the world can be like isolating a single droplet of water from a flood.

Recently my good friend, Danny, asked what it takes to become a published author.

What does that have to do with finding the perfect read you say?

Because in order for a reader to find a good book, the nugget of the idea leading to that book has been in process for…well, millennia. By an author who pictures who the audience will be.

Let’s jump ahead a bit. Hold on, you’ll see where I’m going.

First, you already know there are many good books out there. And many millions more waiting to be published. Imagine you’re standing at the bottom of the waterfall in the photo. Yeah.  Millions pouring onto the market every year.

Millions, Bev?

U-yeah. With the advent of computers, it’s estimated there are over a million unpublished manuscripts. Just waiting to be discovered, published and read.

And that’s why Danny’s question made me think of readers. Because to write, to be published, a writer should first know something about his reader.

And if a writer does his homework (besides learning the craft, clicking out a great story) you, the reader, have to work to find your favorite genre, new authors in the style you enjoy, to compare similar books, read reviews, download samples…whew.

More complicated than walking into your corner bookstore or library? Yes, but it is getting easier than ever to find your next great read. Or is it?

So before I address Danny’s question, I have one for you, the reader.

Where do you find trustworthy recommendations? What’s your favorite way to find your next great read? Have you learned new ways to explore the world of books for new authors, new genres?

If so, do you share your discoveries on Facebook, at the water cooler…erm, coffee shop?

I’ll start, here are some links I follow.

http://www.goodreads.com/ Authors and readers connect, you can fill up your shelves, follow other readers and writers, and join groups with people who enjoy reading the same things you do.

Library Thing Similar to Goodreads, I’m just learning how to navigate this powerful site.

Real Simple, both the magazine and online community. Besides the book club, they do an excellent job of compiling lists, getting reader input, and letting you know what’s hot. Full disclosure, my novel, FRESH START SUMMER, made their 21 Hot Summer Reads of 2011. Booyah!

For more about the author to reader connection, I found Anne Trubek‘s blog in the New York Times, erm…eloquent. (You may have to subscribe, but when I signed in, it was free.)

In Part II, we’ll talk more about Danny’s actual question.

 

 

 

Downsizing America’s largest home

I’m hooked on “Selling Spelling Manor” on HGTV. If you’re like me and pull out that jam packed drawer looking for scissors, then slam it shut in horror at the mess, or maybe you’re into downsizing on a larger scale, but feeling discouraged about what to do with all your stuff, consider Candy’s challenge:

123 rooms, 56,000 square feet (bigger than the White House), 150 original works of art (This list scratches the surface. I missed how many Madame Alexander dolls she had). Oh! There was an entire floor dedicated to closets, a full attic that looked more like a warehouse, and it took 4 moving companies to clear the home.

Feel better yet?

Have a great fresh start, Candy!

Now to tackle that junk drawer.

 

Beautiful friends, wonderful family, and exciting news

(Originally posted November, 2011)

Recently my sister, Brenda, honored me with an afternoon coffee, complete with Grace’s favorite muffins, at her gorgeous home. My mother, Barbara, joined us. Despite a downpour, many of Brenda’s friends whom she’d told about my writing, braved the storm to drop in to meet me and encourage my writing. I was also tickled to see several high school girlfriends (see below) who drove through the Texas-sized gulley-washer, to cheer me on.

I read a few pages from my novella, Grace & Maggie Across the Pond,

the short story sequel to Fresh Start Summer.

The hours of writing, rewriting, anguish over just the right phrase, what’s believable about a character, how to turn a scene, is all worth it when a writer gets to meet the people on the other side of the process. 

L-R Joanne, Kay, Luann, me, Karen and Susie

 

 

 

And while we’re on the subject, let me direct you to my good friend, Lu’s blog where she often posts yummy recipes, and always serves up a good laugh.Follow this link for Luanne’s Just Right Pumpkin Muffins

Comment: Wednesday November 9, 2011

That is so wonderful, and fulfilling, I can imagine Bev. You look beautiful. Give me the jacket and no one gets hurt! 🙂

I love this, LOVED your book, love you and can’t wait for the sequel.

Janis Pollard

REPLY:November 9, 2011

Thanks, Jan, love you more!

Bev