In defense of LJ

[EDIT: I forgot something important. I have a paid account, so I not only have a bunch of userpics, but also I don’t have any ads or banners or whatnot! I never see any of that on anyone else’s LJ, either. I can leave the browser window open or minimized for years with an LJ displaying and never get an “IE needs to close because of an add-on screwing up or some ad that needs to refresh the page, dear” error. On other blogging sites, the ads in the right-hand side of the window or the header ads BUG THE HECK OUT OF ME. This can’t be cured with an aggregator. Possibly with one of those blocker things, but then we get complicated and it’ll mean I get the “Windows is running out of virtual memory” error sooner. Points to LJ!]

I think LJ is a pretty good place to journal/blog. Sure, anyplace has its problems, but I think LJ works really well.

I’ve never had any problems with the comment function. I hear from my friends on other blogsites that they get a lot of robot-sent spam in the comments. I’ve never had even one. I have the option turned on that records the IP address, and most of the people who comment here are LJ’ers, so maybe that makes a difference. I usually get my comments e-mailed to me pretty quickly, and if I miss them, it’s because I’m not payin’ attention. ‘Course, I don’t have that many comments. I like the way that comments can be threaded and read as threads–it reminds me of GEnie and the way that the old RoundTables worked.

I like having the entries of everyone I regularly read aggregated into a friends page. I don’t like having to go to the page for one of the other aggregators and having to deal with all that. I’m already here on LJ. I’m subscribed to the blogs of a few people who have an RSS feed or whatnot, too.

When an author has a blog elsewhere, or on his/her own website, it’s sometimes harder to leave a comment. You have to log into Google/Blogger or let LJ pass your identity over . . . unless you want to be one of the Anonymous gang. I don’t know how those automated bot things get past the place where you have to type the funny words, but apparently they do, as people do get unwanted spam on their comment threads. Who knows . . . maybe it’s the cute userpics.

I just like LJ. What can I say? I’m glad that the LJ Dude had the idea and created it.


FOR WRITERS: A reminder about the public nature of the ‘net

The dangers of posting your openings on every contest and here all the time . . . yes, there are a few risks.

Fair warning. Just in case you hadn’t really thought about it, you might want to remember that there are some risks in posting your openings for critique and all over your journal the way I do here. I had made a post about something I experienced today, but I can’t figure out how to phrase it so that it doesn’t cause the masses to march up the hill brandishing torches at me, so I’m going to hold back on the specific observations. Suffice it to say that your words live on when you post them. Not only do servers and search engines archive them, but also people can copy them and save them to files on their own computers. This may or may not bother you. If you haven’t taken that into consideration, you probably should . . . before you post too much of any work in progress. For that matter, your opinions and your experiences get out there and can be saved off by other people. I’m not even saying that it WILL be, but that it CAN be.

Not trying to scare you, but just bringing out that point.

In any case, I meant this as kind of a fair warning to all of you who are thinking of doing what I do and posting your work publicly all over the place. If you do that, be prepared to wonder when you see stuff that is VERY SIMILAR IN FEEL to yours. And you most likely will. If it’s going to bug you, don’t post your stuff on public sites for critique, even when agents run contests. That was the basic point I wanted to beat into the ground.

I’ll probably continue posting my stuff, because I get useful feedback. But . . . I’ll always wonder. Could somebody take my dreck, edit it up to make it voice-free and faster-moving, soak it in a dilute solution of Hemingway, add some boinking, and manage to sell it? That could happen–and it would be flattering, if bothersome. So I have to accept that it could happen. It’s the price I pay, I suppose.

I was amused by the thought that this could have happened . . . but you might be upset by it. Just a heads-up here. You probably knew that already, anyway.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled media deluge.

HOOKS: Just a worm, dear, not a hunk of fool’s gold

Our online writing class continues discussing hooks and getting readers’ attention. I got scolded for having Too Vanilla a description of my main man (Our Hero) in the very opening of the book. Because _In the Pundit’s Corner_ is in essence a romance (a romantic suspense/screwball comedy), I need to show readers how the hero and heroine react to one another right away, and part of that is choosing the details that they notice about one another. Since I am convinced that you have to sprinkle the descriptions through the dialogue instead of having one large block, I didn’t have much about the hero’s appearance at first. She said that our work needs to stand out, and that means in EVERY way. I didn’t want things to get too florid.
Continue reading “HOOKS: Just a worm, dear, not a hunk of fool’s gold”

ANTHOLOGIES: Made to order–and vetted by an editor

I’ve been meaning to post about this new market for writers and new playtoy for book lovers, but life interfered.

Remember when I said I had placed a couple of stories? Well, this is where I placed them–Anthology Builder, a new publishing concern where you can choose the short stories you want and build your own anthology, and then have it mailed to you as a print-on-demand book.

Okay, now you’re asking what keeps this from being a vanity press mess. All the stories in the pool MUST have been previously published in a paying market before the editor will even look at them. She then approves them before putting them into the pool. Not only are there stories from Lawrence Schoen and stories that were pubbed in “Realms of Fantasy,” but also there are classics like the O. Henry “Gift of the Magi” and Baum’s “Adventures of Santa Claus.” I envision college profs who come to this site someday to build anthologies for their introductory rhetoric classes. (You could use “Magi” and that Orwell essay on the language and maybe even Jackson’s “The Lottery,” assuming she gets them onto the site, for example.) But I think it would be fun to build an anthology of stories I’d read in magazines and wanted to keep.

My Splatterfairies story was in the Octoberland anthology years ago, and my Prom Night story was in the Heaven and Hell anthology next to Jody Lynn Nye’s. I have a couple of others that were published in webzines, and she may or may not take those. Still, it’s exciting to think that someone might actually read my story. If someone does pick one of my tales for an anthology, I get a dollar, or a dime, or something, credited to my account. Once I get $20, I’ll get a check. But that doesn’t matter to me. It’s the exposure I’m happy about.

If you are interested in placing some of your stories with Anthology Builder (assuming you have your rights back on the stories), go find out more at their website. There’s a place where you can read about the royalty structure, if you worry about stuff like that (translation: if you’re normal, unlike me.) I really do hope this site makes a go of it. I think this is a cool idea.

The editor also maintains a LiveJournal community at . (You could visit!)

She even mentioned MY story. *bliss*

Writer’s Block: When I Grow Up…

I don’t want to grow up. If I’m not grown up by NOW, skrewitol. Peter Pan was robbed! When I was around three or four, I thought it would be the pinnacle of existence to run one of those neat cash registers that has a conveyor belt that the groceries ride on! They let me ride on one of them when I was really little, and I never forgot it, even when I was too big to ride on it at age three or four. It’s too bad that I can’t be whatever it was that I wanted to be, if I could remember it.

Welcome, anyone who came here through the link to this entry! The rest of the journal is far more interesting.

MARKETING: When does it cross the line into obnoxious?

Now, WHY does this kind of email push my button, coming from an acquaintance who blew me off several times? (Even if it had been from someone I knew slightly, it would’ve bugged me. Coming from someone I know well, it would’ve confused me.) I get these all the time, and they’re fairly interchangeable. Here’s the text of the thing, in general.

“My book/manuscript is up for such-and-such an Award or Contest and I’m sooo excited! Vote by going to blah-blah-webaddress and rating it ten stars and giving me a great review.” [OR “Click on my book cover icon and then send the e-mail that pops up in your e-mail program!”] This only takes you a minute. I hope I can count on your vote!”

The hubris here . . . or the presumption . . . or something about it bugs me. The assumption that we want to vote for someone just because we’ve heard of them, or have met them, is not an accurate one, but it’s a social-pressure thing. We haven’t even read the book or whatnot, but we are asked to vote positively. What happened to evaluating something for quality against the competition? Now, THAT would take a lot more than a minute or two, and that’s why they don’t ask us to do that (right).

I hated having to do this when I was in the Gather contests. I’m just as glad I didn’t make the Amazon contest, as I would have to be blasted obnoxious and pushy, and I can’t do it. I could tell people about my book being in stores, but I would do it differently, without being so in-yer-face. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The frequency with which I get these pleas is just appalling. It’s daunting. It bugs me that this is the way society runs. Or am I just behind the times? Is it in the New World Order that everyone has to just be marketing and begging for votes and purchases all the time? We must see others as nothing more than something that can buy our book. We must assume that we can guilt people into “voting for us” without really letting them evaluate the options and decide on the basis of what they really believe is best. Wait–that’s what the political candidates are thinking, too, on the whole. You can’t get what they REALLY believe out of most of them–they’re telling you what they think you want to hear so you’ll vote for them. What happened to integrity? Too hard to spell?

What the hell does it matter, anyway, as in a year or three years or five years these awards and contests and so forth will be forgotten, and the winners will have their names on some list or another of winners for that year, and that’s all. The work will live on if it has the “legs,” not because it got awards or had its fifteen minutes of fame. People stress over and fight over awards that ultimately don’t mean anything at all, or are soon forgotten when the next big hoo-ha comes on the scene. Let’s get over awards and just let things rise to the top like cream, if they will.

But I’m a weirdo. Raised in part by a grandmother who still wore little white gloves to church through the end of 1968 (when you could no longer get them at Penneys.) When we teased her by accusing her of having attended the one-room log cabin schoolhouse with Abraham Lincoln, she merely scoffed and said, “Ridiculous notion–of course not. Mr. Lincoln was in Illinois!”
# # #
I love ‘s Error Messages In Haiku.

The web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Having been erased,
The document you’re seeking
Must now be retyped.

And my fave:
You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

“You can never step in the same river twice.”
“I just don’t want to drown.”
–an exchange between two characters in one of my early novels
# # #
Hubby has a rash and could possibly be having a mild allergic reaction to Plaavix. This would be disastrous, as they said, “You will take a Plaavix and an aspirin every morning from now on, or that stent will fill up and you will die.” I suppose there are older meds they could give if they had to, but they told us they wanted him to take this as long as he could, even if there is a problem. So please pray that he isn’t having an allergic reaction to Plaavix. I am a scheissekopf, but he really isn’t, and he’s scared. We appreciate all prayers. They help a lot.

WHY O WHY: because

About those rejections . . . Dennis writes (and I reply here because the commenting system won’t let me do such a long comment):

>>Funny, isn’t it, that the complaint was about age discrepancies, but the existence of the Marfa Lights was not a suspension-of-disbelief issue.

*Grin* That’s because this was Stephany Evans, who lives half the time in Marfa herself and has seen the Marfa lights (and thus is presumably a believer.) No problem with that being odd at all. *grin*

She said I got the West Texas vibe just right. The way she said that was to lead off her letter by writing, “Thank you for letting me see work from a fellow West Texan!” Well . . . Richardson is a typical suburban Yuppietown. We’re nowhere close to the Western vibe. I have NEVER seen anyone wear a cowboy hat here except my crazy church friend Marcus, who used to wear Western shirts and boots as well and say, ‘Yee-ha!” I think he affected all that so the girls would flock around (and they did!) I am pleased that she thought I had even BEEN to West Texas. OR maybe that was just her way of leading off with something gently encouraging because she’s a nice person and likes to open letters with something other than “Go away.” Can’t read too much into it.

>>These nit-picks that you get . . . there’s nothing consistent about

No, but with me it’s always *something.* It indicates that I am still laboring under the general curse/hex of “fail” and “never publish.” I know that my life took a general turn for the crapper after I left the church that I loved because the guy I loved (who had brought me into that church) dumped me for a newcomer to the church and I eventually decided that I needed to get away because it was bad for my self-esteem to see them constantly in the row ahead flaunting their marriage and pregnancy, etc. with everyone raving about how much better she is than I am (and not just “better for HIM”), etc. Yes, I bailed, but not soon enough, as the entire experience (“You aren’t good enough–here, I’ll show you who’s good enough!”) still damaged my self-image pretty badly. There doesn’t seem to be any way I can fix that event that angered the Universe, but at least I’m still alive, can still see, had a successful medical answer for both me and hubs, etc. God hates it when I whine and say it isn’t fair, so I’ll shut up about that.

>Ari and ZoĆ« are the wrong age? Where’s your target readership on the age scale? Make them that.

Well, that was what I did originally, but then my backstory had to make sense. Coneycat, I think, caught this. Here’s why I can’t just make them in their thirties. I claimed that Ricky fell ill at age eight, and that Zoe had him at sixteen and was kicked out of the house by her mean cold parents to fend for herself (which hardened up Ari as well, seeing the parents were doing this for the wrong reasons and seeing this all getting branded “ToughLove” when her sister had to go on welfare and live in a weekly hotel for a while because the baby’s father was nowhere to be found) and that Ari is the younger sister. Well . . . that means that if Ricky died last year, he was nine, and nine plus sixteen makes 25 for Zoe. But Zoe worked hard and endured, and is now part owner of the daycare business where she originally got a job (because she could keep Ricky there and work as well). She has pulled herself up by her bootstraps. As the series opens, she’s a hermit ’cause she’s still reeling from Ricky’s illness and death. She will come out of her shell as this series progresses as part of the result of helping Ari. I planned ahead. That’s why the ages are as they are.

I’m sure that Ari *doesn’t* act like the typical scatterbrained 23-yr-old, but I thought I had given enough of a tour inside her mind to explain to readers why she is older than her years. I can’t exactly attract an audience writing books that star 100-year-old sages. So the Snoop Sisters are young. However, their SOULS are older. They behave like people in their thirties with better sense. It may be unusual, but I have known people who are that way–older and wiser than you would expect because of coming up the hard way. I guess that’s because it’s true what a few intuitives have said of me–that I’m an Old Soul and have been from childhood. (Don’t be jealous, as the newborn airheads and simpletons and people with no connection to the mystical are so much better off–they don’t agonize, they don’t care so much, and their faces are unlined because they don’t worry about the philosophical implications of it all, but just have another toot or another snort and yee-ha. They are MUCH better off and happier, trust me.)

BUT! Having a character who works against type in any way is simply not acceptable from “a first-time author” who “can’t possibly know how to portray characters properly,” so I get thrown into the recycle bin. No one considers that yes, these kinds of people exist and are special *because* they are different, and a book should be about someone special enough so that it’s worthwhile for you to spend time reading about her instead of about some schlub off the street who never has a thought that the TV didn’t put there . . . but I digress. The point is, they don’t think they can sell the book to an editor who will have to convince the marketing people that the book will appeal to the widest fan base, and so that’s that.

My idea of why a book is worth reading and THEIR idea of why (“it might sell in this market”) is completely different, of course, because they are in it to try to make a career and a living. I just want to be read and have the books say something significant that stays with readers afterwards. Different goals.

But anyhow, those are just the excuses that came to the agent’s mind as the first flaws. My reasoning is that if she’d liked the rest of the book, she’d have merely said, “Make the girls in their thirties.” But there were other issues, so she just dumped it all.

Which is her privilege. She’s not obligated to tell job applicants anything.

They have all the power. Writers have none. I am amazed to see that the writers’ strike has had ANY effect at all on television viewing, as writers are NOT seen as being the driving force behind the dialogue, characters, et al, that they create. I figured no one really cared because they think the actors make that all up as they go along. . . .