Friday, August 31, 2012

Status Report

I'm a little over halfway through India #4.  Here are a few tidbits regarding same:

1.  I still don't have a title for this one.
2.  I'm over halfway through the novel, but not yet finished with page 2 of my 6-page outline.  Oh, dear.
3.  I keep stopping to research certain scenes.  Why didn't I do this before I began writing?
4.  I'll have a new editor for this book.  I'm rather nervous about that.
5.  I've entered the "zone" now, which means I can't be bothered with mundane things.  Must. Finish. Book.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Reviews and Book Sales

Continuing on the theme of what drives book sales, here's an interesting (as in, "wow, I had no idea things were this bad" interesting) article about the validity of the book reviews you find online.  It's long, but worth reading.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Social Media and Book Sales

It's an article of faith among publishers, publicists, various marketing gurus and quite a number of writers that an author must be a committed user, producer and consumer of social media. Before publication of India Black, my publisher sent me an extensive guide to establishing a web presence.  If a writer isn't writing, then she should be updating her website, blogging, tweeting, posting on Facebook, or otherwise using social media to market her work.  We are advised to brand ourselves and to understand our target audience.  Since I'm interested in selling my books, I've read dozens of articles and interviews with P.R. types on this topic.

There's only one problem with this advice.  Not once have I seen a publisher or public relations expert trot out the data proving that a jazzy website or a fascinating blog translates into book sales.  I suspect they don't provide this information for a simple reason:  it does not exist.  I sometimes wonder if we've all bought into this canard because the alternative-that we don't really know what drives book sales-is so much less appealing than pretending we can boost sales through a flurry of activity.  Certainly social media allows authors to keep in touch with fans but as for driving sales, I'm not convinced.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Writing Routine

I love to read about the process of writing, and how authors go about the business of churning out a novel.  Many live and die by routine.  They have to do the same thing, at the same time, every day.  For example, a writer might work from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m..  Then he reads the paper, has lunch, takes a walk, and proofs the day's work from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

This sounds admirable to me, but alas, I can't do it.  Having worked for so many years in jobs that required me to be at the office by a certain time each day, I relish my freedom now.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I write in the morning because I work out in the afternoon.  Every other day but Sunday I work out in the morning, so I write in the afternoons.  Sometimes I have a nap, and then I have to write in the evening.  I don't worry about sitting at my desk at a particular time, just so long as I meet my objective of 2,000 words per day.  Oops.  This is beginning to sound suspiciously similar to a routine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Migraine (Short Political Rant)

I feel one coming on, and it's due to my electoral choices for the open Senate seat in Missouri.  Unless you've had your head stuck down a hole this past week, you'll recognize one of the candidates as Todd Akin.  You know, the mental defective who said that in cases of "legitimate rape" a woman's body sort of shuts down to avoid pregnancy.  I'm paraphrasing.  It actually sounded a lot dumber than that.

For a number of reasons I dislike his opponent, the incumbent, Claire McCaskill.  I won't bore you with my political views, but here's just one example of the brilliant leadership she's evidenced during her term in office:  while questioning the postmaster general about the post office's looming insolvency, she asked, "Have you thought about an advertising campaign to get people to write more letters?"  Again, I paraphrase.  It actually sounded a lot dumber than that.

So.  Buffoon No. 1 or Buffoon No. 2?  The two parties have figured out how to devalue our vote, haven't they?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Writing Under the Influence

After a hellacious summer, the weather has been delightful here.  I've been taking advantage of it by churning out my daily quota of 2,000 words while sitting on the back porch.  Saturday morning I set up shop, with my  laptop, reading glasses, outline and cup of tea at hand, and started typing.  A gentle breeze wafted through the trees, bringing the unmistakable odor of cannabis.  And not just the faint scent of a spliff.  For a moment, I thought the county sheriff had cracked a major drug ring and was destroying a bale or two of the stuff.  The smell lingered for quite a long time.  I haven't proofed my work from Saturday yet.  I'm almost afraid to read it, the effects of second-hand smoke being what they are.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mike or Ralph?

If Magic Mike had debuted in Victorian London India might have stepped out to see it, having, as she does, an appreciation for the male figure.  Alas, she'd have to be content with Ralph Rackstraw from Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, which debuted at the Opera Comique in London on May 28,1878.  Here's my favorite song, "Never Mind the Why and Wherefore."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Hut, a Shed, a Room of One's Own

Here's an interesting article about the private places writers have created for themselves.  I particularly like Mark Twain's hut, although that hardly seems to be the correct word for such a splendid little building.  I also notice that a couple of these have beds.  I'd find that very useful.  But where do I plug in my computer?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm Glad That's Over

Truly.  I spent far too much time watching the Olympics over the last two weeks, although I probably wouldn't have written much anyway.  You know, the blurred vision and dizziness thing.  So a couple of weeks on the couch was not a disaster.  But I'm ready to dive in again.  I've written 30,000 words of India #4 and plan to finish the first draft by the end of September.  Is that really just six weeks away?  Yikes.  I need to get cracking.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

India's Olympics

Knowing India as I do, I thought she'd enjoy the following Olympic sports:

FENCING.  But of course.

JUDO.  This could turn out to be quite useful.  Too bad the costume is so appalling.

BOXING.  Also useful, but that headgear would wreck India's coiffure.

SHOOTING.    We know India is very fond of her Webley Bulldog revolver.

DRESSAGE:  We know India can't ride, but this is a stunning look.

And even though the picture above reflects modern dress, the Victorian-era equestrienne was also rather stylish:

Monday, August 6, 2012


Two things made me smile today:  my local Sam's Club has installed self-checkout lanes, and this:

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Blogging - Off the Medal Platform

My blogging has been particularly uninteresting this week, and I shall try to do better.  It's not that I've been lounging on the sofa watching the Olympics, although there's been plenty of that.  I have a medical excuse.    A few weeks ago I noticed my vision was blurry.   Then a week ago I started feeling dizzy.  I self-diagnosed via the internet, only to learn that dizziness and vertigo are common symptoms of menopause and there's not much to do about it except endure it.  The articles I read also offered helpful advice like "Don't move your head quickly" and "keep exercising, no matter how you feel."  The latter was obviously written by someone who's never attempted to do abdominal crunches or pullups while her head threatens to explode.

I decided I'd at least eliminate the possibility of a problem with my eyes and headed off to the optometrist yesterday.  Hallelujah!  The episomething cells that cover my corneas have decided to dry up and flake off, leaving me with irritated and mildly infected corneas.  A month of medication and multiple types of eyedrops should resolve the problem.  I'm feeling better already, now that the word "aneurysm" isn't floating around my subconscious.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I think this is a cracking description of what you should experience when you're writing:

Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can’t rush inspiration. How do you think Capote came to “In Cold Blood”? It was just an ordinary day when he picked up the paper to read his horoscope, and there it was — fate. Whether it’s a harrowing account of a multiple homicide, a botched Everest expedition or a colorful family of singers trying to escape from Austria when the Nazis invade, you can’t force it. Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion. Shadowing you, peeping in your windows, calling you at all hours to leave messages like, “Only you understand me.” Your ideal subject should be like a stalker with limitless resources, living off the inheritance he received after the suspiciously sudden death of his father. He’s in your apartment pawing your stuff when you’re not around, using your toothbrush and cutting out all the really good synonyms from the thesaurus. Don’t be afraid: you have a best seller on your hands.

You can read the entire article here, though I wouldn't get my hopes up about the best seller thing.