Saturday, March 31, 2007

Moonshine Winners

Thanks for all the great writer and book recommendations you all contributed to the Moonshine giveaway. I added quite a few titles to my bookstore shopping list.

We put all the names in the magic hat, and the five winners are:

blackroze37 -tami


LizzieTG (whose comment read I haven't read either--please put me in the hat!)

Random Walk Writer


Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to, and let me know if you'd like Nightlife as well as Moonshine.

Just a note -- as far as giveaways versus contests go, I appreciate the input you all gave me. I've decided to do both every other week: ideally two giveaways and two contests a month. Prizes will be mostly new copies of books but also some music, art, quilts and stuff that appeals to readers and writers. I'm also going to add in some unannounced surprises now and then, just for fun.

Friday, March 30, 2007

In Lieu of Friday 20

I'm going to be on the road for most of the day today, so no Friday 20 this week.

Some random thoughts on the biz:

It is inaccurate to call winners of any award "the best in the genre" unless every person in the entire genre competes for said award. However, I doubt you'll ever see a genre trophy awarded that reads "the nicest, most popular members of our writing organization who mailed in their entry fee before we reached our cut-off limit" or "the most devoted campaigner, vote-beseecher and ass-smoocher, regardless of writing ability" or "for those who couldn't win an award until they found a way to automatically disqualify those who always beat them."

There was once a writer who wrote more than two million words during his life. Out of all that, he put out a single book (essentially self-published) that sold maybe 200 copies. The poor guy never made a living as a writer and had to do things like make pencils to keep from starving. After his death, more of his work was published and was read and beloved by such trivial lightweight fanboys as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi. As Henry David Thoreau would doubtless tell you, success is nice, but immortality cannot be bought.

Finally, booksignings have really changed since I used to do them. A friend of mine recently called her local bookstore to find out what time an author doing a signing would be there. She was given the time, and then sternly warned of the following:

1) she was not to bring any copies to the store to be signed; the Very Important Author would only sign books bought at that store during the signing, limit one per person;

2) the Very Important Author would not make out the book in my friend's name, but would only sign it, and

3) there was no guarantee that if my friend waited in line for hours (which she should expect to) that she would actually get a signed book before the store ran out of copies.

My friend did not attend the booksigning. However, she did consign all the copies she had of the author's books to the local landfill, and is now telling everyone she knows what a Very Important Jackass this author is. I'm puzzled. The author is about equal to me, fame-wise, so this VIP stuff is pure posturing. That and back when I did signings, we tried not to treat the fans who came out to see us like snot. Guess I'm behind the times again.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I meant to post this before I went off to sulk, but it ended up, like a lot of stuff I meant to do, as hell's road pavement.

Moonshine by Rob ThurmanMoonshine, Rob Thurman's second novel, debuted back at the beginning of March, and more than keeps the promise that began with book one, Nightlife. As novels go it's very edgy, with lots of surprises that I didn't see coming. Subtle things change with Cal and Nik, how they work together and relate to each other, which I thought made the book. I fell hard in love with Nik this time around, which I didn't expect to because I didn't much like him in the first novel. Cal continues to develop as a protagonist in dark and mysterious ways. George . . . well, let me not spoil that plot thread.

From a technical standpoint, let me shake my fangirl pom poms for the way Rob shifts story gears in this one. It's extremely hard to go from nonstop action pacing to deeper, more introspective moments and then back again without jarring the reader. Rob does this so well you don't even notice it, and that, folks, is quite the transmission.

Moonshine is a high-intensity dark fantasy adventure, with amazing characterizations and a thrill-ride storyline. I loved it, and I think Rob Thurman is one of the most original and talented new writers I've read in years. Expect great things from this series and its author.

As always, you don't have to take my word for it. In comments to this post, name a a book or an author who's recently thrilled you (or if you're in a boring book rut, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, March 30, 2007. I'll draw five names at random from everyone who participates and send the winners an unsigned copy of Moonshine by Rob Thurman. Bonus: if you've not yet read Nightlife, I'll throw in an unsigned copy of that one, too. Giveaway open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reader Wednesdays

From this point on Wednesdays at PBW will be for the readers out there. I'm still debating on what sort of stuff I can post that will be of interest to you, so bear with me as I work out the kinks.

In May, Borders Group will be doing some special promotions for Night Lost along with the first three Darkyn novels. I've written a letter for Waldenbooks's monthly reader e-mail, and I've been told there will be a $1 off coupon on any book from the backlist. The publisher sent me my first ever book dump featuring the artwork from Night Lost; looks like they'll be stocking them with all four novels.

Evermore is scheduled to be released in January 2008, but don't put any money on that date yet. Over on the fiction blog, I've put up an excerpt from the first draft of Evermore that gives a little more insight into the intense relationship between a Kyn lord and his seneschal (and how it almost gets out of hand between Byrne and Jayr.)

I'm proposing Valentin's story to my editor as Darkyn book #5 #6*, which is (working) titled Swan Fire. I hope to soon have some news on Drednoc and Crystal Healer, the next StarDoc novels. That's all for this week; stop in next Wednesday if you get a chance for more reader-friendly info.

*Added: I can't count. Evermore is book five, Swan Fire is book six. Thanks to Lesley for catching this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March: Expenses

This month's biz post is about tracking writing-related expenses during the year and why you should make it your business to get your receipts, expenditures and other financial ducks in a row and keep them that way.

First, the why: Most writers are paid as self-employed independent contractors by publishers. This means the publisher does not take any taxes out of the writer's check. Nor do agents if the publisher pays them whatever is owed to the writer. Filing taxes is therefore different for us than most folks, and most of us have to pay quarterly estimated taxes as well as deal with the final end-of-the-year stuff. It really pays to be meticulous about expenses and record-keeping because we need every deduction we can get.

Now, the how: most writers come up with some sort of ledger or accounting system on their own, but the one I've found that seems easiest for everyone regardless of their accounting experience is the twelve-monthly envelope/ledger notebook method. Take a 3-ring notebook and fill it with twelve standard blank ledger pages. You can make columns for the type of expenses you usually incur (office supplies, internet service, postage, etc.) or keep a chronological accounting and note the expense type in the margin (I prefer the former.) To the back of each page, staple an open 8" X 10" envelope.

During the month, record your expenses and put your receipts in the envelope on the back of the ledger page. Some people prefer to put the receipts in the envelope during the month and then record them all at once at the end of the month. Do whatever works best for you, but at the end of the month you should add up your expenses and note your totals. If you'd rather let the computer do the math, or your expenses and income get complicated, you can set up your ledger as a spreadsheet and print out a ledger page each month.

Some tricks I've learned over the years:

1. Keep one credit card reserved for writing-related expenses only; the monthly statement will help you double-check your record-keeping.

2. If you have a lot of business-related phone use, consider setting up a separate phone line for business calls, internet service, etc.

3. Print out hard copies of all online transactions with order numbers in the event you don't get a receipt when they arrive (which sometimes happens with business materials or supplies ordered from the internet.)

4. Print out hard copies of all online business-related payments using services like PayPal.

5. With any receipts for unusual and/or large expenses, keep good notes explaining what they were for. Make sure these are deductions the IRS permits you to take, too, because if you get audited, this is where they get you with back taxes.

Don't guess at what your deductions should be or take the advice of a writer friend; always talk directly to the IRS about what expenses you can or cannot deduct. It's also good to visit the IRS web site every year to read up on the tax changes and/or one-time deals such as the new telephone excise tax refund for 2006.

Tracking expenses and record-keeping is like going to the dentist, the more often you do it, the less you tend to dread it. It's nice to be prepared for April 15th instead of scrambling for a week trying to reconstruct an entire year of expenses. Set up a system that works for you, and give yourself a little peace of mind.

Resource Links:

D. Larry Crumbley's article Tax Aspects of Authors/Writers/Screenwriters

Tara K. Harper's workshop Taxes and Finances for Writers

Cyn Mason's article Taxes for Writers

Monday, March 26, 2007

Applet Ten

Ten Things Powered by Applets

1. offers an Applet Code Generator for snow and lake images; I'm sure one of you smart people could do more with it.

2. The Java Boutique has an entire list of applets and links to other applet sites for you to rummage through.

3. Martin Wattenberg's Living Wallpaper applet constantly evolves.

4. Martin's Anagram Generator applet will create anagrams of the word(s) you input (Paperback Writer = We Tarpaper Brick.)

5. Create random passwords via applet over at PassGen2.

6. Generate flowing art with Dave Bollinger's PerlyBurly applet.

7. For those of us who are geometrically-obsessed, SodaPlay's SodaConstructor applet is beyond cool.

8. One of my favorite online toys, the Spirograph applet.

9. Explore an earth-like planet generated by Ken Perlin's A Webwide World applet.

10. Teach Yourself Java answers the burning question: What is an Applet Anyway?

If you'd like to read up on Java Programming, author David J. Eck has made his book Introduction to Programming Using Java, Fifth Edition (Version 5.0, December 2006) available free for online reading or download here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Catch Up

Now that I have a computer that does not predate Stonehenge . . .

Dad continues to improve. He's gone for short walks and has a good appetite, and isn't as disoriented or subdued as he was after the last surgery. He watched Casino Royale with me and Mom, and although he liked the movie he still thinks of Sean Connery as the only actor who can play James Bond. I don't have a favorite Bond actor, so I enjoyed what Daniel Craig brought to the role. He gives a very energetic, muscular performance, and makes it a decent flick.

Back in November I made a charity wager with Jim Winter on Dave White and Bryon Quertermous's novel race. Although Bryon held onto the lead for quite some time, Dave has finished his novel first, so I've made a donation to Habitat for Humanity in Jim's name. Congratulations to Dave for winning. Bryon, I'll have to cancel that nubile young book wench I had hired to serve you grapes, read to you and rub your feet after you won, but maybe next time.

It seems that some reporters and trade rag contributors have been lurking around here lately and e-mailing me with various requests for input, interviews and whatnot. I have enough to deal with right now and have (politely) turned them all down. However, they can still quote from my weblog content, which includes what you all post in comments. I don't want you to feel as if you have to censor yourselves, ever, but just be aware that whatever you post is fair game for them to use or misuse.

If all goes well, I'm hoping to return to my regular blogging schedule on Monday. In the meantime, I've got about ten thousand e-mails left to answer, so have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Through the Woods

Dad got through the surgery so well that he's like a different person. Turns out that 90% of his right ventricle was blocked, and having normal function restored will definitely clear up the heart and a bunch of related problems. Mom and I are going over medications, diet and exercise plans like two generals planning an all-out campaign.

Typing again after using a headset for so long is interesting. The "R" on Mom's keyboard doesn't work unless I slam it. If only I wrote like Elmer Fudd speaks.

I brought some work with me to keep me occupied in the waiting room, mostly pay-out schedule stuff to update and check on. Here's a little financial advice for when you sign a contract with separate pay-outs on the advance: I give publishers 90 days after they tell me they're request a payment for me for their check to show up on my end, which I think is more than reasonable (imagine if you had to wait three months for your paycheck.)

If no check arrives by the 91st day, I send a polite reminder via my agent to the publisher, and generally get back the same answer: the check is "lost" or "was never issued" and has to be re-requested (which takes four to six weeks from that date to happen.) I update the pay-out list and put a reminder to check on it again in six weeks. I've had two or three payments go lost or unissued every year since I got into the biz, and I know other writers who have to deal with the same problem, so I advise everyone who goes pro to keep a pay-out calendar or schedule and check it monthly.

Now that the last of our split payments are being issued upon publication of the work (this is a new industry/contract trend among major publishers), it's also a good idea to tally up your advances when the book hits the shelf and make sure you've gotten everything as per the contracted pay-outs. I'm told these upon-pub pay-outs are generated by computer, not by wayward requests, which if it's true would be a big help to writers trying to collect for their work. Now if we could just get the computers to handle all the other payments . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I am back, but things are probably going to be a bit sporadic around here for the next week. Today I'll be down south, at the hospital with my Mom while my Dad is in surgery. If any of you are awake and would be so kind as to send good thoughts, he goes under the knife around 7:00 am EST.

The very kind comments, e-mails, cards and messages you all have sent have me going through Kleenex like you wouldn't believe. I don't deserve them, or you. Thank you.

After my ten day tantrum, I figured I'd gotten the blues out of my system, but there's always one more zinger waiting in the wings. Tonight my daughter's hamster died (peacefully, in his sleep, of old age.) My daughter cried a bit, but we talked and she seems to be accepting it okay. Our sweetie pie was a lovely pet, playful and gentle, and never bit anyone during his long life, which I think entitles him to go straight to Hamster Heaven. I'm going to miss the little guy.

#11 on my list yesterday should have been something about dealing with the blues, only I haven't come up with a nifty coping strategy. Depression is tough. It's that uninvited house guest you dread. It shows up at the most inconvenient time, and totally railroads your schedule. It's always laying around doing nothing, but it won't let you work. If you try to ignore it, it makes a fuss. It wants you to cater to it endlessly, it never wants to leave. Even when you kick it out, it knows where you live.

I promised myself I'd write a bit about this from a personal angle without making the usual jokes, because I don't think depression is funny at all. I try to work through my bouts by staying busy and letting go of the bad stuff. Spending time with my family helps a lot, too. In the past, when things have gotten pretty dark, I avoided everyone and retreated into myself. Being depressed always diminishes and embarrasses me; I feel small and alone. Who wants their family and friends to see them like that? When I did climb out, I'd go on and pretend like it never happened: Who, me, depressed? I was just meditating.

You keep doing that, though, and you run the risk of falling into the pit, not being able to climb out, and really needing help -- but you've hidden it so well that no one knows you're even in there.

Anyway, I'll be posting from my folks' house while I'm down there, God and Mom's computer willing, and I'll hopefully have good news the next time I sign on. If I'm absent, don't worry. I'm out of the pits now, and fighting the good fight again.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fubb Ten

Ten Things I've Learned During the Last Ten Days
(or, why PBW vanished from the internet)

1. Blaming Publishing for being Publishing is like blaming God for being God. Good luck with that.

2. Don't assume that you can use a treadmill when you have a very bad knee simply because a physician thinks you can. You will fall and blow out the knee.

3. If you're not in a good mood, don't make career decisions, negotiate contracts, read royalty statements or contemplate the writing universe at all. Read Bill Bryson instead.

4. Never look at 50,000 words of a novel and think, "I'll just throw them away and start over. Take me a day, maybe two to rewrite them from scratch." It will take you, minimum, ten days, much tearing out of hair and assorted crying jags.

5. No matter how good it feels, ignoring the internet, Publishing and the world in general while you're creatively pissed off does not make them go away.

6. Opening an e-mail with the subject line "I hope your father dies" is dumb. Reading it is dumber.

7. Refrain from locating your internet computer on a second floor if 1) there is a possibilty you will be spending a lot of time wearing a steel leg brace, 2) your spare computer is in the shop, 3) there's a chance that your wireless router and three adapters will fry during a power surge and 4) the significant other is going to be out of town for ten days.

8. Sulking feels good -- feels really good, in fact -- but you're always sorry after you're done sulking.

9. Unplugging is good. Unplugging and not telling anyone why is bad. Unplugging, not telling anyone why, and thinking seriously about committing professional suicide by means that are best described as Le Grand Trampling Exit is childish.

10. You probably don't deserve the friends you have. And you probably never will.

I'm sorry for bailing on you guys. Thanks for your e-mails, good thoughts, and your endless patience.

One more thing: the book, she is DONE (thunk.)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday 20, The Turnabout/Fairplay Edition

I won't be here for most of the day so the bone doc can see how well I'm flexing/standing/walking/balancing. Some repeatedly falling on my butt will probably be involved, too. The U.S. Olympic committee is simply going to have to look elsewhere for their next star pole vaulter.

While I'm off letting strange men attach electrodes to me and feel up my leg, I have some questions for you this week. If you're inclined, please answer in comments any or all of the following:

1. Contests (where you compete in some fashion for the prize) versus giveaways (where you win a prize by random draw): which do you prefer?

2. Other than books, what would you like to see offered in PBW giveaways?

3. Virtual workshops: which do you think you would find most useful -- 1) a live virtual workshop as we've done in the past here at the blog, 2) an e-book formatted workshop with exercises that you can download and read at home, 3) a live workshop conducted online in a chatroom, ot 4) other (please include details.)

4. Writers, what industry info can I and other publishing bloggers offer that will actually help you with your career?

5. Readers, would you like to see a weekly post at PBW featuring book news (mine and other authors), inside information on my novels, and freebies geared more toward the reader? If yes, would Wednesday work for you?

Thanks in advance for any insight you'd like to share.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


All the great inscriptions posted for the Last Call giveaway make me wish I had 1,600 more of these babies to hand out. Okay, I'm lying, I'm overjoyed to see the last one go. But you guys, as always, are great. Thanks.

There can be only one winner this time, though, so this is the name we pulled out of the magic hat tonight:


D., please send your full name, ship-to info and your choice of what book you'd like me to sign and send along to, and I'll get this out to you.

For those of you who didn't win this time, next week I'm planning to clean house by having daily giveaways along with my regular posts. The upcoming giveaways will include among other things a signed ARC of Night Lost (last one I have left in the gratis box), two novels by a terrific new author, a complete, signed set of all seven StarDoc books in print, and some other neat surprises, so stop in if you get the chance.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Atypical Brain Mush

Ten Things My Editors Won't Use As Blurbs

1. Afterburn: "S.L. Viehl is best known for creating the popular Stardoc series, featuring Cherijo Torin, whose bitter attitude and constant hail of corrosive sarcasm made her, toward the end, one of the most unpleasant protagonists this side of Thomas Covenant."

Ha. Take that, Donaldson. And hey, did someone end my series and forget to tell me again?

2. Beyond Varallan: "I'll admit it, she's got me hooked, I want to know what happens next. But, with all the sado-masochistic submissive kink floating around, buying the next book 'd leave me feeling like a codependent enabler."

Okay, Sasha White, no more complaining that there isn't enough sex in my books.

3. Dark Need: "In Viehl's world, there is no such thing as happily ever after, especially for Alexandra and Michael."

A psychic, how cool. [Note to self: forget about the HEA for Alex and Michael. Reviewer says there is no such thing.]

4. Endurance: "Viehl's basic writing skills continue to improve, though sentence structure remains a problem for her."

Personally I think it's wonderful that my ninth grade English teacher is still alive and reviewing my books.

5. If Angels Burn: "Not your typical brain mush with sex, Lynn Veihl can write."

I'm putting that one on the business cards.

6. Paradise Island: "Could this author have tried to keep the plot more close to the vest?"

I could have tried, but my womanly curves get in the way.

7. Plague of Memory: "I still like Viehl's writing, but I don't see any way possible for her to bring Cherijo out of the hole she's dug for one of the most interesting heroine's ever."

(whispered) Read Bio Rescue.

8. StarDoc: "A novel as poorly plotted, as clunkily written, as depthless and soulless as Stardoc could only have been published under the label science fiction."

You know, this guy is making me hot.

9. Sun Valley: "Buying this book is like buying a generic tampon: the next day you wonder what in the heck were you thinking."

I'm thinking TMI, how about you guys?

10. [WFH Novel]: "From Booklist: *Starred Review*"

I finally get one and I can't tell anybody. Rats.

(This post is dedicated, with much love, to R.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Last Call

During my rookie year, some bright professional bulb convinced me to have bookmarks for my first release professionally printed. I was told all the real authors had them done that way, and after an unpleasant experience with my first, homemade version, I caved in and placed an order with a printer.

A tiny error messed up the first run, which the printer gave me for free, and which doubled my order. 800 + 800 = 1,600 bookmarks. At the time I didn't think that was a lot. After all, I was going to sell a million copies of my first novel. People were going to stand in line for these babies. They'd be great self-promo. Why, I probably wouldn't have enough to go around.

Go ahead. Laugh. If you've got one of my bookmarks, I know where you live.

For the first year, I gave away the little darlings whenever I could: at my signings, my writer organization meetings, conferences, libraries, bookstores, schools, and anywhere else I could drop a small pile. Second year, I convinced my writer friends to take some with them to their signings, conferences, meetings and so on. Barely made a dent in my supply; I swear the damn things were breeding. Eventually I shoved the boxes of bookmarks in a closet and tried to forget about them.

One good thing came out of it: I went back to making my own. Hell with being a real author.

After I started PBW, I found the boxes again and began sending them to giveaway winners. I tried to redeem myself by writing something original and vaguely clever on the back, but really. I have been shamelessly using you guys. All I know is if it weren't for you, it might have taken me another eight years to get rid of 1,599 bookmarks. That's right. I am down to #1,600, the very last of the bookmarks. When I give this one away, I will be free, free, free!

We must celebrate my emancipation, so in comments to this post, write something suitable to grace your first or next bookmark (or, if you plan to be smarter than PBW and skip that joy, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Wednesday, March 7, 2007. I will draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send you a signed ARC of Night Lost, or a signed copy of any of my published books currently in print (in other words, your choice.) The winner will also become the proud owner of this bookmark, signed and bearing my personal ceritification that it is, indeed, the last of its kind. Giveaway open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something at PBW and/or been nailed by a bookmark in the past.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Quick Fix Ten

Ten Things for the Freeware Junkies

1. Budget yourself, track your spending and get your finances under control with AceMoney Lite.

2. AllChars freeware will make and store accented letters, other special characters and support macros for you.

3. Create your own glossaries with Babylon-Builder.

4. BestOffice is an interesting office app open source project/freeware; still partially in development if I'm reading this e-mail correctly but with a working image viewer, word processor, diary, personal scheduler, and file compressor/decompressor.

5. Create .pdf doocuments from virtually any Microsoft Windows application with Bullzip PDF Printer.

6. CIB PDF Plug-in for Word generates .pdf formatted documents for private use directly from within Word (note the private use clause there.)

7. CutePDF Writer, the free version of CutePDF Pro, will convert any printable document into .pdf format without watermarks, banners, ads, etc.

8. Dark Room, which zipped me right back to the good old days of uncluttered DOS-based Word Perfect 5.0 blue screens (sniff), gives you a distraction-free writing environment.

9. Organize yourself with MRX07's Personal Organizer freeware.

10. David Berman's TimeTo freeware for Windows sounds like an interesting personal organizer (I'm into anything that promises the user will "worry less, achieve more.")

Free writing resource: Our blog pal LJ over at Once in a Blue Muse has been using Tiddlywiki, a reusable non-linear personal web notebook, to organize her WIP. More details can be found in the blog post here, and the very cool template LJ created is here. Thanks for making this available for everyone, LJ.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

To Write or Not to Write

I like writing up lists. Not just things like the Monday Ten here, but every other thing I need to do, like organizing my housework, appointments for the upcoming month, stuff I need to buy, errands waiting to be ran and so forth. To accomodate my fetish, I have shopping and to-do pads all over the house, next to the phones, in my purse, tacked to the bulletin board, hanging from a magnet on the refrigerator, in the bathroom closets and in the glovebox of every vehicle we own.

When I first play with a story idea, I start by writing a list of keywords relating to the plot and characters. I have literally thousands of story lists that never made it past the list stage. They're filed in the story list file. I also have a list of file names and descriptions. And a list of file lists, because I have more than one filing cabinet.

I thought about making a list of all the lists I have, but there could be disastrous gravitational consequences.

My one, never-ending list is The Novels I'd Like to Write. I'm always adding and subtracting ideas from this one, mostly adding. Obviously writing that book about a secret code hidden in famous artwork that leads to a revelation that rocks the religious world is a cross-off now. Ditto revising my 4,000 line epic poem into novel form -- there is just so much of my artistic soul that I'm going to inflict on you unsuspecting people.

Still, it's an active list, and one I enjoy reading over. I know I'll never live long enough to cross off every item on this list, but it's fun to plan what I could do if I don't get hit by a truck anytime soon. I'm tempted to jot down notes and rough them out a bit more, but that would make it harder to keep them on the list level.

Some items from the list in its present incarnation:

Anthrax vaccine puts humans back on all fours

Bama Zombie Farm Boy Rescues Prom Queen

Bast (Cat God, egyptian) caught and dumped in pound

Spelunkers (sp?) find way ancient paintings that Explain It All

Chicklit version of Oliver Twist (more Prada, sir?)

Chubby Death goes Club Med

Nyad hatched by benevolent brute miner saves him & planet

Old quilt with love poems as block foundations

Sniper witnesses assassination through scope

Squilyp's own novel, set on Omorr + his twins

I know, my shorthand is a little strange; matches my brain patterns. What would be something you'd put on your To Write list right now?

Saturday, March 03, 2007


When I turned pro and started meeting other people in the business, I had big problems fitting in. I didn't have the clothes, the personality, the schmooze gene, the gossip addiction or the desire to get sloshed at every con. I had no writer aura or professional vocabulary. I never learned the correct posture or position. I also seemed to offend every other person I met (but that happened with non-writers too, so no big surprise there.)

It bothered me to feel inept at my new profession, so I made a real effort to fit in. I did what the established pros told me to. I shopped and I dressed up. I circulated, booksigned, bookmarked/postcarded/flyered and critiqued grouped. In one year, I did three different con circuits. I volunteered. I raised money for charity. I was a good industry person, and totally miserable.

There are things involved with publishing, things you don't know about until you're a part of it, that just flabbergasted me. One non-writer member of my writer organization had this hobby of calling new members at home and informing them of the dirt on everyone else in the organization. Not casual gossip, either -- this was vicious, gleefully delivered, utterly hateful stuff, all delivered with the sort of relish that turns your stomach. No matter how I tried to change the subject, the yoyo wouldn't stop. At the end of my rope, I asked my colleagues what I could do, but everyone said I had to put up with it or I'd offend the yoyo, which would have dire career consequences (and, being a rookie, I believed this bullshit.) So I put up with this for better part of a year, and to this day I am so sorry I didn't just tell the yoyo to piss off and change my phone number.

I wasted two years of my life doing things I usually hated, among people with whom for the most part I had absolutely nothing in common except a profession, for the sake of my career. I think I made every mistake a new writer can make. I'm also pretty sure that I invented a few new ones. Under the circumstances, I think folks in publishing made a truly heroic effort in putting up with me that long.

What I did learn is that trying to fit in when you can never fit in doesn't work, and it makes you hate yourself. I almost quit writing -- my dream profession, that I've worked toward my entire life -- because I failed so miserably at playing author. It was only when I stopped and got away from the industry glam-lovers that I realized that writing, not publishing, was the only career I wanted. Writing is everything. Publishing just bankrolls me.

One more thought for the misfits out there reading this: if you don't fit in, don't sweat it. It's easier to make your own place in publishing than to force yourself into someone else's concept of how it should be. It can be lonely, yes, but that's part of the real job. In time, you may find that you attract more like-minded people by standing apart from the herd rather than hiding yourself among them.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday 20, Maybe

We're under another tornado watch here until 2 am EST. Places north of us are getting hammered. Any decent storm knocks out our electricity here, so if I'm not back soon, it's because I'm lighting candles and trying to figure out what to cook on the gas grill for dinner. I'll catch up when the power permits.

Also, just to note -- today I caught up with responding to the many, interesting comments on the Is That Your Self-Promo in My Face, Or...

I'm going to cut this short so I can post it before the next light flickers. Any questions for me?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Authors and Slogans

I think advertising slogans are becoming very dull and unimaginative. Take McDonald's current slogan: I'm Lovin' It. Lovin' what, precisely? The prices? The service? The entire menu? I had one of your salads a few weeks ago, and I didn't exactly hate it, but love? Not even close. You want a crack at my heart, you need to stock fresher lettuce, sodium/fat-free dressings, and lose those lousy cherry tomatoes you dump in everything.

If you're going to go with an uninspired slogan, at least get creative with the presentation. Capital One's slogan of "What's in your wallet?" is flatter than a French crepe, but the commercials with the Dark Age barbarian hordes storming into modern life before their leader delivers it as a one-liner makes it deliciously funny.

If advertising departments need to hire different writers, they should rustle up a few authors. God knows we can use the work. For example:

Dan Brown for UPS: See what the other globally-dominating brown can do for you.

Jackie Collins for De Beers: A Diamond is forever, but then, so is alimony.

Sue Grafton for the United States Army: B is for all you can be.

Laurell K. Hamilton for G.E.: We bring dead things to life.

Stephen King for Verizon Wireless: Can you hear me now? ...Good! Go kill everyone around you.

Thomas Harris for the United Negro College Fund: A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Want a taste?

China Mieville for McDonald's Big Mac: Two oily beef patties crawling with secret sauce created in hidden places somewhere beneath the unnamed city at the juncture of two rivers, one south-flowing and one gone sluggish and stagnant, wilted lettuce from the window box of a one-armed nun turned pimp, cheese with verdant, moldy corners made from the milk of a mutated cow force-fed diseased grain, which might also explain the odorous patties as they were, as that farmer's horse vanished on curd-making day, pickled things from the murky bottom of an ancient and ominously rusted barrel, onions or perhaps bunions from the old mayor's feet, cunningly carved to resemble onions, on a bun seeded with disaster, weevils and the lipstick marks from the pouting mouth of the young tart at the serve-all window who had obviously stolen a bite before bagging it.

PBW for The United States Air Force: Aim high. No, higher, nitwit.

Hunter S. Thompson for The Partnership for a Drug-Free America: This is my brain. It's your brain on drugs. Any questions?

Reverend Rick Warren for Volkswagen: Purpose-Drivers wanted.

I have a couple of personal slogans, and someday I'm going to figure out how I can tattoo Blow me on some part of my body without Mom finding out. How about you all? Have you come up with a personal slogan, or have a particular favorite out there in the advertising world?