Friday, March 28, 2014

Hoping I'm Not a Crazy Person

Ok, so I have a serious issue with self-promotion. Like, a serious issue. The thought of it makes my skin crawl. However, increasingly, I am having to skip over jobs, potential agents and even potential publishing houses because they demand a Web presence. They want you to whore yourself out like you're wearing 8" heels. Get out in the streets, writers, and tell every passing car how good you are.

I can't do it. I can't even tell people in person that I would be good for their projects. I have had two new projects locally in the past month, and both times I just gave them a couple of sentences about my experience and let them make up their minds. I can't bring myself to do more than that to promote myself. Sooooo, rather than be stopped by the discomfort and nausea that comes from self-promotion, I'm going to start promoting someone else.

I chose a kick-ass pen name that totally sounds like a real person, and I started building a Web presence for her this week. She has a Twitter account now, and she actually has a decent number of followers already. I will next get her a Facebook page, and then I can start shouting into passing cars. By the time I'm finished with the two novels that I am almost finished with, I will be able to point out "my" Web presence and show that I will be able to market the material. I don't know how I will feel yet about actively promoting her and telling my followers to read my stuff and all of that, but I think I can do it if I pretend that I am promoting someone else entirely. I've never had a problem promoting others through PR writing, press conferences, etc., so it should be a lot easier and less nauseating.

I hope this means that I'm not a crazy person. It seems a little schizophrenic to do things this way, but I don't really see an alternative at the moment. Plus, it seems like it will be kind of fun. And if I am a little crazy? Eh. Everyone interesting is.

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that she should have a blog! What should she blog about? How awesome she is? How much fun is to buy books and short stories? I think she'll have seven dogs and enjoy hiking or some other outdoor crap.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Year, New Sensation of Death

I had a pretty good handle on my New Year's resolutions. I always take them pretty seriously. I put a lot of thought into them, make lists and sometimes even get them laminated. Seriously. This year's resolutions, other than to stop eating stale Cadbury Eggs and such for breakfast, were to keep my income more even and to sell some fiction this year without fail. I can't count how many nonfiction pieces I've sold over the years, but I've never actually sold any fiction. I've been paid for editing fiction. I've been paid for writing about fiction. However, I have very rarely put fiction out there, and so I've never actually sold any. I think that by working on my fiction slowly but steadily instead of binge writing it, I can keep my pay-the-bills writing going well, keep my income more steady and still finish some fiction pieces.

Then, just a few days into the new year, I got sick. This wasn't the cough and/or throw up kind of ill- it was an unexpected reoccurrence of a life-threatening infection that I've had twice before. I spent almost a week in the hospital, and now I'm out with some gross tubes in my arms. It's almost like the fiction gods were telling me to stop planning crap and to give up because I'm obviously never going to get anything done. Well, I spit in the face of the fiction gods!

Plants Vs. Characters

When I realized I'd be in the hospital for a few days, I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to write a thing. For the first two days, I could barely lift my phone. However, I figured that if I couldn't write, and I had a few days to lay around and think, this would be a great time to just think about my characters. I could think about what they were doing, whether their dialogue was working, think about new adventures for them, etc. It would be a restful way to consider my work in-depth and to perhaps make some slow progress. The thing about that is that it's insane and wrong. After a day of IV drugs, the thing I was most thinking about was OMG, what if leaves could move around by themselves! That would be SO CREEPY!!!!11!

Inspiration Comes From Macabre Places

Ok, so no character development, no new characters, no in-depth inspection of major plot points. But what I did come out with was something unexpected. The point when I absolutely knew that the infection was back and it was what was causing my fever and chills was when I noticed that there was an ever-so-slight veil between me and the rest of the world. I'd noticed that the two other times this sickness came on, and I noticed it getting much worse as the illness progressed. I was a part of the world but not fully in it. I imagine that if I hadn't made it that first time (and it was actually kind of close), that sensation would have continued until I was simply no longer a part of the world. I think this will actually come in pretty handy when I eventually work on a novel I have planned that will feature an outbreak of a creepy, well-known disease as a major plot point. Thinking about that feeling of being removed and separated from the world is actually kind of inspiring. It gets me inside a character in a much more intimate way than before. Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere, so never stop looking for it no matter how unappealing or weird the situation may be.

Monday, September 9, 2013

DragonCon, DragonCon!

For the past few years I've been hitting DragonCon, a hard-to-describe con that is broken up into about 20 tracks that allow anyone who isn't boring to find stuff that fascinates them. The writer's track is full of panels that include writers, editors and agents. Some of the writers are pretty well known, others are low-level novelists who are still pretty interesting to hear from. I got to see Mercedes Lackey and other assorted writers who were fascinating to hear from and to grab little bits of advice from. Adding to the fun of DragonCon is that a large percentage of people dress up in costumes of every possible description from Spock to dinosaurs.

The Problem

Of course there was a problem. It's me. Usually when I go out of town, I worry about getting sick. Something about leaving town always makes me sick with sinus infections, colds and other assorted crap, but that wasn't even on the radar this year. I was just hoping that I'd be able to walk and stand well enough to get through the con. Waiting in line, walking from panel to panel and just standing around looking at costumes seemed like insurmountable obstacles after spending months unable to walk and then more than a month in physical therapy.

I told my physical therapist that I'd need to walk around for several hours a day, stand in line and make a long trek down an uneven street just to get my con badge and OH MY GOD I WILL HAVE TO WALK ALL DAY AND MY MUSCLES DON'T EVEN WORK!!1!!!1!! He thought it would be difficult, but he started me on various machines and recommended walking down the street every day to try to get used to it. I trained daily for more than a month and even went to the mall to ride the escalators to get ready for the multiple escalators at the con. The escalators are always crammed with people and if you can't jump off in time, OMG, the carnage!

So, I get there, trying not to limp and walking like a cartoon character, and was all set to take my walk down an uneven street in a crowd and then stand in line on an ankle that was still slightly broken. I told a friend that I had been training for this for a while and that I was confident that I could make it. She looked at me like, well, like I'd just said I'd been training for a month to walk down the street. The line was more than an hour, but all of that training helped me to do it. And all the vodka.

Mercedes Lackey Gives Me the Eye

Two Days

Once that obstacle was over, I had a lot of confidence that I could get through the con, listen to the writers I wanted to learn from and not look like too much of a freak doing so. I lurched around the con dressed like Edina Monsoon and saw amazing writers, a startlingly realistic Spock, two inexplicably naked women dressed in body paint, about 45 Khaleesis, some Tenenbaums(!), more superheroes than I ever care to see again, one of the Ghostbusters and a guy dressed like Sharknado.

I met Julian Sands and impulsively said, "I liked you! Like, a lot!" to the seventh Doctor as he rolled past me on a Hoveround.

Then I got sick.

I got two and a half good days in before I was hit by bronchitis and had to severely medicate myself in order to function. Then I got to hear "Why do you look sad?" every four minutes because apparently I looked as spacey as I felt. If you've ever had to suffer through bronchitis while being woken up all night by drunken roommates who though they were whispering as they philosophized about life and then get told about all the fun you're missing downstairs, and who hasn't, you might understand why I was ready to leave when the day came. Usually I hate to leave and get back into the normal world where absolutely everyone is wearing clothes and no one is dressed up as anything, but this year I was pretty fine with it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Because I'm Brilliant

Ok, so perusing the job listings this morning, looking for boring projects that I could use to expand my client base, I found a small listing for an online publishing company looking for short vampire stories. Scary stories, it asked for- no romance or sparkling. Kick ass, said I. I think I will comply.

Aside from my obvious poetry skills, I like putting together short stories that would have a hard time finding a market. But as soon as I read the description of what they wanted, a vague outline of an idea began to form. In three hours, I had written the complete story and edited it, and I was ready to submit.

It's then I saw that the deadline was yesterday. I submitted it anyway with a plea for deadline leniency. Will they even read it? You have to wait six weeks before you can even ask them about it, and no simultaneous submissions are allowed. In six weeks, I'm relatively sure that I will have forgotten all about it, and I can't submit it anywhere else right now if I want to keep them as a potential market. They may just delete it outright because it's past the deadline. I may never know. Good times, writers. Good times.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Sleeper Must Awaken

So, I broke my ankle. I have no excuse for doing so. No one was negligent. No one left junk lying around for me to trip over. There wasn't even an incline to make walking difficult. I was walking along a gravel road staring at some bees and I fell over sideways. I literally just fell over like a dumbass.

It's been seven weeks now, and I just now feel like I'm waking up from it all. I wasn't able to walk at all until a few days ago, and even now my walking is pretty limited. I was high on pain pills for a few days after it happened. Ok, it was a few weeks. It was painful enough that I wasn't able to function well without them, but then you get the dizziness and weirdness that comes with them.

Writing has mostly been perfunctory SEO mill junk up until last week when I finally started to feel like myself again. There have been several times when I felt like I was asleep for long periods of time. Every time I've given birth it's been about two months until I felt like I was fully awake again. When I almost died from a staph infection two years ago, it was about the same amount of time. Writing during those asleep times is always in the back of my mind, but meaningful words are hard to get out.

Luckily, I've been doing content writing for so long that I have been able to do product descriptions and SEO stuff through mills pretty much the whole time, so we won't starve. People dump on the mills all the time, but I for one am glad they're always there. Sometimes, writing has to just be about money and making words appear in exchange for it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A New Year

I struggled at the beginning of this year to come up with resolutions that would be useful instead of damaging and reasonable instead of completely insane. I started looking over the past few years and trying to think about what would really be helpful. And in that looking, I discovered that every year seemed to have a distinct theme.

Some years were all about work. Expanding my writing business was really all that I cared about for the most part. Some years I struggled to find a balance between paying writing work and fun writing work. Some years I struggled with confidence. I stumbled a bit under the weight of everything I was doing. This year is about me getting my power back. Starting a couple of months ago, I really started to see how much power a handful of people had over me. I started seeing that to get my power back, I would really, really have to fight. I'd have to step outside my comfort zone and teach others how to treat me. I firmly believe that we train everyone around us how to treat us, and sometimes that training goes woefully wrong. Not having your own power can shake your writing confidence and give you less force to thrust at the page. It was simply time to get it back.

And so I took a stand. I stopped going to BS events that I didn't want to attend, and I stopped making excuses. "I don't want to go. That sounds stupid," is an acceptable way to turn down an invitation to something that shouldn't exist. And if there's something that you hate, that represents oppression and upset and everything unpleasant to you, giving it to the thrift store isn't enough. You should really just take a rubber mallet to it and smash the living hell out of it.

My only resolutions this year are to trust my own judgement and to finish the novel I've been working on for the past year. Those two things are really enough. I may query magazines, I may finish a couple of short stories and I may decide to start smoking cigars, but whatever I do this year will be on my terms.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kinda Hate to Do This

I see a lot of questions about where to publishing things, like a LOT. Like, every time you say what you do they say, hey, where would I publish this weird thing I haven't actually written but want to write? I get it in person and every third question on writers' forums is this very question.

Now, I have spent waaaay too many hours writing online publishing articles for Suite101, but I don't really want to direct people there to answer their questions. It's not because they suck or anything, but they kind of do.

So last year I took all of the articles that I have written about online publishers and put them on a site of my own because I thought that would be easier. I have repro rights on everything, and anything a year old or older can be put anywhere I care to put it. I then kind of forgot about it. It occurred to me today that I probably have repro rights to more now, and I totally do. So I put a bunch more of them on the site. Almost all of them are royalty-paying publishers, and two or three are self-publishing sites.

The site is dedicated to online publishers only- and a lot of them you've never heard of. Since I wrote the originals, some that I wrote about have gone out of business, so those aren't included. So, no dead ends. Some of the articles are overly SEOd, as that's what Suite required at the time, so try to overlook that. But overall, I think it's a crazy useful site for anyone who wants to go the online publishing route, but I never marketed the site, so no one knows it's there. So, here it is:

Book Publishing Online

Don't be too intimidated by the award-winning Web design. I know it's hard not to be jealous of such beauty, but you'll be a better person if you try to get past it.

I hate marketing myself. I have a Kindle book and so far I haven't created a single link to it or marketed it in any way. That's how much I hate self-marketing. But, I do feel like this information would be useful to people, so I am dealing with the skin-crawly feeling just this once.