Sunday, March 22, 2009

Contract & Profanity

March 22, 2009

Had an eye opening meeting the other day with several members of my Four Goddesses crit. group. JOan is publishing her second book with Publish America (PA), while Lois and Cindie have just received their first contracts from them. I'm considering it for my gay/sci-fi epic. Joining us were Dave, who is considering publication of his anthropomorphic desert tale or a book of poetry, and Anne, who has a dramatic novel centered around Australia.

We discussed copyright in detail. Who applies for it and do we get/need a copy of it in our files? Who gets the rights to the submitted piece and for how long? What about foreign rights? What about distribution to the author and on-line sellers like Amazon and such? What about the cover art? Cost? Willingness to use the author's own artwork? Author cost for each book and of course the royalty percentage. What are the writer's expectations as to editing and marketing? Advantages/disadvantages of companies that charge for publishing like Xlibris versus no upfront charges as offered by PA.

Depending on trust levels, reality levels and frustration levels with going through traditional agents/publishers, many concerns were put to rest or highlighted. JOan's information and experience with PA certainly convinced me that they were a respectable venue for me to consider. Damn! I do so hate the administrative part of the writing process. Anyone out there willing to give me an hour or hour and half five days a week to do my submitting for me? I'll pay all postage and printing. Granted while I write and they submit our income is zilch, but should we 'hit' it. I'd be willing to give that person 50% of all earnings from the book they get sold to a traditional 'big time' publisher.

Anyway, it was a great meeting with such an enthusiastic and supportive bunch of friends.

Saturday was the bi-monthly meeting of the Lake Havasu City Writers Group LHCWG. Big turnout. Jim took over as chairperson. I was supposed to get outgoing presents for those leaving office, but I had a senior moment or two and let him down. He finessed it beautifully. He got the members to agree to pay for the gifts! I had submitted an excerpt from my novel 'The Woman Between'. Overall, I got good feedback. Did have one person who is having trouble with my use of four letter words in the dialog as spoken by cowboys around the turn of the century. They didn't sign their name, but if I could talk with them, I would explain like this. I try to stay with the technology/dress of the period. Like I'd never have my cowboys mount a Ford Bronco in 1901 and ride off into the sunset. Obviously, he mount his horse. Also, my citified brother would not be wearing a Brooks Brothers suit. He sports a frock coat. But, when it comes to language, I want the current day reader to get into the moment, the temper, the mood of the speakers. I checked and found the word f--- has been used since the 16th century. Did the western cowboy use this word? I don't know, for sure. But, I do know that my reader needs to get put into the scene by dialog that they understand. Look at Shakespeare. I used to hate it because the words made no sense to me. I took a class and a professor helped clarify meanings until I had studied it enough to see the meanings for myself. I don't write at the Shakespeare level, nor do I attract that reader. My reader lives and thinks in the 21st century and I need to use words of the 21st century. So, I'm sorry if my dialog offends some, I will continue to use it as necessary. Besides, as a woman, I have enough trouble trying to create believable male dialog for my characters, so as to limit myself to the propriety or the 1930s writings of Gray or L'Amour. Enough said.

After the meeting we gathered at Denny's. Fun and Informative. Oh, had a fun moment when Donna, a new LHCWG member, showed us her Kindle. While we talked over our coffee, she bought 'Hannah', my western novel, and downloaded it for all to see. EXCITING!!! It may not be the NY Times list, but it was such a kick to see Hannah on her electronic reader!

On Friday, after the contract meeting, Cindie and I went to see 'Duplicity'. We left the theatre dizzy. Talk about plot twists. The actors were good, the dialog snappy and overall it was the type of movie you need to see twice to pick up all the twists and turns you missed the first time around.

Today, I'm heading over to Laughlin, NV. The country group Confederate Railroad is going to be at the Edgewater Casino on April 4th. Love that group, so we are going to get some tickets. Darn casino won't let you order them. Guess they want you to have to walk past all those slot machines to get to the order booth. Good marketing on their part, pain in the neck for the customer.

So, hope your Sunday is going well. In line with my discussion about contracts, I leave you with this bit of advice from Frank Crane. "You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fiction verson Non-Fiction

March 19, 2009

Lots going on around here. Keeping me busy, but providing lots of fun. There was a problem with this blog feeding into my website for awhile, but I believe that's been fixed, so we're all back on board for now. But, with these computers, one never know.

So, what's been happening since the end of Feb. Lots! On the 28th, I made a trip up to Laughlin with friends. We stopped on the way to visit my mother's grave. Her birthday was the 29th. The visit got me to thinking about writing fiction versus non-fiction. Non-fiction is so darn hard for me. Over eleven years ago, I started a memoir about the women in my family. Because I knew my great grandmother quite well, I thought it would be interesting for my newly born granddaughter to learn about the women in her ancestry from a first person point of view. It's pretty much completed and contains stats and memories of great grandma, grandma, mom, me, my daughter and my granddaughter. But, it was a labor. Not fun. Oh, the women are all great and writing about them brought good memories, but dealing with truth is not near as much fun as my fiction characters. I've made a goal for myself to get it done and have to them for Christmas. Well, at least it's a goal.

On March 10th I did another blog radio interview. This time is was with Destiny Debbie who originates in England. It was great! It started at 6:00 a.m. Ariz. time and lasted two hours. And, we had call ins! One in Florida, one in Pennsylvania and a guy from Canada who only wanted to know if we believed in Jesus. But, the others all had interesting questions regarding copyright and publishing. It went by so fast! And, I've been invited to do it again in July.

On the 12th, the local college had a short program on Irish songs and humor. Prof. Dr. Montbriand, who teaches English/Shakespeare at the college played the ukulele, guitar and sang. Quite a few of my local writer's group attended.

Then, that night my Four Goddesses book club met for our monthly crit session. I had submitted an excerpt from my novel in progress 'The Woman Between'. Got some great positives and some very helpful negatives on it. By the way, I wrote 'The End' to the novel on Sunday.

'The End'. For me, it's the hardest part of the whole process. Does it settle everything? Or, do I leave the reader hanging. I had intended to have a reunion of the two main characters after a number of years had passed, but when the heroine accepts a certain responsibility and then is given blessing by those who had held back any friendship, warmth or acceptance, it seemed the perfect place to stop. I also ended it so that the first word of the novel has her saying 'yes' and the last word of the novel is 'yes'. Dave is critting it, so I'll know if it worked or not in a couple of days.

But, now with 'The End' written, I'm left feeling at odds. I love novels/sagas, so I need to start again. Soon. I did manage to write a short story 'Pastrami versus Tuna Salad' for my on-line groups and I'm getting great feedback. One man said he was reading Robert B. Parker and he thought mine writing was a good. I liked hearing that.

Coincidentally, on the 14th, my book club met and we discussed Robert B. Parker. It was lively. The biggest complaint was his over tell of descriptions of how people were dressed. Also, his relationships with women made his seem sleazy to me. The dialog was top notch. One of the last questions I ask is whether they would read him again. The yes votes outnumbered the no votes by only one.

On the personal side, I've been having dinner out a lot. Went to see 'Slumdog Millionaire'. It was alright, but didn't measure up to 'Gran Torino' in any way. Then we went to see 'The Reader'. Very deep, very good. I agree that Kate Winslet deserved an oscar. Still it didn't measure up to 'Gran Torino', in my opinion. Saw 'Taken' with Liam Neeson. Other than enjoying his looks, the picture was a bore of over killing and unbelievable plot. Although, the one scene where he's talking to his daughter on a cell phone when she's abducted, brought a chilling memory of the time my daughter Kim called me from a phone booth in London. It was like four in the a.m. there and dark outside. A man tried to break into the booth. She was screaming and I had visions of hearing my daughter killed 5000 miles away from me. That part of the movie was pretty effective. Although, he was far more focused than I was.

Adios for now with my opening remarks on memoirs, I'll leave you with this quote that is so true of my of my feelings about my female ancestors. "The secret of a good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it. We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds." Tyron Edward