for love or money?

My current work in progress is a novel called The Legend of Darkness and Light. It’s a good old fashioned, balls-to-the-wall, no-deep-message-here adventure story. Kind of a tribute to guilty pleasures, I suppose. Anyway, the other day I mentioned to my friend Pete that every time I sit down to write another section, I wonder if this is going to be a good read or not, but then I realize that I really don’t care because I’m having SUCH a good time writing it.

And I am – I’m having a blast. I’m actually hand-writing it, then quickly transcribing every afternoon so I’ll have a spare copy. Occasionally while I’m transcribing, I’ll go on with the next passage on the computer, but later on I’m back to the notebook. I even had to draw out a segment, since I tend to work out issues visually.

Pete said that, honestly, no matter how good or bad the story, if it was written with pure joy, that comes through and entertains the reader. He’s probably right, since he often is. All of my novels have been written with pure joy and excitement. The novels I try and just crank out for cranking out’s sake never make it to fruition, so that’s pretty much all the proof I need right there. A story that I can stay away from more often than work my way through is a story that isn’t going to get finished, and shouldn’t, because it would show in the pages.

There have been times when I told myself I had to get something done, that I had to follow a trend or produce at a faster rate, solely because it was the correct thing to do. It was what was expected, it was the norm, whatever.

That never works for me.

When I write what I want, and take a ridiculous amount of pleasure doing so, that’s when a novel gets finished. That’s when a story entertains, and finds readers.

I spent a couple of years purposefully trying to get traditionally published. I sat down and tried to work out what was selling – not what’s on the shelves now, that’s a trend you can’t bandwagon due to the time difference between shopping a novel and having it hit the shelves – but you can see what publishers and agents are buying, what they’re interested in, and try to fashion something that will catch their eye.

So I did, and I sat down to write a novel that I could get an agent to sign on, one that I thought publishers might buy. And I wrote, and I worked, and I found other things to do.

Finally I saw the light (again, this light will vary from person to person, your mileage may vary, Indy’s not for everyone, bla bla bla) And I returned to writing what I wanted to write. Writing stories I wanted to read.

It took me a while to realize this, but when I made the switch to Indy, and experienced the incredible freedom that afforded me, this was the final tether-snap. When I knew that writing whatever gave me ridiculous huge amounts of joy, whatever would fly off my fingers in my own mad rush to see what happens next, that’s what I needed to write. That’s what I love to write, and that according to my sales and free-read stats, is what entertains.

When I wrote with fame and fortune in mind, I couldn’t. It wasn’t fun, I took no pleasure in striking the keys, cared little about what was to happen next. I was too concerned with doing things “right” and “properly” and following the prescribed pattern of success. And, I’d let this little parasite into my brain, called a Writer’s Forum – worse thing that can happen to a writer, being surrounded by people like that. They spend more time on writing forums than actually writing. They take more pleasure in screaming the rules and regulations at you than penning an epic of their own.

But I digress.

The other day (if by ‘other day’ you mean a few weeks ago) I wrote a short story, the very first one I’d ever done! Woohoo – well, okay, hang on . . . I wrote shorts in High School, didn’t I? Never really thought of them as shorts before.

“She’s wandering again, Maude.”

Anyway, I wrote this short, just for fun. Just to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did. But then I thought “hey, why not try and sell this?” I mean, why not? After all, if it doesn’t sell, big deal. I’ll put it up on my webpage, or write more shorts and sell an anthology. When I went to Duotrope to find a market, I suddenly realized this little ditty was impossible to label.

Genre-wise, we’re given ridiculous labels, beyond the simple SF-Fantasy, Mystery, Romance pegs. We’re talking absurd amounts of holes, in all manner of shapes and sizes, and I realized this short doesn’t fit into any of them. Maybe Humor, but they don’t list Humor without subcategories.

Did I mention subcategories? Okay, before we hear from Ethel on this, yes that’s a subject for another blog post.

Suffice it to say, when I wrote before, I wrote for fun. I wrote for the pure pleasure of discovery and exploration. I wrote because it was something I had a knack for, and enjoyed very much. Then I got it in my head that I needed to write for publication. I needed to write a novel that would sell to an agent, then a publisher, then wind up on book store shelves and gain me fame and fortune.

Even after I learned the ropes, and the facts, behind traditional publishing, I was not deterred. I still assumed I had to write to sell, and ‘make it’ in the world of novel writing.

Then I figured it all out, had my epiphany if you will, and went all Indy on your asses. Then, and only then, did I find myself having FUN again. Writing with love, and joy, and excitement, in anticipation of what comes next. I found my nirvana, my happy place, and my readership.

And as luck would have it, since it was no longer my focus or my care, some cash, too.

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Did I mention Ether is free this week?

read an ebook week !

During Read an E-Book Week, you can “purchase” Ether for free !

All other Midnight Reading titles are 25% off regular price, now through March 13th.

What are you waiting for?

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

“Ethel, it’s friggin’ FREE!”

i shitz you not!

If you’ve been living under a rock these past years, you probably still believe the only way for a writer to “make it” in the world of books and publishing is to struggle for years and years perfecting a novel, then trying very hard to find an agent who will — like the old Calgon bubble bath commercials — take you away! Wisk you up to that lofty Publisher-on-high and make you a star.

Maybe you peeked out from under your big round stone ten or twelve years ago and noticed something called Fanfiction, breeding all over the internet. Perhaps you saw things like Vanity publishing leaking off like the trails left behind by slugs, and a plethora of web sites made by colorblind individuals who thought a moving mailbox and a flashing red banner would entice you to read their little ditty. Then, convinced your life under that granite was really for the better, you went back down for another spell.

In that case, you’re unable to read this blog and haven’t figured out that this is the best time to be a writer. In fact, I can’t think of a better time. The world has opened up, or if you prefer, blown up, scattering into infinite possibilities going in a myriad of directions.

The rest of you should be rejoicing! Not only do you not have pebbles in your underwear, you’re writing in what has to be the most awesome era for story-telling.

Today, a writer has endless avenues and possibilities available to get their stories out to the reading public. If you still want to use the Traditional route, it hasn’t gone anywhere. There are agents aplenty, and a few massive conglomerate publishing houses who like to do things the old fashioned way.

But that’s no longer the only way up the mountain. Nor is it exclusive – – you can take that path, then come back down and find another, then angle left and take another. There is nothing stopping you from taking every single path to the top that you can find, and then some.

Want to Indy publish? Fanfreakin’ tastic!

Prefer a small press? Do you have any idea how MANY there are these days? Head over to Doutrope when you’re finished reading this blog and expand your mind.

You’re no longer forced to walk the one path to true enlightenment, and struggle to sell a midlist paperback trade. If that’s your goal, more power to you.

If not – we have a buffet of Audio publishing, Epublishing, Self publishing, Indy publishing, Small Press, Large Press, Indy Press, Free press – web sites, blogs, hell you can even Twitter fiction these days. Write short work for reading on cell phones, pen some Flash fiction in a banner ad, set up your own Podcast radio station and read your work, get a camera and post fiction on Youtube. Start up a website and charge subscription rates, or ask for donations, or give it away for free !

You can write novels, you can write shorts, you can write whatever the hell you want. With the plethora of small presses available today, a writer could make a solid living selling only short stories, audio fiction, podcasts.

You can sell your audio rights to one publisher – then turn around and sell first print rights to someone else, foreign rights to someone else again (read your contracts)

Sold a Novel? Nothing says you can’t turn around and Indy publish some Shorts !

Sold a Short? Put your Novel on Smashwords and control your destiny. Tweet your poems, audiocast your Flash. Sell another short !

Do you dream in Serials? Miss the old days of pulps and continuing stories that unfold week after week, exploring a vast, wide open world, but you don’t take the time to write one because you can’t find a publisher? What’s stopping you? Do it ! Sell it yourself, sell it to a small press, create a subscription readers list. ASK one of the small presses out there if they’d be interested – the worst they can do is say “No.” What writer hasn’t heard that before?

It’s a big wide open world for writers — the sky isn’t even a limit anymore. The only limits you’ll find, are those of your own expectations.

“There, see, Ethel – I told you there’d be a catch.”

“Oh hush up and keep reading!”

There is a catch, but the catch is – it’s all inside your own head. Your expectations aren’t what some nameless, faceless writing group tells you they should be, or what the guy down the street says they are. Your expectations aren’t what the media claims they should be, either.

Your expectations are entirely your own, but if you’re sitting at home, constantly rewriting that one novel, rewriting your query, tweaking a sentence here and a paragraph there, trying desperately to win over an agent, get that one book deal, then sit back and lead the life of a wealthy, famous author . . . I can offer you a great deal on a bridge over some Florida swamp land, cheap.

If that goal — that one singular mission — is all you expect and hope for out of this writing life, then I wish you all the best of luck. If you “make it” there, it’s because you’re the top .028% of the population struggling toward that same goal. Congratulations, and I mean congratulations. You had a goal, and no matter how long it took or how hard it was, you’ve achieved it.

But if that’s your sole idea of “making it” then you have my sympathies, because I’d be willing to bet it’s not going to mean what you think it means. By setting that singular goal, you’ve probably also built up a vast expectation of what it’ll be like when you get there, and I really don’t think you’ll ever be satisfied.

Who gets to determine whether or not you’ve “made it” ? Will getting an agent mean you’re there, or does that have to wait until you have a publishing contract?

What about when you have a publishing contract, but your book isn’t out yet, did you make it? If your book is on the shelves, but you’re not being asked to do a book tour, have you failed to make it?

What if they never buy another title from you, are you still there? Did you still “make it”?

I skipped my High School reunions, all of ‘em so far, but I’ve heard from friends who attended, and the funniest bit — the most telling of all the stories that stuck with me all these years, is how the High School jocks had all peaked. They were now balding, shadowy shells of their former selves, heads bent, “yes, dear” on their lips, desperate to relive the glory days because for them, their entire expectation out of life was to be the Big Guy on Campus. After that, after making it there, they had nothing else to do. There was nowhere to go but down.

They’d made it, but then what?

“She’s confusing me, Ethel.”

“Shut up and keep reading, Maude. I swear, you’re getting’ senile.”

If you’re a writer who’s sold some Short stories, maybe you’re struggling to finish that first Novel and you have high hopes a small press will buy it – – have you made it yet?

What if all you write is Short stories, have YOU made it?

Maybe you write Novels and put them up for sale at Smashwords, have you made it yet?

Perhaps you’re a writer who sold a handful of Short stories to small presses, maybe an audio book here and there, you’re working on a novel you’d like to sell to a Traditional house and you really want to see some of your work up on the web for free, have YOU made it yet?

Yes.

To all of you, Yes, you’ve made it. You’re writing, people are reading, you’re writing more and people are happy to read whatever you bring out – You’ve made it. You’re there. Celebrate ! You’re a Writer, you’re entertaining people, you’re weaving tales and expressing yourself, maybe you’re being paid, maybe you’re not. Maybe that’s important to you, maybe it isn’t. Maybe you’re Traditional, maybe you’re Indy, maybe you just stand at a corner and hand printed pages to folks boarding trains.

Whatever your methods, whatever the media, you’re there! You made it !

Even if you have other goals in mind, even if you’re still moving forward, exploring new options, writing new and exciting things, always looking for that “next big thing” – rejoice! You’re moving forward, but you’ve already made it. You ARE a writer.

Nothing pisses them off more. And by “them” you know I’m talking about the old time Traditionals. The ones who believe, unto their deathbeds, that THEIRS is the Way, the Only Way, and forever will remain The Way, Amen.

They look at you, Small Press Author, and you, Audio Fiction Writer, and even you, Indy Published Scribe, and they scoff into their Wheaties “You haven’t made it! You’re not a real writer! Until you’ve sold a book to a publisher using an agent, you’ll never make it!”

Screw ‘em. They’re bitter, old coots, more often than not. Angry that it took them years to achieve their goals, only to find those goals less satisfying than they’d expected. They were so busy reaching for their brass ring, they didn’t realize so many of us were already holding them. They’ve been told by so many people there was only one road up the mountain, they didn’t notice how many mountains there really are.

One day I realized just how much fun I was having with my current novel, and how much unadulterated joy I was taking out of being an Indy writer, and just being a writer. I’m not concerned with genre, or what is or isn’t selling right now. I’m not developing heartburn over writing a query, or researching agents, and I’m not pining away at my desk, wondering if and when my first novel will see the light of day, and be read by the world. Writing is a joy, it’s not a struggle, it’s not a time-suck. I don’t complain about lack of writing time, I don’t stress over ideas or plots or direction. The writing world is my oyster, full of pearls (which is a good thing because shellfish makes me wanna gag).

I can write Novels, I can write Shorts ( a newfound skill that is just awesome! ) I can sell them here, I can sell them there, I can do anything I want with them.  I can go Indy, I can sell Small Press, Audio, Traditional, any and all!

I’m there. I’ve made it. I climbed to the top of that mountain, and the next one, and the next one, and I’ve seen just how many more mountains are there for the climbing, and I can’t wait to summit them all.

I’ve made it, I shitz you not, and there isn’t a soul on this world or the next who can tell me I haven’t.

How about you?

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

“Maude, shut up and eat your Wheaties”

brief interlude

A foodie, I am not.  I have a niece who is so adventurous, she’ll try anything at least once, no matter how disgusting it might sound, but me – well, I’m so lactose intolerant I’ve been known to shout at cows. Whenever you’re sensitive or allergic to a food group, you have to be paranoid about what you eat.

You’d be surprised what you can find when you read the ingredients of things.

So it’s no surprise that I don’t try a whole lot of new stuff without careful thought, but when it comes to coffee – I’m standing in line to try anything new.

Which brings me to this morning – one of my coworkers has been brewing up this little concoction at home, he calls liquid gold.  I’m not exactly sure WHAT it is, but he claims it’s the best cup of coffee on the face of the earth. Says he cold brews this stuff at home, and then it’s stored in the fridge, and used as a “starter” that he adds to hot cups of water.

Well, he’d been bragging about this stuff for weeks, so this morning when he offered to make me “the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted”, how could I say no? Sure, I’m a tea drinker – but unlike some tea drinkers, I’m also a massive coffee snob. It doesn’t have to be Starbucks, but if it came from a can, you can just turn right around, Mister!

Anyway, I say yes, and he takes my cup to his little private laboratory (his office) and brings me back this cup of what appears to be coffee. He tells me it’ll be the best thing I’ve ever had – he uses cream, but since I swear at cows, I just added some sugar. 

When I stirred it, it sorta foamed up in a strange way, but then settled right down. He’d left, so it’s not like I had to pretend to be awed when I drank it, so I sat down, pushed my own cup of Joe aside, and picked up my cup.  The next five minutes went as follows:

Sip 1: Interesting flavor, not sure what to make of it.

Sip 2: It has a sort of odd lightness that I wasn’t expecting, and an almost smokey taste.

Sip 3: This is definitely not coffee. It’s exotic, and interesting, but there is nothing truly coffee about this flavor

Sip 4: I think I like it. It’s not coffee, but it’s interesting – I think I want to like it.

Sip 5: Yes, exotic is the word. I want to like this. It’s just so “different” and interesting. I really do think, maybe, I could like this.  Sort of.

Sip 6: Yanno, this tastes rather like goat spit.

Sip 7: This is disgusting goat spit coffee! Oh my god, it’s awful! Do I have llama poo in my teeth? Gawd!

After that, this “best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted” went down the sink, and I washed my mouth out with my own cup of Peets French Roast.

Gawd.

Power to People!

Make Love, not War!

Do I have llama poo in my teeth? Honestly?

read it like you stole it!

I’ve heard some stupid things in my day, and I’ve probably even said a few stupid things in my day. But I read something today that, well it really tops a lot of ‘em.

If you hang around traditionalists long enough, you’ll notice they’re bound to say something stupid. Especially those who are dyed-in-the-wool, you’ll-pry-this-hardback-from-my-cold-dead-hands, everyone-who-does-it-differently-is-a-Commie traditionalists. This is not to say all traditionalists are stupid, sell-outs, sticks-in-the-mud or made of wool. But even they have to admit there’s a large contingent among their ranks who are.

Did you catch what I just did there? I’ve lumped all Traditionalists into one big group, accused them all of saying stupid things, then couched it with the tried and true caveat.

Now you’ll better understand my point.

It’s about eBooks, forward thinking and open mindedness. Lemme ‘splain . . .

This is what I read today – a quote from the author of such works as The Mosquito Coast, Dark Star Safari, and The Great Railway Bazaar. A writer by the name of Theroux who recently released a Kindle-only eBook. During a podcast interview, he said this regarding eBooks: “… The big danger is copyright infringement. Stealing books and sharing books without paying for them. What could happen to the publishing industry is what happened to the music industry. It was destroyed. Absolutely destroyed. People don’t buy cd’s anymore, they share mp3’s and they steal them. That could happen with books.”

Did ya catch that? Apparently the music industry is DOA. No one buys CDs anymore. At all. Music is dead, and we’re all pirates.

Wow. So, those CD’s I buy all the time are . . . what? Illusions? Sure, I put the CD’s into my computer, so I can load them on my mp3 player, so I can take them on walkies and play them in my car (because the CD player in my car is a right pain in the arse). Do I share them? Well, I give the CD’s to my sister because her car’s player works. I used to make copies on cassettes – remember those? But you know what? I like CD’s. I’ve had too many computer crashes in my time to trust my entire music collection to mp3 files, bytes and bobs.

Theroux says that the music industry was absolutely destroyed –I assume — because he believes that malarkey. In truth, the music industry hasn’t even been bruised. Sales of CDs have increased thanks to file sharing – in the old days it was called “Word of mouth” or “free advertising“. If anything, the music industry evolved into a new beast entirely – one that allows smaller bands, garage bands, individual musicians who couldn’t have made themselves heard beyond the local pub before, suddenly able to find an audience. The music industry wasn’t obliterated, it exploaded all over the ‘net ! It grew, it changed, it expanded, and now we’re all privvy to music we never would have heard otherwise. And that is farkin’ awesome!

He also says “people don’t buy cd’s anymore, they share mp3s, they swap them and they steal them.”

He’s just called you a thief. In fact, he’s just lumped together the entire human race (“people”) and called us all thieves. We don’t buy CD’s, we just steal music. All of us. Every last one of you out there, those reading this blog and all the others, we’re all thieves, responsible for the utter and complete destruction of the music industry!

This is the same argument a vocal group of traditionals make against the eBook “movement”. They think if books become files, readers will all just swap ‘em, trade ‘em, and steal ‘em, and they won’t make a lick of money for writing ‘em. They’re convinced — and balley-ho they’re gonna shout about it — that eBooks will spell the complete and utter destruction of life as they know it for the paperback and trade world.

Well guess what — people have been swapping, trading and sharing books for generations. I’ve done it (gasp!) and I bet you’ve done it, too. You read a really good book, then hand it to a friend, maybe a coworker, a fellow commuter, a family member – and say “Dude, you gotta read this, it was awesome!”.

That book likely gets passed around a few dozen times in it’s life, to people who get to read it without paying. Then someday perhaps it’ll end up in a used bookstore, or donated to a doctor’s office waiting room, and be read another dozen times, all by people who didn’t pay the author a dime.

The author got paid for the copy he sold, by the person who bought it. That person then passed it around to maybe a dozen others who enjoyed the read without paying. Chances are, if it was a good book, that dozen who read it for free might want to read more of the author’s work. They’ll head off to a bookstore and check for more titles, possibly even buy a few, and share those with another couple dozen readers.

The hard truth is, those who read it for free and didn’t go buy something else by that author – or head out to purchase their own copy of the book they read for free – weren’t going to buy your book anyway. They weren’t going to pick you up off the shelf and pay to take you home. These people are not lost sales. But with luck, chances are they will turn into free advertising, which in turn will result in a few new sales you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The music industry wasn’t destroyed, it grew up. That growth period would have been a lot less painful and a lot more pleasant if they’d figured it all out ahead of time and stopped wasting time pissing off their customers. Do a handful of people steal music without ever paying? Of course they do.

Do you?

Probably not.

Do a handful of people steal eBooks with no intention of ever buying them? Of course they do.

Do you?

If I buy a painting from an artist, and pay the asking price – then later on, sell that painting to someone else for a hefty profit – will that bring down the entire art industry? Did I steal money from the painter by selling his art for more than I paid for it? I bought my house sixteen years ago for $69,900 and today it’s worth $147,950. If I sell it, do I owe the previous owner the difference?

The irony of Theroux’s statement isn’t just that he’s lumped all of humanity into packs of thieving book pirates – – the irony is that he’s done so while jumping on the eBook bandwagon himself. What if he’d simply jumped on the wagon and enjoyed the ride?

That’s what I’ll talk about next week – so your homework assignment is to go read this, then come back next week and find out what I mean when I say Define Making It: http://therumpus.net/2010/02/presto-book-o-why-i-went-ahead-and-self-published  

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Did you pay for that gum, young man?!

Oh Joyous day!

Well, joyous few-days-ago, anyway. Today I have a headache, a carry over from yesterday’s attorney/lawsuit – overstimulation.

But a few days ago, I got my laptop back from “those repair dudes” and it’s AWESOME! They not only restored every single byte of my data, but they replaced the dead 40G hard drive with a brand spanking new 160G hard drive, then put everything back on the new one so that, when I flicked the ol’ switcheroo, it was all back to normal !

Yeah, this isn’t news to you geeks out there, but it might as well have been a magic trick to me. I’d already gone beyond my meager abilities to boot in safe mode and affix some repairs, so I was helpless and hopeless.

Now I have my baby back ! And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, either. AND, those guys were totally awesome and polite and effy’fing. I’d go back to them in a heartbeat, I just hope I don’t ever have to.

It’s so good to have my baby back. She was virus free, thanks to my Extreme Paranoia Gene. She may be an oldie, but she’s a workhorse, from back in the day when they made solid, performance desktop replacements. Nowadays, these newfangled laptops are skittish as hell and twice as likely to throw a hissy fit.

And thanks to my new Seagate 640G external hard drive, I have not one, not two, but THREE full copies of my files safe and backed up. And in three completely separate places in the house, for added security, safety and ridiculousness.

You’d think I had some Pulitzer prize winning novel stored on the machine or something, but think about how YOU’D react, if someone were to completely erase everything stored on your computer, right now, today, with no warning. Photos? Emails? What about your taxes? All those cute LOLcat pictures you’ve saved over the years? That video of little Joey’s first steps – the recipe to your favorite dessert? The address book you keep thinking you should write down somewhere safer? Emailed receipts, activation codes, or all the passwords to your websites that you can’t ever seem to remember?

It’s sad how much of our daily lives wind up stored in these things – little stuff we’d be really irritated to lose. Granted, we can go on without them. It’s possible, honest. The world won’t come sliding to a stop, the sky won’t fall, and your little dingus won’t turn green if your computer blew up and you lost everything you’d ever done.

But wouldn’t it be nicer if you didn’t have to find that out the hard way?

In other news: Man, did you know the price of gold is over $1,000/ounce?! Holy carp, Batman. On Monday the 22nd, I’m having dinner with a woman who happens to buy gold for her job. It’s not one of those “come to the hotel lobby next Sunday and we’ll buy your gold!” deals – this is a woman who happens to be a good friend of my oldest sister’s friend (wow, when you type that out it sounds so hokey). What I mean is, yes, her job is to pay cash for your gold – but she’s not a nameless, faceless company. I know where she lives, in other words. So yeah, she’s coming over and a few of us are having dinner, then selling her our unwanted gold. Hot damn, eh?

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Oooh, shiny . . .wanna buy it?

news you can use

I got a good chuckle this morning when the phone rang here at work, and I answered in my usual fashion, and all I heard was heavy breathing. Not the breathing of someone who doesn’t realize you’ve answered the phone, and not the breathing of someone who doesn’t even realize their bluetooth headset just butt-dialed you. No, this was the real thing. Genuine, on purpose, deep inhalations.

Then a phone rang in the distance and my caller hung up.

Now, even the least tech-savvy person among us realizes the power of *69. And, as luck would have it, this call came in on the only line we CAN use that function on, because it’s the only line of three that doesn’t come through the main system.

So I dutifully dialed the recall number, figuring this was going to be the maintenance supervisor, who still can’t figure out his bluetooth headset, who may have butt-dialed me on purpose as a joke. But the number I got back was unfamiliar. Local, but unfamiliar.

Before simply dialing back, I thought I’d check it out, and utilized the also-simple and usually effective Reverse Lookup. Another easy to use method of finding out who called me without having to call them back.

Only what I found was even more disturbing. The number belonged to a woman, who works as a loan officer in a local bank.

Well, I’m as hip as the next person, but I do prefer the fellas, myself. So I laughed it off, and didn’t bother calling back.

Then the phone rang. I picked it up, and a very nice woman on the other end asked for one of my fellow employees. I had to take a message, and sure enough it was this woman from the bank. I didn’t bother mentioning the previous porn call.

Technology, people. Remember, if you really want to hide from the world, you have to unplug first !

What else is new?

I’m still working on my current novel. Took a day off last week and one this week to do some ghost writing, but that’s always quick and easy (not to mention rather fun).

I have to drive to the city on Thursday and find out if my “early pre-cancer” is turning in to anything, but I doubt it is.

And did I mention I’m gathering up steam in order to sue the hospital where my sister’s surgery was? No? Well, it’s in the early fact-finding stages thus far, but suffice it to say the surgeon left a large wad of gauze inside her body that has resulted in a wound failing to heal properly after four months ! As luck would have it, through personal networking we’ve come into contact with the head of the legal department of said hospital and that allowed us to start the ball rolling, as it were.

More on that as it progresses.

I’m in training for my cancer awareness walk – hiking around my old High School track every weekend jammin’ my tunes. As soon as the sun can hang around longer in the evening, I can increase that to after work walkies.

And my computer is ALIVE ! At least that’s what they tell me, I get to pick it up tonight after work, hopefully. Dead hard drive, they say. I guess that’s not untoward, seeing as how this Inspiron is 8 years old and heavily used. A new hard drive only cost me $95 buckaroos, and they saved all of my data ! Score.

Beats the heck out of buying a whole new computer, don’t it? With all my data saved as the cherry on top. Of course, this reality could all come crashing down if I go pick it up tonight and find out that “oopsie, wrong computer!”

In the mean time,

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

We can avoid arbitration for Elebenty-million dollars, kthxbai.

oopsies, part duex

I found a repair shop that claims they can not only repair my computer, but also save all of my data 🙂   For a modest price, anywhere between $75 – $125 they can reload Windows without the lose of any of my files and settings, and do it all in under 2 weeks.

So I’ve left it with them, it’s no good to me as a boat anchor, and we’ll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I’ve purchased an external hard drive capable of storing more files and data than I could ever hope to create, and I forge onward with a renewed sense of BACK UP YOUR DATA, STUPID!

updates to follow –

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Fingers crossed, everyone!

Oopsies

Those of you who’ve known me a while — and maybe I’ve mentioned this before — will remember an issue I had once with a desktop PC – where I woke up in the early morning hours smelling smoke, and found it on fire.

It had been Off, and just sitting there minding it’s own business, but sure enough, it caught on fire and the hard drive quite literally melted.  I ended up selling some components out of the case to a friend, and throwing all of my files and programs out the window. They were completely unrecoverable, due to a physical melting of the drive itself.

And over the years, I’ve used that as fuel to harp on other people about the importance of backing up your files. Backing up, backing up, and backing up again.

Keep copies of your files on CD, or little USB sticks – maintain an external drive for storage. Establish a routine once a month or more, wherein you copy and back up and save.

Good advice.  Excellent, thoughtful advice.

Didn’t stick with me, though.

Well it did in a manner of speaking. I used that advice as an excuse to buy a Dell Mini last year, and had every intention of backing up every single file on the Inspiron to the Mini – and as luck would have it, I did back up all of my photos and fiction. I was “going to” do the rest next weekend, or thereabouts.

And I do have another Inspiron, a younger, more powerful one, but I let my sister use that exclusively because I never bothered to customize it to myself, therefore my “stuff” isn’t on it.

Naturally, you’ve already figured out what I’m about to say . . .  My laptop died !  My beloved, aggravating, 8-year old somewhat finicky but usually trustworthy Inspiron had a massive heart attack while trying to update to Windows Service Pak 3.

Now all I can get is the Blue Screen of Ultimate Doom, Death and Destruction. My poor baby won’t even boot in Safe Mode, not even a little bit. I can’t reach DOS no matter how much I plead and beg. He’s dead, Jim. Nothin’.  Nada.

Here I sit, using the other Inspiron at the moment instead of the Mini, neither one of which holds copies of ALL of my files – bemoaning the fact that I could have avoided this headache if only I’d taken my own advice.  If I’d backed up both PC’s onto the Mini, and the Mini back up again on an external, and a handful of USB sticks.

I spent yesterday contemplating, with a lot more calm than I expected, what exactly I’ve lost and what I’ll miss the most. Frankly, the most important files are my writing, and they ARE backed up on the Mini and the other Inspiron. I do have good priorities, at least!   I’ll miss my emails the most, I think. I’m a saver of emails and often go back through them to find things, so that’ll be a pain.  And today I realized I was letting Windows save my passwords and got used to not bothering to remember them, so logging in to things is a pain. I’m sure there are things I don’t even remember saving that I’ll find out I miss at some point.  Like when you clean out the house and throw something away you haven’t used in years, and suddenly you need it again.

Ultimately, I can live without it all. Obviously this isn’t a matter of great wailing and moaning. I still have my health, after all.  It’s just a right pisser.

And I’ve contacted a guy I know who thinks he can rescue the data, put it on some CDs – and he’ll see if he can repair the machine itself and bring it back to life for under $200, I told him anything more than that is just a waste of money.

So, let this be a lesson – to me!  I’m buying an external hard drive this weekend, because frankly the Mini needs one (those little toys don’t come with CD drives!) and I’m making yet another vow  – Always Back Up Your Data !

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

For the Love of Gawd – Copy, Copy, Copy!

sacred cow pies

One of my pet peeves among the writing world are those writers who like to think (or make you think) that writing is some sort of ethereal experience wherein the writer is subjected to the whims and fancies of a muse. I’ve heard countless writers claim that, in order to pen anything, be it a short, a novel, or a greeting card, they must first coax “the muse” to alight upon their shoulders and whisper the words into their ear.

These people speak of their muse as being fickle, not always willing or able to come to them. Or perhaps they feel they must coax said creature by setting the mood just so. That they cannot write unless the moon is full, the tea is perfect, the proper music is playing, the right incense is burning, they’re secluded in a quiet room. And then, when all the proper conditions are met, their muse appears on faerie wings and the story possesses them completely, to the point of no longer washing or shaving or remembering to eat. These writers will then claim they are taken away by the story, consumed by it, transformed into some otherworldly being who must write and write and write and become so devoted to their characters and story that their spouses no longer recognize them, or their friends and family will no longer see or hear from them until they are finally, with great purging of their souls, released by their muse at the end of the novel/short/greeting card/cereal box.

You may ask one of these authors “Where did you come up with this plot?” And you’re likely to hear how they had nothing to do with it, other than holding the pen whilst their muse dictated delicately into their ear. And they’ll explain to you how fickle the muse can be – if frightened or bothered or not fed properly. As quickly as the muse comes, it can easily vanish, leaving the author fretting and bemoaning their unfinished work as they wait, hoping and praying, for it to return.

It’s all bullshit.

Not only is that so much bullshit, it’s offensive and insulting.

Writing is work, and it takes talent, skill and effort. To suggest it’s the product of some ethereal muse who poops faerie dust is to say writing takes no talent and requires no skill. That it’s simply a matter of who can coax the little creature in the window.

Writing is sometimes hard, sometimes easy, sometimes frustrating, mostly fun, always rewarding.

It’s a mysterious process at times, and difficult to explain, but no more so than any other art or form of expression. A painter, a sculptor, a pianist. Anyone who has an innate talent for an art you haven’t mastered yourself, is going to seem mysterious and have a difficult time explaining how they come about their inspiration.

The difference is, we writers love words. We can take hours of your time and expound on anything. We’re bullshit artists, who tell lies for a living, and we’re in love with the printed word.

Ask me, for instance, how I resolved an issue in an upcoming scene I’m about to write, and I could say:

There I sat, on the verge of despair! My novel had come so far, and had so far yet to go, and I found myself trapped by logic and on the verge of total collapse. I’d obsessed over my characters all throughout the week’s end, asking them to resolve the issue, but to no avail. They’d grown weary of my pleadings, and had gone silent. I was at a loss, and could go no further. But then, just as I was lamenting my fate and bemoaning the loss of my muse, she returned! Low and behold, she came back to me, appeased and placated by what means I remain unclear. I know only that she did forgive me my trespass and returned upon my shoulder, speaking to me the words with which I am now able to surpass my block, resolve the plot issue that had my stymied in logic and burdened with impasse. Low and behold, my novel can now move forward, and I am saved again, alas!

What really happened? I was sitting on the toilet this morning, trying to wake up, and it hit me.

There was no muse involved, just years of experience and the knowledge that I’d figure it out, eventually. Usually these things resolve themselves while you’re concentrating on other things. That’s why the best inspiration for novel writing is doing something else. Be it long walks in the woods, or beach combing, yard work or knitting.

But wait a minute, you may say. Isn’t your NAME Midnight Muse? How can you suggest there is no muse and yet you have it right there, in your title?

Muse was my cat, and I used to get a lot of writing done late at night.

Besides, I’m not saying there is no such thing as a muse – a source of inspiration – but if you try to tell me that in order to write, you have to be secluded in a special place, with the music just so, ambient lighting all around, a sense of peace around you, with the incense burning in the hopes of attracting the proper mood, so that your muse may alight on your shoulder and whisper deep plot issues into your ear – if you suggest that the story must possess you to the exclusion of all else, that you cannot eat or bathe, that your characters haunt you with their deepest desires, taking over your mind, body and soul. If you even hint to me that writing is indeed your very life’s blood, and you would die – literally cease to exist – if you could not take finger to keyboard and exorcise your demons. . .

I’m gonna have to call Bullshit on you.

Leave that crap for the wannabes. The plethora of “writers” who spend their days on writing forums debating with fervor the right or wrong of using prologs. People who spend more time talking about writing, than writing.

If you take thirty minutes just to set up your notebook, get your desk cleaned up, arrange your chair and your coffee cup and set the music just right, before you can even take the cap off your pen and write down the title – you might be fooling yourself.

If you spend more time reading How To Write books instead of a crapton of fiction in and out of your preferred genre – you might be fooling yourself.

If you’ve started seven novels over the course of seven years and haven’t finished a single one yet – you might be fooling yourself.

If you start a sentence with : “When I get time…” – you might be fooling yourself.

If you write whenever you can sneak a few spare seconds, adding sentences, scenes, chapters during lunch, breaks, when the boss isn’t looking, while the house hold sleeps, sitting in a waiting room, in the middle of traffic – you might be a writer.

If your story is always in the back of your mind, during meetings or while you’re watching the news – if you suddenly realize the answer to a plot issue while giving a Powerpoint presentation to a crowded conference room, and don’t even have to quickly write it down to remember it – you might be a writer.

If you’ve started, and completed, a novel or short of any length – be it crap in need of heavy rewrites or a pristine first draft – you might be a writer.

If everything you write comes out better than the last thing you wrote – you might be a writer.

If you start up your own fan club on Facebook, begin Tweeting as a character in your novel, or lose entire weeks to an online forum arguing about First Person being an automatic rejection – well, you’re just a doofus.

Power to the People!

Make Love, not War!

Is that Faerie poop on my sweater?

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