My Wishes Three

Taking part of Emma Newman’s Three Wishes, I have put together a list of, well…three wishes in order of what I feel is from easiest to hardest. While the actual act of granting wishes shouldn’t be based on a difficulty scale, I’ve

Beware of troll

Beware of troll (Photo credit: mamamusings)

become a bit pragmatic in the last year. Plus, the higher up the difficulty of wish granting completion there is, the cooler that person (or persons) will be. So, without further rambling, I present my three wishes:

Wish #1: I would love to have illustrators willing to work with me on completing my novels. I would be willing to work either on a royalty basis or for a (small) nominal fee or even for free.

Wish #2: Twenty years ago I had the chance to talk with Neil Gaiman but, being immature at half my age and completely gob smacked, I missed that chance. Now I would be ecstatic at the opportunity to do it again. I have a lot to say and ask and will do my best to not pass out. No guarantees.

Wish #3: Earlier this year my wife was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease which is uncureable. While this would be quite the wish to fulfill, needless to say, the granter would indeed be on the highest level of cool.

Well that’s all. Three simple wishes. If anyone feels so inclined to grant or assist with said wishes, I would be incredibly grateful.

Don’t forget about the coolness.

“These three wishes are part of a wish-making community organised by author Emma Newman to celebrate the release of the second Split Worlds novel “Any Other Name”. Can you make any of them come true? Come and see what other people are wishing for and find out how to join in at http://www.splitworlds.com/split-worlds-extra/three-wishes – who knows, perhaps someone could make one of your wishes come true.”

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The Author Exploitation Business

David Gaughran

penguin (1)Writing is a glamorous occupation – at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness.

Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It’s a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits.

Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations who claim to help writers, to respect them, to assist them along the path to publication are actually screwing them over.

Before the digital revolution made self-publishing viable on a…

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A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn’t Care About

David Gaughran

turowquoteScott Turow woke up from his slumber recently to bark nonsense about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads on the Authors Guild blog, before being thoroughly eviscerated in the comments.

Undeterred, Turow sought out the considerably larger platform of the New York Times’ Op-Ed pages on Monday to decry The Slow Death of the American Writer.

On reading the latter, my first thought was: if Scott Turow didn’t spend so much time hating Amazon and pretending self-publishing didn’t exist, maybe he wouldn’t be so depressed.

It’s easy to poke fun at Scott Turow’s views. A child could de-construct his arguments, while laughing at how a practicing lawyer is unable to grasp the definition of the word “monopoly.” If you want a proper debunking of his Op-Ed, Techdirt do a good job, but I think there’s no real point attempting to engage Turow on this issue. His hatred of Amazon and…

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David Gaughran

author_solutions-penguinRegular readers of this blog will know all about Penguin’s purchase last July of the universally reviled Author Solutions – a company infamous for overcharging writers, doing a terrible job of publishing their books, and forcing ineffective and expensive marketing services upon those authors when their books (inevitably) fail to sell.

My posts on the topic have been leaning heavily on the tireless work of Emily Suess – a writer and blogger who has been documenting this racket for some years now.

At the time of the purchase, many in the publishing community expressed a hope that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions, or at least tone down some of their scammier tactics.

I was more than a little skeptical, and invited Emily Suess to give us an update. Here’s Emily:

One Racket to Rule Them All

Did you notice that skeevy self-pub racket, Author Solutions, is accumulating brands as…

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IndieReCon

Indierecon-logo4

Now, let me first start by saying I love where I live. It’s a small town of 2,200 and we’re the largest of 5 towns around a “major” city of about 14,000 people. Yes, it’s small. We’re about an hour’s drive from somewhere else and about 2 1/2 hours away from an actual city. The kind of city which has really good food–not just “good enough”–and toilets that flush themselves. Since civilization is so far away, it’s not often that one gets a chance to enjoy such things, let alone special events such as concerts, the choice to see a movie other than the 3 offered in town, and what I’ve affectionately dubbed “Word Nerd Herding”. Other people refer to this as Literary Events or Conventions or Seminars or other such gathering-type noun.

I used to live outside of Portland, Oregon, and there is a great annual literary “festival” (add that to the list) called Wordstock. I’m sure there are dozens of them across the country and hundreds abroad. Unfortunately, living where I do, it make’s it a bit challenging to make a six-hour drive one way to attend a seven or eight-hour festival and then drive back. And even if I stayed over-night, It’s still a lot of expensive driving back and forth.

So…what to do?

A short while back I met a fellow novelist, S.R. Johannes, and from her site I learned about IndieReCon. IndieReCon states they are “the premiere online writer’s conference for the independently minded”. After looking through the site and what was being offered, the conclusion I came to was…cool.

The conference (missed that noun too) is run by and focused towards the self-published “Indie” writers, which many authors nowadays have become. Now, one of things that has drawn me to this conference is the location and admission fees:

Online and free.

That’s a nice combination.

I’m signed up for next year’s gathering scheduled the weekend of 2.19.13-2.21.13. I think it’ll be interesting to see how the virtual conference goes. I hope to make some new acquaintances  and attend some panels with people scattered across the planet. That sounds pretty cool.

Check it out.

I’ll…see?…you there.

Cheers.

-SJn

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Hunting High & Low For People I Don’t Know

Circles

Circles (Photo credit: Fillmore Photography)

Before we begin, I must preface this piece with these words: I tend to draw out the negatives of something before looking at the positives. I find this a bad thing. Nothing like confirming your own fears. Now, that aside, let us proceed.

Calling all writers & readers & in-betweeners:

I’ve been told by a few people that one of the best ways to progress with my novel is to find others in the process of writing their novels. Equal parts therapy group and motivation group, being a part of these groups can help develop one’s story while, at the same time, assist in maintaining one’s sanity. I’ve heard of these writers getting together once and month or so, to share their writings and receive helpful critiques from one another. It seems to be a, “takes a crazy one to know and work with one.”

So, in this arena, I have two possible issues with this notion. The first issue is I currently reside in a major metropolis of 2,200 people and the closest area is even larger with a populace of approximately 13,000. While the possibility of finding a group is small, there is possibility nonetheless. So this issue isn’t really more of an issue as it might be a scavenger hunt of fellow writers working in the YA and/or adventure genres. Again, not impossible, just, y’know.

The second issue—and this is a bit embarrassing to me—is that I know next to no one who is also working on a novel in this genre. And I do think it’s important to find someone(s) in the same ballpark so they can understand/appreciate what I’m trying to achieve. While I could work with someone writing a deep literary piece about two souls trapped alone together (yep, all chock full of metaphors), the other writer and I may not be on the same creative page and therefore might be able to give the best critiques. If your mindset is about a young socially awkward tomboy thrust into a struggle between the waning light and encroaching darkness. But there’s also clockwork soldiers and anthropology and snow globes and a touch of magic thrown in for good measure. I love it. Again, maybe this isn’t an issue either as it is more of a(n) (ir)rational of mine. I’m sure it’s the second option.

See? Not that I can find people and it may take a bit of searching, it’s I hope I can do it. Guh. Don’t tell my wife. It drives her nuts. Me too.

I just chatted with a one Susan Kaye Quinn (a great person and writer) and she directed me to her site where she has a bunch of people listed who could possibly start up or bring me into their writer’s circle to begin the process. Of course she also suggested I “FINISH THE NOVEL” and then go from there. Geez. Get all rational and stuff.

That may take some time, but it never hurts to start looking for people. Finishing my novel would help too.

Off I go.

Cheers.

Ps. See? That last part was pretty positive. Or maybe not. I think I have issues with my positivity. Damn.

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“Next”

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener Baum

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener Baum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weathered hands take turns holding up her head and running though her hair, locking knuckles to keep from doing either. Shoulders sit too high, pressed against her head to keep it from crashing onto the counter. She barely stands, an uprooted tree with a too frail trunk struggling to keep her knobby limbs attached. Her blonde canopy is thin, withered and cracked with bleach. A growing nest of dark roots perch on top.

Another woman behind the counter smiles, patient, yin to frustrated yang. She has warm chocolate  eyes and cheeks creased with years of smile and laughter.

“Copay,” falls out of the dead tree’s mouth, consonants hard and cold. Weak fingers reach inside her purse and nerves take over. Contents fly like shrapnel: a cell phone snaps awake, a too-big keychain rattles the room awake. She socially attempts to ignore the two tampons and shoves everything back inside. She finds her prize and tosses it onto the counter.

“Here,” and her insurance card falls dead into the happy woman’s lap.

Welcome to the Waiting Room.

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David Gaughran

Chronic under-funding of school libraries has led to the tragic spectacle of empty shelves, leaving children with nothing to read; but a new initiative called Fill The Shelves hopes to change all that.

This story starts in a Pennsylvania K-8 school called Pittsburgh Manchester, where the librarian – Sheila May-Stein – decided to do something about the empty shelves in her own school (pictured left – that was the entire Fiction section of Manchester’s school library).

Last month, Sheila posted that photo to the Facebook wall of University of Pittsburgh professor Jessie Ramey, who then wrote about the problem on her education blog Yinzercation, along with ways that people could help – including ordering books from an Amazon Wish List.

Then things went a little viral. That Facebook photo spread like wildfire. They got coverage from their local newspaper. CBS Pittsburgh came out and did a story. Neil…

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Interview: What I Did With My Summer (and Spring) Vacations – OR – Where Has The Time Gone?

Interview

Interview (Photo credit: smiling_da_vinci)

Me: Well, hello there. It’s been a long time. How are you?

You: [pleasant and appropriate response. Pleasant return question.]

Me: I’m fine. A little tired right now (without proper caffeine, 4-ish hours of sleep tends to make one a touch tired), but otherwise I’m hanging in there.

You: [agreeing response. Friendly inquiry as to my goings on these past four-five months.]

Me: What have I been up to? Well, let’s see: my wife brought into our world a brand-spanking new beautiful baby girl. She showed up a bit earlier than we had planned and so we spent some extra time to make sure she was ready to come home. And since she’s been home, I’ve found it near impossible to stop chewing on her toes and to keep from staring into her steel blue eyes all day. Her laugh is deep and her smile is pure joy.

She’s magic.

You: [amazed response with heartfelt congratulations. Comment along the lines of, “sounds like you’ve been busy”.]

Me: Indeed. On top of that, we decided to move during this summer as well. Granted, the move was in-town (a whopping 0.4 miles between homes), but doing the majority of it with an infant did provide its fair share of challenges. Fortunately, we have some awesome friends that helped with the big pieces and together we got all moved in and (most) boxes unpacked.

You: [general inquiry as to the progression of writing or other projects.]

Me:  With the arrival of the little one, I did put Jac And The City of 1,000 Worlds on hold while we adjusted to a new life and a new routine and new sleeping schedules. I’ve spent the last month reacquainting myself with Jac and her accidental adventure. I was really excited to find out that I really like the story. While that may sound a bit odd for a writer to say that, I spent many years looking at stories I had completed and hating them or spending my time thinking about how I could have made them better.

You: [off-handed comment regarding degrading one’s own work.]

Me: A bit ridiculous, isn’t it? I spent a long time languishing in the classic and self-induced Struggling Artist where nothing is good enough and all attempts end up in gnashing of teeth, tearing up my work, and casting them into the flames of my own creative misery.

Not exactly the most productive way to spend one’s time.

You: [absolute agreement.]

Me: So, now I look back at my previous (and current) works with joy and pride. Even in my younger years, the stories I wrote, are great ones. While the tools and language of my trade were not yet fully developed, it’s great to see and recognize that I have come a long way from my hormone and angst-filled days of high school. Thankfully.

You: [genuine gladness with the new ideology.]

Me: Me too.

You: [general inquiry into anything else I want to discuss.]

Me: I want to say thank you to everyone who has and continues to support me. My friends, my awesome beta-reader (relax! the book ain’t writing itself you know!), and my extended and immediate family. I have three wonderful children and I count my blessings every time I think of them. But, most important of all, is my wife. By far the most impatiently patient woman I have ever known, he

r love and support and encouragement drive me to become a better writer, father, and husband. While I may spend a lot of my time with my head in the clouds, she’s there to make sure I don’t drift off into space.

Thank you, honey. I love you so much.

You: [happiness with my sentiments.]

Me: I think we’ll need to wrap things up here on my end. I have a sleeping baby and that’s precious time to write and to do the laundry.

Take care.

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David Gaughran

The anti-Amazon stories seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment. Salon posted an article on Sunday written by Alexander Zaitchik called Amazon’s $1 million secret which contained the sensational allegation that Amazon donates $1 million to various literary and non-profit groups.

A more complete list of beneficiaries is here, but it includes the Brooklyn Book Festival and PEN; journals like The Los Angeles Review of Books, One Story, and Poets & Writers;826 Seattle (a tutoring program aimed at kids) and Girls Write Now (a mentoring program for girls); as well as various other associations such as Lambda Literary (supports LGBT literature), Words Without Borders (international literature), and Voice of Witness (human rights).

Wait. Hold on one second. This sounds like a good thing! Even the Salon piece says:

At a time when independent publishing is struggling to survive, in part due…

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