Me, Myself, and Amazon

Better Keep That to Yourself  They’re those taboo topics we know well enough to keep carefully removed from conversation if we harbor any intent of keeping things polite.  You know what I’m referring to, those subjects that incite the variety of passion likely to turn explosive homicidal dare anyone light the fuse. Yep, that’s right, Religion and Politics.  And, oh yeah, now there’s Amazon.

Word on the Street  Lately it seems they are popping up like dandelions on a lush lawn; magazine articles, blog posts, FB, Twitter, tales and opinions of impending collision.  Amazon against the Publishing Universe.  Depending on the source, Amazon is either under attack, or, ON the attack?

It’s War … Really?  Regardless of where any of us might hang on the chain–writer, agent, editor, publisher– we either have strong feelings regarding all this hoopla, or are currently developing them, because it’s a pretty big pot of stew that’s simmering to a boil.  And there’s every reason to believe that at some point, we’ll need to pick up our pages and take sides.

Amazon vs Traditional Publishers  Amazon has leveled the field and it’s exciting, yet worrisome — thrilling, yet spooky.  It’s Amazon vs the Big Six, and I’m not yet clear as to whether I should be buying ringside tickets or covering my eyes to protect them from the flying shrapnel of  Brick and Mortar bookstores being blown out of the future and into the distant past.

Proceed with Caution  I readily admit to being relatively cautious paranoid when it comes to change, and the native New Yorker inherent in my psyche makes me wary of anything that looks TOO GOOD.  I have been naive a clueless sucker a few times too many, so I’ve learned to proceed with baby steps, regardless of how delightfully wonderful the package might appear. Sure it might look and smell good, but that’s no guarantee it will taste good once you finally take a bite. The point being, that for many of us, Amazon has been the oasis in an otherwise harsh publishing desert–and yet, is it really?

A Courtship of Sorts  From the perspective of the part of me that is an “I LOVE AMAZON” book buyer, I’m sort’ve interested in the drama, but not as much as I love buying books at discounts with the potential of free shipping.  Yet on the flip side, is the author me with a book listed on Amazon, all of which means that I’m hanging on the edge of my seat, watching these two massive locomotives hurtling toward … well, toward something.  And regardless what happens, I’m pretty certain that someone’s getting hurt.

People have asked my opinion, and I do have one. But it’s an opinion that continues to waver  just enough to keep me from cementing it in place.  And not because my reasoning is especially deep or thoughtful.  In fact it might be something you’d hear on any Kindergarten playground, because the truth, quite frankly, is that my loyalties currently reside with the one who’s played nicest and been fairest from the time I first showed up on the playground.  Which is to say that Amazon has been kind to me. Very kind. Far more welcoming and supportive than the Indies, bookstore chains, or Big Six publishers.  And I take that personally.  It’s impossible not to. They not only invited me to the party, they even sent a limo to pick me up.

Deep, heavy-hitting,  thought provoking assessment? Nah, not really. But I can’t help myself.  When it comes to matters of the heart, I respond to care and feeding  just like any other zoo animal. Feed me, pat me on the head, offer me a cold drink on a hot day, and it’s pretty much certain I’m not about to bite in return.

Nevertheless, My Eyes are Open, and I Have an Ear Against the Door  Being appreciative doesn’t mean I don’t keep a watchful eye, read up on the latest, and stay awake to avoid potential injury. Good today, doesn’t guarantee good tomorrow. I’m optimistic, but not necessarily foolish a flaming idiot.

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT  And for you, on the chance you missed any of these provocative posts, I pass along links, links, wonderful informative links, gathered here for your dining-on-Amazon pleasure. Read, enjoy, keep a heads up, on the chance you find yourself trapped in the crossfire.

Kristen Lamb has two recent posts well worth checking out: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts and Bracing for Impact — The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm

Sarah Lacy: Confessions of a Publisher: “We’re in Amazon’s Sights and They’re Going to Kill Us”

Julie Bosman, The New York Times: Worried Publishers put Hopes on Barnes & Noble

From Joe Konrath; Amazon Will Destroy You 

And you? Are you worried? Do you care? Much ado about nothing? Or are your thoughts leaning toward “Battle Stations Ready …?”

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Visiting Day

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah! It’s a Road Trip!

Such a pretty February morning. Unseasonably warm and sunny, so I’m off to visit Brianna Soloski, over at her blog, Girl Seeks Place, where I’ll be discussing  whining about MY LIFE FOR SALE . I surely would love if you have a moment to come by and share your thoughts. (Although it’s also just fine if you only have time to stop over for a slice of cake and run.)

Share The Love–Please!

The Truth of the Matter

No question, it’s rough out there. No matter what it is you’re doing, whether, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, there are those days when it feels like you’re just treading water to stay afloat.

Oh, yeah, and then there are writers …

With the number of newly published books flooding the market somewhere in the range of 400,000 yearly (Subject to change–oh, did you hear that?  It just did.), it’s a far from easy task for the majority of books to find their place in the sun. Truth be told, if I shared the actual figures –the percentage of books that float opposed to those that sink–well, fugedaboudit–it’s NOT pretty.  Although please note that the ones that sink don’t necessarily do so because they’re lousy. Very often, it’s that no one knows they exist. Such is the life of one lovely little fish in an overstocked pond.

Honestly, it’s disheartening–as in, not gentle to the heart.  Sure, there are tips and suggestions aplenty for revving your engines in hot pursuit of the world’s attentions and subsequently turning heads onto your book, but that doesn’t eliminate the hotly debated question of which magic formula actually works, as opposed to those that will merely register on the scale of wishful thinking.

Let the Party Begin

Okay, then, lets say your friend, mother, pastor, mailman, or baby brother, is the proudly exuberant author of a newly published book.  Aside from sharing a glass of champagne and enjoying a second piece of cake at the book party, what might you do to assist them in defying the odds, not to mention the dreaded post publication blues when the grand ticker-tape release day has come and faded away as predictably as your kids after supper when it’s time to clean-up the kitchen?

Curl Up With a Friend–Better Yet –A Friend’s Book!

For starters, if you haven’t read the book, it’s VERY nice to consider doing so. (With extra points for actually buying your own copy. Double for buying a second copy as a gift and passing it on.) And once you do, how about taking that extra step of letting the author know you did. Don’t assume they will just KNOW that you took the time and effort, because they won’t. Despite anything you might’ve seen on your favorite TV show, mental telepathy is not only unreliable–it generally DOESN’T work.

That you enjoyed their book is precisely the sort of thing an author needs to know, because it matters. It matters a lot. Just as your opinion does. Good, bad, or hideously ugly, your thoughts count. Share them generously, although if you genuinely despised, abhorred, hated disliked the book, you might want to hold back a little as it applies to random public discussions. In short, singing from the rooftops is good, screaming in horror is not. This is the time to follow your mother’s advice, “If you don’t have anything good to say … ”
Share the Joy

However, if you truly enjoyed a book, regardless of whether it’s authored by friend, associate, or absolute stranger, consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, mention it on Twitter, and Facebook after you’ve waxed poetic over that hilarious stunt your cat pulled this morning, even recommend it to your book group. Bottom line, tell people about it. Shine a little light in a very crowded room — which by the way, is still the most effective means of marketing there is. Grassroots. Pass it on.

Honestly, it’s that simple. If you love a writer, let them know. Let us all know.

Firecrackers, Balloons, Champagne, & Flares For a Friend

And so here’s my pre-Valentine Day spotlight– shining on writer friend and fellow blogger, April Ross Plummer, whose shiny new novel Coming Home debuts even as I type this!  And yes, I will celebrate the moment with her (who doesn’t love a party!). I’ll read it, review it, and pass the word. Love, it’s good karma 🙂 Pass it on!

Loved a writer recently? Let them know, and let us know about your favorite good reads in the comments below 🙂

PIPE DOWN, WILL YA!


Say What? 

Do you ever wonder why we say the things we do?  Not necessarily the open-mouth-insert-foot class of speech, but rather, idioms.  Those oh-so-familiar and oft used expressions that have been around so long and are such a part of everyday speech, yet, in many cases we haven’t a clue where they came from.

Sure, we generally know what someone is getting at when we hear these phrases, but do we really know what they mean? And then there’s the question of what these ancient nuggets are doing sitting smack in the midst of  our modern language.  Yes, there are any variety of nuances being added to our common tongue on a regular basis, but who’s to say what their actual lifespan will be?

It’s those expressions that have held on for decades, and in many cases centuries, that fascinate.  Consider the fact that so much of what we say doesn’t necessary make a lot of sense by definition, and yet we continue to use these phrases simply because they are so effective for expressing whatever it is we’re getting at.

Kicked the Bucket

We’ve all said or heard this one. And there’s no guessing over the implication when we receive the news that someone has Kicked the Bucket, but seriously?  What the heck does death have to with kicking buckets? And will such an action actually kill you?  A common theory is that this idiom comes from a method of execution such as hanging, or perhaps suicide, in the Middle Ages. A noose is tied around the neck while standing on an overturned bucket. When the pail is kicked away, the victim is hanged. Okay, so that would make plenty of sense in The Middle Ages!  But now?  Not so much.

The Apple of One’s Eye

A very nice thing to be back in the time when it was written, and still revelent today. A perfectly charming sentiment that comes from the Holy Bible, Psalms, 17:8

Need That Like a Hole in The Head?

Nope?  Well neither do I, considering  that the meaning is, Something so ridiculous that I definitely don’t want it. ( The expression originated as slang in the 1940′s.)

PIPE DOWN!

And asking screaming at someone to Pipe Down takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that the expression is rooted from the high seas back when boats had to blow whistles to send signals. The signals could mean “turn in” and “lights out.

Tempest in a Teapot

Tempest in a teapot, which dates back to the 1st Century BC, is an idiom meaning a small event that has been exaggerated out of proportion.  (Who even knew they were making tea in teapots back in the 1st century! Yes, well, I get it, many of you DID know that, but it’s news to me.)

Raining Cat’s and Dogs

There are several guesses as to how this one came about, but none more bizarre then this (which of  course explains why it’s the the one I chose to repeat here.) Nobody knows for certain where the phrase ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ comes from, though one possibility is that it originates from the 17th century in England when heavy rains would cause debris of all kinds, including animals, to wash out of the gutters. Eweeee …

And a word to the wise, A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

 The stitch in time is simply the sewing up of a small hole in a piece of material and so saving the need for more stitching at a later date, when the hole has become large. Clearly, the first users of this expression were referring to saving nine stitches. Well, heck, you see,  that’s just common sense, isn’t it?

To be continued in next weeks installment of, Idioms for Dummies 🙂

We use them. We might even love them. So what are some of your favorites?

Once Upon a Time

There are any number of reasons why we choose the books that will land on our reading piles.  Personally, I love first lines.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night …

A great first line doesn’t guarantee that what follows will be a a great book, but it does make me optimistic. And although I’ve never actually bought a book because of an intriguing opening sentence, it helps.  A lot.  Because if I find myself intrigued by those very first words an author puts on the page, then I’m likely to read the first paragraph. Hum…still good?  Okay, now I’m in for at least another couple pages, at which point I’m most often ready to make the commitment as to whether said book is coming home with me, or maybe going into my online shopping cart for later.

NOT SO SIMPLE

“We can’t believe the house is on fire.”  That first line, from the novel, In Zanesville, caught my interest. (The second line is even better-It’s so embarassing first of all, and so dangerous second of all.)  It was enough to get me reading further, and then to buy the book. For an author, that’s pretty much the plan.

Yes, you’re absolutely right, a genius opening  line can go bad soon enough if the story falls apart at any point beyond that gorgeous First Line. But that’s a topic for another post. The focus here is the grand attempt to grow a beautiful garden from that first planted seed. It’s about a first line that catches attention and holds on. A line that at it’s best, intrigues, raises curiosity, sets  a mood, or is just quirky or odd enough that it’s impossible to resist.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE

 “Call me Ishmael,” sometimes we even know the first line better than the rest of the book. (Yes, yes, I know, something about a whale.)  For a reader, that’s the stuff that will help you win at Trivial Pursuit, but for a writer the goal is more about creating a story and characters that are recalled long after the last page is turned. And a stellar opening, is or course, pretty much the place to get it all started.

A PEEK INTO YOUR NOTEBOOK

This is the opening of my debut novel:   “Maybe it’s the raw brilliance of the pale white moon suspended in a hard black sky that somehow makes everything about this night feel harsher”.   The Secret of Lies

This from my current WIP: Sometimes just looking at him breaks my heart.”   Untiltled

Okay, your turn. What’da’ya got? Come on, lets see your stuff ! If not your own, than something from the tip of someone else’s pen that you just happen to love like crazy.

 

 

Linky Love Friday

 

 

Links, Links, Beautiful Links …

Although I’ve been on Twitter for a while now, I haven’t really BEEN on Twitter. The attraction is definitely there, but juggling social  media is a skill I’m still dragging around on the learning curve.  And so, if like me, you’re looking to get the most mileage for all your wise and wonderful tweets, you’ve gotta love these Hashtags for Writers, from Julie Jordan’s Blog, A Place for Writers.

Did someone say Pinterest? Yeah, lots of people actually. I admit I didn’t have much of a clue about what was going on with this, and I haven’t yet gotten around to pursuing an invitation (See above, I’m still getting my head into Hashtags!).  But,  GALLEYCAT, had the best information I’ve yet come across in an excellent post Pinterest Tips for Writers

Word is that if you’re considering uploading your masterpiece as a Kindle book, the automatic Kindle formatter shouldn’t necessarily be trusted. ( Although I don’t say this from personal experience, because I haven’t done it – yet.) Not that Amazon hasn’t made it easy, but apparently it doesn’t work quite as smoothly as it should. Not to worry, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter, offered this helpful information on her blog this week, Learning More About Formatting for Kindle and New Features.

Although this isn’t a new-this-week post, it’s one of my favorites from Kristen Lamb. (Favorite, as in I read it time and again to remind  myself  what I’m doing.) So give yourself a gift and revisit this treasure of a post when you have a moment Aspiring is for pansies-Tough Love & Being a Writer

And quite possibly my favorite post of the week, is this one by author Kathrine Magendie: Monday Classroom: Strengthening our Manuscripts. Kats Picky Sh*t  .  Not only does Kat offer great editing advice for those of us in the process or remudding out words, but her presentation is just … well have a look, you’ll see what I mean.

That’s it for this week, but you know the drill, please don’t hesitate to share your own favorite links below 🙂

Marathon of One

AND WE’RE OFF …
I like winning, but I’m not especially competitive.  And definitely not competitive with other writers. (No need to worry about me running up, and whacking you in the kneecaps with an iron pipe, in order to steal your pencil.) Yes, I’m running a marathon, and there’s a bajillion of us in the race, but winning for me isn’t breaking through the ribbon and claiming the prize. Because, honest and true,  I really, really, want all of us to win. There’s a truckload of trophies, so plenty to go around. (Although, there is that very big shiny one … and I’m curious just whose name is … )
ENDURANCE
Make no mistake,  I do think about winning.  A lot.  Because it’s essential.  Most days my race is a solo run through tunnel vision. And it’s claustrophobic in here.  So I make a point of keeping my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.  Some days I sprint, and some days I lag behind, but the thing is, I never stop running. Not because I’m loathe to have someone pass me by, it’s more about keeping myself well-paced for the long haul.
It’s an unusual completion, in that it’s not necessarily the cheering section I meet along the route that allows me the necessary determination to stride longer, stretch farther. It’s the head shaking, dismissive, doubters that inspire me to crank it up a notch when fatigue threatens to slacken my rhythm.
TO THE FINISH
And I don’t need or even aspire to be in first place. (Although gold makes for a lovely medal, and blue is such a beautiful color ribbon.) It’s about running the race and keeping pace in a marathon stretched across a lifetime.  For me, it’s a solo competition, but definitely a team effort.  And I really love running with you guys 🙂