FACEBOOK–OR NOT

FB-Author

…AND SO IS THE DILEMMA OF THE WORLD’S BIGGEST COCKTAIL PARTY

I’m not a Facebook hater. Far from it. When it comes to finding and re-connecting with the long lost and faraway, Facebook is aces. It’s a tidy place for announcing, inviting, celebrating. Hanging out. Catching up. Rekindling the fires. Wonderful, perfect, fabulous…but maybe not really.

NOT SO AMUSING FUNNY BUSINESS

Strange things are going on over there on Facebook. There are the posts that are seen by only a handful–sometimes less. The Friends I was so thrilled to find after too long absences and yawning distance, but are now all but permanently AWOL, their chatty updates and newsworthy tidbits never making it as far as my News Feed. Where have all those new-found and reclaimed friends gone to congregate without me?

AND THEN, THERE’S THE AUTHOR PAGE

Yes, THAT Author Page. The one that sits all hopeful and expectant…waiting…restlessly pacing…thumbs twiddling…

SO BEGS THE QUESTION

Just how valuable is maintaining real estate in a Facebook empire that is far more resembling of a ghost town? At what point to I concede that the ship has sailed, the sun set, the birds flown south? Is there actually a point in continuing to churn out brain-poop into the care and maintenance of an Author Page that’s looking more and more like Cricket Island.

YES, NO, MAYBE SO

In the midst of this several weeks long mental debate, lands this perfectly timed post from one of my favorite author bloggers–the wise, successful, and wildly amusing Catherine Ryan Howard–Catherine, Caffeinated--who has thankfully taken note of the same ugly little weeds I’ve noticed poking through the Facebook cracks. Unlike my own erratically zigzagging hypothesis, Catherine zeros in with factual stuff–real figures and conclusions (I suspect she’s that kid who was actually paying attention in class–she’s clever like that).  All of which has me thinking there’s something to my suspicions and not just pitiable fear of abandonment paranoia.

BUT, WAIT! THERE’S MORE

Huh, what? Facebook Fraud? No kidding? Without spoiling the plot, let me just say that not all LIKES have anything to do with LIKING, and there’s some shifty (not to be confused with shitty–though maybe) business going on behind the curtain.

What started out as an abundantly cool thing, our worldwide Facebook neighborhood is becoming a land of unleashed shenanigans, increasingly threatening to spoil the entire premise of hanging around the World Wide Water Cooler, chatting up our stuff and the stuff of others.

IS THIS REALLY GOODBYE?

I don’t know, but it sure feels like it for me. I worry that the two people who generally “see” my Author Page Facebook Posts will miss them terribly, but just as likely, the cricket noises over there are getting on their nerves anyway.

 

What ya thinking?  Have any thoughts to share about your own FB experience? Is the Facebook game worth playing? What’s your take on Author/Book pages? Are you hanging in there for the long haul–or packing up your posts and pics and heading elsewhere? The floor is yours!

 

***Yippee! Free stuff! Currently in progress [ending July 23rd 2014] , Goodreads Giveaway for 3 copies of Painted From Memories. Hope you stop over and enter–my fingers are crossed you’re a winner 😀

 

 

 

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Why Such Meanies?

mean dog

Growl, Snarl, Snap!

We like to pretend it’s not a big deal. That we’re prepared to roll with the punches. We have a good idea what to expect and we’re up to the task. We’re not overly concerned about gremlins coming along to feed on our pages, sample our cupcakes, attend our art show, or choke on our words. We know they’re out there and we’re ready.

We get it.

From the  moment we reach the summit and stake our flag, we know to dig-in and brace ourselves, holding steady as our private little worlds go public.

Plenty to Say And Places to Say it–But Why So @#$%! Mean?

And yet far too often of late I find myself tripping over a mean-spirited review or comment that instantly causes my insides to crumble and my brain to clench, even when said assault isn’t directed my way. I can’t help but feel the angst breed from words that go beyond opinion and directly into assault mode. Words our mothers forbid us to use under threat of house arrest. Because they’re mean, just plain  mean.

Review or Faceless Assailant?

We’re entitled to our opinions. Thoughts composed from our reactions and convictions count. We’re experienced something and we’re entitled to talk about it, damn it! Yak yakking loud and long, even after the lights go out and everyone’s gone home

And yet, at what point does opinion take on the ambiance of something else? Something decidedly mean-spirited–one syllable removed from outright cruelty. Does the reasoning behind this hyper-meanie-mode have anything to do with how easy it’s become to launch a hit-and-run from behind the security of a faceless gravitar spinning through cyberspace?

Reviewing 101

Well, yeah, I hear you. Opinions aren’t always a kind or pretty thing, particularly when we’re aiming for unbiased honesty, thus uber sensitive types might need to toughen-up or avoid reading reviews altogether. But when we’re talking reviews–good, bad, or outright heinous–there is something to be said about common courtesy and fair play.

For instance, these three sentences constitute an opinion and not a review:

“I hated everything about this book. I hated the story. I hated the characters.”

When posted on a public forum it’s a meanie flyby assault dropped with intent to harm. Taking a few moments to detail the Hate within the Hatred is the required component necessary to quality this as a legit and purposeful review.

This statement is Absolutely, Positively not a review:

“I couldn’t get past the first two pages.”

And so begs the question of what has actually been reviewed? Five hundred words of a 80,000 word novel?

Call me crazy, but if I start reading something–whether slender volume, cinder-block sized tome, or article in People magazine–and it doesn’t click the preferred receptors in my reading brain, I close the cover and select something else from my teetering pile. Common sense and old-fashioned courtesy assuring I have nothing legit to offer by way of opinion because I haven’t read it!

It Seems Both Simple and Humane

Regardless of whether another person’t work evokes hatred or love within our internal opinion box, there’s something to be said for respecting the fruit of another’s labors.

We all have opinions and they count for something. And when it comes to honest gut reaction, truth is not an option, even when it’s painful. But there’s a flip-side in the game of playing fair.  Don’t just tell us that In Your Opinion something is wonderful or dreadful, tell us why. If you won’t recommend the eclairs from Lula’s Sweet Shop, tell us it’s because the filling tastes like chalk or the pastry is soggy, because “They’re crap,” doesn’t cut it.

If the book was unreadable because the typos set your eyeballs to near-combustion, the story was predictable, or the ending falls flat, that’s the thing we appreciate knowing, but “I hated the protagonists name,” not so much.

Keep In Mind

There’s a beating heart behind every creation.

YES, please do share your thoughts and tell it like it is. But give us some concrete reasons for why you liked or disliked the object in question. Stand by your comments and opinions, but, come on, kids, lets try and remember to play nice. Drive-by shooting are the actions of criminals and thugs. You’re so much better [and kinder] than that.

 

Care to pull up a keyboard and share your thoughts?

What’da’ya think? Is being honest the same thing as being mean? Have you been guilty of, or affected by. a dump-and-run?

Keep It To Yourself ?

fighting-2

As stated in the Rules

You know them as taboo topics.  Subjects OFF LIMITS if we have any intention of aspiring to the heights of the non-offending , tolerant, thoughtful, and un-bloodied.

It doesn’t require the mind of Solomon to figure out the wisdom in this accustomed rule.  A few heated venom spewing, flame throwing wars  disagreements are all that’s necessary to get the gist.

Not an especially surprising revelation, since, if we’re being honest, isn’t it true that very few of us encourage, appreciate, or respond well to unsolicited opinions, blatant know-it-all-isms, or bossy-pants directives? We make the effort to play fair with the expectation that the courtesy will be returned in kind. Sure, we waver now and again when logic and passion collide to cloud our thinking with the needling pain of a bad toothache.  But nevertheless, we understand to hold our tongues, barring the occasional lecture served up over the supper table, where our nearest and dearest are obliged held at fork point  to listen to our rants if they have any hope of our passing the meatloaf before hell freezes over.

It all happens so innocently

We’re still nursing the morning cup, scrolling through the recent scoops on Facebook: amusing quips, pet photos, drama queen updates — when all at once –we see it — The Bait.

HUH??? What? What the …. How rude!  And WRONG.  Crap. What a boob. 

You scroll away.

But then you’re back.  You can’t help it. Just for the sake of curiosity.  No harm in skimming through the handful of comments posted by those not so politically correct or courteous as you.

Seriously? Ridiculous. 

Scroll away.

Back.

You’ve got to be kidding? No rational person would ever agree with something so idiotic. Ten *Likes*? TEN people LIKE this outlandish baloney?  What brand of lunacy would inspire anyone to agree with this load of steaming, reeking poo? There must be someone out there in possession of a working brain. So where are they? Why aren’t they saying something? Why isn’t someone responding to this insane realignment of fact?

The truth is

While we might be occasionally successful in stiffing our opinions, it’s our hardcore convictions that consistently pop the lid off the box.  At which point, expressing The Real Deal feels all-consuming essential in the face of  blatantly heinous misconceptions.

Because, no exaggeration, when it comes to _______ and _________, I  personally know my stuff.  Really.  No really, I’ve got it covered. This is my topic, my territory.  I’ve got this–inside out, upside down, full to overflowing–I KNOW THIS!

And yet, I know better

Right?   I know the pointless, rarely won impossible to win, brutal nature of engaging in sticks-and-stones battles in public places STOP! DANGER! Social media ahead.

And  So

Scroll back — this is it. One quick and final look.

YES!!!

At last! The White Knight of Wisdom and Courage, one whose convictions are richer and truer than the cowardice of politeness, has swept in to plant the very words I myself am too non-offending cowardly to offer myself.  At the very least I will “Like” this sterling comment of honesty and truth. A click of solidarity …

Wait …but doesn’t a “Like” rate nearly the same as saying it myself? What if someone–someone near and dear–notices my Like and is offended? Maybe the best plan of action is to wait.  Creep back quietly under cover of night.  While Facebook is asleep and no one is looking.  A quick, drive-by click.

Truth vs Honestly vs Everything Else

It’s all such a confused and slippery slope.  At what point does thoughtfully keeping the yap shut translate as an act of cowardice, rather than stately wisdom.  Akin to backing away with hands thrown in the air when every fiber is insisting we lock-and-load. How much of the urge to respond to another persons “stuff” is a byproduct of our own pride and know-it-all-itis, as opposed to true heart and soul convictions?  The difficult to restrain human tendency of needing to have the last word–slamming headlong with the inspiration to impart life-saving sacred truth in the face of deranged misconception? Just how important or necessary is it to get our opinions and convictions out there for everyone to see?

Sigh…

I’m still working to rearrange the furniture in my comfort zone.  More or less treading lightly, when the better plan might very well be to leap directly into the deep end.  Grab hold of those unshakable-top-tier convictions and hold on for a rollicking ride over a  bumpy road.

And, how are you doin? What’s your tendency when it comes to speaking-up, lending opinion, spouting your fountain of truth?  The spotlight is yours *hands you the microphone…*

 

Nobody Cares

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

… as much as you do.

THE BIG PARTY 

I’m not saying that no one gives a hooey about what you’re writing or have written.  Maybe you’re so blessed that the day you turned the knob and let yourself out of the writers closest your cheerleaders fell into formation, practiced and ready to spin a dozen perfect cartwheels of support over your heartfelt endeavors.  They bought your book, tooted your wordy genius to their circle of friends, posted on Facebook, tweeted from sea to shining sea.  Possibly even set your heart to singing by posting a review on Amazon and/or BN.  They told you how proud, excited, impressed, joyful they are over your accomplishment.  They begged for a sequel and your smile stretched so wide it nearly split the seams of your face from ear-to-ear.

C.O.D

You’ve worked hard.  Persevered across the fiery coals of doubt, rejection, and uncertainty regardless of  how much it never failed to sometimes hurt.  You’ve paid your dues and can at long last bask in the radiant light of an accomplished dream. It feels good.  Because it should.

BEWARE THE BURSTING BUBBLE

Whether it be weeks or months later, the thing is, it does happen.  Readers read … and then they move on. Readers have an appetite that requires constant care and feeding of good books, not just one book.  Yes, they read and thoroughly loved your book.  But now the marching band has turned the corner and your personal parade has dispersed to return to their own lives. But this writing gig is your real life and you’re still here. Alone.

FOREVER ON YOUR MIND

It’s something beyond wonderful when people care about your creations.  When they take time to share your passion and connect with your characters and stories.  And although none of that stuff is why we write, it puts an extra special spring in our step and twinkle in our eye. Until they leave. Pack up their pom poms and return to whatever they’ve temporarily set aside.  Leaving you to sweep up the confetti in a suddenly empty room.

SHHHHH, NOT SO LOUD

And here you are. No less passionate, still eyeball deep and consumed with all you’ve created. You haven’t finished talking about your characters lives, thinking, wondering, obsessing about them.  Worrying they have no friends on the playground and nobody has invited them to sit at their lunch table.

THAT BAD?

Not really. Just the facts.  No One Cares … as much as You Do. Just because you’ve written a book doesn’t mean people are going to want to read it. And even if they do, their potential love for your work will never surpass your own and you shouldn’t expect it

SINCERE APPRECIATION

Be gracious and appreciative of well wishes and enthusiastic readers.  Just keep in mind, when the final cork is popped and the lights go out, it’s still your baby. You brought it into the world and you’re responsible for future nurturing and midnight feeding.

Are you expecting too much from your readers?  How difficult, or potentially painful, do you find it to draw the shades on your party and wave goodnight to your guests?

Jeezaloo–fingers crossed that someone really does care that my baby number two, “Asleep Without Dreaming,” is due for release in 7 days  😀

WHY SO EXCITED?

Aren’t you so EXCITED?!  Of course you are!  At least it certainly seems you ought to be, considering that when you skim the news feed on FB, stop by to read a blog post here and there as you cruise through cyberspace, noiselessly tip-toe through twitter, it’s pretty much everywhere. Excitement, and lots of it.  Can we really be this Excited so much of the time?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m right there with you  to blow-up the balloons and toss the confetti in celebration of those occasions, announcements, and achievements of high excitement.  You’ve just gotten a new agent, your book is/will be published, you won the Nobel Prize? Absolutely that’s EXCITING stuff. In fact, pardon me while I dash off and bake you a cake …

EXCITEMENT OVERLOAD

In truth, it’s not the overabundant use of the word EXCITED that has me grousing, it’s the observation that maybe there’s far too much EXCITEMENT being tossed around, and quite possibly we’ve gotten a wee bit lazy with our word-ology.

Okay, so if you’ll hold your excitement for just a moment, I will make my point by serving up some suitable, and yes, EXCITING alternates courtesy of the every handy-dandy desk thesaurus:

EXCITE: inspire; upset, accelerate, agitate, amaze, anger, animate, annoy, arouse, astound, awaken, bother, chafe delight, disturb, electrify, elicit, energize, evoke, fire, fluster, foment (huh?) galvanize, goad, incite, induce, inflame, infuriate, instigate, intensify, irritate, jolt, kindle, madden, mock, move, offend, precipitate, provoke, rouse, start, stimulate, stir up, taunt, tease, thrill, titillate, vex, warm, worry …

Clearly, it’s nothing if not a thoroughly lazy exercise in word usage  to so often default to the generic EXCITED when we have such a diverse menu to choose from.

IF YOU’LL PARDON MY EXCITEMENT

Over here in my little corner of the world, this first half of 2012 has seen more than a few truly exciting astounding milestones. 

AND SO, A FEW EXCITING STIMULATING HIGHLIGHTS

1. Child #3 graduated with honors from Tulane University in New Orleans this past spring.

Aside from the “official requirement” that we pack up the jalopy and head off to one of my very favorite cities in order to attend said graduation, there is the deeply personal excitement fire of waving my third child off into the world with college degree in hand as she pursues her hearts desire. (Not to mention that by graduating with honors, I am assured that my darling girl did indeed resist the temptations of Bourbon Street and perpetual Mardi Gras well enough to open her books and work hard when necessary.) Certainly every parent thrills at such achievements in the lives of their children, but for those who, like me, carried their own Ivy League dreams straight from High School to enrollment at the University of Real Life, (although to my credit, I paid attention, studied hard, and did my homework along the way to earning a self-awarded doctorate) there mighty milestones elicit high levels of excitement animation.

2. Child #4 completed his Boy Scout Eagle Project this summer. Yes, absolutely the stuff that makes a mama proud, but there is something infinitely exciting stimulating in witnessing a 16 year old boy take a mighty step toward manhood by proving he is far more than an eating, sleeping, video game playing entity (cue Dr Frankenstein as his creature comes to life, “IT’S ALIVE!!!!”), by willingly shouldering the necessary design, planning, fund raising, labor, and responsibilities necessary to accomplish a mighty and highly ambitious project. In this case, by metamorphising a neglected Memorial plaque on a boulder dedicated to WW II veterans, into a beautiful memorial garden complete with archway, benches, brick walkway, flag pole, night-time lighting, and plantings. So yeah, this is one of those things that truly excites  inflames my pride receptors.

3. I am a shiny new Grandmother (or Mimi, if you happen to be Baby Sebastian.)!!!  Although I’ve only been wearing this newbie title for 4 days now, it fits quite nicely and feels especially comfy. To those of you who are grandmothers, have a grandmother, long to be a grandmother, I needn’t elaborate on how over-the-moon, EXCITED ANIMATED I am now, and will forever be.

4. Having weathered the accustomed angst, turmoil, and brain strain hairpulling, sulking, whining of writing, I now have a mostly official date penned on the calendar for the release of my latest novel, Asleep Without Dreaming. (September 18, 2012. Woo woo!) If you’re a writer, no elaboration necessary.  If you’re a reader, I hope pray, gnash teeth, cross fingers that you’ll consider climbing into your favorite comfy chair with my book and while away an afternoon. After mucho years of scribbling out these chapters, my EXCITEMENT supreme sense of electrification is near blinding.

AND SO

What exactly does all this word-muddling prove, you ask?  Probably that EXCITE, EXCITING, EXCITED, are pretty good words.  Because, shoot, we really are  EXCITED! And for good reason. EXCITEMENT is a feel good, done good, bring on the parade, perfect fit of a word.  Accept no substitutes imitators that sound really awkward and stupid. I might be inflamed, animated, fired up and stimulated, but mostly I’m EXCITED, by golly! EXCITED, EXCITED!

EXCITED is life at it’s finest and nothing quite expresses it like good old tried-and-true EXCITED EXCITEMENT! 

So what’s got you Excited lately?  It’s fun to share, please do 😀

*Hoping you don’t mind my adding a fleeting dash of EXCITEMENT by announcing that my debut novel The Secret of Lies will be FREE on Kindle August 2 – August 3 in celebration of the near-release of Asleep Without Dreaming 😀

Liebster Love & Comrades of the Pen

Last week I had the great pleasure of learning that I’d been tapped for some Major Blog Love by Ellen Gregory, when she awarded me with the Liebster Blog Award.  (Yes, that is me you hear hootin’ and hollerin’ just because winning stuff is fun and festive!) So my sincere thanks to Ellen 😀

To explain, I’m going to quote Ellen who quoted Laird, who quoted Mike Schulenberg:

According to legends that come to us from antiquity, the Liebster is meant for blogs that motivate, inspire, and have 200 followers or less.  Its apparent purpose is to summon new followers like some sort of mystical talisman, increasing the power of those of us who are just beginning. — Mike Schulenberg

The Liebster Blog rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you on your blog and link back to them.
  2. Nominate up to 5 others for the award.
  3. Let them know by commenting on your blog.
  4. Post the award on your blog.

So without further ado, I select the following five to spread the Liebster love:

Janet Lawler: The New York Screenwriting Life

Kathryn Magendie: Writing From My Mountain Cove

Heather Webb: Between the Sheets

Sherry Issac: Psychological Sizzle

Jodi Lea Stewart: Walking on Sunshine

And really this is merely the tip of the Island of Beautiful Blogs. But it does bring to  mind the fact that it isn’t merely about being entertained, informed, and having a friendly chit-chat across cyberspace. There is also the absolute joy or connection with like minds — or even not so like minds.

The following post seems a good fit with Liebster Love. It’s a repost from my long ago, far away blog, but remains a favorite for it’s close proximity to my heart.

COMRADES OF THE PEN

Do you recall your very first best friend?  How about your first writing  friend? The one you excitedly shared your aspirations with, secure in knowing your heart’s desire was completely safe and theft proof in the vault, because your best writing friend shared the inherent angst, struggle, and unsurpassed joy of putting words on paper.
Hugh Hefner, The Early Years
I started writing my “little stories’ in grade school, keeping everything in various notebooks that I’ve long lost track of. My first foray into writing with a friend was in third grade and it nearly landed me in the hot seat down at the principal’s office. My friend and I (also named Barbara), had somehow came up with the then thrilling idea to co-author a weekly newspaper, the name of which was THE NAKED CITY. We’d heard the title on a television program and been shocked, titillated, and immediately tempted to be naughty. I don’t recall much story-telling in this joint venture, but the main feature of our newspaper were naked stick-figures adventuring in a big city.  It was all great fun for a week or two, and my co-writer, Barbara, was most generous in offering to keep our back-list publications safely tucked away in her classroom desk. We were wildly enthusiastic to share our newspaper with classmates, and the brief surge of popularity was heady stuff. Or at least up until the moment when one dissatisfied reader tattled to our teacher and Barbara was forced to hand over our complete inventory of THE NAKED CITY on the spot. Barbara was prompt in implicating me as her trusty co-writer, and I was equally prompt in responding with a vehement denial.

All these years later, I am left wondering if  Barbara still holds a grudge…

Seventh Grade, The Bronx Bomber Comes To Town
I grew up in a small town in New York.  Postcard pretty: farms, rolling hills, mostly quiet, and generally peaceful. A new family moving in was immediately noted and carefully watched as they blended in. Maybe it was the leather jacket, the movie magazine tucked under her arm (when the rest of us were still reading Archie comics), or a combination of both, but from the first day when the new kid swaggered onto the school bus, my attentions were immediately captured and have held steady for over 35 years.

Unlike myself, who kept my writerly aspirations safely tucked away for my eyes only, waiting for my confidence to kick in, Janet made no secret of the fact that she was an aspiring screenwriter. Born and raised in the Bronx, she was an all out enigma in our small town and quickly became known as “The Star.” Whenever she arrived in English class toting a newly finished script, our teacher was enthusiastic in allowing the class to read and perform her masterpieces. Needless to say I was thoroughly enthralled with this leather clad epitome of all things cool. Our friendship came on fast and furious in such a way that has held on strong for the duration. We’ve come a long way from the days of skipping school to sit at Janet’s kitchen table drinking tea and typing her scripts, and despite time and distance, she remains my top-tier writing champion. It’s been a thrilling ride, supported each other from rock bottom rejections to the exhilaration of standing on the summit.  While my debut novel currently makes its way in the world, Janet, too, has had a myriad of writerly accomplishments: writing award wining plays, a movie script optioned by a renowned Hollywood director, and writer of a popular blog, THE NEW YORK SCREENWRITING LIFE: 

Writing Friends From Afar, Yet Close As A Key Stroke
Social Media. Blessing or curse?  I’ll be honest and admit that my first foray into social media was in consideration of what I assumed was a necessary evil for authors with stuff to promote. I didn’t get it — until I did. Certainly promotion is essential on some level in some places, but the true treasure to be gathered from those favorite Facebook groups, blogs, websites, etc, is the connection to REAL people traveling the same road, carrying a familiar cargo, and pressing on to similar destinations. Sort’ve like one REALLY BIG road trip.

I find it remarkable and exhilarating. These are not simply avatars passing on the internet, they are shoulder to shoulder, pen stroke to keyboard, comrades of the written word. Yep, right here with me, generous, sympathetic, and just as enthusiastic to accept the invitation to my party as I am to accept theirs.

A recent glowing example of newly discovered writer love came to me with the discovery of a most fabulous novel and it’s equally fabulous author. Several weeks ago I found myself reading “Tender Graces” by Kathryn Magendie. Now when I say fabulous, what I mean specifically is that I LOVE everything about this book .  I’m talking Triple Crown: story, characters, writing style.  Now, in my pre-social media life, I would have loved this book, studied the author bio on the back cover, and wondered all sorts of things about this mysterious creature who could write so beautifully. Not so in the here and now where we can find books, love them, and “meet” their authors, as I myself did with Kathryn Magendie, an incredibly gracious writer who has much to share and does so most generously. Comrade of the pen? You betcha! (And a crazy cool aside, she was reading my novel, The Secret of Lies, at the same time I was falling in love with her book. A situation guaranteed to kick-up the thrill of reading several notches.)

Writer love is a most wonderful thing and I gladly trade my promotional aspirations for the far more durable gift of pen-to-pen friendships.  How about it, have you been thoughtful in passing around some of your own writer love?  Would love to hear how you discovered your comrades of the Pen 🙂

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 …?”

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 🙂

Linky Love Friday

I visited some great places this week of whirlwind blog hopping, and gathered some of my favorite links to pass on.

 

*The Value of Publicity : Terrific, straight-up, and spot-on post by  successful author and wildly popular (for good reason) J.A. Konrath,  whose blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing is always a worthwhile stop.

*When do You Need to Secure Permissions : Absolutely “good to know” information from Jane Friedman that should prove handy to all of us hoping to avoid future litigation.

*Author Amanda Hocking on Self-Publishing: Deliciously interesting article at the Huffington Post about Amanda Hocking and how she REALLY feels about her remarkable fame.

*I’ve been  editing, rewriting, and remuddling my Frankenstein of a WIP for so long, that I’ve had serious concerns of late that by the time it’s ready for the final spit and polish I won’t remember how the pages are REALLY supposed to look. So when this post What Writers Need To Know About Formatting (FAQS), popped up on the Writer’s Digest site this week , it definitely felt like a touch of Divine Intervention.

*10 Bestselling Books with More Than 80 One-Star Reviews: This is my feel good post of the week from GalleyCat. Fun reading and something we all might want to keep in mind on the chance any of our own reviews get a touch of Ugly Dust from the Meanie Fairy!

*And simply because it made its shiny debut this week, I present my new Author Page, Barbara Forte Abate on Facebook.  A milestone that has me borrowing Sally Fields infamous acceptance speech at the Oscar’s several years ago, “You like me! You really really like me!” and reversing the words to, “I hope they LIKE me!  I hope they really really LIKE me.” 🙂

It’s fun to share, so please do!  What are your own great “link” discoveries this week?

http://janefriedman.com/2012/01/23/permissions/

When do you need Permissions,