Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random Stuff Part I

This is a random sampling of things that have either crossed my plate, desk, mind or path in the last few weeks. Names have been withheld to protect the guilty, the innocent and the... well... you'll see.

- My friend Carolyn Arnold (yes, I name drop; sue me) did a tremendous piece on writers helping other writers, which you can find here. I posted a comment on the article, posted a link here on my blog and agree 100% with what she said. However, and you knew this was coming, I do have to add one little caveat. Sometimes you can be helpful by being honest. I am not giving anyone license to be cruel, but if you have the gift of diplomacy, then use it as a surgeon would a scalpel around a bundle of nerves, that is gently and carefully. Tell someone that they might need to get another beta to look at their work they swear its ready to be self-published and its, in the words of Charles Barkley "turrble." Its better they hear it from a trusted friend than when no one buys their stuff.

- A writer friend of mine had an email conversation with me where he lauded the virtues and necessity of a writer getting a copyright from the United States Copyright Office. Now, this guy never let an agent look at the work, a query or even a pitch. But damn it, he got a copyright, so there! No one's gonna pirate his self-published book. He got a by-God copyright!

- When you least expect it, you get a new team member in the world of writing. A teacher at the school where I work was having a conversation with me about writing, reading, stories and all that jazz when she mentioned the fact that her daughter was writing a book. Two weeks later, and I have a wonderful new writing friend that I'd like to introduce you guys to: J. L. Jackson. She is going to be a good one, keep an eye on her. Follow her blog, email her, you know the drill.

- A disturbing trend in this whole self-publishing craze is the 'throw it up and see what sticks' approach to writing. For instance, if you are penning (or typing as the case may be) a thriller novel and you delve into the Freemasons, the Anti-Christ, the Founding Fathers, the Kennedy assassination, the mafia, mind control devices run by the military, aliens possibly seeding the Earth with life, and the government knowing engineering 9/11, then you are either a) Dan Brown, b) a late-night radio show, or c) not writing a very good novel. There's no possible way for you to have anything worth reading if you think you can tie all that crap into one coherent plot. This goes to the "stop writing what's popular" line that is so prevelent, and rightfully should be. Here's a little bit of info you might already know but need to be reminded of: you are not Dan Brown (unless you are, and if you are, I emailed you a few times before you got big and I wanted to thank you for the advice, it was nice to hear back from ya)! Stop trying to be the poor man's version.

- Writing is a lot of work; good writing is excrutiating. Please, pretty please, those who are pushing the self-publishing method, let's not encourage speed and volume. Because its still about the quality, not the quantity. If too much crap is available from $0.99 to $2.99, then the good stuff at those prices are going to be lost or labeled before they get much of a chance. Take the time and write a good book. Then worry about publishing. That is all.

- Kiss your family. Give them an extra hug. Watch a movie, or better yet, read a book together. Family is very important. Cherish them. And in the words of someone very famous whom my wife and son love, "be nice to each other."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Todd! Those are very kind words. Love your other "random stuff"! Absolutely great advice.