Monday, June 29, 2009

An Interesting Phenomena

Several years ago, I used to help my Ballroom dance teacher with his classes. I noticed a really interesting phenomena. We had students come to us who had taken ballroom classes before. Whenever one of them copped an attitude and wouldn't take the beginner's class because they didn't need the beginner's class, invariably they turned out to be the worst students and the worst dancers. Conversely, our best and brightest students didn't believe they were very good and were quite content to hang out in the beginner's class and work on their technique. How well someone could dance is inversely proportional to how well they think they can dance. It's very rare to find someone who is objective about their skill level.

What does this have to do with writing and publishing you ask?

Well, I've noticed the same thing among unpublished writers. Those who I think are absolutely brilliant, think their writing sucks donkey bits. Those who think their writing is the greatest thing since Homer jotted down a little poem, write dreck.

Digging a little deeper what I find is those who get down on their writing are the same as those dancers who didn't think they were very good. They are perfectionists. Perfectionism is a good thing when it helps one strive to do better, perform better, write better. But, it's a bad thing when it strangles the writer and prevents them from writing, blinds them to what is good about their writing or in accepting the honest feedback that they are getting.

It's very rare to find someone who is objective about their own work. Yet, to write the best that one can write, objectivity is, in my opinion, absolutely necessary. Couple objectivity with perfectionism, the output will be amazing.

How does one get objectivity? Curiously enough, I don't know as I don't have it. I realized as I was writing this post that I probably fall into the "thinks her writing is good, but it's really dreck" camp. The last two people I showed one of my own stories to ... one that I was really proud of and thought was pretty good ... both reacted rather tepidly to it. I guess it's a good thing that I can see it in other's stories and decided to become a publisher, rather than bash on trying to become a published author myself.

By the way, I hear they are having a sale on objectivity this week ... if you're running a bit low ...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Creative Geniuses

I hesitate to jump on the Michael Jackson blog post bandwagon. I've never been one to follow the crowd in such things, but his untimely death did get me to thinking about creativity, genius, and suffering. Why is it too often those go hand in hand?

Just thinking about all of the actors, singers, authors, and other public figures who have had a tremendous impact on society and died under tragic circumstances, some were accidents, some were suicides. James Dean, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princess Diana, JFK, Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, the list goes on and on. Not all of those are creative genius, but their early, unexpected deaths shocked the nation, if not the world. Icons. Larger than life. My response to Michael Jackson's death was the same as when I learned that Princess Diana died and then again when JFK, Jr. died: shock followed by an obsessive search for information trying to make sense of what doesn't make sense.

So, I am watching the videos and these questions start popping into my head: Is it necessary to the process of creativity for the person to suffer? Does great suffering lead to incredible bursts of creativity? Are creative geniuses also emotionally fragile or are they just very sensitive to the world around them? How do you nurture and support a creative genius? How do you stop things like this from happening?

My acting teacher in LA used to say that the best actors were not in Hollywood. They were too sensitive to handle the cut-throat world of Hollywood. Is the same true in the publishing world? Are the best writers not getting published because they are too sensitive to handle the rejection that goes along with the publishing process? Are we missing something? Is "The Great American Novel" stuffed into someone's sock drawer never to see the light of day, because the writer is so sensitive to the world around him/her that they can not bear to submit it to a publisher? Is the book that will change the world and make it a better place languishing on someone's desktop computer or still hiding out in the corner of someone's mind?

I have no answers to these questions.

I wasn't going to do this, but I think it is appropriate. Michael Jackson wrote this and sang it for Ryan White. I link to it for him, all the other icons, and creative geniuses both known and unknown that we have lost too soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sparking the Muse

Some of my writer friends have complained about the theme for the first issue of "Emerald Tales" which is "Follow the Butterlies." *cue whiney voice* "How am I supposed to write a dark/thriller/horror/whatever story about BUTTERFLIES?"

Poor babies. You are a writer. You are a creative person. Use your imagination.

Two years ago, a writer friend of mine and I personally challenged each other to write against type for the next monthly challenge for our group. I prefer writing light and fluffy stories. She prefers writing dark stories. So, I was going for dark, she was going for light. We didn't know what the prompt was going to be when we made this challenge.

The prompt was "natural disaster." Now most of you are probably thinking that I had the easier job of coming up with a dark story for this prompt. But, this is what happened. She said, "Natural Disaster! How am I supposed to come up with a light and fluffy story for a natural disaster?" To which I replied, "Argggghh, I have so many light and fluffy ideas for a natural disaster story, how am I going to come up with a dark story for a natural disaster?"

The same writing prompt and we could come up with several ideas that fit the type of story we preferred to write, but had difficulty coming up with a story that went against our preferences.

The point? If I had asked for a light, fluffy story about butterflies, their whingeing would be understandable. But, I didn't.

The funny thing is I prefer writing light and I can think of several ways to take that prompt and turn it dark. A serial killer with a butterfly tattoo, a trail of dead butterflies leads to something horrible, an evil sorcerer uses butterflies to spread faerie dust. If I can come up with those ideas, surely those of you who like writing dark and twisted can come up with something that will blow me away.

Go! Write Now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poetry and Submissions

(This post is in the nature of random musing and is subject to me changing my mind. I'm posting it for anyone interested in the other side of the desk.)

Nine more days until the deadline for the first issue for Emerald Tales is past. I've already received enough submissions that I will be able to publish the first issue on time and without having to extend the dealine. I was rather sweating it out a bit wondering if I was going to have anything to publish. So, there's a relief.

I've received a lot more poetry submissions than I thought I would. And what I am getting is a bit shorter than I had imagined and planned for.

The stories are also running a bit shorter than I had planned for and I am getting an awful lot of Fantasy stories.

As time draws closer to the deadline, the number of submissions in my inbox creeps up. I'm sure I am going to have quite a bit more submissions in the next nine days.

I had original planned for 6 or 7 stories and 1 poem for the first issue of Emerald Tales. Based on what I have received so far, I'm considering a few more poems placed between the stories. I'm also considering maybe a second mag with just Fantasy stories in it. But, that's just a maybe. I won't be making any additions or changes to my original plan until I see what I have on July 1.

It's interesting, isn't it? One starts out with a plan of what they think they're going to do, then they get into the reality of the situation and it is a bit different from what one imagined it would be. And one is faced with the decision to stick to the original plan or modify it.
(heh, look at the lack of agreement in those pronouns. I should change it ... Eh, I changed one. I'm leaving the rest to drive the grammar nazis nutso.)

Editing this to add: I am interested in all genres. I would love to see a few Westerns and Romance stories. Keep the Fantasy stories coming in, I may just start up a second magazine earlier than I had planned. Whatever genre you write in, I want to read your story.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Handling Rejections

So, in ten days I will be handling the not so pleasant task of sending out the rejection emails for the stories that I am not going to use for my first issue of "Emerald Tales." I've been thinking of how I am going to handle this unpleasant task, knowing full well that the recipients of those emails are naturally going to feel disappointed with my decision and some will feel hurt, some will take it in stride, some will take it as a personal rejection of who they are. It is the last part that bothers me the most.

Whether I "like" a story or not, says nothing about the writer as a human being. I know some wonderful people who can't write a story to save their life. Similarly, I know some brilliant writers who I wouldn't invite into my home and one or two who should be locked up and the key not just thrown away but destroyed. But, I know that quite a few writers have their self-esteem, their sense of self-worth tied up with their writing. I'm really not into taking a chunk out of anyone's self-esteem.

Furthermore, I am a bit blinded in formulating the dreaded rejection letter as I know nothing about the person I'm sending it to. If I knew the person I was communicating with, then I could tailor my email to suit their personality.

And so I am pondering the best solution to my dilemma, a form rejection letter or a personal critique of the story. I'm not sure what the answer is. I know that no matter what I decide to do, there will be a few people who will feel more pain than the situation calls for. While it is quite natural to feel disappointment, it shouldn't be taken personally, because it isn't. It really and truly isn't.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Follow Your Dreams

I received an email from a friend today with only a link. It's called The Dreams Movie.

As I watched it, chills went up my spine, tears formed in my eyes. You see, normally it is me supporting and encouraging others. I'm the one sending things like this, posting this on forums, cheering other people on. I started a forum specifically to support and encourage writers. I didn't learn to do this by watching others or because I got it from my family. I learned to do this, because I know how much it sucks to receive discouragement and to have to work on one's own to achieve one's dreams. I wish there were more people in the world like my friend who sent this link to me.

It's never too late to find and follow your dreams. Good luck.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reading Comprehension - Pet Peeve

One of my pet peeves is the lack of reading comprehension among writers on writing forums. I've seen people post a question on a forum, get ten or more responses, none of which answers the question the person posed. It makes me want to shout, "You see the sentence with the question mark at the end? This mark: "?" That is the question. Not the rest of it, which you responded to."

And I've learned over the years to never use an example to illustrate a point that I am trying to make. Because people will zero in on the example and miss the point. I'm an engineer, we use examples to discuss concepts. It drives me nuts not to be able to do that when discussing concepts in writing.

And then there are the comments that come out of left field leaving me scratching my head and asking "Did I say that? Where in that post did I say that? How did they come up with that from what I said?" And boy, have I read some crazy responses to things that I have said. I'd give some examples, but I've learned not to do that.

All of this leads to the question: "Can a person, who lacks the ability to comprehend what they read, write a story or article that is comprehensible to others?" I don't have a definitive answer to this question, but my gut tells me "no."

Resistance is Futile

For quite some time, I resisted starting a blog. What was I going to talk to about on a blog? Who would want to read my disjointed muttering? What was I going to say? I'll start it and then there will be no entries, because I won't be able to think of anything to say ....

Eeep! I have nine blog entries in thirteen days.

It seems that I forgot that I am also very opinionated and given the opportunity, I will share it with whoever is willing to listen. I also forgot one of my mottos: "You have the right to my opinion."

You also have the right to disagree with me. I don't mind. My opinions are my own, you don't have to agree with them or share them. But, if you're going to argue with me about it, then you better be right. ... Just kidding, you can argue with me if you're wrong, too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One Million Words

One of the blogs that I just started following is Adventures in Navy Wifing. I was looking at the side bar on the right with the goal counter thingies. I've noticed them before, but this time I really looked at them. Lori's goal for 2009 is One Million Words ... One. Million. Words. ... That's EIGHT normal length (125,000 words) novels written in one year. She is almost halfway to her goal. She will reach it.

Looking further down the right side, she has put up her finished drafts. Since September of last year, she has completed a draft for a novel every month except for February, but she completed three in December. It averages out to completing a novel in less than a month. She has contracts for two of them.

I am in awe.

One million words written in a year.

A novel every month.

I don't know who or what lit the fire under her butt to make her so productive, but if she bottled it and sold it to other aspiring novelists, she'd make a small fortune.

Go, Lori!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bookkeeping - A Bit of a Rant

Part of being a limited liability corporation, is keeping records, particularly financial records, which means bookkeeping. My attorney recommended that I hire a bookkeeper to keep the books for the business. I'm thinking it's a small simple business. It's not that complicated. I'm an engineer, I used to be able to perform complex equations giving the position and velocity of a satellite in space. I'm *only* adding and subtracting numbers. I *should* be able to figure it out. I don't need to hire a bookkeeper. So, I bought "Bookkeeping for Dummies" (I love the For Dummies books. They're written in simple, easy to understand English.)

My brain is about to explode trying to understand the convoluted logic that is used in double-entry bookkeeping. Sometimes a credit increases, sometimes it decreases. Sometimes a debit increases, sometimes it decreases. In order to keep it straight and not get confused the book advises copying a specific chart and taping it up on the desk where it can be easily seen. And don't get me started on the chart of accounts and the ledger of ledgers.

NOBODY since this system was invented in the Renaissance has figured out a way to make it less confusing.

I wonder how much freelance bookkeepers charge ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why a Themed Magazine

One of the things that I always found really fascinating on Fantasy Writers dot org is the diversity of stories that are entered in the monthly contests there. Everyone is given the same writing prompt like "natural disaster" on which to write a short story for that month's contest. One would think that since they are all Fantasy stories that they would all end up the same or similar because everyone is writing from the same prompt. But, they're not. What gets submitted is like a snapshot of human creativity. Just think how much more diverse the stories would be if the stories could be in any genre of fiction. I can't wait to see what people come up with.

Now the first theme for the first issue is "Follow the Butterflies" And I am sure more than a few people have wondered if I was drunk when I came up with that. No. I wasn't. In the movie, "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets", Hagrid tells Ron and Harry to follow the spiders. Ron hates spiders and whinges about having to follow the spiders with the following line: "Follow the spiders! Follow the spiders! Why can't it ever be follow the butterflies?" ... ROFL ... After I stopped laughing, I thought to myself, "Yeah, why can't it be follow the butterflies, instead?" I've been wanting to see what people would come up with, with that as a writing prompt ever since. And now's my chance to get it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Can't is a Four Letter Word

I hate the word "can't." Whenever I hear someone say they "can't" do something, I think to myself, "Why not? Why can't you 'fill in the blank'?"

Most of the time when I hear someone say they can't do something, it's not that they are physically unable to do it, but that they don't want to do it or are afraid to do it. Take my niece for example, she "can't" drive on the interstate. She knows how to drive a car, she has her own car, she lives in a city with miles of interstate snaking through it so there's plenty of opportunity for her to practice, there's no reason in the world she "can't" drive on the interstate by herself. But, she won't, she's afraid to do it.

Do you know how you get rid of the fear of doing something that you should be able to do? You go out and do it. Start small and build up. If you're afraid of heights, start by standing on a step stool and looking down. When you're comfortable with that, stand on a chair. And so on.

Granted there are somethings that one should be afraid of like rattlesnakes and alligators. Those are healthy fears. Those are keep you alive fears. Those are good ones to have and to keep. It's the ones that are messing up your life, that I am talking about.

So how does this apply to writing and publishing? If you're afraid of writing crap, then sit down and write crap. If you're afraid of letting people read your work, share it with someone you trust. If you're afraid of rejection, submit a short story that you aren't as emotionally attached to as your major WIP. Whatever that fear is that is keeping you from realizing your dreams, conquer it by doing it.

*Climbing down off my soapbox*

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I just realized that I've been blathering on and those who don't know me very well are probably wondering how someone with so many typos and missing words has a prayer of being able to edit a magazine. Well, I don't. I'll explain.

I have a benign form of multiple sclerosis (MS). I'm fortunate, because I won't end up in a wheelchair or on a respirator because of it, but it does cause some wonkiness in my brain function. Particularly aphasia. From Loss of the power of speech, or of the appropriate use of words, the vocal organs remaining intact, and the intelligence being preserved. It is dependent on injury or disease of the brain.

Basically, my brain works like a wonky IBM PC (the original IBM PC from the early 80's). You know how your computer all of sudden just stops working and the screen freezes up and you can't do anything except hit ctrl-alt-del to get it unstuck. My brain does that all the time. Or you're on the net and you get a server error can not connect to the website. My brain does that, too, all the time. So, I misspell words and leave words out and use the wrong word. Homonyms are the bane of my existence. Yes, I know the correct usage of there, their, and they're. But, I type the wrong one all the time. Sometimes, I catch it. Sometimes, I don't. Sometimes, I don't realize until I reread something I wrote a few days later. Proofreading doesn't help as I do proofread everything that I post.

So, how I plan to handle this little bit of nuisance is that I have someone I am paying who will edit and proofread the publications to catch all those typos, missing words, and the like which I do not always see.

A Bit of a Maverick

It was suggested to me, that I put up some sample stories of what I am looking for. I thought about it and I am not going to do that. Because what will happen is that I'll put up a story about faeries or serial killers or a romance and then that is all that I will receive. It is not a subject or a genre or what's popular or what will sell that I am looking for, it is a very specific quality to the writing. I'm looking for stories that grab my attention, yank me into the story, and do not let me go until I get to the end.

I'm very picky about what I read for pleasure. My shelves are littered with novels that I put down and never finished reading. And they are filled with books that I stayed up all night reading because I could NOT put the book down. I mean that literally. I do not put the book down. My pets learned to get out of the way if I have a book in my hands as they have been stepped on a time or two as I make my way to the kitchen, book in hand, to forage for food.

So, in choosing what I will publish, I will be a bit of a maverick. I don't care about what's hot, what's selling, what the trends are. All I care about is a story which is compelling to read. Will I be successful or not with that approach? eh, we shall see ...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Junk Mail

Well, I've received my first pieces of business related junk mail. I guess that means that my attorney, Scott Krueger, has filed the incorporation paperwork with the state of Florida. LOL

Having done a bit of research on the web, I have discovered that most people who start up an ezine don't go to all the trouble that I have. I've gotten the distinct impression that a couple of pals get a great idea for launching an ezine, get a freeweb site, maybe a few submissions and then disappear. It's no wonder I got "yeah, sure, right, whatever" reactions from several people who will remain nameless and therefore guilty as hell and owing me an apology which I will never get. ... Where was I? ... From the very beginning I knew that I was going to do it "right." I remember a person, who was starting up an ebook company, joined a writing forum that I belonged to and was totally bewildered as to why no one was interested in submitting to her. I took a look at her website and there was no contact information, her domain was kept private, no easy way to legally track her down. I wouldn't have submitted anything to her. I know that she corrected that oversight, I have no idea if she is still in business or not.

So, the jist of that rambling paragraph is that I decided to make writers submitting their babies to me, feel as comfortable as I can. Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLC, is incorporated. The paperwork is on file with the state of Florida. The website has my name, an address and phone number. If anyone has a complaint about the company they can do something about it. (I'm hoping there won't be any complaints, but you never know.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well, lookee there, I have three followers. (I bribed them to do that, in case you were wondering ... Okay, I didn't. ) ... They have been wonderful at cheering me on this past month while I've been setting up the business. A particular shout out for Adam who's been cheering me on and giving me feedback on the site design. That's been a rather unique experience for me.

And look, I have the AW blogroll installed on my blog. It took me awhile to figure out how to do that. "User friendly" is an oxymoron.

So, I went and posted announcements about "Emerald Tales" and Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLC on both AW and FWO. And I already have three submissions. I wasn't expecting such a fast response. Ack! Now what do I do? LOL ...

I know that one of the biggest complaints that writers have about submitting work is the lack of response. They're left to wonder what the heck is going on with their submission. So, I've decided that I would respond immediately to each submission with a "form letter" to at least let them know that I got it. And a date on which they will hear from me, yay or nay on their submission. It doesn't take that long to copy and paste a reply and hit send. Sound good? Yes, no, am I out of my mind letting a writer KNOW IMMEDIATELY that their submission was received? That's not the way it is done. *shrug* So fire me. Oh, wait, I own the company. I'm the boss, there's no one to fire me. mwahahaha .... Dang, I wish blogs had smilies ...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why The Scribbling Sea Sprite

I started this blog to help promote my new publishing company Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLC. Publishing talented writers work is something that I have been thinking about for several years. Then two months ago, I was talking to a friend about it and he was all enthusiastic. Synergy as we talked about how it could be and work and all that. I took the ball and ran with it.

At first, we were going to go into business together, but as I researched all the legal requirements and stuff, I decided that it was easier for me to form the company and just hire him to help me with the editing.

So, here I am the proud Chief Executive Manager of Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLL incorporated in the state of Florida as of June 1.

I got the website redesigned and launched. Now, all I have to do is sit back and wait for the submissions to roll in. Yeah, right. What's up next is figuring out how to get my publishing business listed with all those lovely sites that list paying markets .....

And I'm off and running

Oh, I almost forgot. Why The Scribbling Sea Sprite? To confuse my friends even more. I'm DancingFaerie on; Beach Bunny on Absolute Write; Bunny on my own forum .... Just kidding. Scribbling is from my publishing company. Sea Sprite comes from my fondness for faeries (<--- proper British spelling) and a series of images that I have in my head of faeries that live and play by the ocean. One of these days, I will paint the images in my head.

Gosh, I do ramble on ....