Monday, November 30, 2009

Man Meat Monday

My last face pic, and I'd be remiss if I didn't post at least one of this guy:

And because I couldn't decide on just one...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Funny

Life according to Garfield:

I'll rise, but I won't shine.

The most active thing about me is my imagination.

Anybody can exercise. But this kind of lethargy takes real discipline.

Eat every meal as though it were your last.

Good times are ahead. Or behind. Because they sure aren't here. is..."die" with a "t"!

I'm not overweight, I'm under-tall.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my family. My friends. As much as I complain about it, I'm thankful to have a job that pays the bills, keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. I'm thankful for my agent and editor. I'm thankful for my readers. I'm thankful for the poor bird that gave his life so I can eat like a little piggy today. (Boy, I bet he wishes he'd been born a pig, eh?)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

40 years ago in the June 1969 issue, The Writer posted these "don'ts":

Never write for money. The work itself should be your only consideration while you write.

Never write for a "market." "Market" means "formula." Sneaky little hesitations creep in.

Never write for an audience less--or more--intelligent than you think you are. If you do, you'll write down to it or up to it. You are your audience.

Never write out of a total preconception of what you mean. It takes every word, every idea, every metaphor, one after the other, to come to that outcome or meaning, and unless it is predigested stuff--in other words, propaganda--you don't know it yet.

Never be grateful, loyal or vindictive in your writing. The truth won't be found if any of these emotions bend your literary intent. Write fantasy, farce, science fiction or whatever, as long as you are discovering--really discovering--which means that you are receptive to the ideas you come upon.

So, you tell me. Are these still relevant, 40 years later?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Man Meat Monday

Sorry I'm a little late with this today. Slept in and had to dash off to work this morning.

Hopefully he was worth the wait...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Funny

How to Give a Cat a Tablet

Pick the cat up and cradle in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into it, allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind the sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call partner in from garden. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get partner to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from the foil wrap. Make note to buy a new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later. Wrap cat in large towel and get partner to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force cat's mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

Check label to make sure pills not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply plaster to partners forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed and get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon and flick pill down throat with elastic band.

Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Throw t-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom. Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road and apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid the cat. Take last pill from foil wrap. Tie cats front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed and pry cat's mouth open with a small spanner. Push pill into mouth followed by a large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour a pint of water down throat to wash down pill.

Get partner to drive you to the Emergency Room and sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearms and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call at furniture shop on way home to order new table.

Arrange for ASPCA to collect cat. Ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

How to Give a Dog a Tablet

Throw it in the air.

Say "Catch."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harlequin Vanity

When Harlequin recently announced they were opening an e-pub only division, I was cautiously optimistic, even if they've indicated they'll only pay royalties twice a year. (Most e-pubs pay at least quarterly. I don't know anyone who can budget effectively with just 2 paychecks a year...) However, and it's a big however, Harlequin has also just announced their partnership with Author Solutions, a vanity press. EVERY author whose manuscript Harlequin rejects will receive a letter pointing them toward Harlequin Horizons, a vanity press (i.e., self-publishing). According to the press release, it's "an accessible opportunity for emerging authors to bring themselves to the attention of the reading public."

Can I just say WTF?!? I have been telling everyone I know that in this business the money should flow TO the author, not FROM the author. Yet here's Harlequin, the largest publisher of women's fiction, with their sharp spoons out, ready to dig into the unwary and desperate-to-be-published author. And it's more than just "suggesting" Horizons to rejected authors. They're also holding out this carrot: "Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through the self-publisher for possible pickup by its traditional imprints."

So, not good enough to be published with the Harlequin logo on the spine of your book? Just wait and hope. Spend the money and maybe, just maybe, someone at Harlequin will take notice and pick up your book for one of their traditional imprints.

On their website they tout that as a self-published author you retain the rights to your book, unlike the traditional publishing route. But along with retaining your rights to the book, you also are the one responsible for marketing, distribution and sales of your book. Then start piling on the fees. Want an ISBN assigned to your book? Be ready to fork over $2300. (Now, granted, there are other "perks" included in this price--the lowest one, by the way--25 author copies of the book, formatting in e-book format, U.S. copyright registration, and author website set-up, to name a few.) But my point is, that's $2300 the AUTHOR has to pay out, upfront, with no guarantee of future income, let alone a guarantee he/she will recoup their investment.

It's just wrong. It's predatory publishing at it's finest. Or worst. I'm disappointed and disheartened that Harlequin chose to go this route. And not that it probably makes any difference to them (this move by Harlequin is about the bottom line, pure and simple), but Romance Writers of America (RWA) has quickly and bravely taken the stance that Harlequin Enterprises no longer qualifies as an eligible publisher. That means nothing to most of the book-buying world, but it's a huge thing within the romance writing industry.

Now I'm not naive here. I understand that publishing is a business, and publishers are here to make their shareholders money. But that they're now willing to do it from the hide of the author is what I have a problem with.

Edited to Add (6:11 p.m.): Apparently Harlequin has not been unaware of the furor this has caused in the author community. Check out Kristin Nelson's blog today, in which Harlequin sent her an email that states, in part:

Most importantly, however, we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.

I'm very glad to hear this, and surprised that they seem so, well, surprised at the outrage this caused. (And I'm surprised that they seem so very surprised that RWA took the stance it did to remove them as a recognized publisher. I mean, come on. If every single rejection letter is going to point authors to your vanity press, what did you expect?!?) The letter states also that Harlequin's intention is to provide authors access to publishing opportunities, traditional or otherwise. Which I have no problem with. But when the "otherwise" is vanity publishing?

No freaking way.

ETA (6:48 p.m.): Mystery Writers of America has also put Harlequin on notice that they are "breaking the rules" of being an eligible publisher with their organization.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

Be aware that even "natural" supplements can have side effects. My mom has been taking red yeast rice now for a couple of years to control her cholesterol (instead of taking a prescription statin, which can have rather serious side effects including liver damage). I've been on statin medication for years and recently started having low back pain due, I think, to the statin. (Muscle pain is one of the side effects and, remember, your heart is a muscle.) I stopped taking it and switched to red yeast rice.

The first pill I took I ended up with a reaction I thought was just coincidence. (That was a few weeks ago.) But last night I took another one, and same reaction. Hmm. Not a coinkidink, I'm thinking. (Let's just say that when the label says "if you experience gastrointestinal discomfort" to discontinue use...yeah. No kidding. Discomfort isn't the word I'd use.) So, after spending most of the night in the bathroom (or at least not very far away and, therefore, not sleeping too well), I'm here to say...

Even "natural" supplements can have side effects. So be careful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Man Meat Monday

Talk about purty...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Funny

More Maxine...
1. Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert have written an impressive new book. It's called 'Ministers Do More Than Lay People'

2. The difference between the Pope and your boss, the Pope only expects you to kiss his ring.

3. My mind works like lightning--one brilliant flash and it is gone.

4. The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you're in the bathroom.

5. I hate sex in the movies. Tried it once. The seat folded up, the drink spilled and the ice, well, it really chilled the mood.

6. It used to be only death and taxes. Now, of course, there's shipping and handling, too.

7. A husband is someone who, after taking the trash out, gives the impression that he just cleaned the whole house.

8. My next house will have no kitchen - just vending machines and a large trash can.

9. A blonde said, 'I was worried that my mechanic might try to rip me off. I was relieved when he told me all I needed was turn signal fluid.'

10. Definition of a teenager? God's punishment....for enjoying sex.

11. As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Good Stuff About Queries

Agent Nathan Bransford had an excellent post on Tuesday about query letters, and just what things are important in them. I've said this before and I'll say it again--If you're a writer, you should be reading Nathan's blog on a regular basis. He's got good stuff over there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

Harlequin has announced the launch of Carina Press(TM), a digital-only publishing house that will operate independently of their traditional publishing businesses. Carina Press will sell its e-books direct-to-consumers via their website.

Angela James, previously with Ellora's Cave and former Executive Editor at Samhain, will be the new venture's Executive Editor, so they're starting out with great experience in their editing area.

Both the contract and distribution channels are different from Harlequin's other divisions, in that:

  1. Books will be sold direct to consumers through the Carina Press website as well as third party distribution on other websites.
  2. There is no guaranteed series distribution (no standing order, no direct mail, no overseas translation markets).
  3. The Carina Press contract does not include an advance, and authors are compensated with a higher royalty, though at this point they're not saying what that "higher" royalty will be. (I'll be very disappointed if they come out with a royalty that's less than what most other electronic publishers are paying. That won't bode well for authors in the long run.)
Harlequin celebrated its 60th anniversary this year and is a powerhouse in romance fiction publishing. They're well on their way to dominating not just the women's fiction market, but other genres as well.

You can read the press release here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Man Meat Monday

This is one of my favorites.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Funny


Thursday, November 05, 2009

National Bookstore Day - November 7th

With the advent of technology, bookstores find themselves battling the internet and cyber-book forces for customers. Publishers Weekly recognized the importance of garnering support for bookstores, and National Bookstore Day was born. “We want to celebrate the vibrant culture of bookstores,” Publishers Weekly publisher Ron Shank noted, “increase store traffic, sell more books, and create an enjoyable customer experience that will lead to return visits. Every store is doing this already, but we think there may be an opportunity to get more customer attention if many across the country band together on the same day.”

This year is the first celebration of National Bookstore Day, and in order to make it a success, bookstores nationwide need your support! The concept of National Bookstore Day is simple. To do your part, all you have to do is visit your local bookstore this Saturday. (And it wouldn't hurt if you at least buy one book!)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

This post is the last part of how reading affects your brain:

Not only does it make you smarter and boosts knowledge in general, reading protects your mind as well. When comparing college students to senior citizens, college students beat their elders when it comes to memory and tasks that involve logic and deductive reasoning. Except when the study was controlled for the amount of reading those people did. There, the results pointed toward the notion that reading a lot can compensate for the wear and tear time puts on the mind.

It's eye-opening--especially for parents of little ones just learning to read--to grasp how big a difference reading can make, and how important it is for children to have early success and positive feelings about reading.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Man Meat Monday

Bed head and a cleft chin. (You sense a theme with me, maybe? Cleft chins rule! LOL)