Friday, March 16, 2012

Girls Write Now

This is simply awe-inspiring, and so I'm re-sharing it. Wish I was in New York to help out. I found it via Sara Crowe.

When I was younger, I was a part of Women Writing For (a) Change, a fantastic writing workshop with a focus on letting girls and women get their voices out on the page. I got to take part in several workshops in junior high and high school, and I owe the organization a lot of credit for my development as a writer and the fact that I'm still hard at it a few decades later.

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here when I talk about writing itself being transformative, but sometimes it's nice to have a reminder that it is.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Green-Eyed Non-Monster

I have a writing confession to make.

I'm a competitive person.

This helps, in a lot of ways, when I can channel it correctly--challenge myself to write every day for a month? Heck yes! How many hours can I rack up on my dissertation in a week? Bring it!

But sometimes, it makes me a little jealous of things other people have.

Friday, March 09, 2012

How to use an ARC (and the ARC winner!)

So I've been struggling all week to figure out, "Gee, what do I post with the winner of the PANDEMONIUM ARC?"

And then, last night on AbsoluteWrite, I saw this:

Terminal Cancer Patient Gets a Harry Turtledove ARC (link is to video--couldn't get it to embed here!)

Quite possibly the best use of an ARC, ever. And unbelievably heartwarming to boot.
So with that in mind, Munnaza, I hope you make great use of the copy of PANDEMONIUM! 

Thanks to everyone for entering. Next up, I think, will be GRAVE MERCY byRobin LaFevers. I'm a little ways in, and hope to have it finished soon!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Writing as a Bookseller: James Patterson Sells

Monday nights are always fun at the store because we get to put out all the Strict On Sales, the books that can't be sold before their release date. But they also always remind me of the reality of this business.

The week before last, we released yet another James Patterson novel, PRIVATE GAMES. Through the help of ghostwriters, Patterson manages to release around a half-dozen thrillers a year, and stays on the NYT list with a good amount of regularity. As we were setting up the "stepladder" display which greets customers as they enter the store, my coworker commented that she didn't much care for Patterson's books.They are formulaic, she says, and his ghostwriters do an uneven job of producing quality prose.

"But," she said, as we put the last of the books on the ladder, "he keeps me in this job."

She had a point, and it's a lesson which I find so valuable as a writer that I consider it one of the primary reasons to keep my part-time job. Working in a corporate bookstore is to do daily battle with the effect of sales numbers on your personal cash flow--when we sell more books, we can budget more bookseller hours, which means maybe I can hit that fancy restaurant this weekend instead of staying in for spaghetti.  Lower sales? Fewer hours--and it's a direct hit to my wallet.

I often see railing complaints about the publishing and bookselling industry and the pursuit of art--that they stifle writers, that they force writers into formulas, that they "only want what sells." (And yes, there's a lot they could do differently--you won't get any fight on that point from me!) I absolutely realize that it's disheartening; heck, at least half the time, I look at my own finished novels, which have a tendency to go interstitial instead of hitting the ball straight up the middle of a genre, and want to wail a little bit, too.

But in the end, about twenty hours a week, I do hand-to-hand combat with the end result of all that creativity-stifling, mass-market pleasing, whatever-the-publishing-world-baddies-are-getting this week. The truth is, an awful lot of people need to make money from sales of my book, from the CEO of the publishing house right down to the bookstore barista. And in order for me, as the author, to get paid for writing a book, all those other people have to reasonably expect that they're going to profit from it, too.

So, yeah. I think I'll try to make sure I have a book that will sell. My writing is my art, sure, but I'm okay with making money being part of the equation.
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