Monday, July 18, 2011

I really, really should be writing this week

I should be writing this week. I really should be writing.

But ... I've been on the library waiting list for the newest mystery by Susan Wittig Albert, Mourning Gloria, and even though I swore I'd just read the first chapter, it's simply too good to put down.

And then my daughter received a gift card to Borders for her birthday, and while we were there this book called to me - called to me, I swear - from the shelf. It's titled Skirting the Grave by Annette Blair ... and, well, now, it's on my bedside table.

AND well, it is summer, and summer means there are tables upon tables of clearance books. I considered it an exercise in restraint I just picked up one bargain, a novel titled The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman. And no, it's not anywhere near Christmas, but hey, when it's this hot you do what you can to cool down, right?

Now believe it or not, there's a message on my machine that the new Carolyn Hart mystery I've been waiting for is in.

It's an embarrassment of riches, actually.

Which is kind of a shame.

Because I really, really need to be writing this week.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spam: Mystery meat and a surprising folder

I remember when Spam was just this mysterious meat product from Hormel. It came in a can and it had this weird gelatinous layer on top. I pretty much left it alone.

But now spam has a whole new meaning - it's that annoying junk mail people send you - you know, offers from a prince in Nigeria to share his bank account, a new sex device from Canada, and lots and lots of promotions.

I have a spam folder in my e-mail - I usually leave that alone, too. I mean ... it's spam, right?

Kind of. But today, at work, I realized it was really full of mail. Out of curiosity, I clicked on it.

Ohhhhh Noooooo!!

Here's a surprise: Non-spam stuff sneaks in there, too. I had a letter from a former colleague (I was wondering why he didn't respond!!) and two, count em, two queries from book bloggers who were interested in reviewing my book.

Luckily, they weren't terribly dated, and I could still respond. But it gave me a nasty start.

So I learned two things today: Check every folder in your e-mail. And don't screech loudly at work. People tend to stare.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You're not just a writer, you're Writer, Inc.

It used to be pretty easy to pigeonhole ourselves professionally. He's a plumber, she's a dancer, I'm a writer.

It's not so simple anymore. The plumber has to be an accountant; the dancer is a nutritionist, and the writer... well, the writer has to be an entrepreneur.

I don't think it matters whether you have a high-powered agent or if you're going it alone. Writers today just don't have the luxury to sit in their garrets and polish their prose.

I thought they could - or, at least I could - for a long time. Then I met Susannah. Susannah is a high-powered exec in my building. She has sleek hair, wears tailored suits and is surgically attached to her Blackberry. On the surface, we have little in common.

I met Susannah during one of the endless rounds of meetings we both attend - she as a manager, me as a minion. I discovered she was funny, smart and a voracious reader. She found out I was an author. She bought my book, and she liked it.

And in her spare time, she gave me advice. You're a business, she told me - develop your product. Market yourself.

Me? What? The artist in me rebelled ... but my ego understood. So I listened. She told me about brands, about customers, about what works and what doesn't (This post, for instance? Waaaay too long).

Changing my perspective has helped immensely. My stories are the same, sure. But now the author thinks more like Majeske, Inc.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

From newspaper to novel is quite a change

I was a newspaper reporter for years. I was assigned stories (or better yet, thought of my own). I interviewed sources, taking notes and developing my own quick-write shorthand. Then I wrote up my story and turned it in.

It was edited by the copy desk, and it was usually published the next day. And that was that. It was very quick, and the process was fairly simple.

Oh, sure, we scheduled photos, and sometimes there were snags. Other times, there were big projects that took weeks, even months, but usually, things were very fast-paced. We had a daily product to fill, after all.

I longed for the days when I could write my own stories, with my own characters. I'd build my own worlds, create my own dialogue, set my own twisty-turny plots.

Now I'm doing it. And you know what? It's ... hard. Anyone who writes fiction will likely agree with me. I'm realizing, belatedly, that it's much easier when your story is laid out in front of you, when your quotes are given to you, and when your characters are standing right in front of you. Starting with a blank slate is freeing, yes, but a bit overwhelming, too.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. I still love it. But it's a change that has definitely taken a little getting used to.