Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day = My Family

Dear Literary Loves,
Well, Memorial Day always reminds me to be thankful for my family.  We're not a famous family mind you, but I'm actually quite grateful that we are NOT the Kardashians.  As a family we hold out own though in the unique category.  For instance, my dad goes every Memorial Day to his brother's grave in Greensboro, N.C.  Dad's brother served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam.  In one tour, he stepped on a land mine and was only allowed treatment under the shoddy circumstances of what the military called a field hospital in the jungles of Vietnam.  Because of this he developed malaria.  He survived, returned home to a country that was unappreciative of his efforts, and prompted went to work in a factory.  One day he passed out while at work.  Dad later learned his brother had acute leukemia.  He did get the best treatment his family could afford at the time, but dad's brother didn't make it and died before I was born.  There's no one left that really misses and appreciates his brother more than my dad.  Every Memorial Day he goes and cleans his brother's tombstone, places a crisp flag and flowers by the grave, and prays.  He just sent me the iphone photo today.  And dad is such a trooper.  He has survived two bouts of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and a stem cell transplant.  What a trooper.

My mom came from a family of eleven.  Yeah, you read that correctly.  My maternal grandmother actually had twelve kids, but one died at birth and the only the youngest child was born at a hospital.  My grandmother gave birth at home with only the help of the local midwife.  Mom survived her dad dying of throat cancer and her mother dying after suffering an acute epileptic seizure while picking apples on top of a giant hill in her front yard.  Mom gave up high school to go get a job and help take care of the rest of the family since she was the oldest girl.  Mom's been a trooper throughout life enduring dad's cancers and treatment along with her own breast cancer diagnosis.  Mom still works part time and does her own yard work.  Dad says I get my looks from mom and my backbone from his side of the family. 

My brother is a seriously bad ass dude.  I'm not lying.  When we walk along the beach side by side while vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, people get out of his way.  He's a tough looking dude and you never want to get him ticked off, but inside, he's just a gem.  And he can seriously cut and color some hair.  He's due to arrive next week to go to lunch with me for my birthday.  And he is bringing mom and dad along with him.  Here's hoping you have your unique family with you sometime this summer season so you can be grateful for what God gave you as well.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why My Book Is Needed

Dear Literary Loves,
Well, I just finished a great memoir enitled The Dog Lived (And So Will I) by Teresa J. Rhyne.  And I ask myself after reading this book what my book has that this one does not.  And here's the thing, I had much more going on in my life during the year I write about than just cancer.  I had my dad's stem cell transplant, my own glaucoma surgery, my husband's termination, and last but certainly not least, learning how to have a brother rather than a sister.  I could have saved the author a lot of confusion by letting her know to stay with the big university hospital not just for surgery, but for chemo and radiation as well.  Yes, it was an hour's drive from her house, but I'm telling you, she dealt with some seriously disenfranchised doctors once she opted to utilize smaller treatment centers in her neck of the woods.  I mean, seriously, I thought the woman was going to pass out before anyone in the chemo facility realized she was having an allergic reaction to a particular chemo.  And let's just get this out of the way now, if you have a bad feeling or a feeling that a doctor is too busy to deal with your case, then you need to GET THEE THE HELL OUT OF DODGE. Because cancer is serious business and you don't need one more less than optimal thing in your life.  Trust me.  Needless to say, it was interesting seeing that animals are being given the same types of chemo as humans, but in much differing doses.  Plus, my family is just one rolling, traveling circus.  There were a lot more laugh out loud moments in my manuscript than in this particular book.  But I did enjoy the book, would happily work with the book's editor, but here's the thing:  I CAN'T MAKE YOU OR ME SUCCESSFUL IF A PUBLISHER/EDITOR/AGENT DOESN'T GIVE MY MANUSCRIPT A CHANCE.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Author Advice: Get a Publisher and a Contract Attorney

Dear Literary Loves,

Dear God, I just about fell out of my leather writing chair while reading a bit article on The Huffington Post this morning by an acclaimed author.  He claims that agents are needed now more than ever by authors; however, he got screwed by his last agent when management changed hands and he received no further royalty payments.  Say WHAT?!  And another author friend of his was complaining about his own agent.  Even more incredulous after these wince-worthy stories were that he clearly feels a new author can't make it in today's publishing industry without a connected literary agent.  Can you say BOOOGGGUUUSSS!  I can!
Here's my two cents on this wayward traveler in the literary leagues:

1)  I have personally witnessed more unprofessional behavior among agents than while teaching middle school.  I think they are fairly equal to the grotesque behaviors I witnessed clerking at a startup tech company.  I'm serious; I kept a portfolio and copies of letters for proof.
2)  The writer of The Huffington Post bit goes on to say you as an author are not ready to play in the big leagues unless you are willing to swallow the 15% commission an agent makes on your book.  Are you freakin' kidding me?!  Have you seen some of the major authors who have taken to self-publishing these days?  Maybe it would do you good and make you more well-informed if you scouted those authors who are pulling a 70% royalty by going the do it yourself route.  Don't bad mouth them just because you're jealous now.  You know what the saying is:  If you can't beat them join them.  I assure you self-publishing is here to stay and even for the big hitters lovey.
3)  The Huffington Post writer then goes on to say that without agents there would be this vast literary wasteland of books.  Um, HELLOO?!!  Have you taken a serious look at what is coming off the printing presses these days at some publishing houses?  I swear I was in Barnes and Noble the other day and a woman browsing beside me says "Why the hell would any reputable publisher put out trash like this?"  And she was talking about a mainstream publisher darling.  I know because I checked the book's publisher after she walked away.  I've had the same feeling for some time now as I browse the new selections to choose from on publisher websites.
4)  Finally, the author of The Huffington Post bit says we new writers need a guide to the literary process; someone who "knows" people.  Hell, I've made more connections on my own sitting at my desk and working from my laptop.  Good writers know people because they know how to sell not just themselves, but their work.  By the way, I keep two little books.  One is red and in that book go names of editors and agents who I refuse to work with and the reasons for that choice.  In my pink book go the names of editors (very view agents; like maybe three) that I would entertain the idea of entrusting them to care for and help me revise my manuscript. 

And now for the literary update:  I have 7 publishers evaluating my book proposal and no darling, I don't have an agent, but I do have one hell of a pit bull contract attorney.  And guess what?  She bites!  Till next time loves!  Cranking INXS and having a delightful time on a Thursday!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pitfalls Of Publishing May 6, 2013

Dear Literary Loves,

Oh my goodness.  What a disappointment week that has just ended.  I have never been so disenchanted with the publishing industry in my life.  Honestly, I'm beginning to wonder if traditional publishing and literary agents will survive the onslaught of self-publishing considering what I am now witnessing as a new memoir writer on the scene.  My major irritations this week included:

A)  A publisher that is turning to mainly producing vulgar material.  I don't know why; they used to be a reputable publisher.  Now I'm beginning to see an abundance of books that are just plain not worth my time.  What happened?  I don't know.  Maybe they are trying to cater to women in their 20s or something?  Some of the twitter posts by the editors of this press also have me gravely concerned.  I mean, really, a post about foreskins?  If you can't do better than that, please just hang it up cause this Generation Xer says you are not worth my time. 

B) A publisher that should be jumping through hoops to sign me has basically gone incommunicado.  I'm serious.  They say they want to publish and give priority to the unheralded writers that traditional publishers tend to overlook.  Well, I sent two of their editors letters via snail mail with an enclosed SASE and that was back on February 6, 2013.  Nada.  Haven't heard a thing.  I've emailed them saying I'm giving you every opportunity as a small press that doesn't require aurhors to be agented to have at this memoir, but you are leaving me no choice if you can't even respond to a personal printed letter with an envelope and stamp provided.  And to not respond at all via email?  This doesn't bode well for a house with responsiveness and priority to its authors. 

C) What's with Riffle Books?  Requiring readers to be invited before they can join?  What are you encouraging reading or social networking and pretentiousness?  Please.  The site connection takes forever and then you want me to sign in via Facebook or Twitter which I think are vain.  Get Real Folks. I'll be over at Good Reads if you want my recommendations.

D) On Querytracker we've got an agency that has practically not one literary agent responding to queries.  Seriously.  It's like their query box is for looks only.  Not one writer has been given a courtesy of a response to a book query in quite some time.  Why even bother saying you are looking for new authors?  This just reeks of unprofessionalism.  Writers on Querytracker are upset, but i posted that it's a bad pattern with this agency and I wrote them off a long time ago because of their nonresponsiveness.  And if you think I'm going to sign up to interact with one of their agents at a conference or literary festival, forget it.  The funny thing is the lead agent for the agency was offering a course on writing a winning query letter!  I was like, are you kidding me?  They can't even deliver a query response in over a year.  I'll take my money elsewhere darling.