Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I'm not feeling too well at the moment - allergies and exhaustion are knocking me down - but I wanted to wish those who celebrate it a very happy, safe 4th of July holiday weekend from Romancing The Muses! Enjoy some time with your family and friends!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changes As You Go

It’s one o’clock in the morning. I have to get up in a few hours. Why am not in bed? What is causing me to ignore the Sandman when I know I’ll regret it? I’ll tell you.

I wrote a book a few years ago that is in the editing process. It’s the second in a series, something I loved very much when I finished, and has become the bane of my existence. You’re probably asking yourself why in the world I would say something like that. I mean, I did write the book. Unfortunately, the book is a reminder of something I’ve heard before but didn’t truly understand.

Some books are not meant to be published.

This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the story or the characters; it’s simply that I didn’t know anything about writing when I started. The process was foreign and new. I could do whatever I wanted. Now, after hours upon hours of edits and the creation of new projects, I know I can write better. That means I’m trying to clean my manuscript in the best way possible but also keep the original tone of the first novel. The experience has been sheer agony. I’ll change something only to put it back to the original form. It’s edited but it’s “not.” Certainly, the grammar will be tighter and words will be used in the proper context. However, the voice must remain the same. Changing the overall style will alter the experience for the reader(s) who enjoyed the first book. I can’t do that and keep the trilogy intact; therefore I have to find a balance. I’ve spent hours trying to achieve this, but I’m still uncertain if I’ve accomplished my goal.

That’s why I think it’s important for author’s to remember that -- God willing -- they will become better as they create and explore other stories. When they’re straight out of the starting gates most writers have no idea of the small fundamentals (at least I didn’t) that are so important when you want to become published. Trust me when I say that after a few years with solid editors, you’ll learn. It’s a double-edged sword. The more you are taught, the quicker you’ll discover that your first creations are not as fabulous as they once seemed. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say for me it’s been an eye-opening and extremely humbling experience.

To clarify, I'm not saying you shouldn’t submit your first story to a publisher or agent. Rather this is blog entry to let all of you know that it’s normal to stumble with your first project. If you’re rejected keep pounding away at the keyboard. If and when you’re contracted (if you decide to go that route) you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Believe it or not, readers, authors, and editors are not being hateful or downright snarky when they berate new authors. Most of them are merely people who’ve seen work that isn’t quite up to snuff. If you’re rejected but told your voice is compelling, keep doing what you’re doing and listen. I like to think those who read your material see potential, however, it’s just not quite “there” yet. Think of it as a complex meal that you’re trying to perfect. You might not get there in a year, or several years, but eventually you’ll find the right ingredients.

As for me, I’m back to those edits. I might not defeat the words on my screen, but I’ll do my best to manipulate them so the reader (and myself) will come away happy. *crosses fingers*

Now for the eye candy of the week!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Don't take candy from strangers

Over a decade ago, I wrote fanfic for a small online fandom. Fan-fiction, for me, was a fantastic outlet in which to put out stories I could never get published for obvious reasons, therefore no concern over plagiarism. It was also a great way to receive a steady flow of criticism and insight from a small group of writers. I was a member of this fandom for about two years, spanning the ages between fourteen and sixteen. When I was fifteen or so, a new member joined our happy home. Let’s call her Mrs. Lecter.

At first, Mrs. Lecter was the ideal mentor for a young, budding author. She befriended me, read over my work, offered her advice and commented on what she liked. We exchanged phone numbers—foolish as it was at my age—and developed a fast and seemingly normal relationship. She wasn’t the only writer friend I communicated with via phone, but she was the one who called most frequently.

A few months into our correspondence, Mrs. Lecter became pregnant. The entire fan-fiction community was tremendously excited. This wasn’t a large fandom like Star Wars or Harry Potter; it was an isolated group of maybe twenty regular writers. Everyone knew everyone. Therefore when Mrs. Lecter lost her child, the entire community mourned with her. We shut down operations completely, poured sympathy and money together and bought her flowers, cards, and other things people do when someone they care about is in pain.

Things changed a lot after that.

It’s been several years and many of the details have grown a little fuzzy. Mrs. Lecter became an endless pit of tragedy. More than that, she started establishing “rules” on when people could post their fiction (which typically revolved around when she wasn’t posting her fiction, of which everyone was tacitly obligated to praise). Her family was also rattled by illness, car accidents, hospital visits, deaths, and one more miscarried child. She was one of those people who became addicted to attention, and therefore invented horror after horror so we would shower her with sympathy. That was, of course, when we didn’t incur her wrath for breaking one of the unspoken rules about posting our work. In the end, I’m not sure what was real and what wasn’t. Did that first child even exist? If it did, did losing it send her so far off the deep end that everything that followed was her way of coping with her grief?

I don’t know. After a while, I stopped caring. She had effectively used every last drop of compassion from me, and taken my writing haven and turned it into a prison. Mrs. Lecter was the first in a very important lesson, and to get to the point, more or less, here it goes: over the internet, you can’t accept at face value that people are who they say they are. We’ve discussed the value of beta readers and crit partners several times on Romancing the Muses, but a recent conversation on an email loop brought to light something that truly cannot be overstated.

Don’t trust everyone you meet on the internet. No matter what.

I know what you’re thinking: well, duh! Even if you hadn’t had an experience like mine, anyone who has ever tuned into ‘To Catch A Predator’ with Chris Hanson knows this much, right? Online, people can be whoever they want to be. Heck, that’s part of the appeal. Still, and I cannot stress this enough, just because you’re honest doesn’t mean everyone is. And yes, this might come across as a “do’h, I knew that!” but if you’re anything like me, you have a predisposition to believe that most people aren’t jackasses. And true, most people aren’t. But if you aren’t careful, you’re likely going to end up feeling a world of hurt.

Sadly, this isn’t limited to the internet. Anyone who has driven home during rush hour knows there are plenty of jackasses in real life as well. Be discriminatory with whom you choose to share your work, and who you let into your life. Most people are honest, but those who aren’t will do everything they can to convince you they are. And if they’re anything like Mrs. Lecter, they’ll milk it for all it’s worth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview with a Book Blogger!

Today I’m doing something different. I have Bells (a huge fan who became a close friend -- the image above was taken this year at Lori Foster's Reader and Author Get Together), from Hanging With Bells with me. She’s going to provide a bit on insight on what book reviewers look for in books and how to approach blogs when you’re interested in promoting your work.

Jaime: Thanks for doing this, Bells! Welcome to Romancing the Muses!

Bells: Thanks for having me. I feel so special… and weird because I’m usually the one doing the interviewing.

Jaime: *laughs* You’re so silly. Relax, this won’t hurt…much. First question: Say an author wants to visit your blog or get a review. What is the best way to go about it?

Bells: Most of the authors that I chat with on Twitter will ask if anyone is looking for guest posts for their blogs and that's how I usually get an interview. I have had authors that have contacted me by email as well that were interested on having an interview on my blog. For me it’s best to contact via email or Twitter (where I usually hang out all day long).

Jaime: I know you’re obsession with Twitter! Can you tell us what you enjoy about authors?

Bells: I enjoy authors that seem down to earth such as myself. I tend to gravitate towards more authors that seem to have the same likes that I do. I am all about positivity! I love to laugh and there are so many authors on Twitter that make me chuckle all the time. That includes you as well. That is how we first bonded. Discussing the Twilight movies and what parts of them that made us laugh.

Jaime: Oh Lord, I remember that! Those were the days. I’m aware of bloggers who can be afraid of having authors if they feel they’ll lash out at a less than stellar review, or will argue with the reviewer. As an author myself, I always say it’s best to say thank you or nothing at all. What’s your take?

Bells: That’s kinda hard to answer, because authors are people too. They’re human and have emotions just like everyone else. I know as hard as it must be to want to say something, it’s best not to. There seems to be a lot of backlash when they speak out. You’ll see this on Twitter when an author says something negative and reviewers may start talking.

Jaime: Oh man, I remember the author who had a mug created after she went “snake” on a reviewer. It wasn’t pretty.

Bells: *laughs*

Jaime: Okay, next question: I’ve done posts before where I’ve mentioned it’s best to research book bloggers prior to submitting. Some bloggers prefer urban fantasy, others enjoy erotic romance. How important do you think it is for authors to place their work with readers who will enjoy it?

Bells: I think it’s very important. You want to make sure your book is going to appeal to the person reading it. If you give someone a historical when they don’t like historical the odds are they won’t like it. Sometimes people will enjoy books that aren’t what they typically read, but that isn’t always the case. If you want to get positive feedback it’s always good to check out the preferences of the book blogger you approach.

Jaime: Since our kids are going nuts (they are screaming as we’re doing this interview on the phone), I’m going to wrap things up. So final question: eBooks are becoming very popular. Are you finding you prefer eBooks to print?

Bells: I’m going to say…no. Even though I own a Kindle, I still seem to enjoy reading a paper copy more. I will read from my Kindle if I have to, but most of the time I prefer print. That said, it’s weird because there are times when I get into my Kindle. But there are others times when I go, “Meh.” Snuggling an eReader is not the same as snuggling with a paperback.

Jaime: Okay, I lied. One more question: I do know you read books from authors who are at ePublishers. Do prefer books from New York authors (who are in mass market paperback)? Or will you give anything that strikes your fancy a chance?

Bells: As long as the work appeals to me, entertains me, and has good writing, then that’s all that matters.

This week's eye candy of the week is for Bells. You can find her at Hanging With Bells, which isn’t your average book blog. She also lists new movie and music releases, as well as shares her Hump Day Hottie each week. If you haven’t visited, be sure to swing by and say hello!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Han Shot First, Dammit!

When I was little, I was the Star Wars fan. It began with a love of the funny creatures, admittedly (Jabba the Hutt, most especially) and steadily progressed into an obsession for the series overall. The noble heroics of Luke Skywalker, the dashingly cocky Han Solo, and the cool, intelligent “I am Woman!” bad-assery of Leia Organa.

Bear in mind, this was no average, healthy obsession. I was a fangirl, and a purist. I collected action figures, magazines, watched the movies until I had them memorized, read the novelizations, wrote fanfic and even engaged in online role-play. The prequels? I defended them to the death, even though each viewing of The Phantom Menace killed me a little inside. I dressed up as a Jedi (or “Dark Jedi”) for Episode II, and went to the midnight showing of Episode III, only to wake up and view it again the next day.

I lived, ate, drank, breathed, and bled Star Wars.

Never in my wildest did I think I would get to the point where I can say any of the following:

1) Star Trek is superior
2) The prequels are a disaster
3) Harry Potter is my favorite all-time saga, hands down.

To the teenage me, any of the above would be blasphemous.

Granted, as I grew older, I began confessing little things to myself regarding the prequels. A couple years ago, I admitted the first one was rubbish, but still defended Episodes II and III…even though the “love story” between Anakin and Padme was cringe-worthy, I stood by it being a decent tragedy. I could never, though, pinpoint what exactly was the prequels’ main failing.

Turns out there were many failings. RedLetterMedia’s Plinkett reviews of the new series opened my eyes in a way they didn’t want to be opened. I have officially renounced the prequels from my personal canon of the Star Wars universe and become one of those “George Lucas Raped My Childhood” fans.

There is one glimmering ray of hope in the stinkbomb that was the prequel movies. If any writer out there needs a diagram on how to NOT write characters, look no further. Plinkett discusses this in his review of The Phantom Menace. The characters lacked any fundamental connection with the audience, and this was demonstrated with a simple challenge.

“Describe Character A without referring to his/her profession or what they look like.”

If your readers can’t go beyond this question, or have to search for an answer, you haven’t given them enough reason to connect with your character. Take Rhett Butler. He’s cocky, arrogant, swarmy, deceptive, strong-willed, determined, and when he loves he does so with all he is. Conversely, take Liam Neeson’s character from the prequel films. He’s….there. He has a beard. He talks with words. And that’s about it.

Characters should be more than their appearance and job status. If you’re writing a hopeless romantic, it’s not enough for you to tell us he’s a hopeless romantic. Show him doing something to convey that characteristic. When you send your manuscript to your CPs, ask them to look for these things. Make sure they can say something about your characters' actions and behavior, not just their description. After all, if we don’t know the characters well enough to care about them, whatever else happens in the book won’t matter to us, because there will be nothing at stake.

Character should never be undervalued or sacrificed. We need to know and care about these people. When they ache, we should ache with them, and for reasons beyond "it's the main character." We should remember their names after the book has been shelved. To me, that’s the ultimate test. If I can remember a character’s name a month after I read the book, I consider it well written. It means the character stuck with me.

So go forth. Write well and prosper. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.

As for me...I'll have to live with the tattered ruins of my childhood, having finally accepted the horrible truth.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Inspired You To Write?

Sometimes when you're bogged down in the day to day reality of trying to be a writer, you get caught up in “stuff.” Cover art forms, formatting, edits, suggestions from critique partners, classes, how to books, lists of what not to do...all of it can get overwhelming. Sometimes you just need to take a little while and reflect upon how you ended up here, wherever that here may be.

Why did you first put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? Did another author inspire you? Did you have feelings you didn't know how else to get out but on paper? Or did you want to be able to transport someone the way you've been transported to another place when you read a good book?

For me it was a couple of those things. I remember in elementary school plotting to write a book with one of my friends, though I don't think we got beyond a title and a drawing for our cover. In fifth grade, I came in second in my class's storywriting contest. I always loved making up fantastical worlds and writing them down for others to read. By junior high, I was attempting to write my first romance—and this was before I'd ever read an adult one. In eighth grade I read my first two romances, and I honestly believe they cemented my career path. The first was Twins by Katherine Stone and the second was Public Secrets by Nora Roberts. I fell in love with both books—and my love affair with Nora's work began. She was really the one who inspired me more than anyone else. She's a woman to be reckoned with in so many ways and her talent only continues to grow.

So who or what inspired you? Has that inspiration changed over the years?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Importance of Editors

I've touched on this topic before. With the recent increase in self-published material, it is a important subject to discuss. All readers expect quality in the work they purchase. While it's true books will usually have a typo or two (or possibly more), less is certainly more. Several top selling authors have been flamed recently regarding the lack of edits in their work (one most notably is a huge author, at one of the large New York Publishers, who had an entire scene missing from her book due to a miscommunication during edits). Readers are starting to notice the lack of editing, and they are becoming more vocal about it.

Which is why I feel having an editor is damn important.

As I've stated before, all of my editors are different. Each has his or her own way of doing things. I'm fine with that, as I learn during the process. Some experiences are better than others. I love having an editor who enjoys my story, believes in it, and wants to make the manuscript all it can be. However, there have been occasions when I've had to relinquish control and change a story into something I didn't originally envision. It's part of being published. You listen to those far more knowledgeable than you and trust they'll make your story shine.

I cannot stress just how much I need an editor. As a writer, I don't see the mistakes in my work. Even if I wait a month and return to the book, I'll skip right past an improperly used word (it's been proven if a word begins and ends with the same letter this occurs often), fail to notice repetition in word choice, etc. That's why I rely on an extra pair of eyes to pinpoint what I cannot. Yes, I'm an author who needs an editor. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Without one, my stories would be too wordy, too lengthy, and probably a pain in the ass to read.

I recently stumbled across an interesting Amazon thread discussing a very popular author and the fact she has written a "no-edit" clause in her contract. The notion baffled me. Who wouldn't want to have an editor to clean up grammatical mistakes, search for holes in a story, and make sure you don't land on your face because you call a character the wrong name (something I'm guilty of, I confess) or forget to dress a character after a love scene. Not me, that's for sure.

So yeah, I'm all for pimping my editors. Skyla Dawn (Mundania), Mary and Serena (Loose Id), and Ann (Ellora's Cave) you rock my world. Thanks for making me a better author, for helping me hone my craft, and for inspiring me to create bigger, better stories. My books wouldn't be the same without you.

Now for your weekly eye-candy. Happy Hump Day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Interview with author Sarah Ballance

Today on Romancing the Muses, I’d like to welcome author, Sarah Ballance, to share some of her insights, things she’s learned along the way, and get some info on what we might expect from her in the future.

MUSES: Tell us a bit about the process behind your debut publication. What did you learn? Is there anything you know now you wish you’d known then?
S. BALLANCE: I had to learn everything, LOL. I had what I now recognize as an "outsider's view" of the publishing process—i.e., write a book, get it published. And that's what I did. I wrote a book, sent it to Noble, and ended up with a contract. At the time I had no idea how things were supposed to work, so I can honestly say I'm grateful I managed to make a few good decisions—more on blind luck than anything, but I'll take it! However, after reading the experiences of some other authors, I've learned you really can't put too much thought into which publisher you choose for your work.

MUSES: How quickly did it take you to realize that writing the book is just the first part in a very long battle?
S. BALLANCE: Oh, my gosh. No one could have convinced me writing was the easy part, and now I find myself telling other aspiring novelists the same thing (and I’m probably getting the same Look, lol). I'd say I was pretty well clued in after I spent about two weeks following the release of my first book trying to do something with my website and blog, and that was just the beginning. A year later, I'm still trying to feel my way through the responsibilities of being a published author, but WOW, what an incredible ride!

MUSES: What is your opinion on reviews?
S. BALLANCE: They're one person's opinion. I know it's easier said than done at times, but an author needs to read a review as objectively as possible and take from it what they can. I've had a time or two where a reviewer made a specific point with which they found fault and when I thought about it, I had to agree. Those moments make me feel like I've improved as an author, and that's where I find the most value in a review.

MUSES: Is there some aspect of writing you find more challenging than another? Can you share what that is?
S. BALLANCE: Apparently I have some sort of author defect when it comes to writing sex—it seems to cause flu-like symptoms and periods of zero productivity. The logical conclusion would be to eliminate it from my writing, but that's less of an option than writing it to begin with. (I guess my husband is right when he says I'm impossible to argue with, LOL.) The problem isn't that I don't want the sex there … the problem is being able to capture everything in a way that's true to the story and my characters' emotions. Um, ARGH.

MUSES: How much of what you write is from experience?
S. BALLANCE: To some degree, all of it. I don't have enough confidence to tackle a plot that's totally unfamiliar, so while the story itself is pure fiction, there's something in there I'm comfortable with. I'd love to branch into deeper suspense plots which require more research, but so far I've stuck to my zone.

MUSES: You have developed quite an Internet presence between your interviews, giveaways, and author spotlights. How do you find the time to write when you seem to be everywhere?
S. BALLANCE: Oh, I blame the kids. I can't get any writing done during the day, so I use stolen moments to make the rounds and respond to interview questions and reader messages. I don't even try to write until after dinner when my husband is barring the door to keep the kids away from me. In that sense, I'm not using "writing time" for my internet presence, LOL. Things still get hectic when I'm trying to do a dozen things at once, but that's just generalized chaos. Writing time equals sanity for me, and not one of my crew wants to mess with that!

MUSES: What does an author have to do to capture your attention?
S. BALLANCE: Make me laugh.

MUSES: What authors have most influenced you in your journey? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
S. BALLANCE: While I definitely have mad love for a couple of awesome authors. I think my biggest influence from others has been the revelation that I have to do this my way. When I wrote my first book I felt I had to follow some set of rules, and when I kicked that shell I actually kind of developed a voice. That is what I'm most proud of, and I hope I can continue to grow into a better version of me.

MUSES: Tell us a bit about your favorite literary character, and what qualities made him/her stand out as more than just a name on a page.
S. BALLANCE: Daegan Raeliksen, from Renee Vincent's RAELIKSEN, is hands down the character I can't stop thinking about. I don't want to give her story away, but suffice to say I've yet to read the second book in her trilogy (even though I have my copy sitting on the table beside my bed) because I can't move on from his character. If anyone wants to know what a three dimensional character is, look no further than this.

MUSES: When you’re not writing or reading, what typically keeps you occupied? What do you enjoy doing in your free-time?
S. BALLANCE: Free time? Huh? LOL. I have six kids. One just hit the big oh-one and the rest are scattered to age twelve, and we homeschool. Translation? My biggest pastime outside of parenting and schooling is yanking my hair out, although so far I've maintained the patience to only pull the gray ones. Should we manage to escape the confines of our acreage, however, we prefer to do so on our boat. Second choice? The beach.

MUSES: Any harsh realities would you wish to impart on aspiring authors?
S. BALLANCE: For most of us, one book release is not going to result in vast riches. There seems to be a misconception out there that us Average Joe published authors are rocking six figure incomes, but I dare say the majority are happy to be able buy groceries when the ol' royalty statement arrives. In short? Don't quit your day job.

MUSES: Where can readers find you?
Facebook author
Facebook friend

Thank you, Sarah, for taking the time to sit down with us!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Signings

As many of you know, I attended Lori Foster's Annual Reader and Author Get Together with Madelyn and Rosalie. It was a blast. I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. I can't wait for next year.

Today's topic was sparked by a conversation I had the last night of the event. It was very interesting to discuss authors, the way they present themselves, how important it is to be professional when a fan approaches your table, and how annoyed readers become by certain behavior.

Since I always share what I've learned, I figured I'd do so here. Below were the top complaints from the readers I spoke with who attended the event.

1. Cell phones and laptops

I was mortified when I learned one reader stood in line to get a signature and the author used his/her cell phone the entire time, signed the books without looking up or greeting the reader, and shoved the book back when done. As a consequence, the reader informed me she would NEVER purchase another book from the author. Lesson? Put the phone down, smile, and greet your readers. They are there to meet you. It is possible to stay off your cellular device for two hours (the length of the signing).

2. Avoid the hard sell

Several readers said they avoided tables in which authors tried to sell their work. Why? They felt obligated to buy it. So when a reader approaches your table, smile, say hello, and answer questions. Informing them of the nature of your story when they haven't asked can be a turn off. They want to look at your work, see if it interests them, and move along if it doesn't. Interact with them, be gracious, and if they decide your work isn't for them say, "Thank your for stopping by," and let them continue to the next author.

3. Smile

No one will approach you if they think you're going to take their head off. When someone makes eye contact, smile, nod, and make it easy for them to come over and say hello. A blank expression, or a sour puss, won't do you any favors.

4. Talk, talk, talk!

If someone engages you in conversation (even if they don't buy your book), talk to them. Ask how they are enjoying things. Treat people like people. Trust me, they appreciate this.

5. Make a good impression

If someone approaches your table and tells you they enjoyed your book, thank them and chat. I had a few people who did this and I provided signed book plates and pamphlets. It's not about the money, it's about connecting with those who might give your work a try in the future.

I had so much fun this year, but I am very social and can talk to anyone. I think that's very important. People who haven't read your work will remember a nice author versus a lukewarm one. It's all about the connection you make with people. I truly believe if you treat those the way you want to be treated, they'll appreciate and respect it.

As for me, I'm trying to prepare for Authors After Dark. I'm nervous, as I've never attended before, but I hope it's just as much fun as Lori Foster's.  Hopefully I'll see many of you there!

Now for that eye candy. My favorite -- Chris Evans. YUMMY!

Monday, June 6, 2011

“A thief passes for a gentleman when stealing has made him rich”

DISCLAIMER: Plagiarism is one of those topics over which I get really heated. The following opinions are mine and mine alone; I don’t speak for my colleagues at Romancing the Muses. Please, if I offend you, let me know and I will apologize.


"You're like the thief who isn't the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he's going to jail." - Rhett Butler

I honestly don’t understand what satisfaction a person gets by being commended for words they didn’t write.

There are times, admittedly, when plagiarism is somewhat understandable, even if you don’t agree with it. For instance: I can grasp why a lazy student wouldn’t want to write a twenty-six page thesis on the Roman Empire (though I think that sounds fascinating). I wouldn’t endorse it, by any means, but the appeal of the easy assignment is one thing. Plagiarism for the sake of…what? Recognition? Praise? That I don’t get.

Recently, a publisher discovered one of its authors had plagiarized a recently released book, and hadn’t done a very good job of concealing it. Were it a need for money, there are plenty of more obvious things to steal…like money. It likewise wouldn’t explain why plagiarism is prevalent even in communities where royalties aren’t a part of the equation. It strikes me more as a need for recognition and popularity than anything else. Otherwise, Internet fandoms wouldn’t need communities like Stop Plagiarism, where plagiarism of fan-fiction works (fictional works written by fans of a show, movie, or franchise) is reported. Before I decided to play in my own fictional backyard, I wrote fan-fiction, and I never got a dime. I never WANTED money for it because, hey, I was writing (which I love) and I had fun doing it. No one I knew was ever paid for what they wrote…so why steal someone’s derivation of someone else’s work and put your name on it?

Again, we’re back to recognition and praise. Yet here, I simply don’t understand why plagiarists do what they do. What possible satisfaction can they get from being told someone else’s writing is amazing? The level of WTFery boggles my mind.

I just don’t get it.

Recently, a book blogger was identified as a plagiarist. I have read her follow-up post wherein she confessed to her crime and offered half-hearted acknowledgment to the wrong she committed. And again I ask—why? What are you getting out of this? Free books, I suppose, but to not even bother to come up with three or four sentences summarizing your reaction to a book without copying someone else’s homework is appalling in its blatant disregard for writing itself.

So, friends, Romans, countryman…why do plagiarists plagiarize? I’m not being facetious; this has been something I’ve wondered for years, and I welcome all responses. If you are a plagiarist, go ahead and create a sock to tell me why you did what you did. I’m all ears…because from where I’m sitting, you’re an ego-maniacal thieving blowhard, and a lazy one at that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Conquering The Edits Monster

While I like having edited, I'm a not a huge fan of edits. At first. Reason being, they usually make me feel like I…well, suck. This goes for critiques as well. I'm not sure if it's because I'm a perfectionist or a pantser or what, but it always requires a deep breath and crossed fingers for me to open that document from my editor or CP. It's kind of like getting reviews. We all have that idea in our head of the meaning behind our work. Then you receive, in black and white, someone else's thoughts on what you've created when you're not around to explain to them what you really meant. Your words rise and fall on their own and sometimes it's distressing to see how far you've missed the mark.

That saying, I usually don't look at my edits or critiques right away. I usually need a couple days to build up my courage. Probably if I wasn't so used to getting massive edits - or at least what I term massive edits - they wouldn't vex me so much, but alas that's not the case. I'm on my sixth contracted book at this point - and have one self-published - and I can honestly say I'm not much less intimidated by receiving that first round of edits now than I was at the beginning. A little bit, yes. And I also calm down from my customary freak out a lot faster. I can do what's required. I know that, because I've done it before. That experience does help when I'm fighting a serious case of "I'm not worthy"s.

But still…I always love the finished product once the edits are done! Editors and CPs are wonderful people and help you take your story places you might not have been able to on your own. Heck, maybe one day I'll even get excited when I get edits/critiques instead of nervous!

How do you approach edits and/or critiques? Do they freak you out or have you found your zen about them? And if so, can you tell me where I can find some?