Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: A Situational Time Management Situation

You know how I'm always talking about how we can't set hardcore schedules, we must adapt to the ever changing situations that are our lives. Well, I am. For me, this week is a case in point.

A family member made a quick and successful trip to the ER this weekend. While he is well on the road to recovery, he is recovering, and I'll be helping out with some of his elder care responsibilities and other life chores. This week just happens to be one in which I had appointments digging into my work time, anyway.
  1. I know I can't do everything I normally do in this particular situation, and I don't enjoy trying and failing to do so as much as I used to. Feeling busy and overwhelmed doesn't really attract me much.
  2. I think I might be better off focusing on just a couple of work-related things this week so I can try to make some real progress on them instead of struggling with a number of things and not getting too far with any of them. Practically speaking, I think it's a better move. Emotionally it will be, too. Or not.
  3. I've decided that in this type of situation, blogging may not be the best use of my time.  Even though I do most of my blogging in the evening, I have a promotional plan for next month that I could be working on then that might be a better work choice.
Thus, I will be back on Friday to report how things went. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Weekend Writer: Are You Developing A Trope Or Using A Cliché?

I'm including  My Top 5 Tried and True Horror Tropes by Micol Ostow in a Weekend Writer post not because I think new writers need to know about horror. Though, of course, if you're interested in writing horror, you'd better. No, what interested me in this post is how she defines the difference between a trope and a cliché. "...there’s also a fine line," Ostow says, "between a “trope” or homage, and a cliché."

When you see people refer to "tropes," it's usually in a flattering way. I can't recall the last time I heard someone say something flattering about a cliché.

The big question (which may be answered in the workshop Ostow mentions, but we won't all be going to that, and it isn't until fall, anyway) is how does a writer make something like a haunted house, asylum, or possessed doll a trope/homage and not a cliché? I've often wondered, is a trope a trope if readers get it, otherwise it's a cliché?

So keep the cliché/trope issue in mind.

Friday, March 20, 2015

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? March 20th Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. Most of my efforts this week went to the mummyless mummy book. I had to do some research in order to move on. So there was research and there was moving on.

Goal 4. Submissions. I continued researching agents.

Goal 5. Community Building. Worked on CCLC and Goodreads.

As I write this, I'm watching Authors Anonymous and becoming depressed. Oh, my gosh. I hope I can go to my writers' group next month.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Environmental Book Club

The Jenny Evolution has a list of Best Earth Day Picture Books For Kids. I haven't read any of these, but I haven't been able to pick up any environmental books, myself, for a while, so I'm offering these. 

I do have a couple of titles in mind for future reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

But, Then, I Like Art Museums

Meet Me at the Art Museum by David Goldin is one of the easiest to take instructive picture books I can recall reading in quite some time. It uses the old night-at-the-museum situation with a docent's name tag giving a ticket stub an after-hours tour.

This thing gets really simplistic, going so far as to explain what a coat check room is and that there are signs all over the place telling you what to do. But, you know, it's a picture book. It's for kids who presumably have never been into a museum. When I go to a museum, I like to go to the coat check first thing.

What a curator does, what a conservator does, what an archivist does, what a historical artifact is...I love this stuff. I also loved the reproductions of artwork sprinkled throughout the book. On page 14 you'll see A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat or, as one of my kids once told me, A Picture of a Woman Walking Her Monkey. I don't know why I'm so fond of that work.

Meet Me at the Art Museum would be a fine addition for libraries, schools...and museum bookstores!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Talk Less About Procrastination, Do More

Procrastinating on a Writing Project? Use the 300-Words Trick by Charlie Gilkey is short and sweet. He suggests a reason writers may procrastinate and gives three methods for dealing with it, so they can get right to work.

Reason for Procrastinating

Gilkey thinks many writers put off getting started with work because they don't think they'll be able to finish. I think procrastinating for writers comes about when they don't know what they're going to write next. (Maybe that's just me.) But we may be talking about the same thing. If you don't know what you're going to write next, you're sure going to have some questions about whether or not you're going to be able to finish.

The Gilkey Method of Dealing with Procrastination

  1. Make yourself write 300 words. This sounds similar to the old Swiss Cheese Method of time management. It's a way to get started, and no law says you have to stop.
  2. If you can't write 300 words of straight narrative, you can write something about your narrative. I would add that you can also make lists of things that could happen somewhere in your narrative. A list of dialogue, actions, and reactions, for instance. Why, I did that just this afternoon.
  3. And if you can't write 300 words of narrative or lists, you can write some commentary on the structure of what you're working on. Hmm. I think that would have to be 300 words on how I've put things together wrong and how I can fix it.
The reason techniques like this help? Procrastination is about not being able to start. Three hundred words is starting.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What Are We Really Promoting?

This week I'm starting a new schedule that involves doing promotion/marketing on Mondays. So it's appropriate, I think, to talk today about this terrific promotional article, What It Costs to DIY A First Book Tour. In it, author Katey Schultz discusses her year-long promotional tour for her book, Flashes of War, which was published by a small university press.

Interesting points:
  • Schultz spent $12,000 on her tour, split pretty evenly between hiring a publicist and tour manager and travel expenses. It was money she'd inherited or saved, not borrowed. She wouldn't go into debt for the book. This caught my attention because several years ago I attended a NESCBWI event at which a colleague said she didn't want her family to lose money on her writing. Something writers need to consider--writing can cost you money.
  • Selling 5,000 books is too large a goal for a year. Schulz had to lower her expectations and spread that goal over three years. She's been told that the 1,500 books she believes she's sold over one year is a good number. Good numbers are still small numbers.
  • Some booksellers were not very supportive. I don't know if her experience is common. I can't help thinking, though, that within writers' circles there's so much commitment to booksellers. So...
  • Schultz hasn't made back her financial investment, but feels the work she's done has been good for her career overall, preparing the way for the promotion of a second book. And that's often how things work with writing. You have to think in terms of the career, not any one particular book.
We're always promoting ourselves.

Friday, March 13, 2015

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? March 13th Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. After a rough start to the week, I finished another chapter. I am supposed to be revising the first nine chapters, but what I'm cranking out is so different now that I think I should just call it a new draft. I also presented some mummy material to my writers' group.

Goal 5. Community Building. I attended a marketing workshop last weekend and writers' group Monday night. I did a little work on the Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar newsletter and updated my Goodreads blog as well as did some other posting there.

Goal 6. Marketing STP&S. Came up with a couple of new ideas for the April marketing push I want to do, though I need to get acting on them. I also came up with an idea for a change in my general marketing work that I'll be trying out next week and writing about here in the future.

Loretta Young And "The FitzOsbornes At War"

Here's a little something I heard at Goodreads this week:

The striking cover of The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper uses a 1932 photograph of Loretta Young taken by Edward Steichen.

This is an incredible cover, IMHO, reflecting the era of the book (WWII, which is close to the '30s) and the character of the protagonist. Sophie is not the smartest, the bravest, the most charming of the FitzOsbornes. She is merely the one who wrote down everything that happened to the other members of the family.

Michelle Cooper refers to the photo and cover at her blog.

I'm guessing that this cover was created by the art department of Cooper's American publisher, Knopf. If I'm right, then I think it's a powerful example of what a traditional publisher can do for an author. Finding that particular photograph and getting the rights to use it is amazing.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

We Can Keep Reading, Anyway

I've been reading Terry Pratchett tributes all day and particularly liked Tanita Davis's at Finding Wonderland. Discworld readers will appreciate it. Also, Emily Dickinson fans.

I've started my son and niece on Discworld books. If I hadn't just bought three Jane Eyre-related books for Becki, whose birthday is next week, I'd run out and get her Monstrous Regiment, one of my favorite Pratchett books. It will have to wait for another event.

Check out the photo above. That's another generation holding his first Discworld book. Where's My Cow? is a picture book version of a story that appears in at least one of the Discworld books. Every night, Sam Vimes runs through the city to get home in time to read Where's My Cow? to his son before he goes to bed.

I haven't finished all the Discworld books. Some I like better than others. I'm planning to concentrate on the City Watch books, which feature Sam Vimes.

The reading can go on and on.