Saturday, October 25, 2014

Still Reading

No, I'm not incredibly slow. Nor am I bored to death with CressAu contraire. It's just that I do do other things.

Coming up soon on my reading radar: Cybils nominees.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why I've Got To Read, Read, Read "Cress" By Marissa Meyer

I was hit with a warning a couple of days ago from my library letting me know that the copy of Cress by Marissa Meyer that I'm reading was almost due. I finally got around this morning to renewing it on-line, but no luck. There's a hold on it. I'm at least two-thirds of the way through, so I'm going to bite the bullet, get hustling with my reading, and pay whatever fine I need to pay.

Why am I telling you this instead of writing what some might consider a real blog post? Well, I think it's very significant that someone wants this book. We don't have anyone beating a path to the YA section's door at our library. Until recently, we were still using one of those stamp-the-book systems for letting people know due dates. What that meant was that anyone could check the popularity of a book. I would take out new YA books, read them, see them back on the new books shelf, and there they'd stay. So I'd take a look at the date stamps. There wouldn't be any other than mine. Time would pass, and I'd look again. There'd be one. Maybe, but sometimes not.

So, yes, I think it's very significant that someone wants to read Cress badly enough to take it from me, when so many other books I've read were of no interest.

And now I must go get that book and get cracking with my reading. Time is money. Seriously.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What? There's A Percy Jackson Problem?

In The Percy Jackson Problem in The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead discusses the old "so-long-as-the-kiddies-are-reading-they-will-move-on-and-up" strategy vs. the old "you-can't-start-'em-on-Shakespeare-too-young" theory. According to Mead, Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books fall into the first category. Ouch.

Mead finishes her essay speculating about what will happen if reading books like Percy Jackson doesn't lead to young minds moving onward and upward to eagerly sucking up the Assigned Book List. "What if instead of urging them on to more challenging adventures on other, potentially perilous literary shores, it makes young readers hungry only for more of the palatable same?"

I have no problem with palatable. We live in a free country, kids! Go rogue with your reading!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: We're Three-fourths Of The Way Through The Year. Time For Another Check On Goals And Objectives

At the half-year point in June, I felt I'd done better than I expected to on this year's goals and objectives. At that time, I determined which goals I wanted to focus on for the rest of the year. Not so happy about how that's been going.

My plans in June for the rest of the year:
  • Goal 3. Finish a draft of the mummy book, I hope by September when I go on vacation. That's been a disaster, in large part because I became obsessed with a short piece I was working on in August (Goal 2), have been planning for an appearance I might be making in November, and working on another project.
  • Goal 2. Write short pieces. Anything. Yes, I did complete one short piece. May have spent too much time on it, in fact.
  • Goal 4.  Make submissions. I hope of some of the short pieces from Goal 2.Yes, I made a submission
  • Goal 5. Work on community building. See how things go with the writers' group, and it would be terrific if I could find a workshop or other program for later this year. This is the goal I've done the most on, but that also meant spending the most time on it, too. It's a goal that doesn't produce real work. I made three appearances this summer, that involved some rubbing of shoulders, and I'm very happy so far with the writers' group I've joined.
  • Goal 6. Continue marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook. A contact I made this summer led to yesterday's review at Reduced Footprints, and I have some more leads for contacts.
Well, let's get a little Zenny here and remember that these past few months are in the past, and I need to think about the present. What can I do with the rest of my year?

  • Goal 1. Finish the revision of The Fletcher Farm Body I did finish this earlier this year, but guess what? I'm revising it again. This time I'm concentrating on making sure that scenes either advance the story or reveal new information and that chapters involve a change. (I got this idea from Rachel Aaron's 2,000 to 10,000.) Yes, I've become obsessed with this book, just as I was obsessed with the flash story I was working on in August.
  • Goal 4. Make submissions. I'd like to work on submitting some of the work I've already completed, so I'll focus on trying to match new marketing possibilities with manuscripts on hand.
  • Goal 5. Continue to work on community building Continue the Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar, try to cover the Connecticut Children's Book Fair for my blog, I have created a new author talk that I may be presenting next month, attend my shiny new writers' group, continue to build my Twitter following.
  • Goal 6. Continue marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook I do have some ideas for contacts.

So three-quarters of the year is gone, and while I've been working away, really, I have,  I've wandered off goal. A bit. Some. Should I just give in to the What-the-Hell-Effect and spend the rest of the year lying in bed reading, which I kind of desperately want to do? No, I should not!  I have two and a half months left. That's a lot of units of time.

This Week's Most Interesting Ditched Item


Sorry I haven't uploaded the picture, but I had a great one of a twin mattress and spring set in the back of a pickup truck. I would have sent those things out of here at some point, but maybe not this month. Thank goodness for the purge.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Planet" Reviewed At Reduce Footprints

Saving the Planet & Stuff is reviewed today at Reduce Footprints, a blog dedicated to researching and sharing information about easy ways to do positive things for the Earth. My favorite line--"The story is also wonderful for adults, of all ages, as it touches on the challenges of living life as a "greenie", in a fun and interesting way."

Notice that blogger Cyndi runs a couple of activities designed to build the green community.

Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar Update

Author Page McBrier will appear at the Rowayton Library in Rowayton this Thursday, October 23, from 3:30 to 4:30.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Price Isn't The Only Factor In Book Sales. You Also Need To Consider Time

In Telling 'Tails' in Gothenburg: Who Has Time For Publishing's Long One?  Porter Anderson discusses something many didn't consider when long-tail theory was first thrown out for discussion: Will people buy books they know they don't have time to read?

The idea behind the theory was that with most products (say books) a few items produce most of the sales. (Look at the left side of the graph on your right.) Most  items (like books) don't generate a lot of sales. They end up in the long, tail-like section of the graph at your right. However, if you consider all the items (like individual book titles) in that long tail, you're talking a lot of items. If you could find a way to sell a few of all those items in the long tail, you'd be talking a lot of items. Or, to put it in booky terms, even if you don't sell a lot of books for each individual title in that long tail, if you continue to sell them, you're still selling a lot of books.

However, when you're talking books, if you consider all the books in that long tail, you're also talking a lot of items to have to read. Anderson quotes publishing executive Marcello Vena as saying, "More than plain money, the available reading time is the single most relevant resource that affects book consumption...It cannot be overstressed that while the supply of digital books is unlimited…the demand is not, because it is constrained by time."

Anderson also talks about how in days of not-so-old even a book by a name writer from a big publisher "had a matter of mere weeks to find traction in the marketplace before losing its spot on a bookshop’s front table." But e-book authors' work "can live in shimmering cyber-beauty everlasting , the ebook-eternal, text without end, amen and amen." Sounds good doesn't it? But as Anderson says, it could be "decades before anybody can get around to reading your book. If anyone ever does. Granted, it will be there waiting, as new as the moment you pushed the “publish button.” But so will everybody else’s books."

Very interesting article, particularly if you enjoy being depressed.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Environmental Book Club

How does a cookbook fit in with my interest in environmental books that provide an immersion in some kind of natural  experience? Pam McElroy, one of the editors of The Green Teen Cookbook, Recipes for all Seasons Written by Teens, for Teens, (Laurane Marchive is the other) writes that "When it comes to food, going green" is, in great part, about shopping seasonally and buying locally. That's a lifestyle, a daily experience. McElroy also says, "Our eating habits form such an important part of our daily lives that questions of what we eat are transformed into questions of who we are. We don't say, 'I eat a vegetarian diet.' We say, 'I am a vegetarian.'"

This cookbook actually includes essays. In my experience, you have to be a bit of a foodie to read essays on cooking, and I don't know how many teenagers have that much of a commitment yet. But I very much like that editors McElroy and Marchive respect their potential readers enough to include them. They also do some neat things with taking the same recipe and changing it according to the seasons and the availability of fresh ingredients.

The recipes here include basics like French toast and tuna salad, swing into your more veggie type things (fried tofu with peanut dipping sauce), and take a shot at what some of us think of as more demanding fare (risotto with arugula pesto). The Green Teen Cookbook is a classy work that takes its subject seriously while also recognizing that people need to know how to cook regular food.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: The Write Jar As Motivator

I was able to sneak onto Blogger this morning and check my e-mail, but I'm having trouble getting other places on-line. (The new modem is here in the house. We're hoping to get it out of the package tomorrow.) I'm cobbling this post together with the help of my iPhone, which can zip me around the Internet.

I heard about write jars at the 10-Minute Novelist Facebook page. Vickie S. Miller's blog post What's Your Reward? #Writejar describes how it works. Write jars are similar to swear jars or any other kind of system you create to either fine yourself for a behavior you want to avoid (swearing) or pay yourself for a behavior you want to encourage (writing).

I believe that in the case of write jars, this would be considered an external support for willpower. You're using something outside yourself, a money reward, to help you stay on task. (Timers are also external supports.)  I'm not aware of any research on how well monetary support works, and given my crippling Internet problems this week, I'm not going to be able to hunt for any. That will be another blog post. Vickie had only been using a write jar for a couple of weeks at the time of her post, so we won't know for a while how it ends up working for her.

If I were going to try this, I think I would use a simpler system than Vickie is. Keeping track of the different cash amounts for the different types of writing would be unwieldy for me. But like anything else related to managing time, everyone should fine tune systems to suit their own needs.

This Week's Most Interesting Ditched Item 

 

I just tried to upload a picture relating to my October purge, but that's not going to be happening. But it was a Swiss cowbell. I kid you not. We had a Swiss cowbell here. Brought back from the Land of Heidi by in-laws a few decades back. I mention that because I want to make sure everyone knows that I wasn't responsible for bringing it into this country, just into my house. I was able to unload it on my sister-in-law. 

Edit: Yes! The new modem has returned us to our normal mediocre Internet access! So I am able to present you with the cowbell that is no longer in my house. I would  hate to run into the cow that was able to wear this thing around its neck.