Thursday, April 15, 2021

Environmental Book Club

Earlier this month, Publishers Weekly ran a column on Environmental Kids Books for 2021. In her introduction, compiler Cady Zeng writes "These varied, informative books for young readers provide introductions to the Earth’s environment, its history, and its inhabitants, while offering guidance on how to live sustainably for a better and enduring future." "Informative books" that offer "guidance on how to live sustainably for a better and enduring future" sound like nonfiction, and that is what we see on this list.

There's nothing wrong with this being a list of nonfiction. I'm just wondering what's being published in the area of environmental fiction for children. I've done a quick Internet search and can't find anything. Environmental books for children seem to focus on teaching them something. There doesn't seem to be many books out there with fictional worlds built around characters living an environmental lifestyle as a sort of setting or background, as a norm instead of something someone must learn to do because of a looming crisis. Or many books with fictional worlds about living within nature as a given.

Also, I don't see any YA on this list. Nor have I been able to find a list anywhere of environmental books specifically for that age group.  Eco-fiction Books Coming in 2021 at dragonfly.eco includes a couple of titles described as YA. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

#Authorlifemonth Day 10 My Comp Titles

 As I said last week, I am doing #authorlifemonth or, as some call it, #authorlifemonth2021 on Twitter. Yesterday's prompt was "My Comp Titles." Since I'm using Saving the Planet & Stuff for any book references for this challenge, my comp titles will relate to it. 

Comp titles, in case anyone is wondering, are titles of books yours can be compared to, especially known, relatively successful books you can compare yours to. Initially, you are trying to show prospective agents and editors that there is an interest in your subject matter out in the buying public. Then you're trying to show buyers that if they liked Book A, they will certainly like yours, as well.

Comp titles are a struggle for me. I have a hard time coming up with any, and I've grown to suspect that that's because my interests, which is what I write about, of course, may not be generally shared. 

For Saving the Planet & Stuff, the comp title situation is particularly interesting. I was working with a editor and publisher at the time, and they didn't require comp titles from me, because we were just interested in the next Gail Gauthier book. Yes, once upon a time there was an interest in the next Gail Gauthier book. You'll have to trust me on that.

Additionally, Saving the Planet & Stuff deals with environmentalism. The plot, the setting, and even the secondary characters are all part of that subset of the American culture that cares about environmental living. I find environmental children's books predicatable and even boring. The middle grade books are very pedantic. Kids are fighting evil corporations. They're saving an endangered species. YA books, when you find them at all, are frequently clifi. Humans have done something to cause climate disaster. If you've read one of those, haven't you read them all?

But I Do Have A Couple Of Comp Titles For STPS! 

 

Over the years, I have come up with a couple of books I think could be compared to Saving the Planet & Stuff.
 

  • Right now, I'm reading Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald in which a teenage environmentalist goes out into the Canadian "wild" for the summer where she finds that she's not welcome. (Aside--I can't find much information about Abby McDonald, though she appears to be one of the staff writers for the TV series Bridgerton. I know you want to know that, since I want to know it.)
  • Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny in which a teenage borderline mean girl
    is thrown in for the summer with the school science crowd who are dealing with one of those endangered species I mentioned above.   

These two books, along with Saving the Planet & Stuff, are fish-out-of-water stories. In STP&S and Kissing Frogs, the fish are being thrown in with environmentalists, which they most definitely are not. In Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, the fish is the environmentalist who is thrown in with people who are not only non-environmentalists, they're a bit hostile to the idea. These books are examples of environmentalism providing the background or character development for the story. 

They are also all examples of mainstream stories integrating environmentalism instead of stories that are excuses for environmental lectures. I don't think environmentalism will be a serious part of our culture until we start seeing this kind of thing happening in books a lot more.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Weekend Writer: Something For You Poets

I am not a major fan of reading poetry, and I've never been interested in writing it. That changed--a little bit--when I took a flash workshop last summer that included prose poetry. Turns out I do have a little interest in that.

As a result, I hoped to do a little something about National Poetry Month, which we are about a third of the way through right now. I hope to submit my prose poem somewhere--anywhere--by April 30th, for one thing.

For another, I have some material to offer you from The Cincinnati Review on how to tell if a poem is ready to submit. Given what I said in my second paragraph, you can see why this article caught my eye. 

As long as I'm doing a poetry post, here's a link to 10 Wonderful Children's Poets You Should Know at Literary Hub

Here's another list, with a number of additional names, this one from What Do We Do All Day?

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Environmental Book Club


Another Earth Day month, another attempt to fire up the Environmental Book Club for a few weeks. 

Today I am directing your attention to Dragonfly.Eco, a site that describes itself as "an exploration of eco-fiction." Dragonfly appears to be quite extensive, so much so that it includes a Tour Guide. It also has an 800+ entry database that can be searched in multiple ways, including Children's  and YA/Teen. And Humor

That database includes an entry for Saving the Planet & Stuff. That's just a fact, not shameless self-promotion. Adding the book's two covers, as I just did, is shameless self-promotion.

FASCINATING UPDATE: I noticed this morning on the Dragonfly.Eco  Tour Guide page that Dragonfly.Eco is a new domain for an older site called eco-fiction.com. That sort of floated past the reasoning portion of my brain. I had also noticed that Dragonfly.Eco and I follow each other on Twitter, with Dragonfly.Eco using @Eco-Fiction as its Twitter handle. Again that knowledge didn't actually lodge anywhere. But, hey, in addition to working on this post, I was working on a Twitter challenge, a book chapter, and some research. 

So, this afternoon, instead of continuing to work, which I obviously should have been doing, I went walking. And I'm off in the woods, on this narrow trail, headed for a waterfall, when eco-fiction pops up into my mind.  Eco-fiction! Back when Google+ was a thing and not a memory, I was a member of an eco-fiction community there. It was connected to a website with a database of books and the woman who moderated everything accepted Saving the Planet & Stuff for said database.

My point being, oh, my gosh! I know these people!

This is a classic example of a breakout experience, by the way. Content entered my mind--the information about Dragonfly having originally been eco-fiction and my Twitter connection with it. I left the work world behind to do something totally unrelated that didn't require mental heavy lifting on my part. While my body and mind were relaxed, the tie-in between Dragonfly and my memory of eco-fiction broke out.


I'm including a picture of the waterfall we saw today just because. I mean totally unconnected to anything.









Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: When To Take Advantage Of New Opportunities

I'm a big believer in staying on goal, particularly writing goals. Flitting from one random new task to another rarely results in completed projects. Dropping everything to create some new work for a publication we've just heard about that has requirements that don't quite fit what we have on hand or to develop a new workshop so we can respond to a conference's request for proposals rarely, in my experience, brings results.

But we've probably all heard that we should be open to, and take advantage of, new opportunities. And we've also heard stories about writers who did commit three days to conferences where they did meet  agents who did sell their first books and they did become wildly successful. My impression is that the number of writers that happens for is very low compared to the number of writers spending time at conferences instead of writing, hoping that the conference will be an opportunity for them.

How do we balance staying on writing goals with recognizing a new opportunity that really might benefit us and taking advantage of it? I'm going to suggest that we should recognize and take advantage of opportunities that support our goals.

Some Examples From The Life o' Gail

  • A year or two ago, I was offered the opportunity to expand the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar to all of New England. This would have brought me some more name recognition from the members of the organization that would sponsor the new calendar, and I think I would have received free access to a regional conference. It doesn't take much to stroke my ego, so I was interested. But a little research on my part indicated that this would have been an extremely time consuming task, and I'd be doing it every month. The time it would take from my own writing (goals) wouldn't have been worth it. I passed on this opportunity.
  • Last summer I heard about a virtual six-week flash fiction writing workshop. I jumped on it. As it turns out, last year one of my goals was "work on short-form writing, essays and short stories." An objective for another goal was "be open to attending events for writers of adult literature." So this workshop supported two goals. As it turned out, I came away from it with a short piece that was published by a humor publication and more work I'll be able to submit elsewhere. I wasn't thinking in terms of taking that course because it supported my goals, but the reality that it did may have been a factor in coming away from it with usable material. 

The Inspiration For This Subject

This past Saturday, April 3, Michelle Cusolito posted on Facebook about #authorlifemonth, a social media challenge that authors can take part in on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (maybe other ways) to promote themselves and/or or a book. There are daily prompts/topics, this year's being:


Now, if you look at those topics, you'll see that some of them can relate to a specific book "intro an MC," for instance, "meme your book," "swag/stationery," etc. As it turned out, just two days before, I had pinned a tweet to my Twitter profile:

April is #EarthDay month. Time for an eco-comedy in an ebook edition. #environmentalism #YA #adult https:/www.amazon.com/dp/B00BAFA0NQ/A
 
That pin was about all I was planning to do for new Saving the Planet & Stuff ebook promotion. But then the #authorlifemonth  opportunity came up. I could continue to tweet about STPS, off and on, without being hard sell. In addition, I already have promotional material for this book. This was an opportunity that wouldn't require a lot of work from me.
 
And, finally, I have a "community building/general marketing/branding" goal this year. What is happening here is that #authorlifemonth has become a new objective to support that goal.
 

Our Takeaway

 
Be open to new opportunities that support your goals and could even become objectives to help you meet them.
 
 

 


Friday, April 02, 2021

Book Shopping For Easter

I was almost into the third week of March when I realized that Easter is the first weekend of April this year. I still haven't gotten over the shock. Fortunately, I can't have guests, so I don't have to deal with a holiday meal, though I am overwhelmed with cupcakes I've been making to take to a member of our pod.

The thing I really needed to hustle for was ordering Easter presents for the littlies. Easter presents chez Gauthier are books. I had titles in mind for a couple of the kids, though I forgot them. Then I remembered them. Then that left just two more books to find. 

In the end, River Bend Bookshop ordered two of the books and mailed them to the appropriate family members and already had the other two there in the store for me to pick up. 

Gauthier Easter Gift Books


From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves by Vivian Kirkfield with illustrations by Gilbert Ford. The 8-year-old I got this for may be on the young side of the age-range for this book. However, it looks as if the pages offer a variety of reading options for him to pick and choose from. Additionally, he's being home schooled this year, and I'm hopeful this will fit into history or social studies for him.

 

 

The Bear Went Over The Mountain by Jane Cabrera  I liked the repetition in this classic story as well as what was, for me, a surprise at the end. I found out about this book while watching a virtual library story hour with the three-year-old in our pod and bought it for his three-year-old cousin. I mention this, because it's an example of a library generating a book sale.





Hike by Pete Oswald. I got this book for a three-year-old who walks/hikes with us. I stumbled upon the ebook edition through my library, so this is another example of a library generating a book sale. It's a wordless book with a strong visual story line. 





Up Cat Down Cat by Steve Light  I needed a board book for a one-year-old and just searched on-line until I found this one about opposites with art work I loved. Well, it turns out I've met Steve Light. We walked out to the parking lot together after his appearance at a Connecticut Children's Book Fair a couple of years ago. (I can think of a few other authors I met in parking lots or hallways before or after appearances. Hmm.) At that time, I was so taken with his book Builders & Breakers that I bought a couple of copies for gifts. One of them was for the older brother of the little girl for whom I bought Up Cat Down Cat. You can't make this stuff up! Well, you can, but I didn't.

You never know how gifts will go over, especially books. But at this moment, I'm very happy with my Easter selections.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: Checking In With Goals And Objectives

Creating goals and objectives for the year won't do you any good, if you forget about them. One of my objectives this year for my Community Building/General Marketing/Branding Goal is to check in with my goals and objectives quarterly. I want to make sure I'm spending my time the way I'd planned to and not on drifting around beginning and abandoning random projects. 

It's the end of the first quarter, and here I am, checking away. Additionally, I'm thinking about what I can do for these goals and objectives during the next quarter of the year.

Goal 1. Finish a draft of YA thriller that could become an adult thriller. It has a name this year, 143 Canterbury Road  I have been working on this, but it's going slowly. I wish I could remember how far along I was on this at the beginning of the year. I think I've done 3+ new chapters in 2021.

Objectives:

  • I haven't work on this for a few months, so I'll need to reread what I've done to bring myself back up to speed. Did that.
  • Go over the outline/blueprint. Did that, though it is an ongoing process. I'm always tinkering with the outline/blueprint.
  • Assign writing tasks to time frames each week. That's gone by the wayside
  • Just work on scenes. Don't worry about connecting things.Hmm. Perhaps things would go faster if I remembered to do this.
  • Read YA thrillers. I did read one, and I'm reading an adult thrillerish book now.
  • Read history, since that's a significant factor for a character and maybe in other ways. I finished two history books this winter that I started last year.

 Plan for next quarter:

I'm going to commit my May Days project to this goal. Additionally, I have a brand new copy of Jill Lepore's These Truths that I got for Christmas that I'll start dipping into. (It's a huge book.) In the meantime, I'll keep slugging away at this.

Goal 2. Concentrate on submissions and concentrate on increasing the number of submissions I make.  I've made 17 submissions so far this year, which is fantastic for me. I only did 50 all last year. I've had a humor piece accepted and published, and this weekend I got a fantastic rejection from a journal.

Objectives:

  • Submit book length projects to the agents I researched last month. Done
  • Spend more time with essay Facebook group and flash Facebook group. Those people are publishing and share their work, exposing me to new markets. Which is not stalking them. I have not done enough stalki--spending time with this group.
  • Use that agent Twitter list I made a while back. I have made an attempt at this.
  • Use that publications Twitter list I made a while back. I run my eyes over this occasionally.
  • Do a lot more reading of markets for short-form writing. I need to do a lot more of this.
  • Not to brag, but I got my first rejection of the year yesterday.Yeah, there's been a lot more of that. But as Gina Barreca says, "Finding your audience means being promiscuous with your work." So I view rejection as a good thing.

Plan for next quarter:

I dedicated January and February to submitting one project, March to another. April will go to a third one. The summer is going to be dedicated to submitting short-form work.

Goal 3. Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories. I think that humor piece I published was written this year. I've also stepped up coming up with daily ideas for writing projects, many of them short form. Otherwise, this first quarter has been spent primarily on Goals 1 and 2.

Objectives:

  • Commit a month or two to flash writing. I was happy with how that worked this past year. That has happened...yet.
  • Look for more on-line writing classes/workshops. I've taken two very good workshops.
  • Commit more time to reading essays and short stories. Have not done much of this.
  • Tinker with the 365 Story Project. Haven't touched it.

Plan for next quarter:

I'm planning to commit the summer, which starts in June, the third month of the next quarter, to short-form writing and submitting. The workshops I took were very generative, and during them I started revising old projects that I can continue in the summer.

Goal 4. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

Objectives: 
  • Provide social media support for writers/bloggers generating diversity material.They are part of the monthly new book posts I do.
  • Pay more attention to community events like Multi-Cultural Children's Book Day; plan ahead for reading to support these events. I started strong with this, but fell down on Women's History Month.
  • Continue the monthly childlit book release posts Doing that.
  • Attend virtual book launches and promote here. I have done that.
  • Continue with Original Content. You're seeing that.
  • Continue with promoting Original Content at Facebook communities, Goodreads' blog, and Twitter. Doing that.
  • Get into the habit of checking my monthly plans in my bullet journal. I actually am doing this. I'm surprised, too.
  • Check-in with goals and objectives quarterly. I'd say "monthly" but that was an objective for last year that I didn't touch. You're looking at it.

Okay, so now I know what I've done, and I know what I'm going to do. How about you?

Monday, March 29, 2021

March Childlit Book Releases

Here are the March childlit book releases I've seen here and there on social media these past few weeks.

 

March 1 Spi-ku, Leslie Bulion, Robert Meganck illustrations, Peachtree



 

 

 

 

 


 March 2 Codebreaker, Laurie Wallmark, Brooke Smart illustrations, Abrams

 

 

 

 


March 2, She Persisted: Sally Ride, Atia Abawi and Chelsea Clinton, Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint illustrations, Philomel/Penguin Random House

 

 

 

 

 


March 2, Red Rover, Christopher Krovatin, Scholastic

 

 

 

 

 

March 2, Monster Blood Is Back, R.L. Stine, Scholastic 

 

 

 

 

 

 


March 2, Wild River, Rodman Philbrick, Scholastic

 

 

 

 

 

March 2, Allergic, Megan Wagner Lloyd, Graphix/Scholastic







March 2, National Parks Maps, Abby Leighton, Gibbs Smith

 

 

 

 

 

March 2, Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom, Matthew Swanson, Robbi Behr illustrations, Knopf/Penguin Random House

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, Bear Outside, Jane Yolen, Jen Corace illustrations, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House

 

 

 

 

 

March 9 Violet and the Pie of Life, Debra Green, Holiday House

 

 

 

 

 


March 9 Amber and Clay, Laura Amy Schlitz, Julia Iredale, Candlewick

 

 

 

 

 

March 9 Amina's Song, Hena Khan, Simon & Schuster

 

 

 

 

 


March 9 The Wild Huntsboys, Martin Stewart, Viking/Penguin Random House






March 15 Carmen and the House that Gaudi Built, Susan Hughes, Marianne Ferrer illustrator, Owl Kids

 

 

 

 


March 15 Finish Strong: Seven Continents, Seven Marathons, Seven Days, Dave McGillivray, Nancy Feehrer, Hui Li illustrations, Nomad Press 

 

 

 

 

 

March 23 Rivals, Tommy Greenwald, Amulet/Abrams

 

 

 

 

 

 


March 23 The Little Library, Margaret McNamara, G. Brian Karas illustrations, Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House 

 

 

 

 

 

March 30 Watercress, Andrea Y. Yang, Jason Chin illustrations, Neal Porter/Holiday House

Friday, March 26, 2021

Dr. Soice

This morning I was looking for some information on The Cat in the Hat, when I came upon someone who claimed that Dr. Seuss's name is not pronounced Soose but Soice. So I did some googling, because that is how we learn the truth, and found a couple of articles that agreed with that, including this one at Slate.

Now, this story is particularly interesting to me, because my husband's grandmother grew up in the Springfield, Massachusetts area, as did Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. Her family knew the Geisel family through, I believe, some sort of German community club. Namo didn't actually remember young Theodor, though she remembered his sister. 

My mother-in-law, her daughter, mentioned a couple of times that Seuss was pronounced Soice, not Soose, but I ignored her! Because what red-blooded woman doesn't ignore her mother-in-law?

Sorry, Ruthie. Easter flowers will be arriving next week.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

My Medium Year

Last year I got serious about humor, and I finally started experimenting with publishing at Medium

By humor I mean short, funny pieces that function as...humor. I'm not talking humorous short stories or humorous essays or humorous children's books. Or screenplays or plays or any other kind of humor. I'd been thinking about dipping into humor for a while. I was undeterred by the pandemic, which many people do not find funny at all, because I am very goal-oriented. While writing humor wasn't an actual goal or objective for 2020, short-form writing was. In fact, one of my humor pieces from last year came out of a flash fiction workshop I took last summer.

One of the issues with humor writing is where to publish it. Not every publication wants that sort of thing. In looking for places to publish, Medium, which I'd heard of before, kept coming up. 

Unfortunately, in the past I'd had trouble understanding what Medium is. So I combined my humor/short-form writing interest with experimenting with Medium.

What Is Medium?

When I first started hearing about Medium, I thought it was a publication, an on-line magazine. I understand publications/magazines/journals. I kept trying to think of it that way and wondered how writers would submit work to it.

However, Medium isn't one publication. Medium is a publishing platform where anyone can publish in a number of different ways. A medium is a method of dispersing information, which might explain the name. I find it helpful to think of Medium as a publishing world, the way there is a traditional New York City publishing world and an academic publishing world. Like publications, I understand those things. Medium's publishing world is just on-line. I may be totally wrong in that thinking, but I find it helpful, nonetheless.

The Most Basic Way Of Publishing On Medium

The simplest way to publish on Medium is to just write something and publish it there. That's how I began my Medium experiment.

  • I had to create an account, which was free.
  • You publish by placing your piece of writing into Medium's format/template. This took a little effort on my part, but many things in life are difficult until you know how to do them. 
  • I needed an illustration. Medium provides suggestions for places to go for free photos, but in this case, I took my own. I found fitting the photo in correctly difficult, but, as you all know, I have an in-house computer guy. He worked it out for me.
  • On May 25, 2020, I published Well, How Many Masks Have You Made? directly on the Medium platform. 

I would describe this level of publishing on Medium as the equivalent of self-publishing, and it has the same drawback that self-publishing is famous for--it's difficult to get attention for your work. There are supposed to be over a million new articles posted on Medium every month. That's a lot of competition. Publishing on Medium like this may mean that the only people who will know about this article are those I reached with Twitter and Facebook notifications or through this blog. 

Another Level of Publishing On Medium

Remember how I originally thought Medium was, itself, a publication? Instead it is a publishing world (platform) that contains many publications that individuals have started and maintained. In 2019 there were supposed to be over 8,000 of them. Some traditional publications have created an on-line presence on Medium. But so have individuals. I could have created a publication on Medium for my humor writing. Instead, I decided to submit to humor publications already existing on Medium. There are quite a few of them. 

  • My impression of the publications on Medium is that some are quite selective in what they accept and some may be less so. Some are very focused on one theme. Some seem to be interested in specific styles. As with any other kind of submission, you need to spend time reading publications before you spend time submitting. And there are a great many on Medium.
  • With most Medium publications I've dealt with, you submit by placing your writing in the Medium format/template (see above) and saving it as a draft. You send a link to the draft with your e-mail submission to the publication editors.
  • If your work is accepted, the editors will notify you and add you as a writer for their publication. You'll find that notification in a drop box on your draft page, and you can then publish directly to that publication. 
  • At the end of last year, a Medium humor publication accepted one of my pieces, and on Dec. 2, 2020, I published Dear Pastor Bill at The Haven. (Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels)

The benefit of publishing on a Medium publication is getting attention for your work. The publications already have a following, so your writing will be seen by more than just your own friends and followers. Additionally the publication will do some promotion at places like Twitter. And you now have another publication credit. For the immediate future, I don't plan to publish directly to Medium myself again but to submit to Medium publications.

The Payment Level

Yes, you can earn some money publishing on Medium. I shouldn't describe this as another level of publication there. I could have joined its payment system right away. However, as I said earlier, I found the Medium publishing world a bit complex, so I began by doing just one thing at a time. There's no reason anyone has to do that. You can sign up for the Medium Partner program immediately.

How you make money on Medium:

  • Anyone can read a limited number of Medium articles each month.
  • For $5 a month, you can become a member and have unlimited access to articles. By the way, if you're interested in publishing on Medium in some way, I'd suggest becoming a member so you can spend plenty of time checking out publications and see what other writers are dong there.
  • When  fee-paying members read your story, a tiny portion of their monthly fee goes to you, the writer. Payment is based on readership. You don't get a flat fee.
  • You need to join the Medium Partner program to generate these payments. If you just publish there, as I did with my first two humor pieces, you get no payment. You still gain the opportunity to put your writing out in front of people and try to generate an audience, but no money. 
  • It took me an hour or two to sign up for the Medium partner program, because I am slow. As part of joining, I also had to join Stripe, a company for processing payment on the Internet. It appears to be a middle man between Medium and its writer/partners. 
  • You will also need to give Stripe access to a bank account that it can deposit your payments into. This could be a source of anxiety for some people. It certainly would have been for me, except I happen to already have a dedicated account for receiving writing-related payments. Hurray! 
  • I was a member of Medium's partner program by the time I submitted my third humor piece to a publication. On Feb. 2, 2021, I published  My Child Doesn't Watch You Tube And Yours Shouldn't, Either at Frazzled. (Another one of my photos. Yeah, that's my living room.)
  • I also placed my two earlier pieces in the partner program.

Okay, admit it. You want to know how much money I've made, don't you? I believe it was $2.61! I don't know if that was all earned by the most recent published piece or from all of them. 

Is The Experiment Over?

 

No. Though I have read that there are writers making money on Medium, certainly more than $2.61, my interest in publishing there is to find and build an audience for my humor--and perhaps other kinds of adult--writing. I attended a virtual book launch recently for Fast Funny Women, edited by Gina Barreca. Barreca said, "Finding your audience means being promiscuous with your work." (I'm going to be repeating that quote regularly this year.) I'm going to try to do that on Medium.
 
So the next phase of my Medium experiment will involve finding and broadening my audience and then trying to move out beyond Medium with my work.
 
Initially, I will be:
  • Writing more humor that I can then submit
  • Researching humor sites and humor writers on Medium and following them in order to keep up on what's happening at the sites and with what the humor writers are doing with their work.
  • Researching other Medium publications where I might submit other kinds of short-form writing.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

It's International La Francophonie Day, Mes Amis


Oui, aujourd'hui c'est
International Francophonie Day, celebrating the French language. It does not appear to be a major event here in the U.S.. Ne vous inquietez pas! You can observe the day here at Original Content.

A French Language TV Show

Perhaps you are familiar with the French TV show Lupin, which is available in this country on Netflix in its original language with English subtitles? It's about a contemporary gentleman thief who was inspired to go into the business because as a child he was a fan of the early twentieth century books by Maurice Leblanc about  Arsene Lupin, a gentleman thief. So the main character in the TV show isn't actually Lupin, he is inspired by Lupin. He is Lupin-like.

My guess is that the character Lupin is so well known in France that using his name in the title of a TV show is meaningful for French viewers. Like using the name Sherlock (to whom I've seen him compared) in an English language show is meaningful to English and American viewers. I am patiently waiting for the second series to drop on Netflix. The first one ended on a major cliff-hanger.

A French Language Children's Book?

Snippets of Paris, a site about life in France, lists the Arsene Lupin series as one of the 12 Best French Children's Books to learn French. It describes them as being for school age children with an intermediate French vocabulary. I found French editions of the books (Not at the link included at Snippets of Paris, though. Those books are in English.), and a quick look into one of them indicates that my French is not on the level of a school age child with an intermediate French vocabulary. Not even close. I will have to stick to watching the series in French while reading the subtitles and patting myself on the back whenever I recognize something. 

Also, I suspect the Arsene Lupin books aren't actually children's books, but adult books that children read, similar to the Sherlock Holmes books. But since I haven't read them, that's just a guess.

More Books With French Language Connections

Last year I was more ambitious and celebrated La Francophonie Week with four posts.

A Break From Angst To Celebrate La Francophine Day

La Francophonie Day: Manon Gauthier 
 
La Francophinie Day: Who Left The Light On? 
 
La Francophonie Day: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: Mom Writers

Since reading that Ursula LeGuin once referred to herself as a middle-aged Portland housewife, I've been thinking about housewife writers. I will need to think about that some
more. 

But today I stumbled upon something that got me thinking about mom writers, which is like a housewife writer but also different. Are You a Mom Writer Thinking of Quitting? Read This First at Jane Friedman was a bit of a blast from my past. Guest writer Denise Massar's description of what she went through getting published while working as a full-time mom was different from my experience in that I was submitting directly to editors instead of agents (this was a long time ago), but on the other hand, the whipping back and forth between jobs/lives is very much the same.

Massar says,"Mom writers are wired to succeed at writing (and querying) because we can multitask like no other. We can switch gears in an instant." I can't agree with her first line, since I don't believe multi-tasking is an actual thing. However, that switching gears business is a whiplash inducing reality.

It Doesn't Get Any Better After You Start Publishing

Massar's description of submitting to agents prior to publishing books is very accurate. It is a job all by itself. As I said, I wasn't doing that during my high mother years. That came much later, after my career took a hit with the 2008 economic crisis, at which point I was dealing with eldercare, not childcare. The point where I considered throwing in the towel with writing came earlier, after I'd had a couple of books published. That was when I had two children in elementary and then middle school and was writing draft after draft of new books, swinging from one kind of work situation to another, depending on whether I had publishing deadlines to meet or was struggling to come up with ways to promote a new book or the books I already had in print. I also had periods when I was working up school presentations, which functioned, in part, to promote my books, but which needed to be promoted themselves. With writing, everything, absolutely everything, has to be promoted. (I will be promoting this blog post.)

I believe I actually said out loud to my husband that I needed to quit writing, because I wasn't doing a good enough job with it or the kids. I wanted to be better than that. I didn't quit, however. I don't remember what actually happened, though I am pretty persistent and obsessive and that may have been all it was. Then, of course, the kids grew up. And then the deadlines and promotional concerns dried up. It all took care of itself!

How Different Is The Mom Writer's Situation From That Of Other Writers?

I am, and it sounds as if Denise Massar was, talking about those women writers whose day job is...ah...momming, I guess we'll call it. But a great many women writers are momming while holding down entirely different day jobs. They're doing three jobs. I can't even touch what that life must be like for them. Are they mom writers? Are they doctor writers? Are they professor writers? Shop keeper writers, librarian writers, farmer writers? If I was struggling to switch gears in an instant, what are they doing?

What about dad writers?  Are things that different for them? Arguably you could say they were in the past, because society expected more of mothers than it did of fathers. But I don't know if that's the case, anymore. I'm seeing dads at home with kids, dads taking kids to doctors, dads taking kids to activities, dads taking time off from income producing jobs to stay home with sick kids. 

Certainly it can't be much different for dad writers who are the primary caregiver in the home. How many writing men planning to write while they cared for children got the surprise of their lives when they found out how much of their time was going to go to childcare? 

For that matter, a lot of writing moms were surprised to learn that fact of life. 

What Does This Have To Do With Time Management, Gail?

 
It all gets back to how our life situations are constantly changing. How we use our time today is determined by what we need to do today, which may be different from what we need to do tomorrow or next week. And what we need to do today is determined by who are today, which may be different from who we are tomorrow or next week. Writer or tinker or tailor or soldier or spy. Or mom.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Weekend Writer: Publishing Paths

I was inspired to start The Weekend Writer feature for this blog many years ago after a high school friend contacted me for advice regarding what she should do about publishing a story she had written. She had done a little research on-line and contacted someone about publishing her work. A man called her with some kind of plan that would require her to put up some cash. He would give her a deal, but she had to make the decision right away. She wanted to know what I thought, because in order to do this, she was going to have to borrow money.

I was horrified.

I think many people come to writing with very little knowledge of what publishing is about. In days of old, the rule of thumb was that a writer never pays to publish. A writer is paid to publish. That is not the case anymore, which makes the whole publishing situation more complex even for writers with a little experience. Writers without any are definitely at risk of being taken advantage of.

Thus I am sharing a chart called The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2021-2022 by Jane Friedman. If you're just getting started writing, you don't need to read this because you should be working on writing. Don't put the cart before the horse (or use cliches). But if you think you are getting close to the point of trying to publish, study this thing as if there's going to be a test. 

Metaphorically speaking, there is.