To B, or not to B: that is the question…

I know lately I’ve drawn a lot on here.  It’s been fun but here is a normal blog post… boring I know, but I still needed to do it. 😀 (FYI ~ I couldn’t help myself there’s a funny at the end.)

This is the back and forth topic that a lot of us are now being forced to choose.  The first choice we have is do we self-publish or not.   That is an entire different blog post that many authors have done, and a choice that only you can make on your own.  But if you’ve made up your mind to self-pub, here is the second choice and a new question… Do we go with the $.99 book that Kindle is offering us?  We all keep hearing the rags to riches stories.  And, although we know our work is good, we are also aware that there is only one JK Rowling out there and unfortunately it’s not us. (Ms. J.K. Rowling, if you are actually reading this, please give me a shout out. 🙂 <– Shameless promotion, mixed with wishful thinking.)

To get back on track, I’m going to list the perks and the downs. Yes, another pros and cons list by yours truly. This one is about the 99 cent books which are becoming labeled B books –just like the old B movies.  I shall start positive with the perks.

The pros…

1. Your book will sale. There is truth to it.  People don’t mind wasting a buck on a book when a latte’ costs 4 to 5 times as much.

2. You will make a profit — IF you did it all yourself.  You still might make a profit if you hired an editor, which, no matter what, you should do everything you can to be properly edited, even when it costs 30 to 45 cents a word!

3. Well, there is no three I just felt there should be at least one more…

The cons…

1. You will be labeled as a B author. That is not “you might,” you WILL be labeled.  The truth of the matter is we do not yet know in 20 years if that will matter, but we know right now it’s not a great thing.  If you are planning on NEVER going traditional or you think only snobs will care and bookstores are dead… then being labeled doesn’t matter one bit to you… which is great! Go for it!

2. Traditional publishing is not dead, it’s just a little sick and chances are it will recover. There will be changes but it will recover.  The only indie movement we have to compare this new one to is the one the music world faced years ago.  Music labels and big companies didn’t die, they just changed.  By stating this I’m saying we shouldn’t place all our eggs in either basket.  I think there is going to be a meeting ground.  Why is this a con when we can just about guarantee that self-pubs are here to stay too, you might ask. The reason is we know that self-publishing will not dirty an author’s name, but we have no idea yet if being a “B” author will.  If, by some unforeseen event, the entire self-pub dies out, and one is labeled a “B” author, traditional pubs are less likely to tarnish their name by publishing a “B” author.

3. This is going to sound very cliché, but there is nothing in the world like holding your book in your hands.  It’s very much like seeing your child for the very first time.  You love to just look at it and hold it.  After all you created that book.  I’ve held my book in e-format… not the same.

Here is a good link to read a little more… http://www.publishingebooks.blogspot.com/

Now before everyone gets mad at me for what I’ve said please read this last part.  The reason this blog is up is because for the last 3 months I have taken this topic into the deepest consideration.  I have asked myself, “How fad is it?”  “How bad would I suffer?”  But after long, hard deep, consideration I have decided that I will just keep doing what I’m doing.

Note ~ I cannot stress editing enough. Before you submit to agencies, edit. Before you self-pub, edit. Before anyone but betas read it, EDIT! Have a pro look over it and fix what you, your friends, and your family didn’t see. It is VERY worth it! Your book Your baby deserves a fair start on the selves.

Note Note ~ Yes, I broke a writing rule and used ‘you’ all over the place.  Please forgive me Mrs. Brundidge, you and Mrs. Fleming are still my fav HS teachers! (My hubby is too, but he was never my actual teacher.)

Note Note Note ~ Some people do love B movies! Just NEVER watch Worm Eaters your eyes, tummy, and mind will thank you.

My first book, The Flowers and the Flowers…

When I was 6 years old there was nothing I wanted to do more than to write.  I wrote a book called The Flowers and the Flowers.  It was all about flowers.  We were living with my grandparents at the time.  My grandpa had a big garden in his yard.  One day I went outside with him and looked at all the lovely flowers.  He told me all of their really long names and I got a little overwhelmed.  I told my grandpa that I was going to write a book for him about flowers.  He told me that as long as I didn’t pick any, he would be happy with it.  I wondered back in to the house.  My grandmother gave me some typing paper, I grabbed my crayons and I went into the back of the house.  I sat on the floor at the foot of the bed in the pink bedroom while my mother unpacked and I enjoyed writing and drawing.  When I was done I told my mother that I was going to be a ‘book writer’, I was corrected and told ‘author.’  I didn’t like the name out of fear of someone thinking I was changing my name to Arthur.  I called it a ‘book writer’ for many years before I would finally say, “I want to be an author.”  Looking back on it now, I think that everyone thought I just liked the flowers, and although I thought they were nice, I just wanted to write a book.

Skipping ahead now to when I was 10-11, a few friends and I decided to write a sequel to Stand By Me (the movie).  I didn’t know about laws, copyrights, and such at that age. We worked on the outline together and I was supposed to fill in everything else (write the main story) and they were going to take turns adding to it when they read it.  Anyway, I filled about 3 note books full of writing before one of the other girls wanted to borrow it, so she could see where we were, and I never saw it again.  I was sooooooo bummed.  We were sure Hollywood and Stephen King were going to love it.  I was so very naive.

Fast-forward about 3 years. We were moving back in with my grandparents.  I was bored… very bored… So I wrote about 6-9 comic books on an art pad my Aunt Barb gave me. In truth these were funny and good.  About 9 years ago I ran across them and laughed my butt off.  I wrote them in comic book format but like a very large comic strip.  I had read several comics by 13-14 so I knew how many pages they were.  I had 5 to 6 main people in the story.  I don’t want to say too much here because if I can find them I will share them.  The art work is a little on the blah side but the main people don’t vary too much from frame to frame.  I really had fun with it.

When I was a sophomore in high school I had a teacher who was mad at me for having “Too much imagination for creative writing.”  Somehow I was skipped over when the “tell’em what you’re going to tell’em, tell’em, tell’em, tell’em, tell’em what you told’em” speech happened so I was writing stories, not papers.  When I found out the formula all was great. But I still never understood why they called the class ‘creative writing’ when it was anything but.  I wanted to be creative when I wrote and I wanted to write stories.

I’ve always wanted to be an author.  There were years upon years when negative people told me that I couldn’t, I was young and trusted them.  I stopped tell people what I wanted to be and started telling people what I was told I could do and what I was told I wanted to be.  When I was 25 my ex-husband, who was my ex-husband at the time, told me that he knew I could be an author. He said that he knew that’s what I really should be.  He wasn’t my friend, he wasn’t someone who cared about me, but he knew me, and when he said it I knew one day I would write.  I didn’t know what would finally push me, but I knew I would write.  Then with the support, love, and constant encouragement (plus treats) I get from my husband I feel I was and am strong enough to do this.

Follow your dreams and don’t let anyone hold you back.  If you want it bad enough you will find away.  There are armless artists who use their feet or mouth to paint and draw, there’re dyslexic and autistic writers, there are one armed mountain climbers, and if no one else in this world has faith in you, I do.  If we can fly in the air, survive underwater, and be shot into orbit, your dreams might one day be a reality.  The only people I don’t have faith in are the bullies; the ones that bring us down so they can feel better and stronger.  I pray for them to grow past who they are, but experience has taught me too, I have no faith in them.

BUY MY BOOK…

The picture of the book is a 'Buy My Book' button!This is not an advertisement, but it is… oh just read on.  M.J. Rose pointed out the other day on FaceBook something that has been bugging me since before I started down this road.  She pointed out that most authors don’t have a ‘Buy My Book’ button in their home page, or at least not one that is easy to find.  I agree this should be one of the very first things we see on an author’s page.  The potential customer should not have to scroll, hunt, or not find the button.  My webpage (which is getting a little facelift soon) has it right there in your face BOOM!  But here on my blog… one has to look.  So I’m going to change that, I am going to have a big, at the top, in your face, BOOM, right there, button… it may or may not help but hey, it’s worth it.
Anyone who wants me to look at their site to see how long it takes me to find their link and what problems (if any) I have getting there, I will gladly help out.  That is what we are all here for.

Note ~ this is not the big thing I’m working on, or one of the little things, this is just a thing thing.

Characters, my favorite part of the book…

Characters make the story, at least for me they do.  Everyone comes up with different ways to write them. Sometimes they are like Frankenstein’s monster with their bits and pieces from old friends, a cluster of flaws from people we know to make a neurotic creature, or maybe we borrowed little morsels of cuteness from a few crushes of the past to make our dream love come to life.  No matter how they’re made though they have to start with something, some idea of what’s needed, what makes them tick?  It’s the author’s job to know that and work it all out.

I love dark hair with blue eyes.  I think it’s dreamy.  My husband has near black hair and sky blue eyes.  I love his eye color.  Anyway, I’ve found that I wrote a book with way too many ‘good looking’ people.  My biggest villain, dark hair with blue eyes, my other villain, dark hair with blue eyes, my hero, longer dark hair with blue eyes, one of my main ladies, dark hair with blue eyes.  I’m going to have to give one or two of them brown eyes.

This got me wondering about how everyone else sits down to make their characters.  I feel that this is one of my biggest strong points in a story.  I’m bad at scenery, but great at the ‘people’.  I start with my idea. Then I draw (a poor sketch): One of a close up and one of them standing.  They are either standing next to a ruler or a tree to give me an idea of their height and girth.  My art could be better, but I’m an artist of words, not an artist of pictures.  On the opposite side of the paper I have a character sheet.  For those who are unfamiliar with what that is: it’s a page where info such as age, height, weight, hair color, personality flaws, rich or poor, and so on are written down.  For me the detail all depends on how important the individual is in the story, that’s how I decide how much info they are given.  For important ones I give them four to six pages and both drawings, for less important ones, two pages and one (maybe two) with very sloppy sketches, for a one time encounter just one sheet with the bone basic info.  I keep all of these in a binder just for that book. I save it, and if needed, I rewrite repeat characters from the series, put it in the folder for the next book, and write in the changes.  I use birth year and date, not age.  Ages change even with immortals so dates act best.  Also, I have found that to give them more flaws and personalities I’ll give them a little history, even if it’s not told in the book.  I feel this helps to add depth.  This is also if I ever need a little more of a reference to the individual, it’s there.  One of my characters is gay.  I don’t think it will ever come out but he just is. I need that info when I work with him so he never looks at the ladies.  Two of my characters are 1/2 brothers that are very close and one of them had a mother who was a slave, the other mother was sickly. I need this so I know why and how they both might feel in certain situations.  We never read more than one line about Mary’s sisters, but in my binder their age differences, married family, and such are written down just for reference.

I would love to hear (read) other ideas for characters and if you have any tips for landscape details, besides just visualizing, please, please, PLEASE share.

For the love of books and libraries…

Yesterday, which was a Friday the 13th and I totally missed that it was but it did not miss me, I spent the majority of my day responding/ trying to respond on this article… http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0513-tobar-20110513,0,3002882.column .  I was shocked, upset, hurt, and many other negative emotions, first to the fact that these librarians had to defend their jobs in an interrogation way, as if they were criminals, but more so to the ignorance of about half of the comments.  Most of these people very clearly did not research before they spoke, which helps proves that we do need to keep school librarians.  I know the vast majority don’t live in CA and most of them don’t know what life is like here.  This would be true for me if we were to talk about Minnesota, the state my husband was born, I know very little about this state.  I’m going to try my best to paint a picture of what we have here in CA and give you, the reader, the ability to investigate all that I say here.
I am just going to state facts here, no opinion.  I want to point out four major things that people were saying: the amount high school librarians make, use of CA public libraries, school librarians are teachers, and students with computers.
I live in South CA or So Cal if you want to call it that. I live in Kern County, not in LA or the LA area. My husband is a high school librarian for a lower income school and I used to work for the public library. The first thing CA cuts when they cut the budget are the parks, the second is the public libraries.  So when people say the kids can use the public libraries, well, that would be hard since they are hardly open.  Most are now only open about two days a week and that’s during school and working hours. Please look it up at Kern County Library. org.  Keep in mind that we have a big county too, so it might seem like we have a lot of libraries but some of the libraries are over an hours drive to the next nearest library and some are as close as a 15 minute drive apart.
Because a lot of the students here in Kern County, and most of South California, are from lower income families a large number of these kids don’t have the internet or a computer at home. The school library or their computer room (which is often attached to the library) is their only hope to research on the web.  And the school librarian is the person who teaches them how and what sites are good and true and what are not.
One person started that school librarians are ‘not teachers’ and that they were trying to take the jobs away from ‘real teachers.’  A high school and middle school librarian has to have a teaching credential first, and most of them have spent many years in the classroom before becoming the school librarian.  Also as the school librarian they are the ‘go to’ person when there is a need for an emergency substitute.  Not only do they have to know the standards for libraries (yes, standards: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/lb/), but also be aware of all the rest of the curriculum for the school to have supporting books, know when new textbooks are to be adopted, keep up on resources for the classrooms, new technology for library and classroom, and constantly collaborate with teachers on lesson plans for use in the library or just to help the teacher on a lesson plan for the day since the classroom teacher sometimes can not think of something., this happens often with new teachers.
Finally, your typical school librarian makes about what the teachers do, around $47,000 – $70,000. BUT it takes about $10,000 – $15,000 to get the extra education for the librarian credential.  Look into it at Fresno Pacific University.  District librarians, which are not near as common, make near what an administrator makes and they have to have an administrative credential as well as the teaching credential and a librarian credential.
A little opinion here ~ Researching will help you find your answers.  Most school librarians are also technology teachers and show students how to surf the web for research, what is a safe site and what is not, they teach the incoming freshmen the functions of the library, along with much more.  My husband had to make a list of all his duties this year and that list was two full pages typed.  Just please, if you want to debate this, please, just do your research.
Now I know this is going to sound like a bit much, but I have two aunts who teach (one just retired but is now a sub and the other is retiring at the end of this year), I have a mother who (although we are not close) is also a high school librarian, I have a grandpa who is a retired superintendent /principle /teacher, an aunt-in-law who is an assistant superintendent, a mother-in-law who teaches 2nd grade, and a cousin-in-law who teaches kindergarten. All of them are in California, most in So.Cal; one is in the LA area and one is in central/ north CA. I know a lot of aspects in this topic, and most first hand.

Big opinion ~ One other thing I kept seeing in the comments was people discussing administrators.  Now from all that I have witnessed is that when it comes to admin taking a cut the entire district takes a cut of the same percent (example ~ admin 8%, teachers 8%, janitors 8% and so on).  At my aunts school the entire staff was forced to take a 10% cut so no one would be fired.  In my aunt-in-law’s school they all took a 5% cut for the same reason.  So when people say, ‘Admin has been cut over and over.’  This is not true.  Now I understand that schools need to be run and I’m not saying, ‘fire the lot of them.’ I am saying that schools who have two vice principles and one principle might want to cut down to one V.P. as people retire or move on. And districts that are one to two schools big might want to think about having the superintendent act as both principal and superintendent for at least one of the schools. Or, another idea, all vice principles could be cut so they make only $10,000 more then a teacher with the same number of years under their belts (example ~ Teacher works 15 years and makes $50,000 a Vice Principle at the same district works 15 years and makes $60,000).  I do feel that admin does seem to make a lot more then they should and I have witnessed them, in the past, getting a 10% raise while the teachers get a 2%. I just don’t feel that most of them should get the sack.
Here is a new link at what the admin makes in the same district that is letting all the librarians go. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/05/high-level-salaries-approved-for-new-top-administrators-at-cash-strapped-la-unified.html I take that back, maybe some of them should get sacked.

For the love of books…

Grumble *blanked blank blank* stupid morons…
“Reading is not standard based” according to what my husband was told by his work and the high school library is hurting gravely because of it.
Question ~ How can one READ the standards if one cannot read at all?
The reading programs gone, the library is a shell of it’s former self. A tumble weed passes as dust swirls behind it from a gust of wind that leaves an empty ringing in ones ears. Hey, how did a tumble weed get in the library? Oh yeah, it was let in from the door of imagination. A door that is being slammed shut by administrators, budget cuts, and ignorant people who think reading is a waste of time. If we don’t allow reading in schools, what next, do we take away water from drinking fountains? That’s right I forgot to mention that part. The English teachers are not allowed (NOT ALLOWED) to let the kids have 15 minutes a day of reading time, that was taken away too. So there are no reading books in school, and this time it’s not because they are replaced with e-readers, it’s because reading isn’t part of their education. If this keeps going on, I picture in 10 years the books being removed from their dusty, cobwebbed shelves, with brittle, weak, unloved spines that break as they are heaved into a disgusting, filthy dumpster. Where, written on the outside of the dumpster, well, more drawn, are pictures scribbled in graffiti by former students whose education took the same turn as those poor books… the dumpster. My poor husband has fought to the point of fear of losing his job, something no one can afford. Soon the goose step will be the only step these teachers are allowed to make, come on America, this is not Hitler Germany, books are great things and children should be encouraged to read them and the more the better, not shot down for it. There should be something we can do to save our books, our libraries, our schools, and most importantly, our children’s education.

*** Additional 5/06/2011 at 3:24 pst~ I had almost forgotten one other thing they did regarding the textbooks and reading books. Last year the English teachers were teaching with Springboard (link-> http://springboardprogram.collegeboard.org/?s_kwcid=TC|7002|springboard||S|e|6822379724 ).  This wonderful program allowed teachers to have the students read excerpts from a very large variety of novels, news articles, and also watch clips of movies. Oh, and did I mention that these books were free and consumable so the kids could write notes and such in them? They were free on a grant from Paramount Farms (link – http://www.paramountfarms.com/#perfectgrowing ).Paramount is awesome, they love helping education and giving scholarships, but the grant was only for Springboard and with that gone they were not going to buy the English department new textbooks. Yes, the school took away Springboard and said that it didn’t state the CA standards in it.  This meant the school needed to buy new textbooks.  This cost about $125,000 and caused an uproar. The teachers and students both don’t like the new textbooks. Little can be done here because the grant is now lost and the students and teachers are stuck.

Books for the library…

I know, my bad.  I have not blogged in over a week.  I apologize.

My husband and I were talking about books for his library.  We donate an average of a book a week during the school year.  With how little money his library gets for books now we have to.  But we don’t donate to the other libraries as often.  This came up when I told him that I was going to donate Something Greater Than Fear by Christy Condoleo to my youngest daughter’s school.  We decided that this year, once a month, we will give one new book to either the public library or my daughter’s school library.  So in January we will be giving Something Greater Than Fear to her school, but I’m undecided for February.
I will pick lesser known books by lesser known authors.  This means I wouldn’t give books by J.K. Rowlings, S. King, S. Meyer, or anyone that I know the library has already.  I’ll be picking books from authors that are just getting a start or need a little boost.  I will pick some that I have read and some that I haven’t.  I’ll choose some that are requested by friends, followers on twitter, in my blog comments, my children, my husband, and some that I just like.  Twelve books a year are not a lot but if we all helped out our local libraries it will make a big deference.  I know that the people who read my blog are readers and writers so I’m aware that most already help out with their local reading circles.
Please, if you have any requests you can ask here or let me know on twitter.  The books I donate will be new and if possible hardback so they can survive the constant wear and tear of a full-blown circulated library workout.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Christy’s new book here is a link. http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/something-greater-than-fear/7968097   The art is lovely, the story is great, and it’s perfect for 3 to 6 year olds, boys and girls, mice lovers and owl lovers.  Great job Christy!

I also wanted to give a shout out to another person.  There is a friend I follow on Twitter and I read her blog.  She is as sweet and as friendly as a person can be.  Every Tuesday she makes a post on her blog about a different author.  I was honored and very flattered that I was one of the lucky ones she picked.  Thank you Heather!  She is working on getting published and getting her name out there, two of the hardest and most challenging things to do.  Here is a link to her blog http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/ .  She’s wonderful.