I love Henri the Cat. (aka “the existential cat.”)
Enjoy his most recent adventure “Cat Littérature.”
and one of our favorites:
by Tamela Hancock Murray
In 1995 I watched the movie Cold Comfort Farm. A British comedy, the story was not without charm, though I wouldn’t recommend this parody of literature for everyone. Early on, Aunt Ada, who seemed to be a bit crazy, said, “I saw something nasty in the wood shed.”
Throughout the movie, I waited to find out what Aunt Ada saw. I waited. And waited. But the question was never answered, at least not for the viewer. I tried to find out if the novel solved the mystery and was unsuccessful in that quest, making me believe the book did not reveal the answer, either.
In my mind, the story broke its contract with the viewer. Since whatever Aunt Ada saw had a great effect on her, I think the nasty something should have been revealed.
Apparently I am not alone. Even now, the Internet is rife with posts about the mystery.[ Read More → ]
by Karen Ball
I was just talking with a client the other day about the writing life. She’d struggled with getting started on her novel. Then, once she started, she said it was as though she couldn’t keep her backside in the chair. Everything else caught her attention: laundry, dishes, kids, dogs, yard work, and on and on. And when she finally managed to write most of the book, there was that darned ending! She’d written and rewritten and rewritten it again. What’s more, she was about to rewrite one more time!
“Am I the only one who struggles with all this? Does anyone else?”
After I snorted my coffee—and then cleaned up—I told her the bald truth: “Only everyone.”
Okay, maybe not every writer struggles with these things. But more writers do than don’t. It’s SO much easier to do…well, anything…than to stay focused on writing. It’s not that we don’t love what we do. Of course we love it. But it’s just so hard! And getting immersed enough in the story to stay immersed can be a real battle. So what’s a writer to do?
Well, use the different level of focus, for one thing.
I’m firmly ensconced in the camp of writers that has trouble starting, continuing, and ending well. Which is what got me focused on focus to begin with. And here’s what I’ve found. It helps a great deal to start out with mountaintop focus. How? By looking at the whole picture, I can then break it down to bite-sized pieces. And breaking things down into bite-sized pieces engages my love of puzzles and my desire to “fix” things, which gets me fully engaged. I do this as often every week, or as little as once a month, depending on how the writing is going. Any time I realize I’m out of the chair more than I’m in it, I take a day to do an overview—mountaintop focus–of the book. I consider the following:[ Read More → ]
Happy 8th Birthday to YouTube – Yesterday was the day. Who could have ever imagined? (It also happened to be my daughter’s birthday. Happy Birthday Fiona.)
Stephen King Delays E-Book! – In an effort to support physical bookstores he has delayed the ebook edition of his newest release.
The Anatomy of a One-Sheet – Barbara NcNichol provides a simple explanation that you can use to help promote your book idea for speaking and to the media.
A Free Membership to CopyBlogger – Access to 13 major articles and a 20 part video series on how to write good copy. This is where sales are made, in the back cover copy, in the one-sheet copy, and on your web site.
5 Reasons Why Libraries Will Fail – First published in 1864.
Tsundoku – Your word for the day. Expand your vocabulary with this one illustrated below… Books purchased but left unread. Even Goodreads has an entire bookshelf of popular tsundoku titles.[ Read More → ]
by Steve Laube
I thought it might be fun to write a series that addresses some of the basic terms that define our industry. The perfect place to start, of course, is the letter “A.” And even better to start with the word “Agent.”
If you are a writer, you’ve got it easy. When you say you are a writer your audience lights up because they know what that means. (Their perception is that you sit around all day thinking profound thoughts. And that you are rich.)
If you are an editor, you got it sort of easy. Your audience knows you work with words and all you do is sit around and read all day. In my editorial days I was often told, “I’d love to have your job.”
But tell someone you are an agent and there is a blink and a pause. If they don’t know the publishing industry they think “insurance agent” or “real estate agent” or “secret agent.” Or if they follow sports or entertainment they think “sleazy liar who makes deals and talks on the phone all day.” I resent people thinking that I talk on the phone all day. (Hah!)
Even at a writers conference I always have someone ask, “What is it that you do?”
An agent works on commission. Fifteen percent of the money earned in a contract they have sold to a publisher on behalf of a writer. I will be bold to say that any prospective agent who asks you for money up front is someone you should stay away from.
This is the category that most people focus on when defining the role of the agent. But it is only one small facet of what we do. Two months ago I published a list of the activities our agency had recently done as a way to help dispel the myth that we are only deal makers. It is how we earn our living but only a small part of our work.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a crucial part of what we do. Our contract negotiations are critical to the long-term health of the publishing/author relationship. Last Fall I taught a course at a conference called “Landmines in Your Book Contract.” Each time I read one from an “offending” contract there were gasps in the room. There is a good reason to have a professional review any book contract you are ready to sign.[ Read More → ]
This simply made me laugh. Ever had a roommate like this in school?
Watch is a second time and look at the others in the room!
by Tamela Hancock Murray
Do you like stories with unsure endings? Where you don’t know if the main characters will live happily ever after?
I am a reader who doesn’t like open endings, probably because I enjoy novels that are heavy on romance and I like to know the couple can expect a happily-ever-after. My personal preference is for a novel that doesn’t beg for a sequel for the protagonist.
A Satisfying End?
Gone with the Wind ended with Scarlett O’Hara saying that tomorrow is another day. Because we had spent considerable time with Scarlett — 1200 pages, in fact, we knew that Scarlett would get her way. Somehow. Because she was Scarlett. So while in the most technical of terms, Margaret Mitchell left us with an open ending, it was still satisfying enough. Except that later, some felt the story did beg for a sequel. The sequel was panned in most quarters.[ Read More → ]
Eight Current Literary Lawsuits – Read the paragraph story about each one. May give you something to talk about at your next writer’s gathering.
You Get Great Reviews but Few Sales – An analysis of a common problem for authors. I know of an author with over 100 Five Star reviews on Amazon but less than 2,500 books sold.
Are All Book Covers Created Equal? – See what a bunch of sixth graders said when asked the question.
Cryptomnesia makes us accidental plagiarists – This article should scare you a little. This afternoon I showed a friend a new novel by a client, the friend declared, “I just read a novel with that premise last week!” Yikes!
You’ve Been Saying It Wrong (11 Famous Quotes That Have Changed Over Time) – I loved this article. Consider having a know-it-all character in your story correcting everyone around them with the “right” version. But the problem with that idea is the previous link in this post. If two of you use the idea then we’d have a problem![ Read More → ]
by Steve Laube
Sometimes it is helpful to review publishing terms to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.
The cover of a book invariably will state the author’s name. Every once in a while there are two or more names listed (i.e. Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee). The use of “and” or “with” is the code word that tells the reader what type of professional relationship is between these names on the cover when it comes to how the book was written. Each is a “collaboration” but are not identical.
If the names are connected by an “And” they are co-authors. Each with top-billing. They have worked hard to create a book something that reflects both of their perspectives on the topic.
The cover to the right is a book from two of our clients coming out in December by Ellie Kay and Danna Demetre called Lean Body Fat Wallet: Discover the Powerful Connection to Help You Lose Weight, Dump Debt, and Save Money. They worked together to approach two rather different topics (wellness and finances) and put them under one umbrella of a book on general health and wealth. If you look carefully you will note that it lists Ellie AND Danna.[ Read More → ]
Happy Mother’s Day!
For Mothers around the world who taught their children the love of books. Like mine.
I love you Mom.
But I promise NOT to buy you an e-reader.[ Read More → ]