April 2007

…and then there’s agents.

This article by an agent makes a very good point: you don’t want just anyone mucking about with your livelihood. Just as you would check out someone who’s going to do brain surgery on you or deliver your baby, you should check out the qualifications of a literary agent. Why?

Well, go read the article (including the links she gives off of it) then if you still don’t understand come on back and we can talk about it.

One thing that checking up on someone you are taking on as a business partner (which is what an agent is…if you don’t win, they don’t either) is that it makes you look more professional. Approaching someone and not knowing what they prefer to work on wastes both of your time. Besides, if you find that they sell what you write, it’s much more likely that they’ll be enthusiastic about working with you. And if you love the books they have sold, you’ll be enthusiastic about working with them too.


Still haven’t come up with a witty headline. Any ideas?

Appointments: 2

Researched: Child abuse statistics. Got triggered a bit by it, and by writing a post about the subject on another blog today. If you know what triggering means then you know what it means. I don’t write about the stuff I write about out of nowhere, and neither should you.

Accomplishments: Some partials this week: partly filled the planter (I’m out of shape, which sucks); almost finished editing Clan Twelve (got a nice pass done this week, though).

High point of the week: Had a leak in my koi pond. Called the company that put the pond in, they said they’d be by in a day or two and fix it. No one knocked or called for three days. So I went out today to check on the pond, thinking I’d have to refill it yet again … and it was fixed, just like that. I was blown away. Garden Ponds Unlimited, best customer service ever.

Bad thing: My daughter was just diagnosed with a chronic illness. It runs in the family. Hopefully the treatment can get it under control.

The High Life: um, yeah. I’ll get back to you on that.

I love writing; it’s just life I can’t stand.

A potentially habitable planet outside our solar system.

In honor of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, I’m happy to present:

RoboLand by P. L. Logan

“What seems to be the trouble?”

“It’s Sarah. Our RoboMom went in for its five-year maintenance and she just lies there and cries. She won’t eat, can’t sleep. I tried to go in and hold her but she said it wasn’t the same…she said she wants her Mommy. But I’m her mother!” The woman broke down. “Everyone said this was best for her development, that I could have my career and a child too. I’m the CEO of a multinational corporation…but my daughter thinks a machine is her mother!”

He nodded, his tone comforting. “Sometimes children become confused. It’s normal. Just tell her that Mommy will be home soon, as soon as she gets well.”

“You want me to lie?”

“Not at all. When are you picking it up from the shop?”

“Tomorrow. But I’m not sure if I want that thing in my house anymore.”

“But why not? This only proves your child is getting all the love and care she needs. Otherwise, she wouldn’t react so strongly to the RoboMom’s absence.” He patted her hand across the desk. “Just think if you hadn’t gotten one. All the hours you’ve been gone, the times you’ve missed in her life. She would be a nervous wreck by now.

“In the olden days, people sent their children from stranger to stranger and paid for it! Who knows what disease or abnormal behaviors children got from those people? That’s one reason there was so much strife back then. Now you can rest assured that your child is in good hands. And when RoboMom is back tomorrow, things will get better, you’ll see.”

The woman nodded. “Okay.” She smiled at him. “Thanks for listening.”

“My pleasure, ma’am.” He turned as she left and downloaded their exchange, placing his finger into the socket. The RoboCS representative said, “Send the next customer in please.”

Why do people say that you have to write a million words to be any good at writing?

People write for a lot of different reasons, and have a variety of life experiences. Over time, you’ve had things you always wanted to write about. At first, though, you have a lot of things in the way.

  • Your prejudices
  • Any trauma you’ve suffered in your life
  • The desire for recognition
  • The desire for or fear of success

There are probably more, but those are the ones that popped into my mind. The first million words do a lot to help work through those issues. You might see themes coming up over and over. You might see your stereotyped attitudes coming out. But you won’t see them until you’ve done a LOT of writing. I’m starting to see mine now, coming on two years of serious writing. You need to know about them so you can deal with them now. No one’s going to pay to read about your angst.

The other thing those million words do is help you see if you like writing as a career. If you’re pulling teeth to write a hundred words, you’ll be dying at a thousand, and ready to throw your computer at ten thousand. Better to find out now then when you have a contract deadline.

The million words help you to learn how to write. With a big IF:

If you edit and have those million words critiqued.

I suppose you might be the one exception in history and write perfect prose on your first draft. But if you’re a fallible human like the rest of us, you’ll need to edit, and you’ll need help from others who read and tell you what works for them as readers and what doesn’t.

Editing, critiquing other people’s work, and getting critiqued (in that order) have been the three things that taught me the most about writing. You learn plot structure, how to write what you mean to, how to connect with your readers’ emotions, how to describe your settings. You learn the things that irritate readers and what’s been overused.

You can’t learn these by writing one story. A million words is about ten full-length novels.

While you’re writing these, you also find out what works best for you. Are you an outline-maker or do you just sit down and start writing? What research tools work for you? Do you write best on a word processor, or do you write best longhand? Do you prefer writing alone, in your office with people swirling around you, or out at the park? No one can tell you these things; you discover these as you write.

Another thing you’ll discover is a circle of like-minded writers. Hopefully, you’ll do a lot of exploration on and offline while finding information. Perhaps you’ll find a local group you click with, an online writers’ group you like, and read blogs by other writers in your genre. Cherish the ones who are supportive, and support their efforts in turn. These people can help you when you’re published and give you encouragement along the way before then.

Those million words give you time to learn about the publishing industry, to learn who the good agents are for your genre, who the scammers are, and which publishers take your genre. You’ll learn how to find markets for your work, and what the market trends are.

So don’t rush into things. Take the time to do your million words, to become accomplished at your work, to have your first entries into the writing world be of high quality. Get input into what you’re doing and listen to that input. (Not always follow it, but at least listen. More on that later.)

If published authors are telling us that writing a million words helps, it makes sense to consider it. You really have nothing to lose by writing more. You just have more to submit when the time is right.

Need to think of some witty header for this.

Appointments: 3, including one later today.

Researched: The size banquet hall needed for 7,000 people, and how big kitchen facilities to feed them all at once would be. Also looked at restaurant kitchen layout design and the size a space station had to be to use rotation to comfortably produce artificial gravity.

Accomplishments: Finished the planter. We had a couple days of rain and the posts went in the ground just fine.

High point of the week: Went to Lowe’s and bought a bunch of garden stuff.

Pages edited this month so far: 224. But I need to do a lot of them over. Line edits: yeah, we’re good. But there’s writing/rewriting needed.

Bad Thing: Other than the news? Driving my daughter an extra half hour one way to find out her braces wire wasn’t broken like we all thought it was. They have so much hardware in the kid’s mouth it’s incredible.

The High Life: I’m almost caught up on the laundry. That’s how sexy this week’s been.

So how’s your week been?

And you’re all saying WTF??

No, this makes sense. Go read this rant about people who give away SF (a perfectly good marketing tool) then, if you think this guy is as nuts as I do, go visit here if you want to join in for a fun pseudo-protest.

Monday, April 23rd, we’re celebrating the free web by posting a professional quality piece of work (or as near as we can do) online for free. Ta-da!

If you sign up there’s talk of putting the whole thing in one spot so people can go by and peruse your works at their leisure. It sounds like a great way to get your work seen by a lot of people, not to mention making somewhat of a statement.

For this event, I’ve decided to post a SF short story called, “RoboLand”. Watch for it on the 23rd.

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