Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Inconsiderate Writers

"Who me? I'm not in a click!"

There's more than a "good ol' boys" club when it comes to writers and editors. There's something going on that reminds me of getting accepted by the popular clicks in high school. Writers who ignore, disrespect, and simply snub other writers and their work. I happen to be "friends" with many writers on Facebook, but there are those few writers who seldom post comments of encouragement or offer up words on any other writer's wall. Well. Other than those in their click. (I know, it's often spelled clique, but for this blog post, it's click.)

Now we all get busy, we all have deadlines, and it's not possible to post every day and on every wall. But it's become obvious to me. Some writers love appealing to their readers, but have nothing to do with other writers.

Good God. High School was over decades ago for most of us.

It's not only happening on Facebook. I was asked to speak on a writers panel last year at a very prestigious book conference. There were three female writers on this panel, and unfortunately, I was last to speak. The first writer began to read from her new novel. Thirty minutes into her reading I was about to slip a note to the moderator that said, "Are you going to ask her to stop, or do I have to?" During her reading, half the class had left the room, which meant by the time it was my turn to talk about my novel ... there may have been ten people who were brave enough to stay, and about fifteen minutes left before the class ended.

I was furious. But I kept my mouth shut, smiled, and congratulated each author for their work. Months later, I feel it's necessary to talk about writer etiquette, and plain ol' consideration for the other guy. Kindness. Caring. Selflessness.

I've been watching these writer Facebook clicks closely since I woke up one day to realize, that green-eyed monster still lurks among us long after that cap and gown ceremony. It hit me hard between the eyes when I went after blurbs for my latest novel.

If you are ever asked to blurb another writer’s book, I want you to look back and remember your own path …

That author who contacted you obviously believed your name and your words would help the success of their book. They contacted you for a reason. It’s an honor and not to be taken lightly. So when I hear of authors ignoring other writer’s request for a blurb, it makes my blood boil.

You may be busier than a one-armed paperhanger with no time to read even a few sentences of another writer’s work. That’s fine. Understandable. I get it. I’ve been there. But you take the time to return the email, letter, phone call, or Facebook message, and give that writer the courtesy of two minutes of your time. Simply explain why you cannot write a blurb at this time. Easy. Two minutes.

It seems to me, if you’ve been blessed enough to have made it to the top, it's your obligation to turn around, offer your hand, and lift somebody up. It may only be a word of encouragement, but the least you do is offer a heartfelt apology for not being able to read the writer’s work. Their work that that contains the same blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve put into your own work.

Never forget; never forget where you came from, who you are, and the humble spirit you must hold to your heart; a humble spirit to see you throughout your success as a writer. For if you ever lose your humble spirit, then you have no right to complain if the "hand of God" lifts.

There is nothing ruder in this business, nothing more tragic and full of narcissism, than when a writer ignores the direct message, email, or letter from another writer. True, computers crash, emails get lost, people get sick … but when weeks have passed and all of sudden you realize you’ve got an email or message from another author, answer it. There’s no excuse. Kindness changes everything.

I’ve received warm and caring responses, both positive and negative, from NY Times Bestselling authors, as well as other wonderful authors. I’ve also been ignored by some big names in the industry, and strangely enough, some not so big names. I can tell you in all honesty, for those who couldn’t give me the courtesy of return email or Facebook message, I will probably not buy another one of their books or invest any further time in reading their blog or FB posts. But that’s just me. I would never name them, never defame another writer. I leave them to their own conscience.

But those who wrote or called back, regardless of their answer, I immediately fell in love with them, if I wasn’t already. It was the fact that they cared enough to return my email or facebook message. Two minutes. That’s all it took. Two minutes out of their day. For those two minutes they freely gave me, I will continue to read and recommend their work. And I can tell you; I’m not the only writer who feels this way.

Isn’t it the decent thing to do? Isn’t a kind reputation worth two minutes of your time?

We are never that good, never that big, that we have the right to be unkind, uncaring, and plain disrespectful to other writers.
And for crying out loud, you're no longer in high school. Grow up. Offer a little word of encouragement to your Facebook "FRIENDS" ... Writers are ALSO consumers. Never forget that.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Can't Take The Heat?

I find myself reluctant to blog during the heat. We live in a century house with no air conditioning, which really isn't much of problem in northeast Ohio except for a week or two a year when the air is so humid you can barely breathe. It's difficult to move around. Cool showers twice a day help, but getting work done is a chore.

Today we woke to find cooler temperatures and I'm reminded of growing up without air conditioning. We didn't think twice about it. Nobody had it. Mom kept big oscillating fans in the kitchen and living room and we stood within inches after an afternoon in the sun, our hands sticky from a cherry Popsicle drip. Glasses of iced Kool-Aid sweat on our shorts. Hair pulled up into ponytails, our sunburned faces knew nothing about sun block. It was the 'sixties and we didn't give a flip about anything other than the next cold bottle of pop and maybe a trip to the local swimming hole.

Sitting here now in my old house with the bees and hornets swarming around the porch, I listen to the sound of summer's wavy heat floating through the screen door. I can't get away from it, I can only drown it out with a fan or two. By the time the trash truck picks up last weeks bags, the cicadas will join in with the bees. I watch the pond evaporate before my eyes. Time for iced tea and egg salad. Heat does a number on my appetite. And my worth ethic. My computer generates too much heat, becomes my typical excuse.

But ... then ... I'm reminded of the summers of my youth, when not even the heat could stop us from building tents over clotheslines and riding miles on our bikes to explore new frontiers. We never thought twice about sex offenders or that there was such a thing. Life was good and sweet and we had not a care or a worry in the world. Not even a skinned knee could stop us from a trip to the store where an electric Coca-Cola sign was the swinging door between worlds. A hand full of Pixie Sticks and cooling green bottles in a metal box was all it took to forget about the oppressive heat.

Since it's cooler today, I'll pound out a few pages. But my mind wants to listen to the giggles of girls, their secrets and their dreams. This next novel is in full swing, and I find that often part of the writing process is allowing your characters to take shape off the page first. This summer's heat is a good excuse to do just that.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The "Good" Ol' Days!

IN 1910

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.

Fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower !

The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.

The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,

A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year,

And a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.

Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard.'

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

There was no such thing as under arm deodorant or tooth paste.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza

2. Tuberculosis

3. Diarrhea

4. Heart disease

5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas Nevada was only 30!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented yet

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A. !