Monday, May 25, 2015

Beta-readers

A quick message:

I have 7 beta-readers lined up, and I would love 10, and I haven't asked any of my e-friends yet.  I mean, haven't we all been buried by people asking us to read their books and manuscripts?  And I especially feel bad because I haven't had the time to read and comment on too many of anyone else's work lately.

But if you're an e-friend of mine, and you wouldn't mind being a beta-reader, please let me know by Wednesday the 27th.  My email is on this blog page somewhere.

Please and thank-you!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Novel Manuscript Finished

Spent much of the week getting my beta-reader email packages together, plus calling a few people so I didn't have to send them emails.

Why?

Because the 37th novel-length edit of the book is done!!!  That's right--37!!!  This week I'll send out my beta-reader queries and work on the next book.  This weekend I'll spend one day incorporating all of the red comments in this last manuscript edit, save it all to one long document, and back it all up.

Then, out go the agent queries as I work on the next book, tidy up and send out a few stories, and take a look at the new book my zombie story is in.  And, please, wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Post A Book-Selfie and Support Schools and Libraries

 
 
Photo: Kami Garcia, and a good book.
 
Dear Blog Readers:
 
Below is an email sent to me from Kami Garcia, author of the Dangerous Creatures series.  Rather than using her publisher's marketing budget to, well, market her book, she has nicely asked for that money to be used to buy books for schools and libraries in need.  (This is an unbelievably nice thing to do, considering the book market today.)  Unfortunately, I don't Tweet, and I don't have a Twitter account, so I'm hoping my readers will take part in this worthy campaign, in place of my un-technologically advanced self.  Please and thanks!
 
[Now that I went to the website, I see that this is something I can do because it's not a Twitter page.  Or is it?  This sort of proves my point about my tech savvy, but whatever.  I'll post a book-selfie--but you should also do the same!]
 
Here's her email to me:
 
_____
 
Hi guys! 

Reminder: The #booksarentdangerous campaign kicks off today at 9 AM PST / 12 EST. 

Short explanation: Dangerous Deception comes out in a week, and instead of a traditional campaign, we got our publisher (LBBYR) to donate our marketing budget to buying books for underfunded schools and libraries.

You are all invited to join in the fun & help get books onto the hands of needy kids!

Attached is the campaign graphic, in case you wanted to share it anywhere, and/or point people to booksarentdangerous.com which is where we will be posting campaign details as well as resources for book donations in the days to come. (Feel free to share yours as well!)

 
But also hopefully this: donate a book and encourage your readers to put up a pic and do the same!

Remember to use the hashtag #BooksArentDangerous. It can be any book that you loved, that mattered to you, or that you recommend.

LBBYR will take each picture as your pledge to donate a book to an underfunded school or library and will match these donations throughout the next two weeks.

Let's get some books into the hands of kids in our local school libraries! Pass it on!

Again, questions to shanepangburn@gmail.com

And this concludes our spam. Love to all!

XOXO Kami & Margie

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Quick Jots for 5.6.2015

Just a few quick things:

--When a Star Wars geek fan said, "May the fourth be with you," I was automatically urged to respond, "And also with you.  Let's lift up our hearts.  It is right to give thanks and praise..."

--Seriously.  Like, I feel I've been unwittingly programmed.  And I'm as self-aware as anyone I know.  In fact, a lot more.  This is a very uncool, borderline terrifying, feeling for me.

--And I've never heard of "May the fourth be with you," before.  And I've been around my share of that kind of dork geek enthusiastic fan.

--I'm only four chapters or so from finishing my novel manuscript, for those of you who've been keeping track.

--It feels like minor-league summer around here.  To the extent that I feel like I will run over innocent women and children in my hurried attempt to get out of my workplace and go home.  And I usually stick around there a while longer to finish things up and to get things done.

--Despite that, I have two rose plants that I tried to save, but couldn't.  Their stems were snapped by the incredible weight of all the snow that had settled (and been shoveled) upon them.  I taped them, and propped them up, and watered them, and...yeah, well, my landscaper told me I should cut it at the place it snapped, and hope for the best.  Everything above that snap had died.

--This same guy told me the name of a bush I did successfully save last week.  It's the full, thick, green thing that the small purple snappy things come out of.  Begins with H, I think.  [Please leave the name in a comment below if you know it.  People have tired of me calling it "the purple poppy plant, with the little snappies."

--But, anyway, I saved that thing by getting a lot of leaves, detritus, and who-knows-what-else out of it.  The green is now fuller and more lush than it's ever been, and the poppy things are coming out.  Last year those purple snappy things didn't come out until June, and they stayed out for a couple of weeks.  Drove me crazy.  Meanwhile those purple snappy things had sprouted in everyone else's yard for miles around me.

--I just so happened to be watching a little black ant (not big carpenter sized) stroll into a tiny opening between the gutter of my deck extension, and the house.  So I sprayed half an entire container of ant killer in there, with the plunger you pull back and the gun nozzle you can point right in there.  Only twenty or so ants came out, staggering and dying.  (Made me feel bad, but those things aren't staying in a colony there.)  And the whole situation gave me PTSD flashbacks from the time thousands and thousands of ants came down upon me and my real estate agent in a former house.  Long story.

--And I know that there's a lot more than just those 20 up in there.  They just learned to stay further away from the stream of poison coming in.  I'll spray a lot more up there (which I already have, and no more of them have come out) and then seal that hole up.  Hopefully anything left alive in there don't eat their way in.

--I looked into bombing it out, but the hole is way too small, and apparently you only do that in an enclosed room, not in the outside air beneath a TimberTek deck and a gutter.  I also looked into the poison ant food that you place down and they bring it back to the colony, thereby killing the queen and everyone else.  But there's no place to place such a thing.  The deck and gutter are too far away, and the ants don't actually go onto those things, anyway.  They stroll beneath the gutter and into the hole.  They could've been doing so for who-knows-how-many years.  But I checked the deck, the gutter, the closet and washroom, and the office upstairs, and there's no evidence of penetration, sawdust, or anything else.

Any suggestions of what else I can do with that situation, please comment and advise. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Notes from A Stephen King Interview, Part 2


Photo: Stephen King at The Harvard Bookstore, June 6, 2005.  From his Wikipedia page.

[This is Part 2 of a blog started a few days ago, which you can go to here if you don't want to scroll.]

[Stephen King gave this sort of loose interview to The Atlantic on April 12, 2011.  The interview was in conjunction with a new-at-the-time short story, "Herman Wouk Is Still Alive," which you can read here.  (You should read the story first before continuing on with this blog entry.)]

To another vein.  You know how your writing and English teachers always tell you to walk around with pen and paper (or, today, an iPhone, or an iPad, or just talk into your cell, or--) because you must write down that great idea or you'll forget it?  Well, the guy who has sold more books than anyone currently alive says:

I never write ideas down. Because all you do when you write ideas down is kind of immortalize something that should go away. If they're bad ideas, they go away on their own.

For the record, I also believe this, and I very rarely write anything down.  When I do, I hardly ever use them.  I also believe that ideas you'll use will germinate in your head and simply not leave until you write them into a story.  All the other ideas are unwanted guests who are correctly shown the door.  The more I practice this, the more writing I get done.  The more I let every single idea take root, I stray or the elevator stops.

Out of nowhere, practically, King gives a pretty good description of what poetry is good for:

[Poetry] takes ordinary life, it takes things that we all see, and concentrates them in this beautiful gem. When the good ones do that, that's what you get. When the Philip Larkins or the James Dickeys do that, you get something that is heightened, that says to us that reality is finer and more beautiful and more mysterious than we could ever possibly express ourselves. Which is why we need poetry.

Indeed so.  I'm not a good enough poet to do this myself--I've only managed to sell one poem, though it's also true that I've only sent out one poem--but I agree that this is what good poetry can do.  It's life, super-concentrated, super-compact.  I wrote a line that says, "A poem is a thought shared in compacted time."  I believe this to be true.

But I respectfully disagree with King on one point.  When asked to compare the short story markets of his youth to the ones today, King said:

All those magazines published short fiction. And it started to dry up. And now you can number literally on two hands the number of magazines that are not little presses that publish short fiction.

While this may be true in terms of physical, tangible magazines you hold in your hands, this is not true overall.  There are a ton of markets--many of them big, that pay well--on the Web.  They're called e-magazines.  I've been published in a few of them, and they often pay better than the hand-held, paper ones.  A sign of the times, but a fact nonetheless.

In fact, when King says that people don't read short stories (or much else) anymore, I would politely disagree with that, as well.  Those online mags wouldn't be able to pay what they do if nobody was reading them.  And there's a ton of decent-paying online mags. Again, I know: I've been in them.

And, finally, here's an interesting irony:

JP: It is odd, though, if you think about it, that with all the speeding-up that we're being told about, and the dwindling of the attention span and all that, that people would rather chomp their way through a 400-pager than just get zapped by a little story ...

SK: And so many of the 400-pagers are disposable in themselves. When I see books by some of the suspense writers that are popular now, I think to myself: "These are basically books for people who don't want to read at all." It just kind of passes through the system. It's like some kind of fast-food treat that takes the express right from your mouth to your bowels, without ever stopping to nourish any part of you. I don't want to name names, but we know who we're talking about.

This is also true.  I'll name names for him: James Patterson.  Many of the heart-felt vampire books, or young-heroine dystopias.  But, I should also add, in all honesty: Stephen King himself, sometimes.

I think he would admit that, most of the time.  He was just having a negative, cranky interview.