Yeah, I Own This

Image courtesty of http://www.utmem.com

I have a terrible confession to make: I write books for money. Filthy lucre, the root of all evil, dead presidents, moolah, dough, the ultimate capitalist tool — whatever you call it, that’s a big part of why I seek publication. I care about my craft and submit to critique groups and tear up lousy pages not just because I love good writing, but because I also want to create a quality product. People who plunk down their hard-earned cash for one of my books should feel like they got their money’s worth.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who bought one of my books last year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me a chance to entertain you through either a mass market paperback or a digital copy. If you liked the books so much you loaned them to a friend, or friends, thank you for the recommendation! I’m thrilled that you would do that. I would also like to thank those libraries that purchase my books for their patrons. I am grateful to you.

Those of you who uploaded digital copies of my product to sites that engage in mass distribution of copyrighted material without regard to the creators’ rights…nope. No gratitude. While the Stop Digital Piracy Act includes sections considered too controversial to pass, many opponents of the bill agree that pirate sites should be shut down. I only wish more people, *coughSwedencough* agreed with them.

My books, like every other copyright-protected electronic file, are not free information.  They are unique creations. Producing them takes weeks or months. I write the best story I can. I developed the characters and plotlines and arranged the words into those particular stories, and as their creator, I have certain rights regarding their use and distribution. Copyright law gives me the right to profit from my own work. It gives me, according to www.merriam-webster.com, “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)”.

I granted Kensington the rights to publish my work because they are in the business of turning manuscripts into books. The publisher decides how and where to distribute my books. Not someone who uploads a copy to a pirate site, not the pirate site itself, not even me. I can use excerpts for marketing purposes and quotes, but if I want copies of my book for giveaways, gifts for promos, I buy them. This is the contract I read and agreed to. I benefit from the agreement because I reach a wide market through legitimate distributors, and that means more royalty money for me.

And it means copies of my books are available for you to read in print and electronic formats, provided you cross my palm with silver, figuratively speaking. Cause yes, I write books for money.

Pirate sites are despised by writers, musicians and film makers with good reason. They violate our rights to our own work while making outrageous claims: Like the exposure benefits us. Or we shouldn’t have electronic copies of our work available online if we didn’t want them stolen. Or those sites only exist to let people swap property with their ‘friends’. Or that all electronic information belongs to everyone.

Rot.

As far as I’m concerned, royalties instead of unpaid-for downloads will benefit us. We put our creations online for profit. Sharing electronic files between ‘friends’? In the tens of thousands, most of whom have never met? Does anyone actually believe that??? And to those who insist that all electronic information belongs to the world — upload your online banking passwords & maybe we’ll talk.

Type Faster

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type faster.” — Isaac Asimov

Someday, I am going to needlepoint Isaac’s words and frame them to hang somewhere at eye level to keep me from slacking off. To me, Asimov’s words are a kick in the butt to remind me that 1. I’m lucky to have a calling that allows me to make (some) money from the voice in my head and 2. someday, one way or another, it’s all going to come to an end.

Sometimes the words flow, sometimes they don’t, but a writer schedules set times to sit down at the keyboard or with pen and paper and write. There’s no way to know how easily the words will come. Or how good or bad they will be. But writers are also wives, husbands, parents, friends, critique partners, employees, and volunteers. Writing time is precious, so we must use every moment. If we produce crap that day, next day we’ll either edit it till it’s not crap or write new crap that we can fix.

Athletes and dancers warm up their bodies. Our minds have to be warmed up as well. It helps to start a session editing the last few pages of the previous day’s work. (Thank you Lew Hunter via Sally Walker for that tip!) And I began journaling about midway through last year. At the time, I couldn’t have told you why, because I stopped keeping a diary decades ago. I did not want to spend 30 precious minutes of my day writing something unrelated to my WIP. Finally, in November, I realized that the time spent scribbling in my journal really did help my process. But I journal first thing in the morning, not during a writing session.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but when I spend at least 30 minutes each day writing by hand, it cleans out and primes my creative pump, even if I can’t write till later. Checking emails and social networking distract me.  Keeping in touch is an important task that needs its own block of time. I don’t even like to plot during the time set aside for writing, unless a character makes a really sharp veer from what I thought would be the story. I hate it when they do that, but it’s part of the process, and like kids, sometimes you have to let hero and heroine go where they want to.

Asimov died youngish, age 72. (At least that’s young in the view of someone whose relatives routinely live past 85 and often past 90.) It’s said that he authored or c0-authored over 500 books. Besides the science fiction he is best known for, he wrote mysteries, non-fiction, guides to the Bible and Shakespeare, and limericks. He edited anthologies and had his name on his own science fiction magazine.

I think I have some typing to do.

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Bring on 2012!

AMNH --- Maya Stone Calendar

I don’t care if the Mayans thought the world would end this year. While 2011 was a wonderful year for me professionally, I was not sorry to see it go. In my private life, 2011 was a year of freak accidents, the loss of a pet, the near-loss of two relatives, and was just generally a pain in the rear. Buh-bye and good riddance!!

My own theory about why the Mayan Long Count stopped in 2012 is that they got tired of carving all that stone. Of course, I also believe that Stonehenge was actually a prehistoric shopping mall. (Come on, am I the only one who is reminded of a food court by that open circle? If any scholar would like to discuss the possibility that the monoliths served as the entrance to  Og’s Mastodon-Skin Creations and the Bluestone Boutique, please contact me.)

End of the world or not, I am going to try to make 2012 a good year. I hate to use the word ‘resolutions’, so I won’t. But ‘goals’, ‘good habits’ and ‘wishes’ are all okay. Here are a few simple habits I am implementing to improve my life this year.

1. I need more sleep. I’ve had insomnia of varying degrees since I was a kid. Stress over the last few months made it worse, and I got tired of being tired. There are a lot of things I’ve tried, short of medication. Mind you, meds work wonderfully for many people, but they’re not ‘me’. What helps my brain slow down and turn off is an hour or so of television and needlepoint. This must be why I avoid having the TV on during work hours 🙂

2. Order is our friend…or at least a frenemy. Much as I hate housecleaning, neat surroundings do lead to clearer thinking. I have a high level of clutter tolerance, but eventually it gets too much even for me. Plus I married a neat freak. Am I going to start scrubbing the house down every day? Um, no. But I can set aside 30 minutes a day for straightening/basic chores. Big jobs can wait for the weekend, when they won’t cut into work time.

3. Organization can be fun! Last year, I discovered the joys of using a desk calendar to track page counts and each day’s accomplishments, as well doctor’s appointments, deadlines and birthdays. I can’t recommend this enough — it’s amazing what we actually DO get done in a day, and reviewing the calendar each week (or more often) is a morale boost. Mine shows a week over two pages. I can look at it and know if I’m doing well or slacking off. Desk calendars with fun or pretty pictures are still on sale!

4. I want to go on field trips. Or as Julia Cameron describes them her excellent book, The Artist’s Way, ‘Artist Dates’. She suggests taking time each week to do something just for us, to keep our souls alive. Once a week is not feasible for me, but once a month should be. I already found one fun outing for January: a lecture on the history of tea at a local library over lunchtime. Yes, I know most of you read that and immediately felt the urge to snooze. But I live for arcane knowledge like this!

How would you like to make your life better this year? Healthier habits? Save more money? The trip you’ve always dreamed of? I’d love to hear from you!