Monday, August 30, 2010

Day Late and...

Actually, I'm only eighteen hours late. Sorry, but it's football season and I got caught up watching one of my old favorites beat the stuffing out of one of my old unfavorites.
Well, I'm a man. Don't you expect me to go bannanas over football? My wife does; been bracing herself for this since last month. Didn't help. But she was able to comandeer the TV for an hour to watch the new design star Emily on HGTV. I think Emily's going to be a hit.
I have a question for you, an eggs in the basket kind of question. Is it better for an author to pick one publisher and stay with that one through thick and thin? Or would you spread your goodies around to several publishers? These are not trick questions and I don't have the answer. I really want to know what you think, either way.
I have three books with one publisher but, when my editor there decided to start up her own company, I knew I wanted to follow her and now have three more books in process there. In the meantime, I'd submitted several other books to various publishers and have one about to go into editing with one of them. Also, I have my first print book, out since last month, and another submitted to that publisher.
It looks like I've chosen the 'don't keep the eggs in one basket' camp. I haven't; at least not yet. In the publishing world of today, I'm not sure about much of anything except the fact that the day of nice advances on genre books is coming to an end. Since I see no way to gain sufficient notoriety to secure those top-end contracts, I want to choose publishers I think will not go under before my books have a chance to find an audience.
If you don't agree, tell me where I'm going wrong. Meanwhile, happy writing!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hurry up and wait!

Years ago when I was in the military, hurry up and wait was a phrase in common use. It was the military way to do things. Now I find myself hurrying and waiting as my writing career develops.
First, I want to report on our friend, Sharon Donovan. All I really know at this moment is that she is recovering from heart surgery and is scheduled to enter rehab this week. I'll share more as I learn it. Let's all continue to keep her in our prayers.
Now, as for this week's theme, I've hurried edits and then waited months as my 'baby' glaciers its way to publication. I've met 'hurry up' deadlines to get a manuscript into the hands of editors and then I wait months to learn whether it will be accepted or rejected. There are several steps in the publication process where the author feels hurried but fears upsetting the powers that be.
It happens. That, I can accept. I also realize that there are times when nothing can be done about it. I can accept that, too. What I have a hard time accepting is when the other party seems not to care that I'm on pins and needles as I wait, in the dark and worrying that I've done something wrong, or that a simple message keeping me in the loop takes little time or effort but would mean a lot to me.
How do you feel about the times you're left in that 'no communication window' similar to what NASA experienced as a shuttle re-enters Earth's atmosphere?
What do you do while you wait? Wait! I know! Keep writing, right? That's the conventional wisdom anyway. Once I got used to the accordioning that goes on in the writing world, I began to work on multiple manuscripts, doing preliminary work on a future project, hammering away the final passages of my WIP, and editing finished projects.
Once in a while, I have a story that gets under my skin, representing some truth or value that has personal meaning for me. Those are the ones where I die a thousand deaths as I wait. And those are the ones that become a nightmare for my writing muse. I've been on the planet too long for it to affect me this way, and yet it does.
Of course, all those supposedly knotty problems work out in their own good time. Afterward, I can look back and laugh at my insecurity. Having lived this cycle several times, one might think I could remember the outcome and not worry about it. Ha!
Am I the only one who is like this?
Let me know your thoughts and feelings on this or any other subject. Your writing pal,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Fate Calls

I had planned to sound off about another aspect of writing, but something happened to a dear friend this week. Since Sharon Donovan had her heart attack and subsequent heart surgery, I've been contemplating the capricious nature of life on this planet. We're all train wrecks happening in slow motion. We know we're going to crash one day and we can do nothing about it other than try to live safe and healthy. Sometimes even that isn't enough.
One of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, died earlier this summer. I didn't know him but loved his books and assumed from his photos that he was pretty healthy. One day, he just died. His illustrious career was over; his race run. Was he in the middle of his next Jesse Stone mystery? If he was, will anybody step up to finish the work on it? Could anybody do that in a way that doesn't seem artificial?
And there's my dilemma. It's not Sharon's writing I worry about at this point, nor is it Robert's. I have four novels sitting on my desktop, waiting for me to offer them to a publisher. All they need is a contract and an editor's help in bringing them to fruition. In addition, I have three more in progress but not complete. If that conductor in the sky janks my chain and I come crashing into the curve and off life's track, who will finish them for me? Can anybody do justice to them?
About now, some cynic in our midst is asking, "Who cares?" Actually, that's a very good question. What does it matter if a composer hasn't finished his last symphony, or an artist his latest canvas? Or an author, his next blockbuster novel? Why should any of it matter?
What I have come away from all this introspection with, is that creative artists in any medium are sharing a part of themselves with the world. Unlike most people, we are willing to bare our souls in public. But we usually do it in code. I'm convinced that we can read any good author's work and deduce who that author is at her/his heart. I know I let my hair down in my books. I could tell you what to look for and you'd have no trouble finding me in the pages and the 'hearts' of my characters. That, however, would not be fair and so, if you want to know what matters most to me, you'll have to read my work and discover my codes.
Just a little something to tease you with, my theme is constant and it's pretty simple at its heart. If my readers come away with that theme, my work has succeeded whether I'm still around or not. And whether my last book is finished or not. When the great archangel sounds his trumpet and I answer the call from eternity, my work here will be done. I find great solace in that.
Till next time, your friend and author.
Pat Dale

Sunday, August 8, 2010

That was the week that was. Or TW3 redoux

Fifteen minutes of--what? Fame, that's what! Local fame, at least.
Yeah, I got the royal treatment from my local press last week. My international romantic suspense A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND came out in trade paperback last month so I told a nice reporter about it. Next thing I knew, she had me come in for an interview and a photographeer took my picture.
Forty eight hours later, guess what? My ugly mug and a very nice article appeared on the Saturday edition of the Sedalia Democrat. Front page, no less. Now I'm notorious. It won't last. Nothing around here lasts very long. But it was an ego boost when I needed one, and I had a number of people comment favorably on it.
I have a book signing at Sedalia Book and Toy on August 27th, and this will help that as well. Funny how you work for years among friends, family, and acquaintances with nary a mention of any special talents you might have. Then, something like this happens.
Well, enough of that. The fifteen minutes are up and I'm not sure I got my three wishes in. Oh wait, that's a different fable. Now that things are back to normal, I've been thinking more about the amazing changes rocking the publishing world. As I understand it, Dorchester is throwing in the towel on mass paperback traditional print publications. They want to 'pioneer' in the burgeoning electronic publication market. Pioneer? Where the heck have they been for the last decade and a half?
For those of us who still prefer a processed tree in our hands to a melted lump of plastic, print books are not going away any time soon. On the other hand, for anyone who wants to take her/his entire library along on a vacation without overloading the car or plane, e-books are the answer. I've waited a long time to see my creative efforts in a form I can hold in my hand, sign my autograph for those who want it, and point to on my book shelf. Now it's here and I can revel in it for awhile.
Really, though, the idea of having my book available for years at the touch of a button is just as intoxicating. Maybe more. POD makes that possible for print books. Electronic download makes all books available until they are withdrawn by publisher or author. Meanwhile, traditional print novels are available for a month to three months in most cases. Longer, if the author achieves a significant level of fame, though that is not guaranteed.
Nobody has a crystal clear handle on where all this will lead, but we can deduce a few facts that can act reliably as markers for the future. A quick analysis of sales figures and it doesn't take a genius to see that e-sales are up and typical print sales are down. The day of significant advances is drawing to a close, so now we write; we publish; and then, maybe, we're paid for our effort.
The maybe in that last sentence is like the proverbial back-breaking straw.
If we write for money, it's all a roll of the dice. If we write for that 'fifteen minutes', it's still a roll of the dice. If, as I do, we write fiction stories because we can't not write them. what does it matter?
I've always been an optomist, so why stop now? Write for the love of the story. Put unforgetable characters on the pages of your fiction and your readership will grow, whether they prefer to read your story from a piece of paper or the screen on a reader or computer. Put your heart into it and write like your fame depends on it. Because it does.
Cheers from hot mid-Missouri!
Pat Dale

Fifteen minutes of--what?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

He's Baaaaack!

Hi guys! For a pretty good writer, I'm just about the dumbest dodo on the planet when it comes to navigating blogs and websites. It took my genius wife (don't tell her I said this-please?) to sort all this out so I could get back on here to begin my regular blogs again.
Short hiatus--only seven months!
Today, I've been a guest on Sharon Donovan's blogspot, where she interviewed me for my new print release A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND. We had lots of visitors, many interesting questions. and it took me most of the day to be able to answer our commentors. Ah well, Rome wasn't built in a day. But neither was the internet, whatever that means. LOL
I'm going to make this one short because it was unplanned, and because my ten month old hundred pound Pyrenee/Malamute puppy is demanding my attention. Believe me, when he talks, people listen!
Seriously, I'll be on here from now on every Sunday evening with a weekly post. I've got lots to talk about, starting with MuseItUp Publishing. More about them and what they're up to Sunday.
Pat Dale