Friday, February 25, 2011
I was pondering life in Grammar School the other day, (don’t ask me why) and was thinking about how everything kind of revolved around “Pick Me!” You know…..teams for dodge ball - called on by the teacher – sing in the chorus - be a member of the cool kids’ group. (Never made that one.) I remember how stressful those times were, even though I didn’t know that what I was feeling WAS stress, back then.
I came to the realization that things did not change much during the course of my life. High School was more of the same. PLEASE pick me for the baseball team - the Yearbook Committee - study group, etc. - etc. etc. Please, pick me to be your boyfriend. College, it got worse. Being a Drama Major I spent every non-required course moment auditioning. Even my extra-curricular activities (Community Theatre) called for me to be evaluated and chosen to participate. I played music and was always asking to be picked to play with this group or back up some singer. There was of course the ever present “Pick me to be your boyfriend,” aspect.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
In 2009, Shannon Horton, RN of Virginia was overwhelmed by the staggering number of friends, and families of friends that were impacted by the consequences of Breast Cancer. She decided to do “something” to make a difference. Inspired by a calendar featuring British women of all ages she embarked on a project to produce a similar calendar featuring survivors of Breast Cancer and other women who had been impacted by this horrible decease.
Shannon arranged for a photographer to donate his time and talent. She enlisted friends to be “models.” She asked them to strip down and pose in a setting that represented their passions and interests, and was pleasantly surprised at the willingness of otherwise shy individuals who were anxious to participate for this worthy cause
Nurse Horton went about the arduous task of raising money to pay for the printing and production costs. In a troubled time for American economics she managed to scrape up “sponsors” for the calendar’s individual months and eventually secured funds to make the project a reality.
She arranged for a volunteer support staff of make-up artists, hair dressers, clerical and craft services Over a Sunday in April 2010 and another in May 2010 conducted a professional “Figure Shoot” that resulted in images of women, of a variety of ages, sizes and walks of life captured in their natural beauty.
The resulting product was marketed with all proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer research.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I consider myself first and foremost, an actor, ( Actor- noun- A person with an infinite capacity to accept praise.) and my writing is an extension of that. I like to “perform” and I feel that “writing,” for someone else to read what I have created, is a performance. As such, applause is always nice after the performance is over. Readers very seldom get to applaud the efforts of an author. With the advent of the Internet it is not only possible to applaud but also express other emotions that the work caused. How cool is that? As a reader I am grateful for that opportunity and as a writer I appreciate the feedback (good and bad) that comes my way.
So I sent a short note to Ms. Maya to let her know I think her story is a “good read” and look forward to the sequel so I can see “what happens next.” I hope she got the message, and is receptive to my “applause.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could contact other “artists” we admire, directly; and know that they received the message and read it.
Dear Sir Paul, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much your music, along with the other lads, has meant to me over the last 40+ years. Without exaggeration you were the strongest influence on my young life, and I carry your spirit with me to this day. I just wish George and John were still with us to continue what was started so many years ago, and I am saddened deeply by their loss. Did you ever think that “When I’m 64” would be so poignant? Thanks again for all of the tunes, can’t wait to see what happen next. Respectfully Submitted, etc. <sigh>
I could send that out into cyber space, and he might even read it….somehow…it could happen….but I would never know he did, or that it made a bit of difference to him amid the millions of accolades he has received.
Next time I will tell you the story of how a group of us reached out to one of our heroes, and the result of a year-long effort to give him a spectacular birthday present and the results. Hopefully that tease will want you to tune in next time to “see what happens.”
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
It’s Valentine’s Day season again. Whenever I watch a movie about boy meeting girl, the staple of the Romantic Comedy/Drama genre, I always wonder what happened after the happy couple got together. We, the audience, assume that they all live happily ever after, because this is of course why we watch those kinda movies.
It is easier to write a story with a happy ending because it is expected and you know what’s at the end of the road before you get there. It is much more difficult to defy every-ones’ expectations and show the princess and her prince as just ordinary folk, who end up with ordinary problems and heartache despite their fairy tale meeting, courtship, and eventual coupling.
There are your exceptions of course, and they I think are interesting and sometimes just as entertaining as the “happily ever after” scenarios; the well written, well acted, and sometimes satisfying, not so happy ending.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Well we are up to the point in the story where it is almost over.
I had submitted my galley to the Company to their specifications. It HAD to be in Word format (.doc) and NOT .pdf. It could have no hard returns and had to be single spaced.
I had gone over it almost a hundred times in re-writes and I was sure there were no typo-s or sentence problems. I had John proof-read and edit. He had red penned it and I had corrected all that he had pointed out. I had two people beta-read it and they gave it a clean bill of health. I turned on the Word function that showed all of the commands in the document and I went through line by line, word by word, and made sure there were no orphans of any kind. I held my breath and hit send, planting my child on the Company server, and waited for it to grow into print.
I received an e-mail from the Company with an attachment of my galley, in .PDF !!!! Seriously? OK…whatever. The e-mail explained that I was entitled to 25 FREE corrections to any errors found in the galley. I was to go through it (Me?? What are you guys doin?) and let them know page, line and word (s) that needed correcting. Any errors over 25 I would be charged to correct. Here was the kicker. If I corrected less than 25 and found errors later in the process I would be charged. The 25 FREE were a one-time only deal. Well I was as sure as I could be that there were no errors, but, what the heck, couldn’t hurt to give it one more look.
I found SIX !!! I was astonished. After finding the first two I really got obsessed and I went through and made sure there were no more after the four more.!!! I was kicking myself. How could I have missed those 6 ?? Glad I found them! I filled in a Company form that pointed to the errors, sent it to the Company and again waited for my printed copies to materialize.
I received another e-mail. They had fixed my errors as requested and attached was another .pdf copy for my FINAL run through, just in case. Of course, if I found any errors it was now on my dime. I went through the galley and found FOUR MORE ERRORS !!! I KNOW they were not there before. How was this possible? Did the gremlins get into my files? (I know I have not fed any after midnight, and I have made sure I haven’t gotten one wet) I tried to call the Company, but I was only connected to voicemail (naturally) I left a frantic message. This was outrageous! As soon as I hung up the phone, and I mean immediately, an e-mail came through. Cathy was sympathetic to my plight. She told me that if I e-mailed her the errors, she would “personally” take care of it, and she would not charge me for it. (Thanks.) I filled out the form again with the new corrections and sent it off.
A couple of days later, I received an e-mail. “Congratulations!!! You’re done. Sit back, relax and 4-8 weeks from now you will have your copies in hand.”
I thought back on the whole process. Exactly WHAT had the Company done for my $1000??? Well actually…..nothing. I paid for the cover design. The “One on One” assistance was nothing more than e-mail communication that was slow and frustrating. What they did do was list my book on Amazon.com and B&N.com and made it available through the Internet on a site that was a simple page with a box for ordering it. I could make the page more professional and creative looking if I would PAY for it. Everything that you would expect them to do was delegated…..TO ME! By selling me a “Package” it appeared that they were doing a lot but it was all smoke and mirrors. What they were actually doing was pointing me towards tasks that needed to be done and then advising me (via e-mail attachments) on how to do it.
I hope that Kelly Bloodsworth’s adventures become a series of novels. I might use the Company again if I have to, but I have learned from my mistakes and it won’t cost me as much in time and/or money this time. I would, of course, like to get an agent and a book deal for the further adventures of Kelly Bloodsworth, but if I don’t it is nice to know I have other options. If any of you are considering self-publishing I think it is still a good option. I will be discussiing some of the things that were a lot easier to accomplish than I thought they would be (no thanks to the Company.)
Stevie Nicks was right, “you cannot know the dream until you know the nightmare,” and I have been through both.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Let’s see…..where was I? Oh yea…..”The Company.”
I never did talk to “Alice” again. I received an e-mail from “Cathy” who told me that we were now at a point in the process that she would take over. She was my “Publishing Counselor” and was here to make sure everything went smooth from here on. She also listed a phone number, which I called immediately. I got voice mail which assured me that “Cathy” would get right back to me if I left a call back number, which I did. She didn't. I could write a dozen paragraphs about the frustration and slow pace of the process from here on, but it would be boring and in some cases redundant, so I will just hit the highlights.
The reason I chose the most expensive package was because of all the things it included. I found out later that; for those “things” to happen, I had to “order” them and create an invoice. Even though I wasn’t charged for them, I still had to create an order, for them to go into effect. I found this out only after waiting patiently for the “things” to happen and then through several e-mails finding out I had to “order” them.
Whenever I called “Cathy” on the phone with a question I never talked to her, only voice mail. In some cases I got an e-mail response to my question almost immediately, which led me to believe that “Cathy” sat at her desk, screened her calls, and would NOT answer the phone if it was one of HER authors; So much for the “One on One” assistance. This method of communication led to answers to questions that led to another question that had to be answered one at a time through a series of voice mails and e-mails. You can imagine how slow this was. I finally got the hint and stopped calling and just resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to talk “One on One” with anybody.
I had to write my own synopsis blurb for the back cover and my bio. I had to upload my picture for the back cover to their server. I had to format my galley according to specifications outlined in an instruction memo that was very hard to understand. The Company would do it for me, of course, for a price. Then upload it to their server. (Just what was it that they were doing for me for my $1000?)
As you might know the Cover of the book is probably the most important aspect of the publishing process. A book is always judged by the cover no matter how much we tell people not to. My package price included a cover, but it was one of a dozen generic scenes that I could add my own picture and text to. If I wanted the Company to design a cover it would cost me another $300. I am pretty good at Photoshop and have done some graphic design in my old job so I thought I could come up with a pretty good cover. I built the cover in Photoshop and uploaded it to the Company server.
Over more than a dozen e-mails back and forth I was told that it wasn’t “right.” Each e-mail telling me my submission wasn’t right had the same attachment that spelled out in terms no normal person could understand what was REQUIRED for it to be right. The e-mail did NOT however say what was specifically wrong with my submission, just that it was “wrong.”. So I had to read and re read and re read the attachment to try and figure out what I had done wrong, try again, upload AGAIN, and get the next “It’s Wrong!” mail and start the process all over again.