Why Self-Publishers Are A Traditional Publishers Best Friend

Cary Area Writer's Group

For a long time now, I’ve been listening to writers saying that traditional publishers are intimidated by self-publishing companies.  Quite frankly, it’s beginning to annoy me.

What mostly annoys me is how too many of us have bought that lie.  It’s to their advantage if we keep believing it.  Publishing is a business, after all.  The nature of which is self-serving.  And aren’t we all self-serving?  That’s human nature too, not just the nature of business.  That instinctive, self-preservation exists on all levels – societal, emotional, financial – not just the physical.

But I digress… back to the publishing…

Let’s look at some of the likely steps of buying a book through the traditional model, from the viewpoint of the publisher:

1)  Publishing house has large number of acquisition editors.

2)  Each acquisition editor receives thousands of query letters from authors.  In the case of non-fiction, this may be a…

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Love Is Harder Online

valentine from chris

Valentine’s Day has been getting a lot of blog interest this week, much of it sweet and sentimental, but not all of it is happy.  Lot’s of V-Day haters out there, lots of disillusioned couples.  V-Day can be stressful for many, it seems.

One of the blogs I follow is written by a young woman who re-posted some previous V-Day articles she’s written.  The raw emotion of it lead me to read some of her previous posts and, to summarize, her husband had (in not-too-previous times) sent a love note of sorts to his ex-girlfriend through Facebook.  Apparently, no other contact (meaning physical) has come of it and the ex-girlfriend has made it clear she’s no longer interested.  But he got caught (the idiot), by forgetting to sign off his account before leaving his computer.

Well, the good news is, they’ve gotten through the worst of it.  The bad news is, the pain he’s caused his wife is all online, for anyone to read.  Anyone, meaning me, of course.

Reading the bleeding pain of this young woman, and probably being a bit sympathetic to the young man as well (his distressed emotions were also apparent), brought home to me the reality of what it’s like to be married in this day and age of love online.

Kids (please forgive me for sounding old here, by referring to anyone younger than 40 as “kids”), but kids today live in a world that my generation never had to.  They live public.  Their world is broadcast “live”.

Those black words printed on screen or comments on Facebook aren’t necessarily “real” to us oldsters, we don’t automatically think of them as real life.  We know better.  Or, at least, we think we do.  But to the kids, that IS real life, and rightly so that they should feel that way.  Just as we were raised to see things Pre-Facebook, they were raised with their lives public from the very beginning.  Or at least, in this young woman’s case, early enough in their brief time here to have encrusted a solid weight of importance on their shoulders.

What a horrible burden to bear.  For not only are romances begun online, but the whole of their relationship as well.  How many couples meet online?  How many videos are posted of extravagant, or funny weddings?  Morning sickness is tweeted, and marital infidelity is shared among all the victims friends, relatives, and perfect strangers.  Like me.  I’m a perfect stranger.  (Well, not so perfect).

The thing is, it’s not just marriage that is online in this crazed, electronic madness we call social media…. the whole messy divorce happens online as well.

As anyone who’s been married longer than 10 years can tell you,  the reason very old, married couples frequently look like life-long soul mates, isn’t because they’ve had 60 years of wedded bliss.  It’s because they’ve had 60 years!  Those first years of marriage are a bitch for a lot of couples.  The husband (or wife) still having issues with ex’s isn’t something new, and infidelity didn’t originate on Facebook.  Hanky-panky has been around before God wiped out most of mankind with the great flood.  Pretty much no-sooner than there were more than two people on this earth, someone’s eyes started to wander, and gossip became the mainstay of people’s entertainment from the moment it began.  Albeit, the world was a smaller place then (John Henry messing around with the mayor’s daughter had a smaller audience), but the problems existed even then.

Choosing to live with one man/woman for the rest of your life is a hard thing to do!  That’s why doing it (over and over for 60 years) is how you get better at it.  You get to a point where you learn to adjust to each other, ride the bumps, and hold on for dear life through the darkness.  Depend on each other.  Developing trust.

Practice really does help.

Some people call this “settling”.  They are wrong.  There is no deeper love than the one that develops though tolerance, and need, and forgiveness.  Through life.

In the case of my young couple, as I write this, the wife has developed some health issues (also online) which seems to have drawn her and her husband closer.  They have been married for only a few years.  They have many, many hills and valley’s ahead of them, but I have hope.  From what I’ve read so far, they’re committed to making it work.  They’ve put their commitment to each other ahead of their wounds, wondering if the band aid of dedication will be able to heal their pierced bond.

I think they can do it.  Certainly it seems that I’ll be able to find out, simply by signing in to my computer.  I thank God that my marriage began in a smaller world.

To this couple I say:  Hang in there.  Keep fighting for love.  And when those dark, scary nights envelop you, and the fear of not making it looms in your mind, remember that old cliché about how it’s always darkest before the dawn?  That’s not just a cliché.  That’s a promise from God.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.  (Psalm 5:3)


I’m Lovin’ This Winter

I’m lovin’ this winter.  I’ve been hearing lots of discontent from family and friends, about the record number of below zero temps and snow.  And yeah, I admit it’s gotten to be a bit much at times.

I’m tired of changing the towel that’s shoved into the grooves of my bedroom window, to catch the water leakage from the ice dam on the roof.  I look out that window and I can see the snow is now halfway up the side of that wall.  There’s a huge mass of icicles hanging from my one-story roof, reaching down and meeting the snow, the tips disappearing into the white ground.

And okay, neither am I thrilled with the below zero nights.  Especially when the negatives dip into double digits.  I’m tired of gating off opened cabinets to keep the pipes from freezing, or worrying about my shift-worker husband driving home on deserted roads at midnight.

Even the dog is driving me crazy. He runs into my office periodically and gives me wide, demented, cabin fever stares… right before he gets into some trouble.  (Poor baby).

I’m not even happy with the way our village ran out of road salt, much as many other communities have, and told us they couldn’t get sand so we would be driving on snow packed roads from now on.  Their sage advice was to avoid the hills.  Since my community is nothing but hills, I could only laugh at that advice.  I know the village is swamped with complaints, bless their frozen hearts, and I really do appreciate their efforts.  I am not one of the complainers.  But I do think that when they threatened us with liability for accidents in front of our house if we blew our snow into the road, perhaps they were over-reacting to criticism.

Yet, this morning, while I was out snow blowing the latest 6 inches of white, trying to widen the driveway (which is becomingly alarmingly narrow), and dislodging today’s chewed newspaper from the blades of the snow blower… I had to admit that I still wasn’t done with this winter.

I shoveled the snow from in front of the mailbox so the mailman could deliver my junk mail, went in and got the dog, and watched him struggle valiantly through the drifts to mark his favorite pine tree.  Then we just walked around a bit, enjoying the brilliant winter day.

Don’t get me wrong…. I love the other seasons.  How could I not?  When everything bursts with life?  I love gardening and summer flowers and the colors in fall.  But winter has always been my favorite season.

I love the feel of the cold air on my face.  It makes me feel alive.  I love the peaceful quiet.  It makes me feel safe.

I love discerning the patterns of growth in the bare trees, designs you can’t glimpse when they’re fully clothed in leaves.

The stark browns and grays that spring like charcoal drawings from a blinding white landscape.  And the way the snow coats the railings of the fence, or lays like vanilla frosting on top of giant evergreen pines.

Of all the seasons, winter always makes me think of God the most.  Certainly I pray more during winter!  For safety on the ice and the hope the furnace doesn’t die.  But it’s more than that.  The tilt and orbit of the Earth around the Sun, the never ending pattern of light and dark…. this is what makes our seasons, and all seasons are from God.  We could not exist without them.

The bible tells us that after the great flood, God promised Noah cycles of seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, without end, as long as the earth existed, (Genesis 8:22).  From the breath of God ice is made, He balances nature, and does wondrous things, (Job 37).  He gives snow like wool, (Psalm 147:16).

So call me crazy, but I think I have good cause not to join the voice of the dissenters.  You can bet I’ll be right there with you come spring, delighting over early crocus and that first lime green flush of new grass.  But until then?  I’m still lovin’ this winter!


Light Gets In Your Eyes

I have a friend who is a pain in the rear end.

She has volunteered me for jobs I had half heartedly entertained, but didn’t really want to do.  She’s bailed out on me at pivotal occasions, and insinuated herself into others where I would’ve preferred she not be and she often says hurtful or callous things, totally unaware she even insulted me.  She can be jealous, nagging, and pushy.

On occasion, we would have “words”, but this usually resulted in my walking on glass for several weeks and spending more time assuring her that everything was alright than if I’d just kept my mouth shut in the first place, and let the offense pass in silence.

My friend can dish it out, but she can’t take it.

Having said this, you might wonder why I still call her my friend.  Well, there’s always the thought that I’m probably not much of a picnic in the friend department myself.  Am I a pain in her rear end?  Being on the inside of me I have no idea, really, how I appear to others.  And bad as I’ve made her sound, there is also the side of her that is funny, warm, and a true delight to be with.  People are rarely only made up of one flavor.

But actually, my reticence to end this relationship really has more to do with the results of our friendship, rather than anything else.  Odd as it seems, my friend is good for me.  The times she has hurt me the most, are the times from which I have gained the most good.

Volunteering me for something I didn’t want to do forced me to tackle an area of my life that had been a problem for a long time.  The end result ended up having little to do with what I’d been volunteered for, the main thing was that my long term problem was practically solved, or at the very least changed to a much lesser problem.  It was a blessing, wrought through much pain.

In a very real way, my friend is also responsible for my creating this blog.  Her sometimes acrid remarks are honest, if not pleasant.  You can’t help but ponder the validity of her opinions.  Some of them are pure bull, but then there are those that are very insightful.  It was one of the latter than goaded me into action and developing this blog, vs. just “planning to, one of these days”.

The most important thing my friend has ever done for me though, is to bring me to God.  This is a funny thing, since my friend is not a Christian, nor affiliated with any organized religion, and I sincerely doubt our deep discussions of the human psyche were ever intended to turn me toward Christianity.  I’m not sure she’s even happy about it.  Yet it was definitely through her words that God brought me back to him, after many years of defiantly turning away.

Which brings me to light.  God is all about light.  The bible abounds with references to God, not only as the creator of light, but himself having the very nature of light (1 John 1:5, “God is light”).  The nature of light is to abolish the darkness and make seen what was previously unseen.  In this very real spiritual sense, that is what my friend has done for me.

Or rather, what God has done for me, through my friend.

Like a blinding flashlight, shone on my face, I can hold my hands high against the glare but I cannot abolish the light.  God has taken the very harshness of my friend and used it to illuminate my own weaknesses, my neediness, my fears.  Nowhere does his light shine brighter than in our darkest corners.  Or, so it would seem, through the people we least suspect.

So, if my friend is reading this (she knows who she is), just remember…. I may have called you a pain in the rear end (and doubtless you will obsess over it), but I thank God for the blessing of knowing you.  I thank God for the Light of you.  I thank God you are My Friend.


WELCOME

Once, not so long ago, I did a lot of research on why it is that I just can’t sleep well at night.  Let me rephrase that…. why I just can’t sleep well period.  Night didn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

I tried all the various sleep aid advice.  No caffeine, don’t drink after X p.m., don’t eat after X p.m., DO eat after X p.m., supplements, douse the light, shut off the electronics, listen to relaxing music, hypnosis, exercise, meditate, develop a routine…. yadda, yadda, yadda.  In the end, I was still sleepless, but a lot more educated about it.

I became obsessed with the whole light issue, and it’s affect on me, you, the plants and animals.  It leaked over into my writing life and eventually light became the focus of most of what I write about, sometimes directly, often indirectly, but always there, always reacting with us.  (Note I said “reacting”, a reverse action response of stimuli).

Light, and it’s corresponding absence (dark) has a profound effect on all of life.  So what happens when day is no longer easily distinguished from night?  When you pull all the shades in your house and flip all the switches off at midnight and there is STILL enough light within your home to wander room to room by sight alone?

You learn new words, as I did.  Words like “light pollution”, “scotobiology”, “phototropism” and “photoperiodism”.  I learned some helpful stuff, but I learned some scary stuff too, about disease caused from too much light, and biological and behavioral changes in plants and animals.  And us.

To be clear, I’m not writing this to descry conspiracy theories or pull a red flag and shout warnings from the rooftop.  Rather, I’ve developed this blog, and two others, because I want to explore more fully the link between light, dark, and the world around us.  And because I think maybe we would all be a little better off if we stepped off the gerbil wheel for a moment and tried to work in conjunction with our planets cycle.  At least part of the time.

For the sake of clearly defining my particular interests I have three main topics… 1) Plants and animal life, 2) Science, and 3) Spirituality.  I write articles about plants, sci-fi stories, and inspirational fiction.  Those three may seem incompatible at first glance, but when you throw light into the equation you see that they are all linked, as are the three blogs I have created to address them.  One geared towards plants, one toward science, and one exploring our spirituality.

By way of introduction, this (my first blog entry), is the same on all three blogs.  But hereafter, entries will be tailored to meet the specific slant and subject matter of each.  Feel free to contact me and leave comments for discussion.

And please…. do come back and travel this journey of light with me.  I look forward to meeting you.