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Archive for October, 2012

Sandy

There’s a character in my new book.  She’s wild, impetuous, the kind of woman everyone takes notice of when she walks into a room, a woman who leaves a trail of heartbreak and destruction wherever she goes.  Her name? Sandy.

Yesterday, the real Sandy tried to sock my city in the eye.  She blew out the lights, ripped down some trees, and shut down the schools, but spared us the worst of her wrath. My kids will remember the day as one on which we played Monopoly, lit the beeswax candles we bought this summer, and wore pajamas all afternoon.  I know others weren’t so fortunate, and my thoughts are with them.  Take care, my friends. Wherever you are, I hope you are safe.

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Who Owns Author?

Last week, I wrote about the difference between the terms writer and author. This week I want to know, when do you get to call yourself an author?

I have friends who write for very well-known blogs, or have established blogs of their own, but haven’t written a complete manuscript and thus won’t use the word to describe themselves. Are they authors?

What if you’ve written a fabulous, world-inventing novel, poured your heart and soul into it, but haven’t sent it out for publication yet? Are you an author?

What if that same manuscript is with an agent — do you get to call yourself an author now?

How about self-publishing?  Was Amanda Hocking any less an author than JK Rowling when Hocking was self-publishing millions of ebooks?  Or is it Hocking’s deal with St. Martin that makes her a ‘real’  author?

Is it the act of creating that makes you an author? Is it the  number of people who read your books? Or is it the validation of having someone in the publishing industry say you are?

I’ll share my opinion in the comments.  What’s yours?

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Denim versus Dress Up

Collection lace dress

Collection lace dress from J.Crew

Twice this week people have asked me what I do for a living. That’s a question I always find interesting, and perhaps one of these days we’ll get around to the whole Mommy Wars discussion on this blog.  But today I want to talk about how I tend to answer, which I also find interesting and I hope you will as well.

My book Evenfall has been out for over a year now.  I love the story, love the cover, and am pretty happy with how it has been received. I recognize how lucky I am to have had a book in bookstores when publishing is going through such a hair-rending time.  And yet, when people ask what I do, do I say “Oh, thank you for asking, I’m an author?”

I do not.

My usual response is “Gah, babble babble babble, I’m a writer.” Sometimes they’ll ask what I write, in which case I reel off a list of my publishing creds, tacking Evenfall at the end. Other times (like this past week) I’m lucky enough to have my youngest with me, who immediately breaks into my babbling with “She’s an author. She’s been on television and she has a book named Evenfall and in it the dog (reveals entire ending of book).”  This may not help me with sales, but it is gratifying to my ego.

So why does a seven-year-old have no problem saying the A word when I do? I think the answer is in the definition. At my son’s age, writer and author are interchangeable. But I’ve been a writer so much longer than an author I can spot the difference.

Writer, to me, is an action word. It says dig in and get your hands dirty (or as dirty as you get  using a keyboard). It means to take notes, to research, to string words together and then take them apart, to do this again and again until they are as polished and smooth as possible. It’s craftsmanship,  denim and work boots and a soft, comfortable t-shirt.

Author is static. It’s a lovely word, too, but it says “look what I’ve done” not “look what I’m doing.” It’s dress up, don’t touch me, special occasion wear, high heels and sequins and maybe some Spanx. Author has its place, but it’s not for every day.

Despite my occasional attempts to appear otherwise, I’m strictly a t-shirt and blue jeans girl, and that’s fine. I’m more comfortable with a notebook and computer to hide behind. Maybe someday, when I have other books out there, the sparkly bits will incorporate themselves into my working wardrobe a bit more and the line between writer and author won’t be so stark. But for now, I’m still getting my hands dirty.

How do you define the words writer and author?

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I am behind today. There are many reasons, including the holiday weekend (in the US Monday was Columbus Day) and the fact that someone was Put Out about having to run in almost rain conditions. Can you tell?

The Slobbering Beast does not care for damp.

Instead of rocketing along at near-heart attack pace, we took a more leisurely approach today. Which was wonderful for my lungs, but not so great for time management. So I am asking you to go and play with these links, and I’ll be back next week with a real post.

What does your brain look like on Jane Austen? NPR finds out.

Are you a gritty writer or reader? My friend Vaughn Roycroft asks the question over on his blog. (My answer: Not so much. The world is a pretty gritty place already, and I try not to add to it. My reading exception is John Sanford, whose Prey books and hero are awfully gritty but very compelling.)

Can changing your genre change your career? Newly repped author Kell Andrews thinks so.

And finally, what causes a published author to disappear? (Besides grumpy Slobbering Beasts and poor time management skills?) Find out here. (Link stolen from the wonderfully readable Jan O’Hara.)

Happy Reading!

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I love being a writer. I’ve been doing it for so long, in one capacity or another, that I can’t imagine not being able to play with words. Spending hours alone at the keyboard making stuff up (as my son puts it) is satisfying, but there are days when it can be a tiny bit lonely, too. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to stumble across a wonderful community called Writer Unboxed. It’s filled with writers of all types, published and non, established and just starting out. It’s a resource I’ve drawn heavily upon for information, ideas, and just companionship. Recently my friend and fellow writer, the very humorous Jan O’Hara, asked if I’d be willing to get more involved, and of course I said yes. I’m now the official Q&A person for the WU newsletter, which means I get to interview all kinds of interesting authors and other writerly types. It also means I get to give Jan, the newsletter editor, heartburn on a regular basis. I am so looking forward to this!

If you can spare a second, head on over to see the official announcement here. To celebrate the revamping of the newsletter, WU is running a contest, too. I hope you’ll check it out.

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