Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Other Voices, Other Rooms, Other People's Blogs

A sneak peek of The Smell of Gas, the erotic crime novel I wrote with my husband, who goes by the pen name of Tit Elingtin, is available on Chris Redding's book blog.

"Best Prom Quotes Ever" is a just-for-fun post over at The Holiday Diva.

On March 30 and 31, leave a comment on Pagan Culture for a chance to win "Spicy, Earthy, Sweet."

A little bit of I Made Out With a Teenage Communist! appears on Lea Ryan's blog.

More just-for-fun stuff I put out there includes Queens of the Blogosphere and Notable Irish-American Women.

Finally, these are my favorite characters of all the ones I've written, at De's Stories.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Character Names" by Sean Keefer - Guest Post

Since while people have been reading The Trust, I've been getting a number of questions about how I come up with character names.

It’s has also been interesting the things I’ve had pointed out to me regarding some of the names I've created.

Several people know someone in real life who shares a name with a character. Given that I've never heard of the real life folks that share names with my fictional characters, I'm pretty sure we can go with coincidence.

A few of my more astute friends, or perhaps some that just know me all too well, have looked past the name of a specific character and have told me, with 100% accuracy I might add, who in real life a character was based upon despite the fact the name was nothing like the name of the actual person.

Others have asked me if I have a name in mind when a character comes to life.

The short answer is no. The only slightly longer answer is when I am faced with the dilemma of naming a character I find my writing comes to a sudden halt.

When I create characters, I first have to see them in my head, and, as I have addressed in other blog entries, only then do they come to life.

However determining a specific name is a different thing entirely.

Generally I just stop writing, stare into the distance and let my mind go blank and wait.

Sometimes I have to wait a while. Sometimes a long while.

In The Trust the main characters were named once and the names stuck after having been pulled from out of the blue. The only names directly linked to actual names are the names of the canines in the book. One has the name of a friend's dog and the other shares the name of a cat I had as a child. This is more an inside joke as my current canine doesn't like cats, but I doubt he'll understand – though I did compose a blog about the lessons I have learned from him.

One interesting names in the book belongs to one of the main characters. It is a name shared by my nephew who was born after the book was written. I like to think my creating a character was the basis of my nephew ending up with his name, but that would be stretching things I am sure – or at least my brother says. This also reinforces the coincidence point when it comes to character names.

The biggest naming coincidence involves the name Leonardo Xavier Cross – perhaps the most important name in the book. This name was 100% pure concoction on my part and until recently I didn't think another moment about it knowing it was unique. That is until a friend pointed out that the main character in "Scrooged," which I readily admit is a movie I enjoy, is named Francis Xavier Cross. Similar, but a coincidence none-the-less.

Who knows? Perhaps Francis Xavier Cross is the long lost son of Leonardo Xavier Cross. Stranger things have happened.

So while you’re here please feel free to read an excerpt from my book or even buy a copy of your own.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

PS Holiday Trilogy Concludes with Naw-Ruz and Purim

The Vernal Equinox on March 21 closes out a trio of holidays: first St. Patrick’s Day, then St. Marcus Day and now the coming of spring. The other day, I heard of Naw-Ruz for the first time. Naw-Ruz (which goes by a variety of alternative spellings) means “New Day,” occurs on or around the first day of spring, and is a cultural holiday to people in Iran and people all over the world of the Baha’i faith.

In Iran, Naw-Ruz begins the first day of Farvardin, the first month of the new year. It’s now a secular holiday observed by all religious groups. Although once associated with the Zoroastrian religion, Naw-Ruz likely has some Pagan origins. Zoroastrians observe only two official religious holidays, one at the spring equinox and the other at the fall equinox. (Indian Zoroastrians, the Parsis, have a different calendar and observe Naw-Ruz around August.)

Like the Christian Easter, Iranian Naw-Ruz (Norooz) may be celebrated by spring cleaning, wearing new clothes, coloring eggs and other symbols of new life and beginnings. A common Naw-Ruz observance is the “Seven S’s,” a display of seven items that start with S in the Persian language. They include lilies, apples, hyacinths, garlic, silver coins, vinegar, green grass, senjad berries...that's more than seven because there are various combinations.

The final Tuesday of the old year is celebrated with a bonfire. Jumping over the bonfire is a symbolic purification. The 13th day of the new year, Sizdah Bedar, has its own custom: unmarried women who want to get married go into the fields to tie knots in the grasses. Just like in the English language "tying the knot" symbolizes a wedding.

The Baha’i feast of Naw-Ruz is observed by taking a day off from work for prayer, celebration and a shared evening meal. Some Baha’i practitioners give gifts. The day also marks the end of a 19-day fast.

On March 20 and 21 this year, Jewish practitioners celebrate Purim, Judaism's spring festival. (The date on the Hebrew calendar in 14 Adar.) It has been compared to Christianity's Carnival/Mardi Gras and to Halloween. It involves feasting, noisemakers and costumes. Israeli kids bonk each other on the head with toy hammers.

The religious basis of Purim is the book of Esther (Megillat Esther), the ancient text in which a plot by the evil Haman (a Persian) to destroy the Jews is foiled by the righteous Mordechai and his brave niece, Esther. The commandment on Purim is to drink alcohol until one can't tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman. Many also give to charity as part of the celebration.

Purim has also contributed to the world of desserts hamantaschen, the delicious triangular pastries with poppyseed, fruit or chocolate filling in the middle. The name means "Haman's hats."

More:
Beyer, Catherine. "Naw-Ruz, The Baha'i and Zoroastrian New Year."
Bodazey Magazine. "Norooz, The Iranian New Year at Present Times."
"Purim 2011: What You Need to Know."
Walbridge, John. "The Baha'i New Year."
"What is a Hamantasch?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Forgotten Saints of Ireland


Every March 17th, we in the United States celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s an excuse to wear green and to celebrate all things Irish, including green beer and whiskey. Did you know that St. Patrick wasn’t even born in Ireland? Technically, he was Scottish. If he hadn’t been kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery, he might never have set foot on the Emerald Isle that inspired him to compare the Holy Trinity to the three leaves of a shamrock.

The following is a list of the real Irish saints. They may not be as famous as Patrick, at least not in the U.S.A., but their stories are just as colorful. If we celebrated their feast days, we could be partying like Bono all year ‘round. This is your guide to finding excuses to pretend to be Irish…if you weren’t lucky enough to be born Irish.

Early February: St. Bridget (Brigid) of Kildare. Called “The Mary of the Gaels,” her chieftain father and slave mother had been baptized by St. Patrick in the 400s. Bridget founded a double abbey at Cill-Dara (Kildare), the first in Ireland. She’s credited with many miracles, including turning her bathwater into beer to appease the thirst of visiting bishops. Her feast day is February 1. Because the first of February coincides with the Celtic Pagan celebration of Imbolc, which looks forward to the fertility rites of spring, Bridget the saint is sometimes said to be a version of Brigid, the Celtic mother-goddess.

Mid-February: St. Gobnait. Also called Gobnet or Gobnata, this 6th century nun was born in County Clare, where she is said to have fled to join the nunnery to escape a family feud. She had a vision telling her to found a church at the place where she found nine white deer grazing. She became an abbess and disciple of St. Abban, who placed her in charge of a convent in County Cork. A well there bears her name, and she is remembered in local art as a skillful beekeeper. Feb. 11th is her feast day.

Mid-May: St. Dymphna. The patroness of insanity and nervous breakdowns, this seventh-century daughter of a Celtic chieftain fled home after her mother died, allegedly to escape her father, who had taken an incestuous interest in her. She fled to Antwerp, where St. Gerebernus became her confessor. Dymphna, Gerebernus and two companions founded a hermitage near Amsterdam, but her father hunted them down and killed Gerebernus and his companions. When Dymphna refused to return with him, he had her beheaded. The relics of the four martyrs were said to have caused miracles in the thirteenth century. Her feast day is May 15th.

Mid-May: St. Brendan the Navigator. Born in County Kerry around the year 485, Brendan was a monk. He then became abbot and founded many monasteries, including Clonfert. Known for his missionary voyages, legend has it he may have even reached North America. His feast day is May 16.

Early June: St. Columba. Also known as Colm or Colmcille, “Colm of the Churches,” he died in 597. Born in County Donegal, Columba founded monasteries including Kells (at which the famous Book of Kells was written and illustrated). His claim to infamy is a feud with St. Finian over St. Jerome’s psalter; Columba made the first copy in Ireland and didn’t want to give it up. It led to the battle of Cuildeimhe, in which three thousand men were killed. In shame, he left Ireland for Scotland. He did return for visits, though. On one of them, he is credited with exempting Irish women from military service. There is no record of how this went over with the local Celtic warrior women. His feast day is June 9th.

Early June: St. Kevin of Glendalough. Called Coemgen or Caoimhghin in Gaelic this 6th century hermit was of noble birth, though family machinations kept him from the position due to him. Instead he became a hermit. Later he gave up his hermitage and then founded a monastery. Kevin is said to have lived to be 120, and is a patron saint of Dublin. St. Kevin was famous for his love of nature. He is said to have fed his monastery with salmon brought to him by an otter. Once, while he was praying, a blackbird laid her egg in Kevin’s outstretched hand. He remained in that position until the egg hatched. June 3rd is his feast day.

Late September: St. Finbar. Known as Fion-Bharr, or “White Head,” this 7th century illegitimate member of the royal family of Connaught was a hermit. The pope made him a bishop in Rome, and he returned to Ireland to found the monastery in Cork. The sun did not set for two weeks after his death, according to folklore. Sept. 25th is his feast day.

Early November: St. Malachy. He was famous for his prophecies about the popes. His full name was Mael Maedoc ua Morgair, or Maolmhaodhog ua Morgair, and he was born in Armagh in 1095. He replaced the Celtic liturgy with the Roman liturgy. An archbishop, he founded Mellifont Abbey and healed the son of King David I of Scotland. He died in the arms of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in 1148. November 3rd is his feast day.

Mid-November: St. Lawrence O’Toole. Born in 1128, his Irish name was Lorcan Ua Tuathail. Augustinian archbishop of Dublin, he was born at Kildare to an alliance of two chieftains, then taken hostage by the king of Leinster. He became a monk, then bishop in 1162. He was famous for his charity toward the poor of his diocese. He was involved in the negotiations between King Henry II and Irish high king Rory O’Connor following England’s invasion of Ireland. He died in 1180, still deeply involved in international politics. November 14th is his feast day.

So the next time you feel the need for a pint of Guinness or a shot of Jameson, remember: the next Irish saint’s day may be only a few weeks away.

Resources Used:

Bunson, Matthew, Margaret Bunson, and Stephen Bunson. Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints (Revised). Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 2003.

Farmer, David Hugh. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978.

Originally published in the March 2010 Irish News.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get "Spicy, Earthy, Sweet" for $2.24


Listen folks, I know the proper Jewish holiday for the Vernal Equinox time of year is Purim, not Hanukkah, but if I may remind you all of the Winter Solstice holiday for just a moment:

"Spicy, Earthy, Sweet," my Hanukkah-themed romance short story, comes with a rebate through March 31, 2011. You get this deal through AllRomanceEBooks.

"SES" is normally $2.99. You pay $2.24 after the rebate, and the difference is good toward a future purchase at AllRomance. All Ravenous Romance titles are included in the discount.

The book blurb: "Dig in to a delectable winter treat, as warm as a potato pancake on a frosty Hanukkah night! Caught up in the magic of the Festival of Lights, Gabriella wants everything to be perfect for her holiday with Jared. Jared has very specific tastes—and a slight obsession with teasing the individual flavors out of the aromas of fine wines. Even the kosher wine he chooses for the first night of Hanukkah is subjected to his beloved wine aroma wheel. But wine is not the only thing that can be tasted, analyzed, and savored. Gabriella and Jared discover new uses for Jared’s favorite toy as the Hanukkah candles burn down…"

UPDATE: If you're looking to read "Spicy, Earthy, Sweet," you';; find it at my Etsy shop, Writer's Brain Has Wings.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/208636827/spicy-earthy-sweet-romance-short-story-e

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Journaling For Caregivers" by Zoe FitzGerald Carter

Research shows putting pen to paper cuts stress

By Zoe FitzGerald Carter


Taking care of a sick or elderly loved one can be emotionally gratifying but it can also be exhausting and stressful. This is especially true for those of us in the so-called “sandwich generation” who are taking care of children while simultaneously taking care of elderly parents. Working long hours, living far away from our parents, and worrying about their wellbeing also adds to our stress.

One excellent way to take care of ourselves during the times when we feel especially stretched thin is to put pen to paper. Researchers such as James W. Pennebaker, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, have shown that writing reduces both physical and mental stress. It accomplishes this by giving us a place to release our worries, to regain our sense of stability, and to feel heard and acknowledged.

Keeping a journal, even if it means writing only 10 minutes a day, can help us deal with feelings of frustration that can arise when we are taking care of sick or aging loved ones. It can also help to give us insight into ourselves. Even if you have never considered yourself a writer, you can benefit from spending a few minutes “letting go” on the page. This can mean writing down your thoughts and frustrations – as well as your hopes and dreams. But whether you are venting about how difficult it is to get your mother’s doctor on the phone, or describing the dream vacation you’d like to take with your girlfriends, “journaling” can provide a mini-break from your daily demands and give you some much-needed perspective on your life.

Just remember, the purpose is to release your thoughts freely onto the page. Don’t edit yourself or expend energy worrying about whether your writing is “good.” Journaling is about the process of writing -- of putting your thoughts into words -- not trying to write a novel. The payoff is feeling happier and more relaxed.

To get started, buy yourself a notebook or journal that catches your eye and find a favorite pen. If you prefer to write on a computer that is fine although many people find that it is easier to access a more creative, personal mindset away from electronics. Then, find a quite place to write where you won’t be disturbed. Some people like to write first thing in the morning, others last thing at night. But whether you are writing in your bedroom, at the local Starbucks, or parked in your car on your lunch break, the important thing is that you find a few minutes everyday to write.

It is helpful to spend a minute or two relaxing before you begin. Close your eyes and take a few long breaths. Imagine that every time you exhale, you are letting go of your stress and frustration. Every time you inhale, imagine that you are flooding your body with calming, peaceful energy.

Once you feel relaxed, it is time to write! Don’t waste your energy thinking about what you should write, just do it. If you are happy or excited about something, describe it. If you are upset or angry, describe that. Caretaking can bring up conflicting feelings of love and resentment and that’s okay. Don’t let guilt about these difficult emotions stop you. This is your private space to speak your truth. If you need a prompt, try answering some open-ended questions. “What I am most worried about is….” “What I miss most these days is…” “In five years, I see myself as…”

Getting into the habit of taking time out of your day to communicate deeply with yourself and to write it down may take awhile. But if you stick with it, not only will it help to create a sense of space and calm in the midst of the overwhelming demands of daily life, it will make you better able to meet those demands. You may even find that you are more patient and able to listen as you go about your caretaking duties. And who knows, you just may discover that you have a novel or book of essays inside of you after all.

————————————————————————————————————


About the Author: Zoe FitzGerald Carter is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon and Vogue. Imperfect Endings is her first memoir and it’s available in paperback March 2011. It was excerpted in O magazine, was chosen as a finalist for the National MS Society's Books for a Better Life Awards in the "Inspirational Memoir" category, and is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer's pick. Zoe lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters and is currently at work on a novel. Learn more at http://imperfectendings.com.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Exercise in Cognitive Psychology

Here's me making good use of my BA in Psychology from Fancy Women's Liberal Arts College. This morning I happened to notice an article on Gather.com by Effie Orfanides called " 'Breaking Dawn' teaser trailer has fans crazy!"

Orfanides goes on to admit it's a fan-made trailer and that the official film trailer will be released closer to Breaking Dawn Part 1's November 2011 release date.

Here's the cool cognitive psych part: even though you know for a fact this "trailer" is made with clips of the other 3 Twilight movies, interspersed with clips of actors who are not Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, the way the human brain works will still cause your mind to interpret these images as a unified whole, making it seem authentic.

Try it on this clip, another fan-made from the one Orfanides mentions in her article, but one which I think is of better quality.



Did you fool yourself? If so, here's why: we perceive stimuli, not according to their individual characteristics, but organized in groups of information. It would take too much time and brain power to perceive every mental image individually, so our brains have created shortcuts.

One of those shortcuts in closure. You hear someone say "Shut the" and you shut the door, even though you never heard the word "door." Your mind fills in gaps with information that should logically go there.

Other shortcuts include continuity and contiguity. Continuity allows you to perceive short film clips as a unit. (Count the number of cuts in a 30-second commercial. There are many. TV relies on the principle of continuity.) Contiguity ensures that you'll perceive stimuli--again, video clips in this case--as belonging together simply because they are near each other in space and time.

Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Creativity and the Human Soul" by Gwen Fox - Guest Post

There are many reasons we as humans create…one of the first was to show direction for fellow followers. So, what is our reason to create today? Why is creativity so very important to our lives?

The one thing we have in common with everyone in the universe is creativity. It is in our DNA. Creativity is the thread that binds all of us together...how fabulous is that !!! When we let our creative energy surge through our body without conscious thought we reach a place within us that is sacred.

As a professional artist and teacher I witness this struggle of “Am I creative?” every workshop. Students who have finally given themselves permission to delve into their desire to create also ask themselves “Will I embarrass myself?” Some enter the room with great trepidation, some are shy, quiet and then there are those who consider this a fun exciting experience. By the end of the workshop each student has found a friend within themselves…a friend they had all along but didn’t know existed.

Women are the worse in recognizing and giving into the need of examining their creativity. Why do women put aside this yearning? Perhaps it is because we are raised to be “giving." We are the caretakers and this takes precedence over our own desires.

I was raised on a farm in East Tennessee and my fabulous Mother wallpapered the hallway of the old farmhouse in plain wallpaper and gave me permission to draw to my hearts content. She repapered the hallway each week for many years. I grew up thinking all children were allowed to draw, color and create on the walls!

The big question is this: Why do we fight this need, this yearning…this essential component in our lives? Do we consider it frivolous? Are we told we need to be more serious?

There are many things I don’t know but I do know this:

When we forsake our life’s longing, perhaps our purpose in life, we deny our children the pleasure of witnessing our growth. Mothers who give themselves permission to honor their creativity then open the way for their children to pursue theirs. This is especially true for our daughters.

There is a quote I love that was written by a French essayist, ”With everyone born human, a poet--an artist--is born, who dies young and who is survived by an adult."

Our creative explorations feed our soul, enrich our lives and enhance those around us. Creativity is where your soul wants to sing…Come home to your heart and listen.

Gwen Fox is a professional artist and teacher. She has been referred to as “the bridge between art and spirituality”. Gwen has forged a new paradigm in the world of art as she helps her students tap into their inner strength and peel away limiting beliefs. Gwen can be reached by email - gwen@gwenfox.com Her website is www.gwenfox.com

This post was originally published at Unstarving Artist

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Cheese Shop Mystery

I'm not a mystery reader. I do love Agatha Christie's Hallowe'en Party, which I was required to read in middle school. I also love cheese, which was what attracted me to Avery Aames' The Long Quiche Goodbye. It's the first in the Cheese Shop Mysteries series.

The cheese shop is Fromagerie Bessette in the little town of Providence, Ohio. Charlotte Bessette inherited her love of fine foods from Bernadette and Etienne, the grandparents who raised her. Charlotte lives with her cousin Matthew, recently divorced, and Matthew's twin daughters. Bernadette is Providence's mayor; Matthew is an oenophile.

The setting is charming. I love cheese, I'm not familiar with a lot of the different kinds of cheeses, but all of the meals and snacks mentioned in the book sounded delicious. The Bessette family is adorable, which is why you'll never once imagine Bernadette could be guilty of the murder. The mystery is well-written. I don't know if a more experienced mystery reading would have spotted the culprit early one, but I was surprised.

Best of all, four of Charlotte's recipes are in the back of The Long Quiche Goodbye, including the Peanut Butter Apple Pie Sandwich.

The next book in the series, coming out in May 2011, will be called Lost and Fondue. I'll have to read it just to learn more about the mysterious Jordan Pace, Charlotte's love interest. The romance reader in me wants to see how their relationship develops, and whether Charlotte's Amish co-worker Rebecca will find love in the "big city."

Avery Aames' books are easy to find in the bookstore. They're alphabetically first in the mystery section.

I won this book in a blog contest. I was not otherwise compensated for this review.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eight-Point Checklist for Working with a Publishing Services Company

Guest Post by Mary Babic

Let’s clear up a source of a lot of confusion for authors new to the publishing industry: What is a “publisher” versus a “publishing services company”.

An author is the one who comes up with the intellectual property in manuscript form. The publisher is the one who adds the money and expertise to leverage the intellectual property into a successful book by providing a great title, cover, interior, setting the price and then cost-effectively printing the book and getting distribution for it into the bookstore market.

By this definition, so many of the entities calling themselves “publishers” are instead, “publishing services” or “author services” companies.

Here is the bottom line: IF A COMPANY ASKS YOU TO PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK, IT IS NOT A PUBLISHER.

Publishers make investments. If the author is both making the investment and bringing in the intellectual property, then that is not a publishing deal. What you are doing is buying publishing services.

There is nothing wrong with that if you know what you are paying for and what you are getting. I hear so many people tell me what their “publisher” said, only to find out they aren’t working with a publisher at all.

If you are thinking of doing business with a publishing services company, (sometimes called a POD publisher) – a company that calls itself a publisher but charges you a fee up front – make sure they are right for you.

You have a right to know what to expect, so you need to have a contract to document the agreement. The services provider should provide you with the contract and you would expect to see provisions regarding who does what, what the flow of money is, in and out, termination provisions, and what liability each party is assuming.

But beyond the standard, there are some provisions that are especially important in publishing services contracts. We’ve developed a eight-point checklist of these essential points. If they can say “yes” to each of these, then you’ve found a great company to work with. If there are any “no” answers, please think twice!

1. Author retains all intellectual property rights – if you have to pay up front, there is absolutely no reason you should be selling your rights to your intellectual property in the bargain. You are licensing your rights to print, perhaps exclusively, for only a designated period of time.

2. Author benefits from book profits (isn’t just paid royalties or a commission) – again, if you have to pay the full cost of producing the book up front, the publishing services firm might get a percentage of what you sell, but you should retain the lion’s share. If they only want a percentage from the books they are able to sell, that would be a reasonable exchange. If they are able to generate bookstore orders (unlikely, but not impossible), then they should take a percentage from those sales. Otherwise, the profits from the book sales, minus the costs to print, should be yours.

3. Author has the right to terminate the publishing services contract, preferably in 30 days, but no more than 60 days - if you get a great offer from an established commercial publisher, you will be kicking yourself if you can’t take it because you are stuck with a bad contract you can’t get out of.

4. Timeline the author can live with - many publishing services companies do not specify how quickly they will publish your book. There is no reason they cannot create the cover and interior and have the book printed within 90 days of when they receive the manuscript. Anything much outside of that time frame is unacceptable and you should only sign a contract that gives you a full refund if they do not have books in your hands within 90 days, unless you specifically agree otherwise for some reason.

5. Professional quality cover, interior and printing – I have seen way too many books with completely unprofessional covers and a book binding that is falling apart. A professionally-designed cover is easy to spot a mile away and if you aren’t sure of what you are getting, call in a professional to take a look for you. Many of the publishing services firms outsource their printing to LightningSource.com (just another reason for you to go direct), but if they do, at least you can be sure that the quality of the printing and binding will be good.

6. Author is given cover and interior design files if contract is terminated - if you have had to pay to have your book cover designed and the interior typeset, then you want the right to get the design files back (not just a PDF) if you terminate the contract. Most POD publishers do not allow this as a way to keep you tied to them.

7. Reasonable prices for books – if part of your contract is for the publishing services firm to print your books on-demand, then you want no more than a 25% mark-up to cover their administrative costs than if you took your book to your own printer. The on-demand printer you would be smart to use is LightningSource.com (for more reasons than I can detail here). The formula Lightning Source uses to determine the price of printing a book is $.90 x .015 x the number of pages in the book. So for instance, if your book were 183 page, the price per book would be 183 x $.015 = $2.75 + $.90, which equals $3.65 per book. Again, using this example, if the price quoted to you by the POD publisher were more than $4.56 per book, you are paying too much.

Too many publishing services companies charge a percentage of retail for you to buy your own book; for instance, 50% of a $20 book, or $10 a book. This is how established commercial publishers work, but they do it because you haven’t paid for publishing up front – that is a whole different story.

Don’t ever sign a contract that requires you buy a minimum number of books. Regardless of what the POD publisher tells you, they are printing on demand, which means they don’t have to buy a certain quantity from their printer, so you should not have to either.

8. Reasonable prices for other services – many of the publishing services companies want you to buy marketing or other services and they will offer you a menu that you feel like you need to be successful. Much better to interview qualified professionals and choose your own after talking to other authors and others in the industry. Don’t sign a contract that requires you to buy any additional services.

The bottom line is this: You can easily self publish without a POD publisher, but if you decide you want someone to handle all the details, be sure you get what you are paying for. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of POD publishers so you have plenty to choose from. As in all other things, make sure and read the contract and get the terms that work for you and your book.

Contact: Mary Babic at awritersassistant@gmail.com or http://www.awritersassistant.com/

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"What You Should Know To Become A Writer" by Arthur Levine

These are some of the questions an individual should ask themselves when considering becoming a freelance writer:

1. Do I have the temperament to be on my own working on my own schedule?

2. Am I willing to devote the time and effort necessary to master my craft?

3. Do I have sufficient capital to cover myself during the initial period while I’m looking for writing assignments or the publication of my book?

4. Are my health insurance needs covered by insurance?

5. Can I learn what I have to about running a blog or Web site?

6. Do I have real talent and a voice that is distinctively my own?

7. How much competition will I face and how do I distinguish myself?

8. Can I find a niche market where I can prosper?

9. Will my family and friends be supportive of my new endeavor?

10. Do I have the will and faith in my own abilities to persevere?

If you can answer all these questions positively then you stand a good chance of being successful in your new career as long as you have talent, but be aware that there are risks involved and many people with good intentions do not succeed.

It’s a good idea to try to get independent opinions on you writing capabilities not just from friends, but also from independent sources such as agents, critics, beta reading groups and editors.

Often a new writer will discover that they have some talent, but not necessarily the knowledge to put their writing in the best light. This is where a good editor can make the difference between acceptance and rejection in the publishing world. They can show you what you are doing wrong and how to correct the problems.

Don’t let anyone keep you from pursuing your dreams, but be prepared to put out a real effort if you want to succeed. Your words may flow, but writing success doesn’t come easy.

To your success,
Arthur Levine
Author of the novel Johnny Oops