Friday, April 29, 2016

Don't You Know it's Different for... Writers

Now and then I like to read fashion magazines. I mean, it can't be world news every minute, and I like to keep up with developments in skin care and um...stuff. Obviously I understand that the models are all airbrushed and twenty-four years old (which is kind of the same thing). And most of the pages are filled with clothes I couldn't afford even if they were designed for real life. I'm bemused that there are people out there who will pay $500. for a swimsuit (you know you'll be dunking it into chlorine and saltwater, right?) but I like nice things. I'm not going to judge. And I've certainly made my share of dumb investments--and not even got a swim date out of them, so...

These magazines usually have interviews with cover models or celebrities wherein the interviewee shares her beauty secrets and "fashion philosophy". I realize that these interviews are primarily about product placement, but I admit I find them interesting--kind of in the same way I can watch Animal Planet for hours on end. I like learning about other species.

But holy moly the life of a writer is different from the life of a fashion model/actress/Adele. So I thought for today's blog (which is actually last week's missed blog) I would grant a fashion magazine interview and Reveal What Really Goes on in Her--er MY--Daily Life.

The Josh Lanyon New York Fashion Magazine Interview

What is your morning beauty routine?


Wait. I see I already got the first question wrong. So the previous interviewee tells about rubbing organic rosehip oil all over her body and taking a freezing shower. WTH? I can't compete with that. Soap and toothpaste and deodorant when I'm not writing. When I'm writing...well, fortunately I don't see many people when I'm working. I did read in one magazine where the interviewee talked about using coffee grounds as a facial scrub, so maybe my first answer was correct. Let's go with that.

Do you have an exercise regimen?

Oh no. I'm failing my first NY fashion magazine interview!!! Okay, I do try. In the summer I swim. In the winter... I think about resuming yoga. I think about the summer when I can swim again. I think a lot about finding something to do that I like as much as swimming. I think about the fact that blood is congealing in my extremities--and my contemporaries--as we sit typing all day.

Writers should make time for exercise. I do sincerely believe that. So that's a start.

Physically speaking, how do you feel about aging?

I'm puzzling over this question. Physically, am I aging spiritually as well? Hm. Well, I am all in favor of aging, given the alternative. Which, by the way, is even harder on one's looks.

Favorite designer?

I know this one! Levi Strauss. Dahling, you should see his summer line! What that man doesn't understand about bleached denim isn't worth knowing! Also Woolrich does a faboo line of plaid bathrobes that NO serious writer should be without.

You seem very comfortable with nudity. Has that always been the case?

Whaaa--??!! Well, I mean it's hard to shower without... Oh, you must mean in my BOOKS. Yes, this has always been the case. My characters have no qualms about taking their clothes off for the reader. And I understand that many readers also take their clothes off. But really that's between the characters and the readers.

What is the best fashion advice you've received?

Squinting makes wrinkles. Quit pretending you don't need glasses.

Friday, April 15, 2016

What? Time for ANOTHER Blog?

I'm writing! I'm writing!

And I'm slightly behind schedule because of the whole down with the flu thing.

Wait. That sounds like I'm "down" with the flu, and in fact NO sane person is down with the flu. But I was indeed laid low by the flu. And that was not pleasant, and I will do my best not to breathe on you. STAND BACK!!!! For your own sake keep your distance.

Which, in a way is a kind of segue into this morning's topic, I topic I find boring almost beyond articulation, and that is the topic of Authors vs Reviewers.

Yes, apparently that is a thing again (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?) according to the esteemed Heidi Cullinan who posts at great length here.

One thing that caught my attention is this peculiar notion that authors are responsible for the actions of their readers. I mean, if that were true, we'd be responsible for the actions of the people who hate us and post teh crazy as well as the people who love us and post teh crazy, wouldn't we?


Think about that for a second. Why wouldn't it be true?

I'm pretty comfortable with my readers. I attract a slightly older (no, let's say mature) demographic and, almost by definition, they are -- male or female -- a civilized and generally well-educated bunch. I never worry about what they will say or do in public because they are not the type to get into online brawls. Anymore than *I* am the type.

I've been around for a bit and I've now sold (and given away) well over half a million** copies of my stories. That's a conservative estimate because, like I said, I've been around for over a decade and I didn't used to keep track.

It should not come as a shock to anyone that I don't personally know everyone who has bought a copy of my work.

In fact, as I often tell aspiring scribes, if you personally know everyone who buys and reviews your're not selling enough books to make a living. You're not selling enough books, period.

I don't know the vast majority of my readers. I surmise that they aren't online, or if they are, they aren't spending time posting on Goodreads or social media. Certainly the letters I get indicate that these are not people spending time tweeting. :-D  In fact, the idea is kind of funny given the little bit of background they share.

I tend to read my reviews in batches. I think it's a good way of keeping it real. There's nothing like a row of I HATE HER to keep your head properly sized to your hat. And contrariwise, all those LOVE HERs help to balance the paragraph upon paragraph of why someone thinks you shouldn't be allowed near a computer keyboard. EVER. AGAIN. :-D

But I did read something the other day that troubled me. There was a comment following a critical review that hinted at harsh repercussions to be reaped by anyone who dared to criticize me. Which is ridiculous--and that was proved in that both the comment and the original review were met with total lack of interest or response.

As I would expect.

That kind of's insulting. It's insulting to me, sure. The idea that I would be so incensed at a critical review that I would--like the Wicked Witch of the West summon my flying monkeys--is certainly insulting. But it's also insulting to my readers, who just aren't like that.

MOST readers are not like that.

Not even the same species.

I mean, I get it. The people writing ever-so-many paragraphs of I HATE YOU must be very disheartened to think nobody cares--let alone the notion that nobody is even reading. But that's pretty much the case. I certainly don't care. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I respect your right to your opinion.

That doesn't mean I agree.

And it doesn't mean my readers agree. And if a readers should contest an opinion, it doesn't negate your opinion. Also, it doesn't mean you're being denied free speech or being bullied.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. The inherent (and dangerous) fallacious logic of insisting our opinions go unchallenged based on our right to free speech.

 We really do have to stop calling every difference of opinion "bullying," because a big part of freedom of speech is debate. We all focus on the speechifying, but that's only half of the equation. Freedom of speech is, in fact, the ability to intelligently and civilly disagree.

It is about the right to argue your point of view.

This is what worries me most these days. Not critical reviews, not my writing, what really alarms me is our inability as a community and--because it's more widespread than that--a society to intelligently disagree. To debate.

To be able to freely debate someone else's opinion is a fundamental building block of free speech. The inability to successfully defend a dearly held position means one of two things: the position is too weak to defend or you do not have the skill to argue without devolving into name-calling and rhetoric.

We need to hang on to the notion of civil disagreement. We need to retain the ability to rationally defend our opinions--which should be based on more than raw emotion--without becoming enraged that someone is questioning us. I don't care if it's over a book review or your support of equal rights, you need to be able to summon reason as well as emotion if you hope to change anyone's mind--let alone, heart.

**Proof that cold meds are still in my system, I mean one hundred thousand copies, not a million. Ha ha ha ha. I WISH I'd sold half a million. Although with 33,000 audio units, 83,000 units at Carina, Fatal Shadows...maybe. But then a lot of those are repeat customers. ANYWAY, my point is I don't know even a hundred thousand of my readers let alone know them well enough to exert mind control. Although if you can hear my voice, PLEEEEAASE buyyyyyy all my booooooks....

Friday, April 8, 2016

It's Flu Season

And I got it bad.

Or maybe I'm mixing my songs up. But basically this last week -- last Friday thru today was spent under the weather. And heavy weather it was.

I'd forgotten how nasty the flu is. I used to get sick like clockwork -- a broken, smashed clock -- every flipping year. Right around the holidays, generally, but never did a winter pass (and rarely a summer) that I was not laid low by the extremely unsexy business of flu. My immune system is a lot sturdier now days because I actually went a bit over two years -- including traveling the world -- without catching much of anything. I think this new found healthiness is due to a more sane work schedule and things like juicing, walking, swimming...suppers with my husband. A life that stretched beyond my desk and desktop.

Still. As healthy as all that is, I am not impervious to germs -- and thus the horrors of the last week.

Flu is a streaming, steaming and generally disgusting business. There is nothing romantic about it, and it really makes it difficult to function. I don't think flu is captured accurately in fiction. No one who has flu wants sex. And no one who has flu is desired by any sane person. That's the first thing writers of romance often get wrong about flu.

The second thing is how long it takes to get over flu. Even when I was a hale and feckless twenty year old, flu used to lay me low for at least a week. And now that I am a hale and not-so-feckless not-twenty year old, flu lays me low nearly as long. I will say this, I don't get AS sick nor stay sick as long. Which is kind of interesting. Or maybe not, given that I was teaching for many of my early years and children are designed primarily to carry deadly germs.

That is their main purpose in life.


Anyway. Today, for the first day in what feels like a month (but is only sevenish days), I am much improved (although the SO informs me that I still sound like an escapee from Sea World) and will soon be back at work on Murder Takes the High Road.

Murder has been lying low these last few days, engine idling while I blearily watched documentaries on things like Hitler of the Andes (I KNEW it!!!), Murder of anything moving (I concur!), Walt Disney ( childhood!!!), the Paleo diet (Rarraw!!) and the Dead Sea Scrolls ( I KNEW it!!!!).

This was the first time in history Nyquil failed me. I mean EVERYTHING failed me. Nothing could stem the fountain of my head. Ugh. So today the question is...favorite flu remedies? When was the last time you had the flu -- and what did you do about it?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring Fever -- and The Mermaid Murders book trailer

I really don't have much to say today. I've got a scratchy throat, which I hope is due to all the pollen in the air. My favorite aunt is in town and we've been spending time visiting, and I gots this book to write, AND the marathon that's known as our tax appointment was on Wednesday...

So. Yeah. I got nothing this morning.

But in case you missed this fabulous trailer for The Mermaid Murders...

This is courtesy of my film editor Brother-in-Law (a man of mystery -- and huge talent) and my ultra brilliant sister Laura Browne Sorenson. I have tried for years to get them to go into the book trailer biz, but so far no luck.