On the Cusp

Here we are, on the cusp of December, with Advent just under way and NaNoWriMo concluding. I’m pretty sure these three events have nothing in common except their timing, but each of them gives me reason to rejoice.

December,

not quite winter, no longer autumn – brings the chickadees and varied thrush rushing to chow down at our freshly filled bird feeders (surely the bears have gone to bed by now).

Advent,
time of preparation and anticipation — four weeks in which to align our hearts with heaven’s promise and prepare ourselves and our homes for the coming Gift.

NaNoWriMo,
concluding “thirty days and nights of literary abandon” — ready now to ease out of a crazy race of words against calendar and wonder about the potential of the emerging novel.

Then again, maybe they do have something in common. Potential.

What do you think?

A NaNoWriMo Winning Effort

A winning shout out: I did it! After three years of participating in NaNoWriMo this year I finally managed to eek out the required 50,000 words within the thirty-day time frame – in fact, with two days to spare. I’ll keep at it until tomorrow night’s deadline but the pressure’s off.

 

The novel isn’t done of course, but thanks to my frenetic NaNo’ing it’s well under way and now can continue at a more reasonable pace. And maybe now I can “get a life” again, and maybe a little more sleep. Ah, yes… sleep. That would… be… so… zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Let’s See… Thanksgiving, Christmas or Both?

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my American friends!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to stop and consider the many blessings we enjoy. No matter our economic status, our health or family situation, I suspect most of us in Canada found at least one good thing on October 11th for which we were thankful. But I must say I envy my American friends for the timing of their Thanksgiving Day.

.

Oh, I know the origins of the event… appreciation for a bountiful harvest, arrival of the English at the Virginia colony, celebration by the pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation.

.

The current American celebration, however, give or take a few days, also coincides with the arrival of Advent, when we begin looking ahead to Christmas and the celebration of the most wondrous occurrence of all time. The two aren’t really linked at all, and yet frequently Christmas decorations come out for this day and it becomes the official beginning of the Christmas season.

.

I’m a little like my new granddaughter-in-law who, before mid-November proclaimed, “It’s official; I’m obsessed with Christmas,” and put up her tree. I find Christmas slips away faster every year so I want to start celebrating it earlier and earlier!

.

May I be allowed to celebrate both Thanksgivings and thus move right on into Christmas things now, too? Pleeease?

.

What is Self-publishing?

After Sunday’s post I was asked to clarify my stand on self-publishing. Although it’s not an option I intend to pursue, I think self-publishing is a legitimate means of meeting the publishing needs of many writers. It’s important, however, to know what self-publishing is and isn’t.

.

True self-publishing leaves the control of all aspects of the process in the writer’s hands – cover art, print style and pricing. All rights, including the ISBN, remain with the writer who also keeps all proceeds from any sales.

.

Often confused as self-publishing are Print On Demand, or POD services. A POD service offers a specific package of services and the publisher will retain ownership of the ISBN and certain publishing rights. The author’s payment comes from royalties which are typically based on a book’s net price, not retail, so the author pays both the initial printing costs and a per book fee. “In fact, POD services more closely resemble vanity publishers–which is how they’re widely regarded by professional writers and publishing industry people.”* I’m told Author House is one of the biggest POD providers, and continues to grow as it consolidates with and buys up other POD companies.

.

If a writer assesses his or her publishing needs, examines carefully what is offered and makes an informed decision without unrealistic expectations of the outcome, both self-publishing and POD services can be considered as useful options.

.

That’s my opinion anyway. What’s yours? Have you had experiences with self-publishing and/or POD? Were they problem-free? Would you recommend them to other writers?

* http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/pod/

Harlequin and Thomas Nelson Publishing Hullabaloo

Everywhere you look right now writing professionals are sounding off about the new partnerships of Harlequin and Thomas Nelson with Author Solutions, to create the new self-publishing spinoff companies of Harlequin Horizons and WestBow Press.

Immediately Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and Science Fiction Writers of America issued announcements to their memberships removing Harlequin from their list of approved publishers and stating that books published by them will not be eligible for membership or qualify for sponsored awards. Although Harlequin has now responded by promising to remove the Harlequin name from the H.H. imprint this doesn’t appear to have placated anyone.

.

In a parallel to Harlequin’s self-created dilemma, Chip Macgregor summed up the Thomas Nelson situation by saying,

The folks at Nelson probably wish they hadn’t decided to use the name WestBow. They used it for expediency (Thomas Nelson already owned it; WestBow was the name of their fiction program a few years back), but that creates real issues… Can a WestBow author now say, “I’m published by the same imprint that publishes TED DEKKER”? Yeah, they can. (And yes, the Thomas Nelson authors are livid about this.) My guess is that they’ll change this.”

.

Why all the controversy? Well, there are a lot of opinions out there but most seem to be based on the perception that Author Solutions, “a vanity/subsidy press that relies upon payments and income from aspiring writers to earn profit, rather than sales of books to actual readers,”* and whose brands also include AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, and WordClay, is equated with a less reputable, less ethical branch of self-publishing. The concern is that there will be no “quality control” on the titles that are expected to flood the market looking like they’ve been endorsed by a barely disguised big name publishing company and that will affect the reputation of authors and the status of books previously printed by the original publishers before the company names became tarnished .

.

I’m not without an opinion on this but I think the most thorough discussion is found on the Writer Beware blog. Among others who are also weighing in are Rachelle Gardner, the Grayson Agency, Kristen Nelson, Chip MacGregor, Janet Reid and Nathan Bransford.

.

It may be a while before this one blows over!

.

Surging and Waning Words

I’m writing, then not writing, then writing again. It’s the usual story – fitting the writing process into the reality of other aspects of my daily life. The NaNo challenge is into its twentieth day. The statistics are piling up. I’m past 32,000 words. (If you want to track my progress click on the NaNo icon in the sidebar.) Last year WriMos worldwide logged an accumulated total of 1,643,343,993 words. As of today, just two-thirds of the way through this year’s effort, we have already logged 1,448,554,647 and the number is increasing by approximately 72.5 million a day. That’s a lot of words!

.

It’s interesting to read comments on some of the NaNoWriMo forums and the blogs of other WriMos. We’re a diverse bunch – some otherwise non-writers who thought it would be fun to write a novel as long as it only took a one-month commitment, and some long-time writers who use the concentrated writing frenzy to re-energize themselves and/or push through a specific project.

.

About now, however, one thing we all have in common is the ups and downs of inspiration. We’re alternately slogging our way through billowing clouds of discouragement, trying to make something of weak plots and pathetic characters, and then rejoicing in the periodic breakthroughs that bring sunlight into our stories.

.

In these next ten days may there be more sunshine than clouds!

NaNoWriMo’s Halfway Point and a Blogging Milestone

Today is Day #15 for NaNoWriMo – the mid point of this month of writing myself bleary-eyed. I’m not one of those fast writers who jots off thousands of words in a single dash. I’m more the plodding type so I’m very content to have trudged my way to 25,018 words today – half way to the official goal. It feels good to be on track. Maybe this year… don’t say it, Carol! Don’t jinx it!

.

ChickadeeThe other milestone I discovered only as I began this blog entry. It is my 200th post. It seems longer than seventeen months since I wrote “Becoming Visible” as my first tentative step into the public spotlight of cyberspace.  Thank you to each one of you who has persevered with me since then or joined me along the way. I’m enjoying your company in my journey.

.

Now I think I’ll reward myself by heading off to bed before midnight for a change!

.

Nighty-nite!

[Chickadee: Cornell Lab of Ornithology]

Silence, Solitude, Sanctuary and the Son

Sunshine broke through the overcast yesterday, scattering light on the evergreens where crystal droplets hang. Most of the autumn colour has disappeared, at least here at Wildwood, and the crunch of leaves has been replaced by a softness underfoot where sodden gold and brown languish in puddles.

.

God has blessed every season with unique beauty.

.

MossA recent gardening show on TV featured a House of Prayer in Little Rock, Arkansas that has been designed to provide a tranquil environment for contemplation and prayer. Zen gardens – serene Buddhist-inspired minimalistic landscapes designed to encourage meditation – are popular. It seems the search for a location where peace and tranquility exist is universal.

.

But as I stood on the deck with my face upturned to the fleeting sunlight I was reminded that my soul is warmed by the Son of God and that true peace and tranquility can only be experienced right where we are.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

[Psalm 46:10]

Remembrance Day

World War I ended 91 years ago at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In the ensuing years we have gathered at that moment to remember and honour those who, in all wars, have served in the pursuit of freedom.

Poppies

One troop commander in Kandahār, Afghanistan commented this morning, “We remember our fallen every day,” and for the families of those who have died this is undoubtedly true for them, too.

Edison Garvin

Edison Garvin

Harry

Harry McGuire

In my family I think of my father-in-law, Edison Garvin, who fought in WWI at Vimy Ridge, and of my father, Jack McGuire, and an uncle, Harry McGuire, whose service was during WWII in Canada. I have little knowledge of their military memories because they seldom mentioned their war experiences. None lost their lives in war but they are gone now. On Remembrance Day I simply remember them… the people they were and how we loved them.

Jack

Jack McGuire