Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To Writers Looking at Self-Publishing

Seriously: get an editor.  From Penny C. Sansevieri:

People ask me all the time, "How can I be successful?" Well, aside from the usual stuff, like show up and keep promoting, the one key to success is to publish a book so good, your reader can't put it down. But to take it a step beyond that, I would say publish something that has been edited often, and by someone who knows how to edit a book and isn't afraid to tell you the things you may not want to hear.

I'd also add "hiring an editor who has a shovel and an egg timer and is unafraid to use either."

/dithers over NaNo work

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Witty's Year End Book Review 2012

To the seven people still reading this blog who aren't Chinese spammers (by the by, they kinda dropped off when I imposed the register-to-comment rule): It's BEST BOOKS TIME.

To re-state the rules: These are not books published this year that I think are AWESOME AND COOL.  Some of these books may have been published ages ago.  It's just these are the books I've read this year that I feel are deserving of the AWESOME AND COOL labels of labeling.

One thing to note: I've been reading more and more in ebook format on my Nook Color.  Yes, even graphic novels are now available in ereader format, so...

Best Fiction Book

Raylan, Elmore Leonard
Leonard is the master of simple prose crime thrillers.  He started off writing westerns but soon turned to modern noir (there is, oddly, very little difference between the outlaws of the Wild West and the outlaws of the urban streets) and hit it big writing about desperate violent criminals and cops in places like Detroit and Miami.  Raylan is a novel dedicated to one of his minor cop characters turned into prime-time television superstar: a US Marshal reassigned to his home county in Kentucky after a questionable shoot-out in Miami.  The beauty of Leonard's work is the vivid characterization for even the smallest role: his criminals (even the college-educated ones) tend towards stupid and reckless, but you can see how and why they think the way they do.  And even the most stupid of them are capable of a moment of pure clarity and profound thought... right before they do something even dumber that gets them caught or dead.  Raylan himself is not a white-hatted good guy - even though he wears an iconic beige cowboy hat - but he is at least the most sane character running around shooting up half the countryside.
I got into reading Leonard while working in Broward County libraries - during the period a lot of his books were getting turned into shows and movies - especially falling in love with his book Out of Sight (alongside watching the film of said book, it is one of my favorite non-scifi movies ever).  I watch Justified - the television show this novel is a spinoff of, expanding the fictional universe of Harlan County - enjoying the characterization and depth of narrative.  The novel is akin to reading short stories or episodes not produced for the screen, in Leonard's perfect style.

Best Non-Fiction Book

Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, Eric Foner
Once you finish reading McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, you need to read Foner's Reconstruction covering the aftermath of the Civil War and the sorrows and miscues that befell the nation.  Documenting the failures of the North to ensure the rights of freed ex-slaves right after the war ends - due to Andrew Johnson's reveal to be more interested in retaining the southern power structure (Johnson hated slave-owners more for their aristocratic airs than for their ownership of humans) - up to President US Grant's struggles to stop the Klan and cope with corrupt state-level Republican governance, Foner notes where the failures took place and why: above all a level of expediency and short-sightedness on the part of Northern politicians who quickly found the rebuilding efforts of the South too time-consuming and divisive among voters back north.  If you want to understand why we had 100 plus years after the Civil War of southern historical revisionism, Jim Crow humiliations making blacks into second-class citizens even with the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments in place, and why we've still got serious problems with racism in the United States to this very day... you gotta read this history.

Best Graphic Novel

I've read several but haven't really felt the need to compliment any of them by declaring them "best."  My big problem right now is that the universe I follow - DC - is undergoing yet another universal revamp called "The New 52" aka Nu52.  A lot of it has to do with what I call "Universe-Shattering Crossover Fatigue" where every year the comic book universe is rocked with earth-breaking catastrophes in which heroes die, heroes get reborn, and any recent continuity changes get rewritten just to satisfy a minor faction of head editors who want things done their way without realizing how bad their changes are gonna be.  Batman for example getting a never-before-seen secret conspiracy known as The Court of Owls even with 80/40/20 years of established history never once hinting at such a thing.  It gets tiring, all these EPIC re-inventions.  For once I want stories of honest-to-goodness one-issue-length, no more 12-issue storyarcs, no more vast ground-shaking revelations, no more what-the-hell plot twists.  Give me comfort food for a year, people, just stop with the "what a twist" stupidity.

Best Book By Someone I Know And Correspond With On a Regular Basis

Sheryl Nantus has been busy this year, I'll tell you what.  She's got Heroes Without, Monsters Within finally up for sale as her follow-up to the Blaze of Glory novel I recommended awhile back.  I haven't gotten it meself yet, but I should be getting a few gift cards for the Nook this Saturnalia...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should I Travel Elsewhere to Job Hunt?

My parents keep insisting I need to travel in person to Maryland to do some door-to-door job hunting up there.

See, Florida is still a weak job market.  Even at 8 percent or so that's statewide, but even higher around the Tampa Bay area where I'm at.

Maryland is a better job market - roughly 6 percent, with larger businesses - but there's the costs of going up there in person.  Sure, I have family up there as well, but I can't stay there forever while I hunt for work.

The thing is, in this day and age everything is done via computers and resume submissions.  I've been taught via the local career center, informed by Human Resource personnel giving speeches about how to put in for jobs, and figured through my own experiences job hunting that going in-person and handing over a resume doesn't impress anymore.  Every HR has an application process you HAVE to fill out, and that's mostly done online anymore.

But the other thing is, I'm at that point in the job-hunting process - unemployment benefits long gone, for one - that I'm desperate for a full-time job.  And while I've had more interviews this year than before - for library openings, for a handful of tech jobs - and while I do have a contractual will-call (it's like part-time) work with a desktop support firm, I'm still not getting any full-time job offers around here in Florida.

And the other other thing is, this is December.  Holiday season.  Odds of HR people off on vacations: pretty high.

If there's anything I can go and do would be attending job fairs: places where HR people do sit there and accept resumes by hand.  They may still require an application be filled, but at least you speak to someone and have a means of impressing right away.

So I gotta ask: for anyone in the know in Maryland / DC area, are there any Job Fairs going on this month of December that an experienced librarian / desktop support computer tech can get a decent chance of handing out resumes?  Please let me know in the comments field.  Thanks!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winning NaNo... But the War on Writers Block Continues Ever On

Getting to 50,000 words is one thing.

For starters, you badge up. :)

 Just gotta figure how to add this to the blog template for permanent display... ;-)

But the novel itself is - even at 50,000+ words - halfway through.  I haven't even gotten to the breaking point for one of the main characters, and the climactic battle not yet in sight.  The month of December is gonna be both a continuing writing frenzy and a push to get the first draft (oh Lord is it rough) cleaned up for any half-decent publishing attempt.

The best thing is that there's a sense of accomplishment here.  Just gotta get past the next hurdle is all...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Last Week Of NaNoWriMo

The trick isn't to write a published novel right out of the gate.

The trick is to write something you can work with.  Get the ideas out there.  Create.

This week requires 11,000 more words out of me (I have fallen behind).  I want to get to 50,000.  I will achieve that moment...

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 16: No Rest For The Weary

I did hit 25,000 words yesterday which is on pace for the 50,000 words needed for the month.  Now it's a question of exceeding the pace, both tonight as well as tomorrow (Saturday).

How is everyone else doing with their NaNo writing?  Anyone?  (p.s if you can't post a comment here lemme know, email me at p.warten AT gmail, okay?)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update 11/4/12

As of this morning, the official NaNoWriMo word count is: 6110 words.

I will update to this evening, and give the statistical numbers such as words per day, expected completion date, and level of awesomeness.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Feel A Disturbance In The Force... Oh, It's Just Goofy

The latest news getting all geekdom atwittering:

Disney has bought out LucasFilm aka the Star Wars franchise, and is already working on making Episode VII scheduled for a 2015 release.

Which brings up the big questions:

1) Will Princess Leia be included in the Disney Princess line-up?  If she does, she better be wielding a lightsaber!

Thank God for Deviant Art! (this was the kid-friendliest version I could find.  The rest were Leia in her other costume... yeah, THAT costume...)

2) Is Disney buying up every geek-loved franchise out there?  First it was Marvel... Now Star Wars... Oh dear God, RUN DOCTOR WHO RUN!

3) Will Disney make the planned sequels more akin to how they handled Pirates of the Caribbean - which were darker and edgier than most Disney-made films - or will they make 'em like their cable channel kid-friendly what-the-hell stuff?

4) And the most important question of all: will Mickey be tempted to the Dark Side by Darth Duck?

The Day Before NaNoWriMo 2012 Begins

Was actually spent cleaning up the house a bit for tonight: it IS Halloween after all.

Another blog post is forthcoming for the day.  Please wait.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I've Decided On My NaNo Plot for 2012

For NaNoWriMo 2012, I'm focusing on the superhero novel idea.

It's based in the same 'Verse I've set up in The Hero Cleanup Protocol story.

I have a few characters in mind lined up.  I'll need to refresh meself to the rules of the 'Verse as I've set them.

Now, for the 50,000 words...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2012

With hope and luck, this is the year I not only finish the 50,000 word count but I also finish an actual honest-to-Cat novel that's suitable for publishing somewhere.

I'm with the Florida : St. Petersburg regional group again as that's closest, but this time I am paying more attention to events with Tampa especially as I'm trying to get fellow writers from the Wesley Chapel FWA group involved with this year's NaNo.

My biggest problem right now is making up my mind: Should I write a novel / series of stories based on the superhero universe from my Hero Cleanup Protocol e-short; or should I write a thriller noir-type work I've had in mind over the last two years about an unemployed yet honest (which explains the unemployed part) financier getting involved with a shady figure who might provide revenge against the greedier souls who ruined him four years prior?  Leave comments if you encourage one or the other.  Thanks.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why Should Writers NaNoWriMo?

Working on my October presentation at the moment:

So why should writers sign up for National Novel Writing Month?

1) It's fun
2) You meet up with fellow writers
3) You get out of the house and head out to writing sit-ins at coffee shops (why Panera Bread doesn't sign on as a sponsor, I'll never know) that let you plug in your laptops
4) You get some writing done
5) You get to tell your Writer's Block to go pound the pavement
6) You get 50,000 words of a rough draft completed between the days of November 1 to November 30
7) You get encouragement to finish that rough draft into a larger novel (50,000 words is at best half the length of an average novel: roughly 150 pages)
8) You get accomplishment webpage badges for making it to the 50,000 word deadline
9) You get to impress that cute soup server at the local Panera Bread
10) For emphasis: IT'S FUN

I think I can get that into a pretty decent PowerPoint presentation, ya think?

oh and 11) You get an opportunity to get your finished work published on Create Space.  I think.  Will need to check NaNo's tie-in to that.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dropping An Old Website

I've decided I shan't keep up with an old html-based website any longer.

If anyone's got a link to it, is no longer a functioning site.  If you keep getting its pages, it's only because it hasn't been fully decommissioned yet.

Please use the blog here for keeping up with my general off-kilter observations of librarianship, writing, and cats.  Thank ye.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Remind Me Of This From Time To Time

For the Florida Writer's Association gathering in Wesley Chapel this October, I got to have presentation materials for two things completed:

  • National Novel Writing Month - discussing the when, why, who, how, and what for the following November
  • How To Get Published To Smashwords - writing a story, getting cover art, uploading all of it, getting a default ISBN, publishing to ereader formats, self-marketing

Should have stuff in place by the end of August, have it proof-read by others and fact-checked besides.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

For My Birthday, I'd Like a Job Or Writing Contract, But Instead I Get To Test Portals!

This may be my second-best birthday ever (Sorry, Cave Johnson, but my best birthday was a few years back when the Star Trek reboot came out on my birthday, so there)!

Can we get to has combustible lemons?

(it's being released May 8 2012.  Enjoy your cake!  I will...)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Event! Get Your Calendars Out

Just to let you seven blog readers know, I've been invited to a Local Authors Event at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Wesley Chapel, FL (address is 28152 Paseo Dr also known as the Shops At Wiregrass).  The event is Saturday April 14th from 2 pm to 4 pm and involves about 10-12 local self-published or small-press authors hawking our titles.  I'll be offering up Last of the Grapefruit Wars in print as well as promoting my estories Welcome to Florida and The Hero Cleanup Protocol.

For some reason, that store's website doesn't have anything scheduled on their calendar (not even Nook training classes, so I think they're just late submitting one), so for linking purposes I have the Event notice from Facebook right here.

Please tell anyone you know in the Tampa Bay area that's within driving distance of Wesley Chapel to please show up and support our local authors!  (good turnouts always encourage the stores to keep hosting these events...)

Here's a promotional sign I've made for Welcome to Florida:

How does it look?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

And Before I Knew It, I Was Back To Job Hunting

The reason - and it's a good one - I hadn't posted anything for most of February is because I finally got hired to a full-time job.

The reason - and it's a sad one - I'm posting now is because this Friday they let me go.  I hadn't even last a full two weeks.  Even my temp job with the US Census lasted longer.  :(

They said I was a good worker, reliable for the most part, it's just I was having problems with figuring out the proper Status settings to apply to the records I was tracking.  Because the team I was hired with was moving up to a higher tier project, they didn't want to waste everyone's time waiting for me to grok the proper procedures and so... out the door.

And so, back to the grind of finding someone who will hire me.  But now I've got this albatross of yet another workplace I didn't fit in: for three years I've been struggling to find a full-time job, and pretty much since 2011 onward trying to find even a part-time job.  If no one was taking a chance with me then, who's gonna take a chance with me now...?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Just Got A Title Idea For a Story

It's set in my superheroes universe.  I just now have to write a story that'll fit the title... ;-)

Lemme get some of it typed before I tell all seven of you what it is.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Does 2012 Have In Store For Me?

It's been a busy month regarding job-hunting for a librarian opening.  Brevard County interviewed me - twice, which is the really good news - and I did a phone interview with Rasmussen College.  Still and all, it would be nice to finally get a job lined up, get my finances stabilized, my life back on track...

With regards to writing, my mood and interests are distracted at the moment.  I feel the need to write but not the urgency.  Tis the pity.

I'll update here as best I can.  Happy 2012 to everyone!