Five Things on my Mind on a Friday

 

Thing One. James Frey. You may remember him as the author of the “memoir” A Million Little Pieces and the recipient of a serious tongue-lashing from Oprah. In an apparent effort to be as unsympathetic as possible, Frey has made the news again. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on Frey’s new young adult book packaging company, Full Fathom Five. Actually, this is a topic currently very near and dear to my heart.  The complaint is that Frey was recruiting students in expensive MFA programs and paying them a mere $250 for signing onto write a book and another $250 for finishing a manuscript. As you can probably guess, that’s low. Extremely low. Of course, they were promised 30-49% of all revenues, which for a James Frey book could be pretty substantial. But word on the street is that there was no accounting mechanism and authors weren’t getting even close to their due. Plus, there was a high penalty for disclosing that you wrote for Frey. Author, Jobie Hughes, came forward sometime after the book he penned, I Am Four, sold to DreamWorks. It’s important to remember in all of this that Frey did come up with the ideas for the books put into production by Full Fathom and I’m sure there are two sides to every story, but there certainly needs to be some recourse for authors who spend 500+ hours writing a novel on someone else’s bidding.

 

Thing Two. BookPeople. BookPeople is our local Austin bookstore and it’s awesome. It’s so awesome, it recently got a shout out in Entertainment Weekly. There are two things I love about BookPeople. The first is the employee recommendation feature in the Young Adult section. Employees make these little cards that they color and decorate and tape up under the books they like. It’s a fun way to “hand sell” books to customers. Second is the book-related events. Most recently, BookPeople hosted a parking lot release party for Jeff Kinney’s newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. The new book, published by Abrams, just had the strongest release of any Wimpy Kid book yet–and even sold more copies than George W. Bush’s Decision Points in its first week. You’ve got to wonder how much cool release events like those of BookPeople fuel sales. I bet a decent amount as a result of buzz and even just customer turnout.

Where can I get a tour bus?

 

 

Thing Three. Writing stuff. And how it looks like in the next few months I am going to be doing a lot of it. (Yay!) So, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the best ways to go about it and stay organized. Am I schedule person? Would it work best to write an hour in the morning and an hour at night? That would get me a good chunk of writing done every day, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. But what really tends to happen is that I go on marathon sessions and write 10k in a weekend and tear my hair out and gnash my teeth, but secretly enjoy taking that much time out to work on bookish things. Or, are word count goals really the way to go? 1-2k a day–if I finish then I can go frolick, if not, I’m handcuffed to the desk. I’ve always been sort of a word count goal person, but like I said, I’m in the process of reevaluating.

Thing Four. Outlining. Turns out that law school and writing life are not so different after all. Both require outlining. And in both contexts I don’t like doing it but I do like having it. However, in a surprising upset, I think law school outlining might (at times) be the more enjoyable of the two. Law school outlining can be pretty mindless if you’ve already taken good class notes, etc.  And if you’re lucky, you have a really smart person’s outline to work from. This never happens in writing, which means, you can never zone out and listen to country music while you type random words that sound funny and mean nothing to you like “assumpsit.” Of course, rarely do you get to come up with anything new and exciting in law school outlines. (i.e. To date, I’ve never had a dress-wearing gnome-hobbit hybrid show up in a Trademarks outline, but as far as I know, this could totally happen in a writing outline.)

Thing Five. Harry Potter. Okay, this is actually the only thing on my mind this Friday. Harry Potter! Harry Potter. Harry Potter! I have done as much research (read: watching interviews and listening to MuggleCast) as muggle-y possible, so I think I am ready to reap maximum enjoyment today. Happy HPott Day, people.

 

Thursday Pics: Back to My Prime

Alright y’all. It’s time I get serious.

To be honest, I have not been keeping myself in peak shape. I’ve been sitting back, worry free, letting my index finger accumulate pudge.

In the many, many months before I signed with my agent, my index finger worked out constantly. I probably refreshed my inbox once every two minutes. And don’t think that only applied to time spent in front of my computer, because Nate made the fatal mistake of equipping me with an iPhone, and that means I never have to leave my email behind.

So yeah, basically I challenge anyone to prove that their finger was more in shape than mine at the height of my neuroticism. You can’t. I promise.

But then came the signing. I had an agent and there was nothing to magically appear in my inbox. Yes, I know, scary. I had to spend that time actually writing.

But don’t worry. I understand that lack of exercise can lead to serious health problems. So to fix this problem, my agent has graciously agreed to submit my project to publishers starting next week.

This week I’m preparing by stretching, cracking knuckles, and trying to resist saying “Pull my Finger,” a precaution that stems from the fact that folks might get the wrong idea.

It’s going to be tough, though. However, I have every confidence that, when the time comes, I’ll be ready to refresh like nobody’s business.

Don’t be a skeptic. I ran the Rocky steps.

See?

 

 

Why is this necessary? You ask. Why is this so crucial to my writing career? Well, I’m here to dispell a commonly held misconception. No matter what “non-writers” tell you about the virtues of patience,  if you find out news ten minutes after it was made available to you…the world will end. No question.

So, please, I invite y’all to hold me accountable. And if I knew how to attach an iTunes song to my blog post, I would. I would play “Eye of the Tiger” 87% of my existence.

 

Now, I’m off to burn my .0021 calories.

 

 

***Reminder***

You’ve got until Saturday to comment for a chance to win this awesome book:

 

 

 

I’m looking at it sitting on my breakfast table right now and am sad to be giving both copies away. Good thing I like you guys.

“Unexpectedly denied a Visa to remain in the United States, Qanta Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor, becomes an outcast in motion. On a whim, she accepts an exciting position in Saudi Arabia. This is not just a new job; this is a chance at adventure in an exotic land she thinks she understands, a place she hopes she will belong.

“What she discovers is vastly different. The Kingdom is a world apart, a land of unparalleled contrast. She finds rejection and scorn in the places she believed would most embrace her, but also humor, honesty, loyalty and love.

“And for Qanta, more than anything, it is a land of opportunity. A place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to re-create herself in the land of invisible women.”

More importantly, don’t forget that tomorrow, October 31st is your last day her book will be available for download to any LibraryThing member (membership is free). It will be followed up a week later (Nov. 10th) with two weeks of author chat—meaning that every week-night for two weeks, readers can post questions for Qanta on the LibraryThing website which she will then attempt to answer.

Make sure to take advantage of any free books. I live by that rule.

Topical Tuesday: NaNoWriMo–You in or out?

A few announcements:

SourceBooks has partnered with LibraryThing to provide free downloads of a fantastic story that is currently outselling both Infidel and Reading Lolita In Tehran.

From October 27th – 31st, Dr. Qanta Ahmed’s memoir, In the Land of Invisible Women, will be available for download to any LibraryThing member (membership is free) and it will be followed up a week later (Nov. 10th) with two weeks of author chat—meaning that every week-night for two weeks, readers can post questions for Qanta on the LibraryThing website which she will then attempt to answer.

 

Here at Fumbling with Fiction, I’ll be giving away copies to a couple lucky commenters this week. As usual, each comment this week is an entry. Comment as much as you like in order for a chance to win!

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It’s that time of year again. The leaves change. The smell of chimney smoke begins to fill the air. The air is crisp and the weather perfect for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

So, naturally, you’re going to want to lock yourself indoors. Because, I mean, why enjoy the season when you could write a novel in a month instead?

Yep, Saturday heralds this year’s NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.

Two years ago, I took the challenge and wrote my first novel during the month of November. That was my first “real” effort at becoming a writer. I never went back and edited that disastrous first draft, but I did print it out and placed it a binder on my shelf.

Exactly two years from that month, I have a fabulous agent and am preparing for my first book to go on submission.

Nano, if nothing else, showed me that, “Hey, I can string 50,000 words together” and, yanno what? That’s actually a pretty good lesson.

This year, I’ll be taking a more relaxed approach. Creative A and I will be co-authoring a YA sci-fi novel during the month of November. I’m pumped to refresh my creative juices and to start work on a new project.

More on why I’m excited to be collaborating tomorrow, but for now…Just in case you needed to justify your relative insanity…here are a few reasons to glue your butt to your swivel chair and get your Nano on this year.

Five Reasons You Need to Nano:

1. Your Jenny Craig diet forbids you from eating your weight in turkey and mashed potatoes. Why not release that aggression on your keyboard?

2. You’ve called yourself a writer for the past ten years, but have yet to write more than the occasional haiku and/or dirty limerick.

3. You type five words per minute. Yeah…unless you’re 7, it might be time to work on that.

4. The economy’s tanked and you’ve been left unemployed.  Good news! Writing requires virtually no overhead.

5. You have very little respect for the editing process.

 

 

Status: Waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…Did I mention I finished my script? Oh yeah! I finished. Up ’til 5 am on Sunday finishing the edits on SCOUT. Yeah….I’m not a night owl.