Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Becoming Sara...

The past couple of weeks, I've been setting up author pages. [There's a list to the right of this post.]  I'm everywhere.  Or should I say Sara is everywhere, or soon will be.  It's kind of funny seeing my face on an Amazon or GoodReads web page, especially with Sara's name beside the picture.  I'm starting to have a bit of an identity crisis. 

I twitter as Sara.  I have a Sara Facebook page.  The only thing crazier is that my cat, BlackBeary, has her own Facebook page [and a loyal following of friends] where she talks about how beautiful she is and about her contempt for the human race, well except the ones who make single malt scotch, her favorite spirit.  Next thing you know, she'll be twittering.

I almost forgot about my "Good Rules for Blogging".  Here's a picture of BlackBeary doing her WTF? No Fancy Feast face.  I wish I could say I meant to take that picture, but it just happened.

So, back to me and Sara.  Other than the name change, Sara is probably more me than my Nellie personal is.  I worked in consulting for many years, and even though I have stopped being a sure, we can do that type of person, I did learn how to hide behind a facade, behind a smiling face.  My friends may say that I don't hide stuff well because I do tend to show my emotions, quite easily, especially in animal movies, and I tear up when I get really mad, but I also have things that no one, except maybe my brother, knows about me.  Sara has shared some of those things in an oblique way, through fiction. 

I've never understood why someone would want to write memoir.  At least with Sara, people can only guess at how much is real and how much is fictional, at how much, as Stephen King says, is the truth inside the lie.  Just to clarify, if you've read Couillon, I have never killed anyone.  Yet.

But on the other hand, in a world of 30-minute sitcoms and Dr. Phil television therapy, I'm sure a lot of people question why anyone writes literary fiction any more.  Most people are more interested in plot these days than character development.  And when you're good at both [i.e., Stephen King], you're called a second-rate writer.  I dream of writing as bad as Stephen King does. 

When I asked my friend Lisa, who is critiquing my novel [An Untold Want, a.k.a., Counting Crows], how she was feeling about it, in other words, is she bored, interested, is it too slow, she said, "I am intrigued, and I do like the characters. I care more about the characters than I do the plot line, which isn't either good or bad, just is."  I will admit the plot takes a long time to fully develop, and I know this is silly to say after the fact, but what I was aiming at when I started the story is for the reader to identify with the characters.  Not necessarily like them, but to understand why they're the way they are and what they want to change.  Same with Couillon. 

So I think I'm accomplishing what I want.  Whether anyone likes it, reads it, cares about it, that's not my problem, not really.  Readers don't owe me anything.  I hope they will read it and like it, and possibly even care about the characters, but that's not why I wrote it.  Well, not completely.  There is a part of me that wants to be a bestselling author.  That part of me wants the reader to not only like it, but love love love it, and convince all their friends to read it.  So again, there's the split in my personality, that identity crisis rising up and waving its arms. 

So let's just say that Sara wants to be world renowned, while Nellie is writing for the pleasure of writing.   It's an uneasy alliance, but it works, for me at least.


This is the picture you're going to see most everywhere. This is me at Mama's Mexican Restaurant in downtown Seattle.  Why yes, it is the home of the E'vis room.  Decor leaves a little to be desired, but the food and drinks certainly make up for it.  BTW, I cut my friend Kathleen out of the picture.  Just so you know I wasn't drowning my publishing sorrows in tequila all by myself.  This was actually the night we went to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Removed Post

I went ahead and removed the last post.  My friend, the lawyer, convinced me that it wasn't smart.  Not that I'm known for being especially smart, well not politically.  So I'm listening to counsel.  I am smart about that. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Sometime between yesterday and today, I passed the 4000 hits mark on this blog.  Considering it's not about celebrities or the latest fashion trend, or whatever, I consider that an accomplishment.

Thanks everyone who has come to this page, even once!!!  Love you all!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

I've been thinking about this whole Twitter thing for awhile, about how effective it actually is, and then when I had a conversation with a fellow writer today, I cemented my belief system about marketing via Twitter.  I'll be using novelist as an example, because I'm a burgeoning author, but needless to say, novelist are not the exception. Lots of people are doing this, for a myriad of items, from acne cream to classes on how to promote yourself on Twitter.

On Twitter, I see so many people advertising their books, including myself, and I've been wondering, a lot, if it is the least bit productive. There's all kinds of pitches. There's the READ MY BOOK pitch, the one that is in your face.  There's the I've just written the Great American Novel and you should read it pitch.  And then there's the So-n-so said This is the Greatest Book since the Iliad and you'd be a fool not to read it pitch. These can all be interchanged or combined.  And none of these are bad, until someone decides to tweet it flood-style.  Buy my book.  Buy my book.  Buy my book.  I've gotten to where I ignore certain tweeters almost immediately because they've saturated my sense of appreciation for their message.

I usually pitch once a week and try to add some humor.  For example, I'll tweet something like What better #read on Good Friday than a story about obsession and #voodoo? Ok, maybe a stretch. Read COUILLON anyway.

And that brings up a question I've been pondering. Do people actually read other people's tweets?  I don't think so. I am following less than 350 tweeters [I have very few compared to most, some in the 100K range], and I can't even read a tenth of the tweets I get. That's when I have time to read tweets.  So if I'm not reading their tweets, they're probably not reading my tweets.  Which begs the question is this worth doing.

I even asked the question, in a tweet, if any of the authors I am following feel like they have sold books based on Twitter pitches. I got zero response. Which, to me, emphasizes both of my points: pitches don't really work and no one reads other people's tweets. Unless you're already a celebrity. I'm never going to have a real following until I'm a celebrity, but I'm never going to be a celebrity without a following.  Kind of like the old credit catch-22 [it was like this a long, long time ago], if you don't have credit, you can't get credit. [Now days, anyone can get a credit card, even my ex-husband.]

Now, I'm not dumping on Twitter. I've built a hand full of relationships there, and I enjoy a lot of the tweets. Just not the marketing ones. Besides Twitter, there are also tons of Facebook pages out there that do same.  And blogs. For example, many FB pages are centered around indie authors. I liked several of those pages when I was told I needed to get into social media if I'm going to be somebody.  My problem is that all I see on those pages are posts from other authors pitching their books.  No readers.  Just writer.

So am I going to dump Twitter or FB?  No, absolutely not.  But I'm also not the type to flood the twitter-verse with Buy my Book messages.  I don't know what it'll take for me to start selling books, but tweeting to other authors ain't it.

I'd love to hear from other authors, not represented by agents/publishers, as to how they market their work.  But just finding those people is a job in and of itself.  I followed GoodReads discussion groups for awhile, too.  You know what I found?  I found that with all this tweeting and group participation, I didn't have time to write.

So if you have some sure fired way of marketing your books, please please please share the information.  I'm not looking for the easy way, but I am looking for the most effective way.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jealousy, Despondency, and Ennui...

First of all, I got the ennui term from Henri, the Chat Noir. Ennui is one of those words I see frequently but that I never seem to be able to remember the meaning of; so I decided to use it more often. If you're like me and sometimes can't put your finger on the exact meaning of a word, ennui means a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest. Boredom, in other words.

And that's what I've been feeling lately, along with jealousy and despondency.

The jealousy is from seeing so many new authors doing well.  I want to be wanted, to be the next great author, to be in demand. Which leads to despondency, which is only exacerbated by knowing that there's tons more work ahead of me before I'm in demand, if ever, and that there are literally thousands of authors out there in Indie land, competing with me, all trying to build a market just like me. All wanting to be the next great author. It feels overwhelming at times, seeing all these people pitching their books on Twitter and FB and blogs.

And finally the ennui is a natural result of experiencing the first two for long periods of time.  I feel so tired all the time. I hate Maggie at times. I just want to shake her and say, Why can't you figure out your own problems.  I have enough of my own. That's the literary schizophrenia leaking out.  Because you know what Maggie would say, if she ever got up the nerve to confront me.  She'd say, You made me this way, bitch!  Okay, she'd think the bitch part.  She'd say, You're the boss of me, so make it right. 

I'm working on it... I really am.  Sometimes I'm drowning in it, but this is going to work if it kills me.  [Famous last words!]

Monday, April 1, 2013

Psychic Faire - the Results are In!

This past Saturday I went to a psychic faire that's hosted here in the Seattle area once a year.  And I had my cards read.  [Sorry, no pictures this time.] 

Don't dismiss this right off the bat.  If nothing else, I think psychics [tarot readers and palm readers] help people get in touch with themselves or at least with how they view themselves.  I think a lot of it is based on reading the persons appearance, on intuition and empathy. The cards, or whatever, just help them figure things out about you... or me.  I view readings as a sort of pagan psychotherapy, like seeing a therapist, and at a much reduced fee.

Even I read tarot cards.  Yes, I do.  I'm not good at it because I don't have the ability to just talk about what I see.  I'm too analytical.   I second guess myself too much.  I see things and then think, no that's not right, that's not what the card is supposed to say.

Anyway, there were no great revelations that came from this reading, but it put me back in touch with me, and reassured me that I not delusional, well not all the time. 

I had her do a general reading for me.

  • She said some stuff about work, that someone [a gray haired man or a dark haired woman] who has been duplicitous will get their comeuppance 
  • I thought, humm, I think I know who she's talking about, could even be both, and I said it's about damn time

  • She said money or a promotion is coming my way
  • I said it's about damn time

  • She said you're exhausted and need some down time
  • I said that's true

Of course there was lots of back-and-forth conversation while this was going on.  We talked about my mother a bit.  But I never give away all the information up front.  I like to see if the reader is sincere.  She said someone was with me (not a physical being) who is demanding and opinionated.  I thought great, even after she dies I can't get rid of her.  But then again, I know she's the voice in my head, the one that says if you try that you're going to fail and then what will everyone think of you.

  • But She said she [my mother, the being following me around, whomever] wants me to be happy, to do well
  • I said I hope so 

  • She said you're a perfectionist, can't stop editing that book
  • I said And?
  • She said learn to accept that done is done
  • I said hard to do

  • She said this novel [Counting Crows] will be good but not great, that what I write needs to be more raw.  
  • She said my third book will be great.  [I believe KenS said the same, that this book is good, but it's my starter book, that I can do better.]  
  • She said that I need to make it raw, show emotions in it, don't suppress them like I try to do in my life.  

And I thought about that, and have been since Saturday.  I told her about how several people have suggested I write a memoir, but that I find it too self-indulgent and don't really want to deal with all the tittering that would go on behind my back.  I told her that I do try to suppress my emotions, that I do not like to let people in.

On the other hand, today my friend LisaP asked if Maggie is Nellie.  

Here's what I told her: "Yes, Maggie is mostly me. Desi and Liz are also parts of me, as well as Rose. My mother's in there too, and my grandmother. All mixed up. There is no straight one-to-one character. But you know, with fiction even though it isn't memoir, the best fiction comes from inside. People who know me will see the correlation.  People who don't know me well may guess, and everyone else will get whatever they bring to the story."

So who knows. I may never become an internationally acclaimed author, but I'm going to give it a try.  My characters will be as messed-up as I am, and I hope people will find it interesting.  The ones who amaze me are the ones who don't get it, and I say to them, be glad you don't understand, that your life has been so good you can't grasp the underlying theme.

With that said, I'm going to go read someone else's work for awhile.

And post a comment!!!  please...

Good Rules for Blogging???

So now that I'm on Twitter, I see all these posts fly by like "7 Things to Never Do on Twitter" or "5 Things to Make Your Blog More blahblahblah", replacing blahblahblah with any number of things, from popular to professional, from appealing to successful.

One of the tips that really annoyed me at first, until I examined my own reading habits (for magazines at least), was to have pictures in the blog post.  My initial reaction was that this is supposed to be a blog about writing, not about photography, but then I thought about how when I buy or read a magazine the first thing I do is flip through and look at all the pictures.  BTW, the post with the picture of my cat quilt got quite a few hits.  So, good idea.  And I'll try to add more pictures. Maybe like this one...

Me in Portland on Stark Street

Now this picture has nothing to do with what I'm writing about in this post, other than it's a picture, but it is kind of cool since my maiden name is Stark and I'm using it as my pseudonym.

BTW, if you haven't been to Portland, Oregon, they have made an art of street vending.  The little trailers and trucks behind me are everywhere, hundreds of them.

There are several suggestions that I'm going to have to pass on, especially the start a controversy suggestion. People who know me may not believe this but I try to avoid confrontation.  That's not to say I won't get confrontational, but only over something I strongly believe in, and I am certainly not going to try to stir people up just to get their attention.  Besides, there's enough of that on Facebook already. You don't even have to try to start something on FB.  People are just pissed-off in general.

So at this point in my career, I don't think the old adage that any publicity is good publicity works.

Another crazy one is share some secrets.  Like government secrets?  Like high school crush secrets?  Like my super power is my blindingly white skin.  Whenever I put on a bathing suit and go out in the sun [living in Seattle hasn't help with the tanning], my skin blinds people. And hey, they can't see all my wrinkles and rolls.

Oh, time for another picture...

This is a picture of my friend Patti's two dogs, Honey Girl and Kemo.  Again, it has nothing to do with the blog post (other than it's a picture).

Sorry, when I get tired, I get a little snarky.

As you can see, they are extremely mistreated dogs. That might be a controversy, if it were true.

Next, suggestion is to post frequently and regularly.  I don't post frequently, as in four or five times a week, but I do try to post regularly.  So another good idea.

Finally, and I've attempted this, but right now, I believe most people are reading my blog posts either on a google/yahoo page or via email. The suggestion is to start a conversation, to encourage people to post comments. I think this is also a pretty good idea, and I'm going to try to start doing that.  So friends, who read my posts, don't email me directly, put it in a comment.  To which I'll reply.

So what do you think?  And what would you like to see me change/enhance on this blog site?

Post a comment!!!!