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writing

Caveat Emptor vs. Caveat Venditor

WARNING: This is a true NettaRant. You might want to wear a helmet.

ā€œIā€™m just feeling kind of truthsome right now. Life is too damn short for ifs and maybes.ā€ ~ Capt. Mal Reynolds of the Serenity

Instead of your regularly scheduled programming in which I feature some form of Fabulous Fiction, I have instead decided to shake things up in more ways than one.

Yep, it's likely to get thick. And I'm pretty sure it's not going to bring any boys to the yard.

As you may well be aware, I am all for supporting the self-publishing wave, also known as the Indie Movement. (Although some contest the moniker, “indie”, as it really applies to a different aspect of the publishing business…still, I’m not one to split hairs.) I believe passionately in self-publishers coming in to their own without the stigma of “if you’re self-published, your work sucks hot rocks.” That being said, some self-publishers are making it VERY difficult to don the pom-poms and rah it up.

Oh, not on purpose, I’m sure. Pretty sure. Right now it seems like it’s the “American Idol” of publishing, and like American Idol, some people are just not right for the stage, and that’s my nice way of expressing it. It’s a buyer beware world out there — I’m not saying it hasn’t always been that way, but at least with the Big 6 as gatekeepers you had some assurance of quality. (You can argue about their control issues another time. I’m on to something else right now.) In this Wild West Frontier of self-publishing, as a reader you have to do your own due diligence as far as sniffing out quality material to read.

Okay. Now that I’ve laid the groundwork, I need to vent. Consider this your wake-up call.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S GOOD AND HOLY, PEOPLE, GET YOUR SHIZ-NIZ TOGETHER!

It’s not just a “let the buyer beware” world out there, it’s a “let the seller beware” world! Wake up! I understand you want to jump on the bandwagon and present your work to the world, but have some patience! Is it your best work? Could it be better? Have you EDITED your piece? Have you hired a professional editor or just let your sister who has a degree in liberal arts have a whack at it? Did you put it away for a few weeks to look at it with fresh eyes, or did you mindlessly throw it up on Smashwords or Amazon so fresh off the word processor it’s bleeding from a thousand knife wounds? You guys are KILLING ME.

And while I’m at it, let’s take a look at formatting. Is it formatted properly? Is it consistent, or do you have flawed formatting throughout the entire novel? You know, like it starts off with indents, then goes to block, then back to indents? Are there proper spaces between paragraphs? ARE THERE EGREGIOUS TYPOS?? Did you even bother to put it through a simple spell or grammar check?

Am I perfect? Oh, hell no, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that. It’s not perfection you’re going for here, but at least aim in the general vicinity!

Oh my GAWD, you make me stabby, cranky and want to spank you so hard you can’t sit down at your word processor for a YEAR.

Don't make me get out the whip. Because I WILL do it!

I have seen so much potential absolutely RUINED by LAZINESS and that makes me NUTZ and quite frankly, it pisses me off. As a self-publisher myself, every one of you that is too damned lazy to make sure you’re putting out a quality product is adding to the very stigma you’re trying so hard to dispel! I know you’re in a hurry, I understand why you’re in a hurry, but slow the hell down! Will it really kill you to take an extra few weeks to make sure your work is polished, professional and ready to fly?

If it’s not, you run a real risk of wrecking any chance you might have of a successful launch, and instead you’ll be thinking oh, this self-publishing stuff is bullshit, just like you think the Big 6 is “The Man” and keeping you down, when in fact it’s your own fault! If this is any example of the kind of material you have sent to “traditional” publishers, it’s no wonder they kicked you out on your ass. And if your baby is NOT ready, then roll up your damned sleeves and DO THE WORK.

You’re doing even more damage than that. You are tearing down the credibility of every single writer out there in the self-publishing process who actually works their ass off to make sure what they produce is as good as anything from the Big 6. It’s aggravating, defeating and embarrassing.

I realize this post is not going to make me popular at parties, but someone had to say it. Go ahead, make your voodoo dolls and stick pins in me, but in your heart of hearts you know I’m right or you wouldn’t be so annoyed at reading this.

Go ahead. It wouldn't be the first time.

I am really frustrated (no, Netta, really??) by starting off reading a book by an indie and being unable to continue because of the above-mentioned flaws. I am frustrated because many of these pieces have great potential, but have sadly fallen victim to the author being in a big fat hurry or just not caring. And if YOU don’t care, why should I? That’s right, I don’t. I’m not liking your damned page, I’m not liking your damned book, I’m not re-posting, re-twittering or re-anythinging your work if you can’t actually give a rat’s ass about what you’re putting out there. I’m sorry. I just can’t do it. If that makes you hate me, oh well. I’m over it.

Self-publishing is not the easy way — NEWSFLASH — there is no easy way! Unless you realize that you’re not going to be successful and you’re just clogging up the works like a hairball in the drain.

Hire out what you can’t handle, such as formatting, book covers or editing and if you can’t afford to hire it out (and BELIEVE ME, I am so in touch with that!) then impose on good friends who do know how or learn it yourself. Stop pimping writers who aren’t ready. And for the sake of all of us out here, buyers and sellers alike, have enough respect for yourself, the profession and the potential fans to take your time to put out the very best you can.

Otherwise, get the fuck off the stage.

Who Are You Wednesday

You guys rock! The first marketing experiment was a resounding success, and I thank you so much! For your next mission, should you choose to accept it, if you’re on Facebook simply go to the left of my page here, where you’ll see a Facebook box. If you’d like to become a fan, just click on the “Like” button. That’s it! You’re done! On the fan page, you’ll receive occasional bits and pieces and breaking news on the writing front. If you don’t mind, please share the page on your Facebook page to spread the word. And thank you, thank you so much! šŸ™‚

I have met a lot of new people in the last few weeks, and I know some of them have stopped by here to get to know me better. Hell, I’d like to get to know me better, but that’s probably a topic for another post.

I’ll give you the short version, and you can extrapolate the rest.

I was born in California many moons ago (I’m not telling you how many, so don’t even bother asking).

Let's just say it's a lot more than one. A LOT more.

My parents divorced, and my mother, me and my siblings moved to central New York where I lived for most of my life. We moved a lot; I attended seven different schools in seven years. I was the oldest of five. I have been reading voraciously from the time I was three years old. (I was quite precocious, and learned while I was in the hospital with a bout of croup that almost killed me.)

I married, bore three fabulous children, and divorced. That wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but you have to take the good with the bad, right? It was after the divorce I was able to pursue my dream of becoming a self-sustaining writer. At first, my focus was on fiction, namely flash fiction, but it evolved to writing non-fiction in the form of web copy, mostly because it paid better.

I left New York and moved to Kentucky for a few years, then further west to the St. Louis area where I am very comfortable for the first time since I can remember. I returned to Kentucky when my mother was in the end stages of terminal breast cancer; you can read about some of that here or here. Shortly after she passed, my daughter presented me with my first grandbaby, nicknamed “Muffin”.

But eventually, I returned to my beloved Lou.

In my life I’ve completed an LPN program in high school; worked as a dancing hamburger; worked as a shift supervisor in the restaurant business; was employed by a major health insurance company; worked in a urologist’s office where I saw more penises than any woman has a right to see, and served as a reservations manager in a hotel. It has been a very interesting ride.

Yeah. Kinda like this.

My first love is flash fiction. I have released my first collection, titled “Not Nice and Other Understatements” and I self-published for many reasons. I am currently at work on “Athena’s Promise”, an urban fantasy about a hotel run on the edge of Zombie Town (“Z-Town” to the locals) by a demi-goddess and a Gorgon. In the meantime, I write stellar web copy for several private clients, edit novels and craft books, and generally try to cause as much mayhem as I can.

Relax. This is not mayhem. This is just hay.

In pursuing my fondest desire of writing for a living, I have learned and done so many things I never dreamed I would. I learned a lot about marketing, constructing a website, SEO, and social networking. I’ve learned much about myself, as well – that I can be disciplined, I have Mad Research Skillz, and I’m stronger and smarter than I ever thought possible. I’ve worked hard to hone any skill I may have at this writing business because I. Love. It. I never want to do anything else.

Best of all, I have met some absolutely fabulous people along the way, and this has enriched my life immensely.

So, that’s a little bit about me. Welcome to the strange planet inside my head — tell me a little bit about you!

Did I Say Too Much?

The other day, my friend Patti Larsen talked about a very interesting subject regarding watching your tongue as a writer. Go on and read it, especially the comments — I’ll wait.

Done already? Okay. I think we’re talking about a couple of different topics here, because there is a difference between ranting about something going on in your life and tearing up a writer in a review or exposing too much of yourself in a blog. The topic on Patti’s post seemed to gravitate more toward what an agent might think of you through book reviews on your blog and how a negative attitude may impact your chances of being signed to a contract.

As I said on Patti’s blog, I’ve critiqued and edited hundreds of stories for over a decade. I’ve edited novels and non-fiction work for clients. You don’t have to be the Simon Cowell of the writing world. Why be cruel? What’s the point? Some people do find that kind of thing funny, but to me it’s immature, unprofessional and unnecessary.

Yeah. Don't be like him.

I do reviews occasionally here on Word Webbing, usually on Fabulous Fiction Fridays. They will become more frequent, as I’m participating in the ABC Indie Reading Challenge this year and part of that is to provide an honest review. I fully suspect I will pull some stinkers, as a partial reason for this challenge is to act as a type of gatekeeper. As we all know, the indie/self-publishing ocean is full of fish, and they’re not all tasty. That means I will be honest — fair, but honest. It’s important to my own integrity as well as to those who follow me and value my opinion. But I won’t stoop to being cruel.

But for the sake of argument, say I was cruel (much different from “snarky”, in my opinion). Will that have an impact on my chances of being signed with an agent? I’m sure it can, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to speak with my own voice. I’m sure being cruel and mean-spirited would have an impact on the type of people who read me, the friends I have, on a whole lot of other aspects of my life.

I know there are bloggers I have stopped following because they have crossed the line — my line, mind you — and I just don’t buy into the negative mindset they’ve developed. If I see a blogger tearing up some hapless person who just happened to piss them off, I’m outta there. Who needs it? To me, it’s just another form of bullying and there’s too much of that going on as it is.

In essence, it all boils down to respect. Respect for yourself, respect for your readers, respect for anyone who has the balls to take on the career of writing in the first place. You can get your point across without calling someone names or attacking them personally. At least, that’s how I see it.

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

A Hodge-Podge

There’s always something happening in the writerly world of Nettaland, and I really should be spanked for not blogging regularly. I could promise to be better about that, but I hate breaking promises. The shards are sharp and really hurt when you step on them.

Anyway, here’s the hodge-podge of what’s currently on the table:

~ I am closing on on the completion of a Special Project, and I’m excited. My client is happy with me, and says so here. Truth is, she’s been a dream client, and I can’t wait until “Lovers and Beloveds” hits the shelves. Believe me, you will love it. I think the pre-orders are open until July 15, but you can find out more information here. Hop on, because I have a feeling this thing is gonna blow wide open. Remember, you got the scoop here šŸ™‚

~ With the completion of this project, I will have two openings for editorial services in about two weeks. Contact me for details.

~ Some of you who have followed me on my private blog are most familiar with my whining about “The Blood”. This is a short story whose history is ten times longer than the final word count. I won’t tell the story behind the story here (but I will if it’s published, promise) but suffice to say it’s been a long, torturous road with this thing. It is one of those stories that JUST. WON’T. LET. GO. I wrote the initial inception SEVEN years ago. Yes, you heard that right. It has been reworked and rewritten until I was satisfied, has garnered more rejections than a pimply-faced thirteen-year old at a high school dance, and I finally got to the point where I figured it was just going to be one of those stories that meant more to me than it ever would to anyone else.

Until one of my favorite magazines put out a call for vampire fiction. I sent it in. No word yet, but all signs look promising. I’ll post the link and tell the story should it be picked up.

~ One of my favorite authors has a new story up at Strange Horizons and it is LOVELY. Love her work. Check it out.

~ For those who are looking for a website and book cover designer, I can’t recommend Matt highly enough. He’s not only talented, the man’s a machine, great to work with, and an all-around nice guy, even if he is an Aussie ;). If you have a need, he’s your guy.

~ I’ve been asked to guest blog on Cape Cod Holistic, so that’s something I’ll be working on. I’ll post the link when it goes live — but it’s a great website and I’m honored to be asked to be a part of it. I’m contemplating subject matter, and hope to have something up in the next few days.

~ Ah, yes. Pallas. She tasks me, so she does. I’m really wondering, at this point, since the ending seems to be giving me fits, if I should just leave the ending alone and start editing from the beginning since the first chapter continues to bug the hellfire out of me. It’s the weakest chapter of the lot, in my opinion, and the more this beast sits in the trunk the more I see what’s wrong with it and how to fix it. I realize there’s no rules and I can do what I want, but the truth is I’m in uncharted territory here. I really need to finish this thing, but stuff like Life and Paying Work has had to take precedence. Stress. I haz it.

Other than that, I continue to plod along, and wonder why I didn’t choose an easier career. Heh.

Wait – You Mean It’s Monday?

Wow. And the first days of June. Holy shiznola, where did May go?

Let’s take a little stroll, shall we, and fondly remember what did happen in May.

I found a couple of copy gigs that have become small eggs in my basket. Not enough to really earn a whole lot of money, but eggs are eggs and I’ll take them.

I finished Part One of a three-part project and it went really well. I’m very pleased about that. I received another nibble about my editing services, and I’m really happy about that. I love editing. Love. It.

I’ve settled in to the new digs a little bit more and it’s become increasingly homey. I still have a lot to do, but it’s getting there. I especially like the squirrels that run back and forth across the roof. The pitter patter of little rodent feet is so…funny. Heh. I put out crackers and popcorn in the morning for breakfast, and I’ve actually caught one of the little buggers on video munching away.

As long as they eat outside, we’re cool.

Mother’s Day was particularly difficult. The first one since Momma passed. I was dreading it, and I was right to dread it like I did. It knocked me off-kilter for a couple of weeks, actually, if I’m to be completely honest. The next bad spot I see ahead of me is her birthday. Trying to put a positive spin on it is not easy. I miss her every day, with every breath. I keep waiting for it to ease, but it’s not happening. And that’s just something I’m going to have to accept, at least for now.

My friend Peat is doing awesome. I’m so happy for him, I can’t even tell you. Classic case of a good guy making good.

I’ve “discovered” another great writer, and I love it when that happens.

Conversations with the Inner Circle of Netta have prompted me to finally start my own project. (I know, it’s about time, isn’t it?) It’s my second novel, untitled, based on my experiences in the hotel industry — with a Netta-twist. I believe the proper term is “urban fantasy”. I am way excited about this, to the point I’m actually dreaming about it at night. I’ve got a start, but it’s a real juggling act in between the non-fiction. Sometimes it’s difficult to switch between the left brain and right brain, especially when you only have two brain cells to start with. Heh. You either have two on one side and none on the other, or they’re split up and lonely without each other.

****

So, goodbye to May, and hello, June. Let’s see what you have in store. As long as it involves words and squirrels, I’m sure it will be interesting.