Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm A Little Teapot

Well, I’m not actually a teapot, nor am I particularly short and stout. I just felt like saying that. At one time or another in our lives, we all want to be something we’re not. Rich, thin, adored, admired, happy, content, full of generosity and goodwill, admired… Ah, yes, the list goes on and on. Most of us, however, don’t want to be known as untalented, normal, run of the mill, dull.

So why would I want to be a teapot?

You have not just wandered into Alice in Wonderland. You’ve wandered into my mind. Which is scarier, by far. But in this business, you have to have a strange mind. Otherwise, nobody takes you seriously. I take myself very seriously. But then again, I really like myself.

Ah, there I go again. Getting wacky.

I have spent many hours looking for my handle, searching for my spout. I’ve yet to find them. Still, I truly believe that I am a little teapot. I’m filled with warm liquids that I occasionally like to pour on people. I’m breakable. I like hats. See, it all fits!

The madness is descending. I hope spring comes soon. Otherwise I might have to resort to…

Where was I? Oh, yes. I was saying goodbye. Stop by sometime and we’ll have tea. But bring some cookies!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Go Green!

It’s not easy being green, but it’s oh so good for you! Hello, everybody! This is my first public service blog. I am touting the benefits of going green and also giving you some ways to go about it. I’m no expert on the subject, but these are a few things I do to help save energy, money and lives.

Have you ever wondered why detergents, soaps, fabric softeners and perfumes smell so strongly? It’s because you need that extra scent (which is chemically produced) to cover up the smell of the other chemicals used to create the concoction. Did you know that embalmers need to use 50% less embalming fluid these days because we have so many chemicals in our bodies? Even newborn babies are born with chemicals in them.

Something about that just doesn’t seem right to me.

I’m not saying, go fanatic. I’m not saying, make all these changes right now. I’m just saying, pick something you feel comfortable doing and give it a try. Start slow. Doing everything all at once is too overwhelming and you’ll never get started.

There are a lot of advantages to going green: It’s better for the environment. I’ve never heard anybody argue that chemicals are good for our planet. Have you? You can save money on energy costs. It’s healthier. I’m not claiming that we never get sick, but we seem to get sick less often now, and less severely since we started using all-natural products (of course, now that I’ve said that, we’ll end up getting the plague - I’ve heard it’s going around). Apparently all those chemicals suppress the immune system. Finally, you can feel like you’re contributing to the world, rather than just adding to its problems.

Here’s what I do (though I started with just plain old recycling) ~

1. Hang up your clothes to dry (or even just your jeans - first use the dryer for 10 minutes to soften and get out wrinkles in your clothes). We’ve cut our electricity bill by quite a bit doing this. We hang stuff in our basement. I’ve drawn the line at socks and underwear, though. Not enough room, is my excuse.
2. Reduce (we are buying fewer toys that require batteries and that use less packaging), reuse (the kids make projects out of cardboard before recycling it), and recycle (just start with a little - and in certain states you can make money off the deal!).

3. Use natural cleaning products (like vinegar and baking soda, or here’s something radical - plain water). The vinegar and baking soda fizz when combined, so the kids like watching it work! Me, too, actually.

4. Use natural soaps and shampoos (I use Aubrey Organics, local handmade/all-natural soaps, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps).

5. Don’t vacuum so much (my personal favorite).

6. Buy CFL lightbulbs (more expensive, but saves you $ in the end! We get an occasional dud, but most of my bulbs are lasting a very long time and use less energy during that time, as well).

7. Use the front and back of paper, then recycle it (my kids use my discarded book drafts or the back of old homework for drawing on).

8. Buy at a farmer’s market or grow your own. My sister has a very small backyard in a city, no less, and still manages to grow her own veggies.

9. Compost or feed breads, apple cores, nuts, etc. to birds and squirrels.

10. Cut up old clothes and use as rags instead of using paper towels or napkins. I hate those commercials that tout products you use once and throw out. Very uneconomical and so wasteful. There are only so many trees in the world, people!

11. Drive less. I bundle my errands so that I do them all at once rather than one today, one tomorrow, etc. What a waste of time to keep driving back and forth, don’t you think? Make a list and then stock up on certain items you only buy at certain places. We have shelves in the basement where we store dry and canned foods - I stock up to save on the constant running!

12. Send your kids outside to play. Indoors they want to watch TV or go on the computer, both of which waste electricity, make them gain weight and rot their brains. Yes, my kids watch TV and use the computer, but they have to fight me for the privilege. I guess the key here is balance.

13. Buy those cheap bags at the grocery store to use and reuse for your groceries (instead of using paper or plastic). There’s an island of plastic that spreads for hundreds of miles floating in the ocean. It’s called the Eastern Garbage Patch. So wherever you can, try to avoid using plastic. It’s a lovely product, but it pollutes and it kills. Even McDonalds is looking into making products out of biodegradable sources. If they can do it, we can!

Some of these ideas can be expensive (like buying personal care products), so if you’re low on cash, pick the stuff that saves you money!
Be Creative and Come Up With Your Own Ideas!

Together we can save the world…

Peace Out, I am now stepping off my high horse.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What You've All Been Waiting For...

Now if that doesn’t bring them in, I don’t know what will. Actually, I thought I’d just do an update for all my faithful readers - all three of you - on what’s going on in my life. I’m still a writer, still trying to sell my book. People are still buying it, though not as many here in depressing January. I didn’t really believe authors when they said that writing the book was the easy part, at least not until I had to go through the marketing and selling bit. The nice thing is that everyone who has read The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies (warning, shameless plug coming up), that I’ve hunted down and interrogated mercilessly, have told me they really like the book. "Couldn’t put it down," they’ve said, and "Can’t wait for the next one to come out." Music to my ears. Of course, flattery doesn’t pay the mortgage.

Anyhoo…enough of the depressing stuff. Here’s the good news…

We haven’t had much snow lately so I haven’t had to run the snowblower down our very long driveway, roof rake, and shovel the steps all by my lonesome. I normally wouldn’t mind, but with all the sitting I’ve been doing lately (editing 2 books), I’ve done something to my back. I’m the only person I know who has injured herself by sitting. Back in grad school, I had such bad pains in my chest that I thought I was having a heart attack. Turns out I wasn’t getting up and moving around enough when I was studying. Isn’t that sad? Of course, when you tell people about it, they just look at you like you’re a big baby. So, anyway, I’m grateful for the break from the snow.

Wrist update: We found out that my husband tore cartilage in his wrist, in a spot that the doctor, who specializes only in the wrist and has been doing this for about 35 years, has never seen injured. He said it was very difficult to injure that spot. You actually have to press the two bones protecting the area really hard together. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Here’s the kicker… That area doesn’t have its own blood supply so it can’t heal itself. However, after a cortisone shot along with antibiotics, the wrist has healed! Say, hurray! We’re giving it a couple more weeks, just in case, but soon my snow clearing partner should be completely healed and joining me in the joys of winter clean-up.

More good news…My son found my measuring spoons. They were in his Winnie the Pooh backpack. Now why didn’t I think of looking there? Now I can actually cook and bake again without having to measure everything with a 1/4 tsp. Life is good. Actually, he did offer to loan me his pink plastic measuring spoons from his cooking stuff he got for Christmas, but only until I found mine. Such a giver.

So, except that it’s January and cold and you can skate on some places on our driveway and the kids are getting restless and like to bicker about EVERYTHING, life is going well.

Now if only more people would buy my book, I could truly be happy.


Monday, January 21, 2008

How To Conquer The Shyness Within

I used to be a very shy person. When I was in high school, I would walk down the hallways while staring at my shoes. It’s not that my shoes were just so darn attractive - I feared that if I made eye contact with someone, that person would force me into conversation, and it would be painful. My brain wouldn’t work, I’d start to sweat buckets, and if I did manage to say something, it wouldn’t make any sense (like, "My arms aren’t always this straight, you know.").

I was a pathetic case, all right.

But I got better. For all you shy and introverted people out there, there is hope.

First of all, let’s distinguish between being shy and being introverted. There is a difference, though often the two go hand in hand. In a nutshell, being shy means that you’re uncomfortable having attention on you. Being introverted means that you draw your energy from alone time (being by yourself). On the other hand, extraverts get their energy from interacting with other people. Typically, if you’re shy, you’re also introverted. But you can be introverted, and not necessarily shy (or not terribly so, anyway).

I am both. When I was younger, my shyness was the stronger of the two. I wanted to interact with other people; I wanted a boyfriend and friends to talk to and laugh with, like I saw everyone else doing, but I just couldn’t make my tongue work when it came to actually speaking words. I am less shy now, but probably more introverted. I like my alone time. It may have to do with being a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids always badgering me. But I’m just guessing here.

So what did I do to overcome my shyness? I practiced. I forced myself to engage in conversation. I forced myself even though I ended up saying some really stupid things. I’d accidentally switch two words around or say something I really didn’t mean at all like, "I just love orange pop!" I hate orange pop. But I was probably trying to impress someone drinking orange pop. Dumb, huh? Mistakes are going to happen, though. The good thing is that most people either don’t notice them, or if they do, don’t care. If they do care and belittle you for it, then they’re not who you should be hanging out with. Plain and simple. That took me a long time to learn.

I found that a good place to practice is to join an informal group of people who are talking and chattering (you know, those outgoing types). There was no pressure to talk, I could just sit and listen if I wanted. But I knew I had to practice, so, when I was ready and there was a lull, I contributed something (after thinking it through and then rehearsing it a hundred times). Once the words were said, I could safely retreat.

Here are some more tricks I tried: If I had to make a phone call, which I hated doing like the plague, I’d write what I needed to say on a notecard. That way I had the relevant details (like my name) right in front of me when my mind would go blank (in the beginning, it inevitably did). I also used cognitive exercises, telling myself that the person I was talking to didn’t know me, didn’t really care, anyway, and just wanted to take my pizza order. I practiced in the mirror. I told myself that I didn’t look any funnier than the next person (even if I did, who cared?). I had to be my own personal cheerleader. It wasn’t easy and I worked like mad at it. My ego took some real beatings (and funnily enough, I was the one doing the beating), but eventually I got better.

As I grew more confident, I took on bigger challenges. I got a little crazy with it, though, because one of the things I decided to do when I was a sophomore in college was volunteer to be in a debate in front of 200 freshmen - twice. There were other people there and I somehow managed to speak my piece and even defend it. No one booed me. No one told me that my hair looked funny. I survived. Life was getting easier, I thought. Then, as a member of this particular committeee, I foolishly agreed to give a speech to a roomful of deans, provosts, professors, and college presidents. I was 19. I was very grateful for the full-length podium because one of my legs shook like mad during the entire speech. But I got through it, shaky leg and all, and they even laughed in all the right places.

It wasn’t easy to do these things and everything in me rebelled against them. But still I forced myself to take part in socializing and speech giving. Somewhere inside me I knew that I would have to overcome this problem of mine if I wanted to achieve some of the things I wanted to do in life (like get a boyfriend - I know it’s not all about getting a man, but come on!). Actually, I just got tired of being lonely and ignored and overlooked. If I wanted to be heard, I was the one who was going to have to force the issue. No one was going to do it for me.

Remember this phrase: Fake it until you make it. Some experts don’t agree on this, or have come up with other phrases, but basically I think this one is the best. You have to act like you know what you’re doing, even when you don’t - especially when you don’t. Eventually, you actually will - for the most part. I’m not saying be fake or not yourself, just pretend that you can do this stuff. You really can put your thoughts into words. Take chances in talking to people - maybe start with your grocery bagger. "Those sure are some nice plastic bags." Or, "Do you think I should try out the renewable ones?" Most people are relatively forgiving and patient and are willing to help you along. Okay, maybe not in high school - that’s just a jungle, but maybe more so in the outside world. You will probably come across a lot of shy people out there who can empathize with you and want to help you. If you come across a meanie - and you will - then move on because they aren’t worth your time, and are probably just as miserable as you are (or worse, so count your blessings!).

Being shy is not a bad thing. But when it controls your life and keeps you from achieving the things you want, then something has to change. Remember when you learned how to ride a bike or to read or write? You had to practice at it. It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of falls and broken pencil leads, but you kept trying, right? This is the same thing. Just keep in mind that you’ve spent a lot of your life being shy; it’s going to take some time to unlearn some old and very strong habits.

But I believe you can do it! Now just believe in yourself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Humor...It's Not Just For Laughter

I like to think of myself as a pretty funny person. I also like to think of myself as a princess. Can you see where this is going? The point is, others might not agree with me. At times, I believe I achieve a level of humor in my writing. Meet me in person, on the other hand, and it’s not pretty. I make rocks look exciting.

Thank goodness, I’m not the only one who has this problem.

You see, for those of us who think we should be more outgoing, witty, or clever while interacting with other people, take a look at the other people. Unless you’re a comedian - and they have writers, or have prepared all their jokes ahead of time (I’d like to see how they do on the fly), you’re probably like me. Rather bland in conversation. Most people, when you talk to them, especially just in passing, aren’t all that entertaining, either. Maybe we need to learn that conversation can be mind numbing and that’s okay.

However, just in case it’s not okay to be boring, I’ve decided to come up with a plan of attack. Well, I tried to hire a joke writer, but since all the writers are out on strike, I’m SOL (sadly out of luck). I had to look to myself, and to my kids to help me out.

Here’s what we came up with…any conversation mentioning butts, farts, burps, bad smells (which aren’t always farts), nakedness, or all of the above combined, is sure to elicit bellyfuls of laughter (as least from the 10 and under crowd).

How about with adults, then, you might ask? Global warming? No, too depressing. Our kids? No, too competitive. Politics? No, too aggravating. What do we adults have to talk about that doesn’t lead us to want to end it all?

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing. Nothing at all. So that’s why I’m going with my kids on this. At least my conversations will be interesting. Juvenile, but a lot of fun. So, if we happen to meet, and I start running on about the longest fart I’ve ever heard, I advise you to just go with it.

I’m sure you have a similar story of your own!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Art of Transition: How to Make Your Writing Flow

I posted this writing workshop blog on my MySpace page and got such good feedback that I thought I’d post it here, too.

Hey, everyone! I’ve put together a workshop designed to help other writers learn from my mistakes. Try to do the exercises yourself before looking at the suggested changes.

One of the hardest things about writing well is achieving what I call flow. What does that mean? Giving a rhythm to your writing. When you read a book, each word, sentence and paragraph flows into the next one, right? If it doesn’t, it’s jarring to the reader. Good storytellers don’t just have a good story, they know how to tell it. Look at the troubadours. They actually followed a distinct verse form.

My personal experience. People who generously agreed to read my earlier work would often tell me right away that they liked the story. But when they said this, there was a certain lack of enthusiasm. When I pushed them on it, they could never quite put their finger on what the problem was. Something was wrong, but they didn’t know what. So I had to figure out what that was. In the end I realized that while I had the basic stuff down, there was no rhythm to my writing.

And that’s bad…

So what interrupts or impedes flow?

- too many words in a sentence, or not enough (sentence imbalance)
- action is not clear or is incomplete (you left something out)
- scene or character is not clear or is incomplete (out of character)
- sentences and paragraphs do not connect (either you are missing something,
or there is no transitional word or phrase: Connectors)
- repetitive use of words
- sentences are all the same length

So how does one achieve flow?

1. Edit. The dreaded ‘E’ word. You might not want to hear this, but you have to be a ruthless editor of your writing, especially if you are just starting out. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to edit your own work. Why is that?

- As humans, we often tend to fill in things that aren’t there. It’s a trick of perception. We tend to do the same things as writers. We tell people, “I know what I wanted to say…” But you didn’t say it! That leaves the readers feeling lost and that interrupts flow.

Here’s what I do when I edit…

- Focused Reading. Read the sentence slowly, listening to it in your mind. Make changes. Re-read. Make changes. Go to next sentence. Read sentence 1 and 2 together. Make changes. Re-read. Make changes. Go to sentence 3. When you are finished with a paragraph. Re-read it and then go right to the next one. Get the picture?

Every time you make a change, it can throw off the rhythm of your work. Even just one word can make a difference.

- Read your work out loud, either to yourself or to somebody else (which I think is better), with a pen handy.

- Be prepared to cut stuff. If you read something, and edited it again and again, and it still just doesn’t quite sound right, it’s got to go. It will be hard. It’s like throwing out a batch of cookies because they’re slightly burned. Good enough, I always say! But we all know that those cookies just aren’t right.

Exercise: Tell me what’s missing and/or what should go…

Jim picked up the ax and began to chop wood like a woodchuck could chuck wood. But before he could really get into it, there was a shout behind him. It was Rachel! He ran to his daughter and enveloped her in a big hug.

*On the surface, it looks all right. But look at it more closely…

Jim picked up the ax and began to chop wood [delete like a woodchuck could chuck wood]. But before he could really get into it, there was a shout behind him. He swung around. It was Rachel [if he doesn’t swing around, how else is he going to know it’s Rachel - wood chopping is loud]! Dropping the ax [you don’t want to accidentally chop her head off, do you?], he ran to his daughter and enveloped her in a big hug.

2. Visualize your words. We live in the age of TV and movies. Use that to your advantage. Imagine your story being made into a movie. When there is action, for example, visualize what your character(s) would be doing, the expressions on their face, their visceral reactions (what’s their body doing?). Mentally or literally, close your eyes and be that person. Put yourselves in their shoes.

3. Make the thesaurus your friend (the book and/or computer). You don’t want to use the same words over and over again. I have a list of words that I can use for ‘said’… Rambled, stuttered, snarled, shouted, whispered. For ‘moving’… Shambled, limped, scurried. Don’t be repetitive in your words, especially within a sentence or paragraph. Readers pick up on repetition and don’t like it! Make your own lists!

4. Transitional words and phrases:

- Words: However, but, and, although, though, then, yet, fortunately or unfortunately, when, because, besides, as, beginning a sentence with a verb (Yanking the door open, she ran from the room), adverbs to balance the sentence (He was remiss in his duties. He was sadly remiss in his duties), etc.
- Phrases: Even worse, Better still, More than that, Luck would have it, after all, all the same, by the way, etc.
- Sentence breakers: she realized, he thought, he laughed, etc. Nobody truly understood her ideas, she realized, but that wasn’t going to stop her from saying them out loud.
- Italics: Use for emphasis – can change the rhythm of your sentence
- Punctuation: semi-colons, commas, ellipses, dashes – can change rhythm
- Don’t use this, that or it too much (or for that matter, her, his, they, them). That really made him mad. To... That endless ranting of hers really made Jose mad.


Jake really wanted that bike. It wouldn’t be that expensive if he used all his savings. It was his money.

Suggested changes:

Jake really wanted that bike. It wouldn’t be that expensive, he told himself, if he used all his savings. It was his money, after all.

4. Move things around. I find myself rearranging sentences a lot. End to the beginning. Middle to the beginning. And so on. See previous sentence. You could write, If he used all his savings, he told himself, it wouldn’t be that expensive.

5. Have someone else read your work; someone you trust. Make changes, then get a fresh reader to read it through.

6. Critique other books/writings as you read them, especially in the genre you want to write in. What words and transitional phrases did they use? How long were their sentences and paragraphs? What kind of description did they use? Dissect their work.

7. Set your work aside for a while. Edit, then leave it for a couple minutes, hours, days, weeks. When you’ve worked long enough, your brain gets tired. You start filling things in that aren’t there. Sometimes all you need
to do is stretch and get a snack!


3. The sound of a scream rent the air. It was night. Dan heard the sound and ran toward the basement. He looked down into the darkness. He ran down the stairs and flung open the door. He saw her. She was dangling from chains bounding her wrists. He ran over and opened the clasps. She was free. But not for long. There were footsteps on the stairs.

Suggested changes:

A desperate scream rent the heavy night air. Hearing the vibrating tremor of fear, Dan dashed toward the sound. It was coming from the basement. The door was open and he peered down into the darkness, blinking nervously. The bellow of terror, more animal-like now, came again and he forgot his fear. No time to find a light, he realized, as he pounded down the creaky stairs. No time…
The solid door, when he came to it, was unlocked. It was a strange bit of luck, but he didn’t stop to question it. Flinging the heavy barrier open, he paused. The dark was as debilitating as a blanket over his head. He couldn’t see a thing. Fortunately, his hearing still functioned; he took a moment to listen. It wasn’t long before he heard her labored breathing filling the almost airless space.
She was straight in front of him. Without wasting another precious second, he made his way cautiously toward her in the dark. “I am here, my darling,” he panted, trying to reassure her, but there was no response. She had fainted. Or at least he hoped that was all she had done.
When he reached her, he found the ropes bounding her wrists were too tight to untie. Thankful for the Boy Scout training that had been forced on him as a child, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his Swiss army knife. Quickly, carefully, he sawed through the thick ropes. Sounds from above told him he didn’t have much time. He worked more quickly, cutting himself. He didn’t have time to do anything about the stinging wound either, just let himself bleed. A few seconds later, his wife was free. She collapsed into his arms, waking as she did so. “You’re safe,” he told her, holding her tight.
“Not for long,” she answered back with a tired sigh. She, too, had heard the footsteps on the stairs.

I hope this helps. Good luck and keep writing!

©2007 Kristina Schram

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Poem of Great Intensity: Is There Any Other Kind?

Water is dripping Drip, drip, drip Snow is melting Wakka, wakka, wakka.

Hey, that doesn’t even rhyme!


Here’s a real poem that I wrote, but it doesn’t rhyme, either.

The Power of the Whisperers

Shadows flicker across my path
like flashing figures on a silent movie screen
Bleak spirits whisper softly in my ear -
We follow you, they say.

Branches lazily whip the heavy air
like tired cowboys at the end of a hard drive.
Move along now! they shout, warning me
to watch for phantoms in the trees.

I catch a glimpse of one such creature
Yearning mouth and brooding eyes
mere hints of life – fleeting, ephemeral
like storm clouds racing across an abandoned sky.

I am empty now, deserted like an old house.
Wild dreams beg to fulfill me
Instead I freeze like a rabbit
in the shadow of a hawk.

Copper pennies weigh down my eyes
and my legs tire as I stand alone
amongst the whisperers
I wait to fall from unreachable heights.

They will not catch me.

Kristina Schram


I wrote that poem when I was in college. My inspiration? Walking down a sidewalk at night, alone and feeling lonely, but still able to admire the beauty of the streetlight shining through the tree branches as they danced about in the wind.

Okay, maybe you had to be there…

Some years later (today), I decided to share my poem with you - yes, you, cruel world - to open myself up to your ridicule because I, like many poets, am a masochist. Bearing this in mind (your cruelty, that is), I ended up rewriting and editing the poor thing, possibly to death. I wanted my heartfelt words to at least be decent ones, to not be entirely trite and dull. My poetry (like a lot of poetry) may not make a lot of sense at first, but hopefully, as you read it, it begins to resonate within you, to strike a cord. Or at least, not make you roll your eyes or turn off the computer in disgust.

Writing poetry is a great way to practice for other kinds of writing, like short stories, novels, even papers or unique and interesting blogs. In a few lines, you have to capture a mood, a world, a story. It’s really quite challenging. But there’s a positive outcome. The more poetry you write, the better you’ll become at maintaining a rhythm in your writing. Your descriptions will also improve as you search for strong, emotive words to use to capture so much in so little. If you are looking to become a writer, I recommend trying your hand at poetry. The practice can only make you better (or maybe, drive you insane - if that happens, don’t blame me, blame your cat).

Only a few will go on to be great poets, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t get something out of the process. I’m not a great poet - I’m too cliched. But I have fun with the process; writing poetry allows me to display my deep, dark and dramatic side. I’m not all about the laughs, you know. So anyway, let the poet within leap out and remember…

Wakka, wakka.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The January Slump

Lots of people feel depressed at this time of year. The holidays are over, the treats have been devoured, the weight has been gained and the bills are coming in. Tis the season to be sorry. So what’s a person to do? Well, you could do as the Romans do and feed people to the lions, but I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most countries.

Most people go into hibernation mode. I like to hunker down with a good book, a heavy quilt and more treats. I figure that acquiring extra layers of fat is the only way to fight off that chill I seem to always carry around at this time of year. More fat means less oil consumption (of the petroleum variety - I inhale plenty of the other stuff) and that means I am doing my job as a citizen of this planet. I am saving precious resources and I am supporting all those people who make food for a living.

Go me!

The month of January (and February, possibly March) doesn’t have to be depressing. You can think of this time as an opportunity to regroup…to prepare for Spring. I figure I don’t have anything else to do so I use the time to catch up on all sorts of indoor activities. Sorting socks, for instance. Or I might actually take on the dust bunnies gathering beneath my bed. I’d better go after them soon, though, I think they are preparing for battle. I can hear their drums at night as I try to sleep. It’s keeping me awake. They want revenge for all those Cadbury eggs I keep stealing from their kind.

I like to catch up on my reading at this time of year. One particular book I like is The Chronicle of Anaedor: The Prophecies. You know why I like it so much? Because I wrote it! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Did you know that people can go mad from cabin fever? I’m sure that won’t happen to me, but watch for signs of it in yourself. Here are the symptoms: excessive sweating, irritability, bloating, food cravings, depression, restlessness… Wait, maybe that’s PMS. Either way, look out!

So, in sum, if you notice that my blogs start sounding a little strange over the next couple of months, beware! In the meantime, eat.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Beware of Writing Scams

Anyone who wants to become a published author has a dream. We imagine ourselves sending in our first book, someone reads it and is so impressed, they actually call and ask to serve as our agent - for peanuts. We graciously accept their offer. They send out our book and immediately several publishing companies compete for the rights to it, clamoring, fighting, giving each other swirlies. We go with the company who has the best reputation, seems honorable, and most importantly, offers the most money.

Not long after our book is published, we hit the New York bestseller’s list, in record time, of course. We do the talk show circuit, our fans just can’t get enough of us, and we become famous.

And then reality hits…

You send in your book to several agents. One shows some interest. He/she says, "Hey, I’m interested in your book, but you need some editing. Pay us $800 (or whatever) and we’ll fix you right up." So you pay the money, they ‘edit’ it, you fix it, and send it back in. Great, great! It looks great. Then you don’t hear from them. After a couple months, they tell you that they just can’t find anyone interested. Your book doesn’t fit into any genre (or whatever excuse they want to use). Maybe wait 6 months and we’ll try again. Or they just stop answering your emails/phone calls. These are not agents who can find publishers for you, they are people who charge you a lot of money to edit your book.

They take advantage of the dreamers.

Well, here’s a place to check out agents and publishing companies to see if they’re legit or not. Keep in mind that there are legitimate editing agencies out there. However, they should not be selling their editing services under the guise that you must pay for these services and then they will represent you and your book.

Anyway, here’s the website.

Preditors and Editors:

FYI: The $ sign next to listed agencies "indicates verified sales to legitimate royalty-paying publishers on record." In other words, it’s a good thing; it doesn’t mean they charge you money.

So, in sum, make sure you do your research on the people you’re sending your book to. Don’t just send your precious ‘baby’ to anyone.

Dream Big (but be sure that you also do the legwork!)