It Just Got Even More Expensive To Make Your Book “Visible”

MedusasMuse:

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the Bowker website. Now I’ve found this article about the cost of ISBN’s. Is the rise in price a way to weed out indy publishers? Or just the cost of publishing books?

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

BOSTON, Massachusetts — Bowker, the US agency for ISBNs, has raised the cost of a pack of 10 of these book “identifier” codes, from $250 to $295.

And thus, it just became even costlier for an American self-publishing author to buy the universal identifier(s) needed to make a book “visible” to book-market tracking services.

Ironically, some observers will say that the move further hobbles the ISBN, itself. Its validity already is being called into question, as pricing and an association with old-industry “gatekeeping” continue to erode its usage. For some time now, the ISBN has been unable to give us a full picture of titles active in the market.

On Tuesday in Berlin at Klopotek’s highly regarded annual Publishers’ Forum, industry consultant Brian O’Leary will call on the international community to consider changing “the roles of standards and their governing bodies.”

And…

View original 1,302 more words

The Writing Process – a blog tour

Thank you so much Natasha Yim for inviting me to the Writing Process Blog Tour. It’s fascinating to learn about each writer’s creative process. Click the link to Natasha’s blog and learn more about her process. Then follow the links backward for some great insights on writing.

But first, read my responses to the writing process questions.

1) What Are You Working On?

Currently I’m writing a middle grade fantasy chapter book for Goosebottom Press, but I’m sworn to secrecy on the exact subject. Let’s just say it’s about a really feisty girl with the power to change the universe. I’m also writing another play, this time set in the 1980’s. This new play is more dramatic than my previous two plays, but will still have plenty of comedy.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Writing for middle grade readers is a new adventure for me, one I’m really enjoying. After reading several middle grade books to familiarize myself with the language and nuances of the genre, I’ve learned that middle grade readers are more savvy and sophisticated than I realized. Your average 11 year old loves a scary scene. Maybe we can thank Harry Potter for that. I can’t really say how different my work is, because I’m still learning. All I know is that I love writing for this age group and hope to write more books.

Now, if you want to ask me about my plays, the number one thing that makes my work different is that I typically write more parts for women actors than men. It is a common complaint in the theater that plays seem to be written for and about men. Unfortunately there are far more actresses looking for parts than actors, so competition for good parts is horrible. I decided to do something about that. Plus, having a background in drama helps me create plays that provide theater companies what they need: parts for women and simple sets. Most of my plays take place in one setting, which means a theater company can save money on scenery design, or go full out on one set.

3) Why do you write what you do?

When I was a child, Zilpha Keatley Snyder was my favorite author. I devoured her books! When I grew up and started writing, I longed to write for that age group (middle grade) and explore some of those darker subjects. Now I’ve been given the opportunity to do so.

I started writing plays because I’m lazy. Writing description is hard for me, but dialogue is easy, so I followed my strengths and discovered I can create great stories with just people talking. And it helps me finally use my BA in drama.

4) How does your writing process work?

Typically, I start with a situation. I’ll get an idea about people in a setting and one of them wants something from the other. But at first, I don’t know who the people are. So I’ll start writing the scene, just letting the language lead the way. Suddenly, one of the characters will take center stage and her desires will become clearer. I’ll hear her voice in my head and once I have that, the plot develops. Now the real writing can start. Occasionally I might discover that the character I’m following isn’t actually the main character. A different character will take charge and the story might go a direction I didn’t imagine. How do I keep any control over this chaos of my imagination? By focusing on my original idea, that one scene that started it all. If I write too far from that original point then I know I have a new story and I have to decide to pursue it, or go back. But generally, the first image is so strong it guides me.

I don’t like too much of an outline at first; I like to follow the characters. Once I have a very clear idea of who all these people are and what they want,  I’ll plot the scenes. Ultimately, there has to be a story, not just characters interacting.

Before I even brush my teeth, I write in the morning for an hour. If I start doing anything else before I write, I won’t write at all that day. I’m also a mom and a publisher, so those two jobs take a lot of my time. If I say, “I’ll just start the laundry before I write,” I will start doing other things “for a minute before I write.” Then my writing time is gone. Let the laundry wait. Write!

The blog tour continues on June 9th with writers Shannon Drury and Kirsten Imani Kasai. Follow the links in their bios to visit their websites and next week you can read their answers to the Writing Process questions too. 

SHANNON DRURY is a writer, at-home parent, and feminist activist. She writes a regular column for the Minnesota Women’s Press and served six years as the president of Minnesota NOW. Her book, The Radical Housewife: Redefining Family Values for the 21st Century, will be published by Medusa’s Muse Press August, 2014. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

KIRSTEN IMANI KASAI writes horror, erotica and sci-fi/fantasy. She is the author of the novels “Ice Song” and “Tattoo” (Del Rey/Random House), “Private Pleasures” (Renaissance), and “Rhapsody in Snakeskin” (Renaissance), a collection of poetry/short fiction. She is the co-founder of the horror/spec fic literary venture “Body Parts Magazine.” Her experimental prose/poetry piece, “mice,” will be published in the spring 2014 issue of Canada’s “Existere Journal.” In May 2014, she participated in a 10-day artists’ residency and festival in Romania, where she dined with the mayor of Borsec and read her locally-inspired poem “The Truth about Decay in Transilvania” in English and Romanian. She’s recently completed a poetry chapbook “The Atmospheric Mysteries of a Steaming Corpse” and is the recipient of the Anitoch Los Angeles Library Research Prize for her critical paper “Redefining Utopia: How Feminist Utopian Literature Can Serve as a Model for Creating Workable Futures.” Originally from Denver, CO, she lives in Southern California with her children and her partner. Visit her at www.IceSong.com and www.facebook.com/kirstenimanikasai.

And for fun, write your own responses and post them here as a comment, or on your own blog. I’d love to learn more about your writing. 

Research counts as writing, right?

For the past three months, I’ve been immersed in research for a new writing project. I’ve spent many happy hours exploring the culture, history, mythology, language, terrain and daily life of a society I knew very little about, until now. I can’t tell you what  the subject of all this research is about because I’m sworn to secrecy. But I can tell you that the subject thrills me to my creative core. 

Unfortunately, my love of research has led to an absolute abandonment of writing; even my blog has suffered. I eat, breath, dream, and drink the world of my newest book project. I hear the language in my dreams. The civilization died thousands of years ago, but they are as alive to me as my own neighbors.

I can spend every day for months in a library surrounded by dusty books on a single subject and not lose my mind. Or maybe I do? Do other people love research as much as I? In grad school, I loved my thick text books and all the knowledge they contained. I read chapters I didn’t have to, just because I was curious to find out what they were about. 

Imagine me, a pale, too thin woman wearing thick glasses and an oversized sweater huddled over a book with such fragile pages I have to read them wearing cotton gloves. The room is dark, except for the brilliant light from the lamp on my table. My tea is cold and my leg has fallen asleep, but I can’t stop reading. I can’t stop learning. 

Others might find it a nightmare. Why would anyone want to spend their whole life in a library? But to me, that sounds like heaven. There are a million stories in the library, and a million more waiting to be written.  

I missed my calling; I should have been a research librarian.

But it’s time to set my books aside and write down what I’ve learned. It’s time to craft a story out of all these fragments of facts. Have I learned enough to make my characters breath again? We’ll see. 

“Dancing with the Stars” is the greatest dance porn since “Dirty Dancing.”

Image

 

It’s a new season on Dancing With The Stars, which means I am once again obsessing over Cheryl Burke, Valentin Chmerkovsky, Mark Ballas and Karina Smirnoff. I’m watching fierce dance routines and booing the judges as if ballroom dance was a football game. The “stars” don’t matter to me (how many “reality stars” are there on TV?). I love the Pros, the dancers who train, teach, choreograph, plot and scheme their way to the mirror ball. Why do I love this world of spray tan, fake eyelashes and glitter so much? Because Dancing With The Stars is the greatest dance porn since Dirty Dancing, and I love dance porn.

I admit I’m a little embarrassed by my obsession. I’m an intellectual feminist with a Master’s Degree and a publishing company. But here I am, every tuesday morning (I don’t have cable, so I have to watch it online,) applauding Emma Slater’s creative choreography. In the middle of the night, I’m scouring Twitter for #DWTS comments. I become frustrated that I can’t vote because I’m watching it the day after, and I know exactly how it feels to have to TiVO a basketball game because you couldn’t watch it live, and then have someone tell you who won.

Dancing with the Stars is my escape from the chaotic, stressful, overly-serious world I live in. It feeds my inner child who longs to be a ballerina. When I was little, I was obsessed with ballet and longed to be a dancer more than anything in the world, but we lived in Lake County, California, far away from any dance classes. So I practiced plies’ in my room while studying a book on basic ballet positions, eventually screwing up my knees. The love of dance never left me and I was finally able to take my first class in college at the age of 19. I danced in a troupe for five years and loved every minute of it, even choreographing three productions. Later, I choreographed two shows for children. Yet again, I live in a town with limited dance opportunities, and being a mom keeps me home. I channel my longing to dance into my writing and publishing, but the desire has never left. I’m too old to be a ballerina, but I know I would be awesome at Tango. All I need is a teacher.

Every day at 4:30, I dance to electronic music on Pandora. Dancing is how I de-stress. At the end of my work day, right before I switch into my mommy day, I shake my ass as fast as I can in my kitchen. My daughter thinks I’m crazy, but sometimes she’ll join in. Occasionally, a Tango rhythm will come on and I’ll pretend that I’m dancing with Maksim Chmerkovsky (and that man can dance a tango!).

We forget to play when we grow up, and before we know it the burdens of life drag us down like quicksand. It seems we only remember to be silly when we’re on vacation, or drunk. Why not do something ridiculous every day, like Tweeting about #DWTS or dancing for 30 minutes in your kitchen? Ridiculous is good for you. Silly lightens the load. Just ask any 10 year old practicing ballet moves all alone in her room. What is better than dance to make you feel alive?

What is true in the American news?

Freedom of the press is in trouble in the United States. Thanks to pressure from the government to reveal sources and more reporters facing jail time, we have dropped to 46th in the world, according to a study by Reporters Without Borders. There are fewer newspapers and more journalists laid off. Television news is controlled by companies who answer more to advertisers than viewers. The internet is flooded with opinion makers and rumors. If the government controls the reporters and social media controls the headlines, how does anyone figure out what is true in the American news?

I admit that I’ve become part of the problem. On Facebook, I’ll see an article with an inflammatory headline, like “Fukushima radiation will kill all the fish by 2015.” I’ll click the link, read a little, start to get angry, and then share that link with all my friends because I think it’s that important. Later, after I’ve calmed down enough to think about what I just posted, I’ll question the validity of the article. Who actually wrote it? Where did that person get their facts? Were there any actual facts written, or was it just opinion? But it’s too late. I already shared, starting a heated discussion amongst my friends about how bad Fukushima is and how we’re all going to die from radiation poisoning. Four of my friends shared it with their friends. The dialogue will continue, even though there might be only a shred of real information in the article.

Who has time to evaluate every report that races through Facebook? And even when we find the time, how can we figure out what is true, and what is not? How do we evaluate the magnitude of the information we access every day?

The internet has increased our need for journalists, people who are trained to search out the truth and share it with us. We need people we can trust to report on events. And we need our press to be free from government pressure and corporate control. How else will we understand what is happening in the world and how it truly effects us? Freedom of the press is written into our constitution; we should be furious that we’re not in the top ten, or even the top twenty (although we’re ranked higher than Italy, so I guess we can brag about that). We have incredible access to information, but does it matter if our right to understand that information is impeded?

I will try very hard not to spread rumor and opinion as news online. Unfortunately that means I’ll probably spread more jokes and pictures of cats. I’m afraid that might be another trap; in fear of sharing false information, I may stop spreading information at all.

Journalists! We need you!

 

 

Night Clubs and Friendship

Have you ever been to a fancy nightclub, the kind you see on TV filled with young and beautiful people dancing to electronic music, overseen by a DJ who is worshipped by the crowd? I have. I hated it.

To be fair, I probably hated it because I was there just three weeks after I’d been dosed, so my tolerance for drunk, hip people was low. And it really wasn’t my scene; what the hell was this middle aged babe doing in a club filled beyond capacity with gorgeous 22 year olds? I was invited by a much younger friend who has spent a lot of time dancing to ear shattering music under black lights. I love new experiences, so I decided to go for the adventure. When I was younger, I was too broke to go out, especially to a dance club to hear a new DJ. So there I was, wandering a brand new club in high heels and a woman’s tuxedo, feeling 80 years old.

The club was a maze of dance floors with a raised area for the DJ to create his magic. A long, well lit bar crammed with people screaming for drinks was the most visible landmark. The rest of the club was dark, illuminated only by hundreds of multi-colored lights that swam across the ceiling, the floor and the crowd in time to the music. The girls wore the uniform of the hip and cool: clinging short dresses and platform high heels. The boys dressed with more variety, but every one looked rich. Several Go-Go dancers performed on blocks, waving light wands that changed color.  The moment you stepped into the room, you were punched in the chest with music and confused by the swirl of movement.

As we shoved our way through the crowd (it was too crowded to actually dance), I saw roped off VIP areas adorned with scantily clad young women. Many were passed out on velvet couches. People kept dancing and drinking, ignoring the girls who were so messed up they could actually sleep despite the primal thump of the drum machine. Why didn’t anyone help them? One girl had her short sequined dress pulled up over her hips, exposing her tiny lace panties. Why didn’t someone pull her skirt back down? Where were her friends? Her date? Her mother?

That’s when I knew I was waaaaaaaay too old for an ultra hip dance club. Every one of these girls could by my daughter. That boy with his arm slung over the shoulder of that girl wobbling on too high heels could be my son. If he were, I’d kick his butt for not taking better care of his date.

Later, when I asked my friend why no one helped those passed out girls, she just laughed. Why should they? It’s every girl for herself in a club like that and if you’re dumb enough to get that messed up, you’re on your own.

I felt so sorry for my young friend. When I go out with friends, I know they all have my back. On the night I got dosed, three friends came to my rescue; no one left me lying on the floor. My young friend has actually been left on a couch, passed out and unable to defend herself, while her friends laughed at her. When she went out with me and my friends, she was shocked by how much we cared for each other. Her feet hurt and a friend of mine helped her. I drank too much, and another friend held my arm so I wouldn’t fall down. If anyone had thrown up that night, at least two friends would have come to the rescue. That’s just what friends do.

When I was young, I had wanted to go to clubs and party and dance all night, but I had to work to pay for college. I envied the cool crowd with their gorgeous clothes and spending money. But maybe that world wasn’t so cool. The people are lovely, the music intense, the decor beautiful, but the attitude is cutthroat. Going to a club is like playing a vicious game of King of the Mountain with the winner being whoever is most beautiful and can drink the most without falling down.

I think I’ll hang out with friends my own age, preferably in the wine bar like the middle aged chick I am. Being young and hip is far too dangerous.