Saturday, October 31, 2009

I hate meeces to pieces

After a discussion in the comment section of previous thread, I decided to start a post about my mouse problem. So far I've trapped ten mice in the trunk of my car, and today I was driving to town to get mothballs, and a mouse ran across the floorboard! Yikes. I turned around, went home, and set three more traps.

Found a massive thread at WombatNation. Seems that Honda Pilots are the most attractive to mice. Damage cost ranging from hundreds to 18 K. Mice ate my car.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

(I tell this story every Halloween.)

from Wikipedia:

The word "doppelgänger" has come to refer (as in German) to any double or look-alike of a person. The word is also used to describe the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision, in a position where there is no chance that it could have been a reflection. They are generally regarded as harbingers of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelgänger seen by a person's friends or relatives portends illness or danger, while seeing one's own doppelgänger is an omen of death. In Norse mythology, a vardøger is a ghostly double who precedes a living person and is seen performing their actions in advance.

My Brother's Doppelganger

When I was fourteen and my younger brother was eight, we lived in an isolated desert town in southern New Mexico. My brother stood out in the largely Hispanic community because he had straight white hair and pale skin.

Enter Halloween.

My brother was going as a vampire. He and my mother were in the bathroom where she was putting on his makeup. I stood watching in the doorway. We were chatting and laughing. Someone knocks at the front door.

I leave the bathroom, go approximately ten steps, turn on the porch light and open the door, expecting an early trick-or-treater. There is my brother, standing at the bottom of the steps dressed in his black cape. No bag in his hands. Nothing on his head. His white hair. No cars around. No people. No trick-or-treaters.

He looks terrified.

My mind is struggling with the impossible logistics of the situation. I’d been looking at him in the bathroom when I heard the knock. I ask how he got outside. Terror in his eyes. I ask, What's wrong? He runs beyond the circle of the porch light, into the dark where he seems to vanish. I rush those few steps to the bathroom to tell my mom. To find out how they pulled off such a trick. There they both are, just as I left them.

This is a very small, one story house. less than 1,000 square feet. The bathroom is just a few paces from the front door. It has a window above the tub, but it’s one of those high, crank-out things, almost to the ceiling, and very small. If my mother had been able to stuff my brother through the window, he would have dropped six feet on the other side, then he would have had to run around the house to get to the front door. Then he would have had to run back, somehow scale the wall, squeeze through the tiny window, and return to makeup position in the middle of the bathroom. A trick that a rehearsed team could have possibly accomplished in five or ten minutes, but certainly not the seconds I’m talking about.

Over the years I’ve replayed the event in my mind hundreds of times, but have never been able to come up with a logical explanation. I've asked my brother if it was a trick, but he always gives me the same puzzled and confused look he and my mother gave me that night. I’m the only one who saw my brother’s doppelganger.

Friday, October 23, 2009


A short recap: A few months ago I had plans to self-publish my memoir, but then realized I should at least run it past a few agents before going the self-pub route. I sent out two rounds of queries, 5 agents in each round. The first round earned me two no thanks, not for me replies, and three agents didn't reply at all. Before sending out more queries I revamped my query letter, revising the book description. That round resulted in three agents wanting to see material, one no response, and one request three months later.

I know nothing about queries, but I think the first one was too impersonal and stiff.

Here is the second query, with some of the boring stuff removed.

I am currently seeking representation for my memoir, THE ORCHARD.

(note: Bio was here,and it was pretty extensive. Then I launched into brief description of project.)

Current completed project:

THE ORCHARD (a memoir)

THE ORCHARD relates the very personal story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm. At the age of twenty-one, while working in my uncle’s bar near the Mississippi River, I met a young farmer. Three months later, we were married and I found myself immersed in the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, as well as a witness and reluctant player in the futile and fatal attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard. Always an outsider, I was able to view events and people with the eye of an observer. This could be called an environmental love story, and the writing has been compared to that of Joan Didion and Mary Karr. Several writers have agreed to possible endorsements:
(Listed about eight names here.)

the three agents:

Agent 1 asked for the first 50 pages. I sent them.
Agent 2 asked for an exclusive full manuscript read.

This threw me, because I wasn't prepared for the exclusive request. But since this was someone I really wanted to work with, I agreed to the exclusive. This was followed by a signing of papers (never heard of this!) before the material was sent.

Agent 3 called and ask for full. I told her about exclusive and she was surprised and annoyed that that someone would request exclusive. She told me I would also need a platform which should consist of 20 - 100 pages. This was the first I'd heard of a "platform" for a memoir. I did some searching and discovered that while a platform is necessary for some nonfiction, it's often not required for a memoir. I decided I would not send material to agent 3 once exclusive was lifted. I didn't feel she had a solid grasp on memoir market.

Agent 1 quickly read first 50 and requested full. I had to tell her about the exclusive. By this time I really felt I'd been put in an awkward position, and could see that I'd made the wrong decision concerning the exclusive read. Afraid agent 1 would lose interest, I emailed agent 2 (after about two weeks) and was told she wouldn't get to the material for several more weeks, so I regretfully pulled it.
In the end, the material was only read by one agent, and luckily she wanted to represent me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the rejected letter

Probably speaking too soon again, but it looks as if things have been straightened out.

I need Xanax.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I swear I will quit talking about this soon, but it happens to be what's on my mind. It's way too early to come up with solid results, but Sunday's Pale Immortal special sale was an interesting test. Many people tweeted the deal and some Facebooked the event. (Thank you!!)


I sold 7 copies of Pale Immortal for $3.00 each. All were purchased by friends and family. The showing of support truly warmed my heart. One friend admitted she had no way to read it, but she bought it anyway. *sob*

This little experiment underscores the importance of a storefront like Amazon. I doubt I will break even unless Amazon eventually agrees to let Pale Immortal go live. Even with the Amazon storefront, I have my doubts.

Romance readers have been clamoring for the digital release of Bad Karma and there's been some decent buzz about it, but I honestly think if I released BK I might sell 20 copies. Max. This is the reality of self-publishing. And even though my books have the stamp of major publishers and have won awards, they don't have the visibility.

Most self-published books lack a sense of what I'm calling a validity of the moment, and there is no way for me to reach beyond my own small circle.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


In celebration of the digital release of Pale Immortal, I'm offering $3.00 downloads until 10:00 pm (central time) tonight. This is a MOBI file best viewed on a Kindle reader, but it also presents very well on Stanza. You can download a free Stanza app for iPhone and your desktop (PC and Mac) here:


update: I'm being told it looks great in Calibre, which can also be downloaded for free (PC and Mac).

To download PI, go to shopping cart in column on right. The $3.00 special price will show up once you hit the shopping cart button.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amazon Kindle nightmare, take 10

As expected, Amazon requested documentation for Pale Immortal. I sent them a signed letter from the publisher of Penguin Books. The letter detailed the complete reversion of all rights, but that wasn't enough for Amazon to allow the book to go live. I'm guessing that their script doesn't allow for reversion rights, and if the book shows up in their system as being published by someone else, you're pretty much out of luck. This appears to be utter stupidity on their part, but maybe Amazon is trying to discourage this swampfest of backlist reissues. So anyway, here I sit with a beautiful book specifically formatted for Kindle.

update: I just figured out how to sell through E-Junkie, so you can download the MOBI file through the link on the right, above the Pale Immortal cover. I made a purchase to test it, and it works great. I have to also say that even though I don't have a Kindle, the material looks quite nice on Stanza desktop.

Download free app for iphone and desktop: Stanza

And here is where I really want to mention B10 Mediaworx. In the center of this tangle emerged someone who really delivered, who did exactly what she said she would do. I did not want to offer some slapped together mess, and I wanted to be certain Pale Immortal was formatted correctly. It looks fantastic!!! Oddly enough, I was unable to view it in all of it's glory (complete with Belfry Press logo) until I uploaded to Kindle and hit preview.

Friday, October 16, 2009

deja vu?

I'm beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

My agent read my completed memoir and misses the fiction that I removed. So here we go again.

Do readers and publishers want 100% truth and a less compelling story, or 98% truth and a stronger plot? I doubt anybody knows, but that’s always been my dilemma with this material. When I had plans to publish this myself, I added a fictional device to progress the plot and make the story feel more cohesive. I removed it because my new agent felt the material should be submitted as a memoir.

The material in question probably take up less than eight pages, but it gives the characters more purpose. I've seen memoirs with some pretty big disclosure statements, but they were probably published before the Frey fray. David Sedaris is calling his latest book realish, which underscores the problem so many of us are dealing with. I keep hoping a completely new way of labeling memoirs will eventually emerge, because what exists now is too narrow. But as soon as you call a memoir fiction, you put a different set of expectations on it, diminish the story, and reduce the value (IMO).

update: We received feedback on this issue, and I'm going to disclose the tweak in preface of book. This is how I handled it in original submission.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

another bump in the road

For writers considering selling their backlist through AMAZON KINDLE, here's another new wrinkle. Or two. A MOBI file of my book Pale Immortal was uploaded to Amazon's digital text platform on Saturday. Got this notice:

"Your book is currently under review by the KINDLE OPERATIONS TEAM as we are trying to improve the Kindle customer experience. Please check back in 5 business days to see if your book was published to the store. This will not affect any titles you are currently selling in the store, but uploading updates to existing titles will take longer to process."

Kindle blogs are reporting that going live can take 5 - 21 days (or much longer). Another new twist: Writers are receiving requests of documentation -- proof that the material is indeed yours, and that rights have reverted. And yep, this can take another 5 - 21 days (or longer). And since most of the process relies on an automated system, chances of your book never going live have greatly increased with these new rules.

I understand both issues. Readers began complaining about poorly formatted books. People were also glutting Amazon with copy after shitty copy of public domain titles, and Amazon is trying to put a stop to it. I can also understand having to prove that the material your selling IS yours, but I know how messed up Amazon is, and I can't imagine this will end well. I can't even convince them that Theresa Weir and Anne Frasier are the same person in order to combine my profiles. Their method of proof is to contact a publisher I worked for 20 years ago and ask if my current email really belongs to Anne Frasier. 20 years ago... let's see. Yeah, I was writing with a typewriter and making copies with carbon paper.

And when did I start working on this backlist project? February. Proof of a massive time suck, but I've put too much into it, and I want to see it through.

Monday, October 12, 2009


voice and tone:

One issue I had to deal with when writing a memoir was voice. I usually write deep third person. I like deep third POV because it’s easy and tends to read smoothly since the narrative can come directly from the characters. It seemed logical to write a memoir with my own voice, adjusting according to my age. Ick. No. That didn’t work for me. So I came up with a voice and tone that was pretty much the same from beginning to end, regardless of age. The topic is dark, and I wanted to balance that with the tone of a fairytale. That became really important to me. The fairytale tone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm revising the memoir and should soon have it ready to send to my agent. but argh! structural problem! book begins with a scene written in third person, a story about a little girl, kind of an rural legend. second chapter is first person, me as a little girl. i cannot figure out how to avoid confusion with the 2 girls. Readers are going to assume they are the same person. ( I go unnamed throughout entire book, so using names doesn't work.) I've cut and pasted this me-as-child scene everywhere, and it seems to only work at the beginning of my story, after the opening featuring ANOTHER little girl. argh.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I've decided to publish Pale Immortal through Belfry Press. I'm antsy and tired of waiting to hear back from possible publisher (although in all fairness, they haven't had it that long). I doubt I'll break even after cost of formatting and scanning, but it will be a good test run. What I've learned is that scanned books, even after they're corrected in Word, are a nightmare to format. That's because they retain the original format, combined with Word format. So you can't just plug them into something like Smashwords. The text has to be converted to HTML and hand coded. And each format cost a minimum of $100, which, when you consider the formatter's time, is a remarkable deal.

Here is a breakdown of cost:

scanning: $100 - $250 (if you scan it yourself, it will take 8 - 12 hours, maybe more)
edit time: two weeks bare minimum
formatting: average of $100 for each format (I decided to start with one format -- MOBI and go from there)
cover design: $50 (I designed my own)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Plans for the anthology are moving along. 16 contributors so far! I'm excited! Some have expressed interest in print books, so I'm considering our options. I'm wondering about using CreateSpace, which is POD, but also wondering about using a real printer. Kind of a profit-sharing writers' co-op. As an example--if every writer ordered an average of 50 copies for a total print run of 1000, books would cost around 1.80, and each writer could pocket his print book sales.

update: I've been talking to a friend who published a print-only anthology, and her experience was that most contributors didn't want to sell copies of the book, and many didn't want any copies other than one personal copy. So I really think going through a regular printer might not be a good choice. I'm back to Kindle/CreateSpace. Beyond that, a contributor could possibly handle formatting and submitting to print publisher if the desire was still strong.