Lying Tweets

Kind of a quiet sunset last night, slowly shading into salmon and violet. Quite lovely.

Something not quite so lovely occurred on Twitter the other day. But it was also kind of quiet. Once of those things where people get into conversations with certain expectations that lead them into assumptions. Let me explain. It might be convoluted because I don’t want to name names.

(Though if you know me and want to email to ask, I’ll tell you who it is.)

So there’s this agent who’s been on Twitter for a while. We’ll call him Tom. He seemed pleasant, said interesting things, didn’t seem to rep what I write. I didn’t follow him all that closely, but we exchanged comments a couple of times. About e-publishing, now that I think of it.

Well, then he turns up the other day – same avatar, which is the little picture that appears next to the words, in this case a headshot – but a different “handle. Where he used to be AgentTom, now he’s eTom. My friend, Kerry, pointed out to me what was going on. He was holding forth on Twitter bashing traditional publishing and even agenting.

He said a lot of stuff. How agents and traditional publishers only want authors with huge platforms – like celebrities and that chick from Jersey Shore. Thousands and thousand of Twitter followers, he says. A couple of writer-friends of ours had engaged him in conversation at this point. What caught Kerry’s attention was when he said:

Don Maass is not going to take anyone on unless he can make a buck from their work. No platform, no Don.

When several people mentioned that Donald Maass, who is a very well respected agent, has recently offered representation to friends, he said:

He might be taking them on but that doesn’t mean they will be published or if they are, it won’t be big time.

followed by

Jen Jackson runs Don Maass Literary. I don’t think Don is that active anymore. Don’t know for sure tho.

So, Kerry mentioned that we have a good friend who is recently represented by the very active Don, she has fewer than 200 followers on Twitter and is doing quite well with her series. This is a warning flag, when someone in the industry is saying things you know aren’t true. Doesn’t matter who he is.

Which he pretty much ignored. Because by this point, after he’d painted this very grim picture, he got to his actual point: the beauty, the glamor, the sheer profitability of E-PUBLISHING.

Now, I have nothing against e-publishing. I’ve published a book with an e-press and I’ve been pleased with the results. (I showed some yesterday.) That’s not the problem.

The issue is that he’s become “eTom” because he’s left agenting and become an acquiring editor for an e-press. You can see this on his profile. If you go to this e-press website, you can see it’s totally new, with lots of references to “us” and that it’s an imprint of another press. Which sounds fairly reputable – okay, new e-imprint of an established press, there’s a lot of that going around these days – until you look at the press and notice it has the same last name as Tom.

This is, in fact, entirely eTom’s business. His new publishing venture and he’s recruiting authors by playing on their fears, saying a traditionally published book takes three years, pays nothing and they’d never take you if you don’t have a huge platform anyway.

This makes me mad because IT IS NOT TRUE.

Allison, for example. She’s told her story in other places, but to recap: it was just over a year ago that the editor who read Allison’s full manuscript for a contest offered her a contract. Allison was able to pick from three agents, one of whom landed her a better contract with another publisher and the book is coming out in January. That is a true story. This is her first book, she has no platform, practically no name recognition and less than a thousand twitter followers.

Maybe most of you reading this are nodding your heads and saying yeah, yeah, yeah – we know. But it alarmed both me and Kerry to see so many earnest authors engaging with eTom and swallowing his lies.

If you want to do e-publishing, great – do it! But don’t sign with just anyone. Don’t let them make you feel desperate. Do your research. Pay attention to their motives.

Never sell yourself short. Especially to the guy who says it’s your only chance.

Continuous Partial Attention

This is a Colorado short-horned walking stick.

It lives in New Mexico, however. They normally stay camouflaged during the day and move around at night. This one was on our glass front door on Saturday morning. It never moved, even when we transferred it to a piece of paper. It embodies still stick-ness. Even looking at it in real life, it looks like a twig and not an animal.

So many variations in the world.

This weekend I cranked on The Body Gift. I managed to get myself in a bit of a bind: I’d queried a new agent on Friday, just to keep the ball rolling, and she emailed me back within the hour to request the full manuscript.

See, that just never happens.

Okay, clearly not “never,” but very rarely. Usually they ask for something like the first 30 pages or the first three chapters or, if they’re really interested, the first 100 pages. And really, no one else has answered me that fast.

So, while The Body Gift is finished (or I never would have queried otherwise, since it’s a real no-no to query a book that isn’t finished, since finishing a novel is never to be assumed), I was in the midst of rewriting the middle section. My work obviously cut out for me, I spent the weekend writing about 40 pages (a little over 8,000 words).

No, I don’t think I could do this every day.

Well – maybe I could, if I wasn’t working full-time. It would be interesting to see.

At any rate, my online community rallied ’round, sending me Facebook Mojo (which seems to work equally well for writing output as for white-blood cell count). Kerry was fortunately available to read for me as I went and Marcella, also revising, helped me brainstorm through some sticky spots. I pretty much parked myself under the grape arbor all weekend.

When my mom asked me, via instant messenger, how it was going, I said that just then Marcella was helping me brainstorm. My mom asked where she was. I said on her sailboat, but parked in the harbor, or she wouldn’t have internet. My mom thought maybe Marcella was sailing and talking to me on the phone.

Absurd thought.

No, we don’t talk on the phone. We’re all about non-simultaneous conversations, which allows us to have continuous partial attention. My mom was terribly amused and requested that be today’s blog post.

I live to serve.

And no, I didn’t make up that phrase. Someone else did and I thought for sure I’d blogged about it before. But I looked through the blog and I can’t find it. Turns out a casual Google search shows quite a few hits, so I’ll let you do your own research, if you’re fired up. Really, I think “they” all view it as a bad thing, because one never puts their full attention on one thing. For me it means that I have tools at hand that allow me to dip in and out of resources as I need to.

In return, I can be more easily “dipped into,” because helping someone else doesn’t require that I drop what I’m doing.

I realize this way of operating sounds appalling to some people. It has its benefits and drawbacks.

So many variations in the world.

Come Blow Your Horn

A while back, I did a guest post on Elizabeth Flora Ross’s blog about defending your writing time.

I’m militant on the topic. I truly believe that if you want time to write, you have to build a fence around it, possibly with razor wire, and defend it at all costs. No ifs, ands or buts. Otherwise the time will get eaten away in nibbles and bites by everything else in your life.

Over time, it gets easier. Everyone else in your life becomes accustomed to you being unavailable at certain times. And, most importantly, it becomes a habit to sit and write. Defending the time means defending the habit.

In the last year, I’ve gotten really good at this. I drafted The Body Gift in half the time it took me to write Obsidian, plus it’s a much tighter draft. I also wrote Petals and Thorns on an efficient schedule. I’ve been working on revising and tightening The Body Gift and got a good chunk into a new novella.

Then I went on vacation.

I thought I might work on the book some, on long rainy Oregon coast days at the B&B. But my Jeffe Sunshine Magic (TM) kicked into effect and we had gorgeous weather. I didn’t sweat it. I knew I needed to relax, refresh and refill the well after my big push to finish The Body Gift. Vacation can be from all my jobs, I decided.

And so it was.

When I came back, however, relaxed, refreshed, ready to get back to work, I found my fence was in a shambles. Like Little Boy Blue, I’d allowed the cows into the meadow and the sheep into the corn. It’s taken me all week to get back into the habit.

Kerry’s book, Swimming North, is about dragons and dragon-slaying. She often draws a parallel between her day job and slaying dragons. But, last night, she agreed that cows were in her meadow, too.

Screw the dragons – it’s the freaking cows that are our problem!

“Mad cows. Complacent cows,” she says, “all of them are trouble.”

Sometimes you have to look closer to home, for the simple solution.

If you need me, I’ll be out building fences.