ABNA Voting Closes Today

Voting for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award ends today, and the winner will be announced in 7 days.  *yawn*  It’s about time this thing was over!

Here’s a quote from judge Eric Simonoff, an agent with Janklow and Nesbitt about one of the entries…”Like the Midwest where Prospect is set, Okita’s language is oddly featureless and bland, even while his narrative veers into the outlandish.”

Is it just me or does Eric look like Eugene Levy?

Anyhoo…

It’s official.

Amazon has announced is reasoning behind forcing POD publishers to use their printing service.  Read their announcement here!

It all comes down to saving fuel and shipping costs.  Those are words I hear everyday at the wholesale book company I work for. I never once thought I’d hear them from a billion dollar corporation like Amazon.

This blow to the POD world saddens me and it will be interesting to see what effects it will have on the industry.  I pray that Amazon will be the one hard hit by boycotting, lawsuits, and POD publishers who won’t back down.  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m still plotting away at an attempt to break into the traditional publishing world, and continuing to support the POD world through my review blog.

The fate of both keeps me awake at night.

The Sultana

I have finally decided upon what writing project to pursue for the Spring season.  In May of last year, I was writing what was then called 32 and Counting but is now called Stealing Wishes. I finished it in four months.  It was rejected from the ABNA competition.  I have yet to query it, and so it sits.  In August of last year, I started writing For the Most Part.  I finished it on New Years Eve.  It has currently been queried to several agents.  It’s been weeks since I’ve received a rejection letter.  So besides some crickets chirping, it sits quietly…untouched.  According to suggested timelines, I should wait at least another month and assume that those who have not responded are not going to.

Upon returning from vacation a few weeks ago, I was lost and almost ready to just give up on writing all together.  And so that’s what I did for about a week.  I know I can’t give up writing.  It’s been in my blood since grade school.  I think that just returning from vacation and going back to the stresses of my job pulled me away from it for too long. My routine was once to sit at the computer first thing in the morning for about an hour before work and pound out some pages.  That routine was pretty much lost when J got a new job giving us the opportunity to sleep in thirty minutes longer each morning.  So, now after getting up, letting the dogs out, feeding the dogs, feeding the cats, feeding the fish, and making coffee, I’m left with about fifteen minutes each morning at the computer before J leaves for work and I have to get in the shower.  This past week I spent that time going back to bed and reading.  I plan very soon to commit to getting up earlier so that I can have that valuable writing time again; I’m much more creative first thing in the morning anyway.  That’s how I was able to write TWO books last year.

And so what project am I committing to now?  It’s the Piano Project.  Right now, it’s called The Piano Maker over there on my writing progress ——–>  But I think I might change that to either The Sultana or I even like A Civil Symphony.  I don’t know why.  It just has a nice ring to it.  But after reading Water for Elephants and watching Atonement, I’m hooked on wanting to complete a historical fiction novel.

I’ve been intrigued with the story of the Sultana for many years now and just a few years ago, I started sculpting a story about a soldier who survived the explosion and ended up in a veterans hospital in Memphis.  He falls in love with his young nurse and changes his name so he can be with her so that her family would not know that he was really a Union soldier.  The nurse’s father owns a piano making company where the soldier seeks work.  The factory is eventually left to him after he marries the nurse and her father passes away.  The soldier loves his bride so dearly that he wants to create a special piano to honor their life together.  What he ends up inventing is the world’s first player piano, which he calls The Sultana, after the steamboat that led him to his new life in Memphis.

This Civil War plot line is balanced with a current day story of a piano playing prodigy who is filthy rich.  Despite being in high demand for his talents and being a regular in the social columns of every city newspaper, the piano player spends his time obsessing over building his prize piano collection.  The collection consists of a certain number of player pianos that were built by a small company back during the Civil War age. The pianos are called…you guessed it…The Sultana.  And the collector is set on owning all 52 of these pianos that were built by the piano making soldier.  However, despite the materialistic value of this collection, the pianos also come with a haunting past!

And so that’s where I am.  Spring is here.  April, also the month of my birthday, is right around the corner.  So it’s a great time to dive back into this project and get it done.  I’m already 44,000 words into it, which will need some polishing, but I’m giving myself 4 months!  That’s April, May, June, and July.  This novel has already been two years in the making, so it’s time to bring it to completion.

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On April 27, 1865, the steamship Sultana, while overloaded with mostly Union soldiers, exploded and sank in the dark of the night on the flooded Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee. More than 1,800 soldiers lost their lives in this horrific accident.  Some of the soldiers aboard the Sultana were paroled prisoners who had survived the prisons of Andersonville and Cahaba only to perish in the fiery explosion and the cold and muddy waters of the Mississippi River.  More lives were lost on the Sultana than were lost on the Titanic and the Sultana tragedy still stands as America’s worst maritime disaster.

Is My Baby Gay?

Tonight, 20/20 did a story on the possibility that being gay is due to genetics.  Scientific studies are being done on gay brothers in search of the “gay” gene.  The best part of the story was the families they interviewed, a few parents of gay children who sincerely believe their children were born that way.

One mother believed her son was gay since he was 3 years old.  20/20 showed clips of their family videos of the young child nancing about in a world of pretend where he always wanted to play King and Queen.  His mom always had to be the King!  Sure enough, he’s twenty now and gay.

Another kid also knew from an early age that he liked boys.  At 13, he leaned over in class and told a girl he was gay.  “Cool,” she exclaimed.  So, he went home to tell Mom.  “Okay, dinner will be ready in ten minutes,” his mother answered.  Mom believed it was biologically.  She had her husband, and one day, her son too would be with whoever made him happy.  At 11, this young guy had searched the internet to find out what made him gay, but there was no answer.

WOW!  I only wish there was a book or a computer back then when I was 18 and first came out to my Mom.  Luckily, I had already had the support of many friends in school who were gay too, but I was a senior in high school when I first told Mom.  She wanted to deny it as being true at first and forbid me to tell anyone else.  She wanted to pretend I’d never told her.  But time changed all that.  She is much more accepting these days, and the rest of the family knows now too.

That was a hard time for me back then, and I can only imagine how it may or may not be for kids coming out these days.  Kudos to 20/20 for giving this story new light!

I want my POD!

The POD (print on demand) industry has been rocked with the news that Amazon.com has started bending the arms of POD Publishers to force them into using their sister company, Booksurge, for printing or they won’t offer their books for sale directly through Amazon. PublishAmerica has already been hit and the BUY buttons of their books on Amazon have been taken down. POD review sites like Podpeep and Lulu have already started voicing their opinions, and I hope POD authors will as well.

POD authors always looked to Amazon as their #1 online marketing tool. As a POD author myself, I jumped at the opportunity Amazon gave me by selling signed copies of my book at my own set price right on the same page where Amazon sold my book. Amazon also gave me my own blog on their site which would show up right on the page where my book was and then promoted it to those who purchased my book so they could keep up with me.

My book’s publisher, Xlibris, has yet to be affected by this move as far as I know, but who knows what’s to come. I personally hope this will be a poke in the eye for Amazon as they try to monopolize this industry. Hopefully it will send readers somewhere else…into your local physical bookstore, perhaps? As for POD authors, our one friend has stabbed us in the back and so our search for a proper nitch in the market continues. We’re like stray dogs and cats on the streets. Some have room in their hearts for us. The pounds are full of us. But most (readers) just don’t really care. POD books are usually overpriced, most poorly written or edited, and now we’ll be hard to get!

Read more about it here!

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Water for Elephants

It’s raining tonight.

I just finished reading Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. I had started it half way through vacation after finishing the second installment of Maupin’s Tales of the City series. Gruen’s story is the kind of book that I wish I’d written. It’s packed full of real life historical content that she used to inspire her fictional plot. The historical element of the book alone was just amazing.

It’s a nice simple tale but filled with all the wonder and amazement of a circus big top show, the mystery and intrigue of the workmen and performers, the love and heart of animals, a love affair, and even a murder! After my last post, I have to say that Mrs. Gruen has definitely inspired me to keep reaching for my writing goals.

If you haven’t read this book, check it out!circus_elephant.jpg

I was debating on moving onto the 3rd install of Maupin or reading something else.  I decided to start a book called Mr. Timothy, about Dicken’s beloved little Timmy all grown up.

My Wonder Emporium

Upon returning from vacation, the writing has been slow. Of course, the relaxing time spent on Dauphin Island sparked yet another novel idea (pun intended) of which I hand wrote an opening chapter while on vacation. I typed it and added a bit more when I got back, but moved it to the recycle bin yesterday. It was to be a mystery where a vacationer gets involved in a treasure hunt based on some clues he finds written in a house diary.

While we were vacationing, we rented a beach house for part of the time. J’s family arrived on Wednesday and stayed there with us for a visit. There was a diary in the house out in the open in which people had written things about their stay. Me loving a chance to write, garnered my pen and composed several pages. J’s uncle had an idea to hide a dollar somewhere in the house and write some clues in the diary telling people where to look for it. Sort of like those GPS navigational games people are into these days. And so that’s what we did.

I liked the idea of someone wanting to get away for some peace and quiet off on their own but quickly getting wrapped up in a treasure hunt like this. Who knows? Maybe I will write it someday. The beach and the pines of the island, and all of its coastal ambiance, were definite inspiration. But it’s just not the story I need to tell right now. I don’t know what the story is I do need to tell though. The characters in my ole mind have been quiet. I guess they are sorting themselves out. It feels good just to be writing this post now. My fingers have ached to compose something on the keyboard.

I wanted to call my mystery Lucky Enough. Those were the words on a sign we saw on one of the houses on the beach, probably a reference to Hurricane Katrina. I still think that’s a great title. I even took a picture of the house to keep for inspiration. But like I said, for now it’s just not speaking to me…

This weekend was a movie weekend instead. J and I watched 5 in all:

I am Legend (kinda sucked, not what I thought it was going to be)

30 Days of Night (sucked)

Resident Evil 3 (mmmkay)

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (I loved it. J didn’t watch it.)

Atonement (Excellent film!)

I feel exactly like Mahoney did in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium which is probably why I liked it so much. I still feel like I’m waiting for my moment to shine, but getting to old and too far past that point in life. “I am a block of wood,” she says. I knew exactly how she felt. I prefer to call it “waiting in the wings.” I’ve spent the better part of my life pushing others to believe in their dreams, and achieve them. I’ve given up a lot of hope in achieving my own, or I have failed at them. I wake up most mornings and can’t even remember them.

I know I’ve barely tapped the surface of my writing potential. I’m still developing my techniques at painting or photography. And yet, this weekend I actually thought about throwing it all away. But what else is there to do if I step away from the handful of things like this that I seem to care so much about? I can continue going to work to a job where everyone constantly reminds me I’m so creative and should be doing something else. I can earn a paycheck and pay my bills and watch television and surf the web (although lately I haven’t even felt like turning on the computer). I can read. God knows there are a ton of books here waiting for someone to read them.

I think I’m just creatively overwhelmed right now. Maybe the vacation wasn’t enough. But then again, I don’t know what would be enough except to throw it all up in the air and be a bland and boring drone for a while.

What else is there?

So for now…I blog (write)…

I am a block of wood.

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