On the Beauty of Women

jsngill:

Worth reading!
I loved this: “Our greatest joy comes from deeply loving others … It’s about seeing someone as exactly who they are and who they aren’t, and learning to love an imperfect person perfectly.”

Originally posted on The Better Man Project:

Before I start this, I want to make something clear. This post is not coming from a man who has had an easy time his whole life with women. In fact, I have had my heart broken more times than I care to admit. I have shed tears, been betrayed in the worst of ways and have been made to feel unimportant, almost to the point where I thought I didn’t exist. And even through all of this, I can still put my heart on the line for women because I believe in one fundamental reality.

Women are beautiful.

Last night, one of my best friends sent me an article and asked for my thoughts. So I opened it up and read the first line. “I’m just gonna come out and say it: I love insecure women.” I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and continued reading on for…

View original 980 more words

The Writer’s Life: A Social Vacuum

jsngill:

Yeah, the enemy Self, met that bastard a couple of times already

Originally posted on Leonard Bishop:

by Leonard Bishop

Leonard Bishop

Leonard Bishop

Don’t quit your present employer to become a professional writer until you have learned how to be alone. It is not the lack of talent or skill that stops someone from succeeding as a professional writer. Talent can be faked and skill is an acquired ability. A dominant preventative is the inability of the writer to be alone for long stretches of time.

Everyone who wants to become a professional writer believes they can achieve this career if only they had enough time for their writing. If they could only get out from under the pressure of their employment, they could make it. It isn’t only the 40 hours of work they have to do, it is also the after-effects of their job. The winding down, the fatigue, the additional responsibilities that stop them. The need for a family and social life. This is a…

View original 805 more words

Lake that turns animals to stones

Sometimes stuff you think of and ascribe to wild imagination ends up being very close to reality indeed. Take Lake Natron in Tanzania. This lake kills and calcifies the animals that become immersed in its waters. See the eerie pictures taken by photographer Nick Brandt to get an idea of just how freaky our little planet can be. “I could not help but photograph them,” he says. “No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake.”

The photographer found the animals along the shoreline of the lake and placed them in natural living positions to photograph them.

The lake has life in it. A type of fish that is adapted to its harsh conditions (over 140 degrees Fahrenheit / 60 degrees Celsius, and high alkalinity) and some bacteria. A specific type of flamingo even breeds on the small islands that emerge in the lake during dry season, but that is not without risks as the photos illustrate.

As scary as this is, it made me realize one thing. Never think your imagination is too wild and doesn’t fit your story. Why wouldn’t it? Who said your characters wouldn’t have to cross such a lake with their gear slowly burning off, blistering their calves, making every step pure agony.

Yes. Anything you imagine can be. Take down all walls and write without limits!

Memories of the Womb

Just had to share this…

So, apparently Clementine has memories of the womb. As became clear this morning when she said blithely, over breakfast,

“Mama, one time when I was in the house inside your tummy, I was riding my bike down the stairs, and I saw a tartantula.”

So, I guess I have tarantulas.

In case you were wondering.

via Laini Taylor’s blog: Memories of the Womb.

Day (470) – On Looking Bad

jsngill:

I knew Hugh Jackman was a smart fella

Originally posted on The Better Man Project:

945035_10200351615246796_1722304835_n

I was watching an interview with Hugh Jackman yesterday on the airplane…and he said something that struck a chord with me. He said…and totally paraphrasing here…”Until you embrace the chance of completely utterly falling on your face, I mean…really looking bad…then you will never be able to truly live. Because you spend all your time trying to look good instead of really taking a chance.”

It’s not the first time I have heard this and I am sure that it won’t be the last. However, it has been a while since I have had those words spoken to me. A great deal of people spend their life avoiding looking bad or always trying to look good. I can honestly tell you that for the past 6 months, I have forgotten about the benefits of giving up those two concepts and opening myself up to living life versus directing its sexiness…

View original 170 more words

Film Review: Man of Steel

Absolutely my favorite Superman thus far! Loved it. Finally we get a Superman that feels real and believable. We see the loneliness of being forever different. We see the personal struggle to do what’s right and carry the given powers responsibly. And the movie delivers on the visual aspects that will surely make the comic books fanatics feel like they got what they came for.

The critics have been mildly positive about it. But critics live in this odd bubble of cynicism anyway, so what else to expect? Quite often the movies that take them out of that grey sphere and into more summery fields, are movies that make the broader public fall asleep due to boredom.

I thought Man of Steel ruled!! And I am not a Superman fan. I found the guy to be a total douche previously. But the moment the trailer hit the theaters with the image of Henry Cavill on a fishing boat, looking rough, unkempt, and totally inconspicuous – I was intrigued. This was a Superman that made sense to me.

Just imagine growing up knowing you do not belong. Maybe even realizing you’re a different species and constantly having to keep that identity hidden. That defines a person’s character. The fact that this Superman choses to shun people while awaiting his destiny, made all the sense in the world to me. He had to be forced to reveal himself. He never would have stepped up to the role of humanity’s savior if not left without any other option.

Had he stepped into the spotlights too easily, he would have been a total attention whore and I would not have been writing this review. :) But this Superman is a no-nonsense type of guy. And that translates into his relationship with Lois Lane. The line he delivers once they finally kiss… loved it. Especially because he simply walks away afterwards. And I must say I liked this Lois Lane much better as well. I have read multiple reviews that found her to be dull. I have no idea why people feel that way. This Lois Lane is the first person to figure Superman out. Like a true brilliant investigative journalist would… How can anyone like the old Lois Lane better? She has Superman sitting under her nose the whole time and doesn’t even realize it. If anything I think the writers wanted to mock journalists by personifying them in a damsel in distress character that only delivers witty lines but never gets the point.

There is much more I can add to this review. For example – the costume. Yes! No more red underpants. No more spandex. We get a chain mail type of suit, which looks totally badass. The movie starts with an introduction to Krypton just before its demise and baby-Superman’s departure. We get a view of the planet, the technology as well as the suits. And we see that Jor-El – Superman’s father – is wearing a suit with an S on it as well. THAT suit rocked. I would love to see Superman donning this dark color palette in the next movie. Maybe even leaving the cape at home. (It doesn’t fit the character outline in my opinion.)

Then there is the great supporting cast. Kevin Costner – wow! that’s Pa Kent as we’ve never seen before. Then there are really tough villains. They had a cause which was understandable in a way. And Superman saw it too. In the final fight sequence he struggled with what he had to do to end the bloodshed. There is plenty of special effects and action sequences to satisfy the most superhero craving audiences. This is Superman. Immune to bullets and explosions and other stuff we little humans kill each other with. We do not have to watch him fight petty criminals. Instead we get an intergalactic showdown in the middle of Metropolis. Totally satisfying. (Even though I would have opted for a change in scenery throughout the fight. I mean, surely Superman would lead General Zod away from Metropolis to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. So why keep the whole fight there?)

But, overall – I am definitely recommending this movie to every one of you!!

Go and see! And see it in the cinema. It carries more than enough visual as well as audio appeal to be worthy of a cinematic experience.

If you have seen it already and want to share your opinion, please comment below. Would love to hear from you!

Pitfalls of independent publishers

One brave author speaks up about her publisher. Reblogged from Tricia Drammeh’s blog. I’m hoping she gets out the contract and her book receives a fair chance since it’s a great story. Keep fighting Tricia, you will get there!!

My Greatest Mistake

Posted on May 6, 2013 by Tricia Drammeh

If you’ve kept up with my blog over the past couple of months, you’ve probably noticed I talk about small presses a lot. There’s a reason for this. It’s because I don’t want to see any other authors make the same mistake I did. I signed with a brand new small press and that’s a decision I deeply regret. It’s very hard to admit I made such a foolish mistake. For a long time, I made excuses for my publisher and tried to hide my stupidity. But, it’s time to come clean.

I would like to stress that the experiences I am referring to are my personal experiences. I have lots of theories and I’d love to speculate, but at this point, I have to stick with facts I can back up with saved emails and screen shots from the publisher’s original website.

Okay, now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let me tell you how I signed away my happiness.

My story begins with a manuscript. I peddled the manuscript to several agents, but received very little interest. I posted my query on a blog and a publisher asked to see a partial manuscript. After about three weeks, the publisher asked to see a full, and a few days later, expressed interest in publishing the book. I researched the company before viewing the contract. I just didn’t research enough. They weren’t listed on P&E, but this was because they were too new to have appeared on any watchdog radars.

Mistake #1 – I assumed no news was good news. Since there were no complaints against the publisher, I figured it was safe to plunge ahead.

The company was brand new and had no titles to their credit, but boasted several editors (who were named individually on the website). The company claimed these editors were “professional and freelance editors, and avid readers of the genres with several years of experience.” Everyone has to start somewhere, right? I figured if this brand new company was willing to take a chance on me (a brand new author), then I could do the same and take a chance on them.

Mistake #2 – I assumed the publisher would share my values and work ethic. I assumed their reputation was as important to them as my reputation is to me.

I read the contract. At the time of reading, it seemed to be sound, but there were a couple of clauses I questioned. The clause I was most particularly concerned with was a Right of First Refusal clause. I didn’t want to be tied down to the publisher for future works. I asked the publisher if he could put a time limit on the clause so I wouldn’t have to submit manuscripts to him for the duration of the contract. I was told it wasn’t practical to do so and that they would pass quickly on any manuscripts that were a genre they didn’t publish.

Mistake #3—I didn’t have a lawyer look over the contract. I assumed I was smart enough to negotiate a simple publishing contract. If a publisher is unwilling to negotiate clauses within the contract, they are not the publisher for you.

I signed. Everything was great for a while. We started on edits right away. The first thing that caused a niggling doubt was when the publisher asked me to seek out a graphic artist to work on the book cover. The contract clearly stated book cover services would be provided by the publisher, but the author could commission a cover if they chose. I began to search for a cover, but none of my choices met with the publisher’s approval. It was at this point I discovered there was a fundamental difference in the way we each viewed my book. The publisher viewed the book as a fantasy with some romantic elements. I saw the book as a romance with paranormal elements. Indeed, my original query stated the book was a YA paranormal romance.

Mistake #4 – I assumed the publisher and I were on the same page. I should have asked the publisher about his ideas for cover art, marketing, etc before I signed anything.

The publisher was very attentive at first. Edits were forwarded to me on a regular basis. He had grand plans for the website—author pages, a bookstore, many of the same features you’d expect to see on a typical publisher’s website. He indicated he would takeover commissioning my cover art and I was pleased to hand this over to him. He asked me to send a detailed character description and said he found an artist to work on the cover. He asked me to pen two blurbs—one for soft cover and one for the inside flap for hardcover. Contracts were signed for the rest of the series. He stated his intent to publish the first book in late spring 2012 in hardback, with the second book releasing six months later.

Mistake #5 – I let my ego override common sense. I assumed the publisher was in a rush to sign the other books because my first book was so stinking awesome. I didn’t pause to wait and see how he handled the first book before signing contracts for the other, and with the Right of First Refusal clause hanging over me, I didn’t feel I had any choice but to sign over the remaining books.

And then things weren’t so great. In the New Year (2012), the publisher asked me to resend information I’d sent in October 2011—the character descriptions, bio, and blubs. I kept getting conflicting information about the book cover. In February, he told me the cover artist was working on the cover and would have a mock-up soon. In April, he told me he was waiting on a contract from the cover artist before they could start working on it. The cover wasn’t finalized until July.

Communication was sketchy. Emails were often ignored. If I asked more than one question in an email, he would often answer only one of the questions asked.

The website went for months without being updated even after I questioned it several times. I did not appear on the website until February 2013, and that was only after pointing out his failure to update the site was a breach of contract. I am still not on the author section, but at least my book appears—with the old cover. And, this is only the main site I’m talking about. Technically, my book was published under the YA imprint. The website for this imprint hasn’t been updated since 2011 and looks quite abandoned.

The release date for the book was pushed back to August. And, then pushed to September. And, then finally October. Though the paperback became available in mid-September, the Kindle version wasn’t available until October. The hardback version he mentioned never materialized.

There was—and still is—a typo in my name on the title page of the Kindle version of the book. There were also editing problems. The publisher promised to fix the errors in November, January, February, and in March. I asked again a couple of weeks ago and was told it wouldn’t be fixed until May. Over six months to fix an obvious and embarrassing error!

In January, I received an incorrect accounting statement. When I questioned the exclusion of books sold at my signing, he said those books didn’t count in the totals since they were distributed outside normal sales channels. When I asked him to provide the contract clause that allows him to exclude those sales, I received no response. After I sent a breach of contract letter, the publisher said he would send an updated statement and blamed the oversight on someone else.

The publisher now has a ‘Strongly Not Recommended’ rating on P&E and a thread on Absolute Write due to a problem he had with another author.

As per the Right of First Refusal clause, I submitted a book to the publisher. After a couple of months, I asked about it, but was ignored. Four months later, he finally passed on the project AFTER I withdrew it from consideration. The Right of First Refusal is very vague and undefined. It doesn’t say how long the publisher has to look at a manuscript before he makes a decision. It doesn’t say I have to sign with the publisher either. As a matter of fact, it’s so vague, I’ve been told by a couple of lawyers it’s not enforceable, though the publisher might have a different interpretation and decide to cause trouble for me if I self-publish something he later decides he wants.

I could go on and on. There have been other problems. My complaints could fill a novel.

My greatest mistake: Assuming.

Maybe my greatest mistake was that I assumed too much. I assumed someone who set up shop as a publisher would know something about publishing. I assumed his references to traditional publishing practices and minimum print runs meant he was a traditional publisher, and not reliant upon print-on-demand services. I assumed that since thousands of self-published authors around the world could easily format a Kindle version of a book, that meant several editors with multiple years of experience could do the same. The fact that the Kindle version of my book is still sitting uncorrected suggests otherwise.

Contract clauses should not be open for interpretation. Everything in a contract should be written out down to the last detail. Take nothing for granted. Don’t assume the publisher you’re working with is honest. Don’t assume the publisher will be reasonable. Don’t even assume the publisher will know a single thing about publishing. Don’t assume anything.

So, where am I now? I’m the author of two published books—one of which is unmarketable due to the embarrassing errors the publisher has failed to correct. I have four books in a series that are contracted to a publisher I don’t trust and since I foolishly signed away my rights, those books might never see publication. I’m disillusioned and depressed. I feel like I sold my creativity to the devil. But, it could be worse. I’m not out any money (well except for my new book cover and some bookmarks). Unfortunately, it’s unlikely I’ll ever make money either. The contract is very author-unfriendly, and it’s hard for me to promote a book I’m embarrassed to have my name on–well, my misspelled name, to be precise. I plan to send a termination letter, but whether or not the publisher will choose to do the right thing and acknowledge my termination is another matter. I can’t imagine why a reputable publisher would have any interest in continuing to work with an author who is so obviously unhappy, but I guess we’ll see what happens.

I took a risk by choosing to post this. In America, anyone can threaten legal action for any reason, with or without proof, so it’s possible the publisher could threaten me with legal action for posting this. But, I know truth is on my side. I can only hope this post will help newbie authors who might be tempted to sign with the first publisher who expresses interest in their work. I don’t want to see anyone else sign away their happiness.

Please keep your comments clean. This is not a place for name-calling, threats against any publisher, or unfounded accusations. Feel free to share your personal experiences, but be careful to withhold any information that might land you in court. If you don’t feel comfortable posting on this public forum, please feel free to email me at: tricia@triciadrammeh.com

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

GREAT writing. Paranormal. YA. Romance. Daughter of Smoke & Bone excels in every way. Finally a book where the romance makes sense, where it builds up convincingly and makes you fall in love too. A heroine that kicks ass. A novel where the language itself carries you into a different world, and at times reads like poetry…

This book is beautiful, deep and heart-warming. I loved it. The only note I’d have to make is that it is about angels and creatures that resemble monsters, but in the book they have no religious context or origin whatsoever. If you are a religious person and have difficulty reading about angels and demons as mere fantasy creatures, this book may be difficult for you to digest. But if you can read this as a fantasy novel and nothing else, you may simply love it.

So, behold! Some quotes!

This is early in the story. Our main girl Karou is getting even with her ex who cheated on her and now thinks he can have her back. Her revenge is innocent, just a series of inconvenient itches she wishes upon him. But it’s brilliant none the less.

This, she thought, isn’t just for today. It’s for everything. For the heartache that still felt like a punch in the gut each time it struck, fresh as new, at unpredictable moments; for the smiling lies and the mental images she couldn’t shake; for the shame of having been so naïve.

For the way loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve – like the soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.

And this, Karou thought, no longer smiling, is for the irretrievable.

For her virginity.

And here are two descriptions of Karou that I loved:

Zuzana looked back and saw the expression that Karou sometimes got when she thought no one was watching. It was sadness, lostness, and the worst thing about it was the way it seemed like a default – like it was there all the time, and all her other expressions were just an array of masks she used to cover it up.

***

…and the blue-haired girl moved through it all like a fairy through a story, the light treating her differently than it did others, the air seeming to gather around her like held breath. As if this whole place were a story about her.

The artwork is from the author’s husband Jim di Bartolo.