Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

When It Looks Like Curtains—Capitulate

TRIBAL VICTORY FOR INSECURE WRITERS — and Others
MONTHLY IWSG CORNER—heliospheric incidents permitting

I.T. Mayhem Rules
There was no disintegrating Chinese rocket landing in my front lawn, no tsunami alarm in the dead of night, but Wednesday was not my day for anything electronic this month.

Reminiscing—strawberry harvest to lift the spirit

Reminiscing—strawberry harvest to lift the spirit

Having struggled—womanfully—all day long to get some kind of a signal—be it wired, wireless, begged, borrowed, piggybacked or outright stolen—I finally resorted to pencil and writing pad to get the gist of something into IWSG print.

To no avail.

On the other hand, writerly deadlines are deadlines, and we IWSGers take those seriously. So I wrote a couple of notes (mostly to myself) on how gradually the Western World is coming into alignment with its own Climate Control promise to reduce fossil fuel use, and to help endangered species back up the ecological ladder.

The Good News and the Better News
This week the Dakota Sioux tribe said no thank you to construction of a pipeline through its tribal homelands. They were joined by members of the Klamath Yurok who recently succeeded in passing legislation to have dams removed from its major California chinook salmon spawning river. See last month’s blog.

Humpback whale autumnal migration underway

Humpback whale autumnal migration underway

On the ocean front——a majority of the world’s humpback whales, known for their oceangoing antics—leaping, splashing and spouting with their double blow-hole—have been taken off the Endangered Species list. Seen as a ‘success story’, according to
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] who control Pacific waters.
Pods of California gray whales mingle and travel alongside humpbacks and this month have already begun their migration and been spotted in San Francisco Bay.

Unlike the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of South Dakota who never gave in, I capitulate.

Short of blaming my computer death aka total malfunction on an upsurge of sunspots—not—global IT meltdown—possible but not yet confirmed—I am more ready to believe it’s my REALLY dicey coastal location which often forgets to switch us backward peoples forward in time—into the electronic world.

The birds and whales must know something. They’re starting to migrate early.

When in Doubt, use Cloaking Device

Borrowed Klingon Wessel uncloaks over a whaler threat to kill Scotty's whale babies—Star Trek IV Voyage Home

Borrowed Klingon Wessel uncloaks over a whaler threat to kill Scotty’s whale babies—Star Trek IV Voyage Home

Having torn hair, bitten nails, crashed crockery and cats around, I have to admit defeat and—as all our inner muses want us IWSGers to do—switch to sci fi, like our fearless leader, Alex.

For newbie writers, journalists and wannabe scribes, this month’s effort is a pitiful excuse for a blog. But, if we don’t keep chipping away at the old Muse, she won’t perform when we really need her!

That’s my excuse and I’m not budging.

I am genuinely sending up prayers, incantations and blessed gratitude to the Angel of Communication who finally let me through; in ArchAngelic language—thanks, Gabe. You are a Star.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

September 9, 2016 Posted by | ancient rites, art, astrology, authors, birds, blogging, calendar customs, earth changes, environment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Journey Out and In

Monthly IWSG Corner

SHASTA: CRITICAL MASS, soon to be released through All Things That Matter Press, a Maine publisher

I’ve always been one to push it: the over-achiever in me likes to be in control. But sometimes it just doesn’t work.

We all know when the Muse is directing operations, it’s better if we just go along with her, with the tide, and allow her full rein. It’s important to give her loads of room to stir up the subconscious, and then wait and see what little miracles she has planned for us.

At other times, when the outer world directs—like editors, publishers, book-signings; that whole exciting round of putting oneself out there—it sometimes takes us by storm and we need to follow that flow, too.

But our Muse doesn’t like it; does she? Even when we tell her she needs to rest occasionally. Like her human charges, all work and no play… you know.

I wish it were as easy as it sounds: deciding when to write, and when not to. But, especially in the writing-publishing world, it’s never that simple. We writers aren’t totally in charge.

To be honest, we probably never were. We may think—especially during edit-mania—that the left hemisphere of our brain is running the show. But, even then, the direction is more likely to be coming from the reading public, what our publisher expects, what the market wants; what subjects are current darlings of the book-club circuit.

So, because I have been working flat-out—over the last month, at least—to try to get through final edits on my apocalyptic/end-times New Age novel, SHASTA: CRITICAL MASS, forthcoming from lovely Maine publisher, All Things That Matter Press, I have to say upfront I have probably let down my blogging/authorly friends in Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. I know how good it feels to hear a word of encouragement from others in the same position—writers and bloggers and authors beginning to make a name for themselves out there—so I apologize if I haven’t had a chance to make the usual rounds of IWSG authors’ pages in the last few weeks. I promise I’ll try to make up for it, when the current push subsides.

Maine publisher of spiritual, self-help, authorly fiction and non-fiction for new ‘voices’

On the other hand, there may be quite a few IWSG-ers whose work is ideally suited to the ATTM ethos, so I’ll explain. They are a small press who like to introduce to the world of readers those authors who have a message—predominantly spiritual—to relay, a distinctive “self”, which they’d like to share. In these times where the ‘Big Five’ often have little patience with first-time authors or new discoveries, their approach is refreshing. Run by husband-and-wife team, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Phil and Deb Harris, the system operates smoothly, and the cogs are well-oiled and kept rolling by a team of editors, including the superb Marvin Wilson, himself a blogger and author of several books, including the Avatar-Award-winning novel, Owen Fiddler (2009). I couldn’t be in better hands.

For IWSG-ers, it may be of interest to point out that Marvin is also a mentor who delights in assisting writers, bloggers, other authors in the art of good writing.

That said, my Muse is feeling a little restless. She doesn’t like taking a back seat. Edits and reworked points-of-view (POV) are not what she thrives on. But I have told her that she, like me, should take a break from time to time. We all need to make the Journey Out and In. Besides, I’ve had a couple of chapter rewrites where she seemed delighted to pitch in again and throw her weight around!

And, if all goes well, she will be allowed to stretch her wings fully once more next month, when the annual NaNoWriMo marathon starts up again for all of us fledgelings to soar, unencumbered, to dizzy heights.

Until then, I hope she will a-Muse herself—sorry :(—and I have reminded her that we have even greater (Muse-ical) avatars who paced this path before us:

Gazing past the Planets
Looking for total view
I’ve been lying here for hours
Got to make the Journey Out and In

Thank you ©Moody Blues.
And thank you, Alex.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

October 3, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, fiction, Muse, novel, publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Whatever the Weather: Write On

MONTHLY IWSG

What we IWSGroupies should always remember…

Writing should be an act of love; all else is a scribble—”écrire c’est un acte d’amour; ne pas faire c’est escritureJean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau clearly didn’t have a lot of deadlines; or else he was so secure within himself that they didn’t phaze him. Well, some of us DO write only when we’re inspired and in love with our words, but there are other times…aaarrrgggh.

No, I didn’t say that Alex J Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group [IWSG] stresses me with deadlines! But I did completely lose track first Wednesday last month, posting something which even Alex must have thought indicated I had lost it. So I am giving a quick apology now to any who read my cropcircle item at that time, as a bonus, or for misleading those who searched my site for other relevant material and ended up reading my (much older) post on how Myers-Briggs sees us flighty authors!

Blame it on the weather! Or something.

It is true: the 2012 season (which in Britain has been dire) since having early summer in March, resorted to Arctic gales and rainstorms from April through August, and now that September has arrived, only the most hardy of us mortals lingers outdoors to pick up the fragments of petunia blossoms, and rose petals hurled from their stems. It could get anyone down—in their right mind.

What we do may, technically, be illegal… 🙂

But we writers have never been really in our right minds, have we? And, as we all know, if we’re feeling down, or insecure, or unable to cope for any reason, it always helps to reach out and help another. So if you guys are still with me, reading/writing and supporting each other, you may find it gratifying to stretch out the hand of friendship—even if your fingers are full of petals and your mind full of untyped words—because this month marks one whole year that the IWSG has been together, and it has grown from just a few writerly bloggers to an amazing 276 people out there sharing their tips, fears, doubts or just plain helping other budding writer/bloggers along. Alex, our Ninja captain, is a great one for holding out a helping hand—besides he posts FAR MORE FREQUENTLY than I do—so if you are in any doubt about joining our disparate gang, [I said disparate, not desperate] I heartily recommend it.

Besides, in reading and visiting the blogs of others—even if you haven’t really got one going yourself—you develop a ‘feel’ which just could turn into something you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the guts to. Now’s your chance.

P.S. My criticism of world weather may sound unreasonable, particularly in the wake of hurricane Isaac, which seemed intent on doing a Katrina around the Mississippi basin; I don’t mean to steal any thunder. My dear goddaughter is a doc in one of the emergency rooms in NOLA and she says it wasn’t pretty; but the great thing we all share about WEATHER is that it changes; and there is always hope for us writers that our togetherness—hugely assisted by the friendly electrons of the internet—will give us the feeling of holding hands across the waves [literal and metaphorical], so that we know we are not alone.

For that reason alone, I am grateful for having found IWSG and want to wish it happy birthday. I also wish Alex godspeed with his third novel CassaStorm—go to his site and reeeeead about it—like his other two, it is destined for huge success.

Thanks for being there IWSG buddies.
Have a good September.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

September 5, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, fantasy, fiction, novel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Social Networking: Pause before Entry…

Monthly IWSG Linky-thingie
As some of you know, I failed to support our fearless leader–and several of his extremely potent|writerly| minions during the April A-Z marathon, for reasons of edit-mania. Now, at least, I can bring my head up for air (edits complete, MS returned to publisher for ?more edits?) and take a look around. But we know that the Universe never likes to see a busy person unbusy, and so, almost as soon as I divested one multi-POV project, another surfaced.

Most of us respond to call for help... ...p.s. so you don't all have nightmares: a kindly passerby DID raise the drain brander, and rescued four pairs of webbed feet from the tumbling waters...

The point is: I have never been able to turn down a genuine request for help; and because the project involves writing and publishing, I am/was drawn in irrevocably; isn’t it always the way? So perhaps my friend will forgive me if I share here some of her misgivings; and who knows, some of you may be able to help her decide.

My friend is a fellow Scot exiled in Japan where she founded, teaches and supports an energy healing center: with its main adherents coming to a peaceful country setting to learn how to heal themselves, and returning home equipped to continue the process. Alongside this laudable enterprise, she mistressminds an indy publishing house, with titles simultaneously appearing in both English and Japanese.

I am not exaggerating when I say their output is prolific, but, probably–honestly–not world-shattering, when compared with the Big Five. But I think I am preaching to the congregation when I say that most people reading this are big supporters of Indy Publishers because, as writers, we believe we have gone it alone for so long; along come brave-new-worlders bringing publishing to a more human level (less hype, more oomph); and we are delighted that the indy field is opening out to include more individuals–like us. It seems not only logical, but the most writer-friendly way to go.

What is the problem, you ask?

Well, maybe not a problem, but my friend has–in the eighteen years she has been running the initiative–never dipped into social media. I know; you think that’s funny. But that is seriously the position where she now finds herself.

I immediately thought of Alex’s great innovation: the IWSG; but then realized she is probably too shy to plunge in straight off; so I hinted that getting her own personal blog out there was a priority; because currently, she runs production, classes, editing and publishing under the corporate banner, mystically calling herself CEO–that’s her acronym for Chief Energy Officer!! And she’s doing that. But she believes her social media skills are nil. In fact, I believe she could knock the socks off any of us venturing to publish in the Japanese market, but that’s not the point.

Social media has, after all, the ability to link up personalities from pretty diverse backgrounds...

Trying to look with fresh eyes at what we–in the West–consider the norm: bloghops, blogtours, Alex’s amazing 150-blogs-a-day visits [we forgive you for taking time for yourself, Alex; you deserve it; we’ll still be here when you come back]; I realized it can’t be easy to plunge in on the Facebook, Twitter, Google+, what-have-you circuit. So, while she doesn’t know I’m writing this, I feel sure that when she discovers the multitude of diverse author/publishers in our IWSGroup, she might forgive me for whispering the word around.

I felt rather daunted myself when I first signed on with Alex–did you know that you guys are almost ninety-percent Blogger bloggers? repetition intentional, as I am a WordPress person, and linky-lists between the two are non-user-friendly. I’m not complaining; it is what it is. But it did make me look through the eyes of a child at the world we now take so for granted. Many of us have caught the blogging bug and communications craze and mastered the art (sortof) in under a decade. And, some of us are really in an age bracket where we didn’t think we could… but that tale for another time…

I believe it's her move...

I told her some of us are NOT on Facebook, don’t tweet, and succeed in being prolific, only after hours of a dedicated cave-like existence, or a week of sleepless nights. I hope she got the idea. She signed on for G+ but not FB; LinkedIn, but not MySpace (I wasn’t advocating that she did!). And I feel sure she will fit right in here, when/if she finally finds out I told you all this behind her back.

That said, may I wish all my fellow bloggers on Alex’s growing and ever-fruitful linky-list a brilliant month of May and happy warm-up for great ideas in the summer of 2012.
@2012May Marian Youngblood

May 2, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Insecure Writers: Self-publish Woes and Wows

Alex is at it again: another month, another post for his hugely supportive (and supported) Insecure Writers’ Support Group. And a bloghop –226 other blogs to visit, at time of writing!

I wanted to write about a couple more personal insecurities, but the idea got knocked sideways by a post from the prolific David Gaughran, a 34-year old Irish writer, living from time to time in Sweden, but spending a lot of his working life traveling the world, collecting stories, and writing about his adventures! How fortunate, you say. His advice behind the scenes comes with a punch, too. So it’s not all dancing in the tropical moonlight and storming into Valparaiso (although he does that).

His books are — like Amanda Hocking’s — all published in e-format. So he is an expert in the self-publish world.

While many of us continue to dream of being picked up by the ‘majors’, while we’re waiting, there is no harm whatsoever in self-publishing a few e-books.

Or is there?

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Book Country overhead costs do not amuse

There are pitfalls. And David (along with several other authors, like Joe Konrath, Katie Salidas, and Linda Welch), have picked up one of the real BAD GUYS. Ahem, yes, it’s Book Country — an arm of Penguin.

According to David, Penguin’s self-publish arm is ‘actively targeting inexperienced writers’. They say they are offering the lure, oops opportunity, for young writers to ‘make a name for themselves.’

Book Country began last April as a place for authors to post their work for critique. Then in the fall they announced a program to turn manuscripts posted on their website into e-books and paper books.

Warner Bros 'Happy Feet' penguins would not be happy

“A new kind of self-publishing that offers a more professional product and provides guidance that currently isn’t available to players.”

‘Our self-publishing process has been designed by a team of book industry professionals to make the experience as accessible, convenient, and affordable as possible’

Their ‘basic package’ is $99 for ‘user-formatted’ books. ‘User-formatted’ means you, the author do your own formatting.

But for $549 they will ‘help the writer’ format both e-book and print book, and then upload it to retailers.

Or for $299 they will let you do your own formatting, and then upload the book to retailers for you.

This is ‘affordable’????? Does it not sound a little like Vanity press?

Questions are now being asked about such huge fees; and about the massive royalty cut they take on top of that (after charges taken by retailers such as Amazon). If you are a newbie, it all sounds a bit much.

Let’s say you are a budding writer who has entered their site simply to share your new flow with other writers, to get some feedback, to know if what you thought you had written was good…and you saw their ‘suggestion’ to ‘share your work with a larger audience’; ‘signed in’ to their new offerings (small print: you have to agree to ALL their terms and conditions before entering — i.e. no backing out. It’s a contract.) It rather dents the newbie writerly ego a little to find that in the end, you have spent all that money and can be almost certain your royalties, if any, will be minimal.

There’s more. Penguin — because they have you ‘signed’ — keep 30% of your royalties. And although the beauty of royalties is that they keep on coming in when your book sells, in this ‘contract’ you keep on paying Penguin.

Here’s how it breaks down. For sales on the Book Country site itself, writers receive 70% royalties. This part, at least, is justifiable. Book Country are providing a retail platform, they are processing the sales, and dealing with the customers. And it’s a comparable percentage to the major retailers. Plus their name is a biggie.

However, through Book Country, you can also sell your book on those major retailers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is where the real trouble starts.

On pages such as this one, they claim that writers will “earn 70% on your sales when priced at $2.99 or higher on all channels.” This is an extremely disingenuous claim, as it is not 70% of your cover price, but 70% of the money Book Country receive from retailers.

How do new writers figure this out without testing the waters themselves?

There is a simpler way.

It takes a little time and application to learn the format process, but I’ve done it with my aging braincells, so if I can do it, you can do it.

After formatting, you should upload your books to Createspace, Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords on your own (takes about an hour) for FREE and you’re done. You’re published. That’s all there is to it. There seems to be no added reason why — after you’ve learned how to format and done all that hard work — you should pay Penguin to upload it for you. Now, does there?

Helping others up the thorny ladder to publishing success: Marian Youngblood

All that said — thank you Alex for allowing a rather irritable insecurity to be voiced — I need to encourage all new/young writers at least to TRY the self-publish method.

I published my ‘Phantom’s Child’ (sidebar right) that way and its historical/suspense theme seems to be catching on. It is beginning to take off. Last week author Pat Bertram kindly interviewed me on the process.

She, like our Ninja host, is an author who holds out her hand to help others up this thorny ladder we’ve placed in front of ourselves.

In the daunting milieu of what the publishing world is becoming, every little bit helps.

So, as we wend our way into the depths of winter — shortest day is only two weeks away and then it’s all going to look better –solar flares, radiation storms, power blackouts notwithstanding (next blog down on this page)– we do have much to look forward to when the light returns: this publishing business is gradually, slowly, finally, starting to give a little back to the hard-working author… fingers crossed.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

December 7, 2011 Posted by | authors, blogging, fiction, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments