BECAUSE I LOVE BOTH KATY PERRY AND E.S. POSTHUMUS
Hopefully this post won’t come off as sounding hypocritical as I have adamantly pursued the traditional-publishing route with my writing and have no plans to self-publish. But I did want to weigh in, regardless, because I’ve run into this “us vs. them” attitude floating around the interwebz regarding traditionally published authors vs. self-published authors. And I just don’t think it’s productive.
(Not that I’m published in ANY way whatsoever. But anyway.)
Here’s the thing. There is nothing (nothing!) that will deter my unabashed love of Katy Perry. There is also nothing that will deter me from wasting entirely too much time browsing CD Baby for my next-favoritest album. There is room in my life for paying $1.29 per song for Teenage Dream and Firework on iTunes and dropping $8.99 on two unheard-of bands that sound like E.S. Posthumus (one of their songs is on the soundtrack to my book, ya’ll). One does not necessarily obviate the other.
In fact, every time I get on CD Baby I end up spending more than I intend to. And then they send you a free album for every few you buy, and then I find a NEW band I like, and then… you get the idea. It appears that reading and listening to music (and watching anime, and eating cupcakes, etc.) are two things that I possess an infinite capacity to consume. And the more I do it, the more I do it.
It’s kind of like the era of Napster, a glorious wonderful shiny time when music [sampling] was free and pink bunnies roamed the landscape, skipping through fields and meadows of wildflowers. I downloaded some stuff. Yes, I admit it. But I also bought the albums for the artists I loved–and more music than I ever had before. One great song isn’t enough. I wanted the whole album. And then I wanted to go to a show. And then I wanted MOAR music and more shows. And ultimately, I wanted to support the artists. Even the already-famous ones.
So I kind of have this happy fantasy in which self-publishing does the same. It may take more work to find a self-pubbed book you love–there are no gatekeepers to guarantee it’s well-edited, no agents to find its niche in the market, and some duds out there–but if you do, you’re a loyal customer. And if you’re me, you’re still going to buy that Katy Perry album, too.
Because you know what? Suzanne Collins is awesome. And so are a lot of writers out there who never got their big break the old-fashioned way. There is room in my brain for both. Yes, my wallet has limitations on it, but I still shop at Amazon for backlisted classics and at Flyleaf Books for signed copies of local authors’ books.
So in honor of the era of napster, I’d like to share five reasons you should support self-pubbed authors. Because how sad would my college-ipod be without Beulah?:
1) There are great authors out there who don’t publish the old-fashioned way. Maybe the market can’t support a huge advance. Maybe they don’t have a timely topic. Maybe there’s another book out there similar to theirs that didn’t sell for no reason in particular. Maybe they tried it the traditional way and didn’t like it. Or maybe they never even pursued that path. Whatever the reason, their work doesn’t fit into the traditional market. It doesn’t mean their book isn’t well-written or interesting.
2) Writing is a process. We’re all at different places in our process, and we all learn different ways. Even if you see an uber-crappy self-pubbed work out there somewhere, it doesn’t mean that particular writer may not learn. We’ve all written uber-crap (I certainly have). The trick is learning the difference between uber-crap and uber-awesome. That takes time, and we all have different tools for doing it. I would like an agent and an editor and a copy editor and etc. etc. etc. to help me get my act together. Others want to put their work out there, get feedback, and go from there. Same goal, different approach.
3) The difference between a published author and an unpublished author has just as much to do with LUCK as it does skill. I feel very VERY fortunate to have landed an amazing agent. With my first book, which I think was pretty good (although I am bias ), I had no such luck. I hope that my current work will make it to bookstores and allow me to really indulge my writing in the future. But there are no guarantees. Any creative endeavor is a subjective experience and it’s important to take into account the impact of luck and happenstance on success. It’s also important to realize that there are people out there who are talented, who work hard, and who won’t ever be able to publish a novel the old-fashioned way.
(I just shuddered when I wrote that, ya’ll. *shiver* I’m an eternal optimist, so I hate to admit this possibility. Oh well. If my book never gets picked up by a house, at least reading this post will make me feel better. I hope.)
3) Creative endeavors really are subjective. I mean that. That’s why I’m repeating it. I really, really do. There is a current trend in writing to make things a certain way. As it so happens, I agree with most of these trends. I prefer Hemingway over Faulkner; efficiency over language for language’s sake (most of the time). I like things action-packed and fast. I want symbolism so subtle I don’t even think about it until two days after I’ve read the book. I like unrequited love, cutesy-ness, double-entendres, sword fights, zombies, and girls that kick-ass.
All of this is fortunate for me because I think it helped me land an agent. But I also love Victorian Lit., which has overly-complex plots and musings about clouds and and an inordinate amount of surmising. I love poetry, and enjoy Walt Whitman chatting about Captains and Keats getting all emo about urns. One of my favorite books is about a guy standing on a bridge. And I find Thomas Pynchon interesting, but I never make it through more than ten pages. We all have preferences. And there are enough books in the world that we can satisfy them. Limiting yourself in any way is your loss.
4) Writers are a community, and I don’t think there should be a hierarchy. This one is tricky, but I think it’s true. I don’t expect anyone to treat me like Stephen King or J.K Rowling. But you know what? Before they sold millions and millions of copies of their books, they were unpubbed, too. You should treat every writer you meet like the next big thing. Not for personal gain, or so that when they’re famous they’ll write you a blurb (although that would be cool. OMG that would be SO. COOL. But anyway.).
But because writing is a Cool Thing and isn’t it cool that we share this Cool Thing that we love to do? And isn’t it neat that we can connect with total strangers over this Cool Thing? And isn’t it Cool that all of humanity shares this desire for narrative structure (sorry to get meta, there) and that we feel so strongly about it that we feel the need to spend hours and hours and on a pursuit that may never do more than keep us up at night pondering plot problems? Yeah. COOL.
5) It’s fun. In all honesty, I’ve just begun to scope out some self-pubbed books I want to read. But I’m having fun, and every single self-pubbed author I’ve run into on Twitter has been awesome. And even when I scope a dud-book on amazon, I still feel pretty optimistic about the world-in-general. Writing is fun, and getting excited about writing is fun, and the more people read the more people read and the more people write the more people write and there is an exponential growth in literacy and the quality of the human experience shared and blah blah blah (did I mention how I’m an eternal optimist?). Sharing is part of human culture. So let’s do it.
Download a few self-pubbed titles next time you’re on Amazon. And then pick up the latest debut YA from S&S. You know you wanna.*
*(Also: if I had a book out to pimp, this is where I would say “please buy my book, too!” I’m not too proud to ask, ya’ll.)Read More
Happy belated Valentine’s Day! My husband and I decided to celebrate by getting a much-needed update to our wedding bands.
(Not that our wedding bands are old… they aren’t. We’ve been married almost eight years [GACK! We're old!], but the bands are still well and fine. It’s me, actually, that’s the problem. After approximately five years of wearing a platinum band, I developed a handy allergy to the stuff. You read that right. If there’s anything in the universe one could develop an allergy to, even hypo-allergenic soft metals, I CAN DO IT. Needless to say, I’ve been wedding band-less for quite some time. And I needed a new one.)
After some research and some jewelry-store perusing, we decided to avoid the eight-hundred-thousand percent mark-up of the mall stores and ordered tungsten rings from titaniumkay.com. Specifically, I ordered the “Venus” and my husband ordered the “Mercury.” (Oh, Yes! We are planets! Hot boiling ones, that are close to the sun!)
And I must admit, I loooooove my new wedding band (pictured). I’ve had it on for almost six hours, and no hives have appeared. No uncontrollable itching. No swollen-finger-that-makes-removing-a-ring-problematic. Not only that, it’s so SHINY. And sparkly. And it’s guaranteed never to loose it’s shine! And it has “mirror-reflectivity,” which means precisely what it sounds like: you can see tiny little diamond-shaped reflections in it. I’ve been waving my finger around at people and trees and whatnot all afternoon.
I’m seriously thinking this should be the new wedding band trend of the 21st century. Because not only are these rings pretty, and cool, and awesome, they are I KID YOU NOT THIS IS THE EXACT PERCENTAGE 3% of the cost of a comparable platinum ring. They’re also heavy and have such a high melting point that the metal (tungsten), threaded, is used to make filaments for light bulbs. Which means that if someone ever heats me up to the point that I spontaneously burst into white-hot flame, my wedding band will be cool with it.
(The only reason I know this is because my son is obsessed with light bulbs, and we watch the 5 min. “How a Light Bulb Works” video every night before bed time. Some light bulbs are blown up in the making of this video. Which is why it’s a favorite.)
Anyways. Now I sound like an advertisement for these people. But seriously, though, PRETTY SHINY THING = WIN.Read More
IShip Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Man, this was a great book. I know I usually say this about everything on this blog, but if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be writing about it (HEY, if you can’t say something nice, right?). Here’s the blurb from Booklist:
*Starred Review* This YA debut by Bacigalupi, a rising star in adult science fiction, presents a dystopian future like so many YA sf novels. What is uncommon, though, is that although Bacigalupi’s future earth is brilliantly imagined and its genesis anchored in contemporary issues, it is secondary to the memorable characters. In a world in which society has stratified, fossil fuels have been consumed, and the seas have risen and drowned coastal cities, Nailer, 17, scavenges beached tankers for scrap metals on the Gulf Coast. Every day, he tries to “make quota” and avoid his violent, drug-addicted father. After he discovers a modern clipper ship washed up on the beach, Nailer thinks his fortune is made, but then he discovers a survivor trapped in the wreckage—the “swank” daughter of a shipping-company owner. Should he slit the girl’s throat and sell her for parts or take a chance and help her? Clearly respecting his audience, Bacigalupi skillfully integrates his world building into the compelling narrative, threading the backstory into the pulsing action. The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi. Grades 8-12. –Lynn Rutan
So here is WHY, specifically, I really liked it (in list form, because I am in a list-making type of mood):
1. It was post-apocalyptic, but not super-depressing. I enjoyed The Hunger Games as much as the next person (i.e., a whole lot), but it was nice to read something a little more optimistic for a change. Ship Breaker‘s world is certainly a peak-oil wilderness of flooded cities and desperate people and cool cults, but people seem to manage, and it feels realistic to me. I mean, evil governments are all well and good, but it’s important to give evil corporations their due. Especially evil trading corporations originating in Asia. That is, after all, WHERE ALL THE PIRATES ARE IRL.
2. Speaking of the world, I thought it was really cool how Paolo B. alluded to this rich culture than he never fully explained. Case in point: The Life Cult. The Life Cult, it appears, harvests organs and eggs and what not from human beings to supply the raw material for lots of genetically engineered species. It’s a religion. I think. I’m not entirely sure. But what I AM sure of is that it was a fascinating aside which made the world amazingly rich and made me wish there were more.
3. Pacing. This book FLEW. Literally. They’re on a boat! They’re on an island! They’re on a train! They’re in the water! They’re being chased! They’re on a boat! OMG it didn’t stop for a second. In fact, I was kind of surprised that I read through it in a normal amount of time, because it moved so fast.
4. More about the world. World-building, world-building, world-building. I am a broken record. But there was this whole subplot about half-men (genetically engineered tiger+dog+hyena+man) that mirrored the main plot about loyalty that I LOVED. More half-men, Paolo. That’s what I say. Because they are fascinating.
5. And last, but not least, the characters. I totally agree with Booklist in this instance: the characters are really well done. They do amazing stuff, but you believe that they would. In fact, before I read the Booklist review I didn’t even think their actions were that out there. But when I thought about it… they were. It made such complete sense for their characters that I never even questioned it. Right on, Paolo.Read More
WPushing Daises. It may become a new go-to series for us, joining Arrested Development, Futurama, Archer, Undeclared, and a few others that we just pop in the Playstation and run in the late-evenings when we require some awesome, albeit passive, entertainment.
The show is really about happy zombies. Ned, the Pie-Maker, has the ability to touch dead things and bring them back to life. He has an entire minute to re-touch them or else something else dies instead. In episode one, he brings back his childhood sweetheart, and offs some other random dude. Hilarity, and mystery-solving, ensue.
Seriously… I can’t say enough good things about this show. It was totally fun, and light, and the dialogue was snappy and riddled with double-entendre. The whole world was kind of bizzaro-Tim Burton, in a shiny, happy, pea-coatey kind of way. And it was essentially a procedural, so every week a mystery was solved.
The only problem was the non-ending. There were about twenty seconds of tying-it-up narration at the end of the second season, but it didn’t resolve anything. What about Ned’s dad? Chuck’s dad? The European tour? Emerson’s daughter? Why oh WHY do networks do this to us? And to really great television shows? Arrested Development, Firefly, Futurama (at least we got a fifth season back).. wah. Just, wah.
Oh, well, we have them on DVD so they’ll certainly get another run, eventually. Maybe they’ll be a movie. OR, better yet, would someone please open a Pie Hole?Read More
Crocs ARE as awesome as everyone says they are!
In fact, I am experiencing some kind of shoe-love now. I have a pair of these sandals, and my mom got me a pair of these mary-janes type shoes, and they are both incredibly awesome. They fulfill all of my shoe-needs, and are actually quite cute on:
1-no blisters for at least 2-3 miles of walking
2-can be worn without socks and don’t get stanky
3-can be worn with capris, shorts, and long pants and don’t look totally wacky (this is generally a tall order; it works for flip-flops, IMO, because flip flops are the universal "it’s summer I don’t give a f*ck" type of shoe [even though I wear them year-round], but for other shoe-types, it is trickier, neh?).
4-can be washed, in the instance that they do not live up to #2
Yeah, they’re awesome. Not only that, my feet actually fit a perfect size 7 in crocs, and with most shoes I have to do half-sizes (convenient, considering crocs don’t come in half sizes). So I am really fighting the urge to buy some more. Perhaps these. Or these. Or these. Must… not… buy… more… shoes…
(sorry: did not mean to turn this into an advertisement for crocs)