Act as If… this is a Writing Day

I am prone to listening to various sorts of… how do I put it, information? There is self-development, but not only that, also TED talks, philosophical books, books about creativity and writing, etc.

I figured, a while ago, that you can’t change your life without changing your thoughts.

I cannot read non-fiction, I get bored, but I love them in audio-books or programs. Recently there was a promotion of non-fiction audio-books and I ended up with nine of them in different subjects. I don’t listen to one, beginning to end, I listen to whatever my mood asks for.

I am listening to two books, one about how the brain works and the other about Aliens. The first tells me how the brain creates conspiracy theories by creating connections that do not exist, because the brain prefers to have a drunken pilot at the helm, a.k.a. shadowy government in control; than having no-one in control or a vessel without a pilot.

The Alien book shows all the proof that Aliens do exist and that there is, most definitely, a conspiracy.

Hard to choose what I really believe in, probably both and neither.

One of my new favourites is Liz Gilbert’s “Big Magic”. I agree with her that Artists create in spite of their hunted soul, not because of it.

One of my old favourites is Mike Dooley’s “Infinite Possibilities” that introduced me to a concept I now use all the time: ACT AS IF.

Today I’m acting as if I had full days of writing and have spent the day exactly as I would if I were a successful, highly paid best seller, and a full-time writer.

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Angry Agent’s & Publisher’s Sites – Are they endangering their own industry?

I get it, it must be frustrating to be a literary agent and receive hundreds of unsolicited, poor-quality material, but I’m here wondering if these angry Agents and Publishers aren’t creating their own demise. It is not all of them but still more than I expected.

In my research on how to submit my recently finished book to an agent, I’ve learned that the proper process is to send a Query Letter, and see if the agent wants to receive a submission; if and only then, you send a cover letter, with summary and submission and many other details; then you wait, possibly for months. If no agent wants to represent you, you may try to send directly to publishers, the reason being that it seems that if all the publishers have already rejected you, no agent will agree to represent you.

While reading the agents and publishers website I kept being assaulted by exasperated people right and left.

They sounded like angry teachers:

  • Do not send unsolicited material.
  • We repeat: Do not send mail that needs to be signed for.
  • WE DON’T OPEN ATTACHMENTS!
  • We do not look at work which is under submission to any other agent or publisher.
  • Do not send the whole work.
  • Do not send cassette tapes, CDs, or video tapes.
  • Binding: please don’t. We prefer that the material should be in the form of loose sheets, unbound, held together by string or cotton tape.

‘String? Cotton Tape? Printed sheets? What?’ If we writers test the patience of the agents, I’d say they do it right back at us. String?

The general tone of many Agents and Publishers websites is that we, the writers, are basically the scum of the Earth and we will be immensely lucky if they deem us worthy of their time.

There are lots of rules and regulations screaming at the reader with a thousand rules. There is a tone of lack of patience, of tired people that will take months to look at your query or manuscript but, in quite a few cases, want you to only submit to them.

I felt empathy for what they seem to go through but doubt that this is the best way to go forward in the long term.

We have to consider the changes in the publishing industry. No wonder so many authors are Self-Publishing, it is not encouraging to have to sift through angriness just to learn how to submit your work.

I have heard of many books that first made best sellers then were picked by the publishing world, it might not take long for authors to prefer going their own way. With many publishing houses and book stores closing down and going through serious restructure, I think professionalism and curtesy would be a better strategy.

I am finding harder and harder to pick which books are publishing mainstream and which are home-published, in e-books and at Amazon I simply search for what I like and don’t even look at the publisher. It is not impossible that Agents and Publishers could make themselves superfluous.

I do have the utmost respect and love for the job Publishers and Agents do. I miss the quality of the writing world before the self-publishing advent, which I’m guilty of. I miss going through a list of books knowing they are all professionally edited, proof-read, and picked as the cherries of the written word. But the reality is that that world is gone.

On the other hand, becoming a self-publisher is also a lot of work, and I’m not good at promoting and selling my books, getting freelancers to help me out every step of the way is time-consuming and at times, frustrating. That is why I am choosing to submit to agents and publishers and hope for the best. I did manage to pick some good agents and create a healthy list [see here how to create your own list].

My point is that maybe it is time for these angry Agents and Publishers to find a friendlier way to interact with their potential Authors. I find it strange that they are willing to treat badly the same people who will bring them their income. Instead I would suggest they should find better processes, include checklists for authors to follow before submission, for example. Interactive forms, where the applicant has to add the essential information, processes that would guide the aspiring writer to do it right, creating a healthy relationship from the start.

Great Pirate, Big Issue

There is an article inside the Big Issue magazine which is phenomenal. I have to confess I have bought the magazine a couple of times before to support “solutions to help homeless, disadvantaged and marginalised people positively change their lives”. But I had never read it until now.
It was a series of coincidences, or maybe fate, that made me read that article. I left the house a couple of minutes earlier, the moment I got to the stop the bus was getting there and even though it was a bit full, I took it. When I got to my destination, the bus stopped almost at the corner of the park which is unusual. I got the bus through the front squeezing myself in between the people and was almost spilled out, landing in front of the guy selling the Big Issue.
It wasn’t one of the most recognisable vendors they have; Sydney has a few I can now spot from the years I’ve been walking around. Some have specific looks and some specific chants for selling the product. When I landed on the man, he quickly offered the magazine and I just took it.
I’m not sure why, or even better, how. I had my iPad on one hand, one purse where I was trying to shove my iPad with the zipper half opened, still having the iPhone on my hands and another bag with my food and pretty shoes inside. I paid and him and he made a bit of fun of me. ‘Oh my God! So many things, there is the phone, the pad’ he said. I laughed and finally shoved the thing into the purse, the phone into the pocket and started skimming over the magazine while walking through the park.

Big Issue Vendor Sydney CBD


I pause here to ponder on a complete and spreadable insanity that seems to be taking us all over. Why couldn’t I wait and just walk for the four minutes and forty seven seconds it takes to get to work? Or seat down in the park to read as I was early? But I couldn’t, I had to shove some more information into my head in the couple of minutes I was walking like I had shoved the pad into the bag.
I was going through the magazine and landed on a page that had something about pirates.
I like pirates.
I started to read and laugh, from the start.
Because the bus came without a moment wasted in the morning and the traffic was blessedly light I was early to work and decided to get a toast in the cafe near the office and enjoy the reading.
The article was by Max Attwood, who is described as “a Melbourne-based comedian, actor and writer. (…) He tries to channel his laziness into creativity, but usually ends up eating biscuits instead” and his writing was simply brilliant.
It reminds me of the style of my favourite Brazilian writer, Luis Fernando Verissimo, the style being what we would call, in Brazil, a “chronicle”. We don’t seem to have a specific word here in Australia for this type of comedic writing about daily life style.
I was laughing so loud at the cafe the waitress – I refuse to call her a waiter to be politically correct, it was a lady waiter so pardon me if I will use the correct term, I don’t find or intend any offence to women – well, she got so curious when she came to deliver my toast that I showed her the cover of the magazine and said ‘ha ha, big issue, ha, very funny, great, ha ha’ I doubt she understood anything. It was a feeble attempt to explain if I couldn’t apologise for my loud and very indiscreet laugh.
It is this tale of a man who becomes a pirate. Modern days. Corporate world. I won’t say more, you have to read it. Buy the magazine if you can, it is a not for profit and will help the person you buy it from. “Pirates Don’t Need To” made my day. Thank you Mr. Attwood for writing this article rather than eating biscuits. Even though I’m pretty sure when you finished there were crumbles all over your keyboard!

(Orble Votes: 22)

Kindle and Ebooks: Amazon electronic books, everywhere, anywhere

Amazon instructions click here

I was surprised to hear from one of my friends that she didn’t know she could get Amazon e-books on her iPhone. I think people get confused with the name “Kindle” it is because it means a couple of things.

Starting from the start, Kindle is the name of the device, e-book reader Amazon has created. So it is a little equipment, in different models, where you can read electronic books. What some people don’t realise is that Kindle is also the name of the technology, the application or the software from Amazon that reads their format of e-books.

The Kindle apps are available for various devices: you can download it for your tablet, iPad, iPhone, Android Phones, Windows PCs, Mac computers, laptops and desktops. The best of all is that if the device is connected to the net, it automatically syncs notes, highlights and last-page-read between all devices.

I have a Kindle device, it is very light and doesn’t have backlight, so it is ideal for me to travel or read at night in bed. I have the kindle on my iPad, where I like to study or read during the day on my lunchtime. Then I have it on my mobile, to read on the bus when all the seats are taken. Finally it is on laptop to see any highlights when I’m studying a book and want to check my notes to write something about it. I also use it to check how my own books are going to look before publishing.

I also like Amazon because they have a lot of e-book titles and are constantly making promotions. It is much cheaper than buying the printed versions usually. There is a lot of free books too. They are great for the authors like me because they let us publish directly without needing a publisher, paying a high royalty rate and helping us in many ways to promote the books. I think they may have more titles than others because they offer advantages to the authors to keep them exclusive for 90 days and they make the process easy for us, the writers, it is all done online.
If you haven’t yet, try it out, you will experience a new world of possibilities opening up for you.

(Orble Votes: 24)

Prayer for the Published Word

I pray these words carry through
that they have enough weight to be picked up and tossed high
that they find anyone who will get something from reading them
May they find the ones who need them and the ones needed by them
I pray they reach people and inspire them, to positive change
I ask the Universe God, Buda, Allah and Zeus to aid them to fulfil their mission
And I declare that if only one person, by only one phrase I have now published, get to one worthwhile realisation, it will have been worth…
The timeless hours; taking notes through the night, disturbed sleep, anxiety, study, reading, re-writing, correcting, editing, the watching of others nipping and piercing through your creation, the pain, the joy, the despair, the fear and the fulfilment
It will have been worth it
My deep gratefulness for the privilege of putting these words to the World
By the power invested in me
Amen
(Orble Votes: 23)

I look with optimism at the decay of the publishing world

“The world is changed, I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost…”
Galadriel’s words come to me when I look at the publishing world. I’m seeing many bookstores closing, I look at my own reading habits and how much they have changed since I acquired my first Kindle.
When I look at Amazon’s best sellers lists I see several self-published books competing with the largest publishers, and quite often these publishers are not doing a very good job in promoting their books and authors in the ebook platforms.
I have knowledge of ebook publishing and can see several errors in basic strategy that are more common to the publishers than the individual authors.
I look at all that is changing and see great opportunities. There are so many wonderful books I would like to re-read that are not online; there are many great books in other languages that were never translated because of the difficulty to reach a market. So many series forgotten in libraries because it was hard to get all the books in the series, in their proper order would have been even harder.
The ebooks bring the classics for free and a lot more for free, good and bad. These free books are wonderful opportunities to promote a new author. Writers able to create series of books are the ones who are more prone to success.
What I believe is happening is the old publishing houses to be stuck in their stubbornness to prove they are right, instead of looking ahead of what is coming next.
I understand, quality will suffer, glamour is lost, jobs are on the line. But change is change and there is no point struggling against it, you have to go with it, see where it takes you. I find there is a need to find new avenues to promote their books and their writers. I have read mostly unknown writers since I have gotten my kindle. Before I would go to a library or a bookstore and choose among the best sellers and known ones.
I still feel a bit romantic and would love to see my book in hardcover, do book signings in a bookstore. But that may be a scene from the past, is is possible bookstores are doomed and I am part of what caused this change.
What is that saying? Lying in the bed you’ve made? I hope I can do it, with pleasure.
(Orble Votes: 23)

New iPad, Simpler Life

Very simple indeed…

I remember a time when you went out the house and you were simply out. You couldn’t contact anyone, unless you were going to their house and ring the doorbell. Or poke someone unless you employed your actual fingers.
I can certainly see the disadvantages such as getting anxious because you are running late and someone else is waiting for you. I know, and many others.
None the less, sometimes I miss it. I’ve just gotten an iPad and the other day I had it out for a walk, as it was settled in my bag; my mind was thoroughly unsettled.
I kept thinking, what am I going to do once the bus arrive? Something on my phone? Or setup my new iPad? perhaps listen to some music? Or some podcast, an audio book or audio program? Or possibly read my Kindle? What if I don’t do any of those?
This morning I was admiring this girl seated beside me. She was just seated, looking to the front. Nothing else. Really, she didn’t move, didn’t fiddle with her phone, or checked her Facebook, didn’t have headphones on. I felt like checking her pulse.
This sensation of “wasting time” is hard to shake and has been assaulting me when I’m walking, waiting for a transport, actually commuting, or simply with a few minutes to spare between an activity and other.
And then I don’t know why I feel so tired…

On the other hand I went to a workshop on how to use iWork on the iPad yesterday. I’ve felt like someone who has been cutting things with a piece of rock for years and was suddenly given a sharp, stainless steel, knife. The tool was so superior to what I had before it was like a light was turned on. Now I really get why people buy Mac and felt I have a knew knowledge to fire the old debate within me.
I woke up at five am today thinking what I could actually do with the thing…
And then I don’t know why I feel so tired…

So life is getting simpler with all these new objects and possibilities of connections that we have. All I have to do when I get home at night is to put my stuff to charge: my mobile, the iPod, the iPad, the iPad key board, the pocket wifi and the Kindle; eventually my iPod speakers and the photo camera too. Simple isn’t it?
So I’m in bed and I realise one of the things is running out of battery and not charging overnight? What am I going to do if I have a moment on the next day and the battery is flat?! Do I get up and plug it in?
Tired…

Imagine I have released a new App for iPhones. My friend and I have developed it and it is called Minute Meditation App. More about that later.
So I had to register a few things on line to get it processed. You have to register in the Apple store then register a company with the taxation office than register that company for GST; answer some stuff about tax at the US, update your information, etc. To do that you need two things installed into your computer, and to install that you need a java something also installed to your computer and to run that you need an specific browser above a certain version. Then you get the browser installed, but each part of the process only functions with one browser, so I have Safari, Google Chrome, Explorer and Firefox open and to each installation I need only one of them functions. It was funny and bizarre, and sad and ridiculous, and absurd and unreasonable and yet wonderful. All at once. Because I kept saying:
“See and we say we are making life easier!”
To which my friend answered:
“Yeah, but in the past you would need to do all that in person and on foot.”
I keep wondering if they wouldn’t have made the process simpler because you had to be in person and on foot.
And then you could be walking to the official office, just by yourself, with nothing else to do other than carry the papers and get there…

In the end I feel technology is sometimes quite bittersweet!

(Orble Votes: 34)