Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Blogging

I'm blogging over at my agent's blog today.  There's a blurb about me and my writing - just in case you don't get enough of it over here.  Seriously, come on over and keep me company for a while.

It's all at Scott Eagan Babbles.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Middle C Isn't Always Where You Think

Middle C - on a keyboard, there it is plunk in the middle.  On a violin, not quite the same.  It's there but you've got to slide your fingers around a little to get to it.  Of course, one year of training does not a violinist make.  Thus some of those notes - well they needed a bit more sliding around.  But alas, the violin is no more and that - well, it's another story.  But it's not music whose notes were a little off this summer but the health of a  family member.

After breaking his hip and causing some frightening moments thinking he wouldn't make it, my Dad is on the mend and looking healthier than he has in a while.  He's recently taken his pencil out and is attempting to do the Word Searches that he was famous for before his accident and reading his paper, albeit sometimes upside down.  My father has Alzheimer's so it's an up and down battle while he waits for long-term care, trying to make sure that each day is the best for him that life can offer.  

While I'm admittedly tired of the smell and feel of hospital, it's not such a bad place.  That's what the other patients have taught me over the weeks.  Life on the fourth floor is a lot of sameness.  The long-termers, mostly oldsters waiting for an appropriate care facility, all seem to have one trait in common, with the occasional exception, they're people with an ability to make the best of what many would call a bad situation.  Roaming the hallways in convoys of wheelchairs and walkers they're quick to chat or request a favor from wheeling their chair into a favoured position for lunch to lending them a phone to call home to just lending an ear for a chat.   

I suspect many on four remember living on the prairie.
Their resiliency amazes me for I suspect if it were me I would be bemoaning the fates, complaining about the food and overworking the call bell. I think about that as I leave the ward and head home but before I exit I'm surprised by the drawn out, once over look of a man wearing nothing but a flapping faded blue hospital gown and sneakers.   While I skirt as politely as possible around him, I have to bite back a smile.  His pickup technique is in need of work, the gown for one - just not working.  And I'm sure that given the opportunity there's a few little ladies on four that would be wheeling their chairs down to main to set this man straight.

And if you said fiction was more interesting than life - I have a whole crew of people you should be chatting with.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Pay It Forward - Visit a Library

Have you ever considered how books get into libraries?  If you're a frequent cruiser of the library like I am - you might already know.  But if you're not, here's the deal.  Many of the bigger publishers are on an automatic order to libraries across North America.  So if you write for someone like Harlequin - getting into a local library is usually a no-brainer.  But if you're a mid or small-press author it's often a different story.  Often the library doesn't get those books in because they're not on their radar.  This is a huge loss for an author trying to get their name out there and have people aware that they even exist.  Admittedly by having a book in the library the author isn't getting royalties for sales of those books but people are reading them and sometimes that's just as good a tradeoff for future sales.  And in Canada there is the Public Lending Right Program which compensates authors for books taken out from select libraries across the country.  Still, not a royalty, but as I said there's other benefits.

Selling books isn't an easy venture especially if you're that sensitive artist type - we hate rejection probably worse than the rest of the population and often experience it more.  Who wants to add to the heap by going to battle with libraries to please carry your book.  Sometimes they do on the request of an author - sometimes they don't.  But what they almost always do is order a book in on the request of a local reader.  When I find an author whose work I know I'll enjoy, and whose not on the library shelves,  I not only make an effort to get my own copy but I also request the book at my local library so that others may enjoy it too.

When I occasionally host authors I always check to make sure their book made it to the local library and if not I put in an order for it.  I  often do it quietly without mentioning what I've done to the author but one day I had to say something - and that was the day when every copy of the book was on hold with readers vying for the next copy.  I sent an e-mail to let that author know and I think I might have made her day.  I know it would have made mine.

There's many small and mid-press authors to choose from - tons of good reads.  Just the other day I requested White Lies by Jeremy Bates and while I'm first on the list to read it, I suspect I might pass up that option and buy my own copy.

Now there's limits to all this - you certainly can't be requesting books monthly or even biweekly without becoming a hindrance rather than a help to the library.  So while it's a limited tool, it's worthwhile because if I helped a small handful of authors in any given year well, I've paid it forward. 

How did you pay it forward this week?