Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poking Around the Self-Publishing World

While my manuscript is cooling in the slush pile of the latest e-publisher – I'm poking around the world of self-publishing, wondering if 'Going Kindle' would be a good idea.

(Sorry, Caribou Barbie's book came out and I can't help taking a poke at her. I haven't taken a poke at any of my favorite political figures lately – too busy with farm life, for one thing, and unable to say anything sufficiently scathing witty is another.)

Would Kindle-izing my novel be of any help to me at all? Or would it just become another time suck? Even at $1.99 a pop – it would be a paying time suck. I could go the Create Space – POD, I'd be hooked into Amazon and so forth.

There is the major disadvantage of the 'self-publishing stigma' even today it's a red flag against being picked up by a 'real' publishing company.

So I'm looking and wondering if I should take that plunge – or not.

Meanwhile – my WIP is 46k. I didn't not try NANOwrimo this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Blog

Odd, how we have set aside one day to be Thankful in a country where most people have an over-active feeling of entitlement. Americans are nuts, aren't we?

Life has it's ups and downs, and it also tends to throw you some curves.This year has had a few - but only a few. I have a lot to be grateful for, as usual, people, places and things - stuff that I have no control over, but that works out in spite of me. 

I saw that, you flinched - getting ready for a sappy list eh? Relax, it's not that kind of post.

As someone who usually ends up working weekends and holidays - I'm actually home for a change. Losing my job has proved to be more of a blessing than a curse. So I'm here, getting ready for the big dinner, and taking a minute or two to blog.

Martha Stewart isn't coming to our house this year, so I'm not going to kill myself getting ready. There is such a thing as 'enough' which is a hell of a lot easier to achieve than 'perfection.' If I could find that Martha Stewart email, I would post it here. It always makes me laugh.

Because I have the opportunity, I'm going to truly ROAST the turkey - on the grill. That's my 'Experiment' in cooking for the year. Yeah, it will have a pan, with a lid and all that. But I'm going to need my counter space, so the oven is going to be used for other things.

This should be interesting.

Wish me luck. I may need it.

Happy Thanksgiving! From Jordan's Croft.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hollowing out the Middle – a book review

The entire country is becoming more and more polarized to the seacoasts and the big cities. This is not the figment of our collective imagination. "Hollowing out the Middle" is a book that explores the plight of the small towns in America's Heartland.

Written by Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas, "Hollowing out the Middle" discusses a phenomenon called 'Rural Brain Drain' where the Achievers, the best and brightest of a given class, are groomed by their teachers to leave home, never to return. The others are Stayers and Seekers. Stayers are mostly ignored, though the future of the small town actually rests with them. The Seekers are self-motivated to flee the crushing grip of small town sameness, many of them join the Military. (There is a class of 'Returners', but most of them are Achievers who don't make it in the big world.)

What I liked about this book is their honest assessment that this sorting process plays out in high school. That validation should make many of us sigh with relief. We weren't hallucinating, high school WAS rigged! The whole community operates in the favor of the 'Achiever' class, grooming them to leave home. As these people do leave and never return, they take all those resources with them, weakening the community left behind.

For a town like Ashtabula the result is clear – the Achievers leave – the Stayers stay – completely unprepared to handle the problems of their home town. So things get worse because the people who stay behind are brainwashed into believing 'they will never amount to anything.' They are not educated to take on the roles most needed in their communities. There are no 'Stayer' doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers or politicians. The Stayer students are left to rot – the compost heap that provides the next generation of High School students.

I wish this book would be useful to solve the problems of Ashtabula. It may not be possible for that beleaguered city to turn around. Main Street is a ghost town, with weeds growing in the cracks of the road. Like the rest of the country – the Brain Drain coupled with the weak economy has put many a small town or city on death row.

It appears that Ashtabula did one thing right – they rebuilt the school system. It was an effort to attract a big manufacturing plant that would put the unskilled Stayers to work. Unfortunately 'elephant hunting' as the authors call it, is not the answer.

Most towns and small cities are content with trying to attract the 'Returners,' those who miss their small town safety net. The real solution is twofold. First to encourage immigration – which means a small town would have to open itself up to strangers. Not likely to happen without a fight. The second is to cultivate what is already there – the Stayers are the town's most precious resource.

Even if the sorting process stopped tomorrow (not very likely since this has been going on for 20 years) there is little left of the middle class anywhere in rural America, let alone in Ashtabula. The poor (for the most part single mothers and their children) are well and truly damned by the dysfunctional system that offers no hope from cradle to grave.

This means, EVERY town needs implement alternative education in order to survive and thrive. Get the people who missed out on education the first time an opportunity to upgrade their education to a skilled trade. That means GEDs for the dropouts and then true education can take place. Not a second sorting meant to send others off into the world, a chance for people to become who the town needs them to be – the parents of the next generation AND the leaders and developers of the local economy.

Education is the answer – though Schools are the source of the problem.

Ironic, isn't it?   

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Digital Publishing Company

I submitted my manuscript to a new digital publishing company: Carina Press. They are an imprint with Harlequin as the parent company. They are looking for Romances that don't fit into the standard categories.

This is the link: Carina Press

Since they are only a week or so old - I thought that this would be a good time to submit to them. Thanks to the folks at Forward Motion for the link.Carina is 100% digital, publishes no paper copies, pays no advances - the advantage of writing for them is that they are connected with Harlequin - who does pay very nice advances. It's the old 'foot in the door' idea. Once published, the second book is easier to sell.

I've worried since I haven't heard back from the other publishing company. I even sent them a follow up note. However, I can see from their facebook page that they are busy with other projects. We all know that 'no news' is a rejection. After 5 months - I figure I've been rejected.

I've also been listening to podcasts from Litopia.com, this website has it's base in England, though they make it sound like the business is so small that they are covering American Markets just as well. Maybe it is that small. I know that I find it both interesting and dismaying to listen to what they say.

I've got to go - phone is ringing.