July 19, 2011

The Demise of Borders

            Awoke this morning to the news that Border’s had gone under for the third time and will be liquidating.

Not sure how to take this but I know that I have to say something.  While they don’t publicize it (and they don’t have a FB page) one of my Independent Book Store acquaintances is jubilant.  I say watch out what you wish for.

I’m an independent author.  I prefer that to self-published because of the derision that has been heaped  on that moniker of self-pub by the traditional publishing industry and because I know I probably work harder at it than most conglomerate published authors.  I know what it takes (whether I choose to or not) to sell a book.  It takes hard work and knowledge of your market.  It also takes a willingness to learn and use new technologies.

Come to think of it, that’s what it takes to thrive in a capitalist society.  For the most part, the government is not going to give you a boost if you cross your arms and refuse to go where the rest of the world is going, preferably before the rest of the world gets there.

I know a couple of independent book store owners who blame the fact that they are just scraping by (if not operating in the red) on the large book stores (Borders or Barnes and Noble) but in order to thrive in a capitalist society you have to be one step ahead of the competition.  In the play “A Majority of One” the Jewish housewife from New York tells the Japanese textile baron that in order to get ahead he must “diversify.”   This was written in the 1950s and it is just as true now.  The only way you succeed is to find the new niche and go there.  Stick out your neck and have the guts to be one step ahead.  It may mean you judge the trends wrong and fall on your face, it may mean you come out ahead.  What it does mean though is that it’s your face, not someone else’s.  It’s yours to either make it or not.

I was a very shy child.  When she had to encourage me my grandmother would say “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  When I whined about doing something she would tell me that if I didn’t do that thing, it would be “my bed and I would have to lie in it.”  That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?  Blame and whining don’t work.  Someone might sympathize for a moment but, in the end people forget you and move on and you are left to yourself.  Time to move on.

July 13, 2011

Wack-a-mole

I have to quote one of my favorite authors from her FB page today.  Laurie R. King says: “After playing whack-a-mole with plot for the past few weeks--every time I fix one plot problem, another two or three pop up--I think I've flattened the thing into submission. A delusion, no doubt, but momentarily comforting.”

Oh do I know that feeling.  Laurie writes mysteries and they are absolutely the worst for plot thread interactions.  You’ve just got your hero in the right place at the right time and you realize that he was supposed to be in London two hours before and the Concorde doesn’t fly anymore.

The book I’m currently writing (tentatively titled Remarkable Likeness) has a twist that has me going back all the time to see if I’ve telegraphed too much or too little.  I have so many notes in my RL notebook I can’t find anything anymore and last week I found a character who had three different names and they weren’t supposed to sport any aliases.  Whack a Mole.

If you have a chance read one of Laurie’s books as part of your summer reading.  I recommend her Mary Russell series if you want great mysteries in a series (hint: Sherlock Holmes finds a late-life partner in crime) the first of the series being The Beekeepers Apprentice.  For more serious, but still woman-friendly reading, I would recommend Folly, a psychological thriller. 

Of course in a month you will be able to read my latest, In Season, on the lighter reading side.