Apr 25

Authors, Put Yourself on Amapedia

Amazon.com has a new feature called "Amapedia." You can write an encyclopedia-like entry on anything you like, and for us that's books. Others may add to this entry (as with Wikipedia), and you won't get paid but you don't have to pay for the privilege either. Easy:

1. Locate the book of your choice on Amazon.com.

2. Scroll down until you find "Product Information for the Amapedia Community."

3. Click on the link that says "Be the First Person to Add an Article" to compose an entry. Or you can add TO an existing entry. Registered Amazon.com users can start writing on the spot.

Amapedia wants facts, not opinions, and they don't want you to "cut and paste" quotations or material from other sites. If you can live with that...

Start with your OWN books or those you love!
Apr 25

The Optimist's Club

The St. Louis Publishers Association (SLPA) is a bunch of people who publish and promote their own books. They all get together once a month, a diverse and lively crowd, rainbow of colors, rainbow of ages; and man, for a bunch of writers, are they ever CHEERFUL.

I went to my first meeting in July and liked the energy. They print a catalog of members' books, a great range from homeschooling manuals to fiction or fashion advice ("Dressing Nifty After Fifty" -- why doesn't an NYC publisher snap that up?*). Networking is scheduled before the program begins, and there's a brag session -- anyone who's accomplished or sold anything stands up and tells everyone (it's a packed room) and we all applaud -- sincerely -- and then there's the program: "Promoting Your Books on the Internet" was the last one; the link takes you to part of that program.

I can't see a single reason NOT to join. Yeah, I'm different, I'm literary (there's one other poet I know about); I don't write how-to books (the HECK I don't! Sweatin' blood trying to sell a publisher our group's Writing Group Handbook!!); I want money but have shied away from thinking about how to make some. But I feel so REFRESHED after every meeting. They're so generous! They know stuff! They share what they know! I got people!

*Meanwhile, the author makes money on her book without an NYC publisher taking 8o percent as middleman.
Apr 25

A Battle in the Pay-the-Writer War

Since 1997 I have given a one-hour talk/presentation at an annual two-week writers' retreat. In 1997 I was paid $150. In 2007 I was paid $150. So it goes for us writers. In 2010 I was paid $150. Told that my presentation last year was effective, I agreed to do a talk again this year, and set a date and time. Then I get an email:

"We are paying speakers $100 this year"

As soon as I read that I wrote back:

"Sorry, I will not do it for a pay cut. Gas prices, etc."

Why is it that everything goes up in price except what writers are paid? After 14 years, a 33 percent cut in a speaking fee? I'm no less experienced than I was in 1997. I'm no less published. I'm no less of a speaker. I'd be offended if it wasn't such a common occurence. But I respond differently than I once did. I DO NOT ACCEPT such insane offers. I don't accept the gig and then resent it and steam. I stay in the sanity bubble. Their budget is less this year? That's not my problem, it's theirs.

Yes, they may get someone else, but they will not be getting Catherine Rankovic. They have met their match. Maybe they will think twice before lowballing any other writers.

Apr 11

Here's a Rejection I Like!

From Prairie Schooner, received Monday:

Although we have decided against using this manuscript, we were interested in it and would be glad to see more of your work between Sept. 1 and May 1. - Stephen Behrendt, Interim Senior Editor

Taped it up on the September wall-calendar page!
Jan 22

I Remember This Girl I Hated

"Mickey," as she called herself (her name was Vivian) just loved to be wide-eyed and creative and stoned, and wear Danskins, and play with her food if someone was watching, and hang scarves from her apartment ceiling, and so forth. This was years ago; if it were today, she'd be designing slow-moving, psychedelic websites. She thought that although I said I was a writer, I was not creative. I lacked a cute haircut, a creative job. I wasn't taking a class in American Sign Language, lived in a basement I didn't bother to decorate.

I said creativity was not a feeling, or at least not necessarily a feeling. Writers create one step at a time, word after word after word, sentence following sentence. Creativity, yes, but sort of through a funnel. Plus some research and training.

She found this distasteful and made a childlike face, wrinkling her nose. If I had been five and not twenty-five, in return I would have stuck my tongue out.

Stoners, fake Buddhists, parlor pinks, and scarf-twirlers -- there they are, shelved in the past, where they stay, and where they belong.
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