Writing Exercise: Absent


The assignment: Absent. Construct a character who is not present. You have many options here: people may talk about this character before meeting him, or after meeting her; you might choose to examine what this character owns, how he or she lives, under what conditions; you might use indirect approaches, like letters or documents that attest to the existence but not presence of the person. How do we know of people? Examine the ways we build characters in our minds and in our social environments before and after we meet them.

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NaNoWriMo — Here I Come!

I may be a bit of an absentee blogger over the next few weeks. I’ve decided to get a late start on NaNoWriMo and try revive a book I haven’t worked on much over the past few years. I don’t suspect I’ll “win” but if I get a few new chapters out of it, I’ll consider it a victory.

XOJane’s Addiction

Now that’s an IKEA hack!

I have a new obsession: XOJane.

I just can’t believe some of the things the writers will admit to…but I totally appreciate that they do.

When blogs first started I was amazed by the way people would write in mortifying detail about the littlest details of their lives. They admitted things to the world wide web that I wouldn’t talk about with my friends. Reading XOJane is a little like that, only you have the benefit of getting to read these kinds of confessions from a variety of people (instead of one navel-gazing blogger) and the writing is better.  Continue reading

The Dark Side of Pinterest

We all do… unfortunately not everyone knows when it just isn’t worth documenting…

Here’s a bit of advice: if you’re feeling a little down, whatever you do, don’t browse the “Quotes” section of Pinterest. It will send you spiraling into a full blown depression for one of three reasons:

  1. The realization that there are people out there who actually believe some of the crap they post
  2. The bad spelling/copyediting
  3. The relative lack of actually good quotes and witticisms

Here is an assortment of some of the most terrible quotes I could find, many of which, I’m hoping, came from the diary of a melodramatic 15-year-old. If you don’t like snark, don’t continue. Continue reading

Beat Reporters & Fiona vs. the Foot Tickler

Earlier this week I read a post by the hero of reporters everywhere, David Simon. Simon, most famous for bringing us The Wire, wrote a blog post called “Why Beat Reporters Matter.” As a former reporter, who now edits a magazine about digital media (including journalism), and happened to write a funny, lighthearted novel about a reporter, I came at the article with a wealth of opinions on the subject.

Simon wrote:

The sinecure of professional prose journalism, which is now threatened by a new economic model, was the only place in my city where resources were once allocated for an independent, unaligned voice to spend years in the bowels of a civic institution — long enough that I began to understand what a statistic might represent, and what it might not represent.

Let’s face it, I was a reporter at a community newspaper in a smallish town. I did cover the police for a while, but that mostly meant reporting DUIs. I am no David Simon. But this got me thinking about, oddly enough, Fiona vs. the Foot Tickler. Continue reading


Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Theresa Cramer–Indie Author and Then Some

Thanks to Jason Matthews for reminding me how poorly I take a compliment, and letting me ramble about my garden.

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks

theresa_cramer-bio-photoTo merely say Theresa Cramer is an Indie author would be a major understatement. She deserves extra attention and could quickly rise to the top thanks to talent plus major involvement in the field. Theresa writes books, articles, blogs, you name it. She’s the editor of EContent magazine and Intranets newsletter. She’s also a 10 year veteran with a background in both newspaper and book publishing and writes the Fiona Blake Seriesand publishes a Paper.li news-bulletin called DIY Daily: Self-Publishers Uniteand more. Follow her on Twitter @TheresaCramer.

Theresa, you’re among the over-qualified Indie authors I interview—don’t even know where to start.

So not true! When I look at how much work other indie authors put into copyediting and rewriting and just the daily grind of writing, I am ashamed. I feel like such a lazy writer. I totally wing it and hope for the best!


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#Selfpublishing: The Experiment Continues

That's totally my BFF's baby on Santa's Lap!

My experiment in self-publishing continues! Last week I whipped up a press release and sent it to the newspaper where I began my career — giving them the first shot at the story. I love this paper, it epitomizes what’s great about local news organizations. They cover those tedious meetings where local government hash out the little details that really effect the lives of people.

I can’t say enough good things about this paper and all the ones like it across the country that cover all the little things that bigger news outlets pay no attention to. But like many other tiny, community newspapers The Citizen is not on the web. That means no links to the Fiona vs. the Foot Tickler’s Amazon page… so I wondered how it would actually effect sales. Continue reading

Slow & Steady

My experiment in self-publishing is getting off to a slow start. This is hardly a surprise.

I’ve been hitting the review sites, begging and pleading for reviews. I’ve been bothering my Facebook friends and working on building my Twitter presence. I even tried a week of Facebook ads…you know, for good measure.

This week though, my attention is turning back to the debacle that is buying a house. I’ve been told that I’ll be closing on Friday, but I’ve heard that before. I’ll believe when those keys are in my hands. So my attentions are split — three ways if you count the day job. Despite my lack of focus, I plan on continuing with my experiment.

I figure my next step is finding some sort of chat room for guys with foot fetishes. I mean, that’s gotta be worth at least a few sales, right?


A Self-Publishing Experiment

Click on me to buy me for your Nook

I’ve been shopping a manuscript around to agents for about a year. I’ve gotten a couple of bites but haven’t been able to reel in that fish just yet. This, I know, is perfectly normal. The problem is, though, that I spend my days writing about digital publishing and often find myself arguing against the traditional route.

Here I was sitting on the modern equivalent of a manuscript in the bottom drawer of my desk, and it seemed that every week there was a new blog post shoving me toward digital self-publishing. But I’ll admit, part of me wanted the validation of an agent saying, “Yes, I want to represent your work of genius” and end up with the help and guidance of an editor. I wanted my work to be the best it could be, and to walk into a store and see it sitting on the shelf — or better yet, flying off of it.

Then I assigned this story and I read this:

The transition to self-employment was also an easier one now that Crouch is self-publishing. “The way that publishers treat writers is sort of funny, because it’s not really a system that supports self-employment,” says Crouch. “You get paid twice a year, for the most part you have no idea how your books are selling until you get a royalty statement – which is like trying to decode some lost, ancient scroll. With Amazon and all of these other platforms, I get paid every month. I have a constant, real-time update of what my sales are.”

I’m not looking to be self-employed, but who in their right mind wouldn’t want to make more money rather than less off of something they poured years of work into? (And, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’m buying a house. I could use the extra cash.)

So yesterday I decided to undertake an experiment in self-publishing and marketing. Can I make a go of it with my silly, funny little mystery? We shall see, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.