Live Through Us at The Burrow

How to get an agent and/or published for the beginner

Something happened today that made me decide a few things need to be addressed for authors out there trying to get agents and/or published. Someone asked how to get an agent and/or published, and I answered them. When I read their reply, I went back to read their original post and saw, to my astonishment, something I had missed earlier, something I had assumed differently. See, this was a forum specifically for authors seeking agents, but their question said they don’t want money, they just want the “support” of an agent.

That’s a waste of agents’ time, folks. If you have no intentions of following their rules and/or making money, don’t waste their time and yours by querying. And that’s what his answer was. He was an artist who would do whatever, however he wanted with his art. OK. That’s fine and dandy, but no agent is going to support any author. They’re going to represent professional authors.

So for those of you out there dying to be a professional author, here are some basic do’s and don’t’s:

  1. Do your homework. Aka, read every article, blog post, book on the topic. Soon you’ll be able to skip the bogus and go straight for the true, tossing the garbage left and right over your shoulders. This takes years, yes years, to learn, and you still won’t learn it all. Like ever.
  2. Finish the book. Publishers don’t give advances for partial books, and agents will toss you in the trash without so much as a rejection letter. (This is for fiction only. Non-fiction is a completely different world and is not discussed here. If you are specifically wanting to pitch a non-fiction, this post may help you some, but is not directed towards you in any way shape or form) If an agent gets really bored and feels really sorry for you, you might get a letter that says, “Finish a book before querying.”
  3. Self-edit the book. Go over the book. Over and over and over the book. Publishers and agents do not want your rough drafts. Instant rejection without reply.
  4. Buy the latest copy of the Writer’s Market, preferably in your genre, if available. These can be found at the library too sometimes.
  5. Don’t post your book online. I know I post WIP’s. Those are just tiny snippets of whatever I’m working on. There are people who post their whole book online and then ask for representation, and get this, with a link to where their book is posted online included in their query. Biiiiig no no. No one wants to publish a book available for free elsewhere. (This was what “the artist” wanted to do.)
  6. Don’t pitch to publishers until you exhaust all your agents. Agents can’t sell a book to a publisher that’s already turned it down. (Most publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts anyway.)
  7. The literary world is small and has a memory. Don’t burn your bridges. If you continuously insist on querying agents/publishers that don’t represent your type of work, in a way they specifically ask people not to, or without being professional, when you finally do write the next best-seller, it’ll be thrown in the trash without being read.

This is by no means an answer to every question. Nor is it meant to be. But it will get you started. If you are unwilling to follow these rules, don’t query. There’s nothing wrong with posting your beautiful literary work online for the world to read, print it on a T-shirt, I don’t care, but don’t waste an agent’s time by querying them if you’re not serious as a professional author. Please.


Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

This one’s an easy post, and it’s quite common, but not like you think. See, sexual harassment by co-workers is one thing, but what if it’s from the customers?

Lots of waitresses flirt their way through tips, and put up with more than they should to get what they can, but I’m not a waitress. I work in a retail store. A large retail store than spends more money on their lawyers every year than I will make in a lifetime. And I am harassed almost daily by customers.

Yesterday I had an incident where a creepy old man put his arm around me and gave me one of those side hugs. I scooted my way into the cartpusher who was standing next to me. I don’t know this old man. I don’t want to know this old man. If I say, “Don’t touch me,” I can only imagine how that would go over, so I have to save it for when it’s really necessary.

What? You thought an old man hugging me was really necessary? It depends. That’s almost considered normal where I work, which is so so sad. I know of one girl in particular who is harassed by one customer that comes in there. Whenever he comes around, her supervisor tells her to run hide/take a break until he leaves. That’s ridiculous. NO workplace should have a policy that stupid. But mine does.

But aside from that, I was surrounded by other customers and co-workers. Yes, I probably should have told him not to touch me. I was more in shock than anything else. Hopefully I’ll be more prepared next time. I mean, don’t get me wrong. If I had been someplace other than work, I would have hit him, yelled at him, and who knows what else. (I’ve been in that position before, and yes, I defended myself quite well without hesitation) But at work? My options are far more limited. But they shouldn’t be.

I asked a big guy I work with as he walked by if the customers ever touch him. Why yes, feminists, they do. Although he did admit it’s not near as much as “we girls up front” have to put up with. I asked other men there. They’ve all had their fair share, some more than any woman I know that works there. One guy had a female customer reach out and grab a handful of buttcheek. She then told him she wanted to take him home with her. He told her he didn’t appreciate what she did and no, he would not go home with her. And unfortunately, that was the end of it.

So here’s the gist. If a person touches you in an unwanted way or says something you don’t appreciate on the street, you are not looked down upon for physically defending yourself or speaking harshly to them. Just imagine if you reacted that way to a customer. This shouldn’t be a problem. Anyone should be allowed to react the exact same way at work as they would in public.

But here’s the other thing. Let’s say I go public with this. Let’s say this guy harasses me to the point I’m one of the ones that has to hide too, and I call news stations. I lose my job. But see, I’m not a millionaire actress who can afford to retire and never work again or sell a book on the whole event just because I’m famous. I’m nobody. I’m the lowest of the low. If I go public and get fired and sue the company and this and that, no one will hire me afterwards. Nobody. Let’s say I win the lottery and sue the company or something. All they have to do is sue me, get all my money, and then I’m still broke and jobless.

And this, folks, is why harassment at work still exists, and always will exist, until the employer allows us to fight back. And this, is why no one talks about what happens.

Why one writer chose to self-publish. Should you?

Hey, Guys! Today I’m doing something special. I’m posting an open and frank discussion I had with an author friend of mine on why she chose to self-publish. Yes I had her permission ;).

Before I post said discussion, let me tell you a bit about Ms. Angelique Conger to you. Ms. Conger discovered the wonders of writing books later in her life. For years, the stories of ancient women enticed her, challenging her to tell their stories. No one knows or tells the stories of these women, unknown in history, not even most of their names. Many of the stories of their husbands are unknown. Angelique tells their stories as though they sat beside her, whispering their stories into her ear in her series Ancient Matriarchs.
Angelique lives in southern Nevada with her husband, a bird, and two turtles. She looks forward to visits from her grandchildren, and their parents.
She can be found at

Let me also say before we begin that Ms. Conger’s opinions are her own. We are here to listen to her opinions and thoughts and learn from them.

Soooo, Hi Ms. Conger!

Hi, Debby 🙂

So tell me, why did you choose to self-pubish?

I had thought I’d try for a traditional publishing contract until I learned how long it took to go through the process. I’m 64 already, and don’t feel like I have time to play their games.

LOL. The traditional route can take a long time.

Once I started, I realized I like the freedom to make my own choices. I have friends with publishers. They don’t have any control over when their books will be published, or how they look. I like to be in control.

I can understand that. What reason(s) do you think others have for self publication? Is it mainly a desire for control over their work?

I choose to self publish for control and to get my stories out for others to read when I want them to go out.

Is writing more of a career or hobby for you?

This is a career for me. My husband has poor health. My goal is to reach the point I can support myself if needed. My husband can support us well now, but I will lose most of it if he dies. I’d like to earn enough to take him on a nice vacation.

A lot of writers are curious as to how plausible it is to make a career in self-publishing. We’ve all heard the instant winner stories like 50 Shades, but the truth is more fail than succeed in making an actual career out of it. What do you think you are doing that will make you one of the successful ones?

I have goals and plans. I have written a series of 4 books, with another 2 planned, and have 2 written for a second series. I published 4 books last year, and plan 4 – 6 more this year. I bought 3 courses that help me with marketing, though it is slow with limited funds.

I thought about taking marketing courses myself. Do you feel they have helped you?

I like the courses by Mark Dawson. They are full of helpful information. I haven’t gone through everything, but the parts I’ve completed have definitely helped. Also, I have a course by Nick Stephenson that helps me understand email marketing.

Ooo, excellent. Do you mind sharing links to them?

(shared links)
Self Publishing Formula
Revenue generating online marketing skills and tools for indie authors.
(These courses are only offered a couple times a year.)

I have spent more time writing and need to focus more on the marketing side of things. That is the tough part of being self-published, learning how to market, though I hear that even traditional authors end up having to be more involved in marketing now.

That’s true, but from my research, it’s nothing compared to what selffers do. What they call marketing, I call going out and having a good time! Lol. Do you have any marketing advice you’d like to share with us?

I think marketing is something we have to focus on each day, not just when we think about it. Promotion sites are great for a day or two, maybe a few more days. I haven’t ever tried yet for a BookBub promotion. I don’t really have the funds to pay for it.

Understandable. They are expensive, and it even appears as though their trends are aiming towards traditional authors.

Marketing includes sharing what’s going on in a newsletter, or social media. It’s promotion sites, and paying for ads on FaceBook and Amazon. I have tried sharing with other authors, and BookFunnel and InstaFreebie. I find the real problem is becoming that people want free books and I want to have them decide to pay me for my work.

Yes! The freebook war!
I have a friend in real life that makes puh-lenty of money and still refuses to pay for any of her books. She doesn’t think she should have to. This is what we’re fighting.

I have a short story only available when one signs up for my newsletter. It’s not on Amazon or anywhere else. Yet, those readers fill up their eReaders with free books and never purchase anything else.

Yes. Exactly. It’s sad. And a lot will instantly unsubscribe. And if you put up another book to draw in readers, they will grab it and leave again. There needs to be a way in the newsletter system to prevent anyone who has already unsubscribed from subscribing again to get another book.

Some newsletter services will prevent that. When I was with MailChimp, they prevented those who had unsubscribed from subscribing again. But, all they need to do is use another email address.

True. I also get a lot of “” subscribers. I can’t blame them, but still.

It’s a challenge. I understand when people don’t have lots of money, but please, $0.99 isn’t much, nor is $3.99 or $4.99. They pay more for a cup of coffee every day.

The coffee scenario is used a lot. One person said it was hogwash, that the barista put extra personal time into it and such. Personally I don’t drink coffee and would never pay that much money for something so frivolous, so I never use the comparison.

I never drink coffee. But, don’t tell me a barista spends more time making a special cup of coffee than I take to write a book. My books take months to years to write, plus I pay for covers and editing. I have yet to get back a fraction of what I’ve spent on my books. My books cost less than the fast food meal most people buy at least once a week. I can’t understand the insistence on free books. I think authors shot themselves in the foot when they started giving away free books.

I agree. Unfortunately, you can’t fight the ones who still do it, and it is them who bring the rest of us down. I refuse to put up a permafree. My work’s better than that.

I only give away the one book. I have given away my first book on a free promo site, and gave away 1800 books, but got few if any reviews, and little read through to the next books. I don’t like free. I do sometimes give free on the first few days a book is out.

Wouldn’t giving it free on the first few days be giving away your best sales?

I shouldn’t give any away. You are right. I’m probably giving away my best sales. I hate free. I work too hard to give away my work.
I’ve seen the book 1 free to entice book 2. Sometimes it works. Often it doesn’t. There are too many who will only download free.

I have seen, and have done myself, giving book 1 free when book 2 is released, that sort of thing. I think there’s also a formula for amount charged with popularity. The whole supply and demand thing. What do you think of those who have already self-published and want to join the traditional scene? Do you think they should hide their previous works until they have to confess or be open up front? Or do you know?

I believe in being honest. I have seen some who are offered traditional contracts because they have good response to their self publishing. I don’t ever plan on going that way. I do not want my books, especially the first few, to be turned into movies or tv shows. I want to retain the rights to make those decisions.

Yes, a good response always helps, but what about the author who hasn’t sold very many?

For the author who hasn’t sold many, I don’t know. I still think honesty is important. Maybe they aren’t selling more because of the blurb/description or the cover. Those could be helped by a professional.

I personally know a successful traditional author who went hybrid. Why do you think some of the traditional authors are doing that?
I believe she did it because the piece she wanted to publish wasn’t traditional material. She continues to write for a big 5.

I think they like the opportunity to have more control over when and how their books are published. More power to them, either way. I think publication is a personal choice. I don’t think the traditional way is good for me. I think some authors write things they want to publish, and if the trad publisher won’t, they try self-publishing.

So, if you had to make a check list as to whether a writer should self-publish or query, what would you write on it?
#1-Would a traditional publisher even be interested?

Desire to control content

#2-How much are you willing to change your work to suit them? Exactly, content control.

$ available to pay for editing and covers
Willingness to learn marketing
support from family/husband
time to spend on both writing and marketing
Age: time to wait 3 + years for a publisher to decide if they want your work.

Now, you made some great points, but are they all necessary? What if you don’t want/aren’t willing to market and are willing to accept lower sales as a result? Aka, you’re not in it for the money?

Then, perhaps your writing is a hobby, and you don’t have a burning desire to make sales or don’t need the $ to live.
I think it is a personal choice.

Well, I think we’ve covered a lot. Do you have anything else you want to add?

I love the opportunity we have today to choose self or traditional publishing. It is wonderful to be able to publish without the gatekeepers.

I love the choice too. There are a great deal of books that wouldn’t be here that are good if traditional was the only option.

Exactly. Sometimes the things we write are not things traditional publishers would accept, they don’t seem to be ones that would sell. Now, we can write what we want, and can sell books we wrote ages ago, that would have been taken off the shelves by traditional publishers and book sellers. It is a wonderful opportunity to have the right to choose.

That too! I forgot about books taken down. Excellent point!

It’s all part of the personal control and ability to do what we want with our own work.

Yes. Anything else?

No, I think I’ve said it all. I’m grateful for the opportunity to self publish and hope I can get the marketing down soon.

lol-don’t we all! Thanks!

Thanks for the opportunity.

That’s it, folks! Do you self-publish? What were your deciding factors? Do you have questions for those who have self-published? Comment and let us know-see ya next time! 🙂

And FYI, my latest book, What Does Spider Poop Look Like? is now available and currently my best seller. Visit my website for details.

One Wasp Later

So I’m sitting here at my laptop, wearing a long sleeve red shirt, and trying to get a few hours of writing in. Along comes a wasp. I have my window open; it’s raining outside in that sort of gentle, steady way that provides perfect background noise and can lull you to sleep if you let it. Alas, the wasp did not come from the window, it came from my closet. Which is actually scary, because now I’m wondering what else is in my closet. Even now as I write this, having killed said wasp, a wisp of hair is tickling my throat, nearly freaking me out in the process.

So anyway, this wasp flies out of my closet and lands on my right sleeve. It didn’t fly in the normal waspy way. It flew in the “I’m really a lady bug” way. I stopped myself from brushing it off, assuming it was another lady bug, once my brain had registered that it was really too big to be a lady bug. I slowly, cautiously, stretched out my arm to find my worst fear, a wasp.

Sheer panic, folks. Sheer panic. You do not know sheer panic until you are literally frozen solid with the complete inability to perform any actions whatsoever. Ideas flew through my mind, much faster than that wasp flew to my arm, as I searched for a way out of this. New $800 laptop? Who cares? Throw it off. Onto two dogs and cat, better them than me, and hold your arm out as though doing so long enough would detach it from your body.

It didn’t.

Finally I got the idea of taking my shirt off in a way that wouldn’t go near the wasp and then running from my room screaming. Somehow I didn’t break another toe-praise be for that. Arlis refuses to do anything without his electric racket. I make busy cleaning the bathroom sink and await cries of pain or joy, whichever way meant he found it.

And then my husband did the unthinkable. He left me alone with unfinished business. I made him get back in there with me and search. We turned the shirt back right-side-out, no wasp. Don’t care, threw it in the dirty clothes. I’m not wearing it again. We spun the ceiling fan, searched the walls. Then I found it. It flew to the top pane of the open window. He got it with his electric racket, and the world is safe once again.

It’s amazing the interference that one little creature had on our lives.

God’s Pets

Some people get offended by being called a pet. I never really understood why. A pet is adored, loved, possibly spoiled, possibly a working pet. They bring us presents, whether we like them or not, and love unconditionally. We are God’s pets, only better. Let me show you:

1.  Pets do not understand us, not completely. They can’t. Their level of comprehension is so much lower than ours that we cannot possibly get through to them at times. Oh we try, but we don’t always succeed.

As God’s pets, we cannot possibly understand what He’s saying, not all the time. He is trying and trying to get us to listen, to get us to understand, and there are those of us who understand more than others, but we will never understand fully, not as humans anyway.

2. Pets aren’t always allowed in the house, at least not until they learn a few rules.

We aren’t allowed in God’s house unless we follow a few rules. For example, he wants us to be clean. When your dog has rolled around in cow manure, you don’t want him in the house! So you give it a bath. God has given us instructions on how to make ourselves clean enough for His house, but He still wants us to have a bath before coming in. That’s His Son’s job.

3. Pets love us in ways we don’t like. My cats, for instance, bring me dead furry presents all the time. I thank them profusely and promptly throw the animal away without them seeing what I’m doing. That way they know I appreciate it and will continue to eat mice and moles. My dogs lick my face, including my mouth if I would let them. I would much rather my animals show me their love by coming up and rubbing on me or something, which they sometimes do, but more often than not it’s them asking for something in return.

God gave us instructions on how to love Him. In fact, He specifically told us not to love Him in certain ways, aka how the pagans worship their gods. He doesn’t like that. And more often than not, we’re asking for something instead of loving.

Now the cat doesn’t know or understand why I don’t want her mice, and we don’t know or understand why God told us not to eat certain animals or wear certain clothes. It doesn’t matter. Just like the cat, we are not on God’s level. We never will be. We may enter Heaven and be on a whole new level than we are now, but we will still never be on God’s level.

God loves us. He takes some of us into His house early (Elijah). He favors some of us over others (Solomon). Some of us work for Him, sheepdogs herding His flock, doing His orders. Some of us sleep without toil on the railing of the porch until we get loved or fed by Him again. He tells us all how to behave and make ourselves ready to come inside His house. Just like our pets, we all have different places and rolls in God’s yard. We are God’s pets.

What I Expect From My Beta Readers

Not a lot.

lol-let me explain.

A lot of people assume beta readers are like editors and immediately go into grammar check mode. While editing is most certainly welcomed, it’s not the main goal I want my betas to focus on. I want you to—

  1. Tell me what format to receive the book in. I can send it for Kindle, Word, PDF, and just about anything else out there, so feel free to ask. Don’t know what type of file the device you’re using wants? No problem! I probably do. Just give me the details of the device, and I can probably figure it all out for you. I can give you a physical copy if you’re local, or you may print out the copy I give you.
  2. Read the book in a timely manner. I’ll give a time frame with each manuscript at the time it’s given out. Normally I really need it read within 2 weeks to a month, if possible, but I understand life happens. If it’s going to be more than a month, I need to know. For example, I have a great friend who is honest (which is VERY hard to come by) about my writing. WOW! (I just made every author jealous, because, trust me, that’s hard to find.) But he takes several months to read each book. That’s too long. I have to move on to the next phase.
  3. What needs to change. Was it too detailed? Does it need more details? Did it feel like it was missing something? Were there sections you skipped because you didn’t care what happened then? Were there places you were lost and didn’t understand what was happening? Did the plot have an oops (was the main character short in the first chapter and tall in the last without the aide of a magical spell, potion, or surgery-was Harry unable to see the Thestral before Cedric died even though he had seen his mother die-doh!)? Were the characters believable/unbelieveable? Did you actually care about the characters?
  4. Each book will have a short list of concerns I have at the bottom. I ask these not be looked at until after the book is read so as not to affect your opinion as you read. Some examples might be: Did it grab you in the first chapter? Was the book long enough? If I have a specific concern at the end, I will explain it. Like, if I’m worried it’s not long enough, I’ll explain that wanting to read more is a good thing, but feeling like it’s lacking something isn’t. Understand the difference?
  5. At least one positive aspect. If I don’t get any positive feedback, I’ll take that as a bad sign, so do include one positive thing in there somewhere unless you just hated the book, in which case, I need to know that too. Also, if someone complains about a section, but others like it, I need to know that and weigh my options. This is where some of that positive feedback comes into play.
  6. Anything else you want to say. Every single person will have a different opinion about every single book. In the date and time of “everything offends”, we’ve grown scared to say anything negative. You will not lose me as a friend. Please don’t be hateful. “This sucked! Burn it.” But the whole purpose of this is to find anything I may I have missed that needs correcting. I see the story in my head, but do you see it in yours? Did I relay it enough for you to see it too? We as writers can’t know that without you telling us. Your job is VERY important.
  7. Ask questions. If you don’t understand, ask questions. I’m usually more responsive with facebook messaging. It may take me a few hours, but I’ll get to it much faster than e-mail. If you have to contact me another way, that’s fine, but just know fb is the fastest.
  8. How do you let me know your opinions? You can do this several ways. You can write me an e-mail with a complete summary of everything you thought and found, or you can detail it out. If you received a physical copy, please jot any notes in the margins and hand it back that way. While digital notes are ideal, such as using comments in Word, it’s not required. Again, whatever you’re comfortable with. I’m flexible. And again, if you don’t understand, please ask.

OK, that’s it! I know I wrote a lot, but it’s actually really simple. Just tell me what’s wrong with it IN YOUR OPINION, because, it’s your opinion that counts. And thank you beyond words for being a beta reader.

My writing process

Everyone has their own process. Some sit and throw words onto a paper until it’s finished. Some plot and outline until the book is written before it’s begun. I’m a mix.

Each book is different for me, which is both awesome and frustrating. I have to plot some. My stories are too complex not to. For example, in my first Cupolian book, I knew the ending would be XXX, and certain things would have to happen over time that I had to set up from the beginning. So I do have to plot. Planning of characters and such is a little different. With Cupola, I didn’t have to plan out characters for the most part because they were so passionate and bigger than life. They told me who they were. There were a few, like Avaline and the royal family, who I had to think on. “What are their desires. etc?” but that’s about it.

This new book/series, however is different. I had the original idea and then changed it. Like completely. A lot of that is because I need it to appeal to others. I wrote Cupola for ME. No one else. MEEEEEE!!!! I have a new series I will one day write, maybe, if I ever get the chance, that I will also write for me, but right now I’m writing for others. As in, I want a larger audience to like this book. I want this book to get picked up and do well in the traditional market, etc. I’m also writing it for a different audience. The style and voice, to me, is like it’s written by a different person. Maybe my readers will read it and go, “No. It’s you.” But it’s been very difficult for me because it is so different. But that’s a good thing. Stretching your abilities’ boundaries, practicing that which is difficult, improves your craft.

Now. Where was I? Oh yeah, my process.

So, I plotted until I had a basic plot. I can’t plot further than that. I have to write after that. Writing allows the characters to have faces, personalities, desires, etc. I rarely write the ending and sometimes not the beginning. On this book I had the beginning. It was the first scene that came to mind even before I changed the whole concept. It never changed. And it’s awesome 😉

But, after I get the rough draft finished, I take 7 days off. Sometimes it’s more, but that’s not on purpose. That’s just when life happens. Those 7 days allow me to come at it from a new light. So, my first edits usually add several thousand words to my piece. In other words, my rough draft is like an overly expanded outline that’s still missing a few things and out of order. It’s  a big mess. From my understanding, most writers write a ton of what they don’t need and then cut it. I’m the opposite. I go back in and add the details. I also add the first/last chapters if they’re missing, completely flesh out the characters as far as their roles, needs, desires, etc, and make sure the plot flows and makes sense and such. This is why first edits take so long for me.

Second edits are like most people’s firsts, from what I can tell. Second edits are like, sentence structure, any missed inconsistencies, grammar and such. They’re made after the entire book is written and no longer an indecipherable mess. Second edits also transfer the piece from Scrivener to Word and make sure the chapter breaks are where they need to be. By now, I want a title and should be working on a blurb. I want that blurb by the end of second edits, its rough draft anyway.

Third edits are basically just grammar, typos, etc. I may have to add another round of edits in there if I feel it’s missing something or there’s a spot I just can’t work on anymore in a previous edit and I’m like, “Just skip it for now.” Then I have to go back and fix it. I usually print out third edits and do them on paper. I also catch any overused words or phrases by now, hopefully long before now.

Fourth edits are where I read the whole book aloud. Yes, the whole thing. At this point, my beta readers should have a copy. They can read while I read. I can easily do two chapters a day this way. Any more, and it usually starts to run together and make it to where I don’t do as well. After that, I’m done. If a beta tells me something I need to change, I’ll go over it and see what needs to be done, but then I’m done. I either publish it or query it. I’m going to query this next one.

There is a long list of things to do at that point, polishing the blurb, getting a cover if it’s self, making a list of agents to query, that sort of thing. But that’s another topic for another day.

The difference between professional and the rest of the world

Since I’ve become a writer, an author I guess, I’ve noticed something. How the professional world of writing works.

They’ve read it all. They’ve seen it all.

But the readers haven’t.

This is something the agents, the publishers need to keep in mind. For example, I recently gave a survey on my author profile and my personal facebook profile. This survey asked, “Would you rather have it to where the first parts of a series you haven’t read or forgot the plot about were interspersed within the first few chapters or a small prologue that wrapped it all.” The answers were complete opposites. The writers wanted it dispersed, like it’s traditionally done and considered to require more “skill”. The readers wanted a prologue they could skip if they wanted to.

Listeners don’t care how hard a song is to sing or produce, they just like the way it sounds. For example, I hate the song “Barracuda”, but as a once professional singer, I totally see the extreme skill and talent required to do this song and was blown away by this rendition.

Now, I love Alice in Chains and have their tunes, not a big fan of country, but after listening to this, I have a total new respect for Gretchen. That girl’s got talent.

Does this change whether I like the song or not? Nope, can’t stand it, not even this cover. I don’t care how hard a book was to write. I like it or I don’t. Readers, listeners, watchers of TV and movies are the same. Producers, artists, and agents need to get this in their list of comprehended items. Hey, do the hard stuff whether it’s considered good by the “common population”. Go for it! But don’t expect them to think about it the same way you do. If you want to be a successful anything, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Period.

Setbacks Happen

In my writing, I have had many setbacks. Many many many setbacks. But this one really upset me. Why? Because I had it all planned so perfectly. I’m one of those people that strive on routine, to a degree. I mean, I don’t want to do the exact same thing every day at the exact same time, more just a rudimentary schedule that I follow. Rise at X:XX on these days. Go to work. Exercise. Play time. That sort of thing. You know, normal.

I don’t ever get normal.

OK, OK. I got normal for about 6 months recently, and I loved it. But I digress.

No, I had just finished a crapload of appearances and storytelling performances, and the high holy days were here, and it was just a big mess of do everything at once. The crazy schedule was over, and all I had left was to send out a newsletter with photos of last month, make it through Sukkot, and finish my edits of Inhabitants. But then I got the flu.

I haven’t been sick a lot lately, like in years. So when I didn’t feel well, I took it for granted and left work early. I could afford to; it was just a few hours. But, about a week later, maybe less, that not feeling well came back with  vengeance. I’ve been nursing this flu for seven days. Yup, seven days. Feels a lot longer. In fact, I’m glad I wrote this. Knowing it’s only been seven days makes me feel a lot better. I was beginning to wonder if it was becoming serious.

What sucks is that I finally had a couple of days to really work on my writing and catch up and get some things done, and I spent those two days in bed. No, seriously. The two days I had off I slept straight through. I forced myself to drink and go to the bathroom, but other than that, I was in flu coma mode. I went to work the next day and have been working ever since. Those two days were supposed to be a Sabbath, Sukkot. They were supposed to be a time of joy and celebration and worship. At least I didn’t bow to the porcelain throne during this illness, for that I am grateful.

Yes, I complain, a lot. I’m angry. Angry that I take such good care of myself yet this happens. Angry that I was finally meeting some exercise goals only to have to quit for over a week. Angry I was just catching up with writing goals but now have to spend every minute away from work resting. Angry angry angry.

But I also learn. I try to learn in every opportunity. I’ve learned a lot over the last year, and am still learning. Right now I’m trying to learn that setbacks happen. If I don’t meet my goal, that’s OK. I can reset the finish line and try again. The important part is I’m realistic, and right now, the realty is I need to rest. Reality also states that continuing on my goals is the best option. Once I’m well.

Hope you all accept your setbacks and realize they happen to everyone all the time. Just because the finish line moved doesn’t mean you’re a quitter. Would you fault someone who had an accident and broke their foot for not running their trained for a planned race? Of course not! But if their goal was to run that race, then they should most certainly try again the next year. And the next and the next until they meet that goal.

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