Monday, September 24, 2007

Published Works

I've written before about how I used to work in book publishing. Well, I'll be honest with you. I've actually written two books.

My first book was published in 1988. Ghost Towns. It's out of print now, but you can still find copies if you search. It was a really interesting project, I worked really hard on finding information about the first ghost towns of North America, then moved on to the various Gold Rushes, from Georgia to California to the Yukon. From the first white settlements, to gold to silver to black gold, the book covers a lot of ghost town history.

My second book was published in 1998. (Note the ten years between -- writing books is HARD.) I did this project for Bluewood Books, 100 Medical Milestones That Shaped World History.

Again, this book was really hard. I don't have a medical background and don't laugh, back then my little computer had all of 2400 bps. So gathering the information was a very, very slow process. Fortunately, my years as a graphic artist/book designer worked in my favor. I had spent many long hours in the past digging up photography and information for the many books I've worked on, so this was just another kind of research. Hard, but not impossible.

There is a LOT of research involved in doing a book. People have no clue about how much work is required.

First, of course, the client decides which projects they're interested in. Whatever was selling well last year is a first priority. Publishers want the same thing -- only different. IE, perhaps the same topic from a different perspective. You can't just copy the competition's books, you have to come up with other ways to present the information. (The movie business is very similar. Note that The Lord of the Rings and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe have done so well, you'll see a bunch of similarly themed movies over the next few years. Some may even be pretty good. Honestly, most won't be that great, they've been gathering dust in the movie companies' warehouses. Now they're being rushed into video to capitalize on the current movie trends.)

Next, depending on the project, you have to familiarize yourself with the style of the book. 100 Medical Milestones is one of a series of books, so there is a particular way that the information is listed and presented. The pages are formatted in one style, with the topic, who discovered/invented/developed it, when that person or persons were born, an image of the person, place or thing. It's very strict, even to the word count on each page.

If the editor is lagging as you send in the text, you can really get screwed on your deadlines. Or, in my case, I had a computer glitch and lost half my text. So I had to rewrite half the book. ARRRGGGGHHHH! Fortunately, I had all the info in a pile next to the computer, so I could recreate it all. And by then the editor had gotten back to me, so it actually was a blessing in disguise. I'd have had to make some major revisions anyway, this gave me the chance to incorporate them during the rewrite. Sigh. It still sucked.

Oh, and both projects were "work for hire". That means I don't get any royalties on the books. I was paid a flat fee. One third upon completion of the approved outline of the book, one third on submission of completed manuscript (that includes incorporating all editorial changes), and one third upon publication. This is standard procedure for many books. (Please note the Amazon search box in the right column, you can do a search for and purchase my books by accessing Amazon from my blog. Please do, it gets me an extra nickel or two to help cover my teenager's cell phone bills. LOL!!)

I'm working on a couple of new projects these days. They're my own projects, so I'm not going to discuss them right now. I don't want to be swooped on the topics. Oh, yes, that happens more than people know. And you know, realistically, you can't copyright an idea, so it's usually better to keep your mouth shut until the project is completed. I really haven't decided if I want to self publish or shop it around once it's done. Self publishing is a lot of work. Plus the upfront costs involved in printing the book.

On the other hand, if I self publish, I can design the book myself. I don't have to argue with someone about the page design. Being a designer, I have strong ideas about the layout of my books.

So, then, here I am. Still writing, still designing. Still researching new projects. And looking forward to the next book. It's been nearly ten years, it's time to write and publish another one.

I think I've recovered from the last book...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Always On The Run

Oh my gosh, do we ever get to slow down?

This weekend, little road trip (1 1/2 hours away) to take my son to see his brother play football. The boys don't get to see each other often, and my son plays roller hockey on most Saturdays. This will be the only chance he has to see his next older brother play this season. So off I go.

Oh, the complexities of relationships. Luckily brother's mom and I are on good terms, despite the fact that the boys' dad is a multiple ex-offender and has a nasty habit of not finishing a relationship before he's moving on to the next. Well, enough said about that!! No negativity today!

Dang. How do we do it? I honestly don't know. I'm tired. Hecka tired. But we do what we have to do for our kids. I am looking forward to watching the game. In fact, need to get that old behind in gear, past time to get ready to go.

Tomorrow, I've committed to docent for two hours at a local house tour. It's only two hours, so it'll be fun for me. I enjoy seeing the beautiful old houses, wonderfully rescued and restored. My dream home is a Craftsman bungalow. Probably never be able to afford one, but a high water bungalow would be ok. Or a nice little cottage.

Of course, my decorating style is pretty eclectic. I like to tell people that my decor is "Future Collectible" and I get everything pre-distressed. Since I have kids, we continue distressing the furniture. So it should be pretty valuable someday. LOL!

Honestly, a cottage probably better suits my color choices, since my favorite color is blue -- in every shade -- and my palette is what I like to call "Caribbean Bright". Yup, all the cobalt, teal, lime, fuchsia, not so much yellows and oranges except as accents. And yup, lucky I have nice neighbors, because I have garden art, painted the house a lovely celedon (on the blue side) with bright white trim. Ah, another project that needs to be finished though, the front looks great, but oh no, the sides and back still need to be finished. I MUST work on that next weekend. As well as the new shed that needs to be put together, the vintage furniture on the back patio needs to be cleaned so it can be put in the house, and so on, and so on...

I'm telling you, a woman's work is NEVER done. Too many projects, not enough time. And thus, off we go to watch football. Because honestly, all of the stuff is just stuff, the kids come first.

And it's all good with me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Party Days Return!

For one night anyway!

Last night was my old roomie's big birthday bash. Oh, man, was it fun! I had a wonderful time. No drinking for me, I was driving, but it took me Back, Back, Back to the old days.

My darling teen would be shocked if she saw us all partying like it was the 80s. Blasting music, tons of alcohol and food, omgosh the food. Ribs and wings and hot links and mac n cheese. People just out having a great time at a house party. It was packed! My old roomie, in so many ways, hasn't changed a bit. He's a great person. Yet another one I probably should have dated.

And you should SEE his DJ system. He still has turntables! (Actually, so do I, and a mixer too!) The music was BOOMING. And the kidlet would be shocked, we were all dancing to stuff I tell her to turn down while I'm driving. But you know, it's different when you're dancing at a party, and when you're trying to have a conversation while you're driving.

Of course I had some guy trying to talk to me. The same one that earlier had told a Brother and I that we shouldn't be Fellowshipping at a party. (Do men really know what they do to shoot themselves in the balls BEFORE they try to "talk" to a woman???) Another long hair fetish kinda guy. And insisted that he'd seen me before at some bar I'd never heard of. LOL. Silly man. I told him I'd check it out, but you know I'll never be there. He was kinda cute, but not cute enough to overlook his control issues...

Funny things happen at these parties. Met someone who works for the same County I do. LOL, that is funny, very nice man. Child Support Division. Super nice guy. He recognized my name, I do a lot of work to promote events and different things, he probably has seen my name on many things. (Or on my child support cases, it's NOT a common name!)

His brother is cuter though. And works right up the street from my job. Pretty hefty guys, but as I've gotten older, I've realized that decent looking doesn't include whether or not they need to lose 50 pounds. Better to be a chunky but funny nice guy than a mean and ugly person.

Ah, it was nice to return to the old days for a minute. And then I drove home.

It was all quiet and dark at my house. The kids were asleep in their beds, peaceful and beautiful as all kids, even teens, are when they're sleeping. The Chihuahua wanted to be walked of course. And then I rolled into bed and dreamed of music and dancing and fun.