Friday, December 30, 2011

In the Act of Researching

I wish another poem would hit me on the head, or that I could pull together a few paragraphs about landscapes and why I love the North Carolina Piedmont, but here I am still distracted by The Decision. Your comments below and on Facebook are appreciated.

I am doing the research for this decision via Google and Bing of course, and as is the way with those searches, one path leads to another to another. I have read a well-deserved rant from a bookstore owner who sees Amazon as a personal enemy, and I have read reactions to that rant from writers, customers, people who live in bookstore deprived places and appreciate Amazon. Amazon and ebooks stir strong emotions, it turns out, and the people who commented on the bookman's original blog seem to feel they have to choose sides and fight.

I myself love my Kindle, and I love bookstores. I shop for ebooks and for print books. Sometimes what I want is instant gratification: hear the author interviewed on All Things Considered, own the ebook before the segment ends. Sometimes, I want a good long browse in a store, especially through the cookbooks.

Can't we all get along?

A bunch of indie bookstores, including Flyleaf in Chapel Hill, are offering a Third Way. I can buy ebooks through their websites. Eurika. Sad for me, they sell Google ebooks. Google and Amazon (seller of the Kindle) don't play together, but I can read Google ebooks on my computer and my Ipod Touch, so I can participate in the Third Way.

Here's my dream: bookstores exist and thrive. I can wander into one, browse the tables and shelves, look at photos, read blurbs, etc. Then if I want a novel on my Kindle or whatever, I go to a kiosk and download it. If I want the newest cookbook with the gorgeous pictures and slick paper, I tote it to the checkout counter. Yes, we can all get along.

Yes, we can all get along.

Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Edge of a Decision

I want to get my novel, Until Proven, into your hands, Dear Readers.

Do I take the traditional route to publication by seeking an agent who will then attempt to sell it to a publisher who will assign it to an editor? If things go well, you may be able to buy the book sometime in 2014. Or not.

Or do I take advantage of all the ways that now exist for eliminating those middle steps, and just sell you the book in a few months? Want a bound book or would you rather have the words fly through the air and land on your Kindle? Your choice.

When I put it that way, it's hard to see why I'd even give Door #1 any thought, but part of the dream is to see a book with both my name and Random House or Simon and Schuster on it.

How many times have I said that it isn't the book, it's the contents I value; the story, not the cover illustration. If someone else's name is on it, I have no trouble with my own concept. But when it's my name we're talking about, well, the seal of approval that comes along with a major publishing house's acceptance is hard to give up.

So I'm teetering on the edge of that decision, and I'm pretty sure I know which way I'll fall. But I just might have to have a cover design that includes a seal of approval--my own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Upon Viewing Cave of Forgotten Dreams


The eye adapts to dark.
No. Adapts to light.
Light born on
specks of dust eons adrift,
caught when rocks
tumbled and in their debris,
trapped lives untold, uncounted
by any measure that survives.

None does. Just the vigorous dark
lines of life: horses,
cave bears, panthers, lions
mammoths, rhinos:
a single human female sex.

Lives recorded and silent.
A cave full of bones, none ours.

But ours are the lines,
old as calcium, fragile as rock,
wondrous and extinct,
time and story merged,

(written while viewing the Werner Herzog
movie for the first time. NGE 12-18-11)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Show, Don't Tell

Lesson #1 for a writer: show, don't tell. Meaning, involve the reader's senses and get her imagination working for you, rather than going blah-blah-blah at her. It isn't as easy as it sounds.

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro had an open house yesterday. It gave those of us who will be teaching there in 2012 a chance to mingle with prospective students. I will teach a class called In the Act (of Writing). I sat at a table with two other writers and we smiled to encourage people to wander over and chat.

The movement teacher had a video of herself dancing. The stained glass teacher had her light box and was demonstrating. The sculpture teacher had a dramatic and fine example of his work. The music teacher was playing a keyboard. The acting teacher showed how to choreograph a fake fight on stage. And the whole time, the tap dancers were practising. They sounded like so many amplified sparrow heartbeats. Lots of showing, lots of senses, lots of fun.

All we writers had, besides our smiles, was telling. Oops.

For next time, I'm thinking we'll need cheese cake, wine and dark chocolate. Let's see the tap dancers compete with that!