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February 2012



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Feb. 10th, 2012

Moving Day

Besides being present here on LiveJournal, content of the Pages For Small Wages blogging experiment have been distributed across the web onWordpressBlogger, Tumblr , OFWThe Writers Playground, Twitter, Facebook and other places too numerous to mention.

This past month, Pages For Small Wages made its move to its own domain at PagesForSmallWages.com

It meant decisions had to be made, for one can only spend so much time on so many places on the web... which means time spent not writing, or rather not working on the various novels that are currently in my Work in Progress (WiP) pile [read:mound.]

After agonising over the choices, I've decided to merge the content of our home here on LiveJournal with our WordPress site, which is mirrored on our new domain webpage.

This site will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, as an archive and active link site.

So, Thank You for making us a part of your life and we hope to see you at our new home.

Jan. 7th, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To The Lists We Go

If this were one of my stories, the title above would involve a walled or hedge-lined berm upon which swords, maces and other weapons are swung by knights or knights-training at their peers.

As this is a Blog on the Internet, what we are paying attention to at this time of year are the other kinds of lists.

First on my list-of-lists are the ones wherein we try to identify the things we liked most… or least from the previous year. Books, movies, songs, etc… They all wind up on somebody's lists.

Some people write lists in order to sway public opinion for… or against particular people, places or things that go bump in the night. Cities, politicians, artists, authors, musicians… They all wind up on someone’s list.

Make it on enough lists and you graduate to some ‘Great list-of-lists’ that someone, somewhere, is keeping… most likely in order to know what you like so they can sell you more of it.   

I won't bore you with my own lists, partially because they're lists of plot mechanisms, story-line queues and Pet Peeves… I keep mine in cages and rarely feed them… but primarily as I know plenty of other people with either more fertile imaginations or axes to grind have already done theirs.

So, I wish you happy hunting, with my blessings.

Next on my list-of-lists is the New Years Resolutions list wherein people promise to do… or not to do, that is the question… better in the coming year.

Since these lists have the life expectancy of a glass of ones favourite alcoholic beverage… like the ones consumed prior to the making of 'The List', we'll ignore them and move on.

My second-to-least favourite kind are what have become known as Bucket-Lists; a list of all the things we want to do and places we want to go before we kick the proverbial bucket and become nothing more than a cached-copy in the archives of the Internet and a side-note in the great Wiki-on-the-web-of-life.

Most bucket-lists are, in-my-not-so-humble opinion, hyperbole.

Perhaps I've been lucky, or simply fortunate, or maybe not. I've been able to travel and see much of the world around us (and have wished at various times and in various places not to have), and do most of the things I wished I could do… especially those I wished when I was a child … but none of my lists had anything to do with buckets.

They were my dreams… my goals in life that through blood, sweat and grit I could, and did accomplish. Some have been worthwhile, others weren't worth the yak-spit they incurred or the shekels they cost… and some I have yet to do, but as I am a glass (or bucket) half-full kind of person, I have no intention of emptying mine. I intend to have it sloshing over the top, looking to fill yet another.

Last but not least; my least favoruite kind of lists (and I imagine yours as well) are the ones we make to remind us of the things we need to do 'when we get a ‘round tuit' and then promptly ignore them… The infamous To-Do List(s)

Authors Note: I have a drawer full of 'Round Tuits' that have been for the most part doing nothing more than collecting dust… in case anyone would like to help me out with a list or three. 

Dec. 31st, 2011

So It Ends, So It Begins

And So It Begins…
Ready and willing… or not, the New Year is upon us. The detritus of the past clings to us, stubbornly reminding us that although the New Year; with its promise of a new beginning, does not mean the end of all the threads of projects unfinished, relationships left unresolved, the hyenas baying at the gates or the woes that plague us in the dark of night.

Making A List, Checking It Twice

We make lists and resolve that we will do better 'this year'. We avow to clean up the old messes before we start anew. We look at the pile of manuscripts collecting dust in the side drawer of our desk, the stack of rejection letters yellowing at the bottom of the inbox, the stacks of books lying idly about: some half-read and others ignored and collecting dust, the reminders of over-due bills and the collection of unfinished crafts projects and broken toys stuffed carelessly in boxes in the corner of the spare room.

… And then lunge ahead with reckless abandon like a child with a new toy on Christmas morning, to something new and shiny and exciting, all the while hoping and praying we won't trip and fall as we leap over the past and into the future.

As Orson Wells once noted… 

"Let us pray!"

Dec. 29th, 2011

On Fiction Writing: A Brief History

Several years and millions of words ago, an idea was borne from thought to reality by the efforts of handful of writers who believe in their craft: a place where people serious about the craft of fiction writing could gather and discuss issues close to their heart and relevant to their work.

As every good idea does, it needed a home in a place where writers and books and the people who love to read them would gather.

It began as a group in a quiet corner of a busy thoroughfare on the Goodreads platform.

On Fiction Writing

In this group, we discuss storytelling and the hazardous road to publication in its many guises from the standpoint of craft and technique. This group is not a showcase or an arena to promote our particular works. We seek to debate how we research, structure, plot, draft, edit, write, and rewrite our novels. How we format, condense, and prepare synopsis, proposals, blurbs, and hooks. And how we plan our assault to the seemingly impregnable fortress of the establishment: agents and publishers.

Our founder, a quiet ...stop laughing, please!.. but serious man of letters, author Carlos J Cortes.

Exceeding hopes, the group grew, and best of all: it acquired as member a group of writers who were serious about their craft.

From this humble beginning came first the 2009 anthologyMénage à 20: Tales with A Hook (Twenty Goodreads Authors).

A 2010 anthology release had been planned, but what with one thing and another and the vagaries of the publishing world, it did not happen.

Meanwhile, Carlos and Renee Miller, another of the writer/moderators of OFW had been having other ideas. They wanted to write a book on fiction writing.  Not just another book, but a definitive work on the state-of-the-art of fiction writing, from the germ of an idea to getting published, in todays changing world of publishing.  

What came of that effort was ‘the writers best friend’, The Writers Companion, published in 2011.

Now, follow-your-heart and all other platitudes aside, writing is a serious business. 

It was obvious from the beginning of OFW that to attract serious writers to a place where they could not only discuss and work at their craft but also be rewarded for their effort, one needed to provide a platform, one that would be able to provide and sustain dynamic content.

And so, after much hard work, profanity, sweat sleepless nights and alcohol … 

Beginning January 2012On Fiction Writing will have a new home:

We hope to see you there in the new year.

Dec. 20th, 2011

Tunes, Toonz & Other Holiday Madness

My Annual Holiday Season (Trick or) Treat: A dozen or so of the best (or worst) Songs ever. Enjoy!

Do You hear What I Hear - The Bowden Beer Bottle Band

Do You Hear What I Hear - The Digiallonardo Sisters (It isn't what you think it is.)

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth - Spike Jones & The City Slickers

I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas - Shirley Temple   ...

... and while we're on the subject of Hippo's, One Hippopotami - Allen Sherman

What? I didn't say it had anything to do with Christmas.

I want Eddy Fisher for Christmas - Spike Jones & The City Slickers 

Here Comes Fatty Claus - Rudolph & The Gang 

Mommy, wont you buy a baby brother (or sister) for me  - Spike Jones & The City Slickers

A Barnyard Christmas  - Spike Jones & The City Slickers 

You Ain't Gettin Shit for Christmas - Red Peters

Twelve Gifts of Christmas - Allen Sherman (A personal favourite) 

Happy Pagan Present Day - Richard Felnagle 

Santa Song - Adam Sandler

I almost forgot!

Holiday for Strings - Spike Jones & The City Slickers

... And let us not forget...

Achmed The Dead Terrorist Carols  (Jingle Bombs) - Jeff Dunham

Here's Wishing you a Happy (Insert pagan or secular holiday of your choice)!

Dec. 2nd, 2011

The Library Phantom Returns! : Krulwich Wonders @ NPR

The Library Phantom Returns! : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR

Nov. 25th, 2011

I Hate First Drafts

I freely admit it! I Hate First Drafts... because they suck! 

Whether it's your first or your fiftieth novel or novelette or short story or... It makes no difference. When you're busy writing it, you'll think its the most brilliant and original thing you've done to-date.

... but when the ink dries and you've taken a deep breath, you realise upon re-reading your literary masterpiece just how much it sucks.

But guess what?

I believe that in the grand scheme of things, its supposed to

Believe-it-or-not, this is a good thing

By admitting this and giving yourself permission to suck, it allows you to get all the worst of the bad ideas for your novel/screenplay/short story/etc... out of your system. 
  • Regardless of the hours spent in research, character development and world-building. 
  • Regardless of the outline, the storyboard or all the fiddly bits you thought out and planned to put into it.

When you begin the first draft, don't worry about them or the gaps and gaffes and obvious nonsense. Play freely with all the little flights of fancy.

... And ignore the person with the red pen behind the little green screen in your mind.

Because the process of writing doesn't really begin until after the first draft is done. 

Nov. 22nd, 2011

The Passing of A Legend: Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey, a wonderfully prolific author of great science fiction, fantasy, and romance novels, passed away today. She was 85.

Born in 1926 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Anne graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College. After graduation she embarked upon a career in the theatre, acting in operas and operettas.

Anne ended her career on the stage ten years later and began writing fiction. Her first story, Freedom of the Race, was published in the Science Fiction Plus Magazine in October 1953, and her first novel, Restoree, in September 1967.


I began reading her work in the late fifties when The Ship That Sang first appeared as a short story in the Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. I have been a devoted fan ever since.

We love you Anne, and you will be missed. Rest in peace.

P.S. For those unfamiliar with her work, I include a link to a bibliography page here. 

Nov. 3rd, 2011

Putting the A in YA

Here's a link to a very interesting blog post on the future of "New Adult", a genre for 18-25 year olds.

Glass Cases: Putting the A in YA

Oct. 27th, 2011

No No, NaNoWriMo?

My friend and fellow writer, Renee Miller, has some excellent observations about National Novel Writing Month and the reasons she does NOT participate in the Thirty Days of Literary Abandon on her Blog, Dangling on The Edge of (In)sanity.

So, Why NaNoWriMo? Why not just focus on writing every day, whether it be a short column piece or short story or on one or more of the many novel projects you may have salted away in your 'Round Tuit' folder?

But, you say, I doI do that every day. I write short pieces and short stories for submission to various mags and rags and on-line journals, I write and edit Wiki entries, add to and edit research notes and tweak the world-building for the novel I'm going to be working on right after I finish the edits of the one or more that I'm already working on.

With all that, why bother with NaNoWriMo? Why focus so much time and attention on one project for one month, when the output of that effort is supposed to be 'Quantity, Not Quality?'

First, we do it because it's not just about the writing; it is in fact a whole lot more. It's about community participation and interaction with other writers in your own community as well as across the world. It's about exchanging ideas and/or hashing out story problems with other writers. It's about learning the art and sharing what you've learned with others that are new and just beginning. 

It's also about the meet & greet's and the write-in's, and the sharing of the process.

It's coming to understand that you... the solitary writer slugging away at your prize manuscript in snatches of time between work hours, house cleaning, cooking, child raising, cramming for finals and/or whatever else you might have on your busy daily schedule… are NOT alone.

It's also an opportunity to have some fun with this, your chosen avocation.  

If, like me, writing is a vocation, it's an opportunity to work on something you want to, rather than on something you have to because a pay day is dependent upon it.

And granted, there is a deadline [of sorts], but 'winning,' although nice, is not as important as the process of getting there. And your effort doesn't have to stop on November 30th. 

And who knows? It might be the beginning of something special, wonderful, and maybe even life-changing. You never know until you try.

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