Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adding Color to Shades of Gray

shades of silvery grayPretty, isn’t it? Any guess as to what it is? Could be lots of things.

That’s the thing about shades of gray: it can be awfully hard to clarify just what “is” without adding more definition of some sort.

Ever hear the song “In Color” by Jamey Johnson? I’ve heard it a couple of times in the morning when my radio alarm is trying to gently coerce me out of bed. The gist: a man is showing his grandchildren photos of his life in black and white and mentions they should have seen it in color, meaning well beyond what those printed shades of gray can reveal. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but still, there is much beyond what a still photo can say.

I’m wandering, though.

This morning I read a guest blog by an author who talked about being self-published. So, being a curious bird, I went to his “website” which turned out to be one page with only a description of his books. I clicked on the Home link to find more and was taken to a publisher site. Hm. There were quite a few authors listed on it, and he was among them. That’s fine. I figured it must be a company that prints your books for you while you cover the cost. Except.. they had submissions and part of the process was that they’d ask to see your book if they thought your book’s premise was good enough.

Um, that’s not self-publishing. That’s small press publishing. I find it interesting that an author would call himself self-published when he’s actually submitted his work and had it accepted. Is self-pub becoming that well recognized? A mark of triumph of some sort?

I’m not sure. I know it’s better accepted. Still, authors MUST get their terms straight and not call themselves what they aren’t.

I’ve also recently seen an author describe the same book as both erotic and non-erotic. Which is it? I’m sure she’s trying to hit both audiences to increase sales, but that’s unfair to readers and they will protest if they get what they don’t want. It also makes it harder on the rest of us who try very hard to be honest about what we write, for the benefit of the reader.

Are the above only shades of gray that might be okay depending on your point of view? No. They’re dishonest. Plain and simple. Or unaware, which looks like dishonesty.

Other things that are not gray and which I’ve seen too often:

-- Images on the web are copyrighted. They cannot be grabbed and used without the owner’s permission, even if you leave a link as to where you got them. It’s illegal. That goes for celeb photos and place photos used in blogs, newsletters, websites, and anywhere else you are marketing your work.

-- Posting someone’s words from a private list anywhere else is not okay. Actually, reposting someone’s words from anywhere, other than brief attributed quotes for educational purposes, is not okay. 

-- Posting full reviews about your book without the reviewer’s permission is also a copyright violation. Use a sentence or two along with a link to the actual review, and the reviewer’s name, of course. And DON’T change the wording of the review! Leave some out with ellipses in you want, in order to shorten it, but I actually had an author post my whole review of her work, leaving out only my small criticism, and changing the wording around it to compensate. It made it sound very off. If I decided to, I could file a complaint against the author. Maybe I still will.

-- Music for book trailers: Be careful with this one! Many of the “free use” music clips are only free for non-profit uses, such as school presentations or home videos. When you’re using it to sell your book, that’s commercial and a whole different ball game. Read carefully.

Christmas Tinsel ©LK HunsakerWhat is it?

Christmas Tinsel!

Bet I didn’t have to tell you now that the color is re-added.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Give It A Chance

chocolate mint“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Henry Ford

Believe in coincidences? Or is there a reason for everything that seems to be a coincidence?

I’m not sure which I believe. I do think a lot of things happen for a reason, yes. There are things we need to learn and struggles are often the only way we can learn them. But when I found a friend’s blog post today, posted a few days ago, that coincided so well with a conversation I had with my family a few days ago, I had to laugh. As he mentions, I can cook. I don’t necessarily like to cook, but I can. Unlike him, I do it often because … well, I’m the one who will. It’s one of those things moms often just get stuck with just because.

Anyway, we were talking about some celeb’s new cookbook (which I will gladly ignore) and I mentioned I should write a cookbook for those who don’t like to cook and don’t want to spend more time doing so than absolutely necessary, but still want healthy meals. One pot is always good, also, for less clean up time. I’ve become a near expert (well, expert might be too strong a word) on this cooking method. I rarely use convenience foods. As my family says, I’m … well, thrifty. I use actual ingredients (ground turkey, pasta, potatoes, veggies…) not pre-made reheat bags and boxes and cans (well, not often). If you’re buying all that stuff, don’t complain to me about your grocery bill! It’s bad enough buying the actual ingredients.

Moving along and jumping back off my soapbox, as Paul’s blog post about cooking eggs that didn’t turn out as expected rolled along, I figured I knew where he was going with it. A writing analogy of course, as in, just because your story veers into a direction you didn’t intend or if your writing career takes a path you didn’t plan, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong; maybe it’ll turn out even better.

I was wrong. He didn’t go there. So I did. Winking smile

His eggs turned out well enough he shared his recipe. What seemed a failure, wasn’t.

On a similar note, we’ve had company the past week. Honestly, I was dreading it because it was taking me way out of my comfort zone. Turns out it wasn’t so bad. Actually (and I’m eating crow here – not blackbird! that would be a bit scary right now), it turned out well. I guess I’ll stop fighting this particular cause.

Sometimes you just have to take a bite of the chocolate mint wax and give it a try.

Apparently, it does at least taste like chocolate mint, even if it isn’t.