Friday, April 29, 2011
A lot of authors shy away from talking about money in public forums. I'll admit it, I'm one of them.
I vowed at the start that I wouldn't discuss my advance, royalties, earn-out, or any other specific financial details. It's just not something I wish to share, but that doesn't mean I don't admire the hell out of authors who choose to. They're the ones who help keep the rest of us firmly grounded and remind us we probably shouldn't begin drafting a scathing resignation letter to the boss the day book deal comes through.
There's a statistic I've seen thrown around again and again that I'm too lazy to go out and confirm right now: Less than 10% of published authors are able to make a living solely on their careers as authors. The vast majority maintain a day job. I remember being stunned by that when I first read it. The more I learned the facts, the better I understood.
One of the best explanations I've seen on this subject was written by New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries. If you haven't read The Big Misunderstanding about Money and want to know more about the financial side of writing, I encourage you to check it out.
Another amazing (and more recent) article on the subject comes from author Lynn Viehl. She vowed several years ago that if she had a book hit the top 20 on the New York Times mass market bestseller list, she'd share every scrap of information including her advance and royalties. She made good on her promise with an article titled The Reality of a Times Bestseller. If you want the nitty-gritty details (including a look at her actual royalty statement) it's an incredibly enlightening article.
Finally, there was a post just last week from romantic comedy goddess Lani Diane Rich (writing as Lucy March). She's a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who's published nine delightful novels all with "big six" New York publishing houses, and I adore her so much I want to pick her up by the ears and squeeze her.
But I'm leery about the restraining order, so instead I'll share a link to her ballsy, beautiful blog post about how she recently took a part-time job working retail in a mall. It's not packed with numbers and specific financial details like the other two, but it's a fascinating glimpse into the realities of author ego and the fact that most of us are not rolling in piles of cash tossed at us by our nude cabana boys.
So there you have it. While I won't share my financial details, I'll happily share them for other authors. Nice of me, huh?
For those of you still in the early stages of your writing career, do you entertain the "quit your day job" fantasies of authordom? For those at a different stage in your careers (or those who aren't writers at all) have you stumbled upon anything that's shaken your preconceived ideas about authors' financial lives? Please share!
Oh, and if you do happen to have those nude cabana boys who throw money, please share them as well. It's only fair.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
It's not as inconvenient as you might imagine. The house is quite large, and most of the time I don't even know my young tenant is here. He stays in his room listening to music and doing whatever it is young males do behind closed doors.
I'd rather not dwell on that.
The other night, I wanted pork chops. Since I love to cook and it's not any tougher to prep a dinner for two people than for one, I invited my young tenant to join me. He seemed downright giddy at the prospect of a home-cooked meal, and chattered amicably with me as I prepared pork chops braised with shallots in a honey balsamic reduction, rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus.
Once he stopped being perplexed at the lack of a frozen pizza on the table, he dug right in.
"This is amazing," he gushed between bites. "Why didn't you become a chef?"
It was such a funny, typically 20-year-old question that I almost laughed.
"Because I like to cook," I told him. "If I had to do it for a job, I might not like it anymore."
It was such a foreign concept to him that he stopped chewing and stared at me. "You mean you want a job you don't like?"
"Not exactly. It's just that loving to do something doesn't necessarily mean it's a good career choice."
I refrained from adding that if I set out to pick a career based on what I love most, the prostitution thing might not be such a bad idea after all.
It did get me thinking though. Not about prostitution, but the fine line between loving to do something and making a living at it. In a roundabout way, I've been writing for my supper my whole adult life. The bulk of my career has been in marketing and public relations, so the writing portion of it taps a different part of my mind than romantic comedy does.
Still, there have been times when the day job sucks the creative writing center of my brain to the point that it resembles a deflated udder. To say that makes it tough to come home and crank out chapters in a novel is a bigger understatement than if I told you I have a mild fondness for being groped.
My urge to protect my creative energy is the main reason I avoid accepting freelance writing projects on the side unless I'm bribed with large amounts of free food and cash. I know my well can run dry, so I'd prefer to save the water for a sexy bubble bath rather than a load of laundry.
I didn't say any of this to my young tenant, of course. By then he'd grown bored with the conversation and was busy texting someone with one hand as he shoveled up the last of the mashed potatoes with the other.
"You're a very good cook," he said politely.
"Thank you," I replied. "You're not going to eat the asparagus?"
He frowned. "It's green."
"I can't argue with that."
How do you find the balance between having a job you love and one that pays the bills? If you're a writer, do you ever reach a saturation point where you fear you might kill your own desire to do it?
Speaking of doing it . . . oh, never mind. Writing is pretty much like prostitution anyway, right?
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Last Wednesday I woke to an inch of snow on the ground. By afternoon it was so sunny I stripped off my sweater and went for a walk in short sleeves.
The walk got me feeling warm and smiley and pretty delighted with life in general. I was lost in a daydream involving a grassy hillside, a bottle of almond oil, and a guy with fabulous hands when suddenly…
HONK! HONK! HONK!
It wasn’t a flock of geese issuing a mating call. It was a mating call though.
I turned to see a dude grinning and pointing at me from behind the wheel of a two-tone muscle car. Just in case that failed to turn me on, he leaned out the open window and shouted something that was either, “nice ass” or “how do you feel about poststructuralist strategies toward the interpretation of New-Americal poetic dissidents?”
It was tough to tell over his thumpin’ bass.
Seriously, what the hell?
I get honked at a lot. It’s not that I’m so wildly attractive men can’t control their horns. More likely it’s that I often travel on foot and my long hair readily identifies me as female. I don’t kid myself that the horn honkers have higher standards than that.
The honking phenomenon fascinates me. Somehow, somewhere, this must have worked for some guy. A nubile female must have jumped at the sound of a car horn and promptly stripped off her clothing before diving into the passenger seat of a passing vehicle.
That’s the only reason I can think of why men continue to do this.
I used to work in an office that was only a mile from my house. Because I walked to work every day, I got honked at pretty regularly. On one particular morning it happened twice within a three block stretch. The sound of a blaring car horn at close range is pretty startling, so after the second time it happened, I was feeling pretty irritated.
When a third car horn sounded, I whirled around and flipped off the driver.
It was the CEO.
He was waving hello.
We never spoke of the incident, and I learned to control my impulses a bit better. OK, that’s a lie. But I did learn to look before making obscene gestures at passing motorists.
Can you offer a reasonable explanation for this honking phenomenon? Have you ever been guilty of it yourself? Is homicide considered justifiable if the horn honker startles me badly enough that my finger slips on the trigger of my sawed-off shotgun? Please share!
Friday, April 22, 2011
The reason is because I'm here:
No, those aren't alien boobs. They're the Painted Hills on the fringe of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, and I'm taking an impromptu road trip to see them at the height of wildflower season.
But hey, I still blogged. Just not here. I'm over at The Debutante Ball today where we've been discussing family members reading our books. Stop by for a visit if you want to know how my parents handle reading some of the more risqué elements of my stories.
I'll return from frolicking in the flowers shortly. Until then, I encourage you all to fill your weekends with as much frolicking as possible.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
But if you don’t grab someone’s attention in the first few paragraphs, it doesn’t really matter. No one will read it.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Seriously though, free books. How can you beat that? Go now. The contest ends at 8 p.m. CST on Friday, April 22 and winners will be announced on Saturday.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
- The TMI dog lady. If you’ve ever been to a dog park, you’ve met this person. You ask her where she got her leash and 20 minutes later, you’re halfway through a detailed story of her dog’s history with gingivitis. I’m pretty sure TMI dog lady actually lives at the dog park and spends her days prowling for someone eager to hear every intimate detail of her canine’s life. I’m also pretty sure I wear an invisible beacon identifying me to TMI dog lady as just that person.
- The awkward humper. Though it’s generally the dog doing the humping, the level of shame the owner feels suggests he may as well be the one gyrating awkwardly atop hapless strangers. As the dog frolics about mounting anything that moves, the owner alternates between scolding the dog, apologizing to other dog owners, and nervously explaining to everyone that it’s a sign of dominance and not sexual frustration. Personally, I’m a big fan of both the awkward humper and his enthusiastic charge. Such single-minded devotion to an illicit pursuit is the mark of an excellent romance author.
- The foot-in-mouth guy. This is a more rare specimen, which is one reason I love him so much. On a recent dog park visit, I saw a gentleman tossing a ball for his dog. Several other dogs joined in the fun, prompting the owner to give an impromptu talk about the desirability of rubber balls over tennis balls for fetching. “The texture on a tennis ball can wear down a dog’s teeth,” the man explained. The man beside him nodded in agreement. “I know! My dog will sit there all day trying to chew the fuzz off his balls.”
- The poop ignorer. If you own a dog, you know it’s your responsibility to pick up when Fido does his duty. But there’s always one person who believes she’s been given a special exception. She stands there feigning intense interest in a rock while Fido hunches up and builds a log cabin. Everyone sees it. The poop ignorer certainly does, but instead of whipping out her little brown bag and doing her part to combat canine landmines, she continues on her merry way. Perhaps she has a severe poo allergy for which she wears a medical alert bracelet. I can truly think of no other explanation, but I do spend an awful lot of time hoping she steps in a pile on her way out.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
I should be slapped for that.
Because after a lifetime of smugly delighting in my Olympic-caliber sleeping skills, I've been struggling with it these past few months.
I can still fall asleep easily enough, so hope isn't lost there. It's just that I find myself popping awake at 3 a.m. with my brain saying, "let's go!" and my body saying "are you @#$% nuts?"
Then they fight it out with medieval weaponry and a pancake turner until I finally drag my sleep-deprived butt out of bed and get on with my day.
I've had a few returns to normalcy in the last couple weeks, which probably has more to do with staying out until ungodly hours for day-job functions or more amusing pursuits. Even my unrested brain sees the mathematical challenge in waking at 3 a.m. if I stay up until 4.
Still, I know I have to get myself back on some sort of routine. I've tried not looking at the clock when I pop awake, figuring I can't stress about the time if I don't know what it is. A friend suggested leaving my iPhone downstairs so I'm not tempted to check messages while tossing and turning (something that inevitably clicks my brain into fully-awake "are we working now?" mode).
Another pal told me to lie there and count my blessings. It's a pleasant enough endeavor, but perhaps not well-suited to a romance writer whose imagination tends to drift toward the more x-rated blessings.
Do you have any tricks for falling back asleep when you wake up at a ridiculous time? Please share!
Also, don't forget to stop by The Debutante Ball today where we've been blogging about "big breaks" all week. Mine involve drugs, nudity, and obscene gestures.
Why do none of you seem surprised?
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Anyway, I wanted to email you to tell you how helpful you've been. Though it's hidden under a friendly tone and raunchy jokes, there's a lot of good advice in your entries. I revisit the show-don't-tell post all the time, and basically anything is good for a laugh or a reminder to persevere. I'm crossing my fingers that you'll be at a writing event in XXX this summer, as that's where I live, so I can thank you in person.
Friday, April 8, 2011
No, that's not something I routinely do for my own amusement. It's also not some sort of bizarre sex ritual (though I'd like to pause for a moment and envision how that might work).
I've never locked the doors to my house. Truth be told, I don't even own a key. While my town doesn't have a particularly high crime rate, my laziness about locking is still probably dumb.
It's a bad habit I developed while living in Montana where I not only never locked the doors to my house, but also routinely left the car keys in the ignition. That came in handy when I prepared to leave the state and move home to Oregon. I lived in the middle of nowhere with the nearest town an hour away, so I placed an ad in the paper advertising the car for sale.
"It gets great gas mileage and does really well in the snow," I'd tell people who called.
"Great! I'd like to see it and maybe take it for a test drive."
"Well, I'm out in Polaris," I'd explain, "but the car is in the grocery store parking lot in Dillon. The keys are in it, so go ahead and take it for a spin and call me back if you want to buy it."
Not only did no one find this odd, I had at least six people drive it and never once worried about it being stolen. Things might have been different if it had been a Porche instead of a rusted Honda, but still.
Alas, I'm no longer in Montana. I know my laziness about personal security isn't such a good idea anymore, so that's why I'm removing my doorknobs. I have a drawer filled with 37 random keys, and none of them seem to go to any of the doors in this house. My friendly Home Depot associate (who seemed delighted to spend 20 minutes talking about my knobs) suggested my cheapest option would be taking them to a local lock shop and having them all set to a single key.
Seems simple enough, though I suspect he doesn't realize I'm too lazy to hunt for a screwdriver and will probably end up attempting the task with a butter knife.
Are you a stickler for locked doors and personal security, or do you have my lax habits? Please share. And keep in mind that if you want to break into my house, you're going to need to do it in the next hour or so. After that, I'll be standing smugly behind my locked doors with a butter knife in hand.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Show me a strapping young man sporting six-pack abs and a pair of boxer briefs and I’ll show you…well, pretty much anything you want to see. I believe in fair exchange.
But there’s something about seeing abandoned underwear that takes away the appeal. Sort of like how you wouldn't think twice about kissing a loved one on the head, but if the same person loses a hair in your salad, there's no way you're shoveling another bite of spinach in your mouth.
Maybe that’s why I’m disturbed by a trend I've noticed lately. Abandoned underwear has been turning up in a lot of public places, and I'm not certain why.
Last week, I spotted a pair of boxer shorts on an empty lot near my house.
I'm not sure if this violates the “no trespassing” rule or the “no dumping” one, but either way, my retinas are scarred.
Then yesterday I was walking to a friend's downtown handbag boutique to say hello at lunch when I spotted these on the sidewalk:
I looked around to see if there were more articles of clothing. Maybe someone decided to do an impromptu striptease in the downtown streets on a 30-degree day.
But no, there was only the thong.
I walked into my friend's shop. "Did you lose your black underwear on the sidewalk again?" I asked.
"I saw that this morning!" she said. "I thought about picking it up so it doesn't look trashy in front of the store, but–"
We pondered it for a moment. How did the underwear get there?
"Maybe someone was trying on a dress at the boutique next door and brought special underwear to see how it would go?" my friend suggested.
"Could have just gotten stuck in someone's pant-leg in the dryer and fallen out," I suggested. "Or maybe someone was having a tryst up against a car in the middle of the night and–"
"Don't start with the romance writer crap."
We both glanced outside at the thong. It sat there looking forlorn, fluttering a little in the breeze.
"Want me to go kick it into the street?" I offered.
"I don't think a thong on the street is any better than a thong on the sidewalk."
We finally gave up talking about the thong and had a polite chat about something else. OK, it probably wasn't polite, but it was about something else.
Finally, it was time to leave. Just as I reached the thong, I ran into the Executive Director of the Downtown Business Association.
I pointed at the thong. "Yours?"
He stared at it for a moment, blinking a couple times with the possible hope of making it disappear. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of gloves.
"Gotta keep the sidewalks looking nice," he said, and bent to pick up the thong.
I didn't watch as he walked away, and I think I'd rather not know what he did with it. Either way, I'm pretty sure that's not something he ever imagined in his job description.
So what's the deal with the abandoned underwear? Does anyone have a theory? Am I the only one who keeps seeing this stuff? Please share.
And please let me know if you happen to need some underwear. I'm sure I'll run across another pair again soon.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
They're now mulling the data and all your wonderful comments. Thank you so much from all of us for being a part of the process!
I asked my editor, the amazing Deb Werksman, to choose a winner. Much to my surprise, she did not do so by fetching a giant bucket of balls or employing the services of a giant Cheerio-eating fish.
She used logic and reason.
It's possible this is the reason publishers pick titles instead of authors.
Deb chose Allie Sanders, who left the following, thoughtful comment:
I went with Making Waves for a lot of reasons.
- Rock the Boat makes me think of that Janet Evanovich romance "Love Overboard" which isn't a bad comparison from me but I like something different.
- I already have "Making Waves" on my wish list & have a high chance of forgetting it if you change the name.
- Making Waves sounds more fun than Rocking the Boat. Everyone says not to do that but a large portion of people enjoy waves. Why else vacation at the ocean?
- I already told my gran she should buy Making Waves because Tawna cracks me up & I have a feeling book will too. It'd be a long conversation trying to explain the name change.
For Allie and everyone else who helped with this process, editor Deb would like to share the following message:
From Deb Werksman
Thank you so much to everyone who voted and everyone who left comments. Now we’re going to analyze what you all thought, and put our heads together on the next step. Since the voting was pretty close to split, we need to do some more thinking and analysis. As soon as Tawna knows what’s next, she’ll let you know! Thanks again and congrats to the winner, who really took us through her thought process.
And thanks again from me as well! It's fabulous to see your level of excitement about the process and this book. I really appreciate you being a part of it. Big, slobbery, butt-grabbing smooches to all of you!
Friday, April 1, 2011
That's the sound in my brain right now as I stare at the blank screen trying to think of something clever to blog about.
I'm usually better about scheduling this stuff ahead of time, but the last three weeks have been screwy as I've worked extra hours at the day job to make up for the time I took off to go to Hawaii. My schedule will be back to normal next week. I make no promises about my own normalcy, but I'm getting there.
I can offer you a blog post though. Head on over to The Debutante Ball where we've been talking about favorite places to read. I may have gotten a little sidetracked by saucy descriptions of bathing with a Kindle named Giancarlo, but I am interested in the discussion. Do you have an eReader? If so, how has it changed your reading habits? If not, do you plan to get one?
Discuss here or over there, whichever rolls your socks up. And have a lovely, suds-filled weekend!