I grew up in a dark age, when books were scant and hard to obtain. Also expensive.
Okay, on the serious side, for those of us reading this who don’t know, since we have a lot of new readers recently: I am Portuguese born and bred. My family is still in Portugal. I only learned to speak English at 14, and it was my third language.
However, half of each set of kids in my family tended to emigrate. My parents thought they were safe having only two and that if one left it would be the boy. But when I was 8 I decided when I grew up I was going to live in Denver and be a writer. Best decision I ever made, but that’s not important right now.
What’s important is that the Portuguese book market invented push-marketing before the Americans even dreamed of it. Books to be printed — in general — are chosen by prestige instead of marketability. For instance, from the US they tend to choose award winners (though frankly it also doesn’t help that they don’t/can’t understand our bestseller lists often lie) or books acclaimed in reviews. Then they run a very tiny print run, and when it sells it’s done. Unless you find it used or in a forgotten bookstore, you can’t find it.
For the purposes of this blog post, the important thing is that it limited my reading. Read more
As some of you know, the Hoyt household is going through feline upheaval. Greebo-cat went into hyperthyroidism mid 2019, and we finally put him in radio iodine therapy. This was absolutely necessary because though Greebo is sixteen, he’s also my “editor.” More on that later. Suffice to say I couldn’t go into a new phase of my career, and brave indie without him. So far, it seems to have worked, he’s gaining weight back, feeling well enough to put his sister, the young whipper snapper (11) in her place (she needs it) sleeping by my side, and herding me to the writing chair.
Meanwhile in December, son’s cat hit end-stage renal failure. Holding fire so, so far, but you know… it won’t last forever. And right after the new year Euclid cat — around 21 yo — suddenly fell of the health cliff. We’re trying a few things, but it’s likely he’ll leave us soon. No, not happy about that. That’s life.
Meanwhile onto “how can a cat be your editor?” Read more
There are things organizations (and corporations) do when being screamed at that make you wonder exactly what is wrong with them.
Or perhaps makes you want to tell them “You’re like the guy who bit off a piece of the true cross one Saturday night in Jerusalem, and this is why we can’t have nice things.”
This is the case, for instance, with the RWA deciding to cancel the RITA awards:
As a controversy over bias and a lack of transparency at the Romance Writers of America continues to roil the country’s foremost writers association for romance writers, the RWA has announced that it will postpone the 2020 RITA Contest until next year. The RITA Award is the U.S.’s top prize for romance fiction.
This is where I confess I’m a wussy. I’ve spent most of the last year (not all of it because there were significant medical issues, including a near-fatal drug side effect to deal with) hesitating on the edge of the sea of indie publishing, unable to motivate myself to write.
Given that traditional is done with me, this was the equivalent of considering giving up on my career of twenty years, and the only skill I’ve worked on seriously in my adult life.
There were reasons. The reasons just might have been completely wrong. And one of those reasons is important for the rest of you to know.
Okay, first I need to explain that title to all the non-Aussies out there. Some number of years ago, there was a saturation-level advertising campaign for a brand of soft drink packaged and sold as “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink” – and the brand name was Claytons. It took approximately 5 nanoseconds for the term “Claytons” to be used as shorthand for something that claimed to be a thing but was actually something else, usually something inferior. Jokes got made about Claytons budgets (the budget you have when you’re not having a budget), Claytons recessions (the recession you have when you’re not having a recession) and so on.
I think I’ve spoken in the past, if not here elsewhere on how starved of light I was as a kid. Partly because of technology and partly because of absolute wealth, the use of electricity was sparing and irregular and any lights in public were rare and … not very impressive.
Which is why — particularly this time of year — I can’t get enough of lights. The year is at its darkest, and almost any seasonal festival is about lights.
Because in the dark we need something to guide us, something to aim for, something to soothe the soul. Which brings us to writing and reading.
I’m going to give you a basic outline for a cozy mystery.
But before I do so, because I know that writers can be like ducks: they come out of the egg, they see something moving, and they blindly follow — I resemble that model myself, sometimes — let me tell you that you can pull this thing apart, twist it, fold it, spin it, and mutilate it and still come out all right.
Say you want to start with the second murder? Go for it. I’ve seen it done. Or you want to have the murder be the narrator? Well, read The Murder of Roger Akroyd, and if you can do it that well, be my guest.
This is just a map if you are lost. It doesn’t replace the terrain. It only gives you major cities. If you follow only it, you’ll get somewhere predictable, but that’s better than being nowhere at all. Read more