Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

As promised, the second card in my series is below. This one was after I met my husband, and I talked him into participating in crazy Christmas cards. The sad part about this one is that we did not have to do too much set-up to the room. This was pretty much how the 'ol bachelor pad looked most times.

So enjoy and think of all the things you have in life to be thankful for. Me? I'm thankful that I have a wonderful husband who will wear a mullet wig for my holiday enjoyment.

Inside: Have a White-Trashy Christmas!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I know. It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but certain radio stations that will remain unnamed are already playing 24-hour carols, and as I mentioned before, my day job is at a Christmas ornament company, so I'm forced to recognize the holiday year-round. But I'll be the first to admit it - I love Christmas!

Back in 2004 that I got the brilliant idea to start making my own Christmas cards, and not the wearing matching sweaters in the snow Christmas cards, but cards that reflect my twisted sense of humor. So as a special treat, I will post all of my previous card images up here on my blog, a new one each week until we build to the (insert drum roll) brand new 2009 card that is yet to be released!

*Please keep in mind that all cards have been staged, photoshopped, tweaked and distorted and could be considered offensive.

Inside: Man those elves throw one helluva party!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Possibility Thinking

My husband bought this book How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, and one day in a state of boredom, I opened it up directly to the chapter I desperately needed to hear.
Possibility thinking.
(most of the content below is blatantly plagiarized but this is only a tiny fragment of the excellence in this book so I urge you to go buy it)

Possibility Thinking Gives you Energy
Who gets energized by the possibility of losing? Are you going to put two hundred percent into something you believe will fail?

Stay Away from the "Experts"
Experts do more to shoot down people's dreams than just about anybody else. John Andrew Holmes said, "Never tell a young man something cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for somebody ignorant of the impossible to do that thing."

Dream One Size Bigger
Have Stephenie Meyer dreams and J.K. Rowling fantasies? You're thinking too small. If you set your goals high, you have more room to grow and you will believe in greater possibilities.
Henry Curtis advises, "Make your plans as fantastic as you like, because twenty-five years from now, they will seem mediocre. Make your plans ten times as great as you first planned, and twenty-five years from now you will wonder why you did not make them fifty times as great."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Outline or not to Outline

I'm working on my second book (or probably third or fourth, I have a few unfinished manuscripts lying around) and I've written 50,000 words (not for NaNoWriMo because I started it in October), but now I'm debating totally re-writing it.

My normal writing style is to think about an idea, and plan it out in my head. I get the main characters' basic temperment and behavior decided and then let them take shape on the pages. However, when writing this one, one character evolved into a person I like so much, I want to change the plot to include him more.

Since I've already written a hefty amount, I don't want to write another 50,000 words and then scrap that too so I'm thinking of doing an outline (even though I'm not a fan).

My question to you writer friends is how do you begin crafting a new work? Do you create an outline first? Do you make lists of personality traits for your characters? Or are you like me and you just write and see where the story takes you?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Honorable Mention

I'm totally psyched to have received an honorable mention in the Rejectionist's Form Letter contest! Especially since all of the entries were amazingly hysterical. (If you haven't read every single laugh-inducing one, you simply must.)

My entry (click below to read) was selected as:
Best Zombie/Best Insinuation That Reading Young Adult Literature Is More Fun Than Our Actual Job, Which is Definitely True

Rob Zombie is the best Zombie.

I have to thank the Rejectionist for offering such an extremely awesome contest and send my overflowing praise to everyone who posted a letter because we all need something fun to read when we're working (or not working actually). Your combined creativity wasted at least ten hours of my normally monotonous work week, and I could not be more grateful.

Now I have to decide if I will ask the overworked support staff of "Steve" to review my query or first 5 while I daydream about the delicious treat that will soon grace my mailbox.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Messy Desk, Clear Head

I just thought I'd share what a mess my desk is. Someone once told me, "A messy desk means a clear head." I suppose whoever said that never spent fifteen minutes searching for their mailing labels.

Thoughts on Consumer Products

My day job is at a Christmas ornament company, so obviously this our season. The day after Halloween (or several days before in some cases) our product hit the shelves, and almost immediately thereafter the emails started rolling in.

What does this have to do with publishing? Probably nothing, but it's my blog so I can write about what I want. But I do work in consumer sales and marketing, and what's true for one consumer product is often true for another.

So as our sales reports begin to come through, we make a note of the top sellers, and the 'dogs' as we call them, and then try to determine the ornament trends for the following year. Are angels going to be hot? Or will it be snowmen? (I bet you never thought this much work went into Christmas ornaments did you?)

Without fail though, every year there are one or two surprises. Perhaps an ornament we didn't feel very strongly about is blowing out of stores, or one that we loved is collecting dust on the shelves. But we designed that ornament a year ago. Right now we're working on 2010. How can you predict the future of consumer wants a year in advance?

Ah hah, and therein lies the problem, and the same one that publishers have. You can't predict it, you can only make an educated guess based on the current happenings and how the trends have evolved in the past. And I guarantee you that publishers get some surprises as well, perhaps spending a fortune on marketing for a book that bombs, or one of their mid-range books gets rave reviews. And their only thought is, "How can we recoup all those lost marketing dollars?" Making them cautious to invest in a project that might be questionable when they have a sure-thing sitting on their desk.

This posting is going on way too long, but I have one more thing to add. You notice how I said we're working on 2010 now? That's right. It takes a year for a design to move from concept to production, and these are ornaments we're talking about, not 300 page novels that need to be reviewed, edited, covers designed....blah blah blah. The fastest we can turn around a design is in several months and that means dropping everything and putting all our resources into that one item. Something we would only do by retailer request and it would have to be a BIG retailer. (Like publisher would only do that for J.K. Rowling) So just keep that in mind when you sign your publisher contract and they say your book will be out in a year, because in retail world, that is a pretty quick turn around.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Bad Attitude?

I just read Rachelle Gardener's latest post on how NOT to get an agent. She addresses first and foremost a bad attitude towards the publishing industry, and of course, I panicked. Do some of my own blog entries sound too snarky? I read through them all and found only one that might be a little harsh, and I'm toying with the idea of deleting another, but I think I'll leave it for now.

I am always very careful not to mention any specific names in my rantings, and honestly, I don't harbor any ill will towards the agent acquiring process. In fact, it astounds me that people do. If an aspiring writer has done his research than he would know that this is a tough time to break into the market, that query letters should sound professional and that most writers don't get picked up until their third book. It is what it is. You can't do anything to change it, and your best shot at success is to follow the guidelines.