Friday, September 30, 2011

Joining Writing Organizations

This is a can of worms if there ever was one.

The fact is, a barrel of folks join writing groups or organizations. I, for the life of me, fail to see why. It's like people who join critique groups. I suppose some are okay, but most seem to be groups of amateurs critiquing other amateurs. I'm not sure how productive or helpful that is. I have a professional editor who often cuts my work to ribbons but helps me deliver a top-notch, errorless book. My historical editor catches me on a big mistake now and then, too.

I'm not a joiner, and despite what she says otherwise, neither is my publisher, Becky Coffield at Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc. I think both of us are too independent-minded to belong to a "larger whole." Neither of us seems to need membership, and for certain neither of us likes joining organizations or attending meetings. We're both very busy as it is...sometimes it's monkey business, especially on my part, but that's critical for my writing.

I won't speak for my publisher, because she's going to address this issue in an upcoming blog. When we sat over a few margaritas and chips the other afternoon and talked about it, however, it got me to thinking on the subject. I think my reasons for being a non-joiner are probably a bit different than hers.

I don't join groups because it really means I should make an attempt to participate in them, and that's something I can't commit to. I'm gone a lot. I don't like the yakety yak of social meetings. I have other things I'd rather spend my time on, quite frankly. I also wonder if an organization isn't really formed mostly to promote the organizer of the organization. Afterall, who's name is always out there when it comes to newsreleases or other items dealing with the group: the head organizer or leader of the group, that's who. You can bet that the person who benefits the most in these groups is the head of the group.

Besides the time investment, I really don't have an interest in most of the activities that groups do to promote their authors, etc. I'm fortunate in that my publisher does a lot of events where I can go and sign my books. She's GREAT about introduing me and pushing my books, even at the expense of her own titles, which are fantastic, by the way. Why would I want to go to a group activity and be one of 15 authors there begging people to buy my books when I can garner ALL THE ATTENTION by attending my publisher's events?

Maybe some people see group membership as a form of support and find them confidence building. I certainly don't. I find them filled with pettiness. When the president of a large group wins an award for his book, that smacks of cronyism. But, guess what? Involvement in the organization paid off for him. So, it's like you buy your awards by being involved. Not all groups are like this, I hasten to add. But some of the big ones most certainly are. They're like a good ol' boys club. And if you're not a dues paying, active member in the organization, forget about any consideration for reviews or awards. Pretty phony, really.

Well, those are my thoughts. I invite anyone to disagree. I'd like to see someone explain the benefits of belonging to a writer/author group. Maybe you can convince me otherwise.

And now, I've done my October blog...early even. I'm home free. Mission accomplished. I hope this isn't habit forming!

I'm heading back to the high country before the snow falls and resuming work on my next book, High Country Killers. This is making my publisher very happy. Catch you all later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Writer's Block or Just Lazy?


Okay, so now I'm two months late on my blog duty. But, for my defense I can now say I do, at least, have a website. FINALLY. I did this website out of great duress from my publisher, but it's done! Check it out and give me any opinions or ideas. This is a new area for me, and I'm like blind me leading blind me. I think I just put a link here. Hope it works.

Now, for the business at hand. I'm trying to decide if I have a writer's block or am just being lazy. I keep telling myself that I've put out three books in three years, so I deserve a break, and it's not like I won't have the book (High Country Killers) finished by late 2012 as promised...I hope, anyway.

So what is the real trouble here? Well, to tell you the truth, the new book is very different from the other three I've written. It's more complex, for one thing. There are multiple subplots, and it's also kind of a mystery. As a former mystery writer (under yet another name) I can tell you, mysteries aren't an easy genre for me. Suspense is a piece of cake - not so for mysteries. I even know "who-dun-it" in this new book, but putting it all together is taxing. Then I kind of have carte blanche on this book as far as language and sex go. I've decided to keep the language acceptable, but finally being able to add sex is causing me to hesitate. Although I will say, Apache, the second of my books is a bit risque.

But perhaps the biggest decision is, how much do I include Betsy in the new book? Or do I include her at all? She's been an integral part of the first three books. I was thinking I'd drop her so Jake could move on to other women, but I keep getting the feeling she needs to be in this book. I guess he could have other women, anyway, considering how Book III (Canyon of Death) ended. So, I'm taking a break.

In fact, I plan on taking a break almost all winter. You see, winter here in Arizona is better than summer in most places I've been. The only trouble is, I can't ride up in the high country where I really need to be to get my "research" and "feel" for the area because it does indeed snow up there. But, I can certainly hang out in the rest of the state and have a good time.

I'll be attending all of my publisher's book events this fall/winter. She's got some good ones lined up. I'm also going to show up in Mexico at her and her husband's timeshare for a few days while they're there. I haven't told her'll be a BIG surprise! Well, it worked out great last year! Senoritas, tequila, and deep sea fishing sound pretty good right now. By November they'll sound irresistible.

So, maybe I have a case of both writer's block and laziness. I just need a vacation to sort it all out, don't I? Maybe some place in Mexico?