writing-a-book-is-the-easy-part

Writing A Book Is The Easy Part

writing-a-book-is-the-easy-partMariann and I conceived the idea for “The Man Plan™, A Guy’s Guide To Planning The Perfect” date last September. We quickly discovered that writing a book is easy. Well, let’s say easy in comparison to everything you need to do to first get it published and then to market it.

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there was a lot more to this “hey let’s write a book!” process than we’d realized

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We went into this with the blind optimism that comes with being newbies. It was easy to write The Man Plan™. It was fun to write it too; our ideas for dates flowed, we planned the format for the book, and I designed a cover. We had our friends and trusted colleagues read and comment. This was all very exciting!

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Then (cue the duh…duh…duh…dun music) we got into the production of the print and ebook volumes and found that there was a lot more to this “hey let’s write a book!” process than we’d realized. It’s not that we were doing things wrong — it’s that we were doing things half right and so had to repeatedly retrace our steps and make it all right.

Writing A Book Was Just The Beginning

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We spent hours huddled up to a computer to learn how to get a U.S. ISBN number. Had some minor heart attacks when our newly uploaded manuscript was rejected by Create Space because it “didn’t exist”. Really? The book we’d spent months creating didn’t exist?? We finally figured out that we had to adjust some info for the ISBN. So all was well then…for a few minutes. As we were uploading the book we inadvertently deleted it from the site. This in turn led to a lovely conversation with a gentleman in India (he really was a very helpful man) who helped us restore the files.

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We finally got the book through the upload process only to discover that we might have to wait a week before it was available…and we had marketing and press releases going out before then! Let me send a big thank you to Amazon for actually getting us live in time for all the release hoopla. At this point we both needed some relaxation therapy…as in a huge glass of wine!

Live and Learn

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We did manage to get it published though and that was good. We did not however manage to understand a single word of the U.S. Library of Congress site. Still working on figuring out how to get an LCCN number – this may entail even more wine. Seriously, do any of you U.S. Authors have a clue about how to read that site? Happily, the eBook should be available next week…Yay!

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So, we screwed a lot up, but learned a lot on the way. Live and learn as they say and our next book will be, if not an easier path, at least a wiser one.

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Read our latest post at Singles Warehouse – 5 Caveman Signs That He’s Really Into You

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DATING: A Love Letter – “Should I?”

Last week I was going through some of my beloved mothers personal items (she is 4 years in heaven). As I was going through some of my mom’s things, I found my father’s jewelry box and tucked away amidst his Irish Step Dancing Medals was a note … a love note my mother wrote to him before they married. So, it is probably Circa 1957.

 

I come from an Irish family, so they did not lavish a ton of physical affection upon you. A hug and a kiss meant the worrld to me. It was not idly given or thrown away. Words and actions counted and meant something. My parents loved their children dearly and they showed it in their selfless behavior, their care in providing a stable & loving home and their zest for developing our mind and talents. A poem, a letter, a smile with a nod and wink, or sharing themselves over a cup of tea is how my parents communicated love. And, I was lucky ~ I felt very loved!

So, when the care was taken to write a poem and expose your heart, it prodded you to take notice and realize how difficult it might have been … but it was so important, it had to be said.

Here is a poem written by my mom, Patricia L. Kelly O’Connor to her soon to be husband, Kenneth F. O’Connor in 1957:

SHOULD I?

Should I say I miss you
Do you think I dare,
Say I miss your smile
Or, how you miss my hair?

Say I miss your joking,
Or, the twinkle in your eye,
Say I miss your hand in mind
How I hate to say, “goodbye?”

Say I miss your dancing,
How we stay out so late
Say I’ve had more fun with you,
Than any other date?

Say I like the talks we’ve had
How I enjoyed your every word?
If I should say all this to you,
Would you think me absurd?

I know you think me silly
And serious, not a mite
But, should I say I miss you
Since you last told me “goodnight?”

Should I say these things to you?
I stop … I hesitate … then sigh …
I guess I really shouldn’t …
But maybe … dear me, “Should I?”

It’s innocent & touching and reveals her heart … and that gives me goosepimples!

Thanks, Mariann

WRITING: Could I Write “50 Shades of Gray?”

Dare I read 50 Shades Of Grey?
I admit, I think I am one of 4 people who still have not read “50 Shades of Gray.” I am pretty sure it is because I would turn 50 shades of RED. I like romance, innuendo, subtlety, being titillated with the hint of something versus having something graphic in my face. That is me – I am making no judgments here!

By the way, Sharon (co-editor of LifeBytes) has read it … like 4 times already … again, no judgments here (well, maybe one but I will let the readers guess! LOL). Sorry Sharon.

I have been told that this book can be very graphic. I think I may be afraid to read it. I am not even sure I know what that means. Hey, when I listen to Celine Dion’s song, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and the lyrics sung are:
“When you touch me like this or when you hold me like that or do it like this?”
I find myself asking, “What is like this? What is like that? Do like what?”

Or, when Celine sings, “There were things I’d never do again, but then they’d always seem right.”
Again, I am yelling at the song, “What? What things? What didn’t seem right but then they did? What?”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDxoj-tDDIU]

I am afraid to read it because what if I like it? Will that upset me? I don’t know. Who knows, maybe I will read it several times like Sharon ;-)

I wrote a novel entitled, “Cracked Edges.” In it one of the main characters who is in her late 20’s meets someone and they take a boat out on the water for a date and let’s just say they enjoy each other’s naked embrace as the ebb and flow of the water carries the boat and their pleasure to a beautiful place. My mom, who was a fabulous writer, was enthusiastic about helping me edit this novel and fine tune some of the story. Well, when she came upon this scene in the book, she put her pen down, tilted her reading glasses and said, “If you want to be taken as a serious writer, you don’t need this kind of explicit and non-important descriptions just to appease the lowest common denominator of your reading audience.” Ouch. Now THAT was a JUDGEMENT! She continued, “You can do better. You can write beautifully and illustrate your characters, their feelings, and their angst all while taking the literary high road.”

Well, as you can see, my mother did not mince words and if she were alive, she would never read “50 Shades of Gray.” But, I understood her point.

But, as a writer, I wonder how you can balance some of the more romantic and sexual aspects of a character and their relationship and illustrate it with description but not have it spill into over indulgence or unnecessary graphics. This is something I still struggle with.

Sharon and I have been soliciting stories for our book. A few came in from EROTICA writing sites. As I started to read them, I found I was uncomfortable. I felt it even ceased to be graphic and was unnecessarily vulgar and explicit. I took the piece and edited out what I felt we could not keep. Out of about 100 lines, I was left with about 10 lines I could see us keeping.

Sharon read the same story and when I showed her my edits, she truly laughed out loud and said that it was no longer a story with my edit. And, that we had to cut a few things but leave the essence of the relationship and if that was vulgar or graphic or down and dirty, then that is what these 2 people in the story were about and how they communicated. I understood her position. But, I then said, “then we have to make a decision about what level we want to go to or lines we want to cross in representing stories and subsequently, the characters in the story.” I will admit we are still in debate on this.

But, could I write “50 Shades of Gray?” I don’t know. Let me read it (I just gave myself an excuse that I now have to read it for the readers of the LifeBytes blog!) and I will report back. Maybe I will write “50 Shades of Pink” about a 30 year old virgin who goes on really boring dates! That saves me descriptions of the graphic sexual situations. LOL LOL LOL

Have you read “50 Shades of Gray?” Please share your thoughts about this. Mariann

How to Write the Ideal Message

How do you write the perfect message?There’s no point in paying a monthly membership fee for a dating site and taking a slew of flattering profile photos if you’re not going to be proactive and try to get yourself a date for Friday night. We don’t live in the 1950′s anymore—you can make some sort of initiative to let the opposite sex know that you’re at the very least interested. But sending a “wink” isn’t really appeasing. In my experience with online dating (something I became interested in college), sending a message is typically the way to go. However, you need to make sure that you compose it the right way; otherwise you’re sure to miss out on a “potential” mate. While formulating an impressionable message isn’t neuroscience, you’d be surprised to learn how many get it wrong. To make sure you’re not one of them, continue reading below.

Make it Personal
First and foremost you want to make your message sounds “personal.” By no means do you want it sound like you’re sending out some sort of stock email—there’s nothing worse than sounding too spammy or rehearsed. The person you’re trying to contact wants to know that you’ve actually read his or her profile and that you legitimately think the two of you might be a good fit/match—you can’t just say “Hi, My name is Maria. I find you attractive.” Referencing something that you learned from his or her profile is the easiest way to accomplish this. Something like “I saw that you really like cliff diving, I do too” can give your message that special personal touch.

Don’t Give Too Much Away
Getting to know someone is a gradual process that occurs naturally. You don’t want to give your life story right off the bat—this can really scare someone away. While it’s ok to give some basic information about yourself, if the person is generally interested in you they’ll be sure to ask follow up questions and spark up a conversation—this is where details about your life will gradually come out. On an equal note, you don’t want to talk about your past in terms of your “ex.” Don’t discuss your failed relationships. It’s huge turn off and can make you see coo-coo on paper. You also don’t want to sound too “flirty.” Avoid using terms like “babe” “baby” and “sweetheart” when addressing someone you don’t even know.

Don’t Write in Text-Speak
Lastly, you want to make sure that you compose your message in proper English. Since the invention of the text message, Facebook, and online chatting, it can be easy to write out phrases like “What R U doing?” But this just seems juvenile and can be sometimes un-readable. Put your best foot forward and make full, comprehensive sentences from the very beginning. Once the two of you get more comfortable with each other you can start using more acronyms, but until that time arrives avoid them entirely.

A freelance blogger with a strong work ethic, Angelita Williams lives for scooping the next big story. Among her preferred topics of writing are online learning, distance courses, and the growing trend of mobile education. But she also thoroughly enjoys writing about dating and lifestyle topics. If you have any comments or questions, you can reach Angelita at angelita.williams7(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gmail.com.

Writer — Beware Of Those Without Scruples

I am a trusting human being. I think people are like me and try to operate their life with some baseline of values and integrity. But, I keep learning that this is not the case.

If I stop trusting, do I become bitter? I don’t want to become bitter. But, that does not mean I can’t operate without caution. Caution is our friend. It makes us pause and make sure we protect ourselves.

Recently, I had an experience with someone I trusted because of an existing relationship with a friend. But, at the end of the journey, I learned my idea & concept was stolen. I wonder how anyone can justify this and in what world they think this is right without giving due credit or compensation to the person who did the development.

I learned there are shark infested waters in the entertainment arena. It taught me a life lesson and one I need to remember.

Everyone can be nice … or pretend to be. But, as artists, our currency is in our ideas, stories and execution of those ideas. Would you just go into a building or a store and take all the money in your bank account and throw it around? NO, right? Well, don’t do this with your creativity. Give it value and currency. Protect it. Guard it. Respect it. Make others do the same.

Make sure you copyright all your ideas, written or video works. Make sure when you talk to people, do not enter agreements idly or arbitrarily sign agreements or documents because you are anxious. Make sure you have a non-disclosure agreement available when you talk to certain people or companies to protect your idea and your interaction. Does not hurt to register works with the Writers Guild.

It is worth the money to have a lawyer review your documents or understand what you are doing or who you are talking to so they can guide you and advise you on how to protect your intellectual and creative properties. You do yourself a disservice otherwise.

Take it from someone who was burned and learned a lesson. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Protecting our stories and property is up to us – so be responsible and be the proper caretaker of your creative and intellectual property.

Do you have any horror stories? Any good stories? Sharon and I would love to hear from you!!

Thanks

Dating is Dating, Right?

Straight or gay, dating is datingSharon and I attend some writing conferences throughout the year. Some of those conferences have agent pitch sessions where you have a few minutes to “pitch” an agent. It is nerve wracking really. At one conference, Sharon and I pitched our book idea to an agent who was openly gay. When we told her of our idea, she asked who our target audience is. We responded “Everyone who is dating – men, woman, people all races and religions, gay, and straight. Everyone.” Then, she tilted her head and said, “this book can’t be all things to all people.” I don’t recall Sharon and me saying that. She seemed to get angry and said, “you can’t include straight and gay stories together – they are different audiences.” Sharon and I shook our head. I audibly gasped in a rather annoyed fashion. Sharon was much nicer. She said, “this is about the experience of dating … and gay and straight people date. They may have different experiences, but the premise and experiences and feelings are all similar.” The agent said, “you can’t compare them.” I sat up in my chair and leaned back and decided I was done with this exchange. Sharon persevered. She explained that we had gotten plenty of stories from gay, lesbian and transgendered people who shared touching stories whose universal story about looking for love or a soul mate prevailed regardless of where or who.

This agent shot back, “but It’s not.” Huh? Really? It’s not.

I have plenty of gay friends who share their stories and were stood up, thought they found the one, were disappointed when someone didn’t call and got taken advantage of. It is not gender specific.

So, I beg the question … dating is dating – right?

I lost all patience and even Sharon was visibly frustrated. Sharon seemed on a mission to make her understand. I interrupted and said, “look, dating is dating. Love is love. Rejection is rejection. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight or white or green or in the USA or India – we all have parallel experiences and there is no reason to separate them out and have a book just be about gay or straight stories.” The agent went on to argue with us and I looked at Sharon and said, “I think we’re done here.” I looked at the agent and said, “Thank you for your time.” And got up.

If I am wrong, by all means, please tell me. But, Dating is Dating, right?

Thanks
Mariann

Are You A Writer?

What constitutes a writer? Talent? Perseverance? Success? Being Published? I have attended numerous writing seminars and conferences and many times I will ask some friends to join me. I am surprised by many who say, “But, I am not a writer?” I query, “what do you mean?” They continue, “But I don’t write professionally.” My point to them is that you don’t have to be a professional writer to be a writer. Just because your mission is not to earn a living writing or getting published does not negate the fact that any expression or story you put on paper (or into the computer) makes you a writer.

Now, whether they are a good writer is certainly subjective and up for debate.
What I like about certain conferences is you participate in writing exercises that get you in touch with your creative self or many times, it highlights something important to you or brings to surface a story you need to tell.
And telling that story, whether fiction or non-fiction is writing. The quality of the assemblance of words and conveyance of the idea may need practice or work, but with some effort and perseverance and focus, a writer can improve that ability.

So, if you have a story to tell, then TELL IT. Do not get caught up in the misnomer that you are not a writer. Once you put words and ideas together, you are! Don’t let fear inhibit your creativity.

Ever since I was 5 years old, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write children’s stories because at 5, a novel seemed impossible but children’s stories, which are shorter, seemed feasible. Somehow I took a technical path in my education and career …. Ooops! But when I examine why I did not pursue Writing & Journalism as I always thought I would, it is because I did not think I had anything to say. And, if I did not, then what was I going to write about? Such is the innocence and stupidity of a 17 year old. I did not know the experiences life had in store for me. And it is from that – life experiences – which memoirs and most stories come from.

I realized when I was in my late 20s, I had something to say. And I wanted to write something but I did not know where to start or how. But, I was scared to expose myself and my vulnerabilities and my imperfections (I do not think I have any but my family & friends are quite vocal in telling me I do!). I thought I would feel embarrassed. Once I let go of that fear and did not care what people thought n or was afraid of being judged, it freed me to where I could, with abandon, be completely honest in what I had to say. It is at that point I realized – I WAS A WRITER.

For someone who has ancestral ties to Walter Macken and James Joyce, I know I am nowhere near their level but that does not mean I do not have a voice, my own style or am not a writer.

Would love to hear about when you realized you were a writer and had something to say.

Thanks, Mariann.

More Adventures In Agent Land

Writing it is the easy partMarian and I are members of the International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG). Simply the best group for female writers, particularly if you write memoir. Since we like to describe LifeBytes as “mini-memoirs” about online dating, the IWWG is especially relevant to us. So each year we eagerly await their “Big Apple Conference”, which is held twice a year and features a day of writing workshops as well as a “Meet The Agents” event.

We enjoy the agent event as it gives us an opportunity to talk face to face with agents, hear their feedback, and then are able to continue to hone our book proposal and pitch. Notice I didn’t say “get agent representation”? Although it’s possible and certainly the goal of all the writers in attendance, we’ve found this to be harder to do than you’d expect.

Most often we find ourselves having to explain the concept of online dating rather than the book itself. I’m pretty convinced that agents don’t get out much. Not understand online dating?? Really?? So about a year and a half ago, we were thrilled beyond words to meet “Ann Thusiasm”, a west coast agent who actually GOT the concept of LifeBytes. We had about four minutes to pitch the book and as we started, her eyes lit up.

“Yes, this is a wonderful idea”, she trilled.

“I appeals mainly to women 25 – 60, but also has a market with single men,” I said.

“That’s PERFECT”. She was beaming. “You could offer a Book-Club edition too!!!!” She literally clapped her hands on that last comment.

We went on with our pitch. She was bobbing out of her seat. At one point she DID stand up and practically shout: “Send me the proposal!!” Women standing in line behind us were visibly impressed. Mariann and I were thrilled…finally, an agent who is not only interested in our property but is Chomping. At. The. Bit. to get her hands on it.

We left feeling happier and more confident that we had in months. We were getting an agent! At the end of the day, we stopped in the ladies room before heading out for a bite to eat and ran into Ann there. She remembered us too.

“Can’t wait to get your proposal!” Beaming smiles all around.

Later that week, we sent everything out in the mail, and waited, and waited, and waited. About a month and a half later, we sent her an email to follow up…no answer. We knew she’d gotten the proposal, we had a return receipt. Nothing. Crickets. No scratch that, even the crickets were silent.

Now, we know that oftentimes agents will only contact you if they’re interested. We don’t like that. We don’t agree with that behaviour (C’mon, how hard is it to send a quick email? Even a canned response is better than nothing.) But seriously, after she practically serenaded us with her own marching band (the one in her head, that only she can hear), we thought a short reply would have been appropriate.

Seriously, I think agents just need to get out and date online for a while.

Sharon

Online Dating and Bulima…Perfect Together!

Don't bother me now, I'm getting ready for my date.

Early on in our LifeBytes project, Mariann and I attended the International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) weekend writing conference. Sunday afternoon featured a “meet the agents” session. Mare and I attended, eagerly clutching our book proposal, ready to sell our idea to a literary agent. We were, and still are, enamored of our anthology concept and excited to offer it to an agent for representation. After all, how could they not LOVE this idea.

We made our way to the hall where the agents had set up tables. We had approximately four minutes to pitch our proposal to each agent, and we had about three that we’d targeted as being good agents for us. We thought we’d sail in there, make out pitches and chill out over a glass of wine while the bidding war waged on. HA.

First, there were hundreds of women on line to pitch various agents. Apparently ALL of them had stellar books to propose (of course, ours is better…:). So, we queued up on a line. By the time we got to our first agent “Lucy Litqueen” our feet hurt, but we were undaunted…history was about to be made. We began our pitch.

“True stories about the ups and downs of online dating. Like Chicken Soup for the Soul, but without all the touchy-feely stuff. More real-life stories. Fun, Exciting. Sexy. Playful.”

Lucy put her hand up, raised her head slightly, and waved said hand in a limp-wristed imitation of the Queen’s Royal Wave.

“Hmm, anthologies are hard to sell. But there is one coming out that seems to be good. It’s about…”

Mare and I glanced at each other…about singles? Dating? Something akin to our exciting romp in the online dating world??

“BULIMIA. Do you have any stories in there like that? Eating disorders are very big these days. OH…and do you have any stories by celebrities??”

And thus began our long and continuing trek through the land of literary agents.

We did, that evening, chill out to a glass or two of wine. Although instead of pondering the results of a bidding war we ended up laughing hysterically at the pitch letters we could send to celebrities, asking for submissions:

Dear Obscenely Skinny, Single Movie Star,
We understand from the National Enquirer, that you are bulimic AND suddenly single again after a long 3 week marriage. We were quite thrilled to hear this as we are editing an anthology about bulimic online daters! We don’t know if you’re actually dating online or just having your agent pimp you out to single Hollywood, but you are Bulimic and that’s half the battle! If you are interested in contributing a story to our book, we’d set you up with a Match.com account so you could start compiling some skinny-ass dating stories. We could even get Snooki Polizzi from “The Jersey Shore” to ghost-write it for you. We heard that she wrote her book “all by herself” you know ;).

To this day Mariann and I are still at a loss as to what the connection between a book that’s “Fun, Exciting. Sexy. Playful” is to Bulimia – but you can’t say we don’t have a sense of humor about it.

Sharon

This Is Harder Than Dating!

When Mariann and I decided to compile true stories about online dating we went into it with that old “Our Gang” mentality. As in “Let’s put on a show…my dad has a barn we can use!!” and voila…twenty minutes later there’s a full-scale musical revue complete with washtub orchestra and costumes. Not so – creating and publishing an anthology, even one as fabulous  as “LifeBytes™, Real Stories” takes a bit more time, and work, and patience.

Luckily Mare and I, creative business-women to the core, relish the hard work and have patience and determination to spare. And apparently we are getting to use as much of it as the good Lord has seen fit to grace us with.

Publishing is a strange universe and Mare and I have spent as much, if not more, time learning to navigate it as we have in compiling and editing stories for our first anthology. We’ve had to deal with convincing potential agents that computer dating is about meeting other people online, not about dating actual computers. Seriously, we’ve had to do that…agents it seems are Luddites at heart. But…we have found recently that some agents are actually understanding the concept. A step in the right direction – or at least into the 21st Century!

We’ve been in negotiations with an agent over an agency agreement…and have had that agent seemingly fall off the face of the earth. Very frustrating, but we forge on. We’ve seen friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers get excited about the possibility of reading LifeBytes (or contributing to future volumes). This is one of the things that keeps us going on this project – that and the amazing stories we’ve been collecting from around the globe from singles and formerly singles about their ups and downs in the cyber-dating world. And we send thanks to each and every one of them for their infinite patience in this slow process.

Recently Mariann and I were entertaining our friends with tales of our adventures in publishing and realized that the “real stories” of getting this book produced are as weird and interesting as our dating sagas. So, we thought you’d all enjoy hearing some of them, and of course our contributing authors deserve to be able to at least laugh and cry with us a bit about all this nonsense. So we’ve decided to add an occasional additional post to LifeBytes for your edification, entertainment and overall sharing of our pain.

More to come…
Sharon