Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Morning Miscellany

Pastels. . .

One pear tree branch thinks it's Spring. . .

Plumbago aka Leadwort
Blushing Autumn Joy Sedum
And Eddie . . .

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FAQ - What's the Big Deal?

After writing yesterday about Amanda’s Major Deal, I thought I’d revisit some of the realities of publishing and remind you that  Major Deals and seven figure advances are NOT the norm. If only.

(To review – advances are what the publisher offers before publication – an advance on royalties. The author doesn’t get any royalties until the book has ‘earned out’ – sold enough copies so that the royalties cover the amount of the advance. That can take a while, depending on the size of the advance. On the other hand, even if the book doesn’t sell well enough to earn out, the author still gets to keep the advance.)

The size of the advance  signals the publisher's expectations for the book (s) and how much 'push' the publisher is likely to put behind the book(s).  The size of the advance is of interest to booksellers deciding whether to order the book and in what quantity and t0 reviewers and others in the industry.

But people don't like to talk about money  -- at least, not in precise terms.  So they say things like seven figures (or five or six -- I don't think anyone crows about a  two or three figure advance.)

Publishers Marketplace has a handy series of code terms that are widely understood in the industry and leave a pleasant uncertainty as to whether that 'nice' deal is at the high or low end.

"nice deal" $1 - $49,000
"very nice deal" $50,000 - $99,000
"good deal" $100,000 - $ 250,000
"significant deal" $251,000 - $499,000
"major deal" $500,000 and up

When I told a friend that I had a contract with Bantam Dell for two books, the first thing he said was “Are you going to be rich?” 

The short answer is no. My advances have been right in the middle of 'nice.'  Pleasant but probably not even minimum wages.

Very few authors are well paid.  The average advance from major publishers is $5,000 (less 15% for agent.)

A quote from an unknown source: “As far as making money at this business, I agree with those who say the few who do are in the minority. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out an annual list of income by occupation. I remember one year seeing "writer" listed directly above the lowest paid occupation on the list--migrant farm worker."

Of course, most writers dream of becoming one of the few -- like Amanda.  Her story will fuel the dreams of many a struggling novelist.

As well as leaving a few of us just a bit green with envy.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Stranger You Seek

Amanda Kyle Williams is living the dream. After several novels published with a small press, her mainstream thriller The Stranger You Seek, caught the attention of the folks at Random House. And caught it in a big way --  what they call a Major Deal. Amanda scored a three-book, seven figure contract for her Keye Street series.

I didn't know all of this when my editor (Herself) sent me an Advance Reading Copy of TSYS back in January.  Herself asked if I'd read it and, if I liked it, provide a blurb -- one of those enthusiastic recommendations that appears somewhere on or in the book.
I'm always wary about providing blurbs -- some books just aren't my cup of tea. But I pretty much trust that if it's one Herself is editing, it will be good.

And it is!

Keye Street is a terrific protagonist -- a Chinese-American, adopted by white southern parents as a child, a  former FBI profiler whose career was cut short by alcoholism (she's a Diet Pepsi drinker now) -- Keye's a salty, funny, risk-taker whose work as a private investigator chasing bail jumpers and serving processes, puts her in touch with some of Georgia's less savory individuals. 

But the serious trouble comes when Keye is unofficially hired by an Atlanta police lieutenant, her best friend and secret crush,  to find a particularly awful serial killer who is leaving a bloody trail through Atlanta.  Things get personal when the killer begins sending notes to Keye.

There's lots of wonderful description of summer in Atlanta; there are some terrific, funny scenes with Keye and her family; and there's a plot that will truly keep you guessing. I really enjoyed getting to know Keye Street and will be looking for the next in this series.
You can read a really interesting article about Amanda HERE.   It sounds as if this success couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

The Stranger You Seek hits the shelves tomorrow, August 30.  If you like fast compulsive reading and a gutsy, semi-flawed protagonist, along with a Southern noir atmosphere, you need to meet Keye Street.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hints and Allegations

Hurricane season signals the coming of Fall in my part of the world.  We are about 300 miles from the coast and have felt no effects (not even rain, drat it) from Irene as she makes her way north. 

I hope my blog friends at the coast are all safe -- Jean and Pepper come to mind. Bouncin' Barb has put up a post saying that she is fine.  

We have a  sailor friend visiting and he's been on the phone with folks at the NC coast, hearing stories of flooding, downed trees, and boats in places boats don't belong.  At the moment he thinks his boat (which is also his home) is okay.
Here on the mountain, after Friday's sullen heat and oppressive humidity, our air is drier and slightly cooler and the evenings are delicious -- another sign of the season.  The wood piles that John and Justin have been working on all summer are looking serious and the maples are beginning to send colorful reminders floating down.  

There'll be plenty more hot days but how pleasant to feel that the worst is over!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Convocation of Chairs

What in the world? I thought as I caught a glimpse of this gathering in the front yard of or rental house. Party games? An upcoming  meeting of people who don't actually want to talk to each other? Some sort of summoning of spirits?

What do you think?

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Friday, August 26, 2011

A Roving Eye

Down at the lower place on Wednesday morning, we were waiting for Justin to finish milking so we could commence  yet another Great Chicken Massacree, a replay of one documented HERE.

Of course I had my camera so while I was waiting, I went looking for pictures . . .stripey tomatoes . . .
Silverbell eating a stripey tomato . . .
Chicory blooming. . .
A black swallowtail on a pear tree leaf. . .

Marigold . . .

Clover . . .

The obligatory basketball hoop on the barn (I think it's the law in North Carolina . . .)

Rusty old plow points from a Vulcan Number 10 hillside turning plow, reminders of when John plowed with mules . . . the perfect size for our conditions. unlike the smaller, lighter Number 8 which, according to our late neighbor Cleophas, would 'choke on a horse turd.. .'

Light at play 

. . . and then it was time to move to the business at hand.  I don't mind doing this  now and then but couldn't help thinking of the folks who work at the giant chicken processing plants, day in and day out.  As cheap as commercially grown chicken is, I shudder to think what the workers are paid and the shortcuts they probably are forced to take.

Butchering chickens isn't romantic . . .  but it's a part of farm life.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heavenly Bodies

I was out on the deck yesterday morning, taking pictures of the sunrise, when I noticed the moon overhead . . .
The waning crescent seemed to smile and blush at the sun's arrival. . .

 Up and down my camera swiveled . . .
As the sun grew brighter . . .
And the sky went from pale gray to blue . . .
The moon began to fade,  ceding the stage to the new born day.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This Time, I Hope, With Pictures. . .

 I think this is why they're called morning glories. . .
 These fragile trumpets catch the early sunlight . . .

 Trapping it in translucent petals . . 

They hold the light, transforming it . . .
Then broadcast it to the day.

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Captured Light

I think this is why they're called morning glories. . .
These fragile trumpets catch the early sunlight . . .

Trapping it in translucent petals . . .
They hold the light, transforming it . . .
Then broadcast it to the day.