Net neutrality? Competition? Free enterprise? All of the above!

Sweet Talk

UPDATES: There’s been good discussion on Twitter regarding this post. I have added updates at the end.

Introduction:

Net Neutrality is great, but there’s an achievable policy that’s even better. Get the solution that provides consumer protection AND entrepreneurial innovation AND good Netflix download rates.

Main:

What’s going on?

The news of the day is that President Obama has announced that the FCC should reclassify Internet service providers (like Comcast, Time Warner, and Google Fiber) from “information services” to “common carriers”, essentially transforming them into something more like a utility (like your local Gas & Electric Company) than the competitive business you know today. The FCC is an independent agency, so Obama’s announcement isn’t policy, but of course the President’s words have weight and meaning.

The Problems

Of course, some readers are already scoffing. “Competitive business? What competition? Most local ISP markets are one-provider affairs. There’s no competition from the…

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SCWW Conference Part 3: Session 1 and Mean Girls

First session of the conference in beautiful Myrtle Beach and I am all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ready to get my learn on and absorb some knowledge from the lovely and very sassy Michelle Richter. Her session was titled “Writing a Good Query” and I needed to work on my query letter so it seemed like an easy yes for me.

First a few Do’s and Don’t’s I learned from Mrs. Richter:

DO

1. Proofread over and over

You want to put forth the Best possible product you can.

2. Don’t rely on spellcheck.

She is a fickle mistress indeed. There, Their, & They’re. Nuff’ said.

3. Use a Query Tracking spreadsheet.

You can make your own on Excel or there are some excellent ones online like Query Tracker.

DON’T

1. Be overly familiar

The more professional you sound the better chance they’ll take you seriously.

2. Don’t misspell the name of the agent or agency.

Duh

3. Double check the agent/agency’s website that they are interested in your genre and age group.

Interviews may be outdated but the websites are kept pretty darn current.

4. Don’t re-query

Unless they ask you to of course.

5. Don’t mislead

We’ve all heard of people padding their resume. Now is not the time to do that…

Overall I learned a ton from Michelle. She did not represent my genre but her knowledge and expertise made they session a great pick for me. I found her frank and refreshing. So much of what we hear is padded in the cloak of niceness and platitudes that it was very enjoyable to get some straight forward answers.

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Now on to the mean girls and  I use the term “girls” loosely. There was a young man in the session that had a lot of questions. Where they beginner questions? Yes. Where they the type of thing you could figure out with Google? Yes. Did the questions seem to ramble on and on for an eternity? God Yes. Did this young man deserve to get made fun of by a group of three grown ass women? A definite NO.

We all started somewhere and while I may have let out a heavy sigh, I commend anyone willing to put themselves out there and try to learn something new. This is just my opinion, but then again so is this entire blog, but poking fun at/about someone with a comment isn’t a big deal. I am the queen of smack talking, but there is never any malicious intent and it’s always said in a light-hearted manner. I DO NOT verbally eviscerate anyone. I do not make them the butt of my jokes, loudly, over and over, while looking around trying to get everyone else to join in and agree with me. That is something someone does when they themselves are very small.

Needless to say, despite numerous attempts to engage with me over the course of the weekend, I avoided that group of clucking hens like my life (or just my soul) depended on it.

Time to shake off that negativity and move on. My next session was with David Coe about Character Development and POV so stay tuned for my next blog post.

In defense of “Write What You Know”

lucybluecastle

librarianIn a recent writers roundtable over at comic and fiction writer Sean H. Taylor’s blog (Bad Girls, Good Guys and Two-Fisted Action, and if you’re not reading it, you’re missing out), we talked about the best and worst advice we’ve ever received as writers. More than half of us piled on the hate for that cursed pearl so loved by high school creative writing teachers everywhere: Write What You Know. What a load of crap, we agreed. How boring would fiction be if writers only ever wrote what they knew? There’d be no science fiction, no fantasy, no horror that didn’t make you cry and throw up, and very little romance of the slightest interest to anybody but the parties involved. I was part of the lynch mob, I freely admit. I think this idea of writing what you know has produced more soggy, self-indulgent crap calling itself…

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SCWW Conference Part 2: Bagels and Boundaries

Friday morning, the bagels were cold and the fruit was warm but we had all come together with one purpose in mind, Writing.

I wasn’t sure where to go, or what to do. Walking into the breakfast arena, or area but I personally like arena better, I realized that I was a tad over dressed. Not really over dressed, but enough that I felt I stood out. Which isn’t always a bad thing. The main thing is that everyone was very friendly, and I loved all my new clothes I had bought just for this weekend so as long I liked the way I looked and was comfortable I was good to go.

Finding a table to eat at was very similar to your first day at High School. You’re an insecure Freshman all over again. But I just randomly chose a table where it wasn’t too full and it looked like the ladies where already having a discussion. And I totally lucked out, I was sitting with two other attendees and the owner of a small publishing company. Here is where conference etiquette (also known as common sense) comes to play.

What I DID NOT DO was start into a million question about, oh what do you publish, you’d love my novel, it’s about blah, blah, blah. It’s bagels and small talk people, not a pitch session.

What I DID DO was join in the conversation they were already having. I told a few funny stories, and got to know her as a Person, not a Publisher. She is also a writer herself, so it was fun to talk about how dreadful it is when your characters don’t listen to you.

That is when I met the ever interesting Aurelia Sands of Deer Hawk Publications.

The main point of this post is

1- You have to put yourself out there. I would even suggest going solo and not with a friend so you Have to speak to others more often and not cling to the one person you know.

2-Publishers are people. Obvious but it still needs to be said. While they are there to find great writers (duh) if you don’t respect their boundaries they will talk about you behind your back. (It happens)

3-If you make a friend or even an acquaintance then you will feel more comfortable walking up and speaking to them during the sessions and the rest of the conference. Believe me, they will ask “So what do you write?'” or “What’s your book about?” They WANT to know, they WANT to find you so there is no need to cram your masterpiece down their throats.

boundaries_in_arguments2

 

Bottom Line: Manners are free people, go get you some.

SCWW Conference Break down Part 1: Bar Food and 911

So I have decided that instead of going through a few highlights, and ranting about how awesome the conference was, I’m going to break it down into segments to really show everyone what the Conference experience is like for a newbie (such as myself).

I arrived at the Hilton Resort in Myrtle Beach late Thursday evening (my husband was installing a tankless water heater and the time got away from him) so I checked in later than I had planned. I got all settled into my room (which was lovely despite the view of the parking lot) and made sure to hang up all my new “grown up” clothes. I was hungry and tempted to just have something sent up to my room, but I was here to meet people so down to the bar I went. Unfortunately there weren’t any writer types in the bar area but I did strike up a conversation with some nice folks who were there for a 911 conference. So I got a yummy quesadilla, a stiff Makers Mark and Ginger Ale, and some pretty cool 911 stories. Not too shabby an evening.

My point of even getting into this whole thing, is that you never know who you’re going to meet. I was tired, I wanted to work on my novel and crash (God knows peace and quiet is a hot commodity in my house) but I told myself that’s not why I”m here. If I wanted to run out to a hotel and write in solitude, it would have to be another weekend, because this weekend was for learning as much as humanly possible, and meeting as many new peers as possible. Granted, I didn’t meet anyone from “my” conference that night but I did meet some interesting people. I was even able to join in a conversation at breakfast the following morning because I knew who the other conference was for and tell them about my night. Instant conversation, throw in a few jokes, and they’ll be eating out of your hand. Not literally, that would be gross, even if it was just bagels.

But my loyal readers is a story for tomorrow. So just to recap:

1. Hang up your damn clothes, you’re an adult for Christ’s sake.

2. Step out of your comfort zone (that’s a recurring thing over the weekend)

3. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation that’s already happening (politely of course)

Tomorrow I’ll talk about having breakfast with a publisher, that days sessions, expectations vs. reality and proper footwear.

Good night and fare the well.