He Was Just an Old Man who wanted me to be the first female big-league pitcher. I threw that ball until he sighed and said, “I’ll teach you to be a barber.” So, he took me around to all his friends and they proudly let me cut their hair, until I cut too close and one too many times nicked an ear. He was thirteen years old when his father said, “Ain’t got enough for you, your mother, and your sister. So, it’s time to move on, grow a pair, become your own kind of mister.” The boy hit the road and next thing we know he was seventeen. He lied about his age, took the oath, became a Marine. Four years went by, he quietly did his time, each day three hots and cot. But he had more to do, so he moved on, his own man he was yet not. He got a job with Continue reading He Was Just an Old Man
The old worker bee landed on her back in the pool almost in front of me. Her little legs were kicking but her wings were stuck to the water and there was nothing she could do to save herself. I was in the middle of doing my morning laps but stopped my exercise and saved her little stinger from drowning. Using a leaf to scoop, I placed her on the edge of the pool and turned her, wings up. Her color was not the vibrant depth you would expect from a worker bee. Her color was a very pale, almost sickly, yellow. She went through various contortions in what I thought was a drying-off routine. First her legs were shaken, then her wings, of which one seemed to be missing but then I discovered it was stuck to her body. She next did a headstand (maybe to drain the water from the map Continue reading The Old Worker Bee
An Editor’s Prayer for this FB “Commas Gone Wild!” kind of day. Let us pray. Dear Almighty Heavenly Father, I beg you to help me remain calm when I see commas — commas that you created, Father, by implication if not by direct hand — misused in such profoundly incorrect of a fashion as I am seeing on this here man-made site called Facebook. And Lord, you would think such a site with ‘book’ in its name would have an algorithm that would correct such egregious comma usage just like it identifies fake news so well, but no, dear Father. It. Does. Not. Father, I am doing all in my power to remain as ladylike as possible in my commentary, but when one sees sentences such as these (pictured to your left), then you know, my dear Daddy, that I am calling upon my higher power to help me refrain Continue reading An Editor’s Prayer for a “Commas Gone Wild” kind of day
Fifth Grader. Male. The pain poured out of him in waves no one could see, but each one pounded my soul and I could feel it as a pain in my body. It sounds awfully melodramatic, but it was true: He needed someone to see him as he truly was. He needed someone to give him validation of his existence. He needed someone to treat him like a normal boy. I was to be that person. In case you haven’t read it, this article link here will give the backstory as to how I came to know this boy. I had been hired by a school to come once a month for six months and work with each of their fifth grade classes teaching them to write. This boy was in the third class in a rotation of five. There it was. Clearly he was at a breaking point in his life. It Continue reading A Fifth Grade Pariah and Me.
Michael Connelly was in town for an author tour for his newest book and, somehow or another, by the time Michael arrived at the restaurant, the only chair left to sit in was across from me. To my immediate left was Jedwin Smith, an internationally known author and prize-winning war correspondent I had only just met the previous year, but had become fast friends with. Two seats to his left was Linda Sands. By all measurable accounts, the luncheon was a success for Decatur, Georgia’s Eagle Eye Book Store owner, Doug Robinson, attendees, and Michael. Jedwin introduced me to Linda, and she and I exchanged emails with “keep in touch” flung to the other. That was in 2010 — and we have stayed in touch. In fact, while we don’t get to see each other very often (schedules are always an issue), we have helped each other through several projects. She hired Continue reading Linda Sands
Hello. Welcome to the Business of Being a Creative, or BBC for short. Today I will be your tour guide. Essentially, BBC is a canyon. A giant, deep ditch with a raging, muddy river running through it. On one side of the ditch is you, where you stand now. If you will take a look that way — see how helpfully I point? — what you want is on the other side. Now, there are two ways of getting there. Flying is one. See the bird? But you don’t have feathers and the helicopters only look like they are safe, so…flying is out. But, ladies and gentlemen, the BBC isn’t all about the destination, is it? Isn’t the BBC about the journey? See those people riding mules? Mules are slow, but steady. You bones will ache, your muscles will scream. You won’t look glamorous. But taking that mule ride will make your destination all Continue reading Hi, I’ll be your tour guide today.
I never would’ve believed it, but there it was. A paper letter. In my hands. An outright rejection of my manuscript submission to a “respectable” publisher located in New York. “We’re sorry. But you did not submit your materials to us in the form we wanted. Please buy a current copy of ‘Writer’s Marketplace’ and see our submission guidelines there. If you cannot afford to purchase a copy, your local library probably has a copy you can check out.” I was confused because I had the current Writer’s Marketplace on my desk. I guess I could afford it. And I had followed their submission guidelines to the tee. At first, I thought it was an anomaly. But then more and more of those letters arrived. I began to wonder if I was insane and not reading the guidelines properly, or if they were insane. Come to find out, there as Continue reading The rise of self-publishing: Forced to reinvent the wheel
In writing a book, there comes a time when someone will not like what you’ve done. They will disagree with the message or story. And that’s fine. That means you were clearly communicating. But what if someone says to you the following: “Hmmmm…I have no idea what you are saying, but…?” Even that isn’t bad if you are entertaining while doing it. But one cannot get by with only entertaining. At some point too much guessing tires reader’s soul and mind, and connections are lost. If someone says the storyline is missing huge chunks, is convoluted to the point of making the reader guess your intent, makes the reader work too hard so that it is no longer entertaining but work, or is full of typos, dropped words, or sound-alike words with different meanings, now you’ve got a big problem. What do you do when that happens? Many take offense Continue reading Ego-propping? Lord help a reader.
One must be a slave to punctuation itself. But one must not be a slave to a particular style of punctuation as if that style is the final word on the subject in all instances because it isn’t. For instance, let us take the Chicago Manual of Style, which history I have taken — lock, stock, and barrel — from their own website in the following paragraph. “The history of The Chicago Manual of Style spans more than one hundred years, beginning in 1891 when the University of Chicago Press first opened its doors. At that time, the Press had its own composing room with experienced typesetters who were required to set complex scientific material as well as work in such then-exotic fonts as Hebrew and Ethiopic. Professors brought their handwritten manuscripts directly to the compositors, who did their best to decipher them. The compositors then passed the proofs to Continue reading Which shall it be: Slavery to punctuation or style?
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Email Angela here: angeladurden[at]gmail[dot]com Do you need more customers or fans? It’s a sure bet you won’t get any if you sit back and hope they learn about you. Books are products. Music is a product. Coffee cups are products. If a coffee cup manufacturer only had people liking their Facebook page or their posts, but not buying the cups, they would be out of business. On the other hand, just because the coffee cup is for sale does not mean I must buy it. Maybe I have enough coffee cups. Maybe I don’t like the color or shape of that cup. Maybe I only have so much space and hooks for coffee cups and until one breaks I don’t need another. So a consistent outreach must be maintained to all drinkers of coffee cups that these are available for Continue reading Need more customers or fans?
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Email Angela here: angeladurden[at]gmail[dot]com Of all the people I know well, the vast majority are in business for themselves. They are strategizing. They are working the details out. They are pivoting. They are all spending their own money on building something bigger, more awesome, and that could potentially end up hiring other people. And they are all wondering, “Will this work?” And “What if it doesn’t work?” Nobody knows. But every large corporation you see out there in the world, each and every one of them, all began with the above scenario. Somebody said, “I have an idea. I know it’s crazy, but, what if we…” Take an existing technology. Find a problem. Use the technology to fix it. It’s called disruption. And in disruption, entrenched parties always complain, and whine. “My business is being hijacked.” They even will use the Continue reading I know it’s crazy: Find a problem
The most precious thing anyone has in their possession is time. Once it is gone, there is no getting it back. Anybody who plays fast and loose with my time is soon persona non grata — an unwelcome person. So, here you are. Getting into the music business, or so you say. And you want to “write a song” with someone, you know, collaborate, baby, make some magic happen, write that next big worldwide hit. You find yourself mixing with “music people”, but they won’t give you the time of day. Or, if they do, they ask questions you don’t have answers to? What do you do? What. Do. You. Do? Take offense? Cop an attitude? Make stuff up? Throw around street slang about “it being your time to be on”? Strut around like you’re the cock of the walk and every hen in the house should be happy to Continue reading You want my WALLET?
The audience will fill in the blanks and readers will read between the lines in ways more powerful than we creators could imagine. Let us, creators, allow our listeners and readers opportunity by giving them an awesome framework upon which to throw themselves. Let us, creators, allow them to delve into themselves and discover their motivations, thoughts, powers, conscience, conscious, and reason for being. Let’s not tell them who they are, but let them discover it.
What is the difference between mystery, crime, and thriller books? Mystery makes me heart race. Crime makes me brain think. And thrillers makes me hide under the blankee.
START: Condo Log. Star Date: 6790-0101 (11:02 Ante Meridian Earth-time) Mother ship launch successful. Broke free from gravity forty minutes after zero hour. Future readers of this Condo Log will conclude correctly: Zero hour was at nine ante meridian. (If a reader did not conclude this, then I must wonder if they are familiar with music at all. But I shall save that for private musings in my second memoir.) The Team worked hard in Star Date 6789. There were glitches, missed steps, and stumbles. But, as all excellent teams do, they did not quit, they did not cry Uncle. Instead, they worked hard to put their ship in order, outfit it for the journey, and got themselves in prime shape ready to go to infinity and (dare I say it?) beyond in the next 365 days. But what will by our infinity? What will be our beyond? As my Continue reading Condo Log. Star Date: 6790-0101
“With this system and these products, you too can be [fill in the blank].” “In this business you will meet fine people who want you to be successful.” Every multi-level marketing company there is uses the exact same key phrases when it comes to enticing you to grow your own business, develop a strong downline, make lifelong and true friends, and become financially independent. The above are but two. Through the years I’ve looked at several of those whose products I loved. But the interesting thing is this: None of the business models actually work for the majority of those involved. You see, there’s all that fine print that somehow you didn’t see when you signed up. I truly wanted only to sell the products. When I came up with interesting and profitable ways to do it, I was told I couldn’t, that it “wasn’t allowed.” Oh, that fine print Continue reading The Curse of the Multi-Level Marketing Mentality
Are you building yours? Are you plugged into one? Is it important? Yes, it is important. Just yesterday evening I was feeling as if everything I’ve been doing, not just the past three years, but this last year, and heck, these last twenty-three years, has been a huge waste of time. That all I’ve done is make a bunch of big mistakes that will bite me in the butt. Then I had a meeting this morning and I read a Facebook post before I went. The Facebook post was by a man who was feeling down in the dumps about business and the future of it. I could feel his pain. But he cracked wise and made me laugh. I let him know that I did, yes indeed, laugh out loud — not LOL, but laugh OUT LOUD — at the funny he made. His reply was that he was Continue reading My Community
Many people live alone and are quite content to do so, especially creatives. Their minds never stop, they are doing and doing (sometimes at non-conventionlal hours). Sometimes the people around them may not get the attention they need if they’re in the same space. I’m getting side-tracked. What the title suggests is that creatives should not isolate themselves so much that they cease taking in new ideas and information. Thus put in new input and your output will benefit.
I hear it all the time. “Angela, you know everybody and everybody knows you. You’re everywhere, all the time! How do you find the time?” While it is true that I do go out for meet-and-greets, and schedule coffee meetings where we can have deeper chin wags, it is not true that’s all I do. I had a meeting yesterday with Carlos and Guillermo. Couple of young fellas who have plans and are also out there making it happen. I knew I was going to get along just fine with them when to open up our meeting one of them said while the other nodded, “We read your blog and said to ourselves oh, we have to meet her!” Anyone who is moved in a positive manner by anything I write is a-okay by me. So the conversation went very well. We three enjoyed ourselves. Then we got to talking Continue reading This is my Village
No matter what, bad timing can mess up anything. Whether it’s the beat of a song, the pacing of a story, walking with another, or coughing, bad timing can cause disastrous results…okay, sometimes the results can also be hilarious, as blooper reels can attest. Then there is the timing in relationships: You meet the right person, but it’s the wrong time. You aren’t ready for him, and he isn’t ready for you. That can be sad, at the time, but later you both know it would have turned out horribly if you had both given in and gone with your heart when the gut was right all along. But this post is also about publishing a book. Publishing a book is very, very easy. Hundreds of thousands do it every year in the U.S. The questions, though, are these: Is that book ready for publication? Is the author ready with Continue reading Timing is Everything
Okay. So I ragged on publishers and agents. And it’s all true what I said. But now I shall take their side. What is it they see coming at them? I’ll tell you: A river of substandard material, that’s what. And by substandard, I don’t mean publishers and agents say the writing is brilliant but they disagree with the content. No, no, no. Let me be clear about this. I mean the writing stinks. I should know. I’ve turned down editing gigs because authors gave no thought to the reader and what they sent me was so bad they could not afford for me to fix it. And I couldn’t fix it without rewriting it because that’s how badly thought was given to it. And I couldn’t rewrite it because I couldn’t figure out what it was about. Why are we all doing this? To sell a book. Who buys Continue reading Publishers and Agents aren’t Completely at Fault
“I’m so very busy. I get sent hundreds of manuscripts. You should see my desk and inbox. Crowded! Busy, busy, busy picking the next Grisham, Childs, Conroy…so don’t waste my valuable time.” That is the crux of the manuscript pitching world. It isn’t an easy job. It has its downside, too. Paper slicing fingers, paper dust chewing at their skin, ripping envelopes open, and the worst part: Reading. So, every single publisher and agent that wants to be in it, gets in the book The Writer’s Marketplace. Each tells those with words to sell, how to approach the throne, how to bow and scrape, and in what form asking permission to speak shall arrive in. Look. I’m all about systems. I get it. Systems save time…if you’re a manufacturer and can deal with the same parameters over and over again. But what has happened is that publishers are not making Continue reading Publishers and Agents
So you think you want to live the True Writing Life. You’re working hard on your craft. Of course, one must eat. Whether it’s books, stories, poems, or songs that are ruling your life, you want to figure out a way to monetize it, right? Well, the True Writing Life knows that to monetize ones words takes discipline. It is a dogged pursuit in the face of everyone telling you it will never happen. Oh, their reasons vary, but one oft-recurring reason is this: You can only succeed if you “do it by the book.” Want to know what “do it by the book” really means? It could mean two things. One is negative. One is positive. Let’s look at the positve first. Positive “doing it by the book” means this: 1. Learn your craft 2. Study the industry into which you want to sell 3. Identify marketing methodologies 4. Continue reading “Do it by the Book”
First piece of advice. Stop writing for pennies. Just STOP IT. If your writing has value, why are you giving it away? If you obviously do not value it, why should others? That being said, getting publishing credits is a good thing when your first starting out. But there comes a point where you must eat and pay the bills. Publishing credits are only good if they can then lead to a paying gig. Writing is a tough life. There are a lot of ways to make money doing it, but with so many people giving it away for free, it is even more difficult than ever. I stopped writing for free (and cheap) many years ago. If a writing gig cannot make me money, then I have to ask: What other benefit is it bringing to me? If I write for a publication and I get no money, will Continue reading Why are You Giving it Away?
The True Writing Life ain’t easy. If you get into it for the money, you’ll not be happy, that’s for sure. My passion is words. Has been since as far back as I remember. But it wasn’t until the last few years that I removed obstacles to allow that passion full rein. In practical terms, what does that mean? I’ll tell you. The True Writing Life means my bosses are the words, the sentences, the paragraphs, and chapters, and whole books…and now songs, too. When they are ready to come out, they must come. Their time rules. “Write me…now,” they say, “or else you’ll be sorry.” Yes, I’m punished with headaches and blues. The True Writing Life means you have bosses whose agendas come first. Characters tell me their stories and I must tell their stories, not as I want them to be, but as they are: True to that Continue reading The True Writing Life