Monthly Archives: December 2010

Using the Internet Effectively: Simon’s Cat

I just discovered animator Simon Tofield’s short films online, and I think he does a great job of using the internet effectively to reach viewers.  Take a look at the Simon’s Cat website, which I’d like to point out:

1) Makes it easy for viewers to watch his all films and purchase his books.

2) Makes it easy for visitors to quickly find whatever they are looking for.

3) He does not waste his time blogging since that is not an interest of his.

4) The whole website does a great job of showing his sense of humor.

If you’re planning on doing YouTube broadcasts, also check out the Simon’s Cat YouTube Channel. A nice clean design that is easy to navigate, with obvious links to his website and Facebook page.

As a cat owner, I also recommend these sites simply because his short films about his cat are hilarious.

When Reading Stories and Going to Bookstores Turns into Work

I think what I’m about to blog about happens to any writer if he or she stays the course long enough towards publication.  There comes a day when one discovers that reading books and going to bookstores has changed from being a fun way to relax to feeling like work.

It isn’t that the books have changed or bookstores.  It’s that one’s experiences and mindset have changed.  Before I started writing for publication and reading the writing trade magazines, I could go into a bookstore and simply lose myself.  Now I notice the store’s layout, the traffic in the store, and find myself thinking about the latest business news about independent bookstores, about whether Borders is going to go belly up in 2011, about pricing, about cover layout, about blurbs, on and on.

To no one’s surprise but my own, I recently realized that I visit bookstores a lot less than I used to.  It’d become a “job.”  So I had to make a conscious effort to change my mindset to enjoy going again.

What helped was realizing I needed to ditch the idea that I ought to do business research every single time I set foot in a bookstore.  I needed to give myself permission to have occasions that I would go in just to have fun instead.

Shutting off the business side of the brain sounds easy, but is a lot harder to do in practice.  I found that it helped if I had my 9-year-old along with me when I went into the bookstore; it was easier to remember I was there to relax, not do market research.

The bookstore mindset problem also ties into another problem: if one isn’t careful, one can lose the ability to read for fun.    There’s the danger of the marketing and editor voices in one’s head becoming too dominant, to the point one finds it’s difficult to shut them off.

I must say that losing the ability to read for fun due to the “critical voice” in one’s head is a serious pain.  It’s no fun to be always feeling like grabbing a red pen to do editing when reading someone’s story, and makes it so that one doesn’t feel like reading anything.  Reading had become work.

What shook me out of that reading slump was switching to genres I never write stories in.  So instead of trying to read fantasy and science fiction stories like I “ought” to, I switched to reading mysteries instead.  And found the joy of reading again–Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, John le Carre, John D. MacDonald, etc.

It was such a relief to shed that critical voice that was tearing apart every single book or short story I tried to read.  And lately I’m finding I can add a little science fiction or fantasy to the reading mix without the critical voice immediately shredding it to bits.


Website Additon of “Help With Writer’s Block” page

I’ve created a website page that has links to the posts that are most focused on dealing with writer’s block and other creative blocks. Over time I’ll add to it, and add links so it can work as a resource page. I want to do this as a way to start “paying it forward” for all the help I’ve received from other artists.

Scrivener’s Error: Blog on Publishing Law

I’ve discovered an amusing website for keeping up with publishing law news.  Lawyer C. E. Petit has a site called Scrivener’s Error where he blogs about many things related to publishing gossip, especially anything involving publishing law.  Well worth reading.

Also, be sure not to miss Petit’s rants about the terrible contract terms being offered to want-to-be-published newbie writers by James Frey’s book packager Full Fathom Five, especially his post on this from November 13th called “The Million-and-First Little Lie.”