Fahren Lernen – Driving in a foreign nation

Fear is not always useless or meaningless.  For some reason I have had fear about driving in a foreign nation.  I do believe that I can, but have not just jumped into a car and gone ahead.  Well, here in Germany, I do want to drive so I have started working on learning how.  So far, I have not been a passenger here much, so I have had fewer opportunities for passive learning.

Little by little I am learning.  Part of this included some driving lessons and a book but now I have a wonderful computer disc system.  One of the many things I am discovering is how the German mentality is different from the American mind set.  Americans tend to expect just one answer to a multiple choice question and to force prioritization even when it is unnatural to do so.  Germans, on the other hand, want you include all relevant information even if that means selecting every option amongst multiple choice answers.  If you get 2 out of 3 they just call you wrong and that’s that.

Another discovery is the source of the anxiety about just jumping into a car and driving in this country.  My experience is not useless, there are many times when it yields correct answers, but then, all of a sudden there is a sign that I am not sure about.  The thought of coming across something like that at 70 mph or just 30 mph but in heavy traffic or rain is understandably terrifying.  OH JUST GUESS!!!

 

Blogging

Blogging has become famous.  Like so much in life, the results of people’s blogging varies a great deal.  In the best of cases, people end up rich and happy because their blogs ‘go pro’ and advertisers and fan-readers come together.   The other best cases are amateurs for whom blogging does precisely what they had hoped it would do:  keep in touch with a base of friends or relatives or even online fans and nothing else.

Most likely, the majority find their own experience with blogging to be a bit different than either the ideals or the worst case scenarios.  In this case, blogging is intended to help find readers for my professional writing, to be friendly, and to give people a way to get to know me, whether they live around here or not.

As you will all notice: some days are more professional; other days more personal.

Bonding with other writers is nice, but in reality we need publishers and readers more than anything else.

 

Angie’s Diary & Social Media

Writers need readers.  Publishers are often the main interface between the two.  One of the many wonderful online publishers is Angie’s Diary.  Angie’s was founded by a woman who lives in the Netherlands.  While focused on serving women, Angie’s is also open to men.

For professional writers, giving work away and getting paid is part and parcel of the challenge.  Most folks appreciate sharing and the odd freebie.  Most adults are painfully away of the realities of exploitation and slave labor.  Professional writers seek to strike a balance so that they do share but make sure they don’t end up penniless due to having their generosity abused by consumers.

Thanks to these factors, readers can buy materials but can also find things for free.  Kids, housewives, students etc.. are liable to be grateful for the free giveaways.  For workers, the odd free gift is apt to be quite a relief but is not needed the way it is for some.

Social media is another way that services are given, while also sold.  Systems such as this blog, as well as things like Facebook and YouTube and Google all involve money and revenue.  Much like with radio – while everyone loves the free music, the truth is that advertising pays for it and sales of the music are what makes it worth it to artists to go ahead and give it away so much.

Settings

An Adventure in Indianapolis is set in the city of Indianapolis.  One of the big questions for writers is – do you need to live there, or to visit, or is research enough?  Is your imagination enough to do what is needed, so you can create a great story?  Well, in truth, as a writer, I believe that this depends.  In the case of this novel I went with what was easiest: I set the novel in the city I had been living in for the 6 years prior to writing it.  I don’t live there now, and it really does make a difference.

What is Trillium, which is for kids or for an intergenerational audience, takes place in a residential neighborhood.  Here, the setting is actually also the USA – because that’s really where I lived when I wrote it, or else I wrote it living in Germany but not even used to Germany enough to feel relaxed about setting a story in it.

In truth, for SF and F, it doesn’t matter.  For historical fiction, I think that research is enough.  I think that if needed, it would be OK to rely on research but it is easier and more natural to use a location where one has spent some time for the setting of a story.

 

 

YouTube – book promotions and sharing oneself

YouTube is one of the latest greatest means for the general population to have more interactive opportunities using televisual media.  Way back in high school, there was a class called TVP – television production.  Guess what?  I never took that one.

YouTube was created by people younger than myself, by about 10 years.  Like millions of others I am grateful to them and to the invisible people who’s capital investment allowed YouTube to become so powerful.

YouTube is one of those creations which to me has appeal for business and for pleasure.  Given that, here are the links to a book promotional video and then one which is “all just me being myself”.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4u0AE7Rt30  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md2zj-UMVYo

Kids as Readers – and how Uranian Fiction helps them

Maybe you are a kid who likes a good story.  Maybe you’re an adult who knows some kids who like good stories.  Readers really ‘make or break’ writers.  Sure, the writer needs to be talented and skillful, but without readers – let’s just say its worse than ‘the sound of one hand clapping’ or ‘a tree falling in a forest with no one around to hear it’.

Uranian Fiction is made for both adults and for children.  There are adult novels which should really be ‘off limits’, but to make it fair, there are stories mainly for kids.  Right now Uranian Fiction only has juvenile fiction for ‘medium aged kids’.

Right now, there are 3 short fiction stories for the under 18 crowd:  Sharbenau the Squirrel, is about an animal who discovers mysterious powers.  Jimmy Bodeilo Travels Through Time, is about a kid who travels in time once he gets his homework done.  What is Trillium? is a story about an intergenerational friendship.  One of a boy’s neighbors has discovered a new element and shares his scientific breakthrough with a kid who lives on the block.

To find these stories, just search UranianFiction.com

Uranian Fiction – what is it?

This catchy name is a generational marker amongst the currently middle aged people.  Radioactivity was all the rage and then it turned into the nuclear arms race and nuclear power plant.  Well, we worried sometimes but we survived after all and are glad.

There are also LBGT people using Uranus as somehow a code…maybe because of your anus.

Mainly, over half my lifetime ago, some high school colleagues voted me in as “Most Unique Girl”.  Well, I was delighted.  As I have said: there is good weird and there is bad weird.  Its OK to be good weird.

That’s precisely what Uranian Fiction is: distinctive, unusual, long fiction and short.  Check it out!

Professionalism & “Personalism” for writers

Mmm, well, yes of course, if you really want to make money at it, try behaving professionally.

If you are like me, then you have had enough corporate and other work experience to realize that this may be a legitimate criticsm.  You and I have also both seen Ozzy on stage, or seen an author at a book signing acting like “a person” or have loved it when someone who seemed aloof was actually “personal” with us, even briefly, especially if you’re a girl or woman, but in truth even men like that.

Uranian Fiction, writing contracts and much of my art is intended to be done professionally enough to sell well.  At the same time, half the reason I have even tried to do this is due to how much I have hated trying to make myself fit into work environments where I am so much not really like that, that it doesn’t work and is not a good idea.

Marketing:  sometimes I write short stories from inspiration but because I also like to be a responsible adult and also like the ego validation of people bothering to buy from me, I usually also try to sell those rather than only giving it away so other adults can continue to condescend to me because I suck because I don’t earn way more money.   Fortunately, not all of the other adults treat me that way but we both know that’s going on.  Meanwhile, I have intentionally been realistic and made efforts to be more flexible.  As such, I have written many pieces on contract, because someone told me they would pay me to and it meant that I had a chance of getting paid to do work I actually like or can stand rather than work that I hate or nothing – thank you very much [sarcasm and ego pain free of charge].  In truth, there have been many projects that I did because of accepting that I would write something other than pure art if they would pay for my help but I would still strongly prefer to not have my soul stolen or beaten out of me because I keep trying to “live the dream”.

Meanwhile, I continue, like the rest of you, to learn from this.  I read a wonderful article somewhere else for writers and it referred to 4 phases of development for writers.  Included are personal development issues.  The fact is that there are times when having colleagues or helpers who have different strengths would be as useful as improving in a weak area of one’s own, but on one’s own – what can one do?  Like the rest of the professional writers and authors out there with whom I have connected, I have my strengths and weaknesses and just out here both doing it and trying to do it better so that it will work as a real job – but here I mean by “job – work I actually like so much that I don’t mind doing it, and it supports me.”

Today it is a little bit about the lefties

http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/teacher-training-left-handed-children.html  is the address for a wonderful club connected with a specialty shop where people can buy left handed equipment of various kinds.

Today, there is a discussion of small actions teachers can take to help little lefties grow up well adjusted.  In my own case I mostly got lucky, no one attacked me for it and one of my first day care baby sitters was a grown woman who was a lefty.  My parents were quite kind about it.  My stepmother and first mother-in-law are also both left handed.  So is Mike Williamson the novelist as well our current President.

Providing a decent pair of left handed scissors and not crowding the left side of the lefty helps a lot.  I was quite pleased with my son’s schools in Indianapolis and with my graduate school experience at Middlesex U because the desks are genuinely equally functional for the right or left handed.  As a child I had years of back pain worsened by using a right handed desk left handed.  It was a no win situation.  I began to learn to right with my right hand at age 24 or 25.  Mostly I use a keyboard because it is less biased.

Personally, I have a public policy idea.  I believe that retailers should all begin carrying left handed goods along with right handed ones.  Most of the time the problem they have had is that their left handed customers do not show up and buy from them.  I have a plan to remove this problem.  There should be an official date, covering the entire nation – just as we have voting day etc. and holidays, and carbon emissions control deadlines: after which, shops that carry products that are handedness relevant also carry left handed goods.  That way, shoppers will know to buy from regular retailers and retailers will stop being stuck with that set of golf clubs they bought for a left handed customer who never showed up.

Writers: Who earns money & who doesn’t

Like most of the writers, I benefited from some experience and exposure to each other but it might not have been the way one might think.

The very first time I wrote a novel, I was doing so while hanging out at home with my boyfriend not spending money and letting him be.  OK, in truth, I ended up living elsewhere when I wrote part of it, but once I knew I could do it, of course I wanted to earn money with it.

Like the rest of the writers I was aware that there is a  lot of money in writing professionally.  I also knew that writers, especially novelists, had to deal with some of the same issues that bands and theatre people deal with.  “That’s nice dear, but how are you going to make money?”  because it is true that even though there is tons of money in the field, that money is not evenly distributed.

So, I continued my undergraduate work and when I took time off from that I worked full time.  The idea of doing that was that I would be better able to earn myself a middle class income.  Why I write it that way was because I was already confident that I could support myself as a poor woman through working without needing to attend university.  Now, I concede to those who have not earned university degrees that in reality it is possible that I could have earned a middle class living even without attending university.  It is also true that since my parents were educated and I was proud to be the 4th or 5th generation of college educated women on my mother’s side that it was expected and I felt I should uphold the tradition.  OK.  There is more, but I do not want to get totally off track by delving too deeply into the history of my relatives when this is about earning money as a writer.

I was advised to continue to train for a “day job” so I did.  I was actually interested in many other things that had job potential but due to seemed like an obvious preference and strength, I ended up scrapping 2 or 3 other plans in the making to work in the sciences and headed on the path to make it so I could be a university professor – even though “so was my father” – although in truth, by then he had retired.  He retired early, but that’s not the point.

I was a bit further than halfway through the higher education needed for full professorship when I became a mother.  I had not earned any money writing yet.  I somehow started a writing program and the first thing they asked me to do was something I had neither intended nor planned on: write things other than novels and grad school essays.  Well, I did, but for some reason a lot of it was love poetry for this German guy I was sharing my room with who I had a baby with.  I had not expected to transform into the girl who writes love poetry for her boyfriend but that’s one of things that happened.

There still wasn’t money for me writing, and I was a poor graduate student and then new mother living off her husband-type-entity’s meager graduate school income.

The problem with this track in this blog post is that it isn’t getting at how I get to making good money using my writing and having a good day job when I’m dealing with being a poor grad student in a foreign country who thinks its OK for mothers of young children to be dependent upon their spouses – when that is an option, and still have careers: even though they spent more than a week breast feeding.  Mmkay, harsh but true.  The 4 months of maternity leave that I read last week Hillary Rodham Clinton received when she gave birth to Chelsea did not seem that generous to me.  I respect women’s rights to handle this according to the dictates of their reality.  I am glad Hillary did not dedicate her entire adult life to changing nappies as she makes a D! good Secretary of State, politician and lawyer but I also disparage the men and women who act like taking care of little kids is an activity for low lifes or people who are losers.  It is very important work and can be extremely rewarding and you don’t need to be stupid or ignorant to find it worthwhile.  Ahem.

I ran into some trouble in graduate school.  Some of it was “the politics of women” type of trouble; institutionalized prejudice against women.  Some of it was just that Heidegger doesn’t appeal to me at all even though Hegel does and as an American I was a bit further adrift by dealing with continental European philosophers than I really realized until it was too late.  I had like one week’s experience with the European continent.  I was in England.  Also, I was told in England that to teach, really only the Master’s would be needed.  Meanwhile the baby was 2 or 3 and I had mostly looked suspiciously at the professional writer’s advice mail order course material and now and then wrote a story or something.  Normally, during those years I also suffered attacks of guilt about not having a good full time job at the time, which made it harder to enjoy being a poor but pretty happy considering graduate student mother.

Fast forward another few years, through a marriage suffering – it went to Hell and got most of the way back but then fumbled at purgatory or the 5 yard line or something.

Also, what happened with work was really weird because I suddenly just grabbed jobs that started me out at ‘working poor’ wages despite the education and once I worked I felt so busy that I didn’t even spend energy looking for the type of teaching position or doctoral work I needed.  FYI:  Also too late, I learned that I could have just done a D.Phil in England and left out the master’s section of the work altogether.  If only I had known that in time.  So, I just ended up with jobs anyways: here and there I got paid a little better or was allowed to try management thanks to having done so much HE….but none of it was being paid to write and I really noticed that.

Now and then a little something would happen with the writing but not much.  Well, then I did get published again, but there was no pay so it made me feel like a kid who got a decent grade on a test or who made varsity or JV that year: you know – an achievement that really doesn’t pay.

It wasn’t until 2000 that I managed to get paid for something I written for the purpose of it being a consumer good and I had to retail stories to women at church to even get that.

Then in 2003 I had more of a breakthrough on that.  In 2004 I lost massive amounts of support from a parenting, husbandy type of deal: that’s not exactly what it was but it was a lot like that.  However, that isn’t the point of this blog post at all, but I would be lying through my teeth if I tried to pretend that my supportive personal relationships, including with lovver/husband type entities had nothing to do with it. I got an online contract in 2003.

Fast forward some more.  In 2005 I finally earned the Certificate from the writing school I mentioned looking at suspiciously back in the 1990s when the baby was a baby.  I did it through an online contract, which is not how they teach as the way to do it.  The way they teach really works.  I had done some of the homework but it was almost like a double life in that: in HE I had a reputation for being a very diligent excellent student but with the Writer’s Bureau most of the time I wouldn’t even do my homework and acted like the instructions were sent as a means of subterfuge more than any real help.   I attribute a lot of that to a combination of “left hander paranoia” and “adult child of divorce weird issues”.

By 2010 I had finally written a 2nd novel and was still in what I perceived as a rather bizarre situation.  Now, I had finally humped the first $10,000 professional earnings mark and had crossed the “I’m a literary poet; of course I don’t make money at it!!” sentinel and made it past the “as long as it pays I don’t care whether its good or not” 3 headed hell hound into getting contracts and knowing that my own personal shortcomings were holding me back even as my strengths were managing to carry me forward.

Then I moved to Germany and I got so sick of hearing more experienced professional writers not encourage me on Facebook by laughing and saying, “Well, its so competitive you know there’s no money in it.”  which is almost exactly what the people in the universities told me when I told them I was looking to make money teaching philosophy.

I got so fed up with that that I did Internet research about how many professional writers there are and what is going on with them earning money or not or a little or a lot or what.

Here’s the deal with American writers in the USA.  There are 100,000 positions for professional writers in the American market.  50% of these are salaried in house writers; the vast majority of these we know and love as THE JOURNALISTS.  They make up about 30% of the professional writers in the nation.  The other 20% are grant writers, advertising PR people and other forms of corporate communications people and publishing house editorial staff.  The other 50% contains everything from the rich serial novelist who’s books are made into movies, to the numerous midlist authors who do have day jobs and/or spouses who provide for them, and a wide spectrum of people who are workers or students or parents or whatever and manage to get paid now and then from something they wrote.

That’s more like the reality we are dealing with. Personally, I tend to feel a little screwed up now because I don’t have either a husband or a good day job, and instead of having both of those and writing only novels and good novels, I have ghostwritten books and tried to survive on other forms of “subsidies” along with having managed to get paid to write stuff I never would have imagined having written.  Meanwhile, the baby has made it to age 16.

Neil Gaiman is amongst the more advanced professionals – I think of him as a senior colleauge like many of the other women and men who are FB friends or met me in person or something like that, who has pointed out that writers do learn but what our experiences as writers and authors teaches us are sometimes undesired lessons or complicated and bizarre methods of instruction often not readily apparent to the level of consciousness we might normally consider to be “mind”.