AN INEXPENSIVE STAY-AT-HOME WRITING CONFERENCE & YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A LOCAL!

logoSaturday, July 18 is the 4 th annual Wilmington Writers Conference! The conference will be entirely virtual this year, and we will kick things off Friday, July 17 with an evening keynote and public Q&A from YA author and Delaware local, Erin Entrada Kelly.
You will have the opportunity to learn alongside professional writers, workshop with fellow participants, and network with a writing community! The 2020 theme, Untold Stories, stems from the Museum’s ongoing effort to make space for the stories that are traditionally left out of the art-historical canon—those of women and artists of color. Many of our session presenters, as well as the keynote address, will weave in fibers of this theme throughout their discussions. Come alongside your fellow writers as all look within our lives to find the stories often left untold and make space within ourselves to listen. $15 Members,  $ 20 Non-Members, $10 Students.
Visit the Conference page to see the full day schedule and session abstracts and leader bios.

BUNNY LADY

bunny_lady

One of my favorite things is “amateur” art. This is one of my favorite things I own. And I briefly knew the artist when I lived in Los Angeles.

I call this Bunny Lady, and I look at her every day.

Isn’t she great?

PARENTS HAVE TO KEEP TRYING

This is my daughter:

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Last year, after 5 years at a public school where she was bullied for her race and seldom had her 504 followed, we made the financially difficult decision to put her in a private school.

This year has been wonderful. Her grades have improved exponentially, and her love of school returned.

Next year she has no school to go to.

Attendance at the private school required we buy a second car (we’ve always been a one-car family) and pay tuition, so those two payments added together equalled a second mortgage payment a month. And, yeah, it was difficult. Many times many bills went unpaid, but we finally made it and got everything caught up.

Meanwhile the private school quietly went out of business. And it knew it was going out of business when we signed up, and it never told us. We were lied to.

And when it was out in the open that it was going out of business we were told by the principal that we were going to get in. And we didn’t. We were lied to again.

And when the Christmas/winter break came the principal told my daughter that she was going to put her in chair of animal care for the next year, and when I asked if that meant my daughter was getting in, the principal said yes. We were lied to, and my daughter was lied to, again.

The state bought the building and turned it into a charter elementary school with exactly the continuation of the small school sizes my daughter needs, and the exact same faculty and staff, in other words, the state took over the school without calling it that.

AND, they only let kids in through a random lottery, and my daughter was not chosen.

IN FACT only one child currently in 4th grade at the private school was chosen, and his father was head of the board of the private school, and his father arranged the sale of the building to the public school, and his father also was second in command at Dogfish Head Brewery for a large part of its existence, so his father is a local and statewide big mahoff. AND ISN’T IT NICE AND LUCKY that of ALL the kids in the private school’s 4th grade class the ONLY kid who got “randomly chosen” was the son of the local big mahoff who sold the building to the state? Isn’t that special and fair?

Well, of course, it is neither.

And isn’t it interesting that my state, the State of Delaware, to which I pay taxes to run this very school we are not allowed into and to which I also pay taxes to run the horrible school where my daughter was bullied and not educated, isn’t it interesting that the state has NO control over this situation, and isn’t it interesting that though the state has expressed to me that they feel I ought to be able to have my daughter go to that school, they cannot get her admitted there because, though it is a state school, they have no control over it?

It is interesting.

One question I have is this:

WHAT ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS FOR IF THEY ARE NOT TO PROVIDE A REFUGE TO CHILDREN RUNNING AWAY FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

In the state of Delaware, under our Democratic governor, charter schools appear to exist solely to educate the white and wealthy who want to escape the brown and low-income.

To be fair, I am not low-income. I am middle-income. I am also white, but my daughter is Chinese and that is not easy to be in Sussex County, Delaware.

You know, I wouldn’t hurt a fly. In fact, I am actually known to trap the most terrifying bugs in Tupperware and release them to the outdoors.

And I feel a rage within me that my daughter is getting screwed by public school yet again, and I am powerless, absolutely powerless to help.

And so, all day long, on this, our second rejection by the school (one poor sap at the state level had been trying to help me,  but he is also as impotent as me), I am calling and emailing and wracking my brain to try to figure out how to change this situation from what it currently is.

And what is the current situation?

We can send our daughter back to the shoddy teaching and bullying she experienced at her old public school, or we can homeschool.

In the meantime, though it eats at me and keeps me up at night and ruins my self-esteem and makes me want to weep, I am continuing to call and email every person I can think of, none of whom can help or care. Because that is what parents do. It is one of our suckier jobs. Parents look at the faces of their children, and they have to keep trying.

And I guess I suck, because I am small and powerless, though I have worked my ass off my whole life educating other people’s children. I should have run a stupid brewery, then people would think I am a great person, simply because I make beer.

HOPE

hope

Hope, and when I think of the word, I cannot help but think of Emily Dickinson’s poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers 

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

 

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

 

That’s a little ditty if ever there was one. Had Emily been alive today she’d have been a songwriter, and maybe she was the Tori Amos of her time, or would have been, had there been enough publicity.

Hope.

And I hope you will forgive me, but, as there are HOPE signs popping up all over my little town, I am going to say something you probably won’t like me saying.

I don’t like the word hope; I don’t like its meaning or the sentiment it conveys.

Oh my goodness, how could you pick on the word hope at a time like this?

Hey, it’s not my fault. (And I hope you won’t think it is.) I cannot walk my dog without a dozen or so of these adorable HOPE signs in constant view, all over my very neat and manicured housing development that I am very lucky to be safely ensconced in during a pandemic, and I know it, that I am lucky, and the signs are there, so cute, a little heart at the end of the word masquerading as a period as if all we need is HOPE and period; so innocent. HOPE they insist. Blech.

BLECH! Hope.

Hope is, to me at least, and I would argue one could say Merriam Webster agrees, a word about powerlessness, and that is why I don’t like it. “I hope this will happen” usually means, in my experience, “I have no reason to think this will happen, but, gee, wouldn’t it be great if it did?” Gosh, I hope so.

Blech.

Hope is a bandaid for when life allows you no agency. Here is a situation, be it as bad as a pandemic or the current president or as every day as my arthritis, that I can do nothing about. So, well, I hope it will get better, will change, will hurt less.

Arrrrgh!

Action Action we want Action!

A-C-T

I-O-N!

Sorry, all out of action today. How about some Hope?

Would you just sit still and hope already?

Every little breeze seems to whisper hope-ie….

I know; I know; you think I’m just a terrible person.

I guess, rather than a little hope, I’d prefer a job to do, some action to take; maybe it’s my puritan work-ethic heritage, maybe it’s my life-long association with a bunch of magical thinkers, maybe it’s my atheism or general irreverence for life; maybe it’s what my mother says, that I am too smart for my own good, who knows?

I hope you don’t think I know.

I only know I get tired of being told to hope.

 

 

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO HAVE A WONDERFUL EVENING

ambard-crandell-delscene

How the hell are you?

Puta, you’re coming to hell, with me!

What am I talking about?

Two stories, one serious, one funny, one night only, and in your living room! Ambard and Crandell will magically appear in your house, read to you, and hang around after for a Q&A session where you can ask that burning question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Be there, and be entertained!

AFTER you reserve a FREE ticket, you will receive a ZOOM link in an email about 15 minutes prior to showtime!

STORM IN A TEACUP

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I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, if you are a writer, that is, but you need a social media (SM) presence.

Yes, yes, years ago people went to bookstores and bought books because they had nothing to read, and there was a clerk who knew the books and could recommend the books, and there were a (relatively) small number of books that came out each year, and so choices were limited.

It ain’t like that no more.

Have you any grasp on how many people self-publish each year?

And yet most readers still choose established writers. And I’ll be frank with you, I want to read Tom Robbins, Douglas Adams, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Kinky Friedman, Walter Mosley, Rex Stout, and not much else. And, you’ll notice, most of them are dead. So, how am I going to find someone else to read?

Well, one good way is for writers to tell me about themselves, and help me find their books.

And that is what you should be doing.

You should be telling people about yourself. You should be posting little snippets of who you are, what you write, and why you write.

And it can be a PITA. (pain in the…)

For example… I recently posted to my SM accounts and various SM groups that Devil’s Part Press (DPP), my company, was looking for submissions. WELL, the judgement was swift and fierce! How dare DPP ask for submissions from older people?! How dare we make payments to authors in the forms of author copies and royalties! (which, by the way, is all I have ever heard of. Is someone out there paying in vacation houses, or bottles of Cristal? If so, I, too, want to be published by them!) And on it went… the vitriol, people making assumptions about everything from my morals to my hair, and none of them kind assumptions. WTH is wrong with people? Quite a lot probably. But….

Here is what you do when that happens to you.

  1. Ignore them. Any fire goes out without wood. Do not supply wood. Don’t feed the bears. Don’t try (even once) to explain, to reason, to be nice, or kind, or informative. ANY of those things feeds a hungry (and during this pandemic) very lonely and bored bear who is being super non-productive as a writer by trolling FB anyway.  FB, and other SM sites, are good places to get information out, but not good places to make friends or win people over to your cause. No. Those people don’t know you, and some of them hate you because they are looking for someone to hate, or because you are being successful and they are not, or because you showered this week, and they can’t bring themselves to do so. Maybe they’re nice folks when they’re not on SM. It doesn’t matter. It’s not your job. Do not respond.
  2. IF it gets truly awful, delete your post. BUT, this is news about you, and you don’t want to do that because a (often silent) majority will be interested in your post. You have to be strong. Sometimes you can turn off comments (how the sweaty, mucous coated little trollies hate that!), and that can really help, but if you can’t, just remember, any fire without fuel goes out. IGNORE if at all possible. Stay away for a few days, turn off notifications. In general, do not hang-about on SM. Get in, do what you need to do, and get out before you catch something, just like you do in a public toilet. While you are in there, be polite, non-political, and neat. USE social media; do not let it use you.
  3. Start a list. Make a list of anyone who is truly awful to you. If you hit it big, that person will want to be friends. You need to remember the assholes so you can ban them.
  4. Remember this phrase…. storm in a teacup. It ain’t you; it’s them, and it’s such a small world (any given SM platform) that it can’t stay keyed up for too long. Breathe deep and move on to an actual cup of tea.

So, YES, if you want to sell a book, you need a social media presence. You need a lot of buzz and posts, and YOU need to create them. Your publisher (which may be me) can help, but it is YOU who will ultimately make someone WANT to buy your book. And I think, from the vitriol hurled at me from time-to-time on FB where wanna-be-writers tell me how, as a publisher, I am stealing from them, and I have all this money, and I should just force people to buy their books (which they haven’t even written yet), that many many writers think that somehow publishers are magically able to force people to buy books. That ain’t how it works. That’s not how E.L. James did it. She was posting bits and pieces of her writing for ages; she made herself something that readers needed. Of course her book had sex in it, and they say sex sells, but had she not put herself out there, over and over, no one would have known about the sex! And, for me, mystery sells, and quirky sells, and an interesting human behind the writing sells. And if you’re just hiding in your attic, and your work is too, how is anyone going to get the taste for you? Ultimately, a publisher chooses you, based 100% on things like their personal likes and dislikes and if they think you’re marketable, and then you have to sell you, not them. They are putting your book into print, and they can help you, but they cannot create you, the author, the curated persona who makes me want to read about a sad love affair that ends badly (a type of book I would normally avoid!).

If you’re not sure how to start remember that we’re all amateurs at this, and do the best you can. Make 1-2 hours/week for your post time. Schedule posts in advance. Use this lovely little tool I am using (WordPress) which is anywhere from nicely inexpensive to free, to post a blog, and WordPress will repost in a heck of a lot of places for you, and you can schedule MONTHS in advance.

And if you need help getting more followers, here are some helpful links from vetted sources:

Impact

SproutSocial

FastCompany

Inc.

Go forth and schedule a post! And I shall do the same!

Hurrah!

 

 

 

SEEKING SUBMISSIONS

shelfHello All~

My company, Devil’s Party Press, is looking for submissions for the 2021-2022 publishing year, and beyond. Currently we are interested in three genres of full-length novels (which, by definition, are fiction), horror, crime, and sci fi. Head on over to our submission page for more information, and happy writing!

STANGL & THE MYSTERY BOWL

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I have, by choice, a lot of mis-matched dishes. I found recently that I kept picking up pottery by Stangl, the maker of the two bowls pictured here.

I adore dishes, and I wish I was a potter (high on the list of dream jobs).

One of my favorite pieces is this slightly cracked bowl.

Does anyone know who made this?

mystery2

There is no maker’s mark on the bottom:

mystery1

But I love the color and the pattern. Anyone know?