I try to post aquarium photos every day on my Facebook feed, as well as on Twitter, and starting this year, I’m going to try to share them at least weekly on the blog as well. When I first started blogging, I shied away from posting photographs of my seahorses or the other inhabitants of my reef. I doubted anyone cared very much about fish, and I didn’t want to become the kind of blogger whose entries focused on cute pet photos and gushing about the personal topics no one wants to hear. Ironically, the reef inspires the opposite reaction. To my surprise,Read more
Month: January 2015
How much do you know about saké?
Many people drink saké with sushi or when eating in Japanese restaurants, but not many people know very much about the interesting history of this uniquely Japanese beverage. Saké is a brewed alcoholic beverage, produced in a fashion similar to beer, except that where beer begins with a mash of wheat and barley, the base grain used in sake production is rice. Good sake is produced from a special type of rice (called—shockingly–sake rice), which contains less protein and more starch than typical table rice. After polishing, the rice is rested (air dried), soaked in water, and steamed. A special mold (Aspergillus oryzae) is addedRead more
Knowing When to Run
Today’s post takes a cue from The Gambler ((I’m a child of the ’70s, what can I say) and points out that in publishing, as in cards, you need to know when to walk away…and know when to run. As the publishing landscape changes and the number of small publishers expands, it’s important for authors to learn about standard contract terms–and common pitfalls. Many times, authors become so excited about receiving a publishing contract–the sought-after deal–that they forget to use business sense before signing. While it’s not always possible for an inexperienced author to spot all the problems in a contract,Read more
RODIN’S LOVER: A Novel of Camille Claudel
When I visit museums, I seek out the works of sculptors and painters I enjoy. Rodin has always been a favorite of mine, though I admittedly knew little about the artist or his life. When my friend Heather Webb announced that she was writing a historical novel about Rodin’s lover, Camille Claudel, I didn’t want to admit that I had never heard Camille’s name. When I saw the lovely sculptures Camille produced – works which rival (and in some cases, surpass) those created by Rodin and the other male masters of their age — it made me wonder how this talented woman fell so far intoRead more
Monday Blog Game: Writing as Craft
When I first started writing, I didn’t realize that writing was a craft. At first, I thought writing meant just “telling stories.” My first completed manuscript attempted to tell a story – the fictional “history” of Borte Ujin, first wife of Genghis Khan. The agents who read the manuscript offered nearly identical feedback: great idea, solid pacing, interesting voice – but the characters seemed flat and uninspired, and the dialogue needed more action. I wrote another book, adding dialogue tags and descriptive adverbs–oh, so many adverbs. (I shudder to think about it, even now.) Once again, I was told my characters seemed two-dimensional,Read more
Defining “Out of Print” in Publishing Contracts
“Out of print” status is important to authors (and publishers), because in most contracts out of print status triggers reversion of rights. Beware publishing contracts which don’t include a reversion of rights (or the right to revert on written notice) if the work goes out of print. Also, beware publishing contracts which tie “out of print” status to anything but royalty-bearing sales of the work. Historically, Standard Contracts Tied “Out of Print” Status to Availability–But No Longer. Before ebooks, most publishing contracts tied out of print status to a novel’s “availability.” The book remained in print as long as it was “available”Read more
Feeding Time on the Reef
I purchase my baby seahorses “captive bred,” from a breeder in Florida called Seahorse Source (aside: if you’re in the market for seahorses, Seahorse Source has high-quality, healthy stock, and I recommend them highly). My large male, Ghillie, has three feeding stations he utilizes. I built them from clam shells, which have about the right size and depth to fill with the mysis Ghillie eats. Seahorses are smart, and learn quickly. Fortunately, they also learn by watching other seahorses. I hoped I could get Ghillie’s help in teaching the babies to eat from a feeding bowl, and fortunately I work from home, so I could trainRead more
Monday Blog Game: Show Me Your Desk!
January 12 is official “Clean Off Your Desk Day,” and since that task is impossible for many writers (present company included), the Monday Blog Game* version of the observance is SHOW ME YOUR DESK–or tell me about it, if photos aren’t an option. Here’s my offering: I practice law and write from my home-office, which has a window overlooking a rose garden (and a couple of bird feeders) at the front of the house. My reef aquarium sits to my right, and two of the walls have bookcases. On any given day, at any given moment, the desk holds a Macbook Pro, aRead more
What’s in a (Pen) Name?
Today’s post picks up where our Christmas Eve series left off: with a discussion of pen names, and when it makes sense to use them. The Christmas Eve post discussed the legal ramifications of pen names. Today, we’re focusing on the business-related issues. Why would an author want to use a pen name? Let’s look at some of the most common reasons, and the business arguments for (and against) a pseudonym: 1. Avoiding “Day Job Conflict.” Many authors have day jobs other than writing. In some cases, the author would rather not deal with conflict or overlap between the “day job” and theRead more
Baby Seahorses on the Reef
Those who follow my Facebook Page already know, but in mid-December I bought some new baby seahorses to join my bachelor male, Ghillie, on the reef. The babies arrived two weeks before Christmas. One had a little trouble with the end of his tail (he couldn’t use it properly) After 14 days in the hospital, the two strongest babies were ready to enter the reef… The babies met Ghillie a few hours later–he was afraid of them at first, but quickly realized they didn’t mean him any harm. He even showed them how to use a feeding bowl: The otherRead more