Archive for December 2010

Happy New Year! And I'm not being sarcastic.

So I got this new laptop. I'm typing this post on it. I haven't downloaded all my helper programs, like Live Writer and Digsby and some non-IE browser, but I'll get to it eventually. The placement of the mousepad is a little too far left, but the trade-off is that I get a full ten-key pad, so that's nice. I feel a little guilty having a brand new laptop, but I decided some months ago to treat myself better, especially in the writing area and I'm trying to build on the work I did in 2010.

Doesn't that already sound like a bygone age, 2010? "Turning 40 is SO twenty-ten." Or something like that. I've been anticipating 2011 for almost all of 2010, and I'm not sure why. 2010 seems like a static number, too square to roll, a closed circle. 2011 is quirky, friendly, innovative. Like 2010 had secrets and 2011 is just dying to tell them to me. I'm sure there's some numerology to support my feeling, but I don't know what it is. That's just how I see it.

This laptop, see, it's about half the weight of my old one--which was eight freakin' pounds, no lie--and it fits in my old laptop bag, so I can go other places to write more easily. I have my desk bought specially for writing last summer (and although I haven't been able to use it since it turned cold in the porch room, I hope to remedy that soon). I have a new futon in the den so I can stay up late writing without worrying about keeping the hubs up (and also so I can sleep there when his log-sawing is too much to bear :). I finally bought some new jeans so I no longer look like a homeless person when meeting potential readers.

So everything's in place for when the kids go back to school and the hubs goes back to work. I have so much optimism pinned on 2011 I cain't hardly stand it. It's gonna be great. :)
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

After Christmas

Christmas went well. I am blessed with a family who appreciates my hard work and who understands when I have to bow out early. It was wonderful to see my mom so happy, with all her kids under the same roof. Her favorite time of year, and I’m glad we could make it happen. Last year an ice storm came on Christmas Eve to keep us apart, so it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen my youngest brother and his wife. And just last week my mom had emergency surgery, of all things! Thank goodness she recovered enough to entertain visitors, and that she had the good sense to let us do all the work. Well, most of it.

The kids are out of school and the hubs is on vacation until next year. I hope to keep up with laundry while the hubs is on kitchen duty, and if I prod the children they’ll keep up with their toys. During my free time I’m going to finish up the entries for the OWFI contest and maybe write a 2010 retrospective to post on Thursday, but most of the week I hope to spend watching movies and doing projects with the kids. Maybe take advantage of a few after-Christmas deals.

I know some of my Internet buds are hunkered down in a blizzard, some have family visiting, and some are playing with their first real Christmas gifts in years. How are you going to spend this last week of 2010?

Sunday, December 26, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius


A Christmas post? From me? I know, right? I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a bit bah humbug in years past. The season starting when the kids go back to school and ending at Christmas is usually the hardest, leanest, most stressful time of the year. Fall used to be my favorite until I had kids, when the money got tight and responsibility got heavy.

This year seems to be lighter, I think because I hit the reset button last Christmas. I came to terms with my issues surrounding giving and, especially, receiving. Refusing to participate was a way of staying in the everyday where it’s safe, staying in control. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I realized that it was really selfish of me not to receive. To defy the season and deny someone else the soul’s pleasure of giving is selfish.

So like I said, I’m better this year. I’m ready to participate and stop being such a grouch this time of year. And in honor of my new attitude I’m even writing a holiday post! I still can’t believe it!

I wish you and yours a happy Christmas, however you muddle through.

Thursday, December 23, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

What I want in an e-Reader

I’ve been waiting to buy an e-reader because I don’t want to buy a plain early model only to find two months later they’ve unveiled a much cooler (and cheaper) one. I’ve been thinking about what feature would make me decide to take the plunge, and I came up with a fantasy list of many things I’d like to see in an e-reader:

  • I’d want it to be the perfect size and weight to hold in one hand, yet big enough to see everything clearly
  • Color e-ink with video capabilities
  • Wi-fi and/or 3G
  • A cell phone
  • A camera and video camera
  • MS Word for writing on the go (although if I’m online I could write in Wordpress or something)
  • Enough memory to store writings till I can transfer them, or else a place to put my thumb drive
  • An integrated laser keyboard for typing said writings, and for long chat sessions
  • While we’re wishing, let’s give it a battery that lasts a week

Um, can I really still call it an e-reader after I add all these things to it? I guess I’d have to call it a tablet computer. What would you wish for in such a thing?

Monday, December 20, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
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A Mountain of Markets

Several years ago I made a couple of half-hearted attempts to get my short stories published, but I never was able to successfully scale the veritable mountain of available markets. The process got to me, so I quit. This morning I decided to give it another go. Don’t know what made me think I’d be able to handle it any better today, but here I am.

I use Duotrope to narrow down the search for magazine markets, and while it’s an indispensable tool, it doesn’t make it an automatic process by any means. I’ve been researching for almost an hour and haven’t come up with one viable market. I’m starting at the high end of the payscale and working my way down, so I’m sure I’ll come across something eventually, but meanwhile, it’s drudgery.

The first challenge is defining the work, in terms of genre (fantasy), subgenre (light fantasy? magic realism? We’ll go with “Any subgenre.”), style (I’d call it quirky, but that returns no results so again: “Any subgenre.”). I choose my story specs, length and such, and hit Enter. I get 70 results. Wowzers. That’s a lot of stuff to go through, and of course I’m not familiar with most of these markets so not only do I have to research their submission requirements, but also their style to see if my story will match. I’m afraid my story won’t match any style.

I’d like to get paid, of course, but I’m mostly hungry for a cred, so I choose any payscale and sort from high to low. I don’t want to wait for six months before I can submit again, so I discard those who won’t take simultaneous submissions. I’m working my way through the list, but I’ll have to take a break before I make any real progress, it seems.

What method do you use for sorting through all these markets? Have you been successful? I’d love to hear how you climbed to the summit of Market Mountain. Don’t be shy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Thoughts on Book Genres

Over at Pimp My Novel, Eric recently did a multi-part analysis of book sales, broken down by genre.

He says science fiction is likely to be sold under another label, like fantasy or thriller. I think this is a good thing, because it shows that people still like it. The numbers on hard-core science fiction books are down, but I think that’s because it’s acceptable to have a little sci-fi in your mainstream now, or a science element in fantasy. We might stop classifying our sub-genres by subject matter, and start classifying them by writing style. This is probably already happening informally (like when they put in a blurb, “In the tradition of Stephen King” or whatever) but what if you walked into a bookstore and the signs over the shelves said, “Thoughtful,” or “Flowery” or “Hip” or “Wry”?

Or what if they started naming the sections after the big-name authors? I could read a book about knitting if I enjoyed the author’s voice, so I would go directly to the Stephen King section without worrying about a traditional genre. Realistically I know that wouldn’t work, because there are too many influential, distinct voices to have a section for every one, but you see where I’m going. The way we’ve classified our genres isn’t as cut and dried anymore. Look at Young Adult. It’s supposedly a genre unto itself, but YA can encompass anything at all, from vampires to drugs to cancer. Crossover is becoming the new norm.

Speaking of crossover, I have a book idea that melds fantasy and hard core science fiction, with a romantic element thrown in. Where would that go?
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Meeting Reader Expectations

As an author--as a human, actually--there’s no way to guarantee a reader’s expectations will intersect with my offering. So many things are out of my control, and I just can’t know what makes a reader like or dislike certain things about my book. It’s like that Aerosmith song, "Same Old Song and Dance":
Get yourself a cooler lay yourself low
Coincidental murder with nothing to show
The judge’s constipation will go to his head
And his wife's aggravation, you’ll soon end up dead

I just finished a book wherein the ending came way too soon for me. I was so disappointed, because I thought I had a whole ‘nother chapter to go, judging by the number of pages left. So I finish a chapter, anticipating the “wrap-up” that should begin as I turn the page, and find instead discussion questions and an excerpt of the author’s novel. It was over. Like that.

I understand the need to market the next book, but this actually made a black mark against the author in my mind. Even though the book was fantastic the ending soured it for me. Because of where I expected it to end, I was reading that final chapter in a different way than the author intended. She knew it was the end. I did not.

I re-read that last chapter as a last chapter, just to see if maybe I’d missed a change in pacing or rhythm, the subtle signs that the book was ending, and sure enough, they were there. I think the ending was still weak, but it definitely would have been stronger for me if I’d had the right expectations.

Is my reader in a loveless marriage, or did her boyfriend just say he loved her for the first time? Did the cover promise something I didn’t include in the book, or is the reader a writer himself with his own ideas of how to do things? Did my reader just get the death penalty?

You just never know.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Emerging from the Chrysalis

I must say I have reservations about re-opening Sherri Blossoms. All the old fears and pressures return as I open Live Writer and begin to type. Have I really taken enough time off? Do I have anything to say? Will blogging still be a bore, and is it worth the energy?

The answer to all those questions is: I won’t know until I try. And so I begin.

I’ve spent the past two months adrift, a necessary thing, releasing old ideas about how this blog, my career, my relationships should be. I played at NaNoWriMo; wrote parts of books and stories, but nothing that lights my fire; joined OWFI and planned to enter their annual contest in several categories, and actually got quite a bit done in that direction; accepted the fact that crappy stuff happens all the time, and I have to learn how to write anyway.

I think I finally settled on a blog theme that works exactly how I need it to, and will build it over time. I might post writings here, stories that maybe aren’t worth trying to sell but still have some entertainment value. A new About Me page would be nice.

I’m accepting the fact that the blogging community has changed immensely since I started. It used to be the way I communicated all the parts of my life, but I have Facebook for the more mundane stuff now. I used links and images, and I thought about SEO and getting the blog out there. That helped in the beginning, but dang... If you enter “Sherri Cornelius” into Google, Yahoo, and Bing, you will find this website in the top spot, not to mention various others of my hangouts in positions below that. I’m “out there”, mmkay?

The writing of the blog never bored me, but all the side work did, and I guess I don’t have to do it if I don’t want to. I don’t want to imagine what I can make of this place, but to be surprised with what it becomes.

Monday, December 6, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

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