Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Brother Michael

Please excuse that I use this space for a personal purpose today. My brother Michael Harron passed on to another consciousness two years ago. This is how I remember him.  


Michael was complications
with a bald spot
and side hair fringing down
like bed skirt tassles.

Michael was talent in a
toothpick body
especially at the last
when he was wasted
though he never wasted anything

Michael tracked trash nights
on Park Avenue
and hurried there to
trundle treasures in a
wheelbarrow or borrowed pickup
to his realm of rescued things.

Michael fabricated Christmas
at the final moment
huddled in a corner
sketching tuning penning lyrics
for a gift you’d never give away
and soon forgot was so last minute
because it came from him.

Michael had a smile that
glittered from his
curling lashes to his
grinning chin
and may have been
a turn he played on stage
like Shakespeare and the rest
he’d given life you only could believe.

Michael trailed a train of
enemies behind him
dazzled then discarded
but always fewer far
than those still
thriving in his thrall
when his dramatic exit
left us less enlivened
and he was finally forever gone.

By Alice Orr

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Plotting the Story They Tell About You

“Your ability to get a job could turn on the stories they tell about you.” So says film director Steven Soderbergh in the February 4th issue of New York magazine.

He’s talking about getting a gig in movies. I’m talking about getting a gig as published author. He goes on to say “If I’m an a-hole I don’t get the job.” I say “He’s got that right.

Authors way too often sabotage their chances with their behavior. At the beginning of your career especially the story publishing professionals tell about you among themselves is crucial.

That is why I am sharing with you Alice’s 10 Commandments for Making Agents and Editors and All Manner of Publishing Types Love You for Life.

Commandment # 1: Thou shalt be reasonable. Think before you make a demand. Ask yourself – Is this absolutely necessary to my career at this moment?

Commandment # 2: Thou shalt be revisable. Choose carefully which revision suggestions you challenge. Ask yourself – Is this the hill I’m willing to die for OR strain this relationship for?

Commandment # 3: Thou shalt be realistic. Maintain perspective on your power position – especially at the start of your career when you have little or no clout.

Commandment # 4: Thou shalt be impressive. In person or by phone or email – sound and look like a serious savvy business person. Never whine or beg. Never let them see you sweat.

Commandment # 5: Thou shalt be retiring though not shy. Modesty – not to be confused with self-deprecation – is attractive. Boasting is unattractive.
Commandment # 6: Thou shalt keep it professional. Personal references – to your life or to theirs – are less than appropriate.

Commandment # 7: Thou shalt keep your cool. Display of temper is counterproductive. Stick with cooperation rather than confrontation. No prima donnas need apply.

Commandment # 8: Thou shalt keep your mouth shut. Do not complain out loud about the pub business in general and this pro in particular. Gossip spreads and this business loves it.

Commandment # 9: Thou shalt – and this is crucial – come across as an ally. Human beings respond best to appreciation and helpfulness and publishing pros are definitely human.

Commandment # 10: Remember the good sense Grandma gave you. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

That is spoken like the proud grandma I am and this grandma says that if you follow these good sense guidelines the story told will be that you are not an a-hole – You are A-Number-One.

Meanwhile you may feel free to find out more about Alice the commandment-giver at my website

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blog or Bore?

Mary’s Q: Many writers blog about writing – things like character and grammar – boring topics for nonwriters. Wouldn’t it be far more interesting to blog about your novels?

My A: First I must say EEK! I blog about writing. Here is my defense for doing that.

Writers are our readers. They are our core community. And community is our key – the key to effective communication and also to effective marketing.

To market anything – your work or your opinion or yourself – start by walking out your front door and looking up and down the street. Your neighbors are your best first audience.

They share your interests. They care about much of what you care about because you occupy common ground. They will be most receptive to your message because they are your tribe.

So give yourself a break. Begin your blog conversation where folks are interested in what you have to say. A writer’s common tribal ground is the community of writers.

Check out Elizabeth Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder. She covers that ground quite nimbly as she blogs about the mystery of writing across all categories.

Blogging about your novel may be fascinating to you. But are you sure it is fascinating to others? How many people will care when you talk about your story? How many will mind glaze?

Unless you get creative the way Lois Winston does in her blog Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. Her character Anastasia Pollock narrates and has interesting opinions about everything.

The ABC of blogging is Always Be Communicating. It is not Always Be Carrying-On-About-You or about your project. Otherwise your D could be Delete keys clicking on every side.

We all want the world to be our caring community. The challenge is to build that broader community block by block and plank by plank into a sturdy platform.

Still I would advise against blogging about grammar. In my corner of the community at least – that usually is a bore.

And to find out what I do when I’m not communicating with you – click these keys please –