Saturday, November 26, 2011

If You Think You Want to Write a Book

I get a lot of emails from people in the vein of “I’m thinking of writing a book about my experiences as a ______________.” Also, people at cocktail parties apparently all want to write books. In the spirit of helping others and being supportive, I decided to take the things I usually tell them and make a blog post out of it:
  1. Do you really want to write a book? When people say, “You should write a book,” does that idea fill you with excitement or horror? If the latter, stop reading now. Why on earth would you write a book if you don’t really, really want to? Better to go into the garage and hit yourself on the head with a hammer a few times. Sooo much easier.
  2. Why do you want to write a book? If the answer is, “To become famous and make money,” stop reading now. Go get the hammer. The book business is not very profitable, especially for people like you. And me. If the answer includes phrases like “fun” and “love to write” and “I already have 2/3 of it written,” as well as “I don’t care about money,” you are all set.
  3. Who would buy your book? Be specific. “People” is not a good answer. “Moms who want to do triathlons while still taking care of their kids” is a pretty good answer.
  4. Where would your book go in the bookstore? What section? How would people search for it on Amazon?
  5. Who else has written books about what you want to write about? Search to see if your “South Pacific travel memoir” idea is crazy overused already. Hint – probably.
  6. Why is your book different and/or better than their book? If the answer is “Because it’s my story,” stop reading now. Give me the hammer and let me hit you over the head with it. Thank you. If your book includes a gripping description of completing the Iditarod using hamsters instead of sled dogs, that’s different.
  7. Do you know exactly how your book is structured, from beginning to end? If not, put the cocktail down, go home and write a detailed outline. How many chapters are they? What are they about? If you can’t think of a detailed outline because you need to actually write to know what you will be writing about, write the book before you go any further down this road. If you can’t write an outline or write the book, then that should tell you something.
  8. If you haven’t yet done the stuff you’re thinking of writing the book about, go do it. Take extensive notes while you’re doing it, and then find me at next year’s party.
  9. Why are you the person to write this particular story? Have you spent 15 years training hamsters to pull sleds in the Arctic? Are you a regular mom from Sioux City with a dream of hamster sledding? Why you?
  10. Go online and Google “how to write a book proposal.” There’s a pretty standard way to do a nonfiction book proposal. If you’ve seriously answered questions 1-9, you will have made a pretty good start at putting your proposal together.
  11. You will most likely need a literary agent. If you have gotten this far and you still want to write a book, find me again as that’s a whole nuther post.
  12. Are you sure you don’t want to write a blog instead? Look how easy it is.
I realize that this came out sounding kind of snarky, which I actually don't mean it to be. I really want people to write books. But only if they really want to, and only if they really want to after doing the research and thinking seriously about the current market for books. If you are good and persistent, you may well get an agent and sell your book to a publisher. You may decide you want to self-publish, or publish in electronic format, or any number of things. You may have a riveting story and be a scintillating writer and you might change the world. So go do it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

What Do You Think of This?

Hey all; happy post-turkey, falafel, pizza or whatever meal you use to give thanks with... we used a bunch of turkey, some ham, and traditional trimmin's and it was a fine day.

On another note, I am honestly curious to get a lot of comments on this ad. What are your reactions to it? What do you think it's trying to say? Looking forward to a lively discussion.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Steps in Classic Boots

Triathlete-wise, there's not much going on. I had a personal training session lined up with Brittany, who was recommended by my chiropractor, but then two days beforehand she called me up and told me she had gotten another job and wasn't going to be able to work with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are the days that I customarily work at home and have a flexible schedule. This is the second trainer I've tried to connect with; the first one, even more highly recommended by my chiropractor, doesn't work Tuesday/Thursdays at all. What's wrong with Tuesdays, I wanna know? Are all the trainers in Sacramento skiving off, getting together to eat Ring Dings, drink Kool-Aid, chew the fat about their clients? So to speak.

I've tried to line up appointments for Mondays or Wednesdays, and time and time again it happens that something happens right at the time that I would need to be leaving for the right train to make the appointment. I'm thinking I might change my schedule so that I'm home Mondays and Wednesdays, just so I can find a trainer.

In other news, I threw away a few nasty-ass Jell-o brand "chocolate mousse" desserts that had been lurking in the back of the fridge for... yeah, no. I'm not gonna even tell you how long. And the pathetic thing is, I knew they were nasty when I bought 'em.

I've also bagged up some clothes for Goodwill and bought a few new ones. I'm not the first person to realize that I was putting off buying clothes because I felt that I was "too fat." Or the first person to get happy and buy some new duds. Or even the first person to buy a nice pair of black boots from Zappo's just because.

P.S. I am also buying whole milk organic yogurt. Did I mention that last time? It's pretty amazing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dumb Ones

Dear blogfans, I just wanted y'all to know that I have eaten my very last frozen "diet" meal. I was working at home on Thursday and had let lunchtime come and go. Very hungry, not much doin' in the pantry. I found a frozen "Smart Ones" Weight Watchers brand meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Shaking my head, I stuck it in the microwave and did what I was instructed to do.

It was freakin' awful. The mashed potatoes were watery, weirdly salty and seasoned with apparently a mixture of MSG and chives. The meatloaf was chewy, weirdly unsalty, and basically disgusting with a side of awfulsauce. Everyone, extend an arm in front of you, palm up. Bring the palm firmly to your forehead while emitting a forceful "Duh!"

But now I will never, ever buy or eat another Dumb Ones meal. I'm free! I'm free! And freedom tastes of reality.

In related news, I no longer buy nonfat yogurt. Organic whole milk plain yogurt is so amazingly tasty and satisfying, it's like ambrosia. Some rolled oats, some walnut pieces, a little honey, and a dollop of Nancy's finest, and breakfast is a beautiful thing. Giving up Splenda might be harder. Stay tuned.