Sunday, February 16, 2020

February is here

I know that we Californians live in a strange land. Many of you are shoveling snow and packing in the supplies for the big freeze that's about to hit. I am watching my magnolia tree begin to blossom, and literally hearing the roses growing. I drove up to my sister's house in Sacramento this weekend for some bonding time and the drive up was a visual extravaganza. The cherry trees were in full flower and the almost trees were beginning to strut their stuff. Although housing has been the driving financial engine up there for many years, I am now seeing vineyard after vineyard hugging both sides of Highway 80. I surmise from this that it's much more profitable to grow grapes or almond trees that it is to build housing. The economic smash hit Sacramento very hard,  there were parts of Sacramento where a huge percentage of the housing stock was underwater. It's obviously much more profitable to grow grapes or almond trees than it is to build housing.

I am working like a fiend on my new Y.A. novel. It's very much coming together, the narrative no longer filled with those annoying holes that you know you have to solve before you can create a satisfying ending. I always have a beginning, a middle, and an end that is set in stone. This helps me not wander too far off from what I'm trying to say. The middle can be squishy, moving earlier or later, and the beginning? Sigh. I always write that at least ten times. I don't change that much, but I am constantly fishing for that beginning that will keep the reader reading. And I never change the ending. Never. Because that is the heart of what I want to say.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer

My best wishes for the holidays. It's Christmas number two without my mother, and it's still really hard. She was all about family and table, and that has become my legacy as well. Also, being a former chef plays into that rather nicely. But because the holidays are all about family and table, it only makes that one phantom seat at the table that is vacant and will always be vacant all the more poignant. And more precious in a way. When god closes a door, he opens a window.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Writers Are a Desperate Bunch

There is a website called "Writer Beware" that acts as a bullhorn to let authors know which publishing entities are withholding royalties, which ones do not act in good faith. etc. You get the picture. In the last several month there have been two exposes of fairly well-known publishers (in two different genres and that's important to keep in the back of your mind). Both of them are not paying royalties due to their authors, both of them have been stalling for months (sometimes for years) in an effort to not pay royalties, all the while collecting money from sales of their authors' books.

The accounting system of publishing is unbelievable arcane. I STILL don't understand my statements and I've been writing professionally for twenty years. I trust my publisher so I don't query my statements, but I have to admit then if I didn't, I'd probably stay quiet for a good long while. Because I'm desperate to stay in the market and keep my name out there.

You say, why are the authors being so dumb to keep publishing with an publishing house that is stiffing them. We aren't dumb, we are desperate. Should you be so lucky to get a publishing contract, you are so grateful, so happy you don't have to go the self-publishing route, that you are willing to accept the fact--for much longer than you should--that emails aren't being returned, that checks aren't arriving in a timely manner, and that surely these are accounting errors. The point is that unless you are publishing with a reputable publisher, then you have NO IDEA how many books are being sold. None. You have to take on faith that they are reporting your sales properly. Because you are desperate, you might find yourself essentially writing for free. Some people with these publishers have not been paid, ever, and others have been paid in the past, but are not being paid now. In some cases we are talking thousands of dollars.

The semi-reputable publishers or those who had a decent rep in the past, but are now holding on to your royalties or are essentially running a Ponzi scheme, will give you back your rights. No questions asked. Of course this means that they don't have your books to sell anymore, but I would imagine the number of queries they get in a given week means they will have fresh product to market in a very short time. Will all of these new authors generate as much income as the previous set? This is debatable, but with so many authors getting bounced from trad publishing, it's not a stretch to consider that these houses are going to capture a few decent authors who have a history of publishing and sales. And those authors are desperate.

If you Google the average salary of authors you will get ridiculous article after ridiculous article that says something like the average "take" for an author is on the order of $60,000/year. This is total hogwash, as pointed out in the sobering blog post by the author's guild ( For 2018, the average income was something like $6500, which was down from 2017. That sounds more like it.  Because that average author figure includes people like J.K. Rowling, who I assure you is not pulling down $65,000/year. Add a few zeros to that number.

So, as my publisher told me when they phoned me with the good news about my first book, "Don't quit your day job." I was really lucky because I have an ethical publisher. Sadly, I also know that I was so desperate to get my novel published (I didn't have an agent), I probably would have signed with Fraud-Publishers-R-Us.

Because I was desperate.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

New Book!

RESOLUTION IS FINISHED AND UP FOR SALE!!!!!!! My amazing sister, Valerie Mighetto, designed the awesome cover, and I'm really pleased how it turned out.
I've finally formatted and wrangled my words into something that resembles a book using technology that was determined to thwart me at every turn. The mental scars will fade eventually, but what a difficult and frustrating process. Anyway. Resolution, my second Jane Austen pastiche, is done! It is for sale at all the usual haunts, both as a digital and paperback copy. Persuasion is the most melancholy of Austen's books, and I hope I was able to capture what makes Anne Elliot the character in all of Austen who deserves the happy ending.
Resolution is a modern retelling of the Jane Austen classic Persuasion. Instead of sailors, we have academics and instead of Bath, we have Carmel. Our story opens with Anne Elliot packing up the family home. Her father, a professor at the University of California, is book smart but a financial idiot. In an attempt to recoup his losses from a disastrous business investment, he rents out the family home to the Crofts, who happen to be the brother-in-law and sister of Derrick Wentworth, Anne’s former love. They met while students at university and had an acrimonious parting the spring of her junior year. Now thirty-five, she’s dated other men, but no one has made as deep dents in her heart as had Derrick Wentworth. We have the selfish father, the odious sister, and whining malcontented sister set against the backdrops of California cities of Berkeley and Carmel. There is commentary on academia, grief, love in the modern age, and marriage in the modern age, and stubborn young men who learn to regret their arrogance and the women who love them.

Friday, October 11, 2019

I Have Been...

Fill in the blank. I have been traveling. I have been staying with my wonderful daughter and SIL on the East Coast. I have been editing a textbook. I have been SICK. I am very far behind on writerly-ish stuff.


Monday, August 12, 2019

The Fight with Technology is Never Over

I have finished making the last of the minor tweaks on my latest Austen pastiche, Resolution (a modern retelling on Persuasion). I have a couple of shout outs to make. Many thanks to Abigail Bok, who gave this a rigorous copy edit. The cover is courtesy of my sister, Valerie Mighetto. I thank her profusely and do appreciate her squeezing this in when she has a zillion demands on her time these days. Now all I need to do is format it and post it, right? So much easier said than done. I deal with technology all the time in my job, and I've managed over these many years to bash around and  eventually get there, but it's not without a really ugly fight. I was born far too late to feel like I own technology; it owns me for sure. Three days and an aching wrist later, I think I am close. Of course, I said that yesterday. And the day before. And...

Anyway, it will appear soon on a variety of sales platforms (I hope). Here's the cover. Pretty sweet, isn't it?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Our New Normal

It is difficult to write anything when every time I turn around, there is a new mass shooting. The latest one but two (imagine having to type that and have it make sense) occurred not an hour from where I live. At what point does the insanity stop? I don't own guns. I have no desire to own a gun. I don't understand the passion that people have for their guns. Flat out don't get it. I don't want to. It speaks to a fear and loathing that lurks in the souls of gun owners that I don't understand. Again, I don't want to know. Hatred of government? Fear that brown people will swarm your house and take your fifty-six-inch television. Rape your wife, your daughter, your son? I don't know. I have fears but they are more of the variety that I will get a phone call from a dispatcher telling me that my son or daughter has been gunned down in another senseless killing. THAT IS WHAT I AM AFRAID OF!

Okay, keep some guns. Fine. Clearly it strokes something in your psyche. Keep them. You have to register them in a national registry. You cannot own assault rifles because these are designed to kill masses of people, not the brown person stealing your television. I don't understand why you would need body armor, so in my world you can't buy body armor unless you are in law enforcement. You cannot buy truckloads of ammo because that says that you are going to try to kill a whole lot of people with it. Oh, and no bump stocks. That's it. You can own a gun. Be my guest. Don't invite me to your parties, don't even talk to me if you feel differently. This is not about rights. This is about your belief that you have a God-given right to kill people. Lots of them. Own it.