Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Buzz About Self-Publishing

When I was scouring the Web for blogs and websites for my under-construction Link List, I saw that many writers were talking about this article in the Sunday New York Times Book Section: "Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab."

For self-published writers hoping to be discovered by a major publishing house, this article is bubble-bursting. Many writers, however, are aiming for a smaller market, or a very specific readership, which I thought was an aspect the article didn't address in much detail. My upcoming book, for instance, is a compilation of writing prompts. I briefly considered putting together a proposal and going for conventional publication, but then I did a quick Amazon check on books of writing prompts. I didn't count up the number of hits I got, but it didn't take me long to see that the odds of getting a book of prompts published is slim. However, for my non-fiction book about my years working for the police department, I don't think I'd go with self-publishing, even if I'm unable to place it conventionally--but not because of the "stigma" of self-publishing. It's just not the type of book that does well, typically, as a self-published title.

What do you think? Is self-publishing becoming more accepted, or do you think it still carries a negative image?
Photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilián at

Time to Write & Other Writing Prompts

Can you ever have enough time to write? You can explore that question with prompt #1. If time does not concern you, keep reading until you find a prompt that piques your writerly attention, then freewrite for ten minutes.

--Do you wish you had more time to write? Or are you perfectly content with your writing schedule?
--Use this quote as inspiration for a story/poem/essay, or use it verbatim: “Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish.” –Mark Twain
--He shouldn’t have survived the fall, so after the accident everyone said he must have lived because….
--Do you know your neighbors?
--Nancy had traveled throughout the world, but she’d never met anyone like….
--What is the most extreme temperature you’ve experienced?
Photo courtesy of Miguel Saavedra at

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just Write, Just Redesigned

I'm happy to say that a long overdue blog redesign is underway here at Just Write. Now that I've upgraded my Blogger template, it's easy to move around, add, and subtract page elements. I've added labels, a space for blog friends and followers, and a subscription button. Just Write's Recommended Reading area offers links to books that the Just Write Group in Las Vegas has recently studied. Coming soon: links to writing sites, Vegas writers, and to my upcoming book of prompts: The Doorbell at Dawn. Please take a minute to look around Just Write's new design, join as a friend, or leave a comment--and thanks for reading!

Blood on the Carpet & Other Writing Prompts

Release your inner mystery writer with my first prompt—although blood might be on a carpet for many reasons, I must add, not all of them mysterious. If you’re not feeling very Christie, then find a different prompt that intrigues you. You know the rest—write for ten minutes, no stopping, stalling, or second-guessing.

--She wasn’t sure what to do about the blood on the carpet, so she….
--When was the last time you were snubbed?
--Clara started planning her escape after her mother….
--Combine red shoes, a full moon, and a ruler in a story or poem.
--Describe your last trip to the grocery store.
--Do you consider yourself technologically savvy?
Photo courtesy of Paulo Correa at

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Details & Other Writing Prompts

If you like quotes, as I do, you’ve probably learned that you can’t rely on the Internet to give you the correct quote and/or attribution. A little extra research is usually required. After I checked out the quotes in my first prompt, I wound up with more questions than answers… which is how it became a prompt. If you are unconcerned with details, then skip on down until you find a prompt that sparks an idea. Write for ten minutes—no stopping, crossing out, or dictionaries allowed. At the end of the ten minutes—who knows? Maybe you’ll have an answer to prompt number one.

--Do you think the saying should be “God is in the details” or “The devil is in the details”?
--Elizabeth’s mother said, “If you weren’t such a picky eater, I wouldn’t have to….”
--On the first Sunday of every month….
--Experts tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Do you eat breakfast?
--The little dog growled at Chris, but the dog’s owner insisted, “Oh, don’t mind Freddie. You can even pet him. He’s just growling because….”
Photo courtesy of Tom Hejhal at

Saturday, January 10, 2009


On a daily basis, I get about 100 e-mails. I’m apparently the beneficiary of a vast, multi-trillion dollar estate, spread out in hidden accounts throughout the world—according to dozens of daily messages in my in-box. (Sadly, judging from the grammatical errors in these missives, none of my immense wealth has funded any English classes for the poor foreign legal people sending me e-mails.) Were I male, I would never worry about, ahem, performance issues because I get another batch of e-mails each day about products to cure that. Then there are all those free iPods and Kindles, shopping sprees, and easy-to-obtain mortgages waiting for me. I’m sure you, too, have a similar array of spam that gets deleted without ever being opened.

A fair number of e-mail messages bring interesting, but still optional, reading: daily quotes, writing newsletters, horoscopes. I open the horoscopes because they’re entertaining and occasionally appear to correctly predict something. At the beginning of 2008, the e-mail astrologers said I would have a death in the family, which turned out to be correct. I couldn’t help but think about that as I scanned the predictions for 2009.

One of the 2009 prognostications was that I would have to give up something this year, something to which I was deeply attached. Hmmmm. What could it be? My mind gathered a list of the obvious: bad habits, health, money, people, career, chocolate, etc. Of course, as with the majority of horoscopes, the predictions covered territory common to everyone—giving up something precious could mean dozens of things. Then something unexpected popped into my head: what if I had to give up my anonymity?

Most writers want to write something notable; many of us seek publication. Very few become publicly recognizable. Would you know Nora Roberts if you met her? I feel pretty sure I could spot Stephen King in a crowd, but he’s one of the only modern authors I can say that about. Of all the authors you read, how many of them would you recognize if you met them on the street? When you extrapolate the goals of many writers, you find “famous” at the end of the equation. But for writers, fame doesn’t automatically equal being publicly recognizable, as it does for some endeavors/professions—take actors, for instance. A writer’s name can carry her fame without her face ever being attached to it.

While I’m not shy about speaking in front of people, I cherish my anonymity. Yesterday, while I was taking a long walk, I pondered the blessings of being anonymous. As a writer, I often operate like a spy. I eavesdrop and snoop and deliberately fail to mention that I’m a writer when I’m researching a story. I’d wager that most writers are a wee bit on the nosy, sneaky side. (Although, according to my husband, my combined background of writing and police work makes me extra sneaky. I plead nolo contendere.) How could a writer be sneaky if a pack of paparazzi were following her?

Of course, I know that eventually, when my trillion-dollar estate materializes, I’ll have to find a way to avoid the photographers. Good grief, now that I think about it, I believe that vast fortune would probably ruin my writing career! Looks like I’ve found yet another reason to keep deleting those e-mails.
Photo Information: Picture courtesy of Scol22 at

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Reluctant Visitor and Other Writing Prompts

You know the drill: pick a prompt and write for ten minutes about whatever it brings to mind. Happy New Year & Happy Writing!

--I didn’t want to go to his house, but after he told me….
--Would you describe yourself as sociable? Do you enjoy visits? Why or why not?
--Do you like candy? What kind of candy do you like?
--Louise decided to quit drinking because….
--Have you made any resolutions for 2009?
--“Of course I shot your dog,” snarled Fred. “What did you think I’d do after….”
Photo information: My picture, taken at the abandonded Aiken Mine in the Mojave National Preserve.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Gift Assistance

Dear Santa Claus Customer Service,

Despite numerous phone calls to 1-800-GFTSRUS, I’ve been unable to resolve some problems with my Christmas gifts. The customer service elf I spoke with was very pleasant, but sadly we had an Elfin-English language barrier that could not be overcome. Let me explain my difficulties.

First, it’s Kindle, not “Ken doll.” A Kindle is an expensive new reading device that every writer lusts after. A Ken doll inspires no passion, of any kind, from anyone. Please send Ken home to Barbie and ship me the Kindle.

When I asked for “peace and quiet in which to write,” I was thinking more along the lines of a retreat. I received a box with duct tape, ear plugs, and a Bic pen. Very funny. I didn’t know Santa was such a jokester. (And the duct tape quality was quite low! My son had it off in less than two minutes.)

The abacus, while lovely, was not at all what I had in mind by “wireless computer.” Was this another joke, or is it a comment on my abilities as a writer?

Anything you can do to help with these lingering gift issues is much appreciated.

Yours truly,
Terrisa Meeks

P.S. I was (kind of) joking when I asked for a New York Times best-seller. What I meant was that I wanted to be the author of a NYT bestseller. Still, I was thrilled to find the entire NYT’s best-seller list stacked under (and around and beside) my tree, but it did cause a tiny storage problem. My husband is very distressed about the piles of books, and he keeps muttering about kerosene and matches. (He’s been complaining about the piles of books in our house for 20 years now, and frankly, this has not helped.) Could you be sure to correct your records to reflect my actual wish-list item and just move that to 2009? Many thanks.
Photo courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz at