Saturday, October 27, 2012

Preparing for Nanowrimo

Three days until Nanowrimo begins! And how best to utilize these days?

1.)  I'm going to send off all the query letters waiting on my spreadsheet, so they can't distract me with "needing to be done".

2.) I'm going to work on an outline for the current WIP instead of meeting the daily word count. (You know what optimism is? Writing the second book in a detective series, before the first one finds a home. :D ) I tend to be a seat of the pants writer, and this leads to large periods of not-writing while I try to figure out where I want to go next.

3.) I am going to set a list of priorities, and figure out a rough daily schedule. If I know that I will be doing the dishes at 4 p.m., I won't get up from writing at 10:30 to go do them.  Also, if I decide to go rake leaves instead of writing, I'll check the priority chart. Lawn care should not trump my writing. I'm going to write this list down and post it prominently, so I can remind myself I am in "writing time", and things try to distract my flaky brain. November is going to be my month to try and work on my writing routine and best practices.

What strategies do you have for making your writing time productive?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy St. Crispin's Day!

"If we are mark’d to die, we are enow 
To do our country loss; and if to live, 
The fewer men, the greater share of honour. 
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more. 
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, 
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; 
It yearns me not if men my garments wear; 
Such outward things dwell not in my desires. 
But if it be a sin to covet honour, 
I am the most offending soul alive. 
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England. 
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour 
As one man more methinks would share from me 
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more! 
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, 
That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; 
his passport shall be made, And crowns for convoy put into his purse; 
We would not die in that man’s company 
That fears his fellowship to die with us. 
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian. 
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, 
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d, 

And rouse him at the name of Crispian. 

He that shall live this day, and see old age, 

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, 

And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.” 

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, 

And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.” 

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, 

But he’ll remember, with advantages, What feats he did that day. 

Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words-

Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

This story shall the good man teach his son; 

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, 

From this day to the ending of the world, 

But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; 

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me 

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, 

This day shall gentle his condition; 

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed 

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, 

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks 

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Come on writer-friends! We band of brothers once more into the fray of query letters and the slaughter of darlings! It is St. Crispian's Day! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Ten Commandments of Garage Sales

My mother took me with her to garage sales almost every Saturday for most of my childhood. I went mostly in self-defense. If I went, I could nix clothes that I didn't like, or make sure to snag new books I was interested in. I never realized that during that time that I was also receiving an education in the separate culture of garage sale mavens.

1. Thou shalt not hold a garage sale, planning to make money.

If you think of a garage sale as an opportunity to make money, you'll price your second-hand schmutter too high. If there's one thing guaranteed to offend all garage sale patrons, from the casual once-a-year saunterer to the weekly devotee, it's walking into a garage sale and finding things priced too high. The purpose of a garage sale is to get everything you want to get rid of out of the house, and get other people to help you haul it off in exchange for a pittance. Not making money.  If you want to make money, then work ebay and craigslist. Yes, I know it's a hella more trouble. But that's how it works.

2. Open Early.

The weekly devotees all get up at 5 a.m. and decide which garage sales they're going to and in what order over their morning coffee. If you open at 7 a.m., you've got a better chance of them coming your sale first with all their money. By 9 a.m. all garage sales are open, and the competition is fierce.

3. Advertise the Unique

*Every* garage sale has clothes, books, and toys. Every single one. Do not lead off your advertisement with those items. Anything unusual you have, like specific types of furniture, musical instruments and equipment, collectible items like Hummel figurines, power tools, etc. are much better to mention in your ads.

4. Advertise Widely 

Put advertisements on your local craigslist, check the local newspapers for online advertisement options (Usually free), if there's a local radio station that discusses yard sales or estate sales, put in a call. If you're in a rural area with only newspaper options, take out a cheap ad. Don't assume they'll drive by your house by accident.  Put your address and the time you want to start.

5. Make Directional signs that are legible from 10+ feet away.

Put out LARGE signs saying YARD SALE, with arrows, the date, and your address if you can fit them all in without sacrificing size. Nothing makes my mother more furious than having to stop in the middle of the road to try and squint at a sign the size of a manila envelope with tiny writing of hollow bubble letters. It's not only dangerous for traffic, but if you failed to advertise your sale, people won't know where to go, and will get frustrated and angry. Also, the Date is really important, because if they didn't see any advertisements for your sale, they may assume that the sign is old and out of date. Again, not what you want.

6. Embrace the Haggle.

People will make offers. They will usually look at your price tag, and offer half to a third of what you wrote. If its not a hot item like the unique things listed above, take the offer. Chances of another buyer coming along and wanting that same pair of lime green Bermuda shorts aren't good, and you'll be left with a lot of crap all over your moral high ground.

7. Set an End Time as well, to tempt the Sweepers.

Some professional garage salers - yes, they exist - will plan to hit large sales at the end of sale in order to try and scoop things they're interested in at ridiculously cheap prices. Telling them when the sale ends means they can plan to come hit your sale at the end. They may or may not, but setting an end time gives them the option.

8. Have Change.

This seems fairly self-evident, but if you price anything for a dime, you'd better have nickels and dimes for the quarters you're going to get. Have plenty of ones and fives. You'll be handed twenties for something that costs a quarter, especially if you open early, and people need to break change. If you don't have change, they won't buy your stuff.

9. Do not Stare at your Customers with the Beady-Eyed "Don't ya dare steal my stuff!" face.

This one always irritates me when I go to garage sales. If you're that protective of it, you can damn well keep it. And if you think that people can't tell that you're concerned about them swiping stuff, you are incorrect. If you need extra sugar in your coffee to smile at people, then load it up. You're getting rid of it, remember? It's worthless to you. See Rule number one.

10. Hold your sale in the open, with easy access to all the items.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of sales being held in someone's apartment. Frankly, that creeps me right the hell out. I do not want to step inside a stranger's home. One, it's weird. Two, I feel trapped, and I may not want your crap. Also, if you hold it in your backyard, please don't make me walk through knee-high grass to a dark, badly-lit shed. Put stuff out on tables so it can be easily seen. Stuff on the ground means I have to kneel down to look at it. If I have bad knees or a bad back, I may skip the trouble.

Guess what I did last weekend!  Made $80 and got lots of room in my shed/spare bedroom now!