Saturday, September 26, 2009

Be Prepared

If becoming a published author is your goal, I have one piece of advise for you. Be prepared.

Recently, I shared a meal with a friend and told her about the first contract call I received in 2001. Although I knew certain things, I was unfamiliar with and not very good at contract negotiations. While the BET representative mapped out their offer, I listened intently, taking notes and then told the editor that I would call her back. I remember hearing from many reliable sources that you should not commit to anything until you've had time to consider the offer thoroughly.

A week later I accepted BET's offer and received my contract weeks later. For days I tried to make sense of the contract language. It didn't happen. The words on the thirty-odd pages ran together each time I tried to read the legal jargon. Reserves, audio and movie rights were phrases that meant nothing to me.

Frustrated, I went into my boss's office with the contract, waved the pages in his face, and demanded in a high-pitched whine, "Find me a lawyer!"

Being a priest and a nice man, Father Dave complied and found me a former student of his that was now practicing law. He went over the contract and explained to me what each section meant. He pointed out several areas where I had a little wiggle room for further negotiations. It was a learning experience that taught me to be prepared, learn as much as possible about the publishing business so that when I received the next call, I could discuss the contract and make intelligent decisions about my career.

What kind of experience did you have? Please share it with me. As usual, don't be a stranger.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Ideas for new stories pop into my head all the time. Sometimes they slowly creep into my waking moments. On other occasions, the ideas force their way to the forefront of my thoughts. It doesn't matter how the idea comes to life, I can't ignore them. So that I don't lose the idea forever, I've devised what I consider to be an effective way to keep the material straight in my poor overworked brain and under used computer.

I create folders on my computer hard drive for each story idea. Once the folder is setup I put all the material in that folder. For example, I've got an idea for a young adult story. When I find interesting tidbits on the Internet, I copy the article/story and add it to this folder. Names, settings, and story outline are added to the folder. Normally I'm working under a deadline, folders keeps the ideas straight in my head. Once I've completed my current project, I'll open this folder and begin the process of organize the information.

This is a simple, easy, and effective way to manage the writing portion of my daily life without making my brain hurt too much.

If you have ideas that you would like to share, e-mail me at I'd love to hear from you and remember, don't be a stranger.