#navbar-iframe { display: none !important;} The Naked Page: September 2005

The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary


The Desperation Zone

I have a book due on October 3rd. This is the part where I get all desperate, stop washing my hair regularly, and drink entirely too much caffeine. In fact, if I could mainline it, I would. We have entered the Desperation Zone.

I hope to see you on the other side (I'll be the one with the glazed eyes and the greasy hair).


Any Way You Want Me

The cover and an excerpt of my November Blaze release, Any Way You Want Me, is on my website now.

If I was less than thrilled with my July book's cover, well, this one... Let's just say I could do without halos and horns appearing on any more of my book covers. Unless the book actually features angels or horned creatures (which this one does not). I hate to complain. It could be worse--I could have no book to have a cover on at all. And with that, I'll shut up. I'm afraid I released a bit of bad cover karma into the universe with all my comments about my July Blaze cover's Superfly Perm Guy.

So on a more positive note, I've had lots of great covers: Pleasure for Pleasure, As Hot As It Gets, and Some Kind of Sexy, to name a few. The artist who did those covers had it going on, and I'm forever grateful.

But anyway, let's not judge the book by its cover. Okay? Pretty please? Because Any Way You Want Me is pretty damn scorching hot, if I do say so myself (and I do). Check it out.


The Latest Girl Talk

Check out http://www.jamiesobrato.com/girl_talk.html for the latest edition of Girl Talk. This month, Cindy and I reflect on our summer conference experiences and dish about writers' conference "don'ts." Whether you attend writers' conferences or not, you'll probably get a laugh or two out of a few of our nameless attendee faux pas.


Quote of the Day

I saw this quote today and thought it went well with the article I posted a few days ago about finding the time to write:

"We each have all the time there is; our mental and moral status is determined by what we do with it." -- Mary Blake

Whenever I've had to look ahead at all the time a huge task will take--whether it be writing a book or finishing a college degree or whatever--I always tell myself that the time is going to pass whether I do what I want with it or not. For instance, when I looked at the average time and number of books it takes a writer to sell their first manuscript (5-6 books and 5-6 books was the average back then), I felt horribly discouraged. That seemed like forever. But when I put it in the perspective that in five years, I could either be a person who'd pursued her dreams and written 5 or 6 books, or I could be a person who didn't, the choice was easy.


Work It, Baby

Kick-in-the-pants Writing Article # 2:

So you've carved out time to write. The next obvious question for most aspiring writers is what to write. A lucky few may have a Great American Novel lurking around in their heads just waiting to pour out onto the paper, but I've never met any of these writers. Most of us have to try out different things until we figure out what it is we're supposed to be writing.

It's scary to experiment with entire novels. We don't want to set out to write a whole book, only to find out when we've finished it that we've written the wrong thing. Well, truly, there is no wrong thing to write, and everything you write will contribute to your future success in one way or another.

Writing is very much like any other discipline that requires a lot of practice. If you want to be a great musician, it's accepted that you'll have to spend many years of your life practicing. Same with being a great dancer, or a great singer, or a great actor, or a great artist, or a great athlete. I can't say enough how important it is to practice. Write, as much as you can, as often as you can--this is the only way to improve.

Sometimes practicing the craft of writing means writing a book that never sells--or ten books that never sell. It means writing first chapters that go nowhere, or writing a hundred pages that you later have to throw out. It means playing around with ideas that you may never use. It means trying different forms of writing--novels, short stories, non-fiction, poetry--partly to see what you enjoy most and partly just to stretch different writing muscles.

For all the books I've written and published, I have just as many--probably more--that I've started but never finished. Maybe I'll go back and finish some of them someday, but you know what I usually discover when I open old manuscripts? That the way I wrote back then is not the way I write now--and that my current writing is much improved.

That's the thing about practicing. It's an act of learning, and the more you do it, the better you'll get. I'd never think of discouraging anyone from pursuing a dream of being a writer, even if their early work is the worst crap ever. Because who knows--maybe they'll be more diligent than the average writer. Maybe they'll practice so much that in a few years, they'll be writing some of the most beautiful stories ever put on paper.

Maybe you're the next New York Times Bestseller, but you won't know until you try.


What's Your Excuse?

Following is the first in a series of kick-in-the-pants writing articles I'll post here for aspiring writers, in which I'll hand over whatever insight I have about the writing life:

One comment I hear a lot from people who would like to write is that they don't have the time. I usually just smile and nod, because I'm no good at impromptu lessons on time management. And, frankly, I think "I don't have the time" is just one of the many excuses that stand between writers and people who wish they were writers.

Believe me, no one has extra time lying around. Time is one of those things that manages to get used up whether we're doing what we want to or not. So if you have five kids, a needy spouse, and a day job, you make some sacrifices to write.

You get up at 5AM, guzzle some coffee, and write until the kids are awake, or you write after they're in bed, or you make arrangements so that you have some free time on Saturday mornings to write. You keep a pad of paper and pen in your car and write while you're waiting for the kids to get out of soccer practice. You write on your lunch hour. You plot out your story while you're driving. You learn to tune out the kids in the back seat screaming about who just hit whom.

You see what I mean about sacrifices? Maybe you give up watching TV or talking on the phone for two hours to your friends or whatever. They're not big sacrifices, but they add up. You could easily write a book in a year even just setting aside an extra hour or so a day during which you can write.

If all this sounds like a drag, then you're probably not meant to be a writer. But if you just had an aha moment, if you just saw the shining ray of light leading you toward that one thing you feel driven from deep inside to do, then hurry up and get to it. Now you've got one less excuse.


Typing at the Speed of Light

It's funny the things that qualify as debilitating injuries to a writer. This weekend I slammed one of my fingers in the trunk of the car (don't ask how I managed this graceful maneuver), nearly passed out from the pain, and had to go to the emergency room to get an Xray (it's not broken), a tetanus shot, a hole poked in my fingernail (to release the pressure), and a bandaid.

It was vaguely humiliating--all that hubbub for what ultimately qualified as a bandaid-level injury--but once I recovered from the initial shock of it, my only worry was whether I'd still be able to type fast.

Lucky for me, I'm back up to full typing speed as of today.


Long Time No Blog

I will venture to say that I'm back from the silent void. I've witnessed the appearance of Super Productive Girl. She doesn't come around often, but when she does, look out! With the help of a little caffeine, Super Productive Girl can edit entire manuscripts in the blink of an eye, she can whip out chapters a day, she can plot her way over tall buildings and...

Well anyway, I've got a book deadline at the beginning of October. Super Productive Girl must stay and help me out here.

In other news, I've been using my new Alphasmart Dana for a few weeks now, and, well, how should I say this... I find myself wondering if it's wrong to lick an electronic device. This little word processor is so sweet, I just can't stand it. I want to kiss it, lick it, hug it close, and never let it out of my greedy little paws. It's a blessing to writers everywhere.

What's good about it: the keyboard is to die for! I hear the Alphasmart Neo has the same keyboard, if you're on a budget, but I haven't been able to compare them in person to say for sure. The keyboard is so easy on the fingers, it's like you barely have to do any work. One particularly inspired day, I wrote 10 pages in an hour and a half. It usually takes me at least two hours to write that much if I have the whole scene in my head already--but more often it takes 4-5 hours. An hour and a half! Totally because the Dana's keyboard is so easy to type on.

I also like that it's got a large enough screen that I can edit on it, and the stylus makes editing easy. The screen is plenty big enough for me, and the backlight is a great feature to have too. I wish the text was crisper on the screen, but that's my only small gripe about this otherwise perfect device.

Side note: I got my Dana with no wireless, so it doesn't do email or internet. This is key to productivity, for me anyway. I also bought it used for $200, so it was easy on the budget, but if I hadn't found such a good deal on the used model, I would have bought a Neo instead. Every writer I know who has one loves it. I had an Alphasmart 3000 for years before buying the Dana, and wow, what a difference. It's very clear the 3000 is made for kids, while the Dana is a totally grown-up, refined piece of equipment. I LOVE IT.


Redefining Us

Like much of America, I have been unable to look away from the television this week. I check the internet every hour looking for new stories. I'm horrified and transfixed by the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina. I wonder what I can do to help.

Our definition of America has just changed. Until this week, we had grown into a comfortable, secure nation, but in a matter of hours that was wiped away. And in a matter of days, we've come to see how poorly prepared we really are to deal with large-scale disasters.

Only in books and movies have I seen us--average Americans--so ravaged by hunger, death, and desperation. Until this week. No fiction could really prepare us for what it's like to see a great city destroyed. No book or movie could show us how it really feels to watch our fellow Americans starving, suffering, and dying. We've seen it happen in other countries, but we foolishly thought it couldn't happen here.

I struggled all week with what to write on my blog, because my usual silliness seemed disrespectful and wrong in light of what's happening across the Gulf Coast. And yet, I don't normally do dramatic. I avoid heavy emotions in my work for the most part, because I'm overly emotional, and things touch me deeply. Often too deeply. It's much easier for me to deal with the funny side of life than it is to deal with the dark side.

But this is a catastrophe we cannot turn away from. We're being redefined as a nation right now, and we need to make sure our definition is that of a people who care, who are generous and compassionate and tirelessly heroic.

I've been thinking a lot about the role of artists and entertainers in the face of catastrophe. All forms of art thrive in societies where people are fed, clothed, educated, and generally happy. It's only when all our other basic needs are met that we can produce art and entertainment on any great scale. But we can't say that about America right now. I think the roles of artists and entertainers right now is to point all eyes toward the problem, to ask everyone to think about how they can help.

So please, help. Help the people of the Gulf Coast either with a donation of your money or time. Help define us as the great nation we thought we were until this week.


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