Monday, October 24, 2011

How Much of Human Life is Lost in Waiting?

I hate waiting.

This is not a good trait for a writer. I can imagine my agent's eyes rolling when he sees my email asking if he's heard anything from anyone about my manuscript that's out and about. Doesn't that sound like my manuscript is sitting poolside drinking cocktails with little umbrellas in it? Sadly, it might as well be, because that's all the action it would be getting right about now.

As my agent says, publishing moves on a cosmic scale, not a human scale.

I liken the wait to hear from publishers to the wait when we were adopting our daughter. We adopted our daughter from China in 1998, but for a year and a half before we actually met her, we were waiting. The thing about adoption is that you hear NOTHING until you hear SOMETHING. There are no little notes or voice mails telling you that things are in the works. There is silence. Very very loud silence. And then all of a sudden, you get a Fed Ex delivery with a picture of the most beautiful baby you've ever seen and the wait is over.

Publishing is exactly like that. You hear nothing. Until suddenly, one day, your agent calls and says that he's heard something. And someone wants to buy your book (the agent only ever calls if it's good news...bad news is sent via cyberspace). I got that first phone call while I was editing car and truck stories for the weekly Car and Truck Section at the New Haven Register. I don't even really remember what my agent said, because my heart was pounding so loudly. I had been waiting two years for news on that book. I had written two whole other books in that time of waiting.

That's what they say to do: Write. Write another book. And it's good advice. I've started something new, actually, two something-news. But it doesn't mean I'm not tapping my toe on the inside, hoping that the cosmos would move just a tad more quickly on the one that's already done.

Are you a patient person? Or do you just want to hear something already, like me?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Creativity amid chaos

It's the end of the week. TGIF and all that. I wish it were TGI-six months from now. Because maybe all of the house-related problems we've been having lately will have been resolved by then. I certainly hope so.

In the midst of all this anguish, I was bouncing around through my flash drive and found the first 10 pages of something I wrote last year, maybe around this time, when I was floundering. I'd had an idea and it resonated just long enough for me to write those few pages and then I promptly abandoned it.

I have a lot of those files in my flash drive. The beginning of stories that never get told.

But in this case, the story might actually get a chance. I read those pages and said, "Hey, this isn't half bad." And I proceeded to write five more pages. And then five more. And now I've got 30 pages, which I showed to my agent to see if he thought it was worth moving forward. He did. He was incredibly encouraging.

Sometimes looking through the flash drive is a really good idea. I haven't written much since I turned my last manuscript in to my agent this past summer. I started another YA book, but haven't gotten too far with it. And then all those house things started to go wrong and distractions overruled creativity.

Maybe I should write about dishwashers breaking down, trees falling during hurricanes, showers that leak into basement ceilings, mice in the attic, and non-watertight porch windows.

Or maybe not.

Let's just say the book I'm working on now doesn't have any of those things.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

i Google

I don't check my website stats very often, but when I do, it's always sort of interesting. Take, for example, the number of hits I get. In June, I got almost 20,000 hits, which makes sense because INK FLAMINGOS came out that month and my website was tacked onto reviews and whatnot. But what's really surprising is that there were 16,000 hits in September. Really? When I have done next to nothing promotion-wise. I even forgot to post that I was in St. Louis at Bouchercon.

But what's really fun to look at in the website stats are the search strings, or words that people put into search engines and end up finding my website. These have been among the search strings listed on my site:

clumps lipstick

Really? It makes me want to go into Google and see what I come up with when I type this in.

german mystery writer olsen

Well, I'm Swedish and Norwegian, and those are Germanic languages so maybe this one makes slightly more sense. Although I hate it when people spell my name wrong.

guilford ct tennis karen

I grew up in Madison, Connecticut, which is the next town over to Guilford. I played tennis about five years ago but haven't played much since. Karen is my first name. So maybe, with all these things strung together, it sort of makes sense.

driven to ink by karen e olson can be found in library

Yes, absolutely, Driven to Ink can be found in libraries. But the person who searched with this clearly wasn't quite sure just which library, just wanted to know if the book was in the library.

I know I've typed odd things into Google, looking for things I'm not quite sure about. We had funny white/greenish scaly stuff on the pipe that came out of the wall for the shower head. I wanted to clean it, but didn't know what it was. So I put white/greenish scaly stuff on pipe into Google and ended up finding out that I could use white distilled vinegar for almost anything. A good scrub with a Dobie soaked in white vinegar did the trick. I also got a great recipe for making homemade Windex with vinegar, water, and a little dishwashing soap, which works great.

Considering that Google and the Internets is still so relatively new, I still can't imagine how I lived without it for most of my life.

What was the last thing you Googled successfully