Welcome to My Full-Time RV Living LifeStyle Blog!

I suppose I should mention that this is an RV blog. The picture of me standing beside a motorhome in the banner probably tipped you off to that fact already, but you know how it is with blogs, any body can put anything in the header.

Anyways, I was born, raised, and live in Maine, I have 12 cats, and some people would call me homeless. Nope, I have a home, I just don't have what people call a standard house. My house has wheels and her name is Rosebud. My backyard stretches on for thousands and thousands of miles all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Once upon a time I had a "regular home" but a flood came and took it away. Me and my cats spent the next 3 years living under a 8x6 tarp and survived through 3 blizzards and Maine's coldest winter on record when the temps hit -48F. After that me and the cats moved in a Volvo. As hard as it is to live in a tent with 12 cats, it's even harder to live in a Volvo with 12 cats, and a motorhome named No Hurry was the answer. No Hurry: my home, my office, my RV.

I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts, ideas, adventures, and advice on being self-employed, living and working a full-time RV LifeStyle with an army of cats, while boondocking in the wonderful (and sometimes sub-zero) state of Maine.

I hope to write a post a day featuring random thoughts as they pop into my head, and hopefully 2 or 3 posts per week will focus on something helpful to those seeking to live in an RV full time. If you've any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on what sort of posts you'd like to see me write, please comment and let me know.

I hope you all have as much fun reading this blog as I know I'll have writing it.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

FAQs: How valuable is a writer's group if all the writers are unpublished other than self-publishing or unpaid outlets?

"How valuable is a writer's group if all the writers are unpublished other than self-publishing or unpaid outlets? Writing stories that other unpublished authors enjoy is a fine thing, but is not evidence that the stories themselves are fine things. One of the biggest problems I face is the published authors (as in published by a legit, traditional publisher) are  few and far between. There are lots of successful (defined as selling enough copies to make a few thousand dollars) self-published authors out there. My goal is not to impress other unpublished authors, but to impress somebody in a position to sign a contract or write a check. If that role is not represented in the discussion, then what is the real bankable value of my participation?"

First off, can I point out that Joe Koranth, John Knox, and Amanda Hawking are all self-published authors, each of whom are bringing in MONTHLY incomes of $35,000, which means they are earning more per month than the average traditional published author makes per year. Don't know who they are? Google them.

And before you say they are flukes, consider that there is a huge difference between a hobbyist who self publishes 1 or 2 books in their entire life time while sitting on their tuffet waiting for sales, and a self published author who does this as a full time career, published 3 or 4 novels a year 5 or 10 short stories a month, and has a full team of cover artists, editors, and marketers helping them.

When you say the average self publisher is only making a few thousand dollars per year, I laugh. That's not a self publisher. That's a person with no clue how to run a business, who thinks slapping a single ebook up is going to make them a writer. News flash: writers write. Strange but true. Writers write a lot. Career writers who write for a living write several novels a year and several short stories a week and several non-fiction articles a month. Writers DO NOT spend 3 years working on a single novel. Hobbyists with an outside career do that.

Yes, the average hobbyist makes only a few thousand dollars a year, if they make that much at all. However, the average traditional published writer earns $24,000 a year, and the average self publisher earns $56,000 a year. Average high end traditional publisher earn $120,000 a year, while average high end self publishers earn $400,000 a year.

Also remember there are those little self published books out there, you may have heard of them: Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Or maybe you saw the movie? Perhaps you bought your kids the toys? It was not only self published, it was self published by a 14 year old kid.

Never heard of it, well let's think, bigger, more famous. How about Gary Gygax and his little self published set of books titled: Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook, The Dungeon Master's Guide, and The Monster Manuel. Still self published to this day.

Or maybe Tracy Hickman's self published book titled Ravenloft.

Don't suppose you ever heard of Resident Evil, right?

Still need a bigger one? Here's one to knock your socks off, how about a little self published booklet with a set of cards that was titled Magic The Gathering. And in spite of being a multi BILLION dollar business today is STILL self published by a tiny little indie press known as Wizards of the Coast.

You might want to rethink self publishing. Seriously. When you start researching self publishing, you'll find out fast that the biggest players in the industry are NOT the traditional publishers, but the self publishers. And please, don't confuse the full-time writers with people who write in between a full time job. They are apples and oranges. Full time self publishers don't have time for a job other than writing.

But getting past that and on to your main question: Is there value in a group with unpublished writers? Yes, of course there is. We as humans learn best from other people's mistakes, and who makes more mistakes in writing, than some one just starting out? New writer's excel at helping other new writers to learn what not to do. Because new writers are so eager to learn new things, they are also very eager to warn others "don't do this, I tried that and it doesn't work"

But yeah, I can see your point. Self publishers who hang out on groups ted to be the hobbyists, not the career writers. As for the traditional writers, it's usually in their contract that they can't hang out on forums like this for fear they'll embarrass the company. Thus yes, finding a place to rub elbows with the big boys is not an easy thing to do, and you will find yourself having to settle for every one else. But really, that's not a bad thing, when you consider that the big boys started out small same as the rest of us.

As for impressing the guy with the check, it's my experience (as both a writer and a publisher) that publishers do not hang out on the same forums as writers, and when they do, it's not because they are looking for "new talent".

I know it's commonly said that getting your work out there is going to attract the attention of publishers, but this is simply untrue.  I have been working in publishing since 1978. I can tell you right now that there is NO SUCH THING as a publisher who is searching websites looking for talent. Publishers receive hundreds of submissions a week, thousands more per year than they can ever get around to reading, let alone publishing. No publisher has either the time or even a reason to be "seeking new talent" on the web. So hoping to find "the guy with the check" in any online group is somewhat of a silly ideal.

Okay, so why join any group at all? Well, every group is going to be different, so really it depends on the group itself now doesn't it? Me personally, I hang out on a lot of writer groups. The two you find me spending the most time on are NaNoWriMo and eHarlequin (as in the publisher of Harlequin Romance novels). Why? Because for me, these are the two I find most useful to me personally.

NaNoWriMo is a mixed bag. The forum is huge, one of the largest forums in the world (writer themed or otherwise) You get everything from grade schoolers to high schoolers brand new to the idea of writing to folks trying to get their first novel out to self published authors to trad published authors and even a few really big name authors, all cruising the forums together. This is also the ONLY forum I have ever found which has publishers and editors to be buzzing about as well. Every one is really nice and every one has advice for every one else no matter what the topic is. Over the years I have learned more about the art and career of writing from NaNoWriMo forums than from any place else.

eHarlequin is a different place entirely. The forums are small with only a few hundred people, mostly women in the 30s or 40s, all of them with a single goal in mind: to publish a romance novel with Harlequin. The forums are heavily modded, get this: by the publishers and in-house editors of Harlequin. Authors wanting to submit their work for review, submit samples right on the forum, and the heads of staff come on and give them public critics and reviews. The authors benefit from getting to know the publishers and editors on a first name basis and know what exactly they are looking to publish. I will point out here that Harlequin created this forum for the specific purpose of making their job of sifting through submissions easier.

Another place you find me is over at Wizards of the Coast's forum. I am there because I am a Dungeon Master, and I am a player in 3 different Dungeons and Dragons groups, and I also write RPG game modules. I get info on what other DMs are looking for, what other players are looking for, AND as WotC is a tiny little indie press publishing house, I also get the chat one on one with the owners, publishers, and editors, as well as other RPG writers.

Now, based on your question, I think a group like eHarlequin or WotC is what you are looking for. I don't know if other big name trad publishers have forums like this or not, but I would assume that if one does, than several of the others must as well. So my advice to you would be to figure out which publisher you want to publish your book, and find out if they have a forum on their website and if they do, join it and chat there daily, so that you have a better chance of getting in good with the person who signs the checks (that's what Harlequin romance authors do). But other than publisher owned forums, you aren't going to find check writers hanging out in very many online groups.

If you REALLY want to get in with the really big, big, big BIG name authors and publishers, than you want to join the professional associations. Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Western Writers of America, Writers Guild of America, Horror Writers Association, Dog Writers Association, Maine Writers and Publishers Allegiance, etc, etc, etc.

I am a member of the Romance Writers and also the Horror Writer's one. There are several, every genre has one. Most every state has one. I know there is one for Children's Writers, forget the name, but a quick Google search should lead you in the right direction. Those groups are where you are going to find the "more professional" authors. Just be warned, these groups tend to be more snooty that others, they are not free to join (some are quite expensive - as in several hundred dollars a year), most require that you ALREADY have published 2, 3, or 4 traditionally published novels BEFORE they will consider you for membership (and will often require you mail copies of your books with the membership check). The ones that do allow unpublished writers, tend to be far from friendly towards "newbies" and often members won't take you seriously until you have been multi published. These are good places to meet agents and in-house editors of big publishing houses, but you may find the super snobby elitist attitude of members to be a bit out of your tastes.


Moments after publishing this blog post I received the following message to which I have the following reply:

Jody Lebel • @ EelKat You are one angry person. Ed was talking about the value of joining live groups in his immediate area and the value for time expended, not to mention gas, for spending his limited time with self or non pub groups vs. pubbed groups. That's all. Nobody is knocking self pubs. We all are in the same boat and start out the same way.

@ Jody Lebel

??? Angry?

There is no anger in my comment at all. I'm confused. Where did you see anger?

I must point out to you that I have Autism and my ability to either feel or show emotion is limited at best. There is zero emotion at all in what I said here and if you see angry, I can only assume that you are reading more into what I have said, than what it is I actually said thus meaning that it is you who are feeling anger, otherwise why would you find anger in my words? Perhaps it is my lack of emotion at all which you have mis interpreted as anger? I do realize that non Autistic folks find it very difficult to comprehend the emotionless logic minds of us Autistic folks and often mistake lack of emotion as anger, however this response from non Autistic folks always baffles me, as I do not fully understand the concept of anger to begin with. Perhaps it would help if you explained to me what it is you define anger as to help me than better understand what this thing you call anger is to begin with?

I never said he was knocking self publishing. He does however suggest that self publishers are below his stature, because he states that he views it as a waste of his time to join a group where the members are mostly self publishers, thus why I pointed out the error of his assumption that self publishers are worthless no bodies not worthy of his wasting time talking to on groups. I simply stated logic, facts, and hard evidence, all devoid of any emotion at all. Are you suggesting that correcting an erroneous falsehood by stating the truth is therefor an act of anger? I find the logic of your comment to me dreadfully confusing because you seem to be typing out of anger yourself, and are trying to say that I am angry because you yourself are feeling anger towards me. could you please explain the logic you have used to conclude that I am in any way angry?

As for live groups, again you jump to conclusions, for he does not say this. If your assumption is true and he is in fact speaking of live groups, though this is not what he asked me, and I did simply answer the question as it was asked to me, I have Autism after all and reading hidden meanings into people's words is not a talent I possess, perhaps I should than add to my comment that if he is in the local area, I head the Maine Charter of the groups I mentioned and he is more than welcomes to rub elbows with us "more professional" published authors.

Do keep in mind Jody that how you present yourself online is a reflection of your work.

Every text you send is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.

Every email you send is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.

Every private message you send is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.

Every comment you post online, on blogs or forums, is a representation of your work, every misspelled word and text-speech word tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.

 Every forum thread you start is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.

Next time you feel like attacking a fellow writer, an editor, or a publisher (of which I am all of the above) it might be in your best interests to find out who it is you are talking to first, and how detrimental that attack could be on your personal career. As I said, publishers don't visit forms looking for talent, but we do visit forums and will avoid publishing future manuscripts.

Remember who I am, what I write, and what I do to people who attack me online, Jody Lebel. By attacking me, you give your writing career a bad name, not only that but you give your publisher a bad name. Your publisher is not going to want to publish future books with a creep like you who trolls online and gives their company a bad name.

Ever wonder what it was like to live with Autism? 
I have Autism. For more of my life I rarely spoke and was considered "too crazy" to ever live a normal life. I communicated via writing instead of vocally. I did not attend school. Psychologists said I would never drive a car, never get a job, never go to college, never function as a meaningful member of society, never be able to take care of myself or live on my own. They said there was no hope for me, I would need full-time care my whole life. 
My progression was long and slow and very hard. Things other people found easy to do (getting dressed, brushing teeth/hair, walking across the street, etc,) I found extremely confusing and hard to learn. I was prone to wandering off and getting lost (I still am). Driver's ed takes most people a few weeks to learn - it took me 5 years. 
I determined to prove the doctors wrong, but it was far harder to do, than most people would imagine. I got my first job working at Macy's at age 30 (a very difficult job as I had to deal one on one with customers and I still at that point was not talking in a manner that could be understood by others). I got my GED at age 34. I got my driver's license at age 35. I started college at age 36. By age 37 I had become a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Student and I was finally able to speak to others in full spoken verbal conversation for the first time in my life. 
Now you can find out what it's like Being an Adult with Autism


Good morning Starshine! Liked this post? Looking to connect with me online? I love social networks and am on most of them. You can find me on: BloggerEtsyFaceBookGoogle+KeenMySpaceNaNoWriMoProBoardsScript FrenzySpoonflowerSquidooTwitterULC Ministers NetworkWordpress, and Zazzle Feel free to give me a shout any  time. Many blessings to you, may all your silver clouds be lined with rhinestones and sparkle of golden sunshine. Have yourself a great and wonderful glorious day!

~Rev. Wendy C. Allen aka Empress EelKat of Laughing Gnome Hollow


This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log @ http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com  If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat @ http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day! ~ EelKat


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