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I'm with you, Jeff. That just drives me crazy. When it comes to the arts, anyone can draw, anyone can dance, anyone can write books. One woman said to me, "I could write a novel, but I'm too busy." Right. And unfortunately, these days anyone *can* write a novel, and for a hundred bucks at Kinkos they can share it with their friends and call themselves published authors.

These days, if someone asks me what I do and I say author, I'll often hear this: "So how do you get distribution? I've heard that PublishAmerica doesn't help the author at all."

It has gotten so that every time I call a bookstore, or a newspaper looking for a review, the first words out of my mouth are "I'm with such-and-such publisher." Hoping they'll recognize the name. Newspapers have been burned so many times that they're not reviewing anymore.

Writing is a craft. There's so much to learn, and we all want to keep on learning in order to get better. To be published legitimately is a very special thing.

Same tune I've heard. A woman I greatly admire made it sound like if she really wanted, she could write a *literary* novel in between dropping her kids off at swim practice and picking up her drycleaning. Or those souls who are taking an online course who are *guaranteed* a publishable manuscript upon completion of said course. It's pointless to ask which publishing house, because they don't have a clue, they just know what they've been told: they are going to be a published author. Hell, most of them are already spending the advance money. Ever had that comment, "You should write a book about me, because *my* life has been so interesting?" I usually skirt the issue by commenting that lying is so much more fun than telling the truth. Then I add, plus, I get to kill people in a really vicious, bloody way. Every day. Wanna come over and watch me work? Usually they run at that point :)

Lori, I'm cracking up on your "kill people in really vicious ways."

I had an acquaintance who, when he heard I'd signed a book deal, got all excited about telling me about his book. He had 3400 words, and was worried that he was already running out of "words," so he thought it was time to go ahead and query agents and publishers so they could buy it and he could then finish it. Oh, and then it turned out that it was a memoir-thinly-disguised, and by the way, he'd been working on it for a year. And he had no writing credits.

He wanted me to read it and give it advice. My husband, who was standing there sort of stunned (he's seen the hours and effort I've put in, so he understands), looked at the man like he was crazy. Carl said, "That would be like you being a t-ball player and going over to LSU and asking the head coach to come out and coach you through the first season of t-ball. I love my husband. The guy looked a little startled, but then nodded.

Whenever I have people tell me that I ought to write their life story, I give them the quote (I think it's attributable to Mark Twain), "Oh, but only you could do justice to your story! I'm sure you'll be amazing." I figure that's what they really want to think: they could be a best-seller, and their life is that fascinating, so why not tell 'em to go for it. 99% won't ever even try (then it's not my fault) and of the 1% which will try, the majority won't get past a couple of chapters. Maybe that's helpful for them to see. Or maybe I'm evil. (grin)

I always encourage folks who find out I'm a writer and say they've always wanted to write a novel. Usually I'll say, "Well, you should do it. You _could_ do it. It's a lot of fun."

In my opinion, writing a novel is easy.

Selling a novel is not.

I'm going to have to paraphrase the great man's words, but there's a story about Faulkner being asked about writing and he said that in Hollywood no one thinks they can direct the first time out, or carry a picture, but hell, everyone knows the alphabet.

Think about it, many of us started off in writing by reading something published by a traditional publishing house and going "Christ, *I* can do better than this!"

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