Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Barbara Bauer Ph.D - Pretend (and profane) Agent

Once upon a time - actually, for the last 20 years, right up until today - there was a pretend literary agent named Barbara Bauer Ph.D. Now, in the book publishing world, real agents make their money by selling real books written by real writers to real publishers. They then take a percentage of what the writer is paid as their fee. It’s a system that has worked well for a long time.

We know that Barbara Bauer Ph.D. was and is a pretend agent because, well, she didn’t sell any of her client’s books. She did, however, charge them fees - sometimes reading fees, sometimes marketing fees and sometimes representation fees.

One day, Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss, real writers who advocate on behalf of other real writers, assembled a list of the 20 Worst Agents. These agents are commonly known as “scam” agents. They’re not interested in earning money by selling books to publishers. They’re interested in “pretending” to sell books but in reality, make their money by charging fees.

Well, Barbara Bauer Ph.D. (who, by the way, seems extraordinarily proud of those letters after her name - you can tell because the only pictures of her on her website are of her graduation - be-capped and be-gowned, by golly) was very annoyed to see that her agency was listed as one of the 20 Worst. She became ultra-annoyed when other websites picked on the list and republished it.

She huffed and she puffed and she threatened to blow their houses down! And she did so profanely! (Maybe the Ph.D. stands for “profane huffer doc.”)

But everyone’s house stayed up.

Until one day she saw her listing on a bulletin board called the AbsoluteWrite forums. Those forums were created by a writer named Jenna Glatzer as a place for other writers to gather and learn from each other. Over 7,000 of them did so. It was a happy and educational place for all writers, from hobbyists to professionals.

Barbara Bauer Ph.D. knew profane huffing wouldn’t work on Jenna, so she huffed and she puffed at the hosts of that forum (JC-Hosting - TotalWeb International Net Consulting) and guess what?

They closed the forums! And over 7,000 formerly-happy writers had no place to gather!

Barbara Bauer Ph.D. and JC-Hosting had made very many writers very angry. Angry writers are a fearsome lot. They dip their keyboards in acid and wield words as daggers.

Guess who’s bleeding now?

Links: Making Light - NVNC ID VIDES, NVNC NE VIDES - Miss Snark - Writer Beware - - More blogs about Barbara Bauer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gonna Quit Smoking

I wrote in my column last week that I intend to quit smoking on May 30th, my 55th birthday. That only leaves me six more days of smoking but who's counting?

As of now, I plan to go cold turkey: no gum or patches or hypnosis or acupuncture - just crying and tantrums. I'm not anal about aids though. (Wicked wits could have fun with that sentence but I'm not that kind of a guy.) If it turns out I'm having a horrible go of it, I'll try whatever I need to in order to stay away from my beloved pipes.

I received a lot of wonderful mail after that column, chockful of stories and tips and cautionary tales from readers who've been there and done that. They were inspiring and I'm very grateful to those folks for taking the time to tell of their experiences.

I'm pretty sure I won't turn into one of "those" reformed smokers; you know, the ones who cough ostentatiously when within 100 yards of someone puffing. They bug me. I plan on exercising more to burn off some of those extra calories I'll probably be ingesting in place of nicotine and to exorcise the heebie jeebies of withdrawal. I just want to feel healthier and look good in a Speedo again. Is that so wrong?

Anyway, I'll be whining about my progress here semi-regularly.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Making A Difference

When the last page is turned in your life’s book and the reviews start to come in, what do you want them to say?

Good parent? Fine son? Great worker? Pillar of society? Excellent writer? Told great jokes?

Worthy accolades, all. But rendered down, I believe the essence of a life well-lived is knowing you made a difference - that the ripples of your passage affected others in a positive way.

Never pass up an opportunity to comfort someone in pain. Keep compliments handy and don’t be shy about doling them out. Layer a slice of honesty with the icing of tact. Gift the lonely with your presence. Listen.

Risk opening your heart - the potential gain is worth the possibility of pain. Keep your mind open too - something good might build a nest in there and the crap will eventually find its way out.

Pay attention to children and the elderly - the former know what you’ve forgotten and the latter know what you’ve yet to learn.

Help someone feel better about themself today. Repeat every day.

That’s all that really matters.