Tag: rude

Five things you should never say to an author

*This post was first published on May 4, 2016 on the Roane Publishing Blog.

If you’re an author, you’ve heard these platitudes before. More frequently than you want. For those of you who meet and talk to writers, you may have said one of these five things.

Authors aren’t the only ones to suffer from people’s gross inconsideration. How many times did I hear unsolicited advice from strangers when I was pregnant? Yeah, I have better things to do than keep track of that.

Still, if I didn’t ask for your input, could you refrain from offering it?

It’s a tad easier to accept hearing these things from strangers on the street. Unfortunately, friends and family are often just as guilty of being nosy and unkind. People mean well, right? They are clueless about the writing process and ignorant about a published author’s required skills.

That said, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. But after you read this post, you’ll need to step up and stop belittling the work of writers.

What are these five things you should never say?

Here they are along with an explanation of what an author hears when you say them. AND why you shouldn’t say it – or anything close to it – to them ever again.

  1. “I’m going to write a novel some day.”

What I heard you say: “What you do is easy. Anyone can do it.”

Really? You’ve written 70,000 (or more) words in less than thirty days and then spent three months rewriting, revising, editing and polishing them? During that time, you cried and screamed, laughed and danced. Afterward, you attempt to find a publisher who likes this piece of your heart and soul.

The fact is most sane people would give up on this after their first attempt. Or spend ten years reworking the same story. Authors write, rewrite, revise, edit, polish and ship.

Then they get to work on the next project.

2. “What’s your real job?”

What I heard you say: “Writing books is a hobby. Get a paying job.”

For some people, writing books might be a hobby. For me, however, it’s my full-time career. I head down the hall to my office five days per week. I spend three to five hours working on my current project(s). Most days, it takes another hour to beef up my online presence (called an author brand or platform) and cruise through my email (queries, rejections, connections, and blog comments).

Sounds like a real job to me.

But you’re right, I would make more money slinging burgers at McDonald’s. But my soul would shrivel.

3. “Everyone writes books these days.”

What I heard you say: “There’s nothing special about what you do. Anyone can get published.”

Everyone can publish their own work, sure, but that doesn’t mean anyone reads it. I might have only a handful of people who aren’t related to me reading what I write, but that’s not my dream or goal.

Furthermore, everyone can’t get published through traditional means. In fact, it’s harder to get a publishing contract than it is to get a speeding ticket.

4. “I’ve never heard of you.”

What I heard you say: “You must not be a decent writer because you’re not famous.”

If I listed the authors with the most books on the market today, I bet you wouldn’t recognize even half their names. It’s not all about Stephen King, Nora Roberts and James Patterson.

I’ve heard of many of these authors but haven’t read their books. In fact, I will NEVER read a book by Stephen King because horror gives me nightmares. No thanks. I need my sleep.

Fame isn’t even the goal for most authors. Most of us would like to make enough to pay the bills and take a nice vacation once a year. And, no, we don’t care if someone who’s never read our books knows our name.

5. “What’s your book about?”

What I heard you say: “Explain in one minute what you’ve poured your heart, soul, mind and time into for the past three months.”

My first thought is “Which one?”

For the record, I’m working on two or three projects at the same time. I’m not sure which one of these you want me to talk about. Most likely, you’re asking about the one I most recently published. I’ll have to think a minute (or five) because that story has already been told.

I might give you my elevator pitch. Or maybe I’ll talk about the premise or underlying theme. Asking an author what their book is about is like asking a psychologist what she did at work or a heart surgeon to explain a triple-bypass.

So-now you know what we don’t want to talk about. And this isn’t to say we don’t want to talk about our book, believe me. But with a general question like that last one, we could be here all night without satisfying your curiosity.

On the other hand, authors love when people say:

“Will you sign my copy of your book?”

“Oh my gosh! You write books? I know a real live author.”

“I loved your book more than The Hunger Games.”

So the next time you’re chatting up a perfect stranger, and you find out they’re an author, you’ll know exactly what to say (and what NOT to say).

You’re welcome.

So, author friends, what other things do you hate people to say to you about your writing? Or what do you love to hear?

Timeshare Vultures

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) Preflight Warmup

Sparkling aquamarine waters lap hungrily at the coarse beige sands of Cabo San Lucas. Quite an incongruous locale for vultures. Unsuspecting first-time visitors incite a feeding frenzy among the seemingly innumerable masses of timeshare salespeople.

If you’ve never flown into Los Cabos airport, you have no point of reference for the scavenger-like feel created by the flock of well-groomed marketers descending upon the innocent. It’s worse than being circled by sharks.

“Don’t talk to anyone,” my friends warned us. “They will say they can help you, but it will cost you hours in a timeshare presentation.”

Even inside the airport at the stand clearly marked “Taxi”, the carnivorous salespeople are after blood. Or make that money. Lots of it. More than $40,000 – and we’re not talking pesos here.

We reached the rental car company van and believe we’re saved. It’s an island of refuge from the sea of bottom-feeders. Until you step out at the rental agency’s headquarters.

That good-looking guy chatting you up about where to go for shopping and activities? Yep, he really wants to corner you for hours and badger you into purchasing a timeshare. Points or weeks, I don’t really know. I don’t want to find out. I just came here for the sunshine, to escape the constant dreariness of Oregon in December.

Mexico-6706 - Black Vulture (large is good)

Whew! You make it out of there without agreeing to listen to a “short” spiel. We must be home free. We have our $2.30 for the toll road. Things are looking up.

We pull into the well-groomed grounds of what appears to be an enormous Spanish hacienda. Arches, pink stucco, marble floors and a Christmas tree to rival the one adorning the Macy float greet you. Shoulders relax and you can imagine the kiss of equatorial sunshine on your face.

This nice lady, Elisa, she’s a hotel representative, your personal concierge. I must be an imbecile! She’s the front man for the evil timeshare mobsters.

“We’d like to invite you to breakfast tomorrow. It’s a beautiful buffet and afterward, you’ll take a 90-minute tour of our sister property. In return, we’ll give you a fabulous Gold card which guarantees you discounts of 15% or more on all your food and activities.”

Save money? Do I really need to hear more? The kids will sleep until 11. We’ll be back from the 90-minute deal by 10:30 at the latest. Why not?

Oh foolish, foolish Americano! You’ve been stabbed in the thigh, near the femoral artery with the gilded knife of anesthesia. You feel no pain.

Until you can’t even enjoy the buffet breakfast because the lovely Adrianna is quizzing you about your vacation habits.

“You own a timeshare. What are your biggest complaints about it?”

Next time, I swear I’m going to say, “I can’t ever use it without being hounded about buying more time.” Forget about not getting reservations where I want at the time I want (number one complaint, apparently).

I want to vacation without being circled by carrion-eaters.

Adrianna smiles and promises she will be finished with her tour in 90 minutes or less. I should have started the timer on my smart phone. Even after 15 years as a timeshare owner, I still believe this fabrication.

She did finish before the time limit. The penthouse was jaw-dropping, but I’ll never be able to afford to rent it. Or if I finally save up enough points, all the weeks will be booked for three years solid. And yet, I imagine myself entertaining my editor or agent while the Sea of Cortez sings in the background.

“This is my teammate, Lisa.” And the lovely Adrianna disappears, handing us over to the drooling pack of hyenas without a backward glance.

“We’re buying a house.” This is our legitimate – and truthful (not that these people understand anything about honesty) – excuse.

It sounds good. We’re considering trading our current membership on seven Mexican resorts and Interval International Chairman-level exchange privileges.

But, we’re buying a house. “Amigos. We don’t take social security numbers. It won’t appear on your credit report.”

Except there’s no way we’re paying 12 percent on any amount for even three months. Refinancing in the states will show up on the credit report and undo all of the progress we’ve made in the loan process thus far.

So our friend Lisa passes us off to a young blonde thing who wants to “make sure we were treated right.” And she presents a different, less costly plan for buying into the resort.

Really? We’re still smiling at the end of this, but we’re beginning to feel the pressure. The hungry snouts are pressing against our calves. The slavering beasts make my forehead bead with sweat.

Black Vulture

And smiling Fernando, “I can’t sit as long as senora is standing” proceeds with an offer that will just guarantee that in a year we can come back and get the same pricing for this unbelievable vacation spot. Doesn’t no mean no – even in Spanish?

He actually does let us rate our experience before he tries to give us this “final offer.” If he would’ve asked afterwards, the scores would not have been above 5.

“We’ll get your incentives,” he says, still pretending to be a polite boy who cares about us. The proverbial crow in sparrow wings we discover as Pedro enters the room.

How about six weeks free? How about eight weeks anywhere in the world? We’ll knock the price down even more and double the point value and give you eighteen months to consider our offer.

No.

What about ten weeks? No sane person would turn down such an offer. Surely you can afford $1,000.

No.

And finally, we exit the den of thieves. “This lovely lady will get your discount card and you’ll be on your way.”

It’s another ruse. The prices highlighted in yellow are good only if you book the events right at this moment. If you walk out the door, you will lose this incredible discount. We are traveling with four other people and haven’t discussed our schedule.

“I will give you six tickets on that sunset dinner cruise free if you take a taxi over to the Pacific side and view our resort.”

WHAT?!?

turkey vulture

Yes, it’s another red-headed vulture staring us down with beady eyes. We pretend not to hear her offer of free taxi rides and additional discounts.

Do these people think we came to sunny Cabo in December to sit inside and listen to presentations the entire time? Maybe they’re as misguided as we were.

We book our dinner cruise (for my birthday) and run away. Is it my imagination or do I feel hot breath on the back of my neck?

There’s no escort out of the labyrinth into which we’ve been lead. But I see the sunlight. Soon we find the sparkling waters and make a break for the beach.

Time 12:30. Elapsed time spent on this 90-minute tour: 4 hours. I should feel lucky. A couple who bought, spent four-and-a-half hours with the flock of buzzards.

Three hours lounging sea-side with a book and a bottle of water, surrounded by my family, almost redeems the day. Almost.

Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson. The timeshare vultures are all around you in Cabo.

Trust no one – especially if they smile and offer to help you.