Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Heading for a slow start on NaNoWriMo

So far, it looks like I'll be getting a slow start on NaNoWriMo this year. I had intended to take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week to start outlining my book, but with fielding a couple of rush projects last week and then getting sick over the weekend, it just hasn't happened.

And yes, I wholeheartedly believe that having a good outline is the secret to being able to write quickly (and without major episodes of writer's block). When I do get around to starting my outline (hopefully tonight), I'll be using Cyn Mobley's suggestions from BAM: Book A Month, an ebook I reviewed on my Reading For Writers blog about a month ago.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For all you Write at Home Moms...

Actually, anyone who has been around kids at all should find this video pretty hysterical, but especially those of you who have kids of your own:

Are you in agreeance...or agreement?

When I was writing an article today, I used the word "agreeance," and Word automatically flagged it. I was flabbergasted. Although I don't believe I've actually used it in Word before, I know I've heard this word used before.

So I did what any good writer would do: I looked it up.

The first thing I came across was some tabloid-worthy controversy from 2003, when Fred Durst, of all people, used the word agreeance in a public statement...and was immediately blasted by the media and the blogosphere. Then the Oxford English Dictionary came to his rescue, and said yes, agreeance is actually a word... Albeit one that fell out of common use two and a half centuries ago.

Hmmmm. If agreeance is such an out-of-date word, why am I so familiar with it that I would use it on an instinctive level? (Note: I think for most writers, word choice is a highly instinctive process. Synonyms often carry slightly different shades of meaning, and I usually know which one best serves my intended meaning. The only time I use a thesaurus is when I know there's a better word for what I want to say, but I can't think of the precise one.)

I considered the possibility that I could be familiar with the word simply because I was a literature major, and therefore have read more of the classics than the average person. To test this theory, I asked my husband, who is pursuing a history major. Nope, he was familiar with the word too, and had no idea that the right to its existence is hotly contested.

If you read the opinions at the above link, you will see that some users have pointed out that agreeance is commonly used in Australia and New Zealand, while others devalue that usage by labeling it as "slang." I can't help but wonder if a word can really be "obsolete" and "slang" at the same time. Rather, wouldn't that simply mean that it's not obsolete, since it is still in use?

What are your thoughts? Is agreeance really a word? (For the record, I decided it was, and left it in my article; using agreement instead just didn't sound right.) Also, can you think of any other cases where "old-fashioned" words have been reinstated in modern language? I'm sure there must be others, but I can't think of any off the top of my head!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lost time

One of the most unfortunate things about being sick is that when you're better, you end up feeling like you've lost a day (or two or more — however long you've been sick).

I awoke feeling much better today, but with this sense that there is a hole where yesterday was supposed to be. I guess that comes from only being awake for 8 or 10 hours of the day.

At any rate, there is a lot I need to get caught up on, and October is almost over ... which means NaNoWriMo is almost here! I'm taking it easy today, but starting tomorrow I'll need to be back up to speed — and then some.

Here's what I've got going for the week so far:

* 7 articles
* At least 1 press release — maybe 2 or 3
* Finish my website revisions — an overhaul of my portfolio and services sections that I have been working on for some time, now
* Start trolling the markets again, once my website revisions are live — something I haven't done regularly in months
* Revise/prepare several contest submissions
* Outline this year's NaNo novel
* Start writing my NaNo novel on Thursday

I'm going to start slow, since I don't feel up to doing a whole lot today yet, but by tomorrow I hope to take on a full load of work, in addition to starting to outline my NaNo novel.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sick days

The last time I posted about being "under the weather," it was because I was having frequent headaches. Being that they seemed to be connected with working (i.e. staring at the computer screen), the headaches were severely affecting my productivity.

Although the headaches cleared up on their own (because I started getting more sleep? or because my eyes grew accustomed to the change in lifestyle?), I am sorry to report that I am once again "under the weather" — this time with the worst cold I've had in several years, at least.

I noticed Friday night that I was starting to experience more congestion than usual. By the time I woke up Saturday morning, the congestion had become worse, and my throat was sore to boot. The symptoms steadily worsened throughout the day, even with medication (which might not have been working very well, as it later turned out to be expired — oops). By evening, I was completely miserable.

Unfortunately, I had plans to babysat yesterday evening, and I didn't have the heart to cancel at the last minute. As it turned out, it didn't matter, because it quickly became clear that those same kids were the ones that gave me the cold when I was last there (Wednesday evening). It's no fun babysitting when you don't feel well, though — and to make matters worse, it was a later night than usual for this family.

This is where I get to point out what a wonderful husband I have. When I arrived home, drippy-nosed and cranky, Michael went out and bought me lotion Kleenex and two kinds of cold medicine. Honestly, without his little rescue operation, I think I would have passed a much more uncomfortable night than I actually did.

I have spent most of today in bed. I slept until noon, got up for a few hours, slept for another hour, and then read for a bit. Getting lots of sleep usually helps me to kick a cold (or whatever I've got), so I'm hoping to be feeling much better by tomorrow morning. Actually, I've almost got to be feeling better — being sick this weekend has caused me to fall behind on two clients' projects, and I missed going to the stables today.

Amy Derby of Write-From-Home.com commented on my headaches post that she can usually work through a cold. Sadly, I am a big baby about being sick. For one thing, I am rather OCD about congestion — I blow my nose constantly, compulsively, until it goes away. (Hence the need for lotion Kleenex.) That kind of activity makes typing difficult. For another... Well, suffice it to say (again) that I am just a baby about being sick. When I am groggy, sniffly, and achey, the last thing I want to be doing is working.

Anyway, it'll all still be there tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What do other writers charge for a rush order?

I've been very busy the last couple of days. Aside from a follow-up vet visit for Panama's injury last weekend and a rather time-consuming experiment with commuting to the stables via public transportation, I had two of my regular clients contact me with rush jobs on Wednesday.

One of the jobs wasn't a bad rush — four or five days. The other job was one of those where the client wants it "as soon as possible" — and leaves me to figure out what that means. I said I could have it by today.

Unfortunately, working on this project in between vet visits and RTD commutes has set me back on a couple of other things. It's a bigger pain in the butt than it deserves to be, basically. I am considering instituting a rush order fee from now on, but I'm not sure how much to charge.

My thought is that a rush order charge ought to be a percentage of the job's normal rate. That way, bigger jobs (and bigger pains in the butts) command larger fees. However, I don't know what is a typical amount for a rush order fee.

What do you charge clients for a rush order?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've been offered writing services!

This morning I received a spam email that had been sent via my website contact form. (If that's not dedication to being a spammer, I don't know what is!) The really funny thing is what the sender was trying to sell me.

The email starts off:

Dear Sir / Madam,

We are a web based service provider for all Journalism related activities. At [removed for publication], we provide on line services for journalism and publishing related activities.

To know more comprehensively about us, please visit us at [removed for publication]

You can count on us for complete and comprehensive services with regard to every aspect of bringing out a publication.

The email goes on to list the company's services. Oddly enough, they sound familiar to the services I offer on the services page of my website! Evidently the sender spammed any website that had something to do with writing, rather than looking for websites where the owner would actually be interested in buying writing services.

While I'm not opposed to "cold-calling" via email now and then, the key to success is emailing companies that might actually require your services. Anything else is just a waste of time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

How Panama hijacked my day

Panama effectively hijacked my day, and I spent about four hours at the barn instead of doing the work I'd planned for this afternoon.

While Michael and I were grooming Panama, we realized that he was acting rather differently than usual: That is to say, he was standing still instead of dancing around, and seemed to have no interest in treats (very unusual for him!). His nostrils also looked a little snotty.

Then I turned Panama out into the arena and chased him around a bit, but he didn't seem to want to canter. When he stopped running, he looked at me at such an angle that I realized his cheek was swollen. We immediately pulled him out of the arena, and I began making phone calls.

I was concerned about two major possibilities: strangles, which is a horse disease that can result in blocked airways, and that he had ingested lime, which the stable owner had put down (uncovered!) for the first time. It didn't help that Panama was clearly feeling very needy — he stuck as close to me as possible, and showed no interest in grazing (also very unusual).

I got a hold of the vet and he came out. It turns out Panama must have banged his face recently and badly; I'll have to have the vet drain the abcess in a few days, but for right now all he could do was to give him a shot and leave me with some painkiller/anti-inflammatory medicine. Still, better safe than sorry!

Once Panama had the shot, he started feeling better within 10 or 15 minutes. I could tell because he started grazing and stopped following me around with sad eyes. I cleaned his stall, letting him graze a while, and then did a little groundwork with him.

By the time I finally left, I had been there for about four hours, and the entire afternoon was gone. I'm not sorry, though — I'm glad I was there and was able to call in the vet to make Panama more comfortable. It was also rather heartwarming that when he was feeling crappy, he wanted nothing more than to feel close to me: It proves that I really have gained his trust in a major way.

Update to a post

This evening I updated this post:

Day 3 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

Please skip on over there to check out my update, as I want to make sure no one misunderstood my comments in the original post.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Definitions of libel, slander, and defamation

During the entire Laray Carr fiasco, it was reported that LCP was threatening writers and contractors with legal action if they posted online about the company. In response, I and several others made sure to remind others that it is not libel if what you say is 1) the truth (and can be backed up with evidence), OR 2) clearly stated as opinion.

On the Writer Beware thread regarding Laray Carr, Amy Derby of Write-From-Home.com went a step further than that: She found a posted a link that explains what libel is, and what defenses you have available to you if you are accused of it.

First of all, let's discuss the difference between libel and slander, since many scammers don't seem to get this: Slander is spoken defamatory statements. Libel is written defamatory statements.

Defamatory statements are defined as "the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm."

In other words, in order for the things you have written to be considered libelous, they have to actually be false, and they have to somehow damage the person's reputation.

But what can you do if you are actually accused of libel? Well, if you have proof to back up the truth of your statements, obviously you are in the clear. But what if you said something that can't be backed up, such as, "Quincy Carr is an asshole"? (Just an example, obviously.)

In this case, an accepted defense is that your statement was actually an opinion, rather than a statement of fact. Of course, this defense is much easier to use if you actually state it as opinion: "I think Quincy Carr is an asshole." (This time I mean it!)

The moral of this story:

1. Read the definition of libel for yourself.

2. Always make sure that your statements can be proven to be truthful.

3. If you can't produce proof, or you think what you do have might not hold up in court, then make sure your statements are clearly stated as opinion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recourse for Laray Carr writers

If you wrote, edited, or did any other work for Laray Carr (a.k.a. LCP) and did not get paid, you may find this article helpful:

More Than One Way to Expose a Deadbeat by Angela Hoy

In this article, Angela Hoy expands on the options available to you if you are unable to collect payment. As Angela says, "There are ways to make a publisher pay, if not in money, in embarrassment."

Unfortunately for the contractors who worked with Laray Carr, the likelihood of ever seeing a penny of what is owed you is most likely nil. Embarrassment may be the only option you have left.

I encourage all of the LCP writers and contractors to take the following steps outlined by Angela in her article...and then send her the URLs, as she requests! Once those URLs appear on WritersWeekly.com, practically the entire writing community will know about Laray Carr, Quincy Carr, and its crimes.

To repeat warnings found on other sites, Laray Carr is continuing to hire (and, apparently, not pay) under different company names. Be wary of working for companies under any of the following names:

* Laray Carr
* Quincy Carr
* CMCGroup or CMC Group
* Bobby Carlson
* liveweb
* Duemark
* MNT Management
* NathanNetMan

Unfortunately, the "mastermind" behind this company (most likely Quincy Carr) is a chameleon and adept at changing names as quickly as we can catch up. However, he can easily be identified by the typos and grammatical errors in his ads, and his hard-line refusal to use Escrow, make payments throughout the course of a large project, or make any other good-will or confidence-inspiring concessions.

If you have been denied payment by Laray Carr or someone you think might be Laray Carr in disguise, I hope you will take Angela's advice: Post your complaints on the many various sites she suggests, and email her with the URLs. With someone like Quincy Carr, you need more Internet coverage than you can get with your blogs alone!

Writers' quote of the day

This was one of the quotes of the day on my Google homepage:

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."

- GK Chesterton

How true. Can you think of any bad novels you've read that have told you something about the author?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Days 6 and 7 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

Being the weekend, days six and seven of the Muse Online Writers Conference rather blended together.

Saturday morning I had a chat on self-publishing. The chat was at 9am my time; however, I've been slipping out of my earlier schedule lately, so I slept in and signed on 20 or 25 minutes late. The chat was good, but not spectacular, so I don't think I missed much.

I didn't do anything else with conference or work for the rest of the day. Instead, Michael and I did our normal weekend stuff, like walking the dogs and going to the stables.

Yesterday I completely forgot about an afternoon chat I was supposed to attend. I didn't do any work (yes, I did have some I wanted to do) or blog, either. Instead, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which I had started late Saturday night) every chance I got.

In fact, I finished Book 7 late last night, less than 24 hours from when I had started it. I counted up the actual hours spend reading, and I figure it took me about nine hours total to read the book. It's been a while since I've read a book in one day -- particularly a book as long as Harry Potter -- but it felt very satisfying.

So that was my days six and seven of the conference. How was everyone else's weekends?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Day 5 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

The Muse Online Writers Conference is almost over! Today was day five, with only Saturday and Sunday left to go.

I haven't done much conference-ish stuff today, and it seems I'm not the only one: My workshops in the forum are virtually dead. I think everyone is starting to slow down a bit. For instance, Mariella reported that she resorted to saving the transcripts for her chats, so that she could keep working now and read the transcripts later.

I did have one chat scheduled today: one on writing for pet publications. There was some good information in the chat, but unfortunately I couldn't participate -- I couldn't click, type, or scroll anywhere within the chat window. I tried logging out and back in a couple of times, but that didn't fix it. I probably should have tried rebooting, but I decided not being able to ask questions was better than missing several minutes of the chat altogether.

Other than the chat and a few brief visits to the forum, I spent a lot of my day blogging (obviously!). I have noticed that I tend to go through periods where I don't blog as much, and other periods where I blog several times a day. Lately I've been experiencing one of the latter types.

As it turned out, my workload for this week wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I wrote to one client and was able to reschedule (thank goodness for flexible, loyal clients!). I had only a couple of other, minor things to do, which has been nice.

I'll be sure to let you know how the remaining two days of the conference go. In the meantime, if you haven't already read about my week, be sure to read about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

What my website is worth

I found this fun widget: a way to find out (and post on your blog) how much your website is worth, based on the links pointing back to it.

According to this site, mine is currently worth $2,984.00. Probably not accurate, but fun nevertheless!

Just for sh!ts and giggles, I'm going to add the graphic (which is supposed to update automatically) to my sidebar.

500 posts!

You are reading the 500th post on my blog.

I will have had this blog for two years in December. It has (obviously) grown quite a bit since then, but it has also spawned several other blogs. I love to blog, but I never would have known that had I not started this one!

Literature Nobel Prize winner, Doris Lessing

The Nobel Prize for Literature was just awarded to Doris Lessing. I hadn't heard of her before, but I've already requested a couple of her books from the library: The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook, both mentioned in the article.

I have quite a backlog of books to read right now, but probably in about a month or so you should see these books pop up on my book blog, Livre du Jour.

Be sure to read and/or listen to the NPR story on Doris Lessing and the Nobel Prize — it is quite interesting!

Day 4 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

The fourth day of the Muse Online Writers Conference was possibly the best day yet — but that's because I won something.

While in the first of my two chats for the day, there was a couple of door prizes. At the time of the first door prize there was some discussion about whether we are supposed to guess one number and stop, or keep guessing numbers until someone gets it. Unfortunately, the moderators have not been stating the rules for the door prizes, and in two of my previous chats someone had said something to indicate you should only guess once.

We cleared that up with Lea, however, and so for the second door prize I was prepared: I started rattling off numbers until the chat threatened to kick me out. (Apparently if you post too much you can get kicked out.) My second guess won the prize: the presenter's book!

The funny thing about this was that I was pretty annoyed, on the forum and in the chat, at how often the presenter was plugging her book. I understand that many of the presenters see this conference as a chance to get the word out about their books, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't do their jobs in presenting. My most hated response to a question, either on the forum or in a chat, is, "The answer to that is in my book," or something similar. To me, that just seems so cheap — after all, they are there to answer questions on their subject!

The presenter from whom I won the book was doing that to a certain extent. In fact, the"handout" was a sample chapter — an introductory chapter, with no information — from the presenter's book. I'm genuinely happy to have won a door prize, especially one that is so useful, but I can't help but admit I find it somewhat satisfying to get it for free after the presenter spent so much effort plugging it to all of us.

I'm staying more or less up-to-date now on the forums, although I still haven't been participating in that Dialogue Workshop — the one fiction workshop or chat I signed up for, I'm afraid. In one of the forums, I submitted an old bio for review, but sadly, the presenter didn't think much of it. As Kathy Kehlri noted, however, at least this will get me to update it!

You can read about my experiences during the first few days of the Muse Online Writers Conference here:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What makes a bestseller?

Please scroll down for important corrections on the original post.

NPR had an interesting headline yesterday about what it means to be a bestseller. Although when you pull up the page it displays an article about the reader gender gap, do listen to the radio spot — it's quite interesting.

One of the things the radio spot discusses is the New York Times's recent decision to expand their bestseller lists, basically so more books could achieve that all-important label. It also discusses the rather arbitrary means of deciding which books have achieved bestseller status.

This reminds me of something that was big on WritersWeekly.com a couple of years ago: Amazon.com was running a bestseller program, where authors would sign up, pay Amazon.com (see below for corrections) somewhere in the range of two grand, and they would run a special where — for one weekend — your book would be featured with some freebie giveaway. The idea was to get your book to sell lots and lots of copies in a 24-hour time frame, and therefore "become" a bestseller. No matter if it never achieved the same sales rate — as long as it got there once, authors could claim they had an Amazon.com bestseller.

Obviously, Angela Hoy didn't have much good to say about that. It's a clear-cut case of working the system, and doesn't necessarily say anything about the true rate of sales of the book. Angela also didn't have very nice things to say about taking advantage of writers that way. (Two grand? Good grief!!!)

The current story — the New York Times adding another bestseller list to increase the number of books that make it to bestseller status — reminds me a lot of that. Definitely some working of the system going on here. Another book I read once (the title of which I can't remember now) talked about how even the NYT list is worked: The titles are chosen ahead of time by the paper, which then sends a list out to the booksellers to confirm or deny. Well, of course they always confirm those titles, because those are the ones whose sales they are suddenly paying attention to!

To come full circle, I think NPR's radio spot on what makes a bestseller — while it doesn't discuss the NYT's hand in determining what titles make the list — does accurately represent the mystery of what, exactly, defines a bestseller.


Thanks to fellow freelancer Kathy Kehrli, I was motivated to check the WritersWeekly.com article after I wrote the above post, and discovered that I was wrong on my facts.

1) Amazon.com was not directly involved in this marketing scam. The scam itself is marketed via a teleseminar.

2) However, Amazon.com sets themselves up for this by calculating the bestseller list every hour. I think all of us agree that a book needs to sell consistently well over more than an hour's time in order to be considered a bestseller. Unfortunately, Amazon.com's system allows books to get on the list due to nothing more than an hour's unusually high sales.

3) The scam's time frame is an hour, not a weekend or a day as I had said in the post.

You can see the original WritersWeekly.com article here.

This little incident is a good lesson to me as to why I should check my facts before I post, rather than writing on something based on memory — especially a two-year-old memory.

A freelance writer's occupational hazards

Writing from home isn't all fun and games. Many other forums have addressed myths such as:

1) Writing in coffee shops all the time
2) Being able to rearrange your schedule whenever you want (i.e. on warm-weather, let's-go-to-the-beach kinds of days)
3) Not having a "real job"

Of course, there is some truth to these myths (well, except for the one about writing not being a real job), but other people are known for exaggerating the benefits of a writer's life.

This post isn't about those things, though. It's about debunking the myth that writers, since we work from home, have no occupational hazards.

Of course, anyone who has suffered Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) knows that we face plenty of hazards in our jobs. And unlike many workers with hazardous jobs, we don't get sick days or medical leave. So if our wrists start hurting from too much typing or mouse-work, we have to make a decision between taking care of our bodies and taking care of our bills.

Now, I haven't suffered any symptoms of RSI for several months (yes, I still get it from time to time, but never as bad as what I experienced early on in my freelance career). Right now I'm having an entirely different type of writing-related strain: eye strain.

It's been a problem primarily in the last week or two: I develop a headache behind and around my eyes anytime I am on my computer for more than about 45 minutes. I'm not the type of person who is comfortable with popping pills all day long, so I have been taking breaks -- doing laundry, reading (which, oddly enough, doesn't cause the headaches), and visiting Panama -- periodically throughout my days. Unfortunately, while this helps me manage the headaches somewhat, it has a devastating effect on my productivity.

I've noticed a few trends regarding these headaches:

1) They almost always occur within the first 45 minutes of being on the computer.

2) Far-sighted activities -- i.e. watching movies, working with Panama, driving -- do not cause the headaches. I can do those all day long without a hint of a headache.

3) Among more near-sighted activities, it is only the laptop screen that seems to cause headaches. I can read without any problems, even though I hold my book even a little closer than the computer screen.

4) Any light source behind my laptop screen seems to make things worse. My desk is right in front of our west-facing study window, so I sit facing the window with my laptop right in front of me. The glare of the sun in the late afternoons makes the blinds "glow." For some reason, having this right behind my laptop screen makes the headaches come on faster, so I have to retreat to a different location toward the end of the day. Also, I have had to stop opening the blinds during the morning and mid-day, because more light comes in and causes the same general results.

I'm almost certain that I need a new glasses prescription. Why this big of a change all of a sudden, though? I think it actually has to do with Panama: Suddenly I am no longer staring at a computer screen eight or more hours a day, but using my eyes for seeing far during at least half of every day. I think my eyes are rebelling against the strength of my current prescription.

I have always been quite near-sighted -- so near-sighted, in fact, that if I took off my glasses right now I'd have to have my face about a foot away from the screen in order to read what I am writing. However, I have always felt that my poor eyesight has partly to do with how often I do things that require only close-up vision.

For example, when I became a full-time writer, and I was suddenly staring at a computer all day long with few interruptions, my vision worsened.

Also, when my diabetes was brought under control and the sugar cleared out of my eyes, my vision rebounded to 20/25 for three glorious weeks. In other words, my eyes had actually changed shape to compensate for the clouds of sugar I was trying to see through, and once that was gone they gradually returned to their normal shape.

At any rate, I suspect that my vision is improving slightly thanks to a healthier mix of activities -- similarly to how getting off my butt for several hours every day has helped me lose a few pounds. Unfortunately, this is resulting in a lot of painful and disorienting headaches right now, which interferes with my work. As a result, I need to take a trip to the eye doctor that neither my schedule nor my finances are prepared for right now.

Anyone who thinks writers don't have occupational hazards can kiss my semi-blind a$$.

Day 3 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

Yesterday, Wednesday, was day 3 of the Muse Online Writers Conference. (You can see my reflections on Monday and Tuesday here.) I had two chats yesterday: Protecting Yourself and Your Work by K.L. Nappier, and Book Marketing for Shy and Frugal Authors by Shel Horowitz.

From the corresponding forum for Protecting Yourself and Your work, I have decided that my knowledge of copyright regulations actually puts me ahead of most of the topics covered in the workshop. The chat wasn't much different, I am afraid. However, perhaps the workshop will provide some newer information as the week progresses.

The book marketing chat was terrific. Horowitz is clearly very knowledgeable on the subject. I intend to check a couple of his books out from my best friend the library. One of his books, which my library doesn't have, I may end up buying.

Also yesterday, I visited almost all of my week-long workshops. Some of them are turning out to be quite good. I am particularly pleased with Wynette Hoffman's How to Publish Your Novel Your Way. It's pretty much the entire rundown on self-publishing — very informative and helpful.

Update 10/20/2007 -- After a note from Kathy Nappier, I feel I may have given the wrong impression regarding her workshop. My complaint was not that the workshop was inadequate -- quite the contrary, actually, as most of the participants really did need the basic information she provided. I think that with my freelancing experience and the research I have already done on copyright information, I was simply the odd one out in that workshop. However, I'm not sorry I signed up, as I enjoyed "meeting" Ms. Nappier and the other participants!

Day 2 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

Tuesday, day 2 of the Muse Online Writers Conference, went noticeably better than Monday. I had one chat: Historical Fiction by Florence Weinberg. I was very relieved to find the chat entertaining and informative — after my first experience, I was afraid all that chats were going to stink.

Also on Tuesday, I started visiting more of the forums where the week-long workshops are held. I think I got through about a third of my workshops on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, my week has turned into a blur, so that's about all I remember about Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Panama's first training session

Panama had his first training session this morning!

I arrived at the stables about 45 minutes early. I'd wanted to give him a bath — he was caked with mud when I arrived yesterday evening, but I hadn't had a chance to get it off — but I ran out of time, so instead I just curried and brushed him twice. I also made sure that I mucked out his stall before the training session, guessing (correctly) that I wouldn't want to afterward.

I was very pleased with both the trainer and the amount of progress she made. She picked up all four of Panama's feet, and I immediately noticed that she had a better way of doing it than I did — a way that enabled her to hold onto his foot better, and still have one hand free to pick it out as necessary. In fact, we picked out all four feet — she did two while I watched, since it's been about 15 years since I've picked out a horse's foot, and then I did the other two.

She also did a few other things — making him walk and halt, tying him and having him stand while she groomed him just a little bit, etc. Then she took him out into the pasture and showed me how to lunge him.

For the most part, Panama behaved decently. The trainer commented that he is smart, because he caught on to things fairly quickly. However, there came a point where he'd had enough, and she had to deal with his stubborn streak.

Overall, though, I think it went quite well. The trainer did say that from what I had told her, she expected him to be much worse than he was. Others have said that, too, or shown surprise that he's not mean. That always amuses me, because I never describe him as mean — just as untrained and a little skittish from being a baby and a rescue.

However, I have to say that I think Panama has already come a long ways since he first arrived about a month ago. He has clearly come to trust me almost completely, and is much less spooky and wild than he was when he arrived. With the added help of a trainer, I think he'll be quite well-behaved in no time.

Day 1 of the Muse Online Writers Conference

Yesterday was the first day of the Muse Online Writers Conference. I already posted about this yesterday, about halfway through the day, but I rather thought my observations needed a little bit more attention.

Admittedly, I didn't do much on the conference yesterday. The main attraction was a chat on how to market your book to keep it selling over time; however, I was extremely disappointed with the chat. The answers to participant questions weren't very helpful, especially because getting us to buy her book (instead of answering our questions) seemed to be the presenter's main goal.

Yesterday I also managed to read a few of the presenters' handouts, and visited a grand total of two of my workshop forums. Unfortunately, work caught up with me at about that point, and thanks to a nice little roadblock I hit on a project, I never did get to go back to the conference forum.

Today, hopefully, will be a little more successful. Although half my day is gone thanks to Panama's first training session, I don't have much else to accomplish today. With any luck, I'll be able to start participating in my week-long workshops today. I also have a real-time chat at 3pm my time.

I'll post later today or tomorrow about Day 2 of the Muse Online Writers Conference.

Pictures of Panama

On Sunday, I put the bareback pad on Panama again and let him graze with it on for a while. The feel of it when he walked had him a little antsy at first, but he got used to it quickly. We took the opportunity to get a bunch of pictures, a few of which I'll post here.

Yet another picture of Panama grazing:

Hey Panama — say cheese!

Me leading Panama — a good picture because it shows his height. The top of his shoulders comes right about to my collarbone, so he's still fairly small. At two, he's not done growing yet, but I don't think he'll get more than another few inches.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Muse Online Writers Conference begins!

For those of you who are signed up, today is the first day of the Muse Online Writers Conference. If you're not signed up, never fear -- there is already one planned for next year.

I had originally thought I would clear my work schedule at least a little for this week-long event, but as it turned out I neglected to do so. In some cases, it was because I didn't want to ask the clients, but for the most part it was because I do, sadly, still need this week's income from my regular jobs. On the bright side, I didn't accept any additional work, but I do expect to be quite busy this week.

The first day of the conference is almost halfway over. This is everything I have done so far:

* Registered for the forums and chat lounge
* Read through a few of the presenters' handouts
* Visited a few of my week-long workshops on the forum
* Attended my first real-time chat

Today and tomorrow are my "light" days this week: I only have one real-time chat scheduled each day. Today, however, I will need to finish reading the handouts and start participating in the week-long workshops. My goal is to finish my work for the day in the next couple of hours, so that I can spend some time on the conference forum.

If you are participating in the online conference, how is (or was) your first day?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Panama's newest achievements

Time for another post about Panama!

Today was a big day as far as training milestones go. These are the things I am excited about right now:

1) Panama is apparently no longer spooked by tarps blowing in the wind.

I don't know if I ever mentioned it on my blog, but a couple of weeks ago Panama spooked a bit when I led him by a tarp fluttering in the wind. At the time, I took the opportunity to "sack him out" a little: I led him up to the tarp, let him sniff it, then grabbed it and shook it to make it rustle. He reared back just a bit, startled, but I encouraged him to sniff it again and he did. I kept that up until he no longer showed any fear of the tarp.

Apparently the lesson has not been forgotten. When we arrived at the stables today, the other horses had been turned out into both of the pastures I usually use for Panama. The next best choice was the pasture with the tarp. Because it was windy, I wanted to make sure he wouldn't spook, so I led him up to the tarp and shook it. He was reluctant to walk too close, but shaking the tarp didn't seem to faze him.

2) I was able to pick up both his rear feet, and I got about halfway through picking out his front feet.

I've been working with Panama almost every day about picking up his feet, and for about a week I've been attempting to pick out his front feet. Usually I only get one or two strokes with the pick before he's had enough, but today he let me get about halfway done on one front foot, and almost that far on the other.

Picking up his rear feet has been a little more touch-and-go, due to major trust issues stemming from the trailer accident he was in as a yearling. In the past week, he has gotten much better about it, however. Today when I tried to pick up his right rear foot, he kicked out a little bit, but I didn't let go or put his foot down until he stopped trying to get loose (which only took a second or two).

Because he is more sensitive about his left rear foot, I expected him to kick out worse on that side — but he surprised me by quietly lifting his foot when I asked for it. This is very promising, as it indicates that he may be getting over his trust issues with his rear feet.

3) Panama allowed me to put a bareback pad on his back and cinch it under his belly.

This is a huge step, and one I am extraordinarily pleased about. I've been putting a towel over Panama's back every day for about a week now, and he's been tolerating it without any problems. We'd also gotten a used bareback pad from my favorite tack store, and I decided to try putting that on Panama this afternoon.

First, I put the towel over his back as usual. Then I set the bareback pad over it, kind of like you would put a saddle on top of a saddle blanket. Panama was eating and hardly seemed to notice, so I decided to try cinching it up. He was completely unfazed when I drew the strap under his belly. When I started to cinch it tighter, he panicked briefly and pranced to the side, but that was it. I took the towel off, put the bareback pad on alone, and cinched it tight — and he just kept right on eating.

Panama's acceptance of the bareback pad made me really want to ride him. This is the first time I have felt such a strong urge to do so — I actually much prefer groundwork to riding, as sitting on a horse's back is so impersonal. However, I think the relationship and trust Panama and I are developing makes riding a much more appealing option.

It seems that every visit to the stables is better than the last. Panama's ground manners are improving by leaps and bounds, and I am beginning to think that training him may not be as difficult as I originally anticipated. Honestly, I think his impatience and stubbornness will be the most difficult challenges to overcome, but who am I to complain — after all, it was his display of spirit that drew me to him the very first time we met.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Can you suggest some good fiction blogs?

Just a few days ago, I tagged the main character of my 2007 NaNo novel for the Random 8 Meme. (I'm working on the post right now, for those of you who were wondering.) Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knew of any similar fiction blogs? I thought it would be fun for "Lorelei" to tag eight other fictional characters, and get this meme circulating around the fiction blog world. Good exposure for my blog, too. :o)

Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Panama's first bath

Panama had his first bath yesterday. Considering that he had come to associate getting a bath with having his leg wound cleaned, he tolerated it extraordinarily well.

Of course, being there alone I couldn't take pictures of the actual bath process, but I wish I could have gotten pictures of the bewildered look on his face.

As I said, though, he tolerated it pretty well. I was able to wash his body and neck on both sides, a little bit of both front legs, and touch the sponge a few times to his injured leg. (Speaking of which, he also let me touch his wound the other day, which is now healing up quite nicely.)

I did get some pictures of Panama after giving him the bath and drying him off somewhat. I turned him loose in the pasture, and guess what? He went right back to grazing, just like nothing had even happened!

I like this picture because it shows his tail flying. He was in the middle of flicking it around, probably to get rid of some pesky flies. Also, you can see how smoothly his mane lies with the conditioner in it.

This picture shows how his mane continues his coloring. I really like how his mane changes to white at the exact place his body does. When his mane is combed and his head is down like this, it creates a lovely seamless transition from body to mane.

Let me tell you something about owning a horse. They eat a lot. So as a result, I have a gazillion pictures of Panama grazing, and very few of him doing anything else. And the times when I got his picture when he wasn't grazing, he was making it quite clear that he rather would be.

At any rate, I'm going to have Michael start taking more pictures of me and Panama on the weekends, so that with any luck I can get a few nice pictures with my beautiful boy.

The life of a cat

That pretty much says it all.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Beware: Quincy Carr, Laray Carr, LCP, CMCGROUP, liveweb

Stephanie Todd, to whom I wrote an apology the other day, just had Deb post a letter on her blog. Stephanie, Hope Hunt, and Shadra Bruce -- all contractors hired by Laray Carr (a.k.a. LCP) -- have dug up some interesting information. The gist is that it seems even more likely now that LCP is Quincy Carr's attempt to scam investors.

It also seems there is another theory, that Quincy Carr is also a stolen identity. Although I admit that is possible, I also wonder how that would explain the previous scam Quincy Carr has been accused of, and the fact that Thelma Smith's name and address is connected to Quincy in both instances.

At any rate, Stephanie has provided contact information and a form letter those who want to report Laray Carr to the authorities. I hope everyone who has been screwed over by this company does so. The more voices speak out against Laray Carr, the better.

Also, as I noted in an earlier post, Laray Carr appears to be posting further ads under a new name, CMCGROUP, and in some cases the username liveweb. It appears the "company" is simply starting all over again. It amazes me that not only did they underestimate our ability to figure it out -- they also are grossly underestimating our ability to do something about it now that we have!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A d*mned disappointing day

Today has been d*mned disappointing. Although I did succeed in improving my work time (lately I've been struggling with working slowly and being distracted easily), my small victory has been overshadowed by everything else that happened today.

1) The power went out. From about 11:30am until 1:30pm, the power was out at my house. Although my laptop battery was fully charged, allowing me to continue working, I had to do so without Internet access. Thankfully, I had already done enough research to continue working on my current project.

2) I forgot to feed the dogs. You know how when a bunch of things all go wrong at once, how a little thing can suddenly seem a much bigger deal than it actually is? This is one of those things.

3) I didn't get to the stables to see Panama. This also supports the feeling that I've been a bad mommy today. In the month since Panama first arrived, I've never skipped my daily visit -- until today. Unfortunately, I had a lot of work and I was running short on time. Of course, now I'm fretting about missing a day of cleaning his stall, wondering whether he has enough water, and imagining all of the terrible things that could be happening right now that I won't know about because I'm not there.

4) I haven't paid Panama's stable rent yet. Three strikes and you're a bad mommy! I've been behind on work the last couple of days, and with the beginning of the month and all that means being behind on bills, too. And no, reminding myself that I'll pay it tomorrow doesn't help at all.

5) I'm behind on work. The fact that I was able to work a little faster today notwithstanding, I am sadly behind on my work. I'll be working the rest of the evening for sure.

Now that I've griped about it, I'd better get back to work. With any luck, I can catch up by tomorrow evening.

Is CMCGROUP Laray Carr's new name?

It sounds like Laray Carr may now be operating under the name CMCGROUP. Please scroll down for an update with more information about CMCGROUP's ads.

I've posted several posts on the Laray Carr potential scam: an initial post describing the issue, a warning that the company's owner was allegedly involved in prior scams, and an announcement that the LCP writers did not get paid.

Since the writers have been fired, I have received several anonymous comments providing me with more information on the Laray Carr situation. According to my anonymous friend, Laray Carr is now posting job ads on elance under the name CMCGROUP. Although I cannot access the ads, not being a member of the site, the commenter says that the ads are seeking web designers, managing editors, and legal counsel. No ads for writers...yet.

Until we have more information on Laray Carr, I think the whole operation is rather suspicious. Therefore, I would like to advise lawyers, web designers, editors, and writers to avoid CMCGROUP until there is definite evidence that they are not a scam! If you do choose to work with them, however, make sure your contract has the company name and information and guarantees that you'll be paid — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Additionally, any further information on CMCGROUP — information provided by those running the ads, names, and/or websites — can be left in the comments below.

Update -- October 2, 2007:

One of CMCGROUP's ads has been reproduced on Writer Beware. Check this out -- Laray Carr (if it is them, which it sounds like it is) is trying to get a pro bono lawyer so they can sue us for discussing their nonpayment! Ha!

Buyer: cmcgroup (44 projects posted, 4 Awarded)
Credit Card confirmed
Provider can contact buyer More info
Budget: Prefer not to disclose

Bids Received: 1 Bids (Average Bid: Sealed)
Posted: 09/27/2007 16:35 EST
Bidding Close: 7 d, 22 h+ (Ends: 10/09/2007 19:22 EST)

Project Details:

Our company is currently seeking a Company Legal Counsel that could do some pro-bono work for our new firm to help us with legal issues that have hurt our company's growth and business dealings. The ideal position would be to advise on legal issues both business, and litigation in defamation cause on unwarranted slander of our company which has cause unforeseen and unwarranted problems. We would ask for you to writer cease and decease letters, be the legal counsel for the company on these matters, and also business contracts, and even filing of law suits if needed. These actions will help the company proceed to it's potential of a $15 - $20 MM firm.

Once you help us with these issues and we resolve the legal issues hurting our company we would sign to a 6 month corporate counsel position with our company in the advise of business practices, and legal protection and other issues. The contract and payment would be discussed at a later time. After the pro-bono period we would offer a 6-month contract at $5000 per month for legal services.

Also, a commenter on Deb's Freelance Writing Jobs posted part of one of CMCGROUP's ads. The following snippet is from the payment terms as described on the ad:

- I will not use a third part escrow system.
- Please do not ask for advance payments or miles stones; please do not ask for some payment after you complete one, two, or three sites. I have been there and done that and was ripped off. Sorry just like bad buyers there are providers who lie about their skills, work, and take peoples money. I lose money you loose work. I rather have my $2000 in my hand.
- You must meet the first deadline. At that deadline all sources files must be delivered on time. You must meet the second deadline at that point all sources files must be delivered. I will require our people to test your work before payment and we will ask you to fix any problems before we pay out.
- You will be paid in full through Pay Pal, or Bank Transfer. No Western Union or Money Gram.
- Must provide samples of your work and do a mock up to show design quality.

The typos are characteristic of Laray Carr/LCP correspondence, as are the short deadline and the flat refusal to work with contractors for more favorable terms. (You may remember that one or two writers reported that when they questioned the lack of company information on LCP's contracts, they were immediately threatened with removal from the list of writers.)

I searched for the ad and found it on Scriptlance.com as well. The ad is posted there under the username liveweb. My advice is to steer clear of liveweb, CMCGROUP, Laray Carr, and anyone else who shows this little respect for contractors.

Banned Books Week

I meant to post about this sooner, but this week -- September 29th through October 6th -- is Banned Books Week. One of my local libraries has posted a list of the 10 Most Challenged Books of 2006.

The banning and challenging of books is one of those things that gets me hopping mad. I believe wholeheartedly in the right to read what you want. I believe that kids have this right, too, although of course that doesn't absolve the parents of the responsibility of teaching their kids. Kids don't always know appropriate ways to think or react to something they read, but in order to learn that they need to be 1) exposed to a full range of books, and 2) taught critical thinking skills as applied to said books, preferrably by their parents.

Some of my favorite books are banned books. For instance, The Giver has been challenged repeatedly, yet I can't think of many young adult books that are more important or more moving. And of course, we can't forget my hero, Judy Blume, who has a knack for getting right to the heart of a matter (and inevitably pissing off lots of narrow-minded people).

Support Banned Books Week and read a banned or challenged book this week!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Random 8 Meme: a.k.a. Tagged with my pants down!

Interesting title for a meme. Anyway, I've been tagged thanks to The Insane Writer. I was confused by the rules of the post, so I traced it back, and apparently it was originally the Random 8 Meme. I'm returning it to the original rules.

Here goes.

The Rules of this tag:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.
3. Tag eight people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.

8 random facts about me:

1. I have a freckle right underneath my belly button.
2. When I was a kid, I thought everyone had a freckle (just like everyone has a belly button), so that's how I drew people.
3. I had Italian bread and cheese soup for dinner.
4. I read 110 pages of Harry Potter 5 the other night in exactly one hour.
5. Jordana Brewster has the exact same birthday as I do.
6. Michael and I went out for sushi for dinner last night. Yum!
7. Until I was in high school I though "fragrance" was pronounced with a short vowel "a" in the first syllable.
8. I think too hard about things like this to write truly random facts about myself.

I'm tagging:
1. Kathy (I always tag Kathy!)
2. Kristen
3. Amy
4. Alicia
5. Julia
6. Debbie
7. Bryan
8. Lorelei (why not?)

Open letter to Hope Hunt, Stephanie Todd, and anyone else who got screwed by Laray Carr

The buzz on the street is that none of the contractors employed by Laray Carr have gotten paid.

Hope Hunt posted on Writer Beware that she has not been paid, and an anonymous commenter on my blog stated that the other contractors haven't either — including, perhaps, Stephanie Todd and Shadra Bruce.

As per my anonymous commenter:

...Everyone is discouraged and confident that payment will never be seen since there has been no response from LCP since Friday.... It seems everyone was lied to at this point and we all feel incredibly naieve, ignorant, used and abused.

The comments made me sad, more than anything else. As a result, I feel compelled to say that I'm really sorry. As militant as I was about this whole thing, I would have happily eaten my words regarding Laray Carr if I could have seen some of my new friends paid.

I know Stephanie doesn't count as one of those "new friends." I know there is some bad blood between us now, thanks to the catfight on the FWJ thread. Honestly, though, Anonymous's comments have reminded me that Hope, Stephanie, and the others are not the bad guys here. Perhaps you guys believed in LCP a little too much, but it doesn't mean that you didn't get burned as badly as anyone else.

In fact, I would hazard to say that you guys got the shortest end of the stick. The writers were throwaways, true, but you guys were scapegoats. If Laray Carr is a scam — as I still think is possible — they put you in a position where you had to defend the company in order to try to preserve your own reputations. Perhaps worse, they set you up so that you would take the fall for their missteps, enabling them to simply hire someone else and start fresh.

With that in mind, I'd like to offer a public but heartfelt apology to Stephanie for the exchange on FWJ the other night. I'd also like to apologize to Hope for blasting her on FWJ when she first arrived weeks ago. If there are any others of LCP's contractors that I've unknowingly had words with or otherwise insulted, I'm sorry for that too.

Maintaining anger and blame is exhausting, to say the least. Let's not wear ourselves out by blaming each other. We have enough "real" bad guys to deal with as it is.

The (Laray) Carr ride: Are we there yet?

I posted two posts not too long ago on the suspicious publishers Laray Carr (a.k.a. LCP) and the suspected scammer Quincy Carr (a.k.a. Quincy LaRay Carr). As a basic summary, the company was supposedly publishing 30-plus magazines in September (didn't happen), but the writers got suspicious and discovered that Quincy Carr has been accused of being a scammer before.

It appears the (Laray) Carr ride is over... Or is it?

The LCP writers did NOT get paid. On Tuesday of last week, the writers received a mass mailing of rejection letters. There seems to be some confusion over whether ALL of the writers were "rejected," but to the best of my knowledge we have yet to hear from any writer who is still working with LCP.

(According to Stephanie Todd, a contractor working with the Laray Carr Company, six or seven writers were offered the opportunity to become regular contributors, while the rest were rejected. However, on Writer Beware a couple of writers claimed they were asked to become regular contributors, but that LCP did not follow through: The first of the two said she was still sent the same rejection letter as everyone else, and the other commented that they were not responding to her emails.)

Interestingly, the signer on the rejection letter was a Mr. Dean Person. The name on the contract the writers were given, however, was a Mr. David Person. Does Laray Carr really have two Mr. Persons working for them, or did they make the guy up and then forget to double check with "D" name they had given him?

Supposedly, the LCP writers were rejected because their work was cr*p. I have very mixed feelings about this, as I have to admit that I'm not sure the quality was all that good. I've seen one of the articles, and it had spelling and grammatical errors sprinkled throughout; I also noticed that some of the writers had frequent errors in their comments and correspondence. However, note that I said some, whereas to the best of our knowledge ALL of the writers were rejected.

Also — and I think this is important — most of the writers were asked to turn out 10 or more articles, of 1,000 or 2,000 words, in several days' time. Under this kind of pressure, I can understand that the hurry might engender more mistakes than a writer might normally make.

Third, all of the writers who were expecting payment had already had their work accepted. No one complained about their spelling or grammar; on the contrary, they were told when and how they would be paid.

Finally, while LCP is claiming the quality of the work as grounds for rejection, their website and correspondence are littered with errors. You can see some of them in the rejection letter that was sent around. You can see more on the newest version of Laray Carr's website, which Victoria Strauss quotes in the comments on her Writer Beware post:

It begins:
"Creating Publications.........people can relate too"

It continues:

"Creating publications people can relate too, understand the daily affects of life, and social issues facing our readers. We hold high standards for editorial quality."

Un-frickin'-believable. Or, given what's already happened, maybe not.

While I admit I have seen errors in the comments, correspondence, and work of some of the LCP writers, none of it compares to the problems in Laray Carr's own correspondence and on their site.

Laray Carr's editors haven't been paid. Last week on Deb's Freelance Writing Jobs, Stephanie Todd told us that the editors were getting paid for their work; the reason the writers weren't, she said, was because their contracts stated they would only be paid for work that was published. Her comment from the FWJ thread was:

and also, the company had absolutely no problem paying the editors or designers for work that was INCOMPLETE and work they will never use.

because they were full aware that the contracts for them said they get paid to do the work, not if it is used, published or not.

However, it appears the editors haven't been paid, as one commenting on my second blog post about LCP:

Not only did the writers get screwed (they only lost a day or two of work and from what I hear about $50) but the "editors" like myself, put in 6 weeks of full time work for what was supposed to be $5,000.

Makes you wonder what the truth is, doesn't it?

Apparently, Hope and the other contractors haven't been paid either. Hope posted a long comment on the Writer Beware post the other day; among other things, she said she had not been paid. Her exact words were:

My contract expired 4 weeks ago and per my contract my pay date was net 15 days. I have not been paid a dime and have continued to work because I believe in LCP and what their plan is/was. I have no guarantee of every getting paid and have essentially donated these last four weeks as there is no existing contractual agreement between myself and the company.

I find this interesting, as I was pretty sure someone posted somewhere that Hope said she'd been paid. That was weeks ago, though; perhaps Hope was fibbing, either because she "believed in LCP" or because they told her to.

More recently, though, Stephanie indicated that she was having "no issues regarding payment" from Laray Carr:

I quoted them a large sum of money (which includes the cost of my company hiring several new employees and increasing our office space) to take on this monumental task, one I thought they would not be willing to accept- but to my surprise and delight, my company has experienced no issues regarding payment.

I'm not sure whether Stephanie was meaning to say that she has received payment or that LCP agreed to it, but considering the context — she was trying to defend Laray Carr from accusations of being a scam — it sounds more like she is saying she has actually received money from them. However, according to an anonymous commenter on my blog, that may not be the case:

Also, Stephanie Todd is a contract worker, as is Hope Hunt, both of whom are trying to figure out this mess. Whatever this is, a bad business venture or not, they had nothing but good intentions when they started and are also out a lot of money.

The entire thing is all very confusing. Personally, I think it is quite possible that in their fervor to defend Laray Carr and refute the scam accusations, both Hope and Stephanie may have suggested that they'd been paid when they actually hadn't.

Is Laray Carr a scam? Honestly, I can't say for sure whether they are — but I can't say for sure that they're not, either. A lot of people have gotten burned by LCP, including — it seems — the company's most dedicated defenders. However, it still looks to me to be enough like a scam that I'd warn my worst enemy to keep their distance.

My advice: If you had sent articles to Laray Carr, you now have documentation proving that you own the rights and can sell them at will. However, I would keep Googling the articles occasionally, and make sure they don't turn up anywhere without your permission, as I wouldn't trust Quincy Carr any further than I could throw him! If you want to set up a Google Alert to email you if your article ever shows up, you can do so here.

Also, I recommend contacting the police. This name and number for the local police in Terrell (where Quincy's addresses are all located) was posted on the Writer Beware thread:

Sergeant Ken McCann
972 551 6622

Another writer on the same thread apparently contacted a couple of local papers, who expressed interest in the story.

In other words, there are still things you can do. Maybe you won't ever see the money Laray Carr promised you, but you can protect yourself by watching out for your articles, and possibly even bring about justice by contacting the authorities and the media in Quincy's area. Even word-of-mouth on the Internet can help, as it will ensure that no one gets screwed by LCP again.

Finally, whether or not you were involved with the Laray Carr fiasco, learn from the experience: Make sure you only work under contract terms that are favorable to you. Negotiating a kill fee provision into your contract will make sure that you get paid even if your work doesn't get published. Likewise, you can insist the payment date being at publication or in six months, whichever comes first.


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