Saturday, August 31, 2013

Into The Blue Again

Title of my Labor Day weekend writing start-up.  It's NOT a 3 Day Novel Project - somehow, putting in for it seems more stressful that if I hadn't - but the good news is I'm writing something.

Here's the start:
"That's never a good sign."
"What is?  You talking to yourself?"

...It'll get more interesting by Chapter Three, I promise.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard Writes His Last Death Scene

He tipped his hat, looked upward with a tear in his eye.  "I do believe that men meet their moment with dignity and grace."  He didn't say much after that. - Not Elmore Leonard

One of the greats of modern American literature passed away this morning.  Elmore Leonard, who started off with Westerns moving up to modern-day Crime Thrillers, had been ill for awhile it all finally caught up with him.

Hate to say it was the movies that got my attention.  His works seem to translate well into film and it was the series of caper flicks post-Tarantino (Hollywood loves to beat a genre to death) - Get Shorty, Jackie Brown (off of Rum Punch), and Out of Sight - that led me to finding his print works on the shelves and diving in.

I've got a personal love for Out of Sight, both movie and book, and if anyone says anything bad about either I will hunt you down.

In terms of writing, Leonard is one of the go-to mentors who provided a decent list of rules.

  1.  Never open a book with weather (note: his take that to anyone going with "It was a dark and stormy night").
  2.  Avoid prologues.
  3.  Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
  4.  Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
  5.  Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 
  6.  Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
  7.  Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8.  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9.  Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
  10.  Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Doing The "I Got The Book Today" Dance

This came in the mail this afternoon:


Please turn to pg. 251 and begin reading...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ask A Librarian. You Know You Want To...

The Ask A Librarian service in the state of Florida just turned 10 years old this year.

You ask, "Gee what is Ask A Librarian" and I tell you it's an online chat service where you login for free, ask a question about a current problem or research itch to resolve, and viola a librarian will magically appear within your computer and grant you three wishes find out the answers to the questions you've got as well as provide citations and links to supporting materials.

It's helpful for times that the libraries may be closed: physical libraries can close between 5 pm to 8 pm in the evenings: AAL stays on until 9 pm for general, some universities stay on until 11 pm.  Or you may be stuck at home or at work when the question comes to you and you need an answer for it.

I know some of you are saying "but gosh, you can just Google it anymore or heck even go to Wikipedia for the answers," and I'll note that's partially true: however, not everything on the Internet is accurate, informed, or itself researched to any degree of academic criteria (ESPECIALLY don't believe anything you read in the Comments section of a blog entry).  Wiki may be a decent summation/encyclopedic site, but it's still dependent on editing by persons not always certified or qualified to make the entries you find, and may not go into the detail that some people - especially college students - require.

Librarians are providers of information: we are the sorters and sifters and the hunter/gatherers of raw data roaming the information savanna.  You might be able to Google, but you may not use the right search terms, or you may go for the first hit that appears without recognizing you're clicking an ad site and not a research site.  Librarians know what we're looking for: we ask you the Interview Process to whittle down what you are and aren't looking for in order to a) find the right book, b) find the right link, c) find the right answer.

So please, support your library and give the Ask A Librarian service with your local library (it may be under different names, but the service should be the same) a try.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Pains Of Self-Marketing

One of the biggest decisions in a wanna-be author's life of getting published and read these days is the decision to either go the old route of "get agent, get publisher interest, get reviews" or the newer tech-savvy route of "get self-published, get reviews, maybe get agent and publisher afterward".

The old route was tricky, messy, disheartening: getting an agent was one thing, but it was still no guarantee of getting a publisher who would get that book on the market for you.  But getting the publisher was a huge boon: the publishers had ties to established reviewers, and publishers had the financial means to market and promote.  The new route is satisfying in that you get your book out there right away, on your terms: bad news is, you don't have the financial means of marketing (ad space is costly) and you don't have access to a lot of the major reviewers (some will review self-publishers but they're swamped with thousands of self-published authors already).  You're usually reduced to social media like Facebook and Twitter, and most of the time it's just spreading the word to the 80 or so online friends you've already earned.

The toughest part is the self-promotion: most writers are artists at heart, and while there's a part of us that's eager to show off, there's the other half that's defensively private about ourselves and our craft.  We're not also keen on shilling ourselves: it somehow rubs against our integrity.  Advertising always has something... disingenuous about it, like there's too much exaggeration and hyperbole.  Just blogging about it here, half the time posting "buy my book!" isn't as eager as it may read: I half-treat it like a joke, with a bit of dread that somehow I'm just not "getting it" in terms of sincerely looking for readership.

Just read what this fellow is up against:

It reeks of desperation, these pleas, this constant litany: read me, recognize me, buy me, buy me again. On an authorial scale, being relatively unknown and resolutely Mid-list is like spending a few years on the floor of a deafening concert, angling for attention from every quarter, stuck in a sweaty throng of the equally disregarded, ultimately reduced (en masse and from the obstructed view seats) to holding up a lighter and screaming at the bass player–who couldn't possibly give less of a shit, even if he could hear above the distortion and tinnitus and quart of hastily guzzled Jack Daniel’s...
In fact, I’m almost certain my years-long squat of self-promotion has been entirely pointless. If I could have back every minute I've spent on social media and apply it to churning out actual prose, I would probably have finished at least one bestselling swords-and-incest fantasy trilogy instead. Maybe even two. In any case, it’s pretty clear that whoever reads what I post (a diminishing coterie, to be sure) has either already bought whatever book I’m flogging, or never had any intention of doing so in the first place. Everything else is just more white noise, a narcissistic armada of turds floating down the center of the Hudson, or the river of pixels, or the throat of the cybersphere. We've all heard it before, seen it before, been pitched everything from Sham Wow to rote sham. We've sat through a lifetime of fifteen-second commercials in order to watch the ubiquitous YouTube clip of some Khaki Dad taking a Wiffleball to the nuts. Like everyone else, I am truly and deeply bored by the incessant marketing and self-promotion that comprises a majority of any day spent in front of any screen...
Writers are an odd lot. A volatile mix of bravado, insecurity, insatiable need, unusual discipline, and occasional talent. Despite that fact that writing itself is a lonely, obsessive, and mentally unstable vocation–just the sort of pursuit that lends itself to anti-social habits and behaviors–authors are likewise expected to be great in front of a crowd, hilarious at the podium, and engaging at the lectern. They are expected to represent the worth of their prose through expressions of personal charm. Which is, of course, completely ludicrous. But since the collapse of publishing (or at least the explosion of dire, whiny articles about the collapse of publishing), publishers themselves no longer spend the requisite money to advertise the existence of all but a handful of titles.
So, as a self-employed independent contractor of suspect means, you either have to get out there and market yourself, or choose to remain silent and hope for the best. In an industry where 150,000 titles were published last year, hoping for the best tends to be a failing strategy–if not a bit naive. Therefore one is forced to ask themselves, “If I am not going to make the effort to publicize my own work, why aren't I a third-year law student instead?” Further, and most damningly, “If people are not reading what I write, why am I writing at all?”
For me, the answer is pure communication–an intellectual exchange. Telling a story is the first step. Having that story read and enjoyed and interpreted and understood is the second. Obviously I would like to do so on the largest scale possible. Forget bestsellers and movie rights and relative fame and huge advances (although all those things would be nice in their relative ways), the bottom line is that if I am not communicating with a sizable group of readers, if I am writing in a vacuum for a static body of acquaintances–spending six hours a day in front of a laptop for ten years suddenly seems like a masturbatory and delusional exercise.
The great white hope of writing is to reach the point where you no longer have to pimp yourself at all, where you tap into a weird alchemy in which you suddenly have enough name recognition and sales that word-of-mouth and momentum do all the work for you. Then you can sit back and troll Facebook, posting cake recipes and cat pictures and acting like your royalties are preordained and that you are way, way too cool to flog yourself ever again–as if you ever had.
Yeah, I want to get there. But mainly because I love writing, I love what I do, and I don’t ever want to go back.
That said... Yes, I am STILL working on finishing up my damnable first novel.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Got Q and A'd for Strangely Funny

Sarah Glenn, the editor to Strangely Funny, spent time to ask me a few questions about me, my writing process, favorite authors, etc.

She asked me the peanut butter question, which I warned her NOT to do...

Anywho, check out her blog: she's interviewing all the other authors who committed a story to the humor horror anthology NOW ON SALE!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Strangely Funny is Officially Launching!

Tell your friends!  Wake the neighbors!  Feed the kitties!  It's LAUNCH PARTY TIME for Sarah Glenn and Gwen Mayo's baby!
I'm the second-to-last story in: "I Must Be Your First".  Fans of Catriona McPherson, David Perlmutter, Suzanne Robb, Rosalind Barden, and Jon Michael Kelley (with a ton of other authors) should take a look-see as well.

While you're at it, please take a moment to peruse my other works, Last of the Grapefruit Wars (Kindle and Nook), Welcome To Florida, and The Hero Cleanup Protocol.  Danke (It's German for "I'm BEGGING YA!")