Dog Ear
Quiet (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 January 2017 00:00

eaders and their writers (or is that the other way round?) share two things in common.

First off, they create imaginary places peopled by characters. As a work is written and as it is read, these phantomtastical realms slowly form. Interestingly, they are different for different people. I’m sure that the image a writer holds while creating a moment is different from what the reader experiences in the read. And that’s fine. Really, as long as point and plot are met, who cares if the hero looks like Brad Pitt, Ricardo Montalban or that boy you dated in high school? Whatever works.

The second thing in common is the respect that others give us our quiet zone as we interact with our books.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Yeah, right.

Here where I work, we have a fine breakroom. And since all my yuppie coworkers are generally eating at fern bars or grimly refueling at their desks, it’s generally mine. So, either with my writing laptop or my current novel, I’ve got a quiet place to hang out, to eat my lunch and enjoy places beyond those which I inhabit.

Unless someone shows up.

Then, suddenly, it’s not so quiet. A person writing or reading is apparently a soul crying out for companionship, a bookworm nerd needing rescue. Reading or writing, whatever, it’s silent contemplation and hence fair game. These folks will generally sit half-a-room away and ask questions about my focus in carrying voices, an echoing half-bellow, derivations of “Whatcha reading?” or “whatcha writing?” Man, why ask? At this moment, I’m so deep it’s a painful rip to come back into the real world.

It’s that collective thing, that grouping instinct that humans have. Sometimes my wife and I will be in the corner of an empty restaurant, just enjoying quiet companionship, and a family with god-knows-how-many DNA-launches come in, to settle with all their toys and iPhones and noise and confusion in the table right next to us. Or driving in the quiet night, only to have a car passed suddenly gravitate to mine, loosely clinging to me, a captive moon. People group. People bunch. And so if there are two people sitting in a break room, especially with the tentative social connectivity work affords, the one beached in reality is going to bother the one swimming in the cool depths of the imagination. They are going to want to talk about media that has nothing to do with our current focus, something on Netflix, in theaters, perhaps the latest StarWars knockoff.

They think, possibly at some deeper level, that they are saving us from ourselves, that we pine for contact and conversation and sulk in our lonely worlds. But no, quite the opposite. We’re the ones with rich and amazing lives, places new and stunning and full – we aren’t the ones seeking human contact; they are. And so they latch onto us with the coils of social nicety and convention.

When this happens, don’t fight it. Don’t divide your time between your story and them. Accept it – once they are pests, they will remain pests (for to grow silent, for them, is to admit their own slide into the uncomfortable realm of silence). Don’t ruin your art by multitasking it into stuttering low-bandwidth awareness. Just close the book. Shut down the word processor. If you must, sigh. And focus on their little stunted world.

After all, you can always return to Camelot once they leave.

Just resolve to find a new place to lunch. A more secluded, private place.


Fate (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00

've mentioned before the sad story of my professional literary arch. If you don't recall it, let's do it again. It's a tale near and dear to my heart.

Anyway, had an agent who placed Fire and Bronze with a publisher. Everything was going great. Had the final proofs in. Looking on their site, they were already putting out information about my book, billing me as their "rising star of historic fiction". Wonderful! My agent noted that they wanted more historical fiction from me and so I started putting together Wenamon, a project I had a real interest in. It was a gem of a historic tale, one that would be wonderful and funny and sad and exciting, all in one go. Plowed into that, and even had an idea of a series bubbling in my head. A quarter of the novel was prepped, I forwarded it to the agent to send over for a first review by the publishers, and I was getting photos from friends of my book apprearing on store shelves. Exciting times.

But I didn't hear back about Wenamon. And I didn't seem to be getting royalties. So I posted my agent. Posted him again. Finally called.

Found out the publisher - it was a small house - had died in a traffic accident on the way to his synagogue. And the publishing house was going bankrupt. An all the titles were being sold off. And I was out in the cold.

Horrible, yes, but I'd still archived my goal - still made it to the shelves (for free, dammit).

The reason I recount this tale is that I was having lunch with an old friend the other day, a musician who drifted down to Mexico and took up with various bands there, traveling about, playing small gigs, trying to find a place for himself in the world. He told me (and, B, forgive me if I tell this wrong) that he suffered pretty much the same fate. His band had contacted a record company down there to happily find that the record company was aware of them and interested in them. Happy days! My friend was on the way! He was going to be a ROCK STAR!!!!!

And then there was some sort of currency hemorrhage, one of those artificial things governments sometimes do. The economy went south - poof - and the label went bankrupt. And there my friend stood with a handful of cooling dreams and not a peso from the deal.

He's still in music (and I'm still in writing) maneuvering around on the edges, doing it for a little money and for the love of it. Because that's what artists do. Sure, only one in a hundred artists ever make anything like a living at this. The world is fell of people selling paintings in coffee houses, busking at curbside, self-publishing books and flogging YouTubes. It's what we do. If you are an artist and you gauge yourself by anything other than the pleasure it brings you, you are actually a merchant, trying to take raw material and convert it to money. That's not to say that artists don't seek success, money and fame in their efforts. No, not at all - I'd love the limos, the signings, the movie deals and the groupies. But wishing is one thing, producing is another. And that's what we do - we keep the creative spirit alive and keep our vision high, trying to combine personal and societal success.

Keep at it. If only for the sake of "it"!


Last Updated on Monday, 02 January 2017 09:31
Grateful (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:00

ery nice lunch the other day. An old friend - a really old friend - a guy I knew like 30 years ago - contacted me and wanted to have lunch. Sure, love to. Then he mentioned that he would like to have me sign a book for his son. (yeah, it has been that long). So sure, we met and I signed the book with a big flourish and all sorts of personalized jokes - I love signing books. We ended up chatting about things, some of which will follow in the next DOG EAR.

But that was the thing - I got to make another sale. Sure, it's work chump change after Amazon or whoever strips off their cut. But its nice to know that I made some money, that I reacquainted with a friend, that we had a good time (and that we stayed at lunch hours longer than expected).

If I needed further evidence of this, only the other day (just before Christmas) my wife pointed out that Amazon had given us about $35 bucks from all the holiday sales. I haven't gone in to look but that's a modest bump over the trickle I usually receive. And sure, in some cases, it's because of people who know / knew / wished-they-hadn't-known me. And sometimes maybe the Amazon search engine takes pity on me and bumps someone over to my book. And maybe, I'd like to hope, that sometimes this column (this and the book reviews) brings people over. After all, I've written 250 or so DOG EARS and 260 reviews. And every one of them has a link to my purchasing page. When you think about it, these years of blogging equate to nearly a novel in themselves (so look at all the free stuff you are getting!).

Anyway, yes, so thanks to new readers who picked up my book this way or that. I appreciate the support. And thanks to all my readers who follow my day-to-days in my efforts to read and write and share.

This is, after all, a labor of love.

And like the best of charities, very little goes towards my profit.


Last Updated on Thursday, 12 January 2017 08:56
Desperate (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 05 January 2017 00:00



write something

think think think think

something that happened


what it means

think think think

write something anything something anything

the only goddamn reason this page is filling up is that its double-spaced. how can i write several paragraphs about something when i don’t know what to write about? has anything happened? book in the mail? amazon intrusion? witty phrase?

richard adams died. but nobody knows what watership down is. and I’ve already bitched about that one two years ago.

crap, but the bottom of the page is a long way off.

so this is writing. having to fill a page twice a week with stuff. one book review. one writing column. day in day out.

this piece i came up with after posting my last reserve dog ear and wondering what to do next. i thought of this and i thought of that. then i realized that i could capture the stream of consciousness, riding the brain waves, capturing the thought process. and so this whole unorganized effort found a purpose. for non-writers, you could see the process in the raw. for writers, you could appreciate the effort, knowing what it’s like to fill a page when energy is low and emotions flat. we all go through this.

and so now i have the eye-catching intro, the draw-in of the gimmicked confusion, the tie-up of purpose and reason. and this is the point, the entire reason i did this. i think it worked.

one thing remains.

clever closing.

>>>buy book here<<<

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 January 2017 11:40

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