Dog Ear
Blog Hopper (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 16 February 2013 20:44

Welcome to all those who fell down Thomas Lucas' rabbit hole.

I'm Robert Raymond, an Orlando writer, and I've had two books of historic fiction published. Fire and Bronze is the romantic story of Princess Elisha's struggle to found Carthage, a tale full of sailing and sex and swords. And Early Retyrement is a time-travel novel with a twist (mainly that my chrononaut doesn't know the history of when he's fallen or any technological tricks to assent to heroic greatness). Both are available in my link at the bottom of this page.

I'm also shopping Indigo, a mid-air collision of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Top Gun. I mean, what could be cooler than an adventure novel based on the lives of crows, those scrabbling, fussy, greedy birds, black as night and self-centered as teenagers? Currently I'm hoping to place this soon with an agency - the search continues.

While I'm not as active as I'd like to be on the local writing scene, I do push out twice-a-week blogs. On Thursdays, I post Dog Ear, a writer's advice column / bitch session. On Sundays, I post up my book review column (what could illustrate my wide-ranging tastes than a full list HERE?) Both sets can also be accessed on the left margin menu.

There are also games, photos, model train information and all sorts of other things listed down the left column menu. Look around - it's not a paysite, everything's free.

And I'm glad you poked in. Hope you come back!

(Next week, links to two writers I know)


Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 18:45
Writing Time (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 14 February 2013 00:00

Sunday was an op session, and then Downton Abbey in the evening.

Monday, work and then the train club bi-laws committee way, way over on the other side of town. And then over to the club to work building flats in Jacksonville and fuss with an alarm test way too late. Also, a fan wanted to see a sample of an unpublished book, so I had to prep that up and post it.

Tuesday, ordinarily my night off, the parents are in town for diner so it’s work, then way, way over to the other side of town again.  If there is any time after I get home, my best friend and I usually talk about our computer game effort.

Wednesday, work again, then way, way over to the train club. Gotta stage for ops and do some scenery work. That will go on til midnight.

Thursday, another free evening but no, wait, it’s Valentine’s Day. Thanks, Hallmark, for that one.

And Friday, it’s pizza night and relax with the sweety.

Saturday, I’m going to run on the Allentown RR way down Plant City way…

You getting this?

Time. Never enough, and certainly not for writers. Writers are imagined to sit in front of their typewriters with buckets of unallocated time sloshing around. After a leisurely writing session, the afternoon walk, the deliberate packing of a pipe, the petting of the dog, all the time in the world.

But for real world writers, those trying to get a novel done amid the errands and appointments and interruptive “Can I bother you with a quick question…?”s, it’s hard. Finding enough time to sit down, remember where we were, the mood and pacing of where we left off, then pick that up and run with it, then bring it to a stop, that’s not writing. It’s drag racing.

The trick, as a writer, is to make that time. In the morning when all the interruptions are asleep. In the late evening, with a lock set on the den door. Or, like me, out on the patio at work for a quick lunch hour of keyboard clatter. One need to discipline oneself to writing, a quick burst of activity and a sudden stop (with no cooling walk and packing of pipe) to end it with. It’s our world, and we have to make it work.

It’s the only way we’ll ever get anything done.

Incidentally: This blog? Written during a slow meeting at work and emailed home. See?


Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 11:02
By its cover (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 07 February 2013 00:00

My wife and I share a strange little habit, one carried over from my bachelor days. We like to go to dinner and read. We usually go this at fast food joints, quiet places during off times when we can sit in our corner and read our respective books. Then, over desert frostees or brownies or whatever, we'll chat about what we've read.

Last time over at Wendy's, an old lady got up and said how nice it was to see people reading. She even mentioned how nice it was that I was reading The Three Musketeers. We chatted with each other a bit and then she tottered off. Sweet.

And that's one of those side benefits of books that eReaders don't share, the ability to see a cover and know what the person is reading, and perhaps strike up a conversation with them about it. Had be both been hunched over tablets, she'd probably not said anything (we could be watching videos or scanning email or anything else). But books invite conversation.

I remember when we visited the bookstore Slightly Foxed in London, and were chatting with the owner. He confirmed this very thing, pointing to the recent phenomena of David Nicholls' One Day. This was just a tiny run of a book initially, but it had a simple yet distinctive cover, two white facial profiles against a red background. The thing was, London commuters on the tube would see their fellow passengers reading it, their eye caught by the cover. They'd chat with the reader and go get their own copy. Soon enough, everyone was reading One Day, to Mr. Nicholls' profit.

The point is, no one ever inquires about what you are eReading. If someone asks you a question about your reader, it is about the device and not your contents. eReader users generally center on their devices, not their current passion in print. And that's sad, really, because it's just another aspect of reading that is slipping away in the ongoing digital revolution.


Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 12:14
Death of a book salesman (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 31 January 2013 00:00

I read today how Barnes and Noble is cutting back and closing 450 to 500 stores in the coming years. Whereas the death of this Goliath should fill me with smug satisfaction (given how many mom-n-bob nooky bookstores it killed), it doesn’t. Actually, it fills me with a cold dread. A chilling wave of digitalization, of buying whatever whenever, is washing over us.

So what’s the difference between being served by a teenage Goth punk in a used bookstore as opposed to the same studded wonder doing it in a chain store? One is a sign of hip and trendy urban shopping, the other a sign of the degradation of the service model. My point: shopping in small bookstores is a reader’s pleasure, a wonderful chance to find something new, a lost treasure or an unexpected treat. Shopping in B&N? That’s more like grocery shopping (with a more limited chance of finding something curious on the aisle cap or a dusty overlooked corner). But online? That’s Amazon. Amazon. Amazon. Nothing interesting there. Likely the only thing you’ll stumble over are the ‘finds’ your website provides you. Were you even aware that your reader actually records the information of your reading habits, where you stop, how long you pause? Perhaps the next time you stall in Moby Dick, it’ll suggest Harry Potter for you

I don’t hide my dislike of the new publishing model, that of readers and self-publishers and Amazon. I don’t like it at all. I like (and understand, and am comfortable with) a print industry that requires vetting to enter, of value-added quality, and of a finished product that can be held in one’s hand, read over and over, and that can fill shelves as a display of knowledge and intellectual span. I like used bookstores. I like yellowing books with the marks and signs of readers for decades past. I like the physical feel of a book in my hand. And I like a book that, once mine, stays mine and doesn’t snitch out my habits to its masters. But that’s me.

I’ll mention that it was at a Barnes and Noble that I found a book on Hannibal the Carthaginian on the bargain shelf. This is the guy with the elephants and the Alps, I thought. I flipped through it, weighted it in my hand, looked at the price, added it to my stack. From this came a love of ancient Mediterranean cultures as well as Fire and Bronze and Early ReTyrement. I still have that book too; it’s on my favorites shelf. Maybe I could have made a similar discovery on a tablet but I doubt it. Amazon is about “people who ordered this also liked…”, and not “here’s something out of left field”. And that’s where growth and understanding and learning comes from – left field.

Goodbye, Barnes and Noble. I’ll miss you more than you deserve.


Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 08:57

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