Dog Ear
Writers write (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 April 2012 19:22

It’s no secret that publishing, and especially self-publishing, will burn a lot of your time. There are submissions, proposals, side-efforts. If you attend a show and rent a booth, there are all sorts of things you have to arrange (as detailed HERE). All this takes time.

I used to write – a lot – at lunch. The café downstairs has a nice outdoor patio and if I go early, nobody is out there. But now I haven’t been – I’ve been busy with getting Early ReTyrement ready, cleaning it, changing it, fiddling with it. I’m so focused on it (and it’s a many problems and disappointments) that I forget about writing. It’s hard to write when you are organizing, blogging, cleaning up your website and getting your coverart finalized. In a way, it’s like parents who bring a newborn home – with all the noise and poop and change, it’s hard to make time for things like sex.

And to writers, writing is their intercourse. We feel whole and new and free after an hour of writing. When there is no deadline, when it is not for anyone’s enjoyment but our own, that’s writing. True writing. And that’s what we need to remember. How many writers get their first book finished and send it off to agents, then wait. And wait. Rejection letters drift in. They tune their story, trying to anticipate why it’s not selling. They end up despondent, equating writing with rejection rather than fulfillment. They don’t write anymore. They just put it away and move on to other things.

If one can find pleasure in writing then do so, even if it’s a journal. I keep a free website under a service where I can post short stories up under a pen name. This is great – I get to play with different styles and voices, writing whatever I want with no thought of harming my brand. Even better, I get immediate feedback from fans, ones who enjoy what I post and like to chat about it. I haven’t updated in a bit – too busy cleaning up Indigo. But once it’s launched at agents I’ll have more time. And then I can start writing again, just writing what I want, 70mph and 80wpm, just flying down a sweeping plot device with a new character at my side, writing for myself. Keyboard rattling and world forgotten, I’ll be in the zone.

Writers write. It’s what we do.

So write.


Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:39
What's wrong with this picture (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 April 2012 19:18

Photo credit: wife-unit

So here's me at the UCF Book Festival.

What am I doing wrong?

Oh, there are some positives. The big eye-catching cover art. The price marked on the elevated book. The handsome author. But what's wrong?

1) The stack of books for sale are too far back on the table, right back with me. Anyone who wants to flip through them (why do you flip though books? What do you hope to find?) has to reach across the table. That mistake I noticed in the first 15 minutes when I saw how neighboring mystery author Rod Sanford had his, all the way forward, teetering on the edge. Easily fixed.

2) The cover art, while both whimsical and colorful and eye-catching and striking, is (in it's way) juvenile. People would come up to me looking for a children's book. Others would drift by (perhaps pining for a creative science fiction book, alas). This took a little longer to noticed but I eventually did. No corrections possible during the show but in future I'll make more flashy signs to stick to the poster, saying things like SCIENCE FICTION!, TIME TRAVEL!, INTER-TEMPORAL ROMANCE!, HORSE CHASES!, CITIES AFIRE!

3) You can't see it but down in my cash box, down below the table, I have my brother's apple phonetoy with a Square credit card reader hooked to it. Maybe someone liked the book but didn't have the cash (and the balls to ask about credit cards). I should put little "Visa" and "Master Card" signs up. If anything, it makes me look more professional.

4) And speaking of which, the jury is still out on the vest. Hey, it's Tunisian, a cool authentic Arabic vest. But it makes me look a little costumed and perhaps there is a bit of an anti-Arabic current still flowing. I don't know. Jury is still out on that one.

Can you get the bonus question? The final fault?

5) The booth sign - simply Early ReTyrement. I'm not sure what the character count for this was but I should have used it all. This went into the programs and was hanging over my head. Sci-Fi would have pulled a few more in, as would Time Travel. Everyone had a program. Everyone probably thought I was offering estate planning. Sheesh.

Still, I'm not going to beat myself up too bad. For everything I did wrong, I did enough right. I tightened up my delivery and learned how to pitch. I was funny and witty - charisma helps. And I had pants on. So, see, it wasn't a total disaster.

Next time will be better!

Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:39
Postfix Muse (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 05 April 2012 12:33

Anyone who writes has a muse. If you are focused, it might be just a single heavenly ideal. For me, it could be the sun casting across a woman’s beautiful face, the blowing heat coming off an urban pavement or clouds chasing across the Florida sky. Inspiring muses are a dime a dozen.

It’s the postfix muses that are harder to find.

Once you publish, you are going to find yourself facing hardships you never imagined. Turns out that writing a consistent, entertaining, and marketable story over 500 pages is easy compared to selling it, accepting criticism, and getting screwed out of every possible dime by everyone in the publishing field (hey, Createspace, after taking the lion’s share of my profits, explain that $8 check processing fee deducted from my meager royalties). This blog will explore many of these depressing topics across future Thursdays.

So you’ll need something to keep you going after you’re in print, something that lets you write again after all that money and pride you’re going to lose. You’ll need a postfix muse.

Here are two of mine:

I was in Atlanta for a model train operations events (if you don’t know what operations are, check out my train blog “At the throttle”). Anyway, I’d run a session as dispatcher on a layout and had knocked it out of the park. Kept the traffic moving, nice and steady. Saw the problems forming and worked around them. At the end of the night, the owner told me he’d never seen it operate that well, not with his old crew, so I was in a good mood.

Caught a lift back to the hotel with a couple of guys (you catch rides however you can). They were in the front, I was alone in the back. The driver asked me if I was a dispatcher in real life. I smiled and said, “No, just an administrator. And also a writer.” At the question about what I’d written, I noted Fire and Bronze, my Carthage-foundation book. At this, the other guy turned around, face wide with wonder. “The one about Elisha? The one about Carthage? I READ that! It was really, really good!”

F&B had penetrated bookstores but I’d never gotten any sales figures (or, alas, royalties). I still have no idea how well it had done. But I’d never bumped into a reader I didn’t already know. What an experience. The driver, listening to us chat about the story, told me he was going to get a copy – he was intrigued. And my reader? He asked if I’d be back in Atlanta for the next DixieRails so he could get a signature. And that was something. Reader feedback, blind and un-mined, brings a heady rush.

The second one came for Early ReTyrement just recently. Was having an early morning chat with our admin secretary over coffee in her office, just joking about this and that. I like her – she’s a fireball who makes the world a better place just by being in it. Anyway, it was just chitty-chat-chat when suddenly she brightens up and says, “Oh, I’m at the horse race to Damascus part. I’m really enjoying it!”

I was pretty suave, meaning I didn’t spill coffee down my front. “You’re reading my book?”

She was. She’d ordered it the very day it had come out on the nook. I was flattered by this – one thing I’ve learned is to never, never, ever ask if someone is reading your book. But she was, and she was enjoying it.

And so now I’m writing more and more…



Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:38
A writer's blog (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 29 March 2012 00:00

Let this be your first lesson, Grasshopper. I’ve got to blog on a fixed schedule. Nobody is going to check back every day for irregular postings, nobody except crazed stalker-fans. And my mom.

With this in mind, I’m going to start posting up twice a week. As already established, I’ll post book reviews on Sunday. Since I can’t knock down a book a week, you’ll have to deal with some hazy recollections. But still, I’ve read a lot of books and will do my best to point out the more entertaining (for better or worse) of them.

I’m also beginning a workshop, “Dog Ear”, to be carried in the general area of this blog, talking about writing, publishing, presentation, and the gut-wrenching crap you’re likely to encounter in this field. Yes, it’s a hard world out there and likely nobody is going to tell you what to expect besides me. If there is a way to lose money at this, I’ve experienced it. And all this I’ll pass on, once a weeks, postings on Thursday evenings. You’ll find them in the general area, with “(DOG EAR)” postfixed on the name.

As this counts as my first entry, let me mention that I’ll be manning my first booth this Saturday, March 31st, at the UCF Book Festival. By my count, even if I sell every one of the books I’m bringing (about 60), I’ll still fall below the booth cost. And that’s okay – you never know who might pick one up, a film producer, an agent, a book club president, or even a crazed stalker-fan. So I’ll spend the day over there and take a loss and hope it leads to better things. And that’s part of the deal – pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, into humiliation and rejection, because that’s really what this is about. Pain leads to fame (or perhaps just more pain).

I’ll post a special report on this on Sunday, letting you know how it went and perhaps posting a booth picture or two.

So let’s open this chapter, place our finger upon the first word, and begin to read. Thusly…


Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:37

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