Monday, April 29, 2013

This seems odd to me, what do you think?

ReaderCon will be held in July this year. For those who are unfamiliar with this event, it a convention for imaginative literature -- science fantasy, fantasy, horror and similar genres. This year it is in Burlington, MA which is not far from my Boston-based publisher.

So I asked them if they were going to attend the convention since they have several books to promote now and the Con is perfect place to do that. I also was thinking that if they did attend, I could show up one day to sign copies of my novel.

But that aren't going, which has got me scratching my head. I would've thought that a convention in their own backyard would be something they would jump at. But I guess not. Still it seems odd to me, but I suppose that like any business, they have to decide which events they attend and which ones they skip. 

Still, it seems odd to me. What do you think?

Friday, April 26, 2013

More Delays

Since my publisher is Boston-based, it occurred to me to ask them if the recent events in the city had affected them. They had that their productivity suffered and as a result everything is delayed. Physical proofs, for example, which I should've already had in my hands, won't be sent to me now until next week some time.

Worse still, the release date of my book is pushed back to July 9. So now I'm asked about the date for the pre-sale because I committed to go to Chelmsford to talk about Book 1. I did that assuming the book would be available in the next few days. Now that won't be true so if they move the pre-sale date as well, there's really no point in talking about my novel and getting people interested in it because they can't order it and they can't purchase it.

But I don't want to back out either. Not unless I need to. Frankly I don't see why the book can't be made available for pre-sale at the end of May as originally planned. But then I don't control these things. The publisher does and I've received an answer to my question regarding the date for pre-sale.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. This may be one of those times when relying on luck is the best plan.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Plugging Away

With the dust from last week settling, I am back to plugging away at my novels. Book 2 is getting another read and edit because it has sat long enough that I can make one pass through it and then put it down again.

And I continue to wrestle with Book 4. The word count is coming up but it is still too low to make the novel viable. So I continue to re-read and inject more description into the story.

I think I'm done working on short stories for the moment. Well, new stories that is. I may crack open a draft that is waiting and see if I want to take that on.

Otherwise, I am waiting for the physical proofs of Book 1 to arrive. It shouldn't be much longer for them unless there's been a delay.

Keep writing, everyone.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Strong

I've never been a person to identify with a specific place. That's probably because I've moved about quite a bit in my life. From Boston to the South Shore to Worcester to Ohio to Boulder, Colorado and then back to the South Shore. But even beyond that, I've never felt tied to the land the way, say, farmers are.

But the fact is I spent the first 11 years of my life growing up in the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan. That's where my grandparents bought the only home they ever own. That's where my father grew up. And that's where my brothers and I lived for a while.

It is this connection that has come to fore so suddenly this week because of the bombs in Boston. I don't claim to be a Bostonian, but I don't think you have to be to love the city or see the people responsible for these cowardly acts brought to justice.

This week has been a tough one. I relive the World Trade Center attacks and the events in Oklahoma City in 1995. I keep thinking about how mad the world has become and yet in the face of that madness, we've seen the courage and all that is best in people as they help the victims hurt by the bombs. This more than anything makes me proud to be from this part of the world because this is how people should act toward each other all the time.

But for these events to be something more than just random acts of violence, they need to cause change.  But I don't think that will happen. When the dust settles, I'm fairly sure we will go back to the way we were before April 15. Some will spin the events for political reasons to either promote or reject some agenda. Others will honestly try to learn something from the events and suggest changes so that bombs will never again mar the Marathon.

But we need to change the human heart and that is a hard thing to morph. We need to release old hatreds and bias and embrace tolerance and understanding of others. We need to love our neighbors the way we love ourselves. That's an old struggle I know. I only hope that these events take us one step closer to realizing that goal.

Monday, April 15, 2013

One Step Too Far?

As some people reading my blog may know, I have self-published some short stories on Smashwords. I've collected these into a single volume so I will have something to sell June 15 at the Chelmsford Library, where I will speak about my novel.

I also have published Kindle versions on Amazon because I am told I needed to be in the Amazon store if I hope to sell anything. I recently updated a few stories there. Generally speaking the updates go through without a hitch. But this last time, one story got stuck. After a few days I wrote to Amazon asking to unstuck it.

They responded that the copyright of the story was in question. I was amazed that they would question it but they had no idea of the stories history. So I told them that I held all rights to the story, that the story was published in Smashwords and Amazon for distribution purposes only.

That was enough to satisfy them but I have to wonder, did they go too far? Who else are they questioning about the copyright of their work? If they had not been satisfied, the story would have been dropped from the Kindle story, forcing me to sell from my web site exclusively. That would have been life far more complicated, because I would have to start taking payments on the site. Currently I sent visitors to other sites that sell my work.

I toyed with the idea of changing the title and resubmitting it but never went down that path as there was no need. I'm not sure if that would've worked. It might have especially if I revised the first several pages. Of course that's a lot of work when I've done nothing wrong, which is why I only toyed with the idea.

The moral here is trend softly and know where your work is published. Amazon may come knocking on your door when you least expect it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cliche or Clever?

I had feedback on one of my stories. This story was actually received well in 2010 when I wrote it by another writer who was offering to review and critique stories in his blog. I submitted it to another set of writers for an anthology (this week) that's they want to published and got back the comment that it is one big cliche.

I wasn't expecting them to like the story (they don't seem to like much of anything) but I didn't think it was cliche. Then I got to thinking: one man's trash is another man's treasure. I've had sixty downloads on this story. That's not a lot but clearly some people like it.

So it wasn't for that last group of writers. Okay. I move on. Other people will like it. And as another friend of mine points out, so long as a writer is selling his or her work, he or she is successful. So as long as the downloads continue, I don't much care if one group of people like or not.

Of course, all this begs the question I asked years ago: who decides what is published and not published? Who decides what is acceptable? Ultimately, the readers do by what they read. Self-publishing fits into that very well since it gives me direct access to the reading public.

But there are still places where others want to decide. To some degree I understand that. With a lot of people self-publishing quality of the writing and the content is suffering. And writers, good professional writers would be foolish not to object to this.

But there's a thin line here.

In my case, I am told they did not even read the whole story. That's common practice in publishing circles, but that's not my practice. When I review something I read the whole thing and evaluate the whole work. Otherwise, I only have a partial picture. My reviewers could have extended me the same courtesy. But they didn't and I have to disagree with their comments because they only read some number of paragraphs and came away with the impression that the story is a cliche. This tells me that the story's hook needs revision. Fine. I can accept that. But beyond that point, I'm not prepared to make changes.

And now Amazon is questioning whether I hold the copyright to this same story. Talk about a gatekeeper. But if they pull the story from the Kindle store then I'll just offer it in print form or from my own website.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Local Authors Day

It's been busy here like floodgates opened. Let me tick through the events:

I heard back from my local library. They will allow me to hold an author's reading there but I've got to do all the set up and break down, which is not what I was expecting. I can do it but I don't think they really want people to use their facilities or they would be willing to help more. I've put this event to one side for the moment. You'll see why in a few paragraphs.

I heard from my publisher. The release day of my novel is pushed back three days from June 15 to June 18. That's not a really big deal. The physical proofs of the novel will be in my hands in about three weeks. Still no word if they will attend ReaderCon in July to sell their published books. 

I was invited to participate in Loval Authors Day in Chelmsford. This is an event I attended last year and got the organizer's name so I could attend this year. Since this event is completely hosted by the Chelmsford library, I put my author reading to one side for the moment. The date of the event is June 15, which means my book will not be released and only be available for pre-sale. So I've written to them to tell them this and asking is that's okay. I can still talk about the book and point people to where they can pre-order the book. I can also sell my collection of short stories which I pulled together over the weekend. Basically I took all my stories on Smashwords, stuck them in a Word file and uploaded it to so I could self-publish a few copies. I spent more of the time developing a cool cover for the publication. 

All of these happenings made me shift into high gear and start develop flyers and marketing material for myself. I also started loading up a money box for I can make change if someone pays in cash. I'm going to sign up for Square so I can take credit cards sales with my cell phone. And then I need to circle back and think about what to say about my novel in case I can attend Chelmsford and start to pull together poems and stories for the author reading which I now think will be in August.

I'll need to add an events page to my web site too. But here's the schedule as I see it:

In June: Chelmsford (assuming they don't have a problem that my book is not released yet)

In July: ReaderCon (assuming the publisher will go. If they don't, I don't have enough material to warrant a table this year)

In August: Author reading at my library. This will get me some exposure.

After that I'm hoping to show up at some bookstores. I've identified a few in the area. I'll be talking to them starting in July.

And meanwhile, I've got writing to do. Guess I'm going to start doing that at night, if I can. 

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Editor's Hat

It is has been said to me that writers cannot edit their own work. And is true but only up to a point. But this I mean that when you think a story is finished, you need to have someone else review to make sure you've done your job as well as you think you have. But prior to that point a writer had better be able to toss out trite phrase and insipid dialogue or else you've got a long hard road ahead of you.

I find that I am reluctant to edit my work. Notice I didn't say revise it. I said edit it. There's a difference. Revision is just make changes. Editing is revision with the goal of improving and polishing a piece.

And it's not that I can't edit my work it's just not comfortable to do so and that's a bad place to be. If I can't take an honest look at my work than I'm on that aforementioned long hard road and that's no place I want to be because I've already been there.

The road to getting Book 1 sold was that road; returning to that point it not something I relish. And yet, I discovered I've been deluding myself about the story I just released last week. I discovered the problem after receiving some harsh comments and when I took a hard look at it I had to admit it needed a complete rewrite.

That means I did not do my job as a write and that my editing process needs a lot more work. I fell into the trap of rushing out the story without checking to make sure it was complete and well told. So I've been rewriting it this week adding more description, more action, and more character reaction.

And I really need to get back to it as there are several scenes left to write, revise, and edit.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stories Keep on Coming

I keep getting ideas for short stories. No sooner is one put away and drafted then another crystalizes in my mind. I just finished a story called Telescopevision, about an astronomer who discovered how to capture light from a distance planet in such detail that he can see the actions of the people living there. The catch comes when that world turns out to be a twin of his own and about three months in the future, allowing him to see that he will be kidnapped by gangsters.

That story took months for me to sort out the details and determine how best to tell that story. So what happens? I complete the draft and put it away and the another story occurs to me that night about a runaway slave who is questioned about his involvement in aiding slave smugglers so they can be freed.

And all of this other writing is keeping me from revising Book 4. I suppose it's not really a problem. I bigger problem would be if the ideas didn't come. Still I'd like to get on with the writing I planned to do. But that's how it happens sometimes, the muse throws you a curve.

But I'll muddled through and get back to Book 4 soon I'm sure. In the meantime, I can go pester the folks at the library about my author reading since they have yet to respond to my inquiries. I've got a feeling they won't until I really show I'm serious about this. But I've gone after jobs before so I can apply my cold calling skills to this and I should yield a result.

Keep writing everyone.