Monday, October 31, 2011

Marsburg Tour

The Marsburg Diary Blog Tour kicks off on Wednesday, people! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? IT MEANS THAT, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER ON THIS BLOG I AM WRITING IN ALL CAPS. I suppose it's because I'm a little excitable. Or that I simply want to be obnoxious. Yeah, that's probably it.

You can buy the book for Kindle or Nook, and if enough of you become die-hard fans this baby's going to print. Yep. So talk it up, yo.

Marsburg, of course, is the presequel to Michael, which is Book II in the Airel Saga. Which makes this like Book I point V, if you catch my Latin drift there. Click the links for more delicious info.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

IBE Blog Panel Notes

  • Content is king (write what you know)
    • A good blog provides something to its readers
    • A good blog provides content that can’t be found anywhere else
    • Keyword dense, NOT keyword rich, NOT keyword ridiculous
      • I do freelance Web content, so I know: there’s a right way and a wrong way.
      • Ideally your keywords will also be links; i.e. if I mention Aaron Patterson in my blog post, I’ll make that text link to his blog.
      • My blog posts (articles) are 500 - 1000 words and have no more than about 10 links in them. I also try to mention my brand name at least once per blog. This helps with Google rankings and SEO stuff.
    • Design should be clean and conservative
      • The eye naturally starts top left and then sweeps right and down. Bear this in mind when you are choosing your layout.
    • Be honest
      • Honesty = truth, and that’s what makes a writer’s work approachable.
  • Be yourself—Some ideas? For me, this means:
    • Writerly stuff
      • Reviews of dictionaries
      • Reviews of literary fiction and occasional classics
    • Editing insights
      • How to be a Good Writer series
      • What not to do
    • Eclectic editorials
      • Heavy thinking
      • Random thoughts
  • Posting
    • Do it on a consistent schedule
    • You can spread the workload around by inviting other bloggers to guest post on your blog
    • Keep those pageviews up.
      • Blogger has a really nice tool to monitor this
  • I use Blogger because Wordpress is not fun for me and Google products rule
    • The tech trifecta: Google, Apple, Amazon
      • Each one has its strengths and weaknesses
    • Blogger basic features walk through
      • Stats
      • New post
      • Adding images
      • Adding links

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Calling All Bloggers!

C.P. White Media is looking for guest bloggers for November! That's right, folks, don't miss this opportunity to pump up your eBook, promote your epistle, eNosh your novel, fortify your fiction, pimp your parchment, and biggify your blog. Okay I promise I'll never do that again.

Anyway, what better time of year than NaNoWriMo to join in the craziness and promo your work?! Seriously! Jump in while there are slots left, people. Don't miss out. We're already booking, and it's going fast.

Submission guidelines are easy:

  • 500-1000 words
  • Topic must be writerly
  • And of course, C.P. White Media, Limited Company reserves the right to reject submissions if they're not a good fit.
Now get tapping and apply by responding to this blog post or by messaging us on Twitter. Happy writing!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Idaho Book Extravaganza and Other Stuff, Like Going Self Pub

I went to my eye doctor today. As I sat in the office chatting with the doc, my career as a writer came up, as did the IBE (this Friday and Saturday in Boise). I think she and her husband may attend, which would be really cool. I love making connections like that, especially when it means it might produce results. 

And I’m not talking only about money or sales. I’m talking about making a difference with my art. But I digress.

She was telling me how on a recent trip to Portland and the legendary Powell’s Books, she walked the aisles taking mental notes. Her strategy was to save money by not buying hardcopy books. She was just browsing. She eschewed Powell’s for the purchase and bought the titles she liked later, on Amazon, for her Kindle. I find that to be hilariously capitalistic; I’m almost giddy about it.

Her question: “Should I feel bad about that?”

My response: “Hell no!”

She probed further, however, and a new issue came up. She wondered if buying the Kindle version of a book hurts the author, stunting his potential earnings somehow. I told her no, in some cases an author can make more selling a Kindle version of his book for $2.99 than he can selling a paperback for $14.99, depending. And it’s the truth (though this scenario is a different story for indie bookstores, which is obvious). I told her that anyone who’s got a backlist on Amazon is a big kid, and if they signed a horrible contract with an awful publisher, they will have to deal with the consequences. We’re all grownups around here. I don’t need to tell you, dear reader, that it’s far better to pull down 70% than 15% for the same dizzying amount of time and work.

It has to do with how one goes about one’s business, really, so pay attention. For all intents and purposes, there are really only two groups of published authors on Amazon (or anywhere else, for that matter): those with traditional contracts and those who are going it alone. I don’t want to belabor the point, so I won’t. I’ll just focus on those of us with at least a little entrepreneurial passion oozing from the creases of our fat rolls.

Basically, if you’re not signed with one of the Big Six, you’re self-pubbed. Hate to break it to you. But it is so. What’s the difference, really, between a guy signed with an indie house, a guy who bought a publishing package on CreateSpace and a guy who basically did the same thing through selected vendors as an LLC? I’ll tell you. The only difference—if there is one—is going to be in the quality of the final product. Cover design. Editing. Formatting. Technology levels absolutely every other part of the playing field. No, really. Because even if you’re walking around with that gold-framed contract around your neck that says I’m a Big Six Author and I’ve Made It, you’re still going to be working your cheeks off the same as me, and for far less in the end.

Those of us flying solo have the double-edged advantage of control. We call the shots. And we live with the consequences. The point of this tirade? Simply this: that, to this day, you basically have several variations on two options.

  • Cash up front vs. Potential
  • Control by committee vs. Total control
  • Work for peanuts vs. Work for reward
  • Being crushed by huge overhead vs. Running efficient and lean
  • Me waxing eloquent some more vs. Me wrapping this up

Here’s the rub. Okay? Here it is. The dirty little secret is that some of us are diligently about our business. Those of us who are, are producing Big Six quality stuff even though we’re pretty much self-pubbed—if that’s how we define entrepreneurism in the publishing industry. That’s fine with me. I couldn’t care less about what name adorns the contract, except for mine. What matters are what numbers are on it…or not on it. All my contracts cut out the middleman entirely, wherever possible. It’s part of my top secret common sense business philosophy, which is a no-brainer.

In a nutshell, it’s this: Focus most on what matters most. How are you going about your business? Are you focused on what matters, or what highfalutin name is on the letterhead? Tell ya what: pop on over to the IdahoBook Extravaganza this weekend at the Boise Center on the Grove and learn a thing or two about the biz and those who are shaping it. The future doesn’t automatically belong to the big baddie corporations (cry me a river, you Occupy sissies), at least as long as there are some go-getters down here at ground level with the rest of us. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Putting Yourself Out There

Unless you have tried and failed at something, you might not get it. If you’ve never stood your ground even once and told people exactly what you’re thinking, you probably can’t relate to what I’m about to say. If you’ve never tried to create something truly personal, and then taken the huge risk of allowing people to see it, read it, experience it…then you can’t know how it feels.

I’m talking about putting yourself out there; in this case as a writer. It might seem difficult to write a book, especially for those who never have, and it is. But it’s even more difficult to finish it and let it go. Out into the wild. Where people are free to love it or hate it. But I gotta tell you: it’s worth the risk. It is totally worth the risk.

Aaron Patterson and I released Airel this past spring. It was the result of about a year’s worth of work. Yep. That much. And as hard as the writing and editing and revising process sometimes was, it doesn’t compare to how difficult it can be to publish the Work—and allow people into what amounts to a very private inner sanctum: the imagination of the author.

It’s funny, too. I thought over time as I published more stories that it would be easier. But I still get nervous about releasing my work, whether it’s Airel or one of my upcoming digital short stories, Strongbox. As I read through the comments and look at the reviews that are coming in for Airel, I’m actually stunned. It’s crazy. And I have to take this moment to thank you, the fans, for everything: buying my writing, leaving awesomely honest reviews on Amazon, and most importantly lending me the support I need to continue writing. I could not do this without my admittedly modest (so far) collection of fans, so thank you.

There’s a lot more stuff in the works, releasing later this year or early next year. Want a little breakdown? Here’s what’s coming soon:

Digital Short Stories:
Strongbox: Thea lives in the strongbox. Inside it is safe and warm, and the door stays shut and locked. The Things from Outside terrify her, and she is glad for the safety and security that the strongbox provides. But one day she dreams, and the dream is so good that she swims down deeper into it, toward the boy in the dream. When she is awakened suddenly, she finds the door of the strongbox open. And then she is pushed outside. Alone. With nothing. It is dark, and there are sounds. And something is coming for her.

Yes, Dear: A man and woman arrive finally at the country house after journeying all day from London. She tells him to get the kettle on and stoke the fire; it’s cold and the snow is deep. She’s accustomed to bossing him. She’s used to his response to everything: “Yes, Dear.” But what destiny has pent up comes swiftly, without warning…and the works of a life produce consequence.

K [phantasmagoria] part one: How far is too far? If a man is pushed past breaking and all bets are off, what are the rules then? K is a man severely damaged by life, by circumstance, by a past he can’t remember and probably by the meds his government-mandated psychiatrist has him on. He struggles violently, trying to make sense of his bipolar hatred for God, for people, for all the stupid assumptions, for himself. Is he going crazy? He sees the most horrific visions, a phantasmagoria that is slowly wrecking him. Day and night. And it can only be explained by the idea of precognition…until even science fails…and whatever barrier there is between this world and the next is destroyed by the unexplainable. This is a chilling story packed with lies. Some of them may turn out to be true, but which?

Michael: (with Aaron Patterson) Get ready for part two of the Airel Saga. Michael tells the story of Airel’s crush, Michael: a young man with strange connections indeed, and a lot of questions to answer…and many more things to answer for. Coming soon from StoneHouse Ink.

American Failure: a proper perspective: (Second Edition) Is there something we can learn from failure? I make the case for failure as a beginning rather than an end in this mildly autobiographical moral treatise. Filled with personal stories and my own unique perspectives, plus a running Andy Rooney-esque commentary on various bits of American culture, it’s a unique look at an essential part of life, and a nation struggling to find its identity and a way forward. Coming in 2012.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fortitude and Principle

Times are tough out there, kiddos. And that means it’s tough all over, even at home. Especially at home sometimes, I’d argue, because the people we live with from day to day, who know us best, don’t allow us to blow smoke. The public persona might be, say, pleasantly quirky and against the grain. But at home it’s a genuine cheese grater, and when said personality is on the rack being stretched, things can get ugly. But enough about me. Francis Bacon said it best: “Domestic considerations commonly overthrow public ones.”

In other words, people all over America are digging in at home, looking for purchase on the slippery mud of the national economy, spinning their wheels in just about any direction—and that means the roughness outside sometimes slips into the family. I can feel it. Can’t you? This vague simmering malcontent? It’s everywhere. God knows what it’s doing to families all across the nation as we struggle for less and less while working harder and harder. The pent-up silent majority, those of us with reverence for traditional American values and rational thought, who value the individual, the hero, private property and liberty, are doing all we can to keep our heads down and stay in the harness and work our tails off trying to provide for our families. We do whatever it takes, and lately it’s taking a whole lot more.

I know from personal experience how painful it is. I know what it’s like to labor, to contend for something, to work all day, all week, all month, and for less—in the end—than all that work is worth. As the saying goes, “why is there so much month left at the end of the money?” Exactly. I know what it’s like to feel that most of what I do is all for naught. Like my work is missing something really really important; an indispensible part of itself: reward. I know what it’s like to throw up my hands at the end of the week and ask myself why I even try. I can define for you, in colorful terms, the meaning of futility.

Much like David, however, who wrote the most beautiful Psalms, there is reason to continue fighting. There is a “why.” There is meaning in the struggle. There are intangibles so important, so universally true that they are more real than the tangible. Principle, for one. My grandfather knew what this was. It’s the reason why a man stays married to his woman for sixty years plus. It’s why he goes to work and works hard, even when all of it is Hoovered from his hand by the bill collectors and tax collectors before he has a chance to get it home. It’s the reason why he wakes up in the morning and finds a way to make himself useful—employed—even when he’s unemployed. It’s stick-to-itiveness. It’s comportment, bearing, integrity; the kind of determination that would wither men of lesser stock in the same situation.

Moving forward on principle is continuing on the right course when no reward is within sight. It’s faith, in other words. It’s something in which we, in the midst of our affliction as a nation, are currently being tested. Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin: to number, to number, to weigh, to divide. I pray to God that the handwriting now appearing on the wall before us is not in fact a prophecy; that we are being weighed—but that, please, dear God, we will not be found wanting.

For the We in “We the People” to be more than the sum of our parts, the I, the individuals all across the land must make individual decisions to stand and continue to labor, and hard. We the People cannot be We the People without I the Hero: the man with an idea who does whatever it takes to see it succeed, the woman with a passion who works through whatever obstacles she encounters in order to see it through. The heroes are out there, walking amongst us. We are the stalwart dreamers who actively create betterment from the raw ore of the world over which God has given us dominion. Keep on in your labors, Hero Dreamer, Hero Thinker, Hero of Deeds. You, the Individual, are what gives worth and provides meaning. Think not of reward, and don’t esteem it. Trust in your faith that what you do now does indeed matter, and greatly. It is in the midst of blackest dark of night that the light shines brightest, and it becomes completely clear that the darkness has not overcome it. And, I add, it never shall.