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Archive for the ‘Advice about Writing’ Category

It’s finally transcribed. Last month I interviewed Mr. Monteleone for the Maryland Writers’ Association’s 20th Anniversary Conference (which is this Saturday. There’s still time to register, and walk-ins are fine too). Tom is the Keynote Speaker for the conference, and he took some time out of his schedule to do this interview to promote the event. There’s a lot of great info, and I hope you find the interview as informative and fun as I do.
Borderlands Press

INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS F. MONTELEONE

1‭) ‬What was it like when you published your first book and how has the industry changed since then in terms of how authors are getting their books sold,‭ ‬both to publishers and to audiences‭?

TFM:‭ ‬You know,‭ ‬it’s a shame because it really has changed,‭ ‬and I think the industry has changed drastically.‭ ‬I’ve seen the marketplace go through some unbelievable changes.‭ ‬I started out writing short stories‭; ‬I think I published 20 to 25 stories in science fiction magazines in the early‭ ‘‬70s.‭ ‬One year I was at this convention,‭ ‬and I met this young agent who was looking for new writers,‭ ‬young writers,‭ ‬and he said,‭ “‬Have you written any novels yet‭?” ‬and I told him no.‭ ‬I couldn’t even imagine writing something that long.‭ ‬At that point 40 pages was‭ “‬wow‭!” ‬So he told me that he could get me some contracts with publishers that were looking for new writers.‭ ‬He said,‭ “‬If you can put in a proposal and learn how to write a novel while you go along,‭ ‬I’ll pay you for it.‭”

So long story short,‭ ‬the first few novels I did were paperback originals.‭ ‬I think I got‭ $‬1500,‭ $‬2500,‭ ‬which back then wasn’t good money but it wasn’t terrible.‭ ‬And back then‭ (‬this will show you how the industry’s changed‭) ‬back then if you wrote mystery novels,‭ ‬the hardcore fans would go to the bookstores, and whatever new mysteries were out the fans would buy them because the books were paperbacks and they were 35,‭ 40‬ cents,‭ ‬whatever they were.‭ ‬And this hardcore audience bought paperback original novels like crazy.‭

Whatever you were writing at that time,‭ ‬if you wrote mysteries or romance or Gothic or spy novels—whatever you wrote—the publisher knew there was a hardcore audience that,‭ ‬say,‭ ‬if he published a spy novel,‭ ‬he knew he was going to sell‭ ‬50,000‭ ‬copies of it,‭ ‬and that’s if it was by nobody they’d ever heard of.‭ ‬If it was by somebody known,‭ ‬it was going to sell a million.‭ ‬There was an audience for all this stuff.

Do you know what the midlist is‭?

NG:‭ ‬Yeah.

TFM:‭ ‬The midlist was very good back then,‭ ‬and you could make a living selling one paperback original novel a year,‭ ‬for $25,000 or $30,000 and another $15,000 in royalties.‭ ‬And you could make a living doing that.

The midlist is kind of fading away now‭; ‬a publisher’s thinking today is to either buy blockbusters where they try to knock it out of the park and do a movie and a DVD and a video game and a whole business,‭ ‬or they buy first novels from people for practically nothing.‭ ‬But people aren’t reading the midlist authors like they used to.‭ ‬And then the genres,‭ ‬science fiction and horror and thrillers and mysteries and all of those,‭ ‬half of that readership plays video games.‭ ‬Instead of reading about a pilot of a spaceship hunting a monster,‭ ‬or a spy thriller,‭ ‬they just get into the game and be the character.‭ ‬And that’s really hurt book sales.‭

So I’ve seen a really vibrant paperback original industry almost disappear.‭ ‬And one of the problems is—what I didn’t know getting into this—is that if you wrote paperback originals,‭ ‬you didn’t get reviewed in the newspapers,‭ ‬or the trade publications,‭ ‬or the library journals,‭ ‬none of them.‭ ‬So it was much harder to build an audience.‭ ‬So it took me a while‭; ‬I started selling in hardback in the‭ ‘‬80s and that really helped.‭

But then Stephen King came along and started selling horror novels for a hundred million dollars,‭ ‬and that cranked up the paperback original market again.‭ ‬So in the mid ’80s if you were writing a horror novel you could get $30,000,‭ $40,000‬ for it and it would go to the news-stands and sell like crazy if it looked like a Stephen King novel.‭

So I stopped writing hardcovers for about five or six years and went back to writing paperback originals again,‭ ‬and,‭ ‬you know,‭ ‬you lose your audience that way.‭ ‬You lose your reviewers,‭ ‬you lose everything.‭

It’s a very strange industry, and I’ve seen it go through all sorts or permutations in the‭ ‬30‭ ‬years I’ve been writing,‭ ‬and I don’t know if I want my kids getting into it‭!

NG:‭ ‬You want a secure future for your children.

TFM:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬exactly.‭ ‬I’ve been in it all my life,‭ ‬it’s all I know.‭ ‬I’ve never really had a‭ “‬grown-up‭” ‬job—writing is what I do,‭ ‬it’s who I am,‭ ‬and I can’t do anything else at this point.‭

2‭) ‬You discovered a horror comic when you were a kid,‭ ‬and it sparked your interest in the macabre‭; ‬your father also shared the interest in speculative fiction.‭ ‬How did that help to develop your talent as a young writer‭? ‬What advice do you have for young writers that encounter opposition to their interest in speculative fiction,‭ ‬especially dark fiction‭?

TFM:‭ ‬Can I ask,‭ ‬where did you get that stuff from‭?

NG:‭ ‬I just read up on some interviews and stuff on the Internet.‭ ‬I wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating too many questions.

TFM:‭ ‬These are good questions,‭ ‬good job,‭ ‬I’m very impressed.

NG:‭ ‬Thank you.

TFM:‭ ‬One of the things my father did for me was buy comics for me as a kid.‭ ‬This was back when I was 10 and there were only three channels on the TV‭; ‬you couldn’t throw in a DVD anytime you felt like it.‭ ‬Reading was a much bigger avenue,‭ ‬like comic books for younger kids.‭ ‬There was a lot of strange,‭ ‬interesting stuff out there.‭

My father was into that stuff too,‭ ‬and he had read pulp in the earlier generation,‭ ‬pulp magazines in the‭ ‘‬30s and‭ ‘‬40s,‭ ‬and he liked watching strange movies and he used to take me to horror films all the time.‭ ‬That really helped build my sense of wonder,‭ ‬sense of curiosity about the world.‭

I think if you want to write fiction,‭ ‬whatever it is—romance,‭ ‬mysteries,‭ ‬fantasies,‭ ‬spy thrillers,‭ ‬family sagas,‭ ‬whatever—you have to have this imaginative view of the world.‭ ‬You have to look at everything you see and ask questions about things,‭ ‬wonder where they came from.‭ ‬Ask questions about what it would be like if it was different.‭ ‬All the things writers learn to do unconsciously,‭ ‬we did when we were kids,‭ ‬looking at the world like,‭ “‬Gosh,‭ ‬gee,‭ ‬wow,‭ ‬what the heck is that‭?” ‬And I think we should keep that.‭ ‬The secret to being creative,‭ ‬and not just writing—music,‭ ‬dance,‭ ‬theater,‭ ‬painting too—is that you wonder about the world,‭ ‬what’s going on,‭ ‬how things tick,‭ ‬and what would happen if things changed a little bit or if they changed a lot.‭ ‬Always ask yourself questions.

I went to Jesuit high school at Baltimore Loyola,‭ ‬and I had some really good teachers that really challenged the way you think and the way you look at the world philosophically.‭ ‬One teacher told me that one thing you can always do is ask the next question‭; ‬don’t ever take any particular answer for your final answer.‭ ‬And that was a really amazing thing for me.‭ ‬I never forgot it.‭ ‬It allows the writer to trust his instincts when he’s telling a story.

I hope that makes sense.

NG:‭ ‬It does.‭ ‬I remember in high school some of the teachers that encouraged me,‭ ‬and it really does make a difference at that age.‭

TFM:Yeah,‭ ‬it makes the difference between somebody telling you‭ “‬are you crazy‭; ‬you’re just a dreamer,‭ ‬get your head out of the clouds,‭ ‬go get a real job.‭” ‬And I had people tell me that as I was moving along.‭ ‬It’s really funny.‭ ‬It’s like when you quit smoking and all of your friends are still smoking.‭ ‬They’re glad you quit,‭ ‬but they’re pissed off because they’re still smoking.‭ ‬It’s like,‭ ‬yeah,‭ ‬they’re glad you sold a short story to Playboy for‭ ‬$3000,‭ ‬but they’re pissed off because you’re accomplishing things that they’re not.

So there’s always that.‭ ‬You’re always going to have people that are going to tell you to forget about your dreams.‭ ‬But you have to know what you want to do and do it.‭ ‬If you want to be a writer,‭ ‬ask questions.

I was the first one in my family to go to college.‭ ‬My grandfather came over here from Sicily when he was 15,‭ ‬and he had a bakery in New York,‭ ‬but he didn’t go to college,‭ ‬none of his kids went to college‭; ‬I was one of the first kids born after WWII to go to college.‭ ‬So that was a big deal.‭ ‬I came from one of those families.

NG:‭ ‬You worked hard and found what it was you wanted to do.

TFM:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ my father‬ worked Bethlehem Steel in a shipyard for 30 years.

NG:‭ ‬Wow.‭ ‬Very cool.

3‭) ‬Borderlands has a boot camp for writers of dark fiction.‭ ‬You and your wife,‭ ‬Elizabeth,‭ ‬decided to start it after getting many submissions that needed some work.‭ ‬How was the camp received when it first started,‭ ‬and how has it evolved over the years‭? ‬Also,‭ ‬you just had one this past winter‭; ‬how did that go.

TFM:‭ ‬We just had our most recent boot camp,‭ ‬which was one of our most successful,‭ ‬I think.‭ ‬The way we do it is we have people send in samples,‭ ‬and we advertise the boot camp.‭

We try to bring out all the things that go into life,‭ ‬that separate good writing from bad writing.‭ ‬And one of the things Elizabeth and I try to do is find 20 writers of all about the same level and skill of accomplishment.‭ ‬You’re never going to see already hugely successful writers there‭; ‬if someone sends me something that’s so brilliantly done,‭ ‬what’s the point‭? ‬Or if someone sends me something that’s so‭ ‬.‭ ‬.‭ ‬.

NG:‭ ‬Bad‭?

TFM:‭ ‬Not bad,‭ ‬necessarily,‭ ‬but something that’s at a very,‭ ‬very beginning novice level,‭ ‬where they’re at the point where they barely understand subtext or dialog or what it is or how you even format it,‭ ‬then they’re going to get overwhelmed in the boot camp.‭ ‬So we don’t want someone that’s so behind the curve that they’re going to get pulverized by the level of criticism.‭ ‬We try to find writers that are in that mid-level,‭ ‬where the have skill but maybe haven’t polished their ability yet or they have gaps in their understanding.

And what happens is they come in on Friday‭ ‬and we do a panel discussion and pre-planned exercises.‭ ‬The heavy day is Saturday, where we workshop from about‭ ‬8am to‭ ‬2am.‭ ‬We really beat them up.‭ ‬The re-worked pieces submitted on Sunday are so vastly improved from what they originally submitted,‭ ‬it’s like sorcery.‭ ‬It’s like,‭ “‬How the hell did that happen‭?” ‬They really do learn,‭ ‬and they really are fun to watch because they want to absorb that information.‭ ‬They’ve never had feedback or interacted with other writers like that before.

Every boot camp we’ve done—it’s been going on for four years now,‭ ‬about twice a year—we’ll do a short fiction and novel workshop.‭ ‬And people get together and trade e-mails back and forth,‭ ‬critique back and forth,‭ ‬and a little support group forms.‭ ‬Isn’t that cool‭?

NG:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬it is.

TFM: It really works.‭ ‬Out of‭ ‬140‭ ‬or so writers that have come through our program,‭ ‬I’d say we’ve had‭ ‬15%‭ ‬or‭ ‬20%‭ ‬or so that have gone on to become professional writers.

We didn’t always have this process all figured out‭; ‬we just kind of stumbled along and through trial and error figured out what works and what doesn’t.‭ ‬And we get great writers to come in as instructors.‭ ‬We’ve had David Morrell several times,‭ ‬the guy that did First Blood.‭ ‬We’ve had Peter Straub,‭ ‬F.‭ ‬Paul Wilson,‭ ‬Jack Ketchum‭; ‬we’ve had really good writers come in.‭ ‬And the participants really want to say,‭ “‬Hey,‭ ‬I hung out with Jack Ketchum this weekend.‭”

We have to have people send in writing samples so that we can get a gauge as to where they are.‭ ‬And it’s not cheap‭ [‬the boot camp‭] ‬because we have to‭ ‬pay a premium for insurance,‭ ‬and we have to pay our instructors.‭ ‬But it’s a good program.

NG:‭ ‬It sounds very rewarding.

TFM:‭ ‬It is,‭ ‬it’s a challenge.‭ ‬It’s a good program‭; ‬we like to spread the word about it and make sure people get what they pay for.‭ ‬People can apply at www.borderlandspress.com

4‭) ‬You’re the keynote speaker for the Maryland Writers‭’ ‬Association‭ ‬20th Anniversary Conference.‭ ‬How do you prepare for such events‭?

TFM:‭ ‬I’ve done a lot of public speaking and public readings,‭ ‬and I know this is going to sound ridiculous,‭ ‬but I do very little preparation beforehand.‭ ‬I basically write a few points on a card,‭ ‬then go up there and try to keep it like we’re on the front porch kicking stuff around.‭ ‬I can’t stand these canned speeches where these people read off of note cards and sound like someone stuck a broomstick up their butt.‭ ‬Or,‭ ‬worse,‭ ‬that they just read their speech.‭ ‬I can’t stand that.‭ ‬And I’ve found over time that I know so much crap about what I do,‭ ‬I can just turn it on and off.‭ ‬My wife has heard all this stuff a thousand times,‭ ‬and she says,‭ “‬Don’t bore them,‭” ‬or‭ “‬Don’t forget you’re not funny.‭” ‬And I’m okay with that,‭ ‬she’s heard it a bunch of times.‭ ‬I like to keep it informal,‭ ‬and open it up with questions.‭ ‬The worst thing you can do is come up there with this prepackaged thing that just lays an egg.‭

I don’t like to prepare.‭ ‬I have a lot of confidence in my ability to just get up there and wing it,‭ ‬so that’s pretty much what‭ ‘‬m going to be doing.‭ ‬Are you going‭?

NG:‭ ‬I’m thinking about volunteering so that I can go.

TFM: Have you written a lot yourself‭?

NG:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬but I still feel I have a lot to learn.

TFM: Well,‭ ‬you know what,‭ ‬so do I.‭ ‬Don’t kid yourself.‭ ‬I’m not sitting here like I’m rolling knowledge down the slopes of Mount Olympus here.‭ ‬Every day I’m learning new stuff.

One of the things I tell new writers is that once you become a writer,‭ ‬once you learn what good writing is,‭ ‬you’ll never just read for pleasure again.‭ ‬Anytime you read something that really works,‭ ‬you’re going to re-read and deconstruct and try to figure out what that writer did and why it works.

NG:‭ ‬That’s so true.‭ ‬I find myself wondering why a writer used a certain word,‭ ‬or why they choose to write a sentence a certain way.

TFM:‭ ‬It’s an amazing process,‭ ‬the learning never stops.‭ ‬Once you get your own style,‭ ‬you don’t worry about the mechanics like you used to,‭ ‬but you have to continue learning.‭ ‬You have to always be willing to learn a new trick.

5‭) ‬This also goes with the previous question.‭ ‬What was it like the first time you were asked to speak at an event‭?

TFM:‭ ‬Oh,‭ ‬God,‭ ‬I’ll never forget it.‭ ‬When I was going to grad school at the University of Maryland, I was living in a little town called Greenbelt,‭ ‬which is just outside of Maryland.‭ ‬I was at the library—they had a little library—and I was in there one afternoon doing research for a story.‭ ‬You know,‭ ‬I wasn’t one of those guys that went around telling everyone that I was an author or any of that crap.‭ ‬I was selling short stories to little digests and science fiction magazines.‭ ‬But the librarian asked me if I was a writer and then asked me to come in for the monthly talk,‭ ‬the book group they had.‭

Anyway,‭ ‬there was one older guy in the audience,‭ ‬this really cranky character‭; ‬he was apparently there to take issue with whatever I said.‭ ‬He really tried to make it difficult.‭ ‬And I’m an Italian guy‭; ‬when I was younger,‭ ‬I had a chip on my shoulder all the time—don’t mess with me.‭ ‬That was my attitude.‭ ‬I was always the skinny kid,‭ ‬the small kid,‭ ‬people always wrote me off.‭

So I’m trying to give this nice talk in this small town library,‭ ‬and this guy’s messing with me.‭ ‬So I had it out with him,‭ ‬right there.‭ ‬Not physically,‭ ‬but I called him out and said,‭ “‬Hey,‭ ‬what the hell is your problem‭? ‬You want to mess around with me‭? ‬You want to get up here and do this‭? ‬I’ll sit in the audience while you get up here and talk.‭”

So the whole thing was a disaster.‭ ‬I was 25-years-old at the time,‭ ‬and people were like,‭ “‬Who is this crazy kid‭?” ‬So my first speaking engagement was not great.‭ ‬It wasn’t like I went in and I was nervous and all that.‭ ‬I just figured I’d go in and tell them how I got started,‭ ‬here’s what I did—I beat my brains in for three years.‭ ‬I sent out stories to like 35,‭ 40‬ different magazines.‭ ‬I got 231 rejections before I sold my first story—and,‭ ‬yes,‭ ‬I did count them—I sold my first story for‭ ‬$30‭ ‬at a penny a word.‭ ‬Back then there was no e-mail.‭ ‬You put stamps on an envelope and mailed out your manuscript.‭ ‬And you kept doing it until someone noticed.‭ ‬And that was the message I tried to tell to 11 people at the library that day.‭ ‬The 12th didn’t give a shit.‭

NG:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬I guess the heckler did learn something that day.

TFM: Yeah,‭ ‬don’t mess with Tom.

6‭) ‬Having been in the business for so long,‭ ‬what are some common mistakes that you see new authors making‭?

TFM:‭ ‬I think it depends on the stage in the career‭; ‬we make mistakes all the way through,‭ ‬just different mistakes.‭ ‬When writers are first getting started,‭ ‬the initial assumption is that’s it’s pretty easy.‭ ‬And this has happened more recently with online places like blogs.

Every once in a while,‭ ‬Elizabeth and I will get stories with cover letters that will say something like,‭ “‬Hello,‭ ‬my name is Mickey.‭ ‬I’ve sold‭ ‬183‭ ‬stories,‭ ‬and I hope you like this one.‭” ‬And I think,‭ ‬183‭ ‬stories‭? ‬Where the hell has he published‭ ‬183‭ ‬stories‭? ‬First of all,‭ ‬I’ve never heard of this guy.‭ ‬I’ve been writing short fiction for 30 years and I’ve published maybe a hundred.‭ ‬But they’re all real‭! ‬They’re in magazines and anthologies.‭ ‬So I’ll look these people up and see that they’re publishing on blogs or in online magazines that three people click on.‭ ‬And it’s sad.‭ ‬It’s a big mistake that writers are still making.‭ ‬They’re taking any phantom acceptance for validation of their professional status.‭ ‬They’re not learning anything when they do that.‭

I can’t tell you how many times people come into the workshop and get surprised by the criticism.‭ ‬And they can’t believe it.‭ ‬They’ll say,‭ “‬But this was accepted by‭ ‬Dark Intestines Magazine on the web and the editor said it was great.‭”

The other error that writers make,‭ ‬as they get more into it,‭ ‬is that they get discouraged because they don’t realize that rejection and criticism are part of the process of becoming a writer.‭ ‬And they get to a point where they just can’t take it anymore.‭

Or they think they’ve paid their dues and are beyond criticism.‭ ‬Once you start believing your own press clippings,‭ ‬that’s dangerous,‭ ‬because then you start to alienate other writers,‭ ‬editors,‭ ‬and publishers you work with,‭ ‬and that’s bad.‭ ‬I’ve gotten submissions where they’ll say they won’t accept anything less than 12 cents a word.‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬good for you.

NG:‭ ‬Bye‭!

TFM:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬let me deal with that.‭ ‬That’s my decision,‭ ‬not yours.‭ ‬Let me read it,‭ ‬tell you what I’m paying.‭ ‬Then you decide if that’s something you want to accept or not.‭ ‬Don’t come in the door telling me what I have to pay you.‭ ‬That’s ridiculous.

NG:‭ ‬I think the publishing industry tends to be more forgiving to writers if they can learn from their mistakes.

TFM:‭ ‬Absolutely.‭ ‬One thing writers have to remember is that the more persistent they are,‭ ‬the more editors and publishers remember them.‭ ‬If a writer keeps sending stories in,‭ ‬after a while you start to remember their name.‭ ‬What happens—and I’ve talked to plenty of editors that say the same thing—you start to pull for these people.‭ ‬You want them do well,‭ ‬because you want to see that kind of persistence rewarded.

NG:‭ ‬This is getting a little off of the interview,‭ ‬but I was reading something a little while ago about people sending back rude e-mails to a standard rejection,‭ ‬and that always surprises me.

TFM:‭ ‬You mean they get pissed off because they get rejected‭?

NG:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬like,‭ “‬Oh,‭ ‬what the f‭— ‬do you know,‭ ‬f‭— ‬you,‭ ‬man.‭”

TFM:‭ ‬Wow,‭ ‬not only is that counterproductive,‭ ‬it cements the fact that you’ll never get published by that particular magazine.

Every once in a while we’ll have proven pros submit,‭ ‬that have sold lots of stories and published novels,‭ ‬and they just assume that because of who they are you’re going to buy it.‭ ‬We’ve rejected stories from seasoned pros, and some will take it the right way,‭ ‬say,‭ “‬Eh,‭ ‬it’s all right,‭ ‬way it goes,‭” ‬and other ones will get unbelievably pissy.‭ ‬Wow,‭ ‬get some decorum.‭ ‬You’re supposed to be a pro,‭ ‬take it like a pro.

7‭) ‬You’ve mentioned before that it seems that horror is losing its fan base in the mainstream markets.‭ ‬Besides writing good stories,‭ ‬what do you think writers can do to turn the tide‭? ‬What are you seeing in the speculative fiction field that gives you some hope for future generations of horror writers‭?

TFM:‭ ‬It’s funny that you narrowed it down that way.‭ ‬I do think that of all of the genres,‭ ‬the Gothic has roots,‭ ‬and horror as well,‭ ‬in the beginnings of American literature—Poe,‭ ‬Hawthorn,‭ ‬people like that.‭ ‬I don’t think that horror will go away.‭ ‬People are constantly concerned with fear—fear of the unknown,‭ ‬fear of death,‭ ‬what’s beyond the closed door—these are almost animistic parts of us.‭ ‬That’s always going to be viable.‭

It’s‭ [‬horror‭] ‬just going to ride the roller coaster of what’s in and what’s not.‭ ‬And I think with most writers that achieve a certain status,‭ ‬the audience gets pissed off because they’re not doing the same thing.‭ ‬It’s like with bands—fans go to the concerts to see their favorite songs performed and start to get peeved when the band does their new stuff.‭

But I don’t think you can predict what’s going to sell.‭ ‬You have to write what you like,‭ ‬write what works for you,‭ ‬and believe you’re going to find your audience.‭ ‬If you try to tailor it to the market,‭ ‬you’re not going to be happy.‭ ‬You’ll end up writing dead prose that’s not coming from inside you.

NG:‭ ‬Right.‭ ‬By the time you finish it and get it out there,‭ ‬the tide will already have changed.

TFM:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬you have to write what you like and hope you’re in a commercial literary movement.‭ ‬That’s how it happens.‭ ‬It’s not a science‭; ‬it’s the difference between art and science.

8‭) ‬For those that are unfamiliar with your work,‭ ‬what can they expect when they pick up one of your story collections or novels‭?

I think I write differently in the short form than in the long form.‭ ‬In short form I lean more towards less controlled language,‭ ‬more imagery and symbolism.‭ ‬Maybe surreal and odd.‭ ‬I’m not a literary writer,‭ ‬I’m a storyteller.‭ ‬I think that no matter what I’m writing.

I know that if I was born a thousand years ago, I’d be the guy running around the castle all the time,‭ ‬in that funny little hat with a puppet on a stick.‭ ‬That’d be my job.‭ ‬And I’d be okay with that.‭ ‬So that’s my first priority,‭ ‬to entertain.

With novels,‭ ‬I try to write a lean,‭ ‬mean story-oriented plot.‭ ‬I try to set up psychological characters that get mixed up in situations,‭ ‬and see where they take the story.‭ ‬I try to write cinematically—change point of view,‭ ‬change scenes,‭ ‬experiment with the narrative thread–to make the reader piece together what I leave out.‭ It’s like that old‬ cliche,‭ that‬ old trick used to keep th reader turning the page.‭ ‬They never know what’s coming next.‭

I always know how I want a novel to end,‭ ‬and I set up the beginning.‭ ‬Part of the fun for me is seeing how it’s going to get to the end.‭ ‬But with short stories,‭ ‬I never know where it’s going to go.‭ ‬I start with an idea,‭ ‬or question,‭ ‬and then I just let it go.‭ ‬Sometimes it doesn’t work,‭ ‬sometimes it takes me places I‭ ‬never thought I was going to go.

9‭) ‬Do you write every day‭?

TFM:‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬If you don’t do that,‭ ‬you’re crazy.‭ ‬It has to be part of your everyday routine,‭ ‬like kissing your wife or eating food or whatever.‭ ‬I tell people the secret to this is to do three pages a day.‭ ‬Take time off on the weekend for good behavior,‭ ‬to do your chores,‭ ‬go to your kids‭’ ‬little league games.‭

That’s‭ ‬15‭ ‬pages a week,‭ ‬60‭ ‬pages a month.‭ ‬If you do that for six months,‭ ‬you have about a‭ ‬360‭ ‬page novel.‭ ‬It’s very simple.‭ ‬Three freakin‭’ ‬pages,‭ ‬that’s all I ever try to do.

Sometimes I do less,‭ ‬sometimes I do more,‭ ‬but I always shoot for three pages.‭ ‬If you don’t write every day you’re just playing around.

I lived up in New Hampshire for a while,‭ ‬my wife and I lived up there with our daughter,‭ ‬and we had a good time.‭ ‬But it was cold and when it came time for high school,‭ ‬we couldn’t find a good Catholic school for her,‭ ‬so we came back here.‭

I had a bunch of buddies there that worked at one of the universities there,‭ ‬and every once in a while I’d meet people in their English department,‭ ‬and they were writing a novel for seven years.‭ “‬Oh,‭ ‬yes,‭ ‬I’ve been working on a novel,‭ ‬bup-bup-bup.‭” ‬What a load of crap.‭ ‬What are you talking about‭? ‬Seven years‭? ‬These are the kind of guys that say,‭ “‬If I can write one sentence a day,‭ ‬I feel like I’ve done a day’s work.‭” ‬What‭? ‬No,‭ ‬you’ve just been crapping around.

When I was younger,‭ ‬those were the kinds of guys I ways wanted to pop.‭ ‬My wife has talked me down from that over the years.‭ ‬But what a joke.‭ ‬One sentence a day.

NG:‭ ‬One sentence‭; ‬everything they touch is gold.

TFM:‭ ‬I can’t stand that.‭ ‬Three pages a day.‭ ‬Grind it out,‭ ‬do your work.‭ ‬Even if you have a regular job.‭

Over the years I’ve known a lot of people that write for journals and newspapers but want to write novels.‭ ‬The problem with that is that they’re writing stuff all day,‭ ‬stuff they don’t like.‭ ‬And when they get home,‭ ‬they don’t want to write.‭ ‬I tell them to go get a job doing something else,‭ ‬get your mind off that writing so you can do the writing you want to do.

10‭) ‬You’ve also written screenplays.‭ ‬How do you think the process is different for writing screenplays verses novels or short stories‭?

TFM:‭ ‬One big difference is I get paid for my novels.‭ ‬I’ve written like 14 screenplays,‭ ‬and I got paid for a few of them,‭ ‬but they weren’t produced.‭ However, ‬I’ve had three or four television episodes produced.

The film industry is a different creature.‭ ‬It makes publishing look like a tea-and-crumpets party.‭ ‬It took me years to realize that it’s just a different planet.‭ ‬But I liked the process of learning how to write screenplays.‭ ‬It’s very different.‭ ‬It’s dialog oriented.‭ ‬The three-act structure—first act you expose the problem,‭ ‬second act you complicate the problem,‭ ‬third act you solve the problem.‭ ‬It’s good training.‭ ‬It doesn’t hurt anything to buy a few books and learn how to do it.

The problem with the industry is they look at writers like a necessary evil.‭ ‬They don’t want you around.‭ ‬And it’s a tradition that goes back to the old studio days when writers used to be staff.‭ ‬They had the writers come in for the day and write whatever they were told to write.‭ ‬Write a‭ ‬15‭ ‬minute comedy for Buster Keaton.‭ ‬Write me a PSA for bike safety.‭ ‬Write me whatever.‭ ‬And they were just looked upon as hired hands,‭ ‬like the guy that cut the hedges.‭ ‬And that attitude has persisted.‭

NG:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬I went to film school.‭

TFM:‭ ‬Oh,‭ ‬you did‭? ‬East Coast or West Coast‭?

NG:‭ ‬West Coast.

TFM: So you know what I’m talking about.

NG:‭ ‬I remember‭; ‬it’s totally different.

TFM:‭ ‬They drove me crazy.‭ ‬I used to go out there—I have a TV agent—and every once in a while they would drag me out there to pitch something.‭ ‬I actually sold a television series to Columbia Tri-Star about seven or eight years ago,‭ ‬and CBS was partnering with it.‭ ‬And I wanted to write the pilot.‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬they weren’t having anything to do with that.‭ ‬CBS said,‭ “‬Oh,‭ ‬no,‭ ‬we have our own writers.‭” ‬So they brought in these writers that trashed the pilot so terribly that Columbia Tri-Star backed out.‭ ‬I got to keep the money.‭ ‬But they don’t trust writers.‭ ‬If you can write a novel,‭ ‬they look at you like you’re a freak.

I sold screenplays that never got produced.‭ ‬And I’ve had them buy my books and have other people write screenplays that were almost unrecognizable.‭ ‬I said to one producer,‭ “‬Why did you spend all that money to buy my book‭? ‬It’s not even the same story.‭ ‬You changed only everything.‭ ‬If I saw this movie,‭ ‬I would never say,‭ ‘‬Hey,‭ ‬you stole my book.‭’ ‬It’s not even the same story.‭”

It’s a different reality.‭ ‬If someone asked me,‭ “‬Would you write a screenplay on spec‭?” ‬my first tendency is to say no.‭ ‬And then I say,‭ ‬well,‭ ‬give me some gross points or something.‭ ‬Because they all want to talk net.

NG:‭ ‬Oh,‭ ‬yeah,‭ ‬yeah.‭ “N‬et.‭”

TFM:‭ ‬Net is just Hollywoodese for‭ “‬hide the money.‭”

NG:‭ ‬That money you were expecting‭? ‬Sorry.

TFM:‭ ‬The only net in Hollywood is the one they throw over you as they run away.‭ ‬But I continue to be seduced by Hollywood.

NG:‭ ‬It does have that quality.‭ ‬When I got into school,‭ ‬I was majoring in English.‭ ‬And by the end of my junior or senior year I was majoring in Cinema.

TFM:‭ ‬Are you a West Coast person‭?

NG:‭ ‬No,‭ ‬I was raised pretty much East Coast,‭ ‬though I’ve lived all over.

TFM:‭ ‬Are you a Balimore girl‭?

NG:‭ ‬I consider myself sort of one now,‭ ‬I guess;‭ ‬I’ve lived here for a while.‭ ‬The thing with the West Coast is it never felt entirely real,‭ ‬it felt like an office.

TFM:‭ ‬I totally agree.‭ ‬Especially in LA,‭ ‬there’s this‭ ‬über-culture of people making obscene amounts of money.‭ ‬They kind of wade through the regular people,‭ ‬and they look at everybody as if they’re only half there.‭ ‬But it would be like us living in a town where you buy a car for‭ ‬$180,‭ ‬or you go eat for 25 cents a night.‭ ‬They make so much money,‭ ‬prices don’t mean anything.

I was out there with a buddy of mine,‭ ‬an actor,‭ ‬and he was making a lot of money.‭ ‬So he wanted to go play golf,‭ ‬and it was‭ ‬$600‭ ‬a round.‭ ‬Are you crazy‭? ‬I lived in New Hampshire and paid‭ ‬$500‭ ‬a year to play golf.‭ ‬But they don’t even realize it.

Okay,‭ ‬I have to stop ranting.

11‭) ‬What other projects are you working on now‭?

TFM:‭ ‬I’m finishing a YA novel.‭ ‬I have about‭ ‬50‭ ‬pages left.‭ ‬Then I’ve got another novel,‭ ‬a‭ ‬600‭ ‬page thriller I’m working on.‭ ‬It alternates between the present and WWII.‭ ‬A historical thriller.‭ ‬It took a lot of research,‭ ‬and I had to do a couple of books in-between,‭ ‬so it’s taken me about two years to write—which I hate.‭ ‬I’m about‭ ‬40‭ ‬pages from finishing that.

I’m also doing a ghostwriting project.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬yeah,‭ ‬I’m very busy.

12‭) ‬Any other advice for writers‭?

TFM:‭ ‬The most important thing is that no one can stop you from becoming a professional writer besides yourself.‭ ‬You have to keep going after your dream.‭ ‬It takes a lot of hard work and persistence.‭ ‬You have to believe in your ability and in your dream.
###
Please visit Borderlands Press and check out the books by Thomas F. Monteleone and other great writers of dark fiction. While you’re there, look into applying to the upcoming Borderlands Press Bootcamp. And don’t forget that the Maryland Writers’ Conference is this Saturday, May 3rd. There’s still time to register.
Nancy O. Greene

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Welcome to the February 25, 2008 edition of writers from across the blogosphere. It’s a bit late and there are some repeats from the last carnival (due to an error with the carnival posting–I’ve kept them in so newer submissions weren’t accidently deleted), but it’s also full of new good reads as well. Enjoy!

writing

Terry Dean presents 21 Ideas for Hot Press Releases – Part 1 posted at Integrity Business Blog by Terry Dean.

Richard Lee presents How Controversy Works posted at Richard Lee.

Rebecca Suzanne Dean presents How To Research 5 Times Faster posted at Rebecca Dean.

Sagar presents Take it Back! 100 Tips to Defeat Content Thieves posted at Virtual Hosting.

Stephen Dean presents The Mathematics Of Testing Your Sales Copy. posted at Stephen Dean’s Copywriting And Internet Advertising Blog – Copywriter.

claire presents Writing Contest | Bebo Author posted at Bebo Author, saying, “Writing Contest – free to enter, lots of great prizes. Anyone who enters, sponsors a prize or promotes this contest on their blog receives a link back.”

Bumbeak presents Tips for a new Notebook posted at Quills are Swords.

Carol Bentley presents Getting your thoughts on paper posted at Carol Bentley.

Tiffany Colter presents Lesson Learned and How I got here posted at Writing Career Coach, saying, “This blog discusses how to have success beginning from the first day of this New Year!”

Freddie L. Sirmans, Sr. presents Can The US Prevent A Starvation Crisis? posted at Can The US Prevent A Starvation Crisis.

James Lee presents The Secret Copywriting Technique That Keeps Prospects Riveted to Your Website posted at Online Business Freedom.

Carol Bentley presents How appealing are you posted at Carol Bentley.

The Countess presents Erotic Excerpt – The Party Crasher posted at The Countess.

Allen Crosse presents Three Hours Between the 34th and 35th posted at Cup o’ Poe, saying, “I wrote this when I was standing in a place that I very much didn’t want to be. Please, enjoy my pain.”

Eric Koshinsky presents ESL Writing Activities – Computer Based Editing and Correction Lessons posted at Teachers Call.

Carol Bentley presents Yesterday?s blog-post was completely off-track posted at Carol Bentley.

CG Walters presents Spirit Story…an Old Genre Reawakening posted at Into the Mist, saying, “A path of communication with the subconscious—as opposed to a communication with the conscious mind—is alive, more a communion between the personal subconscious and the Collective Consciousness, possibly awakening or speaking to the personal consciousness a little along the way.”

Tiffany Colter presents Writing Career Coach: A Pleasant surprise and How I got here Part 2 posted at Writing Career Coach, saying, “A pleasant surprise on how to have success beginning from the first day of this New Year!”

Neelakantha presents 50+ Open Courseware Writing Classes from the World’s Leading Universities – College Degree.com posted at college degree.

Steve Osborne presents “Are You Done Yet?” posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Ward Tipton presents Writing in Earnest | The Write Page posted at The Online Writing Resource Center, saying, “While freelance writing is great in many ways, wouldn’t it be nice to have your name on your writing and put the money it earned in your own pocket? I was finally able to get started doing this.”

Carol Bentley presents 4 easy steps to authorship. . . posted at Carol Bentley.

Steve Osborne presents The Well/Good Conundrum posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years experience. His blog teaches writing rules, strategies and techniques in a memorable, easy-to-understand way, spiced with a bit of humor.”

Alfa King presents Degree or experience? posted at Alfa King Memories.

Steve Osborne presents E-Mail Etiquette posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Sagar presents Rookie Mistakes: 15 Blunders New Freelancers Make and How to Avoid Them posted at Bootstrapper.

Alfa King presents Clarity and Brevity Make Good Blogging posted at Alfa King Memories.

Orna Ross presents Planning Your Writing posted at WRITING ADVICE & PUBLISHING ADVICE from Font, saying, “Article on the importance of planning for writers”

Jessse Hines presents The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received posted at Vigorous Writing.

Jessse Hines presents Got Writer’s Block? Just Eat that Frog. posted at Vigorous Writing.

blue skelton presents The First Junkie Ninja Monologue posted at This Wasted Monologue, saying, “Scene: Present Day, Hospital Waiting Room – Blue Skelton is reflecting on the imminent birth of his first child.”

ScottG presents Notebook on a Passion: The Writer Begins with the Begiining posted at Notebook on a Passion, saying, “Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.
–Aldous Huxley”

Steve Osborne presents First Things First posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Thursday Bram presents What If? Emergency Planning for Your Writing posted at thursdaybram.com.

GrrlScientist presents Bridge To Opportunity (Reprise) posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “This is just a story about the Brooklyn Bridge, as written by a non-native NYCer; me! Includes history of the bridge and Emily Roebling’s remarkable contribution to its completion.”

Vaibhav Gadodia presents Habitually Good » Blog Archive » Writer’s block – what is that? posted at Habitually Good.

GrrlScientist presents Today’s Adventure in The Land of Medicine posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “After a day like this, I would be crazy, if I wasn’t crazy already.”

Rebecca Suzanne Dean presents How To Kick Writers? Block posted at Rebecca Dean.

Richard Lee presents How To Write Magnetic Headlines posted at Richard Lee.

Brent Diggs presents Writing Prompts for the Not-So-Prompt posted at The Ominous Comma, saying, “Humor for writers”

publishing

Marcus Hochstadt presents Why Drafting Messages Saves You Time posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Drafting messages in order to publish them at a later time is a great way to save a bunch of time. You sit down one time, focus on writing, writing, writing, and then you’re done for a couple of days or even weeks.”

Amy Munnell presents Writing Nationally… posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

reading

Sol Smith presents 20 Great books to get you Reading posted at How to be a Badass Dad.

ivanisko presents A Report from Budapest posted at Bookstore Guide, saying, “Our blog aims to provide a database of all the European independent bookstores selling books in English. We also publish reports from our travels and personal visits of the bookstores included in our guide.”

uncategorized

Michael@TSM presents Travel Writing Contest! Win $150 Cash Prize | Traveling Stories Magazine posted at Traveling Stories Magazine.

old-wizard presents Old-Wizard.com Top 100 Video Games of All Time List / Introduction posted at Old-Wizard.com.

Deborah Dera presents Have you found a niche? posted at The Rhythm of Write, saying, “Not having found a niche is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s no need to limit yourself and your writing.”

Charles H. Green presents Aristotle, Maister, and the Fat Smoker posted at Trust Matters, saying, “The old writers advice is to draw from your own experience. That’s what author David Maister did, starting with the fact that he’d been a fat smoker for almost all his life.”

Carol Bentley presents Death of the long letter posted at Carol Bentley.

Rob Moshe presents Live Your Best Life By Serving Others posted at Rob Schaumer, saying, “This is not necessarily a fitting post for your carnival. Once the project starts, each day I will recognize a fellow blogger that “Helped””

Amy Munnell presents Short Stuff…Say A Lot With A Little posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

Amy Munnell presents 5 Steps to a Better Interview… posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

Brandon Rike presents What To Do About BEING FUNNY, OR NOT BEING FUNNY posted at What To Do About.com.

Orna Ross presents Why F-R-E-E-Write? by Orna Ross posted at WRITING ADVICE & PUBLISHING ADVICE from Font, saying, “Scarlett Thomas tells people not to attend writing workshops or do FREE-Writing? Here’s why to ignore her”

Orna Ross presents How to Write Good Fiction: Advice from Kurt Vonnegut posted at WRITING ADVICE & PUBLISHING ADVICE from Font.

Tracy Coenen presents Sequence Inc. Fraud Files by Tracy Coenen » Blog Archive » My incredible book writing journey posted at FRAUDfiles.

Tracy Coenen presents Got the blogging blues? posted at FRAUDfiles.

articles

JRickG presents You Are No Different than Successful People posted at $5000 and Up.

Phil B. presents Bloggers Love Giving Advice « Phil for Humanity posted at Phil for Humanity, saying, “The Internet, specifically bloggers, has started replacing self help books and television shows, just how the Internet is replacing traditional news media.”

Kenton Newby presents 10 Ways Article Writing Can Stack the Deck in Your Favor posted at KentonNewby.com.

FitBuff presents Power of the Mind – Much Stronger Than Your Biceps! posted at FitBuff.com’s Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog, saying, “If you’re a longtime FitBuff reader, you may remember I’ve personally experienced the power of mind over muscle in one of my workouts when I lifted 50 pounds with my mind!”

DotLobby presents Breaking Bad Habits – 4 Tips to Drop ‘Em All! posted at DotNLP, saying, “Luckily, there isn’t any addiction on Earth that hasn’t been beaten by someone, somewhere. You might just need a little help, so here are 4 tips to stop bad habits, and start some great ones!”

Jay Deragon presents What Do We Expect? posted at A Relationship Economy….. With WHom & What, saying, “The small could actually bury the BIG with the reach of influential conversations, one to one to a million. The power is shifting and the stakes are high. Be careful with what you expect or don’t expect from the social web.

What say you?”

Alex Hansen presents Ayreon – 01011001 posted at RockRoast, saying, “If nobody tells you what music is good and what music is bad, how will you know what you like?”

authors

Raymond Le Blanc presents What You Should Know about Autism Spectrum Disorders posted at Raymond Le Blanc.

blogs

Ask Matt presents Using Stumbleupon To Bring Visitors to Your Blog posted at BlogTactics.com, saying, “Using Stumbleupon to bring visitors to your blog.”

Ask Matt presents Free Traffic Tactic Videos and Understanding that SEO Malarky… | iamUncovered.com posted at BlogTactics.com, saying, “Free Traffic Tactic Videos and Understanding that SEO Malarky…”

Carol Bentley presents Reasons to unsubscribe. . . posted at Carol Bentley, saying, “Reasons to unsubscribe. . .
Sometimes stopping a subscription is the right thing to do.”

HL Grove presents 4 Steps To Creating Quality Content For Your Blog posted at MoneyWeb24.

Brent Diggs presents The Blog Of State Address posted at The Ominous Comma.

Doug Green presents Running Shoe Design Sucks posted at My-Caboodle, saying, “I’m a full time Internet writer living on an island – actually two islands – one North and the other Southern – and this is my own blog-for-the-heck-of-it.”

Alexander Kohl presents Freelance Writers Wanted | Freelance Writing Career posted at Freelance Writing Career.

James Brausch presents Costa Rican Food posted at Costa Rica HQ.

book reviews

GrrlScientist presents Sixty Days And Counting posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “by Kim Stanley Robinson, is the third installment of his Eco-political thriller trilogy series about global warming.”

Thomas Sweeney presents There Will Be Blood. posted at Think Soul Matter, saying, “Film Review – There Will Be Blood.”

Brian Terry presents Why Bill Gates is unreasonable posted at Big Selling Website Design.

Shamelle presents Your Inner CEO: Unleash The Executive Within posted at Enhance Life.

GrrlScientist presents The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “the book by Helen Epstein, is a clear-eyed look at the African AIDS epidemic and the West’s often misguided attempts to assist in this battle.”

Tali presents The Rise of the Author – More than a Free Marketing Report posted at The Marketer Review, saying, “I’d love to call Mark Joyner the most revolutionary man in our industry, but he’s not just an internet marketer and hasn’t just been one for a long time.
I’d love to call Mark Joyner the most revolutionary man in our industry, but he’s not just an internet marketer and hasn’t just been one for a long time.”

Christina M. Rau presents Turning Poetry Pages posted at Livin’ The Dream (One Loser At A Time), saying, “Three books of poetry. Lots of poems to steal from.”

Raymond presents Rich Dad Poor Dad posted at Money Blue Book.

books

James DeLelys presents New Book/Video posted at Author James DeLelys, saying, “Video of new book!”

Amy Munnell presents Things that make you go “Hmmmm”….. posted at 3 Questions…and Answers, saying, “HarperCollins is offering readers the opportunity to “try before you buy” with their “Browse Inside” feature on their website. The company has a number of titles available for readers to read for free on the website, not just sample chapters, but the ENTIRE BOOK.”

Tip Diva presents Top Ten Tips – Building A Personal Library posted at Tip Diva, saying, “Tip Diva loves reading and one day dreams of a house lined with shelves and shelves of books. She’s started to acquire quite a collection of her favorite books, and here’s how you, too, can build your own personal library.”

GrrlScientist presents The Birdbooker Report: Notes on Bird (and Natural History) Books posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “Update about natural history books that are either new to the market or will be published soon. [new book news]”

David Cassell presents The Why Behind Select Courses Blog posted at selectcoursesblog.com.

interviews

Cheryl Snell presents Shiva’s Arms: Chariots of Flame posted at FeedBulletin for: financialbullet.

Anne-Marie presents Five questions for Sara Zarr, author of the YA novel Sweethearts posted at My Readable Feast, saying, “Check out Sara’s latest novel, Sweethearts – fantastic!”

Amy Munnell presents An Interview…with screenwriter Michael Lucker posted at 3 Questions…and Answers, saying, “screenwriter Michael Lucker”

Amy Munnell presents An Interview…with humorist Cappy Hall Rearick posted at 3 Questions…and Answers, saying, “Humor columnist Cappy Hall Rearick”

Amy Munnell presents An Interview…with Novelist Julie L. Cannon posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

Jade Blackwater presents Feature Artist Interview – Lisa D. Kastner posted at Brainripples, saying, “Brainripples shares a Feature Artist Interview with writer Lisa D. Kastner of the Rittenhouse area of Philadelphia, PA. Lisa Kastner writes fiction, and is currently shopping her psychological thriller novel “Jersey Diner”.”

life

DandelionBlog presents A Small Treatise on Happiness posted at Author Suzanne McMinn.

Alex Blackwell presents How Much is Too Much? posted at The Next 45 Years.

Lorace presents Looking to the Future, With a Smile posted at What Not Thought: How To’s and A Lot of Randomness.

Nick at BnG presents The Beernut Gallery – Gridlocked posted at The Beernut Gallery, saying, “An article detailing the joys of a traffic jam.”

cait presents Whats the crisis compadre? posted at cait, saying, “I couldn’t find humor up there…maybe its not so funny anyway…”

Alex Blackwell presents In the Blink of an Eye posted at The Next 45 Years.

philosophy

Thomas Sweeney presents To come into the present… posted at Think Soul Matter.

Pearl presents How the movie Groundhog Day can lead to a happier and more productive life posted at :: Interesting Observations ::.

Untruths presents Science + Religion = Conflict? posted at Untruths, saying, “Are Science and Religion Compatible?”

politics/current events

Kathie Goldsmith presents You know it?s getting ugly in some markets when? posted at Team Reba Real Estate, saying, “Team Reba is a real estate firm with a blog that covers many subject. This post is about the turn in the market and how one agent is being sued as a result of the housing bust.”

santousha presents *Seeking*Serenity*: Waiting on the strike to end and my concerns for Ms. Spears posted at Seeking Serenity.

articles

Bela presents How to Catch a Mouse | House Chronicles posted at House Chronicles.

blogs

Michael Bass presents Hints for writing great blog posts. posted at Debt Prison, saying, “Don’t write junk, anything worth writing is worth writing correctly. Bad articles will leave readers with a negative impression of your site.”

Nick Cobb presents Felonious Ramblings: My First Day In The Joint posted at Felonious Ramblings.

Warren Wong presents The Different Types Of Website Visitors And Their Value posted at Personal Development for INTJs, saying, “An article describing the different types of websites visitors such as search engine, direct, referring, and social bookmarking and the value they bring to your website.”

Bob Younce presents Setting posted at Writing My First Novel.

articles

Michel Fortin presents Give Your Joint-Venture Offer An Extra Punch | The Michel Fortin Blog posted at The Michel Fortin Blog.

book reviews

GrrlScientist presents Speciation in Birds posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “by Trevor Price, is a wonderful review of the literature that reveals the process and nature of speciation in birds.”

GrrlScientist presents Attenborough in Paradise posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “A remarkable set of adventures to the South Pacific islands and beyond on DVD as David Attenborough pursues his most deeply burning passions. [educational DVD review]”

Peter Jones presents The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: New Mystery Keeps You Reading posted at Great New Books that Are a Must Read.

books

James DeLelys presents Am I the Only One? posted at Author James DeLelys, saying, “Prelude to a new book.”

Sarah presents Eugenides and Saunders read from My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead posted at SARAHSPY.

interviews

Marilyn Terrell presents The Inn at Little Washington Celebrates 30 Years posted at Intelligent Travel, saying, “Susan O’Keefe interviews the celebrated chef-innkeeper at the Inn at Little Washington, Patrick O’Connell, as his inn and restaurant turn 30.”

life

Madeleine Begun Kane presents One Car Guaranty I?d Gladly Forgo posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog.

Alex Blackwell presents And a Side Order of Positive Attitude, Too Please posted at The Next 45 Years.

Justin Duval presents www.DarkGrin.com – mind TRIP posted at The Dark Grin, saying, “Philosophical creative writing piece.”

Joshua Wagner presents Getting Your Ducks in a Row posted at Total Possibility.

Joshua Wagner presents Love and Fear posted at Total Possibility.

Alex Blackwell presents Feel the Music in You posted at The Next 45 Years, saying, “While allowing my heart to hear the words to the song, it occurred to me that I did indeed own my life. Regret and shame were just pieces of garbage I had been carrying around long enough. But there was still plenty of time and there was still plenty of hope and fight left in me.”

philosophy

Akemi presents Belief can Change the Course of Life posted at Gratitude Magic.

Samuel Bryson presents The Philosophy of Happiness – Accepting Yourself posted at Total Wellbeing.

Scholars & Rogues presents A human thinking trap (and how to avoid it) posted at Scholars and Rogues, saying, “Thank you for your consideration.”

politics/current events

Meggie Pace presents Craft Research: Craft 2.0 posted at Earthly Paradise, saying, “The arts and crafts movement is experiencing an incredible revival on the web. This article discusses the movement’s origins and future.”

Heidi Whitaker presents Viral Blogging: What is the Price of Profiting from the Politics of Bigotry and Hate? posted at Work from Home Choices, saying, “This article discusses how political blogs are stirring up hatred and bigotry.”

Cheryl presents Cop a plea: to criminal stupidity posted at Glob-a-log, saying, “Dimwitted cops and criminals”

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You get a detail wrong and someone’s going to kill you on it.

With reasonable confidence I can write about the LAPD and the Riverside Police Dept. because 1) I live in Metro Hell, 2) I used to work in the prosecutor’s office (so when you ask whether cops are tatted and pierced…yes if they’re in vice or narc it’s allowed and you wouldn’t believe how they show up to hearings), 3) I have relatives in the RPD and 4) big, metropolitan police departments put everything on-line.

You want to know what the beats are? There are “car maps” and the numbers for which patrol vehicles are assigned. Renovations at the new substation, they’ve blogged it. Google sucks the images in and spits them out by the truckload. You can subscribe to RSS feeds of their departmental press releases. The variations of the 10/11 code and the radio frequencies they use are all posted somewhere.

However, that kind of research only gets you information that is actually on the web. If no one has bothered to upload it, you can’t find it. Me, being me….I’ve decided to set my next cowboy/cop combo in Garfield County Utah. I need the Sherriff’s uniform. The ONLY pic I can find is from an officer down memorial….and he’s in the casual polo and chino’s combo.

My GoggleFu is useless in this case.

Now that may actually be the standard issue for Garfield County, but I don’t know. I do know what the badge looks like – there are forums for badge collectors out there and they have pictures. I mean, I go there every year, but I’ve yet to actually see a sheriff (it’s that big, wide open and rural) No website. The elected official doesn’t even have his picture anywhere. I thought all politicos wanted their picture in the public eye.

But these are details that must be answered. What style hat? Smokey? Brimmed standard police hat? Ball cap? Those all convey different messages. What type of vehicles do they use, colors and paint jobs? What’s their service weapon?

This is the particular hell of writing cop stories, or frankly any story with a specialized profession. You MUST get the details right. Somebody will know and will call you on it.

I’ve seen this in books I’ve read where someone has tried to describe a trial process. There are some things that are jurisdictional, vary from local to local. But the rules of evidence are pretty consistent. They may be common law in one state and codified in another but every state has some form of Hearsay doctrine. The order of trial is ALWAYS the same. It will kick me out of a story if I see these issues fudged.

It comes in play in all sorts of stories. Does a particular rodeo venue allow for Hotshots (and if you’re doing a rodeo story you better know what a Hotshot is). Would a former Army Ranger use the same slang designations as a former Marine? How do you lift a fingerprint? Does a jurisdiction use an actual forensic pathologist as a coroner or is it the local funeral director? When do roses start to bloom in Massachusetts? Are there different types of cactus in New Mexico and Arizona?

The devil is in the details and you’ve got to watch for him.

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I have seen so many authors do virtual booksignings as well as “physical” bookstore signings only to be followed up with book trailers, blogging, digging, delicioso-ing, podcast interviews and other networking sites.

My question is this: What works for YOU? Did the booktrailer spark interest? Was it having people post comments on your blog? Did booksignings boost your sales at all?

I guess I’m wondering, What is the next big thing? The reason why I ask is because I was checking my sales in the U.K. for one of my books and they were KILLER! And, I haven’t done anything special to promote the book there….

C’mon Authors….Do Tell!

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Welcome to the January 29, 2008 edition of writers from across the blogosphere. Click, read, Enjoy!

writing

Vaibhav Gadodia presents Habitually Good » Blog Archive » Writer’s block – what is that? posted at Habitually Good.

GrrlScientist presents Today’s Adventure in The Land of Medicine posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “After a day like this, I would be crazy, if I wasn’t crazy already.”

Rebecca Suzanne Dean presents How To Kick Writers? Block posted at Rebecca Dean.

Richard Lee presents How To Write Magnetic Headlines posted at Richard Lee.

Brent Diggs presents Writing Prompts for the Not-So-Prompt posted at The Ominous Comma, saying, “Humor for writers”

Jessse Hines presents The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received posted at Vigorous Writing.

Jessse Hines presents Got Writer’s Block? Just Eat that Frog. posted at Vigorous Writing.

blue skelton presents The First Junkie Ninja Monologue posted at This Wasted Monologue, saying, “Scene: Present Day, Hospital Waiting Room – Blue Skelton is reflecting on the imminent birth of his first child.”

ScottG presents Notebook on a Passion: The Writer Begins with the Begiining posted at Notebook on a Passion, saying, “Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.
–Aldous Huxley”

Steve Osborne presents First Things First posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Thursday Bram presents What If? Emergency Planning for Your Writing posted at thursdaybram.com.

GrrlScientist presents Bridge To Opportunity (Reprise) posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “This is just a story about the Brooklyn Bridge, as written by a non-native NYCer; me! Includes history of the bridge and Emily Roebling’s remarkable contribution to its completion.”

Steve Osborne presents “Are You Done Yet?” posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Ward Tipton presents Writing in Earnest | The Write Page posted at The Online Writing Resource Center, saying, “While freelance writing is great in many ways, wouldn’t it be nice to have your name on your writing and put the money it earned in your own pocket? I was finally able to get started doing this.”

Carol Bentley presents 4 easy steps to authorship. . . posted at Carol Bentley.

Steve Osborne presents The Well/Good Conundrum posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years experience. His blog teaches writing rules, strategies and techniques in a memorable, easy-to-understand way, spiced with a bit of humor.”

Alfa King presents Degree or experience? posted at Alfa King Memories.

Steve Osborne presents E-Mail Etiquette posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Sagar presents Rookie Mistakes: 15 Blunders New Freelancers Make and How to Avoid Them posted at Bootstrapper.

Alfa King presents Clarity and Brevity Make Good Blogging posted at Alfa King Memories.

articles

Orna Ross presents Planning Your Writing posted at WRITING ADVICE & PUBLISHING ADVICE from Font, saying, “Article on the importance of planning for writers”

Bela presents How to Catch a Mouse | House Chronicles posted at House Chronicles.

blogs

Michael Bass presents Hints for writing great blog posts. posted at Debt Prison, saying, “Don’t write junk, anything worth writing is worth writing correctly. Bad articles will leave readers with a negative impression of your site.”

Nick Cobb presents Felonious Ramblings: My First Day In The Joint posted at Felonious Ramblings.

Warren Wong presents The Different Types Of Website Visitors And Their Value posted at Personal Development for INTJs, saying, “An article describing the different types of websites visitors such as search engine, direct, referring, and social bookmarking and the value they bring to your website.”

Bob Younce presents Setting posted at Writing My First Novel.

book reviews

GrrlScientist presents Speciation in Birds posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “by Trevor Price, is a wonderful review of the literature that reveals the process and nature of speciation in birds.”

GrrlScientist presents Attenborough in Paradise posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “A remarkable set of adventures to the South Pacific islands and beyond on DVD as David Attenborough pursues his most deeply burning passions. [educational DVD review]”

Peter Jones presents The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: New Mystery Keeps You Reading posted at Great New Books that Are a Must Read.

books

James DeLelys presents Am I the Only One? posted at Author James DeLelys, saying, “Prelude to a new book.”

Sarah presents Eugenides and Saunders read from My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead posted at SARAHSPY.

interviews

Marilyn Terrell presents The Inn at Little Washington Celebrates 30 Years posted at Intelligent Travel, saying, “Susan O’Keefe interviews the celebrated chef-innkeeper at the Inn at Little Washington, Patrick O’Connell, as his inn and restaurant turn 30.”

life

Madeleine Begun Kane presents One Car Guaranty I?d Gladly Forgo posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog.

Alex Blackwell presents And a Side Order of Positive Attitude, Too Please posted at The Next 45 Years.

Justin Duval presents www.DarkGrin.com – mind TRIP posted at The Dark Grin, saying, “Philosophical creative writing piece.”

Joshua Wagner presents Getting Your Ducks in a Row posted at Total Possibility.

Joshua Wagner presents Love and Fear posted at Total Possibility.

Alex Blackwell presents Feel the Music in You posted at The Next 45 Years, saying, “While allowing my heart to hear the words to the song, it occurred to me that I did indeed own my life. Regret and shame were just pieces of garbage I had been carrying around long enough. But there was still plenty of time and there was still plenty of hope and fight left in me.”

philosophy

Akemi presents Belief can Change the Course of Life posted at Gratitude Magic.

Samuel Bryson presents The Philosophy of Happiness – Accepting Yourself posted at Total Wellbeing.

Scholars & Rogues presents A human thinking trap (and how to avoid it) posted at Scholars and Rogues, saying, “Thank you for your consideration.”

politics/current events

Meggie Pace presents Craft Research: Craft 2.0 posted at Earthly Paradise, saying, “The arts and crafts movement is experiencing an incredible revival on the web. This article discusses the movement’s origins and future.”

Heidi Whitaker presents Viral Blogging: What is the Price of Profiting from the Politics of Bigotry and Hate? posted at Work from Home Choices, saying, “This article discusses how political blogs are stirring up hatred and bigotry.”

Cheryl presents Cop a plea: to criminal stupidity posted at Glob-a-log, saying, “Dimwitted cops and criminals”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
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We all often forget in the glorious insanity of writing that if you wish to publish, your writing is a business. That means you have to treat it and your interactions with everyone as a business dealing. These are my “rules” that I’ve developed by watching and talking with other writers as well as feeling my way through my own career.

1) Writing “cache” is earned not bestowed.

It is like any other job. Really. You must pay your dues as the new kid on the block before you can start to break the rules. I’ve got seven novels and a slew of short stories out there now. The publishers I work with can bank on my name on a title to bring in a certain amount of sales. Because of that I’ve earned a certain amount of license in how I work.

My first novel, not so much. I got the dreaded: we like it, but can’t take it as is. Do some significant re-writes and we may consider publication. I also got the same on the second novel. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and accept that.

The first one, I queried the editor and politely asked what re-writes. “Chop 2000 words of the front. Expand this relationship. And by the way, your female love interest (a male/male/female triangle) is an absolute raving bitch…tone her down.” Did that bug the hell out of me to have someone critique my baby so bluntly? Hell yes. Did I do the re-writes? Hell yes. And the second set of re-writes they asked for as well. They never did accept that book. But, in the end, I ended up with a much better novel.

The second book, the editor said, “Its great, but to fit our formula, I need the main characters to hate each other by the end of chapter three.” I didn’t do that re-write. It would have changed the entire plot. I politely sent a letter stating that it would require the re-write of the entire plot, but now that I knew what they were looking for, I’d try and write a book geared toward that.

You must sometimes sacrifice your baby to the Gods of Publication. If the second publisher had come back with similar requests to the first, I would have done them. Because, at that time, my name meant nothing to anyone.

2) You’re only as good as your promotion on your last book.

Really and for true folks. Your publisher watches. Even if you have a big named bank roll behind you, they watch. People who are active about getting their own name out there are money makers for them. I have a friend who writes for Bantam. That is BIG. Her editor told her, this is what we expect you to do to promote your own book. It’s not just the small presses who want you out there stumping. The authors I know who’ve sat on their “my book is wonderful” notions and done nothing, they get dumped. Your publisher wants to know that you are invested in you book as well. They don’t expect you to arrange nation wide book signing tours, but passing out flyers, maybe getting on a speakers panel or arranging a chat date on some reader loop: they watch for that.

3) If I’m reading your blog, so is your potential publisher.

I don’t know why so many people have a problem with that concept. They air their dirty laundry in public. My basic philosophy is: Tout your successes to everyone who will listen. Mourn your defeats in private.

I have been watching a certain new writer tank herself. She has written a short story for a collection and two longer stand alone works. The short story was contracted and the longer works under consideration. This is someone who has “broken in.” She then spent the next two months publicly agonizing over the re-writes in her blog. Blasting all the people who offered to help her with them as “red-liners” and “hack artists.” She turns in a re-write, noting something to the effect that she doesn’t know at all why they wanted her to do them. Gets a second request for more clean up and does a public freak out. Pulls the story from the antho (which she’s allowed to do under that contract), announces that she is doing so because she “just can’t work with editors like that,” and other people have told similar “horror” stories.

The best part: She was surprised when two days later she gets a rejection on the two longer works. I will bet that she gets rejects from a lot of publishers as well. She has not earned the right to act like a prima donna.

It is really demoralizing to have someone be brutally honest about your work that you’ve slaved over, agonized about sometimes for years. But go have your bitch fit in private. I railed for nearly a month with the requests I got. Privately, bending my poor guy’s ear off at length and to a couple of private friends. Not on a public blog post.

4) Everyone you meet has the potential to help or hinder your career.

You never know where the next reviewer, news media persona or publisher is. I’ve gotten invited into anthologies because I met someone (who I don’t remember) at some conference. I’ve gotten major reviews outside my genre because I impressed someone while speaking on a panel at some po-dunk convention, or the nice clerk at the book store…who isn’t the clerk but the manager in charge of setting up signings.

I have a friend, both personal and professional, who is a major freelance writer for some major GLBT publications. I met him at someone else’s reading where we just got to chatting. We went and had a drink afterward. Turned out he had a press pass to an event a few weeks later and didn’t want to go stag so I tagged along. Now, anytime one of his publications needs emergency filler I’m one of five people on the rolodex for the “hey what’s new with you?” interview.

Years of managing law offices has taught me that your best business deals are made in riding up the elevator or in the airport bar after the conference is over.

5) You will take crappier deals when you start out.

You don’t have to once you’re established. Obviously, you don’t want to sign away your complete rights in perpetuity to your work for royalties only. Jumping at the first deal, if it’s incredibly one sided, is not a good idea. But, it may be worth your while to take a contract that doesn’t pay much to get your foot in the door.

Keep an eye on what rights you’ve kept. If you’ve sold electronic rights to a work, but kept the print…you still have something to sell. Your publisher will make decisions based on who sells how much. Sometimes it’s fair for you to wait and sometimes its not. If they wish to take a wait and see before offering to buy more rights, and someone else will do it now…well there’s a lot of weighing of risk and such you should make, but sometimes it’s better to take the other deal.

As you get farther up the food chain you have more leverage to negotiate deals you don’t like. Don’t be afraid of a “take it or leave it” card thrown on the table. If you already know what your value is, sometimes the best negotiation strategy for you is to say, “I’ll leave it.” I, at my level, in my market, have options. Deals I would have taken when I started out (and I don’t have any qualms about having made them) well, sometimes they’re just not good enough any more. I have to look at this as a profit making business.

Now, if I take a shot at the next “tier” up of publishers…I may end up taking a deal that’s not quite as good to get my foot in that door.

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Any writer worth their salt knows that social networking sites like MySpace are a great way to meet fellow writers and hopefully some readers as well.
I am currently featured on MySpace’s Word Weavers for the week of 1/13/2008.

http://www.myspace.com/weaversofwords

D. H. Schleicher holds a background in Psychology and Criminal Justice from his undergraduate days at Elon University in North Carolina. Always a crafty storyteller as a child, Schleicher honed his skills in college where his studies fueled his ideas and helped him develop his characters. Schleicher took many chances early on by self-publishing three psychological thrillers over a course of two and half years after graduating college in 2002. His projects were unmitigated disasters, but provided him valuable lessons. Sometimes a writer must learn the hard way and must write a lot of garbage before finally writing something worthwhile that will connect with audiences.

That breakthrough came in late 2006 with the publication of The Thief Maker. Here Schleicher finally found his voice and delivered a dark, psychologically complex, intertwining tale of love, hate, and crime on the streets of Philadelphia and New York City. The Thief Maker has been earning rave reviews and accolades (including Honorable Mention in the Genre Fiction category in the upcoming Writer’s Digest 15th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards) over the course of the past year. Schleicher has employed a slow-burning grassroots marketing campaign built on the strong word of mouth from readers and critics and his always lively blog where he discusses films, books, current events, and shares his trials and tribulations with self-publishing and living the writer’s life.

http://davethenovelist.wordpress.com

The author finds endless inspiration from his love of films and books. He believes you learn to write well by reading as much of the classics as you can, but also by reading some of the bad writing (be it one’s own experiments from the past or current best-sellers that are less than stellar) to know what to avoid in one’s own writing. His favorite novelist is Graham Greene while his favorite film director is Stanley Kubrick. Schleicher is currently working on his next evolution as a novelist while residing in the suburbs of his favorite city and muse, Philadelphia.

The Thief Maker is on the shelves at Philadelphia and South Jersey area Barnes & Noble stores and available for purchase worldwide through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

Purchase Now from Barnes and Noble

Purchase Now from Amazon.com

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This comes up because of a little incident with one of my publishers. Nothing major, but a little wonky on exactly what day a book was due out. It started a discussion in a few places, a couple readers comments on blogs.

Basically the upshot is: Wishlists and Coming Soon Pages.

They want ’em.

Your publisher (or you if you direct sell) need ’em.

If you’re lucky to have a readership (as I’m gaining one) those readers want to know when to expect your next book. Coming Soon Pages (whether on your own site or the publishers) allow them to browse and plan ahead. They get excited about a book. They love to be teased with a little taste. Then they can set money aside, or put it into the book budget. Let’s face it, books are disposable income purchases. Bills get paid, food gets bought, the kids get clothes on their backs…whatever’s left over you may buy books with.

A Wishlist (basically a non purchase shopping cart) allows them to easily earmark the books they want. The process of moving the book from Wishlist to Shopping Cart needs to be pretty seamless. Many of the comments bemoaned how difficult it was to move thier books into actual purchase mode (on several publishers sites).

When I have cover art ahead of time, I’ll go about showing it off (blogs, email –not spam, but relevant ones–, post cards and such). People like the pretty, especially if you give them a small snippet of the book to read. If I get it the same day the book comes out, I’ve lost some of the advanced marketing ability. Yeah, I can put a blurb on my site with a place holder picture…but it’s not the same.

Graphically here: This is the generic place holder I use (a good freind of mine allowed me to use his picture when he was dommed up)
generic place holder

These are the two books cover I just got which I’ll now replace it with:
Inland Empire

Lutin’s Heir

Obviously very different books, you can tell it just by the style and subject matter of the cover art. One’s contemporary, very much gay the other is AU high fantasy. Guess which is which. The covers will draw the type of reader looking for that type of book. I can use them to market to specific subgroups of readers. If I have the full publisher blurb and maybe an advanced reveiw, so much the better. People remember what they hear and see often. That is one of the marketing lessons we, as authors, need to remember.

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Welcome to the January 5, 2008 edition of writers from across the blogosphere. Enjoy!

writing

M. Cruz presents Developing Unique Characters – Its The Little Things That Count! posted at NOIRLECROI.COM.

Steve Osborne presents Proofreading Tips posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Writing tips for the real world, from a professional writer.”

Missy presents It may not be a traditional dance, but it’s a dance just the same posted at Incurable Disease of Writing, saying, “A musical revelation freed me from my self-doubt and writing is back on track.”

Sean-Paul Kelley presents Recreating Long Lost Drama: The Xiongnu and the Han, 200BC posted at The Agonist, saying, “The question I’m facing right now is how to bring out the inherent drama of an event that took place more than two thousand years ago and is little known in the West.”

Carol Bentley presents The power of words. . . posted at Carol Bentley.

Ward Tipton presents Coming Write Up | The Write Page posted at The Online Writing Resource Center, saying, “Many people would like to get into writing but either have no knowledge about where to get started or worse, they become consumed by “analysis paralysis” or feelings of insecurity because they doubt themselves. Doubt no more!”

Jason Mueller presents Poem of Pain posted at Over Ten Years Serving the Reading Public.

Rebecca Wallace-Segall presents Yay, Motivation! posted at a community of young writers in new york city.

Nicola Marsh presents Romance, rumours and rogues posted at Romance, rumours and rogues.

Carol Bentley presents Do your headlines grab your reader?s undivided attention posted at Carol Bentley.

Jason Mueller presents Plausible Denial posted at Over Ten Years Serving the Reading Public.

Tali presents THE NIGHT-CELL posted at Helium – Where Knowledge Rules, saying, “I’m trying to build up this character, while writing a few shorts, involving her. This is the first.”

authors

Jason presents ExecutedToday.com » 1849: Not Fyodor Dostoyevsky posted at Executed Today, saying, “We catch up with Fyodor Dostoyevsky — including some original translation of his “holy crap, I’m alive” message — on the anniversary of his mock-execution.”

Kilroy_60 presents Kilroy Fear & Loathing, A Hunter S. Thompson tribute – A business management consultant, spiritualist & writer looks at life – Sex Drugs Rock & Roll posted at Fear And Loathing – The Gonzo Papers.

blogs

Jeanie Marshall presents Blogging for Coaches, Consultants, and Other Professionals posted at JMviews Meditation and Empowerment, saying, “Over the years while coaching and consulting, I have encouraged many of my clients to write. Sometimes I suggest they write to sort out ideas, with no intention for publishing or even sharing the writing with anyone. Other times, I suggest they write so that they eventually publish something. More and more, I am suggesting that my clients write a blog. The blog is one of those very powerful mechanisms, readily available.”

Alfa King presents Blogging year, against all odds posted at Alfa King Memories.

Susan presents Monetarizing Your Travel Blog posted at The Innovative Traveler, saying, “Montearize Your Travel Blog”

Warren Wong presents How To Start A Successful Blog posted at Personal Development for INTJs, saying, “Tips on how to start a successful blog and what it takes to succeed.”

articles

Joshua Seth presents Getting Lost in Istanbul posted at Joshua Seth Blog, saying, “A Voyage to feel the taste of Old Europe through Hippodrome, the site of chariot races in old Constantinople and the Egyptian obelisk.”

Jim Sansi presents PR What? posted at The Kaizen Business.

book reviews

John presents Review: Of a Feather posted at A DC Birding Blog.

Sean-Paul Kelley presents So, You Want To Travel The Silk Road? posted at The Agonist, saying, “In his new book, Shadow of the Silk Road, Colin Thubron makes clear the magnitude of the task for writers who want to tackle the Silk Road. (I’m one of those writers.)”

Tiffany Washko presents Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal! posted at Natural Family Living Blog.

GrrlScientist presents The Snoring Bird posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “This book by Bernd Heinrich, a noted biologist, is a memoir that documents his father’s life and their relationship, and how his father influenced the scientist and the man that the author became. [book review]”

Torrie presents Book Review: Father’s Aren’t Supposed to Die posted at A Time of Grief.

interviews

Jeanie Marshall presents Jeanie Marshall Interviews Peter Shepherd posted at JMviews Meditation and Empowerment, saying, “Jeanie Marshall interviews Peter Shepherd, who is the Owner of Tools for Transformation, a personal development site which he started in 1997. He offers a considerable amount of valuable information at his web site, in his products, and through his mailings.”

Jason presents 1962: Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin posted at Executed Today, saying, “This is an interview I conducted recently with Canadian journalist Robert Hoshowsky on his recent book “The Last To Die” — about the last men hanged in Canada.”

life

Joshua C. Karlin presents Why You Need to Ask posted at Marketing & Fundraising Ideas.

Edith presents How to Stay Focused posted at Edith Yeung.Com: Dream. Think. Act., saying, “Are you distracted? Are you thinking about 3 things at the same time? Do you have more than 3 screens opened on your computer right now? If you said yes to any of the questions above, please stay focused here and read on.”

Rebecca Wallace-Segall presents Poetry Slam–Now That’s a Competition posted at a community of young writers in new york city.

John Crenshaw presents “He Tells Me To Burn Things” posted at Dominate Your Life, saying, “How do you distinguish good advice from bad, how do you know when someone is just telling you to “burn things?””

Warren Wong presents Conversation Skills / Tips: How To Have A Good Conversation posted at Personal Development for INTJs, saying, “Tips to improve your conversation skills and help you have a good conversation!”

Chickens in the Road presents The Slanted Little House posted at Suzanne McMinn, saying, “A writer at a turning point in her life picks up her laptop and moves to the country with her three children to find the real meaning of home–and life.”

Alex Blackwell presents Ask for What You Want posted at The Next 45 Years.

Justin Duval presents www.darkgrin.com – Why You Choose to Get Angry posted at The Dark Grin, saying, “Check out why you choose to get angry!”

Terry Dean presents Overcome Fear posted at Integrity Business Blog by Terry Dean.

Carol Bentley presents Invitation to birthday celebration posted at Carol Bentley.

philosophy

Meggie Pace presents A Beautiful House and Books–The Most Important Things in Life? posted at Earthly Paradise, saying, “William Morris’ philosophy integrated art, philosophy and “everyday life” in a way that almost seems impossible to today’s reader. He once argued that having a beautiful home and books were two of the most important things in life. Was he right? On reflection, I think he was!”

CG Walters presents Truth is But a Resting Place posted at Into the Mist, saying, “Many people are willing to accept that experiences and memories of the past become guides for our choices in the present, thereby dictating the future. Most people see these memories or experiences as defined once and never changing. I, on the other hand, am forced to view them as a more fluid commodity.”

Justin Duval presents www.darkgrin.com – The Spectrum of Extremes posted at The Dark Grin.

Pearl presents Spreading the Love via Compassion posted at :: Interesting Observations ::, saying, “Whats your definition of compassion?”

Matthew Spears presents Trusting Perceptions and Higher Communication posted at Loving Awareness, saying, “One of the most fundamental aspect of any growth or is the trust in one’s own perception. There is no question it is an incomplete perception; as a human, you will not see even a minuscule fraction of the totality of what’s out there, or that of your self. But it is still your perception. It is your link to your power. It is the basis for all growth, for if you rely on someone else’s eyes and intuition, you are not living your own life, discovering your own power, but are being a guinea pig for other’s experiments”

politics/current events

Jason Hughey presents The Assasination of Benazir Bhutto posted at Logical Consistency, saying, “Pakistan is emerging as a crisis. Read how the assassination of opposition leader, Bhutto, represents more serious and deadly problems, not only for Pakistan, but for the world.”

Sholom Anarchy presents Stumping for Ron Paul again posted at Anarcho-Judaism.

James K. Bashkin presents Kicked out of Cuba! “When crime fiction is a crime” by K Henkel: Fact and Fiction collide, with serious consequences. posted at Nearly nothing but novels, saying, “The fragility of free speech is indicated by this report of a Cuban writer’s exile in Germany.”

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Dear Editor: Enough With The Polls, Already! posted at Mad Kane’s Political Madness.

humor

Jason Mueller presents Beer, Bear, Body Bag: The Inspirational Story of What Not to Feed Yogi posted at Over Ten Years Serving the Reading Public.

contests

Susan presents New Podcast Documentary Contest posted at The Innovative Traveler.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
writers from across the blogosphere
using our
carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our

blog carnival index page
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Technorati tags:

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Mare Cromwell is the author of the award-winning book If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . Searching for Spirituality in America. It was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine 2003 Book of the Year Awards and received honorable mention in the 2003 DIY Book Competition. We met at a small coffee shop a little while ago to discuss her book, the interviews featured in the work, why she decided to write it and self-publish, and her upcoming projects.

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If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . explores spirituality from many different perspectives—from an 8 year old child raised Episcopalian, to an atheist, a prison inmate, a Sufi spiritual master and others. The book was self-published through her company, Pamoon Press (http://www.pamoonpress.com). As many know, self-publishing in this way is far from easy and often very costly. It requires–among other things–purchasing one’s own block of ISBNs, finding a printer, hiring an editor, and finding a cover designer. For those that are interested in knowing more about it, this interview may also help to shed some light on the process.

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About the Author (from the author website): Mare Cromwell is the Director of Sacred Dog Productions. She is a sustainability specialist and author. With a Masters in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, she has worked in the environmental field for 26 years both internationally and locally in the Baltimore-Washington region. Most recently Mare was the Executive Director of the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance. She trained in The Natural Step framework under Karl-Henrik Robért and Paul Hawken and has led dozens of sustainability workshops in the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to her sustainability consulting efforts, Mare occasionally speaks on Deep Ecology, simplicity and “Right Relationship”.

Interview with Mare Cromwell
NG: What inspired you to seek out different perspectives for this book?

MC: I was raised Catholic but since my early twenties I was sort of spirituality shopping, or whatever you want to call it, and I wrote the book in my thirties. The Catholic church didn’t fill me up; while there are many good points about the religion, it just wasn’t for me. It took me seven years from the start of the book to complete it.

NG: What does the question mean to you?

MC: Well, spirituality is really an ongoing thing. It’s not like you can just come to a point where you’ve stopped growing spiritually. It’s an ongoing dialog, so I guess that would really be it. The ongoing activity of asking questions and finding your personal spiritual answers that resonate and feel like spiritual truths.

NG: What interview did you find yourself connecting with the most when you edited the book?

MC: There are so many. As you know, there is the Sufi mystic, and that interview took place just after 9/11, so that was very powerful. But I didn’t connect with the religion itself, you know what I mean? Now I’m studying with a Native American spiritual healer, and that’s what works for me.

NG: You encountered some interesting people while you were doing your book tour for this book. Some people loved it, some thought it was sacrilegious. Can you tell us a little about that?

MC: It was an adventure. There were a lot of people that wanted to debate and get into arguments about what is spiritually right and what is not right, and that’s not what I’m about. I wanted to present this for people to make up their own minds, to ask their own questions about who they are and what a spiritual life means for them, and for people to see religion and spirituality from other points of view. And there were times when I got rather upset, when people said some pretty hateful things.

NG: Why did you decide to form your own publishing company for If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . ?

MC: There were a number of reasons for that. I had sent it out to a few agents but did not find one that understood what I was trying to do. They wanted to change the title or other things about it because they weren’t sure how to promote it to publishers. It had God in the title, but it didn’t fit strictly into the Christian category. Also, time was a factor. I just wanted to put it out there. The book took years to write, and I didn’t want to wait any longer to have it published the way I wanted it published.

NG: What was the process like?

MC: I hired a consultant and printed about 10,000 hardcover copies. The paper used for the book was 100% recycled so there were no trees cut, and that was an expensive process. The company had to be formed, ISBN purchased. And there was a book designer, a copy editor. There are a lot of people you need to hire to put out a book, you have to hire everyone yourself and make sure they understand your vision. This was before Print on Demand (POD) was really an alternative, when most of the POD companies you see now were in their infancy and didn’t provide many options, like editing or custom cover designs, or the option to ship books to stores on a ‘return’ policy–a big factor in getting your book accepted by book stores. Getting a book distributed successfully to a broad set of bookstores is another huge challenge for small mom and pop publishers. I liked the process of putting everything together, but it was difficult.

NG: What about promotion?

MC: That’s a huge amount of work also. I worked with several promotional companies which were not inexpensive. I spoke at churches, went on book tours all over the country, did radio shows, and arranged other speaking engagements. There’s so much to go through, and it really is amazing if you break even. I still have copies of the book at my house, if anyone would like to purchase one!

NG: What are you working on now?

MC: I’m working on a spiritual journey memoir. It incorporates much of what I’ve studied—yoga, Catholicism, and it covers my work with the Cherokee spiritual teacher.

NG: How has working on If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . prepared you for your next project?

MC: I’m just writing and not concentrating on anything but that. Obviously you want your book to be interesting. I think it’s a rare person that doesn’t care about the reader. And that is a part of the promotional aspect. But right now I’m just writing, just trying to get it all out; I’m not worrying about that aspect.

NG: What was the hardest thing about working on your last book?

MC: Promotion, definitely. Major reviewers aren’t often interested in self-published books. And I had a hard time, I think mostly because God was so prominent in the title. One promotional company stated, after the fact, that they believe that they were not able to get good publicity on the book because of that. Barnes and Noble initially shelved the book in the Christian Inspiration section, but the book is far more than that. However, there are no general spirituality sections in their stores. I eventually convinced them to put it in the New Age section. It seemed the only okay fit for the book. Libraries are a huge chunk of the market, but they base their selection primarily on certain types of reviews, like the Library Journal. And publications like that are wary of self-published books no matter what.

NG: What advice would you give to writers?

MC: Just get it written. Don’t criticize yourself while you’re writing, because there are going to be plenty of people/editors out there to do that when you’re finished with the book. Don’t give up, just allow the creative process. For anyone interested in publishing their writing, I highly recommend going to Elizabeth Gilbert’s website [http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/writing.htm. Author of Eat, Pray, Love]. She has posted a letter that she wrote for writers, and it gives the best advice to encourage us writers to not get held up by our internal critical voice.

If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . can be purchased at the book website at http://www.tocallgod.net/html/tcg_orde.html, or at any online book vendor site. You can also visit Mare Cromwell’s website at http://www.sacreddogllc.com.

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