Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Hardest Part Seems To Have Passed

It’s bad luck to keep both fingers crossed, so don’t do that. But I just got comments from Smashwords and they said that the only problem with my manuscript is that the names don’t match. I left my middle name out a couple of times, which is a hindrance. But presumably, once I’ve changed that, then Survive by the Sword will be available through all of the retailers and formats.

Although I will not be abandoning Confessions of a Cart Jockey, I am planning an entirely new blog that will focus only on my writing, past, present and future. This will include reviews of other people’s books. Conversations I have about writing and about the process of self-publishing my work.

Now Comes the Hard Part

Because there are times when it’s clear that I can’t sell a boat to a drowning man. A lot of the times, the man isn’t even swimming. He’s at the beach and he sees me coming, then he runs head long into the water and takes a deep breath.

Until the Smashwords vetters review Survive by the Sword and approve it for the premium catalog, my only option is to try to market the book from Smashwords.

So it’s a challenge. Because to buy something, you usually have to open an account at a website. That is the nature of shopping in this century. There are very few places you can go to buy something from the Internet that don’t require the exchange of some kind of identifying information. And even if you pay with good old fashioned money order, with a PO Box on the return slip, that’s still giving away information about yourself like your general location. Oh, and you need your personal information to get a PO Box, because post offices are picky like that.

But I understand that people might not want to open account with Smashwords, or with a site they’re just not familiar with. I also can’t let that excuse be the reason that I don’t continue writing.

I’ve sold two copies of my story in the opening week and that’s a win. People will only see the number and use that to lambaste me, but I’ve carried on longer with causes that had less of a chance and the negativity of others didn’t stop me then. Why would I let them stop me now?

What Have I Been Doing With Myself, You Ask?

Credit to Dora Gonzalez at Premade4U for creating this cover.

Credit to Dora Gonzalez at Premade4U for creating this cover.

It’s been awhile since my last update. What could I have been doing with myself, you ask? Well, I believe I mentioned working on my novella recently, and I’m happy to say that is currently on waiting to be approved for premium catalogue status.

Should it be approved, it will be available in all formats for electronic devices through websites like Barnes n Noble and Amazon, as well as to local libraries.

In the meantime, today was a day I awaited nervously. At this time, I don’t know when they’ll get around to looking at my book. I just have to hope I followed the Smashwords formatting guide as closely as I thought I did, because that’s going to be the major kicker in determining the best way to market this.

It wasn’t just the Smashwords people though. Because the main character of the book was based on two people who I greatly admire. But because I was writing about something that I admittedly know very little about, and these are men who are seasoned professionals at what they do, I was nervous. I didn’t want to tell them about the story, because what if they were offended by the portrayal? That would be their right and it wouldn’t be appropriate of me to try and pigeonhole their approval by creating the expectation that I wanted nothing but praise.

The truth is, I can take criticism and I am open to it in all of it’s forms. I don’t always appreciate the way it comes across and I will say so, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know if people have opinions on something I did.

My best friend, Crystal, was the first to download my book. She has always been one of my strongest readers and whatever is going on in her life, she is always consistent with her response and support. She was not afraid to tell me when something looked out of left field and I was happy for that. (Is it any wonder I wanted to thank her in the acknowledgments. Well now she’s not getting out of it in the acknowledgments for the next book of the series, no matter what anyone says. Except for her, obviously, but I really hope she agrees to let me thank her in this way.)

But even more satisfying than the first sale was the positive response from Mark Bedell and Ned Donovan, the two people who were more than 90% influential in creating the character of Nicodemus Dean.

If I never sell another copy of the book, if nothing I write from here on out ever impresses anyone, that will in no way cheapen the weight that these three people have lifted from my heart today.

A Dog’s Perspective

Last night was a reminder that sometimes I don’t always consider things from another’s point of view. As you may have read, Dickens is John’s fourteen year-old cockerspaniel that I have begun assuming responsibility for.

John and I are not usually up that late. By 10:30 we’re usually fast asleep and Dickens is either on the floor in the bathroom, or in the hall between our rooms, or under John’s bed. Last night was different because I was watching two really good episodes of Dog and Beth: On The Hunt. During one of the commercial breaks, I came up stairs to try and get Dickens to go outside and he gave me a look like, “Who the hell are you?”

I didn’t register this until later, so I put my hands out like I do whenever I have a treat that I want him to sniff at, because that usually gets him to follow me. (I give him the treat later, relax) At first, Dickens got up and walked away from me. So I tried getting closer and he barked and snapped at me.

Of course I was a little shaken, because he has never done that to me, ever. I gave him his space and it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized what happened.

Dickens wasn’t expecting anyone to be downstairs. As far he was concerned, I was a complete stranger and it threw him off when he saw me come up to get him. He recognized me the second time when I came up and there were no problems. But it was my fault for not taking his perspective into account in the first place.

An Amazing Lack of Proportion

The person I am writing this about is not the subject of the story. I simply needed the story to illustrate why that person made me angry this morning.

When I lived in Burlington, Vermont, there was a woman who lived next door to me with her boyfriend and their small son. The wall couldn’t have been more paper thin if I had lived in a genuine house made of paper.

For an entire year, this bitch was one of the most inconsiderate people I had ever known. Not more than two weeks into my moving in, she and her boyfriend had an explosive argument at sometime around midnight. I know it was around midnight, because I was asleep and I needed to be home in the morning. But these two were at it and the woman actually stormed out of her apartment and started pounding on my door to let her in.

Eventually one of the other tenants called the police. (Trust me, there was nothing remotely violent happening and trust me when I say that the woman was the instigator the entire time. I know because I could hear every word)

A month or so later, I had to be awake in the morning again. And from midnight to 2:30 in the morning, there was big rap battle going on. Does anyone remember that scene from Catwoman, where Halle Barry’s character went catshit (see what I did there?) all over the guys in the next apartment who were blaring loud music when she was trying to sleep? This was what I had gone through that very night and I didn’t have any superhero cat powers.

But for an entire year, I never, said, anything. ONCE.

Then one day in the July of that year, I came home with a heavy box of groceries in my arms. I was sweating my balls off and walking up two flights of stairs and trust me when I say, I couldn’t close the door to my apartment quietly with my arms so full. So it slammed.

I put the box on the kitchen table and there was a knock at the door. Daryll and Minneka were staying with me at the time and Minneka was good enough to answer the door for me. Lo and behold, the lady from next door was there with her child in tow.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t help but hear the door slam and I was wondering if it was because [Me, the neighbor] was angry at my son for making noise.”

Of course. Don’t you know that the world revolves around you? It makes perfect sense that since you were the one being so loud and annoying for an entire year, that your small child must be the reason that I couldn’t use my telekinesis or my third fucking arm to close the door quietly. I guess that means you were mad and angry at me when you and your rap party buddies were over here that one time, or when you pounded on my door while you were shouting at your boyfriend… with your son in the same fucking apartment.

People wonder why I have spent so much time on this blog and this is it. If I make a mistake, people seem all too quick to point it out. Or if they think I’m too stupid to live, they’ll quickly remind me how to breathe. But it’s always these same people who are completely oblivious or otherwise unconcerned with how they themselves behave or are perceived by the people they encounter.

I would be the dick if I kept pointing it our or complaining, so I keep my mouth shut, but that doesn’t let you off the hook. If you’re going to point out the bone fragments in my closet (real or imagined) I’m going to break the padlock off of yours and show you where your skeletons have been hiding.

Less Than 5,000

Sunday was as good a day as any to put the frustration of the previous week behind me. John needed help setting up his table at an antiques show in New Hampshire, so my plan was to put my own struggles on hold and focus on doing whatever I could to make the day easier for John.

There was a minor problem that you could accurately describe as a small brushfire, but I stood my ground and doused it with my resolution not to let anything distract me from the fact that I was here to help John.

The antiques show was held in one of the gymnasiums of the Hampshire Hills health club and although it was still warm inside, the open doors and the wide space made for a better airflow. I spent all of my time on my feet because I had not gotten much sleep the night before and I knew that if I sat down, I’d be fast asleep. A quick walk around took care of any lethargy and it gave me a chance to see what the other vendors brought.

One of the things that stands out to me is the abundance of stereoscopes present at the show. I remember thinking that the stereoscope was a rare item and it was an item on my wish list to get to use what was basically the Gameboy of the 19th century. Now I can’t seem to go two steps without tripping on them. Although I did run into one woman who had a number of the slides and among them was a series of photos that I can only describe as “adult” in nature. It made sense to me since there are certainly video games and movies now a days that aren’t meant for children and it stands to reason that the companies that manufactured stereoscope slides would print similar materials.

At the table next to me was a gentleman who actually serviced and sold early phonographs. He even had a couple of the Cylinders that he was kind enough to play for potential customers and since I was sitting beside him, I was beside myself with the idea that some of that music, some of which contained genuine vocal artists, could very well have been recorded by Edison himself.

We sold a few things. One of the other vendors had told the organizer that he made “less than 5,000” at his table and I thought, technically we all did. So if anyone asks me how much money we made at the antiques show, or indeed any future sales related venture that I participate in, my answer is always going to be less than 5,000.

A Copy Of My Confidence

I found another potential copy editor to look at my story, so I came all the way out to Danvers so I could save some money on the physical copy that this person wants to read. If nothing else, it’s nice to see what it looks like in my hands.

There’s no shortage of people throwing in their two cents, mind you. I was told by an Internet “expert” that I need to put 10,000 hours of effort into something to get it right, which I find ironic because I doubt she took 10,000 hours to become an expert on how many hours it takes to become an expert.

I think there’s just a fine like between opinion and expert advice. Pat Elrond, for example, has a very passionate view about reading 100 short stories for every single one you intend to write. If that is not an unholy joy, don’t even try to write a short story. It might see contrite and pretentious, but she had a fairly successful career as the writer of a vampire series and she still makes her living as a writer and editor today.

People are always going to have opinions. God knows I have them. At the end of the day, how the opinion effects me is all that’s going to matter. Personally, I’ll stick with the advice of the person who makes a living in the business to which I am applying myself.