Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Saucy Chronicles 1 – Unicorns, Published

saucychronicles Today is an exciting day. Saucy Chronicles 1: Unicorns has been published on Amazon for Kindle. This is a short story compilation written by the members of my online writer’s group Saucy Ink, and one of the stories in their is my own.

The book was edited by Steve, one of our Saucy Ink members. He’s a retired editor, and we are fortunate to have him be part of our group.

I know I should have prefaced this blog post with a warning about blatant self promotion, but I don’t really consider self promotion as much as promotion of the other seven talented writers who contributed to the work.

I know few people will not believe this, but I would be promoting this book just as hard even if my story wasn’t in it. In fact, my story isn’t close to the best one in the book. The other authors, (I can’t really call you guys just writers any more, can I?) did a wonderful job of crafting their stories and I enjoyed each one even in its original draft form.

We started the project last summer to help us experience writing to a deadline and writing within a target word count. We needed a theme and when the idea of ‘unicorns’ was tossed out, the group jumped on it like steak thrown into a lion’s den. We each drafted our stories and one by one put them up to the group to critique. I learned so much during the critique of my story. We went through two more drafts, and Steve lent his talents to copyedit each final draft. Then he took upon the arduous task of preparing the book for publishing. This is not as easy as it looks, and Steve put in a many hours getting it right. The original plan was for the book to be available in all formats, but ultimately, we only published on Kindle, so I won’t be able to purchase the book on my Daughter’s Nook.

Each author (I just love typing that word) retained the right to republish their own story, either by itself (unlikely) or as part of a compilation of their own works (more likely).

The unicorns in the stories won’t be the kind you see in My Little Pony(tm). They are found on every point of the moral compass, but each is a remarkable character.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Mysterious Reader

A couple of days ago, the American Christian Fiction Writers blog had a post where guest poster S. Dionne Moore talked about her process of figuring out her ‘Most Likely Reader’ or MLR. It was a detailed analysis of her book and the demographics to which it would appeal.

I naturally applied that thinking to my current Work In Progress (WIP), Dream Chaser (DC) and the process left me a bit disquieted. I’m really not sure who the core demographic for my book would be. The main character is male and in the book goes from college age to adult, but I’m not sure if it would appeal more to men or women.

My desire to write this story was born out of a passion to demonstrate something that I see as wrong, but accepted by far too many people as being right. My goal was to tell a story that might get people to look at the circumstances my characters go through in a new way.

I have been deeply influenced by books I have read over the years. They have helped shape my world view. My dream scenario would be to influence someone else in the ways my favorite stories have influenced me.
I know this stuff is important, but honestly, I’m not too worried about it. DC is my first attempt at a novel, and the statistics say that it will not be professional enough to sell. I’ve put some of the business/marketing lessons on the backburner while I concentrate on improving my writing skills.

And speaking of my WIP, for the first time, another human being is laying eyes on it. Bill from Saucy Ink has seen the first chapter, and part of the second. My writing teacher from this past fall, a wonderful lady named Janice, has seen Chapter 1. It is with a mix of excitement, eagerness, and nervousness, with a just a pinch of fear (okay, maybe more than a pinch) that I await their comments.

Of course this Chapter 1 is the ‘new’ chapter 1. The old chapter 1 is now chapter 4, and I’m making some small changes to incorporate the story I covered in the new chapters 1 through 3. I’m still working on revisions on the last half of the book, and then it will be time to have a couple of people read the whole thing. If I thought releasing a single chapter was exciting and terrifying all at once, I can’t imagine what I’ll feel when the whole enchilada is out there.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Boycott of One

I don’t think boycotts are terribly effective most of the time, especially when it comes to restaurants. There are plenty of places I don’t frequent because I don’t like the food, or I don’t like the location. It’s not a big crusade. There’s one place I don’t eat at, and haven’t visited for years. They are still there, and still by all accounts doing fine.

In some ways, the restaurant doesn’t care why I’m not coming, and as long as they have enough other customers to pay the bills, they really don’t need me there anyway.
So we try to get all our friends to stay away from the same place to increase the impact. I respect that a ton. Anyone who is willing to take a stand that costs them something, even if it’s just a chicken sandwich, earns my respect, even if I don’t agree with the particular reason they are boycotting whatever chain is the target of their anger.

There is one place that  I won’t go under any circumstances and that’s Hardees. The reason is the commercials they use to sell their product. Look I know sex sells, but this is over the line. I know it’s a subjective line, but I get to determine where my line is, and their commercials are over it. I mean, it’s a freaking hamburger, for goodness sakes. The commercials openly objectify women, and in doing so, show a deep disrespect for women. As a husband, and a father of a beautiful little girl, I won’t support that.

I wonder why people, especially people who are passionate about the way women are portrayed in media, aren’t making a bigger deal of these commercials, or maybe they are, and I’m just not tuned into the right blogs, tweets, and shows.

And if the commercials aren’t enough for you, Hardees also gets poor grades for the nutritional value of its menu from Eat This! Not That! Their food is loaded with calories, fats, and other things that aren’t good for you.

It’s clear that Hardees demographic is young males who feel invincible, and equally clear that I’m not their core demographic.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trapped By Perfect

Lately I’ve been struggling with my writing, but I’ve identified the issue. I have been trapped by Perfect. I really thought two NaNos had cured me of my issue with Perfect, but my brain twisted Perfect just enough so that I didn’t see it as Perfect anymore.
My normal routine finds me with writing time somewhere around 9pm most nights. By this point, we’ve got the kids in bed and it’s finally quiet around the house. It’s also a time when I’m flat exhausted from working and taking care of the family. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t do ‘quality’ work when I was that tired, and if I couldn’t produce ‘quality’ there was no point in writing. It would be better for me to sack out on the couch, read some blogs, or maybe play a video game, and then get to writing once I was rested. You can guess how many nights I actually got to writing. Yeah, it wasn’t a large number.
But now I’ve identified the problem, and I can apply some of what my friend Paul has been teaching me about Learning. This is learning that leads to life change and has six components.
Observe, Reflect, Discuss, Plan, Accountability, Action.
I observed that I don’t write as much as I would like to.
I reflected on the reason for this.
I’m discussing it right now with you.
So what’s the Plan? I’m going to write, no matter how I feel, and no matter what level of quality I produce. Will I be able to use it all? Probably not. Might there be stuff there, that sometime when I’m not as tired I can improve upon? Almost certainly.
Where’s the Accountability? Saucy Ink. I’m going to make a thread and post what I do every night. No one really needs to reply to it, but knowing I’ve got to post what I did will keep me accountable.
The first week I did this, I wrote 4 of 7 nights. That’s not nearly good enough, but it’s much better than the week before.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saying Goodbye

This has been a crazy week for me. Friday evening, I learned that Nanny (my pet name for my Grandmother) had passed away. She was 88 years old.

For the rest of Friday, I was numb. Saturday, I was angry. Sunday, it was just a dull ache that, even a week later, hasn’t subsided much. Even as I’m writing this, it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that she’s really gone.

We had the Wake on Monday, and she was buried on Tuesday. We had family and friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in years, come from North Carolina and Tennessee.

My Nanny was much more than a Grandmother to me. On several occasions, we had to move in with her after we moved back to the area. When my parents divorced, she was there for us. With my Papa (my Grandfather) she took us down to Disney World during that time.

She was wisest person I knew, and she was well read. Her best friend held a doctorate and Nanny, despite never getting more than a high school education could hold her own in any conversation. She could comfortably discuss the philosophies of Jung, and it was Nanny that introduced me to Emerson, Thoreau and C.S. Lewis.

She led an incredible life, and served in the second World War as a marine. That’s right, don’t mess with me, my Nanny was a marine! She was buried with full military honors, and I was very proud of her service. She was an artist and had her own art school for a while. She always wanted you to look deeper, so see the individual leaves on the trees, rather than just a mass of green. I have two of her paintings hanging in my house, and soon I’ll have a couple more. She loved to do still life paintings and was deeply influenced by the Impressionist period.

My dad let me say a few words at her funeral, and I will forever be grateful for that opportunity.

Nanny always loved you just for who you were. It didn’t matter what you had done, or hadn’t done. It didn’t matter what great thing you might one day accomplish. She loved you all the same, and in this way, she taught me what it truly means to love.

The thing she loved above all else was her family. It was everything to her, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do for her family. It speaks to the woman she was that both her ex-daughter-in- laws were there. She always maintained the bonds even after their marriages to her sons were over. They still called her ‘Mom’. She fought for us, and she cared for us. She was a homemaker, an artists and a patriot. But most of all, she was my Nanny.

The one thing that has given me peace this week is that I know she knew how much I cared for her, and how much I loved her.

I will always miss her, and I will never forget her.