Tuesday, September 10, 2013


In my ongoing campaign to fund my independent publishing project (which can be found on Kickstarter, by the way), I thought a little taste of the novel would whet appetites and give you all a glimpse, not just of the novel but also my writing. Following is Chapter 1 (a sort of prologue) of the book:

Chapter One

By the time May Thompson locked the door it was too late. What happened to Jenny Wade had already happened. Brian, her youngest, was in way over his head with Mr. Barnes. And there was a lot more coming that no locked door was ever going to keep out. But you couldn’t blame her for trying.

That evening, early in the summer of 1974, the heat of the day had settled in the house like another member of the Thompson family, hanging out in the den with Brian as he stared at the television, too boiled to even notice what was on. Was the heat, dry and stagnant, that kept most folks indoors that day, which lead to the the rapid fire spread of the news of what happened to Jenny, once word got out. Not as palpable as wet heat which drapes on you like an extra layer of skin that won’t sink in or molt off, dry heat harbors a sharpness in its touch, pin needles that scratch at your prickled flesh but never seem to release the blood roiling beneath.

At the slam of the door, Brian called out “Leave the door open, Mama. Let the air circulate.”

Brian shifted in his father’s leather chair in search of any spot cooled by the box fan set up in front of him. He watched his mother pass by, heading into the kitchen. “Mama!” He called, but she didn’t respond.

Lazily, Brian trudged into the living room and opened the door again. May Thompson’s children did that on occasion, defied her, tested the boundaries she held on them. Her two oldest children had already learned this and it seemed Brian was catching on as well. But that night, May would not be defied. She returned to the living room, to where her youngest son stood in the doorway, enjoying the insignificant breeze that had shimmied its way through the neighborhood, across the yard, up the porch and through the screen door. May stepped around Brian, moving him backward a pace or two. She peered out into the hazy twilight as if expecting to find something or someone lurking out there then slammed the door shut again. A brief moment passed as she fumbled with the lock. Her fingers, tangled with emotions Brian didn’t understand, worried the deadbolt once then twice until it found its long forgotten home. She then turned to him with challenge in her eyes and her stance. Brian, wholly intent on reopening the door, intent on meeting her challenge with his own, stopped when he felt, rather than saw the tremble of her body. This was not her usual scared-mouse tremble, the kind a lot of beat women get that flutters just under the skin, keeping them alert to any physical shifts that might be occurring around them; no, this emanated from a permanent point inside her, a bone-deep tremble. Even though Brian had been doing things with Mr. Barnes for the past week or so that had him thinking he was a grown-up, just like his mother, at that moment, he felt like a little boy again.

His mother didn’t tell Brian anything that night. Of course she wouldn’t; she still saw him as a child, her child, the baby of the family to be protected and shielded by her and any door she could find to lock. So in silence, she went to bed, not a word, leaving him there at the door, wondering if she’d locked them in or locked something out.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

And We’re Back…with a Vengeance!

Yes, I’ve been woefully remiss in keeping up the blog so let’s do a bit of a recap to catch us all up:

  1. The book did not sell (not that this should come as a surprise because if it had sold to a publisher, you would have HEARD about it by now). 
  2. A great bit of wallowing was had by all (well, mainly just me). 
  3. Post wallowing, a large amount of doubt settled in for a nice long harboring (every word I wrote, maybe still write, is second-guessed, thrice-guessed, etc. to the point that progress has been non-existent). 
  4. New works-in-progress (see previous entry) were cast out into the streets in their various states of undress to fend for themselves. 
  5. A bout of depression ensued. 
  6. Meds were adjusted.
  7. I said “Fuck it!” to the traditional publishing world!
Which brings us to this post. I am back, full of the piss and vinegar of yore, ready to take the literary world by storm.

How, you ask?

There was a time when I felt that self-publishing was admitting defeat. Of course, I, like so many others, equated it with “vanity” publishing. To some extent it still is, though the world of self-publishing, which I prefer to call independent publishing, has changed drastically in the past few years. The digital age has altered the publishing landscape, some for the bad, some for the good but altered it none the less.

  • Bad: Traditional publishing has faltered. They are no longer the arbiters of what is happening in the literary world. Sure they still have cachet and signing with one of the big houses is still a coop and a sought-after prize but they are also dwindling in scope. They are running a bit scared. They don’t take risks like they used to. Before they take on a book (or an author) they want to know that it comes in such pristine condition that it’s practically ready to print as well as coming to them with a built-in audience. They just don’t have the budgets for editors and marketing, not like they used to, so they need to know that they will recoup their monies and more. While they may have always sought that next great blockbuster that will be on every bookshelf in the world (think The Da Vinci Code), they also took chances on smaller books, those works of Literary Fiction that defy classification, that have no “true” home in the bookstores because they don’t focus on a genre formula (and therefore don’t have a built-in audience) but on characters and writing. The works like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Virgin Suicides take a lot more convincing to be snapped up by traditional publishers.
  • Good: As traditional publishing falters, the digital publishing industry has allowed writers to skip the middleman all together and produce their works to sell directly to the public. Companies like Smashwords and BookBaby make it even easier (for a price, of course). A writer can simple convert their book into an e-book format and upload directly to the Amazon Kindle site or to Barnes & Noble Nook site or any other number of e-book selling sites. They can design their own covers and set their own prices. They become the author and publisher in one. They also need to become the marketer too, which is difficult and time consuming, but it might actually be more than you would get if you signed to a traditional publisher these days. 
Unfortunately, another component of the ‘bad’ is the fact that a lot of these authors cum independent publishers don’t take the time or expend the money to put their works through the stringent editing process that the traditional publishing companies do (or at least used to when they had the money) to elevate their works to the next, professional level. Consequently, a good portion of the novels being produced is sub par and perpetuates the “vanity” stereotype of self-publishing: that anyone can publish anything. There are no guards on duty in this lawless world; no editorial Nazis with their blood-red pens slashing at your manuscript, like a mad plastic surgeon creating a masterpiece, until it is perfected.

Of course, there are writers who know their limitations, their weaknesses and seek out those who can help. I am one of those writers. I think I’m a good writer (my daily affirmation calendar would tell me to say: I AM a good writer). I can create good, well-developed characters. I can even create a good plot line and tell a decent story. What I can’t do is edit my own work. I get so mired in it that I can’t truly see the good and the bad. I know I need someone unbiased who will show no mercy and tell me like it is. I’m a big boy, I can take it if I know it’s for the good of the whole.

It’s been every exciting investigating the world and possibilities of independent publishing. There’s a great sense of control, a sense of casting off the chains of the rules of traditional publishing and just focusing on the work, the words on the page, the way that I feel they were meant to be read. No worrying if the ending is too dower. No worrying if the subject matter is too dark and therefore unsellable. No worrying about word count to bulk it up to constitute “a novel” rather than a novella. The book can be a long (or short) as it needs to be to tell the story properly and succinctly and fully.

Needless to say, my enthusiasm is renewed, my energy refilled. I am once again excited about writing, not just this novel but once again engaging my other works in progress. I’m once again feeling the dream beat inside me, pulsing through my veins as surely as my blood does. I once again call myself a writer and I am glad to be back.