In the ink well

Dog Ear

June 14, 2012

The man with the can (DOG EAR)

  “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” -Anton Chekhov I don’t know who this old black man is. Usually I see him on days I bike in, over on the other side of Lake Destiny Road, going south to my north. He’s always riding a ratty little bike, so non-descript I can’t really remember what it is – maybe one of those banana-bikes popular twenty years ago, […]
June 7, 2012

Creativity (DOG EAR)

Creativity. Those who don’t have it (who talk on cellphones or watch TV in the evenings) don’t get it. But we, the people who walk silently with eyes on the invisible or who do more than doodle during tedious office meetings, we have it. Creativity. An example was yesterday – slow day at work with an unexpected extension we didn’t need. Not much to do. Fine. But for fun, I’ve been working on a computer game at home, an excel takeoff of “Time Tripper”, a time-travel/combat game from 1980 that I loved to play. The game itself was clever (I’m […]
May 31, 2012

Gotcha! (DOG EAR)

You know the movie – the cute babysitter hears a noise. She investigates. Opeeeeennnsss the dooooooor…. MEOW! Out runs… the cat. She and the audience breath a sigh or relief and then the killer rams an ice pick into her. Surprises, shock, and startlement go with the media of movies – very easy to do. But it’s possible to pull this off in writing – if one really crafts it well. My favorite shock comes from the book Mr American by George MacDonald Fraser, where the title character (once a desperado, now a English squire) has just been threatened by […]
May 24, 2012

Literary Setbacks (DOG EAR)

I’ll always remember the scene in The Muppet Movie (the first one, kiddies) where producer Orson Wells casts an imperial glare over the bedraggled muppets who have forced their way into his office, then intercoms his receptionist. “Bring me the ‘Rich and Famous’ contract.” Yeah, that’s what we want. Then there is the movie moment from Sideways where a would-be author stands on the empty loading dock behind a winery and listens as his agent tells him that “Some books can’t find a home”. Yes, after thinking he was going to be published, he’s getting dropped by his agency. And […]
May 17, 2012

AdSpace (DOG EAR)

Even at the time of my second book (Fire and Bronze), I still had this idyllic vision of writers doing nothing more than writing their carefree novels in vine-covered cottages, and perhaps answering a fan letter or two following their afternoon walk. Recent experiences have put paid to that. Now that I have to do everything myself, I’m learning what my sister knows about self-promotion, self-marketing and personal shilling. It’s hard. Humans are by-in-large modest; our culture wires us that way. Villains brag, heroes don’t. And now that I’ve had to set up my appearances, to gussy myself up and […]
May 3, 2012

Effort (DOG EAR)

It always seems like a strange question (especially from wanna-be writers): “How do you make the time for writing?” My answer (which I picked up someplace along my life) is “Butt glue”. That’s what it takes to make myself write – establishing a time and metaphorically gluing my ass to the chair, and forcing myself to write. Some of my best writing came from times when I really didn’t want to, but had to. But that’s not the real crux of the question. See, it’s not just about finding time (and passion) to write. That’s the easy part. I’m always […]
April 26, 2012

Naga-more (DOG EAR)

I don’t think other writers have this problem. I don’t think Moby Dick hung off a pier near Melville’s house, bubbling dejectedly. And I’m sure Mr. Darcy didn’t rap on Jane Austen’s door, grousing, “Damme, but are you through yet?” But me, I’ve got crows. Been working most evenings on knocking off a chapter or two of Indigo, my aerial version of Watership Down. The book is done but there are a number of things I’d like to do before putting it back before the agents (who were warm to it, so there is a shot). I need to read […]
April 19, 2012

Writers write (DOG EAR)

It’s no secret that publishing, and especially self-publishing, will burn a lot of your time. There are submissions, proposals, side-efforts. If you attend a show and rent a booth, there are all sorts of things you have to arrange (as detailed HERE). All this takes time. I used to write – a lot – at lunch. The café downstairs has a nice outdoor patio and if I go early, nobody is out there. But now I haven’t been – I’ve been busy with getting Early ReTyrement ready, cleaning it, changing it, fiddling with it. I’m so focused on it (and […]
April 12, 2012

What’s wrong with this picture (DOG EAR)

So here’s me at the UCF Book Festival. What am I doing wrong? Oh, there are some positives. The big eye-catching cover art. The price marked on the elevated book. The handsome author. But what’s wrong? 1) The stack of books for sale are too far back on the table, right back with me. Anyone who wants to flip through them (why do you flip though books? What do you hope to find?) has to reach across the table. That mistake I noticed in the first 15 minutes when I saw how neighboring mystery author Rod Sanford had his, all […]
April 5, 2012

Postfix Muse (DOG EAR)

Anyone who writes has a muse. If you are focused, it might be just a single heavenly ideal. For me, it could be the sun casting across a woman’s beautiful face, the blowing heat coming off an urban pavement or clouds chasing across the Florida sky. Inspiring muses are a dime a dozen. It’s the postfix muses that are harder to find. Once you publish, you are going to find yourself facing hardships you never imagined. Turns out that writing a consistent, entertaining, and marketable story over 500 pages is easy compared to selling it, accepting criticism, and getting screwed out […]