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2012 – A Great Time to be a Reader!

I was tooling around the internet today, stumbling and bumbling with aimless curiosity, when I discovered a copy of the Rogues’ book, More Writing is Easy had sold and was returned on the same day.That really sucks for a couple reasons.

One reason is that we recently reduced the price of the book to ninety-nine cents on Kindle. Why in the world would someone return a book they only paid ninety-nine cents for? Are they so cheap that they read the book then return it so they get it for free? As a writer, this is very disturbing. Financially, writers get the short end of the money stick. Don’t go “J.K. Rowlings” on me. For every author who hits it big, there are millions struggling to make it on their day job money. Very few writers strike it rich.

Another reason I find this disturbing is the value of the content. This book is loaded with incredible writing. The story, Beware of Rip Tides is alone, worth far more than the price of admission into this book. One of the stories, Why Me? took First Place in the 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards for unpublished short fiction. This award-winning story, again, makes this book worth FAR more than the price of admission.

I could go on and on about the great fiction short stories in this book. The bottom line is, at ninety-nine cents, this book is an outright steal. I know, I’m biased being a member of the Rogues Gallery Writers. But I’m telling you, this book is WAY under-priced. When someone pays for it, reads it, then returns it, they make that previously mentioned ‘steal’ reference a reality.

We published More Writing is Easy as a teaser to the main book, Writing is Easy, which is a full-length anthology of short fiction written by the Rogues. The larger book is an absolute gem of short story writing. We felt the nine stories left over from the larger book were too good not to put out to the public. This fact was proven by Why Me?‘s First Place selection in the Florida Writer’s Associations annual contest.

Readers today have access to writing at prices that should be outlawed and with delivery that is instantaneous (Kindle, Nook, PDF, Sony eReader, etc). In this time of inexpensive and instant gratification reading, the authors suffer. Did you know that a book priced at ninety-nine cents, greedy Amazon takes 65% of the sale? That is internet robbery. Please take care of your authors. They do not make much money on their products. They spend countless hours crafting their work. At least allow them to procure the pittance allowed them by the omnipotent corporations.

Take advantage of good reading at low prices. I encourage readers to get Kindle and Nook apps on their smartphones, tablets, iPads, laptops and desktops. You DID know you can buy and read Kindle books without purchasing an actual Kindle, right? Same with the Nook. Get your apps and sort through the huge bargains of reading available to you, the reader.

And make sure you keep the author in mind. If you desire a ‘hard copy’ of their book, search out the author’s website and buy direct from them. This accomplished a couple important tasks – it lifts the author’s spirit to know someone cares enough about their work to buy direct, and it also places more money in the author’s pocket and no money in the greedy corporation’s pocket.

Take care of your authors and the authors will reward you with more great stories!

PS. I’ve never written a PS to a blog before, but I got to thinking after I posted this – through March 31, 2012, anyone who orders a paperback copy of Writing is Easy, the Rogues will email a FREE PDF version of More Writing is Easy! That way, you’ll get ALL the Rogues published short stories in one purchase. How cool is that? Just click on this link: Writing is Easy, purchase the book from the ClearView Press Inc site, supply your email address, and we will email a copy of More Writing is Easy direct to your email!

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Sex and Writing – Nobody Teaches You How to do it Well!

Isn’t writing a lot like sex? Think about it. For those of you struggling with the writing life, we are groomed to speak and write the ‘Queen’s English‘ throughout our school years, but who teaches us how to do it well (as in get published)? When we are young, we get the obligatory ‘sex talk’ and may even get sex ed in school, but again, who teaches us to do it well (as in get…well, you know…)?

I know, experience and repetition. But there are shortcuts to better writing getting published (and better sex for that matter, but not on this blog…) available to us today. We have a populace that is interconnected like no generation in the history of mankind. I can talk, face to face, with anyone in any country that has an internet connection – for free.

Ok, so the ‘for free’ statement is not totally accurate. There’s the cost of electricity, internet service, the computer and camera with which to connect, and probably a host of other insidious expenses. But from our perspective today, the call is free. We can speak as long as we like. Heck, my daughter talks with her friends, one from England and one in Las Vegas, at the same time on ooVoo (similar to Skype, only better in my opinion…).

Ok, so we can string a good story together, make it into a novel – then what? Yes, a plethora of publishing options that make even those of us in the industry shake our heads and go, “Huh?” Who teaches the novelist what to do with their craft?

No one. Who taught Don Juan or Cassanova (or their real life counterparts) how to make love? Many women that came before the notoriety, that’s who. For the writer, their first books teach what to do and what not to do and what can be done better.

Still, this is a very crazy way for people to learn, is it not? In this age where everything is available to everyone with internet connection, you would think there would be definitive teaching institutions who regale students with the proper steps in writing, publishing, marketing and promoting their books.

I see workshops all over the Master of Arts landscape. I also hear quite a bit about MFA grads struggling to make it in the writing world because of ego or too technical of a writing style.

One of the reasons publishing marketing and promoting is not well organized and taught in my humble opinion is that the creative muse flees rigid order in our most creative folk. Creativity needs to live and breathe in freedom and non-restriction. To create this environment, the writer must be able to reach a ‘peace’ in solitude where he or she can connect with their muse. Thus, writers often do not make good business decisions. Publishing, marketing and promotion are all business concepts.

Do you begin to see the difficulty in teaching this? To run the sex analogy again, some people like a soft touch, others a more assertive touch. The varying personalities of men and women deliver a range of sexual experience that can cover incredible differences and nuances. This means what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another. Finding that mate where everything works together well is important to us – and there is no way of ‘knowing’ this.

When we get our book to a finished product, we know it. Real scientific, eh? Your best writing comes when you let go – fear, critic, judge, peer pressure, bias, etc. But what happens once the mate has been selected (the book is written)? Most writers bumble their way through the publishing landscape, many getting fleeced along the way.

The suggestion here is that you consider forming a small focus writing group. That’s what the Rogues Gallery Writers are. We banded together and learn collectively. Writers should educate themselves. One of the best ways to do this is with three or four other people of like mind who need to learn as well. You accelerate your learning curve. We each look at the publishing process from slightly different angles. We share knowledge collected from our unique perspectives. We each then, have a baseline for making publishing, marketing and promotion decisions.

Do not go into writing thinking all you’re going to do is write. Realize this is a business. Hedge your bet with trusted writing partners who will walk through the crazy writing-life-landscape with you. You must be careful to select people who are of like mind, ie, focused on getting published. Stay away from people who are looking for a social hour or just in it for fun. Those folk should join their own respective groups of people. If you’re serious about getting published, find a few good people who feel the same and work together.The rewards are great!

For those of you wishing to continue the sex analogy, I stop here. I would not advocate where some of your minds are going…

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in The Rogues Gallery Writers

 

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Getting it Done in a Focus Group

The Rogues Gallery Writers continue to develop our book, The Method Writers. While we work each week on putting this book together, we also work our respective jobs, deal with our respective families and relationships as well as participating in other writer’s groups, most notably the Florida Writers Association. We stay busy.

We scramble for time to get things done. Our time frames and time tables get skewed often. We know what it’s like to struggle to get something written each day, yet we persevere. This is why I recommend every writer should be a member of a small, tight-knit focus writing group.

Without the support, encouragement and prodding of people you respect, writing becomes a tough mountain to climb. I participate in a critique group as well as a large writer’s group (FWA), and both serve me well. Yet, without the Rogues, I don’t believe I would be nearly as prolific. In fact, without the Rogues, most likely I would be mired in the throes of stalled novels and have only one book published.

At this writing, I have three books out with two more on the slate for 2011. I have momentum and encouragement. I am pooled with four writers who, frankly, own stronger writing pedigrees than me. The true benefit of this small group of writers can be very intangible. I feel this benefit is measurable as well.

Production is what every writer struggles with in his or her quest to navigate the writing life. Whether that production comes under deadlines or days staring at blanks screens or pages, the struggle tends to be universal in the writing community. A focus group must not only include simply writers, but personalities that mesh.

Personality clashes can destroy momentum, chemistry and ultimately production. Finding that special group of like-minded writers that click can be an evolutionary process. Do not get discouraged. Sometimes growing pains hurt, but in the end, the group prospers.

My recommendation is four or five authors. Four has worked well for the Rogues, but my sense is five is optimum for us. Thus far, we have not been able to get five Rogues going at one time. Technically we are five at this time, but one of our best, Rebekah Hunter Scott, has taken a ‘maternity leave’.

She is idle by no means. Rebekah currently promotes her first book Motherhood is Easy: as long as you have nothing else to do for the next 50 years (2010 Royal Palm Literary Award winning book in the Humor category) and is writing a follow up book – Pregnancy is Easy: as long as you are not the one pregnant. Rebakah’s wit has landed her in major national slick magazines like American Baby and Parents.

Obviously, with two children currently in the home, she has her hands full. The Rogues miss her dearly. We are also unstoppable. We have a head of steam going on our current group project, and each of us have individual projects moving along nicely as well.

Consider putting together a number of writers in a focus group. Choose carefully, selecting those people who blend well with each other. The writers do not need to write the same genre. In fact, the Rogues are as diverse a group of writers as you can get. I lean toward poetry and sci-fi. Jeff is more literary fiction, bloody fiction and ghost writing. Nancy is a murder mystery writer. Rebekah writes strong humor as well as some serious fiction. Bridget writes strong psychological fiction as well as tough dark humor fiction.

We each are not confined to the tendencies listed above either. My feeling is that each Rogue is willing to step out into many genres if the occasion calls for the effort. Our diversity helps us get multifaceted feedback too. That said, I could see a focus group being successful if everyone wrote the same genre. In some ways, that group’s dynamics would have to be even more personality compatible given that all the writers would be writing similar material.

Now the commercial. You had to know it was coming. Writing is a very tough business. Most writers cannot afford to quit their day job. The Rogues Gallery Writers are no different. We do have a couple books out. We need people to support us. One cool way is to purchase our books. We’ve even made that simple.

We produced the book More Writing is Easy in PDF format (available through ClearView Press) for a paltry $1.99. That’s not painful, is it? This book is like a ‘teaser’ of what we can do. It is also available on Kindle for $2.99. For that price, you can take a chance on us, right? Then, when you love the writing, we have a full-length collections of short stories titled Writing is Easy. This book is also available through CVP as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million and Kindle.

C’mon! Give the Rogues a chance. I’m telling you, we work hard and we write extremely well.

 

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Crazed Writers Meet Again!

Yes, the Rogues continue to blur the line between fiction and reality. We are currently embroiled in a novel that requires the four of us to write four characters of a writer’s group called the Rogues Gallery Writers. Our characters have characters they happen to be writing about. In order to get to know the challenges their (the unreal Rogues) characters face, the Rogues (unreal ones again) pull a page from the ‘method acting’ notebook and become ‘method writers’.

If that is not confusing enough, we Rogues (the real ones now) have tuned into our characters (the unreal Rogues) and their names. Things have become so confusing that we attempt to send emails to our fellow Rogues with the ‘unreal’ Rogues’ names rather than our actual names. Then it takes us a few minutes to figure out why the email address doesn’t automatically pop up.

Yes, writerdom can be a strange place. What will really get strange is if we set up actual email addresses for our ‘unreal’ Rogue characters and possibly even THEIR characters. The ‘real’ Rogues meet tonight, as we do every Tuesday evening. As our plot thickens, we steam ever closer to that magic moment of a completed first draft. My best estimate is that we will possess a true first draft manuscript by late May early June.

For those of you who follow our work, this should be great news. For those of you not yet following our trek to artistic infamy, you can check out a number of our works. As a group, the Rogues have produced the books Writing is Easy and More Writing is Easy. Both books are collections of short stories penned by the Rogues. I highly recommend More Writing is Easy as an introduction to Roguery. The Kindle price tag of $2.99 is highly attractive. You may even purchase a PDF copy of the book through the ClearView Press Bookstore for $1.99.

Until we meet again…

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in The Method Writers

 

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Insane Writers – Great Stories

A short post on the comings and goings of the Rogues Gallery Writers. We meet nearly every Tuesday evening. We go over the plot lines of our book – The Method Writers which is shaping up nicely. Each of us is writing a character who is a member of a writers group and is writing a book.

The twist of this book is that the characters decide to try something they dub ‘method writing’ after the similar occurrence in acting labeled ‘method acting’. The characters decide to pursue some aspect of the book they’re writing by physically experiencing whatever it is they want THEIR characters to experience. One of the writers is incorporating a bank robbery into her story so she plans out and executes a bank robbery. Another character is writing about a character that gets involved in the sex scene, so that writer dives into the world of sex.

The fun of this book is that our characters interact with each other and we must make sure we’re all on the same page. The book is being written with a lot of dark humor which should make it fun for the reader as well as getting the reader to invest in the characters. We are working at making this a big deal. We’ve planned to film a ‘Mockumentary’ about the project, again with loads of dark humor. We also are planning to come up with playing cards, trading cards, calendars, mugs, t-shirts and other promotional material. Keep checking out our companion blog, www.themethodwriters.wordpress.com for quotes from the upcoming book, some of the character pics and other book related tidbits.

Also check out our book, More Writing is Easy on Kindle or order a physical copy through the bookstore at ClearView Press.

 

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Everyday Neurosis – Writing Consistently

As writers we all possess the demon of procrastination in some hideous manner. We force deadlines or put off projects or drag our pens as if writing were some evil punishment. Yet when we get going, forcing us to quit can only be achieved through severe hunger and/or dehydration, volatile argument or collapse. This personality trait tends to come with the writing landscape.

We authors also own various means by which we goad ourselves (or prime if you prefer…) into writing. We discipline ourselves (isn’t that the antithesis of writing???) to regular schedules or use software that is playful or struggle under a constant barrage of self-loathing because we have not written every day like big time authors tell us we must. Whatever trick you use, whatever method gets you into the button chair (more appropriately spelled butt-in-chair), whatever sorcery actually hands you success in this area is worth its weight in sold manuscripts to other writers who can duplicate your success.

With that last little tidbit in mind, I present a wonderful website called 750Words.com. This site offers daily prompts to your email suggesting you write 750 words today. The site creator was brilliant in his site setup and theme. Any writer knows 750 words is not much. Once you hit that four digit number, writers begin to blanche, but 750 words can be knocked out in fifteen minutes if you have average keyboard speed.

The creator of the site also knows that if a writer puts down 750 words, most likely there follows an avalanche of ideas and projects to spring forth while at the computer. A writer on a roll will continue until some force of the outside world interrupts. Getting into the chair to begin with is the primary issue. One of the things that motivated me to take on one of the website’s challenges – write 750 words every day for the entire month – is that a fellow writer I know jumped on the site and joined in the challenge. Now, I won’t miss a day simply because she is still in the running to complete the challenge and I will not be out-done.

This challenge sounds eerily like Nanowrimo which runs each November. During Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) writers are encouraged to write 1667 words per day to achieve a novel of 50,000 words by month’s end. Yes, 750 words copies that little format, but it works. I’ve complete two first-draft novels thanks to Nanowrimo. 750 words only asks for less than half the word count per day. Since I began writing on 750words.com in March, I have written 26,012 words and for the month of April I have keyed 16,383 words.

These are pretty impressive numbers. These numbers do not include my blogs and other writing I’m doing. Can you say, “Motivational feedback?” Seeing myself put up those kinds of numbers gives me hope. I know I can do this daily now. I previously wrote garbage. Whatever came off the top of my head, I wrote, so as to achieve word count. Then I began incorporating writing projects into my 750 words. I write articles for Daddy123.com so I wrote four articles using four different 750 word days. I also wrote a chapter of the current book I’m working on during one of my 750 word posts.

In March, I often wrote over 750 words. One day I keyed over 2000. Loads of words keyed is confidence to  a writer, even if the words are not all that great. The simple discipline of doing what we love helps move us along. 750words.com’s motivational aspects do not stop there. The site incorporates some really cool analytics. Once you are done keying your words, the site’s analyzer scans your words and tells you what kind of mood your writing reflects, what topics were foremost on your writing mind, what sense, tense and time orientation is reflected in your writing as well as breaking down your use of profanity, interruptions, use of filler words and a whole slew of other observations.

These analytical observations can be used as writing tools or simple curiosities. On a couple of my writing pieces, I wanted to know if the mood I wanted to project came across in my writing. The analytics gave me the feedback I needed.

Have I mentioned this site is free? Yes, free. The gentleman who whipped this cool tool together does ask to be supported with donations, but there is no obligation beyond your own sense of responsibility to helping maintain a fun and helpful site. In fact, I have not donated any money to the site as yet, but as soon as I finish up here, I will pop over to 750words.com and slide him a fiver. I don’t begrudge it at all.

As writers, we all look for something that will move us forward, get us into that writing groove and help us produce on a more timely basis. I’m here to tell you 750words.com helps me. Give it a shot. What do you have to lose other than your writing inconsistency? It’s free and if you don’t like it, you’re not out anything.

 
 

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Writing as Addiction

There is no doubt writing and authors possess a love-hate relationship. The love side can manifest in many ways. Satisfaction from creating something from nothing, release from voices that haunt a writer’s brain, heightened passion from going places emotionally one rarely dares to visit in life or many other aspects of writing that leave us feeling fulfilled.

The hate part tends to enter the equation on the more analytical side of writing – the fact of writing being a business, deadlines, frustrations at how the writing manifests itself, forcing yourself to ignore basic day-to-day chores or tasks that can make you look foolish in other people’s eyes and any number of stumbling blocks to making the writing happen in a manner you feel appropriate.

For those of us who stick with our dreams and passions, writing takes on characteristics of addiction. Once we hit a groove we feel invincible. We feel there is nothing to stop us from reaching untold heights and there is no downside. When we struggle to just get our blank page up on the screen or out of a notebook, we become the junkie craving a fix – especially if life has intruded and prevented us from scribbling or dibbling (my word for computerized scribbling – I know, this is an actual word already having to do with gardening, but when has that ever stopped the English language from promoting a new meaning – see the word ‘run’).

Every writer who sincerely pursues the craft must write. Consistency is preached but often neglected in a world where structure and analytics often squash or destroy creativity. Writers can be flighty and irresponsible, but they also create all the entertainment our species ingests on a daily basis. The appetite of consumers out-paces the ability of writers to produce. This is why you see so many reruns and rehashed plots.

The dedicated writer must write whether destitute or wealthy. Every writer struggles with similar bugaboos like time, block (always self-inflicted), muse, etc. Non-writers on one hand do not understand what writers call work and on the other they have no clue how writers create the pieces put out. Writers know when they are in the midst of their muse, no drug, no pleasure, no outside source of enjoyment can fulfill them like the passion of creation at their fingertips.

A writer’s fix becomes simple, not easy. Simply write that ‘true sentence’ as Hemingway put it. Create the story, novel, article, poem, etc. that moves the reader to another place of enlightenment whether it be emotional, intellectual or any other manner of insight. Writers desire to create words of power as much as readers desire to consume them. While we war against ourselves about what we sacrifice for our fix, just like any other addiction, we go back for more whenever we can. When we do, we hallucinate, we dream, we soar, we cry, we laugh, we crash, we die and we live.

Our hope is that our readers do all those things as well.

 
 

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