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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 took First Place in the 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards for unpublished short fiction.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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Guardian Angel

We, the Rogues of course, have been excerpting pieces of stories from our book Writing is Easy. For those fiction readers out there, here’s a sampling of Guardian Angel, by Michael Ray King

Guardian Angel

When the time comes, pull the cord.

Freefall exhilarates.  Frightens.  Freefall delivers beauty and danger.  Jake licked his lips.  Skydiving dominated his heart like a medieval lord jealous for his lover.  Jake strangled the parachute cord in his right hand.

A roaring sea-rush of air surrounded him.  He plummeted, a vertical freight train, headed for mother Terra in an unplanned and certainly unorthodox flight.  A city dotted with rooftops and church steeples approached at an alarming pace.  Wouldn’t it be a hoot to be impaled by one of those suckers? he thought as he admired the heaven-pointed church-fingers.

Lights popped on like kernels of corn at critical mass as dusk handed off its remaining diffuse light to the night.  Faint smells wafted up from a thousand houses – apple pies, wood fires and lover’s scents mingled as one.  He flattened out, the resistance of air acting as invisible hands on his shoulders, abdomen, legs and feet, lifting him from the earth.  He glided and soared, his nose dividing air to his cheeks so that it flowed past his ears and roared its approval.  The knowledge that eagles feared him wrenched a maniacal laugh from his soul.

He ripped at the cord and the chute yanked him heavenward.  The world slowed down to a single moment in time – his descent, the movement of the early evening moon and his mind.  Nothing to do now but float back into oblivion and obscurity.  Unless he could maneuver over the lake and drown . . .

Everyone called Jake a junkie, but he had a secret that none of them could imagine – he could fly.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 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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Writing Under the Influence (of sleep deprivation)

There are times as a writer where you simply run out of brain gas. This fuel wells up from some unknown source, sometimes labeled ‘the Muse’. I find it amazing how much writing accomplishment can come from a simple splash of inspiration. Writers own the ability to extend their creation over weeks, months and years.

There are times, however, that rob a writer of his or her fuel and leave the poor sot a blubbering, bubble-headed mess. I just experienced such a writing moment. In the midst of writing an article for an online mag, I nodded off to sleep and woke up to absolute gibberish on my computer screen.

Not good for a writer on a deadline. So what do you think I do? Yes, I immediately run to WordPress and key this post. Am I a glutton for ridicule? I just screwed up and article in a royal manner and I rush pall mall into more writing?

Dedication. What can I say. I’m a Rogue and that is special. Rogues Gallery Writers know no defeat, only opportunity. I chose to look on these moments of waning lucidness as a challenge. Can I rejuvenate myself to create a much-needed blog post? Can I pull myself up and make something out of a mind containing nothing?

Only the readership knows for sure. If this post is not disjointed beyond all sense, take the time to comment and let me know my insanities have not progressed so far as to take reality completely out of my picture of life. In the meantime, keep writing…

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in The Rogues Gallery Writers

 

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Stories, Novels and Traffic

What have you done for me lately? Questions from your blog always seem to begin here. Attention must be drawn to your page or it shall wither and die like a spring flower in the midst of a major drought. Keywords must trip the tumblers of search engine mechanics which are driven by the tumblers in people’s minds.

Whatever the masses wish to read will direct their ‘search words’ to the engines that make or break your blog. In this world of pre-gratification (my idea that we are no longer instant gratification but have moved to a purchase mentality of buying what we think will gratify us in the near future), a fresh blog is like miracle grow. Your traffic will follow as long as you write on a subject in which others are interested.

Award winning stories, novels and poetry appear to be words that snag a percentage of the surfing public, thank goodness. My intent in this blog is partly to remind those of us who write that our blogs live and die by our attention or neglect. Far too many of our blogs languish under the strain of stale, out-dated postings that have long since run their course.

Remaining in the limelight, no matter how pale, requires effort. Hence I write another post for the Rogues Gallery Writers. Yes, we have a couple books out. Writing is Easy and More Writing is Easy. Both are excellent books. I don’t write this because I had a hand in them, I state the truth. The stories in these two books are more than worth the price paid, plus, the money a sale generates helps keep us on track to write more literature.

The Rogues also have individual books like Motherhood is Easy: as long as you have nothing else to do for the next 50 years by Rebekah Hunter Scott, Flight From Fear by Jeff Swesky, Crime Scene 3: New Jersey which contains writing by Nancy Quatrano and Fatherhood 101: Bonding Tips for Building Loving Relationships by Michael Ray King. Promoting these books becomes a must for each of the Rogues since book sales generate income which allows us to continue writing.

The next time you are in the market for some good reading, please consider the Rogues. I know this is shameless promotion, but good writing should see the light of day or the book light of night. We labor over our writing in the hopes that someday this effort will reach eager eyes and fertile imaginations – kindred spirits if you will – and inspire others to take up the craft of writing.

Every writer or group of writers need traffic. Spread the word – you want good writing? Check out the Rogues Gallery Writers!

 

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