by Todd

Q&A in two flavors.

February 27, 2009 in Blog by Todd

You’ve got two flavors:

The deviantart flavor, which looks and probably tastes like the gunk Linda Blair spews out of her mouth in The Exorcist.

Then there’s the blottingpaper flavor, which looks a lot nicer and better composed than that ugly green crap.

Either way you get to read my responses to some interesting questions and see just how ridiculously long-winded I can really be.

TK

by Todd

A new review.

February 26, 2009 in Blog by Todd

Aditi Machado, an editor for the poetry journal Mimesis and literature gallery director for deviantart, wrote an awesome review of ALT.

You can check it out here.

I’ll concede with her assessment that some of the characters come up a bit flat.  I noticed that myself after returning to the book over 2 years later and it’s something I’m correcting in the follow-up book.  I won’t, however, apologize for what she calls “cutesy names.”  Despite these criticisms I think the review is a very positive one, and I can’t thank her enough.

A Q&A was also conducted, and I believe it will appear sometime tomorrow.  I’ll update once it’s live.

TK

by Todd

Okay, seriously -

February 22, 2009 in Blog by Todd

This site downtime bullshit is getting old.

We’re looking into a new host and deciding whether or not it’s worth waiting another two months before the service ends before we switch, or if we should just cut our losses and migrate everything now.  I’ve a feeling one more site outage will make that decision for us.

Whatever you do, don’t employ the services of IX Web Hosting.  It’s not worth it – not when there are higher rated, less expensive services out there.  Don’t make the mistake I did.

Okay.   I’m done bitching.

Oh, and the first chapter is done.

TK

by Todd

A long overdue kick in the ass.

February 19, 2009 in Blog by Todd

I started writing this around 9:30 this morning but things crept up that prevented me from finishing it.  For starters, if you tried to access the site any time today, you would’ve seen one of several possible screens, ranging from coded gibberish to an html error to a maintenance page saying we’d be back shortly.  We can all thank my lovely web host, IX Web Hosting, for the ineptitude.

But that’s okay.  We’re back now.

I’ve had this blog post rolling inside my head for a few days now.  It surfaced during my reading of a book I received as a gift last month.  It’s called How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead.  It’s a no-frills, no bullshit, well-written book that taps into something most how-to-write-and-be-successful books fail to mention:  a necessary desire to do it yourself.  It doesn’t frown upon self-publishing.  It doesn’t say you need a degree.  It doesn’t say you need an MFA or a journalism degree or anything of that nature.  It encourages you to do the leg work to promote yourself, to get out there and resort to wearing a gorilla mask and pink tutu if that’s what it takes to get people to notice.  It is, in a nutshell, a book on how to promote yourself whether you’ve got a six-figure advance or a stack of self-published magazines held together with glue, tape and staples.  And Ariel Gore, the author, she does an excellent fucking job.

Whenever folks asked me to recommend a book “about writing,” I used to point them in the direction of Stephen King’s On Writing because it’s a valuable resource.  I give King a lot of shit, but that’s only because he breaks so many of his own rules he sets forth in this book.  Regardless of his latest work, it’s a great book that’ll teach you what determination can yield.  It’s worth more for his memoir than his suggested work ethic, but as a whole it’ll still teach you something about writing.

You seriously need to read this.

Now I’ve got a new book to recommend.  One that’s better than King’s and one that’ll show you how to do it.  Ariel Gore isn’t making millions.  She’s a single mom who struggles to pay her rent and utilities.   She is her own publicist.  This is the way it should be done.  This is what a million “how to” books written on the subject fail to really talk about.  I can’t gush about this one enough.  If you have any desire to turn your writing into a career, read this book.  It’s something I wish I’d had ten years ago when I first decided I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

(On a side note – Jesus, has it really been 10 years?)

One of the many things I love about this book is how it approaches the taboo subject of self-publishing.  Most folks in the “traditional” industry will tell you not to do it, that it’s a dead end. that you won’t get anywhere.  And about six months ago, I even said I wish I’d never done it.  I said I wished I’d given ALT a chance with an agent with the hope that I could become a part of the traditional printing machine.

Today I’m retracting that wish.  I’m glad I self-published.  “But Todd,” you say, “didn’t you just submit your book to a publisher?”  That’s right.  I did.  I don’t regret it either.  If an agent or publisher called me up tomorrow and offered me a contract, I’d probably take the opportunity.  I won’t lie – if you can get an agent, more power to you.  It’ll save you a lot of work.  At the same time, however, I think self-publishing should be necessary.  It should be a natural part of a writer’s progression.  I’ve learned more about the industry and the way it works than I think I ever would have if an agent, an editor, a publisher, or a publicist did this shit for me.  I’ve done the research myself, I’ve kept up with the trends and the industry.  I’ve become my own agent, editor, publisher and publicist, and I’m stronger for it.  I used to have a friend several years ago who, after almost a decade of rejection, finally scored an agent.  Our friendship fell apart not long after I first had the idea for ALT.  She warned me not to do this, not to self-publish because it’s “not the thing to do.” After things went South and we stopped talking, I thought a lot about that conversation we’d had about ALT’s future.  All those years she’d spent sending out those queries, facing rejection after rejection, losing hope, giving up, working on the next book, trying again and again and again.  And then, finally, after she’d suffered enough beatings, they let her through the door.  A publisher bought her book and, if I’m not mistaken, it should be hitting shelves very soon.  If she reads this, well, I wish her the absolute best and I’m very happy for her.  She deserves that.

I took a long, hard look at the years she struggled with that book.  Could I do this?  Could I sit back and wait for a faceless person in some office in New York to read my letter and maybe decide it sounds like something they could sell?  I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  I do know that, when I majored in English, I decided that I’d be happy paying my dues working a day job until the break finally came.  I knew that, going into this, I wouldn’t stand to make a fortune.  Most folks do.  I didn’t.  It’s no secret I initially self-published ALT to raise money for my wedding.  I ended up having to use that money to pay my bills.  Time went by and I got married anyway.  Over that course of time I grew up, I wised up, and I realized that exposure was worth more to me at this point in my career than money.  I’m making an investment for the future.  This is why I gave the book away for free.  By registering myself as the book’s publisher, by putting it out there in stores available to anyone who wants it, whether they prefer to buy online or in person at a brick ‘n mortar store, I’ve increased the book’s exposure 100 fold.  I did it without the help of an agent.  I did it without the backing of a major publisher.  The great thing about these times we’re living in is that I can write something tonight, edit it tomorrow, put it online shortly afterward and have it for sale by the weekend.  There’s no middleman.  And this is why I’m glad I self-published – because I don’t have to go through someone else to get to you.  It’s just you and I and the writing that connects us.  More power to my friend for struggling all those years before finally achieving her goal.  I respect that.  Personally, I wanted a more direct route.  I found it and took it.

I realized that I wrote a book with a damn good message about taking control of your life and going after whatever it is that you want – and yet I failed to live that message myself.  So when the book came out, my support was lacking.  It was mostly fear and doubt.  “No one’s going to care anyway,” I thought, and I believed that until last month when I saw the download stats.  It blew my mind.  Now, leading up to the next book, which will be about that fear and doubt, I’ve decided to make another go at it and do it right this time.

I’ve got things brewing right now.  I won’t say what they are until they’re set in stone, when I can give you solid dates, but if they do happen it will be rather exciting.

You can all thank Ariel Gore for the kick in the ass I so rightfully needed.

And, in the meantime, you folks can go read her book.

TK

by Todd

The white lummox.

February 10, 2009 in Blog by Todd

The Yawning by Joshua Walters

“It swaggered into view from the curve of the tunnel. Its white outline was a stark contrast to the darkened gray walls of the interior. The way it held itself when it moved gave it the appearance of a ghost, but they knew better. They’d seen what it could do to a person; what it would do to them if they didn’t keep their distance. It was an impossible thing—gaunt, its body sheet-white with arms that dragged the ground, a slender head that held two nondescript dots for eyes and a slim line of a mouth. The white lummox walked along the tracks nearly fifty yards from where they stood. It watched them. Alice didn’t know how they worked, whether they were empty inside and nothing more than pale, animated rag dolls, or if they had substance underneath that rubbery flesh. It was something she didn’t care to find out.

. . . can you tell I’m having fun?

TK

by Todd

The Liminal Man

February 3, 2009 in Blog by Todd

“There are lines that separate reality. They govern perception and divide the colors from the grays. Most people are ignorant of these great divides—accepting and unwilling to focus their eyes on the negative spaces that exist between these lines. Some fall prey to these negative spaces, trapped in great monochromatic webs, devoid of any life or substance, victims of their own mediocrity.

Some avoid this fate. Some approach the inevitable threshold, grasp the presented epiphany of their condition and choose to progress forward rather than remain and stagnate in despair. These cautious souls revel in their wisdom for they know their choices have freed them from the bonds of the monochromatic void, and they do not look back to gaze upon those caught in the gray mire. These souls embody a life random, and move forward to live extraordinary lives.

There is, however, one exception: Suppose a man approaches the threshold, entranced by the rapture he sees beyond but also too hesitant to move forward. He wants to move, but something holds him back. And so he remains there upon the threshold, a slave to his own doubts, for what holds a man back but himself? The tragedy of the liminal man is that he has fallen victim to his own mind. He has come all this way, besting the greatest dangers that lurk in that monochromatic realm, only to falter at the last step.

What hope, then, is there for him? What hope could this man, who has accomplished so much only to be beaten by his own mind, possibly find in this barren place at the line which divides reality?

We see him there, standing with feet planted on either side, not moving but altogether not standing still, his eyes wide with fear, doubt, and wonder. What must he be thinking in this empty Golgotha? He stands with his hands at his sides, watching, waiting for the right moment, and suddenly he begins to smile. The light of realization falls upon his face, and for a brief moment he has become more powerful than either life dichotomy. Here he has the limitless stretched before him, the power of spectrum and monochrome at his fingers, and it is in this epiphany that he chooses to use this power to overcome.

A life transparent lives in fear of waking on the other side, a permanent fixture in one reality or the other. A life random finds a way to avoid this transition, sacrificing mediocrity for uncertainty. The liminal man, if only for a single, impossible moment of his life, chooses to embrace both.”

Excerpt from A Life Ordinary: A Comprehensive Study in Human Mediocrity by Dr. Albert Sparrow

by Todd

Kiss it on the face and send it to God.

February 1, 2009 in Blog by Todd

Real quick –

I just submitted A Life Transparent to the Two Dollar Radio Movement.  They’re a small, author-focused publisher whose mission is to bring the art and literature back to publishing.  They’re not about numbers and sales.  Best of all, they’re not backwards enough to reject self-published material based on the fact that it’s self-published.

So cross your fingers or say a prayer.  I always get jittery when I submit something.  I hesitated over clicking “send” for about ten minutes before I finally pinched myself and said “Just do it already.”

Now I’m going to shower and wash off the stench of failure that’s preemptively overtaken me.

Tomorrow I start the next book.  Ready, set, go.

TK