The New Publishing World Can Still Be Had

Writers, I should issue a caveat emptor along with this link (below) but suffice it to say that there are still (creative) ways to get the public’s attention. So keep working, keep writing, keep creative, and maybe it’ll happen for you.

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USA Today

 

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

It’s a Guy Thing

I came across the blog post linked below this morning about Hemingway: the writer I’d probably hate being around, but whose work continues to enthrall me. The post lists a few of his many “accidents,” something I can identify with.

Hemingway

When we’re beyond trying to impress women with our physical exploits, when we’re no longer trying to prove the best among men, we still feel the urge to push the limits of our physical vehicles: can our reflexes allow us to cut in between the semi and SUV in the next lane? Can we lift that twelve foot piece of sheetrock alone? Can we hike a steep mountain trail in record time, without a fall or a twisted ankle?

For me it’s been housebuilding, mostly – hauling tons of rock to the swale behind the house to prevent erosion. Hauling more stones to build a patio and a fire pit. And, ahem, the aforementioned sheetrock – among other physical challenges. It’s caused me enough scars for the missus to call me Frankenstein Junior: a shoulder surgery, two arthroscopic knee surgeries, hand surgery,  an abdominal surgery, and most recently, a knee replacement.

Would I have done things differently? Probably not, although I have rued the need for these surgeries.

Women will read this post and say, “This guy’s nuts.” Okay, I willingly admit. So was Hemingway. So are many, many men. Our insanity is of a sort, much different than that of women, and I can’t ask that women understand. But if you can tolerate, maybe we can make a little progress in bridging that awkward-to-negotiate, tempestuous phenomenon we’ve come to call the gender divide.

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Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

The Complications of Terrorism

Season of Terror – The Espinosas in Central Colorado, March-October 1863, by Charles F. Price

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I came across this book while doing a book appearance of my own at a local indie bookstore, and it kept my attention long enough for me to buy it. It’s not the sort of semi-academic book I’d normally buy for casual reading, but I have a future writing project in mind set in that time and territory, so I thought it’d be edifying. It is. More so than I had expected.

The story:

Three Hispano relatives, brothers Felipe and Vivian Espinosa, and a younger nephew, Jose, took it upon themselves to randomly assault whites in the newly formed Colorado territory, and in the process killed, by their accounting, some thirty whites. The reason for the assaults? The Espinosas were angered at the suddenly imposed white rule, the heavy-handed treatment of Hispanos at the hands of whites, and so they set out to do all they could to run the whites out of south-central Colorado. The end result of their efforts was akin to modern terrorism; news of the killings quickly spread and was magnified by newspapers, setting the white settlers on edge. On edge enough for them to haul in some hapless white rustler and hang him for the shootings. But soon the killers are identified, and the U.S. Army joins the hunt, eventually resulting in the grisly deaths of all three Espinosas.

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Author Price spins this true story in scattershot form, allowing us to experience the initial frustrations as the killings mount, the early, fumbling attempts to find the killers, the acrimony and competition between the various Army players in the hunt, and finally the enlistment of a mountain man, Tom Tobin, a friend of Kit Carson, to track down the Espinosas.

Price’s tale is more than detailed, at times a bit tedious, but it’s all there for a purpose, complete with voluminous references and photos.

Season of Terror is a little known tale of the early years of westward expansion, of how the whites trampled on both Native American and Hispano cultures, and isn’t unlike modern incidents of terrorism, in which causes and effects are so interlinked it’s hard to assign complete villainy to any one party. To complicate things further, the Espinosas, were apparently somewhat mentally deranged, were also members of the Penitente sect, which may have played a part in their radicalization.

 

My rating: 17 of 20 stars

 

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

 

The Artist and the Work

GF Readers, I’m finally back, my eight-day absence caused by a total knee replacement, and I’m more or less in the pink once more. Thanks for hanging in there with me and GF.

 

The Writer’s Chronicle, December 2013

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Writers, how much have you thought about your personal relationship to your creative work, completed or not?

Well, you say, I have ideas, I develop them, edit them, and either publish them or stick ‘em in a drawer for a rainy day.

That’s not quite the answer I’m looking for. How do you relate to the voice of what you write? Is it the same as your everyday talking voice? Did your article or story end up exactly as you planned it, or did it take on a new mood or slant on the subject matter once it was in progress?

Hopefully these questions will stick with you long enough to get to the news stand and buy this issue of Writer’s Chronicle. Julie Wittes Schlack talks about this sort of connection, between mindfulness and the memoir. Sometimes you get caught up in creative whirlpools within when approaching your subject matter, says poet Stephen Dunn, and you either swim for shore or you fight it out, perhaps become that whirlpool, leaving some of your best work in your wake. And then there’s the near-perpetual concern about connecting activism and art, says Natasha Saje. But, she says, what writer pays attention to activism when they’re deep into character, voice and mood? (I’m paraphrasing here.)

These considerations concerning connecting self to creative output may be a bit out of reach for writers struggling to develop a style and voice within a particular genre, but not to worry: as you refine your writing’s technical aspects, the ways in which self and output differ and connect will slowly emerge.

 

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

 

 

Of Lists and Being Seduced by Technology

The Atlantic, November 2013

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There are many ways to reconsider a year that’s nearly at its end, and The Atlantic makes a unique stab at it this month by using this the Technology Issue to consider the 50 greatest inventions since the wheel. It might be fun to make your own list and compare, but here are a couple of hints: the Internet isn’t #1 and neither is the personal computer. So scratch your head with this poser and have fun.

Bookending this listing is Nicole Allan’s “The Inventors.” The interesting thing here is not various simple widgets invented, or even the more complex ones, such as the airplane or the PC. Instead we find in this list corporate twists to invention, such as Amazon.com and Minecraft.

Since the Internet version of this mag is drifting toward Power Point type displays, Joe Pinsker’s “Die Another Day” chart only follows. In it we discover that over the past century and a half, U.S. life expectancy has almost doubled. How? Take a look at the diseases prominent in each decade.

There’s also an apocalyptic article by Nicholas Carr, “The Great Forgetting,” which reminds us of how dependent we’re becoming on our various technologies.

With the emphasis here on technology, the editors seemed to find it necessary to do some serious grounding and give us Robert Wright’s article, “Why We Fight – and Can We Stop?” In this article, easily the issue’s most provocative, we come to understand that human emotions are eclipsing reason to a greater degree than since the Enlightenment, with a consequent assemblage of neo-tribes based in their members’ emotional components to underscore the point.

This issue gives us yet one more reason to believe that The Atlantic will be around for quite a while yet.

 

Visit my website here, and my FB Fan Page here for more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you. I’ll soon be adding podcasts of selected book reviews to my website, as well as an opportunity to buy mp3 files of my reading of Sam’s Place – Stories, so look for those.

P&W’s Slant on Self-Publishing

Poets & Writers, November/December 2013

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Being a writer caught between the traditional and the self-pub worlds, I’m always drawn to the what-ifs of self publishing articles and advice columns. P&W seems to be aware of this changing reality, given that an annual issue appears on that subject, so I dug in to this issue – with gusto.

If you’ve done the same for the past couple of years, you’ll find this issue disappointing in that regard. But if you’re just now thinking of diving into those waters you’ll find much to inform and reassure you. Publicity is where most of us bump our heads, whether published traditionally or solo, and Michelle Blankenship, in her column, “The Heartbeat of Publicity,” gives us both the somewhat gloomy reality of publicizing one’s self and works and some pragmatic advice on the best ways to go about publicity.

Reviews are another must for all writers, and Melissa Faliveno dishes on paying for reviews as well as gaining them for free.

Otherwise, Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame, gives us her story on grabbing the literary brass ring.

P&W promises and almost always delivers on items to inspire, inform, and reassure, and this issue falls right in the fat part of that bell curve.

 

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

A Good Magazine Article Is Hard to Find

Harper’s Magazine, November 2013

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I remember many years ago, when I was just learning to play guitar, I subscribed to a magazine called Guitar Player, and did I ever learn a lot about the nuances from its articles! I cut out tons of charts, musical pieces, and “how-tos. Most of which I still have and occasionally refer back to.  Then a curious thing began to happen. The articles began to repeat – not literally, but different authors would write articles – covering the same player challenges and issues. After a few years of that, I quit subscribing.

I hope that’s not happening with Harper’s, but it certainly seems so. When you manage a magazine specializing in progressive social and political attitudes, it seems fair that you’re eventually going to repeat yourself.

Take Thomas Frank’s essay on payment for fast food workers. Is there anyone who doesn’t know, or at least think about this issue? And in similar fashion, Jeff Madrick wonders about the future of progressivism in a backwards, ultra conservative age. There is another on vets’ coping with return to society, with pointillist artwork, yet.

Nathaniel Rich, in “The Man Who Saves You From Yourself,” pretends to uncover the seaminess of cults, some of which aren’t, and the uncovering only reveals the easiest to catch, those probably not fooling potential cult followers, either. Ken Silverstein’s “Dirty South – The Foul Legacy of Louisiana Oil” enthralls, but again this story is as old as Huey Long’s under-the-table, so-called populism.

There’s art, and the subject is armpits, asses, hairy chests and legs, hitting a deer on a highway, and A Joyce Carol Oates story, “Lovely, Dark, Deep,” the title telling you most of what you’ll get from this most capable writer’s imagination.

Being an editor of such a periodical has to be as difficult as being a major league baseball manager, or any elective office. I won’t drop my subscription (yet), but I will complain, just a little.

 

Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.