Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I'm on Youtube!

Well, the worst nightmare of my daughters has come to pass-- I'm on Youtube!

My 2-minute interview from the recent Author's Expo!


July's been a bear of a month, and was so busy, didn't get much writing done. Did plot out a couple of new stories, and set a schedule for getting other things done, but didn't get enough words on paper.

August will be different. I'm going to get at least 31,000 words done, average at least 1000 words a day. Not an easy task with a day job, family, and other committments, but I am driven, and have some goals that need to be met.

It's work. Hard brain sweat. Not digging ditches, but work nonetheless.

Did you see the opening of the Olympics, and the pageant about the workers? Ironic, considering the overwhelming corporate overseeing of everything to do with the games.

And how about that celebration of National Health Care? What an idea-- having a country where people can get seen by doctors without going broke. If only our government would embrace that concept. But they won't-- as long as they have guaranteed health care, paid for by the very people they deny it to. I say they should only get what everyone gets-- that would turn them around fast.

But we have a country where a minimum-wage worker at 40 hours a week cannot afford a 2-bedroom unit rental. In Washington, DC, you'd have to work 140 hours a week. And 2007 was the last time the rich lawmakers in DC raised the minimum wage.

The only jobs are in the cities-- where someone starting out cannot afford to live.

Here's some interesting data on the subject:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Make a Better World

There was a recent terrible tragedy, where one person perpetrated an act of absolute brutality, ending some lives and destroying others.

This senseless act of violence is so deplorable, and leaves us questioning life and the randomness of the universe.

How do we respond? One of the best ways I saw was on the blog of Chuck Wendig, who challenged his readers to post something *nice.* I'm going to quote from the site, because it matters:

"We balance out the horrors of a day like this by willfully doing good for others.

So, hug your kids, give to a charity, rescue a puppy, something, anything.

Evil can’t be undone, but good can outshine it.

So, if you feel like it, post something below in the comments that’s good and nice in this world. Don’t talk about the shooting or other bad shit. Don’t politicize anything (today is not a real good day to defend the second amendment, or talk about naughty pop culture or liberal-conservative fol-de-rol). Just post something nice. A story. Charity. Something your kid said or did. Anything at all.

This not in service of forgetting tragedy or ignoring it, but rather, to remind ourselves that people aren’t all bad and that one aberration a species does not make."

One of the posters responded to this with a personal story:
"A week ago, I was picking up odds and ends at Walmart on the way home from work. There was a family ahead of me in the checkout line that was having issues paying. The dad’s credit card was being rejected for the n-th time, so he decided to give up and started giving back the bags they had loaded into their cart. After taking a quick peek at their loot (mostly frozen dinners, rice and beans), noting that they weren’t buying any alcohol or tobacco, I offered to pay for it. It was about 60 bucks worth of stuff. Not much, but the mom teared up, making me almost tear up, and so on.
After helping get their bags back in the cart, I turn to the cashier to pay for my items. Only, the guy behind me, sporting a big, shit-eating grin, had paid for my items. At that point, the lady behind him, insisted to pay for his, and so it went in a line of about 8 people. It was a great moment of good will, and I’m glad to have kicked it off."

It's that kind of act we should remember, and celebrate.

So-- go forth and celebrate at least one human act of kindness, of connection, of just pure goodness. Evil deeds are done by the weak and stupid. It takes real strength to build something good.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Great Author's Expo

Been another busy time-- attended the Author's Expo at the Danversport Yacht Club, put together by the folks at Pear Tree Publishing. (Thanks to the volunteers, by the way)

There were writers, publishers (including both my publishers, Briona Glen and Rosstrum Publishing), bookstore representatives, and more, first networking and then meeting and greeting the public, who came to browse and buy.

There was music and entertainment, and celebrities. I met Mark Goddard, who played Major West on the old TV show Lost in Space. He seemed like a nice person, very gracious. Found out he's a local boy, having grown up in the area.

There was a table for the New England Horror Writers (NEHW), who had a fun display. I belong to this group, but I've got a bunch of books out, so I need my own table for display.

Sold some books, gave more away-- for the raffle to raise money for breast cancer, met some new folks, and had a great time.

I'd have pictures to show you, but the tool at Staples lied about what was needed to get pictures off my cellphone, so we'll need someone with some actual technical expertise.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Big Author Expo

It's just about here-- the big Author Expo at the Danversport (MA) Yacht Club- this Wed, the 18th.

Come on down for writers signing books, publishers, celebrities, and treats. The public can come anytime after 4 in the afternoon, until 9 that night. Should be a blast!

Hobnob with the rich and famous, and support regional authors!


In other news, today is the anniversary of the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, in 1951.


And last Saturday was the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie, America's troubador of the people. His guitar had a saying on it-- "This machine kills fascists."
We miss you, Woody, and your words about a better world for the workers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Business Decisions

Over on the Do Some Damage website, Steve Weddle hosts a post mentioning a complete ass-clown who berates writer Terry Goodkind for publishing something (gasp) not with his original publisher!

"Where's the loyalty?" This dipstick moans. Apparently, once anyone publishes you, you're supposed to be their slave. Forever.

Wow. How many ways of wrong are possible? This reaches new levels.

Gee, are we never supposed to leave our first job? Not according to this twisted crackhead logic.

Sorry for the harsh tone, but man, there's a lot of stupid out there...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Revolution, Not a Civil War

The new revolution in publishing is a wonderful thing for writers and readers, allowing good work to get out, and allowing writers, for the first time, to choose how they want to run their career as a business.

It is not a civil war, but many have taken sides-- for either strictly independent (indie) publishing or strictly tradtional publishing. The rhetoric is heated, the vitriol splashing around in insult-laden invective.

Gee whiz, folks, it just means we have more choices. It's not a religion, but some act as if it was just that. They insult people who choose the path different from theirs.

For the record, I've got friends who have published traditionally and done very well with it.
But I've been on the receiving end of abuse from online posters who said that traditional publishing is the only way to go, and that my choice of the indie path is foolish. So I pass along horror stories of traditional publishing gone wrong, to prove otherwise.

Here's an exceptionally good one, which shows one publishing company (one of the supposed best) who doesn't have a clue about business, and who wouldn't listen to the writer who had a marketing plan and knew how to make the book sell.
--"How I got a big advance from a big publisher and self-published anyway"

The fact that these people stay in business despite having no idea what it's about is a testament to readers, who buy books no matter how poorly they're launched or marketed. This is what the indie world is about-- getting the writing published, and letting the readers decide if it's worthwhile or not. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme (like a recent media article thought), it's putting something out so it has the chance to find an audience.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Debut Novel, In Polyester Pajamas, by Cathy Dougherty

Today we meet Cathy Dougherty, whose debut novel, In Polyester Pajamas, just came out in print. Or, if you prefer the e-book version.

We know this is the most exciting time, having your first novel out for sale. So we asked Cathy a few questions about her work.

Q.- So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin of In Polyester Pajamas.

Cathy- In Polyester Pajamas started with one idea—two middle-aged women, opposites in every way, who couldn’t avoid each other. Having been involved in real estate for many years and knowing the trade, I decided they would be realtors. It took a life of its own from there.

Q.- Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

Cathy- It started with one idea and there were no structured outlines. But, many times when I was at a standstill in the story, I’d go through a particular scene over and over again in my head until I caught a glimpse of what would happen next. I’d then write it down on any scrap of paper I could find, not wanting to forget it. As soon as I could, I’d get back to the computer to add it to the novel manuscript and it would pick up from there—the writing block would be gone. Often I’d be surprised by what was revealed to me through those brainstorm sessions.

Q.- What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

Cathy- Believe it or not, I’m still to this day discovering more and more about the main theme(s) of in Polyester Pajamas. What I’ve realized so far is it’s about taking down walls we tend to build up around us in life to protect us. It’s also about being brave enough to become vulnerable again and having faith enough to carry on. Sounds like a hard thing to do, taking down those walls, but it’s necessary for all of us in order to be happy and free. Oh, it’s also about loss, friendship, family, and love—very important stuff!

Q.- Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

Cathy- It all boils down to living life to its fullest before it’s too late and not letting the bad things bring one down. It’s about accepting change and making the best of it. And, of course, it’s about the importance of having a best friend at any age and moving forward in faith to wherever life is leading. Everything happens for a reason, I always say. But I don’t want it to sound like this book is a heavy read, it isn’t. It’s a fast read and is very entertaining.

Q.- What makes a good book or engaging story?

Cathy- It takes guts. Strange answer, I know, but the author has to be willing to go beyond just writing a well-structured story, with carefully polished words, and be brave (“ballsy”) enough to expose their unique self through their characters. I call this “the magical stuff between the lines.” If it’s not there, no matter how well written the book is, it’s missing what’s going to make it stand out and stay with the reader for a long time to come. It’s a scary thing for an author to do, especially the first time, but that’s what it takes.

Q.- Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

Cathy- I’m influenced by ordinary people most of all. In fact, ordinary isn’t the right word, everyone is extraordinary and unique in their own way. I’m always observing people and am constantly blessed by just watching them and seeing how they react in any given situation. Women around my age (middle-age) are especially amazing and that’s why I enjoy writing about them.

We are all so dynamic and yet, in many ways the same. Ordinary life is fascinating when you really look at it and open up to it.

As far as artists influencing me, there are many—too many to list. I especially like authors that have quirky characters. Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors and all of her characters are quirky. I just love her books.

Q.- Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

Cathy- For me, storytelling can be entertaining only and I can enjoy it on that level, but anything I particularly like to read, and all I write, has to have some inspirational or revealing message within it.

Q.- Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

Cathy- I’m working on the sequel to in Polyester Pajamas and hope to have it finished and in my publisher’s hands within the next couple of months.

Also, I’m concentrating on a good marketing plan to get my name known and my book(s) read.

Long-term plans are to continue writing novels for years to come. There are at least 4 more floating around in my head right now. With any luck, they’ll all be published.

Q.- Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

Cathy- I tend to write fast once I get started, but I go over it again and again after the first draft. I would still be revising if I didn’t know already to listen to that voice within me. When it says to me “Stop, you’re done,” I do just that and let the editor(s) take it from there. Any further revisions are at their suggestions.

Q.- When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

Cathy- I’m never tired of it and I’m never completely happy with it. Happy enough, I would say, and I know once the editing process is done, it will be a really good book readers will enjoy and remember. That’s what’s most important to me.

Q.- Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things?

Cathy- This is my first novel so I’ve worked with two editors so far at Briona Glen Publishing.

Lisa Christopher went through the entire novel and fully reviewed the story. Her comments and suggestions were very helpful and, as a result, I created a new first chapter, added more details in places, and merged a few scenes together. The process was stressful and took a lot of time and effort, but it became a much better story when I was finished.

Allison Rainville did the line editing, and also offered helpful suggestions making the story even better.

I couldn’t be what it is today without both of their comments and suggestions. I feel very fortunate to have worked with them and hope to again soon.

Q.- Do you have different people for different editing levels?

Cathy- Yes, as I mentioned, one for the content of the story and one that concentrated primarily on the line edits.

Q.- If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

Cathy- Well, first of all, I would tell them to take any unnecessary“that” words out of their story. Believe it or not, I didn’t know about “that”when I was writing my first novel and thanks to great advice from another Briona Glen author, I was able to go through the manuscript once more and omit some before publication. It made a difference! I’m so glad she wasn’t afraid to give me “that” advice.

As for other advice, I’ll share what I wrote in the acknowledgement of in Polyester Pajamas:

“It’s an amazing thing to have a life-long dream come true, so I acknowledge all writers who also share the dream of being published someday. You’ll discover along the way that it takes many hours of writing and, even when the first draft is done, it is nowhere near finished. But if you really believe it can happen, it can.”

Q.- Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.?

In Polyester Pajamas would make an awesome film or series. I hope someone in the film industry comes across it and realizes that. It would be highly entertaining. The quirky characters are easy to fall in love with and women would especially love it! Anyone know of someone in the business?

Q.- How would that alter the telling?

Cathy- I don’t think it would change it much. The story is written in a way that you could envision it as a series or film right from the start. Many readers have already told me so.

Q.- What's the next step in your writing world?

Cathy- As I’ve mentioned, I am currently finishing up the manuscript for my next novel. It’s titled Woolen Bikinis and is a sequel to in Polyester Pajamas. It’s almost done and I’m very excited about it.

Plans are to publish at least a novel a year. Otherwise, I enjoy volunteering as editor/writer of a newsletter for The Greater Lakes Region Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and hope to continue with that. It’s a very worthy cause.

Q.- Any other information you'd like to impart?

Cathy- Yes, I’d like to thank you, Dale, for this interview and for all of the help and advice you have given me these past few months. I’ve loved reading both of your books published by Briona Glen Publishing—A Memory of Grief and A Fall from Grace. I look forward to reading the next in the series when it is released.

Readers, please be sure to visit my blog/website at http://catherinedougherty.comto find out more about me. And check out my debut novel in Polyester Pajamas. It has just been released by Briona Glen Publishing and is available online at Amazon and Smashwords.com. Within the next few weeks, it will also be available in bookstores and other online sites.

I’d also like to mention to your audience that we both will be participating in the New England Author Expo on July 18th at the Danversport Yacht Club in Danversport, MA. Find out more about it at: http://peartreepublishing.net/events/2012authorsexpo.php

If anyone is in the area, please stop by and say hello. Admittance is free to the public. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Meeting the Public, Part II

Happy 4th of July!

So- we put up the table to sell and sign books last night at the Chelmsford Country Fair Celebration, part of the 4th of July events. Lot of work from my understanding family, who helped set up and break down.

I'm declaring victory! We didn't sell hundreds of books, but we did break even (after fees to put up a table)-- and that's not counting the many people who are going to find my books as e-books.

Kindle and Nook were the big requests, and I'd hand them a pamphlet with all the info.
New readers are a good thing.

Tough gig, not for the faint of heart, but worthwhile. Shame we couldn't get back out today, but books don't do well in the rain. Cleared up later, but we don't get special dispensation.

Sold a lot of my story collection Halls of Horror-- do you think it had anything to do with the fact of a graveyard behind us?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Meeting the Public

Well, today I embark on a new venture-- instead of waiting for people to wander into a bookstore and try to sell them books, I'm bringing the bookstore to them.

I'll putting up a table at the big Chelmsford 4th of July celebration, and will be hawking my wares to passersby.

Don't know what to expect, whether it will be worth it or not, but I'm willing to try something new-- this is the new age of publishing, and trying new things gives a writer better odds of success.

Part of doing your own publicity is getting the word out that you have books people can buy and read. Many writers hate this part, meeting the public and asking them to fork over some hard-earned cash.

Sure, we'd rather be writing. In fact, I started a new story this morning, got over 1000 words on it, and the end in sight. Would love to finish it and send it off-- but have to prepare for the Big Event. There is so much preparation involved.

It's the Kobayashi Maru scenario-- writing time versus time spent promoting and selling. Never enough time for either.

Trouble on the horizon-- the most recent weather update calls for probable rain tomorrow. What chance do paper books have in the rain? So we may not be able to get out at all.
The Weather Gods sure don't like my writing ventures. Last January, we had a bad snowstorm on the day of my book signing to launch A Fall From Grace. Killed the traffic for that, and now we miss the crowds for the actual 4th of July.
But no matter the obstacle, I keep plugging away. Where's this overnight success I keep hearing about?


And for all you writers-- here's a must-read book: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King.