Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Poem I Just Wrote and Felt Obligated to Share


In their minds,
they are all kings
and queens, holding
their heads up high,
the internet
the front for
their bravery.
electronic sabers,
using words as
private armies
to dispatch with
their enemies—
people whose views
are inconsistent
with their own—
they don’t hold back,
they slash, slash, slash,
spewing hate and bigotry,
posting comments
on articles, in forums—
anywhere they can
ejaculate their ideologies
and impregnate others
with their disease.

But these mongrels
are cowards
hiding behind ones
and zeros, unable
to articulate intelligence,
to agree to disagree,
barking just to hear
make a sound.
They are incapable
of an interchange.

Freedom of speech
isn’t intended for
ignorance is an
side effect.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Out in the Garage Promotional Offer on Smashwords

Do you have an e-reader?  If so, you might want to pay attention: I am running an ongoing promotion with Smashwords.  For a limited time, you will be able to get the e-book version of Out in the Garage for FREE!  That's a $3.99 value at no cost.  If you are interested, go to my Smashwords page, click on the yellow buy button on the right, and in "coupon code" box enter EK75C.

This is to celebrate the long-coming release of this, my first novel.  In case you are not up to date, Out in the Garage was a nine year effort, and I chose to self-publish so I could maintain creative freedom and artistic control.  Technology has made it possible for anyone to strive to be the next Virginia Woolf, who, with her husband, started a publishing company for the same reasons.  While I have no intention of publishing anything but my own fiction, I am hoping that I can continue keeping the art of writing literature alive, in my own way.  Many other writers have self-published, and now it is easy and cost-effective.

Please support me as an artist and take advantage of this opportunity to get the e-book version of Out in the Garage for free.  Again, follow one of the links to my Smashwords page, click on the yellow buy button on the right, and in the "coupon code" box enter EK75C.

The only thing I ask of you is that if you do get the book, when you do read it, please leave me a review on Smashwords, so others can know about your experience with my work.  Also, if you enjoy my writing, and know others who would, please help me spread the word.  Every little bit helps!  Thank you!

Catching the White Whale

Yesterday my wife and I bought tattoos for each other for our birthdays.  Mine was a few months ago, but we had to move and all that at the time so we didn't have any money.  The tattoo artist, Cynnamon at Kustom Culture in Talmadge, drew her rendition of Moby Dick for me, and, I must say, she did an amazing job!  I will definitely go back to her for future projects.  :-)

Moby Dick has significance for me on a few levels: first, I am a hug fan of Melville and have read and studied most of his books; I am also writing about Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Solitude for my thesis.  Second, and probably more significantly, I have finally harpooned my white whale: I have finished this first novel, Out in the Garage, and I promised myself that if I finished it I would get a tattoo as a memento of the occasion.  I released the book for sale last week.

Anyways, my arm is still a little achy, and it's red still from the trauma of the tattooing process, but I am glad that I did it.  While I am only a DIY operation, it does mean a lot to me, and I hope that this tattoo helps me mentally switch gears and continue plowing ahead.  Before I know it, this will all be over, and I don't want to have any regrets.  As the Flea sings in the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, "Deep Kick", "But the Butthole Surfers said, 'it's better to regret something you did do, than something you didn't do.'"  I agree with both him and Gibby Haynes.  It is far better.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Amazon's Got It

The paperback version of Out in the Garage is now also on Amazon.  There will be more soon.  I will, of course, continue to keep everyone posted.

I don't know what to do with myself---actually, that's not really true, but I feel...  Lost.  It has been such a part of my everyday life for almost a decade that I feel like a part of me is missing.  Sure, it isn't perfect.  I guess that is unattainable, and I have to accept that.  I could be a better editor, and I will get better as I continue.  I think I probably, in a way, over-edited it (because I over-think it and go back and make changes, and make changes, and really all the versions have their strengths and weaknesses, but the more changes I make, the more excited I get, and then I make a mistake).

I have no plans on going back to it, though.  I am going to promote it as is, and see what happens.  Perhaps I will need to eventually go back and work out those bugs, but I don't think they detract from the good qualities that is has.  I don't know.  Part of my finding problems with it, I think, is that is has been such a part of my life that it is difficult to let it go.  I don't want to move on (maybe, subconsciously, I sabotaged it just so I would have an excuse to go back?  Psychologists, anybody?), but I know moving forward is the right thing to do.  It's just time.  It's time for me to push ahead so I can write more fiction and self-publish it (and hopefully continue growing as a writer)---although, my main goal right now is to finish school (and especially my thesis) and then after that it will be to find a full-time job.

I will at least wait until after my thesis to start any new projects---although, I have a feeling after the Malamud/O'Connor class that I am taking that I will want to do another short story collection.  We'll see what happens.  It's funny, but in a weird way it is like starting over.  I guess I am just at that point in my life, where so much is changing, or about to change.  Hopefully they are good changes.  Only time will tell...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ebook and Print versions of Out in the Garage are for sale!

Okay people, the paperback version is now out on Createspace.  It will be 5-7 days before it goes on Amazon, and all the other sites where Createspace distributes my books.

I will let you all know when I hear about Smashwords and the Premium catalog.  This time around I am going to let them distribute my ebook to all of the sites, instead of self-distributing it to the Kindle store and the Nook store.

That being said, I highly recommend purchasing from these sites.  They are safe and secure, and by doing so you will be supporting me and all the other indie authors who use these services to publish their books.

Thank you all for your support---especially all of my friends and family who have supported me in writing this and listened to me babble about it, time and time again.  I really appreciate your support.  I especially appreciate the support of my wife, who has been so supportive and understanding and has really been the one to keep pushing me to keep working on it and to think about things like the design from a different perspective.  I know I can be difficult to work with!  I love you!

This is a day I have been working towards for nine years---it is actually very surreal.  It is going to take me a while to get used to the idea that this book is actually finished, and that I can begin to move on---that I can focus on my thesis and grad school and teaching and getting this shit done!  I will also be spending time finding new, creative ways to promote this book and try to extend my reach.

Anyways, I am rambling---when is that any different, right---and I need to get to work.  Thank you all again, and please, if you do purchase it and like it, please write me a review on whatever site where you bought it or Goodreads.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


The e-book version of Out in the Garage is out for $3.99 on Smashwords in a variety of formats.  It's status for the Premium Catalog is still pending, but I hope and believe that I have formatted it properly and am meeting their standards---but we'll see.

The print edition will be out soon---I am just waiting to hear from Create Space.  As soon as they okay it for print, I will release it for sale.  It will be $7.99.

That is all for now, but I will keep you posted as things change.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chinese Democracy

Nine Years ago I set out to write a 200 page book. Of course, I had no idea about page counts or anything. I was totally clueless. It has take a lot of editing and rewriting and formatting and designing---and research! So much research! But I am finally within hours of putting out my first novel. It turned out to be 56,996 words, which is 201 pages (including the title pages and all that).

Well, like anybody else, I originally aspired to go the traditional route and try to get published by a big name and move to New York and make lots of money---but that was before I knew anything about self-publishing or had given a thought as to the possibilities of having complete creative control. 

Hopefully all of the time and work that I have put into it over the years will pay off and people will read it and like it. While it will certainly take some more work---work of a different nature, but work, just the same---to get it out there , I am moving forward, taking the next step. For that, I can be proud. We'll see what happens. I am also finally finishing college (with my master's degree). Everything is happening all at once. 

While I know I probably sounded like Axl Rose about Chinese Democracy---that album is out. That is not to say anything about the quality of said album, but he promised it and it happened. I personally feel my book turned out better than I had thought possible, and I have really learned a lot along the way---and I have so many more ideas to try out and see what happens...

First things first, time to focus on school---for just a little bit longer.  In a short while, I will be graduated and looking for a job.  But for now, for right now, I am a novelist---that is not to say a "professional" novelist, but a novelist just the same.

*Pops cork on champagne*


Out in the Garage will be available for sale ASAP.  I am running a little behind with it, but there is not too much left to do, so I am confident that you will soon be able to purchase (if you desire) the paperback or e-book versions of this, my first novel.  Don't worry folks---the wait is almost over!  

I mostly just have to review everything I have done and then make an e-book version (which doesn't take long since I have done as much pre-formatting as possible with the paperback version).  I will also be having some giveaways, the details of which will be forthcoming as I sort it all out and make some final decisions.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Final Push

I am in the middle of proofreading and it is going very well.  I am very confident in the design and the formatting.  The text itself turned out really nicely as well.  Of course there are a few small changes to make, but they are mostly small formatting errors and tweaking of the text here and there than typos.  In fact, I am finding relatively few typos, which is really good news.  

The formatting marks aren't too noticeable but I want it to look as professional as possible---even though I am only a one-person operation.  Those tweaks are mostly what I'm changing.  The typos I am finding are annoying but they aren't significant.  Basically, I feel like I am in good shape, even though I am also now balancing it with school.

Nearing the completion of this nine year project has made me nostalgic about it.  It is interesting how far I have come in the nine years since then---how I have slowly grown through my latter twenties and am getting ready to bloom in my early thirties.   

I have spent a lot of time working on this project and now is my time to make it through the final push and start getting it out to people.  It might take years, but in a few days I will have self-published two books, Out in the Garage and Tales from the Fringes.

While certainly it is not the same thing as getting published by some large corporation, I am hoping I can work those differences to my advantage instead of letting them be a disadvantage.  Of course I never really tried very hard to go it the traditional route, either.

It doesn't matter now.  I am happy with the route I have taken, and if it doesn't go as I plan, I can always try something different the next time around.  Either way, I have to get back to work---if I am going to make it to the next step.

Friday, January 10, 2014

It came!

Words Inspired by the Sound of Silver

The past few days I have really been listening to LCD Soundsystem a lot.  This came about after I watched the documentary, Shut Up and Play the Hits on Netflix.  Now I am listening to the album my interest has come to gravitate around, .

This album strikes me in a number of ways.  It is catchy, well-written dance pop with a soul.  The repetition of dance music really intrigues me---as some who uses a lot of repetition in his own music.  I wouldn't say that I listen to a lot of this type of music, or electronic music, in general, but there are a few that I am very familiar with, such as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, some Daft Punk...  I also really like New Order and DEVO.  Anyway, it the repetitiveness really puts me in a trance when I am writing and I get a lot of writing accomplished this way.

My music is more guitar driven, the more I focus on really learning the instrument and being able to play it halfway decently.  Whatever else happens in my life, I hope that I can always make music and write fiction.  As long as I can sell my product on the Internet, if I choose, when the time is right, in the manner of my choosing, I will continue to do it.  Perhaps I will make a living doing it, or, more likely, I will end up working some kind of job and continuing to do these things as a hobby.  Either way, I will be happy, because the joy that I get out of producing them is worth it.  While I may not be able to call myself a professional writer, I can always call myself an artist---since an artist continues to produce the art, no matter what.  Many of the greatest artists of all the different media are driven to do the art regardless of whether they are able to do it as a means to the end of making a living or not.  While greatest is not something I can decide myself (since it doesn't really matter as much what I think as a writer compared to what the reader thinks.  Rightfully, therefore, I will let the readers, or the lack of readers (or listeners, or lack of listeners) decide how to label me.

That's why the satisfaction of it must come from the doing of it, in the same way that life is a journey and not a destination, or however the cliché goes.  That way I have control over my happiness, or at least as much control as anyone can have over something intangible.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Distraction of Distractions: My New Set-Up

So I am not writing on top of writing (i.e. I am not writing fiction when I am supposed to be writing my thesis and burning myself out on writing), and because I do need a distraction that is distracting but not drawing from the same resource as what I am distracting myself from, this is the distraction that I am choosing while I make it through this semester and rocking out my thesis, which is my main focus now, more than ever.  I found two un-opened blank Type II cassettes so I am pulling out the old Tascam 4-track and going analog for this one.  It has enough space for about 55 minutes of recording, so I am excited.  It limits what I am doing in a way that forces me to be more creative with each part.  The results end up sounding minimalistic in a good way, and my performances turn out better (and I become a better musician) because each time has to be perfect.  It also forces me to do more pre-planning, due to the limitations.  I have already developed a cool rhythm pattern with my drum machine, and there are a lot of possibilities to explore with it.  I also have working keyboard and guitar parts.  I think my goal is to record something unique, interesting, and fun.  Ah, the possibilities...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Generating Heat

It's estimated that it's going to take nine days to get my proof.  I ordered it today so hopefully it will come early (it usually takes half that time).  I was hoping to have it by Friday.

If that's all that I have to complain about, then I must have a pretty good life.  I hope everyone is staying warm.  I was out in it earlier, and I can definitely understand what all the fuss is about.  It does seem kind of over-dramaticized by the news, but I guess they have to remind people since it has been like twenty years since the last time it was this cold.  I guess there are always those people who don't heed the warnings and put themselves or others, or pets, in danger.

I remember it being this cold growing up---but the house I grew up in had no insulation (or very little), so it always seemed cold.  When it was cold enough that there was ice on the insides of the walls, we were allowed to sleep in the living room.  When it was no longer safe to sleep upstairs.  Otherwise, it was pretty nice.  We just layered it up under a lot of blankets.  It was a good time for deep sleeping

I am more of a late night person, though, so I don't necessarily miss that.  I like being able to stay up until I can't help but to fall asleep.  Sometimes it's practically all night, and I sleep from like five a.m. to noon.  Other times it's like ten  at night, and I can barely stay awake---even with the lights burning my eyes.  It's nice to live somewhere that stays warm inside, warm enough to be able to do something other than bury myself under a pile of blankets and hibernate, and it's definitely something that I will hopefully never take for granted.

I guess that means I will have no excuse but to continue working on my thesis and my lesson plans. Or rocking out.  Hopefully, more of the former, but also some of the latter.  I still have time to record one song.  That's what I will continue telling myself---even probably the first week of the semester.  My goal, is to not get stressed about it, to just get done what I need to get done, get through it, and come out of it with my master's degree.  I have, after all, applied for graduation already!

If I continue working hard and writing my ass off, it will pay off.  It's by no means guaranteed, but I am going to keep trying and see what happens.  Hopefully this nine day wait doesn't delay the publishing of Out in the Garage, but, if it does, there are worse things happening in the world.  Either way, my job promoting it is only beginning.  It's not starting off very hot, but, there is no where to go but up.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

There is Nothing Like the First Time

It has been a long nine* years.  I lost track of how many versions I have written---probably enough to impress even someone like Hemingway.  Not to say that it is even comparable to Hemingway, but I do have to count The Sun Also Rises as an influence, and I have written at least as many drafts of mine as Hemingway did of A Farewell to Arms.

I began to write my first manuscript after I had been reading books like Fight Club, The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby.  I started writing it, and, after about 35-40 pages, it sat for a few years, through another haphazard attempt at college, which ultimately ended up in failure---me dropping out, a two-time college dropout.  I seriously began working on it again, on whim, but this time with more vigor than I had ever dreamed I would when I started it.  It became more than just a thing---it became the thing.

Also around this time, I met my wife, and she only pushed me to continue working on it, to pursue this monster that had suddenly become a dream---a hope for something more than slinging burgers or managing others doing so.  We moved to Chicago, on a whim, pursuing some kind of hope for a better future, neither of us with a bachelor's degree, or any real connections.  We just picked up and left.

To get out there, I worked at a Chipotle and she as a nanny---and we tried to make it work, but Chicago is expensive.  I started applying everywhere, sending out more and more creative versions of my resume until I finally landed a second job as a part-time recruiter's assistant at a staffing agency in downtown Chicago---suddenly, here I am, a two-time college dropout, working on the 19th floor, surrounded by skyscrapers, reaching out beyond my comfort zone and finding new ground.  I also left Chipotle and began  working at the FYE Superstore around the corner from the Chicago Theatre, as a supplement to my recruiter's assistant income.

We lived three blocks from Wrigley Field, on the northside, so I found myself riding the El every day to work.  I commuted about a half hour each way---or more, if the train was late, which it often was.  I found myself with about an hour to an hour and a half every day in need of something to do.  I think I wrote my first four to seven drafts in the two years that we lived in Chicago, most while commuting back and forth between home and work.  I even carried around a pocket-sized notebook and wrote during brief, free moments, while I was at work.  Ideas that I would later incorporate into the draft.  I would then take all my notes and handwritten chunks and transcribe it all to Word.

The Hemingway comes in after we move back to Northeast Ohio and end up in Akron.  I applied for more loans (I mean, I'm already in the hole, far, far below the surface---what's a few thousand more dollars in debt) to go back to college---since I might as well at least have something to show for my effort (and the money I will have to pay back, regardless).  This time, however, I did things differently.  I changed my major to English, with a minor in creative writing, and took all the creative writing/fiction classes they offered.  I wrote several more drafts during this time and found that I really excelled at English.

Finally, in December 2011, I graduated with my bachelor's degree from Kent State University, but it wasn't enough.  Nine months later I was back in school as a graduate student at the University of Akron, which is where I still am, about two years later.  We have moved to a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood, and I am four classes and my thesis short of getting my master's degree in Literature.  I have self-published a short story collection, and I am on the verge of publishing this first novel, nine years in the making.  It has become as familiar to me as the material world around me.  When I close my eyes, I am there, with the characters, living their lives, experiencing everything they experience.  The world is so visceral, so complete, I can't believe it came from my imagination---from abstract to manifestation.  I only hope others will won't just read it, but will also have an experience.

It fills me with happiness that, not long from now, this book, this realization of an idea that came from my brain, will start a life of it's own, and, while I will be moving on to the next project and the next project---there is nothing like your first time.

*After thinking about it, I realized my first statement of seven years was wrong, since I actually started this book in 2005.