Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Relatively Short Blog Post with a Shameless-But-Necessary Monty Python Reference and a Title That is (Relatively) Almost as Long as is the Post Itself

I often write blog posts when I am procrastinating. It's not like I sit down here with the intention of doing it, but it happens.

In a way, they act as a good primer to me actually sitting down and working on a novel or a short story. It's also good insurance, because if I talk about it here, then I kind of have to get it done; otherwise, I look like a jackass.

Maybe I do anyways, I don't know. I am sure there are some out there who think that.

*Thumbs nose at those people*

As a primer, though, it is like taking a shit before going to eat an expensive restaurant.

I will let you use your imagination on that one. Otherwise, I would probably be forced to fire myself as the blogger and replace myself with 40 Specially Trained Ecuadorian Mountain Llamas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Booking Marketing...Or Lack Thereof

Shortly after Scott Weiland died, I started writing a blog post about Stone Temple Pilots being my first concert, but the point seems moot now, so it will probably never see the light of day.

Today I am writing in honor of nothing but own shameless self promotion, because that is the name of the game.

You have to really whore yourself out to get any hype.

Luckily, I am not above that. I like skiing in those waters; although, I confess, I try not to let myself get submerged for very long. Otherwise, I might black out and wake up forty years from now, and find myself some sad old guy in a tux hitting on college girls I never had a change with when I was that age, either.

No, I can't let that happen.

Instead, I will make up for my lack of ability by calling it art and pretending it's sacred. My hope is that some day I will start to believe my own bullshit and get trapping in my own fantasy-delusion once and for all.

Oh Hell, who am I kidding? I have been submerged in those brown waters my whole life. Maybe that actually does make it art. If I am delusional, at least I am honest.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pop Art Coffee Table Books and Other Pretentious Garbage

Over the course of the past year, I have been compiling the series of blogs that I wrote through grad school so that I could publish them as the first release of my still as of yet unnamed publishing company.

That's right, you read that correctly. It probably won't come as a shock to many, but I figured that I need to up my game another level if I am going to build an audience, and in order to do that I have to do as legitimate publishers do--but in my own special way that will hopefully make me stand out.

Anyways, since this "first official release," Out in the Fringes: Musings, Witticisms, and Random Insanity, is mean to represent everything this blog has been about over the years, it should be fun to read; and, since grad school was a strange period in my life, it will also be interesting to see how my thought process shifted over that time.

While it will be a little edited (in the context of putting together a compilation and wanting to fix grammar and typos and what not) my goal is to produce the text relatively as-is, and put out a sort-of coffee table book that is pretty to look at and intended to be read in short sporadic bursts. Kind of a pop-art conversation piece.

In general, my goal is to publish more frequently and more in-tune with what I want to accomplish as a writer rather than what other people think or are doing.

Since I am doing it as a hobby, it opens the door for more creativity. I see it as an opportunity to stretch my boundaries using what means I have available, to experiment like I don't have anything to lose.

Really, I don't, since I gain so much from the process. For me, that's what it's all about, for better or worse, which is why I am leaving you with "Destroyer." Failure, while painful at the time, can make for great art and entertainment.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Stroking My Ego: A Retrospective

So, I wrote this story in a fiction writing class like four or five years ago.  At the time, I was going to college and studying literature, and falling in love with just everything that I was reading and everything that I was experiencing in my life. My then-fiance and I had just settled into a shabby little house on a hill. We were planning our wedding and really basking in the glow of our recent romantic adventures. A funny thing happens when you are feeling what you interpret as success: you start to get all nostalgic, you start living in your own history and constantly stroking your own ego. You develop your own mythology.

This story, in particular, was also none other than the story where I figured out how I wanted to write. Originally titled, "Drowning," I of course thought highly of it, even at the beginning, even though, you know, it wasn't perfect.

It started with a different ending than it has today--one that didn't really work--but then someone in my workshop suggested that I change it and, kind of, you know, make it the natural result of everything that happens in the story. While that might seem obvious, as it probably did to that person, it was a revelation to me. Prior to that, I had been coming from a more Absurdist school of thought. "The Sign," as it is called now, was my first real venture into any kind of realism.

While it is in the first person and past tense, and I now tend to write more in the third person and often in the present tense, it is a retrospect of a time in my life, and very honest, and the ending, now, kind of, makes it. While I really love the original version, after reading stories like "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver, where the characters have conflicts through the whole story but then find solutions in revelations, I knew I had to change it. It had to happen another way. It took a while to take shape, but it was, I think, worth the effort.

The last aspect that I focused on was the language, which is really what took so long. My goal was to perfect my grammar and streamline the prose, and also make the imagery as vivid as possible to give the reader a more complete experience.

Now that I am finished, my goal is to get it published in a literary magazine. I believe, if I search hard and keep trying, I will find its home. That is just going take patience, and some research.

In the meantime, enjoy this song by the Kinks:

Each New Novel is A Second Chance

The great thing about starting a new book is a similar feeling to what it must be like to go and relive your teenage years with the knowledge you have gained since.

You know all the things to avoid and plan for the second time around, and where you can just hit the accelerator and go hard in that direction.

This time, I thoroughly planned out the story and the plot before I started. It is not as romantic as just sitting at the keyboard and going where inspiration takes you, but I did it that way for eleven years on my first novel, and I am pretty much all burned out on that, and this way helps to keep me focused and the logic cohesive.

Where I am really trying to express my creativity is in  honing  my style and telling the story that I want to tell.

The biggest mistake I made the first time around is that I started to care too much about what other people thought, which made me make some questionable choices at times. I am more or less happy with the result, but I don't want to keep going back to that same novel over and over again.

This time around, I am making my choices more confidently, and I am not going to let myself second-guess them more than a reasonable amount, which is something that I have learned to identify along the way (I hope).

Or maybe I am more of a work in progress. Either way, I am looking forward, and not looking back too often, and hopefully never losing sight of my goal.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gettin' Hairy in November

With Movember, Muffvember, Novembeard, and National Novel Writing Month all happening simultanously, things are getting very hairy out here in the Fringes.

My (2013) short story collection, Tales from the Fringes, is getting a makeover. I am in the process of reformatting and re-editing a new edition, which will be available in early 2016 (stay tuned for a specific date).

The biggest changes are to the design. When I published it the first time, I didn't have a full grasp on publishing design standards. Now the paragraphs are justified, and the punctuation marks are all formalized. The divides between the sections are also clearer and more consistent, and the page numbers and headers are more functional. Most of this will also carry over to the eBook design.

I have also eliminated the three weakest stories ("Wrist Cramps," "Reggie's Tale," and "The Other Side of Greed"). "Wrist Cramps" was one of the first stories I ever wrote, and, while it has its strong points, its weak points are more noticeable, and really not fixable. "Reggie's Tale" is just not worth updating, either, and "The Other Side of Greed" is really more of a fictionalized personal essay and a bit redundant.

Additionally, I have put the stories in a slightly new order (switching "Greasy" and "A Hipster Confession" around being the most noticeable change), and I have renamed a couple ("The Marriage Bed" is now "Flowers" and "Survival" is now "People These Days"). These are all small details that make a strong impact.

Finally, I am making relatively few edits. My biggest concerns are grammatical; however, I also want to eliminate anything unnecessary and maximize the quality and the descriptiveness of the language.

It's important to me to get this right, as people seem to like my short fiction, and this collection, in particular. I have gotten some good constructive feedback, and I have also learned a lot since I first put it out. It's definitely worth polishing, and I believe I will be able to use it to build a bigger audience.

In that regard, I am also working on new fiction: a novel (or two, actually) and multiple new stories that I hope to get published in journals and put out as a collection (eventually).

I am not technically doing National Novel Writing Month, since I already had about 6,000 words before the month began, but because I am technically writing a novel, I can relate to those people who are officially participating. So there! On that note, Happy #NaNoWriMo!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Some Updates on Writing, Publishing, and Whatnot

So, if you have been following this blog for long enough, you know I am fairly persistent, and that if I am not happy with something I have written, I am going to keep working on it until I get it right. That's why I decided to update the official description of Escapes again.

I really put a lot of time and thought into it; I did a bunch of research to see how novels by contemporary literary writers are described, and I whittled away at it until I came to this, the final version of it:

Lance Adamson lives in a backwoods Ohio community called Nodtown. He has faced more than one hurdle in his short life: his parent’s divorce, his dad disappearing… It seems like, every time he gets past one, there is another in his path. He lives with his mom and Grandpa Harry at Grandpa Harry’s house where he spends most of his time out in the garage playing drums, jamming with Grandpa Harry, who plays bass. Jazz is Grandpa Harry’s religion, and for the longest time, Lance has been his loyal disciple—but he is beginning to have his doubts. As he looks to forge his own identity, life will only grow more complex, and he will seek shelter in all sorts of escapes.

The next thing on my agenda, as far as publishing goes (other than stepping up my promoting of Escapes and working to get as many [hopefully positive] reviews as possible), is finishing the updates to the formatting of Tales from the Fringes. As a part of that, in an effort towards an increase in professionalism, I am going to be doing some very light editing and proofreading.

This is necessary, as I have gotten some positive feedback and good ratings of it, and the biggest criticism is that it needs edited and proofread more thoroughly. The formatting is more my own criticism, but I know it is a short coming and will only improve the readability of the text.

Of course, I am also working very diligently on novel #2, and on some new short stories. It is too early to tell when any of that will be finished. I will be sure to let you know as soon as possible, though.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Some Random Weirdness on the Internet

*As it seems like some people might have already noticed, it's probably high time that I tell you that last night I modified the description of Escapes again. However, I think I have firmly established that I am a revisionist, and I have made peace with that...

Which totally makes sense why I have worked towards completely changing my process.

More and more, in fact, I try to focus on doing a really good job and get my thoughts out, just trying to make it all connect and seem deliberate, and doing it all fewer and fewer times each time. I try focusing on different aspects of the piece as go along along until I reach a point with the project where I am satisfied with everything. Then I try to read the whole thing through without making any changes. If I can do that, then I am free to click that button and make it visible to the world.

Believe it or not, this actually cuts down on the length of time it takes me to write and publish something. I rarely ever have to go back and make changes... Rarely ever.

I have had some pretty amazing ideas lately, if I do say so myself. At least I think they are amazing, and that's really all that fucking matters (to me) at this point. Really, if you can't write for your own happiness then whose happiness should you write for?

I think this is the sort of mindset that I stumbled into during writing the first one. Ultimately, if I don't first focus on pleasing myself (pun partially intended) with what is written, then I try to take too much advice, and, believe  me, there is such a thing.

At some point, you need to forsake the advice that doesn't fit and just go for it. Some advice just won't make the cut, and the people reading the final product will just have to deal with it.

Hopefully, your choices won't be an issue, but, if some or more of them are, you just take note of how you fucked up and make sure that you don't make those mistakes again.

Unless it's fixable; then, of course, you totally go for it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It's Been a While, Old Me

It's been a while, old me.
Nice to see you again.

Where have you been?
What's been going on?
What have you been doing
Since I saw you last?

Are you fashionable now?

Some things
Never change.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Old Man

He wakes up at 3 a.m. after having fallen asleep in his easy chair in front of the evening news. He was so soundly asleep that she didn't want to wake him. Last he remembers, he was sitting there, watching the talking heads spin. Now the TV is off and the room is dark--the world outside is quiet. He stands up, stretches, and makes his way to his study, to his humidor.

Outside, on the front steps, he watches the sun rise and wake the whole world, one thing at a time. He smiles, remembering all the times he sat out on steps in the middle of the night, smoking cigarettes, passages of Melville or Joyce swirling around his brain. He has spent most of his life since grad school trying to rest off all that sleep that he missed during it.

He makes a pot of coffee and lingers on the front porch all morning, working towards catching up on all the reading he has been trying to catch up on his entire life. The end is always far enough out of his reach that it remains invisible, and he realizes that maybe it's time to stop making the list, and just ride it out and see what happens... He realizes that'll never happen.

Someday, someone will come to find him, and he will look like a Tibetan monk in a deep, 1,000-year trance, with a half-finished book in his hands.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

NEW RELEASE: The Day the Music Died

FREE Short Story, Exclusively on Smashwords!

Sam, a college freshman, is taking a shower, getting ready for class, when he finds out about the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Download for free exclusively at Smashwords!

*9/2/2015 - Description updated from the original version (a second time).

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Official Escapes Playlist

If you are into music like I am, and you enjoy or even need it while you read, I have compiled a playlist in the spirit of Escapes. I am not sure how long it is, but it is definitely several hours worth of songs and should last for most of the novel, if you read at the right pace. Of course, you don't have listen to the playlist to read it; then again, you don't need the book to listen to the playlist. However you like it, ENJOY!

1. "Somewhere Out There" from the An American Tale soundtrack
2. "A Night in Tunisia" By Art Blakey
3. "Dakar" by John Coltrane
4. "Moan'" by Art Blakey
5. "All Blues" by Miles Davis
6. "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane
7. "Blue Money" by Art Blakey
8. "Serve the Servants" by Nirvana
9. "Attitude" by the Misfits
10. "My Name is Jonas" by Weezer

11. "Nice Guys Finish Last" by Green Day
12. "All Apologies" by Herbie Hancock
13. "The Great Gig in the Sky" by Pink Floyd
14. "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden
15. "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen
16. "The Bear Song" by Green Jelly
17. "Knights of the Round Table" by Monty Python
18. "Government Flu" by the Dead Kennedys
19. "Super Charger Heaven" by White Zombie
20. "Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes" by Marilyn Manson

21. "Raining Blood" by Slayer
22. "Unsung" by Helmet
23. "Bad Mouth" by Fugazi
24. "Linoleum" by NOFX
25. "Bedrock Anthem" by "Wierd Al" Yankovic
26. "Celebrated Summer" by Husker Du
27. "Los Angeles" by X
28. "Live Fast Die Young" by the Circle Jerks
29. Lexicon Devil" by the Germs
30. "Starfuckers, Inc." by Nine Inch Nails

31. "Push It" by Static X
32. "Freak on a Leash" by Korn
33. "Faith" by Limp Bizkit
34. "Faith" by George Michael
35. "Blue Monday" by Orgy
36. "Blue Monday" by New Order
37. "My Own Worst Enemy" by Lit
38. "All the Small Things" by Blink 182
39. "Dammit" by Blink 182
40. "Pretty Vacant" by the Sex Pistols

41. "Bikeage" by the Descendents
42. "Soul Doubt" by NOFX
43. "Sparks" by the Who
44. "Money" by Pink Floyd
45. "Working in the Coal Mine" by DEVO
46. "[I Can't Get No] Satisfaction" by DEVO
47. "In the Garage" by Weezer
48. "I Can't Explain" by the Who
49. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin
50. "In the Light" by Led Zeppelin
51. "Down by the Seaside" by Led Zeppelin

52. "20th Century Man" by the Kinks
53. "Jenny Take a Ride" by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
54. "Devil with the Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly" by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
55. "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots
56. "Search and Destroy" by the Stooges
57. "Rape Me" by Nirvana
58. "My Vagina" by NOFX
59. "Last Caress" by the Misfits
60. "Blitzkrieg Bop" by the Ramones

61. "Beat on the Brat" by the Ramones
62. "No Substance" by Bad Religion
63. "Copacabana (At the Copa)" by Barry Manilow
64. "Muskrat Love" by Captain & Tennille
65. "I Can See For Miles" by the Who
66. "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" by the Dead Kennedys
67. "Urban Struggle" by The Vandals
68. "99 Red Balloons" by Goldfinger
69. "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones
70. "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes

71. "Here's to the Night" by Eve 6
72. "Black Betty" by Ram Jam
73. "Burnout" by Green Day
74. "Up All Night" by Unwritten Law
75. "Special" by Garbage
76. "In the Meantime" by Spacehog
77. "Lump" by The Presidents of the United States of America
78. "Peaches" by The Presidents of the United States of America
79. "People That are Going to Hell" by the Vandals
80. "American Jesus" by Bad Religion

81. "Surf City" by Jan & Dean
82. "Surf City" by the Ramones
83. "Electric Funeral" by Black Sabbath
84. "All Apologies" by Nirvana
85. "Funeral for a Friend" by Elton John
86. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John
87. "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time" by Willie Nelson
88. "I Will Always Love You" Dolly Parton
89. "Justify My Love" by Madonna
90. "Jesus Freak" by DC Talk

91. "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads
92. "Road to Nowhere" by the Talking Heads
93. "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads
94. "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails
95. "Goodbye Stranger" by Supertramp
96. "Sleepwalk" by Santo & Johnny
97. "Immortality" by Pearl Jam
98. "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead
99. "Karma Police" by Radiohead
100. "Fitter Happier" by Radiohead

101. "No Surprises" by Radiohead
102. "Out of My Head" by Fastball
103. "Miserable" by Lit
104. "The World I Know" by Collective Soul
105. "86" by Green Day
106. "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve
107. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones
108. "West Side Story Medley" by Buddy Rich
109. "Found A Job" by the Talking Heads
110. "Blank Generation" by Richard Hell and the Voidoids

111. "Requiem for a Dream -- Lux Aeterna" by the London Ensemble
112. "Oops I did It Again" by Britney Spears
113. "Cotton Eye Joe" by Rednex
114. "The Way" by Fastball
115. "I Swear" by All-4-One
116. "I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men
117. "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day
118. "Come on Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners
119. "Every Breath You Take" by the Police
120. "Silent Lucidity" by Queensryche

121. "Add it Up" by the Violent Femmes
122. "Time of the Season" by The Zombies
123. "Where is My Mind?" by the Pixies
124. "Fundamentally Loathsome" by Marilyn Manson
125. "Change" by Blind Melon
126. "Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python
127. "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana
128. "Brain Damage/Eclipse" by Pink Floyd
129. "Garageland" by the Clash

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Call to Literary Fiction Authors: Let's Be Indie Together

One thing I have noticed since officially declaring myself an indie author and going it alone by self-publishing is that many, if not most, of my fellow DIYers write genre fiction: sci-fi/fantasy, contemporary romance, and every sort of cross-genre you can imagine are all well-represented.

However, it seems like there is a lack of self-published literary fiction. Maybe I am just not aware of it and I just need to do my due-diligence, but I am especially noticing this on social media, particularly on Twitter, and also among book bloggers and review writers.

I have a theory about why this is the case. Last summer for my Digital Humanities class, I wrote my final paper on self-publishing, and what I found then is that people who tend to read literary fiction tend to support fiction published more traditionally as it has to go through a series of gatekeepers before it reaches the public, which helps ensure a higher quality of work.

Literary fiction is supposed to go beyond merely being well-edited and telling a good story, but the conventions are less clearly defined. The books are supposed to be more intellectually stimulating and have a more finely tuned sense of style. It is acceptable for the prose to call attention to itself, and experimentation is generally more welcome. In fact, it is often encouraged.

Which is why it is easier to self-publish and sell works of genre fiction. The only gatekeepers are the book bloggers and review writers, who are more focused on readability and entertainment value than on literary merit. What matters is whether the characters are interesting, the plot is evident, and the story is entertaining. It is your goal to conform to the conventions of the genre and appeal to its fans.

That doesn't mean there is no room for indie authors to write literary fiction. In fact, I would like to think that, as an indie author, you have more freedom to experiment and push boundaries than you would at a traditional publishing house. The problem is, there doesn't really seem to be anyone telling our audience that it is safe and acceptable to read our work.

Those of us who want to self-publish literary fiction need to band together and start reviewing each other's work, and be our own gatekeepers. We do have an audience, and our audience needs to trust what they are purchasing, which means that we need to gain credibility somehow. By working together and using the knowledge that we have developed through our studies, we can show people who would potentially read our work that it is worth their time and money.

That means going beyond mere reviews and actually writing in-depth criticisms, building theory around our ideas, and arguing in favor of the direction(s) we are taking. We don't need traditional gatekeepers who represent their own corporate interests anymore than authors of genre fiction do. We can create our own scene, and draw people to it.

Which is what indie authors of genre fiction are doing, and by taking their model and making it work for us, we can be successful.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How I Know That My Book is Finished

It is no secret that I have been working on my first novel for quite a while (around eleven years), and that I have previously published two editions of it, and that I just published a third.

At risk of developing a Whitman-like obsession for perfection, I am finally putting it to rest. It has been a long arduous process, but I am ready.

As an indie author, and a steadfast one at that, I have no one telling me when it's ready, and it's not like baking something from a recipe. It takes trial and error, careful, honest criticism, and patience. Well, maybe baking is like that too.

When it comes down to it, though, there are a few particular reasons why I know I am finished, which I would like to share with you, so that maybe your process isn't quite so long and arduous--or at least you'll know that you aren't alone.

Every Possibility...Considered

Eleven years is a long time to work on any one project, even a novel. While it is not the longest time I have heard, it is up there. Over that time, I have considered every possibility--some I have rejected, some I have tried and then rejected, and some I have tried and they have shaped how my book is today. 

Perhaps I have taken too much time in doing so, but because I did not know what I was doing when I started, which I am sure is the case with most people when they sit down to write that first novel, I wasn't sure on the direction I was going to go with it, and it took shape how it took shape.

After I finished the first draft, I went back and immediately reconsidered everything. And again. I had some people read it and give me feedback, and that shaped it as well. Maybe I did not take every piece of advice, but I at least considered it all.

Then I went back to school and studied literature and fiction writing, and that shaped it a great deal. I had more people read it, including an editor at one of the big publishing companies (who I went to college with), and I changed it again after some careful consideration.

Grad school came around, and the book continued to be molded based on my increased knowledge and experience. Midway through my second year, I decided to self-publish it. Afterwards, I got some less-than-pleasing feedback, which caused me to reconsider every choice that I made.

I went back and changed it a great deal to fix the perceived shortcomings, and then I published the second edition, which is considerable different from the first--but it didn't take long for me to realize that I still wasn't happy with it. I didn't recognize what it had become, and I realized I had let too many outside people shape it.

The Path Has Reached It's End

After taking some time off from it and letting the entire experience sink in and work its way around my brain, I decided to give it one last go.

I decided upon a very clear direction, and set to work. I went back to the first edition, which more resembled what I had originally intended, and reshaped it based on my new perspective. 

Carefully and thoroughly, I made changes. Then I went through it again and ruthlessly edited it, and again, and again. I changed the way that I edit so that I could be more consistent and thorough. Then I proofread it until I was satisfied with every aspect of it.

In my mind, I have taken it as far in that direction as it can logically go, and if I change it again, it will take away from that. I have very consciously made my decisions, and while they all might not sit well with the status quo, I am satisfied, and believe I have made it into what it should be--what I intended it to be from the beginning.

When It's Time, It's Time

Just because I have focused on this one project for so long, it doesn't mean that I haven't had other ideas. In fact, I have started four other books.

If I continue to go back and make changes to this one project, I will never get to those others, which are very different in a number of ways. As I said, when I started the first one, I didn't know what I was doing. That is not the case with any of these others. They were all started later, and they all have a much clearer direction than the first one ever did.

I am severely limiting myself if I only work on this one project for the rest of my life, and I believe that the best is yet to come. If Fitzgerald had spent his whole career on This Side of Paradise, he never would have written The Great Gatsby

Every time I go back to that first one, I am delaying the completion of all the others. I can take what I have learned and incorporate it into the next project.

Perfection is Unattainable

Perfection is an entirely subjective measure when it comes to novel-writing. Tastes change over time, and what is popular today might not (and probably won't be) popular two years from now.

Not to mention, not everyone is ever going to like your book. Some people are going to hate it, and no matter how great you or others consider it to be, it doesn't matter. Just look at the Amazon or Goodreads reviews of canonical writers like Shakespeare. If ol' Billy Shakes gets bad reviews, so will you.

That is a hard lesson to learn. You just have to take the negative for what it is and be confident that someone out there wants to read your book as it is now.

Once you are finished, and it has turned out how you intended, the next step is selling it. Finding that audience, getting it in front them, and influencing them to purchase it. Unless you are extremely lucky, books don't sell themselves. You have to make the effort to sell them. If you want to be successful, learn marketing and advertising. If someone can get rich off of selling pet rocks, then anything is possible if you set your mind to it and work towards it.

I am confident that I can find an audience for my book, and that I can accept the fact that, as Taylor Swift says, "haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate." It's going to take time and effort, and thick skin, but that doesn't mean that I need to stop and go back to the beginning. It means that I just need to keep pushing forward.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Just a small delay in the completion of Escapes. It will be out on June 15, 2015. That shouldn't change, but stayed tuned, just in case.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flash Fiction Featured in Issue#78 of Red Fez

My short short story, "Invasion," is in the current issue of Red Fez. Please check it out, as well as the rest of the issue. This is a great magazine, and I feel honored to be included in it. Thank you to the editors!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Update on Escapes/Out in the Garage

Just thought I'd give an update on Escapes, the third and final edition of my first novel. In case you hadn't noticed, I (just slightly) altered the description of it:

Some people escape from life’s track to avoid confronting the hurdles. For Lance Adamson, anyway, that is the case—although, he comes by it naturally. Born poor in the Republican stronghold of Nodtown, Ohio, he quickly realizes that life for some people is more difficult than it is for others. For some, there are problems you cannot escape, no matter how hard you try. In fact, most catch up with you sooner or later, and when they do, your life really gets turned upside down. For Lance, that’s when his main escape becomes his greatest passion.

I did this for clarity and brevity. I wanted to say just enough but not too much--lead the reader on just the right amount and entice him or her to read the sample or even  purchase the book outright.

For this edition, I am going to seek out criticism and see how it goes. It couldn't go any worse than it already has. Bad reviews happen, but so do good ones. People have varied tastes, and I believe I have something to offer. I believe I can get good reviews if I seek the reviewers that cater to my specific audience. I have taken the criticism I have gotten over the years, considered it all very carefully, compared it to my intentions and my goals, determined the necessary changes, and incorporated them into the text.

Personally, I also believe that this is the best version of the story, and the one that I will be satisfied with to come. I have come full circle with it: I have worked to clarify the story and achieve the effect I was intending from the beginning. It has taken many twists and turns, but I feel confident about what I have learned, and how it has affected my writing and editing skills, and how those skills have in turn affected my ability to produce this text.

Additionally, I have learned a lot through my experimentation with publishing, and I am always looking to improve the quality of the paperbacks and eBooks themselves. Also, for the best ways to market them.

While I still might have much to learn, I believe I have gotten what I can get out of this current project, or, rather, that I am going to get out of it what I am going to get with this latest edition. I, of course, still have much else in the works, so all further experimentation will be with those projects.

I do believe that the third time is the charm, or at least it is in this circumstance. While it might be superstitious to believe so, if I am careful, I can prove it to be true.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Underground Following?

So apparently the second edition of Out in the Garage is being downloaded and read off of some illegal sites somewhere, which, upon first finding out, irritated the shit out of me.

But then it occurred to me: people are actually reading and liking the damned thing, which is what any author wants, really, isn't it?

It still bothers me that people are getting it illegally, but I am happy that people are posting comments like this one:

"It is easy to characterize this book in one word – masterpiece!"

I am not sure what part of the web these forums exist on, but I don't think it's on the surface side, if you know what I mean. 

So, as I sit here in a bit of shock, even though it is not my favorite edition, I have opened the second edition for sale as an eBook on Smashwords and Amazon.

Maybe there are people out there willing to pay 99 cents for it.

I have also decided to re-release the second edition as a paperback. The process usually takes about 24 hours before Createspace will release it for sale after I click the button.

Also, just FYI, I am still releasing the third edition, Escapes, but I might just keep all three editions open for sale.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Book Description, A Bio, and a Fun Fact

In case you were wondering,  here is the book description, the bio, and the fun fact from the back of the last edition of my first novel, Escapes (formerly Out in the Garage). I am very excited about this project, and I think that people are going to really like this final version. After a lot of careful thinking and some effort, I have been able to transform it into its best version. Over the past year, I have really grown as an editor, thanks to being a grad student and working as an adjunct. This is by far my favorite version, and I am proud to say that it is finally the satire I intended when I started writing it ten or eleven years ago. The first two versions had some good qualities, but they both also fall short in a number of ways. The novel is now more focused and cohesive than ever, and it is organized how it needs to be to give people the effect I was intending while playing on my strengths (and hopefully minimizing my weakness) as a writer. Please take the time to check this out on JUNE 1 when it comes out:

Some people escape from life’s track to avoid confronting the hurdles. For Lance Adamson, anyway, that is the case—although, he came by it naturally. After all, like anyone, he is the product of his upbringing. Born poor in the Republican stronghold of Nodtown, Ohio, he quickly realizes that life for some people is more difficult than it is for others—some people just have more shit to deal with. Some, like Lance, find out that there are problems you cannot escape, no matter how hard you try. In fact, most catch up with you sooner or later, and when they do, your life really gets turned upside down. Fortunately, someone as resourceful as Lance can always find a new distraction.

Gabe Gott is a husband, writer, human being, music geek living in Akron, OH. He has degrees in literature from Kent State University and The University of Akron. You can find his short story collection, his blog, and his flash fiction in various locations around the web. Fun fact: he prefers creamy peanut butter over crunchy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Chicago Story: Writing While Riding

Having to spend twelve-plus hours this weekend riding in a car to and from Chicago, I figured it was an opportune time to work on novel number two. While I did not work on it as much as I could have, I did roughly double the length of my manuscript, and I finally was able to get through that scene that was giving me trouble and preventing me from moving forward. Sometimes, you just have to take the time that you have been given and get the idea out no matter how it turns out, because you can always go back and make it better later. After all, that's why it's called the rough draft.

Since the novel is set in Chicago, and has some relation to my personal experiences (although it is not directly based on them), spending some time in the Windy City and retracing my steps around my old neighborhood gave me just the inspiration I needed. While I haven't forgotten my experiences, it was a good idea to refresh my memory and keep the pictures that I have in my minds eye sharp and clearly focused.

However, it not only helps for describing the scenery and the people, but also for reminding myself that I have done it before and can do it again: I wrote my first novel while riding the El to and from work. Going back and riding the trains and seeing the sights, and feeling echoes from the experience of going on an adventure with the woman who became my wife, helped me to get back into the right frame of mind. 

It is kind of funny that I wrote my Ohio book in Chicago, and that I am writing my Chicago book (mostly) in Ohio. I have a feeling that this won't be the only time that I will need inspiration to continue writing before I am done with this book. I would like to make it out again sometime this summer--maybe next time the trip won't be so last minute and I will actually have time to visit some old friends.

Because my TV and internet are out at home (a fun surprise when we got home last night), and AT&T is sending a new router overnight, I suppose I will probably spend my night adding what I wrote over the weekend to the manuscript file. I do this regularly so if a tragedy happens and I somehow lose the notebook I won't lose everything. 

As always, it won't be an exact transcription. I often add and change things--make improvements--as I am typing it out. In that way, I suppose, I am technically, to some degree, editing as I am writing, which is why I like writing my first drafts by hand and then going back and typing them. I often do this with my short and short short stories, as well.

That's why I am a strong proponent of doing what works for you and not following some formula, which is what I teach my students. I, of course, suggest different ways of doing things, but I leave it up to them to figure out what works. Different strategies work for different people, and no one way is truly correct.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Take It In

My wife has already been up for two hours when I get up up at 9:47 and walk down the stairs. She is watching HGTV, which has become our latest addiction, as we dream of one day buying a house and remodeling it. The dream is still on the horizon, and we keep chasing it down, hour by hour, day by day, year by year, until, one day...

But for now we settle for the dream, still deep within the romance of the  idea, as realistic as we are trying to be about it.

She goes off and does her thing; I get my coffee, and then get an urge and change the station. It's time. Reporters and politicians are screaming across tables at one another in elegant voices, lost in linguistic sword fighting. These are the people who perpetuate the status quo through their inability to come to any terms--but the people aren't that divided. We are just meek, or so we think.

She is kissing me on the cheek as I am lost, trapped in a cave, staring at the shadows. Then she is pulling out the driveway, and I realize a few minutes later that I am by myself. 

Then it is over, and I get this urgent need to be productive so I clean. The dishes. The counters. The floors. The cat boxes... Before long the windows are letting in the insecure sunlight, and everything is glowing as the scene of my neighborhood fills my windows as I sit at my desk in my office, and I wonder how many around me have also won their Sundays. In this neighborhood, probably more than a few.

I realize that I don't stop enough and appreciate  my accomplishments, I am too caught up in the chase for more. I was swept away in the whirlwind and I have gotten too busy to notice that I am all of the sudden in technicolor. I need to catch my breath and slow the beating of my heart and stop the rush. I become awash in the softness of the daylight, and just take it all in... I let my breath out and become awaken to a  new state of mind... Seizing the day, I pull out my guitar.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Going It Alone": Gaining the Necessary Toughness It Takes to Become a Professional Writer

While I do not get paid to write, or solely to do that, anyways, I do get paid to use my writing skills, which means, of course, that I have to keep them at a high level. It is worth the effort, though, just to be able to earn a living related to something I deeply enjoy.

I am currently making a living both as a writing teacher and a marketing generalist, but I am also, when I can be, working towards becoming a professional writer. Instead of getting another degree (I mean, Jesus, I already have an M.A. in Literature), I have chosen the trial by fire method: self-publishing.

When it comes down to it, I have a hard time letting go of control, and while I don't mind working for others--in fact, sometimes it can be downright enjoyable when you find the right job--I am adamant about pursuing a writing career over the long-term. Any time I am performing the task, thinking about the act or teaching it, I am working towards figuring out how to get paid for it. When I am successful in my marketing and copywriting career, I will have learned the required skills that I need to eventually become a successful writer, if I am willing to continue working towards it. Persistence, I believe, is the key: always figuring out how I can become better at the task, and always working towards the goal.

In order to be successful as a writer, you need to make it about your skill, and you need to understand that it's not just about what you produce with it, it's also how you make an effort to best reach those who you intend to reach, with whatever means necessary, and that means figuring out the most effective means of doing so. I believe it also helps if you enjoy the process, and are willing to accept the highs and lows and chalk it all up to experience.

It's all about, in the words of Will Ferrell as George W. Bush, "Strategery," and maintaining the necessary toughness that it takes to make it through the early stages. It also, I think, becomes about maintaining a connection with yourself: who you are and where you came from, because the thing that scares people the most is dishonesty, even though it seems like we are all dishonest with each other and ourselves all of the time.

That means that you just have to keeping loving writing, no matter what, because, when it comes down to it, it's all about the writing anyways. Does that mean that you shouldn't try to make a living doing it? No, but you do have to have an eye for long-term success and not expect it to happen overnight, and not wait around for it to happen, either. If you want things to happen, you have to make them happen if they are going to happen at all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Making Progress on Your Novel is Hard, But You Have to Keep At It

My second novel, which shall for now remain nameless, is coming along, somewhat. Definitely slower than I had hoped. Definitely not doing the three-hundred words a day; although, I am making progress. It's hard to find the time. When I do, I try to make the most of it, though.

I don't think it is going to turn out as long as I had originally thought. I don't really think stretching it is the right approach, so it will just have to come out naturally and be what it is. That's how these things kind of take on lives of their own.

Of course, I am writing from an outline, but I am leaving a lot of room for the moment. For me, the outline is only the skeleton, and I have to flesh it out and make it a living and breathing organism. That can only come from a little bit of inspiration and a lot a bit of putting my fingers to the keyboard or my pen to the notebook and making progress.

When I think back about how I wrote the first one, I remember taking every free moment to work on it. At the time, I was living in Chicago and was constantly, every day, riding public transportation, mostly the Redline El traveling between Wrigleyville and downtown Chicago or vice versa.

For work, I got off at the State and Lake Station, which is right down the street from the Chicago Theatre; for home, I got off at Addison, which was literally Wrigley Field. With headphones buzzing, I spent equal amounts of time gawking out the window, people watching, and writing. The first draft took about six to eight months to finish in this fashion, after having spent like five years writing around thirty pages.

Then I spent a lot of time editing and rewriting it, and I would also do that while riding the trains. I paid to get it printed, so I had these giant, three-hundred-page stacks of 8.5 x 11 white paper with this world I created printed on it. I would read it and mark it up, writing in the margins; then I would go home at night and incorporate all of the changes to the file. I went through this process several times.

The second time isn't as romantic; although, I have matured quite a bit, and learned a lot, and hopefully it shows in the quality of my writing and my ideas.

Hopefully, one day, it will all pay off. Then again, maybe, in some ways, it already has... Sometimes, money isn't everything. I don't know if I can describe in concrete terms what writing does do for me, but it has to be as close of a thing to an orgasm or a religious experience as anything I have ever experienced.

Escapes, it shall be!

I am making it official: June 1st, 2015. That will be the magical date that it will appear for sale. 

That will also be when the sales of the first edition end--so if that is the one you want to read, and you haven't bought it yet, you have until then to do so. If the final edition catches your fancy, you will be able to relieve those impulses soon.

The new novel is coming along slowly, and I am writing more short fiction, so things are looking on the up and up--at least as far as my hobby is concerned.

As far as my career, well... I am working on it. We'll see what happens. I just have to be diligent. I just have to keep applying. Keep up hope. Believe in myself. In spite of my lack of success right now, I am still confident that I will find the right job soon. You never know, it could happen tomorrow. I just have to keep trying to make it happen until it does happen.

I have some other announcements to make, but I am waiting for the appropriate time. I think you will be excited, especially if you like my short fiction. ;-)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Story for a Story: NEW FLASH FICTION!

Very excited about a short short story that I wrote about Sasquatches, so I am going to share this different, previously unpublished one. The two stories are vastly different from one another, but the Sasquatch one you'll have to wait a few months to read, so enjoy this one instead:

What is Real

The daylight unfolds around them huddling together, burrowing deeper into the sleeping bag, bundled in blankets—a giant cocoon in the middle of the campsite. Sleep still clings to their brains.

The fire burned down to coals long before, and those that remain glow with afterlife, sending off faint waves that warm their spirits more than anything. The cold pierces through like needles, sending shivers through their bodies, and they absorb into each other to fight them off.

Laying there, in a daze, sharing the same breath, the world pulsates to life around them as flashes of twilight patter against their brains. There is just enough of a clearing overhead, that when they look up, it is into a wishing well, and, for just an instant, they can see the future…

Birds chirping, the sun’s rays gaining potency, they linger as long as possible, shutting out pangs of real life, getting in touch with what is real.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Update on Third Edition of First Novel

As I previously announced, I am working on a third edition of Out in the Garage, which isn't significantly different, but it is an improvement on the previous editions for a number of reasons. See my previous post, Indie and Proud!, for more details on the changes.

As it stands now, I am nearly finished with this final edition; however, I am considering making a couple of additional changes, which came to light while I was working on the ones previously outlined. I am considering changing the title back to the original, pre-published title, Escapes, as it hits on one of the main themes, and might help to open up the novel to more people.

While considering changing the title, I rewrote the description, and the new description really helps to elucidate the idea that I think was previously obscured, and it, coupled with the title, might also help to explain some of the more confusing aspects of the novel. That is not to say that I give anything away, but when a reader gets to those points, it will make a lot more sense.

Out in the Garage, while a good, and definitely a unique, title, might be a little misleading, since it only seems to focus on one aspect of the novel, and doesn't really seem to encompass all of it, which Escapes does a better job of doing.

Also, I have a new book cover design that I really like, and that adds to the artistry of the whole endeavor. I also think it is better than the original design, and it incorporates the change in title and the new description, as well.

What do you think about the new title/description/cover design?

Here are the (front and back) covers:

And here is the new description:

In many ways, Lance Adamson’s whole life has been defined by escapes: his dad escaping the responsibilities of parenthood through the bottom of a bottle, Lance and his mom escaping that drunken sperm donor and moving in with Grandpa Harry, and Lance, himself, escaping the bullying at school through playing drums. When Lance is sitting at his drum set, which he learned to play by way of jazz-loving Grandpa Harry’s careful instruction, the only thing that matters is the music—everything from the world outside the garage ceases to exist for a while. Seemingly, no matter what is happening in his life, he can be free from it—as long as the euphoria lasts. However, as Lance finds out, there are some things that you cannot escape from forever, no matter how hard you try. In fact, most things catch back up with you sooner or later, and, when they do, it can really turn your life upside down. Fortunately, someone as resourceful as Lance can always find a new way to escape.

If you need something to compare them to, check out the BOOKS Page for the originals.

I am really learning towards the changes, but I haven't fully made up my mind yet. When I do, I will announce it.

300 Words A Day

When it comes to finishing the draft of a novel, the task can seem daunting. The fact that I have previously written a novel fills me with more confidence than I had the first time around, especially since I have taken lengths to correct the mistakes that I made that first time.

In that regard, I have taken a lot of time to consider what I want to say and brainstorm it out in advance. I even have an informal outline, which will give me a basis to work from and a way to keep myself on track. These are all important things, but it doesn't mean much if you don't then work towards the goal at hand, which, for me, is to write a first draft this year.

Since I work three jobs and am looking for a full-time position, and have a life besides, it is difficult to find the time to actually sit down and get busy. Even when I do, it doesn't ever seem like enough. Since I started writing this one, I have written 2,837 words, and have had a difficult time motivating myself when I do have the time, since it seems like I am barely making any progress. 

Then, last night, it hit me--one of those late night revelations. If I write at least 300 words a day, that amounts to 2,100 words a week, and if I keep it up through the rest of the year, then that adds up to 96,600 words, for a total of 99,437 words, which leaves me just 563 words short of my 100,000-word goal (for the first draft).

So, as you can see, it is all a matter of perspective. If you change your perspective enough, you can change your approach and accomplish the task that you set out to do. 100,000 words undoubtedly is a daunting goal, but 300 words a day seems very doable.

It will take discipline, but if I push myself, I can accomplish the task. After all, I did write a novel once before, and with no experience, and far less planning or knowledge about the process. Now that I have studied writing, and have some experience and a solid working plan, I feel a lot better about the whole endeavor. Now, I just have to do it.

NOTE: This blog post is 386 words (minus this note), and it took me about 20 minutes to write. When you consider that, it makes 300 words a day on my novel seem even more doable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Flash Fiction!

The Consumers and the Consumed

Carlos paused in the middle of a crowded boardwalk to open a bottle of Coke. Much to his surprise, a genie appeared out of an explosion of foam—although no one around him seemed to notice.

“YOU HAVE AWAKEN ME FROM MY SLUMBER!” the genie thundered, folding his arms across his chest. “For that, I will grant you ONE wish!”

“Only one?” Carlos said, “I thought it was three.”

“Well,” the genie replied, shrugging, “This ain’t Disney.”

With his hand to his chin, Carlos tried to think of the one perfect wish as the bottle of Coke continued spewing out foam on the ground between them, and people walked all around them in and out of the shops and caf├ęs, going about their day, absorbed into their iPhones and Androids. Finally, after several minutes…

“I wish for…POPULARITY!”

The genie smiled and rose up to his full height, seeming to tower over Carlos.

“Your wish is my command,” he said, raising his arms in the air, twiddling his fingers in Carlos’ direction, “ABRA CADABRA!”

POOF! Carlos disappeared and in his place sat a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, which was immediately scooped up by a passing stoner, who high-fived the genie, ripped open the bag, and popped some into his mouth.

“Mhm…Best Doritos ever!” he proclaimed as he disappeared into the crowd.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Art: The Be-All and End-All for Every True Artist

What makes a person an artist, or something art, has nothing to do with awards, sales, ego, etc. 

Of course, art might bring the artist accolades, and the luckiest might even be able to make a living off of their art, but there are many artists producing art who don't get recognized, and don't make money off of their art, but they continue producing it anyway. 

For me, that's what makes a person an artist and what they do art: an artist will make their art no matter the outcome. Art is a product of self expression and passion, not greed and egotism. An artist produces art for the love of art, first and foremost. There might be other factors involved, as well, but those are secondary to the art itself.

I am not going to mention any names, because I don't want to promote those individuals more than others already have, since, I am guessing, that is why this person did what he/she did: for him/her, it's all about staying in the spotlight and making money. 

Maybe this person and the people he/she was promoting are artists. I don't know. I believe it depends on their motivation as to whether that is true or not. It seems like these people are more interested in the spectacle than they are in just producing the product. It seems like their images, and the benefits they receive from maintaining those images, come first.

If their interest was in making art, then I would like to think it would be more evident that they were not just trying to maintain their wealth and fame. After all, you shouldn't have to proclaim yourself an artist. It is something you earn, and as much as you want people to consider you it, it doesn't mean that you are or will ever be considered one.

That being said, I believe my definition of an artist, as someone who produces art for the love of producing art, is fairly universal. If you truly are an artist, people will recognize it. People will see your genuine love of making your art, and you will not have to go around proclaiming yourself an artist in order to be labeled as such.

The person this person was protesting could also be considered an artist, and, indeed, is considered one, and has been considered one, by many. I don't know that this person's status as an artist has ever been questioned, especially when you look at his/her past work, and his/her level of involvement in producing the "art" itself.

This person also tends to stay out of the spotlight (as far as I am aware, anyways), and he/she has always pushed boundaries and made decisions that seem to go beyond a desire to be famous or to maintain a level of fame since what he/she has produced has never really fallen in with what is popular in the moment, necessarily. It seems to be more about the art itself and not the artist.

When it comes down to it, of all of these individuals, who would most likely continue making "art" if the fame, money, and recognition were all taken away? I can't answer that--only they can--but those who truly would are the artists.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Indie and Proud!

While I am not trying to be a best-selling author, and I am trying to focus more on my second novel, I am still a bit unsatisfied with my first novel, Out in the Garage, and feel that I need to make some changes to it, which might be a faux pas, but I don't really care.

Nowadays, I am guessing by the massive amount of money that goes into publishing books, authors, especially ones who are published by the big-time publishers, don't tend to make changes to books once they are published; however, that has not always been the case. Novels such as Ulysses and The Picture of Dorian Gray have both had changes made to them by the authors to improve them in some way. While I would not put myself in the same category as Joyce or Wilde, if they can get away with it then so can I.

Perhaps I have tried to focus on being business-minded in the past, but I am moving away from the idea of seeing my work as products to be sold and moving toward the perspective of seeing them as works of art. While some people out there might think that is bullshit, or whatever--just an excuse to write in a crappy or obscure way--I believe that current publishing standards tend to place style over substance and saleability over originality. Not that the people who are making big bucks on best-selling books don't deserve it, it's just that I don't believe that I will ever be among those people, so rather than continuing to try to fit that mold, I am going to go in my own direction.

That is why I am not getting my MFA. I won't disparage those that do have them, or those that are pursuing them--as I do know some great writers who have them--but I don't believe it is really necessary to have one to be a great writer. In fact, from what other great writers have told me, including some with MFAs, the real trick to is to study closely how your favorite writers do it and then apply what you learn to your own work. That is what I am doing instead. Reading a lot, and closely, and attempting to learn from what I read.

If I do get another degree, it will be a Ph.D. in literary theory, which is why I am working to finish my thesis (for those that don't know, I graduated by taking extra classes). However, I did take my thesis hours, and they are technically still in progress, and I feel like I owe it to myself to finish it--if for no other reason. Maybe I won't ever get a Ph.D., but I still want to be able to put my finished thesis on my resume. I also have some papers that I want to fix, polish, and try to get published in some peer-reviewed journals, as I believe I have some good ideas, and now, from teaching and grading, I am honing my editing and polishing skills. 

For now, I am hoping to find a full-time job, settle into that for a while, and see what happens. Maybe I will like it and never go back to school, but maybe in five or ten years, I will be ready for a more advanced degree. I don't know, but one advantage of working full time is having more of a clear-cut division between work and free time, so that when I am not at work, I am free to work on whatever I want, like my thesis or my fiction.

Anyways, I have been considering changing Out in the Garage for a while, and even had that second edition published for a while. That was my attempt to appease people. Now, I want to appease myself. I have considered other, vastly different, versions of the novel, but instead I have settled on making some small changes to the existing text to cut out some distractions and to make it flow a bit better. In fact, I have more or less already made the changes. There might be a few more coming, but what I changed was fairly straight-forward and did not require a lot time. Here is a list of what will be different in the new version (when it is released):
  • I cut out some unnecessary description from the first couple of pages as it was distracting and didn't really fit with the narration through the rest of the story
  • I cut out the flashbacks from the first two chapters, as they added what is, essentially, unnecessary background information that is more or less implied by the plot
  • I made some other small changes here and there that will probably be unnoticeable unless you do a side-by-side comparison
  • I divided the book into three parts instead of the two "sides": the sides things was too gimmicky and there is a natural division in what used to be Side B of the text, which, by making the division clear, it helps make the plot and time-frame clearer 
  • I am making some formatting changes to reflect higher professional standards, including putting only one space between sentences
That is pretty much it. I am toying with the idea of changing the cover, but we'll see if that happens or not. I am going to leave the description the same, as I am more or less happy with it and it does a pretty good job of catching people's attention and setting up the plot. This approach, to me, makes the most sense, since it won't change much for those who have already read it or are reading it, and they hopefully won't feel cheated; however, it will hopefully entice more people who check it out to buy it.

This way I can make myself happy and finally lay the project to rest, which is my goal by making these changes. Rather than let it continue to nag and bother me, I am going to make the effort to do something. Maybe this makes me a revisionist, or whatever, but I figure that, since I have already put like ten years into it, putting another few hours of work isn't going to make much more of a difference time-wise, and it will, in my opinion, make the book a bit more accessible without selling out my principles. After all, I am indie and proud!

A Defense of Sam Smith (by a Tom Petty Fan)

Admittedly, I am not a fan of Sam Smith--not that I dislike his music, it's just not my thing. Now that it has come to light that the popular British singer has to pay royalties to Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne for the similarities between Smith's song, "Stay with Me" and Petty's song, "I Won't Back Down," it doesn't really set me against Smith, either.

(follow the link to hear a comparison between the two songs.)

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a Tom Petty fan, and as such, that is where my loyalties lie; however, it is entirely possible that Smith and his co-songwriters didn't know that they were plagiarizing the Petty/Lynne composition, and that it is an honest coincidence. After all, this was entirely settled out of court, and they readily acknowledged the similarities.

There are Only so Many Notes

As a songwriter myself (though not nearly as good or as successful as either party involved), I can surely relate to this situation. You want to think that what you are writing is your original idea--your lyrics, your melodies--but, with a limited number of notes, scales, and chords, there are only so many melodies out there to capture and call your own.

In fact, western music is structured around only 12 total notes, so there is bound to be some overlap--especially when only certain combinations of those 12 notes seem to really widely connect with people. According to this article, there are literally thousands of songs based off of four chord progressions.

Not to mention, with the inception of hip hop, sampling others' songs--that is, actually taking a snippet of someone's song and using it in your own--has become a tradition. While some purists are against this, many would argue that there is an art to it, and in fact, even though a song features a sample from another song, it doesn't make it any less musical. Just don't let P. Diddy (or whatever the Hell he goes by nowadays) sample any more Led Zeppelin songs.

Seriously though, if Diddy can get away with that, and sampling is generally considered okay, why vilify Smith for an honest coincidence?

He is (By Far) Not Alone

It's not like he pulled a Vanilla Ice.

As you are probably aware, Vanilla Ice's song, "Ice Ice Baby," contains a sample of the Queen and David Bowie song, "Under Pressure." However, he didn't get permission to use it, and in spite of Vanilla Ice's denial--at the time--he was still successfully sued by Queen, and has to pay royalties to the band for his obvious copying of their song.

And Vanilla Ice is by far not the first to be accused of plagiarism. In fact, some of the biggest rock stars of all time have also been accused of it.

For example, Led Zeppelin has been accused of plagiarizing the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" from the Spirit song, "Taurus." While the courts have yet to make a ruling on this case, one can listen to the songs and see where the comparison is justifiable.

While not discussed very much today, in 1976, George Harrison, a freakin' Beatle, was sued for the "subconscious plagiarism" of his song, "My Sweet Lord." He claims to have used the melody of an old, uncopyrighted Christian hymn, "Oh Happy Day"; however, as the courts ruled, there is a definite similarity to the Chiffons song, "He's so Fine"--written by Ronnie Mack.

Of course, they probably both have the same source material, but Ronnie Mack was the first to do it, which is why Harrison ran into trouble.

Wait Until the Dust Clears

Maybe due to his reaction, and the obviousness of the act, Vanilla Ice is the only one of those three examples whose reputation has really suffered long-term effects due to the plagiarism accusation.

While Led Zeppelin has long been accused of the act, only recently has it gone to court (see this NPR story on the case), and the band is still one of the most popular rock bands in the world, which is evidenced by the fact that, as recently as last year, it was rumored that the surviving band members were offered $800 million to tour (which Robert Plant, supposedly, rejected).

Harrison's case was widely publicized at the time, but his reputation hasn't really suffered, and I would argue that his song, "My Sweet Lord," has probably even eclipsed the Chiffons' song in lasting popularity.

So, before you go and judge Sam Smith--if that is your inclination--just remember that he is by far not alone.

(Note: while familiar both the Vanilla Ice and George Harrison examples, I did use the "Ice Ice Baby" and "My Sweet Lord" Wikipedia pages to verify my information and find specific names/dates.)