Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch
After the Fall 2016

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Howdy, doody! Or: Doing Forced Time in Art's Crapper

There are villains amongst us, we learn as we go.  And, if we're to survive in this game, our arsenal of defenses must include pitbulls for lawyers and instincts we sharpen like claws through the years.

Agents love to reassure us that we have nothing to fear:  they're far too busy and powerful to need to steal from us.  But Preditors and Editors alerts us to names--well, in question:  agents suspected of selling storylines to Hollywood scouts, etc.  And anyone sending out hundreds of queries has good cause to fear. Almost certainly, the book itself isn't about to be stolen--but the concept may be ripped.

Personal examples:
1)  When I first worked on SOUTHERN SCOTCH (then titled MR. EXCITEMENT), a rich, famous and powerful agent asked excitedly to see it.  He said the time was perfect for a hardboiled thriller.  Well, he passed, and there's no crime in that. But I felt flooded with doody when about 18 months later his star client came out with...you guessed it, a hardboiled thriller.
2)  My query letters at the time featured a reference to Boot Camp: getting back to the basics of writing.  After hundreds on hundreds of rejections, I came across a just-published writers' guide entitled...you guessed it, Boot Camp.
3)  I had high hopes for a little book about writing which included a unique proposal for arranging (Midlist) Monster Tours.  Once again, a few hundred queries resulted in form rejections.  But two interesting things occurred.  First, one form rejection included a handwritten note at top, in big letters reading:  CALL ME!  I did.  And, no, the form rejection hadn't been an error.  The agent simply wanted to know if I could share more details about the Monster tour, assisting both him and his clients.  Two:  a few years later, Lady Gaga introduced her Monster Tour.  I love Lady G, who did not rip me off.  But I believe that agents talk and ideas do get into the air.  Every query that you send raises the level of risk, as things stand.
4)  To take some of the heat off from agents.  When I was only starting out, I sent a short-short story--unsolicited--to a famous and very prolific American writer.  I never heard anything back.  But a year or so later, a story appeared in (FAMOUS MEN'S MAGAZINE), with her byline.  Different title, different prose...identical story hook and execution, right down to the trick ending.

The doody, friends, will break your hearts.  And if you choose trad. pubbing, be prepared for loads of it because, as surely as you breathe, now and then something will drop from the sky.  And it won't smell like roses.  BUT...

If you choose the indie route, reducing your exposure...if you hone your instincts and exercise due prudence...if, at the same time, you open your hearts:  you'll meet some wonderful people and have less fear of hearing the soundtrack from JAWS.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh, Holy Mo', Love, Is That You!

Oh, Holy Moment, wait--It's Reb!  Don't you remember me?

I don't often shout out loud in the middle of a Starbucks.  But I had to make an exception because:
It had been a good long while since I'd met any holy Mo'...and two five-pound scales had just dropped from my eyes.  I'd done some shocking Googling with hopes of finding some usable quotes from my Kelley Wilde books to help promote my ebooks.  I knew I'd had a few good ones, especially from Fangoria ('Kelley Wilde is the most original stylist working in the genre today'), the Atlanta Constitution, etc.  But I didn't have any copies of those dear dead novels on hand.  Mementos of the Glory Days, lost in a cross-country move.  Therefore, I Googled and--

Well, blow me down.  And shoot me for a billy goat if I hadn't received some of the worst reviews ever committed to paper.  I hadn't been aware of them, caught up in the award I'd won and my hot sense of destiny.  My stomach lurched--

not because the slams were vicious.  But rather because, for the most part, the reviewers were right on the money:  I'd developed certain tics--the worst of them being comic book-sound effects to spare me the need for description:  SWOOSH!  KABLAM!  And then, to help me write more quickly while working a couple of jobs--in the midst of a post-divorce breakdown--I surrendered to James Pattersonitis:  one sentence paragraphs, two-page chapters, etc.

But I cried out to the Holy Mo' because I had been freed at last:  from any sense of my past work as being a lost Eden.  The four books were my apprenticeship and, like most apprenticeships, they were filled with pratfalls.  I'd said goodbye to those books in my head.  Now, suddenly, in a sunburst of pain, I said goodbye to them all in my heart.

Do I regret my past work?  Not at all.  I look forward to taking what I learned on to higher ground.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Listen to King Konrath

Joe Konrath is one of the great indie kings.  And this is one of the most important pieces you're ever likely to read on agents and vested interests vs. Self or Direct Publishing.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/agent-fail.html

Check it out!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the beginning was Word...and then un-Word!

If I hit the Panic button first, you may forgive and understand:  I'd just had, after all, my second computer virus in about a year--and this one was a genuine three-alarm fire.  Out of nowhere, my screen soon filled with warning signals, stacked like cards.  And all of them directed me to a master message from some company called Smart Check.  This message itemized the errors that were about to fell me.  Unless I used their services.  Till I paid them, I couldn't even call their customer care line. Meantime, I learned, all my hard drive files had been deleted.

I called S., where I'd boughtt my used laptop.  They'd heard of Smart Check and confirmed that this was a scam.  But for $150 they could strip the hard drive clean and re-install Word.

Not so fast.  A friend turned out to have a friend who's quite good with computers.  And he offered to strip the laptop down and install an operating system other than Word.

And here's where my tale may gain interest.  Not Word?  But didn't everyone use Word?  Wasn't Word the bestest, the greatest, the start and the end?  Aran, my friend's friend, laughed.  As a matter of fact, he said, no Word was not.  And he told me the OS that he used, explaining the advantages.  As he did,I started thinking of numerous things I'd not liked about Word:  the slowness of the system, the never-ending 'offers' to update or install new Adobe...

Lenox is my new OS.  But I might have been equally happy with Mac.  The key thing is the sense of empowerment that came with perceiving new options--and figuring the new system out on my own.  By playing with it and exploring.  No manual came with the software.  The smallest things--e.g., learning how to save a site or link to Favorites--were challenging things that I needed to learn.  The same way I still need to learn, challenges peculiar to each new book I write.  The master keys, I believe, are a playful, adventurous spirit--and the love of making mudpies.

An added bonus:  previously, my laptop took about several minutes to access free Wi-Fi in Starbucks.  Now, I'm on it instantly.  It's good to be unWorded.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hot Toots and Poledance Toots

What began as a small joke on Twitter has changed quickly into something else.  My goal was to motivate others to do one of two things:  either like the Facebook fan page for my new book or enter an Amazon Like.  But we're all strapped for time these days and tugged in a dozen directions. 

I made an offer that went nowhere for the first couple of days:  'Hot Toots' on my website, southernscotch.com, for those who entered a Like either way.  One Like came in, then two...And, as they did, I published the promised toots for cooperating authors and their work, announcing the awards on Twitter.  Meanwhile, several writers had provided extraordinary help that called for something greater than a Hot Toot.  These friends had merited...wait...ah, yes...Poledance Toots!  They are listed on the website separately and the Twitter announcements celebrate their receipt of the coveted, prestigious awards.

A bit silly, perhaps.  Then again, maybe not.  How often do we get or give thanks in the bloody arena?  How often do we sieze the chance to honor or to help another gladiator?

Hey, someday I may even get a good Poledance Toot in return.

For the record:  you can Like the Amazon listing at www.amazon.com/dp/B007VCCI0K