Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Something Liquid This Way Comes

Mark this on your calendars if you have any hope of succeeding:

When: February 12.

Where: Authors Electric blog:  http://authorselectric.blogspot.com

What:  A magnum of Dom Perignon in the form of a new post entitled: Give My Tootsie Role a Hug.  A mindblowing, true account--containing a great deal of bubbly--about the greatest untold scandal in the history of publishing. I'm proud to have been part of it and look forward to sharing top secrets that may help you break into print.

See you there!
Reb MacRath

Learn:
--How you too can change past negative perceptions and be seen with a fresh eye.
--How you can get a Good Address.
--Why you're better off ignoring agents' demands for your bio.
--Why you should refuse to speak with, even meet, any agent until they're officially handling your work.

And, while you're at it, learn the Almighty Shockeroo--all on February 12!



Monday, January 28, 2013

Biggers Can Be Choosers

As you'll have noted from the last blogs, my sights are now trained on Perception. And I'm taking five from Perception at large to improving Perception on Twitter. Here's why...

Take a minute or two to sit at your computer screen and watch Twitter's general stream. About 200 Tweets seem to flash by every minute. And anything you Tweet will be vanish from the screen in a second or two, missed by the very people whom you hope to reach--unless: 1) You have a substantial Followers base; 2) You ReTweet your core Followers who ReTweet you in turn; 3) You maintain a healthy balance between your 'shout-outs' (touts for your own work) and reach-outs--inspirational, informative or helpful stuff to others.

Let's look at each of these in turn...
1) What's a substantial Followers base? We begin to be taken more seriously at 1000 Followers. Then at 3000 we can take some pride that we're actually starting to look pretty good. But I now agree with John Logan: 10,000 seems to be the magic number--the point at which we're taken very seriously indeed...and at which we make super-desirable allies.
2) With a base of 10,000 we're in a position to offer them something important: the power to ReTweet about their new books and giveaways, etc. And our 10,000 Followers have their own fans in turn. When Claude Bouchard ReTweets you, the word goes out to his 300,000-plus Followers.  Getting up to 10,000 will take some hard daily work...but as Logan says, the growth process grows easier. The rich get richer and the big get bigger. And biggers can be choosers.
2) Balance becomes everything. If we're perceived as spammers or self-aggrandizing jerks, down we go: we get Unfollowed or get blocked. No one minds an occasional tout or even more than occasional--so long as balance is perceived. And we're more likely to buy or free-download something from someone who's amused or amazed us with well-written, unselfish Tweets. I discovered nearly all of my ebook writers on Twitter--through the power of their Tweets: Claude Bouchard, David Cranmer, Kirkus MacGowan, Roz Morris, John Logan, Rebecca Scarsberry, Diane Rapp, Douglas R. Cobb, etc.

Closing note on numbers: I hope to find a balance between Bouchard's volume and selectivity. Now and then I'll copy a block of Followers from a writer I like to help me gain some traction. But I prefer to examine each name, seeking those who share my interest in mysteries and thrillers or who stand out somehow in their profiles. Anyway, the game is on and I will keep you posted.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beat the Clock: The Advanced Version

Self-discipline can be the highest form of pure self-indulgence. At least when it comes to managing multiple projects in writing. Today I had a twelve-hour creative bout that illustrates this truth.

I'm exhausted, I can tell you.  From my blissed-out expression you might assume quite naturally that I'd been doing something else. But I was playing Beat the Clock, balancing three different projects--reveling in each of them and then moving brutally on.
#1: Continuing the marathon first draft of the third Boss MacTavin novel. Since November 5, I've drafted at least 500 words every day. The temptation now, in the home stretch, is to drop everything else and devote every hour of my time to getting the ending on paper.  But no--and no for a good reason. Why's that?  Because when I've reached my word quota, and when I stop at a critical point, I shut the door on the boiler...and let the pressure build all night. When the next day comes I'm all fired up to go. I also stoke my confidence by sticking to my schedule.  Though some can go faster, I'm well aware, each day my faith grows with my pride: I'm getting it done on my timeline.
#2: Typing up what I've drafted so far. I should have started this months ago.  To get caught up and avoid a massive typing chore, I need to type a minimum of 5 pages a day. Or in 40 days 200 pages. Tiring work but here's the kick: If I stay on track with both #1 and #2, I'll have the new book drafted and typed by about the end of February--leaving me 6 or 7 months to rewrite and fine-tune for a fall release. The payoff there is very sweet.
#3: While all this is going on, I need to completely rewrite and retype my next ebook--because it isn't on flashdrive.  It's on disc somewhere, I know. But rather than frantically searching, I'm retyping for the chance to go at this thing freshly, as a new work of art and not just a backlist title.  To stay on schedule, I need to rewrite and type at least 7 pages a day. Neatly. Spell-checked. Ready for my formatter.

The self-discipline part is obvious.  The self-indulgence part required a cartoon lightbulb. But, luckily, I realized:  I don't 'gotta' do this stuff--man, I get to do it! And I'm glad I do. So don't be alarmed by my curious smile. I haven't stumbled off the set of an adult film. I've just been playing Beat the Clock.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Perception, perception, perception!

In The Graduate, of course, the one word intended as the Universal Key was: "Plastics!" But in the life of Kelley Wilde, the Midlist Monster I once was, quite a different magic word was uttered in an SUV by an older writer I admired. This was John Farris, who'd published some Serious Novels while barely out of his teens and then went on to put his mark on the horror and thriller genres. If you've ever read The Fury or seen the Brian DePalma film version, you know who John Farris is. John is the man of whom Stephen King had said that he wanted to be John Farris: great plotter, great plot twister, great master of suspense...and all-around great prose stylist.

Anyway, what was the word? In the SUV that night, we got to talking about the changed publishing landscape. My own trad-pub career had tanked after just four books.  And John, while he maintained a solid core of about 100,000 readers, made regular treks to LA to land just one more chance in films--and recapture the glory of the days when he'd worked with DePalma, John Cassavetes, Kirk Douglas...

John was in his sixties the night that we sat there and wondered. And suddenly, in the middle of a longish silence, he cried out: : "Perception, perception, perception!" He could not elaborate on this. Nor did he really have to. He still had a youthful face (King had suggested that Farris had a portrait of Dorian Gray stashed somewhere). He wore his hair longer, stylishly hip. He'd changed, in the years since we'd first met, from bland striped polo-style shirts and chinos to jeans and denim shirts with sunglasses tucked at the neckline. He was a charming raconteur. A man of enormous creative and personal power. He was well-respected by those in the know and had big buckeroos in the bank. That said, he'd put on some pounds and he was in his sixties and his work did not easily translate to film--nothing had clicked since The Fury.

Now, all these years later, the word comes to me. Though John Farris and I drifted when I moved to the West Coast, I know I was given a fabulous gift: this mantra that I've finally begun to understand after all these years. The single word I live by.

And this next week, I'll go into full gladiator mode as I begin to apply what I've learned: redoing my Amazon bio and the book descriptions. The full transformation will be from a struggling ebook writer to--

Ah, but that part is Top Secret..

Stay tuned and remember: Perception, perception, perception!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Under Construction Like Crazy!

--Workouts for new photo.
--Hair training.
--Continuing first draft of Untitled Boss MacTavin thriller #3.
--Typing the 50-odd thousand words written so far.
--Completely redoing ALL copy for Amazon listings: based on a Top Secret formula I've devised: to be    changed on Amazon at a strategically orchestrated date.
--Preparing to join an aggressive young team with a hot new website (100,000 hits, shooting for a million) and an online Live show. 
--Enjoying the heck out of my participation in the Authors Electric collective blog.
--Cutting back from two jobs to one to ramp up my creative time.
--Coming up daily with one new quip or zinger worthy inclusion in the Pink Book I've kept for ten years.
--Remembering who my friends are, no matter how busy I am--and trying a little bit harder to show my gratitude and love.
--Finding a better balance between reading for pleasure and reading for growth.  Tackle one challenging classic a month.


Gee, I wish I had something to do.





Sunday, January 13, 2013

I retire, for now, from reviewing

No choice involved here, I do have to stop while I can still look back on my reviews with both pride and pleasure. All were written from the heart. But the perils of reviewing are far more complex than I'd thought.

I remembered Rachel Abbot's tale of what happened when she was asked to review a book she thought third-rate.  She contacted the writer forthrightly to tell him why she couldn't review his book. He responded by posting a one-star review of her best-selling novel.  Rachel stopped reviewing. And now so have I with great thanks to her for freeing me to read for pleasure and for growth while focusing on my own writing.

Cheers.

And, for the record, my last review gave a well-earned five stars to Sparks: A Year in E-Publishing.  Check it out!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Check out these three (literary) Hotties!

If you're serious about writing, you need to make serious plans for Mining Transatlantic Gold--the subject of my debut blog for Authors Electric.  Now, Transatlantic Gold means sales on both sides of the Atlantic.  And in this blog I consider the mining strategies of three wildly disparate writers: Claude Bouchard, John A. A. Logan and Roz Morris. They live, respectively, in French Canada, Scotland and England. And their books couldn't be more different. But, that said, their strategies on three scores are quite similar.

Have a look at my blog and decide for yourself if you can better your chances:

http://authorselectric.blogspot.com


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shock Therapy for Beginners

Experts to the left of you, experts to the right of you, peddling every which-way wares.  Where's a young writing dude or dudette to begin?  I'll leave the nuts and bolts of writing to my learned colleagues. After decades in the field, I'm still learning the art and the business...as I'd damned well better here in EbookLandia  where the funhouse floor keeps shifting and William Goldman's mantra--Nobody Knows Anything--is, more than ever, right as rain.

The things that I can talk about are the handful of things that most interest me--matters of the spirit, matters of the head.  And chief among these is the need to find or carve an arc to one's career.  Some find it by waiting patiently for the world to come around while they continue to do their own thing. Others hack or carve their way through the opposition, delighting in the fight.  You have to know which way is right for you and then follow it truly.  For the time frame's not in our control, though the odds are in our favor if we hang in long enough and refuse to bow.

That said, whichever path we take, we can be sure of this:  No one can escape the need for occasional shock therapy.  Remember that groovy old TV show, The Prisoner?  In one episode, the ex-spy Number 6, learns that he has been 'rewired' by his captors:  in an effort to break his will, they've changed his memories through hypnosis, his complete sense of himself.  Formerly right-handed, now he can't stop himself from eating with his left. Etc.  And, desperate to regain his Self, he contrives to change his wiring back-by half-electrocuting himself every time he uses his left hand.

Not one of us will escape the need to do the same.  Our confidence will be shaken to the point where we forget our incredible faith in our talent.  Our vision of our potential will weaken and blur as we age.  The succor that we've always found in those sweet inner voices (You're great, baby.  Yeah, you're a star...) will be lost in the waves of bleak voices (You're one of millions...You're a putz...)  And we will all require new ways to rewire our hard drives and rekindle our faith.

Keep your footwork cool and cocky.

Cheers..


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oh, baby, it feels soooo damned fine!!!

Pushing the Wall, I mean. Pushing it hard when your energy's low or you need a short rest or you simply don't know how to handle a tricky part in your new book.  You deserve a rest, God knows--your kids' voices shatter glass, your boss is a sadistic fool, you've been writing faithfully for (enter the number of years), what harm can there be if you slack off this once?  You know how to do it.  Hit the Snooze button on your alarm, again and again, and forget any guilt.  It's just one day...or maybe two...You could take off a week, babe, and really recharge!

Then again, you'll throw off your momentum and feed the soft streak you've reined in so well, the temptation to take five in a creative crunch.

Two days ago temptation struck.  I'd worked a brutal graveyard shift, had another coming up--and didn't feel like facing the narrative bind I was in:  back story blues in the middle of a dramatic sequence.  My timing might pass muster with polishing and editing...but my approach seemed staged.

Cut to the Yeah, Baby Moment:  I'm seated at my 'office' in Starbucks, exhausted but functioning.  As I've started to do lately when tired or stumped in the writing, I move the pencil more slowly and deliberately, immersing myself in the process. My energy begins to rise, along with my confidence.  Something that I hadn't planned comes to mind:  a special mental exercise that it would make a world of sense for Boss to do at this moment.  Instead of back story talkety-talk, we'd have mental action that would accomplish two things:  We'd learn something new about Boss and the scene would also justify the cover that I'd had in mind for more than a year--but couldn't relate to the tale.  Until now.

The scene went on to write itself.  I doubled my daily word quota, rebooted my shaken confidence--and earned a Yeah, Baby cover to boot.  So count me in the club of strict,  come hell or high water writers.