Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch
After the Fall 2016

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hello, at long last, to Seattle--almost...

If you have any long distance dreams of your own, here is my happy farewell to a challenge of nearly six months: preparations and actions I took to pull off a difficult cross-country move.

This short portion of my Seattle adventure will remain as a self-contained unit: seven 'blocks' tackling one hurdle after another. And you don't need to move to Seattle to gain from a short time watching another warrior's game.

Here's my happy goodbye before I board the train--and a happier hello to new adventures that await me:


http://theseattlekid.blogspot.com/2014/08/block-7-home-stretch-part-3.html

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Meet Richard Monaco, the Hippest Arthurian Writer

I've just finished reading and reviewing a novel by a brilliant writer whom you may not know. You should. He's been around a good long while--and many of you, on the strength of this book, will become Monaco fans.

Here's the link to my review of Blood and Dreams, one of his Parsival novels:

http://tiny.cc/f0l3kx

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Three Cheers for Lady Striker!






I've been haunted by one memory for nearly twenty years. And it's much on my mind as I work on RC, my upcoming winter release...which continues a battle I've fought for as long: the word count required for a book to be called a novel. RC, when it's finished, will weigh in at just under 40,000 words. In terms of length, tight narrative and speedy style, it's cut from the same cloth as Nobility, April Yule and The Vanishing Magic of Snow. My three 'action mysteries' starring Boss MacTavin aren't much longer, really--45,000-50,000 words.

The short form seems naturally suited to me. And I won't object at all if my books are called Short Novels. But they are not novellas or long short stories. Let's come back to this in a minute...after you've met Lady Striker.

On board a train to work one day, I watched a well-dressed and very pretty blonde--clearly not a nutcase--defacing a thick hardcover book. Estimated length: 800 pages easily. She wielded a black felt tipped pen. Her expression was calmly, but happily, sadistic. At a pace of three pages a minute or so, she blacked out words, sentences or entire paragraphs. She did not deliberate, moving on decisively.

I wondered then and wonder now: Why not return or trash the book if she felt that strongly about it? Why destroy it in that time-consuming way? My personal impression: she was a writer or an editor, or just an angry reader, who'd had it to here with the padding and fluff used to pump short stories up into epics. I believe she may have taken this book as an example--a chance to see what was actually left when the padding and fluff were removed.

I came to call her Lady Striker. And I've known since that day I did not want that woman taking her Sharpie to one of my books.

                                                                    #####

The length issue's made out to be far more complex than it should be. A good starting point on the subect can be found on the website goodshortnovels.com:

http://www.goodshortnovels.com/how.html

When I first started writing Nobility, the first of my Short Novels, I met with such length resistance that I sent out a full-page list of short books sold as novels on the shelves of major stores. The list included The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Old Man and the Sea, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc. I'd also noted gift holiday books made up of a few dozen pages but sold as novels nonetheless. But publishers and agents then were unenlightened on the subject--except when, beyond doubt, bucks were to be made.

I believe we need general guidelines. A twenty-page book printed in 16-point type should not be considered a novel. But, regardless of its page or word count, short and long novels deliver these goods: character growth, thematic richness, narrative complexity and resolution.

Now, we don't always want a twelve-course meal:



But even the shortest of novels should offer us more than a bon-bon:




We should finish a novel, regardless of length, with a pleasant sense of fullness...not a hollow craving for more after this:



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My New Digs: Or Thinking Bigger





My search for a Seattle studio took a discouraging turn: I was told that none of the cheaper studios were available right now. And since tenants there don't give their notice till the 11th of the month, even if one did come up, I couldn't move in till October. (I arrive on 9/5). Though the smallest units were tiny--just 250 square feet--the rent would have been about the same that I'd be pay if I stayed on in Charlotte. Plus, the building itself was a landmark with good views of Pioneer Square and the waterfront. Within easy walking distance were the Aquarium, the Ferries, Waterfront Park...plus top cares and restaurants. I could walk to my new store in 10-15 minutes., instead of commuting 3 round trip hours a day.

The available units were 527 square feet--and $170 more expensive...or just under $900. Poverty thinking set in. I despaired.

But then I began to consider: with my salary and new extra income I could make this work. And the boost to quality of life couldn't be ignored:

With the extra space I could set up my a real home office. And with the high-speed internet connections offered by the building, I could do more work at home--longer hours, on my schedule--not the store hours of Starbucks or any other cafe. Furthermore, all my past digs have reflected my scarcity thinking: this is all I can do on the little I have (no chance of doing better).

I've applied for the largest studio, one reflecting the growth in my spirit.

Of course, there remains the small matter of furnishing it when I arrive! But I'm tapping into abundance, not into a negative sinkhole--and step by step, day by day, I'll make my new place mine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Coming Wednesday, 8/20

An amazing little lesson in 'abundance thinking.' Why I decided to say yes to a Seattle studio costing about $200 more a month than I'd really wanted to spend. What it can do for my writing...and, possibly, my love life.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Countdown Event for Charlotte Kills: 8/11-8/18

Not that long ago, in another galaxy, the ebook Gold Rush days arrived in the form of free events. Tens, even hundreds of thousands, of books were downloaded for free--leading to actual sales that amounted to way more than pocket change.

Now? For many of us Amazon's new Countdown Events are looking better and better. The sliding price scale is intended to generate some heat and gentle pressure to buy. Here is the scale for Charlotte Kills, the third Boss MacTavin action mystery:

8/11: $.99 at 6 a.m. PST
8/13: $1.99 at 8 a.m. PST
8/15: $2.99 at 3 p.m. PST
8/18: $3.99, the book's list price

You're invited to check out the book's first round of reviews--and decide if you'd like to save $3.00 between 8/11-8/13.

The new name of the game, I believe, is: cachet. Writers who've journeyed the long road to mastery need to work harder and smarter to make that magical word all their own. It won't come from a regular price point of $.99 or $1.99...or covers that scream 'Hi, I'm easy and cheap!' It won't come from no reviews or only one or two. And it won't come from slop that's scribbled in a week or two. But while we fight for our cachet, while our covers get better and better, while we slowly raise our pricing...

Let's also give readers two chances:
1) The chance to savor our cachet at terrific savings and...
2) The chance to save more dough the faster they buy.

Charlotte Kills awaits you...at pricing even my tight-fisted Boss would adore.

Here's the link. I'll see you Monday!

http://tinyurl.com/klp7krz