Sunday, June 30, 2013

Will the author go extinct?

          I’ve been contemplating the future of the author in today’s high technology society. What will become of us and the books we write? Will the paperback go the way of the compact disk and disappear forever? Will publishing houses dissolve into nonexistence the way most record labels have? Will a paperback book become a rare object of antique art? I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that there will always be authors and there will always be stories.

          What is uncertain is what medium will sell those stories? Something we can all agree upon is that ebooks will replace traditional books to a large degree. People will carry libraries of their favorites in nearly weightless ereaders the size of a sheet of paper or less. We all know how easy it is to pirate a book and place it for free all over the internet. So, how will an author make money?

          As I see it, the traditional book industry of buying through a bookstore will soon become ancient history. An author will become writer, publisher, and marketer of their works (a lot of us already are). There will be no middleman between author and reader which opens a whole new world of getting the author noticed. Blogs and websites will allow fans direct access to their favorites which will generate a much closer bond between storyteller and reader.

          I see a new kind of literary relationship evolving in which the populous will decide what they want to read by their own selection and not just books pre-approved, stripped down, and ground out from the corporate publishing paper mill. I find it exciting to think that any one of my fans can literally reach out electronically and ask me a question or just send a little note. I can read it and respond as if we’d known each other for years on a personal level. It is this inter-connectivity that will sell books in the future; by word-of-mouth.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No promises

          Nobody said it would be easy. Nobody said it was always going to be fun. Nobody promised me that after spending twenty-plus years holed up in my office writing novels that anyone would ever read them. Nobody promised me anything would ever come of my writing, and yet I still do it.

          Day after day, year after year, I sit in front of this keyboard and tap out characters and worlds bubbling inside my brain. To date, I think I have more than sixty unique, fully-fleshed characters in all twelve of my novels. I’ve been to other planets, experienced other dimensions, felt unimaginable loss, murdered, loved, hated, been promiscuous; I’ve done just about everything I’ve always wanted to do without ever leaving this room. And yet, nobody ever promised me that anything would ever come of this hobby.

          Did I ever think of giving up? If you’re a real writer than the answer is of course, most certainly not! It’s not even possible to stop. Telling a writer to give up the craft is like telling a person with the most cataclysmic bout of diarrhea to stop pooping (thank you Stephen King for that analogy). There is no giving up and there is no stopping an artist with the drive to create.

         If the digital revolution had never happened and I never had made a dime off my books would I still be spending hour after hour day after day in front of my keyboard? Writing is a habit I can’t stop and I don’t know any other way to live my life. For more than two decades I have not given up and have not stopped writing and as a result in the last two years I’ve sold thousands of copies in five countries.  Sample and free promo copies have been downloaded more than 25,000 times.

          Funny thing is, none of this would have ever happen if I had just taken the easy route and given up. Never! Nobody ever promised me this would be easy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The magic of imagination

          I’m often asked by media and friends how do I create my characters? At last count I have somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy-five to eighty spread over my nine published and three unpublished books. These characters have histories and vivid personalities. Some are absolutely terrifying, some are adventurous, and some are tragic, yet beautiful. All of my characters have one thing in common. They are not modeled after any single person I know.

          I can’t say that one certain character has more of someone real than another character. My characters are a conglomeration of people I’ve known and associated with over the course of my life. This always perplexes my friends who often tell me that a certain character is just like them in every way. I think they are hoping their personality will be immortalized in story form and somehow that gives them recognition.

          I’ve even had an old girlfriend get angry with me because she thought a character in one of my novels was too much like her. I had to assure my ex that the psycho girlfriend in my novel was not based on her, but on at least eight different people, most of whom I went to college with. I’m not certain if she believed me or not even though it’s the truth.

          When I write I transform into and become my characters. I become the clairvoyant prostitute or the daring young man fighting an alien insect invasion. I am the disfigured 9/11 hero or the dignified young woman dying of cancer. I immerse myself in those worlds and live in the fantasy. It would be hard for me to pretend to be someone I know as a person, if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writer’s zone

          When I start to really get into writing a story I go into what I call a ‘writer’s zone’ where all distractions are muted. Time slips away and my surroundings blur into the images in my mind. This is creating something from nothing at its finest.

          There is no television show or video game that can compare to playing with characters and scenes inside my own mind. There is no illicit drug or alcoholic drink that can take me to the places my imagination can. The writer’s zone is a place all for myself.

          Sometimes I regret that I cannot share the zone with anyone else. My wife doesn’t understand why I sometimes get miffed when she calls me out of the office for such trivial matters as taking out the trash or catching an errant fly buzzing the kitchen sink. My biggest problem is once that bubble of solitary thought is burst it’s very hard to re-inflate it.

          My wife doesn’t understand that the stinky trash may have just disrupted the deeply spiritual connection between Nathan and Miriam in DROP OUT or allowed Tommy Fielding to murder another innocent victim in DEGENERATES (had to get some plugs in here somewhere). I’ve heard athletes talk of the zone, but that’s a physical dimension. For me, the zone is purely mental.

          Right now, I feel the tingly beginnings of the zone coming on and a writing session will soon follow. I already checked that the trash cans were empty and no insects have stowed away in the kitchen corner in predatory wait for a forgotten morsel, so I’m good to go.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Writers are transport machines

It’s raining. Fat drops meander down the glass windowpane in my office like so many overfed translucent snails. Water puddles in the street forming miniature estuaries where worms tunnel up from drowning liquid seeking refuge across the sidewalk only to die between the smooth beaks of a snacking warbles.

          And here I sit in front of my computer belting out another novel.

          Writer’s are transport machines. We put words on the page and transport reader’s minds to other places and times. But at what cost to the writer’s psyche?

          A great author once said that being a writer is like having to do homework every day for the rest of your life. There is always something to do; editing, rewriting, better setting details, characterization, etc. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend time working on one of my books or upcoming projects. Tens of thousands of hours spent plotting, pitching, and producing. Sometimes I wonder what I would have done with those hours had I not been a writer?

          Perhaps, I would’ve become a great businessman, or politician? Or perhaps, I would have wasted my days sludged in front of a television or video game? Perhaps, I would have been a barfly and one drunken evening met someone other than my wife and then ruined my life because of some momentary lapse of judgment and bored, primal impulse?

          Unless I can invent a time machine, I’ll never know. My current work-in-progress deals with these kinds of questions, but I’m not going to get into pre-promotion right now. What makes the ‘what if’s’ flow on days like this?

          There are social sacrifices all serious writers make. It is the loneliest profession in the world, after all. The saddest however, is the writer who doesn’t hit the grand success they’ve dreamt of and think they have wasted their time pursuing their passion. If you truly enjoy your craft than that enjoyment itself is the reward; not fortune, fame, or recognition. All the sacrifices made are worth it.