“Ars longa, vita brevis.” Anyone who has been writing seriously for any time at all would agree that the Greeks hit the mark on this one. “Art is long.” And, given all the inconsistencies, stumbling blocks, bad breaks … and the self doubt to which all else contribute while the writer is struggling to learn his art—indeed, “life is short.”
Perhaps in the heroic quest of safeguarding one’s own unique voice in the pursuit of his art by shunning writing courses or self-help manuals, the writer runs the risk of reinventing the wheel again and again and again until he finally runs out of precious time, or the flame of enthusiasm, which are one and the same. Read more…
Social networkers who know me might get the inkling that I am a fan of Twitter. Social Networkers who know me well, will tell you if they stick a pin in me would (after they listen to my obscenities), expect I’d bleed in short spurts of 140 characters.
That is to say, Twitter is in my blood!
My wife would tell you what my good friends and my very tactful new acquaintances, away from the internet, won’t. And that is this: when I’m left to my own devises, and have no outside restrictions imposed on me, I can talk a subject to death while trying to get to the meat of it. It’s just the crazy way those zany electrical conduits race on their circuitous route from my brain to my mouth. I don’t control them, so I disavow any responsibility over uprooted signs, overturned food carts, or crossing guards resigned to shaking their staffs, along their way.
But, put me on Twitter and my brain becomes a master of brevity—which is not the same thing as being the master of intelligent brevity. Read more…
[This blogster is getting frugal in his retirement. If this post looks familiar to any of you it is because it was posted in my once lively, now defunct, Jay Squires Writer's Workshop Newsletter. I think it has enough general interst that it should be included here. Curiously, I had an earlier blog post entitled THEN AND NOW (A WRITER'S LIFE) -- a title which I totally plagarized myself by using in my Newsletter (fortunately, there's a law against suing oneself or I'd lose what little income I have in my retirement -- I had that good a case against me!) Even more curiously, I apparently had forgotten I used this same title, though the content in the two articles was entirely different. Anyway ... hence the PART II here.]
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(A Writer’s Life)
It was about 1961 or ’62. I had just moved from a comfortable room in my parents’ home to a flat in San Francisco I shared with three others, only one of whom I remember. His name was Joe, and I remember him because he, like me, left a comfortable home in Santa Maria, California, to experience life in San Francisco.
We were oh so ready to begin our suffering. Read more…
I am about to post something that has the potential to instantly polarize my followers, possibly to cause a goodly number of them to unsubscribe from SeptuagenarianJourney altogether. I hope that doesn’t happen. But, if it does …
So be it.
I didn’t approach the controversial nature of the subject-matter with the sense of adventure I might have shown as a younger man. You won’t find any courageous nose-thumbing from this corner! As a matter of fact, a thorough exegesis of both sides of the argument by an expert would have been welcome relief to me. But, with no such balanced analysis forthcoming, it is apparently left up to me.
I’m taking a risk that’s not easy. I’m sorry if I insult any of you. That is not my intent. On the other hand, it is impossible for me not to take sides, so I can’t even protect myself from the wrath of some of you by pleading for you to please “not shoot the messenger.”
Indeed, I am the messenger, but to some of you the stand I will be taking may be considered a shootable offence.
Again … so be it!
Fire away! Read more…
It made sense to separate myself from The Final Tally by a few days before trying to squeeze out some juicy conclusions from the dry numbers on the blackboard.
I’d like to thank those of you who visited The Final Tally and left a comment there. Some of you were true friends of my Blog, going back a good while. Others had jumped aboard with the posting of A Reluctant Manifesto and stayed all the way through to The Final Tally. All true friends. Then, there is one whom I count as friend even though this was his first visit.
To a person (including my newest visitor) everyone was trying to take the sting out of what I’d hoped I’d made clear was only a disappointing promotion from the standpoint of the numbers. I was not expecting to make a lot of money from it, but I was expecting to give away a lot more eBooks. Nine hundred to a Thousand is not unheard of, and some of my friends have given away two to four thousand books during a promotion.
Now, I’ve never for a moment doubted the quality of my writing. I hope I don’t alienate any of you because of my lack of modesty here. But, if I wasn’t sure I was a good writer, then I would have to look elsewhere for what didn’t work and my conclusions might be faulty.
I’m going to go all the way back to Writing 101, to dig up this observation: Readers need to be able to identify with their protagonist. And based on whatever personal interests led them to choose the books they read, their heroes/heroines are of a special type and exist in special settings. This is because we readers are genre driven. Romance aficionados really love touchy-feely novels; Mystery and Thriller readers crave the excitement of identifying with a Protagonist who’s living on the edge in a world of murder, espionage, etc.; lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy need protagonists who live in the future, or another dimension of the past or future, and who have antagonists who are larger than life and … and … and …
The fact is I don’t want to get hung up in classifications. What I’m trying establish is that most readers choose a book or series of books based on a genre they are familiar with and enjoy. Makes sense to me.
What I’m leading up to is this: While it is tempting to call a short story—or a collection of short stories—a genre, it isn’t. My collection: THE GREATEST short STOR[ies] [I've] EVER TOLD doesn’t promise the reader mystery, romance, fantasy or paranormal activity, though each of those genres is found in one or more of the nine short stories.
But, Rebecca-Luvs-Romance doesn’t know that when she sees THE GREATEST short STOR[ies] [I've] EVER TOLD. Nor does Thrill-a-minute Tony,or … you get the picture!
Because I hadn’t thought all this through when I tried to create the pre-promotional buzz, or even during the promotion, my short story collection, which was first out of the gate (with RSVP to start one day later) started very sluggishly and never really recovered from the lack of momentum. The numbers went from 1,994 at the end of the first day, to 2,828 at the end of the second day and finished at 3,746. This was the overall ranking in Kindle Free Books. The numbers were supposed to get smaller as the promotion progressed.
My ranking in Kindle Free Short Stories also increased from the first to the third day from #28 to #57 (although it did get as low as #21 during the second day.) Overall, not good. Read more…
MAGNUM APPRECIATION & HUMBLE APOLOGIES
At 12:00 Midnight, July first, I took a virtual snapshot of my Promotion’s final rating numbers.
Were they as good as I’d hoped they’d be? Are they ever?
Were they what a reasonable person would anticipate? I’ve never been accused of being reasonable!
The fact is, I had high hopes of this first Promotion being such a resounding success that it would, once-and-for-all, silence the voices of the critics who announced that:
Your first in a sequel novel shouldn’t be promoted until the second is published.
It’s foolhardy to expect favorable results for a short story collection promotion. Period!
The fact that the critics are not going to be silenced—as will soon be amply clear when you check out the final tally—is a bit of a disappointment to me.
Before I get into the crunching of the numbers, I want to give my heartfelt gratitude to all those wonderful people who shared of their time and their effort in support of my promotion. Most of them I sent emails to about a week before its onset, asking for their support by shooting out some tweets for each of the two books and mentioning my promotion on Face Book and any of the other social media sites. To a few people I tweeted for their support. Their responses, in all cases were heartwarming. Read more…
STATS: The Tale of the Tape
Every now and then I hear about a person who doesn’t own a Kindle and assumes he’s out of luck when it comes to buying Amazon eBooks. Because Amazon is in the book selling business and are savvy enough to know that not everyone owns a Kindle eReader. So, they’ve made it easy for almost anyone to buy their books. They’ve developed a free app called Kindle on PC. Here’s the link to it: http://amzn.to/1TwgNZ.
Now, let me explain why I downloaded Kindle on PC even though I own, and love, my Kindle Fire.
1. When I purchase (or get a free!) eBook from Amazon it goes to both my Kindle Fire and my PC. And, this is really sweet …
2. Let’s say I read several pages or chapters on my “Fire” in the morning, and I want to continue on where I left off in the evening on my PC. I don’t have to search for where I left off. It automatically syncs to the furthest page read!
3. I am a note taker, an underscorer and a bookmarker. Both Kindle Fire & Kindle on Pc have all those functions—but with a difference. All eBook products pride themselves on their portability. Kindle is no exception. My “fire” is small, but my fingers are large. I prefer to type my notes on my PC keyboard. On my Kindle on PC my bookmarks show at the top of the page, but all of them are organized, so by clicking on the icon, all are laid out for me. By clicking on any one of them I am transported to that page of document. Nifty.
4. These 73 year old blue beauties are farsighted, even with corrective lenses. While I can enlarge the print on my “Fire” it reduces the number of words on the screen. I want to read more than ten lines before going to the next page.
I like the fact that I can take my “fire” with me anywhere. That’s nice. I wouldn’t take my laptop in the potty room. But, if I’m at my computer, reading, the Kindle on PC wins hands down!
So, if you haven’t already downloaded your Free Kindle on PC, do yourself a favor and download it right now!
Lest we forget, Kindle apps are also available for phones as well.
And now for the Stat-ticular updates:
For “THE GREATEST …”
Total Books Given away End of 3rd day: 161
Ranking in Kindle Free Books end of 3rd day (12 midnight): #3,746
Ranking in Kindle Free Short Story Collections end of 2nd day (12 midnight): #57
For “RSVP …”
Total Books Given away End of 2nd day: 20
Ranking in Kindle Free Books end of 2nd day (12 midnight): # 4,833
Ranking Free Mystery/ Hard Boiled: #26
Ranking Free. Crime: #68
Just to tell you, it’s not the end of the tally road for THE GREATEST short STOR[ies] [I've] EVER TOLD. It’s really just the beginning. Sure, no more freebies. Now, the interested reader will have to dig into his or her wallet or purse—but not too deep, dear friends! They’ll be able to get the cream of MY crop of short stories for only $2.99. Now, if the buzz was buzzy enough during the Free Promo, my understanding is that people will still continue to download it for weeks afterwards.
Soooo, That said, what I’m gonna do is have a final tally PAID STATS party seven days after this promo ends for both books. (Hold on while I run to the calendar!) Okay, that would put it at July 7, In The Year of Our Lord, 2013. Yes, the kid’s pulling out all the stops in making this official!
Now, before I go … let me remind you this is the final day of the FREE PROMOTIONAL for RSVP: INVITATION TO AN ALCHUKLESH MASSACRE
If you haven’t yanked it off the virtual bookshelf yet, push, shove, scratch and maul your way to the download button… now!
Thanks, and I love you all!
[What follows is adapted from and enlarges upon the actual preface to RSVP: Invitation to an Alchuklesh Massacre. It includes more of the backstory of the author's early years. I hope you enjoy it.]
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Once, when I was just twenty and fresh out of the military, the opportunity of being Tribal Historian for a confederacy of Indian tribes fell in my lap. I was to travel the U.S. with an itinerant medicine man and his gorgeous teenage daughter. The first time I saw her, I gazed upon a bronze tan covering her sleek body. She wore a short buckskin skirt and had jet black hair, sporting two braids with an actual feather, for God’s sake, tethered to each.
She smelled faintly of nutmeg and romance.
I was to accompany them to the various reservations across the U.S., compiling mountains of notes while learning—as the medicine man promised I would learn—the true story of the American Indian. Later I would document it all for posterity.
All I had to do was go home and pack, dole out my goodbyes and return in one week.
But, I was a lad of twenty and my mother had something to tell me: Read more…
LOOKIN’ UP … WAY UP
End of 1st Day Stats
This is the first Stats Blog for my promotion. I feel the need to stall for a moment. Of course you will forgive me:
You know … there is a story behind the title of my short story collection, just as I’m sure there’s a story behind your book’s title. I am interested in the genesis of things like that, how the original thought came to you, how and why it was modified. Many times, just as it is with the germ of a story, what you end up with bears little relation to the idea with which you started.
The title for my book started with a false assumption. You see, I always thought The Greatest Story Ever Told was synonymous with The Bible . I thought that title existed, as a kind of subtitle, alongside the Bible for—well, forever. It never dawned on me that young people of today may never have heard of The Greatest Story Ever Told!
I don’t remember, now, what made me Google it. It was too late anyway. My short story collection with a very similar—with an intentionally very similar, I might add—title had already gone into e-publication and the cover with my title emblazoned on it was part of the total package. Read more…
Here’s the deal … this morning I opened my eyes and was floating around in that Alice-In-Wonderland nimbus where I knew I wasn’t dreaming but my mind refused to latch onto the idea of getting up and plugging in the coffee.
… So, I’m in this rowboat, see? I’m way out in the ocean, so far that there is no trace of the breakers, no sign of land anywhere.
Now, normally that would stress out my conscious mind because I had no bearings. And, my conscious mind looks out for my safety. But, this wasn’t normal and I didn’t really possess my conscious mind at the time. Everything just flowed.
… Besides, I have my sports fishing pole, the butt-end wedged securely under my thigh and the meat of the pole held at a forty-five degree angle with the line sagging lazily some twenty or thirty yards from the boat. What could be more serene? The early morning sun glints off the water. There is the heady smell of salt in the air. A circling seagull suddenly plummets and slices the surface of the water. He disappears for so long I figure he must have surfaced somewhere behind me. Then he emerges, a smelt or anchovy wriggling in his beak. Floating there, he maneuvers it around, gets it where he wants it, throws back his head and gobbles it down in three swallows. Nature, left alone, doing what it is supposed to do. The sun warms my face. I listen to the water slapping against the sides of my rowboat. So tranquil. I could stay here forever! Read more…