Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing)

I believe in calling a spade “a sturdy hand shovel that can be pushed into the earth with the foot”.

Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all! of this multi-post arc dealt with some folks I knew who vanity published their books back when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”.

Vanity publishing was great in its heyday. Heck, it still is. The vanity house had no skin in the game. You paid them to publish your book. They did their best to upsell you on marketing, cover design, hard v soft cover, an ISBN, paper quality, print quality, print size, editing, proofing, copy editing, …

Again I ask, any of this sounding familiar?

What they couldn’t do is put your book on bookstore shelves. The book industry has buyback policies that no other industry (that I know of) has; If your book doesn’t sell, the bookstore can return it to the publisher and get their money back. Such a policy requires the publisher have a staff in place to handle returns and a warehouse to house returns. Vanity publishers didn’t have that.

Umm…neither does self-publishing. That’s why you can order your self-published book at a bookstore but can’t find it on the shelves.
Continue reading “Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 2 – Vanity/Self-Publishing)”

Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 4 – The Date

The Look of Love was in his eyes

“This is not a date, understand?”

Ritchie smiled.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. I understand that this is not a date. I am not to buy you a milkshake, a coffee or a burger. I am not to offer to you any of my fries.”

“Good. We understand each other.”

“I am not to look at you or talk to you. I do not know you. My heart is not to pound when my gaze falls upon you. I am not to fantasize about holding you in my arms.”

She stared at him through aviator sunglasses. Her right hand twitched by her holster, the fingers of her left tapped the top of her nightstick. “You can stop that kind of talk right now, understand?”

His smile never faltered. “Officer Ladd, you called me, remember? I did what you asked. I did what you wanted. I did what you told me.”

“I know.”

“I did not pursue you.”

“I said I know.”

“I sat on my couch in my sad little hovel, staring at the phone, cold cup of coffee in my hand, holding my breath and hoping each ring would be you.”

“This is a stupid idea.”


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Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 1 – Introduction)

The difference between a good Scotch, a good wine and a good sentence has a lot to do with being a good mechanic

This post is the first in a series on what makes any story’s – flash through novel – opening line great. Let me know what you think are great opening lines and I’ll include them in the series provided you explain what makes them great.

Stanley Fish’s How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One is a good, fun read.

Fish writes about beautiful sentences and how they’re constructed. He offers that Strunk&White is useful only if you already know lots of grammar and such. I’ve got no problem with that (have you read Strunk&White? It’s a treasure trove. Are you an author or author-wannabe? Do yourself a favor and read it).

Strunk&White is basically a mechanic’s manual for producing clear, understandable content in the English language, meaning unless you’re willing to get a set of wrenches and such and unless you’re willing to open the hood or climb under your sentence, don’t read the book, you won’t understand it and will probably do both yourself and your prose harm if you do.
Continue reading “Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 1 – Introduction)”

Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all!)

My child’s a genius. Your child’s precocious. Their child’s an obnoxious brat. – We use language to distance ourselves from uncomfortable truths

Note: this will be a multi-post arc on the theme of storycrafting versus publishing. Hope you enjoy.

Long, long ago (we’re talking late 1980s early 1990s) when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”, I knew a fellow who just had to get his book in print. I think the title was “The Decapitation Project”. We were in a workshop together and it didn’t matter what he submitted, everything got back to The Decapitation Project and how it was based on fact and the government had a secret lab where they were keeping heads alive.

You mean like Donovan’s Brain?

“That was a book. The Decapitation Project is real.”

A friend told me they saw him at a con with a table selling copies of his book (again, decades ago).

His self-published book.

Except back then we called it “vanity published” and it was something one only admitted to if asked.

When you had a gun pointed at your head.

If then.
Continue reading “Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all!)”

Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 3 – Porkchops

Wise Kitty

Hecate, lying stretched out on the couch, reached one paw into the last bit of sunlight coming through the picture window.

Phyl ran her fingers through the cat’s fur. “What you looking at?”

Hecate blinked lazily.

“Comfortable, are we?”

Hecate purred like a tiny electric motor.

“Of course you are. I’ll bet you’ve never wanted a man.”

Hecate sighed and continued purring, gently quaking the cushion.

“Of course you haven’t. You’re a cat. What could you want with a man? For that matter, why don’t you sit in my lap and make us both happy?”

Hecate rolled onto her back, her legs still stretched out, purring, her eyes on Phyl.

“You’re a slut, you know that?”

Phyl’s mobile said, “Hey, Sister, Pick Up! Hey, Sister, Pick Up!”


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