Been Gone Forever

Hello world.

I’m doubting that anyone remembers me, but here I am again. I tantalized (overstatement?) you with tales of self-publishing or small-press publishing of a book project of mine. But it’s been a while since then. And here I am again, though even less tantalizing than before.

I decided to add some girth to the story, so I’m in the process of adding a few more stories to the project. It’s slow going, what with work and life and everything else, but I have been making progress. So that’s that.

Also, I got engaged a couple of weeks ago. So my creativity will both gain a muse and drop the depression and angst that had hitherto been fuel for me. We’ll see what that means.

Anyways, I just wanted to check in. It’s amazing that this blog still gets views after being lifeless so long. I wanted to say hello again. So… Hello.

Hopefully I’ll have some new content for you soon.

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Kickstartering

So, as most of you know, the plan for this book project of mine is to get it funded through a crowdfunding service and, so far, the most likely candidate for a creative project like this is Kickstarter. Here’s a quick definition of crowdfunding, for any of you who may not know: “Crowdfunding (alternately crowd financingequity crowdfundingcrowd equitycrowd-sourced fundraising) is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”-Wikipedia

Kickstarter works on an incentive based system, which they call ‘rewards’. As their website points out:

Every project’s primary rewards should be things made by the project itself. If the project is to record a new album, then rewards should include a copy of the CD when it’s finished. Rewards ensure that backers will benefit from a project just as much as its creator (i.e., they get cool stuff that they helped make possible!).

There are four common reward types that we see on Kickstarter:

  • Copies of the thing: the album, the DVD, a print from the show. These items should be priced what they would cost in a retail environment.
  • Creative collaborations: a backer appears as a hero in the comic, everyone gets painted into the mural, two backers do the handclaps for track 3.
  • Creative experiences: a visit to the set, a phone call from the author, dinner with the cast, a concert in your backyard.
  • Creative mementos: Polaroids sent from location, thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.”

So this is where it starts to get interesting. Literature projects on Kickstarter have a much lower success rate than most other projects there. They are second lowest in success rate, just above fashion projects, at 32.39%. There are over 10,000 unsuccessful literature campaigns, 2,238 of which received no funding.

The numbers are interesting on that front. The further along a project gets (like, say, above 50% funding) the more likely it is to reach its total goal. That may seem obvious, but basically the most important part of the process is to get the ball rolling. I feel I can get enough local support to raise a chunk of what I’ll need, but I’ll need the majority of the help to come from outside of my own small group of friends, family, and other backers. And that’s where the rewards come in. According to them, “To date the most popular pledge amount is $25 and the average pledge is around $70. Small amounts are where it’s at: projects without a reward of $20 or less succeed 28% of the time, while projects with a reward of $20 or less succeed 45% of the time.”

So, I think I’ll start the pledges at $10. I feel if it’s any lower people will pledge $5 and feel they’re supporting the project well. But a project of this magnitude, with projected costs of around $8000, would need 1600 different backers if everyone donated $5. And I strongly doubt I can pull that kind of support, especially coming into this project as an unknown.

So here are a few ideas I’ve had for different rewards at the different pledge points:

$10-eBook version of the story

$20-eBook and Audiobook

$50-eBook, Audiobook and hardcover

$100-eBook, Audiobook, signed hardcover and art print

$200-eBook, Audiobook, signed hardcover and signed art print

$500-eBook, Audiobook, two signed hardcovers, signed art print and name in the acknowledgements

$750-eBook, Audiobook, three signed hardcovers, signed art print, name and picture in acknowledgements

$1000-eBook, Audiobook, four signed hardcovers, signed art print, name and picture in acknowledgements and you get to write the foreword (or, if there are multiple donations at this level, which I find hard to imagine, they could share authorship of the foreword/afterword)

So there are a few ideas. They’re still very early ideas. I feel like I definitely need to come up with some better stuff for the higher donations. More personalized rewards. More exciting rewards. I have no idea if anyone will pledge more than $50, but I’d like to provide some incentive to…

It looks like some authors of art books provide prints that are not in their books and only available to Kickstarter philanthropists. Something like that might be a good idea…

Feel free to let me know what you think about all this. Would you donate with those rewards? What rewards would you like or expect in order to donate? Do you know of anyone else who’s successfully crowdfunded a book project? How did they do it?

How I Found Flash Fiction, Part 4

(This is the fourth installment of How I Found Flash Fiction, the fascinating tale of a close friend of mine, Cory Bradley.)

And write a novel I did! Eventually.

Over the next two years I halfheartedly worked on a fantasy book set in an Ireland-esque world; I incorporated experiences I had there, places I had visited and based characters on persons I had met. I thought the plot was solid, but the writing process was a sloppy affair, given that those two years began with me starting a new relationship, moving to a new state, getting a new job and trying to make new friends. Naturally, my time for writing was minimal, but when I finally managed to make it back to school I had no time at all.

Focused completely on supporting myself and keeping my grades up, an additional two years would pass without me writing another word. In fact, all that I managed during my schooling was to submit “I Wake Up Running” again for publication with my school’s literary journal. It was accepted, which should have been a significant hint for me. Sadly, I didn’t allow another publication credit to convince me to abandon my novel and return to my glorious career as a short story writer. I should have, because my novel was a monstrosity, though I wouldn’t learn that for yet another two years.

After graduating with a useless degree in Business Marketing, I found myself working odd jobs to keep my apartment. Eventually, though, my lease ran out and I wasn’t able to afford the increased rent, so I embarked on a one year couch-surfing tour, staying with no fewer than 8 different families. I slept in attics and basements and trailers, accepting any offer that would keep me warm at night (or simply alive). It was a character-building experience to be sure, but of most benefit was that the limited cost of bumming off my friends meant having to work less, resulting in more time for writing, which I used to finally finish my book.

Eventually my vagrancy came to an end and I secured a job that allowed me the constancy of sleeping in the same bed every night. It was finally time for me to pursue publication for my novel. Vast amounts of research convinced me of the need to first secure representation from a literary agent. It was a tedious process, but I was willing to pay my dues. After a year and a half, however, my patience was rewarded with nothing but an inbox full of rejections from what seemed like every agent in the literary industry. For the first time, I wondered if I had made a mistake spending six years on a project that no one wanted to represent. The very thought was disheartening, to say the least. No, I wouldn’t let myself believe it. Surely it must be my query letters or synopsis or minimal publication credits that were dissuading agents from brawling for the opportunity to add me to their client list! It couldn’t possibly be my novel…could it?

Though I kicked and screamed and clawed at the idea that my book was anything less than brilliant, I was ultimately forced to face the reality that it was simply a festering turd. The writing was juvenile, the plot wandered aimlessly for near 500 pages, there were far too many characters to keep straight, and the entire story resolved itself perfectly in a nauseatingly heartwarming fashion. Moreover, whatever original ideas it may have contained 6 years ago were original no longer. It was heartbreaking to admit the possibility that the book was unsalvageable and that my career as a novelist was over before it even began.

Cory has recently published several pieces of flash fiction, each taking place within the literary landscape of Auditorium, a city that holds a larger, overarching story. You can find his flash fiction herehere and, most recently, here. Please let us know what you think.

The Art Of Progress (or is it the other way around?)

Hey everybody! Sorry I was gone so long… No real excuses for you this time around. But I’m back to share some progress on my book project and I’m very excited about it.

I’ve already introduced you to both of these characters and you’ve already seen some art. But these are two (more or less) finished pieces. Really beautiful stuff by Stephen Oakley. He deserves a lot of credit (and hopefully a lot of new fans!) for this work. It’s exciting in an indescribable way to see characters you’ve lovingly stoked to life in written word be given even better life in visual style.

But enough of my 1 AM rambling! Here they are!

First is Old Pantomime:

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Next, as if that wasn’t enough, is The Willow King:

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I really hope you like them. Please let me know what you think. And try to imagine the book these belong to. It gets better each time I imagine it. 🙂

Sorry I’ve Been Gone So Long

What am I to feel
When all the feeling is around me?
Sounding, delicate and thin
With each new spin around each whorl
Of each gentle finger spinning

Sounding, with the grace of light
Like waves within this cavernous embrace
To dull the weary noncommittal sirens
Daily, breath upon the windows
On the faces of our homes

What am I to feel
Without a feeling down inside me?
Soft and comfortable skin
Pale from many moonlit chases
You are there, across the consequence, from me

With soundless clamor
Racing, faceless with your eyes wide
Nighttime great and cavernous expanse
Starlit, pale and patterned after
Billows spinning breathlessly alive

I sing to feel
Multi-colored, elemental silence
Consequential touch of you
Your elegance in waves of restless clamor
Battering with pale skin and night

Like sirens, billowing and quiet
Chased down within my noncommittal skin
The heat and pressure rise
Confrontation, cavernous and graceful
Shivering like starlit moonlight waves

Cluttered Confidence

I missed my doctor’s appointment this morning, besmirched and slightly jaded by the handling of my person by the medical industry thus far. I have been diabetic for 17 years now. Some things I have begrudgingly submitted to, others I refuse to contemplate. And then there are those things that are, but shouldn’t be. I remember once, when I was 11 or so, I had an intense compulsion to never again take an insulin shot. It was as if my fingers wouldn’t move, my mind wouldn’t accept its resignation to this new form of survival. But it had to be done, or there would have been the eventual coma and the (hopefully) eventual death. It took me an hour or so, but my pre-teen mind found ways to convince itself of the necessity of stabbing small needles into my body.

And so it goes. Life has continued from that day to this day with myriad syringes (roughly 130 a month or 1560 a year) and myriad pricks of the finger to make myself bleed. The resignation to my position has been massive. There is no fighter left, except to fight for life. And there certainly is no sympathy from anyone I know, which is, truthfully, as it should be. 17 years of sympathy and I would be paralyzed by my supposed deserving of some sort of complete cure. But no cure is coming and I have slowly, properly, withered into my set position at the bottom of the pile of healthy young men.

They have rescheduled me a 15 minute appointment for tomorrow morning. 15 minutes with the man who is supposed to understand my experiences better than most. He is paid (handsomely) to provide valuable advice and medical wizardry that will somehow improve my experience. I have never met this man before in my life. But they have given me 15 minutes with him. Should I feel grateful? Certainly I am meant to give him my money without question. But, after quite a few visits like this, I have come to understand that there is no particular care to be expected from this man. The measure of his value has come from his time sitting and listening to another man or woman speak. Am I to honor him? Believe he can know my struggles in 15 minutes? Should I expect him to care? I doubt he will.

Over at the University of Washington, just a couple of hours away from me, they’re doing some sort of testing  that involves an artificial pancreas. There is hope for people like me. The millions of us. And our numbers swell daily. Whole ranks of children, soon to understand that survival is more complicated than they thought. That one bad decision on their part could mean their life or, at very least, could cost them their eyes or their feet. There are the vast number of us who are now adults, living in worry that our teenage years (which are very difficult for type 1 diabetics due to hormone shifts and other internal changes) have damaged us beyond repair. That someday soon we will be a younger version of that older man that we’ve seen in his wheelchair, unable to walk after they removed his feet. Unable to see after his eyes failed him. Is that me? How soon?

It is a crushing weight. The daily pattern of syringe and lancet is the least of our concerns. Waking in the dead of night, sweating and shaking and unable to make our minds work because the insulin we put in ourselves was a little too much for what we’d eaten. I know what dying feels like. As the insulin allows the sugar to feed the cells and too much sugar is allowed to leave the blood stream because of a miscalculation of insulin, or any number of random, unexpected reasons, the body begins to die. It starts to slowly shut the brain down. The hands shake and you begin to sweat for no reason, which can be very uncomfortable depending on the circumstances. You become irritable or lose lucidity. Finally, if left to run its course, your body puts itself in a protective coma. Sometimes you die. Sometimes you don’t.

The other side of that is high blood sugar levels, when you haven’t given yourself enough insulin for the situation you’re in. Perhaps you’ve eaten the types of sugars that take a long time to break down and your sugar rises unexpectedly an hour or so after eating. Or perhaps you are playing some sport and the chemical changes within your body increase the amount of sugar a healthy body would expect and thrive on. You begin to urinate frequently, as the body tries to get the sugar out of it in any way possible. In order to urinate, your body demands huge quantities of water and it often feels as if you haven’t drank in days. Your skin becomes uncomfortable and your eyes start to have trouble focusing. You become short-tempered and irritable, which has damaged more than one relationship in my life. You become sluggish and frustrated and, eventually, your body can go into a protective coma in this state as well. I believe you are less likely to die in that circumstance, but high blood sugar is still the more dangerous situation. High blood sugar leads to blindness and amputations when the veins are damaged over a long period.

Diabetes is exhausting. This man I will go see tomorrow knows all of those things. He will give me my 15 minutes and he will be done with me. Because my diabetes, monstrous as it is, is no worse than the arthritis of his next patient. Or the legion of sicknesses that have their hold on man.

So I couldn’t convince myself to go today. Just like the 11-year-old me, I had to argue with myself. Had to convince myself  that there is value in these actions. I hope there is.

How I Found Flash Fiction, Part 3

(This is the third installment of How I Found Flash Fiction, the fascinating tale of a close friend of mine, Cory Bradley.)

I found myself in Ireland.

I thought a lot about that opening statement. I originally intended simply to remind everyone where we were at on my journey to finding flash fiction. But for those of you predisposed to reading deeper into a writer’s words (like my former-enemy-professor-turned-mentor, Mr. White), then I suppose it could be understood that, in a more spiritual sense, I FOUND myself in Ireland.

Following the spring term, I got a summer job painting houses so I could save enough money to return to school in the fall (no financial aid for me). It was a destructive time in my life, however, and as the days grew longer, my desire to escape my circumstances grew stronger. So rather than go back to school, I quit my job, took the money I had saved and flew as far away as it would get me. Yes, I was that twenty-something cliché; the poor young man, lost in life and tortured with emotional angst who believed a change of scenery would solve all of his problems. It didn’t. In fact, the scenery of the Pacific Northwest where I grew up is disappointingly similar to Ireland, though it has no mountains and far more sheep and castles. Nonetheless, as many had before me, I succumbed to the siren song of the Emerald Isle.

Familiar landscapes aside, Ireland was everything it should have been. I backpacked my way clockwise along the coast, from Dublin to Galway. I stayed in hotels and hostels, in bed-and-breakfasts and rented rooms adjoined to pubs. I was even invited into many residents’ homes: young and old, single, couples and families. I became a part of their lives, even if it was for only the briefest of moments. In true Irish fashion, I sang and danced, drank too much and fell in love more than once. In short, the experiences I collected have been enough to fuel my writing for these past ten years (nearly). Naturally, I didn’t immediately recognize the potential for such great stories. No, that realization did not come until I received the email mentioned in Part 2, a notification from Mr. White that my short story, “I Wake Up Running” was accepted for publication. THAT was the moment I knew what I was going to do.

The thrill of publication convinced me immediately, sitting in that dingy Internet Café (remember those?), that I was going write a story based on my time in Ireland. Would I continue writing short stories, with which I had achieved such blinding success? Foolishness! Why would I do that when I had already conquered the world of short story publication? No no no, when I got back home, I was going to write…A NOVEL!

Cory has recently published several pieces of flash fiction, each taking place within the literary landscape of Auditorium, a city that holds a larger, overarching story. You can find his flash fiction herehere and, most recently, here. Please let us know what you think.

Tonight, And All The Colored Lights

It’s been a while. Sometimes the pace of life creates a pull towards a darker shoreline, an evil reef waiting just beneath the surface to puncture my thin raft. So I apologize for stepping out so fully over the last few days. I started this to share my progress towards a goal, and hopefully to gain support along the way. So far, I have just about 50 excellent followers, all of which (all of you) I am thankful for. This is the reason I write and the reason I felt I could be successful in sharing my stories with a larger audience than my small town friends. And I am proud to come here and, hopefully, be read by you tonight or tomorrow or whenever you feel most interested in me.

My voice is quieter tonight, and with less power. Last night I took a trip to the city and screamed til I couldn’t scream anymore, but it was with a purpose. It reminded me, though it’s surely the shape of a clumsy metaphor, that enough people with enough communal focus can make anything happen, even earthquakes. Seeing your support and seeing a community make its own name counts as proof to me that my small goal of raising money for this project of mine is possible and within reach.

We’re still working on the art. It’s moving slowly but at this stage it’s more hobby than profession. I am thankful for Stephen’s help and I know this project would be nowhere without him (does that count as a pun?). I found out a couple of days ago that there is a self publisher right here in my tiny little town of Sequim. I’m hoping to be in contact with them very soon. There is so much promise here.

And looking up at the stars tonight is like a memory. It’s very cold this week and the sky is clear and full and powerfully rich with lights. I remember (it hasn’t been that long, really) my teenage years, in which I held a certain obsession with the stars. They were the perfect metaphor to me. The way they were so magical and bright and holy up there. Untouchable, or so it seemed. And yet we’d gather outside, like some national past-time, and we’d bring our blankets and lay them down to look up and watch the stars fall. Of course they aren’t stars falling, but to me the metaphor still stood. We’d ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ like we were watching fireworks, as these perfect, innocent, exquisite things fell from their places to a cold death on our ground. To me it was like growing up. We start with such promise-so much innocence and confidence. As we grow we are weighed down by our selves and by the expectations of others, almost like they were wishing on us, like we were stars, until it becomes too heavy and we fall. I felt like that was being an adult. We are just fallen stars in a place we never belonged.

I don’t think I feel that way still, but there is something inside me like it. It propels me to continue moving forward, to not burn out. It also allows me to see beauty in the fallout, in the destruction that is life. As Davey Havok once wrote “There is poetry in despair, and we sang with unrivaled beauty, bitter elegies of savagery and eloquence. Of blue and grey.” That is my goal as a writer, to find that poetry and make it available. In fact, there might not be any one thing that has affected me so deeply inside (aside from my spiritual belief system) as the album Sing The Sorrow by AFI. This is where I learned to see the stars for what they are, and to see people in the same light. (another pun?) So I suppose I ought to thank Davey for that. I also recommend just reading the lyrics from that album. There is very little in all the world of poetry better written than those lyrics. So, to end this kind of overlong post, I’ll leave you with a couple of lines. This is from Death Of Seasons.

“I watch the stars as they fall from the sky
I held a fallen star and it wept for me, dying
I feel the fallen stars encircle me, now as they cry

It won’t be all right despite what they say
Just watch the stars tonight as they, as they disappear, disintegrate
And I disintegrate ’cause this hate is f****** real
And I hope to shade the world as stars go out and I disintegrate”

Promise, The Flying Boy

Promise

“He was there, circling the empty air, as if he’d waited by the door for her arrival. His was a simple place. Islands in the ocean and a spattering of stars at night. He’d told her there was nothing more he wanted, save her here with him, but that had been long years ago. “

So here we are again with another character to introduce you to. This is Promise, the Flying Boy of the Isles of Wandering. This is, of course, not his true name but rather a nickname or pet name that our heroine, the Princess of Nowhere, gave him long ago. The two of them used to be quite a pair, he charming in his innocence and she confident in her own place and function. In the end, the Princess had to leave for fear of losing Nowhere forever.

Being a flying boy who doesn’t want to grow up, there was (and still is) the fear of projecting too much Peter Pan into this character. They certainly serve very different roles in their stories and, in talking with the artist that’s working with me, we’re attempting to draw a very different visual so as not to be confusing. We’re going for the old Americana look, which we discussed after this sketch was completed. But think Tom Sawyer. Or some of the art of Norman Rockwell.

As far as the metaphor of this character is concerned… This chapter of the story was written a few years ago, when I was in my late teens. It was that time of life where I was supposed to be more responsible than ever before, and I struggled a little with the idea of turning into a grown up. I felt quite similar to the author of The Little Prince, who in the first chapter denounces all things grown-up due to the lack of magic and imagination present in that state of life. I wanted, and still want, to be a boy forever. I’m sure I’m far from the only one to feel that way at some point of life. And that is the substance of Promise, the Flying Boy.

Each character in this story serves a purpose in your life. Each one is a part of your experience and existence, in a similar fashion to Gaiman’s Endless. Promise is the part of you that is still 12 or 13 or 15 or however old you secretly wish you were again. That part is awfully powerful in me, affecting my decisions still. And so he plays a part in this story of the one who was almost strong enough to turn Nowhere to nothingness. Hopefully you can see the metaphor there. 🙂

“He hovered just above the sand, his toes testing the salt water. And there were never any answers to be given for such talk. This is what he’d left her with before, all alone in the nothing place just beyond his small, chipped door. An invitation to return. An invitation to forget the way things never stayed the same, never left her anything but choices to be made.

She closed her eyes; put in place the memories of choices she had made-memories of Nowhere and the prophecy, the sickly dreams, the chasing after those she felt much stronger than herself. Memories of the choices and the weight that was her duty and her homeland.

Opening her eyes, she saw his feet upon the ground, his fingers supplicant to wrap around her own and so she took his hand and let the water coil and sputter at her ankles. He spoke.”

It’s Been A While…

Hey Everybody! Did you miss me?!

This blogging thing is a lot more involved than I originally thought, and definitely needs more focus than general writing.

So. I’ll start by printing my first retraction. It belongs to this post. I wrote, speaking about AuthorHouse (the self-publishing company): “There ARE a couple positives. Their package fees are a fair bit less expensive than MillCity and their prices to add images to the manuscript are far less. (Theirs are $5 per image beyond the 10 free they include, whereas MillCity I believe was $50 beyond the 10). They include phone conversation with a marketing professional as part of their packages, though marketing services themselves are separate.

Michelle from Mill City, who was cool enough to actually read this blog, wanted to make sure I had it straight. And l want to make sure I’m accurate to you guys. So this is the truth.

1. Mill City Press allow up to 20 images to be inserted for no additional charge with any of their publishing packages, and each additional image over the 20 would be $4 per image to insert for you.

 
2.  They provide the opportunity for their authors to have conferences with members of their book publicity staff very early in the publishing process before committing to any marketing or book publicity services to be applied for their book, and these consultations are provided free of charge to their authors.
 
So there you have it. I also wanted to share a link to a little 6 item list I found to help authors find success in publishing their projects.
 
Thanks for listening guys. Tomorrow I’ll share some new character art with you! Have a good night everybody.