Where’s Zanzibar? (Tricky Graphic Not Included)

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My dear readers, my deepest apologies for leaving you high and dry without any blog entries for a while. I’ve taken this “become a Real Person” thing to an extreme and have not only been working a regular “day job to pay the bills”, but have also encountered Illness and Surprise Events. While such things are very useful for content of writing, they are less useful for the practice of writing. Or for blogging, Twittering (er, tweeting) or Facebooking.

Mea culpa.

I have been incredibly busy in the background, though. The Annals of Bobian did well in the Indie Summer Book Awards, although it was edged out at the end by someone who probably has a Real Life already and is better adjusted to it. Alright, it was edged out of the top five. It was still an honor to be nominated and I will be part of an event tomorrow (9/16) for authors who were nominated. Come visit me here at 6pm Pacific Time!

Many of you may know that I started out in NaNoWriMo. After all, I was a product of NaNo and my Figments books are, to one degree or another, largely about the NaNo process. I was further honored to be asked to write an article on how to write the absurd for the NaNoWriMo blog. It was apparently a hit and made their “NaNo 3” list. You can see it here, in case you missed it.

Finally, I’m very hard at work on the rewrites for The Wicked Witch of Whatever and will be doing a cover reveal next week. I’m quite thrilled with how readable this is turning out to be. At least, I think it’s readable. I could currently be on a Writer’s High. The “it sucks and I should just become a peat moss salesman” period is, undoubtedly, coming.

Thank you for sticking with me. I look forward to being better about blogging again as soon as I get down this Life thing.

How do you deal with a Real Life job and writing?

 

 

 

My Words Are on Vacation

Chess Board - TwitterI have no words.

I have a theory that the more real I become, the harder words become to find. How do normal people write? How unreal do you have to be for words to flow like sunshine down the side of an ice floe?

I’m not sure, but I think this reality thing is way overrated.

I got a day job. It was part of an experiment to see if I could become Real. The day job, however, has now consumed my life and, in effect, become my reality. This is no way to be real. I come home too tired to write and my creativity is sucked down a drain with dirty dishwater.

And I have no words.

Sometimes I still think clever thoughts. I still have a moment when I ignore the pressing in of the “must do” list and just bask in the warmth of a moment of clarity and vision. Then an alarm beeps or a break ends and the moment runs away, as flighty as a skittish deer in a forest.

And it takes my words.

How do I set aside a space for this side of me, for the me that is fragile and nebulous and vital and so much more real than reality itself? How do I protect it from bone-numbing weariness and apathy? How do I not just binge-watch hours of television and comment on every item on social media because it’s easier?

And find my words?

I don’t have the answer yet but, because I am awesomesauce in Figment form, I will have an answer. I will even share my answer with you.

I just need words.

Maybe tomorrow. Today, an alarm is going off and it’s time to play dwarf (I choose to be Happy, even though I feel like Grumpy or Sleepy) and hi-ho off to the mines. Maybe I’ll find a jewel while I work.

Maybe I’ll find words.

Your Life Main Character

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We’ve all heard the saying (if you haven’t, lie to me; I don’t mind): be the main character in your story. I think maybe it’s brought us a profound sense of deserving to be the main character… and has also led us to believe that being anything but the main character is somehow less.

I’ve decided I’m not the main character in my story. Why would I want to be, anyway? Some of my very favorite characters of all time were not main characters: Sam Gamgee from Lord of the Rings, Catwoman from Batman,

So why the fight to be the main character?

Maybe it’s because the current societal mindset is one of entitlement. You are entitled to be rich! famous! happy! blahblahblah!

We’re not entitled to anything.

I watched the movie Joy this weekend (largely because I wanted to watch the lovely J-Law; don’t judge). One quote stood out to me:

Don’t ever think that the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t owe you a thing.
– Joy

This rang so true to me that I’ve been holding onto it for days now. The world doesn’t owe me anything. It doesn’t owe me wealth. If I want money, I need to go out and work for it. Different people will have different kinds of work, but, still, I shouldn’t go around expecting to win the lottery. Not that Figments can, because we aren’t human, but I digress.

I shouldn’t go around expecting I have the right to fame (or infamy). I have to work at connections and, because I’m a bit of an introverted Figment on occasion, I have to step outside my comfort zone if I want it. Reality TV (which is really just books that were rejected for a ludicrous plot) has taught us we deserve our fifteen minutes of fame. If I earn any fame at all, I want to have earned it.

Thomas Jefferson said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

Read that last part carefully. We’re not entitled to happiness. We’re entitled to the pursuit of it. We’re not even entitled to good health, merely life. We are entitled to live, be free to make our mistakes, and do our best to carve out a little bit of happiness with what we’ve been granted.

And that’s all.

We’re not entitled to be the main character.

This does tie into writing. I never go into a book discussion planning to talk about my own books. Yes, this means that I miss a chance for my elevator pitch, but why would I pitch my own book when there are others out there that I enjoy reading?

It’s counter-intuitive, but I really hope there’s someone out there who will pitch my books, because I’m too busy being a supporting character in someone else’s story to worry about starring in mine. People like R.R. Virdi, who wrote Grave Beginnings and Grave Measures and has simply blown me away with his talent. People like Jeffrey Cook and Lee French, who are on a road trip right now, selling books all over the United States… and whose books deserve to be all over the United States. People like Renee Jean, who spends more of her time promoting others and working on anthologies for charity than she does pushing her own books.

I want to be their Sam Gamgee… but maybe with less hairy feet.

How about you?

Summer Indie Book Awards Nominations

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I have been nominated for an indie book award for The Annals of Bobian.  I’m super-excited and hope you’ll all vote, whether you vote for me or any of the other nominees. However, not to rest on my laurels, you should go vote to nominate your favorite indie books here as well.

If you’re interested in reading The Annals of Bobian and haven’t, leave a comment here. I’ll choose one person from the comments to win a free book. I’m still waffling between e-book and paperback– which is better than pancaking.

Finally, here is the official post from Metamorph Publishing concerning the awards and nominations.

2016 Summer Indie Book Awards!
The cold of winter is setting in, at least for those of us in the northern Hemisphere of the world. But we at Metamorph Publishing aren’t letting that get us down! We’re already looking forward to a sizzling summer, and we’re here to announce our first annual Indie Book Awards! You heard that right, a summer book awards! The event officially begins on January 1st of each year, and nominations will be accepted through midnight CST on August 31st each year. Voting will begin on September 1st and end on September 10th each year.
“What’s the big deal,” you ask? “There are all kinds of contests out there.” And you’re right, there are hundreds, probably thousands of book awards. But many of them are only for unpublished authors, or authors who only write in certain narrow genres, or for authors who have never published before in a particular genre. Plus, there are plenty of them that charge an entry fee, some of which are prohibitive to authors who publish independently, without the backing of a large and powerful publishing house.
So, we’re hoping to do something different with the Summer Indie Book Awards! Entry is free, and nominations will be accepted from any indie or small-press author, regardless of their current published or non-published state, or what genre they write in. We are accepting donations of print or e-books, author swag or novelty items (bookmarks, pens, keychains, etc.), but donation is not required for nomination. We’re taking nominations from authors as well as from readers, and authors can nominate their own books; we only ask that authors who do so also nominate a fellow indie author. Nominations can be made using this form, while donations can be made here.
Feel free to join up with the event on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1099924726693772
and like the official Facebook page of the Summer Indie Book Awards at https://www.facebook.com/summerindiebookawards.
You can also sign up for the newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bL43cf so you can stay up to date with all the latest news!
In the pinned post of the Facebook event, you’ll find these links, along with links to a Google Drive folder where you can look and see who’s already been nominated! And any author who is nominated will have access to an official contest nominee badge, that they can use on their book covers or any promotional media, if they so desire.
Winners in each genre will receive a prize (hopefully we’ll get enough donations for this), beginning with the 1st place winners. If we get enough prizes donated, we’ll go next to 2nd place winners, and then to 3rd place. Regardless of the prizes, winners will get a high-quality winner badge, stating their place and the genre of the book. These will be of high enough resolution for authors to use on their print books, if they want to!
But it’s not only the winners that will benefit from the Summer Indie Book Awards! All nominated authors will have the potential to reach hundreds, if not more, of new readers (readers often have a preferred genre, and while they’re voting for their favorite author, will come across others they may not have tried yet), and reach a huge new audience through the social media forums! And best of all, it’s meant to have fun, to reach out and network with other authors, potentially forming long-lasting relationships. And readers will benefit from having a wealth of new books in front of them, as well as a vast amount of new stories to immerse themselves in.
Though we’re using Facebook and other social media as a platform to reach more authors and readers, none of these social media outlets are affiliated with the awards. They are hosted strictly by Metamorph Publishing.
For more information, please visit Metamorph Publishing .

 

Pacemaker Summer Olympics

Chess Board - TwitterI’m a speedy writer. When I say that, I’m not bragging. I’m also a writer with a moderate attention span. I prefer to slam through a first draft in 45 days and be done with it than belabor over it for months and months.

I have been working on The Wicked Witch of Whatever, off and on, since November.

Pacemaker, a project writing website, is having a challenge called the Pacemaker Summer Olympics. In this challenge, writers set a word goal of at least 400 words per day between August 5th and August 21st (the dates of the Summer Olympics). Pacemaker has a “fluctuating” setting, so I won’t be writing the same amount every day, but each day will be at least 400 words. Also, because Zanzibar (the place) is in Tanzania (the country), that’s the country I’m representing.

What about you? Want to join me for a little word challenge fun?

Go to https://pacemaker.press/challenges/summer-2016-olympics. Set up an account if you don’t have one and make or choose a plan. Then sign up for a country. There’s low participation right now, so you could make some obscure country famous (modestly famous) by winning.

I don’t have to have challenges to do my writing, but I do find they help, so why not? Let me know if you join and which country you’re representing. If you see the flag of Tanzania start showing up in my blog posts, you’ll know why.

Psst. The 5th is tomorrow. Get moving!

Mall Cats?

Chess Board - TwitterI am a fan of Pokémon Go. I’m also a fan of people watching. Since I’m having issues (again) with getting teen lingo right in my current WIP, I went to the local-ish mall to do some hunting and watching. It turns out this was the mall for People of Significant Monetary Means.

Figments are not People of Significant Monetary Means.

I stayed anyway, because this mall had some very nice Pokémon just wandering around (and a lot of Pokestops). But I learned a few things:

  • People in convertibles are exempt from all traffic rules and can drive however they want because they have a convertible.
  • People are happy to drive around for an hour on the main level looking for parking rather than driving to a different, less convenient, level to park quickly.
  • Older girls (sometimes grown women) and their mothers walk around arm-in-arm or arm-around-shoulder in malls, even if it’s very crowded and people can’t get past them. Is this a fad? The last time I saw women walking around like this was when I watched Anne of Green Gables. For research, of course.
  • There may be more Pokémon at the malls of People of Significant Monetary Means.
  • If you smile at someone with resting angry face and say “hello” with no other expectations, you will often get a smile in return.
  • People of Significant Monetary Means cannot be separated from their dogs and must bring them to an indoor mall, even though the dog looks miserable and the mall has no bathroom facilities for those of the four-legged persuasion.
  • Cats do not care whether a person is a People of Significant Monetary Means and will not go to the mall.

All in all, I enjoyed watching teenagers be teenagers, regardless of Monetary Status. It was a bonus to capture Pokemon while I did the research.

Besides, research is always a good excuse.

X Marks the Spat

Chess Board - TwitterI managed, with my usual aplomb, to find myself in the middle of a discussion that turned into a mild argument– on Twitter. It takes extreme talent to argue on Twitter and I don’t advise it. Better to admit my inadequacies and move on: I need far more than 140 characters to really get my teeth in a topic.

However, the point isn’t the dispute, but the subject of dispute. We were discussing gatekeepers and whether or not indie writers should have them (or writers in general). I’m going to set forth my reasoning here (in far more than 140 characters or even 140 words), but I would love to hear from you as well. Comment here. Knock me up on Twitter (although I do expect help raising the baby). Send me an email if you’re feeling a bit shy. I’ll put all my contact info at the bottom.

Do I think that big publishing houses have too much control over what we read and they tend to be directed more by the almighty dollar than the best in reading material? Yes. Not all of them, all of the time, but a significant enough amount to not ignore it.

Do I still think that published writing needs a gatekeeper? Yes, unless it’s free.  Why?

  • Because we– you and I– spend money on books. Sometimes it’s just the $0.99 e-book. Sometimes it’s the splurgy $19.99 hardback. But our money goes into books. When you’re not Real in the first place and coming by real money can be a bit of a trick, this is a serious thing. I care about where my money goes.
  • Because we spend our time on reading books and most of us have far less time than money. If you have more money than time, please send some to me directly and I’ll solve that issue.
  • Because we invest a bit of our souls in the books we read (or at least I do… one Horcrux per book and I can never die. Voldemort and JK Rowling should be quite jealous).
  • Because the more bad books that are out there, the less expectation there is for anything good. People stop reading. I like people reading.

I know. You’re sitting there thinking “he’s not the boss of me” and very likely taking all your toys and going home. This is, of course, your right. But hear me out: I’m not saying you shouldn’t write. I want every last person on this planet to experience writing. In fact, I want to take writing to alien planets. I even think every person has a right to publish what they write. It is, after all, their sanity. If they want to throw it away to briefly declare “I am Writer”, I can’t judge. My sanity took the bullet train to Elsewhere a long time ago.

However, I don’t feel everyone should be charging for their books. Hey! Stop throwing things. You’ll only damage your screen and I am not buying you a new one. Hear me out.

  • Do you think the Girl Scout with a First Aid and CPR certification should charge you if you are kind enough to let her practice on you?
  • Do you think your child/ niece/ nephew/ random kid who gives you hand-drawn art should be charging you for the free décor?
  • Do you think the singers in a karaoke bar should get tips for singing in public?

Most of you will have answered “no”. Any children, Girl Scouts, or aspiring karaoke singers may have said “yes”. The reason is simple: all of these are amateurs who are practicing their craft. They aren’t masters or even journeymen. They haven’t reached the point where they’ve earned the right to sell their craft.

Once, this was an easily understood concept. A child with promising talent would become an apprentice. Apprentices practiced, all day long, and received instruction, but no pay. Then the apprentice became a journeyman at the approval of a master. The journeyman might sell a few things, but always at a discount because it was widely accepted that the quality wouldn’t be as good. Only a master could promote someone to a master. It meant that the buyer had the right to expect a certain level of quality in the work that followed.

We’ve done away with the apprentice system (unless you’re Donald Trump– if you are, please ask Russia to bring it back for the rest of us). We no longer have any way to tell who is the master and who is the rank amateur without investing our precious time, money, and energy in that person. As I’ve said, I don’t have endless amounts of time, money, and energy to invest. Because of that, I’m very wary of many indie authors, even though I read more indie works than anything else. Reviews are often useless, since finishing a book means five stars. This means I am far less likely to take a chance just after a bad choice.

Read the blurb and/ or free sample. You can figure it out from there.

Sometimes I can. Sometimes a book starts out good and dies, midway, like it tried to storm a beach and forgot sunblock. (There was a logical analogy in there somewhere.) Sometimes you simply can’t tell without reading the book that, although it flows beautifully, there’s no plot to it and the characters are cardboard cutouts.

Follow trusted reviewers.

Then I have to figure out who to trust, which is another investment of my time.

Do you see the issue? It’s not that I want someone saying, “No! Your book can’t be published because it’s not the current zombie/ post-apoc/ romantic triangle/ superhero trend and we can’t be sure we’ll sell it”. It’s that I want someone saying, “Not yet. Maybe go back and practice as an apprentice a little longer. Get some journeyman time. Make some corrections.” Then I’ll happily buy, read, and review the book.

But someone has to say “not yet”… and, as of yet, I don’t know who that should be. How about you?

Comments?
EMAIL: zanzibar7schwarznegger@gmail.com
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Zanzibar7Schwarznegger/
TWITTER: @zanzibar7writer
BLOG: zanzibar7.com

 

Being Real

Chess Board - TwitterI am starting to see the effects of my ongoing experiment to be a Real Writer (and Real Person).

First, I’ve acquired one of those day jobs. I like day jobs, as a general concept. It’s something new to do and it provides endless fodder for my writing. But it cuts into the writing time itself. I’ve tried getting up earlier. I’ve stopped rewatching Galavant on loop at night. I even do a little less housework. I’ve learned that I can’t get in huge word counts in any one day any longer, but who needs to do that anyway? By writing 1k-3k a day, I can finish a book in two months or less. Maybe it’s just because there are so many stories in my head trying to get out that I feel the pressure to write faster. I think being limited in my writing time actually improves my writing in the long run.

Second, I’ve attempted some marketing. I attended an in-person convention (in disguise) and have actually pressed my books here and there. I’ve noticed that it works better when others put my book out there than when I do it myself, so if you want to get me a gift for the Day of Birthing or the Reindeer Games, please do some promoting.

Third, I’ve started to get Writer’s Block due to interacting with the world. I mean, shootings. Wars. Heat. Politics. It’s enough to make a Figment despair. My current solution is to rail about the injustice of it all and then move from there into a furious writing session, but fury doesn’t write humor well. I may become a news hermit.

All of this has taught me that Professional Writers have just three things I don’t have:

One, they have more time to procrastinate, because writing is their day job. It would appear, based on output, that most Professional Writers actually produce about the same number of words each week that I do. This leaves them more hours for Netflix binging, silly cat videos, and Pokémon Go.

Two, they have someone who does some of their marketing for them, or they can pay someone to do marketing. If I ever become a Professional Writer, this will be my favorite perk.

Three, they figure out how to deal with all the world news better than I do. You cannot produce a consistent output of work if you are curled up in a ball waiting for Politigeddon to happen. At least, not until they develop psychic paper. (Really, Doctor Who, I think you’re onto something.) So Professional Writers must figure out how to deal with all the other “stuff” in the world better than I do.

Beyond that, it looks like I’m already doing what a Professional Writer does, so I’m one step closer to being a Real Writer.

How about you? How is your quest to be Real going? How do you cope with all the bad in the world? Most importantly, how do you find more time to procrastinate?

Wednesday. Is It Wednesday? (Reminder #BeTheLight)

Chess Board - TwitterFirst, a reminder. Don’t forget to #BeTheLight tomorrow and spread humor on social media. Funny cat videos (because who doesn’t like laughing at cats when they use up one of their nine lives?), personal anecdotes, or just silly jokes. Share them everywhere. FLOOD media and social media with the funniest things you can find.  Tag them with #BeTheLight

Will this solve anything? No. It won’t. But when we can laugh, we can break out of the cycle of anger, hurt, and hate that we get dialed into. We can find a smile, which raises endorphins, which makes us feel good… so we want to be nice to others.

That’s actual science there. Don’t get used to it on this blog.

Spread this. Spread it thick, like peanut butter on a PB and porcupine sandwich (de-quill first). I don’t care if you track it to me. Just get it out there and get someone laughing.

As the second part to this, don’t share anything sad, mad, bad (or ads?) on 14July either. No matter how tempting it may be to share the latest news (and, of course, your opinion about said news), let it go for one day.

#BeTheLight and change the world, just for one day.

As a second thing, apparently I now have a Bill Collector (why would anyone collect bills?) chasing me as well as The Conductor, so I have acquired a Day Job (even though I may sometimes work hours I consider very close to evening, if not night). Because of this, I may be a little irregular. Don’t worry. I’ve been told if I eat prunes, it will fix itself, so I should be back to normal soon.

#BeTheLight for me tomorrow.

I need to find a bathroom.

 

Monday Motivation: #BeTheLight

Chess Board - TwitterI’m a humor writer. This means I’m funny, all the time, upbeat, and smiling.

Wrong.

I’m a humor writer. This means I use humor to deal with the tougher things in life, whether it’s the pain of watching someone decline from Alzheimer’s or tough topics like divorce, abuse, and bullying. It means humor is my triage for life.

Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of real life stuff lately and I seem to have lost my ride back to the Figments world (who closed that plot hole?). That makes writing humor harder– and more necessary– than ever.

You would think a humor writer would always have jokes on the tip of his tongue, but I’m a terrible joke teller. Two Figments walk into a bar. One ends up with an en-dash; the other an em-dash.

Not very funny.

My humor tends to be from life. But we need more humor out there, so I’m going to ask for your help.

On 7/14 (that’s Thursday, for those who do dates flipped around as 14July), spread humor on social media. Funny cat videos (because who doesn’t like laughing at cats when they use up one of their nine lives?), personal anecdotes, or just silly jokes. Share them everywhere. FLOOD media and social media with the funniest things you can find.  Tag them with #BeTheLight

Will this solve anything? No. It won’t. But when we can laugh, we can break out of the cycle of anger, hurt, and hate that we get dialed into. We can find a smile, which raises endorphins, which makes us feel good… so we want to be nice to others.

That’s actual science there. Don’t get used to it on this blog.

Spread this. Spread it thick, like peanut butter on a PB and porcupine sandwich (de-quill first). I don’t care if you track it to me. Just get it out there and get someone laughing.

As the second part to this, don’t share anything sad, mad, bad (or ads?) on 14July either. No matter how tempting it may be to share the latest news (and, of course, your opinion about said news), let it go for one day.

#BeTheLight and change the world, just for one day.

Here. I’ll start things out:

“Knock, knock.”

Who’s there?

“Banana.”

Banana who?

“Knock, knock.”

Who’s there?

“Banana.”

Banana who?

“Knock, knock.”

Who’s there?

“Orange.”

Orange who?

“Orange you glad I didn’t say ‘banana’?”

I told you I wasn’t good at jokes. Hey, I tried. It was better than that limerick…

Go out. Be a light. Make someone smile on 14 July. Better yet, make ’em laugh.

#BeTheLight