Into the Unknown

It’s been quite some time since I told you to look for a comeback from me, and even longer since I’ve posted anything here. If you’ve given up on me, I’m sorry for being absent for so long (though, if you’ve given up, you’re probably not reading this, so…). And if you haven’t… well, thanks for staying the course and please accept my profound apologies for neglecting you for so long.

First, a short explanation: I ran out of things to say.

Short enough for you?

The simple truth is, unless I want to stray into areas I probably shouldn’t—and I touched on them with posts such as questioning whether or not political parties have become cults—maintaining a blog week after week is tough for me. I’ve read books about blogging, of course. I’m anal about researching things to the nth degree. But while those books are good at telling you what you should do (a plug for Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb would not be out of place here), very few tell you how to do it, and therein lies the problem for me.

Yes, I realize the details are up to me. I’m not asking someone to hold my hand. The problem likely lies more in my comprehension than anything else. What they say makes sense, I just can’t figure out exactly how to translate that into practical experience.

But I’m gonna work on it.

And I’m gonna get back into blogging. I’ve had others suggest several directions for me to go with this blog, directions that don’t consist of repeatedly talking only about writing and being an author (though I’m sure there’ll still be some of those posts), and I may dabble in many of those suggestions. So if things seem a bit scattered here, that’s why.

In the meantime, a lot has changed in the time I’ve been “off the air.” I’m still somewhat in a writing slump—which no doubt contributed to my long silence—but I seem to be slowly coming out of that and I’m feeling the first faint warmth of the creative fires burning again.

And, about three months ago, I married my best friend. Not to sound melodramatic, but I was well on my way to becoming a bitter, lonely old man (another factor which probably kept me from writing), and then this special lady from the past finds me on Facebook and my life turned around completely.

Which leads to my leap into the unknown.

Being a writer, I’m sure it only makes sense I’m a book nerd. So is my wife. And she’d love nothing better than to see me be successful as an author. To her, I’m a rock star. When last I wrote here, I worked as a security guard, which allowed me to do quite a bit of editing while performing my duties on the job. I’ve since left that job and went to work installing network, fire alarm, and coaxial cable, a job I got laid off from after three months. And, despite the so-called improved economy, I’m having trouble finding a new job.

A couple weeks back, one of the attendees at my writers group offered to pay me to edit one of his books he intends to self-publish. I took him up on the offer, but it got me to thinking, and I talked to my wife about it, and the upshot is, I’m gonna throw my hat in the ring as a freelance editor.

And why not? I now have a couple years’ experience under my belt working for Oghma Creative Media. But we’re still not earning enough money for anyone to make a salary yet—though we’re getting tantalizingly close—and I need to generate an income. Yes, from what little research I’ve been able to do so far, it’s a tough field, but I’m used to that from being an author. And if it works out, it’ll mean no more commuting, which will save on gas, and it’ll be a natural extension of what I already do until Oghma gets on an earning basis. And as my wife said, it’s a good time to experiment and see how it goes while I have some unemployment coming in and no job offers as yet.

Yeah, it’s scary. But following your dreams always is. If you sit on your duff and never take a chance, you never get to find out if you could have made it or not. For some, I’m sure that’s fine, and I won’t argue with them about it.

But I’m not getting any younger. If I’m gonna do this, I better get on it.

I’ll keep you posted.

Later,
Gil

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Are the Political Parties Cults?

I’m probably nowhere close to being the first person to realize this. The problem is, us independents are very definitely a minority, so things we notice like this don’t get bandied about on Facebook and other social media. We’re drowned out by the faithful, yammering as they do about their candidates.

And the majority of them actually do act like they’re in a cult.

donald-trump-is-still-soaring-in-iowa--but-there-are-now-some-clear-warning-signsConsider: you have the Trumpites (Trumpets?), who seem to be the majority on the Republican side of things at the moment. Of course, in political terms, it’s a long, long time till November, so anything can happen by the time the election comes around, but right now he seems to be the one riding the wave. I think it interesting—and a bit disturbing—that the Republican leadership differs with their members on this one, as they don’t like the man. Do they know more than the average Republican voter? Who knows? But one thing is for sure: it’s a disturbing trend—and reflective of a larger issue I see in our government in general—that they are determined not to listen to their constituents on this matter.

Then there are the Cruzerians, following a man many are questioning as they did Obama ted_cruz13before him: as a Canadian born to an American mother, does he have the right to even be president? This has plagued Obama for his entire eight-year stint, and will likely follow him to his grave. I imagine the same will happen to Ted Cruz, should he win. Or, for that matter, should he lose the nomination or bid for the presidency. Talking heads will no doubt point to this as a major factor in his defeat—along with the fact he has the gall to actually be religious.

RubioThe Rubiomites seem to have a hard row to hoe, as Rubio has flip-flopped on some issues—especially illegal immigration—about as much as John Kerry flip-flopped on our Middle Eastern ventures. He seems to have earned his sobriquet of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only), at least if you ask a Trumpite or a Cruzerian.

On the opposite side, you have the Hillaryans, who apparently believe we need to follow upHillary-Clinton-Crazy-Face the first black president with the first woman president, which is fuzzy logic at best. But then, politics and logic rarely coincide. In fact, I was once derided on Facebook for uttering the blasphemous phrase Logic dictates. Apparently the commenter thought making decisions based on knee-jerk reactions (PATRIOT Act, anyone?) and emotions was a much better method than examining facts to make an informed choice. But I digress. Much like the Cruzerians, the Hillaryans have to face the fact their candidate is (yet again) under investigation for something. But hey, since when has a scandal meant anything in American politics?

socialist-bernie-sandersAnd last but not least, there is the Church of Bernie, where any day now, he will usher in a utopia where there’s all kinds of free stuff and the lions will lie down with the lambs and all that. I wouldn’t say they’re any worse than the others—after all, I don’t support any of the current crop—but they do seem the least pragmatic, since it’s pretty easy to see nothing is free. But I’m not here to argue policy, and saying he’s the least pragmatic is like saying his shit stinks less: it really doesn’t matter, cuz it’s all crap.

I realize there are likely sensible people who have decided on one of the above candidates for what to them are sensible reasons. The problem is, they’re not the ones you see commenting and foaming at the mouth on social media. They stay more or less quiet—with a few exceptions—and make their voices heard at the polls. I don’t know if they’re in the minority or not, though I suspect they’re not. After all, there aren’t as many rabid dogs as there are good ones, so I imagine those who spout off about anything and everything and resort to name-calling to make their points are an embarrassment to the rest.

And the thing is, the mouth-foamers are the ones you can’t reason with. I have a man I now consider to be a good friend, Gordon Bonnet, with whom I agree on very little politically. But you know what? We can have intelligent discussions about it without insulting one another, and he’s made me rethink some things, as I hope I have him. I don’t want to bring him over to my way of thinking, and I don’t believe he does me, but we can talk about these things and do it with respect for one another. That’s a rare thing these days, at least on the discussion threads I see online.

As an independent, I tend to like to go onto these threads and be a troll, and it’s amazing to me how alike both sides actually are. Not in what theyposts believe, but in the fervency of that belief. They absolutely refuse to entertain any viewpoint but their own—much like, say, Christians and Muslims, to use just two examples—and if you dare suggest anything different, they yell at you and call you names. And when you point out the fallacy of their argument by stating facts and figures—or simply point out that what they’re spouting is an opinion and they haven’t backed it up with fact—they go silent. I don’t know if they’re pouting or what.

And one last thing to consider: both parties are having something of an identity crisis (I suppose that’s the correct term) at the moment. On the Republican side, you have the schism between the party leadership and the voters, where many of the latter support Trump, mostly as a major sea change in the way the party does things (that in itself isn’t a bad thing), while the leaders themselves threaten to boycott him at their national convention.

On the Democrat side of things, the contentions between followers of Hillary and Bernie also seem to threaten to tear the party apart, with supporters on both sides saying if the other candidate wins the nomination, they’ll vote Republican. Or stay home.

genetic ignoranceThe bottom line is, the hate and vitriol I see both sides spewing is very much reminiscent of religion. I saw a meme on Facebook positing that anyone who is against Obama is not only a racist, but also a victim of genetically inherited ignorance. This was put out by Occupy Democrats. I have no idea how radical they may be, but if this is one of their beliefs, I’d say fairly radical. My first thought on reading this was to wonder if they were going to start espousing their own form of eugenics at some point in the future. You know, instead of eliminating “inferior” races, just eliminate those with genetically inherited ignorance, or at least decide they can’t vote.

Cult, indeed.

Later,
Gil

Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO!

But saying we want to go PRO is easier than knowing what one actually looks like. To be blunt, there are far more people “playing writer” than “going pro.” Even those of us …

Source: Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO!

Editing a Master

16947Since we announced it a month or more back, it’s no secret that the publisher I work for, Oghma Creative Media, has secured a contract to republish several of Harold Robbins’s books, starting with his debut novel, Never Love a Stranger, under our Iridium imprint.

If you’re not familiar with Harold Robbins, look him up. He’s the fifth bestselling author of all time, and nine of his novels were made into movies, including Never Love a Stranger, which starred a young Steve McQueen.

I just finished “editing” Never Love a Stranger yesterday. I put the word editing in quote marks because, let’s face it, Mr. Robbins’s novels were already edited professionally years ago. The books we’ve contracted to publish are only available (new) as ebooks at present, and we’re releasing them in new editions, with new covers and layouts.

Mr. Robbins writes long, long books. Stranger clocks in at just a few thousand words shy of 160,000. It’s the story of Francis Kane, an orphan, who grew up to eventually become a big-time criminal figure. It takes place mostly in the 1930s (the novel was originally published in 1948), so there were things I had to ignore that we generally would change. Our philosophy at Oghma is that colons and semicolons—for example—don’t belong in modern fiction, yet Mr. Robbins uses both quite often.

We actually had a bit of a debate about this, but in the end elected to leave it as is. Why? Because, in essence, it would be akin to modernizing hrMark Twain or Charles Dickens—you just don’t do it. The aim of Iridium is to make works that are largely out of print available to the public again. At present, we only have a contract for selected works of Harold Robbins, but we hope to expand those offerings in the future.

If you read this book—or, I’m assuming, any of his other works dealing with criminal figures—I think you’ll be surprised. At least I was. Probably the biggest surprise—actually, a confirmation of what I’d seen elsewhere—was that terms I’d thought peculiar to the gangsta culture were actually stolen from the old gangsters of the thirties—terms like calling gangsters gees and guns gats. And while the book isn’t exactly rife with profanity, there are some off-color words that surprised me, considering the era in which it was published.

All in all, it was a pleasure to edit it, despite the time it took (remember, it’s a looong book lol). I’d known about 23240_1Harold Robbins for years, but never read one of his books, which I classify as money/sex/power books, though that might be selling them short. Never Love a Stranger is an epic story, one that tells the entire life story of its protagonist, both from his eyes and—briefly, at least—from the eyes of his friends. Mostly, all I did was look for typos—I think it had been transcribed for the ebook versions Jann Robbins, his widow, published—and a few misused words. Other than that, I was just reading it, hoping I found all the little mistakes that always and inevitably creep into things like this, especially when they’re as long as this one was.

At this point, Never Love a Stranger is due to be published in May, coming from Iridium Press. It’ll be available in print and ebook versions, and you’ll be able to get it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, among other places.

I think you’ll be glad you read it.

Later,
Gil

New Books

Well, I finally have a new book out. Two, in fact: Startup, the first in my Rural Empires setting, and A Temporary Thing, which I wrote as a prequel to Startup (it’s complicated).

How do I feel? About the same as before. I don’t expect overnight greatness from this. I didn’t get it with my first novel, Spree, and I highly doubt it’ll happen with these two books. Just being pragmatic here. The so-called overnight success stories are exceptions to the rule, and are generally no as sudden as they might seem at first glance.

Take Stephen King. His first novel, Carrie, took off like a shot and catapulted him to fame and fortune. It was a novel he threw away and only gave a second chance because his wife urged him to. And he’s stated he still doesn’t really like the book.

Understandable. But he’s also cognizant of what it did for him, so he doesn’t exactly disown it, either.

Either way, Carrie was not his first published work. It was just his breakthrough work. He’d published short stories—a favorite medium of his and one I can’t do well at all—in magazines, most of them men’s magazines such as Cavalier. By the time Carrie came out, he’d been slaving away getting low pay for his work. And all this had honed his craft so that the success Carrie had was well-deserved.

And I’m sure if you read the back story of pretty much any successful author who’s worth reading, you’ll find the same narrative. We may be born with the talent to write—an arguable position—but we still have to work at it to make it better, and we have to keep working at it our whole lives.
And then we have to get noticed.

That’s never been easy. Back when Mr. King was first published, there were gatekeepers—i.e. editors and publishers—who decided whether or not you got noticed. And, quite often, despite the fact they might decide to publish your work, that didn’t necessarily mean they’d do their best to make sure it sold well. One of the many reasons the New York model is falling flat on its face.

Even still, there were lots of books published, and I find them in used bookstores all the time: books by authors I’ve never heard of, and when I crack them open, I see why. These days of self-publishing don’t have a corner on the market of bad writers, necessarily, it’s just that it’s easier for them to see the light of day.

But even when you’re good—and I’ve been told by several people that I am, so I suppose it’s true, at least to an extent—getting noticed is hard. It’s a big sea, and there are a lot of fish in it. Being the one who rises to the top isn’t an easy thing.

So. I have two new books out. They’re available on Amazon. And from me, if you happen to see me. It’s not like I sold out at my release party this past Sunday. That’s the reality of publishing these days, and I’m not looking to quit my day job anytime soon.

But it still feels good to finally have more books out, because that means I’m a bit closer to being able to quit my day job.

And that’s the goal: to tell that day job goodbye.

Later,
Gil