Tag Archives: blogging

Two Firsts

This past week marks two firsts for me—the first time I’ve had a book re-released, and the first time I’ve been featured on someone else’s blog.

Let me explain. I’ll start with the re-release.

If you’ve paid attention to my offerings here, you’ll notice I took the link down for Spree. That’s because I got the rights back at the end of last year and a new edition has been in production since, with a far better cover and interior layout.

And the return of my original opening sentence.

When I originally conceived of Spree, I wanted to have fun with it. So I made the writing style a bit irreverent, and very informal. I wanted it to be more stream-of-consciousness than some stodgy, formal thing (I hate that anyway, anymore). Yes, the story becomes serious—as it should—but I wanted the reader to have fun getting there.

In this spirit, the original opening sentence to what I guess you’d call the prologue read This is how it went down. I thought that, in a sentence, summed up the experience I planned to give the reader.

But the original editor/publisher believed that sentence was too omniscient. Not enough deep POV. So it was scrapped, and I’ve always regretted that. Let that be a lesson to you, kiddies: don’t always give in just to be published, which is sorta what I did.

There was one other passage I had a minor problem with, where I had my cop character have a hunch, and the editor didn’t like it. He wanted to add in that the information had come from a confidential informant. I’m not sure exactly what the objection was to the hunch—it’s been long enough that, if there was a reason given, I don’t remember it. Some people just don’t like the idea of people getting hunches, but I’m convinced cops—and people in other professions as well—get these hunches based on their long experience in their jobs. They’re not something weird and mystical, they’re just our brain and subconscious working together in ways we don’t fully understand yet.

But, I let it stand.

Most of the other editing was fine. No objection. But, on the whole, I wasn’t that happy with the publisher, so when it came time to renew the contract, I opted out.

Now, on the other subject, though I’ve been a published author for some time, I’m not good at the PR end of things. I even stopped doing this blog because, quite frankly, I ran out things to write about. There at the end, I was trying different strategies to make it more relevant and less focused on things only other writers would be interested in, but it didn’t work too well.

And, quite frankly, I lacked the self-confidence to promote myself on others’ sites.

But my wife—God bless her—wants to see me succeed, probably more than I do, and she’s getting me out there, making me do things outside my poor, introvert’s comfort zone, which means I’ve been featured on Ninetoes Loves Books (https://ninetoeslovesbooks.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/introducing-gil-miller/), so pop on over and give it a quick read and see what you think.

I’m still not sure what to think of it, but I’m happy to report that the man himself sent me a friend request on Facebook, and we talked a bit on Messenger and it turns out we’re a lot alike, so if nothing else, I got a new friend out of it. And I hope for both our sakes we get a lot more than that. If we can give each other a boost, so much the better.

And if I haven’t put up links to my newest books—including the re-release—by the time you read this, rest assured they’ll be up soon.


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.


A Post About Blogs

You know, I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, but I will say I’m envious of folks who, week after week, and in some cases day after day, find things to blog about. For me, it’s a struggle some weeks to find anything that isn’t pure fluff (like this post may end up being), and I really don’t want to write fluff, so I tend not to post when I’m having an off week.

Gordon Bonnet

Gordon Bonnet

I look at blogs like Gordon Bonnet’s Skeptophilia, and I can’t help but wonder how he does it. I can’t even keep up with reading his blog, much less post as often, and I like his blog because many of his opinions are opposed to mine—but you shouldn’t live life in an echo chamber, and I like to try and look at all sides of an issue before I form an opinion. I’m human, and there will be opinions I hang onto doggedly in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Heck, that’s what beliefs are all about. But reading someone like Gordon makes me think, and it keeps me from being the kid who doesn’t like the food even though he’s never tried a single bite of it. Gordon has a large following—the kind us writers would love to have—and I’m sure it’s translated into some book sales for him. It also gives him a largely neutral place to talk about what he believes and what he thinks should change. I’ve often thought about starting some kind of ranting blog, or one where I simply state my opinions about various subjects, but I’m not sure if I want to go down that road.

Then there’s Kristen Lamb and her Warrior Writers blog. Again, as much as I enjoy her writing, it’s a bit hard to keep up with her. She

Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb

has a way of getting across to you that makes it feel like she’s talking only to you, that you’re her bestest friend in the world and she’s discovered this wonderful thing she thinks will help you and she just can’t wait to tell you about it because she cares, man, I mean really cares. That attitude comes across in every post and every Facebook status the woman produces. You feel like you’re her friend even if you’ve never met her, and she deserves every bit of success she gets. I don’t think she posts daily, but she does post several times a week.

And then there’s me, struggling to come up with something once a week to talk about. I don’t want to stick with the stuff I started out talking about because, let’s face it, there are more than enough blogs about writing out there. Sure, I want to address issues pertaining to writing on occasion, but if that’s all I talk about, the only people who’ll read this thing are other writers. I have no problem with other writers, being one myself, but that’s not the audience I want. I want jus’ folks, you know? I want to give the everyman kinda person like me a peek into the life of a writer, without sounding like I’m trying to give you a peek into privilege. I’m no different than other folks. I don’t have some mysterious place I go to get ideas, other than my mind, and since the mind is a mystery to everyone, it’s not like that’s unique.

The advice that makes the most sense to me (and it comes from Kristen Lamb, by the way) is to make your blog high concept. I get high concept in theory. It’s where you take subjects everyone can relate to and find a way to say it that makes folks want to come back and hear what you have to say post after post. It’s taking something in your life and making it accessible to everyone else by showing how everyone else can either learn something from it or at least be entertained by it.

Putting it into practice seems to be an entirely different matter, though.

One of my favorite examples of high concept is Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin explores life and most of its anxieties and frustrations as well as the plain ridiculous aspects of it. He doesn’t speak like a six-year-old. He has a much better vocabulary. And yet it all seems to fit. Added to that, we get Hobbes’s opinions, which often differ from Calvin’s. Hobbes frequently acts as Calvin’s foil, showing how ridiculous Calvin can be about some things.

CalvinHobbesAnd it’s pretty much unfailingly funny. A six-year-old examining life from the perspective of a much older person, and yet he tends to react like a six-year-old. Even the strips that seem to be about something strictly humorous have an underlying question beneath them.

Twenty years after it ended (Bill Watterson stopped writing the strip in 1995, having said all he wanted to say with it), fans still wish for there to be more, and we read and reread the existing strips, generally enjoying them every bit as much as we did when we first read them.

I doubt I’ll ever come up with something to equal Calvin and Hobbes, but a weak facsimile thereof would satisfy me.

Meanwhile, I’ve rambled. Guess that’s something we all do every now and then, huh?