I have had a hard time coming up with topics to write for this blog. Honestly, it has been a thorn in my side. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, because I have plenty.
The thing is, most of my opinions are of a societal, political, cultural nature. They aren’t necessarily writing related. I have some seriously deep insight into the current climate of the USA and why it is ten kinds of fuckerooni. But, those thoughts are best left for my Tumblr blog. Which I have been neglecting for a long while due to time constraints.
So, why don’t I have opinions on writing?
In part, because there are other authors out there that have already expressed their opinions and I don’t think I’d do a better job than them. They talk about gender, about genre, about the grind of the writer’s workday. They talk about marketing this and promoting that. They talk about what you should always do, what you should never do, what others have done, what they have done. They talk about issues this and issue that.
And to be completely frank- I could give a fuck.
I know, I know, this sounds harsh. Some will read this and think I’m callous or just conceited. They’ll read this and think “Who is this guy to act like he’s above it all?” And everyone is entitled to whatever opinion they form or conclusion they draw from this.
But before you draw a conclusion or form an opinion, let me explain a little further.
I don’t give a fuck because I have a job to do. That job is to write novels. That job is to complete manuscripts in a timely fashion so that my publisher sends me some cashola. I have zero time for the noise that is the internet of opinion. I really need to focus on my work, need to focus on the story in my head, need to ignore the blah blah blah of all the opinions, posts, reviews, tweets, forums, etc.
I do not think I am above all of that. I think I am outside of it. Intentionally.
I try to stay outside of it because it is a distraction. While I always need to work on my craft, I do not believe the noise will help me do that. I have a pretty strong style of writing, I have my voice. I know what I want to write and how to do that. I mainly know that I have to sit my ass down in my chair and get that word count out. That is the key: sitting my ass down and getting my daily word count.
The noise keeps me from doing that. And the noise, in the long run, makes absolutely zero difference on my career.
Here’s the thing, folks, no one in the writing/publishing industry knows what sells books. They have ideas based on past performance or personal observation, but none of that past performance or personal observation can be transferred. What works for one author may or may not work for another author even if it is perfectly replicated. That’s just the truth of the business.
So, while I love to have a good dialogue about the business of writing and the craft itself, I just don’t feel it is my place. I have other work to do and doing that work is what has brought me success, not distracting myself by puking out an opinion.
Does this mean Views From The Captain’s Chair will go away? No, of course not. I still sit in the Captain’s Chair everyday; I still have views. It just means I’m no longer buying in to the notion that an author must have a blog to be a success. I’m no longer buying in to the notion that by contributing to the noise I will be a better writer than I already am.
And I certainly don’t buy into the notion that by contributing to the noise my fans and readers will be better served. Writing more books is how I will better serve my fans and readers. Writing more books is how I will attract new readers. Writing more books is how I make my living and how I have achieved the level of success I already have.
But, in order to write more books I have to step outside the noise. I have to be true to myself and follow my instincts. Right now, my instincts are telling me that a weekly blog just isn’t my thing. And the load that just lifted off my shoulders as I typed that sentence only reinforces that decision.
So, keep reading those other blogs out there. There are plenty of good ones. I’ll more than likely be reading them along with you. I just won’t be the one writing any. For now. Maybe once I have more time for the noise. Maybe. We’ll see.
Another Friday the 13th on Drabble Party night? Say what?
It’s like the universe wants us all to embrace the macabre and rejoice in the fantastic and horrific!
Hey, speaking of fantastic and horrific, have you checked out Intentional Haunting yet? You should. It’s been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award! Huzzah! If you already have enjoyed its twistedness then feel free to leave a review. Those little word piles sure do help a novel out.
Now, how about a drabble?
The valley was filled with plant life the two thought extinct.
Trees, their leaves broad and lush; bushes, flowers purple and bright; grass, knee high; dandelions, bright yellow.
“Oh, Hal,” Melanie sighed. “It’s gorgeous.”
“Yeah, baby, it is,” Hal smiled as he took Melanie’s hand.
The two stepped from the road and onto the dirt path that lead into the lush, verdant valley.
Ten yards, twenty, thirty, sixty.
That’s all they had to go to realize the hidden oasis was a sham.
“Plastic,” Melanie cried. “But why?”
As the hatches opened and the armed men climbed out, they knew why.
Disclaimer: Sometimes you shouldn’t stop and smell the flowers.
While this post isn’t specifically about writing, it is about storytelling and the tropes that fill those stories.
What’s a trope?
Let’s have Merriam-Webster answer this!
We’re going with “b” on this one.
Why am I talking about tropes?
I had tweeted that I needed suggestions for this week’s post and got a couple responses. One was specifically asking that I talk about tropes I hate and how to make them better if used. I liked this idea at first, and still do, but realized quickly that I am not the guy to write about this.
Because I don’t hate any tropes. It’s that simple. I actually can’t think of a single trope that bugs me. I like werewolves, vampires, zombies (obviously), wizards, Special Forces, ninjas, damsels in distress, dudes in distress, romance, pirates, ninja pirate robots from Mars, you name it and I like it!
Does that mean I like every book, movie, TV show, video game, comic book, etc? No, it does not. Some can really suck. But even ones that suck I may like. Because, for me, it always comes down to my expectations, not the actual quality of the product itself.
Case in point: we are a CW house. I freakin’ love the stuff the CW churns out. Talk about a network filled with tropes! Do I think it is high brow, award worthy fare? Uh, no. No, I do not. But damn if it isn’t fun! It is pure, mindless entertainment for me. And my mind needs that quite often.
Let’s talk about The 100. Schlock central, yo. But I had zero illusions otherwise going in. Is the acting great? Uh, no. Is the writing great? Uh, no. Can the stories be contrived? Uh, yeah. But it’s scifi teens getting all Lord of the Flies and shit in the future on an Earth ravaged by nuclear war! Suh-weet! Plus, it’s brutal and violent as hell. They don’t pull punches on killing off characters or going for the headshots. This isn’t The A-Team, people. When the trigger is pulled, peeps gonna die.
The one thing I do hate about The 100 is how the network, the actors, the writers, all say “The Hundred”. You can’t call a show “The 100″ without pronouncing it as “The One Hundred”. Drives me up a wall. But that’s about it.
I am a huge fan of bad scifi, bad horror, bad westerns, bad everything- as long as it is entertaining. If I find myself getting bored then I put it down, turn it off, walk away.
Another case in point: Z-Nation. Nope. Not a fan. I know some like it, but for me it just didn’t hit that entertainment factor. I get what it is trying to do, but there is so much TV to watch that I had to choose. I’m not saying you shouldn’t like it or watch it, I’m just saying that I gave it a try and it wasn’t worth my time.
And that is what it comes down to for me- is it worth my time?
Time is precious to me. It’s precious to all of us. There are so many great TV shows, books, movies, video games, comic books out there that I will never get to experience all of them before I die. That is a fact. I have done the math. Not going to happen.
So I pick what I like, what entertains me, and I embrace it. What I don’t do is disparage the TV shows, movies, books, video games, comic books, etc that others like. Why would I? I’m not you, I’m not the one watching something in your living room, I’m not the guy with your book in my hand, so why would I disparage what you like? It doesn’t hurt me if you like something that I’m just not into, so why would I talk down on it and hurt you?
Another another case in point: Constantine. I did not like this TV show. There are many reasons I didn’t like it (and I did give it a try), but I’m not going to go into those reasons. Why? Because a lot of people I do like enjoy the show. They state constantly on FB and Twitter how much they like it. Good for them! That is awesome! But it’s just not for me.
I like things for my own reasons, I dislike things for my own reasons, but at no point do I dislike something just for what it is. The trope don’t matter to me, yo! The trope don’t matter!
You like a specific trope? Right on!
You dislike a specific trope? You go, girl!
It’s that time of the week again!
No, not kale juice colonic time. How man times do I have to tell you that those are Thursdays? Get a calender, people. Sheesh.
Nope, it’s Drabble Party time!
Nothing really to announce tonight before the drabbletastic storytelling begins. But, hey, if you feel like clicking one of those links up above then please do so. Before or after you read the drabble. I don’t mind. Links get lonely too, you know. They need love just as much as every other digitally inanimate object.
LOVE THE LINKS!
Now, on to the drabble!
With every word reproduced came pain.
Immeasurable pain that engulfed Elizabeth’s body, from her finger tips to the ends of her scorched, brown hair. Yet she knew she had to keep copying the scrolls, get their contents down before the ancient documents burned to a crisp.
The tablet glowed blue, but the light fought against the reflections of the flames that consumed the tunnel, consumed what was left of the abbey.
“I can do this,” Elizabeth coughed as the smoke began to fill her lungs, almost as painful as the flames that ravaged her skin. “Just keep saving. Keep saving.”
Disclaimer: Sometimes stop, drop and roll just won’t cut it.
Last week I posted about my YA novel, Intentional Haunting, being nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. It’s all pretty cool, I do admit. While I am honored to be included with so many amazing writers, I am also a little confused as to what comes next.
Does this mean anything, the whole nomination thing?
Quick answer? Not a clue.
There are a million things that go through my head as I think of what a Stoker nomination means for my writing career. But the one thing that really stands out is whether or not I can capitalize on this and perhaps get an agent again.
Back story! I had an agent, the very wonderful Adrienne Rosado of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency, and she was actually representing me when I wrote Intentional Haunting (now on sale for $2.99!). She shopped it around and it never found a home. After some time, and a serious career shift for me, I decided that I needed to make a break and go it alone. I was no longer the single manuscript writer, but a churner of pulpy goodness and that isn’t Adrienne’s game. Totally amicable split.
Since that split I have negotiated all of my own contracts and I ended up making a decent living in 2014. I actually made more from full time writing in one year than I had made the year before working at a full time job and writing on the side. This is good. It means my leap of faith (and by my I mean my family’s leap of faith) paid off.
But, I have a fear that my writing career might be stuck in one gear. It’s not a bad gear and I am not complaining, I just happen to be one of those people that is compulsively driven to keep rising. I despise complacency and every fiber in my body screams to move on to the next level.
What level? I don’t know.
Which is why I am seriously thinking of hunting for an agent again.
There is one major problem, though: I don’t have a manuscript to shop.
I am no longer a spec writer. I already have a contract in place to write eight novels this year. I have no need, nor time, to worry over a manuscript that may or may not sell.
What’s spec? It is short for speculative or speculation. It means a writer writes a novel and speculates whether or not it will sell. It is also known as gambling, except instead of gambling with money the writer is gambling with time/labor. Which, as we all know, equals money. This is the traditional way many writers work and there is nothing wrong with this.
And agents want spec manuscripts. That’s how agents work. They sell manuscripts to publishers.
But, being a full time writer with a contract in place, I am no longer one of those writers. Sure, once a writer is established with a publisher, the agent can then sell pitches instead, but I am not in that position. I sell my own pitches to my publisher and get the contracts worked out, but I am in the small press world and I’d love to get into the big press world.
So how the hell do I get an agent without a product in hand that they can sell?
And this is when the eyes roll. I know, I know, I am very lucky to be where I am. I also know that big press publishing is probably not going to treat me as well as small press publishing does. I get that. I also know that small press publishing does not have the reach that big press publishing does. And I like reach (please see my comment above about being compulsively driven to rise).
I want my books to be on billboards and in multiple print ads. I want to have a shot at the NY Times Bestseller list even if it is rigged and decided by an archaic algorithm which involves chicken entrails. I want to see my novels on the front table at Barnes & Noble. I want the possible increase in income that goes with an increase in visibility.
But, most of all, and this is important, I want my novels themselves to take that next step: TV and/or film. I am a huge fan of visual media. Back in high school I wrote my ass off all the time, but my desire was to be a filmmaker. Then I saw the reality of what that meant (this is pre-digital, folks) and decided I neither had the means nor the desire to sell my soul and move to Hollywood.
Yet, now, I could have a sweet hybrid dream of writing full time and seeing that writing end up on the big or small screen. No soul selling (right?) and moving to or really dealing with the Hollywood machine. If I have an agent. If I have someone that can shop my rights around to producers. If I have someone that is willing to be the intermediary between me and the Hollywood machine.
Which brings me back to my original question: will the Bram Stoker nomination help get me an agent? Is it one of those things that agencies look at? Are there people in New York reading the list of Stoker nominees and thinking, “Hmmm, this Jake Bible guy sure is cranking out some books and constantly in and out of the Amazon bestsellers charts. Maybe I should shoot him an email…”. Do those folks exist?
Or is this nomination really more about peer recognition (which is awesome too)?
I have zero answers and I have zero idea what happens now. And what if I were to actually win the award? Is that the golden ticket? Do golden tickets exist in my world of small press genre pulptacularness?
And if I do get noticed by agents, am I willing to hand over 15% of my income to them? That’s a sticky issue right there!
Shit, I actually think this post has raised more questions than answers. Good one, Bible. Good one.
Anyhoo, this is what’s on my mind as I continue my journey through the land of full time writing (the land is not on Google Maps, so don’t bother looking). Maybe one day I’ll stroll this land with an agent by my side. Or maybe not.
I’ll keep y’all posted.