Category Archives: The Arcana Chronicles

Off Topic Post-Influences

music_stand_in_empty_hall_42-16937056I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “influences.”

When I was younger, there were people I looked up to– just like we all did when we were kids.

Even to this very day, there are people who influence and mold the direction my life takes.

But today, I wanted to talk about one of the biggest influences in my life from my High School days.

Music had been a constant for my brother, sister and I since we’d been very young. Not just instrumental, but choral groups as well.

When I arrived to tenth grade at Huntington High School back in 1979, I continued to participate in the various music programs available at the time.

Concert band, marching band. The wind ensemble.

One day, at the appointed time, I arrived in the choral room at HHS as a newbie freshman. It was a large room with permanent wooden rises located at the ass-end of the school close to the auditorium.

Sitting at the piano was a man of average height with white hair. I won’t lie to you; he initially scared the living crap out of me.

“No, no, no! It’s IN-EGGSHELL-SEE DEO! Take it again from measure 25!” he’d scream while pounding on the piano.

AndyThis man was Andrew Housholder.

The fear lasted, maybe a couple of weeks. Respect followed. Then, adoration.

This man took almost anybody into the choir. And by the first concert, had built a group of hormonally challenged, apathetic high school students into a cohesive singing phenomena.

We would often perform college or professional level pieces. “Uncle Andy” is one of the reasons I received music scholarships for college (where I meet another amazing director and choral master—Lex Dashnaw. But that’s another posting).

If you’ve never seen it, go watch “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” That closing scene, with decades of students returning to pay tribute to Mr. Holland, a band teacher played by Richard Dreyfuss. It’s like that.

Only better.

I bring this up today, because at 7:30 this morning, Andrew Housholder passed away, surrounded by his family.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve watched kudos, prayers and anecdotes come in from all over the United States on a Facebook page setup by Ellen Housholder Rife, Uncle Andy’s daughter.

The impact that this one man had on my life, and on the life of hundreds, perhaps thousands of my fellow HHS Alumni was profound.

I’m sure this man has made his way to heaven and has taken over running the choirs of the Heavenly Host by now.

I can almost hear it now.

“IN-EGGSHELL-SEE DEO, Saint Michael!! Tenors and Archangels, take it from the ‘Halleluiah’ in measure 31…”

Thank you Andy.  You will be missed.

 

Peace

The Magical Mystery Blog Tour – Schedule

mmblogtourThe Magical Mystery Blog tour tentative schedule!

I announced a few days ago that I wanted to do a blog tour for the upcoming release for book one of The Arcana Chronicles: The Prodigal’s Foole.

It was one of those things that I thought “This could be loads of fun,” so I tossed the idea out there to see if it would stick.

I was overjoyed, humbled and extraordinarily pleased at the response. Every slot I had, plus a few extra were filled within a couple of hours.

The schedule is subject to change, but for your reading pleasure and as a way to say thank you to the participants, here is the schedule as of this morning:

 

15-Oct            Lakisha Spletzer

16-Oct            Lakisha Spletzer – Part 2

17-Oct            Monica Marier

19-Oct            Suzy Turner

21-Oct            Shay Fabbro

23-Oct            Bill Kirton

25-Oct            Christopher Blanchard

27-Oct            Steve Umstead

29-Oct            LM Stull

30-Oct            Eden Baylee

31-Oct            Leah Petersen

1-Nov             5MINUTEFICTION Judge

2-Nov             Emmett Spain

3-Nov             Leah Petersen – Part 2

4-Nov             Al Boudreau

6-Nov             Sessha Batto

8-Nov             K. Victoria Smith

10-Nov           Matthew Munson

12-Nov           Patti Larsen

14-Nov           Jonathan Gould

16-Nov           JD Robinson

 

What will these wonderful folks be doing to win the blog tour prizes? Well, I have to hold onto a few mysteries, don’t I? You’ll just have to watch this space to find out.

This should be loads of fun, and expect to see payback as I host these fantastic folks awhen their own literary works become available. In fact, next week will be STEVE UMSTEAD week. Stay tuned for content and a special edition of The Word Count podcast in celebration!

 

Peace

 

Off Topic Post-Labor Day

happy-labor-dayToday is Labor Day in the U. S.

Not only a celebration of the average worker, usually this first Monday in September signifies the end of summer. Today is for cookouts, family, and general out door party activities.

It also signals the start of the American football season. But that’s another post.

But since it’s “Labor Day,” I find myself thinking about the current job market. Not just in the U. S., but in other countries as well.

This is probably because my own job situation has been spotty for the past eight months—part time contracts and pickup work. I think that’s going to change shortly, but I’ll update you on that when things progress.

I wrote in my last posting that I love to work, and when I’m working, my writing goes well.

But today I’m thinking about all the folks around the world who want to work and haven’t been able to find a job. There is nothing more frustrating than being willing and able to do a job—but not being able to find one.

The unemployment rate here is still 9.1%, which is high, especially when you consider this doesn’t take into account those whose unemployment benefits have expired, or this who have just given up looking.

And it certainly doesn’t take into account the estimated 19.8% of the “under employed” in the country.

I have opinions—really strong opinions– on how to get our country working again. Start manufacturing our own things again, for one. Replace the jackwagons in Congress with people and not a bunch of spoiled millionaires for another.

But I digress.

My point is, while we are enjoying this last day of summer, have a think about people less fortunate. Consider how we got here and how we will have to change to provide our children with a chance to succeed.

The definition of insanity is doing the same exact thing and expecting different results. So let’s have a beer, a burger and celebrate the working woman and man today.

Then let’s figure out how to get them ALL back into game.

Peace

The Magical Mystery Blog Tour

806_26_8624---The-Magical-Mystery-Tour-Bus_webI can’t believe my book will be coming out in less than two months!

The excitement is building, and, as an Indie writer, internet awareness and reviews will be key to sales. With this in mind, I’d like to solicit help from fellow writers/editors and reviewers out there!

I’m planning on doing a bit of a blog tour, beginning two weeks before release and continuing into November.

I’m working on the schedule now, but I’m open to interviews, reviews, and (as you are all creative folks) any other ideas you may have, inclusive of guest posts on the subject of your choice on your own blog.

To steal an incentive-based idea from Steve Umstead, I will be offering THREE prizes during this marketing blitz:

THIRD PLACE (Most Creative idea) – $25 Amazon Gift card

SECOND PLACE (Most Creative idea) – $50 Amazon Gift Card

FIRST PLACE (Most Creative idea) – $100 Amazon Gift Card

The first phase of this is this posting on both my FB Writer’s page and blog.

Phase two will be assigning dates (I’d like to run in 2 day cycles – give folks a chance to read/listen to what’s been said)

Phase Three will be publication of the schedule and execution of the plan.

Please note that “NOT INTERESTED” or “CAN’T DO IT” are acceptable answers as I know everyone is busy and NaNoWriMo is coming up in November.

Let me know what you think, and if you’d like to participate.

I expect to have digital ARC copies of TPF available at the end of this month.  The tour will run from 17 October through to 18 November.

PLEASE E-MAIL ME NO LATER THAN 15 SEPTEMBER 2011 if interested—

me@rbwood.com

Has anyone seen my muse?

Xanadu-Olivia-Newton-John-Michael-Beck-2_large“I’m a muse.”

“I’m glad someone thinks this is funny.”

“No. A MUSE….”

You know it’s gonna be weird when I paraphrase Xanadu.

Since January, I’ve been consulting part time and writing. The last few months have been especially tough. More so, since my own personal muse seems to have gone on extended holiday.

Along with book 2 of The Arcana Chronicles (I’ve outlined through book five, BTW), I’ve been working on a super-secret SciFi trilogy, and am beginning character development on something that could be a very cool collaboration with writer Emmett Spain.

But most of the words coming from my keyboard have been crap.

Or online job applications.

jim-ignatowski-picThe interview process has been slow…I have a few great leads and potential opportunities…but I feel like I’m watching that episode of Taxi—you know the one, where Jim Ignatowsky played by the wonderful Christopher Lloyd is taking his drivers test and asks for help on the first question:

“What does a yellow light mean?” asks Jim.

“Slow down.”

“Okay. Whaaaat. Doooooes. Aaaaaaa. Yeeeeelloooow. Liiiiight. Meeeeaaan.”

That’s exactly what waiting for job follow-up and feedback is like.

Something will pop soon. I’m certain of it.

This waiting thing is playing havoc with my writing. The stress of not knowing what I’ll be doing is making me a bit crazy.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m lucky in the fact that my partner has a great job and is covering the household bills for the time being. And she is so unbelievably supportive of me in every way. I’m truly blessed.

I’m one of these weird people who like to work. Would I love to be a writer fulltime? Absolutely. Maybe someday that will be my “day job.”

But for now—for right now, I want to get back into the game full time.

Because when I work, I’m happy. And when I’m happy, maybe that fickle bitch I call my muse will come back from holiday.

 

 

 

Why I went Indie – Part III

Printing-Press-1Part three of why I went indie (if you missed it, here is PART I and PART II) focuses on the Indie writer and the small presses.

I like to tell stories. I always have. When my partner and children suggested I finally start writing down my stories, well I laughed.

See, back in the 80’s I had delusions of being the next Tom Clancy, James Patterson or even Alan Moore. I have some of the coolest rejection letters from Penguin, Marvel and Dark Horse.

But with this new encouragement to write, I realized something pretty important.

I didn’t want to become famous. I just wanted to tell a story.

Between my change in writing purpose and the fact forty-year-olds tend to finish things they start (back in the eighties a ‘writing session’ turned into a ‘beer session’ very quickly), The Prodigal’s Foole developed very quickly.

While I was writing that first book, I began to look at how I wanted to get my story out there. The query process for both an agent/large publishing house was arduous and frustrating—having gone through that before. Oh, I went through the motions again, mind you. With similar results.

But there was something new to a burgeoning writer out there. Technology, PoD and social media weren’t around when I attempted to be a writer the first time.

Now, the publishing world was very different.

What I found is that there are a lot more ‘wannabe’ writers out there. And that’s not a bad thing as long as what you are submitting to the world is the best quality product you can make.

But quality isn’t always a part of the Indie and self-pub world.

So I began to look for something I really wanted for my stories—a collaborative group of like-minded authors within a small press environment. My criteria was pretty stringent for whom I wanted to work with: 

  • A small press with a cadre of GOOD authors—maybe 20 or so writers who put out really good stories.
  • A collaborative feel—industry professionals and authors who were willing to take time out of their own day to work with a writer—discussions of plot, storytelling, publishing experiences, etc. etc.
  • An attention to detail—a desire to produce quality work
  • The ability to change business models rapidly to adjust for all the new changes in publishing technology
  • Assistance with marketing and modern ‘word-of-mouth’ techniques.

The problem, of course, was not knowing what I wanted, but finding a group of people that wanted the same exact thing I did. To write stories, to be proud of ones words and to expand ones abilities by sharing, listening and growing as a writer.

Let me warn you now, there are a LOT of charlatans out there who are happy to charge you a boat-load of cash for the privilege of producing your book (rule number ONE of being a professional writer: cash flows TO the author). Do your research. Get a lawyer involved once you get some sort of contract. Understand and speak with other writers within a publishing group.

And if your gut tells you something is wrong, it probably is.

The group I ended up with is a small Indie press out of Pennsylvania called Pfoxchase. Before I signed with them, I’d gotten to know the creative director (and fellow author) Diane Nelson for over a year. We’d chatted via twitter, she submitted stories to The Word Count (my podcast, in case you didn’t know) she introdusced me to other authors. Some of which, like me, now write for her Pfoxpub Group.

 

There is the lovely and talented Bill Kirton, author and voice-over specialist (you’ve heard him if you’ve ever spent time in the UK listening to the BBC). There is Sessha Batto, erotic writer and graphic artist. Robb Grindstaff, marvelous writer and editor. T.L.Tyson, prolific writer and vlogger-she writes more in a week than I have in a few months. I could go on about talent like John Browne, John Booth, Jessica L. Degarmo, Heikki Hietala, Lisa Hinsley, Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova), Kira Morgana, Noelle Pierce, Kate Rigby, Greta van der Rol, Gev Sweeney, and Brian Talgo but you get my point (and besides, all their bios can be found HERE).

 

I found what I was looking for in a publisher.

You may have different aspirations. You may have different goals. But ultimately, as long as you stick with it, are willing to listen & learn and strive for quality, you will be successful.

 

Going with an Indie small press has been a wonderful experience so far. I have learned a lot from my association with Pfoxchase. I’ve also laughed, cried screamed and giggled myself into fits.

The end result is that my first book comes out at the end of October. And I’m happy with the story and the people I’ve chosen to work with.

In the meantime, I’m still accepting submissions for the next podcast (see the post below this one for details) and this blog is still in the running for a ‘Most Valuable Blogger of Boston’ award. You can vote once a day until September 9th, should you wish.

To vote, click HERE.

 

Peace

The Word Count Episode 17: Submissions now OPEN!

FastThe Word Count Episode 17: SUBMISSIONS are now OPEN!

There was a clear winner for the next Podcast theme as chosen by readers of my blog.  With 35.7% of the vote, here is your prompt:

“It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…”

The guidelines, due date, and details for submissions are all below.  We have a short window for submissions this time so get cracking my writerly friends!

The Word Count Episode Seventeen Submission Guidelines (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY)

PROMPT: It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…

GENRE: Any.

DEADLINE: I must receive your submission by MIDNIGHT (Eastern Time) Friday 26th August 2011

THE DETAILS:

The work must be an original of yours. It could be a poem, short story, song—anything really as long as you write something based on the stated theme (It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…).  Do NOT exceed ten minutes.  As this is a podcast, I need to receive a file of YOU reading (singing or otherwise performing) your work. MP3 FORMAT, please attach your MP3 file to an e-mail. The e-mail should also contain the following:

  • Your pen name
  • Your bio
  • Links to your websites
  • Your Twitter name (if you have one)
  • A photo I can use for the show notes
  • Permission to use your recording in the podcast
  • At the end of the recording, please add the following: “The is <YOUR NAME> author of <YOUR WORK(s)> and you’re listing to The Word Count Podcast”

Send your file to me@rbwood.com by Friday the 26th of August. You can also e-mail me with questions before hand. I do reserve the right NOT to post your submission, but will communicate that to you should it be the case. I add the ‘Explicit’ tag to the ‘cast, so if your story uses adult themes or language that’s ok—but it should be necessary for the story.

Peace

You decide the next prompt!

question-markThe Poll for the next Word Count Podcast is up and to the left!

Vote on what you’d like to see, write and record for the next show. I’m only going to keep the poll active until Monday morning 22 August so make sure you have your say!

The potential prompts are:

The star cruiser came out of hyperspace when suddenly…

It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…

It was not the birthday gift I was expecting…

The fire spread rapidly…

The knife was covered in blood…

 

Let your voices be heard!

<– Make your selection over here

 

Peace

What an honor!

MVB_badge_bostonWow!

I’m excited to let you all know that my blog (yes, the thing you’re reading right this second) has been nominated for a “Most Valuable Blog of Boston” award!

When I started this site a couple of years ago, it was initially setup as a cheap therapy session during my quest to publish my first novel. Since then it’s grown to include commentary on the writing industry, sharing the wonderful words of fellow writers via this site and The Word Count podcast, and so much more.

I want to thank whomever nominated me as well as all the readers who lurk on my page.  This has been fun so far and I look forward to many more years to come.

If you’d like to vote for me, here is the link:

http://boston.blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/blog/383-the-arcana-chronicles/


You can vote once each day until September 9th, 2011.

Vote often! 🙂

 

Peace 

Why I went Indie – Part II

indieWhy I went Indie is a rather interesting tale. In the first part of this essay, I discussed Technology (Part I can be found HERE). Technology and the rapidly changing world of publishing and product (in this case my book The Prodigal’s Foole) delivery is just one reason.

In this section, I’ll discuss both the self-publishing industry and the social media impact on being a writer in the modern era. Both subjects seem diverse on the surface, but you’ll shortly see they dovetail together nicely.

Self Publishing has been around for a long time as an option for a writer to get their wares out to the reading public. There’s stories about authors traveling around with copies of their books in the trunks of their cars—Tom Clancy is one (it wasn’t until Ronald Reagan got a copy of Hunt for Red October and mentioned it to a reporter that Clancy’s books took off). Milton was the first to defend “self-publisher” rights (Areopagitica 1644). Some other famous self-published authors (and this is by no means an all-inclusive list):

William Blake, Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Zane Gray, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe…

Well, you get the idea. Self-publishing is NOT a new concept.

What is new are the multitude of options available to self-publish. Starting with the desktop publishing software available to the PC market (1985 is considered a pinnacle year with the introduction of MacPublisher and Pagemaker) and now with online Print on Demand services such as CreateSpace from Amazon or LuLu (there are dozens of others) there are even easier ways to “get your book out there.”

In fact, there are so many authors now that are bypassing the large and small imprints and going straight to POD, that the POD companies are beginning to have problems of their own. I won’t dwell on that here, but Tracy L. Darity wrote a great blog post recently about the “POD Bubble” which can be found HERE.

Self-publishing does have a series of downsides—one is that a large percentage of the work self-published isn’t very good. From story problems through to grammatical errors, many, many of these books are just awful. If you do end up going this route yourself, get and editor. Get beta readers. Make sure what you put your name on is a quality product.

The other issue is marketing. See? I told you we’d get to social media.

Let’s start with Twitter. I joined this micro-blogging site nearly three years ago. My first tweet was: “This seems like a waste of time.”

Three years on, 4000+ tweets and 2000 followers later, I’ve proven that first impression very wrong. I’ve “met” fellow writers, editors and publishers via Twitter. All (sans one) of my beta readers were found on Twitter. I found my own Indie publisher, Pfoxchase (and the lovely creative director Diane Nelson) via this medium. I recently met a dozen or so writers I’ve interacted with online at ReaderCON. It’s all about the networking. Because if you are going to self-publish or go with with a small press, a lot of the marketing for your work is going to be done by you online.

Facebook is another tool for your marketing toolkit. I have a writer’s page (You can “like” it and follow me via Facebook…there’s a button to the left of this article) and a page of my book series.

LinkedIn is yet another professional tool which I wrote about in detail in a guest blog post on Kait Nolan’s site found HERE.

There are plenty of author sites too. Authonomy is a site where you can get peer feedback on a work in progress. Goodreads is another site I use frequently.

Hell, I’m even on Google+ now.

My point is, you need to let people know you’re out there. All these tools and many others will help you. But be warned, just like the “Nigerian Diplomant who want to give me five million dollars,” there are scammers out there as well. Do your research and be smart about who you “friend” and who you interact with.

One of the reasons I went Indie isn’t because I couldn’t self-publish. It’s because I chose to partner with a group of writers who not only offer support and feedback, but help with the whole marketing aspect as well. It’s not like the big presses who have entire marketing departments to help with brochures, radio spots and have massive advertising budgets.

But there is a personal touch that you can’t get with a large corporation.

We’ll discuss Indie Presses in detail in Part III, coming soon.

Peace