Sunday, September 27, 2009


navel-gazing Sunday

I wanted to write entertaining books, but it was never enough for me to write and get published -- I wanted to be rich and famous. But after twenty years I’ve come to realize fame and fortune probably isn’t going to happen, and I’m beginning to feel okay with that.

Most artists will experience failure of various proportions at various times in their careers. Most will reach a point where they wonder if they should continue, where they wonder about the role their art is truly playing in their lives. Does the damage overshadow the need to create?

For many, the gut reaction to massive failure is to walk away from your art, because, after all, it’s the thing that betrayed you. Wherever you are in your career, unpublished, unsold, unrecognized, recognized by a few, recognized by a handful, you have to be able to live with your own personal level of failure. You have to somehow figure out how to make peace with it.

Walking away isn't the answer (although time away might be a good idea). You have to restructure your thoughts and expectations. You have to think of that thing you love in a totally different way, and it has to take a different place in your life.

I always said I wouldn’t write a book unless I thought it had the potential to be something big. That was the driving force behind everything I did. Twice in my career I wanted to turn away from writing, but here is the question all artists should ask themselves: Where does this need to create fit into my life? How can it enrich without doing great harm?

The majority of my friends and family are artists. They are writers, musicians, photographers, painters, so I know how much art hurts. I think the secret is to make peace with your art, figure out how it fits into your life, and most of all don’t allow yourself to feel betrayed by it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Screw the business model.

Here's what I'm thinking. This is just the daydream stage, an offshoot of something I've toyed with doing for a quite a while. I'm wondering about publishing an anthology of Halloween stories, probably digital format only. A good launch date would be October 1, 2010. I'd pay very little. A friend suggested toy bats, and I like that idea.

But then you get into the problems of submissions. Open submissions? Too many stories to read, and I would feel awful rejecting people. Not sure I could do that. So maybe invitation only. I would do the content editing, but would pay someone else to copy edit, proof, and format.

I put this cover together in order to convey what I would be looking for. No hardcore horror. Maybe some humor, some quirky. But like I said, just mulling it over right now, don't know if it will happen, but I'm open to suggestions and ideas.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


A month into writing the memoir, I realized I was in over my head. I knew zero about nonfiction writing, especially memoir. So I bought several books on memoir writing. None addressed the problems I was having, and none dealt with taking fiction-writing skills and applying them to nonfiction. It had taken years to reach a certain level of skill with my fiction writing, and I was afraid it would take as long or longer to learn nonfiction through trial and error. So when I ran into an agent who wasn't interested in reading the memoir but wanted to rep me, it was easy for me to walk away from it. For a while. Later, when I returned to the memoir, I could easily and clearly see what I'd done wrong. The story was too broad. I'd told too much. It wasn't focused enough.

Quite simply:

With fiction, you start with a seed and build out.
With memoir, you start with a massive block of wood, or marble, or butter (if you live in Minnesota), and decide what to remove.

Deciding what to remove, deciding what to leave out, is the negative foundation that shapes your story and gives it strength and purpose.

(This sculpture can be found at Minneapolis Institute of Arts.)


Thursday, September 17, 2009


I tried same image with Black Tupelo:

I'm still dealing with fallout from the Quartet Press mess, and have been unable to concentrate on my current project because of it. I was supposed to have received the EPUB file for Bad Karma, but it's looking like that isn't going to happen. I could say more here, but I won't because it would just be speculation. But the lack of the file has put me into another tailspin, and certainly put my own publishing venture on hold. And I absolutely cannot take any more time off from my current memoir project, especially now that I have an agent who believes strongly in the material and is waiting for my revision.

That brings me to Samhain Publishing. They've expressed interest in possibly publishing Bad Karma and Pale Immortal. And right now that seems appealing. I work on projects one at a time, and I spent combined total of two or three months on Karma and Pale, then moved them off my plate to concentrate on my big project. But here they are back on my plate. I can either put them aside for several months, or submit them to Samhain. If I put them aside, there's a chance I may never go back to them. If Samhain publishes them, they'll be off my plate and I'll be able to move on. (Although Pale Immortal might not be a good fit for them, and I could end up pubbing it myself.)

I also have something new I might pub (in future, time permitting), and I have a big project I'm working on with someone else that I feel could really be something. Right now we are in the idea stage. I'm not sure it will ever move past that, but if it does we will need a publishing house of our own.


Monday, September 14, 2009


At eighteen, I was sitting at a red light in the pouring rain when I was hit from behind, the impact shoving my Volkswagen Beetle into the intersection. The light turned green, and cars began honking. A face appeared out of the darkness. It belonged to the man who'd hit me. He motioned to the side of the road. "Pull over!" he shouted, rain pelting him. "I'll be right behind you!" He ran back to his truck. I didn't think, I just reacted. I pulled out of the dangerous intersection, then watched my rearview mirror for his headlights. They never came. At the moment he told me to pull over, I was unable to adequately assess the situation, and I simply did what I was told to do. Since that day, I've encountered various degrees of my own failure to properly read a highly charged situation. But I think we all want to believe what people tell us, even when deep down we're afraid it's not the truth. I'm not sure that kind of faith in humanity is a fault or weakness. And now, years later, I still find myself pulling over and waiting for headlights that I know will never come.

tobacco smoke enema device

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I put together a few visuals. Once I come up with a pub name, I will hire someone to design the logo, but this gives me some ideas. I do like the way Black Tupelo lends itself to the tree image.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Please take the time to vote for a publishing house name.

update: two new awesome suggestions:

Tupelo Press
Belfry Press

love Belfry Press. Would like to add that to poll, but I don't know if I can without losing current votes.

Due to the premature death of Quartet Press, I will most likely publish my blacklist. I don't need a publishing house in order to do that, but why not? I feel it would be better to establish a name now, because there's no telling what the future holds. I often daydream of starting a house that would be equivalent to a small indie record label where I would publish one or two books a year. I would do the content editing and line editing, but I would use freelancers for the copy editing, proofing, and epub formatting. For the writer, it wouldn't really be much different from self publishing. The only difference would be my editing and guidance, and my name and publishing house backing the material. Oh, and I'd take a small percentage.

All of the possible publishing house choices have personal significance.

Perley Station was a village that burned down in the late 1800s. The only building left standing was what is now my church/writing studio.

Tuonela was the fictional Wisconsin town in my books Pale Immortal and Garden of Darkness.

Black Tupelo was a bar/whorehouse in Play Dead.

But maybe it's best to be totally straightforward and use names.

I like them all, so I need help!

update: suggestions welcomed and appreciated!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Bad news in the world of ebook publishing. Just got the news that Quartet Press has disbanded. I have no idea what happened, and we might never know, but pay no attention to my reissue release dates in the left column. Very sad, because I know everyone at Quartet Press put in a tremendous amount of work and effort into building what they'd hoped would be a quality ebook publishing house.


update: PW article. I suspected it was a shaky business model. I worried that they'd created too many paying positions before the launch:


I strongly suspect the editorial department killed them.

Here's my idea for a startup:

Begin with reissues only. In that way you completely eliminate the need for an expensive editorial department. Maintain rights one year, two years max, with option to renew. Pay writer 40 - 50%. Build business, then release a couple of amazing new titles that everybody is going to be talking about. Hire outside freelance editors and copy editors.


I've wanted a netbook for about a year and a half. I'm a big woot fan, so when I saw the Asus Eee 900 for 174.00 including shipping and handling, I jumped on it.

Eee PC 900

The little darling arrived about a month ago, and it's been a battle ever since. Here is the problem: I've owned nothing but Macs for ten years and I expect to be able to use a computer right out of the box. No tinkering. No hacking. Just open it and use it. So anyway, this arrives with Linux which takes the hard drive to 98% full. You can't remove any of the totally unnecessary software, which means the browser cannot be updated. This was confirmed by the Asus hotline. You have to attach an external hard drive or remove Linux and install a different operating system. There is a third choice which involves moving some software to another area, but this takes super powers. A new OS would be the best choice, but I know nothing about this stuff and I don't want to deal with it. So I'm thinking of trying to sell it right here. An online auction. Starting bid $50. I'll pay shipping and insurance. So anyway, if you think you might be interested, google the Asus Eee 900. There are blogs dedicated to this little netbook. People who know how to tweak them seem to love them. And love messing with them. Not me. It's like a car. I just want to get in and drive.

At this point anybody can buy it from me for 150ish. I'll pay shipping (US) and insurance. Might take a bit less than 150. Make an offer. I would also trade it for an iPod touch. If nobody bites, I'll be auctioning it off right here on my blog.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm pretty excited to have found directions for adding a third column to my template. I wanted my blog to be a little more like a website, with more space for current info, but didn't want to switch to Wordpress or Typepad. You can find directions here: