Tag Archives: writer

The Great Baseball-Movie Dialogue Debate

In the short (5 1/2 years) time I’ve been calling myself a writer I’ve met many other writers. Some in person, some in cyberspace – and the variety of opinions I’ve seen and heard from them on how to write is fascinating.

Literally as many attitudes as authors.

Naturally I have mine – and I’m not usually shy about sharing them (ipso facto, this blog).

One of my writer friends, Steve Boone, bass player for the 60s rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful, recently shared his thoughts on a speech given by Bob Dylan at the MusiCares Awards . Another writer friend, Becky Pourchot, took a piece of the speech and shared it on facebook, citing how applicable it is (or at least should be) to writers.

dylan

The portion of Dylan’s speech that appealed to her was this;

“Last thing I thought of was who cared about what song I was writing. I was just writing them. I didn’t think I was doing anything different. I thought I was just extending the line. Maybe a little bit unruly, but I was just elaborating on situations. Maybe hard to pin down, but so what? A lot of people are hard to pin down and you’ve just got to bear it. In a sense everything evened itself out.”

She followed Dylan’s quote with this thought of her own – “This is a key element when we write, I think. I often worry ‘Are people going to get this?’ It’s tempting to think about market, audience. Write for you and everything will follow.”

She then cited a movie quote that I use quite often, from the classic baseball movie “Field of Dreams”…

“If you build it, they will come.”

dreams

It’s true – I say that all the time in reference to writing and marketing.

When I say it my point is usually more to the marketing aspect of writing than the actual writing, as in – put yourself out there, build a brand and relentlessly market that brand. Convince the book buying public that you are something worthy of their time – and money.

Since I’m writing this post on my lunch break at work and NOT from the deck of my yacht, my marketing strategies are not exactly the stuff of legend, however I still believe that in today’s cyber-society it is completely possible to create interest in your brand with aggressive marketing.

It has worked for me in the sense that many more people know my name today than did in 2009 when my first novel was released.

So – yes…by all means build it – and they will come.

The difference between my use of the phrase and Becky’s perception of my use of it is this;

In her comment she implied that the phrase gives writers license to write what they feel, without regard for whether it is “acceptable” in the market. Be true to your writing spirit and, if your heart is pure, the audience will find you.

It sounds good in theory, but I’m afraid she misunderstood my interpretation of the quote, so, in order to clear things up I’m going to resort to a quote from Bull Durham – another great baseball movie.

In the movie, veteran catcher Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) is charged with taking young, brash and arrogant rookie Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins) and giving him a little maturity before he is promoted to “the show” (the big leagues).

In one scene, Crash points out to Nuke that his (Nuke’s) shower shoes have fungus on them. Nuke is annoyed that Crash is interrupting his massage with such trivialities, and confused about why it matters, to which Crash replies…

“…you’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win twenty (games) in the show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes, and the press will think you’re colorful. Until you win twenty in the show, however, it means you’re a slob.”

shower shoes

The look on Nuke’s face after the lecture is priceless, and if you’ve never seen the movie your life has a serious void…but I digress.

My point is this…

Yes, writers should write from the heart and they should be true to their spirit, however, this is not license to write crap and tell yourself the only reason it isn’t selling is because it hasn’t found its audience yet.

The truth of the matter is, you are writing to sell your work – whether you admit it or not (here are my thoughts about that). Logic (and the laws of economics) dictates that if you want to sell something you must create something of interest to the buyer(s).

I hate to burst your bubble, Dorothy, but you write for the audience first – and yourself second.

Once you sell a million books you can publish your grocery list and people will think it’s literature. Until you sell a million books, however, it just means you have no talent.

Nuke

Call me a sellout, call me insincere, call me a traitor to the craft, but I am not afraid to admit that if there were no hope of selling another book, I would stop writing…because as much as I love writing, I put too much effort into it – too much of myself – to give it away in the hope that maybe it will eventually be discovered.

So, go ahead, write for yourself…in the meantime, don’t give up your day job.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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So You Want to be a Writer…Say Goodbye to Your Spare Time

Last Sunday my family (at least the portion of it here in Florida) held a birthday party for my great-niece, who turned 3.

3I didn’t go.

Hold on…before you tell me what a horrible great-uncle (clever word-play there, huh?) I am, let me explain. Believe it or not, I have a valid reason.

What could have kept me away from a reasonably significant family gathering? (I know my brother, nephew and sister were asking the same question).

The thing is – I had to check my e-mail.

I can practically hear your reaction to that…and by the way, that’s not a very nice thing to say.

Truth be told, it’s not quite that simple. Yes I had dozens of emails to go through, but I had a few other chores to do as well.

I have 3 facebook pages to monitor (4 if you count my personal page). There is my Blindogg Books page…there is the page for The Castaways (a weekly radio show I host along with friends Armand and Becky) and there is the page for my solo radio show Tim Baker’s B-Sides and Deep Cuts.

Then there are the two Twitter accounts (@blindoggbooks and @djcastaways).

Not ready to cut me any slack yet?

Well, for some reason, my LinkedIn account went crazy this week…I must have gotten more than two-hundred new contacts – and for each one there is an email to look at and decide whether to accept said contact. That process alone took me more than 2 hours.

What else did I do this weekend?

Well – I was doing some research for my B-Sides show, coming up with good songs to play and the stories behind them. (contrary to what Armand says – I do my research).

I was also preparing questions for this week’s guest on The Castaways Three Hour Tour.

I spent some time getting books ready to ship out to readers…not extremely time-consuming, but if I don’t do it – nobody else does.

dpiral time

I exchanged several emails with a Louisiana Police Detective (retired) learning about certain aspects of police work and the witness protection program for my next book, tentatively titled Protect This (more research – take that Armand!)

Speaking of Armand, he and I are working on the sequel to our co-authored zombie novella Dying Days – The Siege of European Village and he wanted to get together to write this weekend. Unfortunately, I had to decline that invitation as well (we’re doing it next weekend – so don’t expect me at any parties then either).

Oh and last – but certainly not least – I spent several hours actually writing Protect This. (although not nearly enough, I am not as far along as I’d hoped to be)

Aside from the 2 hour motorcycle ride I took Sunday morning I didn’t leave my house from the time I got home from work Friday evening until it was time to go back to work Monday morning. Oh, in case I didn’t mention it…I also have a full time job, so accomplishing all of these things must be done in my spare time.

I know what you’re thinking…did he just say ‘2 hour motorcycle ride’?

What’s up with that? Surely I could have foregone the motorcycle ride to spend time with my family…

Let me tell you about the motorcycle ride…

Tim at Putnam

I do a lot of work for a charity called Christmas Come True. On October 26 we are having our 4th annual Poker Run to raise money for the cause. I am in charge of the run, so it is my responsibility to map it, time it and coordinate the cooperation of the venues along the route. So my brother and I did that Sunday morning – and while it was extremely enjoyable – it was not a joyride. Not entirely anyway.

So there you have it.

Depending on how you look at it, this was either an apology or an excuse…but either way – it’s the truth.

Many people think writing is a spare time thing…a hobby-like alternative to TV that requires nothing more than sitting in front of a keyboard and clicking away. After all, you know what they say about a roomful of monkeys…

Take it from me – if it were that easy I wouldn’t have missed the party.

Happy Birthday Alexis! Hopefully I’ll make the next one.

As always – thank you for reading

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The True Secret to Being a Successful Writer

Shortly after I began writing my first book (the one I was really serious about, not the one I started in 1988 and never finished) I naturally began networking.

party with writers

Since then, through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a variety of writing oriented websites I have met many, many writers. Some were working on their first book while others had dozens of releases. They represented all genres from action to zombie (see what I did there?) and for every different style and level of experience, there was also a different attitude toward the craft.

Every writer, or at least the vast majority of them, has one thing in common…the desire for success. Some see success as a number one best-seller, others will consider themselves successful if they can manage a steady income and some define success as simply holding that first novel in their hands – and most will do whatever it takes to reach their goal.

That’s right, I said most.

Believe it or not, I have met a handful of people who like to call themselves writers, but aren’t even remotely interested in putting in the work.

Every writer reading this post knows what I mean by the work, but for the others let me tell you this; writing is work – lots and lots of work. This is not the place to go into detail, but ask any serious writer, they’ll back me up.

As I was saying, I have met many people who claim to be writers, but they are just not dedicated. They tell you they are working on a novel but that’s about as far as it gets. They spend lots of time on the internet hanging out in writer’s groups talking a good game, but that’s the end of it.

meaning to write

It’s the equivalent of me knowing a handful of chords, hanging out with Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton and calling myself a guitar player.

I’m not trying to be demeaning. I’m not calling anybody a fraud and I am certainly not saying that these people have no talent.

In fact, I can think of a couple I have known who were very talented, but for whatever reason they were unwilling (or maybe unable) to go that extra six miles.

There’s an old saying…”Be wary of giving advice; Wise men don’t need it and fools won’t heed it.”

I’m going to ignore that bit of wisdom for the time being.

I’m going to give some advice to anybody who wants to be a writer – and here’s the kicker…if you aren’t willing to take this advice seriously, you might as well pack it in now.

It may sound harsh, but somebody has to tell it like it is.

Are you ready?

Here it is…

Stop talking about it and do it.

It’s just that simple.stop talking

There is only one way to become a writer…you have to work at it. You have to work at it when it’s fun and when it sucks…on the days when it comes easy and on the days when you feel like you’re trying to rewrite War and Peace, in Sanskrit.

There will be those days when putting together a cohesive paragraph is more painful than taking your teenage daughter to a One Direction concert. Too bad – sit there and work through it.

You know those days when you just want to sit on the couch and watch TV? Get to writing.

frustrated writerWhen you get tired of working you can use this guaranteed shortcut…sit down and write!

That’s the real bad news here…there is no shortcut, no miracle cure, no magic bullet.

Which means don’t pay for a seminar or a book that promises to teach you how to write a best seller, if anybody knows that formula they wouldn’t need to sell a book about how to do it.

It means don’t keep telling everybody you have writer’s block and don’t say you’re still working out some of the details.

Be honest with yourself…

If you really want to write a book, you won’t let anything stop you. If something stops you – it’s because you let it stop you.

I am not saying that following this advice will guarantee you a best-seller. I’m not promising you a movie deal, a boat or a cup of coffee – but I will promise you this…

You will never get ANY of those things until you get serious and write.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’ve got a book to write.

As always, thank you for reading

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Support Your Local Independent Author

I wanted to open this post with a video.

It would have been about 90 seconds long, but so agonizingly painful to watch it would have seemed like an hour.

A mournful voice moans over a lonely acoustic guitar…fade in…your favorite Independent Author sits at his/her desk. Their clothes look like they’ve been slept in. The desk is littered with papers, fast food wrappers, an overflowing ashtray and a two-day-old cup of coffee.

If it’s a man – he hasn’t shaved in three days – if female, her hair would need to be primped for an hour to look as good as bed-head. Their eyes plead with you for rescue.

The image dissolves into pictures of other authors in similar states of down-trodden-ness…the voice of a familiar actor speaks;

“Every year thousands of Independent Authors spend countless hours in front of their computers, forsaking their families, their health and their hygiene in an attempt to bring you that next book—to give you a piece of themselves. You are the one they live to please, you are the one they will lose sleep for and you are the one they think about when trying to decide which word will fit the best.”

The voice goes on and on until you just can’t stand to watch or listen anymore and you switch to another website where you can see the latest viral images of sidewalk art or lol-cats.

I wanted to make that video, but I lacked a couple of key ingredients…including, but not limited to the equipment, the talent and the money.

That means I’ll have to deliver the message of this post in words. Hopefully I’ll be able to tug at your heartstrings sufficiently before you decide to surf the web for the latest meme.

I’d like to talk to you on behalf of your favorite Independent Author.

The reason for this post came after a recent conversation with one of my readers. It’s a conversation I have quite often, as I’m sure the writer in your life does.

My friend asked me how my book sales were going. I gave my usual answer…”I haven’t been able to quit my job, yet.”

We laughed (because it’s true) and then my friend said she was surprised my books hadn’t caught on yet since she enjoyed them so much, as did all of her friends. She then encouraged me to hang in there because it was most certainly only a matter of time. Then she said something that I’m sure was said with great sincerity.

“I wish I could help you.”

I told her not to worry; things were getting better all the time. It wasn’t until later that I realized what I should have said—and I’m sure your favorite Indie Writer would like to say the same thing to you…

You CAN help!

In fact – you are our best shot.

The vast majority of Indie Authors usually face a monthly choice between spending money on marketing or some other nicety…like food or gas. We don’t have big PR firms securing shelf space for us at BAM, we sell books out of the trunks of our cars (when we have enough gas).

But what can you do to help? I’m glad you asked.

You’d be surprised at how easily you can help – for example…

Buy the books (sort of a no-brainer)

Obviously, the best way to help is to buy our books. If you don’t want to read it, give it away as a gift. Every sale helps more than you can imagine.

Give Us Feedback

Be honest with us, it’s what we want. Don’t be afraid to hurt our feelings – we’d rather have a friend tell us that our protagonist is a wimp than learn it through abysmal sales.

Ask Us About Other Writers

Chances are we know lots of other writers, from a wide range of genres. If you’re looking for a good horror writer or a new romance novel ask us, it’s like a free dating service – we’ll match you to the writer of your dreams.

Ask the Library/Bookstore

The next time you go to the library or bookstore, ask them if they carry our books. Suggest they contact us to secure copies and tell them you’re sure we’d be more than happy to do a signing (trust me – we would).

And perhaps the most important – and easiest thing you can do…

Tell People

Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers. Spread the word in person and on-line. If your fave writer posts about a release on facebook, share it. If it’s a tweet about an appearance, re-tweet it. Then encourage your friends and followers to do the same.

There used to be a shampoo commercial about telling your friends. It was the perfect illustration of viral networking  – 30 years before the internet.

It started with the image of a single woman, then it doubled to two images because she told a friend, then those two each told two friends and it went to six images. When those six each told two it went to eighteen and so on, and so on, and so on…

That’s how easy it is.

Every time you tell somebody, encourage them to tell people.

After a share or re-tweet – remind people to do the same.

Word of mouth is the absolute best marketing medium available to Independent Authors – and you never know where the message will end up. Your co-worker may have a hair dresser who cuts the hair of a man whose son went to high school with a girl who is now married to a limo driver in Hollywood who talks to movie stars and directors on a regular basis.

Well…that may be a little far-fetched – but you get the point.

Support Independent Authors – You’re our best chance!

(Obviously your first assignment is to share this blog post)

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