You’re So Vain

You’re So Vain

You ever hear the Faster Pussycat cover of that Carly Simon classic? It’s actually pretty awesome.

Why do I spend thirty minutes a day posting, reposting, blogging, or yapping about myself when, for the most part, I can’t stand it? Why  would I think that it’s okay to put others through such apparent shameless blathering devoted entirely to myself?  I mean, think about the really cool things I could be doing in that time: making my kids laugh, helping maintain the cleanliness of the house, reading, listening to Faster Pussycat, watching Pulp Fiction for the 273rd time (okay, so I couldn’t fit in all of the Tarantino classic, but I could blindly pick a scene and really, really fucking enjoy it).  So why the hell do I want to use this time I’ll never get back to do something I don’t like to do? Simple: It serves a purpose.

I love what I do. I love creating characters, and putting them into nasty situations that make my mom say, “Ew, he just ate its guts!” Of course I want other like-minded, twisted souls reading and enjoying these realms of macabre wickedness, as well. The best way to make sure that happens? Post about it. Sadly, as artists, we must learn to smile wide and utilize the social media world by posting to the point of redundancy about our own work.

“Well if you like your work and you’re proud of something, what’s the problem with telling people about it?”

Easy, there’s nothing wrong with telling people something once, it’s the twenty other times during the following week that it tends to flirt with vanity.  Don’t think that we aren’t aware of the perception. Believe me, I’ve heard about it from some of my closest friends. Through the grapevine, I heard one of my friend’s say, “Glenn thinks he’s hot shit.” I don’t think any such thing, but I am well aware that that is exactly how it looks to a certain percentage of folks. It’s just the name of the game. Truth is it feels like a job we could certainly write to Mike Rowe about.

Established writers have other people who are paid to do this dirty work for them. They have other people running their sites, and reminding the public that their next masterpiece is on its way. For us little guys, we must willingly jump (over and over) into the social media fire and have faith that we will not come out needing too many social skin grafts.

The bottom line is that it works. It takes time and effort to produce sales and gain any amount of fandom, but if done properly and consistently, it will be effective.  If you’re not willing to at least appear to be some level of an ego maniac, you should probably just plan on selling your books to your grandparents.

If you have a Kindle book to promote, check out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kindlehorrorreading  You can only self-promo on Fridays!

If you do care to know what my work is about, check out my website:

 http://www.glenntheory.wix.com/glennrolfehorror

The Mystery of the 5 Star Review: Masterpiece?

 

mas.ter.piece (noun)

1: a work done with extraordinary skill; especially: a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement

 

 I was reviewing books before I started writing them, I continue to review books. I try to give them an honest rating, regardless of who the author is. As a member of Good Reads, I get updates. I see what people are currently reading, what they have marked as to-be-read, and what they have rated/reviewed. It pops up in my email, I check it (shamelessly scanning to see if my works are among the bunch), I glance at the ratings, and…I am finding that there are an awful lot of masterpieces in the Good Reads universe.

Let’s say that my favorite novel of all-time is Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot (which it is). Now, let’s say I give this book I consider to be a masterpiece the vaunted 5 Stars.  I have set the bar.

Walter Sobchak: I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line, you DO NOT…

Well, I’m not about to start naming off books, or the reviewers who have rated those books, but I tend to think that maybe not every book I read and enjoy is a sheer work of magnificence. Apparently, even among my Good Read friends, I might be in the minority. I’m seeing stars, lots of them. Am I occasionally guilty of the same crime? Probably, but, hopefully, not to the extent that it tarnishes the great 5 star plateau I have created in my review world. I read a lot of books, and I love a lot of books. Are these loved books as good as ‘Salem’s Lot? No, of course not, but they are up there. We could go on about the great books that are close to that top level, but that’s a slippery slope. I just wanted to point out the maddening amount of good books that are being given top shelf space when, if you put them into perspective, are not worthy. That’s not to say they are not fine pieces of literature, or that you can’t really, really like them, but let’s not cheapen that 5th star.

I have received a few of these knockout visions for my self-published work (a few of them are from my friends–I wish they hadn’t), but I am not blind to the fact that a few of those ratings are from the very type of reviewers I’m talking about–

Trigger happy-top shelvers!

While I appreciate that they enjoyed my work, I am also slightly afraid that people that have read ‘Salem’s Lot will see this and scoff (as they should). If get 3 stars, I feel much better.

We all have authors we love, we all want to show our loyalty and support for those authors, but can we just hold up for a second. Do you really think that each of these works is that brilliant? I don’t know, maybe some readers do. Maybe I’m just sick of feeling like everybody is reading these Mike Tyson knock-out novels. Maybe I’m sick of seeing stars.

So, maybe from here on out, we can come to some kind of agreement on the number of stars we give these works out of said loyalty and support. I am proposing that we tag these really, really good books with 4 stars, and reserve that last beacon of brightness for actual masterpieces. I know, I know, I sound like some crazy asshole, but can we at least put it on the table?

 

 

(You’re probably not, but in case you are wondering, my three favorite novels of all-time are ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and A Boy’s Life)

The Professional Writer

The Professional Writer

Okay, so I’ve read Lisa Morton’s take, Brian Keene’s retort, and now Hal Bodner’s very ridiculous, but enjoyable response to both. I think they all have something positive to offer us little guys–the amateur hour brigade (our numbers are infinite). I’m new to the scene, and only have a handful of short stories published in non-pro markets (my first pro market will be out in October), but I figure I have a brain, I have an opinion, and dammit, I’ve got something to say.

Right now, I’m typing this on my laptop without fear of backlash or ridicule. No one else can see it unless I post it. My six and three-year-old are watching Fairly Odd Parents, and my baby boy is trying his darndest to sooth that pesky incoming first tooth threatening his gums. This all means I probably have about fifteen minutes to get some writing in before the “I need this, I need that” starts up, and the baby cries because he needs to be rocked to sleep. So here we go:

Let’s start with a fact: I am not a pro (yet). I can’t say with any amount of certainty what the actual requirements are for being a professional writer, but I’ll share what I think it should include.

Writing, or trying to, when you can because   a) you feel compelled to, b) you know you need to practice, c) you love it   is how a lot of professionals and amateurs attack their passion for the art on a daily basis.

Seeking out pro markets to test the merit of your work, competing with the big dogs of the literary world as opposed to only sending you stories in for a chance to join the endless flotsam and jetsam of the amateur leagues. (note* As a new kid, I send my works to both. Hey, for us youngsters it feels good and helps our confidence to find someone who likes our stories. That said, I still try sending what I consider to be my strongest work to the pro markets first.)

—First baby care break—

A commitment to excellence. Okay, that’s pretty broad, but I think it’s also pretty obvious. If you want to be a pro, you need to take your work/art seriously. Whether you’re a first year writer, or a published veteran of twenty plus novels, you can’t half-ass your stories.

A commitment to learning. No matter your skill level, there’s always something to learn. The second you think you know enough (or God forbid, you actually know it all!) you’ve stunted as a writer, and will need to be humbled to regain some prospective.

—First timeout issued to my three-year-old—

Willingness to be a mentor. This doesn’t mean you have to have a “mailbag time” where you’re answering every question for every wanna-be under the sun, but you should be open to passing along positive nuggets to those who are expressing an honest desire to get better. Whether it be via a Facebook post, or an email, or in person at a convention, a true professional takes on at least a small part as a role model. (note* Since I started writing two years ago, I have received great advice from a number of pros in the biz- two of them, RJ Cavender and Ronald Malfi, have helped me make strides in my writing and in the way I approach my goals.)

There are a lot of other things that can be brought up: Attending Cons (I encourage any aspiring professional to do this–the panels alone are worth it. You also get to meet a lot of cool people with common goals!), signing up for writing workshops or taking creative fiction classes (I received a great tidbit on taking Creative Writing courses from Rena Mason–she told me just “to be careful. You don’t want to lose you writing voice.” A lot of teachers will try to mold you into doing things a certain way- that way is not for everyone), writing groups ( I haven’t tried this yet, but I like the concept. However, I know a few people who became a little arrogant once they participated in them for an extended amount of time. That’s probably more of a reflection on those individuals and not so much on the concept itself), and cheerleading community (I come from a punk rock background. When I was coming up with my first band, we had a great community of bands helping one another out and celebrating each achievement our friends accomplished. Don’t be jealous, be supportive. The writing community, like the music biz, is full of disgruntled folks who want to drag everyone down with them-The whole misery loves company thing. Don’t be that way. Just don’t.)

That’s my two cents. Maybe I’m a fool (I know I need some editing lessons), but maybe this helps someone. Take it as it is, or ignore it all together.

Cheers.