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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Super Families

Comic Con was last week. Did you go?

I didn’t, but I’m going to pretend that I did and continue on with my comic-themed week. Today I give you a dual treat: Top five super powers to have as a parent and the five worst super abilities for your children to have.


5. Emotions of Steel: You are immune to the fiery barbs of distressed children. Name calling and utterings of undying hate, whenever they are sent to their rooms, will bounce off you like water off a duck. This is especially helpful to have when teenagers are in the house.

Disadvantage: Co-workers could see you as cold and uncaring. Family and friends too. Okay, really everyone may find you a bit too distant.

4. Precognitive Danger Sense: Knowing that your child is going to touch that sizzling hot skillet on the stove before they do it will save you a load of money in medical expenses. It also comes in hand for cutting off toddler donnybrooks before they get started. This ability is sure to keep your home a child-safe zone.

Disadvantage: Once people notice your ability to put out fires before they start they will expect you to do it all the time. There goes any vacations or hobbies you might want to plan.

3. Parabolic Hearing: Parents with this ability need not wonder what their children are doing when they are being – quiet. Clearly hearing a whisper at two-hundred yards takes all the guess work out of parenting. If they say it – you know it.

Disadvantage: Snoring spouses may cause lower levels in your quality of sleep. The same thing for snoring neighbors. Probably the people down the street too.

2. Truth Field: Imagine your children telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. With this ability, that is exactly what will happen. Parents can extend a field around them that will impel everyone to give only truthful answers.

Disadvantage: You don’t want this turned on when your kids ask you about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or where babies come from.

1. X-Ray Vision: With this ability, no one can hide from you. No more sneaking cookies from the cookie jar when you’re in the other room. No more guessing who die what, to whom, in the latest child disturbance. And best of all you may finally discover all of those missing socks.

Disadvantage: No one wants to see that many noses being picked.


5. Sonic Burst: More appropriately called Sonic Out-Burst. If children with this ability get upset – you’re going to hear about it. Not to mention that the once simple chore of burping babies now becomes a life-threatening adventure.

4. Super Strength: Beware temper tantrums backed by unheard of might. When children pound their feet on the floor it will likely leave you needing a new floor. Equally as devastating are thrown toys, which ruin the toy and wall as well.

3. Tornado Spin: Children have an innate ability to make a mess, but with this power they can do it in mere nano-seconds. Kids with this power may also go through clothing faster than usual – if that’s possible.

2. Apathy Pheromones: Parents become tired, listless and begin to wonder why they decided to have children. Oh wait, you get this anyway when newborns keep you awake all night. At least with newborns the effects should eventually fade.

1. Superior Intelligence: Children already think they’re smarter than the parents, but if they actually were it could result in the end of the world.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Howard Tayler Interview

      Since San Diego Comic Con just finished up I thought an interview with Howard Tayler would be in line. Howard is the creator of Schlock Mercenary and is self-published.

Randy: What made you decide to self-publish?

Howard: In a nutshell? My publisher told me to. He (Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games) happens to be a big fan of my work, and as we talked about the publication of my first book it became apparent that commercial publication wasn't going to reach a large enough audience for a sub-10% royalty to keep me solvent. He suggested I look into publishing it myself, and then he offered all sorts of helpful advice, right down to "calculate how much these will weigh so you can figure out where you're allowed to store them without collapsing your home."

Randy: Is self-publishing a more difficult path than trying to get picked up by publisher?

Howard: We need to define the question a bit better, especially since these days you can self-publish by shooting a soft-copy off to Amazon and BAM, you're on the Kindle. So, the better question: "Is making a living as a self-published cartoonist more difficult than making a living as a cartoonist with a commercial publishing contract?"

Answer: Yes, it is more difficult. It is also, at least for cartooning at the current time, more LIKELY. If you're willing to do all the difficult things that a publisher does, if you're able to make the hard decisions that an editor might make, then you're more likely to make a living selling direct to your audience than by having a commercial publisher sell to bookstores.

If you're not a cartoonist then I think it's a different story. I believe that markets are larger for prose than for comics, but that there remains a stigma upon self-publication in prose markets that isn't really present in comics. Indie, self-published comics have been cool for decades now.

Randy: What is the best part of being your own publisher?

Howard: Making a living doing what I love. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do this in the commercial space -- I've had friends and peers try, and their advances haven't earned out.

Randy: What is the worst part of being your own publisher?

Howard: There are a zillion things to do (and to screw up) that are not as much fun as the writing and drawing part. Fortunately my wife, Sandra, has become an expert at many of these things. Unfortunately that means she's saddled with much of the not-as-much-fun stuff.

Randy: Some authors start out self-publishing and then go to a publisher once they have established themselves. Have you considered doing something like that? 

Howard: Yes. I haven't seen the right deal yet. If it comes along I'll almost certainly take it.

Randy: In the traditional publishing scenario an editor would look at your work and make suggestions. Is there a process of yours that serves the same function?

Howard: I vet my work with Sandra and with my Writers' Group. I have alpha and beta readers. There are more eyes than just mine preparing my work for the open market.

Randy: What prompted you to start Schlock Mercenary?

Howard: Webcomics seemed like a fun way to tell a story. So I started teaching myself to draw, and the strip began unfolding within a week.

Randy: What was the inspiration behind Schlock Mercenary?

Howard: Everything that has ever happened to me, everything I've ever read, everything I know, and almost everything I know that I DON'T know -- these are all fuel for the genesis of the comic. At the time I guess I thought a mercenary company with some weird aliens and money-grubbing humans in it would make a logical setting for a serial space adventure, which was the kind of story I wanted to tell.

Randy: Is there ever an urge on your part to move away from Schlock Mercenary and do something else? Or do you feel dialed into the subject matter and find yourself wanting to stick with it?

Howard: Well, yes, but I don't need to stop writing and illustrating a comic strip in order to do other things. Do I ever have the urge to hang it all up and go be a big game hunter in Africa? Yes. I think we all have that urge from time to time.

I think the real question here is "when will we see something besides a comic strip out of you, Mr. Tayler?" The answer is "soon."

Randy: You shared an experience with me at LDStorymakers11 about meeting one of your industry idols, Tracy Hickman. How has that changed, if any, now that you work along side of him? How much has your reaction to him stayed the same?

Howard: He's a friend and a business partner. I've learned important things from him, and I'm both grateful and humbled to know that he's learned things from me. He's not the first of my idols I got to work with, so I had some practice dialing my inner fanboy down to a barely audible, distant-sounding "squeeeee."

Randy: Keeping my question about Tracy Hickman in mind, what reaction do you have about the fans you’ve generated with Schlock Mercenary? Do you ever compare the two experiences?

Howard: They're people, always. There are often too many of them for me to keep names straight, but I do try because they're people, and people like when you remember their names. I've brought fans into the business fold on more than one occasion and it's worked out pretty well. I've also had to turn fans with business plans away, because the business plans didn't fit.

Randy: Is there a point where authors go from being a fan to being a celebrity? Or are you always both?

Howard: If you like somebody else's work you'll always be a fan, deep down inside, even if you're creating stuff for a living yourself. If you're lucky you'll get to meet your idols in the industry and they'll live up to your expectations of them. If you're VERY lucky you'll discover that you're fans of each others' work. This has happened to me, and continue to count myself blessed for it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Elana Johnson Interview - Part II

            Here is the second part of my interview with Elana Johnson. She had way too much great stuff to share with me to fit into a single post.

Randy: During your recent “Possession” party you seemed to be everywhere and doing everything. What was that like for you?

Elana: In a word: Exhausting. But fun at the same time. It was nice to feel the support from the online universe, and feed off that energy.

Randy: What sort of things went through your mind when you were planning the “Possession” party?

Elana: For me, I really wanted to be able to bring something to the Internet that everyone could participate in whether they’d read POSSESSION or not. And I wanted to give away a lot of stuff. Everyone likes free stuff, you know?

Randy: What was the toughest part of planning an event like the “Possession” party?

Elana: The logistics. What I was going to give away where. Getting pictures of those things, putting them up at the right time, being online at the right time, getting the webcams to work. That kind of thing.

Randy: Is there any part of that event that you feel could be left out and still be as effective? Or should all of us future-published-authors do even more to get our books noticed?

Elana: Oh, yeah, there are things that were more successful than others. I think the twitter chats/giveaways were wildly popular. I think some of the stuff in the forums weren’t as popular, and I’ve noted which things I didn’t like doing, or that didn’t seem to bring enthusiasm from the crowd. I won’t be doing those things again.

Randy: What was the most thrilling moment of the launch party?

Elana: Dude, the launch party was epic. The most thrilling moment was getting up and standing behind that podium, and seeing all those people… I’m crying just remembering it. Totally surreal, yet shiny at the same time.

Randy: What went through your head when you first found out that Simon and Schuster were going to publish your book?

Elana: “No way! Simon & SCHUSTER?? Are you sure??” It was a completely unreal conversation with my agent. Sometimes I still can’t believe it.

Randy: The Inside the Resistance fan site was a great idea to promote you book. How did that come about?

Elana: Ali Cross is one of my critique partners, and one of my best friends. She brought up the idea of a fansite at a critique group lunch one day. Things sort of spiraled from there. She did all the work, asking me for images and input along the way. I really owe it all to her.

Randy: I really loved the barcode that everyone was sporting in association with your book. How did that come about? Any plans to expand on that?

Elana: That was a 100% copy of Lisa and Laura Roecker’s (THE LIAR SOCIETY) pink hair thing. When their book came out, they pinkified the hair on people’s avatars. So the tagged barcode avatar was a copy of that for POSSESSION. And it was Christine Fonseca who spearheaded that Photoshopping endeavor. I have the greatest friends!

I’ve used the tags before in a pre-release promotion. I’m sure I’ll use “tagged” and the bar codes throughout my marketing, as they’re a big part of the book.

Randy: If the rest of the unpublished authors are anything like me they see a lot of interaction between author and fans and think, “Wow, that must be great.” What does it feel like when you receive an e-mail, or a Tweet, or anything similar and a fan expresses how great it was to get a signed bookmark from you?

Elana: Honestly, it’s still all brand new for me, and it feels weird. Like, “Why in the world would they want me to sign a bookmark?” You know? I hope it always stays new and fun like this.

Randy: There were some published authors that showed up for the book signing during the launch party. What goes through your mind when any of them ask you to sign their copy of your book?

Elana: Yet another totally weird thing! I think authors are some of the most supportive people, especially of other authors. It’s always nice to see a friendly face, but I still think, “Oh my heck! I just signed my book for Ally Condie! She’s, like, FAMOUS.”

Randy: Of anyone alive today, who would most want to ask you to sign their copy of your book?

Elana: Scott Westerfeld. I love his books, and signing my book for him would blow my mind.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elana Johnson Interview - Part I

            I happened to meet Elana at LDStorymakers11. She taught a workshop on Writing a Killer Query. This is a topic that I mistakenly thought I understood reasonably well. Everyone attending the workshop was allowed to send in query letters and received feedback on what worked and what didn’t.

            However, since then Elana has really grabbed my attention with the promotion of her new book “Possession.” Every time I check Twitter there is something about “Possession.” Which is a good thing; it means she has an excellent grasp of how to promote a book.

            Without any further ado, here’s Elana.

Randy: How did you get so knowledgeable about queries? 

Elana: When I needed to write a query letter of my own, I did the only thing that made sense: I studied successful queries. I printed them off in my genre, and identified parts of them that worked for me.

I spread them out on my counter, and proceeded to write my own query letter by hand. By identifying the parts of the letter, it helped me to have a purpose beyond trying to distill my novel into 250 words.

Randy: I imagine that a lot of people come to you for help on their query letters. Is there someone that you take your queries to in order to get suggestions?

Elana: I have a couple of trusted betas. I send my queries to them (yes, I still write them), and then I send them to my agent as sort of a pitch for a book I might want to write, or have started writing.

Randy: Is there a point in an author’s career where they no longer need to worry about writing queries?

Elana: I’m sure some people reach that point. Their agents might not require it. Mine doesn’t “require” it, but I actually like writing the query. I stop writing the book at about 50 pages (10 – 15K) and write the query letter. Then I can send the sample and the query to my agent and we can talk about whether this is a good story to write, or if I should write something else.

I’m sure there are people who don’t have to do this, or work with their agent in a different way that doesn’t require a query letter.

Randy: When you’re working on a query letter of your own how can you tell that it’s ready to go? Do you get an “A-ha” moment or a feeling that it’s right?

Elana: When every word serves a purpose, I know it’s ready. For me, “ready” is an emotional thing, a gut thing. I just know.

Randy: What is the first step you take when writing a query for one your books?

Elana: I have to be able to sum up my book in one sentence or less. Then I have to actually think about how the book ends… and that’s the hard part for me.

Randy: What is your reaction to your own query letters? Do you like them? Do you wonder if they’re any good? Or do you have a sense that they’re solid?

Elana: I’m 100% behind my query letters. I have to be!

Randy: What goes through your mind when you look over query letters for critique?

Elana: I always think: “Do I want to keep reading? Has the author done a good enough job at pushing me through the letter?” If not, that’s when I have questions about the query, or it’s so vague I don’t know what’s going on.

Randy: How effective are the majority of the queries you critique when they arrive? Or are they too spread out in their effectiveness to make a general statement.

Elana: Oh, they range from “ready to send” to “go back and start with a blank page.”

Randy: I know I find the query letter more difficult than writing an entire novel. Is writing a query a joy or a chore for you?

Elana: I like writing query letters. It actually gives me somewhere to go with the novel. The trick is to write the query letter BEFORE you finish the novel. I recommend writing the query when you’ve only got about 50 pages of the MS written.

Randy: What is the top piece of advice you can give everyone on writing a query letter?

Elana: Don’t leave out the consequence! It’s the “why do I care?” part of the letter that a lot of people forget about.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Blog: Promoting Your Blog

            Author in training check list:

            1. Created blog – check.

            2. Customized blog – check.

            3. Written effective blog content – check.

            For those of you who have done all the above steps, and done them expertly, you may still be wondering when the fans will start flooding in and offering you praises for your authorial brilliance. (I know I am.)

            Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. I think that whoever came up with “if you build it, they will come” didn’t know what they were talking about. No doubt, if you wrote the most brilliant prose in the world eventually people would discover you. The key word being - Eventually.  Sort of like dinosaurs eventually end up as fuel in my minivan.

            Not only do you need to be entertaining, but you need to go out and let everyone know that you’re entertaining. And in order to demonstrate how to effectively do this I am going to direct you to Shelly Brown’s blog.

            Shelly has impressed me with how well she promotes her blog. She is witty and amazingly fun to read. However, if she hadn’t made an effort to draw people to her site I wouldn’t know that and possibly neither would you.

            What follows are my observations of how she does it.  

            GET OUT

            Social media is all about – being social. The promotion process starts here. It’s like attending a party in order to meet potential clients. This is how I first noticed Shelly. She tweeted me on Twitter. Noticing that I existed and being friendly to me got my attention. At that point she had an opening to plug her blog.

            I like using Twitter because it’s been a decent platform for me to meet other people with interests similar to my own, but I expect that whatever social media you are comfortable with will work just as well. Get out there and start meeting people. Attach yourself to groups that will appreciate what you’re writing about on your blog and start conversations.

            Interact with people; don’t just plug your blog. As soon as your posting becomes nothing more than ads for whatever you're writing about your posts turn into white noise that is lost amid the vast ocean of more persona and more interesting bits that are available to read. When you finally do direct them to your blog, make it special. Make it alluring.
            In Shelly’s case she drew my attention to her Poetry Schmoetry blogfest because it sounded fun. Also because she offered a chance to be the subject of her blog for an entire week. You will want to develop a style and method that works for you. Do some research and see what social media bites grab your attention and then adapt them to fit your needs and personality.
            GET AROUND

            Another thing that I noticed about Shelly is that she is active in the other blogfests that are out there. She participates in them and promotes them on her blog. This works for a couple of reasons.

            The first reason this works is an application of the “golden rule.” If you participate on other blogs there’s a chance that they will participate and possibly even support your efforts to be noticed. Not to mention that you will start establishing yourself in the community you’re involved with. Through my efforts so far I am gaining a greater involvement with the LDS writing community.

            Also, getting involved in what other people are doing on their blog will likely let them, and their fans, know who you are. Even by just posting comments you will register on the radar of anyone who follows these other websites. If they enjoy your comments they may follow the link back to your site.

            GET CREATIVE

            Start something.

            Shelly started a poetry blogfest. Even though poetry may be a tough sell, for many of us, she was able to pitch the blogfest in a way that made it sound interesting. You’ll need to do the same with whatever idea you come up with for your blog activity.

            Offer an incentive to participate. Give your readers a reason to join in. And not just any old reason, make sure it’s an offer they won’t want to refuse. Published authors often do this by offering free copies of their books or even autographed bookmarks. Unpublished authors will need to be a little more creative. You could offer to write a person into a short story or even write the story to their specifications and put it out – in serialized form – on your blog. (Maybe I’ll try that.) Be creative.

            Once you have an idea and have properly incentive-ized everyone it’s time to get them involved. Have them “Follow” your blog, or on Twitter, as a condition for entering the contest. Give them the opportunity to do more in order to increase their chances of winning. The following is what Shelly did for her poetry blogfest:

            1 Point - Follow Blog              

            1 Point - Follow on Twitter                  

            1 Point - Follow on Facebook             

            5 Points - Post a poem on your blog    

            1 Point - Post about the blogfest on Twitter, Facebook, your blog

            2 Points – Post the Poetry Schmoetry button on your blog        

            2 Points – Add Shelly’s blog to your blog list

             The above activities all help promote your blog. They create followers and offer the opportunity that anyone following them may start to follow you as well.  Brilliant.

            Then once you’ve gotten around and gotten creative go back to getting out. Let the people on social media know what you’re doing. Talk it up. Make it sound exciting. Get them involved.

            When you check out Shelly's blog keep an eye out for these things that I think are noteworthy.

Shelly’s Picture – Very stylish. A good picture of the author really helps.
Event Button – The Poetry Schmoetry blogfest button can copied and posted on other blogs to direct them to Shelly’s event. It also looks cool.
Follow Text – Shelly has changed the standard text for the gadget that allows people to follow her blog so that it says, “Awesome People.” How’s that for making a person feel welcomed.

Blogfest Promptings – Shelly doesn’t just post her blogfest and then let it sit. She has included a writing prompt to help jump start anyone who doesn’t know what to write a poem about – thereby taking away an excuse not to participate. After all, who can resist writing a poem that involves a penguin, a Jedi, and effervescence?

Other Events – I’m reading Shelly’s blog because she has me hooked on the poetry blogfest and then I see events that she’s participating in on other sites. Wow. That looks like fun too.

Pictures – Some very interesting pictures get posted on Shelly’s blog. Just looking at them stirs my creative juices. I like visiting a blog that makes me itch to get back to writing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Your Blog

            The first two entries on this topic have given you a few helpful hints on starting a blog, directed you to a site that walked you through the setup process, and then gave a variety of suggestions on how to customize your blog. If you followed through with all of those steps, it’s time to start writing.
            In blogging, “Content is King.” Your success as a blogger will depend on the content you put out there. That may seem pretty obvious and maybe even a little intimidating but I have some more sites that can help you along the way.



Website 101

            I know this is on the small side for my blog entries, but that’s because I’m planning to follow up tomorrow with a great column that focuses on Shelly Brown and the Poetry Schmoetry blogfest she has going this week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Poetry Schmoetry

            This week Shelly Brown is putting on a poetry blogfest. So far, she has successfully convinced 57 bloggers to participate in the event, including myself. No easy feat since I enjoy reading an occasional poem, but blanch at the thought of writing one.

            How did Shelly do it? How did she convince me to write a poem and post it as part of my blog?


            Oh, not the sordid, back alley kind of enticement you’re probably thinking about. Instead she has dangled the irresistible carrot in front of my nose that has insured my participation. More on the brilliance of that maneuver later this week just know for the moment that the prospect of getting a first page critique (which I am badly in need of right now), a custom button, and most importantly a week with Shelly has generated an intense interest in poetry.

            Imagine a whole week with Shelly focusing her blog on – ME. I’m certainly imagining it. All of my fellow authors in training should be imagining it as well. It is a great opportunity to finally register on the radar of a larger audience. Don’t get me wrong, I dearly appreciate the following that I have so far. I just wouldn’t mind being able to get a few more people to read my blog and be interested in how my latest manuscript is coming along.

            All of us authors in training need to watch for opportunities like this. The path to publication is taken in steps. None of them small when you consider where they will eventually take you.


            Writing craft and careers aside, Shelly is a lot of fun. This poetry blogfest is a lot of fun. Through it I am sure I will meet some more great people. I mean, who knew that advancing my writing career could be so much fun and rewarding on a personal level?

            I do now.


            Without further ado – here is my poem for the blogfest. 


Angels Fall

Into our arms

            Angels fall

They cry

            We weep




Out of our homes

            Angels flee

They curse

            We weep

Friday, July 8, 2011

So You Want to Blog: Customizing Your Blog

            What do you do once you’ve created your basic blog?

            Make it your own. If you’re like me you may a bit intimidated by the whole process and resist spending time and effort into customizing your blog page. As I stated last time – If I can do it so can you.
            I recommend that you check out a few of your favorite blogs. Make notes on what you like about each of them and what you dislike. Pay especial attention to the sort of features they are using and determine which of them feel right for you.

            Here are a few of the blogs I looked at when setting up my own.

            I took a good look at Tristi’s page when I started because she taught the workshop that got me started and I figured that with as much as she knew about the topic I couldn’t go wrong taking a few design tips from her.
            The first thing that I notice when I go to Tristi’s blog is the picture of her at the top of the page. Along with it is her salutation to all visitors that says: “Welcome to my little corner of the internet.”
            This is an important concept. As an author you need to connect with your audience and you can do that easiest with a picture of yourself and a greeting that is typical of you. Do this and you become more real to anyone visiting your blog. It’s the first step to establishing a relationship with your fans and people who will become your fans.
            Tristi also has links to other blogs, a link to her website, and a great application that tracks her works in progress.
            The blog link is a standard application that you can add to your blog in Blogger. I recommend you change the default title text to represent your own unique personality, but otherwise it’s a simple matter of adding whatever URLs for the sites you’d like people to go and check out. I have two groups of them on this blog; one has links to my fellow bloggers and the other is a list of internet sites that I find helpful in my writing. You can group or arrange them anyway you like.

            Rachelle’s blog has most of the same features that Tristi’s does, but it has a much different look to it. She has the standard elements: picture and short bit about herself, links to her books, an app that allows people to follow her blog, the ability to follow her on Twitter, information on how to sign up for her newsletter, and links to other blogs. In addition, she has a button showing that she is a 2010 Whitney Award finalist that will take you to that site if you click on it.
            Your blog is an extension of you. Take the time to customize it to fit your personal style, or even the theme of your writing. See what other people are doing with their blogs and adopt what you like from them.
            Now, if you like the look of Rachelle’s blog you’re in luck. There are plenty of free blog templates available that will allow you to set up a blog page that looks similar to this. In my interview with Tristi Pinkston she recommended the following sites:    

            Are you ready to go start customizing your blog?
            I hope so, because the real core of this post is to introduce you to a site that has instructions for adding some of the cool little apps and modifications that will allow you to customize your blog to be a reflection of you.
            Even if you only use one, or two, of the ideas that Jenie discusses to enhance your blog you will have set it apart from the others that are out there. Make it you. Make it stand out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So You Want To Blog: Creating Your Blog

            When I started this blog I decided not to give advice on writing. I’m an author in training and have a lot to learn about getting published. Let’s face it; the only thing I’m an expert on is how to act like a goofball. Does anyone really need me to give expert advice on that subject? I don’t think so.
            The original intention was to give my fellow unpublished authors an insight into what it was like to be a published author. I have attempted to do that with interviews of successful authors that I have encountered during my recent efforts to blog. I try to include questions that will give us a sense of what published authors experience. Maybe knowing a little about we can expect once we’re published will help us better prepare for it.

            That is going to change somewhat with this posting. It isn’t a matter of my having mastered any of the subjects related to writing. Instead, I have realized that I’m placing unnecessary limits on myself and what I blog. There are several topics I want to present that loosely fall into the category of writing advice. The great thing about it is that I don’t have do the actual instruction; there are some great resources on the web already and I can point you to them.

            Which brings me to my second reason for expanding my blogging to include posts about the art of writing: while I have found a few sites that are great on one, or two, writing topics – I want it all. Or more accurately, I want to make it easier for my fellow unpublished authors to find what they need to get started.

            Where better to start than with information on creating your very own blog.

            <Feel free to insert you own joyous sounds of fanfare here.>

            A good first step in getting your blog started is deciding what you want to do with it. Are you going to share bits of your life? Are you going to use it to chronicle your adventures in writing? Are you going to establish yourself as an expert on a subject so that people will be drawn to your blog to find out the latest news about your chosen topic? Or are you going to amuse people with your highly developed wit?

            Decide what’s going to work best for you and is best suited for what you want to accomplish with your blog. In many cases, the blog allows you to start gathering a fan base even before you’ve written your bestselling novel. Write something that will grab their attention and make them want to come back for more. (Before you start crediting me with brilliance, keep in mind that I’m just repeating what I’ve heard from those more learned than myself on the topic.) You’ll want to have all this decided before you create the actual blog.

            Now, create your blog.

            Don’t panic. I did it and if I can do it so can you. Granted, I had the help of Tristi Pinkston’s workshop and if you get the chance I recommend that you do the same. However, you will have access to this great site that has a complete walk through on how to setup a blog and it even includes pictures.


Here are a few suggestions as you begin your blogging journey.

 · Think of a catchy name for your blog.

           15 Minutes of Delusion

            Inking Cap

           The Lyon's Tale

· Pick a background that reinforces the theme / purpose of your blog. (I used a desert landscape since I’m from Arizona.)

· Use pictures and video to give life to your blog.

· Be the blog. Let your personality come out so everyone can get to know you.

· Be prepared to blog consistently.

· Don’t let blogging stop you from writing.

            I could add pages of suggestions, but I think this should be enough for now. After all, I don’t want to scare you away from blogging. You can do this. Take these first few steps and let the world about you and what you care about.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patriotic Movie Makeovers

            Hollywood is in a funk.

            What is it about Tinsel Town that squeezes out the creative juices of thousands of writers, sifts it through producers, distills it through directors and then gives us Battleship: The Movie, Iron Man XII (eventually), and the Gilligan’s Island movie?  How long will it be before we’re reduced to watching movies based on commercials? Not that I’m saying Alka-Selzer: Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz won’t be a great Action – Comedy – Musical, I just think the film factory has gotten a little predictable in their choice of story retreads.

            Why bother? Instead, they can dig through the archives and give a new look to the best films created so far. Bands cover popular songs all the time. They can do the same thing here. It’s time for Hollywood to embrace the Movie Makeover.

            Take a classic. Keep the basic kernel of the story. Then go wild. This is no simple remake of a film. A makeover leaves you with an entirely new movie.

            Seeing as today is the Fourth of July, I decided to start this off with a patriotic bang. Here are my top three, “go U. S. A.”, red-white-and-true-blue Movie Makeovers.


Independence Day (ID4):      Historic – War - Adventure

July 4th is a day the world will never forget. It’s the day that Paul drove down US route 20 shouting, out of the window of his pickup, “The aliens are coming. The aliens are coming.”  Participate in the Salem Slurpee Party. Watch the battles of Wilson’s Dairy, Scrapbooking Heaven, and The Main Street 7-11 up close (but still safely in your seat). Cheer as patriots hand alien leaders the “Give me internet or give me death” ultimatum.  Grab a bag of popcorn and then sit back and enjoy the events of future-history.

* Sorry, due to the futuristic nature of this film tickets will be sold at 2053 prices.

            Mr. Smith Goes to Washington:       Musical – Historic - Mystery

Mr. Smith goes to Washington alright. When he arrives, he finds himself smack in the middle of the Watergate controversy. Facing the political giants of the time might intimidate your average freshman Senator, but Mr. Smith is not your average politician. He searches for the missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes of tape with a song on his lips and a tap in his toes. When the he finds the source of corruption, Mr. Smith launches into a soul-baring rendition of “You Are a Crook” that reawakens the moral sensibilities of Washington. See these historic events in a new, entertaining light and don’t be shocked if you learn something.

            Rocky IV:                                           Family – Sports - Comedy

Due to a clerical error, Rocky “the Squirrel” Balboa is signed up to battle the Russian boxing champion, Ivan Stompov. Promoters bill it as World War III in a ring. Rocky’s travel agent has booked it as a physical fitness vacation. Ali may have had his “Thrilla in Manlla” but that’s nothing compared to the “Muss in Moscow” that ensues when Rocky joins the boxing festivities and teaches his new Soviet playmates how to play nice.