I Dreamt I Went to Heaven

I dreamt I went to Heaven,

and God reviewed the record,

of my days upon this Earth,

and of my past, so checkered.

As I stood there waiting,

Beside the pearly gates,

The Lord said, “Wow, your blog stats,

were really pretty great.

But your posts were mediocre,

Your Facebook page, third-rate.

Your LinkedIn was a shambles,

You never did updates.

Your YouTube vids were horrible,

(Though your grandchild is adorable)

Your e-books were deplorable,

Still, you begged readers to buy.

Your Pinterest board’s disorganized,

Your keywords weren’t optimized,

Your passwords all got compromised,

– “John Doe” will never fly.

So, I’m sorry we can’t take you,

Though I hope you won’t be bitter,

but we just don’t give out wings and harps,

to those who can’t use Twitter.”

The Watch

What follows is the part of self-publishing I hate–promoting my latest work. For a while, I’ll post some little blurbs on Facebook, warble out a few tweets and post semi-apologetic paragraphs on this blog. Then, I’ll get frustrated and grumpy and abandon the whole thing because I’m so inept. I tried putting an excerpt on Goodreads yesterday, but finally gave up. I’m sorry if you heard me cussing. Anyway, I try to come up with non-pushy ways to let the world know when I’ve published something new. Ultimately, I hope to earn enough money to buy hair dye, to cover the gray hair I get when I try to format my work. It’s still hit or miss, but social media really turns me into a curmudgeon. Just ask Amadeus. Anyway, here goes:

My newest e-story is called, “The Watch.” It’s about a little girl named Angel Walker, an eleven-year-old whose parents have recently divorced. Her world’s quickly changing and she’s learning to maneuver. Her mother claims she’s trying to make a better life for them, and her way of going about it involves a search for a rich new husband. Her father’s a pill-popping playboy with a hair-trigger temper, who makes no bones about the fact that he has little interest in parenthood. Angel worships him, and prays that he’ll change. Lately, he’s given her reason to believe that he has.

A tale of family dysfunction, childhood resilience and trust, “The Watch” will transport you to another place and time, and Angel Walker will steal your heart. Don’t I sound confident? I really like this one, although I should warn you that it’s rather sad.

As part of my shameless self-promotion, I’m shamelessly copying and pasting some of the comments and reviews I’ve received so far.

“…this story is a highly polished gem…”

“What an amazing story! LOVED it!!!”

“I wept three times reading that story. It is a masterpiece.”

“…exquisitely written, each character completely believable and throbbing with life.”

“…poignant, meaty, truthful…”

Not one of those lovely words was written by a family member, nor did money change hands.

“The Watch” is available for the low, low price of $1.99 on Smashwords and at Amazon. My preferred site is Smashwords (because they take a smaller percentage of sales). I’ve published it under MB McQueen, in order to make my life more confusing. Actually, MB McQueen just seemed to fit this one better than Moonbeam. It’s a serious story, and initials are serious things. 

Thanks to all who’ve already sent me such wonderful, in-depth feedback, and to those who helped me purchase rights for the song used in the story. As always, I feel that you’re all a part of this process. If you feel the spirit, please spread the word. Post your reviews at Goodreads, Kindle and Smashwords. For the next week, I’ll gladly give a free copy in exchange for a review and a link on your blog (shoot me an email if you’re up for the task). Word of mouth is about all I’ve got to promote my work. Fortunately, I’ve got a very big mouth.

The Wonderful World of Writing

This morning, I received an e-mail that said,

Congratulations, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations: A Book of Light Verse is now on sale at audible.com. And we plan to make it available on iTunes and Amazon.com within the next few days.

Wow!! Cool, or what?  It was a huge relief to know that I’d made it through their fairly strict submission standards. I listened to the Audible sample this morning, and, as I’d feared, it sounds different from when I recorded it. I have no idea what happened, but my voice sounds a bit weird– deep and kind of matronly, like a drag queen on Quaaludes. Actually, though, in some ways I  like the audio version better than the e-book. You can hear a sample of it here. I’m going to be giving away a couple of these babies on Facebook, so if you haven’t “liked”  my page yet, please do! Um, er…and if you want to buy it in the meantime, please feel free!

I promise, I swear, I’ve taken a solemn oath, I won’t be posting much more about the stoopid book. Sure, I’ll mention it from time to time, but I’m diving in to to new projects, exploring new things to bore you with. I do want to take a moment to update you, but then I’m moving on to other matters.

If you’re a writer who’s been considering self-publishing, I encourage you to do it. Putting out “Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations” has been one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve undertaken in a long time. Is it my best work? No way in hell! I recently read a bit of writing advice that said in effect that, if you’re writing for money, or for other purposes (besides your undying devotion to the written word), you should probably take on a pseudonym. In the case of this book, I considered using a pseudonym for my pseudonym, because my usual thing is prose. I’m a poet in the way, say, Mitt Romney is a plumber. I enjoyed writing it though, and I hope it entertains. As I’ve said before, I did this for the training,  like sending myself to e-book boot camp, to learn self-publishing and to knock down some fears and self-imposed weirdnesses that hold me back when it comes to getting my work out there. In the end, I decided to stick to one pen name, because I wanted to take my blog readers on this little journey with me, to share not just the book, but also the experience.

And what an experience it’s been!! I’ve learned more by doing this than I did in most of my college courses, and it was all tuition-free. I learned the submission processes for various e-book outlets, like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I learned to format in a few different ways (sorta). I’m figuring out new things about Facebook pages and Twitter, Goodreads and shameless self-promotion (besides the fact that it’s exhausting). I even learned how to produce an audio book, although it almost cost me my life, because by the end of it, I’m pretty sure that Amadeus, my children and a few of my friends wanted to kill me. I was um…a bit stressed out.

I learned that there is a big, electronic world of kind and savvy people out there, who freely give of their time and energy to help me (me!) succeed. Some of this has made me quite emotional. I keep Kleenex nearby as I check my Twitter feed these days. Amadeus comes home and I give him a rundown of every comment, e-mail message and sweet tweet I receive. I tell him about my slow, yet steady sales, and he gets just as excited about all of this as I do. Again, huge thank yous to all of you who have supported me through this craziness.

Oh no– I feel a big gush moment coming on. I’m veering, I’m side tracking. Oh no– here we goooooo…. If ever there was a blessing in my life, it’s my husband, Amadeus. He’s been with me through every step of this project, holding one of my hands as I’ve pulled out my hair with the other, patiently listening as I’ve talked through my frustrations and discussed my plans. He’s helped me hurdle roadblocks and figure out solutions to problems. When I was ready to record the audio version of the book, he brought out his big ol’ upright bass and did his thing, and when I messed up over and over, he brought it out again. There’s not a day that passes that I’m not hit by a brick of gratitude for the fact that I live with someone who deeply understands me and the odd way that I function. He’s a creative sort himself, and he knows how my brain works. He relates to it. He plays me his songs, I read him my stories. It’s the way we operate. As a Quirky Person, I’ve never totally experienced this sort of simpatico, and to me, it’s gorgeous. He’s a fan of my work, I’m a fan of his. He accompanies me to readings and presentations and supports my endeavors; I go with him to hear him play and cheer him on. I believe in him and vice versa, and I can’t think of a greater gift.

The thing I’ve loved most about this self-publishing experience is this: Now that I’ve actually done it, I can’t wait to get my next project finished. Over the weekend, I completed two short stories, and those, I’m happy with. I’m editing other stories and essays, polishing and compiling and working my tushie off. Self-publishing has given me direction, and I love the direction that I’m moving in. I’ve always been productive, but this is a different, better productive. I don’t fret about submitting, or worry about finding the right market– I just write. I don’t sweat the submission process, because I’m now a do-it-yourselfer. There is more freedom in it than I ever imagined.

Again, if you’re thinking about self publishing, I urge you to give it a go. I’ll stand over here and cheer for you and celebrate your success. Send me your link. I’d love to put the word out.

~~~~~~

My invisible friend Renée, Chief Operating Officer of a wonderfully warm and funny blog called “Rendezvous with Renée,” tagged me for something called a “‘Look’ Challenge.” Here’s the deal:

THE CHALLENGE

The “Look” Challenge is for bloggers who are also writers. It is a way to let others sneak a peek at your work. Here’s how it works. You search your manuscript for the word “look” and copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post to let other bloggers read. Then you tag five blogger/writers to invite them to the challenge.

I‘m not a tagger, but this was really fun. If you’re a writerly sort of person, I’d love it if you’d play the game, post your paragraphs on your site and add your link to the comments section here. I did a search for the word “look” on an essay I’ve been working on. I was surprised at how often some form of the word came up. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

To be exact, there were three Bader children. Danny, the middle one, was almost always shirtless and barefoot and plucked-chicken skinny. He had a perpetual suntan and trickles of dirty sweat rolling down his neck. Danny constantly taunted and laughed at me– about the way I looked, the things I said, at my clothes, which were always too small or too big or too wrinkled. But I would have forgiven him anything because of his amazing blue eyes and his Tiger Beat Magazine cuteness. Though he instigated a lot of shit, he somehow seemed less cruel than his siblings. His teasing also hinted at a sense of humor, a major deficiency in the other two. He may have been laughing at me, but hey– he was laughing. 

Here’s another, from the same story:

She looked more like Mr. Bader’s mother than his wife, and while he was always smiling and genial, she was stern and grim and bitter, in a polite, southern way.  Looking back, I imagine that the conversations behind the Bader’s front door were steeped in rich, KKK tradition, PawPaw silently gumming his coconut as the parents railed against the evils of the world. How else could you explain such contempt, such burning fury? How could they not correct the behavior of their little Baders? More importantly, how could they have spawned as evil an entity as their eldest child, Jimmy? 

So, look, if you’re writing something, have a look-see and see how often you use the word “look.” Post a couple of paragraphs and let us have a look at what you’re working on. And thanks, Renee– I loved this one.

~~~~~

I found this swell website via Twitter. It’s called Paragraph Planet, and they ask for short story submissions consisting of one, 75-word paragraph. This was a delicious challenge for me, since I can’t even fill out an envelope in under 1500 words. I wrote and submitted a 75-word story, and yesterday, this email came:

Hi

I really enjoyed this one.

I’m going to publish it on the site on Wednesday 7th November.

All the best

Richard Hearn

I love this project. If you have a chance, please go visit Paragraph Planet and check it out. You can browse their archives and/ or submit your own teeny weenie story. It’s amazing what some people can do with 75 words. Oh, and look for mine on Wednesday, if you’re really, really bored.

~~~~~

I guess that’s it for now. I want to end with this fun and happy video I found on YouTube. Thanks to fabulous Australian dancer, Sharon Davis (holy cow, you should see some of her footwork on YouTube) for giving me permission to use it. It completely conveys how I feel these days, especially when a copy of my ridiculous little e-book sells.

P.S. Vote. Pleeeeaaaasse.