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Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Parasite Girls" upcoming release, and Why the Things We Do...

Well, here it is Sunday, and I'm in the Office, trying to organize myself and get ready for another exciting afternoon behind the board for Hershey Bears hockey...can you smell the sarcasm cooking yet?

Oh, I do enjoy the job, but it has its disadvantages. I am hopeful to soon know more about long-term and actual employment, but I have a much more important step to take on Monday.

It's time for a SHAMELESS PLUG:



How about that?

This is the cover for "Parasite Girls," my debut, which comes out on Smashwords as soon as this week. A dream will come true...I will be a published author.

Hold your applause, please, because I want to make sure we can get this done and done right before any of that. My friend Alice will do diligence at getting the final format done tomorrow, and the upload completed. 

Let's hope it goes well. Mitch Bentley is the artist, and you can find out more about his work and services at Atomic Fly Studios.

So, what's it about? In a nutshell, "Parasite Girls" is the story of a burned out journalist named Aidan who is trying to remake himself. He turns up on the doorstep of his old college friend, Mima and they reacquaint. The past is recalled, some of it scary; Aidan soon leans that while on her own, Mima struggles with her past and present.

Two of Mima's closest friends, Sora and Eko are also tagged with an unfair term, the "parasite single." It's a real phrase, used to describe young people who stay at home longer than they "should," and live off their parents.

The point is that's a broad brush and wrong to use on everyone. Aidan knows everyone has a story, and he finds out what theirs is.

Aidan recalls, as do the others, just what never dies despite years and miles that separate people.

I hit on some real aspects of society, and return to a place I once lived. I also have a few things to say about the media which I work in, and also a look at mental illness, and some of its manifestations.

It's a good story, I think, and one that needs telling. I do not touch terribly deeply on some items, because those would be books in themselves. 

The book comes out on Smashwords, here's my profile:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/torygates

More info there very soon. I also joined an interesting group, the Independent Author Network:

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/

The landscape of writing and authorship has changed. Actually, it changed a long time ago but we were loath to allow ourselves to think that. The days of being sneered at (and worse) for putting out your own work is no longer a bad thing. It does NOT mean you suck as a writer, or weren't good enough to rate a publishing contract, a book tour, and the top spots on the NY Times Bestseller List and Oprah Winfrey's reading list.

The thing is: this changed a long freaking time ago and we did not know it. Or again, our egos did not let us consider it.

Here is my case study, which I use as a template: about 17 years ago, I conducted an interview with two fellows from New York (by way of Maryland) who were in a folk-rock duo called the Wicomicos. Carmen Yates and Mikel Campbell had been in a rock band in the early 90's, had a record deal, all of that. It didn't work out.

They chose to cut loose from all that, by writing their own songs, producing their own records, touring in a big red van, and getting their own gigs. They did it themselves, made a name for themselves, and produced two very good recordings.

Carmen is in New York, and primarily makes a living producing music for soundtracks, TV commercials and other such projects. He has a new band called Racing Rain. They showed us it could be done.

Self-publishing has taken off with the advances in computer technology. Used to be, you had to pay some company a lot of money to make your books for you. This is called a "Vanity Press." Now the term has changed, and the way this is all done has changed a lot, too.

I have shied away from any company that wants money for me to put my books out. I don't have it, and I wouldn't throw it down the hole. I know of too many horror stories, too many people who were ripped off, too many people whose dreams were stolen by sleazy, unscrupulous operators. Just look at Writer's Beware, and you'll see those stories.

Not to say you can do it all for free, not at all. I've been careful with the money I spend on getting "Parasite Girls" ready. You see the cover? That was my largest expense, I suppose, but still a very reasonable amount, given Mitch's talents and the hours he spent on it.

You do need a killer cover. Get that through your head, folks. I also thank Alice for focusing in on a pivotal scene, the one that captures your imagination (I hope) and also captures the energy, the mania and the madness of each person involved.

Now, back to music for a bit: for years, I saw artists selling their music from the stage. Even those who had record deals did that, cut out the middle man, $15 for the CD, right here, right now? Why the hell not?

Hard to do with books. You can't really tour if you're not known, and the days of that are pretty much over. I am NOT the kind of person that can sit at a table in a bookshop with a stack of poorly-made books with shitty bindings and a generic cover, smiling with the hope that somebody buys my book.

It does not work. You need to engage--you need to show them, not tell them. A bit of fine advice from writer friends about my style years ago.

I am still trying to figure out how to engage with a book that is not a book. I will figure that out.

There are countless bands out there that do it themselves. With no label but the one they form for themselves, a Reverbnation and/or a Facebook page, and the availability of reasonably inexpensive recording gear, they are already on the way. Sure, you're not flying first class (if at all!), you're sleeping in the van, on people's floors, couches, spare beds, at your mom's. You see where I'm going, right? You pay your dues.

The amount of money you make will largely NOT be the millions you dream of. The adulation you expect will be no more than whomever is sitting or standing in front of you. 

But that's not so bad...I recall years of doing Rocky Horror before no more than a couple dozen like-minded crazies, and they appreciated what we did. I played to larger crowds too, and it's nice. Enjoy when you get it. The main thing is what you do to get there.

I have more fun writing and creating my semi-real-world universe than anything else of late. I have a ton more stories of different types that I want to tell because I think I have something you might like. If not, no big deal.

I do not plan to soak you for cash. The price will be reasonable and level with what others are charging. Cool thing is, you don't need an eReader or a Kindle--download, read on your smartphone or your computer. All good.

Suffice to say: the world has changed, and we have to change with it. I am putting "Parasite Girls" out to test the ebook waters, and to introduce myself to the world.

There is no point in waiting for a book deal, or for an agent who understands what I'm trying to do to get me one. I'm going for mine, right fucking now.

Amanda Palmer said in a recent speech (paraphrasing here) that the audience you present to might just be those people in someone's living room, attic, space, etc. How true. I told you about Rocky Horror; I recall doing a demonstration of a series of pieces from a version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the loft apartment of the director's friend in New York in '96. Maybe two dozen people there? I don't remember. But you do it, because you love doing it.

I love writing. I love my work in broadcasting. I love to play music. It's fun. To be able to do these things and actually make a living is ideal, and I have had that over the years, so I'm damned lucky.

I am not done yet, either. Parasite Girls is just the start, and I have more to share. I hope to live long enough to not just reap some of the fruits of my labor, but to see how you react to it. That'll be the bigger payoff.

I'll be shamelessly plugging it all on my Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and fuck knows where else. This is what I do.

See ya.

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