Categotry Archives: Reflection

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Out, out, brief candle…

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Categories: Humanity, Reflection, Tags: ,

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It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post and a longer time since I thought I had something to say. I will eventually share why I’ve been distant (if you can be “distant” in a networking world), but today I come with news that, at first, sounds morbid but is nothing more than a praise of life.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I love most work by Douglas Preston, whether he’s going solo or writing with his partner Blasphemy Douglas PrestonLincoln Child. One of the first novels I read by Mr. Preston was Blasphemy, a fictionalized look at the search for the Higgs boson, or “God Particle.”

In February, I stumbled across the Facebook “fan” page dedicated to a movie-version of Blasphemy. As it has long been one of my favorite books–smartly written with an action-packed plot, dynamic characters and set in a part of the world I used to call home–I thought it awesome there was going to be a movie, and I instantly “liked” the page. (Apparently it hadn’t been up long as I was number 9.)

I recall posting on that page something about how I was excited about seeing Blasphemy on the silver screen.

A short time later, John Allen Folsom contacted me, at first apologetic for not responding to that one little post and then expressing his gratitude that I’d taken an interest in the film. He was currently writing the screenplay for the novel, and the page was put up in an effort to garner interest.

This was even more exciting news, as screenwriting was something I’d always taken an interest in but never attempted. I have images in my head when I write or read, and good screenwriting is impressive. I’m a novelist, not a screenwriter, but in truth, all stories are moving images.

Through an extremely casual relationship on Facebook, I learned that John had Aspergers (which my 15-year-old son suffers from as well), was a father, and a loving husband. I gathered most of this from nothing more than reading into someone’s life on that virtual wall of posts. Most of you may know what I mean.

Every once in a while, I would post a link on my Facebook page encouraging people to head on over and “like” the Blasphemy page and watch as the screenplay was being written. Mr. Preston himself once jumped on my bandwagon, and the page shot up to about 374 people.

On Friday, John posted three pages of his screenplay to his Blasphemy page. I really liked what he’d written and it helped solidify in my mind that internal picture I’d always had of the novel. So, I shared that link with the note: “Excited about the progress John Folsom has been making with Blasphemy by Douglas Preston, one of the smartest novels in recent memory. Check out and ‘like’ the Blasphemy page while you’re there.”

Later that day, John commented on that link: “Thanks, Benjamin, I appreciate it. You’re a good man.”

No, I’m not, I thought, but I want to be in the future.

Yesterday afternoon, following an appointment I had with a doctor who intends to cut my throat and replace some disc in my neck, I read a post by John’s wife, Jennifer. It was shocking, to say the least:

It is my very sad duty to inform everyone that my wonderful, loving, talented husband and the best father I could have ever asked for, John Allen Folsom, passed away in his sleep between 5:30am and 9am Sunday, May 5th. He is so very loved and missed. Funeral service information to follow in the comments area of this post.

LOSS ON FACEBOOK

I don’t know why, but I’ve lost four Facebook friends in the past two years. Two of those were writers who I had only a passing acquaintance with, one was a very close friend who was killed in Afghanistan, and the other was John.

I didn’t really know John, any more than I know anyone else in the world of social networking. However, I liked him, was excited about his work, and looked forward to the future of the project he was working on.

He connected with me, and that means something.

Doesn’t it?

Turning 41 this past month, I’m seeing more death. As I get older, I’m sure I’ll see even more. It makes me wonder exactly what it is that we know of people.

Are we the 50 words of a biography on the back of a novel, or is there more?

Are we limited to explain ourselves away in 140 characters on Twitter and be no more?

Are we the sum of our posts and our tweets and our YouTube clips, or is that the sum we wish others to see?

Most of you would say “of course we’re more, you simpleton,” but ask yourself what it is your fans and your readers and your social networking circle pals really know of your life? How ingrained are you in theirs? I’m not suggesting we open our hearts to every one, but you never know who you’re going to touch with a simple “Thank you” to a something they said.

I have a saying which was probably culled from my philosophical reading over the years: “Live simply, but do not simply live.

John could not have simply lived. He had aspirations, and I was excited to see what would come of them. In my brief encounter, I was touched, and that is the essence of life: touch another and pass it on.

For a eulogy, this isn’t much, but I cannot sit by and say nothing.

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This is Not Advice (Redux)

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Categories: Indie, Rants, Reflection, Writing, Tags: , , ,

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(I wrote this about 10 months ago, and all of it still rings true: listen, don’t listen, or whatever. As long as you write.)

For the Indie author–new to the game or a venerable veteran with battle scars to rival Frankenstein’s monster–there’s a ton of advice on the Internet. You can find it everywhere: blogs, places like Writer’s Digest, social networking sites, etc. It seems like you can’t click a link or move a figurative finger without getting someone’s advice on how to market, how to write, how to read, how to become the next member of the Kindle millionaire’s club, whatever.

It’s like a giant bag of Skittles.
A Bag of Skittles

  • “How to Write a Manuscript: 3121 Key Tips”
  • “28 Foolproof Tips to Sell Your Book”
  • “Key Advice for Writing Llama-Inspired Stories”
  • “How to Use Social Websites to Market Your Book”
  • “The 5 Things Writers Shouldn’t Do”

It’s important Indie authors read articles like these, absorb all they can. An Indie author often goes it alone and there’s nothing wrong with that. It honestly means an Indie author does more for their art than a traditionally published author and is eventually more well-rounded.

I’ve been thinking about something for a few weeks. It’s been one of those deep thoughts like what the meaning of life is or if there’s really a heaven or why we drive on a parkway.

What do you get after eating a whole bag of Skittles?

As you’re probably aware, there is plenty of advice from the great writers of the past. Those who have gone before us–those who have golden busts sitting on marble columns in the Writer’s Hall of Fame–is advice that’s sound and Skittle-itious. Lately there’s been a rash of advice from writers of the present, usually people who have marketing juggernauts behind them or egos so large they can’t see beyond their simplistic minds. There’s advice from traditionally published writers who hate the success of Indie writers and feel it’s their duty to put other people down, squash dreams like flies on the wall.

What I’ve noticed in the past two years is interesting: some of that advice is actually conflicting, some of it may even lead you down the wrong path, and some of it begs to be ignored. Eat too many of those Skittles and you’ll have heart palpitations.

What’s true in life is true with advice: what works for some people may not work for others. The Luck Fairy waves her magic wand on a handful of people, and if we think following the lead of those who sell the most or those who have the most followers is going to attract that Lucky Fairy, we’re mistaken.

So what do you get after eating a whole bag of Skittles?

How do you know what’s going to work?

I don’t have answers and I certainly don’t think I have any good advice to offer. I’m an Indie author, which means I write, I edit (or pay for editing services), I create my own covers (or pay for covers), I publish, I market, I bleed, I cry, I scream, I often want to kick puppies and I’m downright elated when I get a review from a total stranger I didn’t request. I listen to the stories other Indie authors have to tell. I dance for their success and I empathize with their failures. I try to lift people up by exploring their art and cross-promoting, and I never put someone down because they have a dream.

I also try new techniques, often blogging about my attempts. When I fail to match the success of others, I analyze why something worked for one person and didn’t for another.

In the meantime, I write more and more.

From what I’ve gathered, there are three important things to think about when someone gives you a piece of advice. These aren’t set in stone, of course, but they fit most situations.

  • Does this person have successful experience in reference to the advice they are giving?
  • Are they passionate about it?
  • Are they willing to share their advice?

It doesn’t matter where you find the information, just make sure it’s not going to hurt you in the long run. Indie authors are gaining popularity, therefore they are gaining enemies. It’s just a part of the life. There are people who suck other people dry, who will do anything to prove you wrong or make you feel bad. Ignore them. Move on. Those people are the bad Skittles, the malformed ones that squeaked past quality control and taste like…like…well, non-Skittles.

So, again I ask: what do you get after eating a whole bag of Skittles?

You get an empty bag of Skittles.

Think about that.

And write.

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And Now for 2013…in a Few Days

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Categories: Other Stuff, Readerly Musings, Reflection, Writing, Tags: , , ,

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It’s not quite the end of the year, but I thought I’d recap what I’ve done and set my goals for next year. How did I do? How did you do?

First off, the reading accomplishments:

Read: 51 books

Second, the writing accomplishments:

Wrote/edited: approximately 113764 words

Published: the final 2 Sketches from the Spanish Mustang novellas (The Five Fortunes of Fulano and The Independence of Carolyn Woltkowski), and the complete Sketches from the Spanish Mustang.

Finally, the writing and reading goals for 2013:

Finish Driving the Spike (release scheduled for late 2013)
Write at least 10,000 words a month (my average for 2012 was 9480, not too far off my 2012 goal). However, the plotted Driving the Spike comes in at around 140000 words, so I’ll want to bump that number up a bit.

Read: 52 books (1 a week, if my calculations are correct)

That’s about it. Nothing really that exciting, but it’s good to have goals, is it not? What are yours?
Happy 2013!

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