Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pop-culturally young.

I've mentioned before that I feel like my 32-year-old writer-self who just happened to take a 'short' hiatus from writing.  I have all the enthusiasm I had then, plus a whole bunch of saved up creative energy.  I'm not short of ideas.  I feel determined, as if I'm trying to establish a career.

I think working in a "pop-culture" store for the last 35 years has kept me young in the sense of being in touch with pop-culture, probably more so than most 20 or 30-somethings.  I've been pretty much dealing with younger people for most of my career.  I feel in tune with them, to some extent -- at least in what they're interested in.

It's the same things I'm interested in.

At the same time, my age and experience has given me some perspective and discipline I didn't have before.

But I certainly feel in touch with the pop-culture zeitgeist.  As least as much as I was when I was 32 years old...if not more so.  The things I'm weak on now, I was weak on then.  The things I was strong on then, I'm stronger on now.  Plus a whole lot of knowledge I simply didn't have then.  (Like comic art and writing which I think is perhaps the most creatively open of all the media.)

Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I feel like I'm right in there.

With the added benefit that I have some hard-won, weathered maturity.  That is, I can be more patient, more deliberative in my efforts.  Wait until the books are ready.  Wait for them to take their turn in the carousal.  I have a stronger sense of how long things take and what it takes to get them done.

But that feeling of being in another place, in a world of my own making, that hasn't changed at all. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Hipsters? You mean beatniks?"

I forget sometimes that I really do have an unusual job.  Comic book guy.

Everyone I deal with is younger, (mostly by decades), everything I sell is meant for them.

So I was reading Tuskers in writer's group and one of the older members objected to me using this phrase, "He was glad to be away from Bend and all its hipsters."

"Hipsters is kind of old-fashioned, don't you think?  Like beatniks?"

I look at him somewhat in shock.  "Uh, hipsters is a very current term.  It's very, very current."

He looked at me skeptically, but let it pass.

Meanwhile, my editor (who is younger) wanted to know what "noodling" and "pickleball" is, so it goes the other way too.

I'm surrounded by 'pop' terminology so much that I just assume that everyone I talk to is aware of it all.  But in fact, I'm probably talking a foreign language much of the time.  I still can't get over the fact of my own very smart, educated family not knowing what Cthuhlu was.  It is such an everyday reference in my world.

I don't think I speak in jargon, but in fact I probably do. 

I'm dealing with a hard-core fan base for Doctor Who, and Star Trek, and Marvel and DC, and the Indies, and the Horror, Science-fiction, and Fantasy crowd, and many, many others.  Even if I don't watch Adventure Time, or My Little Pony, I have to know what they are referring to.    I have to know what everyone is talking about, and try to anticipate what they're going to want to buy.

It isn't hard, because it's the milieu I swim in.  But sometimes I get the indication that other 60-ish something people really aren't much like me...

It sometimes scares me that I might become as out of touch as they are.  And then I realize that in the more important scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. 

I have a friend who is very ascetic.  No T.V., no movies, mostly-non-fiction, philosophical leaning preoccupations.  Not saying his lifestyle is better (though he thinks it is) but it probably isn't any worse...

I just have to remind myself that most of this pop-culture knowledge is peripheral and ephemeral and somewhat trivial.

But oh how I love it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

They think, that I think, that they think, that I think...

To continue on with the post about people asking if Led to the Slaughter: The Donner Party Werewolves is non-fiction, I wonder if that doesn't explain some of the deep dislike of genre fiction that I occasionally run into.

To me, a good story is a good story.  Everything is narrative, most things are metaphorical.

But I do wonder if some people are so literal minded that they believe that anyone who reads about spaceships and aliens or hobbits or werewolves actually believes in them.

I bet you couldn't find a more skeptical crowd than science fiction authors, for instance.  I bet a whole bunch of them, probably most of them, don't believe that aliens have visited us.

But that in no way shape or form keeps us genre writers and readers from entertaining the possibilities.

For me, it was always about the adventure.  It was always metaphorical.

Horror is about our fears.  Zombies might be about people who are thoughtlessly destroying everything around us; werewolves about the predator in the dark; vampires about things that drain us of energy and life.

It isn't literal.

On the other side of that coin, I wonder if people who only read non-fiction understand that any book, even so called 'non-fiction,' has been put into a narrative form for them.  Which by necessity entails a certain amount of imagination and filling in the blanks.

Otherwise, the only non-fiction would be a recitation of facts. 

I guess there are those who value imagination and those who don't.

Never the twain shall meet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hitting rapids.

Sometimes the words flow cleanly, sometimes they just seem to hit rapids, getting all churned up and tossed around.

It can be hard, sometimes, not to just stop when that happens.  I know that I'll have to come back later and clean it up, remove the rocks under the water.  Especially after I've had a fertile period, the temptation is to wait for it to all clear up.

But I don't believe that I can have one without the other.  It is all part of the same river.  If I close the channels to avoid the rapids, well, the flow is cut off altogether.

I have to just stick it out.  Pick my way through.  Hope I can survive without capsizing.

Because otherwise, I just can't make any further progress.

Thing is, when I come back later and work on it, there is probably very little qualitative difference.  Most people probably can't tell the difference between the passages that come easy and the ones that come hard.  I'm traveling the same distance, after all.

So while I'd love for it all to be smooth and easy, it just doesn't happen that way for long.  It becomes hard work, and I just have to keep trying.

This blog is an example. Sometimes as I'm writing it I feel clunky and awkward and not very clear.  Sometimes I feel free and open and the words just right.

Either way, I go ahead and push "Publish." 

It's the flow that counts, not the perfection.  The more words flow, the easier it gets.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hello. Where the hell did you come from?

There's nothing I like better than when a strong and quirky character comes along and takes over my story.

It always seems to rejuvenate me.  Brings the story to life.  This is a character I like!  This character is interesting!  I wonder where he or she will take me!

In this case, I've got a couple, which by bringing into the story means that I have to go back and rewrite some of the earlier relationships, but I think it will be worth it.

I worry a little that I've got too many viewpoint characters.  I'm not sure what the rule on that is.  (Whatever, George R.R. Martin has millions of characters.  But then, he is George R.R. Martin.)

I've become very open to detours and derailments.  They lead to interesting places.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Either way, being 'discovered' is hard.

I am going to make some sweeping statements that may be admittedly over-reaching, but I'm trying to make a general point here.

There is an illusion, I think, that traditional publishers give you more of a chance of being 'discovered.'  I mean, they'll get your book into bookstores and presumably will do some promotion.

With thousands of books being indie published online everyday, it certainly seems as though 'discover-ability' is the biggest problem indie writers have.  How do you get people to buy your book above other books?

Here's the thing, though.  I own a bookstore, and I often order from 'remainder' lists.

It is always an eye-opening experience.  There are a lot of books that are being sold off for pennies on the dollar. 

I'm going to use Young Adult as an example.

There are hundreds, thousands of these YA novels you've never heard of.  Seems like every other book offered is YA.

Thing is, you can kind of get a sense as to whether these books are any good or not.  The synopsis and the ideas and the covers and the titles all give you a pretty good clue.  If you assume the writing is competent, and I think for most publisher-published books you can assume there is a basic level of competency (sweeping statement #1.)

Most of these books actually look pretty good.  As good, I'll venture, as the books you have heard of. (sweeping statement #2 and so on...)

I'm assuming that publishers are hoping for the 'Franchise.'  The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter road to riches.

The covers to most of these books certainly give that impression.  They follow the design concepts of the big books, are described in the same terms, and so on.

Funny thing is...in most cases, the 'Franchise' book is the book that broke away from the herd, the one that was different, so it seems kind of self-defeating to relegate you Franchise attempt as a knock-off.

Weird.

I'm betting that most of these authors weren't actually trying to mimic the existing blockbusters, but have been shoe-horned into that.

I have a little experience at that.  My first book, Star Axe, was meant to be a heroic fantasy.  My publisher was looking for Sword and Sorcery, so that is how the labeled it and marketed it.  That was fine.  It wasn't a huge reach.  But it was slightly off the intended audience.

My biggest sweeping statement is -- it seems to me that most of these books are just thrown out there in hopes that they'll somehow miraculously catch on.

Not that much different, I'd say, that an indie publisher putting his/her book online and hoping to catch on.

In both cases, the discover-ability depends a great deal on the author's own efforts, and...well, admit it...luck.

Downtown Comings and Goings. 10/17/14

Three businesses have left downtown or are going.

Bond Street Grill has apparently closed.  Urban Minx has a "Going Out of Business" sign in their window.  And D'Vine/Chocolate Element appears to have vacated their space.

The timing of these things are always interesting to me.  I can't really find a pattern.

I've been hearing rumors about other changes, but I'll wait for confirmation before I post them.

NEW BUSINESSES DOWNTOWN

Cosas, Minnesota Ave, 9/4/14
High Desert Chamber Music, Brooks St., 7/9/14
Via Delia/Just a Little Charm, Oregon Ave., 7/9/14
Angelina Organic, Bond St., 7/9/14
Fire in Bend, Franklin Ave., 7/9/14
Stihl Whiskey Bar, Franklin Ave, 7/9/14
The Red Pinecone, Minnesota Ave., 4/10/14
The Painted Gallery, Bond St., 4/10/14
The Basement, Bond St., 4/10/14
Bend Modern, Wall St., 1/10/14
Legum Design, Bond St., 1/10/14
Dogwood Cocktail, Minnesota Ave., 1/10/14.
Salud Raw Food, Franklin Ave., 10/10/13
Bhuvana, Minnisota Ave., 10/10/13.
Outside In, Wall St., 9/26/13.
Bishop's Barbershop, Oregon Ave., 7/24/13
Oregon Store, Wall/Franklin, 7/24/13
Supervillain Sandwiches, Bond St., 7/24/13
Taste Oregon, Bond St., 7/24/13
Wild Rose, 5/2/13.
Bluebird Coffee Company, Franklin, 3/29/13.
Pure Kitchen, Franklin (Bond), 3/29/13
Jeff Murray Photography, Minnesota Ave., 3/29/13
Luvs Donuts, Minnesota Ave. 3/29/13
Hub Cyclery, Wall St. 3/29/13
Ju-bee-lee, Wall. St.  3/29/13.
Sweet Saigon, Wall St., 1/20/13.
Brickhouse, Oregon Ave., 1/20/13.
The Drake, Wall St. , 1/20/13
541 Threads, Minnesota Ave., 10/13/12.
O Mo Mo!  Bond Street, 10/3/12.
Crow's Feet Commons, Brooks Street, 9/21/12.
The Cozy Lamb, Minnesota Ave., 9/14/12.
Noi, Bond Street, 9/14/12.
Azillian Beads, Greenwood Ave., 9/6/12.
Earth*Fire*Art, Oregon Av., 7/10/12.
Pastrami Deli, Franklin Av., 7/10/12.
Bend Your Imagination, Minnesota Av., 7/10/12.
Paul Scott Gallery), Brooks St., 7/10/12
Natural Edge Furniture, Bond St., 5/10/12
Hola!, Bond St., 3/3/12.
Amanda's, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Barrio, Minnesota Ave., 2/12/12.
Rescue Moderne, Harriman, 1/12/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave. 2/12/12.
Navidi, Minnesota Ave., 2/9/12.
Mazza, Brooks St. , 2/9/12.
La Magie Bakery, Bond St., 1/6/12
Brother Jon's Ale House, Bond St., 12/10/11.
What Lola Wants, Wall St. , 12/2/11.
Jackalope Grill, 10/12/11.
Gypsy Soul, Wall St. 10/12/11.
Colour N' the City, Tin Pan Alley, 10/12/11.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St., 10/12/11.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 10/12/11.
Ruby, Minnesota Ave., 10, 12/11.
Kariella, Lava Road, 8/24, 11.
Plankers, Wall St., 7/11.
Faveur, Franklin, 7/11.
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 6/15/11.
Bend Yogurt Factory, Franklin/Bond, 4/26/11.
High Desert Lotus, Bond St. , 4/4/11.
Tryst, Franklin Ave., 3/11/11. (Formerly Maryjanes, **Moved**).
D'Vine, Wall St. , 2/9/11.
Let it Ride!, Bond St., 1/29/11.
Gatsby's Brasserie Bar, Minnesota Ave., 1/8/11
Tres Jolie, Wall St., 12/20/10.
Caldera Grill, Bond St., 12/7/10
Bond Street Grill, 12/7/10.
Perspective(s), Minnesota Ave., 11/20/10
Toth Art Collective, Bond St. 11/20/10
Boken, Breezeway, 11/20/10
Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, 4/5/10 (Moved to Minnesota Av.)
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota Ave., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe, 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7. 11/5/09
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09 (**Moved, Wall St.**)
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
Joolz
Zydeco
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Goldsmith
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails

(List begun, Fall, 2008.)

BUSINESSES LEAVING

D'Vine/Chocolate Element, Wall St., 10/17/14
Urban Minx, Minnesota Ave., 10/17/14
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 10/17/14
Alpenglow, Wall St., 9/4/14
Christian Science Reading Room, Minnesota Ave., 7/9/14
Roberts Clothes for Men, Wall St., 7/914
Pure Kitchen, Franklin Ave., 7/9/14
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 1/10/14
Pastrami Deli, Franklin Ave., 10/10/13.
Edman Furniture, Wall St., 9/26/13.
At the Beach, Wall ST., 9/18/13.
New York City Sub, Bond St. 3/29/13
Soba Asian Bistro, Bond St., 3/29/13
Volt Lighting, Wall St.  3/29/13.
Topolino, Wall Street, 1/20/13.
Cozy Lamb, Minnesota Ave., 1/20/13
Amalia's, Wall Street, 1/5/13.
El Jimador, Wall Street, 9/1412.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 9/1/12
Common Table, Oregon Ave., 8/11/12.
Honey Threads, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/12.
Bella Moda, Wall St., 8/11/12.
Giddy Up, Minnesota Ave., 5/10/12
Pottery Lounge, Oregon Ave., 5/17/12.
Boondocks, Newport Ave., 3/27/12
Game Domain, Oregon Ave., 3/27/12.
Toth Gallery, Bond St., 3/27/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave., 3/22/12.
Clutch, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12.  (Moving to Tres Jolie).
High Desert Gallery, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12.
Tart, Bond St., 3/3/12.
El Caporal West, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Bo Restobar, Franklin Ave., 2/9/12.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 2/9/12.
Arts Central, Brooks St., 2/7/12.
Typhoon!, Bond St., 2/5/12.
Gatsby's, Minnesota Ave., 2/5/12
The Dog Patch, Minnesota Av. 1/9/12.
Bend Mapping, Bond St., 1/9/12.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St. 1/9/12   (Moving to Tres Jolie)
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 11/20/12.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 10/11.
Azu, Wall St., 10/25/11.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Av., 10/11.
Bourbon St., Minnesota Ave. 10/12/11.
Curiosity Shop, Minnesota Ave., 7/11
Luluemon, Bond St., 8/26, 11.
Shear Illusions, Franklin Ave., 7/11.
Crepe Place, Wall St., 7/11.
Pita Pit, Brooks St. , 6/28/11
Smith and Wade Salon, Minnesota, Av. , 6/3/11.
Perspectives, Minnesota Av., 6/1/11
River Bend Art Gallery, Bond St., 5/5/11.
Donner's Flowers, Wall St. 3/11/11. (Moved out downtown)
Maryjanes, Wall St. , 3/11/11. (new name, Tryst,  Franklin.).
Di Lusso, Franklin/Bond, 2/9/11.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 1/2/11
Marz Bistro, Minnesota Av., 12/20/10.
The Decoy, Bond St., 12/7/10.
Giuseppe's, Bond St., 12/1/10.
Ina Louise, Minnesota Ave., 11/3/10.
Laughing Girl Studios, 10/21/10
Dolce Vita, Bond St, 10/21/10
Diana's Jewell Box, Minnesota Ave., 10/15/10.
Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10   (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving to Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
EnVogue
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
Deep
Merenda's
Volo
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Norwalk
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro

(List begun, Fall, 2008 )