Friday, January 31, 2014

When improvements aren't improvements.

I went back and looked at my original version of chapter one.  And it was refreshingly simple and straightforward.

Which is strange, because every improvement I've made since has been an improvement, taken singly.  But combined in a whole, they detracted.

So I kept only the most felicitous of the new words, and stuck mostly to the older version.  I think it reads much better.

That's a relief.

Fortunately, I haven't done this kind of overwriting to the rest of the book.  Though this is a good warning.

Now I can move on.

I'm finally a convert to re-writing.

I woke up this morning to check what I did the day before on Led to the Slaughter, and there is no doubt that I'm improving the book through re-writing.  When I'm deep into it, I can sometimes have doubts.  But with a fresh look it is very clear that the writing is improved.

I'm getting great editing advice from my friend Bren, down in Arizona, and from Linda.  I'm hoping to hear back from Martha, who is always good at it.

I've had several people mention that maybe I shouldn't rewrite so much.  I imagine from my descriptions of the process that I'm really over doing it.  But really, I'm just doing what I probably should have done in the first place.

I write rather sketchily with my early drafts.  Over the years, I've gotten better and better at making the first or second drafts mostly complete.  But a little extra detail is usually beneficial to my writing -- as well as making me look at the writing again, improving it here and there.

I'm getting excited by this book all over again.  I thought it was a good book before, and I think it is a better book now.

So cool.

I guess I'm finally a convert to re-writing.

Andy pointed out that the first chapter -- the one I've been struggling with on how much of my beautiful writing to retain -- is the only chapter written in 3rd person.  How could I not have seen that?

I've put a new foreword to my book, which explains that an older Virginia Reed is writing this from old diaries and journals and memories, etc.

So if I change the first chapter to first person, and just headline it with, "Diary of James Reed" that should solve the problem.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.

I've never liked it much when people bitch and moan about how hard something is.

"Try not.  Do or do not.  There is no try."

Re-writing is hard.  It seems to take twice as much effort as the original writing.  Partly because it's endless.  There is always more you can do.  Always a word choice.  Always a slight tweak.

I'm giving Led to the Slaughter the proper rewrite it deserves.  I saw that cool cover and thought:  "Is this as good as I can make it?"  So I delved in, and before I knew it I was giving it a top to bottom polish.

I had thought it was more or less complete, but I'm adding telling details as much as possible, and it is improving the book, expanding it, fleshing it out.

The only chapter I'm worried about is the first chapter -- not because it hasn't been worked on, but because it's been worked on a lot.  I'm afraid of "over-writing" or making is seem too "writerly."

I'm finishing the re-write before I go back to the original draft and try to find the most essential improvements on that first chapter -- pare it back just slightly.  Everything I've added has been an improvement, but strange to say, I think you can have too many improvements.

Meanwhile, I think most of what I've added or changed has been an improvement and I guess I have to admit that re-writing is a good idea.

But my god it takes time.   I'm about halfway through after two weeks -- working very long days.  I suppose that doesn't seem like a long time, and it is what a book needs.  The book deserves the best I can do.  So I'll be back at it in the coming days and finish up the rewrite and then read it through.

I'm proud of myself for making the extra effort -- though I probably shouldn't be -- the extra effort should probably always be made.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Being a writer is weird.

My personality is probably more suited to being shut in for hours, days, weeks, months concentrating on one thing than most.

But I have to admit, it even gets to me.  I so want to go outside and go for a walk, get out into whatever sunlight there is.  Tomorrow, when I go to work I'll be glad to see some other faces, and talk about other things -- though I'll be awkward and out of practice.

Isolation breeds isolation.

But it don't get done otherwise.  I just don't get done.  I've got a commitment I have to fulfill and I know it is going to take every ounce of concentration and energy, and probably just about every waking moment, to get it done.

I think when this whole enterprise is finished, I'm really going to take a break.  Spend as much time outdoors as possible for a week or two.

Caused I'm feeling trapped like a rat.

A nice slow start -- or a dramatic action scene?

I took the first two chapters of Led to the Slaughter to writer's group, for one last go around.  I figure the first two chapters are the most important chapters -- except maybe the last two chapters -- or...well who knows...

Anyway, the first chapter is beautifully written, if I do say so myself.  It has been worked on so much, refined so much, that it absolutely flows by now. 

But -- strangely -- I worried if it was too much of a good thing.

What happens when you rewrite so many times is that you add more and more refinements -- and in some ways, it can become too much of a good thing.  It can become "writerly" if you will. 

I'm going to pare it down slightly.  It works as it is, but I could cut a few of my beautiful descriptions and phrases and get the same effect.

The one member of the group who hadn't heard it before liked the second chapter much more, and wondered why I couldn't start there, with the main protagonist starting off on the wagon train west.

He thought the first chapter was "too dramatic."

So -- I totally get what he's saying, and it is something I've been struggling with ever since I came back to writing -- this seeming necessity to start with something "dramatic."  Every action TV show or movie starts this way nowadays -- and most books. 

I'm not saying I like it -- but it seems to be the modern method.

As it happens the first chapter of this book was always the first chapter of this book -- and wasn't inserted to add "drama" or action early in the book.  I feel like it belongs there.

But I understand his point, and in many ways wish that was how books were still being written.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Stream Beneath The Shrubbery.

And here is something a little less downbeat.

The Stream Beneath The Shrubbery

To dwell in a world, that should exist,
which does exist as long you're there,
or anyone else is there,
if only for a few moments.

To write through doubt,
and find friends in characters,
who you'd wish you could be and can be
for a short while.

There's something over there,
something about "selling."
It doesn't seem important
right now. Go away.

To find the seam into the mountain
and the trail along the valley
the stream beneath the shrubbery
and clamber across when you fail.

Justification for doing nothing,
if something is done for nothing
if nothing is done for something
then something is something.

Playing with words,
for the sound of them,
garbled together for effect
and meaning beneath.

It's fallout from a life of reading,
spillover from the beauty,
impersonations of moments,
that turn into moments.

To return the favor,
reformed and changed,
into something new
something that is all mine.

Mr. Ugly Writer Guy.

I dreamed of being Mr. Ugly Writer Guy,
who can't stop talking,
who knows it all,
And rolls his eyes if you don't agree.
Who spoils the conversation
because he can't stop talking

Who flops his dubious success,
on top the table, still alive and wet.
And waits for the chance
to gut it in front of you.
and explore its details
in all its questionable entrails.

With modesty that's plastered,
over of the wall of doubt beneath,
tasteful and gory and not yet dry,
He'll take any compliment and run
He'll ask any favor and run
He'll run from anything in return.

Mr. Ugly Writer Guy,
Who thinks he has something to say
and says it and then says it,
Who bends his will at others,
to get his way, to make the words come
to make them work, whatever else.

Mr. Ugly Writer Guy,
over takes over the mind, the body,
the mouth, the soul, for the selfish
and the higher and the lame,
but he'll try anyway, everyway
thinking it the sloppy truth.

So much effort made, for so little gain,
He drags everyone into his whirlpool,
though they slip away
looking for the magic string of words
that will make it all worthwhile for
Mr. Ugly Writer guy. 

Every once in a long while,
a few words congeal into something nice,
and Mr. Ugly Writer guy is redeemed
for a few moments he feels the glow
the flow of something good
and then it all fades, Mr. Ugly Writer guy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Being coy with your plot.

I've exposed Led to the Slaughter to some new critiquers and they have some very valid suggestions.

I'm not willing to reshape the structure of the book at this time, but word choice and such are very helpful.

The thing about making structurally changes this late in a working book is that once you take out one piece of the puzzle, the whole thing can fall apart.  It can become a real nightmare to put it back together.  It may seem like a small change, but it may be something that the rest of the book hinges on.

I like the basic plot, the characters, and the mood of this book -- it is one of the first times I've felt like I've gotten all three elements right.  There is always room for improvement in the writing, though there comes a point when you should stop fiddling.

It was a conscious choice not to try to play games with the plot.

One suggestion that most of the readers have made -- and have from the very beginning of the book -- is that I slowly reveal the wolves, do a long tease, keep up the mystery.

I totally get that.  But I find that my writing works much better if I go ahead and explain things as I go along.  That doesn't mean the characters of the book know what's going on, but the reader will often be ahead of them.  It's a neat technique, but I'm not totally comfortable with it.

I tried to so that with Faerylander, and it just didn't work.  I went back and but in the villians point of view right from the beginning, and suddenly everything worked.

Trying to be coy entails a lot of -- "For the first time he realized..." kind of passages, which to me can be kind of annoying.

Anyway -- I feel the the rewriting is improving the book in a thousand small places -- incrementally but added up it makes for a better read.

It adds, in my opinion, about 5% to the overall quality to give it a real solid polish.  Which isn't a small number, because you add it to the existing material. 

Sure, I've totally made up that percentage -- but it feels right.  :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

One last quick polish.

After I saw Andy's cover to Led to the Slaughter, I decided to give the book one last polish.  Enough time has passed, that my re-writing seems to be very effective.  I really like this book, and the small additions I'm making are only making it better.

I wrote one new scene, involving wolves.  Can't have too many wolves.

And I smoothed out the introduction of a major character, which was the only awkward part of the story that I still wasn't completely comfortable with. 


So now it's just a matter of doing the little things to improve the writing slightly.  Feels good.

If you remember, I had a hard time getting into a re-write kind of mood, but somehow I've broken through that block and now I kind of like it.  It was the constant re-writing of Faerylander, I think.  Seeing how the book firmed up and became something more substantial.

For some reason, I'm much more confident that I'm improving the book.  The only part of this polish that I retracted was some of the stuff on the first page.  It can be a temptation to over-write the first page, so I went back and only kept a few of the changes.  The rest of the changes in the book have been nothing but an improvement.

But I think doing more than this last polish puts the book in danger of being over-thought and over-done.  I think this last polish is finding a light but effective course.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Actually, I do have a subject.

I've wanted to make Led to the Slaughter more period feeling.  So I thought I'd try the True Grit trick of not using contractions.

But it doesn't work.  Mostly because I don't think you can retroactively change it out.  Because if you're writing without contractions you would probably use different wording in the first place.

The same problem comes up when you try to switch from first person to third person or back again.  It isn't a simple matter of changing from "I" to "he."  Because you would have said it differently in the first place if you'd used the other method.

Same thing with tenses -- going from past tense to present tense isn't a simply of matter of changing 'was' to 'is.' 

Because you would have used different words to say the same thing.  So it creates an awkwardness, and artificiality.

I've done quite a bit of this kind of thing with Faerylander -- mostly because I was struggling so much with the book that I thought changing tense or who was talking would give me a fresh look.  And it did.

But it also created a bit of mess that I've had to work at fixing.

Couldn't have planned it better.

I'm in limbo, for reasons that will become clear later. 

But I can't let that stop me from making my usual daily entry.

I'm sort of amazed that my prolific writing over the last couple years has taken on a certain order amongst the subconscious urgings.  That the results aren't as chaotic as I might have expected.

I've got a complete vampire trilogy.

I've got a stand alone historical horror, which has a main character who can continue her adventures.

I've got the first two books and am working on the third of a paranormal series -- that I intend to extend beyond three or four...

What's even more surprising, is that they are all coming out in an orderly fashion. 

Meanwhile, in the background I have a trio of fantasy novels that need work but which can be connected into a larger mythology.

And I have a S.F. series (more S.F./Fantasy) of which I've written the first two books.

In other words, they kind of shake out nicely.  I didn't plan it this way, but I couldn't have planned it much better.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cover to Led to the Slaughter

The rather awesome cover that Andy Zeigert did for my book.

How can you resist?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Getting the writing clean.

I'm busily looking at the editorial changes that Lara made to Blood of Gold.

I got started on a rewrite of Led to the Slaughter, which is extensive enough that it will need another copy-editing pass through.

I want the Vampire Evolution Trilogy and the Led to the Slaughter to be perfectly clean and ready to publish.

Then I'm going to turn to getting the rewrite and editing done on Faerylander, the editing done on Wolflander, and the writing and editing done for Ghostlander.

I'll probably settle on continuing the "Lander" series, because I'm enjoying them so much.

I'm also thinking of a sequel to Led to the Slaughter, with the 13 year old heroine, Virginia Reed, as the protagonist.  I was looking at the Marie Celeste incident, for instance.  (Virginia would be in her late 30's.)  Or some other "strange western" incident.  Alfred Packer?   Gold mining.   Tran-continental railroad, etc. etc.

And Virginia would be in prime hot heroine age during the civil war.  All kinds of things I could do with her in that time-line.  Could really do a retro-futuristic, steam-punky kind of horror novel.

So much fun.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blood of Gold is edited.

Got Blood of Gold back from the editor.  So as soon as I go through the edits and get a cover made, I can publish this -- the third book in the Vampire Evolution Trilogy.

In the not too distant future, I hope to sell the entire trilogy in one volume.  Use the mirror and blood from the cover of the first book and the backgrounds and colors of the second book for the design.

Also seriously considering doing a physical version.

I'm almost positive I'll do a physical version of Led to the Slaughter.  Hoping to publish that in late spring.  I want to do it right, though.

After being somewhat in limbo for awhile, it seems like lots of things are coming together.  The covers and the edits and the rewrites.  I'm really starting to see how much writing I got done in that one intense 16 month period.

Just a matter of finishing these up.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Plugging the plot holes.

I found a plot hole about a third of the way through Led to the Slaughter.  Well, "found" isn't probably the right word.  I sort of knew about it, but had just sort of finessed the problem, ironed over it.  It has to do with introducing a character in a sort of backward way.

To fix it, I think I'll have to write a new chapter.  It will give me a chance to put in some werewolf action, which the book could use about then.  But yeah, after about the third rewrite, I'm still addressing basic problems.

I don't think I'm overwriting by doing this.  I tend to underwrite in the first place and takes several drafts before I really catch up to where it should be.  Don't know if I'm better off underwriting -- or whether I might prefer to overwrite and then cut.

I think where I've become more comfortable in rewriting it's because I'm trusting that I am improving it, and not just moving around words.

Usually, it's a clarification, or a better and more precise or cleaner way of saying things.  Occasionally it's a nice 'telling detail.' 

But I'm pretty sure in most cases that the rewrite makes it a better book.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Awesome cover.

My friend Andy Zeigert has come up with a very professional looking cover to Led to the Slaughter.  It's so good, I'm inspired to go back and give the book one more rewrite.

It's so good, I'm going to go ahead and have some physical copies made when I'm done and sell them out of my store.  (Still months away.)

I seem to be in a quality control frame of mind.  I'm trying to improve Faerylander, of course.  And I want to improve Led to the Slaughter.  I want these books to be as professional as possible, now that I'm going all-in on publishing through Sagewind Press.

I'm looking at designs and fonts and overall looks.

I'm also doing those last things I know the books need but which I was a too lazy to attempt before.  I want to go back and give Led to the Slaughter an old-timey feel.  Take out any modernism's I find, try to seed in some 19th century words, give it a more 19th century feel.  I'm going to try the True Grit trick of taking out contractions (which often forces me to change the wording.)  It's a fairly dangerous thing to do if I don't get it right.  Like trying to write colloquialisms -- if you do it poorly, you're better off not doing it at all.  But the book will move to a higher level if I succeed.

I'm seeing now all the benefits of having written so much last year.  It's a baseline to improve from.  I had to get those words down first -- now I can take the time to polish them until they are something people will take seriously.

Yesterday was an interesting experiment in polishing.  I would normally have just written the two parts of the chapter and then moved on.

But I decided to put them on Facebook, and suddenly I'm paying much more attention -- finding lots of copy-editing errors, and in the process of fixing them, often finding better wording.  Adding and subtracting because I'm aware that people are reading it -- right here, right now.  Really focuses the mind to what is on the page.

I'm not going to do this will all my writing, of course.  I'd wear people out pretty quick.  But it points out that writing can and should be improved when you know other people are about to read it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2nd half of the first chapter, first draft.

The second half of the first chapter.  Again, it's a first draft, so be kind.

 At least he’d walk away from this disaster with that much satisfaction.
The ground sloped downward on the southern side, facing one of the two streets that bordered the building.  He’d been surprised to find that he need merely followed the contours of the original structure to keep it on the level.   The old time builders had been pretty good, even if the later owners had been horrible neglectful.
He left the sidewalk and walked around to the back entrance.  There was a steep incline down to the river on the other side of the path.  While he’d poured the steps and smoothed off the terraces, the landscaping wouldn’t be installed until spring.  Not his problem, thank god.
He unlocked the right side of the double doors and slipped inside.  No one would question his presence, yet he still felt slightly naughty knowing his intentions.  He went right toward the stairs and quickly went up four levels to the top floor.  The Presidential Suite took up the whole western end of the inn, with magnificent views of the river below and in the distance, the Cascade Mountains.
He didn’t turn on the lights, but shed his clothes in the dark and pulled back the covers to the king-sized bed.  He decided not to turn on the heat, and so shivered in the cool sheets for a few moments.  As he warmed up, he felt himself relaxing.  He couldn’t see, but he could sense the high ceilings, the solid heft of the walls and floors.  There was heavy traffic on the southern side, but he could barely hear it. 
I’m probably couldn’t even afford to stay here anymore, he thought ruefully.  So screw them.  Whatever rich bastard sleeps here next will just have to sleep where I’ve already been.
He luxuriated in the firm bed and high-count cotton sheets for a few more minutes and then fell asleep.

He was instantly wide-awake.  There was someone in the room; he knew without a doubt.  He almost reached over to turn on the lights, then thought better of it.  He didn’t know what time it was, but it was close enough to dawn that someone might see the illumination and know it was out of place.
“Who’s there?” he said, firmly.
The jangling of his nerves, the way he’d instantly been alert despite the fact that he was known for his morning grogginess -- it was a running joke with his morning crew not to talk to him until he’d had his eighth cup of coffee -- made him think that whatever sound had awoken him was unusual -- even threatening.  He could almost sense the echo of the sound, but couldn’t quite catch it.
Moonlight was streaming through the window, and as he stared upward, wondering if he was just feeling guilty and paranoid. 
A shadow moved across the ceiling.  He let out an involuntary sound, like a grunted, battle-ready warning, and jumped out from under the sheets.  He backed into the corner and strained to see into the dark.  The lamp was on the other side of the bed, or he would have turned it on.  He considered scrambling across the bed, but felt safer for the moment with his back to the wall. 
He’d always been a brawler, a heavy drinker, willing and able to mix it up with anyone.  But right now he was naked and shivering, and whatever had made that shadow had been big and fast.  He couldn’t see anything, but he could sense that someone -- or something -- was there in the dark, unmoving, watching him.
“Who’s there, dammit!” he shouted.  “Is that you Roger?”  Rodriguez was his new foreman, but Jones had decided to call him Roger.  Sounded better when he was talking to his wealthier clients.  He didn’t have anything personal against Hispanics -- he actually thought they were better workers -- but rich people liked to think they were getting the old guard white guys.  
Nothing.   Silence.  He wasn’t even hearing the traffic, no matter how he strained.   No clicks of the settling lumber, no wind outside the window -- nothing.  It was as if he was in outer space.  It was unnatural.
He glanced up at the moonlit ceiling again, half hoping to see a shadow, half afraid he would.  Instead, a quick flash of light blinded him -- a pinprick that seemed to shoot directly into his cornea and into the back of his brain.  He was confused and the adrenalin that surged through his body was like a physical blow and he grunted in pain.
“Hello, mister.”
His blood froze.  Such a gentle voice -- a tiny little girl voice -- and it was like nothing he’d ever heard before.  The voice seemed to caress every inch of his body, but not in a gentle way, but like a brutal lover.  He was blind now, but he knew that whoever -- or whatever it was -- had moved in front of him.  Just inches away.
“Want to play?”  The voice was still soft, but now digging into the soft insides of his body.
Shivers ran down his spine, and he lost his footing, falling to his knees, his back slamming into the wall.
“I like to play…” The voice was twisting his insides, squeezing his heart, closing his lungs, ripping open his guts -- loosening him up.
With his last ounce of strength he stumbled to his feet and pushed away from the wall, reaching out blindly.  It wasn’t so much courage as the will to survive.  As he did so, sound returned, and his then vision. 
He walked quickly around the bed and turned on the light.  The room was empty.  He sighed.  A nightmare, the worst he’d ever had.  His heart was beating so fast he was worried it might burst into an arrhythmia.  He’d had that happen once, and it had taken several shot of digitalis in the emergency room before his heart reverted to normal.
He turned to make the bed.  He’d made his point.  He’d been the first to sleep in the Pilot Butte Inn -- he was satisfied.  Let the next guy sleep in his sweat.
There was one corner of the room that the light didn’t quite reach, and he saw a movement in the shadow.
He whirled around, silent this time, his arms up as if to ward off a blow.  He didn’t so much see the little girl in front of him, as see the shining outlines of the girl, dressed in a penafore, like Alice in Wonderland.  And then it was as if the shining shape expanded and surged toward him, faster than he could move.
 A small soft hand brushed up against his face.  It was cold, seeming to burn into his skin.  He felt a warm stream running down his leg and realized he’d lost control of his bladder.
“No,” he whispered.
The voice was getting louder with every syllable.  “I want to play!!!” 
The fingers of the little hand grew longer -- and sharper -- and he felt them dig into his numbed face, and another flow of warm liquid ran down his neck.  Somehow that freed him of his paralysis again.  He jumped toward the door -- and fell onto a hard surface...which then gave way, and he was falling, tumbling into darkness.  Something was on his back squeezing him, and a hot breath burned his ears.
“I want to play….” And then, it was as if his ear was torn off his head, and the little arms were now bands of steel, closing, forcing the breath from his crushed chest, and he cried out in agony and despair.
“I’ll play with you forever...”
No longer a small high voice, but deeper than he should have been able to hear, as if the little girl was as big as a mountain.  He realized it was only in his head, and the sound of it pulled asunder the parts of his brain that understood what was happening.
And yet he was conscious of what was happening, and he knew he’d always be conscious -- to feel every moment of pain as he fell endlessly into the burning darkness.

First draft description of the Pilot Butte Inn,

Woke up at 5:00 in the morning with a two page description of the Pilot Butte Inn running through my head.

I don't know if you can start a book with two pages of description anymore, but the Inn is the main character of my story, Ghostlander, so maybe it will work.

I also probably shouldn't expose my first draft scribblings to the light of day, but I wanted you all to see how it looks when it first comes out.

Does it give you a sense of the building?  Does it create any foreshadowing?

Ben Jones circled the city block again and again in the cold early morning hours.  The ‘new’ Pilot Butte Inn was nearly finished.  A few more hours of clean up and it would finally be out of his hands.  The huge building that filled the corner was both his crowning achievement -- and the probable end of his career.  Construction floodlights lit up the massive structure.  It felt separate and apart from the rest of the more modest surroundings -- as if a giant chunk of the Old West had suddenly time-traveled onto a prime parcel of real estate anchoring downtown Bend. 
Jones both loved and hated the building.
Privately, he called it ‘The Puzzle Palace.’  To him, the bark of the Ponderosa pine looked like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  When they had sawed the last planks of the giant logs from the early century sawmill (the largest pine sawmill in the world) on the banks of the Deschutes River (just a few hundred yards away) they had left the bark on.  They had proceeded to face the Inn with those raw planks, treated and glued and painted black.
The bark should have been chemically treated on a regular basis, but instead was left neglected for decades.  The bark had begun to peal, eaten by insects, dropping the jigsaw fragments onto the crumbling sidewalks below.  Jones bent down and picked up a five inch wide section of the old bark siding, and idly tore it apart as he contemplated the almost complete reconstruction.
The bark siding gave the huge structure a kind of shaggy look, like it was a giant hibernating beast, curled up in a square mound taking up an entire city block.  Inset a few inches in and below the lumber, the lower third of the Inn was the reconstructed lava rock siding, which originally had bleached under the relentless sunlight and had been a softer, lighter dark shade of black .  The new rock facing was also a ‘puzzle’, fit carefully together to look seamless.
Another reason Jones called it the Puzzle Palace was because it had been the biggest puzzle in the world to put back together.  By the time he’d gotten the job, the building was falling apart, a ghostly hulk, looking impressive and bulky, but in reality a flimsy husk.  He’d naively bid for the contract, thinking all he had to do was gut the place.  Instead, he’d been forced to also completely deconstruct the simple appearing but insanely elaborate exterior of the Inn, too.  There was no way to find Ponderosa logs as big as what covered the Inn -- they simply didn’t exist any more except in a few environmentally protected stands of old growth forest -- so he’d needed to carefully remove them. 
So they’d taken the planks off -- re-treating them and gluing the falling pieces back on.  Like a molting beast, the planks were bare in places and the rotting bark had to be replaced with plaster that was sculptured to look like bark.  Once they’d taken off the siding, he’d realized the mortar holding together the black lava rock beneath was also decayed, and he’d been required to take those off as well.   Then, taking twice as long and costing twice as much as Jones had estimated, he’d fitted the rocks back together -- hiring the few (and expensive!) rock workers who could do an adequate job of connecting the new jigsaw puzzle.
Reassembled, the rocks had been every shade of shadowy black.  He’d resorted to sandblasting the rock to an even color.  Emily Moore, the new owner of the building had been watching every step from the sidelines, unexpectedly knowledgeable about construction and an impatient and demanding taskmaster.
The final ‘puzzle’ of the Puzzle Palace was the financial patchwork of loans and cost overruns and lawsuits -- what remained of his once thriving construction business.  If he was extremely lucky, he might avoid bankruptcy.  He certainly wasn’t going to make any money off the deal.  That bitch Emily Moore hadn’t given an inch, had held him to every fine line in the contract. 
The Puzzle Palace was the both the ruin of Jones Construction -- and the most magnificent thing he’d ever done.   He'd lost three members of his crew to freak accidents -- as if the old building was cursed.

              In the morning his crew would sweep up the sidewalks, wash the last of the windows, and vacuum the rugs in preparation to the Grand Opening Banquet.  He was invited, of course, but he wanted nothing more to do with the Friends of Pilot Butte committee -- especially, the guiding force, the grand dame, that consummate bitch, Emily Moore.
So the fools thought they were going to auction off the ‘First Night’ lodging.  To hell with that, Jones thought.  I deserve to be the first guest.  
 It was 3:00 in A.M. in the morning, and the President’s Suite beckoned.  He’d sleep a few hours and be gone by the time the morning crew showed up.  No one would ever know -- except him.  He'd know for the rest of his now blighted career that he had been the first-ever overnight guest of the new Pilot Butte Inn.  At least he'd walk away from this disaster with that satisfaction."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Being a publisher, not a writer.

Watched a program on self-publishing on C-span.  It pretty much confirmed the way I was thinking.  That I need to think of myself as a publisher, not a writer.

Anyway, if I remember rightly, the number of ebooks they mentioned being published per year was around 484,000.  Which basically means that somelike 1300 books are being published per day.  I'm sure that is growing every year, so I'm guessing it's more like 1500 a day, or even 2000 a day.

Per day.

How do you stand out in a crowd like that?

The organizer of the event was a former publishing employee, and she said that a huge number of publishing types -- agents, editors, copy-editors, etc. etc. have been let go and that less books are being traditionally published.  (Hard to believe -- but I do believe that more of the books that are being published are following tropes, or successful examples, or established writers or themes.)

I think it is safe to say that publishers are dealing with many more books than ever before, with much fewer people.

Which makes it more of a crapshoot than ever before.

Anyway, I've thrown my hat into the self-publishing ring.  I'm not sure that it is something you can do half-heartedly.  I think you have to choose one side or the other.  Otherwise it just becomes too distracting.

Having been self-employed for 30 years, deciding on my own how, when, why, where, which things I'm going to do, being my own publisher makes sense to me.  Not having to ask for permission or having to wait for someone else to make a decision.

But I want to be as professional as possible about it.  Good editing, nice covers and design, and hopefully good books.

At the same time, I'm also just concentrating on just writing for now, and trying to gather information on the best way to be a publisher.  I'm picking little things up as I go along.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Discount versus non-discount.

It's coming out that the big boxes didn't do so well this Christmas.  Lots of discounts hurt the profits, but didn't increase sales as much as they wanted.

Something I don't think most people understand -- you can't simply raise prices or lower prices.  You are either a store whose business model is based on discounts or you aren't.

I would submit that a small independent store is almost always better off not trying to be a discounter.  By the way, we had a record Christmas, without discounts.

If my math is off, please let me know. 

Here's a couple of scenarios:  (Working from round numbers that in no way reflect my actual store.)

Let's say there are two stores.  The first store starts off with 40% margins, but does not offer discounts and doesn't have sales.  The first years average sales per month is 10,000.

The second store starts off with 30% margins, giving their comic subscribers steep discounts and constantly running sales.

Let's say the second store immediately draws more customers, lets say 40% better.  So it does 16,000.

The profit on 16,000 at 30% is 4,800.

The profit on 10,000 at 40% is 4,000.

That's only a 17% difference in profits.

Already, the second store is having to risk buying 11,200 worth of product to get their profits.
The first store only need to buy 6,000 to achieve theirs.  The second store is having to expend more time, energy and space to make their profit.  They might even need an extra employee.

You can already see where this may be heading.

So the first store takes their extra 10% margin and reinvests it in inventory, slowly but surely building it.  The second store had just enough to buy replacement inventory.

So lets say in the second year, the first stores sales increase to 12,000 because of increased inventory.
The second store increases 2,000 too, to 18,000, but still has only 30% margins.

Now the first store has 4,800 in profits.

The second story has 5,400 in profits.  Now there is a 11% difference in profits.

Let's jump ahead 10 years.

The first store has steadily increased its good inventory by reinvesting the 10% extra margin he has over his competitor.

The second store has steadily increased its bad inventory by having to buy greater numbers of product to satisfy the higher demand.  It is buying much more inventory, increasing the gamble with every purchase.  The store is chasing discounts every chance it has.  It has mostly stuck the the periodical material, without trying to create a strong backstock.  In fact, its cash flow is so bad, it constantly runs sales to raise cash, thereby increases the debilitating backstock shortage.  Its customers have become accustomed to higher discounts -- that's why the store exists.  However this makes this store vulnerable to people who offer even higher discounts, and they've actually started to lose customers.  So from the 18,000 per month they were doing 5 years ago, they have now increased by say, 3% a year to roughly 20,000.  They are still stuck at 30% margins.

After 10 years, the first store has constantly added premium product, reinvesting the 10%.  Their sales have increased by 6% a year, to 16,000.

Now the first stores profits are 6400.

The second store's profits are 6,000.  (Even though it's sales are 20% higher.)

But I would submit that this is where the long strong climb of the non-discounting store kicks in.  This store is now fully stocked, and need only keep up its inventory.  Because it is fully stocked, it can now look for bargains as part of its mix.  Most importantly, it doesn't need to build the inventory anymore, but simply make sure that it has a strong backstock.  It can now pocket the extra 10% instead of reinvesting in the store.  It profit margins increase, and is now 50%.   It has now become a "cash" profit.

So the first store on 20% less sales is actually earning 25% more money.  Not only that, it isn't in danger of losing customers to the Internet or the Big Box stores because discounting was never its draw.   Plus making do with less new product, less gamble, less time, space and energy.

Unfortunately, most people can't resist the discounting model, which is too bad.  They see those sales of 16,000 versus 10,000 and think the other guy is an idiot.  The customers see 40% more customers in the discounting store and lower prices and also assume the non-discounter is losing.

But its the business model that counts in the long run.  Not the perception.

If you've taken the time to build your customer base slowly, based on factors other than price, than prices can't kill you. 

Meanwhile, the first store is stuck with its discounting model.  It is working harder and harder to make the same money. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Taking critique.

I was so excited by the first two chapters of Ghostlander, that I couldn't wait to read them to Linda.

She had a question -- were they all in the same room or were they talking by phone?  Let me tell you, I've failed as a writer if that isn't automatically clear.  But instead of thanking her, I got all huffy and defensive.  Worse, I sort of flared up.

Stupid thing to do.  See, I want honest critique.  I need honest critique.  That last thing I want to do is discourage critique.

It's very hard to get people to supply critique on a continual basis.  They're usually happy to do so the first or second time, but when you go back to them for the hundredth time, will they're not so enthusiastic.

All critique is useful.  Even when I disagree, I get something out of it.  Whatever makes me look at the material anew.

So -- I'm a little ashamed of myself for flaring up.  I probably should let material sit for awhile before presenting it so proudly.  When I'm still in that creative glow, I somehow expect the reader to catch that.

But they're looking at it much more objectively -- and that's good.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Terrific day for a loner.

I was out running an errand for Linda, so I couldn't help noticing how nice it was out.  For once, having emerged mole-like from the my room, which has curtains closed to facilitate writing.

So I headed out the Badlands, and went to the head of the canyon.  Bunch of cars parked there as other people had the same idea, so instead of heading up the canyon I turned and headed down.  Then about 15 minutes along the path, I scaled the small rock cliff and started climbing up to the top of the bluff.  All alone.  Completely blue skies, the perfect temperature -- near 60 degrees -- just an exhilarating atmosphere.

Turned at the top of the bluff and there were the Three Sisters, as pretty as anything I've ever seen.  I had those frizzies running up and down my spine and even teared up a little at the beauty of it.

Well then and there I sat down, dust or not, and let it all soak in.  I could hear the occasional truck on the highway, and in the middle of it, someone started flying a model plane.  But mostly, just beautiful silence and solitude and vistas.

And then the ideas started coming.  The beginning lines of Ghostlander.  And then more lines. 

And nowhere to put them.

I had walked away from the car without my backpack, so after lying there in the sun for a half hour or so, as relaxed as it is possible to be, I got up and trudged back to the car.  But really, that was all right too, because it felt good.  Took a half an hour to get back and grab my backpack.  Then headed down the path again, and five minutes later I realized I'd loaned out my pen at writer's group last night, so I headed back to the car and retrieved the car pen.

An hour after I left, I'm back at the place I discovered.  I sit down and start writing longhand in my notebook.  A couple of hours later, my legs so asleep that when I stood up I nearly fell over, I had nearly two chapters written.

I felt amazing.  Relaxed and fulfilled.

The outdoors are really conducive to writing, for some reason.  I should do this every chance I get.  I live in freaking Central Oregon!  Even if the weather isn't 'perfect' like today.  I'm also thinking it would be an interesting experiment to write the first draft in longhand, like I did in the old days.  My handwriting has turned to crap for some reason, but I think I can still decipher it.

Finally -- my subconscious has spoken and has decided that Ghostlander must be written.  It turns out that rewriting Faerylander was a good thing to do because it has reacquainted me with my characters and that world.

I like Cobb and company quite a bit, and will love spending another adventure with them.  And another and another,  I suspect.

I get a high from writing sometimes -- it feels so amazing when it spills out like that, like it's already there and I'm just catching the words as they flow by.  It makes me feel really alive.  Gratified and grateful.  Maybe I'm the only one that gives a damn, but I like my little stories.

Between books again.

Feeling a little at loose ends again.

My intent was to write Ghostlander when I finished with Deeptower, but I got sidetracked by Faerylander.  I'm done with Faerylander for now -- though I want to see what kind of critique it gets, and then give it a final polish.

So I can either turn to another rewrite -- I've got ideas for Reluctant Wizards -- or start something new.

What the hell, it's only been one day.  I'm sort of waiting to see which option clamors for so much attention I can resist.

I took a couple of chapters of Faerylander to writer's group last night.  Had a new member, and when I finished reading he said, "I'm very impressed" and some other nice things.  Maybe he's just being nice, but I'll take the compliments where I can.

So I think I'll start noodling with Ghostlander.  Just jotting down ideas and such.  Though every time I think I'm going to noodle, it turns into actual writing.

Oh, and I've set into motion getting the cover to Led to the Slaughter going.  I'm also hiring the artist of the cover to Faerylander to make some additons, and to also come up with covers to Wolflander and Ghostlander.  

So that should pretty much get all the books I've already written (minus Ghostlander -- ordering the cover before I've written the book which shows some kind of hutzpah)  that much closer to being published.

Boring post, but that's what's happening.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A small example.

I thought I'd provide a small example of the benefits of rewriting.

In the original draft, I have Alex, the young techgeek member of the crew, deciphering the Necronomicon and finding the formulas to close the Portals from Cthulhu.  He is asked to copy the formulas, but copy machines don't work in the Great Library, so he goes off with Gorgon nympths to handcopy the spells.

Then in the battle, he's clutching a handful of papers and trying to read them with fire and brimstone going on all around him.

So -- in later drafts, I consolidate the library chapter with an earlier chapter.  Instead, Cobb calls Alex on the phone and tells him, since he can't copy the Necronomicon, he'll have to memorize it.

Problem is, I lose that nice bit of visual business of him clutching loose papers while trying to recite the spell in the heat of battle.

For the final rewrite, I still keep the consolidated chapter and the cellphone, (which are a streamlining improvement) but I have Cobb telling him that he needs to "write it down."  That way I can keep the flying papers scene.  But it also dovetails nicely with another key plot point.  Up until the events in the book, Cobb has been banished from the Great Library by the love of his life, Lillian, for having destroyed a book -- which he thought was the Necronomicon.

So Alex shows up for battle with a bunch of mismatched pages of paper and tells Cobb that it was lucky he had a pencil stub in his pocket, because the Gorgons don't use paper to keep track of books (also a nice point, because I've established that the Gorgons use their 'tendrils', which look like snakes, to organize the books).

So Cobb asks him where he got the paper, and Alex tells him that Lillian let him tear out blank pages from various books, Cobb is astonished.  Because we've already seen how protective Lillian is of her books.  Then in the battle scenes, the papers being hard to hold and flying away make even more sense.

OK.  A really tiny example, and somewhat subtle -- but all the little pieces fit.

So what I hope to do is improve the book in a hundred small but fitting ways.  If I do that,  I've without a doubt made it a better book.

Constant rewriting tends to firm up the backstory, and clarify the motivations, and give me more chances to explain what's going on.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Faerylander is done, this time for real.

Finished Faerylander again.

I wrote a Cobb's Bestiary entry for all 51 chapters of the book.  I added in about seven chapters I had taken out.  So the book is about 30% longer than the previous version.  This was never going to be a streamlined book, so I might as well go with all the ideas I have.  Which makes it more a dense book.

But I like it.  

I think this is the version I'll go with.  It still needs quite a bit of editing, but the framework is there.  I just want to take the time to really try to polish it some more.  My pro editor usually takes a little over a month, so I'll work on it at the same time.

I have to figure out the editing programs for Word, so I'll know where I made changes so I can compare them what my friends do.

Paul and Martha and Linda have all agreed to read it.

And of course, Lara, when she's done with Blood of Gold.  (I'm still hoping to publish that at the end of this month or beginning of next.  As well as a combined Vampire Evolution Trilogy.)

A neat thing about Faerylander is that I already have a cover for it, so it will be ready to publish whenever I'm done editing.  Several months down the road, probably.

The other neat thing about it is that I have already written a sequel I like, Wolflander, and which needs nowhere near as much work.  It just needs to be edited and it's ready to go.

Then I can go about writing the third book,  Ghostlander.  Makes sense that I finish the first book in the series before I get too far ahead of myself writing sequels.

But it's finished to the extent that I now know that is going to happen.

For everyone who thinks I write ridiculously fast, (including me, sometimes), it will have taken me 3 years, off and on, to finish this by the time I'm done.

I just couldn't let go of it.

How I learned to stop worrying, and love the rewrite.

Well, maybe not love the rewrite.  But I have come to acknowledge the importance of it, and even -- sometimes -- just for awhile -- even like it a little.

First of all, not all rewriting is the same.  I think of rewriting in two ways.

The first is the selection of words, the phrasing, the grammar, all the different matters of style.

But the second kind is the actual framework of the book, the thinking that underpins it.  The plot, the architecture, the story.

The style can always been fixed, or improved.   How polished it is, how well it flows.

The framework is a bigger problem.

Ironically, it is when I have a structural problem that I'm forced to rewrite, and when trying to deal with the structural problem, I end up working on the style as well.  The bigger the structural problem, the more I rewrite.  So weirdly enough, I believe sometimes that problem books end up with more polished writing than books that don't have those problems.

I think there is some give and take here -- what you give up in freshness and spontaneity, you gain in polish and style.  The trick is not to give up too much of the former, in order to gain the latter.

I definitely write in two different ways; the easy and the hard.  Star Axe, Deviltree and Faerylander were hard, for instance.  Snowcastles, Icetowers, Led to the Slaughter, and the Vampire Evolution Trilogy were relatively easy.

I'm not sure that one is better than the other, just that the process seems to be very different.  (Obviously, I prefer the easy.)

I think I finally have a version of Faerylander that I like enough to publish.  I have about 20 Cobb's Bestiary entries to write.  Then I want to give it a full editing job, and polish it.

But the basic framework is there.

There is a whole lot of invention in this book.  I put a lot of effort into it.  So I think in the not too distant future I'll be ready to say it's done.

So I have 4 books that are more or less finished.  One is currently being edited and will need a cover, but the cover will be fairly easy.  One is finished and just needs a cover.  One needs to be edited and has a cover.  One needs to be edited and also needs a cover.

That leaves about 3 books out of the ten I've written that still need work.  As well as the two books that I wrote 30 years ago that I still think need some work.  

I think after I finish Faerylander, I'll be ready to tackle Ghostlander. 

Anyway, I seem to be on track. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Downtown Comings and Goings. 1/10/14.

I'm able to keep up with the new businesses downtown, just by
reading the news.  I suspect, however, I'm missing some of the
 'Goings.'  Anybody want to contribute?

A couple of significant locations were filled.  Legum Design has moved into the Bend Mapping location.  Dogwood Cocktail has moved into the Astro Lounge location.  Bend Modern has moved into a Wall St. location. 

 Dream Pebbles left the location across from us.


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
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails

(List begun, Fall, 2008.)


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
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro

(List begun, Fall, 2008 )

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Final Version, Dammit!"

Assembling my book -- that's literally what I'm doing to Faerylander.  I'm going through all the multiple versions and picking out the best versions of each chapter, scene, sometimes even down to paragraphs and sentences.

I can do this because I currently have -- let me check -- Jesus! -- 14 versions of the book on my computer.  Obviously, these weren't all started from scratch, but it still shows the kind of obsessive compulsiveness that drove me away from writing the last time.

The difference -- and it makes ALL the difference -- is the new technology.  Imagine if I had typed that many versions -- or even half that many versions.  Shudder.

Anyway, I should have the book assembled in this writing session. (I call the days I write between work as session).   And I hope to then read through and polish it in the next writing session.

Then -- set it aside, and come back to it in a few months for -- hopefully, and apparently I've thought this 14 times before -- the last and final version.

I dared to title this version, "Final Version, Dammit!"

All right, spent a third very intensive day trying the meld the longer versions with the shorter versions.  The first 65% slotted together pretty well.  However, the last third is a real problem.  It seems like if the longer version works, the short version doesn't and vice verse.  But there are quite definite improvements to the shorter version, so I've got to figure out a way.

I think this version will be roughly 30% longer than the last version.

I worked yet again on the problem chapter -- the important chapter introducing the themes, characters and plot.  Right now, it's my second chapter -- it has been at various times the first, the second and the third chapter.

But I think the current version is probably the best so far -- it flows and still gets the information across.

The irony of all this is that because this book was such a problem, it will probably be a better book.  That is, it has forced me to write it so many times that it has started to gain some real heft.  It's a far denser book than any of my vampire books.

That's both good and bad, I think.  I don't think there is anything wrong with a fast read.  But this book is starting to contain so much information, that I'm starting to feel it's a worthy book just because of that.

I could've stood behind the last two versions, but this one is better still, I think.  Especially if I spend more time polishing the writing now that I have a solid framework in place.

I've written 30 Cobb's Bestiary entries so far, and they've been fun, and I think they add a lot of painless information -- that is, the reader can take them or leave them.  (I'll probably have 50 entries by the end of the book, which I'll include as an extra.)

So this is becoming more and more a real book to me.  One I'll finally be happy to publish.

Failing upward.

Every so often, Bend seems to attract new businesses whose attitude seems to be that they are bringing culture to our poor benighted town.  That somehow, in the last explosive 30 years of growth, we've never seen their type of service or product.

Generally, they are from the 'Big City', you know Back East, or from San Francisco, or Seattle or even Portland.  They're going to show us local yokels how the big city folk do it.  Often they announce that they've left some high powered job and are just wanting to simplify their lives.  (Because apparently, we're simple.)

Now, I see a couple possibilities.

One is that we really haven't seen their likes before, and that what they're offering is so new and special that we'll be glad they came.

The other possibility is that they have misjudged us -- or more likely, misjudged the message.  Chances are, we already have multiple businesses offering the same thing they are, or that others have tried what they're offering and we weren't taking.

Sometimes they overshoot -- like wearing a tuxedo to a family reunion.  Or undershoot, like wearing overalls to a wedding.

So I'm told that we have some wealthy people in this town, and I guess I have to believe it.  (Why don't any of them buy comics?)  We certainly have high-end dress shops and jewelry stores and restaurants and boutique hotels -- all that.  So the clientele is probably here.

But most of these established businesses that cater to the high end start from a more humble approach.  There is a sweet spot for Bend.  You want to give off the message that you're sophisticated, but not pretentious.  (Not saying that we are, but that's what we want to hear.)

I actually don't believe these high powered newcomers mean to give off this message.  It's the result of the excitement of opening a new business -- and the zeal they have to promote themselves.

But you don't walk up to a girl and say, "Hey, you've got potential.  If you let me clothe you, I can make you pretty!"

No, what you say is, "You're a pretty girl, and I'd love to be able to clothe you."

A not so subtle difference, but one that can be lost in the promotional noise.

I believe that there are people in town who will respond to the first message -- they'll welcome the new business, feel them out, and then gently avert their eyes when the business starts to falter.  The first whiff of struggle and they're gone.

Sometimes these newcomers adjust their message, tone it down, try to fit in.  Bend is certainly willing to take their money.  Interestingly, very often someone else -- often a local -- will inherit the space, the concept, even the business, and make a go of it, starting over from a less grandiose approach.  They inherit a beautiful corpse.  Thus does downtown Bend continually fail Upward.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Can I say, "told you so!" ?

Shouldn't I be allowed to say, "told you so," once in a while?

Barnes and Noble announced a 66.7% drop in sales of the Nook e-reader.  And a 27.3 drop in digital content.

This has the whiff of death to it.  Who' s gonna buy the 'Betamax' of e-readers?

The Nook is fighting "...the dominance of tablets over dedicated e-reading devices, where B & N can barely compete..."   Which is pretty much what I thought would happen.  I thought they would be hammered by the Kindle, the market leader.  Otherwise, it is much like buying a "word-processor" when a full computer can do the same job, plus+++++++++++

There has also been "...a slowdown in the growth in popularity of e-books."  Again, something I thought would happen.  There is definitely less talk of e-readers in my store these days.  I had only my gut instinct here -- I'm a huge reader and I had zero interest in an e-reader.   I wasn't tempted and still am not in the least bit tempted.  When you run a store, you trust your gut.  If I had that little interest, I had to assume that there were others like me.

I don't think e-readers are going away.  They may get bigger.  But so will books.  What I've had to do with competitors like the mass market stores and the internet is acknowledge their power, and try to work around them.  It doesn't mean I can't win in my own way.  I think books will win in their own way.

Meanwhile B & N sales of book/books seem to be stable.  Imagine what they could have done if they weren't spending so much time, attention, money, space and resources to sabotaging their own business...

But what do I know?  B & N stock prices are up.