Will you sign my yearbook?

For most people, the angst of thinking up a pithy signature line was over with the last period bell.

For them, there is no more worrying about all the ways a book owner could be dissatisfied: It wasn’t personal enough. It wasn’t long enough. It wasn’t funny enough. It wasn’t smart enough. I still remember the poor freshman schmuck who signed, “have a neat sumer”. Yes, s-u-m-e-r to be ridiculed for all eternity.

You, however, may be fortunate enough to relive that autograph frenzy with your own print book. What? You say you used to hide in the bathroom until it was over? Well, if you’re really lucky as an author, you’ll be put under a spotlight in the middle of the cafeteria–I mean, store–so that everyone can gawk at what a loser you are because no one wants your book, let alone your signature.

There will, however, be at least one person who feels enough pity to approach your table. It might be your mother but you should still be prepared and make it count. So here are some tips: Continue reading “Will you sign my yearbook?”

Switching Brains

My day job is kicking my butt. Or rather, it is kicking the right side of my brain. After hours filled with schedules and multi-tasking and spreadsheets — oh, the spreadsheets — my creativity is bruised and submerged. I make time to write but the stories won’t come. I walk to free my mind and end up solving budget problems. I start to write, anything just to be writing, but the words are all surface babble, self-conscious, and not creative at all. I go to bed in hopes the characters will break free in my dreams, but I fall asleep with visions of spreadsheets lying flat.

The left brain is a big bully, and I’d like to shut it off and bring back my right brain from exile, but the truth is, both sides are always talking to each other. Research from Australia (Pettigrew, 2004) shows that the human brain naturally switches dominance from left to right and back (or logical to sensory, detailed to holistic) about eight or ten times every minute. For mathematicians, this switch rate can be as low as two times per minute, giving their logical brain near full dominance. On the flip side (get it?), Buddhist monks who have spent years practicing meditation can sustain dominance of the sensory brain for several minutes at a time — something most mere mortals cannot do. Continue reading “Switching Brains”

Write short stories? But I’m a Novelist!

Get your short stories published, win a couple of contests, then reference them all in a query letter to convince an agent to convince a publisher to take a chance on your novel – that is the path to a traditional book deal, said all of the articles I read.

But don’t they require different skill sets, I wondered: generating an experience in a few hundred words vs. building a world over several hundred pages? What if you’re good at one and not at the other? What if you have limited time to write? Don’t you need to choose?

Fast forward six or seven years to today’s bigger and braver world of indie publishing, and the idea of selling a novel with a portfolio of short stories can seem like an archaic and unnecessary paradigm—and worse, a waste at the expense of the World’s Greatest Novel. But writing short stories can be a good use of time for novelist, budding or otherwise. Below are ten reasons why: Continue reading “Write short stories? But I’m a Novelist!”

Fun with Cliches

A bushel and a peck go hand in hand
To a rock star’s concert, his biggest fans.
They have no clue to his true identity;
His gilt on the edge is a harbored fantasy.

The best thing since sliced bread? Oh, what a joke!
They want a great show and all he wants is a smoke.
From his world on the stage, along his nose he looks down,
Counting seconds ’til departure from this one-horse town.

Grey at the temples but dressed to kill,
He hides the fact well that he is over the hill
By singing his heart out at the top of his lungs
And doing everything short of speaking in tongues.

For sixty long minutes he pays his dues
Then packs up his wares and makes an excuse.
In the nick of time, he leaves them wanting more
And makes a beeline and beats it straight to the door.

Though stalked by paparazzi, he has to confess
He should have flashed in the pan: no more, no less.
With his back to the wall, he would have to be frank,
So he slips through their fingers and laughs his way to the bank.

He doesn’t give a damn and won’t speak a word.
He’s as sick as a dog yet free as a bird.
He may be out of the woods but he’s never safe;
The fans’ object of desire is a colossal fake.

His no-strings-attached manner made all of them swoon
But if they knew the truth, they’d have changed their tune.
He drives the point home where he lives with his mother
And pills block the beat of a deathly shy drummer.

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