I often work with music playing. Since I work as a freelance writer and editor, that means I frequently listen to music when I write, even when I work on my own projects.
I listen to a mixture of music, mostly depending upon my mood and the season. For some weird reason, I listen more to classical music in the autumn months. I particularly enjoy Spanish madrigals. I don't know what makes them Spanish madrigals, but whenever I hear one my reaction is, "I liked that."
I enjoy classic rock and some not-so-classic rock. From the Animals to the Zombies, if it's got a good beat and at least a catchy refrain, I'll bop in my seat for hours. I also enjoy the softer stuff, pop, Top 40, etc. Air Supply gets a lot of derision, but I always did enjoy their music. Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Eagles, Simon & Garfunkle, Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, Dan Fogelberg ... it's all good. Heck, let's throw in some ABBA and KC & the Sunshine Band, too. Then we'll swerve to Hozier, Theory of a Deadman, Fiver Finger Death Punch, and Disturbed.
When my preference doesn't really veer to rock 'n roll or classical, I'll turn on country. I particularly like 80's and 90's country: Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Wynona Judd, Clint Blank, Andrew Jackson, etc. But I also enjoy listening to more recent stuff from Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Josh Groban, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, etc.
And then there's the outlier, the "where in the heck did that come from?" contingent of my musical preferences. We're talking about Celtic folk music, from the haunting strains of the soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans to stuff called "Lords of Iron" and other such dramatic names. And Enya. Can't forget Enya. If only I could sing like her ...
When I sing, dogs howl.
Jazz? I can take it or leave it, but I don't seek it out. I dislike rap and hip-hop. You can argue all you want about the merits of those two genres, but you won't convince me to like either. I like big band, too, even though I don't seek that out, either.
The pleasure I take in music in no way translates to any musical skill of my own. I took piano lessons as a child and was no more--and often less--than an indifferent pianist. I disliked music classes taken in school, having no interest whatsoever in music theory. I inherited much of my musical preferences from my father and grew up listening to the tunes of his youth, particularly the Beach Boys. I still like 'em.
Sometimes, however, silence works best. It all depends upon my mood and what I'm working on .
Now that she and her best friends are out of danger, Cecily Carrigan is restless. Pyotr’s boss bought a restaurant and installed her as head chef. She lives rent-free with a with a sexy beast of a Russian mobster who treats her like a queen, but hasn’t offered marriage. She detests Cleveland, cold weather, and the Bratva. Conflicted and confused, what's a girl to do when she suffers a crisis of conscience?
She removes herself from temptation and leaves.
Moving to San Antonio where the weather's warm and the restaurant scene fiercely competitive, Cecily works to find herself and rebuild her self-respect... and discovers that she left the secret to happiness behind in the form of a big Russian with a heart of gold.
“I’m not weak,” she protested.
“No, but your strength is different.” His eyes glinted. “You will make such beautiful babies.”
“Babies!” she spluttered, spraying bits of egg.
He leaned back in his chair, gaze assessing her. “What? You did not think I invited every woman whose body I enjoyed to live with me?”
From the darkening expression on her face, he could see that he’d not expressed himself well. Cecily set down her fork with a distinct clink.
“That’s all I am to you? A body to enjoy and an incubator for your babies?”
Not much scared Pyotr, but this cold, hard expression on his beloved Cecily’s face did. Thus far, he’d managed to keep her bound to him by virtue of a job she loved and frequent, amazing sex. However, dread churned his belly as she rose from the chair.
“Thank you for breakfast,” she said with chilly politeness and left the table, her food mostly uneaten.
“Cecily!” he called after her.
She ignored him and disappeared into the bedroom.
He rose from the table to go after her, but his cell phone rang.
There was no polite inquiry as to whether that was a good time, only the command, “Come, you are needed.”
There was only one possible response: “On my way.”
Wishing he could pursue Cecily, apologize, and explain what he really meant, he heeded Maksim’s call. Instead, he poked his head into the bedroom and said, “I must go.”
Cecily, tugging on a comfortable pair of jeans, nodded her acknowledgement without turning to look at him. The snub stung.
When dressed, Cecily stood in the room, completely unsure of herself. Slowly, she walked to the nightstand where her phone lay plugged into recharge. She unplugged it and dialed.
“What’s up, Cece?”
“Latasha, are you busy?”
“Girl, I am always busy, but never too busy for you. What do you need?”
“I—I need to talk.”
“Did that big, dumb Russian hurt you?” her friend growled.
“Er, no, he wouldn’t hit me.” She knew that for truth. The big, brutal Russian treated her with utmost care. Gennady hurt women, not Pyotr, and liked it.
Latasha’s sigh seemed to hit her ear with a long-distance gust of air. “You working tonight?”
“My shift doesn’t end until four o’clock. God, hospital hours are crazy. Anyway, I can meet you during your break tonight or…” The silence lasted about three seconds. “No, no, that won’t work. Tell me now, girl, what’s got you so upset.”
“Well, duh. What did the big oaf do?”
Tears welled up and ran down Cecily’s cheeks as she blurted, “He said he wants me for sex and babies!”
“Whoa, there,” Latasha cautioned. “Are you sure that’s what he said?”
I have no complaint with regard to the event's co-host and venue, Mother Stewart's Brewing Company. They were fabulous. The venue charmed most of the participating authors with its unique character. And the brewery's owner even supplied my caffeine habit with a smile and personal delivery of a cup of coffee to my table.
Parking again proved to be problematic with authors not understanding where to park their vehicles, despite providing people with directions, a map, and explicit instructions not to park in the brewery's parking lot. The brewery posted a sidewalk sign: EVENT PARKING. Apparently, few people saw it. However, we soon got everyone straightened out, freeing the brewery's limited parking space for patrons.
Author registration for this event extended beyond those authors in Ohio. We had one author from Illinois and another from Kentucky. Frankly, I had a harder time filling the available tables than the first go-around. I think the season may have been a factor: weather and travel conditions in February in southwest Ohio are notoriously unpredictable and usually unpleasant.
As noted, most seemed to like the venue, which is an historic industrial building converted into a craft brewery and tap room. One author expressed dissatisfaction, stating a preference for a more traditional location. I think the brewing room terrific. It's interesting and unique. After all, you won't find those huge wooden beams and exposed brick walls in a modern hotel conference room. Nor will you get natural light through windows from a modern hotel conference room.
Mother Stewart's does not serve food, so they maintain a rotating roster of gourmet food trucks that operate just outside the building's front entrance. The food truck scheduled for February 10 was Bistro de Mohr, which came up from Cincinnati. They offered an interesting menu of gyros, goat tacos, pulled pork, and hog balls. Don't ask. It was delicious. We worked out a cross-promotion deal by which we helped promote the food truck and they helped promote the book fair.
Several factors worked against our hopes for unqualified success. Social media analysis suggested that the event would draw in a sizable crowd. Snow and nasty road conditions squelched that. (Of course, Sunday's patronage differs from the Saturday's for reasons so obvious I won't list them here.) Anyway, we had a steady, but thin, trickle of people wander through. Just about every author sold a book or two.
As always there are lessons to be learned. Here's my short list:
- Shorten hours of operation. With cold, snow, icy roads, and early nightfall, several authors bugged out well before the event closed at 7:00 PM. For the next Winter Book Fair, we'll keep the hours more reasonable, say 12:00 - 4:00 PM or maybe 5:00 PM.
- Omit the social hour. Author feedback from the first event last August showed a desire for a "meet-and-greet" when authors could mingle and get to know one another. Yeah, no. That idea fizzled. Authors barely nibbled at the snacks I brought and didn't take advantage of the opportunity to socialize in the hour before the book fair opened, which meant that attendees wandering through got to help themselves to free munchies.
- Keep the drink tickets. I believe authors appreciated the drink tickets which they could redeem at the bar for soft drinks or beer. One participating author suggested offering sandwiches, etc., but that would compete with the food truck. I don't want to do that. Food service adds more complexity to the organizational effort than I care to deal with.
I met some wonderful and interesting people. Event like this really do bring together people together who otherwise wouldn't normally ever meet. Introvert that I am, I enjoyed that part tremendously. It's more than just professional networking, it's the opportunity to make new friends who do what I do and understand the vagaries of being an author. They get it.
"Failed to meet expectations" does not translate into a failed event. We've already scheduled the Summer Book Fair for Saturday, August 17. (Registration for the Summer Book Fair will open in May. Stay tuned!) For summer, we'll keep the longer hours: 12:00 - 7:00 PM. We'll bank on the larger Saturday crowd and begin establishing an event pattern that people will expect and anticipate. With luck perseverance, our audience will grow.
#SpringfieldOHBookFair #Winter #Books #Authors #HenHousePublishing
Why Independent Writers Matter
by Walter Rhein
Educated people often complain about the quality of film and literature that is widely available. There is the pretense that only the very best scripts are made into films, but you only need peruse titles like ‘Sharknado’ to come to the realization that this isn’t the truth. One of the most successful entertainment franchises of our time is the series of films featuring Marvel superheroes. Although these films are great entertainment, particularly for munching on popcorn in an air-conditioned theater on a hot summer day, these films leave no lasting impression or engage in any controversial topics.
Even more artistic films from major studios are relatively conservative. In our contentious era, studios are fearful of any controversy as a viral outbreak of social justice outrage can kill a film before it even premieres. Modern studios are prone to cutting ties with their talent at the first sign of controversy, even for transgressions as small as a series of ill-advised, disavowed tweets from decades ago. This is despite the fact that these same studios have various examples of racism, misogyny and exploitation in their vaults.
Because the effort to challenge the moral compass of a society is inherently controversial, it is becoming less and less likely that the leaders of our established artistic communities will be inclined to do so. Those who have earned reputations as great modern writers have done so by existing within the narrow corridor of what is considered acceptable moral conduct. By the time they have achieved a hard-won status, they have allowed themselves to become indoctrinated against taking certain kinds of risks.
This is not to say that all independent writers are champions of a higher moral standard, they most certainly are not. Independent writers cover the entire spectrum. Some independent writers fall neatly within the moral standard of our time. There exist too, unfortunately, a significant group of independent writers that endeavor to take us back to reprehensible times of moral depravity. But there are also a small group of independent writers that, due to their low profile, are able to wrestle with important issues free from the pressure of imminent and unfair social justice prosecution.
It really is a very exciting time for publishing. Innovations like electronic books have made it possible for small publishers to release dynamic works at low cost. These publishers still approach their novels with the same diligence of editing and refinement of the major publishers, but they aren’t afraid to engage exactly the type of challenging issues that most of the educated populace complains is absent from mainstream media. The problem is that the general public still hasn’t come to fully understand the full potential of independent books.
If you’ve ever found yourself complaining, “There’s nothing at this bookstore I really want to read,” or “There’s nothing on television I really want to see,” then take a dive into some independent books. Read the excerpts, peruse Reddit chatrooms for recommendations, and above all write reviews on everything you engage with. The simple fact is, when it comes to the major publishers, your review, your voice, will not bring about any change. It’s only in the independent community that the reader can help shape the literature of the era.
For those of you who wish to discuss this concept further, please don’t hesitate to write me at the email provided below. Also, please check out my latest release from Burning Bulb Publishing: Paperclip. I don’t claim that this is a book that will change society as we know it, but it is a good read, and it does take a dozen or so chances that you probably won’t see in a release from a major publisher. If you’re sick of the same old safe stories, why not try something that might surprise you?
About the Author:
Walter Rhein maintains a web page about travel, musings on writing, and other things at StreetsOfLima.com. His novels with Perseid Press include: The Reader of Acheron, The Literate Thief, and Reckless Traveler. His novel The Bone Sword was published with Harren Press, and his novel Beyond Birkie Fever was originally published with Rhemalda Publishing. He currently splits his time between the US and Peru, and can be reached for questions or comments at: WalterRhein@gmail.com.
My own reaction to advice is mixed.
When I participated in a large (over 50,000 members) Facebook group geared to writers helping other writers, I dispensed advice to those who asked for it. It's the way of the internet: post a question, receive answers. Unfortunately, writers posted the same questions over and over again. Many of those questions concerned the very basics of writing and publishing, up to and including requests for other writers to develop ideas, plots, and content. People pay me to do that for them.
If you haven't learned the basics of writing and storytelling, then take a class or three and educate yourself before attempting to write a book. Or hire a ghostwriter.
Then came the inevitable questions that anyone with two brain cells to rub together could answer for him/herself if only he/she bothered to engage in a few minutes of research. Google is your friend. Their utter lack of resourcefulness appalled me.
When I started writing for publication, I didn't have the internet. I had to go to the library and check out guides such as Writers Market and The Literary Marketplace. Or I bought the guides from the local bookstore. If a writer's too damned lazy to do his/her own research, then I'm not going to do it for him/her.
After several months of fielding repeated questions from lazy wannabes, I canceled my subscription to the forum. I enjoy helping people who appreciate that help, but I dislike being taken advantage of. The entitlement attitude that I owed people the benefit of my hard-earned expertise offended me.
Of course, I myself have received some good advice through online forums. One such forum lit the proverbial light bulb with regard to strong writing. Aha! Now I really get it! And into practice that pearl of wisdom went. For the most part, I don't ask questions on these forums, even if I do read questions posted by others and the responses received. Sometimes I can and do add to the learning process; other times I have nothing particularly valuable to add. I get some good information that way and some not-so-good information. I've learned to determine who knows what he/she talks about and who's just faking it.
Book reviews deliver some of the most effective lessons learned. As I've told others, I don't learn from praise. Sure, I like praise. I love positive reviews. But I learn from the critical reviews: detailed reviews help me become a stronger, better writer. I take them as advice. Sometimes, like most unsolicited and unwanted advice, I disregard it. Sometimes I acknowledge that the reviewer has a good point and internalize it for later implementation. It all depends.
The caution about advice is that you just might get what you wish for, but that doesn't mean you'll like it.
So, ask me for advice if you dare.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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