14 responses to “Writer Interrupted”

  1. Jennie

    I believe in you, Ross. You’ve got three novels we’ll all want to read in you already. Nike had it right: just do it. Start with one. Just put one word in front of the other. We’ll be at the finish line applauding wildly!

    1. Sheladiya

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Court of Lies, Elyn. I enjoy many genres also, so I try to put a little of many things I like into the books I write. I’m also planning to have the second of the trilogy out next year and am working on the start of a series. I hope you will enjoy them just as much as I’m busy working on them now!

  2. Cheryl

    Just want to say to both of you: There will always be an audience for good writing. Now that we’re old enough to have something to say, it’s really great to have folks like the two of you on both sides of that audience—creating terrific reads and cheering for each other. (Looking forward to The Age of Desire book tour this summer, Jennie. Join us for a pre-tour, Ross?)

  3. Dick Cummins

    Ross – imagine my dejection reading that William Gay actually died when he was 70 instead of 67? Why? I’ll be 69 in a couple of months. Don’t even have first novel finished! Little hope for future.

    Can relate to your ‘Scribens Interrupta’ post – had one up here awhile back – involved getting dumped by my agent from Élan Associates, all stories, chapters and screenplay returned in large box – uninsured – no confirmation signature – lead me to feel efforts were either under-appreciated – or talent deficiency involved.

    That was in the late ‘70’s and by the early ‘80’s had decided to divert career aspirations from writing disappointments to starting ed software company called ‘Writing Software International’ yet – for Apple II, Atari, Pet Commodore and IBM compatible ‘micro-computers’ as they were called then. This story included .5 mil in vulture capital funding. However ‘living well’ is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Believe there is nothing like saving back a manic first draft file that’s going hot and furious!

    Anyway, after 30-year hiatus – am now scribbling again. Guess I need to get crackin’ before I hit the big 7-Oh – days dwindling down – after eyeballing Mr. Gay as role model of Interrupta.

    Another depressing discovery is that with teeth this long, no literary agent will even mail back my chapters, let alone toss a clod on the casket. You hear that corporations tell recruiters not to forward a resume of any one over 38 and I am now told that literary agents only want young talents with long futures ahead – as the big pay off comes only after years of hard slogging and rejections. Traditional publishers say they lose money on the first two titles of all new authors too – except say, racy bio of ex- U.S. presidents – this referred to in industry as the “perfect profit platform.”

    So what’s a geriatric scrivener to do already?

    And if “self-publishing” sounds a little like “self-abuse” to you too – here’s a take from our own Workshop friend Don Wallace – an intro to his Salty Blog.com.

    “Last night I published a book – an e-book – in eight hours. And therein lies a tale of gee-whiz, uh-huh, whadayawaitingfor and what-the-hell-I’m-just-going-for-it. Now I’m going to tell the story so you can go for it, too … didn’t like my odds of breaking through before having to switch to false teeth to chew my filet mignon? … (so) … I registered with Smashwords and read their calm and matter-of-fact explanation of how they worked.”. (‘Smashwords’ link:) http://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq

    Check out the rest of Don’s piece – pretty damn good BTW! http://asaltyblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-to-publish-book-in-8-hours.html#comments
    Here‘s another resource – Amazon’s self publishing opportunities link:

    And a book about it with good reviews – link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Well-Fed-Self-Publisher-Full-Time-Living/dp/0967059860/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    Gotta go – hot into my latest chapter about several poets, a fascinating fiction writing student and other rabble that set fire to the Workshop administration Quonset hut at U. of Iowa circa 1970 – protesting the Vietnam war and draft of course!

    Fiction of course – don’t get the wrong idea! Har! dc – class of ’70!

  4. Ross

    Cheryl and Jennie, thanks, and yes, I hope to join you! Dick, thanks for the comments. I guess the main thing is we don’t go silent into that good-night. Keep scribbling, and I will, too.

  5. Dick Cummins class of '70

    Ross – maybe we should start a blog called ‘Geezer Lit’ or ‘Near Elderly Chronicles’ or ‘Epilogues & Memoirs for the Memory Challenged’ – or how about ‘Stories from Sunset Manor’ or some such(s).

    Reinforce effort with ‘Mugshots’ page and Twitter account – hey – just fartin’ around here (as usual) but – wait – maybe it could actually work!!??

    Just full of good ideas this morning – – “Amongst several other other substances!” – that from wife as I read this reply out loud … Always the comedian — Har! dc

  6. Dick Cummins

    Ross: Here’s another take on self-publishing by Richard Gazala (April 2, 2012 by inReads post)…

    When asked why he decided to self publish, Richard responds:

    “A few years ago a gentleman named Marc McCutcheon wrote a book called Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? He mentioned some fairly off-putting statistics regarding so-called “traditional” publishing of fiction by new authors. McCutcheon wrote that about 50,000 new books are published annually, of which fewer than 4000 are fiction. More daunting yet, only 120 fiction releases each year are first novels by “new” authors. Keep in mind, those numbers aren’t fresh enough to account for the continuing shrinkage in fiction publishing over the past few years, and particularly since our most recent international financial apocalypse.

    Does that mean books and authors unpublished by traditional publishing houses are unworthy of attention? No. It means that like the broken business model traditional record companies are begrudgingly abandoning, traditional publishing’s business model is deeply flawed in the age of Web 2.0. Consequently, I’m disinterested in according self-proclaimed authority figures in a dying business model unwarranted power over my value as an author, and I’m unconvinced their interposal between my readers and me is of substantive worth.

    The simple fact is online distribution and interactivity integral to the independent publishing model means authors can now reach their readers more easily and meaningfully, and vice-versa, than at any time since the dawn of man. I’ve heard it called Publishing 2.0, and I embrace it.”

    My take: with college classes going on-line hand over teacup and the hard/paper texts that used to sell for $130.00 bucks per class and up now being offered “used” on Amazon for less than a dollar — and not to mention e-textbooks that include software based exercises and supplements for less than $50 bucks per on-line class — printing, binding and distribution costs almost totally eliminated — “e-” seems to be a San Andreas paradigm shift all right.

    So when Gazala mentions that – “…only 120 fiction releases each year are first novels by “new” authors…” it does not bode well for our quixotic scribens interrupta ambitions, at least via the traditional publishing model. And as he says he is glad there are no “…self-proclaimed authority figures … (imposing) … an unwarranted authority over my value as an author…” then sure Web 2.0 changes everything.

    But big elephant — with millions of writers self-publishing (more writers than readers as I like to point out) what will be the new paradigm for “reviewing” this glut? And as a two point oh, self-published author, how do we get any “advertizements” for ourselves and our wonderful fiction?

    Just askin’, just sayin’.

  7. Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg)


    On Jan 1, 2010, I considered writing to be a form of punishment, often handed down by a manager or, as my earliest memories of the dreaded torture recalled, issued by Mrs. Johnson in 8th grade English class. Damn her and her stupid sentence diagramming. I mean really, if a noun is a person, place or thing (and a word is a thing) then all words are freaking nouns. I hated her. I digress…

    The next day, because the bowl game wasn’t on until later, I wrote a blog post. A few hours later I pasted the same post into a woodworking forum. I don’t remember the football game at all, but the feeling when I returned the next day and found 300 people had read my drivel and 25 had left glowing comments . . . It was heaven. External validation is almost better than bacon. (Note: almost is the operative word, I’m not a lunatic.)

    Since then, I’ve written, as serials on my blahg (my spelling, not a typo), 3.8 novels and written another non-fiction book about the 86-87 Iowa Hawkeyes Men’s basketball team. With the exception of the Hawkeye book, I never really think about writing an entire novel, just the next few hundred words. Eventually, the story is done and there it is, a novel.

    I wish you the best of luck, Ross, with your goal of being published traditionally, but I’d like to mention one thing. I have no idea what it is like to be published by one of the “Traditional” presses, but I do know the unbridled joy of having sold my book to people I don’t know and having them tell me they enjoyed it. I’m not sure if the joy would be better if they added, “Great story and wow, what a cool publisher you have.” It might be, but I’ll never know. I find the publishing end almost as much fun as the writing part, so I’d be hard pressed to give up that joy.

    Best of Luck.

  8. Ross Howell

    Dick and Brian,

    Thanks for your great points about online publishing. I spent 15 hours in a car over the past two days with my wife Mary Leigh–a public relations professional. Our conversation included publishing online, or some permutation of that idea. Given the Gazala numbers you quoted, Dick; the success you’ve found online, Brian; and the ticking of my internal clock, I’m certain I’ll need to figure this all out PDQ! At least I already have an inhouse publicist and writing acquaintances with great ideas. Thanks again.

  9. Dick Cummins

    Ross – How about we get Mary Leigh to help us start a new e-publishing site/house/blog?

    Call it “Holden Caulfield’s Got One Foot in the Grave” — members-only geezing writer’s club for wanna-still-try-for-that-breakthrough even though over 60. Think a CCC for aging scribblers.

    Or maybe build this one: “Your_Coronary’s_No_Excuse_Gout_Neither_So_Write.com?”

    Nice ring to it. And at least we would see our stuff in print — well text — like here.

    Probably make money too. Think of the non-profit Narrative on-line magazine — like them we sponsor story and poetry contests, offer some piddly prize with a $25 “reading fee” to submit. Millions in it, I tell ya — millions — but oh dear.

    Think of Tom Jenks and Carol Edgarton with their ostensible 40,000 readers.

    BTW I see that Tom actually lists Kurt Vonnegut as one of the estimable authors he has helped with his for profit ‘editing’ services. But having had Vonnegut for classes, I believe before he would have paid Jenks for his august help, he’d of stubbed out a Pall Mall on the back of his hand.

    Anyway, obviously too full of opinions at the moment, so instead of venting just need to get back on the keyboard and finish my chapter about burning down an admin Quonset hut at Iowa in 1970! Just kidding…almost. Ask Marvin Bell (think he heard something about it!).

  10. Valerie

    Count me in with the geezer lit! 61 and finishing first novel.

  11. Ross

    Always enjoy your musings, Dick! Mary Leigh may have some ideas about a web site. But a shout out to Valerie! I think she came up with the right name for the site: geezer lit. Let us know when you’ve got your manuscript finished, Valerie. Way to go.

  12. Dick Cummins class of '70

    I got a million of ’em — how about “The Daily Epitaph For Near Elderly Writers (and Medicare Argus)” FirstNovelOrEpilogue.biz?

    Better – “YourImmortalLiteratureHere@reallyreallybigtombstones.com?”

    If we keep going down hill like this – something just might “stick to the wall”…which reminds me what my first wife said after our first date.

    “Well you were interesting but it was not exactly an ‘Elmers’ moment, Big Guy…” – (And I’m still paying alimony BTW – as in ‘the good they DO NOT die young!’)

    Just kidding – but hey – get to “self-publish” at the expense of WW2BWs.com here – and no, Ross and ML – not the other other kind! :-)

  13. Ofosu

    Readers of Court of Lies by Dawn Kunda will find themselves taken from the crime scene to the courtroom while the injured Brooke contemplates what has and is happening to her. Are the investigation and evidence being handled in accordance with the law? And, why do fresh red apples turn up in too many places? As things unfold, Brooke hopes justice and happiness are on the horizon. A good winter read!

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