Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tapping An Idea (On It's Sweet Little Toosh).

I have a rather tempestuous relationship with social media.

I will freely admit to hating Twitter, even though I have frequented that portal way too much over the past few years (Christ - has it really been that long?!). As a marketing tool, I find it a rather desolate yet noisy wasteland where the majority of people desperately shout over one another and (figuratively) shove things in your face in an effort to be noticed. I've done it myself and I'm not proud of my behavior.

On the other hand, I have met some wonderful people through it and have engaged in a few meaningful conversations that I've really enjoyed (so I'm allowed out of the naughty corner right?). And, I have to credit Twitter with facilitating the first meeting with my literary agent and publisher and thus kick starting my career as an author. In itself, that was a pretty significant milestone.  So I can't completely condemn it as a tool.

To be honest though, I really have no fricken idea about what it is I am supposed to do with it as a portal. I've started referring to it as #hashtag vomit.

Facebook presents rather a similar proposition. On the advice of people "in the know" I set up my author fan page as a means to promote myself and my literary works and I did a few things with it in order to garner more interest (aka "Likes"). But people (usually other authors) don't really want to interact with me there either. They "Like" merely in the hope that I'll return the favor and though I take the the time to personally reach out, thank them and open a dialogue that doesn't involve schilling my wares, rarely do I get any response. If I do, it's usually a smiley face or a BUY MY BOOK link.

Considering the metrics of effect, the posts Facebook that "perform" better in terms of audience engagement are the ones that don't promote me or my links. They are usually the ones that are just me, dicking around with a momentary flash of comedic insight.
After all, I do believe that I am funny.




Let's not go there okay.

Last week, I chronicled (at ridiculous o'clock in the morning) a period of funk which was basically a bad dose of writer's block. Some of the feedback I received on that post were well meaning, if a little self defeating. Distracting myself with YouTube videos is probably not going to solve my dilemmas, I don't believe that last one was mentioned but shopping is a diversion right...Right??!)

It was in that post, post period of contemplation that I realized, I do have a small yet oft-forgotten part of my social platform that does have the potential to help conquer my ceative sink holes.

I'd given little regard to Pinterest in the past because I felt that it was yet another one of those time wasting things that serves only to...well...waste time.

But it seems I may have underestimated it's value from a creative perspective. I won't go into a deep explanation of what Pinterest is - if you don't know what it is then what are you doing on the internet?

Some months ago, I created a folder there simply titled "The Recipient" and into it, I began uploading all sorts of random pictures and images that satisfied certain creative criteria that were beginning to foment in my mind.

As those criteria began to evolve into ideas and I wrote those ideas down in my journal, the images I began searching for became much more specific and, before long, I found that I was beginning to take this little Pinterest folder somewhat seriously.

In Thomas Harris' novel "Hannibal", sequel to "Silence of the Lambs", he wrote about the concept of memory palace when describing his protagonist's mental profile. I don't have the novel in front of presently so I am recalling this from memory (hah hah), but the idea went that we each have a memory palace - a place where our collective experiences and memories reside and we can access this place again and again in our lifetime. Hannibal Lecter's memory palace was a pretty fucked up place if I remember rightly but it certainly was an interesting one.

I have come to regard Pinterest in a similar fashion and am beginning to see its importance as a tool in my creative journey.

By adding pictures and images to it and cataloging notes about those images, I have been able to retain a lot of ideas that I might have easily forgotten about. it was to that Pinterest folder I returned last week and I have to really has helped.

I am a visual person and, arguably, a visual writer. I respond well to what I see in the world around me and can draw ideas really effectively. I dream vividly too and often times, I'll seek out imagery that represents those dreams as well. My memory palace, as a result, is quite a place. My Pinterest folder "The Recipient" is proving to be quite a place too - not as vivid or as risky as my memory palace, but I intend to be a little more courageous with what I post there. I have a hunch that the project I'm working on will benefit from it.

So, what am I trying to say? Twitter sucks? Facebook shits me? The whole notion of social networking leaves me cold?

None of these really? I can't imagine I'll ever truly give those up even if they do drive me nuts. But Pinterest is something entirely different and, I have to say, a tool for creativity that I am quickly coming around to.

I'd be screwed if I was blind...


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Creative Slump.

I've talked about this before, I think.

There is a period between projects that I go through where I feel creatively drained to the point of emptiness. Though there is a project I am working on, I am mired in a soup of doubt about it and I'm finding it difficult to pull myself out of the quick sand. Thus, the project is moving along at a snail's pace and that fact only feeds into my frustration.

I look around me and see other authors producing works at what I consider to be an astonishing rate. Two, maybe three books in a matter of months. And they are fine works. They are juggling the same life pressures as I am. Jobs, family, school runs, weekend sports. Yet, I can barely crawl while they streak ahead, earning their most deserved plaudits and basking in the satisfaction of having added to their catalogue.

Here I sit. 5 in the morning. A cold cup of tea and a clock on the wall above a gurney in a treatment room where I lay. The clock tick tocks, reminding me that my break is nearly over. I have to get back to my patient in the ICU. My notebook lays on the gurney beside me - open to a page that is fairly filled with scribbles of notes. Random thoughts that I've yet to organize into some semblance of order, for a story that is highly developed in some corner of mind. I just haven't yet found the key to unlock the door.



The light fades on my last great work - a work that has largely been ignored. A shitty ranking on Amazon and barely a sale or two in the past couple months does not a best seller make. I wonder whether this endeavor is even worth it anymore.

I am (figuratively) menstruating.

But I fear I am creatively spent.

And, for a restless mind such as mine, that is a dangerous thing.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Randomize ME Poses 5 Questions to Author Dean Mayes

As part of their 5 Question series, I was invited by the team at Randomize ME to be featured and interviewed this past week. 

The interview has just gone live here.

Hope you can stop by and take a look and post a comment at the site. 


Monday, July 8, 2013

Fist Look - Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle.

Accomplished author and dear friend Molly Ringle - a lady who I am proud to know through our mutual association with Central Avenue Publishing - has returned with her landmark new novel Persephone's Orchard, a thrilling re-imagining of the Greek legend of Persephone and Hades. 

The guff on the book is thus;

The Greek gods never actually existed. Did they? Sophie Darrow finds she was wrong about that assumption when she's pulled into the spirit realm, complete with an Underworld, on her first day at college. Adrian, the mysterious young man who brought her there, simply wants her to taste a pomegranate. 

Soon, though she returns to her regular life, her mind begins exploding with dreams and memories of ancient times; of a love between two Greeks named Persephone and Hades. But lethal danger has always surrounded the immortals, and now that she's tainted with the Underworld's magic, that danger is drawing closer to Sophie.

In exploring the rich body of Greek mythology in order to bring her ambitious project to life, Molly Ringle has stepped out of her comfort zone to craft a thrilling story that combines elements of that classic mythology, action and adventure and romance that is grounded in the present day Pacific North-West that Ringle portrays with great affection.

I was privileged to be able to act as a beta reader for Persephone's Orchard and as a result had the pleasure of reading the first full draft of the novel during it's development. My contribution focused mainly on the nuances of Adrian's character, his speech and background in New Zealand but I was immediately taken by the grandeur of the story which opens up through an unassuming beginning. The world which Molly Ringle creates is vivid and large and it quiet a delight to spend time in. 

Molly Ringle herself, explains the roots of the story and how she expanded on those to go in a different direction with the legend.

“The ancient myths usually tend to agree that Hades kidnapped Persephone, completely against her will, traumatizing her and breaking her mother Demeter’s heart,” says Ringle. “But ever since I was a teenager I wanted to see a version where Persephone loved Hades, and he loved her too. But in rewriting the myth that way, it became clear that if Hades wasn't the villain in the triangle, someone else would have to be—or nearly so.”

With an already significant buzz being generated around Persephone's Orchard, Molly Ringle can be assured of yet another runaway success to her already considerable stable of works. 

Ringle is the author of several novels including the award winning The Ghost Downstairs, Relatively Honest, and What Scotland Taught Me. She is best known for winning the Bulwer-Lytton Prize in 2010, which is a tongue-in-cheek contest sponsored by San Jose State University. Entrants are invited to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels – that is, deliberately bad. The contest is named for English novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of the much-quoted first line, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Persephone's Orchard is available now.

Purchase Persephone's Orchard here.

Connect with Molly Ringle here.

Tweet with Molly Ringle here.