Wednesday, 24 September 2014

social media

Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog

Trying To Embrace A Culture of Mediocrity

I came across some good advice in an article on using social media as a career advancer. I quote: “Social media is a tool that can unlock a world of potential.

Apparently I should “show [my] new connections that [I’m] the real deal by joining in on conversations related to [my] shared professional interests.

So, as I’m trying to pursue mystery writing as a potentially marketable venture this year, I did a search on “mystery writer and reader forums”. Immediately found a source where my peers were sharing their professional interests in the following thread:

     how to read a comapss

     dude, your link is not working on my side

     the link works for me

     check yr spelling

The same site invited me to become a “memeber”.

All this also followed up on a long conversation I had with my son a month or so back concerning making social media work for me as a marketing tool. Raising my profile. He is a video maker and has pursued this line with great success. I’ve found in general that the text industry doesn’t share the same sort of experience as video does on the Internet, but I still had to admit it was worth a try. And that’s how I found it. Very trying.

First off, it was surprisingly difficult to find any forums on the subject of writing or reading mysteries at all. I thought that at least would be a slamdunk. I never had any problems finding forums on UFOs. Which didn’t work out for me either, but that was for different reasons. (My brain has stopped glowing now …)

I finally found one — not the site I quoted above — that seemed relatively pertinent, but only one devoted uniquely to mysteries. However, once again, the tenor of the conversation didn’t entice me in as a group of my peers sharing their professional interests. These people obviously enjoy their chat, and I applaud them for that. But the issue did not engage me. Of course, the biggest obstacle to making social media work for me has always been having to be social.

Someone wrote a “cozy” with a ghost in it. What should the writer call it!? Is it a “cozy” or a “paranormal”? What’s wrong with “cozy with a ghost” someone suggested. Someone else: I consider ghosts “paranormal”, but maybe publishers don’t? Another party: “supernatural” is a synonym for “paranormal”. Yet another voice: you might find a better word than “supernatural”. Another: one’s dark and spooky, and the other has more twinkle lights.

I’m sorry … I didn’t really search out this forum to discuss with my peers our professional interest in “twinkle lights”.

So, with my wife’s help — she suggested searching for “intelligent forums” — I came across another general literature site that I thought might just be worth an afternoon’s experimentation. I went through the process of registering, posted an introductory bit on myself, replied to someone else’s introductory bit hoping to strike up a conversation, and posted on two threads already going concerning authors I like. Saying something about what went before, and trying to introduce some thoughts of my own.

A week later, no one’s replied to my introductory bit, the other new person didn’t hold up their end of the conversation, and the flow on the two author threads jumped over my remarks as if they weren’t there, the person commenting after me replying to the person who posted before me in both cases.

So in my efforts to raise my profile with my peers by “showing my new connections that I’m the real deal by joining in on conversations related to my shared professional interests” I’ve managed to render myself and my writing completely invisible!

I feel like a ghost in a cozy. Maybe I really do need twinkle lights.

The upshot was the next day I checked out a list of 65 online mystery publishers instead, and actually found 4 worth following up on. This is an unheard of return on an Internet search for publishers, if you’ve read my previous postings on the subject. So now instead of being ignored by my peers or delving into endless discussions on subcategorizing to death what I’d like to be writing, I’m concentrating on getting that first mystery manuscript into shape and getting it out there.

Hoping to unlock a real world of potential.



This week:

Continuing The Twitchy Gal with Chapter Thirteen posted on Monday and Chapter Fourteen coming on Friday, September 26th at:

I said there was a lot of sex in this book. Things get too hot for some characters to handle in Chapter Thirteen. Resulting in some intriguing fallout in Fourteen.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

summer reading part two

Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog

Summer Reading Part Two: In With Ten Days to Spare!

A few weeks back, I wrote my So What’s A Good Book to Read This Summer? entry. In which I lamented that I hadn’t been able to put together a good summer reading list this year. I ended the bit by saying I was putting my faith in The Emperor of Ocean Park, by Stephen L. Carter, which I had picked up in hard cover for 80 cents in a secondhand bookstore. And that I would write further, to say how that worked out for me …

Well, The Emperor was a terrific read, which I strongly recommend. But was it a great summer read? Providing that extra dimension of oneness with the season a truly hot summer book always manages?

Unfortunately, not so much.

To be honest, the summer wasn’t what it could have been this year in Winnipeg. We came off the worst winter in recorded history. And in Winnipeg, that’s really saying something. And it never really did get hot this year. It sort of felt more like an extended spring than summer at all. And now we’re moving into fall …

Add to that some personal frustrations with life in general, and it wasn’t a prime time for reading.

Then, finally, my wife and I went for a holiday last week, spending five days in the Whiteshell Provincial Park on the Manitoba/Ontario border, and it all came together! Not so much weatherwise — in fact we even had frost one night. But the summer state of mind finally arrived, and with it an appropriate summer novel. Defining to me that the missing quality in my reading to date so far this season was “delight”.

Our plan was to recharge. All we had on the agenda was sleeping, eating, reading, hiking, and taking pictures. If we did anything more than that on any of the five days, we’d be overachieving. And those five activities were precisely what we managed to fill our days with.

The hiking and picture taking were wonderful, as we covered some twenty kilometres of the Canadian Shield on foot. The eating was good, as we had a barbecue tossed in as part of the rental, and the beds were perfectly comfortable.

The difference between a serious and an amateur photographer.
We drove 265 kilometres, hiked another kilometre through the bush, went half a kilometre down a relatively inaccessible beach so my wife could find a spider web in a hole in the rocks no human had ever seen before to take a picture of. I pointed and shot her doing it.

And finally I found the right book for my missing summer read.

The surprising thing about the title finally is that it was a re-read, not a new read.

Both my wife and I are huge fans of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, which to date includes The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, and The Woman Who Died A Lot. It’s been some years since I started reading the books, and quite frankly, I know of no author who throws more brilliant ideas at you per page than Jasper Fforde. I read One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing eight or so years after I first read The Eyre Affair, and quite frankly, things had grown so complex by then I couldn’t always place what he was talking about well enough to really appreciate the novel.

My wife led the way, rereading the entire series just before I bought The Woman Who Died A Lot so it flowed properly for her. I decided I needed to do the same thing, and on a whim, threw The Eyre Affair in my luggage at the last moment as we packed to go.

What a great bit of lit serendipity!

The weather might have been cool, but once I got into the book, I knew I had to sit out on our lakeside porch and enjoy it in a proper outdoor maybe-not-so-summery-reading-session, but datewise, I was still in the season. And it all came together for me. The utter delight and sheer creativity of the novel mixing with the outdoors in someplace I should have been earlier this summer, obviously, but hey better late than never.

So — no doubt about it. Number One Summer Read for me in 2014: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

But I can’t wait until next summer to read Lost In A Good Book, or I’ll lose the thread of the ongoing story again. I’ll just have to fit in six more good reads in the next six months or so. And I hear there might even be a seventh in the works …



This week:

Continuing The Twitchy Gal with Chapter Eleven posted on Monday and Chapter Twelve coming on Friday, September 19th at:

Finally! It all comes together to reveal why this novel is the official sequel to Reality Fiction One

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

sex between the covers

Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog

Sex Between the Covers: How Much and How Often?

Didn’t finish writing a book I set in a library once that only stays in my mind for one scene. The older, male head librarian catches a kid viewing porn on the Internet on a library computer terminal and balls him out for it. Finishes the lecture with “For God’s sake, go check out a book and read about it like we always had to!”

A question I’ve been facing since I took up writing full time is how much sex to put in a book anyway? I decided to do some research, to measure how frequently the subject should come up. How much time do people really spend addressing the subject any given day? How often do people have sex anyway?

Typing in “average number of times Canadians have sex per week”, I found a forum that provided answers that were, well … conflicting:

     I'm not sure what average is but me and my husband do it twice a day...usually. We 
     have the same schedule and no kids so lunch time is awesome.

     Per week? How about per month????

     twice a week with my husband and 4 a week with my boy friend.

I dug deeper, deciding not to limit my research to Canadians. Again, I found conflicting results.

One site says the global average is 109 times per year.

Which works out to 2.1 times per week (the 2 I get, but how do you have sex 0.1 times a week?) Or once every 3.3 days. (Set up your day planners now!)

Another site said 1 in 5 couples live in sexless marriages. That’s gotta skew the average …

Another one said 16% of couples do it 2-3 times per week, while another said 34% of couples do it in the same range, 2-3 times per week. More than twice as many. Maybe the second source includes the extra 0.1 in the 2.1 global weekly average, while the first doesn’t? You have to think it would be difficult to measure accurately.

The greater consensus of sites I checked settled on 1 or 2 times per week on average.

But they only looked at married couples. Which seems to be rather an oversight, to my mind.

Then ultimately I realized that to truly determine the weight I should allow the subject in my writing, maybe I should be asking how much time do people spend thinking about sex as well as actually doing it? Trying to extrapolate on a metareasonal basis from my research, it seems to me certain people obviously think and act upon the subject a lot, while others, enh … not so much. Defined by natural biology, or relational circumstances? Obviously a situational conclusion. Determined mostly no doubt by who you’re with in any given situation.

So what did I decide?

I better not leave it out.

The best question obviously should be “How much do people want to read about sex?” A quick look at any bestseller list containing the words “Fifty Shades” clearly answers that. I’ve never thought it was accidental that the one fiction book I managed to sell to a publisher I hooked with a query segment that had the most sex in the entire book.

So there are obviously good reasons to include sex in any given novel in some capacity. Either people looking for it, responding to stimuli in that direction regardless of whatever other crises they have going on in their lives right then, talking about it, making contact, and occasionally, by gosh even having it.

In relation to this issue, I have to say that The Twitchy Gal, which I am posting as we speak on the site has got more sex in it than any other book I’ve ever written and how many people reading this didn’t bother to finish this sentence before they went to check that claim out?

Sexual possession is one of the main themes of the book, and to illustrate it properly I had to contrast it with normal sexual behaviour, the 2.1 times a week kind. Which meant I had to figure out a way to write those 2 encounters a week, plus define that 0.1 adequately somehow, in a manner that quite frankly I was comfortable being quite frank about.

The most important thing I decided was never losing the emotional connection between the participants as well as the physical. You need both — the emotional and the physical. And depending on the circumstances, intimacy, doubt, uncertainty, passion, anger, fear, excitement, reticence, a complete lack of inhibition, humour, sentiment, objectivity, delight, satisfaction, conflict, resolution, tragedy, drama, sweetness, experimentation, content, innocence, raging hormones, licentiousness, interruption, abandon, resolution, focus, forgetfulness, apprehension … and I could go on.

Ah. Maybe that’s why you need to have sex in novels.



This week:

Chapter Seven of The Twitchy Gal posted on Tuesday, with Chapter Eight coming on Friday, August 29th at:

In which Mr. Snuff wanders off naked into the woods, and we meet Clare. An even twitchier gal …