out of the ashes

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yikes...It's Friday!

I received this, this morning. I chuckled. Liz Jasper's book is very good..okay should be ranked above mine. I'm okay with that. But look who they put below me! Yep, Stephen King, my hero! Well, truthfully, I think I've been writing longer than him :) I've hesitated buying his latest book, but I dunno'...maybe I will. Good Lord, look what he's priced it at! He must have a better agent than I have, lol.

"Of course you're not going to put it up for $.99, Stephen. Are you nuts? Do you seriously think you can pay your rent GIVING away your brilliant work? You go write. I'll take care of the marketing for you...

"What?

"No, no, no. I just told you. Go do what you do best. Just WRITE!"

***

Patrick Sean Lee,

Amazon.com has new recommendations for you based on items you purchased or told us you own.
Underdead In Denial (Underdead Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]
by Liz Jasper

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Eighth grade science teacher Jo Gartner is back after a deceptively quiet summer. No Vampires.No Cops.No murder investigation.Apart from the hormonal teens she has to deal with everyday and her sensitivity to sunlight... Read more
Dear Diary, A Journal From Hell [Kindle Edition]
by Patrick Lee

Price: $0.99


Terence is sentenced to Hell. He has his very own demon, his very own hovel of a house, but he has no mattress.One day he ambles outside to search for "intelligent life" and a mattress store. Along the way he meets... Read more
Blockade Billy
by Stephen King

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From New York Times bestselling author Stephen King comes the haunting story of Blockade Billy, the greatest Major League baseball player to be erased from the game. Even the most die-hard baseball fans... Read more
Farsighted [Kindle Edition]
by Emlyn Chand

Price: $2.99


Alex Kosmitoras's life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when... Read more
Dead to Writes (The Cassandra Ellis Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]
by Cathy Wiley

Price: $2.99


Cassandra Ellis is a soon-to-be published author, days away from achieving her lifetime goal. But before she can celebrate, before she can even have her first book signing, she's brought in to Baltimore City Police... Read more
The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel
by Stephen King

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For those discovering the epic bestselling Dark Tower series for the first time—and for its legions of dedicated fans—an immensely satisfying stand-alone novel and perfect introduction to the series.Beginning... Read more

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Blog Appearance

The world is a big place. The reading public is vast. I've been crazy curious lately about how others in the indie market are doing. Their experiences, successes and failures, dreams and dashings of hope.

I invited Nadine Hays Pisani to visit my blog and tell you about her particular, phenomenal success. Congratulations, Nadine...take it away.





Never, Never, Never Give In
I repeated Winston Churchill’s speech after each rejection I received from a publisher. Sometimes I screamed it; sometimes I softly repeated it under my breath. But I said it, again and again…because I knew they were wrong.
Deciding to put your work out there, without the guidance of a publisher is daunting. Just learning how to convert your Word file to an e-format (which inevitably transforms the manuscript into Egyptian hieroglyphics) can send one cowering in a dark closet. But this is when one must dig deep, and this is where I repeated Churchill’s speech over and over again in my head.
When I released Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, & Living the Zero Hour Work Week, I was happy if I sold a few a month. I wanted someone to read my work, laugh at it, and make someone’s commute on the subway a little lighter. Technology had made it possible for me to get my work out so why wouldn’t I want to try this avenue? It seemed ridiculous that I should follow a publishing model that was slowly becoming obsolete. Either I was going to be ahead of the curve, or fall behind. So I took the leap and uploaded it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
After a couple months, I realized I was selling a lot. It was nice, but still had no expectations of anything more than that. Then CNN called (okay, they emailed me, but for dramatic purposes pretend I have a receiver to my ear). A reporter loved the book, and wanted to profile me on CNN.com.
Yes…it happened. I know because I quickly collapsed on my bed and started to dry heave. Apparently, I respond to good news like one does after a night of Jagermeister shots.
After that article, my book shot up to number one in three Amazon categories. It was a dizzying time for me, since I was never number one in anything. It seemed as if overnight I became a writer, something I was sure I was all along. The people decided it, not a literary agent overloaded with 300 query letters in their inbox.
However, there were bumps in the road. I had to take down the book and hire an editor to proofread it. No matter how many times you read your manuscript, or have your friends look for errors, nothing replaces a professional. Trust me on this. I ignored this advice and felt horrible that I sold copies that were not given the 100% attention it deserved.
I often wonder if I bought into the old model and waited for a publisher to decide whether I was worthy. It’s a good thing I didn’t and it’s a good thing I never gave in. I’m already working on my second book, this time with links to pictures and videos.
Technology opened a door for me, and I walked through it. It’s pretty good on the other side, perhaps you should join me.
Nadine was born in Elizabeth New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. She lives in Costa Rica with her husband and dog, Clementine. When not writing, you can find her at the beach, on the back of a scooter, or frantically tossing scorpions out of her bed. She shares her weekly adventures on her blog: www.happierthanabillionaire.com


www.happierthanabillionaire.com
facebook.com/happierthanabillionaire
twitter.com/happierwithless

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday, January 21

Ohmagod, where has the month gone?
Maddy's going to be on Jay Leno.
Trish is going to rewrite a few things in Cinderblock Walls (I hope:)
It's warm back home in Denver...chilly and rainy here.
My latest grandson has grown another foot! Okay, a few centimeters. Cyn is still sighing (I'm betting) "Thank you, Lord. How DID I do it?"
Jazz is stil writing from her heart. God love her.
And...oh. I misspelled the title at Createspace last night..."The Redemotion of Marvin Fuster, Book One." Rats!

I am working on Book Two of "Dear Diary, a Journal From Hell", "Dear Diary, a Journal From...Purgatory"
I announced that it would be up and live on February 1st. Deadlines are good, but WHAT was I thinking!!!!!???

Back to work.
Here's a little sample.

Teresa held my arm tightly as we cleared the vaporous entrance this morning, and both of us stopped dead in our tracks, not anxious to proceed once the panorama made itself visible a few hundred yards in. To either side of us there were at first low cliffs of rocks and boulders, with no vegetation of any sort growing around them. Well, that is not surprising. What flora could possibly survive the gnashing of those rocks? You see, the boulders moved constantly; back and forth against one another as though they were either surprised by the sudden appearance of two travelers, or trying to work themselves free of the soil that bound them. Not in Hell—certainly never on Earth—has the mineral landscape seemed to possess life. But then this is neither Earth nor Hell. My guess is, since the staircase begins at the edge of that doomed kingdom and extends infinitely upward—toward Heaven???—these landings and rooms must be…well, Purgatory. That’s what I’ll call them anyway.
(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Agency

You learn as you go.
Last March I sent out a query for Marvin. Last March I might have sent out several queries for Marvin. Gosh, I've lost track of their number over the years. Is there an agent anywhere whom I haven't contacted? I can't imagine there isn't. But I received a reply a few days ago to this one particular query to an agent, a reply that made me smile a bit. No, she didn't want to read the entire manuscript, but she did say there were some lovely passages in the writing. Good luck, too.
The good luck part I glossed over. Her small, personal comment about portions of it being lovely I read several times.

Many times, after having received, "Thanks, but not for us..." I said to myself, "You're no good. This is proof." The next day I would find myself saying, "This is brilliant writing. Read again what you wrote in Chapter..." The next query reply flies in a few weeks later and I find myself saying, "You're no good..." What I never found myself saying was, "Give up." If the world doesn't believe in Marvin, I do.

I had an agent intern write me a personal note...I don't know, six? eight months ago? She nicely said, "Your story begins here. I suggest you cut the opening paragraphs. Get right to scene." I think she was a graduate of Columbia. Maybe Harvard.
I rewrote that first chapter (number six thousand rewrite) as per her suggestion. The next agent thought I should open with description. But that other one just said...

Both were very nice to have even commented on a personal level. I know they receive thousands of queries each day.

Publishing and agency are businesses, not art. Mixed in there, I'm positive, is what hits an agent in the gut. THIS is special. I'm remembering, though, reading The Cabin (I changed that last word in the title, not wanting to offend the author). Truly one of the worst books I've ever read that hit the N.Y. Times Bestseller List. And stayed there for umpteen weeks.

This is a business.

I've written my last query letter. Admittedly I was never any good at them anyway:) And really, I'm not angry or upset about all those rejections I received that are plastered on the wall behind my computer! I really understand the dilemma agents and houses find themselves facing every day. They have to eat, too. I'm not revising Marvin, though, ever again. He went over that hill in the Epilogue, and he didn't look back. I've gone over that hill, too, and I'm not looking back. It's time to take Terence and Teresa through Purgatory...and then up to Heaven. I have faith that in time, through my own efforts and with the help of my friends, Marvin will see his day. It's time to create a world for Terence and his love, Teresa, now. Quite a few people have expressed an interest in their journey already. That makes me say, "You ARE good. Here's your proof."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Off to Laguna Beach in a bit, but...

I received this in my gmail inbox. I'd forgotten all about that contest! I was really pleased:)
There were two "winners"; a First Place entry, and The Judges Choice. So I did very well, I think.
Hats off to Val who was right there beside me with her entry!



From: AuthorStand Editors
To: Patrick Lee
Subject: Congratulations!
Message: Mr. Lee,
We are pleased to let you know that your story, Sarah's Canticle, has received an Honorable Mention in AuthorStand's 6th Short Story Contest!

We received over 700 entries and only 9 Honorable Mentions were awarded.

To see the full list of winners, please go to: http://www.authorstand.com/writing-contests/short-story-6--judging.aspx

Congratulations and we hope to see more of your work in future contests!
Sincerely,
The AuthorStand Team

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Smiling...

All right. Where was I? I was going to tell you a story. Here goes.

A long, long time ago—I think the early 70s—I was totally into C.S. Lewis’ writing. I read all of his books back then in this kind of fanatical rush. Two in particular captured me in a way that very few others ever have. Maybe it was my age, the times. I don’t know. The first was The Great Divorce, probably my all-time Lewis favorite. I still go back periodically to reread it. I needn’t tell you about its structure, setting, or its characters, but I will comment on its theme. Salvation. Now, I’m not a Christian, although back then I guess I was. But it always amazed me—knocked me out—his view on forgiveness and entering Heaven. “We” can go at any time. At least that’s how I interpret the theme. We can enter. It’s our choice; not God’s or Jesus’ or Mary’s or Saint Peter’s (lol). The gates are open, but there’s a catch to getting in. We have to relinquish all our “rights” to ourselves in favor of God’s knowledge of what we were created to be, and what it’s possible for us to be. We simply cannot be in His presence as we exist in our present states of spirit.
The man who loves theological books and discourse for the sake of books and discourse. His self-obsession that ruled (they’re all dead, you know) his life and will rule his afterlife. The man who carries the demon (dragon) of lust on his shoulder. He wants badly to give it up; let the angel slay it, but it is so “dear” to him, so in control whenever it whispers in his ear.
Who in the crowd will become real at last?

The other book was “The Screwtape Letters”. A marvelous communication between Lucifer and one of his demons sent to ensnare a soul on earth. Clever spirit! Paraphrasing; “If cards will do the trick, use cards!”
In both books, it isn’t what we believe so much as it is what consumes us, that mortally harms our spirits, that will not enable us to enter into God’s presence. Looking through the glass darkly.

The upshot of this as far as my writing goes is this :) I wrote a book back then, sometime in the 70s. A pure knock-off of Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters...although at the time I structured it differently, and really didn’t realize I was trying so hard to mimic his profound apologetics. I failed miserably, of course. He was a brilliant mind and a first-rate writer. I wasn’t, lol.
But, I completed it. I still have the draft, typed on my old Underwood typewriter. It’s kitschy and charming in its way. Terence is sentenced to hell. While there he sends letters “back home” to his father. Terence wants badly to get out, and so takes off on a journey to find Lucifer at the center of hell and demand his release. To make a long story short, he makes it out in the end, although I don’t remember if he finally confronted his moral dilemma in order to accomplish it. I don’t even recall where I had him winding up, if anywhere!

I set the story aside for years and years, and gave it little thought until a contest was announced at Bookrix last year. "Compose a story in diary form. Anything you want, but it has to be structured in thirty separate daily entries." It hit me as I pondered what I could write that a revamp of my earlier story--a resurrection of the original “Letters From Hell”--could be rewritten in diary form instead of letters. And so I began. I kept Terence, and added Teresa. I started the story in a very humorous vein, but quickly settled into writing about the journey itself that Terence and Teresa make…their back stories, a bit, too. Terence has no idea why he was sent to hell...but he will discover the reason at the end of his stay.

Coming to the Enlightened City. The choices both he and Teresa make. The festivals honoring the seven deadly sins. The Cathedral of Lust. I ripped through the last half, the images coming swiftly and clearly into my writer’s head, and onto the screen. Thank God for Word! I was extremely happy with it when I wrote "The End", and entered it into the contest, positive it would win first place. In a moment of “conscience”, I pulled it from the contest (thank you Laz). Perhaps it was arrogance on my part—allowing lesser-known, younger writers, a chance to get into the top ten, go on to the independent judging, and then win the prize. I hope it was truly only a moment of altruism. Anyway, it remained visible at my book page at Bookrix until recently.

In late November something new struck me. Screw publishers, put it up at Amazon. Val had several of hers listed there, and they were doing well. I swallowed my pride (is pride the first of the deadly sins?:) I created the “book”, hoping someone would read it, beyond my wife, my mother and father and Aunt Bessie. I had been writing all these years and had only one story published…that by a very small, obscure magazine. I received $12.00 in payment, lol. I have never cashed the check.

Sales were slow at first, and I thought, “Yeah, that makes sense. Just another dumb dream of succeeding in my writing.” But by mid-December something strange began to happen. Dear Diary, a Journal From Hell began to take off. Thirty-three downloads on Christmas Eve alone. Okay, lots of people got e-readers for Christmas. But, sales were consistent, and growing by the day. It is still going strong, and I’m actually going to get a fairly decent check from Amazon one of these days. That isn’t the really good thing, though. The REALLY good thing is that many, many people have bought it, and I assume enjoyed it. Enjoyed my story. It isn’t Hemingway, Tolstoy, Maugham. It might not even be “Joe Smith” who writes marvelous thrillers and is selling the hell out of them at Amazon. But, I think Dear Diary is good; very good, and I’m proud of it. Maybe I’m gaining an audience, even lacking totally in marketing expertise. I’m so stoked and thankful. If there are few other things I’ve succeeded at in my life, I’m going to succeed at creating stories, and that means not looking at what is, but rather at what can be if I don’t give up.

Thanks everyone, and I guess, thank you, God. Maybe you read it and liked it, too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dear Blog

Hang on, I'm going to tell you a story. It's pretty long, though, and I'm going to be so late for work if I start it now :). It's interesting, I think. I'll be back. Don't go away!