Self-Publishing & Writing

Observations & Advice from a Self-Published Author.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Imagination in a world of Sameness

Big Macs are bad for more ways than you might think

The nice thing about fast food is that I can walk into any MacDonald's in the country, and my burger will taste the same in Washington as it will in Michigan, or any of the other states. This is probably the single greatest factor in the appeal of such places. The problem with that is that a Big Mac will also as likely to kill you in Washington a it is will in Michigan. Just bcause you can get someting the same way, doesn't make it a good thing. An attractive veneer of sameness may be a cover for a culture of decayed imagination.

Let's talk a second about the ability to imagine powerfully in a culture which conditions us to accept a factory stamped version of reality, shall we?

Why is it, that when we find ourselves confronted by a product of genuine imagination and creativity, that we can scarce walk away unchanged by it? Is it that it's cool? Probably not, since the things which usually carry the label of cool are often the result of an industry (publishing, music, film, etc...) which seeks to mass produce attractive product based on waves of consumer interest. Oh, Vampires are in right now? Let's reward people who can generate skads of material about sparkly vampires and in so doing, milk the consumer of their dollars.

This is the driving force behind popular culture. It may have been that there was an original, imaginitive, creative iteration of something, but it soon gets buried in a pile of facsimilies which are only the shadows of imagination and creativity.

This is about control. Who can control the market by inundating it with what is popular, and thus wrest control from someone else's hands? Sameness controls by limiting understading of possibilities. It only allows us to see Option A or Option B.

What imagination does, is to provide a work whose effect is to break the spell of sameness and to awaken us to other possibilities. "Wait," it says, "but there's also Options C through Z." When confronted with Imagination we are shaken out of the sleep of sameness so that we can see a broader spectrum of reality than we could before.

Sameness is motivated by reductionism, which is at its core a celbration of ignorance. Reductionism reduces understanding of reality to simplistic. This means it must by necessity choose to ignore aspects of reality's complexity...hence "ignorance."

The difference between Control and Discipline

Imagination however, does not rely on an impulse to control others, but to have self-control, to be disciplined in your chosen medium of creation. Self-control, or discipline, is necessary to imagination because if we are not aware and in control of ourselves and the ways in which we produce within our chosen mediums, we will default to whatever firstcomes to mind...which is almost always a replication of something we've already seen, heard, experienced from somewhere else (i.e. it will not be our own but a shadow of someone else's work).

Creativity and Imagination, then, are not most often about free spirited, uninhibited creation or production because these things without self-control will generate more and more sameness. They will lack skill and refinement. hey will be untrained.

This is the opposite of someone who is practiced and seems to produce something on a wim when in fact they are producing out of years of training and experience which has given them a sort of "second nature," as we call it.

Lack of discipline and skill appreciates sameness because it is easy to digest and requires little effort to understand...because it's shallow. Reductionism breeds a culture of low value.

Be Imaginitive

Why try to be imaginative? Because if we don't, we lose something: vibrant humanity. If you've ever taken a look at our culture and been appalled at the character traits you've seen in it, it's not because people have no morals. People have no morals because they have shrunken imaginations that demand sameness, which in turn breeds selfishness, which in turn breeds skillessness, which breeds more and more sameness, etc.

A powerful imagination is required to wake ourselves and others from the slumber of "blah" life. And when we wake and look around we'll see the decay in the imagination of our culture and be made sick by it. But, in doing so, we'll be motivated to do somethin by imagine deeply and subvert and destroy the brokenness around us, to be replaced by vibrant and creative expressions of goodness.

Didn't you kow that what you create matters?

You do now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Self-Publishing, a Necessary Phenomenon, not a Fad.

The Way Things Were

Once upon a time there were Gatekeepers for the publishing industry. They were the "Publishers." Some were big, some were moderate in size, some were dinky. All of them had the same basic flaw: they could only do so much, only publish so many books by so many authors. The assumption was that those who got publishing contracts (the Holy Grail of the publishing world) had "made it," and were the best of the best.

In reality, that wasn't always true. Many published authors from these Publishing companies were in fact, quite good. But there were others who were just okay, and others who were no good at all. There were some who were no better (perhaps even way worse!) than some of the undiscovered, un-published authors. As time ran forward this became the accepted reality, flaws and all.

During this period of publishing, those who were on the outside of the gates of the publishing industry didn't have much choice. They could either pay a substantial sum of money to a "vanity press" (a company that would format/print your book for you but at a sizeable cost and only if you placed a large order for copies of your own book), or the author could just forget about it and go do something else.

Things Change

When digital technology took over the civilzed world it brought with it an unprecedented opportunity: Authors could side-step the gatekeepers and use a Print-On-Demand company. They'd pay a fee and have their book put together and available for orders of any size at any time. Hence "on demand."

Then there was the e-reader. Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.

With this new piece of technology, authors didn't have to even print their books to sell them. Upload them onto Amazon or Smashwords or where ever else, and "TA-DA"! The gatekeepers were side-stepped yet again.

Fad? Hardly.

Some called Self-Publishing a fad, something that would eventually pass off into the night like a dream, never to return and hardly to be remembered. but this has not been the case. More and more of us have discovered this beautiful process as a way to at last vent our creative energies and share our stories and ideas with the wider world around us.

Anything that truly hands the reins of creative power over to the creative person is going to propel the industries of creativity forward. This is what Self-Publishing has granted to us. This is why I love it and will continue to do it as long as the creative process continues to surge through my being.

And this is why I will help others to do it as well. I started Fresh Page Consulting because I know what it is like to try to figure out the world of Self-Publinng all by myself. For a long time I wished I had someone to help guide me in the process. Now there is somebody.


I've been down that road. I've been on it for almost seven years now.

I can help you.

I can walk with you from manuscript to printed and digitally downloadable Book.

I'm not one of the Gatekeepers.

I'm a Gate Opener.

For more infor mation go to the Fresh Page website. Or, e-mail me at

I hope to hear from you soon.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Turning a "Fresh Page."

Hey everyone,

Well it's official! I've started my own Self-Publishing business, called Fresh Page Consulting. I provide consulting, coaching, and I put books together for people. Trade Paperbacks and e-books are the name of the game at Fresh Page. We can do one, the other, or both at the same time. I can also provide basic or advanced cover design, and proofreading.

If you or someone you know has written a book but don't know what to do next, I can help you get your book into print and available for Kindle, NOOK, or other ebook readers. Maybe you've been rejected or ignored by Publishers and agents. That's not really a problem for me.

I've been writing and Self-Publishing since 2005. I've had to navigate the confusing world of Self-Publishing and thankfully came out the other side relatively unscathed. But I've also come out the other side armed with an arsenal of know-how and I won't charge you an arm and a leg.

I'd love to help you make your publishing dreams a reality. I'll be watching for you.

Here's the Website.

Here's the Facebook.

P.S. Here are some books I've put together.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mindin' My Own Bidness

Okay, so I'm thinking about something.

Shocker, I know.

The thing which currently occupies my thoughts is starting up a small side business. Specifically, I'm thinking of starting up a small company that will offer services to authors in order to help them self-publish their books -- a Self-Publishing Consulting & Services business.

I just got thinking about how much I love putting my own books together for publication and then I thought about how there are many others out there who are just starting out and haven't a clue as to how to get their books out on the market aside from spending big bucks...and I won't charge big bucks. Little-to-medium bucks, yes, but not big ones.

So if you're looking for a Self-Publishing Consultant, I could be your man. I'm putting together service packages right now which include formatting, converting files, cover creation, etc.

The more I think about this, the more excited I get. This could be good, I think.

I'll keep you posted on developments.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The First Confessor - Terry Goodkind Self-Publishes!

Okay, so, this is big news.

Terry Goodkind, a favorite author of mine, and a New York Times Bestselling author at that, is going Self-Pub for he next book: The First Confessor: The Legend of Magda Searus.

He hit the scene in 1994 with his brilliant first novel, Wizard's First Rule, which incidentally broke a record by being won in a major bidding war between three major traditional publishers. Since then he has written 11 novels and one novella, all of which have done very well.

Now he's doing the one thing I've been waiting a while now for some major author to do: Self-Publish a fullscale novel.

A lot of authors are tinkering with the idea and they're publishing short stories. Dean Koontz has done it, Stephen King has done it, but none of them have done what Terry is about to do. I think this is going to set a new precedent.

I think this is a good thing and I'm very interested to see what the results are going to be.

The new book will be released solely as an e-book on all the major platforms: Kindle, Nook, etc. It will retail for only $9.99, except the first week when it's $8.99.

Do yourself a favor and head to Terry's Facebook page, Twitter page, or his website. And check out the book when it comes out. It should be a good entry point for his writing as it's not in the middle or at the end of a series. It's related to the larger world and characters he's created but it takes place a long time in the story's past.

And, as always, don't forget to check out my e-book novel A Ghost of Fire on Amazon for $2.99 as well.

Below is the Cover image for The First Confessor.

Covers - A Picture is worth a Thousand Headaches

I'm in the process of choosing a cover for A Ghost of Water, book 2 of my series of Paranormal Thrillers. And to say that it's causing me some frustration is putting it lightly.

Let's get something out of the way, shall we? "Don't judge a Book by its Cover."

Nonsense. Sheer and utter drivel is all that is...or at least when it comes to actual books.

In a book store the average person spends 8 seconds looking at the front cover and about 15 seconds reading the back cover. And, for the most part, decisions to buy books are made on the book cover alone. I know, I know, there are people who actually crack a book open and flip through a table of contents and may even sample a bit of the writing itself. Weirdos.

I like to do it myself.

But I have to admit that if the cover doesn't draw me I won't open it to give it a chance, unless it's from an author I already enjoy and/or respect. And odds are that if it's an author I already like it's because once upon a time I saw one of their book covers in a store or on Amazon and I was drawn to it.

Covers matter.

Hence my ordeal.

So I've generated several options using CreateSpace's (that's Amazon's Self-Publishing's great!) cover generator. Some of them have been good, some...well...not so much.

The trick for me (and countless other Self-Published Authors) is to make our covers look professional, and not like they're "Self-Published."

Here are some tips:

1.) Make sure the finished cover will reproduce well in Grayscale. The rational for this is if you ever want the book reviewed in some kind of periodical that only prints grayscale images (a newspaper, let's say) then a clean, grayscale version of your cover image will go a long way to helping you sell copies.

2.) Don't Clutter the Cover. Don't make the cover image too busy because it's a turn-off for buyers. Simple is best. The fewer words/images the better. Always. This goes especially for the back cover copy (the words on the Back Cover that tell people what your book is about). Back Cover copy should hover around or under 80 words. You've already written the book once, don't make us read the whole thing on the cover.

3.) Blurbs & Testamonials. If you can find someone else who is an expert in the area about which you're writing and you can coax them to first read your book (or a sample) and then give you an endoresement, this is a good thing.

4.) Colors Matter. Here's a quick one. Red sells. Why? Who cares, it just does. Just don't go overboard with it.

That's about all I have for you today. I'll leave you with one of the potential cover images. The photo credit for the image goes to my good friend, Leslie, who took the shot while recently in Mexico.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Interests of Conflict

Conflict is the engine of “story.”

Without forces of antagonism to oppose him/her, a story’s protagonist (main character) has no reason whatsoever to populate the pages we read and more importantly the ones we write.

If the life of your main character is even and balanced the whole way through the story you’re writing, then you’ve done something wrong because there is no worthwhile quest for him or her to participate in. If I crack open a book and the character just sort of floats through the tale unhindered in any way I begin to wonder why I bothered opening the book in the first place.

There are a number of reasons for this, so I’ll share a few of them here.

1.) A character that faces no conflict will display no depth. If we only know what the character is like at rest and cannot see what he/she is like under pressure we intuitively know that we haven’t gotten to know that character. We don’t understand them, haven’t become close to them, and consequently we can’t care about them. I have nothing invested in a character I haven’t gotten to know and therefore why would I bother to hang around and see what happens to them at the end of the story? Conflict is what will make your character multi-dimensional and fully realized on the page and in the reader’s heart and mind.

2.) Nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict. Things may happen but they are not proper story events without negatively charged forces behind them.

Frank went out and bought an ice cream cone from the corner store. He ate it. Then he walked home. The End.

Things happened in that story. Frank did things. There was a beginning, a middle, and an end. But nobody cares about this story because it doesn’t matter. Why? There’s no conflict. Nothing opposes him from getting what he wants, he obtains the object of his desire, and then he goes back to where he started leaving the reader to say, “So what?”

Now, imagine reading a book that has a lot of this kind of thing going on in it. How long are you going to stick with that book before getting fed up with it and dropping it off at the Goodwill? Not long.

The events of your story need to alternate between positive and negative charges. The only way to accomplish this is through the introduction of conflict. Conflict (negative) gives your character something to overcome it (positive).

3.) Conflict is the only way to bring about “absolute, irreversible change,” which, according to Robert McKee (“Story” seminar & book) and countless others is an essential aspect of the end of every story. If things are exactly the same at the beginning as at the end then the reader isn’t going to say, “Wow, what a great story.” They’re going to say, “Eh, whatever.” Restoring balance to life is one thing; making life better at the end than it is at the beginning is another.

Both “Good” and “Bad” things need to be lost along the way and replaced by better things. Both “Good” and “Bad” are the enemies of the “Great.” These thing which need to be lost over the course of the story can be anything (friends, lives, beliefs, objects, etc.) but they need to be lost as part of the story’s conflict.

The principle is this: Put your character(s) through hell. Take them through to the other side of it. Show us how they are better for having done so.

Hope that’s helpful.