The Best of Both Worlds

We seem to be a world that thrives on dichotomy. Pick a camp and stake your tent, damn it. One world or the other, there is no middle ground. Republican or Democrat. PC or Mac. Marvel or DC. Traditional publishing or independent, do it yourself.

But…wait for it, wait for it….wait. for. it…..

What about doing both? WHAT!? That’s crazy talk, that’s madness, that’s-that’s peanut butter in my chocolate. Uh-huh. See? It works. Hmmmm….peanut buttery goodness.

I just had a revelation, courtesy of freelance penmonkey Chuck Wendig. In a recent blog, he wrote about the death (or lack thereof) of the short story. While markets diminish and payouts decrease, the short story flounders for a home. However, ’tis not the end of the tale. Short story collections are beginning to grow AND they are doing it via self-publication. Writers are taking it upon themselves to put together their own compilations and market them. You can ePub for free and accomplish two things:

1) Get your work out there for others to read. Share those stories! What good are they withering away in your drawer, or in the limbo zone of your hard drive? Let us read them! Showcase your writing, your imagination.

2) Make more money than you would selling to a magazine. You are not going to get rich off your short story collection, but you DO stand a good chance of making more money than what the magazines will give you. Magazines are paying a pittance for your stories, if they take them at all. And it may not be that your writing is no good, or the story sucks. It may just be that there are less magazines, with less money, publishing less stories from an increasing army of writers.

So, if you believe in your work, if you think your stories are awesome and deserve to be heard, do something about it!! Pick up your harp, go to the inn and start singing your ballads!! Figuratively, please. Ballads and harps at the bar might lead you to getting your ass kicked, or at the very least, a beer poured on you.

I have had some success with short stories, but I’ve had my fair share of rejections. Most have come with invitations to submit something else to them, or with compliments coupled with one minute reason why that story didn’t work for them. I’m ok with that. I understand that and I’m not bitter, or losing sleep. It’s part of the business. BUT, I don’t have to keep playing that game. My novel, “Russell Sprout: Imagination Unleashed”, is being shopped the traditional route. I am seeking representation and traditional publishing. I believe that is the best way to seek the audience and market I want.

But with the short stories? They’re good, they’re fun, they need to be read. So, why not do that myself? And that’s what I am going to do! It seemed overwhelming at first, but it’s not that bad and there is a community of daring souls ready to help you along. The night I had the idea, I tweeted with some questions and got immediate answers and advice from Jane George and Steve Montano.

It CAN  be done. It can be fun and rewarding. There are people and resources to help you along. It might get you the attention you need to help go the traditional route on your novel. Writing is an adventure. It’s tearing down the fences and planting your flag.

So, look for my big, black tent in the muddy grounds between tradition and rebellion. While “Russell Sprout: Imagination Unleashed” makes its way through the publishing world, I’ll be standing out front on an old crate, peddling copies of “Rats in the Belfry” soon. Thirteen twisted tales. Thirteen stories I’m not content to let linger in the shadowy abyss.

Book Give Away and Character Naming Contest

What? Give away? What’s the catch?

That’s right, here at Crazy Joe’s Crazatorium, we’re giving away a couple books…..for FREE. Maybe I’m feeling guilty for not blogging in a few days, maybe I’ve finally solved the gnome problem in the front flower bed, maybe I’m just feeling overly benevolent. Or maybe, just maybe, there is a catch…..

SEE! I KNEW it!!! Heehee…you got me. You found me out. There is a catch, but it’s a fun catch. I need your help naming a side character. The best name (as selected by a panel of my children, with me holding supreme overlord final decision power AND a diabolical weather altering device. WHAT??) wins one of the two books I am giving away. I’ll draw randomly for the second book. And, if all eventually goes well, you’ll see the character you named published in “Russell Sprout: Imagination Unleashed”.

Come on, come on already…what are the books? Well, this time I’ve got:

The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield –  “A fundamental guide to crafting more effective scenes in fiction. In clear, simple language, award-winning author Sandra Scofield shows both the beginning and the seasoned writer how to build better scenes, the underpinning of any good narrative.”

First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner – “Award-winning author Karen S. Wiesner’s 30-day method shows you how to create an outline so detailed and complete that it actually doubles as your first draft….provides you with a sure-fire system to reduce time-intensive rewrites and avoid writing detours.”

Now, all you have to do is help me name Russell’s fifth-grade teacher at Reginald A. Warbenmanjensen elementary school. She’s kind but quirky, artsy and a former actress in off-Broadway plays. She is tremendously patient and kind of a hippie. She’s middle-aged, maybe late thirties, early forties. I’ve included a picture I use as a visual reference.

So, what do you say? Help me out? It’ll be fun for you and me. Just leave your suggestion as a comment. Tell your friends, your family, hobos you meet in the park. If this goes well, I’ll do more give aways in the future. Deadline is midnight, Sunday, June 5th. Please, one suggestion per visitor. I need at least 10 suggestions to have a good pick, otherwise I’ll just randomly draw for both books.

Thanks a bunch and I look forward to your suggestions!!

-JPM