Category Archives: publishing

Silly Sunday Stuff

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I made a choice, long about 1980 or so.  And I have not regretted that choice.  I became a teacher instead of the writer/artist I thought I wanted to be.  And the more I look back on it now, if I had gone the writer route back then, I could’ve eventually become an author like Terry Brooks who wrote the Shannara books.  I might’ve even been as good as R.A. Salvatore whose fantasy adventure stories have reached the best seller list.  Back then, in the 1980’s I could’ve eventually broke into the business and been successful.  Even as late as when Frank McCourt broke onto the literary scene with his memoir, Angela’s Ashes in 1996, I might’ve been able to transition from teacher to writer the way he did.  But I chose to keep going with a teaching career that enthralled me.

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Publishing and the literary scene is changing now.  And it is no longer possible for someone like me to break into the big time.  I am an author who has come aboard a sinking ship.

But I have stories to tell.  They have lived inside me for more than thirty years.  And I am scrambling now to get them told before my crappy old body completely betrays me and makes the chance go away.  I will get them told… even if no one ever listens.

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And there are some advantages to doing it the way I have done it.  It is, and always has been, about the people in my life.  My wife, my children, my students, my co-workers, my cousins by the dozens, my little town in Iowa…  they are the people in my stories.  My stories are true to life, even if they have werewolves and fairies and living gingerbread men and nudists in them.  I live in a cartoon world of metaphor and surrealism, after all.  I would not have had the depth of character-understanding in my stories without my experiences as a teacher.  And I really don’t have to worry about the whole marketing thing any more.  I am not on that treadmill.  I do not have to be aware of what the market is looking for.  If my writing ever turns a profit, I won’t live long enough to see it anyway.  And that has never been what it is all about.

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I can do anything I please with my stories.  They belong to me.  I do not owe the world anything.  What I give you now in this blog and in my books, is given for love, not profit.  I can even write a pointless blog post about Sunday blather and illustrate it with Tintin drawings by Herge. And you can’t stop me.  And, hopefully… you don’t even want to.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, NOVEL WRITING, publishing, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing, writing humor

Cutting Losses

Sometimes going forward will set you too far back.  Sometimes the only direction you can take is down and out.  I am not at that point yet.  But it is now on the horizon.

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Am I sounding suicidal?  I hope not.  I was glooming about publishing and books that I am trying to make live.  I have paid Page Publishing practically all the payments I stupidly agreed to, and yet, I am stuck in an endless loop of editing where they ignore my emails and appear to be proceeding without me.  The clueless case manager sends me an email saying, “Go ahead, take all the time you need to edit” after I have already emailed them the final instructions and requested the process continue to the next step.  I re-sent that email and asked them if they have gotten my last email.  No responses, though.  What the hell am I paying them money for?  I’m editing the book myself.  Their proof-reader makes changes that I have to change back to the original, and then they don’t even want to take the next step?

I admit that my illustrations for this rant are only pictures saved for other posts that never got used before.  Like this cool Kingdom Hearts one;

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But I am not ready to kill the project yet and hire a lawyer to sue the publisher to get my money back.  I want to see this book, Magical Miss Morgan, live.

And I need to see Snow Babies live too.

But from here on we go with the cheapest possible options.  Free if possible.

Here is another Wizard Donald to look at while I continue to stew about publishing problems;

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I have always tried to make the best of what I already have.  I have always lived by the idea that other people are all my equals, even the really stupid ones, and I have nothing that I am not obliged to share.

I have little left besides wit and wisdom.  And I have tried hard to share that here.  But I sometimes feel like I am alone and pointless.

But the captain always goes down with his ship.  And if my ship is sinking, then at least I will soon know if there are mermaids down there willing to teach me to breathe underwater, or possibly not.

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The Moaning Writer

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I am not Charles Dickens.  I wish I were.  I want to be a writer of wry humor, social commentary, and have an effect on the soul of the world I live in.  The way he was.  Heck, Dickens invented Christmas the way we do it now (with considerable help from department stores like Macy’s) by writing A Christmas Carol.  But the chances for that are growing ever dimmer.

The small publisher with which I was associated, and who gave me a contract to publish Snow Babies, has died.  The business folded while my novel was still in the editorial phase.  PDMI Publishing was a worthy group of writers and entrepreneurs who in a different time might’ve gone far.  I know by reading some of their works that they had talent.  But between the ferocious grip of the mega publishers and the waves upon waves of self-published stuff on Amazon, real writers with talent are drowning in a sea of mediocrity and media indifference.  Writers who succeed are the ones with the most luck or the most direct connections to the gate keepers.  Profit is far more important than literary merit.  You don’t really have to have talent any more.  You don’t have to know what a split infinitive is or how to compose a compound sentence properly or how to spell.  Shoot, you barely have to know how to write.  Just write about sparkly teenage vampires falling in love with high school girls or sexual perverts who are into torture devices, and you can be a millionaire… if you can somehow luck out over the millions of wannabes writing the same exact crap.

There was a time when writing teachers and published authors were telling me that sooner or later good writing gets published.  It was supposed to be inevitable.  But that was a different time than now.  Different rules for the game.  I will have two published books with two different publishers.  I-Universe published Catch a Falling Star.  And Page Publishing will publish Magical Miss Morgan.  But I paid both of those publishers to turn my books into published paper books with ISBN numbers and access to customers of Barnes and Noble and other outlets.  But I don’t expect to earn the money back that I invested.  Not while I’m still alive at least.

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My I-Universe publishing experience was worth it.  I spent a lot of money to get Catch a Falling Star published, but I got to work with real editors and advisers who had experience working for Knopf and Random House.  They gave me a real evaluation of my work and taught me how the business of promoting the book was supposed to work.  And the help that they gave me ended there.  No advertising budget beyond what I could afford myself.  I learned a lot for my money.  But I had to come to terms with the fact that marketing was going to take more time and effort than I was physically capable of doing.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor after all.

Page Publishing was a mistake.  They were cheaper than I-Universe, but I am not getting anywhere near the value for my money.  Instead of real editors reading and suggesting and modifying my work, I get nit-picky grammar Nazis who don’t even know as much about grammar as I do.  They are only copy editing.  And the last rewrite was me spending time changing all the incorrect changes they made back to the original text.  They did not even tell me the name of the editor making the changes.  I talked to the I-Universe editors over the phone and discussed changes in detail.  Page gives me email copies to read over and fume about silently.  They are no better than the vanity presses of old who were really no more than a re-typing and printing service.

So, from here on, I will only do the self-publishing options available through Amazon.  I have no more money or energy to spend on the black hole of literary dreams.

I can’t help but be a writer, though.  That part is genetic.  I will continue to write and tell stories that I need to tell.  I can’t help it.  Not to do so will cause me to shrivel and die almost instantly.  And I am only exaggerating just a little bit.  Well, maybe a lot.  But it is still true.

Whatever promises the future holds, I am not depending on them for my feelings of success, closure, and self-worth.  The world as I have come to know it will always be a ridiculous stew-pot of ideas and ego and cow poop, and I am not so much giving up as stepping out of the stew.  I wish to tell stories for the story’s sake.  I have no delusions of becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  I will never be Charles Dickens.  And I am okay with that.

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Mickey Notes

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This is the purple-furred Mickey Icon done Don Martin-style.

If you are one of those readers who has taken to regularly reading Mickey posts on Catch a Falling Star ( a habit that is probably bad for you, but certainly not fatal), there are some things and random recent developments that you should probably be made aware of.

  • Mickey recently finished a rough-draft novel.  After giving birth to a massive 12-month-long-gestating thought artifact like that, there is bound to be some necessary recovery time involved.  He may be difficult to understand for a while as he puts the pieces of his psyche back together again.  Using mental duct tape for such things takes time and patience.
  • The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  If that arouses curiosity in you (a condition that I also hope is not fatal… You are not a cat, are you?), there are instances of rants and delusional spoutings about this story to be found in recent posts on this blog.  Unfortunately, it will not be published immediately.  You will have to wait to actually read it until I or my heirs eventually get it published… by whatever means necessary (though I have my doubts about the plan involving kidnapped alien slaves and mimeograph machines.)
  • The novel I do have nearing publication is Magical Miss Morgan.  I recently submitted approval for final edits to my project manager for Page Publishing.  Since I am investing my own money in this publication project, I am expecting that it will get published before 2017 is done.  I will continue to relentlessly plug the thing here.
  • Page Publishing is a less expensive and less professional publisher than I-Universe that did Catch a Falling Star for me.  If you are reading this for ideas about pursuing publication yourself, I would recommend the more expensive publisher first, due to the quality of their professional editors, though I intend to continue publishing my books with less expensive self-publishing options like Amazon from here on.  As I finish the publishing process I am now involved in, I promise to complain about publishers and throw Mark-Twain-like insult fits in future blog posts.  No one should have to repeat the egregious mistakes that Mickey has made.
  • Catch a Falling Star, the blog, will continue to be a blog about my artwork, my story-telling, my teacher memories, and my generally confusing and bombastic opinions about life, the universe, and everything… including pies.  Mmm!  Pies are good.  You might even want to look at my essay on Gooseberry Pie.

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In case you were not aware of it, this purple mouse-man is Mickey, and Mickey is the writer-spirit within me.  Mickey is not actually me.  You know how Mark Twain is not really a real person?  The real person was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.  Mickey is not a really real person either.  Michael Beyer, cartoonist, writer, and former middle school teacher is the real person… if any former middle school teacher can ever be considered a real person.

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Unrepentant Blog Plans

I am not out of things to write about.  In fact, I have far more ideas than I have time to manage.  So I will waste some time I don’t have in plotting out the way forward through the creative jungle.

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I am at the climax of the novel Stardusters and Space Lizards.  I have seen by posting it chapter by chapter here that I must not only finish it, as a good, timely science fiction novel, but that I must experiment with publishing the entire thing on my blog.  I may later self-publish the thing, but you will get the chance to see the entire rough draft here… on Tuesdays.

I also have several cartoon series that I want to expand upon and publish here.  That includes my Action Figure Follies, my Tales From Fantastica, and Hidden Kingdom.  These are also posted in my vault, Mickey’s House of Fiction.

I want to post further on what I am learning about the perilous publishing journey that I hope to complete before I die, sharing with you some of the many secrets, tricks, hopes, and foolishnesses I have used to shoot myself in both feet and sink myself into the quicksand of author anonymity.

I have a post in mind about the YouTube videos of the NerdWriter, an auteur of infinite and in-depth ideas.  I want to share some of his amazing work and insights with you.

And the conspiracy theorist inside me is bursting to get out with everything I have learned about William Shakespeare. who has never really been who we think he is, and the very solid evidence of why I believe in this loony conspiracy theory when I don’t believe that the moon landing was faked by Franco Zeffirelli.

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At some point, too, I need to let you in on the creative processes that occur as I write the novel Recipes For Gingerbread Children.  It seems to be another inevitable novel that has to come out of me before my stupid old story-teller head explodes with it.

And maybe I need to explain who Dr. Seabreez is, and why there is more than just one me traveling through time and space and laughter.

I know that is a lot to threaten you with all at once, and you may find a post like this extremely boring.  In fact, you may have given up reading already.  But I do intend to make these writing abominations actually occur, so you may as well grit your teeth and get ready as the creative wheels turn, or have a flat, or grow spikes… something like that.

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I Can’t Get Me No… Satisfaction

I am old.  And it is true that I am not as old as the Rolling Stones.  After all, they are living proof that prehistoric fossils can actually still sing.  But I am nearing the end.  My health is rapidly deteriorating.  And while medical technology has advanced worldwide, and is probably the only reason I have lived for 60 years, the cost of that technology to Americans is beyond what I can afford.  I am living now in a house that I saw in my dreams back in college.  In that dream from when I was twenty, I saw myself sitting in an easy chair that is now in this house.   The sky outside was pale orange.  And an angel came to me and said, “This is it.  This is the end.  You must come with me.”

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So I am expecting the angel any day now.

But there is so much in this life, in this world, left unfinished.  I have novels left to write, and novels I have written that still are not published.

Page Publishing has my Magical Miss Morgan book and I have to argue now with editors to keep them from totally mangling it.  They even want to change Miss to Ms. in the title!  Don’t they know that kids never say Ms. to a female teacher?    Will the angel have to wait while I labor through the process of correcting those danged ding-batty word-misers?

And the Arizona football Cardinals have not won a championship in the NFL since 1947, nine years before I was born.  I wanted to see them win once before I leave with that angel.  But the team that was practically unbeatable last year lost their seventh game this year to the Dolphins yesterday, and are probably defunct for this year.  It would take a miracle now for them to get funct again and make the playoffs.  Maybe I have to put the angel off for another football season.

And the world has ended in 2016.  The Great Orange Face has won the battle for leader of the free world.  He will institute policies that will make him richer, but will kill me, and eventually destroy life on Earth.  And remember, the Cubs won a World Series again, 108 years after the goat curse was set upon them.  The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are dusting off their saddles right now, and the pale guy is sharpening his scythe.  How can I leave behind such a world for my children?  The angel is getting impatient and tapping his foot quite a lot.

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                                                                                                               “You know, it is quite possible I will look like this the next time you see me, Mickey.”

So, I am really not satisfied quite yet with the way things are going.  The Rolling Stones have some sort of secret going for them.  They are never satisfied according to the song.  So maybe that is what is keeping them still singing after most of them have already died and simply refuse to lay down, get buried, and keep quiet.  Maybe I need to learn to sing.

 

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Of Nightmares and Publishing

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Okay, I don’t mean to mislead you with the title.  My nightmares last night were not caused by publishing a book.  But there is a connection.  So be patient with me and let me explain.

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Last night I kept waking up to the smell of something burning… the smell of pine wood smouldering, the acrid smell of plastic on fire, the nose-offending smell of human hair on fire…  So I get up multiple times in the night, searching the house in my underwear, sniffing about to try to detect where in the walls or under the furniture the smell is coming from.  I scared my wife at least once in the kitchen… sometime around 2:00 a.m.  And the more awake I became the less I could smell the something that was burning.  It turns out that was because it was only in a nightmare that I smelled it.  The house was burning down around me in a dream, and the dream lingered after I awoke, even though I had forgotten about the dream entirely as I woke.   It was a classic anxiety dream.

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What, though, do I actually have going on that causes me this kind of nightmare?  I mean, besides Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, the impending end of life on Earth, and Bank of America suing me with hopes of wiping out my personal finances completely?

I am, foolishly, trying to publish another novel.

I promise to tell you a bit more about this novel in the near future.  But let me tell you first why publishing it is causing anxiety dreams.

Magical Miss Morgan is a novel about being a school teacher.  It is based on real experiences in my teaching life.  I used the time my teaching methods were opposed by a school board candidate.  I also used the time a principal told me that school shouldn’t teach kids to think because that didn’t turn them into good citizens.  I used real kids I once taught as characters.  I even used the time that fairies invaded my classroom.  Oh, but that last one might be slightly fictionalized.

So, even though the main character, Miss Francis Morgan, is not actually me, this novel is a distillation of my entire struggle to be a worthy teacher and accomplish something good as an educator.  My goal during my teaching career was to teach kids to think for themselves, to guide their own lifelong learning, and feel like they were valuable enough as individuals that somebody could actually care about them individually… even the hardest ones to like.  One would think there was nothing controversial at all in this goal.  But this novel tells how I fought that battle.  It is a story that I owe it to everyone I ever taught to tell.

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I have turned to Page Publishing to put this novel into print.  Not just digital, online copies, but into real print-on-pages books.  I have no talent or luck when it comes to marketing, but I am determined to make this book real even though this is a vanity press sort of publisher that makes their money by taking advantage of dewy-eyed writing fools like me.  Yes, I am buying the services of their editorial staff and design staff and there will be no money flowing my way any time soon.  This is the way publishing has been changing.  Publishers are still the farmers and writers have become the milk cows.  I just have to hope the milk won’t be sour.

So, I am having nightmares of burning the house down because I am following my dream of making a book.  But it is an important book… at least it is to me.

 

 

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