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Working together, we can end the scourge of Vivid Imagination Syndrome

Imagination is a curse.

What’s that, you ask? Did the indie author just call imagination a curse? Isn’t a vivid imagination a writer’s bread and butter?

Sure it is. But bread comes in a variety of types, and butter is perishable.

Sometimes imagination is a slice of warm sourdough dripping with whipped butter, taking me on an amazing journey that I’ll be forever grateful for and eager to relive.

Mmm, warm buttered sourdough…

And sometimes it’s chunky rancid butter spackled onto a stale Dutch crunch roll, curdling my tongue and leaving bloody gouges on the roof of my mouth.

Gouges that take several days to heal, and then I have to deal with that annoying flap of dead skin until it finally falls off.

Shudder.

A vivid imagination is all roses and scented oils when I get something good.

When the perfect plot twist manifests.

When the ideal line of dialog materializes from nowhere.

When a new character comes to life and demands, demands to be written on the page.

But then, then I see a penny on my car seat.

What do the non-writers, or the ‘mundanes’ as I like to call them, think when they see a coin?

I’ll tell you. They think, “Huh, that penny must have fallen out of my pocket.”

What does someone afflicted with VIS, or Vivid Imagination Syndrome, think?

I’ll tell you. And in this particular case, since it actually happened, I can tell you in iron clad detail:

Don't touch it! Concentrated evil! Nasty stuff!

This is the moment the shiny, glowing-with-radioactive-energy penny dropped.

Huh, someone broke into my car and left a penny on the seat.

But they were careful to hide the fact of the break-in, leaving the windows and locks intact. How did they do that?

And why? Why so careful to hide their criminal trespass?

It must be a trap!

Is that penny radioactive? Are they trying to kill me with buttock cancer?

And who? Who would want to kill little ol’ me, a beloved indie author with almost no readership?

The Missus? Is she trying to kill me? She does have a key to the car. But we’re happy.

Or are we?

Maybe it’s a government organization. They have the resources to break into a car undetected. But why me?

Is it because I’m destined to save the world, become a world-renowned hero who parlays that fame and recognition into the Presidency of the United States? And they, whoever they are, want to prevent that?

Possibly.

If not that, could it be my involvement with that shadowy writers’ collective, [REDACTED]?

Or is it [REDACTED] because they finally found out I’m working undercover for [ALSO REDACTED]?

Or is this whole radioactive butt-cancer penny just a red herring to distract me from a car bomb wired to the ignition?

This thought process goes on long enough for the Missus to call me and ask where the hell I am and why I’m taking so long to get home.

Aha! So it is the Missus!

Do you have any idea how long it takes to remove all four tires from your car, inspect the wheel wells, put all four tires back on, check the engine compartment and under the seats for bombs, and then safely dispose of a possibly radioactive penny?

Not as long as you’d think – I’ve gotten plenty of practice and keep tongs, a lead-lined bag, and a penny-holding rack in the trunk for just this sort of emergency.

The rack because you can’t let radioactive pennies get too close to each other – they may achieve critical mass.

And that’s just what I need, a smoking lump of drippy, radioactive copper (and zinc if the penny was made after 1981) in the back of my car.

This is the curse of imagination. Time lost inspecting cars and the like for traps, and money spent on tongs and lead-lined bags that, if I’m really honest with myself, I probably don’t need.

Plus the Missus is usually pretty steamed by the time I get back home.

Is it because I’m late, or because the assassination attempt failed?

And this affliction is not limited to pennies on car seats. Oh no.

When I sat down at the communal computer to write this post, I noticed the seat was warm.

Was it because the Missus had just been using the computer? Or is it because the seat is slowly irradiating my bum?

If they find my body with a shrunken, mostly missing ass, you know what happened.

 
 

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Sell YOUR Book By Convincing Some Sod To Write Their Book Starring You!

A friend of mine recently blogged about a trend in fiction: using real authors as characters in books. Mostly mysteries.

They’re always long dead authors, like Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, E. L. James.

It’s a cool idea, but a shame the real-life authors are dead.

Perhaps it’s a way to avoid liability?

But I think this is a missed opportunity, especially for the indie writers out there.

Imagine yourself, for a moment, as an indie author. Eschewed by the established publishing industry, you find yourself responsible for a lot more than just writing your novel.

Editing.

Re-writing.

Re-editing.

The book cover.

The marketing.

The distribution.

Personally dealing with the piles of glowing fan mail that comes in.

OK, maybe not that last one so much. Not that you’d mind that particular chore.

The point is, you’re pretty much on your own and it is a lot of work.

Especially if you have a day job.

And young kids.

And a spouse who, insanely, expects you to connect with her and actually participate in the marriage.

This is where using living, breathing indie authors as characters in novels comes in.

Sure, you could write yourself into your own novel. But that comes off as really arrogant, so you’d better be a damned fine writer, and I better read and love that book before I find out you made yourself the main character.

I’m talking to you, Mary Sue.

Madman in a hard hat, I know, I know, it's serious

Mild mannered author by day, the fictional Ian M. Dudley moonlights as the lead singer in a Village People cover band. This gives the fan fiction writers no end of material to work with.

Instead, you should invite other indie authors to use you as one of their main characters.

It’s the ultimate form of marketing! You’re the star of an awesome indie book, and readers will go, “Ian M. Dudley is this amazing character, AND HE’S REAL? I MUST BUY HIS BOOK! Here is my credit card number, charge me as much as you want!”

Or not.

But this brilliant plan doesn’t just benefit me the indie author. Because here’s the rub:

It doesn’t work if the indie author who uses you as a main character is a crap writer. They are out there. You know the ones. They upload their NaNo novels to Kindle Direct Publishing at 12:01am on December 1st, in all its typographically inept, unedited glory.

It also doesn’t work if you aren’t familiar with the genre that author writes in. If you want to establish your reputation for hard sci-fi by being a fictional character, you probably don’t want that novel written by someone who specializes in Brony snuff stories.

Because either you end up a bright pink pony with wings and a short life span, or said author stretches to write something more firm and sci-fiish, only to overextend themselves and injure your rep.

So in order to ensure you’re painted as the knight in shimmering armor that you wish to be portrayed as (literally or figuratively), you need to start buying and reading indie books to find that rare gem of an author who has the gravitas and the flare for words that can do your ego justice.

It’s a win-win for the indie community.

Unless you have a huge ego, like mine. Then you have a very long, potentially very expensive search ahead of you.

This is the burden of the huge ego. Alienates people and it’s surprisingly heavy.

There is, of course, a potential drawback to this approach to establishing a fan base.

I speak, of course, of publishing success.

Not your success. If you were successful, you wouldn’t be attempting this harebrained scheme.

I speak of your doppelgänger’s author’s success.

The fictional version of you might appear in an amazingly crafted novel.

A book full of prose and plot twists that make your own writing look like the scribbles of a monkey in the throes of a bad acid trip dipping its finger in its own feces to write.

In this scenario, the book starring your fictional alter-ego takes off, becomes a series, spawns several successful spinoffs starring your alter-ego’s friends, enemies, and pets, and eventually wins the Nobel prize for Literature and Peace.

Two years in a row.

This leads to fame and the showering of untold riches upon your chosen author, while your literary accomplishments languish in relative obscurity, a mere footnote in the Wikipedia entry trumpeting your alter-ego’s creator.

But wait, it gets worse.

Movie deals. A TV series. A gone-to-seed, overweight Charlie Sheen is pulled out of retirement-exile and cast as you, his portrayal making everyone in the television-viewing world think you are an insufferable ass.

But wait, it gets worser.

Despite your character being universally hated, the other characters in the series are popular, and with the inevitable stream of fanfic slash stories that follow, humiliations galore are dumped upon your once good, but now forever sullied name.

If you aren’t into some freaky weird stuff already, you might as well get into it, because once the slashers are done with you, everyone will think you’re a sick bastard with a kink for being tied up and violated with Mentos and Diet Coke.

But wait, it gets worstener.

Someone writes a fanfic story based on the characters in the book about the fictional you, and then changes all the names (but not by much, Ivan M. Dugley), gets a publishing deal, and despite the sheer, mind-numbing craptitude of the writing, it’s a best seller.

On second thought, never mind. Doing this on my own doesn’t seem so bad after all.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 8 August 2012 in Fanfic, NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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Death of a traditional dream?

At what point do we give up?

At what point is it no longer healthy for us to pursue a path that isn’t leading to the desired destination?

I ask this question because of something that happened to me last night.

After a long and fruitless search, late last year I decided that I would give myself till the end of 2011 to find an agent and/or editor for my book Marlowe and the Spacewoman. If I didn’t find a route through traditional publishing, then come 2012, I was going to self publish.

I made a huge final push to find an agent or editor. There has been some interest, but nothing definitive yet. And now, halfway through the year, I’m pretty much resigned to the idea of self-publishing.

(I know, I know, the indie publishing scene is thriving and growing. The stigma of self publication is fading. But it’s hard to make the adjustment to the idea of the self-publishing model when for years your dream has been of the traditional publishing model.)

Last night I got together with one my critique groups for the first time in almost a year. And when I mentioned this plan to self publish, one of the members shook her head and said, in effect, your book has something to it and you should be able find an agent.

(There it is, the self-publishing stigma.)

And suddenly I doubted my plan. The stigma of self publication seems to be receding a little bit, but that could merely be the self-serving perspective of the indie authors I hang out with and follow on twitter.

There are arguments for and against self-publishing. There is one more than one treatise on why self publication is actually better for an author who has any business savvy. (And a pre-existing huge fan base, by the way.)

There is a sense of optimism amongst the indie authors I know that things are changing.

But there’s also that stigma. I’m not saying there are no quality self published books out there. There are.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of crap.

So what do I do? I’m getting tired of trying to find an agent. I’ve queried well over 100 well over – I know 100 itself is a small number). I’ve done the research route, you know, making sure you find the right agent to query. I’ve done the dance, I’ve jumped through the hoops, and I’m about as far as I can go without a positive response.

I’m not saying that self-publishing is giving up. My question here is: at what point should I give up on traditional publishing? At least for this book?

Yes, I had a moment of doubt last night, but right now I’m still sticking with the plan. I have one nibble at this point that hasn’t played out yet. All my other queries have you resulted in outright rejection or, even more frustrating, silence.

So I’m sticking with my plan despite my fellow critique partner’s reservations.

I just wish it didn’t feel like giving up.

 
 

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