Choosing the cover for a book is a really big deal.
It is the primary marketing tool that remains with the book at all times… at least until the kids rip it off or hopefully it falls off from being read over and over. Despite the old idiom, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, people do.
Readers take under 3 seconds to decide whether they are going to spend any time with your book based solely on its cover. So, it must spark interest. It must be attractive enough to look like you cared, that you took the time to think about it. Because a sloppy cover promises a sloppy book and who wants to bother with that?
Book of Snark, Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus.
(see photo above)
It is not my first self-publishing project. In 2017, I edited the post-humous memoir Popcorn from the Void by my friend Todd Park about leukemia and what it’s like to undergo a bone marrow transplant. I knew no publishing house would touch it because it was based on his blog. The book received a lot of praise, both for content and construction. I submitted it to the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards and though it got 30/30 points from its judge, it didn’t win or even get an honorable mention. Todd was a great man and it is a wonderful book with a lot of good stuff in it but the topic turns people off.
There is a lot of myth and romance around the dream of being a published author. The common belief among those who don’t know is that if you write a great book, success will follow. The truth is, if you write a great book, you are issued a lottery ticket and then you wait with thousands of other great books to see who gets picked. Continue reading →
“The fact that we both have umbrellas and ride the same bus does not reveal some deep kinship between us.” -Book of Snark 3.3.3
I work at a large metropolitan university. Parking on campus during the regular semester is an expensive nightmare at best and impossible at worst. There is staff parking designated at various surface lots and ramps. The monthly cost and length of the waiting list for a spot varies based on its proximity to campus. So, for slightly less money, staff can opt for a monthly unlimited bus pass. I live in the city, not the suburbs, and at times have even gone without owning a car. So, I choose the bus for my commute.
I have laughed at people who expressed concern for my safety over riding the bus. For one thing, this is Minneapolis, not Chicago. And not all buses are the same experience- not the routes or the days or the times of day. If you really want to get a sense of a neighborhood, ride the local bus. See who gets on and how angry they are. The areas of economic depression/ suppression become obvious. But mostly, folks are just trying to get through life and want to be left alone. Continue reading →
If you know me only from my blog or have met me in passing at poetry readings, it may come as a surprise that I have a wicked sense of humor. Afterall, it is a natural antidote for pain and anger. I have decided to give up trying to be a serious literary author and play to my strengths. But more on that later.
Though I write poetry, short stories, and have several unfinished novels, by default I am a blogger. But not a very good one. Oh, the content is good but I lack focus and marketing and followers and blagh blagh blagh. My website isn’t optimized. Isn’t that what they tell us we are supposed to do? FYI: I’m not selling anything so lighten up. This is my own very public, private writing space, with some online lurkers that I know and some that I don’t.
I had to think about it. My original blog was on Blogger.com in 2004: ‘Writing is a Tapeworm’. I am quite sure no one remembers it. It was pre-Face Book and during the height of My Space (they’re still around, did you know?). It served me much the same way my current social media does- random chatter but without the audience. I closed it right around the time I was looking for a new job… cmmounts.com launched in July 2014, died in January 2015, then like a phoenix rose out of the paper shredder in January 2017 with regular posts and visitors ever since. Continue reading →
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine
I have been so lucky as to read many, many pages of that book. And it is traveling that now disrupts the regular flow of my blog. It’s a good problem to have. Many people are not able to take time off work to visit family or for pleasure. I know how fortunate I am.
These past months, my writing career (such as it is) has been marked by an upswing in attendance of events, not performance of my own work. Open mics have been replaced with workshops, conferences, performances, and readings. And I have submitted my work for possible publication, I trend I hope to continue with more frequency.
On September 27-29, I attended the 16th annual Power of Words conference at the Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon and though there were accommodations, I stayed in a hotel off-site with a patio by the pool and palm trees. Continue reading →
When I told friends that I would produce this audio blog, this podcast, a lot of people got excited. I have posted my written work on my blog for over two years, but I never recorded any of it. It seems we are in the midst of yet another generation gap. I am generalizing here so please forgive me, but my older friends prefer to read my blog while my younger friends have asked for a podcast. They say they don’t have time to read it, but they can listen on the commute.
A friend texts and asks if it’s true: Do writers write drunk and edit sober? I tell her what I know. Those are drinkers with writing problems. I can’t write drunk. All that will do for me is limit my vocabulary. But I suppose it’s a method to loosen the tongue, release the tension and anxiety that often comes part and parcel with bearing one’s soul to the page.
But it is Friday night. These are my coordinates. I am in this bar with all strangers. Continue reading →
One of the most challenging aspects of writing books is the stamina it requires. There is a trick to writing. If I am happy, that feeling will come through and imbue my work. If I cry, you will cry. If I laugh… well, you might laugh. Comedy is hard. But my deep, turbulent, and powerful emotions are often quite clear to my audience. So is my boredom and stress.
So how then does one sustain the excitement through years of writing and revision? Continue reading →
I love winter. I must since I chose to move north to Minnesota 15 years ago. It’s not the cold, it’s the 3 solid months of writing and reading with very little distraction. Cycling does not lure me out onto the forested trails and social invitations slow down to a crawl. No one wants to leave their home either and that’s fine. I have plenty of paper and ink to spare.
Last winter, I committed to waking up at 5am and working on my novel before work. I had a smoke damaged, sooty copy of a 2nd draft I wrote 10 years before. It was somewhere to start. So, I scanned the 263-page document using optical character recognition software and imported that into Scrivener. After 1.5 months of work, it was formatted and cut up into sections, chapters, and scenes. Continue reading →