baseball, indie book, Red Sox, self-publishing, waiting for spring, writing

Another fresh page to soil

aka: a warm and hearty welcome.

 Well here it is…my first official post made directly from my new blog. You’ve probably already noticed that I’ve imported all of my old blogger posts so it’ll feel more like home. Hopefully you’ve also noticed the new pages up yonder, namely my new About Me page, Indie book page, and – yes! – a Waiting For Spring page (don’t worry!!! No spoilers!!) There’s a new poll on the WFS page. I’ll be adding some new stuff in the next few weeks, and will keep you posted on the changes. 

In other blogging/writing news, I want to direct your attention to a new indie publishing blog that got its official kick-off today: Publishing Renaissance. Contributors include Zoe Winters, Moriah Jovan, Rae Lori, Robin Altman, and myself:

We are a group of indie writers putting our work out into the world and trying to navigate the web, social media, and all the new opportunities available.  Each of us has different perspectives on what it means to be indie, why we’re indie, and the unique challenges that indie publishers face.

What we share in common is a desire for community with other indies, and a goal toward raising the quality of the work put out by indies.

Today’s post is entitled The Ever-evolving World of Indie from a guest blogger, Mr. Cliff Burns, whose very excellent blog you can read here. For now, you’ll find the link to the blog itself, as well as to each contributor, in my blogroll. Those links will have a more prominent spot in the sidebar very soon…

varitekIn the meantime, if you need me you’ll find me alternately praying to the baseball gods for Captain Jason Varitek’s safe return to my beloved Red Sox and cursing the name of Scott  Boras, his agent. There is not enough profanity in the English language to express the bitterness and near-hatred I feel for that man. I’m hoping that at least one of my faithful readers is bi- (or even tri-) lingual and can help me out in this regard.

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waiting for spring, writing

The moral ambiguity of a writer’s world…

Alternate title: “Kel’s morals are a little shaky.”

** (Warning: there be Waiting For Spring spoilers here. Be strong, KC!) **

I’ve always been a bit nervous about readers’ reaction to the rather gruesome murder of Tim, Rachel’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend; the asshole who was responsible for her death. I mean, as hideous a man as he was, murder is still murder, right? And I wondered if readers would be okay with the fact that Rick is never brought to justice for taking the law into his own hands. Or, to be much more honest, I wondered what they’d think of me for not bringing him to justice.

Here is the answer to my question (culled from various reader emails):

  • “Tim so got what he deserved.”
  • “I’ll admit to cheering aloud at my computer screen when you described the manner in which Rick dispatched with Tim.”
  • “The way Tim died was perfect! Rachel got justice, Rick got redemption.”
  • “Yes! If there was any justice in the real world, that’s what all wife beaters would get.”

Al-righty, then.

I think the reason for this response is obvious. In the real world – as in the fictional world I created – there is a sense of being powerless against the Tims we encounter, and it’s a great feeling when we see ‘justice’ being done; even if that justice is of the vigilante sort.

In the real world, however, we can’t just go out and off abusers, as much as we’d love to, because murder is immoral as well as illegal. In the fictional world of Waiting For Spring, Tim’s guilt is an absolute certainty. I created him, and the situation, and so I was able to say to you, the reader, “This guy is responsible for Rachel’s death. He’s going to get away with it, because he’s smart.” That’s why it was ‘acceptable’ to most readers for him to die so violently; for justice to be done outside of a court room. In the real world, though, we can’t ever be 100% sure we’ve got the right guy. And even if we feel we are, as flawed as it is, that’s what our justice system is for. End of story.

So if I truly believe the above arguments (and I do), why didn’t I use WFS to explore them? Well, mostly because it’s not what this part of the story was about. It was chiefly about Tess Dyer and Brian LaChance dealing with (among other things) their guilt and powerlessness in the aftermath of the tragedy. It was also about – as stated above – Rick finding a measure of redemption for his sins (something I’m diving even more deeply into in the new book I’m writing).

Also, I was more interested in exploring the human and societal – rather than in the legal – aspects of the situation. For example, Tess struggles with guilt on the night she knows Tim is going to be murdered, even though she sanctioned it, had earlier tried to do it herself:

“I stayed awake for another hour, imagining Tim as a little boy. I wondered what his family might have been like; wondered what had happened to him that had turned him into a monster.”

She had similarly wondered about the fate of a dirty little boy she’d seen at the market earlier in the novel, whose mother was an alcoholic:

“I wondered how much longer it would be before he realized exactly what kind of family he’d been born into. Before he understood that the twenty dollars his mother was using for liquor should have been used instead for soap and shampoo and laundry detergent. Would he grow up resentful? Bitter? Would he rise above it, determined to make a better life for himself? Or would he grow up thinking that it was normal to live that way?”

With the little boy, she was powerless to improve his situation. All she could do was offer him, in front of his mother, a friendly smile. Was this small gesture something this boy would remember and cling to in the bleak years ahead, or would it be forgotten as he slipped silently into a world of poverty and alcoholism? Was there something more Tess could have done for him after all? And what about Tim as a child? Was there any such moment in his life, when he could have been reached by a friendly gesture – or by ‘something more’? And if so, how do we explain the fact that Brian – who was abandoned by an alcoholic father, and given nothing in the way of outside help – grew up to be a decent, even heroic, human being?

Still, I have to admit that I can’t think of anything else I’ve written that gave me more pure joy than when I wrote about Tim’s death. Like Tess, I reasoned this way:

[Rachel] was lying cold and dead right now, waiting for spring to come so we could put her in the ground near her mother. Then I thought about Little Miss Seventeen and little Samantha and her mother. The boy who had died of an overdose last summer. And about the families of all those people. Their hearts were aching, right now. They were counting days and weeks and months, just like Brian and me. Soon we’d all be counting years. And soon, maybe already – maybe right now – Tim wouldn’t be. And he wouldn’t be taking them away from anybody else, either. Not anymore.

Because in the fictional world of New Mills, Maine, I am King. I have the power to make the rules, the laws, the morals, however shaky or ambigious they might be. And that’s why it’s great to be a writer.

publishing industry, waiting for spring, writing

A little Q & A

Ooooh, Kel’s been getting lots of email lately. Very cool! On Sunday, I was asked the following question:

“How come you don’t blog about your writing process or the publishing industry like most other writers out there do? Just curious.”

Fair enough. For those of you who are interested…

A. My “writing process” consists of:

1. Lying down on the couch for about half an hour each morning, imagining the scene(s) I’m about to write in as much detail as possible. I especially focus on what the setting and/or characters smell like. (Seriously.) Once I’ve got that, I’m all set. Then I:

2. Take a shower. For some reason, that helps my creativity flow more smoothly. Possibly it’s the hot water loosening everything up. Plus it’s easier to concentrate on what the scene(s) smell like when I’m not distracted by my own B.O. Afterwards I:

3. Pour myself a giant mug of coffee (cream and one spoonful of brown sugar), then sit at my computer. I plug myself into my iTunes playlist (which varies, depending on the mood of the scene I’m about to write. For example, yesterday, while writing about a gruesome and gory murder, I put “Epic” by Faith No More on repeat). I listen quietly for a few minutes so I can “get into character.” Then I start writing.

Exciting, no?

You’re right. No.

B. My thoughts on the publishing industry?

Well, I published my novel myself, so that should give you a hint. Zoe articulated my feelings pretty well yesterday when she broke down a recent New York Times article about the state of the publishing industry. My favorite snipit was a quote from a literary agent who gauges what she thinks will sell based on, “Just a feeling.’ She described it as a tingling that went up her spine.” Zoe’s response? “I’m sorry, but I’m not pinning my hopes and dreams on whether or not your spine tingles. See a Chiropractor and read a business book.”

Amen.

I have spoken a little about this subject on this blog here and also here. I think I best summed up my own frustration in a letter to a friend last spring:

“I’ve become rather disenchanted with the publishing business–not because I can’t get published, but because of the reasons I’ve been given. I’m not commercial enough for the “mainstream” agents (for lack of a better term), and not educated enough for the more literary crowd. I guess what I wonder about is this: If a book is “well-written, with engaging characters and a good story” then how is it not marketable? Isn’t that the reason people buy books? Or, if my writing is good, why does it matter that I don’t have an degree?”

So there you have it. Next time I’ll be answering questions about fan fiction and whether or not Waiting For Spring reflects my personal viewpoint on vigilante justice.

publishing industry, waiting for spring, writing

A little Q & A

Ooooh, Kel’s been getting lots of email lately. Very cool! On Sunday, I was asked the following question:

“How come you don’t blog about your writing process or the publishing industry like most other writers out there do? Just curious.”

Fair enough. For those of you who are interested…

A. My “writing process” consists of:

1. Lying down on the couch for about half an hour each morning, imagining the scene(s) I’m about to write in as much detail as possible. I especially focus on what the setting and/or characters smell like. (Seriously.) Once I’ve got that, I’m all set. Then I:

2. Take a shower. For some reason, that helps my creativity flow more smoothly. Possibly it’s the hot water loosening everything up. Plus it’s easier to concentrate on what the scene(s) smell like when I’m not distracted by my own B.O. Afterwards I:

3. Pour myself a giant mug of coffee (cream and one spoonful of brown sugar), then sit at my computer. I plug myself into my iTunes playlist (which varies, depending on the mood of the scene I’m about to write. For example, yesterday, while writing about a gruesome and gory murder, I put “Epic” by Faith No More on repeat). I listen quietly for a few minutes so I can “get into character.” Then I start writing.

Exciting, no?

You’re right. No.

B. My thoughts on the publishing industry?

Well, I published my novel myself, so that should give you a hint. Zoe articulated my feelings pretty well yesterday when she broke down a recent New York Times article about the state of the publishing industry. My favorite snipit was a quote from a literary agent who gauges what she thinks will sell based on, “Just a feeling.’ She described it as a tingling that went up her spine.” Zoe’s response? “I’m sorry, but I’m not pinning my hopes and dreams on whether or not your spine tingles. See a Chiropractor and read a business book.”

Amen.

I have spoken a little about this subject on this blog here and also here. I think I best summed up my own frustration in a letter to a friend last spring:

“I’ve become rather disenchanted with the publishing business–not because I can’t get published, but because of the reasons I’ve been given. I’m not commercial enough for the “mainstream” agents (for lack of a better term), and not educated enough for the more literary crowd. I guess what I wonder about is this: If a book is “well-written, with engaging characters and a good story” then how is it not marketable? Isn’t that the reason people buy books? Or, if my writing is good, why does it matter that I don’t have an degree?”

So there you have it. Next time I’ll be answering questions about fan fiction and whether or not Waiting For Spring reflects my personal viewpoint on vigilante justice.

Idol for Writers, writing

Idol for Writers – Week 7


Well, I finally did it. My week seven entry (assigned topic: Utopia) got the most votes out of 24 remaining entries over at [Thebren]LJ Idol. It’s a discarded scene from a discarded subplot of a little something I wrote not long ago. Let that be a lesson to you: Never throw anything away.

~~~~~

Utopia. The place was a psychedelic nightmare: Blinking colored lights flashing out the pounding beat of the drum machines; jagged lasers cutting across the dance floor, in sync with the hiss and whine of synthesizers; and a DJ at the front of the room who thrashed around so freakishly that it made me wonder just what the hell he was on and where I could get some for myself.

Brandon, on the other hand, was in his natural element. The music seemed to fill him, inhabit him, possess him. He was both graceful and funky, like he’d been built to dance. And since it was his birthday, I did my best to put aside my uneasiness for his sake. It wasn’t too difficult, because his enthusiasm was contagious and, more importantly, in such a large crowd it was easy to just blend in. About halfway through the fourth song, I finally started to relax and was actually beginning to enjoy myself.

And that’s when I caught sight of a familiar face: Mandy. She was weaving through the crowd, aimless and vacant; obviously under the influence of something besides the music. She’d stop here and there to give someone a hug or to dance; sometimes alone, but usually with an unsuspecting, but perfectly willing, partner. And, eventually, she made her way over to us.

She pulled on his shirt without a word and forced him to submit to a somewhat intimate embrace. He kept his hands off to the side, well away from her body, and shot me a helpless this-isn’t-my-fault look. I managed to shrug. She was obviously on something, she hadn’t exactly singled him out of the crowd, and he couldn’t help being accosted.

She finally let him go. He had to swallow hard and take a deep breath before he could speak, which made me raise an eyebrow. Then he gestured towards me–without making eye contact–and shouted above the music, “Mandy, I’m here with someone. I’m here with my girlfriend.”

“Yeah, I know.” She turned around and gave me a grin. “Holy shit. Don’t you look hot tonight.”

The only thing I could think of to say to that was, Uh, thanks; but I didn’t get the chance. Because that’s when she let go of him, pulled my face to hers, and kissed me.

It took me a few seconds to even register what was happening, and when I did I couldn’t bring myself to break away. Didn’t even try. Didn’t want to. It was the first time–ever–that I’d been kissed by a woman, and there was so much going on, so much to take in, that it all washed over me one hot, brief wave at a time.

Full, warm, wet, open lips. Slow and soft. Softer hands, so soft, just like petals on my cheek. Flowing silk and breasts, hers pressing and rubbing against mine as she still moved vaguely in time with the music. The strobing lights, throbbing beat and orgasmic howls of a female vocalist made it seem almost surreal, like a hazy, sexy dream that I wished would never end. She slithered her tongue inside my mouth and I tasted the sting of fresh cigarettes. It released a hot fragment of memory, of desire; a whisper of sex and rain, of longing. And so I kissed her back, kissed her forever; needing it, needing her, needing something…had to hold onto it, to keep it with me. But it was already slipping away, leaving me empty…wanting…

She broke away, finally, and whatever it was I was grasping for disappeared with her lips. She smiled, her face flushed and pretty, then ambled mercifully away without a word; left me to stagger in place, dizzy and reeling. Cold. And oddly alone.

Idol for Writers, writing

Idol for Writers – Week 7


Well, I finally did it. My week seven entry (assigned topic: Utopia) got the most votes out of 24 remaining entries over at [Thebren]LJ Idol. It’s a discarded scene from a discarded subplot of a little something I wrote not long ago. Let that be a lesson to you: Never throw anything away.

~~~~~

Utopia. The place was a psychedelic nightmare: Blinking colored lights flashing out the pounding beat of the drum machines; jagged lasers cutting across the dance floor, in sync with the hiss and whine of synthesizers; and a DJ at the front of the room who thrashed around so freakishly that it made me wonder just what the hell he was on and where I could get some for myself.

Brandon, on the other hand, was in his natural element. The music seemed to fill him, inhabit him, possess him. He was both graceful and funky, like he’d been built to dance. And since it was his birthday, I did my best to put aside my uneasiness for his sake. It wasn’t too difficult, because his enthusiasm was contagious and, more importantly, in such a large crowd it was easy to just blend in. About halfway through the fourth song, I finally started to relax and was actually beginning to enjoy myself.

And that’s when I caught sight of a familiar face: Mandy. She was weaving through the crowd, aimless and vacant; obviously under the influence of something besides the music. She’d stop here and there to give someone a hug or to dance; sometimes alone, but usually with an unsuspecting, but perfectly willing, partner. And, eventually, she made her way over to us.

She pulled on his shirt without a word and forced him to submit to a somewhat intimate embrace. He kept his hands off to the side, well away from her body, and shot me a helpless this-isn’t-my-fault look. I managed to shrug. She was obviously on something, she hadn’t exactly singled him out of the crowd, and he couldn’t help being accosted.

She finally let him go. He had to swallow hard and take a deep breath before he could speak, which made me raise an eyebrow. Then he gestured towards me–without making eye contact–and shouted above the music, “Mandy, I’m here with someone. I’m here with my girlfriend.”

“Yeah, I know.” She turned around and gave me a grin. “Holy shit. Don’t you look hot tonight.”

The only thing I could think of to say to that was, Uh, thanks; but I didn’t get the chance. Because that’s when she let go of him, pulled my face to hers, and kissed me.

It took me a few seconds to even register what was happening, and when I did I couldn’t bring myself to break away. Didn’t even try. Didn’t want to. It was the first time–ever–that I’d been kissed by a woman, and there was so much going on, so much to take in, that it all washed over me one hot, brief wave at a time.

Full, warm, wet, open lips. Slow and soft. Softer hands, so soft, just like petals on my cheek. Flowing silk and breasts, hers pressing and rubbing against mine as she still moved vaguely in time with the music. The strobing lights, throbbing beat and orgasmic howls of a female vocalist made it seem almost surreal, like a hazy, sexy dream that I wished would never end. She slithered her tongue inside my mouth and I tasted the sting of fresh cigarettes. It released a hot fragment of memory, of desire; a whisper of sex and rain, of longing. And so I kissed her back, kissed her forever; needing it, needing her, needing something…had to hold onto it, to keep it with me. But it was already slipping away, leaving me empty…wanting…

She broke away, finally, and whatever it was I was grasping for disappeared with her lips. She smiled, her face flushed and pretty, then ambled mercifully away without a word; left me to stagger in place, dizzy and reeling. Cold. And oddly alone.