Thursday, June 28, 2012
The League of Extraordinary Authors is a coalition of seasoned, professional writers who are combining the creative freedom of indie/self-publishing with the best qualities of traditional publishing.
Our brand: creative daring, craft excellence and reader-friendly prices.
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A RUTHLESS ARMY RANGER
Former Army Ranger Cole Sawyer reacts on instinct he sees beautiful young widow Lisa Meador pull a gun at the bank. He foils the robbery, but when Lisa screams as the real robbers take off with her son, he realizes that things aren't as they seem. Driven by a painful secret, Cole makes the split-second decision to join forces with Lisa and trail the criminals across Texas.
A DESPERATE SINGLE MOTHER
Haunted by his failure to save Lisa's husband in Afghanistan, Cole is determined to help her rescue her son. But he's even more determined not to give in to his growing attraction to her. As they untangle clues and face the potentially devastating loss of their quarry, they soon realize that the kidnappers" motives run deeper—and darker—than they ever expected.
A LITTLE BOY'S ONLY HOPE
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
Beginning with Pressfield's groundbreaking The War of Art:Break Through Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles and continuing with Do the Work, the acclaimed author helps readers identify and prevail against the psychological BS--everything from procrastination to perfectionism to mindless, destructive behavior--that prevents us from doing the work we sense that we were born to do. Both books, especially the former, are so helpful in framing the struggle to create in understandable terms that they have become a word-of-mouth sensation, as well as a tool that I recommend in every writing workshop I teach.
Pressfield's latest, Turning Pro, elaborates on the behaviors that differentiate an amateur/dilettante from a professional and, most helpfully, in my opinion, on the addictions and distractions that prevent all too many writers (and other creative producers) from reaching their potential. He talks about would-be creatives embracing--and often excelling in--less risky "shadow careers" that never fully make them happy, or, far more destructively, careening into negative behaviors to escape the pressure to produce.
In addition to the usual drug/alcohol addictions that you might think of, many creatives, according to Pressfield, become addicted to sex, to drama in their own lives, to getting into trouble. (No one expects a thing of you when you are broken, or in prison. The pressure's off, though the addiction might actually kill you.) Writers also become dependent on approval from without, which makes us so desperate for feedback from an editor, agent, judge, or mentor that we forget how to trust our own readers'/writers' instincts. Distractions, too, become addictions, robbing us of the ability to focus for more than a few minutes without checking our e-mail, Twitter feed, Facebook or sales rankings, and consigning us forever to the shallow end of the creative pool. (Favorite line of the book: "The amateur tweets. The pro works." Though, ironically, I'll probably Tweet this post once my day's work is complete.)
Speaking candidly of his own writer's journey (from the failures of nerve to the screw-ups to the suicidal moments), Pressfield doesn't set himself up as a guru (in fact, he warns against "gurudom," for both the guru and the follower) but as a scarred veteran of the creative wars who's sharing a few hard-won lessons. But through his examples and his wisdom, he might very well steer would-be writers from their most dangerous addictions. With this slim volume, he might save their physical, as well as their creative, lives.
Along with The War of Art and Do the Work, Turning Pro is very highly recommended.
Read Boxing the Octopus's 2009 interview with Steven Pressfield here.
For my review of Do the Work, click here.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Yesterday, I sat at a particular spot by the Gulf of Mexico in Pensacola Beach, where I lived when I was a kid. It was a dive back then: a small row of shabby Nixon-era townhomes with long flanks of empty beach on both sides and flea-infested, trash-strewn empty lots across the street. Now it's all swankypants. The old place was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1990s and replaced with high dollar apartments and upscale houses side-by-side the entire length of the once God-forsaken road.
I won't nostalgically argue that the old place was better. It wasn't; it was a shithole. But it was a shithole with a beautiful white sand beach. Yes, it's crowded now, but back then it was lonely. Yes, it's overly commercial now, but back then it was ill-maintained because only a few people cared about it. Eventually, all these new things will fall away and be replaced by something else.
What remains constant is the beach. The white sand and blue Gulf -- that's the source of the spiritual, recreational, educational, physical, emotional, financial power of this place.
All of which is to say that branding has to be about who we are, not what we do. Our nature is consistent; money, bizzyness, trends and opportunities are not. Each of us has this powerful natural wonder within ourselves. The question we're asking (though we might not like the sound of it) is: "How shall I best exploit this?"
The broad strokes are obvious:
In any development, as many windows as possible should face the beach. Key to our commercial value is a firmly fixed focus on the art and craft of writing.
Boardwalks and roads should be kept up properly. We have to make our work accessible and reader-friendly. This encompasses everything from excellent grammar to a well-designed, easily navigable website.
The beach must be protected from pollution. Greed, jealousy, negativity and grasping are bound to make an appearance. They should be disposed of quickly and appropriately.
Access to the beach should be open in some areas, controlled in others. Our secondary goal is to welcome as many readers as possible; our primary goal is to lead happy lives. We must reserve significant quantities of time, love and creative energy for ourselves, our work and our personal relationships.
Above all, the beach should be shared, enjoyed and loved. Honored. Because the beach came from God and ultimately belongs to God. It's both fiscally prudent and spiritually healthy for the beach to be consistently branded as sacred.
Monday, June 18, 2012
It's all about the casbah this week. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that while your work is/should be/really must be personal to you, it's just business to everybody else. Don't let the bastards get you down.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I've been thinking about my ballet-dancing days today. As some of you know, before I was a writer, I was a professional ballet dancer, a career I loved to the moon and back; the stage also taught me a great deal I would use on the page--about rhythm, pacing, arc, tempo, movement, stamina, how to keep going going going until you think you will drop--1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, ,8--and don't.
Yet looking back, friends, I stretch, and sigh. I am disappointed in myself. And I'm disappointed in one thing, specifically : by what I believe, during my dancing years, was a too-close fidelity to the music. I was fiendish, in those days, about the beat--I wanted my dancing to be exactly on tempo, to be so thoroughly aligned, so perfectly in tune with the orchestra that I and its rhythm would seem to be one and the same. I was constantly praised for this, too, by choroegraphers; reviewers noted it in their columns ("wonderfully musical" was the epithet most frequently attached to my performances); and I disdained dancers who lacked, in my estimation, a sufficient awareness of musical precision, faltered in their loyalty to the conductor's baton.
There was only problem. The greatest dancers do not follow the conductor. The conductor follows them. The greatest dancers stretch the music, so that it becomes, not a vise, but a thing fluid, a thing that can be pushed and pulled.
The next time you are at the ballet (or if you don't or can't go, just take a look at this clip), watch the ballerina and study her playfulness with the rhythm. Does she march along to it like a piper to a drum? Or does she vary her pacing, push and pull against it, ever so slightly, or sometimes boldly? Does she make you gasp by holding her balance en pointe just a hair longer than the adagio would indicate--can you almost see her wink at the conductor, dare the audience, Come with me, follow me?
The greatest ballerinas challenge their conductors. They play with the music. They dance with the beat, not on it.
Writers, good ones, do the same.
A sentence can be as twee as a flea.
Or it can buffle and swerve, manic, look out, that wave breaking on the beach, do you think it matches the rhythm of all the waves that came before it? No, it only seems that way, in fact, like each human ear it is unique, and attaches itself only once to the jaw of a coastline.
I learned recently that tightrope-walkers vary their rhythm as they cross a chasm on a line. Nik Wallenda did so this week when he crossed Niagara Falls, because to be too even is to risk a kind of whiplash: the line you are walking on begins to imitate you and your rhythm in ever larger waves, it loses its tension and steadiness and starts to trip you up with your own rigidity. And so the walker varies his rhythm, which keeps tension in the line, tricks it into submission. The walker is not the one doing the submitting.
It try now to remember this, not just at the level of the sentence but at the levels of paragraph, chapter, story.
I make up for all those lovely but perhaps too-neat performances.
I shove and wink.
I make up for time kept too caged.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Friday, June 08, 2012
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
From ON THE OCCASION OF FAREWELL SUMMER:
"ON THE OCCASION OF FAREWELL SUMMER I can only send good wishes to myself.
Please excuse me, but when I realize this coming week is the publication of FAREWELL SUMMER, which began more than 55 years ago, I can hardly believe it. Indeed, it was even further back. It was when I was 22 and, you might say, put on my first pair of tennis shoes, and ran like crazy.
I was fully in love with writing from grade school on and in high school I began to write things about the ravine in my hometown. In FAREWELL SUMMER the ravine is the center of everything; the old people and the young live on opposite sides of this ravine that divides the town.
...I wish all of you the best in reading it because I had delight in realizing that my ganglion and my antenna are still functioning and the darned thing makes, I believe, a good read.
I send all of you my love,
October 11, 2006"
But you know what I love? He died last night during the Transit of Venus. That seems appropriate.
Saturday, June 02, 2012
We welcome payola in the form of pies, cakes, neatly folded laundry and free books!