Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Awesome Literary Saga with Suzzy Roche...

In a recent Boston Globe article, writer extraordinaire Amy Sutherland interviewed Suzzy Roche about reading. The occasion was the publication of Suzzy's first novel, Wayward Saints, and it was an insightful look into an often neglected aspect of a writer's life - reading! It was my extreme honor to have "The Missionary and the Brute" mentioned and referred to as "a page-turner" alongside others of Suzzy's current and favorite reads. To even be listed in such proximity to Larry McMurtry, Eleanor Henderson, JM Coetzee, and Meg Wolitzer is humbling. And so appreciated!

That it came from Suzzy is even more exceptional to me. I have been a huge fan of Suzzy for as long as I can remember. As a member of the legendary Roches she first caught my ear singing "The Married Men" on Mimi Farina's Bread & Roses album. I was instantly hooked. That hookage deepened for me when the Roches appeared on Saturday Night Live doing an a cappella version of the Hallelujah Chorus. It was a reveltory moment for me that I have always equated with the performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. It was that amazing - ballsy - exquisite - and flat out brilliant.

You know - like Suzzy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I never had Paris...

Writers have always sought community. There have been writer's colonies from time immemorial. Sometimes they are formal - other times less so. Some of the more noted are the famed Algonquin Round Table where George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley- amongst others sat around and cracked wise at each other's expense.

Paris for Hemingway was even more profound of an informal community with James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Glenway Wescott and Richard Wright all writing and supporting each other. The ex-pats read, critiqued and help shape the works we have grown to love over the ages.

One of the more notable communities - albeit in an interesting small way - was that of Truman Capote with Harper Lee. The support they gave each other was legendary. Not a community as we often think of them, but a community of mutual benefit all the same.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Free Kindle Experiment

"The Missionary and the Brute" was offered free this weekend through a special Amazon promotion. I agreed to let it roll out there at no charge so that more folks would actually pick up a copy. Prior to that time, it had sold one copy (to me!) and someone borrowed one copy. So a total of two copies had been downloaded. Several people LIKED the book at that point, which was nice. And some more folks had agreed with the keyword tags. Before this weekend, the Kindle version had been ranked as high as 243,000, but had settled back to a 303,000 overall ranking.

Then came the experiment. Thanks to social media - the word got out that the book was being offered for free and folks started organically downloading it. It rose steadily in the ranks settling in at a high of #21 for free Literary Fiction. Way cool! Over 400 people ended up downloading it, which is great! It even got a few more LIKES and one 5star rating/review! Woohoo!

Then the experiment ended.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Disney and Bikers and Stammers - Oh My!

There is a lovely new interview that my friend Raychelle did at http://www.raychelle-writes.blogspot.com/2012/01/writers-block-interviews-john-d.html In the interview she touches on the writerly process, inspiration, some of my past works and my current work - "The Missionary and the Brute".

I had tons of fun doing this interview - I can tell by some of the excursions I took along the path of my responses. Any story that combines my trying-to-be-erudite-and-failing-miserably use of fake Latin combined with my experiences regarding Disney and supplanted with tales culled from my blowing harp in a biker band is okay with me! That more or less sums up my existence to be honest. It's fun to read some of my own responses knowing that I could fill mega-blogs by expanding on any one of those brief tales.

Enjoy! And while you're there - check out Raychelle's other interviews and her own writing as well!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Routine (the dreaded spreadsheet!)

Despite all our great ambitions of sitting down and simply pouring our souls upon the page in a mad rush of writerly creativity, the reality is that writing is often danged hard work. For me at least, I have to build a routine of writing that works and keeps me on task.

For my first book, "The Hand Behind the Mouse: an intimate biography of Ub Iwerks" I had a routine where I wrote my parts primarily late at night. Usually I would wait until the boys were in bed at 9 and then would go down to the basement and type and type and type. Sometimes I'd be up until 1 or 2 am if I was on a roll, and sometimes even if I wasn't! More than once I fell asleep at the keyboard and once I fell asleep with my hands on the keys. When I awoke I had 400 pages of bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb's.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Now on Kindle!

"The Missionary and the Brute" is now available on Kindle! Check it out if you have a chance. Only $2.99 puts mystery, drama and a ripping good tale set in Africa right in your hands today! Enjoy!

If you have the inclination, please LIKE "The Missionary and the Brute" on the Amazon page and after you've read it - please consider writing a review and sharing it with others!

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And speaking of sneak peeks...

Here is the cover for the/a next book in the Ross Family Saga. I have realized that my fiction all works within a unified context. Here are the next books - not necessarily in order. I work at them simultaneously though one is typically way at the forefront.
  • Chiaroscuro Bums (The tale of Jadwin Ross continues as he awakens in an Amsterdam hospital. A sequel to The Missionary and the Brute - 10% complete)
  • The Blue Man (Alwyn Ross, younger brother, is an animation historian who discovers not only a long lost African American animation studio from the 30s in his research, but also a cold case murder - 60% complete)
  • The Straw Man (Dotty Ross, middle sibling, is a midwest housewife on the run. She catches a ride with an eccentric English professor who is obsessed with the thought that cows and hay bales are engaged in an apolcalyptic battle - 40% complete)
  • Animated Lives! (A series of interviews with real animators conducted by fictional Alwyn Ross - 100% complete)
  • Believer: a political fable (An Oral History Tale of Alwyn - Before, during, and after Blue Man in sequence - 30% complete)
  • Reject (Alwyn/Dotty story of their youth - 80% complete)
  • Ira and the Seeker (Middle era story of Alwyn researching his familial roots - 90% complete)
  • Untitled (Short stories that have been pulled together featuring the Ross family. - 25% complete)
  • Lifecycle (One segment of this complex, compilation work features a Ross family member - 60% complete)
I liken these stories to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Saga, wherein some characters repeat, themes repeat and we get to know concepts, themes etc. Sometimes they will cover the exact same timeframe - Blue Man, for example, is contained within a single chapter of Believer, but even that chapter has more and less details from differing perspectives (not all reliable narrators) that add to the characterizations. It is interesting in that the stories are not written in the same style. At all. But I like it that way. The way they are written, they allow me to truly take them pretty much anywhere I want to go. And I want to take them pretty darned far...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sneak Peek - Work in Progress

From time to time I'll share a bit of my works in progress here. Since we are focusing primarily on "The Missionary and the Brute" here, today I'll give you a few paragraphs of a scene from its sequel, "Chiaroscuro Bums". Not going to give away too many spoilers - especially ones that bespoil the ending to Missionary, but I will set the stage a little bit.

This is from an opening chapter. The setting is a hospital in Amsterdam. What follows is a portion of a nightmare that haunts one of the patients there.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Congratulations goes to...

...Lisa Guthrie Van Scoyk for winning an autographed copy of "The Missionary and the Brute"! Lisa will receive an email verifying that she won requesting details of how she would like it personally inscribed.

Thanks to all who participated! Please continue to watch this space for more exciting blog entries, contests, and events!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Now available in more outlets!

"The Missionary and the Brute" continues to expand its reach. Check out the various ways to purchase copies today!
Check them out, and buy a copy or two if you have the inclination - which I think you might! And if you want to help promote the book, click LIKE, share on FaceBook, Twitter and Google+, Add tags (or confirm tags), give it a rating, grant it a review, or tell them you want it in a different form (Nook anyone?) All of that helps the synergy of the process!

Woohoo! Thanks for checking it out. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

To market to market to buy a fat book

Some folks have asked me what I am doing to take "The Missionary and the Brute" to market. LOTS of things - actually. One of the key things I am doing is mailing out marketing DVDs to independent booksellers. Each is an autorun disk that looks and acts like a website, but is truly self-contained on the disk itself.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Teenage Fantasy Horror Author interviews John

It is always fun to be interviewed by passionate young writers. Alisa Jeruconoka is author of a teenage fantasy horror novel called "Unparallel Worlds" and has chosen to expand her genres/interests to include a lovely little interview about "The Missionary and the Brute" and me.  I am honored.

Check out my take on genres (I think I am 'trans-genre'), writer's block (just do it) and much much more..

Click here to access the interview. Make sure you thank Alisa and check out her work too!

A threepenny twist of Brecht

I remember when the revelation hit. It was way back in the early 80s in some Theatre History class. To be honest, I was never really all that comfortable with theatrical theory or all that high-falutin' intellectual discussion-making about art. I could partake of it when I chose, but I much preferred to opt out and simply enjoy or not enjoy as I saw fit.

I saw my own appreciation of the arts sort of like that famous Peanuts comic strip where Charlie Brown and Linus are laying on their backs perusing cloud formations above them. Linus sees all kinds of intricately detailed imagery from mythology and the Bible - St. Paul's conversion on the way to Rome or something lofty like that - but then when it is Charlie Brown's turn to share, he sees merely a horsey and a ducky...

Sometimes I'm with you, Chuck.