Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

19th April 2013

The situation between traditional publishers and self-publishing seems to be exploding, and fast. This week renound writer David Mamet let it be known he would be managing the e-book sales of his next work himself. Except for those authors who garner mammoth advances, there would seem no reason not to. The internet reaches a worldwide audience instantly, and pays the author much better dividends. I don't own a Kindle, and I personally can't see replacing the physical experience of reading a book with more computer eye strain, but if that's the way things are going, then I should jump on the bandwagon. Last week I talked to my agent about this. At least, I ran the notion by him, but, since he was on his way out to the London Book Fair, we couldn't pursue it in any detail. Next week we are going to do so. More of that to come.
I just discovered two interesting websites that are handy for writers. The first is:, which has short articles on grammar and word-use. There are links to things like "Ten foreign language phrases everyone should know." Anyone fascinated by words (and isn't that part of being a writer?) could spend a while on this site.
The other website is called: and shares posts and interviews with published writers giving advice on topics like self-publishing and the pitfalls therein. All of these sites provide a useful forum for writers to share their experiences not only in the art of writing but in the agent-seeking or publishing process (for instance, the Writer Beware Blog.) One site is even called "Plot Whisperer," though I think if you need that much coaxing, you might be in the wrong business.
I attended a talk by author Cheryl Strayed this week, and I liked her so much that I did what I rarely do: went out to the lobby and bought her book, "Wild." I have been attending author readings, because you always learn something, if only how not to conduct a reading. This winter I have attended readings where the author basically only read from the book. That leaves me feeling cheated, because I can do that for myself. I have attended some which were presented in the format of a conversation, and though that can work, it too often falls into a back and forth between the interviewer and interviewee that the audience feels removed from. (From which the audience feels removed  - I should spend more time at
Cheryl Strayed was good because she presented her personal narrative and told the story around the writing of the book. I imagine that's why most people go to these things - to hear about the process. I am half way through her book Wild, which tells about her three month journey of self-discovery along the 1100 mile Pacific Crest Trail (in boots that were too small.) It's an interesting story, but the reason I keep reading is that the writing is good. That's why I keep going back to "Travels with Charley," not so much for the journey taken but for the writer's eye along the way.
The best reading I ever went to was given by Jeffrey Eugenides when he was promoting his book "Middlesex." The second best was by John Irving talking about "Cider House Rules," and much more.
It is April in The Rocky Mountains and a snow storm is dropping fat flakes past my window, blurring the sight of the trees beyond, covering the sky with an opaque scrim. I think I am just about done with winter. The robins are hopping along the edges of the road in search of worms; the monotonous call of the chikadee has been replaced by the songs of finches and meadow larks. I want to give in to the hope that comes with the first shimmer of green in the bushes, with the lamb tails dangling on the aspen trees, but the mountains keep taking it back, keep offering up this harsh menu of snow on snow.

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