Friday, March 27, 2009

First Bike Ride of the Year

We've had a long, cold winter in New York this year. I felt like a bear in hibernation. But finally, the warm weather is here! It's 60 degrees, and I have the day off of work. What better chance to get my mountain bike up and running, air in the tires, oil on the chain? It felt good to finally be out there riding on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail again. I took a nice 46-minute ride (yes, I timed it), and my legs felt nice and rubbery when I returned home and got off my bike. Of course, I forgot to stretch my legs beforehand.

Saturday Update: Today it was a 43-minute ride. Really feels good to be back out there. And yes, I remembered to stretch before the ride today.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Self Publishing

I'm a member of an online writers workshop. There is a very active message board, and occasionally the subject of self publishing comes up. It is usually hotly debated, with some people vehemently opposed to the idea, while others view it as a viable option to the long haul of trying to get something published by one of the traditional houses. I try to steer clear of these arguments, because it's rather pointless. Either you believe in self publishing or you don't. To me it's the abortion issue of publishing. You can argue all you want, but in the end it's useless. You're not going to change anyone's mind. Anyway, I thought I'd post my response here, too:

I self published my first novel, Into the Sunset, after several near-misses landing an agent. I was frustrated and worried that someone else would come up with a similar plot as my novel, which would have completely screwed any chances I had of landing a "traditional" publisher. I still believe my novel is good enough for a small publisher, or even a large house. Would it have benefited from another pair (or two) of editorial eyes on it? Of course. What wouldn't?

But that's not to say my manuscript didn't go through an editorial process. I had my former creative writing teacher read an early draft. She gave me extensive notes which were invaluable to me, since this was my first attempt at a novel. Later drafts were read by fellow authors, and I received some constructive feedback. I workshopped several chapters in my writing group. Additional comments I received from agents were also incorporated into the mss. Finally, before I went to print, I had someone who works in publishing proofread the manuscript (I'm proud to say I have only found a few typos in the finished product, much less than most hardcovers I read).

I am glad to see self-publishing making slow, but steady strides. There are even awards, such as the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Not all self published books are crap. Tom's point in another thread was that readers just want a good book to read, and they aren't looking at who published the book. This is true to a degree; the problem, though, is if you have written and published a great book (or a good one, or a shitty one), how do you get that prospective reader to know your book exists? That's the rub. And there IS still a stigma against self-pubbed books, though I think that will slowly change as better books are published. Let's face it, publishing is in flux right now, houses want to go with the tried and true, and not many authors can actually make a living being a novelist.

I am seeking an agent for my second novel (as I work on my 3rd and 4th), but I have no delusions that I will score big and quit my day job. So, having that attitude, it doesn't bother me if I have to self-pub again in the future. At least I'll have complete control over the product, including cover design. I will not allow myself to put out something I don't consider ready.

So my advice to those considering self-publishing: Go in with your eyes open, expect to work hard, and put out the best product you can. This includes workshopping your manuscript, getting it proofread, and please, please get a professional to design the cover. You can judge a book by its cover. ; ) Oh, and don't expect to make money.

By the way, I consider these endless arguments about self-publishing absurd. It's the abortion issue of the writing world. If you don't want to self-pub, DON'T. If you are pro self-pub, then you can pursue that route if you choose.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

U2 Does New York

U2 took NYC by storm this week to promote their new CD No Line on the Horizon. They played David Letterman's Late Show every night (and sounded awesome), had part of Broadway temporarily renamed "U2 Way," and gave a free concert at Fordham University on Friday morning. And they are due to announce their tour dates on Monday.

That's NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the left, thinking about his stocks.

As a U2 fan, it's exciting to see them out there doing all this promotion, sounding great, and getting exposure. Being the biggest band in the world, they almost don't need to do all this. People have been waiting for four years for new material. And besides, No Line on the Horizon is seriously one of the best CDs they have ever released. I'm too lazy to go through it track by track here, but I'll sum it up by saying it is one of those records that gets better with each listen. Better still with headphones. There is a lot of meat on these bones.

U2's setlist at Fordham: Get On Your Boots; Magnificent; I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight; Beautiful Day; Breathe; Vertigo.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

John Lydon Likes Country Life

Country Life butter, that is. Lydon, who rose to fame as Johnny Rotten in 1977 as the sneering lead singer the Sex Pistols, one of the original punk bands, has made a funny commercial for the British butter company.

Rotten and the Sex Pistols have always been anti-establishment, anti-authority, and definitely anti-Royalty. Still. They didn't even show up for their own induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago. So is this a "sell out"? I don't think so. Just Lydon having some fun. And hell, even punk rockers need to butter their toast.

"People know I only do things that I want to or that I believe in and I have to do it my way," said Lydon. "I've never done anything like this before and never thought I would, but this Country Life ad was made for me and I couldn't resist the opportunity."