Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

Possibly the most important book you'll read about writing

Most writers would agree the beginning of a story is the most important part. That's where the reader gets "hooked" and continues read on or abandons the book.

 

In Les Edgerton's book,  he describes in broad strokes, fine strokes and with examples how to achieve what his subtitle proclaims.

 

According to Edgerton, you can't write the opening until you know in significant detail who your protagonist is and what the story is about. To do this you must first identify your hero or heroine's "storyworthy problem", that would be the problem that is just below the surface and is gradually revealed as the story unfolds.

 

From that discovery, and Edgerton urges you to drill deep to find out what's really bugging your protagonist, comes the inciting incident. This is where the story begins, the moment where the status quo is upset and the protagonist sets about to resolve it.

 

The inciting incident presents the first indications of the bigger issue, the storyworthy problem.

 

Don't start with backstory - bringing the reader up to date on your protagonist's life, start with "trouble" - an incident presented in an action filled scene that incites your protagonist and reader to carry on to resolution.

 

A provocative opening sentence, an exciting inciting incident giving a glimpse at the storyworthy problem and you're on your way.

 

Complicated? Maybe, but Edgerton hammers it home again and again (with examples).

 

Hooked may very well be the most important book you'll read about writing. Edgerton writes in non-academic, easy to understand language, includes entertaining examples and even gives agents and editors the last word on the most common mistakes made in the manuscripts they see and, you guessed it, a bad beginning ranks right up there.

 

Edgerton's prescription on how to come up with a good story opening is actually more than that, a lot more. It's the formula for a sound story structure.

 

 

 

 

 

2016 - My Writing Year in Review

So how was your year in writing?

 

Mine was, as always, interesting though not commercially successful. I'll list my publishing credits for 2016 at the end of this blog that way you can skip them if you like.

 

I'd rather talk about what worked and more often what didn't. I want to tell you what I learned and how I feel about it. Perhaps by the end of this accounting a way to move forward will become evident - a more positive, less frustrating one.

 

To complete and self publish two novels, as well as resurrecting and self-publishing two plays means, if nothing else, that I've been busy. I've also tried to keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry including the new publishing platforms and book marketing techniques.

 

After the launch of The Local Rag in October, I once again revisited that dark place, the one where I feel the only way I'll achieve publishing success is by divine intervention and how likely is that for someone as undeserving as me?

 

I had used every iota of publishing savvy I had gleaned from a myriad of sources and, though more successful than previous launches, it came up short - way short. To continue what I was doing and expecting a different result, well, that's a definition of insanity, or at least severe delusion.

 

The only thing I had yet to attempt that is highly touted by the book marketing gurus is the internet connection - becoming chummy with groups of writers and readers online. The theory is if you're sincere and share something of yourself a relationship will bloom and from relationships evolve all good things, right? Anyhow, you get the picture.

 

What did I have to lose? Say again, what did I have to lose? Nothing. All, right maybe dignity, but how bad could it be?

 

Goodreads is a big proponent of the benefit of participating in groups. I joined three; two were dead and the few active members of the one that was functioning were so ostentatious I couldn't stand it.

 

Internet group snobs - who'd have known.

 

I registered with Amazon's Write on, "a place for all the people who make great writing happen. Here, "you can get support and provide feedback at every stage of the creative process." Very quickly it becomes apparent this site is populated primarily by new writers - very new writers, many whom have no desire to go further. They write their stories, post them on the site and receive positive, if specious, comments that feed their delusion. Go deeper into the site and there are some very toxic groups - interesting but not illuminating.

 

Then there's Wattpad and Inkitt. Both these sites are primarily populated by teenagers - seriously. However, moving forward with the "what have I got to lose" attitude I decided to participate.

 

I began writing a story for the target audience just to see what kind of response I'd get. It's actually been fun, submitting chapters and seeing how many hits you get - not many. Here's the link to The Rocker and the Bird Girl.

 

https://www.inkitt.com/stories/romance/85760?ref=a_f0008a76-bbb3-4b9e-b291-bd01bbc0e8ce&utm_source=share_author_reminder

 

I also contributed mini reviews for a number or works posted on Inkitt. It's safe to say very few writers on this site understand the basic structure of a story - though some have been less hostile than others in regards to learning about it.

 

This sojourn into internet socialization has been exhausting and fruitless. My time is better spent trying to sustain my Advance Reading Team e-mail list which seems to diminish with every campaign I send out - a disturbing trend.

 

You can help bolster it by signing up if you like and get free e-books, discounts and interesting links to other writing stuff from time to time. Click here to sign up.

http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

 

In 2017 I'll focus on East Van Saturday Night - four short stories and a novella, currently being considered by a traditional publisher, and re-releasing under my own name Not Wonder More - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients, the third book in the Eco-Warrior Series when my publisher finally relinquishes the rights.

 

I currently have two works in progress that are introducing me to fascinating characters including an asexual politician, a passionate ornithology student and a ass-kicking rock guitarist who studied at Juilliard. I'm learning new things and visiting exotic places.

 

And they say a writer's life is lonely.

 

Achievements (?) in 2016

 

Self-published Abandoned Dreams (March 22)

Resurrected and self-published two plays, Harry's Truth (July 15) and End of The Rope (August 16)

Self-published The Local Rag (October 8)

Read and reviewed 12 books

Wrote and posted 34 blogs

 

Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs

 

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Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

Thanks for your interest and support in 2016

 

Thanks to all my 442 followers (isn't that amazing!) for your interest and support in 2016.

 

Resolutions? Only to try to write better.

 

In 2017 it's more important than ever to

Stay Calm, Be Brave, and Watch for the Signs

Today only, Dec. 15, 2016, The e-book edition of The LOCAL RAG is FREE on Amazon

The Local Rag - Rod Raglin

 

Today only, Dec. 15, 2016

The E-book edition of The LOCAL RAG

is FREE on Amazon at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Here's what the reviews are saying...

 

★★★★★ "...a story which pits an individual trying to do what’s right when it comes to reporting the news against those who would rather keep the status quo in keeping what happens somewhere stays there, I’ve given Mr. Raglin 5 STARS for his endeavor here."

 

★★★★★ "A very well written media/political thriller book. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns and a huge set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great political thriller movie, or better yet a mini TV series. A very easy rating of 5 stars."

 

★★★★★"...an engrossing and exciting story that moves quickly. The narrative comes alive because the characters are three dimensional. This is a novel well worth reading. Highly recommended."

 

★★★★★ "Interesting plot, fast-moving story, well-developed characters. Not only well presented but also very realistic. A whole range of characters, with all their good and bad sides. Many twists and turns, not always with a happy ending. Rod Raglin is definitely good at writing and gripping the readers' attention from the very first page. He managed to put so many levels in this book - corruption, drugs, murder, threats, politics. Yet, there is also place for love and friendship. He not only presents his story, he challenges his readers to get actively involved, to start asking questions and reconsidering their own life decisions."

 

★★★★"Raglin’s Local Rag grips us with a dose of reality not seen on most major media. His story highlights the control over the minds of the public by special money factions. Readers have only to see similarities with today." "...challenges readers with the ethics of seeking justice, money control, and the role of an independent media." "... hits the reader with the overwhelming forces in our life."

-Tom Pope, Bookpleasures.com

The Illegal reads like a fairy tale, poorly written

The Illegal: A Novel - Lawrence Hill

Zantoroland is a small island ruled by an evil dictator. People from Zantoroland are black, poor and friendly. The only thing good about Zantoroland is it produces the fastest long distant runners in the world. Keita, the protagonist is one of them.

 

Fifteen hundred kilometres across the Sea of Ortiz is Freedom State, a far larger island, a democracy and one of the wealthiest nations in the world. People from Freedom State are mostly white, mostly rich and mostly bigots.

 

The people of Zantoroland are trying to get to Freedom State anyway they can for obvious reasons. The people of Freedom State are tired of illegal immigrants for obvious reasons and have elected a quasi-fascist government to find and deport them.

 

When Keita's father is murdered by the evil dictator he must flee and ends up in Freedom State. Unfortunately, the evil dictator has kidnapped his sister and is demanding Keita pay a ransom for her release.

 

As an illegal the only way Keita can make money to pay the ransom is to win long distance races. This is the premise behind The Illegal by Lawrence Hill.

 

This preposterous plot is further hobbled by stereotypical characters including the aforementioned evil dictator, a whore with a heart of gold, a female cop that answers to love rather than her commander, a feisty old lady, and a sleazy, unethical prime minister and his sociopathic assistant.

 

The political machinations in The Illegal are convoluted to the point of being ridiculous.

 

On every level, except for the running, this novel lacks authenticity and credibility. The first sentence of The Illegal should have began , "Once upon a time..." The last, "And they lived happily, ever after."

 

# 7 The LOCAL RAG. Putting everything I know into a book launch and achieving nothing

The Local Rag - Rod Raglin

 

How I came to write my seventh novel, The LOCAL RAG.

Plus book launch advice - what doesn't work

 

The LOCAL RAG was my first go at fiction - a long, long time ago.

 

At the time I was full of hubris and upon completion quickly sent it to a local publisher. I don't even remember revising it.

 

It just so happened it landed on the desk of an editor who recognized my name as the publisher and editor of five community newspapers and an aspiring politico. Rather than shred it she took the time to line edit the first chapter. Suffice to say there was so much "blue pencil" it obscured the original manuscript.

 

I quickly hid this embarrassment in the back of my filing cabinet and would have forgot about it except for her comment that "there's a good story in here somewhere". I thought so too, all I needed to do was learn how to write it.

 

With the demise of so many reputable media outlets and the rise of just as many disreputable ones I had been thinking about writing a novel with a media theme. I wanted to investigate "citizen journalism", the influence of social media, and digital technology on my profession. Why not have a protagonist, a publisher and a journalist, who is struggling to keep his professional integrity while confronted with technological and financial challenges.

 

Hey, that's what The LOCAL RAG is about, and maybe I now know enough about the craft that I can write it.

 

I dug it out, sucked it up, and read it.

 

Wow, was it bad. But, as the editor had said, there indeed was a story in there and it was the one I wanted to tell.

 

It's quite interesting that as you become a better writer you write simpler. New writers and bad writers use way too many words. I cut about forty percent of the novel and then set about layering in characterization, motivation and honing the plot line. I also needed to bring it up to date technologically and to do that researched successful online newspaper models.

 

It was fun, it was exciting and a side benefit was that I learned how to put the last of the community newspapers I still publish online.

 

Here's the gist of it:

 

Do you believe everything you read in the newspapers?

 

Jim Mitchell doesn't.

 

He's a journalist and the publisher and editor of a community newspaper, The Sentinel.

 

He gave up a career with big media because he couldn't justify their choice of what to cover, couldn't tolerate the way they edited his stories and would not be implicit in misleading the public to benefit some hidden corporate agenda.

 

When he bought The Sentinel he thought all that would end. Being owner of "the local rag" he could select the stories, edit the copy and make sure the interests of the community were served.

 

He would print the truth - no slant, no bias, no spin, and he'd make a living doing it.

 

He was wrong.

 

Right from the beginning Jim's brand of reportage rankles some powerful people, people who pay his bills. Then there's the new competitor, a multinational media conglomerate that's expanding its generic community newspaper format into The Sentinel's market area.

 

Soon it's a struggle for The Sentinel to make a profit and for Jim to keep true to his uncompromising ethic.

 

When his best friend, Anthony Bravaro decides to run for mayor Jim's hopeful he'll be an honest politician.

 

Hope turns to dismay as Jim watches the quest for power turn a good man bad. Tony's campaign tests Jim's professional objectivity and personal integrity.

 

When Jim confronts his friend with damaging information that could end his run for public office he finds out how far Tony's prepared to go to win the mayor's seat - farther than he could ever have imagined.

 

 

This being my seventh novel I tried everything the so-called experts insist makes for a successful book launch.

 

Beginning in October, The LOCAL RAG was available for pre-order and entered in KindleScout, where readers could nominate it. I did a direct mail campaign with a free e-book advanced reading copy attached to over two hundred people who had expressed interest in my work. I ran giveaways on Goodreads, BookLikes and LibraryThing and enrolled in Amazon's KindleSelect so I could take advantage of their five days where The LOCAL RAG is available free.

 

I promoted all this on Twitter and Facebook and sent two follow-up messages to my email list.

 

So far I've given away about four hundred e-book editions and the net result has been one sale - I think ( I find Amazon's royalty reports are challenging to understand) and four reviews - all flattering mind you, but disappointing just the same.

 

I'm here to tell you despite what the book marketing, book launch scammers tell you none of their sure-fire techniques and gimmicks has worked (yet) - at least for me. The only up side, if you can call it that, is I've been able to do all this marketing on my own so it hasn't cost me anything.

 

I have two more Amazon free days left and am currently in the process of sending out e-books and two paperbacks to winners of my giveaways so there still could be a review or two trickle in from that - not like it will make a difference.

 

Even for a guy who loves to write this is getting a bit (?) frustrating.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

30

 

Reviews for The LOCAL RAG can be read at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Love transcending

The Story Hour - Thrity Umrigar

In the Story Hour, an arrange marriage finds Lakshmi, a woman from a small town in India, working in her husband's restaurant in the American midwest. She is exhausted, unhappy, isolated. She attempts suicide and comes under the care of Maggie, a psychologist and African American.

 

Maggie is married to an Indian, Sudhir, who came as a student and stayed on to become a professor and American citizen.

 

Maggie and Lakshmi are from different cultures, have different family dynamics but their similarities as women, indeed as human beings transcends the patient doctor relationship and finds them becoming friends.

 

Gradually understanding grows and with Maggie's help and guidance economic disparity between the two diminishes.

 

But when secrets are revealed both judge each other unfairly in the most part because, despite their affection for each other, it's impossible for each to overcome the biases ingrained by culture.

 

The relationship seems irreparably damaged but one woman is prepared to risk everything for make it right again.

 

Author Thrity Umrigar really shines a light on how our background and different cultures frame the way we see ourselves, our fellow human beings and the world around us. It's also a realistic, compassionate and hopeful look at the lives of millions of immigrant women from third world countries who come to reside in the west.

 

The story has depth, humour, passion and compassion and remarkable insight. A true novel for the twenty-first century.

 

 

2 days left to win 1 of 200 e-book editions of The LOCAL RAG

The Local Rag - Rod Raglin

The LOCAL RAG

All Jim Mitchell wants to do is publish an honest newspaper - and not get killed for doing it.

 

UNTIL DECEMBER 4TH ONLY

Enter to win 1 of 200 e-book editions of The LOCAL RAG at

https://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list

http://booklikes.com/giveaways/show/2367/the-local-rag-rod-raglin

and 1 of 2 paperbacks at

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/209419-the-local-rag

The LOCAL RAG (E-book) is FREE ON AMAZON

 

Here's what the reviews are saying...

 

★★★★★ "A very well written media/political thriller. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns and a huge set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great political thriller movie, or better yet a mini TV series. A very easy rating of 5 stars."

 

★★★★★"...an engrossing and exciting story that moves quickly. The narrative comes alive because the characters are three dimensional. This is a novel well worth reading. Highly recommended."

 

★★★★★ "Interesting plot, fast-moving story, well-developed characters. Not only well presented but also very realistic. A whole range of characters, with all their good and bad sides. Many twists and turns, not always with a happy ending. Rod Raglin is definitely good at writing and gripping the readers' attention from the very first page. He managed to put so many levels in this book - corruption, drugs, murder, threats, politics. Yet, there is also place for love and friendship. He not only presents his story, he challenges his readers to get actively involved, to start asking questions and reconsidering their own life decisions."

 

★★★★"Raglin’s Local Rag grips us with a dose of reality not seen on most major media. His story highlights the control over the minds of the public by special money factions. Readers have only to see similarities with today."

"...challenges readers with the ethics of seeking justice, money control, and the role of an independent media."

"... hits the reader with the overwhelming forces in our life."

-Tom Pope, Bookpleasures.com

 

 

Practical, professional advice on how to write your memoir

Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life - Jerry Payne

Jerry Payne is a ghost writer, he writes for other people. Mostly he writes memoirs.

 

He feels, and rightly so "there is something profoundly revelatory in exploring a life to the depth that’s required to write about it." He suggests an honest memoir does just that. In his book, Writing MEMOIR, The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life,

 

Payne is also honest in his assessment of those who want to take this project on. Some people just can't write, others can't be honest with themselves. However, if you have a proclivity for writing and can be honest with yourself this book is an excellent guide.

 

First and foremost, Payne points out that a memoir is not the story of your life but a story of an interesting part of your life. He suggests you approach your memoir as an author approaches a novel defining goal, motivation and conflict and establishing a story arc. If you don't know what all this means, he explains it.

 

He also offers writing advice - how to "show" (action) rather than "tell" (summary and passive). There's also information how to effectively revise and polish your work and when that's done how to go about attempting to find a traditional publisher or to self-publish.

 

Writing Memoir is not the work of an angst-ridden author telling you how he or she struggled to come to grips with writing their own story. It is a very readable practical guide, excellently presented by a seasoned professional.

 

As a facilitator of creative writing circles at which many of the participants are writing a memoir I would recommend Writing MEMOIR, The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life over all other books I've read on this subject.

 

I receive this e-book free in the hopes of an honest review.

 

Authors.me "match" manuscript to non-existent pages, vanity press

Back on November 16, 2016 I had an email from David O'Brien, the founder of Authors.me https://www.authors.me

 

Authors.me call their site, "The platform that connects writers, agents and publishers to find manuscripts, manage submissions and get books published."

 

I imagine anyone who has uploaded work unto their site got the same email. Here's what it said:

 

"We have a lot of major publishers and media companies looking at doing business with us. Every one of them has asked us, "What do your writers say about the service?" Well, I am writing to ask you to put together some honest writer quotes for a presentation I am making.

 

Here are the categories in my presentation under which I will need a quote. Please feel free to fill in one or more of the categories with your personal quotes (not someone else's). Just type your quote into the space provided below and reply back to me. Be creative and succinct. I will be grateful.

 

INSPIRE (How AUTHORS.me inspires  you)

 

ENGAGE  (Your experience working the platform, i.e., easy, hard, comprehensive, etc.)

 

LIBERATE  (Frees you up to be yourself)

 

EMPOWER  (How it makes you feel more like a professional writer)

 

LOVE  (Why you love using AUTHORS.me)

 

 

I would also like to hear your thoughts on the new layout. Please note we are not done polishing it, but would still love to hear from you.

 

Thanks again for being a part of the AUTHORS.me family.

 

Respectfully,

David O'Brien

Founder, AUTHORS.me

david@authors.me

 

 

I have four of my novels uploaded to this site.

 

Initially, my understanding was agents and publishers would log on and be able to quickly see if anything caught their interest. Evidently, none of my novels did. I've had no action whatsoever.

 

After I received this email I checked my work on the site again and I see that Authors.me have found "matches" - a publisher or agent who is looking for a novel similar to mine.

 

Well, that's encouraging.

 

A quick check and it becomes apparent this is not quite the case. Take for example, my novel Loving the Terrorist - a contemporary romance with subplot that addresses an important environmental issue (eco-fi).

 

Fifteen matches yield the following:

- 2 sites where "the page does not exist", ebooks2go, Library Tales

- 2 sites that are without a doubt pay for play - called hybrid but are nothing more than vanity press. BookLogix and Lift Bridge Publishing

- 2 sites that are duplicated equaling four sites. Grand Central/Forever Yours and Skyhorse - and by the way, Skyhorse is not accepting romantic fiction.

- which also goes for Lamar University Press - not accepting genre fiction

- Bound , is a company that claims "we deliver stories in an easy-to-engage format that combines prose fiction, stunning visuals, and dramatic audio." Huh?

 

Sixty percent actually don't match, don't even exist or want me to pay to publish my book. Of the others, they’re accepting “adult romantic fiction”, not specifically my novel.

 

 I sent these findings to David because he said said he'd love to hear from me and it would be rude not to respond to someone who considers me "part of the family".

 

Just for the hell of it I hit the submit button on five "matches" that seemed legitimate. According to the tracking window of the site my work has been declined by one agent.

 

Only one publisher has sent me an email to acknowledge that they received my submission.

 

So there you have it – no inspiration, no liberation, no empowerment, no love - and no response.

 

But then isn't that just like family.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

30

 

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

 

#6 - Abandoned Dreams - continues to sleep

Abandoned Dreams - Rod Raglin

 

How I came to write my sixth novel, Abandoned Dreams

 

Son or daughter, sibling, spouse, parent, employee, employer - these are just some of the roles we have either been born into, had bestowed upon by us by others or have even sought out for ourselves.

 

But do these roles, these facades really represent the person we are - our hopes, dreams, fears, and insecurities. In accepting these roles are we masking our real personalities - intentionally or otherwise.

 

Sometimes roles are thrust upon us because of circumstances or our own mistaken actions.

 

When I was eighteen my best friend got his girlfriend pregnant. Today you would say my best friend and his girlfriend got pregnant, but back then it was different. Quickly, and not necessarily of his own choosing he took on the roles of husband and father.

 

Roles can change your life. Suddenly you're a different person - or are you?

What if you had the opportunity to start over, or more precisely take up where you left off?

 

This is a theme that has haunted me for a long time and one I took on in my sixth novel Abandoned Dreams. Here's the story:

 

At twenty-seven years-old, George Fairweather is “the voice of his generation”, a poet whose talent has garnered him accolades from the literary establishment and homage from the disenfranchised “hippie” youth of the late 1960’s.

 

George is the embodiment of the times with his long hair, rebellious attitude and regular use of mind-expanding psychedelic drugs.

 

Then the sudden and tragic death of Fallon, his friend, his muse and his lover shatters his world, his sanity and nearly ends his life.

 

Katherine is the one person who stands between George and destruction. A hanger-on, a groupie, a go-for, she’s a woman George never considered – for anything. Katherine idolizes George and makes it her personal mission to keep him alive, doing whatever it takes, twenty-four seven.

 

Because of Katherine’s sacrifice and devotion George slowly begins to mend his soul and rebuild a life. But guilt and gratitude make it a much different life then he’d previously led.

 

Thirty-seven years later, George Fairweather is a husband, father and grandfather and a successful copywriter at an advertising agency. Another death, his wife Katherine’s, is about to change his life again.

 

Can dreams be resurrected? Can a life abandoned be taken up again?

 

Will they let him? Is it worth it?

 

I wanted a challenge with this novel. I wanted to stretch myself as a writer. Because of the nature of plot I decided that the narrative would almost entirely be told by people other than the protagonist, George Fairweather. I wanted George to be an enigma. Different characters would see him differently depending on the role they cast him in - father, grandfather, lover, friend.

 

In the end, his true personality would emerge - or not. I wasn't sure.

 

I wanted to present a scene and then have different characters interact and reflect on it in their own voice. To achieve this I needed to develop deep character profiles apart from the novel.

 

The characters I created were complex and multi-dimensional as well as being different ages and genders and having different motivations.

 

Then I outlined the plot, dropped them in and hung on.

 

Abandoned Dreams apparently didn't wake anyone up. It has garnered less response than any of my previous books - and that's saying something.

 

When being right doesn't help

I'm Right and You???re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up by James Hoggan (2016-05-24) - James Hoggan;Grania Litwin

This book has changed the way I think, which was exactly as stated in the title.

 

The premise author James Hoggan advances in "I'm Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up" is that the most pressing problem society has is not climate change, but the pollution in the public square - where "adversarial rhetoric and polarization is stifling discussion and debate creating resistance to change and thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems."

 

In a summary of interviews with outstanding thinkers he reveals "the importance of reframing our arguments with empathy and values to creating compelling narratives and spur action", - fancy words for really taking into consideration your opponent's point of view.

 

There are issues that are too important to me to go unresolved, even if I have to concede what I always considered the moral and empirical high ground. I now, somewhat reluctantly, realize that if I feel passionately for something I'm probably not thinking clearly - not seeing the full picture and other people's (that would be the idiot's) valid points of view.

 

I urge you to take a look at this book and consider your approach to vital issues you're involved with, especially if you're interested in climate change and a way forward. The debate is stalled, and as the title says the public discourse is toxic.

 

What does it matter if you're right and the planet burns?

 

The launch of The Local Rag

The Local Rag - Rod Raglin

This is my seventh novel, you'd think I should know something about launching one by now. Right?

 

Because I write this blog and facilitate creative writing circles I continue to read books and participate in webinars on book marketing hoping there'll be something new I can pass on.

 

There isn't.

 

There's stats, graphs, media mixes and the occasional ridiculous suggestions like:

- include the title of all your books in the header photo of your various social media sites, and

- post photos of five covers of your books on your Facebook opening page - bottom left column below your intro.

As if this preaching to the converted (since they're already on your site) will make a difference.

 

Currently, the Holy Grail of social media marketeers is "the e-mail list".

 

Building the email list should be the primary objective of authors and this is done through giveaways, signups for your newsletter and any other way you can get a person to divulge their email address.

 

Then, if done right - right timing, content and frequency, these lists can apparently be mined for gold.

 

Without exception these social media marketeers, authors and webinar presenters all have their own marketing company and will be happy to further enlighten you with an online course or program (for a fee).

 

Armed with the experience of six previous launches and now buoyed with all this new(?) marketing information I set forth on October 1, 2016 to launch my seventh novel, The LOCAL RAG.

 

The first thing I did was to enroll my book in Kindle Scout, Amazon's "reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing."

 

https://kindlescout.amazon.com

 

There's a forty-five day exclusive agreement stating you're not selling your book while it's part of the contest.

 

In essence this is an electronic slush pile, but it's free and easy though it provides little indication if your book is popular since, like most internet polls, it can be easily skewed by nominees who rabidly recruit votes from everyone they've ever come in contact with.

Then I sent an email with a free Advance Reading Copy e-book.

 

For the first time I used MailChimp. They offer a free service for lists less than two thousand subscribers. I have two hundred and thirty-five emails from people who at one time or another expressed and interest in my writing. MailChimp is worth investigating and certainly beats sending individual emails.

 

https://www.mailchimp.com

 

I enrolled the e-book edition of The LOCAL RAG in Kindle Select. For a ninety day exclusive Kindle Select offers me greater royalties, wider distribution, participation in Kindle Owner's Lending Library and the opportunity to offer my book free on Amazon for five days during that period. I chose five individual free days more or less spaced equally apart.

I've used this program for some launches and not for others. The results have been the same - zero.

 

https://kdp.amazon.com/select?ref_=kdp_BS_TN_se

 

By the end of the month I had sent out two follow-up emails urging people to vote for The LOCAL RAG on Kindle Scout and read and review my book.

 

Once the Kindle Scout promotion had expired (results pending but not holding my breath) I scheduled a giveaway from November 7th to December 4th on Goodreads for two paperback books, and here and LibraryThing for the same duration for one hundred ebooks each.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/

https://www.librarything.com/

 

I set up a pre-order on Smashwords for January 7, 2017, ninety days out and once my commitment to Kindle Select is over. I'll likely offer it for free for a couple of weeks just for exposure. Smashwords is another non-starter, but what the hell.

 

https://www.smashwords.com/

 

I've joined four Goodreads groups and will endeavor to engage in meaningful and civil discussions during the next three months as well. Social media gurus insist joining and participating in online groups will increase sales - at least indirectly. This by far is the most difficult and time consuming part of the launch.

 

My goal is to get at least ten reviews and sell at least fifty books within six months of the launch.

 

With about one month down I've so far received three reviews (all five stars) and no sales.

 

I'll keep you posted.

 

Stay calm, be brave watch for the signs.

 

30

 

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 - Forest - an exploration of wild things, wild places and intimate relationships

FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend - Rod Raglin

How I came to write my fifth novel, Forest - Love, Loss and Legend.

 

My fifth novel was being written in my head even before I put anything on paper (more precisely typed anything into my laptop). It was the residuals of past works.

 

Left over from The Big Picture - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic was my research into the drug war in Mexico which my heroine Freyja covered as a photo journalist. I'd also done some investigating of failed states and civil wars throughout Africa where she was going on her next assignment. Added to that was my fascination with war correspondents and how they cope with a steady diet of death, destruction, chaos and hopelessness.

 

I also wanted to delve deeper into intimate relationships - what attracts us, what keep us engaged and what are the impediments to long lasting relationships? I'd touch on this in my previous novels with the turbulent romances between Freyja and Marty, and Freyja and Miguel in The Big Picture, and Dieter and Maggie in Not Wonder More - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients. I wanted to explore further how different values, different cultures, timing and circumstances impact on how, who and when we fall in love - and if it lasts.

 

I set this book in the Pacific Northwest of Canada - perhaps one of the few areas on the planet where there still are vast tracts of wilderness. Where, behind an impenetrable wall of green it was as my hero, Matt Bennett says, “easy to imagine no human had ever set foot a hundred metres on either side of the road. Species could come to life, thrive and die without anyone except God ever knowing they existed.”

 

This land is a place of legend and mystery and if you're born and raised here and take an interest in the wild things and wild places as I have, well, there's no end to fascinating tales with just enough substantiated fact to whet the imagination. Two of which I incorporated into this story.

 

Here's the blurb that introduces the novel.

 

Matthew and Raminder are young, idealistic and in love.

As soon as they can they plan to leave behind the small town and small minds of Pitt Landing. They will embrace life and experience the world, maybe even change it.

Man plans, God laughs. Raminder’s father has a stroke and her commitment to her family means she must postpone her plans and stay in Pitt Lake. It’s just the opposite for Matt. A family tragedy leaves irreconcilable differences between him and his father and forces him to leave.

They promise to reunite, but life happens.

Twelve years later, Matt is an acclaimed war correspondent. He’s seen it all and it’s left him with post-traumatic stress, a gastric ulcer, and an enlarged liver. He’s never been back to Pitt Landing though the memory of Raminder and their love has more than once kept him sane.

He’s at his desk in the newsroom, recuperating from his last assignment and current hangover and reading a letter from his father, the first contact they’ve had in over a decade. It talks about a legendary lost gold mine, a map leading to it, and proof in a safety deposit box back in Pitt Lake. He’s sent it to Matt in case something happens to him and cautions his son to keep it a secret.

Matt is about to dismiss the letter when the telephone rings. It’s Raminder telling him his father has disappeared somewhere in the wilderness that surrounds Pitt Lake.

Lost gold, lost love and lost hope compels Matt to return home to Pitt Landing, a dying town on the edge of the rainforest on the west coast of Canada. Will he find any of these, or does something else await him?

 

This novel also gave me an opportunity to revisit one of my central themes - the environment, specifically the protection of endangered species and forest conservation.

 

Quite inadvertently it also turned out to be a mystery.

 

Forest - Love, Loss, Legend was released in January 2015 with no expectations. Sales have been dismal despite the handful of very flattering reviews it has garnered.

 

Perhaps because it was told from only one point of view, Forest was easy to write. Too easy. I resolved that my next book would be more challenging in format and content.

 

You can check all my published work at my Amazon Author Page at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

30

 

 

 

Friends and family not an asset for this writer

When it comes to my writing and friends and family I've established clear boundaries. Here they are:

 

- I don’t talk about my writing even if asked. Those inquiring are usually only doing it to be polite and aren't really interested. In any case, listening to someone talk about their writing is profoundly boring – even for me and I’m a writer.

- I don’t solicit reviews or ratings from them. I try to avoid even the faintest hint of conflict of interest in the support and criticisms I get.

- I very rarely give them my books. If they’re interested they can buy one.

 

I once went to a birthday party where a friend’s partner had rented a gallery and had a show professionally mounted of her paintings. Needless to say, most of those attending bought some of her art. She was thrilled.

 

This to me was not a measure of artistic merit. I didn’t buy anything, in fact, I was surprised and not a little offended. This was hardly better than a Tupperware party.  

 

I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to take advantage of my friends and family. I don’t want to demean myself and my work.

 

The independent publishing industry is rife with nepotism, gimmicks, and chicanery – all geared toward reaching bestseller status. I don’t care if I’m a bestseller, but I do want to become a better writer. I think these practices prevent that from happening by creating a false sense of accomplishment.

 

You think you’re good, but your not. You’re delusional.  

 

I don’t know if this stand has hurt my sales or not. If it has it hasn’t been significant because I’m just not that popular – with friends or family.

 

I've also developed guidelines for social media.

 

I don't solicit followers on Twitter, don't "friend" people on Facebook, and don't appeal to viewers to "like" or "subscribe" to my YouTube channel.

 

I do encourage comments and criticisms which I faithfully respond to and hopefully learn something from.

 

Amazingly, some people chose to follow me which is gratifying because it definitely is not reciprocated.

 

I had one expert tell me "social media is not for you". Really? Maybe just not her kind of social media, the kind where friends and followers are little more than meaningless numbers and bare no resemblance of reality.

 

I still believe a social media following can be built by someone who has something interesting and original to say regardless of whether he's a friend, follower or subscriber.

 

Later this month I'll be waiting with Linus in the pumpkin patch.

 

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

30

 

 

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding my books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

 

 

On self publishing The Big Picture - and becoming an indie author

 The Big Picture - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic, was the first novel I knew I would publish independently.

 

I wanted to explore a number issues and without the constrains of genre I had no idea where they would take me. I was excited.

 

I wanted to examine the creative process - and how the art and the artist are influenced by the marketplace.

 

I wanted to delve into the intensity of family dynamics - how wonderful it is when it works and how damaging it can be when it doesn't.

 

I wanted complex characters and authentic relationships.

 

As a journalist, I'd covered stories that couldn't be reported. I knew what was going on but I couldn't get someone to go on (or off) the record to admit it. It's frustrating, but what could you do?

 

Well, you can use it in fiction. The plot of The Big Picture is comprised of some of those unsubstantiated stories and also my investigation into the influence on our lives of drug money.

 

To get at my protagonist's inner journey I went deep inside myself, rooted around, and came forth with not so much the truth about a life I've experienced, but one I'd hoped (still hope) to live.

 

Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe said, "One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." I wanted Freyja, my heroine, to be that person. I wanted to see where her blunt refusal to compromise and her intolerant attitude toward those who do would lead her.

 

Here's what I came up with:

 

Young, talented, ambitious, Freyja Brynjarrson’s a photographer struggling to crash the art establishment, the challenges presented by her family, and still keep true to her uncompromising ethic.

Fate places her on the front line of a political demonstration where soldiers open fire on civilians. She photographs death for the first time and likes it.

Because of the sensitive nature of her pictures the current government, facing an imminent election, tries to suppress them. But someone far more unscrupulous than government spin-doctors also wants those images destroyed.

Gunnar Brynjarrson, Freyja’s eldest brother is the head of an illegal narcotics empire. He’s concerned about the opposition party’s platform to decriminalize drugs. His sister’s photographs could influence the outcome of a close election and put his business in jeopardy.

As events unfold, Freyja slowly becomes aware of the far-reaching impact the billions of narco dollars have on the government, the economy, friends, family and even herself. Something insidious has infected society and like a super bug it’s resilient, opportunistic and appears as a mutation in the most unexpected places.

Freyja refuses to compromise and is intolerant and unforgiving of those who succumb to this evil or are complicit in their acceptance of it. If she stays at home she’s afraid she’ll be infected and never attain success on her own terms.

She takes an assignment with an international agency photographing the chaos and casualties of Mexico’s drug war. Freyja soon discovers she’s shot only one frame of ‘the big picture’.

The Big Picture focuses on dramatic action, zooms in on political intrigue, and takes a candid snap shot of modern romance. The plot also reveals how narco dollars, overtly and covertly, influence every level of our lives; the wars we fight, the governments we elect, the impact on healthcare, and most importantly and tragically, our personal relationships.

 

When The Big Picture was finished I set about self-publishing. I used Kindle Direct for the e-book and Createspace for the paperback, both Amazon platforms.

 

I know a little about publishing having been (and still am) a community newspaper publisher for nearly four decades. Mind you, with the speed technology is evolving past experience doesn't count for much, if anything. In any case, I didn't find the process that difficult. The most difficult part was, and still is, making sure my original manuscript is error free.

 

I loved this book. I did everything I could to promote it - used social media, sent out advance copies, ran giveaways, sent forth positive thoughts.

 

I allowed myself to hope. It was a mistake. The Big Picture was self-published without acclaim, reviews or sales. I was disappointed. I felt bad, not so much for myself as for the book. I felt I had let everyone down - meaning my characters.

 

I regrouped and focused on why I write - because I love to, to learn new things, and to pass my view of the world on to others. Two out of three - not too bad.

 

Upon reflection I realized The Big Picture had done no worse than the first three books I had published with a publisher. I enjoyed the independence of self-publishing - and the responsibility. So when it became time to renew the contracts with my publisher I said I would if they would publish all the books as paperbacks. We compromised - they published Not Wonder More - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients and I yanked the other two books, Spirit Bear and Eagleridge Bluffs.

 

I subsequently self-published and released Spirit Bear as

 Saving Spirit Bear - What Price Success, and Eagleridge Bluffs as Loving the Terrorists - Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs. My re-released books have fared no worse than the one remaining on the publisher's list, all have done terrible.

 

Next month I'll retain the rights of my last book under contract and I plan to re-release it as a self-published book as well.

 

The next time I'll talk about , Forest - Love, Loss, Legend, how came out of the residuals of the previous book - war, drugs, and murder combined with my love of the wilderness - it's splendor and it's mystery.