Frequently Asked Question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeThis month’s question from the Insecure Writers Support Group calls for a great deal of speculation. I am not The Amazing Kreskin, so this is not my strong suit. All the same, I have some thoughts.

1. An understanding by authors that, while it’s perfectly fine to run your business as you see fit, there are a lot of reasons to use wide distribution rather than going exclusive with one retail partner. One of those reasons is that it’s narrow, short-term thinking. Not all partners hold the same market share around the world, and it’s a good idea to make sure that more people, rather than fewer, have access to your work.

2. Monetizing your work is not the endgame. Writing for the love of it is fine; making a living at writing is less and less likely all the time. Having a few cents trickle in here and there is going to be the outcome for most of us.

3. Due to COVID-19, I think that in-person events are going to be harder to manage. That’s a bummer, because I like meeting readers. It’s true that these events take a toll on me physically (for those who don’t know, I have a non-communicable autoimmune disease), but it’s still nice to see people’s faces and talk about my work. I don’t know any more about how this will look than I do anything else.

 

Sometimes I Don’t Know What the IWSG Team is Thinking

There. I said it.

Here’s this month’s question from the Insecure Writers Support Group: Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

I’m pretty much an open book. I’ve talked about my health problems, and some social issues as well. However, this question feels … invasive.

1024px-Christopher_Lee_1944
Public domain photo of Christopher Lee in Vatican City, 1944, via Wikimedia Commons

It reminded me of an interviewer who asked actor Christopher Lee about his time in the Long Range Desert Group, in World War II, during which he was attached to the British SOE and SRS. Much of his work was classified, and the interviewer wanted to know about it since so much time had passed.

Lee: Can you keep a secret?

Interviewer: Yes.

Lee: So can I.

An article/obit in which Lee talks about how he always said that may be found here.

As much as I love my readers, and I do love you, not everything about my life is for public consumption. Thanks for understanding.

Frequently Asked Question: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeHi, everyone. Once again, this month’s question comes from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Honestly, I don’t have any writing rituals per se. I tend to start with primary source research: putting my “boots on the ground” to visit places I write about.

While I’m working on a project, though, I bear in mind the three ways in which we carry culture: food, language, and music. I avail myself of those methods to stay in the so-called zone while I’m working. While writing Bayou Fire, I listened to a lot of traditional jazz, zydeco, and Cajun music. I likewise studied kouri-vini and Cajun French, and ate a lot of exceptional Louisiana comfort foods like jambalaya.

Now, with Pompeii Fire, I’m studying Latin, took a course in Roman art and archaeology, am currently enrolled in a course in Roman architecture, and have reproduced one (so far) ancient Roman dish made from chard that is a big hit in our household.

How about you? Do you have writing rituals or ways to “stay in the zone” on your projects?

 

Frequently Asked Question: How Are Things in Your World?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeIt’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it must be time for a question from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The complete question is:

The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Well, I’ll tell you. Seeing the announcement yesterday that the shelter-in-place has been extended through the end of April for my region and my company was hard. I’m an introvert, to be sure, but this is starting to wear on me. I am accustomed to deciding how much time I spend at home. I like going to see friends, sharing a meal, and hearing live music. It’s tough to do these things via Zoom or Skype, although it helps a little. Working at home means there’s no real delineation between home stuff and office stuff.

I’m grateful to have a job that allows me to work remotely. I’m keenly aware that the shelter-in-place is the right thing to do. However, I’m having to work awfully hard to find things that make me smile.

So now you know.

Frequently Asked Question: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeHi, everyone. It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group question.

I had to think about this one before coming down on the side of “not really.” The closest I came was in Bayou Fire, when I wrote about Amos’ family hanging out and playing music together. Here’s a snippet:

—–

After supper, the instruments came out. It seemed that just about everybody played something. After just a few chords of a song, Amos took Diana out to join him in a waltz.

“I loved this song when I was a boy,” he said. “Mommy had an old record of it by Rose Maddox, and I played that thing to death.”

M&M frt Verson 1They danced as though they’d waltzed together a thousand times before, as Harmon played violin, and their mother played the mandolin and sang about a tramp on the street.

Amos brought Diana closer to him, still moving in time to the music, and kissed her forehead.

“Thank you for coming out here with me.” The second kiss dropped gently on her lips.

“Amos Boudreaux, you stop kissing on that girl and go get your squeeze box,” Pauline called after the song ended. “I’ve a mind to hear ‘Jolie Blon’.”

Turning to Diana, she said “You sit down here with me, chère, and get ready for a treat. My boy Amos can sing!”

Amos went into the house and came out with an old Sterling button accordion. When he sat down in the gathering dusk and started to play, Diana couldn’t take her eyes off of him. He was quite the package, with his dark good looks and talent. Harmon joined in with his violin, and the two men harmonized beautifully. Amos’ baritone joined in with Harm’s tenor seamlessly.


I have had many musical friends over the years, and we would often get together and have sing-alongs (it was cheap entertainment) … but that wasn’t really something my family did.