A Little On-Line Chit-Chat

If you’re curious about a little of my background and writing process, you can check out the nice interview with me on a new site called Creative-Writing-Help.com. Thanks to Tracey Tressa for the nice write-up.

Here’s a creative writing exercise for you after you read the interview:

What sort of undersea creature does my pale bald head remind you of? What would you do if it confronted you while on vacation? Would it be dangerous? How do you think it could be killed?


“Honk Honk” Podcast, Chapter 9

For all you eager kinkers out there, here is the latest podcast from Honk Honk, My Darling, featuring an appearance by my darling daughter as a sassy street urchin. Hope you enjoy.

If you DO enjoy, try leaving a comment in the iTunes store, because that will give it a little more momentum in their rankings.

And tell your friends, leave a review on Amazon, and join the “Honk Honk, My Darling” Facebook page. All these things add up. You want the circus to come back again next year, don’t you?

Cover Competition: Can We Cop “Mr. Congeniality”?

One of the best blogs out there for e-publishing is The Book Designer, where Joel Friedlander dispenses advice on making self-published and indie-published work look as good as it can. So I was excited when I read that he had a monthly contest for book covers. Every book has a cover, but so many of the e-books I’ve seen look, imho, completely amateurish, with poor font choices, muddled or cliche design, cockeyed proportions between elements, and empty space you could drive a donkey cart through. A lot of them wouldn’t have worked for a Ladies League Cookbook.

But putting those impressions into words is beyond me. I thought hearing from a professional like Joel about both my own cover and those of other e-books would be very educational.

And hey, frankly I thought we might win the contest. But alas, not this time. Joel had mostly positive things to say about the cover, designed by Airan Wright.

This cover has some of the most sophisticated typography of all the covers this month, and professional-quality illustration. What held it back, in my view, was the difficulty making out what exactly the illustration is, and what meaning it has. Also, having so many strong elements on one cover has led to a bit of graphic confusion.

Well, he’s probably right about the graphic confusion. We’ve talked a little bit about changing the cover in the future, taking out the starburst at the trapeze, and inserting a hand and forearm. But it’s pretty nice to hear that we have “the most sophisticated typography” of the month. I know what I like, and I liked Airan’s work right away. It’s grabby, and it’s going to work for other books in the series.

Among all the choices a self-publisher must make, one of the most important is what to do yourself and what to hire out. This requires deciding what you’re good at, and frankly that can be difficult. But you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. A strong cover is important, and will be increasingly crucial as more color tablets enter the market and people use them to browse for their next read. I learned a long time ago that while I may have an EYE for design, that doesn’t mean I can actually DESIGN something that will attract other people.

Friedlander’s website, and especially the contest, is something every self-publisher should check frequently. You can’t judge a book by its cover, except most of the time.

Great Week for Baseball — and Bardball

As you fans know, this has been a helluva week for postseason baseball. I’ve had the obligation (yes, this is what I tell my wife) to watch my hometown team as it struggles mightily against the scary Texas Rangers. How many one run and two run victories can either team survive? There have been no laffers, no routs, nothing that would make you turn the game off early.

And as usual with the postseason, the expected heroes (Verlander, Cabrera, Hamilton) have not been nearly as productive as the also-rans (Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young). Why this happens every postseason is worthy of someone’s research. Maybe the heroes are too exhausted, or too distractible from all their interviews, or put too much pressure on themselves to single-handedly carry the team. Whatever it is, it’s what makes October baseball so awesome.

And it’s been a great week for limericks at Bardball.com. Earlier in the week, I relaxed the rule of only one post per day, and the limericks have been plentiful, in both posts and comments. And shame on us, we haven’t been able to give any space to poems on the Brewers-Cardinals series (well, I do have one lim on the Cardinals, but because it came from a Cubs fan, it’s really nasty). Below is a sample of one of our better ones, by Hilary Barta, who also runs the site LimerWrecks. Come on over and check it all out before the World Series. That’s gonna be a yawner, I tell ya.

That hit over Beltre was crazy
A bit of the old upsy-daisy
The Rangers were trounced
when Detroit’s way it bounced,
still kicking like Cameron Swayze.

Latest Podcast for “Honk Honk, My Darling”

Attention all kinkers! The latest podcast of “Honk Honk, My Darling” is now up and available for listening! Death continues to follow Rex Koko like a yappy little dog as he follows the trail of Boots Carlozo to the trailer of her latest bunkmate, Flying Fleming! Brought to you by Robillard’s Shrimp Sticks, in handy stick form!

(Sorry this one took so long, but there were a lot of characters, sound effects and background sounds to tinker with and get right. Ever since my brother told me to get serious about the SFX, I’ve been getting more and more particular about how I put these together. Hope you agree!)

Download from this link or click on the embed below:

(Sorry the embed looks like a cheap piece of op art. It looked fine when I uploaded it. I’ve had continuing problems with the artwork when I try and manipulate it on Libsyn.)

(Political) Corrections from the Mail Bag

I’ve always told readers of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories to send me their corrections of mistakes I’ve made in my writing, of unwitting sexism, racism, classism, antipolyamorism, or any other bias that might offend any reader or non-reader. I’m only human, after all, though that’s a pretty flimsy excuse. Here’s my latest mea culpa (sorry for the pro-western classicism), a big error brought to my attention by new fan Sherry Spence:

Since you encouraged suggestions in the event of “any bias as yet unnamed” in your Introduction, I feel encouraged to point out the unnamed bias in your use – in that very sentence – of the word, “rectification.” This reference to the right hand being the one that corrects is a direct affront to my left-handed husband and left-handed grand-daughter. I am sure that you can right this sinistral wrong with even-handed treatment and your usual verbal dexterity in the next printing of your righteous tome.

Guilty guilty guilty. Right doesn’t make might, not without what’s left.