· Crazy is Normal a classroom exposť
· My Splendid Concubine, 3rd edition
· Running with the Enemy
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 13
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 12
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 11
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 10
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 9
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 8
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 7
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 6
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 5
· Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposť, Scene 4
· The Improvement of U.S. Public Schools
· Learning Twitter for Authors
· Discover how Amazon changed book cover design
· Authors Finding Readers
· How I sold almost 2,000 books in twenty hours TWICE
· It is Time Ė Relief for Victims of Lone-Wolf Killers such as James Holmes
· Living on the thin side of Black Ice
· Getting Oriented
· Learning to Love and Hate while teaching ESL in the Middle Kingdom
· The Release of The Concubine Saga is another Cheap Marketing Ploy
· The birth of a child called Prose
· The Luxury of Heartache
· Learning from Death
· Putting Cupid's Arrows on Ice
· The Never-Ending Book Promotion Blues
· Walking the Path of Dead Explorers
· LIttle No More
· M. Denise Costello reviews Crazy is Normal
· On Tour: Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose
· Comparing a virtual book tour to the traditional, and why go on a book tour
· ďCrazy is NormalĒ on a Virtual Book Blog Tour
· ďCrazy is NormalĒ on a Virtual Book Blog Tour
· ďCrazy is NormalĒ on a Virtual Book Blog Tour
· Running with the Enemy
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Blogs by Lloyd Lofthouse
Time Well Spent
5/23/2008 4:40:15 PM
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About the three radio talk shows this week and one book store author event.
It is encouraging when people buy, read and enjoy what Iíve written.
Iím sure anyone that has written a poem, short story, article, or novel knows what Iím talking about. Most writers spend years if not decades learning the craft--most of the time alone in front of a keyboard. Thatís what writing is, a lonely craft. Itís not a sport. Iíve heard successful writers say it has nothing to do with talent. My wife says this often.
Learning to write is more like learning how to make a Tiffany lamp by hand or painting the next Rembrandt. Artists of that caliber may spent years and decades learning the craft. Talent helps but discipline and sticking with it counts more.
There are a lot of pitfalls and disappointments along the way. Most come from agents or editors rejections--the gate keepers. Even worse is the silence when there is no response. Of course thereís always the criticism from someone that didnít like the writing. That type of feedback is like a sharp spike pounded deep under a toenail into soft flesh.
There was an agent in San Francisco that told me she couldnít believe that the empress of China would talk to Robert Hart like she does in my opening chapter. Thatís the way it happened in 1908 when he sat down with Chinaís last empress before returning to Britain after being in China for more than five decades. Thatís what Hart told his niece, Juliet Bredon. Itís what she wrote in ĎThe Romance of a Great Careerí in 1910 before Robert died.
For dreamers that canít take the pain, it spells doom and the end of a dream. The gate keepers have that much power.
Only a few writers seem to start out with a natural ability to write and spin stories. Most of us have to learn the hard way. We have to read a lot. Iíve read thousands of books over the years. We study books like those that Writerís Digest publishes. I have a dozen or more. We take writing workshops at local colleges or belong to a local writing group to gain feedback and support. I spent at least seven years at UCLA taking writing workshops driving more than a hundred miles each week.
Many spend years at a university or attend more than one university earning first a BA and than the MFA. I did. I attended three or four universities off and on for at least twenty years before I finally picked up my MFA in writing.
Hopeful Ďwant-to-beí published authors attend expensive workshops and writersí retreats. I havenít yet and donít plan to. Poets and Writers magazine lists hundreds of these events each year--some are expensive costing hundreds of dollars if not more. There are also the writing contests. Most of them cost ten or twenty dollars. Taking money from Ďwant-to-beĒ published authors has become an industry. Iíve been there too.
In the end, a finished piece is like an iceberg. The agent, the editor or the reader only sees a little of what it took to fill those blank pages with print and weave a story or share an insight about health or life or culture. When I was still in the classroom teaching, I sometimes got up at three in the morning to pound those printed letters onto pages. I wrote my first book length manuscript back in 1968 and emptied tubes of white-out in the process. There were many three-in-the-mornings over the years before and after word processors came along.
Yesterday, May 22, was a long day. It started before 5:45 AM Pacific Standard Time when I called the number for a Health Radio Network talk show that I was scheduled to be a guest on. The host was Rochelle Herman.
Rochelle owns a chain of health food stores along Floridaís West Coast. She also hosts a health related show that is syndicated in twelve markets. If you are into health, you may want to listen to her show. It is simulcast on the Internet at www.healthradio.net. It was a live show slated to run at least fifteen minutes. I was on for maybe six.
The rest of that fifteen minutes Rochelle spent raising money for a young person suffering from a rare and deadly blood cancer. It was obvious from the start that Rochelle didnít know anything about me. Before I went on the air, her assistant asked me to spell my name. While I talked about China, Tibet and the Olympics, I managed to weave in information about Robert Hart and Concubine too. All of these topics are connected.
Near the end, as time ran out, Rochelle offered three copies of Concubine to her listeners as incentives to call in and donate money for that young person struggling to survive and breathe another day.
I canít complain. I fought in a war and lived to talk and write about it. Although the mortar rounds, rockets, shrapnel and bullets came close, none touched my flesh. The air from one round caressed my right ear when a sniper came within an inch of putting me six feet under. That shot like the others did not shed one drop of blood. I was one of the lucky combat veterans that came home in almost one piece except for the PTSD.
Iíve known love and passion. Iíve traveled the world. Iíve walked on the great wall and seen the first emperorís terra cotta warriors. Iíve skied downhill on dry powder in blizzards. It was a thrill even if I did suffer with a touch of black frostbite. Iíve climbed mountains with friends--two of them gone now, one taken by kidney cancer and the other by leukemia. I even taught myself how to count cards and beat the casinos in Vegas for a couple of years before I decided that life wasnít for me.
Iíve hiked to the John Muir trail at the end of winter in hip deep snow. I fished wild trout and slept in the high Sierras under a midnight sky filled with a field of stars hanging above you that steal your breath and you donít care because you want to stand there with the wind blowing through the tall trees listening to the soothing silence youíve never heard before because of the roar of the city you live in. You want to drink those stars until you are one of them. You love breathing the crisp air.
Up until now, Iíve never really known hunger. Sure, when I was a child, I almost died from a virus and was under a doctorís care for years but I survived without any damage that I know of. At least thatís what the doctor said before I joined the Marines.
I hope and pray to God and wish this young person Rochelle Herman was raising money for survives to experience some of what Iíve done.
I was a guest on three radio talk shows this week. There was a bounce in sales at both Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. I have no idea if one copy sold or a dozen. The sales rankings at these Internet sites do not provide that information. It takes months to find out. All the sales rankings show is where you place in a race against more than four million other books that are in print. The competition for a shrinking readership is fierce. Last year there were four hundred thousand new titles that landed in a market that is already glutted. Most bookstores only stock between twenty to fifty thousand.
Last night I arrived at Bay Books in Concord, California a little before seven in the evening, This was to be my third author event. My first event was at Clayton Books on Friday, February 29 to standing room only. More than a dozen books were sold and two in the audience already read Concubine before that night.
I consider myself lucky. Iíve learned that booking authorís events at bookstores is not easy. It seems easier to pull your own teeth with oily fingers. Your queries can fall into a well of silence.
My second event at Bay Books in San Ramon was with seven people. Three bought copies of ĎMy Splendid Concubineí. One person in the audience had already read her copy before the event. Last night not one copy sold although Bay Books has sold more than ten copies in three months. My audience last night was four. The owner was apologetic that no one else came.
Iím not bothered My cup is half full. After forty years, I have a published novel and people are buying and reading it.
On top of that, last nightís event was listed in at least three major San Francisco Bay Area newspapers: the San Francisco Chronicle; Contra Costa Times, and San Jose Mercury. The East Bay Express, an independent weekly, ran a feature profile on Concubine that took up more than a third of a page. There was a mug shot. That picture showed the face of an old, rugged man that fought in a war, skied in blizzards and walked in hip deep snow to the John Muir Trail. Anneli Rufus is the literary editor for the Express. I thank her for a well written piece.
Iíll never know if the competition was a stronger draw. In Walnut Creek, a few miles from Bay Books, Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, had an event at Barnes & Noble. Iíve read his ĎKavalier & Clayí and Liked it so much, I bought two others heíd written.
Charles J. Shields was at Clayton Books talking about his biography on Harper Lee. Thatís where I wanted to be. I taught middle and high school English and literature for thirty years. Iíve read and taught ĎTo Kill a Mockingbirdí so many times, I lost count. I love that book. I also have the movie and have watched it many times.
Instead, I was presenting at Bay Books in Concord where I slipped into my Chinese costume, a long silk blue robe, the kind of robe Robert Hart might have worn in China. I stood in front of mostly empty chairs to spin a tale about romance, love, war, Communism, Mao, brutality, suffering, Tibet, the Dalai Lama, the Olympics and many other things about China. My audience of four listened and asked questions. It was an enjoyable evening.
Oh well, we canít always have what we want. However, all is not lost, Charles Shields is going to be at Codyís in Berkeley, California at 4:00 PM this Sunday, May 25, talking about Harper Lee and his book, ĎI Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Leeí.
More Blogs by Lloyd Lofthouse
iLook China - Monday, February 21, 2011
Time Well Spent - Friday, May 23, 2008
Serving in Vietnam Earned Benefits - Sunday, May 18, 2008
FIRST INTERVIEW - Friday, May 16, 2008
MEASURING SUCCESS - Sunday, May 11, 2008
Another Week On the Promotion Road - Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The Choices We Make - Wednesday, April 30, 2008