Handling the Business

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I think it’s safe for a writer to say that it’s pretty much ALWAYS frustrating when you are trying to get your name and work out there.  It’s not there is no ‘easy’ way because I think if you’re willing to pursue a dream you get over the ‘easy’ aspect of it pretty quickly.  Easy means different things to different people but all in all, there is rarely much EASY when it comes to your dreams.  Even if you have a quick ascension it usually means you’ll have an equally quick fall, which doesn’t really help a whole lot.

Lately I am frustrated with a lot of the way that things have gone as far as publishing. It’s frustrating that self publishing is still looked down upon so fervently yet the established publishers make it so hard to reach them. Trying to get published is a maze of waste and disappointment.

My mind boggles when I read about a place wanting me to sum up every chapter of my book and submit that with a synopsis.

Why?

That’s so wasteful.

On time and resources.

Here’s my thought – have writers query with who they are, what they want, and what they have to offer you. You look through it and if it hits your curiosity button then you ask for more, if not, you thank them and move on. And let’s get past physical subs unless its an entire manuscript, which should only go to someone if they are really, really interested. Otherwise it’s sheer waste. I get that some people hate tech, well, get over it. You can get your email on tablet PCs, phones, all manner of devices so why waste all that paper and postage and honestly, time.

And that is what kills me is the waste of time on the writer’s side. I get that publishers want what they want and me fuming about closed minds and closed doors is not going to change things, but jeepers, the time of the writer is valuable, just as valuable as anyone else’s. We have day jobs, families, loved ones, and expecting us to research your magazines, your companies, to do hours and hours of work to get impersonal rejections with no tips, pointers, or even interest is ridiculous. Again, let’s keep things to email. That way you can get the submission query, and if people don’t like it they can shoot a quick email back and thank them and move on.

No muss, no fuss.

It gets crummy when you research, mail things off, and wait weeks for a Thanks But No Thanks form letter. It is just rude and shortsighted. You never know what writer will some day get picked up and become a brand name and the company will wish they’d been a little kinder.

Kindness counts. And if I can take a chance on you by offering my work, you can be polite and thank me for that time and not waste my time. It’s the least that can be done. If you are so swamped that you can’t do it then have an assistant do it and be thankful for the work.

And with that it’s time the publishers start opening their minds more. Take chances. But take chances on smaller scales. Embrace e-publishing and embrace new and emerging writers. Give them their chance. Give them a cut of the sales and market it to some degree and if they move books, then give them a longer look and if they don’t then you part ways knowing each side gave it a shot. Ebooks are blowing up and this is a way to open digital niche arms and to discover new voices.

It’s time for change.

It’s time for the publishers to pay writers, to appreciate them, and to realize that they work symbiotically and need one another. It’s time that was understood and honored.

Me, I am at a place where I am a whisper in a storm, but I am trying to find my voice, to scream to the hills of these amazing books I have written and to have people share in the stories I have written, but for now I am patiently waiting for the winds to change so I can be heard above the noise. I believe in the future of writing and publishing but there’s a lot of change that has to keep happening and I just hope I can ride that change out and find a way to hang on, like so many others.

Bookswww.meepsheep.com

And So It Begins…

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   This is a pretty momentous day for me. Today is the day I sent my novel A Shadow Over Ever off to a friend to be edited. This is the first big step I have taken with the novel in quite some time and it feels great. This is a novel that began as a short story back in 1994 when it was published in a magazine some friends and I were doing at the time. After that it grew to a sequel story, to a third story that rounded it out to novella length and then I finally let it be what it was and finished a fourth part and let it be the novel it always was meant to be.

Phew.

I love this book. Truly, madly, and deeply. It was, until I wrote The Meep Sheep my favorite work I had done. It is funny, it is sad, it is scary, it is deep, and it is ridiculous. It is the story of a man who had only and always wanted to be left alone yet who is forced into saving a world he no longer feels a part of anymore. I put a lot of work into this thing and know that there is a lot of work yet to come. I have edited it three times in the past and it needs new eyes, fresh eyes to find the errors in grammar and, more importantly, in the story itself. Soon, much sooner than I can imagine, I will be able to get it out into the world though, and that’s pretty great.

This had been intended to be the novel that I was to have published traditionally, that had been my hope for it, but I had tried that course for years and could keep trying to no avail. I am not sure if my query letters were poorly written, if I choose the wrong agents or publishers, or if I just wasn’t able to convey what this book is (something I still struggle with – theosophical horror? Hmm?) but the time has come for it to move past the ‘sitting in a drawer’ phase.

So, it’s begun, the next step on what has been a long road for this book. I am still far from the finish, but it is closer to being more than something I and a very small handful of people have read. Soon it will be out there in the world, and that knowledge feels pretty great.

c

wwww.meepsheep.com

Doing the Circuit

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    If there’s one thing that I have learned through all these many years as a self published writer it’s that if you are ever going to get the thing out there you have to, well, get the thing out there.

I learned pretty early on that if you are not willing to get your work out there and in front of people then you are putting up a lot of roadblocks. Hell, we’d all love to just have a publisher woo us, produce and promote our books, and then we can just go to glamorous and exciting signings and interviews but, well, that just doesn’t happen a whole lot. Even the few publishers that can afford to pick up ‘new’ writers (and don’t you hate that, no matter how long you have been writing if you are new to someone then you are new to everyone, ugh!) they can rarely put much money behind them. So, promote you must, and promote you will.

But how?

  A lot of that comes down to you. What are you willing to do and what is your book about?

First things first is the press release. Distill your book into some saleable points, write a brief (and I mean brief) bit about you and where you come from and the like, and then where you can get the book and then send it off to the local papers, the local media, your college, your grade school, and post it to a blog or site if you have one. So that’s done. Next you start spreading the word, so for me, I hate sending out review copies because you rarely seem to get reviewed. Better to give away a few copies to friends and strangers with your contact info and with the explicit instructions that they get the word out and pass the book forward. Lose a sale here and there and get the book out to the world. Get it in hands and get the word out.

So the book is out, what next?

For me, I find that the best response I get and the most sales I get are not from the internet but from people being right in front of me. It takes a lot of gumption to do this, but you will find that if people can pick up and look at the book you will get a good reaction. Now, you need to try to get it into stores as well, for sure, but this is never as easy as it should be since, if you are self published, you are not considered as legit as others so you have to play the ‘local author’ card heavily. But it can and does work. But for sure, get it in stores, if you can, but after that, take the show on the road.

The biggest issue with taking your book out on the road is this – cost versus reward. What will you have to invest into an event – fliers, cards, postcards, books, and whatever else you might need – and what will you make from it? You have to accept that you may take a loss for a while, but you have to then put a limit on that loss. Myself, I never make a lot at conventions but I love doing them so much I sorta do my best and treat them as mini-vacations with some weird, fun people. A lot of events you do will cost, so you better have an idea what you need in supplies and put that against the cost of the event and then decide if it’s worth it. A lot may not be worth it. I know there are definitely shows I ignore because they cost far more I can ever hope to make from them, and it’s just a no-win proposition. Few things as a writer are as frustrating as knowing you wasted money on an event where you get zero interest from people. Drives you mad.

  Ok, so you are going to do events, or try them, but what ones? Well, what is your book? And where do you live? For me, I have done best at small art shows – people are generally open minded, are looking to buy SOMETHING, and if you have a good price and are a good pitch person you are on the right road. Conventions I never did well at but fantasy books seem to kill at them, depending on the con. I know the last two comic cons I did the two fantasy writers I was near made a bunch of loot on their books, so it can work, for sure. Craft shows may be interested in writers but are pretty picky that you be, you know, a crafter. Some cities and towns have writing or book events but if they don’t then start one. If you have writer friends this is infinitely easier but you can put a flier out for other writers. Or you can just ask local bookstores/libraries if you can do a reading or signing there.

The thing with any event you are at though you have to always be promoting it with the understanding that if you cannot get people other than family and friends there then you have a lot more work to do. And even if you don’t sell books at these events you are making in-roads to people. You are doing the hard work. The important work.

    There is no magic in writing, in publishing, or in selling your work. It is perseverance, plain and simple. Writing isn’t natural to anyone, it’s something you work on and develop, over time, and that’s how you have to look at this process. Nothing happens in a day, but if you keep at it, and keep working at it, you’re gonna start breaking through. It’s all about believing in yourself because baby, if you don’t, if you won’t, then who the heck will? Who the heck should?

c

The Players and the Play…

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In my newest book The Meep Sheep the story focuses on four people who are brought together in the hopes of pulling their Kingdom from the brink of forever darkness. The theme of darkness is as old as Mankind itself and is familiar card for those who have ever done any reading. The idea of darkness takes us back to childhood fears and to a time where anything might lurk there waiting to gobble us up. Now we think of people when we think of darkness and of WHO might be lurking there and not WHAT as we once did. It was my hope that in summoning a familiar ‘foe’ like darkness that I might capture a universal fear that seems palpable and real. And in a valley Kingdom where the clouds are in far greater supply than the sunshine, the darkness is very real indeed.

The darkness though is not the enemy here, no, the darkness is but a tool of the enemy, because this enemy is far too clever and too wily to not know that sometimes the oldest and simplest weapons are the most fearful.

But what is a story of villains without the heroes? And thus we return to the players in this piece. When this all began with Messy and the Meep Sheep I had but one character, our intrepid queen out to bring back the sunshine to her Kingdom but as the scope of that world grew I found that I was adding characters, creatures, and was creating not just a place but a world. A world is not a world though without people to connect you to it, and it is these people that kept me connected to the work as a whole.

Queen Messy is a young woman conflicted. Faced with knowing that for generations the women in her family have been the Queens and Mistresses of Magic in the Kingdom of Man is a heavy burden to carry, a burden made even heavier by her not wanting to be like the others. She longs to be an artist and to focus herself on those pursuits, not on ruling a land and its peoples. The Kingdom of Man once faced the ravages of war and while those days are long in the past the shadows of that war run long and still hold sway over the people and the land. Miss Messy must face her own fears and self doubts if she is to be able to find happiness in what she does because if she cannot find happiness in herself, she will never be able to spread happiness to the rest of the Kingdom.

Next comes Ashley Pickles, a young man who wants only the simple things from the world – a song on his lips, a guitar in his  hands, and someone to play to. Now, this wasn’t always the case with young Master Pickles, who as a young man had a voice which could charm the animals from the trees and could warm the coldest of hearts, but when he was taken as an apprentice by a man touched deeply by Ashley’s songs  it was only then that he began to find his true talent and his true voice. Ah, but every great gift has its price, and will Ashley be able and willing to make the sacrifices it takes to truly find his path?

Miss Amanda is a budding reporter in the Kingdom of Man but has yet to land the big story. When something comes between her and something special in her life though she becomes the center of negotiations with an ancient race and Kingdom that was once allied with the Kingdom of Man but which finds itself alienated and opposed to their one time friends. Can this young woman overcome her fear and face the wrath of this old and honored race? Can she bridge the divide once more between her Kingdom and theirs?

Finally there comes No One, the only character not inspired by someone I know. No One was a character that came to me when I was starting to put the first ideas together for what I thought would be the final story of the book (which, it wasn’t, but he IS in the final story as well so it worked out). No One is a man set with one of the gravest and most dangerous of all the jobs in the Kingdom of Man, watching something that is rightfully feared. But as dire as his job is, he knows that if something should happen to what he guards then his Kingdom and indeed all Kingdoms may be lost. But can he hold back a rising tide of fear that comes with fire to face the very thing they have been warned away from all these generations?

The Meep Sheep is a story for all ages, a fairy tale novel made up of several short stories that stitch together to form one narrative.  There is no overt violence, no foul language, but there is darkness here, in theme and actuality. But all good fairy tales confront the darkness and it is only by confronting it that we can conquer it. The book is twelve dollars but is something that can be passed from parent to child, from friend to friend, from teacher to student, and on and on. And once you’ve read it I think you’ll agree with me when I say it’s a story you won’t see, or ever forget.

c

The Meep Sheep – press release

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Press Release – The Meep Sheep by Chris Ringler

Dark clouds have formed in the Kingdom of Man, clouds of dissent, doubt, and worse yet, fear. After a century of peace and sunshine darkness has come to this land, and with it the rumors of unrest, and unless a young queen can stop this brewing storm, her entire world may be destroyed.

The Meep Sheep is Flint author Chris Ringler’s third book and is far different than anything he has released before. The Meep Sheep is a series of fairy tales all set in the Land of Man, where wondrous creatures and amazing people mix in a world where magic has not yet been forgotten. These strangers will journey to find themselves but will also join their destinies together to stop the darkness from overtaking their land before it is too late. This is a book about the joys of self discovery, the wonders of a world where magic is alive and well, and of the dangers of self doubt and fear. The stories of The Meep Sheep follow Messy, a young queen learning to lead, Ashley Pickles, a musician learning to share his gift for music, Amanda, a young journalist who befriends the dangerous Panda Kingdom, and No One, the old man who guards the much feared Great Thicket. Separately they can only battle their own issues but together they can save their world.

This is Chris Ringler’s latest book and will give readers a chance to see a new side of this talented writer. Along with The Meep Sheep Chris is the author of This Beautiful Darkness and Back From Nothing, both of which are darker short story collections. Chris has had three stories published in Bare Bone and was published in Cthulhu Sex Magazine. Mr. Ringler has been writing for nearly twenty years and in this time he has completed a novel and hundreds of short stories. During his writing career he received Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2006 and 2007.

Chris Ringler graduated from Lake Fenton High School, in Fenton, Michigan in 1992 and went on to attend Mott Community College and then The University of Michigan – Flint, where he graduated with a BA in 1997. Mr. Ringler is a writer, artist, and photographer and lives in Flint, Michigan and is someone who fell in love with writing and art at a young age. Chris has been doing pop culture conventions and art shows for fifteen years now and hopes to keep getting his book into the hands of readers every chance he can.

For more information please contact the author via email – pumpkinpete@comcast.net

For a full description of the book or to obtain a copy, please visit the E-Store – https://www.createspace.com/3436738

For more info on Chris or his books head to his blog –

www.grimringler.wordpress.com

Review copies are available.

THE MEEP SHEEP available for order NOW!

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I am very proud to announce the release of my newest book – THE MEEP SHEEP, which is a novel told in short story form about the magic and wonder found in the Kingdom of Man. This has been a total labor of love that started over six years ago and which has lead to this.

I am lucky to all of the friends that inspired the book and its characters, the people who bought the chap book of Messy and the Meep Sheep, the friends, my family, and all my loved ones who helped keep me going through all of this and especially to my girlfriend Amanda, who laid the book out and believed in me and the book every step of the way.

THE MEEP SHEEP is available for $12 right now.

Together We’re Strong

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    A funny thing happens when you write a story, or a book – the work has just begun. If you are lucky enough to have a publisher then they will help with the work of publicizing the book, shipping it, getting it reviewed, getting you signings, and generally just making sure the thing has a chance out in the world. Unfortunately very few published authors have a lot of those luxuries and the lower down the food chain you are the more work there is to do. For me, a self published author, I have always fought alone. My first book, my collection Back From Nothing was subsidized (which was an older way of essentially self publishing, you just paid for the costs and they did some of the work) and the company went under so I had to do all the work myself.

And it’s hell.

It’s hell to try to sell, promote, and ship your work. It’s hell because you are your champion and almost every door is closed to you. It was a rough ten years, trying to promote the book, but I learned a lot by doing it, the most important thing being to GET…IT…OUT! You have to get it out to people which means you do art shows, comic conventions, genre conventions, and whatever you can think of to get people to meet you and to see the book. That is the difference. If you are a new author then people don’t have any investment in you and unless you have an utterly gripping story summary the odds of you selling books to strangers is little. In an environment where you are among creative people, or people who want to find that new, cool thing you will be able to forge a connection and sell some books. Still though, you’re alone.

    It’s rough, to say the least, to know that other than indie bookstores, no one will carry your work, as a self published author. The chains may list you on their sites but they won’t ‘waste’ their shelf space on your book. And part of you can understand that because, well, who are you? Why should they sacrifice space on their shelves for someone who may not even be able to write. You have to prove yourself. Only, how do you do that if they won’t take a chance on you? Having worked retail I know that space is always at a premium, but I also know that you can always find extra space if you look, cram, shove, and take a minute to think about it. But publishing and bookstores are all about the ‘big guys’ and the fad. Not a bad thing, just a thing that is a truism. The publishing world is much, much smaller than it has ever been in what it wants and will spend money to promote and produce, despite all of the boutique and small publishers (which are all but self publishing when you look at what they will do for you, yeesh!), so many of us, despite our talent or lack thereof, are left to fend for ourselves. For me, it makes more sense to forge my own path with self publishing, and to try to get my work out there. I believe in my work, I love it, and I trust that it will find an audience, and it has, at least from time to time. Is it my ideal? Hell no, but it is what it is, and you can fight the system, or give in to it.

I choose to fight.

    I am hoping with the release of The Meep Sheep you will choose to fight with me. I need to get this book to the world, and hopefully to you, dear reader. I am doing a few local shows, so that helps, but so does word of mouth. I am going to try to get the book into the hands of some teacher friends to see if they are interested in sharing it with their students, I am going to do the cons, and I will keep writing here and thinking of new ways to get the book(s) out to you and everyone else. It’s a shame that so many writers are ignored, and are marginalized. See, there’s not as strong or organized of an indie scene with writing as there is with music but, together we can fight the chains and support and promote the work we love. There is an ocean of great work out there that we are not seeing. It’s time to start finding and supporting it, isn’t it?

Together we’re strong.

Go Meep!

Go Kreep!

Seen but Unheard

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Ok, I wanted to add a bit to somethin’ I said in an earlier blog about how everything should be seen, every story read, every story told, or something like that.

Well, I don’t change that, at all, but i do amend it in that, well, sometimes you can see why the stories are not always found and that is because they are just not that good. A problem with the whole self publication thing, a bit of a curse that is also a blessing, is that anyone can get their story out, no matter how polished or raw it is. This can be good and bad.

There is beauty in any stone, polished or not, but the rougher the edges, the harder it is to get to that beauty that may come more naturally for other tales. Working at a bookstore part time I see a lot of self published works – bless the owner, she prides herself on selling these books – and I have seen some things that are pretty rough. What gets me is that it isn’t even that these are awful stories – though when you see the things people choose to self publish it is a bit revealing – but just that they are not finished.

So many of these works are short, are under written, over written, not grammar or spell checked, and it seems as if much of it is written to catch a passing wind and not to say something with their own tongue. Just as, if I decided tomorrow that I was going to write a story about teen vampires it wouldn’t be because I have always wanted to do that, I haven’t, but it’d be because I wanted to make a buck. Nothing wrong with that, at all, but it is wholly different that putting out something that reflects your own heart and voice.

I admire anyone brave and tenacious enough to write and work to get it out there. It all has a right to exist. All of it. My fear though is just that with so much of this self published material being so clumsy and rough that the gems amongst them will not be seen and the entirety will be damned outright.

For now though, let us toast those who do, those you want to, and those who cannot, and hope that all three groups end up in the same place some day soon.

c

Publish Thy Self

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I think the two great fears of any writer, hell, at least me, are no one caring about what you are writing and finding no market for what you write. Well, the older I have gotten and the more I have read I have realized that, well, it’s true, there really is someone for everything. It doesn’t matter if it is lewd, crude, or just poorly written, someone out there will dig it.

And good.

Hell, if someone is passionate enough to take the time to write then theys should find an audience. It seems right.

The fear that lingers then is that there will be no market for my writing. Sure, there may be readers but how will they read the stories if they cannot FIND them? That, friends, is a good question and one that is becoming more and more pressing as publishers shut down and everyone and everything starts to shrink.

It isn’t that people are not reading, though I am sure the numbers are not what they once were, but that books have gotten so expensive, salaries are so high, and overhead is so big that publishers are more selective about who they publish, meaning we get a lot of the same stuff over and over and over.

Safe is in and options are drying up.

What is interesting is that ten years ago the last thing you wanted to do was to subsidize or, as they say now, self publish your work. People that did that were seen as the lowest of the low. Why should they have a book out if no one would publish them. The popular term for this sort of publishing was ‘vanity publishing’. A swell term, no. As if all these people wrote were autobiographies.

My book was subsidized, meaning I paid for the publication and all that rigamarole and they gave me my book and were to do the heavy lifting. Unfortunately for me, the company went under and I am left selling the books myself, something that is both blessing and curse. What it did do, is make me want, more than anything, to find a publisher for later works.

It’s interesting, ten years later, to see how things have changed, and that self publishing, little by little, and very much begrudgingly, is getting some respect. I think the problem has always been one of elitism from established writers, not wanting to give ground in a very competitive industry to upstarts who may have turned up and expected a book deal out of the gate. I also think a big problem is that a lot of self published stuff always HAS been crap. Time passes though, and with the markets closing as they are, you are going to find more and more writers going the indie route and using blogs and websites to get the word out about themselves. It isn’t much different than the way indie music thrives and how people would just get themselves a cheap recording set up and would do it themselves.

DIY, kids.

I don’t think anyone would say the do it yourself way is the most ideal, even if you tell me that you can make more profit that way, because it is a hell of an undertaking to do it on your own but, it’s that we still DO do it that matters. And as more people try self publishing, and when a few ‘names’ go that route, things will really change. What we need now are some sites that will review just the DIY stuff to get it the credibility notice some of it deserves.

We all have voices, and if we can’t find a mic, maybe we’ll just have to get ourselves some megaphones and make a lot of noise.

…c…

Riding the Hobby Writer Horse

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For some reason lately I have felt sorta lonely, as a writer, and have wanted to feel more connected to that community. Specifically the horror writing community, seeing as I like to write creepy stories and all.

Now, I won’t necessarily say I am a ‘horror’ writer but being that it sounds sorta silly to say I am a ‘dark fictition’ writer, even if it IS true, well, horror it is. And besides, I kinda dig those folks.

Mostly.

While zooming around the couple bulletin boards I troll and pop off in once in a while, the pessimism and condescension I have been reading has been bothering me. This is bigger than the ‘well, YOU are an idiot, my good fellow’ sort that is always found in the BBS world, no, this is more of status as a writer. I have read, more than a few times (hell, I have all but used it, in a round about way) the term ‘hobby writer’ in regards to some writers, and this is rarely used as a complement, or simple descriptor.

The idea seems to be that, if write, but don’t publish often, then you are a hobby writer, and are a different breed than other writers, something that deeply bothers me. It bothers me because the implication seems to be that there is something cute, and quaint about people who write but don’t find themselves regularly published, as if they are someoe’s cute uncle who likes to write the occasional story about flying cats. It bothers me because there is already too much pigeon-holing and categorizing with writers. Everyone has to fall into a simple classification or else it throws off the system. I hate the idea that, if you are not always actively pursuing publication that youd are not as serious about writing as someone who spends their days shipping dozens of stories off. Hell, I know some very talented writes that have yet to see print but who I am sure want that some day. All of this bothers me because this is yet another wall in already labrynthine world of writing.

I know that personally, my life is pretty full, and with my other interests in the arts, and reviewing, and blogging, and living life, that it is hard to find time to sit down and get things ready and out to publishers. It isn’t a lack of interest, it’s a limitation on time. I am guessing I am not the only one that has this problem. Where the term hobby writer may be right though is that we that do want to publish but who are not publishing, need to FIND time to get the work out there. If I believe in it so damned much then why am I not pushing harder to get it out? Sure, there are limitations on time but it is also hard to want to push that little bit more when you keep getting rejections.

What this reminds me of is the way that people who self publish are looked at by writers, and that is as frauds and wanna-bes. The thing is that that is an out-moded notion. A few years ago it was self-indulgent to have your own book printed up but the times have changed. With the ease of getting something published yourself, and the attainable costs, it makes a bit of sense, especially when rejection is the default when you are a new writer. The thing is that self publishers need to really work hard, twice as hard as any other writer, to get the book out therem, to publicize it, to sell it, and to get the word out. It’s a daunting task to take on I’d wager and one I’d never do beyond the chapbooks I make up.

By casting away hobby writers so cavalierly, as if they are just people who think it’s swell to write, it ignores that these are stills storytellers and writers who are just going about it in their own way. Hell, a lot of people will never try to publish, and many shouldn’t try to as they are not writing effective stories, but, damn, to act as if these are your younger siblings. Maybe it is who I am reading, maybe it is where I was reading, or maybe it is that I worry myself that I don’t take writing seriously enough, but the time for casting shadows and stones is past us. For writers, all writers, it is time to work together to make sure our art is not lost or forgotten with the passing of ages. The time is changing, and the days when people could get published are growing dim. It will only get harder so we need to find alternate paths to tells stories, to promote books, and to make sure that none of us becomes disenchanted and loses the spark that drives us.

We are writers, and that is as good a term as we need to define the lot of us.

…c…