A Reluctant, Roundabout Request for Assistance

I hope there's a novel at the other end of the tunnel. (Monte Dutton photo)
I hope there’s a novel at the other end of the tunnel. (Monte Dutton photo)

I have a few thoughts this morning on writing, publishing, etc.

Perhaps I should just make them, huh? I wouldn’t need to announce I have some thoughts if I’d just write them. Oh, well. I’m not entering this blog in a contest. I do that with the short stories.

Regarding short stories, yesterday was a good day. I knocked out a new one, “The Smart Kid,” and I even sketched an illustration that pleased me because I thought it fit the story well.

Macy McMahon thought she knew it all. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Macy McMahon thought she knew it all. (Monte Dutton sketch)

“The Smart Kid” ended in a way that surprised me. My intention was to write humor, but the main character, Macy McMahon, was such a scheming opportunist that I had to figure out a way to knock her down a peg or two and demonstrate the error of her ways. I hope you still get a few laughs, but I also hope you’ll find a moral to the story. This tale is kind of a double-edged sword in terms of “Parental Discretion Advised.” Most of the characters are teens, and while it’s certainly not for the kiddies, lots of kids, at least late in high school and in college, might get some good out of it.

Me, me, me. Of course, I liked it. I wrote it. It reminds me of one of the observations I used to make as a sports writer: “No one writes shit on purpose. There’s plenty of it out there, but the guy who wrote it thought it was good. The best thing about awards and compliments is that provide evidence someone else out there likes it.”

I’m not objective about myself. No one is. Some people are more capable of self-evaluation than others. I hope I’m in that class, but I’ve no way of knowing. When you post and tweet compliments, it’s reassuring, and when you post and tweet criticism, it’s sobering.

Audacity2Based on the experience of trying to sell my first two novels (The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles), I’ve come to believe that routine book reviews don’t do any good. I’ve had some experience with reviewers doing little more than amending what is on the back cover. It’s unethical, or it was when I worked at newspapers.

I think criticizing my book is better than just rubber-stamping it. I understand that some people are just trying to be nice. I think it’s significant when reviewers genuinely love my book and what they write rings true. I’ve reviewed other books, and it’s hard to be critical when the book is by a friend, and, to be truthful, I’ve been fortunate in that most of the books I’ve reviewed were entertaining, or enlightening, or both.

If you're enjoying this story, I expect you'd like my novel, The Intangibles.
If you’re enjoying this story, I expect you’d like my novel, The Intangibles.

As you may have gathered, I’ve been trying to find a new publisher, unsuccessfully so far. The manuscript is entitled Crazy of Natural Causes, and I wrote it because: (1.) I wanted to write something of a fable about the absurdity of life, (2.) I spent a good bit of time two winters ago reading the Bible, and while it would have been admirable if I had done this for my own good, the real reason was that I had Chance Benford, the protagonist of the story, in mind, and I wanted to shape his character around what I got from reading the Scriptures, and (3.) I wanted to write about a bad man’s redemption, not in some miraculous sense, but in the gradual transition of mixing acquired wisdom with life’s harsh experience.

It’s not spiritually uplifting. Many readers will find Chance’s evolving beliefs objectionable. It’s a frank novel, rife with the bad: language, guys, girls, addictions, et al. While creating the protagonist, I imagined a rudderless boat being tossed around in a storm, staying afloat but drifting randomly.

There’s a reason Chance is a detestable character at the beginning, but I don’t want to give away more of the story.

The trick in writing Crazy of Natural Causes was to keep the reader’s attention long enough to develop a liking for Chance. That has been the main goal in two rewrites. I’ve softened him, though that may leave some readers incredulous.

This guy used to be worse?

I've played for tips before.
I’ve played for tips before.

At midnight tonight (Saturday wee hours), a sample of Crazy of Natural Causes will begin a 30-day run on KindleScout, which is a process whereby one may have a Kindle novel published under Amazon’s auspices. A major aspect of the competition is readers having a chance to choose the books they like. I have no idea how this will work. I may have no shot. There may be someone out there lining up votes like a ward politician. The Koch brothers may be involved, for all I know, but I doubt they’d rally around Crazy of Natural Causes.

I’m sure there are authors willing to go further in self-promotion, as I am painfully aware of my weakness in that area. I really want the novel published because it’s good, not because I pester people to support it. Yet, I must pester people to support it. I’m not going to go overboard, but I’m sure there are those who will, and the weakness is mine, not theirs.

I can’t give you the link yet. I’ve looked at the presentation, and, of course, I devised it. There’s a Q&A about me and my book. There’s a short bio, and a paragraph of description, and a sample of the text (the first three chapters, I think) and a cover I hurriedly devised and had to redo endlessly because I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. The link won’t be available until midnight tonight. It’s likely I will be sharing the link as late as 12:05 a.m., unless I get sleepy and forget. You’ll be hearing about it soon.

I hope you’ll find it worthy of your support.

              Thanks for reading. My non-fiction blogs are available at montedutton.com, and you may purchase most of my existing books, fiction and non, here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1



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