No Errands for Fools

This is a very simple post. Not because we are simple people, my writer friend (although there is an argument in my household about my side of that equation), but because what you and I do is NOT simple. Not by any stretch of the imagination. As they say in France, it’s very difficult.

Continue reading “No Errands for Fools”

Smelling Like a Duck

If it looks like a duck, and floats like a duck, but doesn’t smell like a duck, is it a duck? Or is it a decoy? A fake duck? Perhaps a wannabe duck.

You’re a writer – you know how it goes. You pour your heart and soul into your work, you polish every single word, and then you launch it out into the world. But… how?

Once I was in a restaurant and the waitress asked me what I wanted. I told  her I’d been thinking about the turkey sandwich, to which she replied “and what did you decide?”

I used to think that the difference between writers and folks who thought they’d like to take a stab at writing is that writers write. I still believe that to be true, but perhaps not as thoroughly true as I once thought.

Suppose you wrote your brains out, but shoved all your work into the furnace and sent it up in flames? If no one reads it, did it have meaning?

Obviously it did to you, but only to you. You’re a writer – you have a story to tell. If you don’t tell it, or if you tell it only to yourself, well, are you a writer?

It’s  a long way to get to the point that we must publish. My books are at Smashwords – yes, that was a shameless plug, but it illustrates a point.

Once upon a time we would hawk our words to agents who would hawk our words to publishers who would bring our words to the world at large. In Shakespeare’s time, Will had to hawk his words to his publisher – there was no agent – and together they hawked his words to the world.

I’m thinking that Mr. Shakespeare’s paradigm has returned, now that the writer’s world has turned into a Wild West of Self Publishing.

I found this great website, run by Joanna Penn, called the Creative Penn.  Her site is full of good ideas and great tools and is generally a lot of fun to wander about. While I don’t know Ms. Penn, and only recently discovered her site, I believe there is a lesson there for us all.

You, my writer friend, and I, unless we are to be mistaken for decoys, or wannabe ducks, must actively, and intensely, pursue the task of hawking our words to the world. It’s up to you and me.

Unless we do that, I believe that we are deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are somehow successful authors for having published ourselves. While that is truth, it an incomplete and rather shallow truth.

You, my friend, and I, must embrace the fact that if we do not actively market our work, we do not, in fact, smell like a duck.






#writersofinstagram #bookworm #bookstagram #writing #booklover

“Magic,” She Gasped.

Magic She Gasped Little Black2

“Magic,” she gasped.

Say it again: “Magic,” she gasped.

Tell your friends to say it: “Magic,” she gasped.

It’s a mantra, unless that’s the bat-shaped fish. Whisper it in your sleep.

“Magic,” she gasped.

What is it? What does it mean? Why should you care?

What makes a Subaru a Subaru? Actually, Subaru puts a comma in their statement – a comma with which I have never agreed. Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. What does that second comma do? It makes a clause out of “it’s what makes a Subaru,” which isn’t a clause at all. It equally makes a clause out of “Love a Subaru,” which is a clause, but  is so widely separated by the non-clause that you have to remove the non-clause to see it, by which time you’ve simply beaten the whole darned thing to death…and doesn’t make me what to buy the car because they have trouble with punctuation.

“Magic,” she gasped. It’s a mantra, or manta. Or Banta if you’re into Star Wars.

I was trying to come up with a way to sell my book, and the only catchphrase I could think of was “buy my book.”

Hmmm, lacks a little something.

Hailey, one of the characters in my novel, Droppington Place, has a fascination with magic – just to point out that there, right in that sentence, is the proper use of commas to separate a clause – which causes her to utter the mantra/manta/banta phrase. Several times throughout the story she gasps the word “magic,” in what I sincerely hope is a running joke.

So, you see, sometimes your characters can give you a hint on what’s special in your work.

But, here’s the dealio, the thing, the bomb, the cat’s pajamas: What happens if you Google search “murder, she gasped”? Well, probably nothing yet, because I just loaded the tags.

But eventually, my impatient friend, you’ll go to either Phineas Caswell’s home page at, or to his Smashwords Droppington Place page.

If you simply Google Phineas Caswell, whose name appears beneath the logo, brings you all manner of Droppington Placey options.

Is this marketing genius? Does Procter and Gamble sell soap?

Or is it simply some degree of self-delusion that I’m making progress in marketing my book? Self-delusional like a fox!!!

Already, the pieces are falling into place…bwahahahahah.

You, because you’re a friend, can actually skip all the marketing hype and get Droppington Place by simply clicking HERE. When you get there, type in this Coupon Code: NJ38D, and you can get the book for free!!!

Why, that seems almost like…

“Magic,” she gasped.





Goodbye, Baby

DP FinishedStand by to eject bathwater on my mark.

Standing by, sir.


The bathwater is terminated.

Nice shooting, Lieutenant.

Roger that. The baby is outta here. Repeat: the baby is out of here.

Big ten four. Stand by for towelage.

Uh, negatory. Sorry. No can do.

Disregard that. Stand by to commence towelage on my mark.

Uh, sorry, skipper. No can do.

All hands, stand by. What’s with this gloomy Gus guff, Lieutenant. I believe I gave you an order.

Ten four on that, skipper. But, we don’t have, a, well…

Don’t tell me you ran out of towels.

Negative, sir. It’s just that, well, we ejected the baby with the bathwater.

Mongo Santamaria! You’re telling me we tossed the kid out the window?

Like a bullet, sir.

Well, there goes the towelage. All hands, prepare for battle stations. Angry mom at eight o’clock!

It turns out, writing a book is great fun. And it is great fun. Even though your imaginary friends, all those little voices in your head, drag you through the very depths of despair and pain and agony, the fact that you share that with them, that you are a witness to their travails – is an honor and a delight.

Oh, sure. That’s the cat’s pajamas, that part. Like ice cream for dinner every night of the week. Best of all, you tell all your friends that writing is the pits, it’s the worst – you feel like a zombie…hour after hour, typing, thinking, scribbling, coffee, beer, whatever. While, actually, your inner you goes “teehee, this is the best!”

Welp. The party’s over. They ate the pretty balloons. It’s crying time again, and you’re gonna leave me – I can see that faraway look in your eyes. Why must we get offa this cloud?


Yes, there is one more moment of glee, and that is when you join the Club of Shakespeare. All the world is a willing audience, hungry for your written words, longing for your thoughts, your ideas… and, once the book is published… Yo, lookit me, feedin’ the masses!

It’s a cerebral joy, and stunningly short-lived. I found no Disney at my door. Discovered Dreamworks dreaming of someone else. Ran across Random House randomly choosing someone else’s house.

No, the party’s over. Now comes the drudgery, the mind-numbing torture, of figuring out how to market this darned thing for real. It’s no longer a game, or a funny idea. Now it’s work, work, work, to get this product sold and out, into the sunshine where it belongs.

What? What’s that? How can you find it? Well, bless your generous soul, you have come to the right place. Let me pull your chair closer to the fire. Move it, dog. Make way for this most spectacular person.

Because you are you, and you’re a friend, I’ll let you have the book…for free!

No strings attached. Freebie. You go. Although, if you found it in your heart to write a dazzling review, I’m sure no one would be opposed to that…


Now, this is important: type in the coupon code NJ38D. When you do, the most wonderful book you’ll download with your free coupon will be yours – for free!!!

Of course, you could also visit the author’s site,

Now, to find that baby…

You are the One – Bring Your Wallet


In the writing business… that is, the business end of the writer’s business, although the writer’s business isn’t business at all, but art – this gets so confusing – not the business of writing art, the business of selling the art, which is a business unto itself, but we’re not talking about that. Actually we are, sort of… you’re a writer, you know how it is…


If you are a writer, and you don’t have an agent, you need one. Yes, you can self-publish your novel, but who is going to sell your book for you? You? You’re a writer. You need an agent.

Finding an agent, well that’s the business end of writing. But agents don’t seem to drop out of trees, even if you’re absolutely, fantastically talented. I know this from personal experience. That dog don’t hunt. That ship has sailed. You can’t handle the truth.

So, you advertise, in a million different ways. You blog. You join writer’s circles and clubs and chats, and comment your brains out on other people’s stuff. You work like a monkey to get your name at the top of an agent’s mystical list, the agent’s short list, the who’s who of writers in the agent’s Rolodex. Rolodex – boy, that’s a piece of history, huh? Raise your hand if you know what a Rolodex is… uh huh, as I thought. Paltry, paltry.

At the end of the day, you have to face it: you’re marketing – advertising – in the hopes of getting an agent to look at you and say “wow, now THERE’s a talent!”

In the world of Gorilla Marketing, all this effort, all this subtle, almost not work at all, is aimed at just one person. Millions of readers, or in my case, half-dozens of readers, see your blog and comments, read your name… and move on to something else.

It’s like being a daisy in the middle of the tall grass – oh please, Ms. Cow, pick me, pick me! You stand up tall, doing your flowery best to grab a little bit of bovine attention… oh, puleeze…. Of course, nobody wins in the cow analogy. Literary agents are insulted, and you get eaten if you win. But, you get the point.

The point is that if Toyota gets you to run down to your local dealership and buy a car because you saw a good ad on TV, it doesn’t matter if they wasted the time of 30 million other viewers, so long as you buy the car. No, you don’t suffer from incontinence, but some poor sap does, and those commercials might just be the ticket… say, I didn’t know they made underpants like that!

The point is this: you market your keester off, in the hope that one, just one, single set of eyeballs, sees your stuff and says a quiet “bingo.” And when that one sees your stuff and mutters and magic phrase, all your Gorilla Marketing effort pays off, and the future is yours to pave.

Well, here’s to you, my marketing friend. May you hear a whispered “bingo” soon!

Now, if you’re an agent, you can find the first two chapters of my book here:

Thank you.

The End of an Adventure Begets Another

PC ScreenCap

Well, my friend, we’ve sailed over the horizon, haven’t we? I mean you, and me, and my novel, MARIGOLD’S END, the final chapter of which is now posted on this site, right here.

Yes, the final chapter, the au reservoir to our friend Phineas, and the Kathryn B, and all those cool nautical cats. If you’ve been keeping up, and I know you have, you’ll know we left young Phineas leaping for his life from a stricken ship, the crack of a pistol ringing out behind him. This book literally ends with a bang.

If you been keeping up with this blog,  you’ll know that this book writing business is a twofold affair: there’s the art of writing the book, and the science of getting someone to buy it. That’s probably art, too, because, in science, you’re supposed to be able to repeat experiments and get the same results. Good luck with that in marketing!

So, you ask, what’s next?

Well, I can tell you that gorilla marketing, for all its flashy allure and exciting verbiage, is a rather slow-and-go proposition, with lots of slow and very little of anything else. The line of people lined up around the block to read my book is sort of a line of one, and my feet are complaining about standing here.

In Field of Dreams the guy says “if you build it, they will come,” which is very catchy and enigmatic. He left out the time component: they will come tomorrow, or next week, or when the moon shines bright on my old Kentucky home. Or, and this is the one we all dread, they will come one at a time, quietly, unannounced, and go away. I’m a major sucker for jingoism, but I might just have to let this one go.

If you build it, and your work your keester off to grab their attention and you give them something in return for their visit, then they will come. Writing your book and telling the world about your book isn’t enough.

You got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and BELLOW to the world about your book. If you’re a good bellower, you can convince the world to bellow on your behalf, but you have to be bellower number 1.

I’m bellowing over here, with yet another of my sneaky, hey, are you trying to confuse me?, get-rich-quick, zero effort marketing schemes. It’s a site called Phineas – and has an interesting premise: Phineas Caswell is the author. Well, interesting to me, perhaps. You’re a writer, you now how it goes.

What if there was this curious site to which the curious reader could travel?

I agree, the site is snoresville today, but it will change, my friend. Ohhhh, yessss, changes, they are a comin’.

So, to accommodate the change in authorship, Phineas Caswell, the nautical hero in MARIGOLD’S END, has generously agreed to change his name to Benjamin Dilbeck. Not Ben, not Benny, Benjamin. Whaaaat? You cry, aghast. Trust me, Obi Wan, you’re the only one who can… it will work.

Say, this is quite the post, eh what? A chapter released over here, a new website over there… goodness, will it ever end?

It’s Their Market – Let The Readers do the Work

BS at Sea 3

The most basic tenet of Gorilla Marketing is “let somebody else do the work. Do nothing and expect big results.”

In that spirit, I humbly present MARIGOLD’S END, Chapter Seven.

Aye, Chapter Seven. Taylor finds himself assigned to the galley, and Phineas discovers that Mr. Lourdburton is a…. hey, wait a minute. I see your trick. You’re trying to pry the story from me again. Well, it won’t work, me bucko!

Gorilla Marketing, Tenet One: make somebody else do the work. Playing my own game on me, were ya? Well, it won’t work. Although, I will tell you, this chapter is pretty cool.

Those of us that are newbies to this publishing game have to look at our written work a little differently than old, established hands. Our work doesn’t hold a candle to the latest piece by Rowling.

While ours might be just as good, we don’t have the name, the publicity, the chutzpah behind us. Somewhat lacking in marketing horsepower, are we.

Instead, you and I must look at our noveling efforts as an Enterprise. No book is a one-off. No road can be a simple what-if.

As I don’t have a huge number of remaining years to develop my Enterprise, I must rather compress my activities into a number of simultaneous projects.

In my Plan 2021, I’ve laid out sequels to DROPPINGTON PLACE and MARIGOLD’S END, and am putting thoughts together on a third series.

Holy Backers, Cratman, that’s a buncha novels, doncha think? Especially while you’re still learning how to write a novel in the first place? Enterprise, my friend. It’s all about the Enterprise. How many of these pieces will be written? Who knows. Maybe MARIGOLD’S END will be a runaway hit and I can find my estate in Ireland or something. Maybe a comet will hit us tomorrow and smash us all to smithereens.

Life is too short for what-ifs.

So, visit my Pages page, right now, before the comet hits, and rumble down here.

I know you’ve been keeping up – this new chapter is one sweet ride.

Gorilla Marketing, Phase Two


You just gotta love a sequel, huh? What better way to follow up a mega blockbuster hit than with another blockbuster? Boom, looka that, folks, something even better!

Well, in the spirit of gorilla marketing, I’ll go you one better than a sequel.

Howzabout this; Chapter 2 of DROPPINGTON PLACE? Oh, yeah, uh-huh, fist-bumps all ‘round.

Wha-aa-aat? Sonny Jim, you’re just plain givin’ away the whole dignity-danged store!

No I aint, Pa. I swear it. It’s a new market thing program about monkeys. All the cool folks ‘r doing it.

In today’s hurly-burly, gotta-make-a-buck world, you have to stand out of the crowd. You have to be the one. The one. You. If you don’t, the world will run right over you.

Think about this Internet. Right this instant, you can look up, like, a gazillion books for free. Books on just about anything, and fiction, and graphic novels, and whatever you want.

When you put your hard-earned words into that maelstrom, unless you just happen to be a Hemingway, or a Rowling, or a King, or another author more current whose name I should know but don’t because I’m actually an uncultured boob, you get lost in that rush of online pieces, just another salmon in the dash upstream.

So, you have to stand out. You have to be different. You have to be the one sought out by your readers.

Enter the gorilla wearing a tie.

GO: “I say, old bean, why not publish your work in a blog first, eh?”

JR: “But, jeepers, Mr. Rilla…”

GO: “Go, please.”

JR: “Oh, okay. Goodbye.”

GO: “No, don’t leave, you ninny. Simply call me Go. No need to be formal.”

JR: “Oh. Anyway, Go,   nobody reads my blog.”

GO: “Surely someone does.”

JR: “Well, I guess there are quite a few…”

GO: “There you are. Publish your book, one chapter at a time, to your readers. They’ll read it, talk amongst themselves, and before long, why, they’ll be clamoring to… “

JR: “To buy my books?”

GO: “No, to have you hanged. I’ve read your stuff. You should be ashamed.”

So, in the spirit of Go Rilla, the marketing monkey…

GO: “Ape, if you please. Great ape, in fact.”

DROPPINGTON PLACE, Chapter 2, is now released on my Droppington Place blog, here. You can also follow the link at the bottom of this page to the Droppington Place site.


Writing Forever


I know you know this, so I guess there’s not much point to telling you about it. But, well, there it is, isn’t it?

I’ve been hating on my book, DROPPINGTON PLACE. Okay, well, not on the book itself, but on the writing of it. Some days it’s a blast, and the words flow like sweet cherry wine. The next day comes the roadblock, the stumbling block, the block of ice that freezes our soul and stalls us just plain dead in our tracks. I hate that block, too.

In my story, the characters explore a surrealistic world made entirely of paper. Their path takes them down, well, a path. So, how do we walk down this path?

Walking, and walking, and walking becomes so dull that even I can’t stand to write it.

Instead of walking and walking, the camera drifts up into the sky and looks down on them, telling us where they’ve been and what they’ve seen.

And THAT, my writer friend, is exactly where the roadblock landed. Flooomph, like a big rock in the highway to Interesting Storyland, we stepped out of the lives of the characters, the story became wooden and dull, and no fun to write. And, if you don’t have fun writing a piece, however is your reader going to enjoy it?

Ding-dong. Hello, Mr. Dimwit? Your brain is calling.

It’s a scene, of course. The answer is to place scenes along the path. Scenes that move the story forward even as they move the characters down the road. Cool, huh?

Biggity-big-big-bigger question.

Why do this? Why do you care about great paragraphs, and storylines, and why is it so important for you to put your thoughts on paper?

Why? Why must you publish your book? If writing is so important to you, why don’t you just write and write and let it go at that.

Okay, so maybe it’s not the writing, is it? It’s the reading.

You write your ideas and stories so that others will enjoy, will learn, will see the world in a new way. Isn’t that so?

So, here’s the rub: if you are so concerned about your reader seeing the world in a new way as a result of your work, why put your name on it? Okay, so it’s not just the reading. It’s the fame.

Before we go too far into our writer’s tools and processes, let us get this straight:

You and I are reaching for the brass ring of immortality.

Think about Shakespeare, a household word. Shakespearian theater. It defines a whole category of acting, of playwriting, of presentation. Why isn’t that you?

It could be. If your book is successful, if you find the right combination of story and character, you, my dear reader friend, could be the next Shakespeare, your name whispered and hailed and venerated for generations to come.

That’s immortality for us.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?

Writing is a business. Success is not measured by finished works. It’s measured by works sold. Sold. Sounds bad, but it is the business.

Sell a million books and you’re doing good. Sell a million books a year and you’re on your way. Sell a million books a year and get a movie deal, and household wordism isn’t far away.

Isn’t that what you want? That’s what I want. I don’t think it will happen, but that doesn’t make me want it any less, or make me work any less hard in trying to get there.

So, go finish your book. Write well. I’m finishing mine. Maybe you’ll read it – maybe I’ll read yours. Maybe yours is so good that Disney is dialing the phone this very instant to make you the next Stephen King.

Hey, it could happen! Immortality could be that close. I’m sitting by the phone.

Bare Naked Marketing


Please disregard the provocative headline… nobody here is taking off their clothes. Probably.

So, whatever does one mean by bare naked marketing? Unlike guerilla marketing, which takes advantage of life’s nooks and crannies to broadcast one’s message, and unlike gorilla marketing, which is naked by default… seriously, how many gorillas look good in yoga pants… bare naked marketing is a new concept, proposed by yours truly.

BNM… the rule for technical writers goes like this: bare naked marketing (BNM), but that’s tedious… is organic marketing. As nobody reads this blog, I’ve decided to expose myself – all right, just my artistic soul – on my current project, DROPPINGTON PLACE.

We’ve already discussed designing the story, and I may have posted a chapter.  We have therefore already explored part of my new marketing ploy… I mean, plan.

BNM: starting tomorrow, you will get to see the writing process that goes into this book. The outline will be posted here, along with changes as they occur. Chapters, as they are finished, will be here, too.

Why BNM? You’re a writer, right? Well, so am I.  Does it not make sense to share our thoughts and processes? I mean, it’s not like some great big secret? Should it be? I think not!

So, starting tomorrow, visit here for the much ballyhooed Bare Naked MARKETING. Clothing on your part is entirely optional.