Make Yourself a Magic Virus

Build the San Salvador 4

If you’re sick, don’t read this post. There’s a stupid wordplay about viruses that is, well, so bad that we’re just going to skip it.

When you have just under two minutes free, watch this video: Build the San Salvador 4. How about now?

You know how people eat up those “dude, you had one job” videos? That was the thinking behind this little gem. Have to tell you, it still cracks me up, and I had a hand in making it.

So, why make a movie – especially one as dumb as this?

Three little words, my friend. No, not I love you. Or hands up, suckah. No, no, no… and no, not no, no, no either. Magic, she gasped. Ah, yes, our mantra/manta/bantha.

It’s a tight circle, my friend, this marketing thing. At the end of the video, which is calculated to be just funny enough to appeal to a certain age – the very age I’m hoping will read Droppington Place – is my new little logo, and the whispered word “magic.”

So you, you’re so fascinated by the video, you type in PhineasCaswell.Com, just like you see it in the image at the end of the hilarious video, and there is a link to Droppington Place. You click on the link – blink – why, here’s a nifty book for you to read!

Like a spider’s web, one slimy tendril at a time, you have no choice but to be roped into reading at least the free sample. Bwahahahahahaha.

It didn’t take a great deal of effort to make the motion picture. Sort of like, really? And all this linking is sort of sleep-inducing. And, at the end of the day, YOU have to do all the clicking and reading and stuff.

NOW you can see how Gorilla Marketing works… or doesn’t work, because I’m not doing much work… oy, this get’s confusing.

So, click on the link (HERE it is again in case you can’t find it up there), and repeat after me:

“Magic,” she gasped.

If you’d like to read all of Droppington Place for free, go HERE, and tell ’em you’re not paying a dime today, thank you. Boom. Freebie!

“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.





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.

Tales of Steel


It just can’t be that hard to be Superman. Yes, your home planet blew up. Yes, you have to hide behind those dorky Clark Kent glasses in a world that thinks you really can’t be recognized behind your Ray Bans. But you can knock the crackers out of anyone who disagrees with you.

More importantly, as a Super Person, you can approach every new situation with the knowledge that there is no one stronger, faster, smarter, yada-yada-yada. That must be a pretty cool something to have in your pocket. Say what you want, evil-doer, for I have all these nifty super powers.

But you and I, we’re writers. For us, publishing our work is like Superman going up against a bad guy. I don’t know about you, but when I look in my back pocket, I only see last week’s tissue and an empty wallet. Maybe a little lint.

Every piece we publish, even dopey pieces like this, put us out on that line of pass/fail, succeed/fail, survive/fail. Out here it’s just you and me, kid, and I’m not so sure about me.

With that cheerful thought, I formally announce to you, my writer friend, that Chapter 15 of MARIGOLD’S END is now on this site.

If you’ve been reading along, and I know you have, you’d know that Phineas, Louise, and Taylor have stowed away on the Marigold, only to find the ship in pursuit of their own Kathryn B. The weather has turned foul, and Captain Jaffrey’s a demon possessed, and things can’t possibly end well for the smaller ship. Phineas has to quickly piece together a very big, very serious puzzle, and despite a horrific loss, figure out what he’s made of.

I can’t give away the ending, but I can tell you that I recently read an account of an American frigate during the revolution that experienced almost exactly what happens in this story. It’s always nice to know I got the history right.

So, Super Person, dust off your cape, get out your Krypton Reading Glasses, and peruse Chapter 15 of MARIGOLD’S END. If you haven’t read the previous, that’s okay – you’ll enjoy this one. If you have, bless you child. Thank you for your generosity.

Is it paradoxical that the guys who started all those superheroes, back in the early days of the comics, took the same chances you and I, as writers, did? Edgar Rice Burroughs had paved the character road for them a little bit, and the newspapers carried comics, but you have to applaud the courage to publish an entire graphic magazine.

I wonder if those guys wore glasses…

Adventures in Adventures


There’s a great deal of adventure in writing an adventure. You’re a writer. You know how it is.

The characters, their needs, the plot, the danger of plot holes, the words, the need to make beautiful sentences, the structure, the never ending quest for pace… all those sit down for a moment when you write the adventure part of an adventure.

When the “adventure moment” strikes, you, the writer, suddenly find yourself swept away in the drama. The moment surrounds you, and takes you off into the depths of the battle, or the storm, or the chase, to the very heart of the excitement. There is nothing finer than that.

Chapter 8 of my novel, MARIGOLD’S END, is now on this site, and here we find adventure unbound. The little Katheryn B is beset by pirates – but them ain’t your Disney pirates…there be no amusement park rides here, mate. We never leave young Phineas’ side as he wends his way around the ship… adventure here, me hearties. Gosh, I hate pirate language.

Look to port, dear reader, and you’ll find it.

The hardest part of adventure writing comes after it’s been written, and you, dear writer, must go back into the moment and edit out the bad writing, close the plot holes, rework the pace, and fair the adventure into the storyline. It’s the hard work, made worse by the fact that you’ve already lived this adventure!

Still, that’s why we writers earn the big bucks. You’re a writer. You know how it goes.

Time and the Fragile Character


You’re a writer. You know how it is.
The time to write…when is the right time to write? Now? Nope, busy reading this post. When you finish this post? Maybe. But, if you’re like me, there are a million other things to do. More important things. Scrub the toilets. Sort the recycling. You know, I’ve been meaning to seriously detail my Barcalounger.

And so, there the project sits. The characters have all gone speechless…nothing to say because you’re busily sorting the soup cans in the kitchen. Arranging the forks just so in the silverware drawer.

Life can be so crazily hectic that it becomes nearly impossible to cleave out the time to work on a project. And yet…and yet…maybe not so, grasshopper.

There is another agent in the mix…something to which you and I should pay attention. You won’t like it.

Once upon a time, a motivational speaker said that everybody’s tired. Tired of this, of that. Too tired to make a change. But, she said, what if I gave you a hundred thousand dollars of mad money? Then you wouldn’t be so tired, would you? You’d feel fresh and vibrant, alive with joie de vivre.

So, it ain’t the tireds. It’s the motivations.

That book gathering dust on your word processor? It ain’t the lack o’ time, me bucko. It’s the lack of motivation.

Well, jeepers Mr. Monkeypants. How do I fix that?

Good question, Sullivan.

Abuse some characters. Chop ’em up, or blow ’em up. Or make them say things so horrific that their world is forever altered.

Does it mess up your story line? Oh, heck yeah. Does it mess up the whole book?

“No,” Mr. Monkeypants says firmly, “your book was already messed up. That’s why you were busily knitting underwear for the pet salamander you were thinking about renting. That’s why counting the holes in the colander is more appealing that working.

Your. Book. Stinks.

It stinks so badly that even you, yes you, don’t want to put energy into it.

Admit it. Face it. Fix it.

Kill somebody. Blow something up. Sink the ship, burn down the house, turn Uncle Ray into a zombie. Ch-ch-change it.

Challenge your characters and you challenge yourself.

And if your book is so boring that you’d rather sort socks than write it, you need a good stiff challenge.

The time is there…are you?

Okay. I’m, like totally out of breath after writing that stuff. How about you?

You’re not writing your book because you’re reading this post.

So, I’m not working on DROPPINGTON PLACE because I’m writing this post. My bad.

Promise me you’ll do something to spark interest in your work.

Thank you. Now I have to figure out which guy to kill in my book! Continue reading “Time and the Fragile Character”

Take a Team Across the Stream


You’re a writer – you know how it goes.

You’re working feverishly on a project, everything fits like fingers in a bowling ball. And then, when you absotively least expect it…whammo, like a two-by-four to the forehead: the deadly stall. A character says something that reveals a plot hole so big you could fit a Buick in it.

In DROPPINGTON PLACE we simply ran out of story. It was great fun, and everybody was lively and having a good time. And then, around 42,000 words or so, Arvy, a perfectly nice kid who was sadly turned to paper, paused and looked at me.

“I’m bored.”

“You can’t be bored!  You’re, like, a key player in this thing.”

“Yada, yada, yada…key player this. If I’m such a hotshot, give me something to do.”

A quick review of the Something To Do cabinet revealed empty shelves. And there Arvy sat, with so pained an expression he was impossible to look at.

That’s okay, because we can just change horses right here in the middle of the stream and work on another project that’s been a’hangin’ around.

A couple of weeks on the new project, just starting to feel it, and, son of a biscuit, here’s a new idea: something for Arvy to do.

“Leeme see, lemme see, lemme see!”

“Sit down, Arv…or, I guess sort of fold yourself ‘cuz you’re, like, made of paper…we need to plot this out a little bit.”

“Well, I categorically demand that you cease work on your new project and give me a challenge!”

So, we drop the reins on the new horse and leap back on the first one.

Their must be some old story about fording a river and changing horses in which something bad happened. I’ll bet you it has to do with Conestoga wagons. Let’s pretend it does, okay?

So, like, what’s the point?

I know, right?

The point is this: when you hit a creative wall with a project, it’s perfectly cool to start a new one. If the old one calls during the new project, it is equally cool to go on back to it.

One suggestion: make lots of notes on each project. Although today the plot thread is perfectly clear, tomorrow… well, after all, tomorrow is another day!

Frankly, Scarlett, I’m changing horses!

Shifting Gears in the Sea Lane of Time


You’re a writer. You know how it goes. You run like a monkey on a story, and then, blammo, like a ton of jelly, the story stops. The characters all turn and look at you expectantly.


“Don’t ask me! You’re the character! You’re supposed to tell me what to write! I’m just the translator.”

So, there you sit – the words of your last sentence dangling in the air like the tail of a kite that is slowly, slowly sinking down to the ground. Crash.

What do you do? What do you do? I get in a really bad mood, and am foul and cranky until somebody says something. It’s like a Mexican standoff, and there’s no way I’m going to blink first. No, senor, it is you who must say the first word…

A better option, and one I read somewhere and therefore cannot take credit for, is to embrace a different project. I’ve started the detailed synopsis for SAN CRISTOBAL’s DEFENSE, another Phineas Caswell adventure.

In this new book, see, Phineas and Uncle Nev…. hey, wait a minute. I see what you’re doing. Nice try, bucko, but it won’t sell soap. I’m not telling you about this new book until you read the first one. Well, okay, you don’t really have to read it. But you do have to wait for all of the chapters to get published.

But I’m not giving away the ending, which I would be if I told you about the San Cristobal. Paradoxically, I am giving away MARIGOLD’S END, one measly chapter a week, but not the ending. However do serial writers do it? Serial killers, well, that’s pretty straight up. And cereal killers – I have one of those in my very household.

Which leads us to the point of this diatribe: Chapter 6 of MARIGOLD’S END is now on the Pages part of this site. If you’ve been keeping up, and I know you have, the author cleverly introduces the reader to the intriguing lore of the sea through the eyes of a twelve-year-old-dude-I-don’t-wanna-be-a-sailor kind of young man. In Chapter 6, we find that learning to be a sailor isn’t always about the wind and the waves. Sometimes, it’s about men.

Oh, so NOW you’re interested, eh? Shoulda seen that coming!

Enjoy the chapter – it was great fun to write.

Good luck with your writing, and, remember, if you get stuck, do what I do, and throw a tantrum start another project.

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.


Publicity, One Chapter at a Time


Are you ready for the next installment of MARIGOLD’S END? I’ll bet you are – you there, my writer friend, sitting on the edge of your seat wondering, wondering, wondering whatever happens to Phineas next.

At least, I hope it’s you. Nobody else in the room, that I can see. Yep. It’s you. Try to form a line there, would you please? A line of one rather resembles a dot, doesn’t it? Well, please form an orderly dot.

Writing is a lonely business. Your garret, or office, or room, or swimming pool deck, wherever you do your writing, fills up with characters, talking, laughing, fighting, sleeping, doing whatever it is that they do. Then you turn off the word processor, and, voila, it is only you.

No one is very much interested in you while you write, because, frankly, you are uninteresting when you write. Not as a person, mind you, but as company, because you’re in the room filled with all those interesting characters. The real people around you just sort of hang in limbo until you snap off the word processor. Oh, THERE you are!

So you, my dotted friend – dotted by virtue of being a line of one – are the witness to the publicity and hoorah surrounding the release of Chapter 4. Hoorah!

Chapter 4 introduces us to the life of a sailor. Chapter 1 introduced us to Phineas, Chapter 2 to the perils of traveling by boat in the early 1700’s, and Chapter 3 to the indescribable job of seasickness. Now we’re past all that and exploring the Kathryn B, and what it means to be a sailor.

In MARIGOLD’S END, you learn about the new world into which Phineas is thrust only through his eyes – a challenge to write, but hopefully not to read. Like you, Phineas’ learning comes through total immersion. It be sink or swim in the briny deep. You’ll find it over there, on the left, under MARIGOLD’S END, the Novel. See, it sort of drops down, ready for reading’!

So you, dear dot of a writer-friend, are in for a treat.

Let me know what you think. Drop me a line, leave me a comment, send me a mental note.

If you are a new dot, please be so kind as to stand next to the other dot, thereby forming a line.

A line! They’re lining up to read my work!

I KNEW this day would come!

Now, if I can just get ‘em to pay!