Time to Sack Up

I haven’t been on here lately. I’ve been busy and really didn’t have anything to talk about.  Not true. Last year with the presidential campaign, you couldn’t say anything without pissing off someone. I’ve held my tongue and will keep holding it. I’m sure you aren’t interested in listening to what I think. That’s just one of the things that we will just have to keep to ourselves. Politics brings out the worst in people because everyone believes and is right on some level.

The election was swift retribution for either party. Whether the Russians were involved in some fashion is moot when more than half of electorate didn’t show up to decide who was going to hold the highest office. Why would two major parties pick candidates whom most of the country hated?  I’m sure historians will explain this in the future.

I’ve been working on Girl, Friend. It’s a fun little romp that needs a lot of work, but as of today, I’ve finished the third draft for printing. I’m hoping to pick it up for reading later at the Mifflin Writers Group.

Mariline came back from the editor. There is something so grounding as getting a piece of work back from your editor. As much as I worked on it, they found a lot that needs to be added, changed, edited, etc. I always think I’ve written the perfect book and when I get it back, it has twenty or so plot holes and all 400 pages of line edits. I can’t even imagine sending it to an agent. They would throw it in a pile with the rest of the crap. But I’ve resigned myself that some day I will write the perfect novel, maybe not this year, but I have a whole ton of years left to realize my dream of being a widely published author. I’ve tried being the hare, now I need to work on being the tortoise.

Happy New Year!

EJ

Goodreads’ Questions

wpid-img_20140724_122751_425.jpgBeing a Goodreads author, they’ve invited me to answer questions of my fans and dissidents. To start the ball rolling they’ve provided me with the following to shake the cobwebs:

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I try to avoid it as much as I can. I keep to my scheduled time of writing and if I’m not working on my book, I blog, I work on short stories, or plot out something I’m already working on. I have lots of ideas. Just because I’m not putting them down on paper doesn’t mean I’m working. Playing out scenarios in my head helps later when I sit down at the keyboard. Steven King says something like just suck it up and do it. You want to be professional? You have to act professional. “Sorry, boss, I don’t feel like doing that today,” will get you where? I go to a number of writing circles, and they offer that you pick a number of words you could write in a day, say 200 words. You ask yourself with the worst day you could image (dog dying, cat eats the fish, kid breaks leg, flat tire, etc.) could you write 200 words? 200?   Sure? Set that as a goal and stick to it. It exercise for the mind, and like other exercises for it to have an effect, you need to keep at it.  Write? RIGHT!

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

I was dating a nanny I met on Match.com in 2009.  One day, we were lying in bed, and the idea came to me; what if she was working as a nanny for my estranged ex-wife, didn’t know it, and the child went missing?  I played out a number of scenarios in my head and in 2010 (she abruptly dumped me in March, and was doing the single thing at the time) I wrote in the NaMo thing and wrote a version of the book.  It’s changed many times since then (5+ drafts), but it still follows the themes about personal security on the internet, giving second chances, and everyone has baggage.

How do you get inspired to write?

I find my relationships are what inspire me to write.   Not that I write directly about them, but they sometimes provide genesis for ideas.  I try to keep a schedule to write at work over my lunch time.  I put on Mozart and let the music take me.  I can usually bang out ~1000 words in an hour, but I plan out and think about what I’m going to write before I do.

What are you currently working on?

The book is called Mariline.  I like to call it a paranormal thriller.  It’s a tri-angle between two brothers and a nanny.   The one brother, Kevin, is an ex-cop, ex-heroin addict.  The other brother, Aiden, is trying to rehabilitate Kevin.  Carol, the nanny, is dating Aiden, not knowing she’s working for Kevin’s estranged ex-wife.   Mariline is the ghost of the drowned daughter of Kevin that appears when Kevin gets out of rehab, and sets things into motion.

 What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Read and write often.  Believe in your work.   Every day is full of learning and living experiences, use them wisely.  If the work is personal to you, it will be to the reader.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

All the frequent flyer miles you rack up in your brain.  I’m out of my body so much, being other people and seeing other places, all in my mind, sometimes it feels like a vacation.   It’s fun to go away, with old friends (my characters) and make their lives miserable.  My problems don’t seem so bad after that.

The Interview

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The interns thought it would be funny to ask me stock questions about what I do.   They didn’t think I did anything, but I proved them wrong.  Maybe…

What was the biggest stumbling block or frustration for you as a writer, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest stumbling block was not believing in myself.   I had been writing since I was in my teens, but was always afraid to show it to people.   Not that I didn’t have support in my childhood, but let’s just say I had parents (and when I say parents, I mean Mom)  that were constantly disappointed in my successes:

“Sorry, A’s are not good enough, you can do better.” 

No matter how good I felt about myself, my parents would be able to put me back into my under the stairway, pit of no return, place.  My self-esteem was somewhere in the toilet for most of my life, but until I was in my middle thirties I started to unburden myself from others disappointments.  I said, “fuck it” and started up my own band after years of teaching myself how to play guitar.  Despite how poorly I suck at playing and singing at the same time, people still had fun and applauded, so I learned to set my expectations of myself to somewhere less than the high bar I had set.  There is an audience out there for me.  A lot of writers feel they won’t be good enough, but they expect too much.  If you are true to yourself, eschew negative people, and do your best at telling a story, there will be someone out there to read you too!

What role does social media play in staying connected to readers and/or building an audience?

I think it has a big role.  I’m a friendly guy, but I don’t have a million friends, all over the country and throughout the world to get the word out that I can write.  Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, YouTube, Pintrest and others get out the word, that here is this guy, writing semi-decent novels and maybe you’d be interested in reading one (or more) of them.  My weekly blogs generate interest and traffic to my website.  Certainly, there are more people knowing that I write now that I’ve been on these outlets for several years.

How did you get your first literary agent?

HA!  Funny.  Still looking.  Do you know of any?  I’ve self-published my last two books through Authorhouse.   I know it is pretty cocky to say, but I think for Mariline I’d like to try to go the conventional route.  I’ve build a “brand” for my writing and have a great online personality.

What patterns, habits, or motivational techniques have best served you on your journey to success?

I get an hour break at lunch (yes, I have a day job).  I sequester myself with Mozart streaming off the internet and I type away.  I like to chart out my book before I start to write, so I already know what the chapters will be about.  As I drive to work in the morning, I don’t listen to music.  I have thoughts of the chapter rolling around in my head.  By lunch time I’m reading to go.

In one sentence, what’s your best piece of advice for getting a book published?

Don’t give up.

Has a particular rejection ever been helpful to you? What were the details?

I’ve accepted my failures as a part of me, but I’m not looking back.  Getting one star review for Malaise was hard, but I take it as a learning experience.   Not everyone is going to like my writing.  Someday I will look back and laugh, but for now I will try harder.

What advice do you have for a first time writer?

Read, write, and learn as much as you can.  Don’t be afraid of failures.

Successfully Alienating People Since 2006

ejeisman- seriousI’ve been writing for a long time now, but it wasn’t until 2006, when I started blogging. Back then it was on Yahoo, and I was married going through a renaissance.  I had started my own band, and I started spending more time away from the family unit in pursuit of who I really am.   I’ve always been creative; at least that’s what I’d like to call it.  When was in my teens, I thought I would be the next Sam Shepard or Arthur Miller because I was churning out plays.  None of which I showed anyone.  I was too…scared of rejection and what other people think.  Then I wrote a musical farce, No One Gives a Damn, with my high school friend.   I researched, and found that a new playwright should work up.  I started sending copies of it to a bunch of colleges that were looking for new material.  After many rejections, mostly because they were looking for drama rather than a musical farce, I got the idea from one professor that actually liked it, but thought it would be “hell to produce.”  I did start on another farce musical; I still have the music for it, The Unexpurgated New York Birthday, which I have stuffed in my coffers, somewhere, unfinished.  It wasn’t until I started to blog, that I got the writing bug back.  I wrote a play called, Dogs on a Porch, about several middle aged guys blinded by jealousy over their co-worker divorcing his wife and getting a pretty young thing for his arm.  They are all sitting at a bar gawking at the hot waitresses at a bar, and making rude comments to among themselves.  I’m thinking of moving it to a short story format, though.  I’ve started the move while I was in edits for Malaise last year, but left it on the shelf to work on later.  In 2007, I started my first novel, Malaise, which I finally edited and it was published in August of last year.   It was my blogs though, that made me taste the first critical response.   I was able to make friends and influence people with my jovial humor and my witty repartee while dealing with the falling apart of my marriage.  I got a nice following, until Yahoo stopped the blogging.  It wasn’t until 2012 that I picked up my own website, that I started blogging again.  More recently I’ve been able to post more often, as I’ve had the inclination to tell you what I’m thinking, whether good, bad, or indifferent.   I’m setting the goal to have at least two blogs a week for 2014, despite what people think.  I’ve taken the opinion that I’ve got to be me; one way or another.   I’m also continuing on Mainline or Mariline, the title depending on the outcome of the third draft of Mainline, a novel I started in 2011.  I hope to have it to the publisher sometime this year.  The concept of Mainline is that the main characters are all guilty of some murder, accidentally or otherwise; some have been punished by their actions, some haven’t.   Others are just evil.  I’m trying to pack it full of people doing really bad shit and getting away with it, and still you want to root and sympathize for the characters.  It should be fun.  I’m looking forward to getting it published.

For you, my friends, I wish you all the best this year.  I’m looking forward to a kick-ass, take no prisoners year!

EJ

Wash, Rinse, Spin

I was in the rest room today and yet again a person leaves without washing.  WTF!  In this day and age is this still a crux for people to do?  Wash their hands after going to the bathroom?  I work in a hospital, and seeing this just makes me sick.  Who is this person going to shake hands with after they’ve just been draining the winky?  People have told me that pee is sterile, but that is no excuse.  It’s fucking gross!  I’m not one to be checking around making sure who goes in and out.  I don’t think there should be a bathroom report of all the people that come out of there without washing their hands, but there should be some measure.  Maybe I need to wear rubber gloves all the time here.  And those signs in there that say, “Employees must wash hands before handling food,” I’ve found that not true more than one time.  Can we have a little self-control?   A little courtesy?  A little cleanliness?

Oh, also those guys who stand at the urinal with their hand above, like they are holding up the wall, I’m sure your member can do all kinds of tricks.  Heck, maybe even it can play tunes on your guitar or take a Ritz from the wax paper sleeve, but can you just control that thing?  You keep your Doberman on a leash, why not your little monster? Can you direct it off the floor and walls?  It does have a mind of its own.  You might want to keep that in mind.   Also, to the one that feels the need to put their boogers on the flush handle, very funny, we are all giving you a hearty laugh.  You can stop that now.  No.  Really.   Stop it now!

Bathroom etiquette is not just your mother telling you should do something for no reason.  Do you really want to spread or catch Cytomegalovirus infection (something I found on the CDC website transmitted by urine).  Not washing after a grand dump you could transmit:

Campylobacter
Cryptosporidiosis
Giardiasis
Hand, foot and mouth disease (I’ve had this. It’s not fun and very contagious)
Hepatitis A
Meningitis (viral)
Rotavirus infection
Salmonella
Shigella
Thrush
Viral gastroenteritis
Worms
Yersiniosis.

Here is a list:  http://www.health.sa.gov.au/pehs/ygw/waysspread-pehs-sahealth-2009.pdf

I’m not a doctor, but some of those things don’t look so good.  We are all adults and should know better.   Wash!  A little soap, a little rinse, and everyone is happy!

urinal_screens

 

 

 

 

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, pubished by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

Flat Tire Day

Do you know when you wake up in the morning and there is a portend that things are about to get worse?   I’ve been trying to find time to return a bunch of things back to my storage unit, and this morning I was going to do it.   I have an eight bottle wine cooler that was, at one time, was in use, but now, with one bottle of wine really doesn’t need to be taking up my tiny kitchen.  Between the paintings I didn’t need on the wall of my apartment right now, the Halloween stuff, and the wine cooler, Sunday morning I packed the back of silver Aerio en-route to my storage unit.  Kim and I packed into the car, pulled out of the parking lot and drove down the hill to a noise that alerted us.  Flat tire.  ARGH!  I jumped out of the car and took a look.  It was dead, but I was able to take it to a station and try to refill it, thinking that I might just be able to get it to Sears where I had purchased it.  I had a road hazard warranty, so I just had to get it there.

I made it to breakfast, I had coffee, and it tasted weird.  The half and half packet, I put the coffee, was spoiled.  Then, when I got the eggs, I ordered there was a thread in it.   I poured out the catsup and there was water on top that splashed out on the eggs.  YUK!

I drove carefully to a station, after that lovely breakfast.  After four cycle runs of the air compressor, nothing.   At this point I realized I would need to remove everything out of the back and dig deep to find the spare.  Did it even have a spare?    I’ve had the car for ten years now, and I’ve been fortunate not to need it.  I’ve always been able to drive it to a station somewhere and get it repaired.  Since the Sunoco station, around the block, went out of business two years ago, I’ve been going to Sears to get things taken care of.   So, lo and behold, after removing everything out of the back and pulling up the floor, there was a brand new tire, never to have seen the light of day in the ten years.

I have changed a tire before, it’s not rocket science.  I moved slowly and methodically,  jacking up the car, pulling off the lugs, replacing the tire, and putting the lugs back.  Kim’s encouragement and light banter helped me continue on, without breaking out into a “fuck this” fest.   I work on computers during the day so I don’t come home with dirty hands.  I have a very clean job, and I guess some might get the impression that I’m not good at physical labor, but I’ve worked on cars with my dad.   We changed a timing chain on my dad’s 1973 Plymouth Polara.  This was easy compared to that.

With tire on, I sped off to Sears with the dread I knew would exist.  Kim and I walked in and there were seven people in line, and one person working.  The time was 10:30am.  It was something like twenty minutes before they took the information.   We were able to still use the car so Kim and I killed some time in a Starbucks, and then wrestled around trying to figure out what to do.  We went back to Sears, after noticing that the spare tire was also getting flat.  We waited till 2pm when it was finished.   In the meanwhile, we watched football on the TV they had in the waiting room.  One good thing, is they replaced the tire with a new one, of better quality.

It was 4 by the time we got home, after grabbing some lunch and dropping off the stuff at the storage unit.  My weekends are usually not that involved.  But like Kim said, it could have been much worse, it could have been snowing or raining.

flat tire

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, pubished by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

Change is Good?

It’s another glorious day and as a prize, I usually head to Starbuck’s at 3:00pm for a Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latté.  Yes, I know that it’s not “really” skinny because they don’t have the sugar free liquid gold, but none the less I get it for all the hard work I do all day.   This day, was no different.  I didn’t get a chance to hit Starbuck’s until almost 3:30pm.  A crime indeed!  Every time I go into the place I get the same thing, at least for this season, the Skinny Pumpkin Spiced latte.  They know me so well that the servers in the back are already starting to make the concoction as soon as they see me in line.  I am on a first name basis with my barista.   Like so sort of mind meld!  How uncanny!  They know what I want before I even get to hand them my card!  It’s a great feeling.   Like being someone important!

So here I am at 3:30pm standing in line and the usual barista is standing taking orders with a forlorn face.

“Can I get a tall, skinny, Pumpkin Spice Latte?” A grimace came across her face.

“We have a new Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate now.”  She suggested.

“Nah, not into Peppermint.  Are you telling me you are out of Pumpkin?” I replied.

“No, we still have pumpkin.  But we won’t have it forever.  I thought you might want to switch things up.  It’s new.  Really popular.” She leaned in as if to give me some private information.

“Thanks for the suggestion.  I will stay with the pumpkin spice.” I stood firm.

“Are you sure?  We also have  a new Gingerbread Latte…” Her eyebrows raised in hoping anticipation.

“Pumpkin Spice is fine.  When you run out I will change.”  I repeated.

“OK.  Just trying to give you heads up.”  She said as she she retreated to begin to work and staring me down like I was going to pull a knife or something.

“Pumpkin Spice. That’s it.  Thanks.” I forced a smile.

What has happened?  Are our biorhythms off?  Why the change?  I can’t.  I don’t wanna!  Most normal people will begin to paint a picture of me as an elderly curmudgeon living the same as he has since the 1950’s or 1940’s.  I wasn’t born until the late 1960’s. It is true that I have the same breakfast every morning.  The chief knows, I don’t have to tell him.  “The usual?”

“Yup, thanks.”  My drinks at the bar, the bartenders know me.  I always order the same, “The usaual?”

“Yep, thanks.”  I know that life is about change, and I know that my petitie, brunette, barista is only doing her job by suggesting new options.  I don’t like change.  Too many things change any way too quickly.   If I can hold on the “normal” for a little while longer, kicking and screaming, I will.  Sorry barista girl, maybe next time I will learn.

starbucks cup

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

Sunday Writer’s Coffeehouse

barnsandnoblebooksellers Solomon Jones of the Liar’s Club ran the Writer’s Coffeehouse, Sunday at the Willow Grove, PA Barnes and Noble. It was good meeting. He stressed that if you like to write and want to be a writer, don’t give up! He had 39 rejection letters from agents and 11 rejections from publishers before he was published.
Here are some notes from the meeting:

Things to think about if you are going to self-publish:
You must wear many hats: author, publicist, marketing of you product

4 “P”s of marketing:
Product or service
Price
Promotion
Place

Who are you writing for? Know your target audience. You should be writing about your target audience.

Books are available at bookstores, libraries, and schools. Solomon talked about writing a book and creating a whole curriculum around it to talk about social issues and market it to schools as an option.

Looking to move up from self-publisher? Concentrate on selling your books online or at bookstores and maybe the publishers will come after you instead of you having to chase them. Selling out of the trunk of a car doesn’t move up your sales numbers. Some private bookstores might sell on consignment.

Some links:

http://www.solomonjones.com/site/

Save the Cat (screenwriting)
http://www.blakesnyder.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Save-Last-Book-Screenwriting-Youll/dp/1932907009

From Where you Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
http://www.amazon.com/From-Where-You-Dream-Process/dp/0802142575/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1382975929&sr=1-1

Createspace.com
https://www.createspace.com/pub/l/diyauthor3.do?ref=1159204&utm_id=6079&cp=70170000000bqtJ&ls=Paid_Search&sls=Google_DIY

Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/

To Kill a Mockingbird

to kill a mockingbird Bought the Blue-Ray edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, and watched it with my gf last night.  There is nothing quite as much as the prose of Harper Lee to make you feel inferior as a writer.  It works on so many levels.  It helps that my gf is a school teacher, has taught it many times, and was able to point out all the nuances.  I was able to point out how most of the women in the neighborhood are living alone and are strong; rather progressive for the 1930’s.  Even Scout, a tomboy, fits right in on that street.  Love that book/ movie.

Write Every Day!

Type-on-Keyboard People tell you that you should write every day, to keep your writing muscles in shape.  I got through stages of writing and stages of being plain lazy.  I’ve been lazy for about a month and a half now.  I’ve been working with my publisher on my second book.    I just approved the galleys today and it is off for publishing.  (half-heartily) YEA!  Ok, as I close the book on Maliase,  no pun intended, I should be turning my sites to the forth draft of my next novel,  Mainline.  I really don’t feel like it, but it’s OK.  No freaking out so far.  I know I will feel the fire again.  Maybe.  I think I picked the wrong month to give up drinking…LOL