After playing at The Sinclair in March of this year, the English Shoegazers return for another evening of live Alt-Rock in the Cozy Cambridge, MA venue. Swervedriver took to the stage at roughly 9:45PM after the stage worthy warm-up performances of Boston- based rock band RIBS and Toronto’s Dearly Beloved.
Opening with Autodidact from their latest album I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, the Brit rockers owned the evening, churning out classic after classic, such as These Times, Rave Down and Never Lose That Feeling. The band laid heavily into tracks from their new album (Read My Review Here) and graced us with the likes of Last Rites, Setting Sun, For A Day Like Tomorrow and I Wonder. Other than performing in front of a psycadelic themed backdrop, the boys let the music do the talking, with very little theatrical trickery.
The band returned to the stage at the end of a two-song encore, bringing out Last Train to Satansville and Dual. A great show all around and it was apparent to everyone in attendance that a band can take a lengthy hiatus and come back sounding brand new.
Before you set out to write your first (or next) book, ask yourself this—‘Do I have something original to say, or am I simply writing my own version of something that already has commercial appeal‘, because if that’s the case, you should also ask yourself ‘Why am I spending so much of my time and energy writing a book that isn’t really coming from inside of me?‘
We see it everywhere in our everyday lives. In the world of foodservice, there is Five Guys Burgers, but then along comes Five Napkin Burger. On supermarket shelves, we see You Butter Believe It directly next to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. One could easily fall prey to the unknowing purchase of an iPed for less money as opposed to an iPad. We see it all the time on TV, in the movies, when we listen to music—copycats are everywhere, and of course, we see it in print whenever we shop for something new to read.
While I won’t name names, there are a growing number of published books on the shelves (both physical and virtual) that bare a significant resemblance both in tone and storyline to commercially successful books in recent years. This is nothing new, of course—I mean, remember how many books flooded the market place with the name da Vinci in the title after the success of The da Vinci Code? Of course, one doesn’t need to look far to find a title on the shelves baring the words Fifty, Shades or Gray in the title. Whether or not you think the trashy, romantic book series by E.L. James is worthy of the many accolades it’s received, it’s obvious that many, many authors have jumped on the bandwagon in hopes to lure readers into their own fifty shades of bait. I responsibly exclude author Ruta Sepetes from this list, as she used the Shades of Gray moniker before James had. Not to mention, Sepetes’ Between Shades of Gray is actually a well-written book worth reading.
Artists need to be true to themselves. Artists need to respect their artistry. While it may be tempting to cash in on the success of someone else’s original piece of work, you’re really just a copycat when all is said and done. At the end of the day, can you really look at yourself and your work with any sense of pride? Countless authors, both indie and traditionally published, fight tooth and nail to get their original stories seen and read by the public. Hours and hours which turn into months and sometimes years are spent working on something that is original—something that truly stands out because it’s never been conceptualized before. I imagine that an author who penned a book with Fifty Shades or Shades of Gray in the title has had more than a few awkward conversations at parties when they mention the title of their book and the other person replies “Oh, you mean just like the trashy book series and bad film?”
So ask yourself, after all the time you’ve spent writing your book, after all the family time you’ve missed out on, after all the friendships that have suffered while you’ve slaved over your computer screen in hopes to churn out a memorable piece of work, would you rather it be something that came from your heart, or rather the ghost of someone else’s work? Personally, I’d rather fail with my own work than find minor success as an imposter.
Undoubtably, you—my indie author friends, have scoured the internet over such time in search of the magical words of wisdom from the self-appointed experts on the “proper” ways to publish and market your books. You’ve no doubt stumbled upon countless blogs that tell you YOU HAVE to be on such and such social media site. YOU HAVE to publish exclusively on Kindle. YOU HAVE to have your books available digitally accross every eBook distribution platform. YOU HAVE to design your book cover this way or that way. YOU HAVE to market yourself on Twitter between the hours of 8:43am- 11:27am. YOU HAVE to offer giveaways and special promotions, all before sundown on a certain date—and on and on and on!
Look, there is a lot of great advice out there from authors who have dug through the trenches and fought the good fight in the publishing industry. I’m currently digging and fighting alongside the rest of you out there. The one thing I’ve learned along the way is that advice obtained from “experts” should be taken with a healthy dose of discretion. They don’t always have your best interest at heart, but rather your attention—especially at the end of their blog posts which direct you to the “this program is a $750.00 value but available today for just $250.00” link at the bottom of the page.
My point here is to be cautious. There are many bloggers out there looking to take advantage of hopeful authors in search of professional publishing, agents, Bestseller lists, and so on. Beware of the click bait. I don’t begrudge anyone making money, but there is a fine line between legitimate author services and charlatanism.
Bottom line? You yourself know what’s working and what’s not. If your marketing on social media has grown stale on Facebook, try getting aquatinted with Twitter or GoodReads. If you only want to market and make available your book to Kindle exclusively, go for it. Many indie authors have found great success by doing this. If you want to branch out and use other ebook distribution platforms, by all means, try them out—as many as you can. Kindle is perfect for genre fiction and freebies, but iBooks is popular with fans of books with illustrations, graphs, and other useful reference material. EBSCO is a new service that makes your material available to libraries. FlipKart distributes to ereaders in India. It’s worth researching the marketplace. Your particular book might have an untapped audience elsewhere in the world—places where Kindle simply isn’t reaching.
Don’t be a facsimile of someone else. Take the reigns of your writing career and be an individual who stands out. Pave your own way and do things that ultimately work for YOU…not what someone else claims will work for you. You’ll save a lot of money, time and ultimately, your sanity by carving out your own niche and comfort zone in the world of independent publishing. Good Luck!!
So I’d like to tell you about a new anthology project that’s in the works—I know, I know, another anthology, but hear me out and give it some consideration. Though I’m not a contributor to anthologies and I’m no fan of “anthology mill” publishers, I do feel strongly about what the good folks over at Sci-Fi Saturday Night have assembled for their debut publishing venture.
A few years back, I was having lunch in downtown Providence, Rhode Island with a couple of authors and the cast of Sci-Fi Saturday Night during a break at a local convention. Dome, SFSN’s host and founder, began talking about a project about a group of authors each taking a photo from a recently discovered tintype of vintage photographs, and writing a unique story about that person. It sounded interesting but several months went by until the project was mentioned again, this time while in the early stages of production. Though I had no expectations of any involvement, I was thrilled to be invited to contribute a story for the anthology.
The unique angle for the story lines was that each author received one of the many photos discovered in Dome’s in-laws attic. The author was given only a photo, a name of that person and an occupation. Although the parameters set for the author were sometimes limiting, it really is an author’s dream to be assigned a project that requires them to stretch their imaginations a bit further. I was up for that challenge and happily submitted a story for this particular anthology project.
But I’m not really here to discuss my involvement as a contributing author so much as I am here to ask for your generosity. As many of you are aware, I’ve had a good relationship with Sci-Fi Saturday Night over the years. They were the first podcast to put me on the air, they’ve given me a lot of exposure to a new fanbase and they’ve just been all around good friends, both on and off the air. This is a passion project of theirs, but unfortunately (as many of us know) passion projects cost money. I can tell you first-hand that a lot of their time and energy went into this project up until this point. For a small group of pod casters who had zero knowledge of how to launch a publishing project, it’s very impressive how they’ve orchestrated this project thus far.
The Kickstarter campaign is set to end in less than two weeks. There are many great incentives to donating to the project, even for as little as $7.00. Every dollar contributed goes directly to the production of the anthology and to the authors who have contributed. Many talented authors such as Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Stacey Longo, Jason J. Mooers, Robert Mayette,William Meikle, F. Allen Farnham, Samantha Boyette, Tracy Hickman, et cetera have contributed their time and talents to this anthology. I can say with 100 percent honesty that this is a crowdfunding campaign worth asking for your generous donations. I can’t say that about many other crowdfunding campaigns or mass-author anthologies. Please take a moment to visit the Kickstarter Page for the project, tell your friends and share this on social media. Help keep indie art alive and growing!
I recently paid a visit to one of the many local museums to me in and around Boston—the M.I.T. Museum in Cambridge, Ma. Located just over the the other side of the Charles River, this wonderfully inspiring technology museum is both fascinating and dare I say, awe inducing. From their 3D hologram exhibit to their robotics gallery, there is surely something for everyone to enjoy. The displays of the student’s recent tech projects are highly enjoyable and it’s a reminder that great technological advances and engineering marvels are always right around the corner. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to spend a couple of hours while learning and discovering something new.
So it’s been a little over two months since my novel The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove was released and reader response has been very favorable and encouraging. When positive feedback is received, it makes what sometimes seemed like a draining and tedious process, well-worth the time and effort. Especially in light of the fact that I have other commitments besides writing a novel.
As of late, I’ve been asked by many people to discuss and bring to light some details about the book’s history, the story ideas, the inspiration behind the soundtrack and the unconventional method of release. I will attempt to answer as informatively and efficiently as possible without droning on ad nauseum.
Q: How long did it take to complete the novel?
A: If you factor in the time it took me write each of the short stories within the story—the full conceptual story front to back, then I could say almost five years. I had started writing volume one in the story (Huldufolk) back in 2010 and from there I’d worked on CRABAPPLES in 2012 and Left-Hand Path in late 2013. The time it spent to piece the stories together and write the bridge material and additional chapters, then the answer is roughly eight months. It took almost the same amount of time to record the book’s soundtrack.
Q: How did the concept of including a soundtrack to the books come about?
A: It’s another piece of the storytelling and I feel it give the story a little more depth and contrast. Plus, there aren’t many authors doing what I do—adding a listening element to their story. I like going the extra mile and giving the reader a unique experience for the money they’re spending.
Q: What happened to Huldufolk? Why wasn’t that story included in The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove?
A: Simply put, it no longer worked within the context of the novel. I love Huldufolk and it’s one of my favorite stories, but as much as I tried to make it work within the novel, at the end of the day it had to be eliminated. It was an early decision and I believe it was the correct one. As much as I wanted to make it work, I quickly realized that a young couple coming home from a haunted honeymoon in Iceland wasn’t going to flow well with the accompanying story lines. A writer needs the ability to self-edit and self-govern his or her writing, and this was a case where I did just that. Instead of completely eliminating the story entirely, I re-wrote the characters and settings to accommodate the rest of the content within the novel.
Q: Did you end the story with the intention of writing a sequel?
A: I can certainly see how one could draw that conclusion, but right now it’s the furthest thing from my mind. There are characters in the book that I am very fond of and have some passing thoughts as to where I could take them in the future, but that will be further down the line. If and when, they wouldn’t be direct sequels—the type that pick up right where the action from the previous book left off. If I revisit a storyline from the Crooked Roads, it will most likely be a standalone story with some relation to the aforementioned novel. There are other projects I’m working on in the meantime which will begin to materialize shortly after the new year.
Q: Will you be releasing The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove in paperback edition?
A: Yes, sometime in 2016 when we’ve exhausted the hardcover sales. However, like most of my work, it will most likely be a limited number run.
Q: Who is your cover artist for The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove?
A:Nicolene Lorette Design. One of the best in the business and easy to work with.
Q: Are vinyl copies of The Gathering from the book’s soundtrack still available?
A: The vinyl record of The Gathering was offered for those who’d pre-ordered the book back in June. With that said, copies are dwindling and for now, are only available at my table signings at the remaining signing dates I have scheduled. They are highly limited edition as each vinyl album was hand crafted—not mass produced, and once they are gone, they are gone forever.
Q: Where did you draw inspiration from when writing The Crooked Roads? Where were you getting your ideas?
A: I drew inspiration from the fact that there are a lot of evil spirited people around us and the fact that a lot of people are idiots. One needs not to look much further than the local news every evening to realize that we are living amongst monsters in our neighborhoods. They hide in plain sight and blend into society quite nicely. That is horror in its purest form—in my mind at least. Vampires, zombies, whathaveyou—those are great characters for escapism. But what about the person who stands before you and poses as a friend, a confidant, a respectable police officer, et cetera—but turns out to be someone of the opposite? Those are the type of people I wrote about, and although my story is a bit sensationalized, I think it captures the true essence of today’s deteriorating society.
Q: What is the genre of the book? What’s an appropriate age group for the story?
A: it weighs heavily in the genre of Suspense and Thriller. There are elements of Mystery as well. Age 17 and up is the popular consensus, but I’m not the parent so it would be better left to a parent’s discression.
You can purchase your copy of The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove directly off my Website or on Kindle at Amazon.
First there was the acoustic pre-show, where Pumpkins founder and frontman Billy Corgan laid down three beautiful renditions of Purr Snickerty, Perfect and Dorian (the latter two accompanied by guitarist Jeff Schroeder.) Followed by a Q and A between Corgan and the 17 of us in front of him. Corgan was in relaxed form and very gracious to the various fans and media professionals seated in front of him. No question was off limits as he gave explanations in his sometimes long-winded yet informative manner. As he’d made mention of his 25 years of coming through Boston, I’d asked him what his fondest memory of playing in Boston over the years. He told me it was an early performance at the tiny Cambridge, MA club called T.T The Bears Place, where the temperature was so intense, he poured a bucket of water over his head on stage.
Later in the evening, as the Pumpkins took to the stage for their full-length show, they leveled the crowd with Cherub Rock, followed by Bullet with Butterfly Wings and Tonight, Tonight. Little on stage banter was shared with the audience, but rather a full-blown rock show filled to the brim with Smashing Pumpkin classics, something that dedicated fans haven’t heard played on stage in quite some time. Aside from Drum and Fife, One and All and Run2Me from their well-received Monuments to an Elegy album, the rest of the set played like a greatest hits album. From Ava Adore to Zero to Disarm, the band aimed to please with this rare live glimpse of the band’s yesteryear. As predicted, once 1979 was performed, many fans walked off and called it a night. As Corgan announced that since the fair weather fans and posers had left, they would continue on stage with some hard rockers, as was evident with the thunderous United States from the album Zeitgeist and Stand Inside Your Love from Machina.
Adding to the excitement of the rock-solid performance was the inclusion of original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin who fit right back in behind the skins as if he’d never left. Complimenting his backbone beat was the inclusion of bassist Jack Bates, son of legendary New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook. He fit in very well and added an element of style and coolness on stage. The band ended the show with an encore of Today, which ended the party nicely.