Ring Around The Rosies….

I love this video! It is utterly creepy and, curiously, about 99.9% of the lyrics actually fit my 4th novel, Psychic, though it’s not a horror story.

When I began Psychic, back in the haze of the past, this children’s rhyme popped into my head and wouldn’t leave. As I wrote the novel, the rhyme beautifully integrated itself into the story…and as I researched the rhyme, I found that its origins were also shrouded into its own “haze of the past.”

This link (thank you, Mandy Pratt!) covers a lot of ground, and is a great place to start in trying to uncover the ambiguous origin to these words. It seems greatly debated and bandied about. Even some conclusions seems “jumped to,” if you ask me. But, people are people, no matter if they were lab coats, swing a sledgehammer, or study folklore. We all have our opinions, based upon whatever information we base them upon.

Here are the lyrics I use in my novel:

Ring around the rosy,

A pocketful of posies,

Ashes! Ashes!

We all fall down….

I did research the rhyme a little and did find there were different versions, which I found interesting, but given how I was going to use the rhyme, the above-chosen lyrics were perfect.

As the above link shows, there is great debate over the rhyme’s lyrics, but, sometimes, I feel, the most obvious is the answer, whether or not one can prove it. Whether it’s describing the Black Death of 1347 or the Great Plague of 1665, it does, indeed, seem to describe elements of a nasty disease. Perhaps it’s like our present-day version of cancer, where most people don’t even like to joke about it, lest they tempt the Fates themselves, maybe, back in the 1300s and 1600s it was so fresh in mind that most didn’t even want to attribute anything to it, whether it was a rhyme or a personal action. But one line in this link‘s analysis really gets me: “Moreover, in many versions, everyone gets up again once they have fallen down, which hardly makes sense if falling down represents death.”

Um, you’re kidding me, right?

Unless everyone whoever acts out this rhyme actually stays on the ground—forever—you can never really, totally act out “death.” The rhyme is representative, not literal.

As to why there are so many variants of the rhyme? Did you miss the part where the first version of the Plague had ravaged most of Europe? Yeah, there are multitudes of different cultures in Europe. Why wouldn’t there be different versions? Wouldn’t the curious mind more marvel at the fact that there were so many similar variants, instead? In fact, even in today’s world (and I maintain that people are people and we’re really not all that inherently different from our forefathers and mothers), today’s song writers, lyricists, novel writers, we all take and borrow from that which already exits and modify it—hell, look at me, what I’m doing with the rhyme, look at this video, above! It is the nature of things to change, to morph, for humans to want to modify and transform. To me (and I’m truly stunned at folklorists) that this is not factored into their historical equations! Especially with something as far-flung and widespread as the Plague.

And, maybe, the Plague was so known to the inhabitants of the post-Plague world that—to them—it was a given. That this minor little soon-to-be-nursery rhyme was inspired by the grisly events from which they had all just survived, and they had more important diary entries to worry about….

If it looks, smells, and feels like the Plague…yeaaah, maybe it really is the Plague….

In any event, I found and find all this debate fascinating. Even on a “Zen level,” without being able to document “hard evidence,” the nonphysical concept of the Plague maxed out the psyche of the world and found itself inspiring many forms of creativity without the purveyors realizing it…or maybe all the “creatives” did realize it, but never talked about it, or admitted to it in public. This would be akin to today’s world when one person writes a story and another feels they stole their idea, because, hey, they were writing about that, too, so the “only way” this could happen would be that the other somehow found out about the other’s work and plagiarized them. I truly believe that this happens more than people realize, buuut, we can’t prove this kind of thing in a court of law.

Yet.

So, go ahead, replay the video, I know you want to (I’m gonna), and enjoy the stunning creepiness of a new take on the whole “ring around the rosies” controversy…and look out for Psychic, when it comes out, next week….

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Going Indie—What I’ve Learned (So Far)—Part 11

Forge Your Own Way. (By Morrowlong [CC-BY-SA-3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0] or GFDL [http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons]

Forge Your Own Way. (By Morrowlong [CC-BY-SA-3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0] or GFDL [http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons]

It’s truly never-ending.

When you’re doing everything yourself—and by “yourself” I do mean having a team, but though you do have a team, you’re still in charge—you never really get a break. And that’s okay, because, in this instance, it truly is a labor of love.  But, you can only push yourself so far without adversely affecting your health, relationships, that kind of thing. It’s like I’ve said before, you can only do what you can do. Don’t fret about it…but do your best.

Indie publishing.

I’ve been working on my Psychic manuscript since before 2000. I’d originally started notes and chapter one around 1994, actually, when I’d discovered that our government claimed to have disbanded a classified remote viewing program. It gave me a story idea, so I began notes and such, but it wasn’t until 2000 that I sat down in earnest and began the task I’m still trying to complete. This month, I hope to finally complete it. And though I’ve been working on this project for a large frigging part of my life (surprisingly, this is the manuscript I’ve worked the longest, good God—20 years, if you count when I started taking notes—man that just hit me as I write this!), the difficulty has largely been the timeframe of the book. I’ve had to change the dates and ages and technology numerous times in trying to get this thing out there. And, as I’m wrapping things up, I’m still discovering little nit-noy shit (even though I have a proofreader), like the age of my antagonist at certain events, or the need to again change his weapon of choice. It’s become maddening. I am, however, finding this stuff before my proofreader will find it (she’s still reading and not yet at the end), but it’s frustrating! So, once again, I have to go back in and make corrections. But, that’s the way this works. Unless you do have another set of eyes…and even perhaps despite that, you may still find errors, because no one knows your story like you do.

Good Lord, 20 years?

Hopefully, what you find are not egregious errors…but even so, remember, even with the Big Dogs (the Big Five/Whatever) readers find errors. We’re human, and we make mistakes.

So, here is my latest round of things I’ve discovered:

  1. We’re human, we make mistakes. Accept that, but do your best. Have a thick skin, and readers…be kind. Understand this, fact, too.
  2. Blurbs? As I’d written in a previous post, I’m no longer seeking them…but to those I’ve already gathered, I’m going to use. Again, I reiterate: all those who have written me a cover blurb have actually read my work.
  3. Copyright your work! There is a really good post on this, and it got my ass in gear, now all my work is copyrighted. I always meant to do this, it got lost in the shuffle, so, thanks, Susan (Susan Spann has been most helpful to our writing community)!
  4. Don’t respond to e-mails with your favorite (or any, for that matter!) music blasting away! You could get carried away! There, I said it. You think that’s a stupid thing to say, but I love rock and roll, and, well, yes, sometimes I can get a little carried away with the energy of it. Music can and does change your state of mind, and you don’t want to get cocky. Just sayin’.
  5. Putting a price on your cover. When I first noted this item, I was of the mind to put a price on your book when printing the cover (if you can). It’s been mentioned a couple times on sites/sellers of books. I’ve asked my community about it, and I don’t remember anyone responding, so I don’t take it as being all that important. The more I thought about it, the more I came up with: why? In today’s world, that only really seems applicable to brick-and-mortar bookstores. So, I’m backing off the need for that. I don’t think you need to have that anymore. That’s old school (unless someone reading this can give me a good reason to do so). Everyone discounts books, even the brick-and-mortar stores. Indie authors cut deals left and right. Why would this be a necessity anymore?
  6. Be quick to apologize! Never be afraid to say you’re sorry for something you may have done, even if you’re not sure you’ve actually done something wrong. I am constantly amazed at how few people in the world actually apologize for anything, especially men. You got it. Men, friggin Man-the-HELL-up and take goddamn responsibility for your actions. I see it so much in my day job it pisses me off (and had another experience with exactly this just yesterday!). I forget why I’d originally included this item, but the point is salient. Get off your Ego Podiums!
  7. WP blogging: check that your saves are actually saved! Good Lord, this bites me more than I care to consider—and other WP bloggers! Yet, every time I contact WP about this, it’s like the first time they’ve ever heard about it! It’s not, WP, so please, fix the damned issue! Below the post window, on the right, there’s a “Draft saved at…” timestamp, and below that is a “Revisions” history. Checks these areas frequently!  Can’t emphasize this enough! Check them every time you save, to make sure your save—whether it’s a “Ctrl-S” or “Save Draft” selection—that they actually have taken. Especially if you’ve completed an initial post then been away from that post for a long time, like hours or days, and come back. Copy your text into Word or Notepad as you’re working. Highlight and copy into your clipboard what you’ve worked on periodically. If you happen to get a message that has the words to the effect “Do you really want to do this“…it’s too late. You’re screwed. You’ll keep what you last entered and saved, but anything after that last “official” save is forever gone.
  8. Cut your losses. If something’s not working out for you, detach yourself from it. Remove yourself from it. I recently had to do that with something with which I’d been associated for a very long time. It’s going  its way, I’m going mine. C’est la vie. Move on. Don’t keep the “bad energy” in your Weltanschauung. Don’t bad talk whatever it is…just move on.
  9. Not all advice is good. Everyone has an opinion, just like me, but not everything we give will work for you. And—I have to say this—not everyone knows what they’re talking about! Not everyone truly understands Indie publishing! And…some are actively trying to still discredit Indie publishing, because they’re in Traditional publishing, are pissed, scared, Old School, whatever, and are trying to interdict, spoof, and (argh, I’ve forgotten the term!) intentionally direct you away from your chosen path. Be aware. Consider all you hear with a block of salt. And remember this: there are always a million reasons not to do something…but, you only need to find one reason to change. Make the break and create a new path for yourself. This, however, is one guy who has his shit together: Bob Mayer. Read his stuff.
  10. Not everything you write is publishable! This should be obvious! Going Indie may give you license to publish everything you write, but everything you write is not necessarily publishable.
  11. Keep writing.

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ERO v. Extant

ERO (© F. P. Dorchak and Lon Kirschner, 2013)

ERO (© F. P. Dorchak and Lon Kirschner, 2013)

Okay, let’s have some fun!

Based on the trailers alone, for this new TV SF series that starts tomorrow, I’m going to begin comparing my novel, ERO with Extant. I see some basic similarities, so I’m going to start a tweet campaign. I’m gonna keep it light and fun, and try to stick to “the facts.” I urge all of you to do the same! Feel free to tweet any similarities or miscompares between the two items!

So,I’ll begin, here:

ERO has a solo astronaut in a space station…Extant has a solo astronaut in a space station.

ERO has a hot chick, Extant has a hot chick.

Extant is produced by Steven Spielberg…ERO is produced (and written) by…uh, ummm…me.

Extant is a movie…ERO, my readers say, should be a movie!

ERO has a creepy guy in a space station…Extant also has a creepy guy in a space station.

So, okay, that’s the idea! Have fun and tweet away! Let’s see what kinds of comparisons we can come up with!

My Twitter handle is @fpdorchak

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Happy Fourth of July!

Yesterday we attended a Rockies baseball game against the Dodgers. We won’t speak of their loss, nor how close it was, nor whether or not they had fun (inside jokes with family), but we got to watch it from a private suite (sweet!), and afterwards, were treated to a spectacular fireworks show! Of all the fireworks I’ve seen, these folks at Coors Stadium kick royal ass! Coors stadium opens up most of the field to everyone to lay on the grass and watch, and the last two times we went, we laid out on the grass and watched in awe. This time, I stayed back with some of our family members who didn’t head down, and we watched from an outside landing…we were actually closer to the fireworks than being out on the playing field. But, in either location, at the hypnotic, finale fusillade, the explosions were so powerful, you felt the concussions actually pounding your body!

It’s nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Enjoy!

Rockies v. Dodgers, July 3, 2014

Rockies v. Dodgers, July 3, 2014

 

Loading up Coors Field for the Fireworks Display, July 3, 2014

Loading up Coors Field for the Fireworks Display, July 3, 2014

UFO Watchtower…Revisited

fpdorchak:

Funny how some things work out…..

Originally posted on Reality Check:

UFO Watchtower, Hooper, Colorado, June 28, 2014

UFO Watchtower, Hooper, Colorado, June 28, 2014

Well, this is kinda funny.

This past weekend I’d posted about the UFO Watchtower, a place I’d visited about once a year since 2005, then hadn’t been to for a couple years. I’d talked of trying to make my way down there this year, for certain. Well, no sooner had I posted that post, when my wife says, “Do you wanna go today?”

I’d never even considered it, and had, in fact, been looking to head down there in a couple weeks.

I looked outside.

Mow the lawn and yard work, standard weekend chores…or a fun, spontaneous road trip?

We day-packed the car, made our hotel reservation, and sped out about an hour-and-a-half later.

There’s nothing like a road trip…heading out on the open road, leaving the cares and chores of everyday life for asphalt (or concrete) and rolling scenery. It…

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UFO Watchtower

fpdorchak:

When I was working on ERO, I’d heard about the UFO Watchtower and had to check it out! Here is a post on my other blog, Reality Check….

Originally posted on Reality Check:

UFO Watchtower, Hooper, Colorado, c. 2005

UFO Watchtower, Hooper, Colorado, c. 2005

The place, 2 1/2 miles north of Hooper, Colorado (about 40 minutes north of Alamosa, Colorado).

The mission?

Well, the mission is similar in scope to the  likes of Area 51 or the Marfa Lights Viewing Area. Located in Saguache County, Colorado, in the heart of the San Luis Valley—where all the “weird shit” one hears about in Colorado originates (e.g., cattle mutilation, UFO sightings)—is this interesting little destination run by Judy Messoline, called the UFO Watchtower.

Near as I can tell, my wife and I made our first excursion there back in July 23, 2005, the same year Judy’s book, That Crazy Lady Down The Road, came out. I forgot about how or when I’d first been made aware of the Watchtower, but once I’d heard about it—and the Best Western Movie Manor hotel, with its…

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Unearthing the Bones: The Order of My Work

I Have Skeletons To Unearth. By American Museum of Natural History (http://adsny.com/nyindian/nyindianintro.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Yes, I Know Where the Bodies Are. By American Museum of Natural History (http://adsny.com/nyindian/nyindianintro.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve been writing since I was six years old. That’s a long time, considering I’m in my early fifties. Admittedly, between the age of six and 26 that was sporadic, but in 1987, I got serious and began writing every day. I began (or should say continued) with short stories. Short stories and prose poems were where I began. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve written (I know it’s over a hundred, perhaps more toward 200?, is about all I remember), but only have a handful actually published. Someday, my plan is, is to published the better of those into a collection.

As I began indie publishing my novels, I thought it might be interesting to list out the order of the books, as I wrote them. So, that is what I’ve done here. I have also included in this list those novels I have not (and will not, as the case may be) publish, just to show the order of their creation, including my age when I began them. A couple of titles I will not give, since they are still works-in-progress that may or may not be actually released, or are novels I may yet return to, with titles that are more unique than what I already see out there. I thought, that might be an interesting point of view. How old was I when wrote Sleepwalkers? ERO? Was I your current age? What kinds of thoughts do you think of, now, at your age…that I might also  have been thinking? Do my works portray an expected state of mind, in my progression through time and aging?

Note: only the hyperlinked novels are released. The rest are unpublished.

So, here is my chronological list of novels, listing the years it took to write them. 1993 was a banner year for me.

  1. Satan’s Stairs, 1987 – 1990 (26)
  2. Village Idiot, 1990 – 1993 (took 2nd in a 1993 writer’s conference contest; 29)
  3. (Title hidden), 1993 (first draft only; 32)
  4. Second Coming, 1993 (incomplete first draft; 32)
  5. Reunion, 1993 -1996 (32)
  6. Sleepwalkers, 1993 – 1997; 2001 (32)
  7. (Title hidden), 1997 – 1999; 2013 (36)
  8. Psychic, 1994; 2000 -2005; 2014 (33)
  9. The Uninvited, 2001 – 2004; 2013 (40)
  10. ERO, 2006 – 2008; 2013 (45)
  11. (Title hidden), 2011 (incomplete first draft; 50)
  12. (Title hidden), 2012 (first draft; possible series; 51)

Yes, I was—and continue to—write a fair amount. I take my writing seriously, and do try to write every day, but don’t beat myself up about it if I miss a day or so. I work a full-time job, so all this is part-time effort. A couple hours a day, and some (or not) on weekends. I’m less anal about the weekends the older I get. I do need some time off, you know.

Thanks to all of you who follow my social media and who’ve read any of my work. I do appreciate your time and effort spent on my words. I love playing with them. Thank you for sharing my fun!

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iWorry

Okay, let’s have some funny on Friday the 13th!

I found this a couple weeks back, but got sidetracked with more serious stuff.

Enjoy!

Hachette v. Amazon

 Take a Look in the Mirror. In fact Take a Picture, So You'll REMEMBER.  By http://www.flickr.com/photos/byflickr/ By Byflickr, Rohan Kar(http://www.flickr.com/photos/byflickr/2584948850/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Look in the Mirror. Take a Picture, So You’ll REMEMBER. By http://www.flickr.com/photos/byflickr/ By flickr, Rohan Kar (http://www.flickr.com/photos/byflickr/2584948850/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, I’m sure this’ll make me extra popular, but I find this annoyance and anger with Amazon amusing.

Really, we’re dumping on Amazon?

Aren’t we also ignoring all the ills of the Traditional Publishing world, with stuff like, oh, yeah: price fixing.

Let me remind you who the “Big Five” were (are), in this little pricing fixing scenario:

Simon & Schuster.

HarperCollins.

Penguin.

Macmillan.

Oh, yeah, and Hachette Book Group.

Hachette.

And, hmmm, let’s see what else does Trad Publishing do that can be taken issue with?

Not helping authors with promotion and marketing.

Less author-friendly contracts (. e.g., sucky terms, grabbing as many of an authors rights as possible, and royalties).

Not including author input on covers.

Making authors feel like we are there only for them, instead of a more teamwork approach.

Not growing authors anymore in favor of a bean counting approach.

Archaic business model.

How they drag their feet in paying authors.

Giving away half your book’s value up front…and the returns, oh. my God, the returns!

In short, there ain’t no saints in this business. This link lays out some other issues. And Bob Mayer’s posts are always elucidating.

All huge companies do what huge companies do, and that is…they do what benefits huge companies. Period. Most times it makes them look “okay,” and they fly under the radar, but periodically, they all do something that gets them in hot water, and they “auger in,” as the flying analogy goes, and crash and burn in the media.

And everyone loves to pick on Amazon. Especially bookstores.

I’m not saying that I agree with what Amazon is doing—I don’t—but to string em up like this is just making for great sound bites and videos. The public has a short memory.

Again, see 2012 price fixing.

 

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Going Indie—What I’ve Learned (So Far)—Part 10

By HarperTeen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Liars, Liars, Pants On Fire! (By HarperTeen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Over the weekend I got into a short exchange about book blurbs. It was mentioned that during the BEA, that there was a “lot” of talk among editors about how important book blurbs are, now, for debut works to be taken seriously. I watched some of the comments, and saw that not everyone (as readers) seemed enamored over them.

Book blurbs are having some famous person giving a little mini review of your book, like “This is the best piece of literary action/adventure since Shakespeare!” It’s an “If all these people like this book, you will too” marketing approach. I have nothing against that. Personally, blurbs never really played much into my buying a book. As was mentioned by one or two others, it was always about plot, story, title, cover art (yes, I have bought books for the cool looking covers, before…but that’s no longer a factor, since I became a serious writer). That kind of thing.

Then one day, as the “serious writer,” I asked an acquaintance of mine to blurb one of my books.

This person got back to me within an hour or so (to be honest don’t remember the actual response period, but I do remember thinking this person could not have read the book that quickly) with a blurb.

A blurb that was written without having read my work.

I asked if this person had read the book and was, indeed, told no, they hadn’t. I thanked the person, but told them that I would not use it, because I wanted my blurbs to come from people who actually read my work.

Over the years, I had found that this was standard industry practice!

Yes, the traditional publishing industry, that place that brought you your Hunger Games, your Harry Potters, your Dragon Tattoos, even your Chicken Soups, or any of the Oprah-endorsed books…look at all those blurbs famous people wrote. It’s a sure bet most of those were written without the blurber having actually read any of the book in question.

Now, I could be wrong.

It could be that today’s publishing industry has grown morally and ethically since the 15-30 years ago when I discovered this from other authors (yes, I asked some others, and one or two even told me they’d supplied blurbs without having read the books…that it was just “the thing to do…how it was done.”)…buuut, I doubt it. So, I did some quick research over the Internet, and this article is representative of what I found. You might find it interesting, even if it is dated 2012, especially this little line: “Shteyngart admits that he hasn’t fully read all the books he’s blurbed….”

In this (and other articles I found online) nearly all of them all said the same thing: they don’t really sell books. They help get them into bookstores, perhaps, but readers don’t really pay attention to them. Oh, sure, the blurbers might be well meaning, helping out a friend or student…or are sleeping with an editor…or even have a gun to their head, one article joked…but a 2012 Bowker Market Research study showed that only 6% of readers become aware of books through jacket covers or testimonials…blurb effectiveness was anecdotal.

Back to my weekend comment: “So, given the comments, how in touch ARE editors with their readers? Are the blurbs more for official reviews?

Yes, was the basic response, but when I mentioned that most blurb writers do not read the books they blurb, and make stuff up, the person I interacted with no longer responded. I found that extremely unprofessional on this person’s part. Really, when presented with a “hard” question, you simply…ummm…ignore and run away?

Funny thing, is, I really wasn’t even looking for a fight…was just “organically” responding with the others, and providing my POV, in that I also don’t pay attention to blurbs. So, really, I wasn’t (nor am I currently) looking to embarrass anyone, I was just trying to have a meaningful conversation, in which (I’d hoped) I would be told that, hey, “We, here, in the Publishing Industry no longer hold to misguiding the public with the practice of MAKING UP book review blurbs so you will buy our books. That was then…this is now. But, hey, thank you for bringing up that concern so, we, here, in the Publishing Industry, can address this heinous activity and set the record straight.”

Yeah, well, guess I got my answer.

Yet, we all got all bent out of shape and pissy with the Amazon review scandal of a couple years back, with authors doing their own fake reviews. When you’re making shit up—aka, lying—does it really matter who‘s doing it, if you’re all part of the same bucket?

One may say that they’re not useless, they still get books into bookstores, but getting books into bookstores is not the same as selling them.

Oh, and there’s still the lying part….

As to my own books blurbs, every one of those are from people who read my books (and, in one case, the screenplay I adapted from The Uninvited, which I allowed, because I adapted the screenplay myself and knew it was perfectly inline with the novel). I will also not give any blurbs to books with which I have not read. Yeah, like I’ll be asked, but I’m just sayin’.

Perhaps I’ll even stop my own practice of asking for them, given their shady nature.

So, be wary of any blurb on any book, by anyone. Seems like it’s still a damned good bet that they’re all made up.

 

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