Saturday, June 15, 2013

When All You Have Are "Cow Tools"....

Gary Larson is undeniably brilliant, but he is not a perfect pen and ink talent.

Yet he used his unpretentious illustrative ability to convey clearly many quite abstract ideas. And he would do it in one panel.

He could reach into his very simple bag of cartoon inker's "Cow Tools" and produce an image that opens a window on a different way of seeing the world. One that reveals a unique viewpoint and explores general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.

He was more of a philosopher than a illustrator.

Larson's work raises the question: why aren't more philosopher's funny?

His work also suggests that you don't need to have every possible talent perfected to tell a story.

But all I have at my disposal for crafting stories for the 2013 Clarion Foundation Write-A-Thon are a few ideas and the basics of the writer's craft I learned at Clarion East in 1972.

That's my little bag of Cow Tools.

And yet I believe that sometimes, if you work very hard and simply do as well and as right as you can, that will be enough.

(Have a beef? Moooo-ved to comment? Please do so below.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sell Yourself As An Author Without Selling Your Soul

Publishers dream sugar-plum dreams where all of their authors find their own way onto Oprah, 60 Minutes, articles on the front page of the New York Times, and just about any and every possible media purview...while giving out with brilliant interviews from sea to shining studio.

They want us to be "book famous", and the less they have to do, the sweeter the promotion sugar. But it seems that Oprah won't take my calls, and the NYT is not returning my inquiries. What now?

If you have a specific topic on which you write, one method of self-promotion is to join affiliated associations...but don't stop there.

Seriously consider applying for speaking engagements at the germane conferences that cater to your specific genere of writing.

I've worked broadly in Information Security, and IT in general, since the late 1980's. To keep my CISSP in good standing, it is required I perform a certain number of hours of "study" per year. Knowing this is a requirement for many InfoSec professionals, tech ssecurity associations put on nice lunches, with a few minutes for a speaker, that meet the requirements of a "teaching seminar". Some of these "teachers" have presented little more than "Good Security, Good Meet, Good Gawd, Let's Eat!" to cover the "teaching portion" of the presentation.

Many associations not only make it easy to join, but even the shyest author finds chatting at a convivial meet-up of like minded people enjoyable, and find themselves handing out their card, with e-mail address to keep in touch with other members. And some of them may very well look you up and by your commercial or self-published book. They've met you and know you...they may want to read about your expertise in the subject matter.

You never know...unless you try. And joining associations that interest you are quite fun and worth the investment.

For the more extroverted, there are thousands of seminars and subject-matter conventions held world-wide where you may submit a written engagement subject and full text of the speech, and find yourself speaking to dozens to hundreds of folk in your area of interest, where you may also pitch your publication during or after the presentation.

Whatever path fits you best, it is best to network with others in your subject-matter area. You learn much, and your publisher is pleased at your self-promotion and added certifications.

What do you think? Have you any experience with associations and networking that might be of help to us all? If so, please comment below.

Here is a link to a seminar panel presentation I organized some years ago for DefCon (the hacker's convention). It has led to an InfoSec series I am currently fleshing out. It's the second presentation on that page, and our talk covered digital security and a few things relating to my work as Director of Security, Napster (talk about a work title oxymoron!).

Remember, it's not scary out there when the people you'll be meeting and presenting to are people who love the things you love to write about. You can be very serious about work while being equally serious about having fun.

This is a link to a list of upcoming sci-fi know you wanna. Roadtrip!

(This article originally appeared HERE at Amazon-affiliated CreateSpace.)