Monday, April 23, 2012

Meet Laura Roberts

Laura Roberts is the author of “Rebels of the 512” and multiple bits of erotica, humor and erotic humor including: “Where to Get Laid in Montreal” and “Top 5 Reasons You Can't Get Laid in Montreal”.  Her style is off-balance and bizarre.

"Rebels of the 512" is a political satire about a teacher's revolt after the Governor shut down their high school, featuring ninjas versus pirates.  She wrote it for Canada's “Three Day Novel” Contests. It's more work than I could ever throw down in three days, but I'd like to try.

She's one of a kind and I can find nothing she's afraid of.  She's an active blogger, featuring writers of multiple genres and still fitting in the occasional dirty story.  Currently she is working on "Naked Montreal", a novel based on her experiences as a sex columnist.

Learn more about her at:


Soon we may see her interview of me.

I'm curious about her apocalyptic bunker in Austin, Texas.

I asked her several questions.  Here are her responses:

What's the dirtiest thing you've ever written?

-I used to write erotica for a variety of sites, so that's probably the dirtiest. I also penned a sex column for an alternative paper in Montreal, which I'm using as inspiration for my novel, Naked Montreal, which will be much more dirty!

What lessons have you learned from your kids? Your pets? Your plants?

-I have a literary kitty named Nedward Carlos Nedwards (aka "Ned"), and I've learned that if your cat becomes more famous than you are, it's all over.

What do you miss most about college?

-I miss the camaraderie of college the most. I used to work for my university newspaper, and it was a great group of people, so I miss being able to bounce those ideas around and take chances with that group, whether my ideas were shot down or put on pedestals.

What devices do you like for writing? Pens, pencils, computer, typewriter?

-I'm a computer nerd for most of my writing, but for poetry I'm extremely old school and go for pen and paper. When I need to shake things up, I bust out the pen and paper or my Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter and get cracking.

Where do you like to write?

-I almost always write at my desk, but if I'm feeling lazy I'll bring my laptop to bed or to the couch with me. Typically I fall asleep when that happens, so if I want to get any work done, I usually force myself to stay at my desk through means of bribery (sometimes a coffee helps).

How close are you characters to yourself or people you know?

-My characters are always based in some way on myself or people I know. I think that's just the nature of the business. When you truly admire someone, you want to write them into your work. When you truly abhor someone, the urge is similar, with a psychological twist where you're trying to understand their horrible machinations. Though I try to avoid writing about people I dislike, because they don't deserve even the merest attentions.

Is it easier to write the first book or the second?

-Definitely the first, since you can say anything. The second feels like you have an audience to please, no matter how unrecognized the first one may have been!

Besides novels in prose, what other forms of writing do you like? Other forms of art?

-I also write personal essays, blogs, nonfictional stuff, poetry, and have been trying to convince myself to start doing a podcast or video blog. I haven't succeeded with the latter, but we'll see. My husband is a visual artist, so I'm also always poring over his art supply catalogues and pondering what might happen if I took up pastels or started doing oil paintings. They'd be abstract, but I'd pile on the paint like Van Gogh. Seems therapeutic.

Who helps you edit? To whom do you speak when you have trouble with characters, plots, etc.?

-My husband reads my rough drafts and points out any obvious errors. I have a variety of writing peers that I'll talk to about specific issues, and when I'm just totally stuck I'll go for a walk or occupy myself with something non-writing related to break up the block.

What's the best thing you've read lately?

-I'm re-reading Harriet the Spy, which was one of my childhood favorites. I'm liking it perhaps even more now, because I can understand why the grown-ups behave as they do, but I still love Harriet's desire to spy on people as a means to become a good writer. Isn't that, really, what we're all about?

What's you favorite type of word?

-I love words that start with V, like vixen, vendetta, vestigial, vertigo, venomous, vellum, etc. Anything with an X in it is also instantly desirable. I'm pretty sure this is the only reason I picked up a book by Hélène Cixous.

What do you never want to hear, see, or read again?

-Hear: Rush Limbaugh. See: anything by Andy Warhol. Read: memoirs masquerading as fiction.

What is your weakest skill as a writer?

-Settling for less than perfection.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Get Lit

Get Lit is not actually about what it sounds like, though I'm sure in the 12th most drunk city in the nation, some people will be getting lit.

Get Lit is a literary festival in Spokane, Washington, sponsored by Eastern Washington University.  Published authors and new writers alike are given opportunities all week to share and learn.

I'd love to be at every venue and meet everyone, but due to new-born baby issues, I can't be a social vulture this weekend.  But I will be attending the open Community Read this Sunday.  Anyone can get 10 minutes to read.

I was there last year and charged through 200 lines of Apocalypse Zoo with no intro and may have confused everyone.  This year I'm introducing myself, reading Chapter Two of Road from Nowhere, encouraging everyone to stay and chat, and perhaps finishing with Fake Flowers.

Last year, and at every reading I've ever attended, people seem to be there to read or listen to their one buddy.  After that, they jet out and I'm left feeling hollow about an experience I was previously excited to attend.  I never get to talk writing to anyone who cares.

Not too late to catch a plane from anywhere in the world.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Year in Review

This week marked the first birthday of Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo, prompting me to reflect on my first year as an ebook author.

It's been a good writing year.  I'm terribly proud of Apocalypse Zoo.  The best piece of descriptive verse I've ever produced.  Book Two in the series, Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere, is also damn good and so much different.  I went from almost no human characters and a few quotation marks to dozens of humans and tons of dialogue.  Writing ten-by-tens about two or more people having a conversation is challenging.  But I did it.  Put that in your pipes and smoke it.

After a spring and summer of constricting verse form, I felt the need to run naked and free in the world of prose.  Also, I finally felt ready to write about my years in the restaurant business.  Inside the Skull of David Priest was born.  Mr. Priest is a wild and single version of me.  The strangest thing started to happen: he was both a good and bad influence on me, the guy who created him.  In order to get into the character I was consuming ten pots of coffee and a couple bottles of vodka a week.  I wanted to drink at work.  My wise-ass streak was getting wider and sharper.  But, when I was busy as hell behind the bar and beginning to feel it, I'd ask myself: "Would David Priest be stressed out right now?"  I can remind myself, in the heat of battle, that I am the real door-gunner of drinks.

I feel good about what I've written in the last year, but am disappointed in the response.  I did not expect commercial success, especially for the 1000 line poems.  Those were for me and people who will read me long after I'm dead.  Several hundred people have downloaded one or more of my works.  Only a few, however, have written reviews.  That is what really hurts if I stop to think about it.  I considered spending some of this review ranting about what the hell is wrong with people who can't spend a couple bucks on me or at least type a review, even if they hated it.  I decided not to.

So I'm looking at how I've spent my marketing time in the last year.  I've thought about what I've done right and wrong.  I decided to think about it less, talk about my books less, and spend a majority of my time writing.  I was distinctly shocked at how easy it is to offend people in forums about reading books by mentioning your book.  I choose not to take that to heart any longer.

I know I need to become a more active part of the online writer's community.  We're all in similar boats, so we need to help each other.  At the start of 2012 I resolved to read one book a month and review it.  I see a lot of authors exchanging reviews as a way to gain exposure.  But sorry, it feels false. Reading your book so you'll read mine or reading a book to be part of some blog tour is not something I'll spend time with.  My time is quite limited.  I'd love to spend much of the week reading books but it's not an option.  I'll not be reading very much this year and will not promise again to do so.

I will be exchanging guest blogs and interviews.  Already Caron Rider has shared with her readers my piece on writing ten-by-tens.  Coming soon will be my interview of her and other authors.  I think this is a much more time-effective method of getting my name out and helping other writers.  I don't have the hours to give your books a quality read and review.  I won't fake it or give half an effort.

KDP Select has not helped me.  Two and a half months into my 90 days and not one person has borrowed either Cathartes Aura from the lending library, netting me exactly 0.0% of the half-million dollars or more per month Amazon uses to pull you in.  And not one review from a person who got a book during my five free days.  A few sales.  No reviews.  For three months I'll be off Smashwords and other retailers and with Amazon exclusively.  I can't wait to have my freedom again.  It feels like it hasn't been worth it, but I haven't sold anywhere else either.

What's next?  Three writing projects are pending.

#1: Cathartes Aura Three.  The disparate survivors rebuild around the mall while their vast differences begin to show.  You can find Chapter One here on the blog.

#2: David Priest the novel.  I'll revise and expand Inside the Skull into a full book.  Mr. Priest will take on Columbus, out-numbered and out-gunned but not out-witted.  Less than a week after the novella was published, my brain started thinking about the rest.

#3: But probably the first one I'll finish, a novel with the working title "La Isla".  Post-apocalyptic, but on a smaller scale.  The setting is a remote Caribbean island nation with a history of poverty and corruption.  Already pushed to the edge, the population is ready to crack when a hurricane is bearing down on them.  The main character, yet un-named, is a white orphan boy found in a pitiful state and adopted my a mixed-race family.  From his first day, he has amazed people with his durability and luck, gaining a reputation for indestructibility.  He bears a scar on his hand from the time he swatted a bullet out of the air before it struck him in the face.

I'll find out how professionals submit manuscripts and send myself out to a billion publishers, knowing I'll be rejected a trillion times by form letter.  I'll keep writing the best stuff I can and that will make up for my ignorance of marketing.  I'll make myself better known amongst writers like me and help you know writers like them.

It's been a wonderful year.  My second son, Matyas, was born twelve days ago.  His big brother, Nikolas, is a very smart two-and-a-half year old.  He speaks English and Czech.  His Czech is better than mine.  He can already spell numerous words.  Our first book together should be done in a few years.  Their mother is beautiful and stronger than any of us.  If she had more confidence and time to paint, she'd be amazing.

Well, I wrote three great things, ain't sold crap, was invited to read at an art gallery, have been featured a couple times in a local literary magazine, have a great and growing family, a roof over my head, the best dog and cat around, food in the fridge, and am almost the best bartender I can be.

I won't complain and I'll keep writing.

If you have a book of mine and haven't reviewed, please do.

If you don't have a book of mine, click on a book cover at the top of the blog.

Raise your glasses to another good year.