Dec 272013
I didn't burn this one. 'Bout time.

I didn’t burn this one. ‘Bout time I shipped it.

Okay. I lied. I said I wasn’t going to post anything until Jan. 2.

So sue me.

That’s all right. This one’s worth it.

Part I of my new fiction work, B.I.C. Cartel is now live. Just uploaded it a few minutes ago.

It’s so new Amazon hasn’t reviewed it yet to see if it advocates world conquest (of course it does).

It’s so new there isn’t even a link available on Amazon yet.

It’s so new I’m still playing with the bubble wrap.

Here’s the deal. I wanted to have Part I perpetually free on Amazon and they won’t let me. Minimum price they allow is 99 cents. Ooo-kayyy. I guess I’ll live.

Here’s the link to the Amazon author page; by then the link might be up. Or not. Feel free to browse, though.

But if you go to my site on Gumroad, you will find it for free. Well, kinda sorta free. It’s a pay-what-you-want, so technically it’s still free. Of course, you know I won’t turn down … (Eric, shaddap!)

Take that, Amazon. Tick me off like that …

It’ll be in .mobi format for the Kindle because Parts II and III will also be released by that fine retail outlet. Want to keep things consistent. Scheduling so far:

Part II – Feb. 2, 2014 – Through Amazon.

Part III – March 3, 2014 – through Amazon.

Full version – March 4, 2014 – through multiple ebook outlets.

Printed version: Still working on that one. Will be through CreateSpace, but you never know. Also working on a deluxe edition. but that’s a maybe.

Oh, yeah. Check out the B.I.C. Cartel website while you’re up and about.

Thanks, y’all.

— Eric


Dec 252013


She put her water bottle down. “Here’s the deal. Each of us decides what becoming a pro is all about. Then we do it. I’ll tell both you hairy-legged types what. I don’t care what you think, but I’m gonna be the first to make that jump.”

Follow the announcements. I’ll keep you posted.

Amazon Author Page:

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Dec 192013

From Thursday, Dec. 19 through Wednesday, Jan. 1 I’m taking a break.

Well, sort of a break.

This blog, along with my others, will go dark for two weeks.


• Because it’s Christmas. (No, I don’t use that gutless “holidays” designation. Call it what it is.)

• Because I need a little time to pursue some other projects.

• Because I can.

• Because no one’s gonna read it anyway. Christmas is a bad time to scratch up any real readership.

• Because I need to fine-tune the infrastructure on this blog, and maybe scribble out notes for future posts.

• The only blog that will see any new posting is the one for B.I.C. Cartel, which is being used to launch my upcoming fiction work. Some of those posts may find a lead-in to this blog, which will be the only real activity you’ll see around here. Unless something really hot & hairy demands I write about it, that is.

Anyway, here’s to a Merry Christmas for you and your loved ones.

In the interim, shut off the computer and spend some face time with those who are important to you, okay? Nothing to see here. But you are allowed to Skype your loved ones if y’all can’t get together in person. That’s the only special dispensation you get.

Shut off Facepalm and YouTube and all the rest and talk to some real people.

See you next year.


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(This was posted simultaneously in The Column, creative&dangerous and Good Morning Manic Depression)

Dec 182013
I still don't get it, but it does meet Webster's criteria for art. This one is by Jackson Pollock.

I still don’t get it, but it does meet Webster’s criteria for art. This one is by Jackson Pollock.

I like the question posed by Joe Bunting who owns the Write Practice. Have I made art today?

Uhh, I make messes. Does that count?

Sometimes it’s hard to think of my work as art. Certainly my online freelance work isn’t in the same time zone. Even that novel I’m finishing is hard for me to consider art.

According to some folks, if it’s commercial, it isn’t art. If it’s something I do every day (as opposed to waiting for the Muse to show up), it’s not art.

Let’s go to that paperback Webster’s from my reference library, shall we?

Art (n) 1.a. Creative or imaginative activity, esp. the expressive arrangement of elements within a medium. b.
Works, as paintings that result from this creativity. 2. A field or category of artistic activity, as literature, music or ballet. 3. A nonscientific branch of learning, esp. one of the humanities. 4.  Trade or craft and the methods employed in it. 5. A practical skill : knack. 6. The quality of being cunning : artfulness.

Cunning? You’d have to dip into Elizabethan English for that one. King David was described as “cunning” on harp. The Hebrew word used here (yada) carries a lot of meanings, including skilful, learned, having knowledge and understanding. So that applies.

In my desktop dictionary, “art” follows “arson” — which is something really tempting when an artist feels his work stinks.

Back in my taxi-driving days, I hauled a group of seamen from the port and went downtown near rhe college. All my passengers were staring at this young, seriously callipygian woman, and of course I had to look. After a moment I offered my comment:

“Yes, but is it art?”

Broke my passengers up.

Enough rabbit trails, even if they were fun.

But art. Even though I sometimes doubt whether my stuff qualifies, it does under the definitions.

I consider my work to be more of a craft than an art. I use tools — words — to come up with something. In that sense I’m just like a guy toiling in his garage with his hammers and wrenches. But look again at Definition #4 and tell me that doesn’t qualify.

So what’s art?

Writing, definitely. Oils and pencil sketches, sure. Music, no doubt. Starting a business qualifies, too. The guy working with his Craftsman set in the garage. Basically you’re nailing together two things that were never nailed together before. Expressive elements within a medium, that works for me.

Even a guy like Jackson Pollock. He was one of the first to dump buckets of paint on a canvas in a random fashion. I don’t understand it. I look at it and see … well, the same stuff most other people would see. But under the definition it’s still art, though it probably takes an artist to recognize it.

Pollock’s painting “White Light” adorns the cover to Ornette Coleman’s “Free Jazz” album. Kind of related, those two. Most people would listen to that album and decide it’s nothing but a drug-induced skronkfest. I know jazz, and I still had to listen to it a few times to even come close to understanding it. But now it’s one of my most-played albums.

Okay. I’ve had days where I’m overcome with brain fuzz and I can only spew out 250 words of pure first-draft vomit. It’s ugly. It’s unusable. It smells so bad even the flies stay away.

But it’s art. Really. Webster told me so.

If you’re stuck for how to go about it, check out Bunting’s advice. It’s good stuff. Basically it goes like this:

  • Schedule time.
  • Shut off the Internet.
  • Make a goal.
  • Add a deadline.
  • Create art.

Made any today?

Well, why not?

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Dec 122013
Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the Muse in a 2009 talk.

Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the Muse in a 2009 talk.

I’ve mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert in this space before. She’s the author of Eat Pray Love, and she gave a killer TED talk on having a genius instead of being one.

I ran across an interview with her in Copyblogger a couple of days ago. This came after she enjoyed success with another book, disabusing her personal fear that her best work was behind her at 40. I guess you can call this interview Elizabeth Gilbert 2.0.

Here, she gets more into her actual creative process and less on operating with (or without) the Muse. But since she so eloquently covered that topic in her talk, there shouldn’t be a problem with that.

By the way, if you missed her Ted talk, you’re probably in the wrong place. Go check out Buzzfeed or something. Just leave me alone.

She operates a little differently than I do. While I concentrate on doing something with my craft every day, she dedicates large blocks of time to her writing and will take time off (primarily for research) between projects. But like me, she says it’s a long slog from idea to finished product. It’s that three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust approach rather than going for the big play.

I notice she’s not all gaga over tools; she uses a mini-laptop and Microsoft Word (I’d rather gargle razor blades) to get her work done. Other than that, she’s as goofy over index cards as I am.

But that’s majoring in the minors here. I did pick up some nuggets I can use and don’t mind sharing:

  • Writer’s block really does exist, but it’s symptomatic of something deeper. Like fear. Or perfectionism. Or narcissism. Or the urge to pour Jack Daniels over your Wheaties. Or a whole variety of physical and/or mental ailments.
  • She battles these blocked moments by going easy on herself. Definitely worth listening to, *ahem*Eric*ahem*.
  • She tries to cooperate with her project rather than fight it. Collaboration. Don’t know how successful she is with that, but based on her body of work it appears to be working.
  • Perfectionism is an enemy, and something that is fraught with rabbit holes (oh, how I’ve noticed). She figures her work doesn’t have to be 100% to ship her work; 90 percent is plenty good enough.
  • She clears the decks before starting. Tells her friends they might not see her for a while. Deep-cleans the house. Maybe moves into another house that’s already clean. But she gets that front end stuff done, and there’s something ritualistic about the whole thing.

Hey, check out the interview for yourself. And take a look at her writing area. Very cool; much cooler than my own. Could stand a little more natural light, though.

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Update: Completed the second draft of B.I.C. Cartel on Wednesday, and started on the third draft Thursday. Coming along. Part I should be out on schedule, with a Dec. 31 release date. This also means I’ll hit my goal of four ebooks in 2013.