Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Self-Publishing and Sacrifice

I have read multiple accounts of how many of our legendary authors started out by self-publishing.  They doled out many dollars and much time in a sacrificial way just to get their works into the hands of a few people who just might read their books and then tell their friends about it, who would tell their friends about it.  All this was in the hopes that someday . . . 

For some, their initial publishers pressed them to buy back the first runs of their books because they were not selling.  Some probably ached to buy them back, but could not afford to do so.  Others wished to retrieve them so they could be burned.  I have heard more contemporary authors speak of having a garage full of books and being unable to sell them.

I suppose I muse on this today to say that I am grateful, deeply grateful, for this time of digital self-publishing.  I don’t own a garage, so have no idea where I might store unsold books.  Perhaps I publish too quickly and the work could have been better if it had percolated on an editor’s desk.  Indeed, some of our works could use the dutiful and careful work of editors in the large publishing houses and the seal of approval of a well-known publishing moniker on the spine of our books.  But this new, wonderful and wide-open door has helped authors like me to write freely, without regard to how much it might cost to publish, with abandon, and perhaps with more hope than our fore-writers might have experienced. 

I will be the first to admit that getting my books and stories into the hands of readers really is not that different or less difficult than some of our legendary writers.  It is hard.  There still is the sacrifice of pride.  At times I feel embarrassed by my shameless self-promotion.  I wish I could just write and magically readers would appear. There is the sacrifice of time I do not have as a full-time employee.  The long hours of editing and re-editing and asking friends and other writers to read or listen to my work can be daunting.  There is the sacrifice of friends and family displaying their agitation that I was late because I was caught up in the words again.  Coming home bleary-eyed at the end of a long work day to put down words that I want to write, stories that I want to tell, images that I want to capture—well, that’s just satisfying and exhausting.  But, I enjoy the sacrifice because I love to write.

There are times that I imagine my books being discovered long after I am gone.  Someone might pick it up in a used book store or find it in their great aunt’s attic or check it out from a public library or get it free on a digital provider because it became public domain. When I imagine this I have hope and the present sacrifice really is worth it and it presses me to write more and write better.  Maybe my book will rise to the top many years after no one remembers what I looked like.  But will they enjoy the read? Will they experience the journey?  Will they be inspired, amused, moved, maddened, or encouraged?  Will they want to read it again? Will they hold an image in their hearts that I held in mine?  The answers to these questions will most likely be hidden from me, the author.

I read books that are centuries old or that have been decades sitting on the shelves just waiting for me. They have changed me, challenged me, angered me, amused me and made me glad to read. So, I hope that, with my new freedom because of the digital age, I am able to make a vibrant contribution to the world of readers because of the sacrifices, new and old, of a writer.

M.R. Hyde
May 13, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ancient Mystery Perhaps?

I have started reading another Wilkie Collins novel No Name.  I am so intrigued by how well Collins builds characters and suspense.  I have learned quite a bit from his writing and am grateful for his skill as well as his stories—which, frankly, are just hard to put down.  While it is difficult to stomach some of the Victorian era values, Collins’ writing still wrestles with the stuff I like to wrestle with—injustice, the inconstancies (great Victorian word, yes?) of the human character, mercy, hope and justice.

Because of my reading of Wilkie Collins, Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock, John Grisham and my constant intrigue with good television mysteries, I think my next journey in novel writing will be my first attempt at a mystery.  So, how about a mystery buried in the time of Ancient Israel and the early decades of the Mosaic Law?

As I’ve read and discovered, it does take far more preparation to build a mystery than it does to approach, say perhaps, a fantasy novel where I make up the rules. So, the character charts and timelines are already being built and revised as the days go by.  I do enjoy a good mental puzzle, so I hope that I can at least give a courageous stab at this genre.

In the meantime, the never-ceasing stream of short stories rolls through my brain.  Short stories are such good exercises for novels. They really force an author to render down the details and settings, much like a good sauce.  The elements then become more potent and powerful.  But they are more than just a means to an end.  They are delights in and of themselves.

Copyright M.R. Hyde 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Thanks to PPLD Mountain of Authors

I had a wonderful time at the 2015 Mountain of Authors Conference sponsored by the Pikes Peak Library District.  My first measure of thanks goes to God for giving me this good opportunity.  And then just below that measure is a great big bucket of thanks to the PPLD staff that treated us like kings and queens.  It was wonderful to sit with other authors, learn from them and share in the love of good stories and writing.

The Mountain of Authors 25% discount I have on most of my books is good through the end of April 2015 ( for paperbacks and for e-books).  So be sure to explore and buy a good read today.

Look forward to more regular posting on my blog as I venture out to let more people know about my books and as I venture back in for more writing.  I’m already thinking of a sequel to Pockets!

Happy reading!

M.R. Hyde 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PPLD Mountain of Authors

I am very pleased and excited to be part of the Author Showcase at the April 4, 2015 Mountain of Authors conference sponsored by the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs.  I have a deep appreciation and love for PPLD.  It is, without question, one of the best library districts I have experienced.  This year's theme is on fantasy and science fiction.
I will be showcasing my novel Tall Pauley. This is a fantasy novel that is similar in style to The Chronicles of Narnia, but without the explicit analogies to Jesus Christ.  The content wrestles with themes of goodness, shame, suffering and forgiveness.  It could be considered Young Adult literature, but is really intended for adults who are willing to explore such subjects as slavery, torture, oppression and redemption through fantasy literature. Not that it is all so solemn of an adventure, readers can also enjoy delightful sequences of nature and friendship.  I will be giving away a free signed print of a Tall Pauley illustration to anyone who purchases a copy (either print or digital version) at the conference.  

It will be this same weekend that my latest collection of short stories, Pockets and Other Unusual Stories will also be available in digital and print formats online. This collection of fantasy stories has been brewing for some time, with many of the stories started over six years ago and two, in particular, having been completed just within the last few months. “Pockets” was a particular favorite at the Colorado Springs Writer’s Reading Series.  “The Castle of Pyotr Illusovitch” is a story that is clearly influenced by Chekhov, and “a Misspent god” (yes, the case-sensitivity of the title is on purpose) is what I would consider one of my most mature works at this time.  “a Misspent god” explores the abuses and disuses of power through the medium of ancient gods.  It is an alternative view of the presently popular “super hero” legacies.  It is deeply influenced by Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. His exploration of critical human and theological themes in a non-Christian way intrigues me as much as Flannery O’Connor’s stark and unnerving stories which address abuses of religion. In this pocket-sized volume you will find other fantasy stories about a man who wakes up in a fire storm, a surprise defense of a deaf girl, a fat angel eating lunch in a corporate courtyard and a girl shaped like a bean pod getting lost in a storm. 

Please come out and support all the local Colorado Springs writers featured at this free conference through Pikes Peak Library District.

April 4, 2015
12:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Dr., Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Keep Reading!

M.R. Hyde  March 25, 2015