Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
My dad, a commercial construction business owner, taught me to think “inside the box” as it were. Because after all, this was a business of straight lines that were supposed to come together and/or intersect at precise, planned points; a business of bottom-lines, efficient use of space and time, apples and apples, oranges and oranges.
I hated it.
Being very different from my dad, I insisted on thinking “outside the box,” simply because that was my nature. In a word, I have always been very uncomfortable with thinking inside the box, finding instead a sort of comfort in my attraction to all things, well, outside the box. In high school, I was the kid who befriended the outsiders who wore black, and styled their hair into spiky Mohawks. I dug punk rock and new wave instead of classic rock. I dreamed of living in Europe rather than the burbs, and I took to the construction business like a fish takes to a dry desert environment.
As a journalist, I butter my bread by doing a lot of architecture and construction writing. Recently it occurred to me that over the past century, architects have been fighting a similar battle: to either design inside the box or outside the box. After all, the box as a form in and of itself is one of the most efficient architectural design standards ever conceived of. Just take a stroll along mid-town Broadway or Madison Avenue in Manhattan and you will see so many examples of boxes your brain can’t possibly process them all. Wide boxes; thin boxes; tall boxes; short boxes; boxes stacked on top of one another; boxes made of shiny steel; boxes made of glass; boxes that form a kind of zig-zag; even boxes built inside other boxes. In major cities like New York, urban architecture is all about the box. But at the same time, it’s all about thinking outside the box about the box. If you catch my drift.
Yet according to journalist Karrie Jacobs, speaking on behalf of her design concept of “boxism,” while 21st century designers are doing their best to abandon the concept of the box for more striking pyramids, spirals, or even “swooping” architecture that reaches more for aesthetics than it does symmetry or efficiency, they are at the same time more in love with the box than ever before.
“We go to a restaurant where everything undulates, where fluid walls change colors according to mood, where every surface has its own custom-programmed texture. But what are we all doing in this amazing environment? We’re studying the little boxes in our hands: texting, checking our Facebook feeds, tweeting. We’re uploading pictures of our meals or transmitting our locations to Foursquare. The world around us is expressive beyond our wildest dreams, but we don’t much notice because we’re deep in our boxes. Our iPhones, our Kindles, our BlackBerries, our iPads: all of them are containers, slim but rectilinear, that synthesize and modulate complexity.”
I think it's safe to say we find comfort inside the box even if we have no choice as individuals but to express ourselves outside the box. The same can be said of the publishing business. For years I thought inside the box while living the life of the Bohemian writer-guy, outside the box. I became convinced, like the rest of the MFA-in-Writing candidates, that the only true measure of success in this business came in the form a major contract with a major publishing house (you know, a big square box inside Times Square).
That contract was awarded to me ten years ago by a Random House imprint along with a quarter of a million dollars. But it all felt very uncomfortable for me, because even though I was doing what was expected of a successful novelist, I felt very anxious about having to "pay back" all that advance money. The major question I kept asking myself was this: How many books do I have to sell in order to make up that huge advance? The answer was this: lots of them. Too many to even comprehend. In other words, I was never going to sell enough box-shaped hardcovers or paperbacks in order to keep myself securely inside the box. If I wanted to stay alive in this business, I was going to have to start thinking outside the box. I was going to have to embrace a new design model.
It didn't happen right away. But when indie publishing took off in concurrence with the E-Book revolution, that's when I realized that my outside the box publishing opportunity had arrived. Here was a system that didn't put up a lot of up-front money, if any. Yet because the dominant form of publication was digitally produced E-Books, my titles would become available to a global market 24/7. I would be paid responsibly, according to each unit sold. And, as it turns out, those units can really add up.
Over the past month, I've moved more than 60,000 copies of THE INNOCENT landing me on the Amazon Top 10 for Bestselling Kindle E-Books which, as a writer who should for business purposes think inside the box, is precisely where I want to be. For the first time in ages I was a happy camper. Here was a new publishing design model that allowed me to publish outside the norm, while allowing me the opportunity to make a living. A very good living as it turns out.
Perform a small scientific experiment today. See how many times you come into contact with a box, be it your laptop computer, your box of cereal, your cubicle at work (your box inside a box), your Kindle, IPad, or Nook. Try and calculate how many times a day you purposely escape into your little box. My guess is you can’t go a single hour without experiencing some kind of physical relationship with a box. That’s when you will begin to realize that no matter how much you attempt to think “outside the box,” you are doing so while steadfast grounded “inside the box.” And that's okay. The point is to strike a balance between conventional wisdom and new thinking.
If the big publishing houses want to keep up with the rent payments for their big urban boxes in New York City, it might be time for them to think outside the you-know-what. That will mean offering higher royalties for E-Books to authors, but at the same time, lowering their prices for readers. Clearly, an an almost impossibly outside the box concept for them. But it's not their fault. It cost a lot of "overhead" money to maintain a publishing house inside a big Manhattan box. But that doesn't mean the Big 6 Pubs are going away anytime soon. Nor should they. It's simply time for them to rethink their grand design, from the ground up. It's time for them to think outside the box while surviving inside the box.
Vincent Zandri is an essayist and freelance photojournalist, and the author of the recent bestsellers, The Remains, Moonlight Falls and The Innocent . His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT).
He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.
You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com. Connect with Vincent on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VincentZandri, on Facebook at www.facebooks.com/vincent.zandri?ref=profile and Myspace at www.myspace.com/vincentzandri.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
HAPPY FRIDAY the 13TH!!
I'm sharing some unknown facts about myself today over at the Daily Dose of Decadence: Just the Facts with Gracen Miller!
I have a new release out too, a short erotic read, Fairy Casanova. If you read it, I'd love a review! Pandora's Box has been sent off to line edits! YAY!! Progress...but I have no idea how long that process will take. *sad face*
Does anyone have any plans for today or this weekend? I hope to take my kids to see Thor!
Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!
Friday, May 6, 2011
You want a CONTEST? Leave me a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of Fairy Casanova. I'll draw the winner late tonight! To receive additional entries into the contest, share this contest on facebook, twitter, or somewhere else on the web, BUT you gotta give me the link where it's posted.
Las Vegas lawyer, Sadie Sinclair, has hit rock bottom. Bankrupt, with her reputation ruined, and her fiancé is yachting Aruba with a hot babe. Desperate for a break from reality, she contacts 1NightStand and is shocked to discover she's been paired with a sexy fairy.
Jace is about to become King of the fairies. One minor glitch, he's obsessed with humans. Before becoming King, he wants one night with a human before he's forever forbidden from crossing into the human realm. After a stellar night of sex, Jace is surprised to discover Sadie isn't just a human, but his mate. Complicating everything with the revelation, he's willing to forfeit his kingdom for her, but Sadie must decide if he's worth the biggest gamble yet.
BUY LINK: http://www.decadentpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=262&osCsid=0cda4c235d32dbbfbaca73bd9fe0aa1f
Knocking once to warn her of his arrival, he used the key card to let himself into the room. The door clicked shut behind him as he scanned the room for his evening’s companion.
"Hello," she said when their eyes met.
Her sultry voice tempted him, much as a Siren lured a man to his demise against the rocky coast of her island. His mortal Siren offered him a shy wave.
"Want a drink?" She held up a goblet, half-full of amber liquor.
Her edginess socked his acute fairy senses like a blow to the gut.
Interesting. Why was she here then?
"No, thanks." He moved toward her, intrigued by the competing vibes the woman evoked…reserved and salacious.
Maybe other men found the arctic chill of her gaze daunting. He found it intriguing, even challenging. Women would be envious and intimidated by her high-level eroticism.
Stunning, and nothing like the fairies he would command. Long, shiny, black hair framed her oval face. He couldn't wait to get his fingers in the wavy locks. Gunmetal-silver eyes warily watched him. Rimmed in a thin stripe of black eyeliner and splashed with a smidge of dark-gray shadow, the contrast brought out the stellar shade of her irises. High cheekbones, a slightly upturned nose, and wide lips, naturally dark red, or she'd been biting them in anxiety. Unlike the diminutive fairy-women, she was tall—not more than an inch or two shorter than his five-ten height. Most female fairies barely reached his chest, which made her a charming oddity. And she owned killer curves—again, unlike most beanpole-thin fairies—and those curves were framed in an evocative, skintight, black cocktail dress.
Jace stopped in front of her and stared at her mouth. He knew many places he wanted those lips, but mostly he wanted them rounded on an orgasmic scream.
She swallowed and cleared her throat, but her voice came out low and raspy. "Sadie."
He dipped his finger into the crystal glass she held poised below her chin. A fat droplet of liquor clung to his forefinger, and he spread it across her pouty bottom lip. Her eyes widened, and her breathing noticeably accelerated. As if prompted, her tongue swiped away the moisture, and his cock twitched in reaction.
"You're perfect. Stunning."
She laughed, a charming sound, as a blush crept across her cheeks. For the first time since beginning his adventure, he considered the horrible ramifications of falling hard for a human. Impossible! There wouldn't be enough time to grow attached to a one-night stand. Neither would his parents nor soon-to-be subjects approve.
BUY LINK: http://www.decadentpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=262&osCsid=0cda4c235d32dbbfbaca73bd9fe0aa1f
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
It Was A Dark and Stormy Night…
By Shay MacLean
So, I sat down tonight to work on my current WIP (Work In Progress--for those of you not familiar with the term) and I realized that I had a couple of guest blogs to write…and no clue for a topic. I sat for quite a while racking my brain for a topic to use.
My eyes wandered aimlessly around my office, taking in my collection of dragons, my Tardis USB hub, miniature trinket box that looks like Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings, and finally stopped on my puzzle.
Depicting Snoopy sitting on his dog house with his typewriter, studiously pounding the keys, a thought bubble above him with the famous writing prompt… “It was a dark and stormy night…”
Those words are an inspiration to me and if I’m not mistaken to a lot of other writers as well. They aren’t new by any means, but they were made famous by one of my favorite aspiring authors…Snoopy.
Whenever I need to think of a new idea for something, I often look to writing prompts for inspiration. Okay, I admit it I’m a writing prompt whore. I actively search them out all the time. Just the other day I downloaded Story Starters by Clifford Fryman to my Nook. Let’s face it as writer’s we’re sometimes too stressed over a current project or too eager to continue with one that when it comes to creating a blog post we often draw a blank.
Especially, when our muses and/or our characters are screaming at us that we need to finish their story or begin a new one. The appeal of doing one of those is often much more desirable than writing a blog. Not to all writers, but a good majority of the ones I’m friends with cringe when the word blog comes up in conversation. Me included.
Which makes the fact that I started my own blog even more spectacular. I’m still figuring out what kinds of posts I’ll be doing on it and I hope to have a schedule ironed out soon.
In the meantime…I’m thinking of making one day a writing prompt day on my blog. So in preparation for it, I’d like to propose a challenge. Take Snoopy’s writing prompt and finish it as the first line of a new story. If you feel like going past the first line, run with it. Here’s mine…
It was a dark and stormy night, the wind howled through the trees that lined the side of the road, buffeting Sati’s car, whipping it from side to side like a toy. Why had she agreed to go pick Devi up in this weather? She should have told her sister to just stay the night at her friend’s house. It didn’t help that she’d been having strange dreams revolving around storms lately either. The shadowy image of the extremely well-muscled man that had been stalking her in them drifted to the surface of her mind. He always emerged out of the rain to claim her…in every way…
Now it’s your turn. =D
Thank you, Gracen, for having me as a guest here. I really enjoyed writing this post.
Until we meet again….
Dr. Wilhemina Brock prides herself on her ability to keep her private life with her husband Schyler just that – private. But when Keenan, the new nurse on staff, catches a glimpse of her tramp stamp, she’s coerced into spilling the story behind it, revealing how she broke the student-professor boundaries and hooked her husband.
Dr. Wilhemina Brock glanced in the mirror on the door of her locker. She frowned at the tight braid she'd twisted it into that morning. She reached up and released the clip holding it in place then shook out her long raven tresses. Soft wispy locks curled around her shoulders, sending shivers of pleasure dancing on her skin. Much better. Smiling to herself she grabbed her black t-shirt and started to pull it over her head.
A whistle sounded from the door. “Damn, that’s sexy.” A very masculine voice said.
Willa spun around, tugging the hem of her shirt into place. Keenan Fergason. The newest addition to the nursing staff. His muscular build, rugged features, reddish brown hair and sparkling green eyes had everyone lusting after him. She could feel the blush that stained her cheeks at his continued appraisal of her. “I don’t know what you're talking about, Keenan. I’ve gotta run. I’m meeting Schy for dinner in half an hour.” She reached up to stuff her lab coat into her locker and felt the bottom of her shirt raise above her low cut jeans.
“I’m not letting you leave here until you give me the dirt on that sexy tramp stamp you’re sporting there, Dr. Willa,” Kee said.
She glanced over in time to see him wiggle his eyebrows as he said the words tramp stamp. Shit. Just what she needed. News of her guilty pleasure traveling all over the hospital as she was finishing up her residency.
Dreams N Fantasies
Wicked Ink Press
Shay has been writing most of her life. As a teenager, she focused mainly on poetry, but still dabbled in writing short stories. She didn't find her niche though until she started listening to the characters in her head whispering about the dark and sensual worlds to be explored in erotic romance. Now when she's not engrossed in a great read, she listens intently when her muse murmurs seductively in her ear. She also enjoys photography and graphic design. And although she isn’t an artist by any means she designed the tattoo featured in Shooting Stars. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her Facebook Page.