Friday, February 12, 2016

Changing the focus of my blogs / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-Feb-2016

What?  Blogs?

Yes, you heard correctly.  I currently have five blogs plug one from my own website: Mark S. R.

Obviously, I have this one, Views From The Outhouse.  The tagline is: "Take a journey, as one writer climbs out of the depths of obscurity, to creatively entertain and boldly stretch the imaginations of billions."  As this one is my longest running blog and mainly centered around my life's journey as a writer, I would keep it centered as such.  If anyone wants to know the inner workings of being a writer, from my perspective, the focus would remain as such.

For my Mark S. R. blog, I will be changing that to be focused on my readers.  Before, I have blending the writings from Views From The Outhouse and this one, and from now on I will be focusing it on future stories, sales/promotions, public appearances, and anything else a reader will fancy.

My next blog of importance is my Twin Cities Crime Blogger blog.  This is the fictional blog of a character in the Central Division Series (as well as a brief appearance in Guest of Honor) named Dexter Louis Grant.  This blog has been largely neglected, with plans to make it more of a central piece with the stories in the series (as well as a future spin-off series) in the near future.

The third and final blog I will mention here is my Mr. Shoestring blog.  These are my nonfiction books, of which there are one at this point.  In late 2016, I may release 1-2 more books in this series.  This blog is focused on living on a shoestring budget and where one can cut costs.

I will stop here.  I do have a blog on exploring the Holy Bible, from a non-scholarly perspective as well as one based on a fictional Minnesota town in northern Minnesota.  The Bible one I do not advertise nor share outside of simply posting.  The fictional town one hasn't even been developed since I have not had any published stories based in the town--sorry, I am not sharing links to it until it's ready to be revealed.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Create art like a child (have no fear) / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Feb-2016

My youngest daughter drew pictures for everyone in our family for Christmas.  She created them with love, and without fear of rejection.

Trust me when I say they were the biggest hit at our Christmas gatherings.  The smile she put on their faces was priceless.

As artists grow older, we may create just as much, but we do not share it.  We have a difficult time accepting others' opinions.  It's an uphill battle just to let anyone else in our little world.

Writers groups are a good way to get other opinions.  Not all writers groups are good.  I have been fortunate, in that regard.

In short, create and share, without fear.  Once you do it enough, it's not such a big deal.  Ignore the lump at the back of your throat, causing fear in what other people think.

With that being said, here is the cover for the third novel in the Central Division Series titled Discarded.

I'm at the halfway point in edits.  It's going well.  I hope to share a publication date shortly.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Looking long-term / Happenings In The Outhouse 29-Jan-2016

Sorry I missed writing a post last Friday.  I completely forgot.

I read a blog post from Dean Wesley Smith Wednesday that pretty much sums up the focus of my writing career.  He calls it perspective.  Here is a link to the article, which I highly recommend every writer to read.

The third novel in the Central Division Series, which I had originally planned for a late January publication, is now looking to be an either late February/early March release.  Editing is taking a little longer than usual.  Nothing to be alarmed about.  I feel it's one of the best books I've written, and the subject (human sex trafficking is the main theme of the book) has been in the news a lot lately.  I just want it done right.

Going back to Smith's post on perspective, I whole-heartedly agree with him.  I sell, on average, a handful of books a month.  It grows a little, here and there, but I'm not quitting and I'm not losing hope.  I'm focused on writing long-term.  I understand it may take a number of years to build up a loyal customer base and inventory of books.

And I'm fine with it.

Sure, I'd love the success writers like Andy Weir, Hugh Howey, and Amanda Hocking have experienced.

But I don't expect it.  I'm a tiny fish in a huge ocean.  I'll get there.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Forget binge-watching on Netflix. Spread the love around (works with books too) / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Jan-2016

First, the world received some horrible news yesterday morning with the passing of Alan Rickman.  He was a diverse actor and will be missed terribly.

Now, on to the topic of the week.  Someone asked me the other day what I watch on Netflix--this same person also asked me what I'm currently reading.

This is a difficult question to answer because I like a lot of different genres.  My current Netflix queue range from the TV show Person of Interest to movies like The Rite and The Shining.  I've watched several documentaries (don't get me started on Making a Murderer - although most of the time I side with law enforcement, I can't say so in this Netflix show - and, as Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I'm gonna say about that."), TV shows, and movies.  The other night, I started four different movies.  I watched 5-10 minutes of each one.  One reason I do this is go weed out my current list.  A few months ago, I had troubles adding more shows/movies to watch.  Then, after digging into it, I discovered Netflix has a limit one can put in their "My List."  And I did it.  I hit the maximum.

I won't watch a show that's boring, so after a good twenty to thirty minutes I will quit watching if I'm motivated to finish it.

The same goes with books.  I will start a handful of stories (I read mainly ebooks on my Kindle, however I am thoroughly enjoying the hardcover of Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath - kudos for Mr. Wendig!) and will go through the same process.

My reading/watching process allows me to spread the love around to various artists.  It works for me.  Does anyone else do this?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jessica Jones vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Jan-2016

The Saturday after Christmas, I took my three kids to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at a movie theater in East Grand Forks, North Dakota.  The first two shows were sold out, but we were one of the first ones to see it for the next one.

I won't do a formal review of the movie (there's plenty of that out there as it is, good and bad and indifferent) but I will say this.  I loved it.  My three kids talked about it non-stop all the way home.  Hats off to J. J. Abrams.  What he did to Star Wars is what he also did to Star Trek.  He made the movie franchise for each series fun again.  Into Darkness is my favorite Star Trek movie next to The Wrath of Khan.

Yes, I loved the new Star Wars movie and am disappointed so many people have ripped on it.

Well, here's one for you.  The same people ripping The Force Awakens have also been praising the Netflix series Jessica Jones.  Again, no formal review, but I will simply say it was boring and it just wasn't right for me.  The last 3-4 episodes were mildly entertaining but that's it.  It took me over a month to slog my way through it.

Not every movie or TV show or book or work of art is for everyone.  Critics will line up to spew their opinion.

Frankly, I don't give a damn what you think.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and most of the time I keep it to myself.  Star Wars isn't for everyone.  However, there are people who don't normally watch science fiction or fantasy movies, will watch Star Wars and love it.

The same goes with Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or even Harry Potter.  The masses love these movies/books.  Instead of criticizing them, find out what it is that people love about them.

Again, it may not be for you.  And that's okay.

But not everything you like is for others either.

As an aside, the first draft of the third thriller novel in the Central Division Series is complete.  I will keep you informed as I am temporarily slating this for publication by the end of January 2016.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Down to the wire / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Jan-2016

Happy New Years everyone!

I'll keep this one short today.  I've been working diligently on the third novel in the Central Division Series, and am very close to finishing it.  I have close to 60,000 words written, and everything is coming together nicely.

Once it's done, I'll read it through, do some editing (I'm certain of this, because I always mess up a little on the first draft), finish the cover . . . and then publish it.

Wait!  No agents!  No publishing companies!

Nope.  Publishing it myself like all of the others.  Then, I'll get cracking on the fourth novel in the series.  For now, I'm through with pursuing agents.

After the fourth novel, I'm taking a slight detour.  I've received several e-mails from readers, praising me on my novelette Guest of Honor.  I do love that book, the Hitchcock-like twists and turns.  But one request comes up more often than not: am I planning on doing a sequel?

The simple answer is YES!  Not a sequel, per se.  Well . . . let me explain: I am introducing a character in the third Central Division Series novel who I am using as a spin-off towards a new thriller series, one with the family from Guest of Honor.  I won't spoil anything at this point, simply because I haven't written anything yet.


But soon it will be.

Friday, December 25, 2015

"We'll never see this again in our lifetime" / Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Dec-2015

"We'll never see this again in our lifetime."

I heard this mantra last week when it was predicted that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would smash box office records in a way that will never be seen again in our lifetimes.  Funny thing is, I've heard this before.  Several times, in fact.

I'm in my early 40s and have lived through several of these so-called "never see again" eras.

"Oh, we'll never see as prolific a writer as Stephen King."

"There will never be as prolific a writer as J. K. Rowling."

"The success of Harry Potter will never be matched.  Ever."

"(Fill in the blank) will be the biggest Marvel movie ever."

I am utterly disgusted by the notion that there will never, EVER, be something better than what has currently been created.  Here is a list, from Wikipedia, on the highest grossing films of all time.  It's impressive how many were created within the last few years.

Do not get sucked into the mantra that there will never be anything as good as what has already been created.  I remember reading an article about this concerning the massive success Stephen King in the early 1990s.  Then, a scribbler from Mississippi had his second novel made into a movie . . . starring Tom Cruise.  The Firm was the name of the book and movie.  The author?  John Grisham.

And let's not forget J. K. Rowling and her "tiny" book series called Harry Potter.

I could go on and on.  Brandon Sanderson.  Andy Weir.  The Hunger Games.

Are we forgetting about Peter Jackson's theatrical trilogy version of The Hobbit?

Every time I hear the "never again" mantra I shake my head.  And so should you.  Because the "next big thing" is always right around the corner.