What’s the Ultimate Writer Procrastination Tool?

I’ve found it…I’ve found it!!!  If you’re one of those writers who decides to wax the floor before they write, or if you are the sort needs to count the forks and knives before they write, I’ve got a better tool to assist you in your procrastination.  It’s guaranteed to help you avoid writing for days at a time.

What is this magical tool?  I’m glad you asked.  Home renovation, my friends.  It’s the ultimate procrastination tool.  You’ll get so caught up in it that you’ll forget the book you’re supposed to be writing.

I’m sitting in my living room, or what used to be my living room.  It contains but one piece of furniture – a sofa that is covered with a large drop cloth.  Everything else is stacked in our library and kitchen.  The living room looks as though a bomb went off in it and I feel as though I was in the room at the time.  We’re renovating.

We’ve spent the last two days ripping all the moldings off the wall, removing the flooring, and using a mean ugly tool called a sawz-all to remove part of a wall.  This was followed by a trip ‘to the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump’ (say it fast and you’ll get the proper cadence).  Then it was off to the big-box store, twice, to give them all our money and to make promises about giving up one of my kidneys and possibly a lung to pay for everything.

Since then we’ve been installing drywall, sanding, filling, rewiring, and rebuilding.  And, as I said, the room and adjacent hallway still looks like a bomb went off in them.  But, as they say, we’re making progress, and in another day or so we may even be able to start painting.  I think our daughter is searching for a new set of parents.  She’s not comfortable in the role of indentured servant.

I’ve given up all thoughts of writing and I think my hands are too sore to do it anyway.  So, if you’re looking for that ideal procrastination tool, renovation is just what you need.  Me, I sit, in my living room, on the sofa with the drop cloth, and I just felt the need to write.

Canada Post Strike Over – Author Happy

While I wasn’t happy with the way the Canadian government dealt with the Canada Post strike, it has come to an end.  This is significant to me as just before it happened, Amazon’s CreateSpace had shipped me a box of books…my book, Her Book of Shadows .

This is important because I have people waiting for these books, and they’ve had to be very patient as the books have been sitting in a Canada Post warehouse for several weeks.  But they’re here now and I can start sending them out.

Her Book of Shadows: Now Available

I’m happy as a clam this morning. My mystery novel, Her Book of Shadows is now available as a KindleBook.  It’s a soft-boiled, feel good traditional mystery and if you like mysteries that avoid a lot of blood and gore, I think you’ll enjoy Her Book of Shadows.

The book takes place in Quebec City, where retired Arizona cop, Scott Riker, lives with his wife and daughter and heads a group of interventionists. Directed by Quebec business mogul and philanthropist, Luc Duchesne, the group uses their talents and resources to stand between people in trouble and the criminal elements who would do them harm.

In Her Book of Shadows, Riker agrees to find Jodie Burke, a teenage girl whose parents say ran away to Quebec City from Connecticut. But when Jodie’s friend turns up murdered on the Plains of Abraham, it becomes clear that Riker faces something more than just a runaway girl. Time is running out and he must find Jodie and prevent whoever is trying to kill her from succeeding.

Riker struggles with his emotional involvement in the case, caused by the similarities between his daughter and Jodie Burke. This, and his attempts to reconcile his risky business with his role as father and husband add to his internal conflicts but maybe the two roles can be compatible.

The first four chapters are available as a sample download so please give it a try.

 

Louise Penny Wins Another Agatha Award

She’s done it again!  Four years, four books, FOUR Agatha awards in a row.  Nobody has ever done this…ever…nobody.

Though Louise would probably not even know my name, I feel especially good about her success as an author.  Sure, she’s a very good writer, as her award winning Gamache mysteries attest.  And yes, she lives in Quebec, like I do.  But what endears me to her comes other things.

The most important is how great she has been towards my daughter, Jodie.  You see, I’ve been a writer and editor most of Jodie’s life, but I wrote columns and articles for magazines – non-fiction.  Jodie was more interested in the magic of fiction and those who created it.   She was interested in become a writer herself.   She was 11 years old when Louise Penny released her second book, Dead Cold and she came to Quebec City for a signing session so I suggested to Jodie that we go so she could meet a “real author.”

Jodie was so excited and I’m sure she thought she was going to get to sit around with this ‘famous’ author telling tales and getting advice.  I remember hoping that she wouldn’t be disappointed by the brief time she would likely have with Louise as she had her sign a book.

But Louise was, well, Louise.  She was so gracious, somehow making every single person feel as though they were important to her.  And she started asking Jodie questions about her writing.  Louise gave Jodie a big hug.  By the time Jodie left she felt she had a new friend and, frankly, I think she did.  Louise insisted on a photo with Jodie.  It’s one of Jodie’s prized possessions and I present it here.

Jodie’s now sixteen and she has become a superb writer, in both French and English.  She’s less sure about being a writer as a profession but, as I said, she’s only sixteen.  We’ll see.

As we’ve attended all of Louise’s annual signings here in Quebec I’ve learned from her.  She doesn’t know that, of course.  Her books have taught me much about writing, telling a story that doesn’t draw on violence and chase scenes for its appeal.  Rather, Penny novels draw on underlying themes and characters that involve you in their lives.  Though she writes murder mysteries, she’s also writing ‘feel good’ books.  But Louise has taught me much more than that – much more important things.  She’s taught me kindness, humility, and how to value readers.

Thank you, Louise, and congratulations on your Agatha.  Here’s hoping that Trick of the Light garners a fifth.

Cheers — Larry

 

Doing Business the Amazon Way

One of the things the Internet has given consumers is a soapbox on which to whine and complain about being wronged by this or that company.  It’s a powerful tool.  This is a problem for companies, of course, as a 1% error rate (I wish my track record could be that good) can become a steady stream of complaints about its products and/or policies if nothing is done about it.

Conversely, the Internet has provided companies with tools to better serve customers, if they use them.  Having Twitter accounts with an action person managing the account, making good support people available via email, and even the use of targeted advertising helps companies keep customers happy.

Sadly, few companies have caught on to the fact that the Internet is doing something that is quite ironic.  It is personalizing customer relations.  Over the past 100 years or so, we’ve moved from small-town business models where owners knew their customers and vice-versa to a time when large brick-n-mortar stores couldn’t care less about their customers and who hire people who will work cheap but don’t know a thing about the products being sold.  They try to paint a different picture in their ads but we all shop.  We know the truth.  Now, as people debate whether the Internet is destroying our ability to interact directly with humans, the Internet is moving us back to a ‘small town’, knowledgable owner way of doing business.  In an earlier post I mentioned one company, Goulet Pens, as an example of this.

It might surprise some who are down on Amazon as being the ‘big brother’ of the book industry, that I like them… very much.  In my dealings with them, they very much live up to their email signature line of “We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.”  Unlike so many online companies, they are responsive and often do things that surprise this cynical consumer.

And so it was this morning when I received an email from Amazon saying they were refunding $14.40 to my account.  The email explained that when I’d purchased two Kindle covers (the ones with lights) they’d charged me $7.20 each for “import fee deposit.”  I vaguely remembered these charges, both when I bought these covers and when I’d bought my Kindles.  I remembered not being very happy about those charges but given that the vagaries and expense of having products shipped across the Canadian/US border, which is akin to moving from west to east in 1960s Germany, I accepted the charges as part of doing business.

The interesting thing is that this transaction took place at the beginning of February!  I’d long since forgotten about it.  I had to look it up to figure why they were refunding money to me.  I had filed no complaint.  I never asked for a refund.

But Amazon kept track of it… somehow, and they reimbursed me because, I guess, they didn’t need to use the money to buy off the Canadian government to allow my package to get to me.  I really don’t know the details.

What I do know is that this stuff breeds loyalty.  These sorts of actions breed consumer confidence.  And this sort of consumer-centric thinking is rare in our world.  Is it any wonder that Amazon leads the pack and is pulling away?  Give consumers what they want, for fair prices and we’ll flock to your stores, be they online or otherwise.  Treat us fairly while you’re at it and we’ll be yours for life.

Cheers — Larry

It’s National Poetry Month

I have a friend who has an ability that I very much envy.  She is able to quote poetry on virtually any subject.  I’m always a bit awestruck when she does it.  I’m also ashamed at my level of ignorance in this area as other than rose are red, violets are blue kinds of poetry, I know little of the literary form.

 

April is Poetry Month.  Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, it’s been celebrated every year since.  I’ve decided to celebrate with them, and possibly do something about my ignorance.  I’ve just signed up for their “Poem-a-Day” program and will certainly be the better for it.

 

Cheers — Larry

larry@larrydmarshall.com

Writing With a Passion

Hi everybody,

I thought my first post should be one that states the website goals.  Long ago, I created my first website, shortly after Mosaic came into being.  There was no Netscape, Explorer or Firefox.  Google didn’t exist.  Blogs, Twitter, nor Facebook had been invented.

At the time I was a scientist.  I wrote constantly, in science fashion, but I needed more, so I wrote on the new creation called the world wide web.  Nobody really read that website as the notion of surfing the web was unknown to most at the time.  That never bothered me much.  I wrote because I felt the need.

Since then I left science.  I’ve spent time as editor-in-chief of a couple magazines.  I’ve written monthly columns for several magazines and I’ve written feature articles for others.  I even wrote marketing materials for a couple businesses.  The only common thread throughout was words, strung together to form thoughts.

I love words, and I love the various ways of putting them in an order that makes sense.  While I’m a long-time computer geek, I’m also a fountain pen afficionado and I spend far too much time pondering the wide array of journals and notebooks available today.  So while I have an ongoing love affair with my laptop, I often put pen to paper.  A couple of years ago I recycled a small mountain’s worth of notebooks that I’d used but here’s a photo of the notebooks I’ve accumulated since in the past two years.  It’s a sickness but a very pleasant one.

This website will reflect these preferences.  I will talk about my trials and tribulations as an author, views on the industry, and my thoughts on the writing process itself.  But I’ll also talk about my passion for pens and paper.   Some say it’s old-fashioned to write with pen and paper.  I find doing so is inexorably linked to my success as an author, regardless of what I’m writing.

I do hope you’ll follow along and provide your own insights by leaving comments.  Do you use notebooks in support of your writing?  How do they help you?

Cheers — Larry

larry@larrydmarshall.com