Monday, October 23, 2017

The End of this blog

I am ending this blog because it is so poorly coded that whenever I attempt to copy text into this space it appears blank. I can no longer waste time here. I will leave the previous posts up until such time as I can transfer them to a new 'Writing' blog on Wordpress.

Thanks to all those who have read my thoughts here.

Ted Smith

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The 2017 Indie Fringe to Frankfurt Book Fair

I attended - well actually, I am still attending. the Alliance of Independent Authors' Fringe conference to the Frankfurt Book Fair.  For those not familiar with these three annual Fringe conferences I will describe them.  There are three major book fairs each year:  The London Book Fair in the Spring/late Winter; Book Expo America (apparently now called simply 'Book Expo') in the U.S. - usually in New York but one year it was in Chicago; the Frankfurt Book Fair.  The Alliance of Independent Authors is the largest and most active and most importantly, professional organization for indie authors. Some years ago they began 'fringe' conferences for indie authors held in conjunction with these three fairs.  They assemble experts in different aspects of writing, marketing, publishing and the business of writing and publishing. These experts prepare podcast or video presentations that are available an hour at a time for 24 hours over the weekend of each fair. These remain available, I  hasten to add, for a very long time on the Alli YouTube channel. The guiding lights of Alli actually attend the main book fairs in person where they will interview on the floor at the event; or have Q & A sessions, etc. There is one caveat to this: BookExpo is not friendly to Indie authors, or authors at all, so attendance is from a hotel room nearby. Frankfurt is cool to authors unless brought by old line publishers or agents, but is not hostile; London is the most accommodating and is in fact outright friendly to the Indie community.

In recent years there has been a thematic focus at each Fringe. London is given over to writing, New York to marketing and Frankfurt to the business of being an indie author.  Of course all three themes overlap, but I have found this to be an effective division and the vast majority of sessions are practical and of great use to me. The conference is entirely free because of sponsors such as Ingram Spark and others.

This year's Frankfurt Fringe is ongoing for me because I am super busy all the time and when I have a free hour (free for me means I am doing something where I can listen to the podcast or video while doing a mindless, but necessary household task) I watch or listen to a session. At this moment I am in my kitchen writing this blog as my dishwasher runs - I have to stay with it as one year it caught fire and I had to shove it out the back door to prevent disaster. I am part way through a Q & A session chaired by Porter Anderson, which I will get back to when I come to empty the dishwasher.

I jotted down a few notes on main points I have taken away from this Fringe so far:

KDP rocket to see what’s selling on amazon 
Kindle spy

Help me choose a cover

Connecto/ connect explore 

must have a static web site (I do) but Need contact form on website &  newest book on the main page

only write what you are passionate about; what you enjoy - this is the first and foundational point of any business plan for an indie author. If you have something hanging around nearly ready that does not fall into this basic category, get it off your plate and out of the way so you can concentrate on rule #1. You will not make a living at writing by concentrating on genres or styles or topics that you are not passionate about even though the may be   trendy.  

There are more once I get time to sort things out in my mind, but these are the most important to me at my stage in writing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Is writing a book review, writing?

On my other Blogger blog I wrote a preliminary assessment of a religious history focussed on mid 19th century Newfoundland. I am engaged in writing a review of this book for a scholarly journal, as I am an historian who specialized in Anglicanism.  Here I decided to post a few thoughts about writing book reviews and especially those for scholarly journals.

I am a writer, sometimes successful in terms of money earned, more often not. I don't think of myself as an author as the term seems too pretentious for me, though not for others. If I were indeed an author I think I would have to wear a tweed jacket and smoke a pipe and have one of those professional head shots you see on the back covers of hardback novels.  I am not that. I am merely someone who cannot stop writing words. I write poetry primarily, but also history. My main work is a combination of poetry, romance, prose, photographs, drawings, fonts, etc etc.

So, is writing a book review for a scholarly journal, writing? Am I functioning here as an historian which is my day job, or am I a writer firstly?

I don't yet have the answer, BTW. I am writing this blog post to sort this out in my own mind.  I tend at this point to say that a book review is evidence of my status as 'writer' more than my status as 'academic historian'.

But, is separating one's persona into discrete categories a reflection of reality?  I teach the history of religion and emphasize that the use of categories for all things and all people and all human constructs is part of modernity. But the world only began to enter 'modernity' about 500 years ago. Five hundred years is a long time in human terms, but a blip in terms of the existence of humanity which goes back perhaps a million years.

On my writer's web page I have this:

My brain is a dusty old attic with boxes on shelves in no particular order. Sometimes a box teeters and falls and the box spills open and poems, stories, observations fall scattered about on the floor. I may pick up one that attracts my gaze and bring it out for others to see.

he danced on the dusty floor sending clouds of dust  higher and more, laughing and sneezing all at one as he was draped in a fine powder of poems and things.

This is not a description of a man who categorizes anything much. Perhaps I should leave it at that. As long as I am making words fit together, I am writing. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017


I had actually forgotten about this blog!  I am so immersed now in actually writing rather than writing about writing that ... well.... look!  I haven't posted here since June of last year.

I was thinking tonight about my first efforts at writing. I was 13 and I scribbled away at my desk at home on yellow lined paper with a pencil. I had attended church with my family and something in the sermon sparked me. So while my mother made Sunday lunch I wrote about Religion & Science - my opinion then being that as Science advanced, Religion would decline. Nothing is ever that neat and simple, or at least not in my experience. But the act of writing was an expurgation to me. This is still a central motivation for me to write: to expunge built up accretions of ideas and emotions. I learned a second motivation in that early essay:  I like to fashion words into sentences... elegant, or clumsy or neat and concise... I enjoy moving words around. Now, with computers and word processors that is relatively easy, but then it involved erasing or scribbling out and writing in above, or worse if using a typewriter it means redoing an entire page and maybe the page after. I don't recall rewriting any of this first essay.

It was followed by others as I felt such release and such satisfaction in the act of writing. Hmmmm. This sounds like sex! Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Feeling Sick and being male and writing

Men, as legend has it, are big babies when ill. I am ill, sick, under the weather, and altogether discombobulated. I am writing this to see if I can write while sick. I have a doozie of a cold - coughing, snotting, headache, achy in general but worst of all, a thick, cotton filled mind.

Part of me is different from the standard issue male. That different part has always stood aside from 'me' and observed 'me' - coolly and dispassionately inside my head watching and taking notes. Now that separate from me, me is assessing if I am indeed playing up my illness for sympathy - even self pity.

I'm not sure as I now feel the first small signs of healing, just as a few days ago I felt that first scratchiness in my throat that I ignored. I don't get much sympathy anyway and I live pretty much alone here in my head and for the past few weeks physically also.

I suppose men do like sympathy in illness, and just as the other side of the legendary coin has it, women soldier on, needing no sympathy and able to function as normal even when sick.

Mostly I am annoyed as I have so much work to do, both writing and teaching and I resent the intrusion of illness.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Erica Ehrenberg is DANGEROUS

I was given a subscription to the Paris Review this year (or maybe last - I can't recall if it was for Christmas 2015 or my birthday in January....when you get old years zip by and leave you trying hard to remember what year it is, let along the month or day of the week. Everything is rushing to an unknown conclusion).
I dip into the two issues I have now, mostly the digital versions on my iPhone as I can pick that up and put it down (virtually anyway) when ever. I just read a short bit of prose poetry by Erica Ehrenberg. Because I had no idea who she was, I read it...
I could taste and feel every word image there.
I then googled her (I misspelled her name, but Google  that ever-helpful cyber thing corrected me) - no Wikipedia article sadly, but a very short bio in the Harvard Review - then I clicked on the poem published there.
She writes as I wish I could. When I began writing poetry again about seven years ago, I knew I could not read any other poetry as I have this terrible flaw that causes me to write in the same style as the person whose words I just I wrote more and more I became more confident and allowed myself to read snippets of Cohen and of Catullus. But her work is too close to mine..... and I am addicted after only two...... they say that's all it takes with dangerous drugs! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Blogs, blogs and more blogs

I have had this blog and a sister blog on the history of religion  for some time now. Recently I began other blogs using Wordpress, which works better as a combination blog and website. I wasn't sure what I would do to sort out this mess of blogs. My mind does tend to disorder which, against all rational evidence, I maintain is a strength. Well, no matter, it is.

What I have decided to do is maintain my two 'blogger' blogs as places where I can and will ruminate on general aspects and thoughts about religion and writing.

My WordPress blogs will be places where I present actual works that will be published, usually as eBooks. I came to this idea after attending two online Indie Fringe festivals - one congruent with the London Book Fair and the second at Book Expo America in Chicago, with a third this year to come at the same time as the Frankfurt Book Fair.

In the first fringe festival, Nina Amir presented a session on turning a blog into a book. My daily life is such that I rarely have good blocks of time free to write. Rather I usually have 10-15 minutes here and there throughout a day. Nina Amir's session noted that if you wrote three or four blog posts a week, each running around 3-400 words, by the end of a year you would have at least a 50,000 word first draft of a book. This I can do, no matter how constrained my writing time.

This is the genesis of my idea to separate the essential functions of each blogging platform. Blogger, or blogspot, is well designed for a straight blog, but less so for functioning also as a website. WordPress works well as a website, with a blog function attached.

So..... I have several books planned for WordPress:  The Man who fell from the Sky (in the editing stage now); World Religions, Religion and Society, a book about the experience of teaching online courses, and a few poetry books.  I am also working on a novel which is nearly in its editing stage so won't appear as a blog.

Thus, this blog about writing and the writer's life, will continue but better focussed now. My History of Religion blog will also continue with ideas, thoughts and observations as they occur to me about religion and how it functions in the world.

I may cheat a little from time to time by mentioning the books I am blogging as they take shape.