There was a time, many, many years ago when I once dreamed of becoming the next Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, or Martin Scorcese before I started to study film at Southern Illinois University and “Bubbles, the Nudie Dancer” (Damaged Goods) shattered that dream.
Working on this Korean War documentary in Hoengseong this past weekend, reminded me a little of that dream, especially when it came to setting up a shot and blocking the scene and then having to run through a particular shot a few times.
It was a thrill looking through the viewfinder and watching and hearing me talk about the Battle of Hoengseong.
You know how Andy Warhol once said that we would all be famous for fifteen minutes?
Well, I think I had a couple of those minutes today when my latest book, Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm shot up the charts on Amazon’s Hot New Releases’ list to Number One.
It was nice because it was exactly 21 years ago today that I arrived in Korea.
War Remains recently got a nice write up in Three Wise Monkeys; immediately it was linked to another Korean website.
It’s nice to see the novel finally getting more press here in Korea and other places. On Amazon, seven readers have left reviews.
Word of mouth.
That’s what it’s all about.
You know that scene in 1990’s The Hunt for the Red October when Dr. Ryan (Alec Baldwin) is trying to figure out how to get the Soviet sailors off the Red October so Captain First Rank Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) can defect? He runs through all these possibilities until he figures out that…. (I don’t want to give the movie’s ending away, just in case there is someone out there who hasn’t seen the movie yet!)
That is kind of how I feel today with my character Nicky Terrando in When a Hard Rain Falls trying to get him from Point A to Point B in one of the book’s final chapters. I’ve pretty much got a bead on how the novel is going to end, but I’ve been bogged down in one chapter with Nicky.
One of the reasons why I am bogged down is making this chapter believable enough for readers to accept that Nicky, who is a felon would do or not do the things he does in this chapter for the sake of moving the story along, pretty much like Ryan has to with the Soviet sub crew.
I think I’ve got it all figured out now.
Military Writers Society of America Announces the 2011 book awards and Korean War Book Finalists.
My Korean War novel, War Remains has been nominated in two categories, including Korean War Book Award.
The cool thing about the writing is not just the story, but the little details, the verbal brushstrokes you add to the story that sometimes are from your past; in this case, a little “Testors model paint” that I have one of the characters talking about.
It’s just a small detail in the story, but one that adds a bit of “color” if you can excuse the pun.
Remember Testors? I haven’t thought about this paint brand name in years, but there it was right there in my memory bank to use today.
Growing up in the 60s/70s I tried to make a lot of Revell and Aurora model airplanes, cars, and battleships. My models never looked like the ones on the box. Either I used way too much glue or my paint job was horrendous.
But, I’ll let Bill Bryson explain it in The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (2006)
Making models was reputed to be hugely enjoyable… But when you got the kit home and opened the box the contents turned out to be of a uniform leaden gray or olive green, consisting of perhaps sixty thousand tiny parts, some no larger than a proton, all attached in some organic, inseparable way to plastic stalks like swizzle sticks. The tubes of glue by contrast were the size of large pastry tubes. No matter how gently you depressed them they would blurp out a pint or so of a clear viscous goo whose one instinct was to attach itself to some foreign object—a human finger, the living-room drapes, the fur of a passing animal—and become an infinitely long string. Any attempt to break the string resulted in the creation of more strings. Within moments you would be attached to hundreds of sagging strands, all connected to something that had nothing to do with model airplanes or World War II. The only thing the glue wouldn’t stick to, interestingly, was a piece of plastic model; then it just became a slippery lubricant that allowed any two pieces of model to glide endlessly over each other, never drying. The upshot was that after about forty minutes of intensive but troubled endeavor you and your immediate surroundings were covered in a glistening spiderweb of glue at the heart of which was a gray fuselage with one wing on upside down and a pilot accidentally but irremediably attached by his flying cap to the cockpit ceiling. Happily by this point you were so high on the glue that you didn’t give a shit about the pilot, the model, or anything else.
This could very well be the cover of the book I am now writing.
You might be wondering why I would want to select the cover of the book before I have finished writing it.
It’s for inspiration. I see the cover and it inspires me, helps me to visualize the story and in some ways keeps me focused.
I’m still searching for a better photograph; I have two (which I will have to spend about $25.00 for) of a rainstorm, but I thought that was too obvious.
The title? Originally, the working title of this book was Undertow, but when I thought more about the story, the characters, and the climax (yes, I already know how the story is going to end) that’s when I changed the title.
And yes, a tip of the hat to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”.
That’s what I’ve been finding out ever since War Remains was published seven months ago.
I’ve done everything that was suggested by authors and indie publishers, from setting up a page on Facebook to having its own blog.
I’ve sent out press releases, have had two newspaper interviews, and have recently entered the novel into a Korean War book competition.
I’ve reviewed Amazon book purchases, such as Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel by John Podlaski and added a hyperlink to my Amazon page.
Unfortunately, the one market I still haven’t been able to make inroads into has been the Korean market. Despite having a major write up and interview in The Korea Times last year, the book is still not available locally.
One thing that writers, especially those of us who self-publish need to do to promote one’s books is persuade buyers to write reviews. It doesn’t have to be much, just a paragraph or two. However, to get folks to do that, is not always easy. Therefore, I’m thinking about having a contest. For everyone who writes a mini-review, I will have a drawing and select one or two names for a free autographed copy of any of my books.
This also works for comments on a blog post about one’s books.
It’s all about getting the word out, isn’t it?
It’s not like Field of Dreams— “if you build it they will come;” it’s more like, if you write it, you’ve got to promote it.
The other day my friend Dave Steele (author of the Sexton series) sent me an email informing me that a hardcover edition of War Remains was going for $178.05!
“That’s no misprint Jeffrey,” Dave went on to say in his email.
$178.05. I was going to have to check that out for myself.
Dave was right. Not only was a hardcover edition of War Remains going for that exorbitant price, my other two books, Invaders from Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst and Damaged Goods also had similarly priced editions.
Turns out some third-party seller is selling the books for this price and making (if someone is foolish enough to pay that kind of money for my books) a lot of money. I wrote to Amazon and they informed me that there was nothing that they can do.
In the meantime, if you want paperback or hardcover editions of any of my books, please go to Lulu. They are much cheaper, I promise you.