OUT OF THE BLUE….

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Okay the title doesn’t say much and neither will I. It’s time to buck up and buckle down. I’ve had a couple of lazy days so it’s back to work. This “dedication to task” can be tough but now it’s time to shut this computer down for the day. It’s far too easy to spend far too many hours playing around the net. My coffee, laptop, and sequel await….

Mike

CELEBRITY NAMES IN FICTION?

OldguitarI’ve just spent an hour or so researching the legality of using celebrity or famous names in a fiction novel and there seems to be many schools of thought on the subject. In “White Wolf Moon” I referred to many famous people but only as references to a specific conversation, much the same as if I mentioned to a friend that I’d just heard the new Maroon Five song on the radio. According to one article this is okay as it would come up naturally in a real-life conversation. Could these famous people object? Of course they could but unless you slander or tarnish their image, why would they? I can’t see Yoko coming after me because of my comments about John Lennon in WWM:

“So Lennon and Dylan influenced you?”

“They influenced everybody, more so John Lennon with me. He was the word-meister. He could play with the English language in a way that I’m not sure anyone else could in both his books and music.”

I have shown Lennon in a good, if not admiring light, so there could be no reason for her to object. Plus I imagine John is mentioned in countless writings every year so she probably wouldn’t have the time to pursue each one.

This subject came up because of my sequel. Part of it is more of a prequel as I refer back to Edmonton based rock groups, artists, and clubs of the Sixties:

Evan snapped the clips of the beaten case and arched his back. “Either of you heard the new Lords single?”

Danny nodded. “Yeah, “Blue”. Pretty cool track…sounds a little old though, not 1967.”

“That’s not the point…it’s on the radio…they’re on the radio and we’re on our asses waiting for those other two idiots to get here. The Nomads just put out a “Hits” album, Barry Allen’s on every bloody radio station, Willie and the Walkers just got signed to Capitol…and we’re on our asses waiting.”

Jack tapped the high-hat. “I think it sounds pretty new…almost has British feel to it. It’s nice to see local guys making it, y’know?”

Again I see no reason for objection. Everything I mention is real, musical history in fact, documented all over the web, and could reasonably be part of a real conversation.

If I say “Joe Celebrity was hooked with a DUI as he left a house of ill-repute” then sure, sue me…especially if it’s an unfounded statement. It’s slander, plain and simple, and everybody has the right to fight that one. But if I casually drop in the fact that “Joe Celebrity donated half his concert earnings to local charities” why would Joe object?

Celebrities are more of a “brand” now and perhaps this muddies the water because most “brands” generally don’t want you using their name without compensation. “Cola” is fine…“Coca-Cola” could get you in trouble (if they chose to pursue it).

The few court cases I’ve found lean toward the author citing that the celebrity is, by the nature of his/her career, a public figure and in fact seeks publicity. (These cases were regarding books, not checkout mags.)

I guess it really comes down to how would I feel if I opened a book and discovered I was referenced as part of the story. I don’t know. Depending on how I’m depicted I would have different reactions I suppose but honestly…I’d probably be flattered.

But then I’m not Joe Celebrity.

AUTHOR PHOTOGRAPH

For me one of the toughest things related to the publication of White Wolf Moon was the author photograph. In years past I had my own darkroom and studio and I still dabble in some experimental self-portraiture for the profile shots on my personal facebook page so I decided I should do my own shot for the book.

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My author photograph (above) ended up being a more typical presentation than I would normally accept as a portrait but everything I had done previously just didn’t feel right.

I believe an author shot should also tie in with the content of the book. As my lead character is an ex-folksinger/writer from the sixties, I felt that the author photo should reflect this in some way. A lot of it is simply pose, attitude or location. The photograph can still be studio-done but with a bit of a flair that conveys the leaning of the book it represents. Nora Roberts is a pretty good example. As Nora her author photos lean toward the romantic with soft tones and simple backgrounds but as J.D. Robb she’s dressed in detective black against a cityscape of train stations and the like.

The photograph below is the one that I favored as capturing more of the ‘feel’ of Evan Morris but it didn’t translate well to black & white and the smaller size.

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From a personal standpoint I still prefer this one but it’s not as “commercial” as the one I eventually used. Which one sells my character (or me) better? I don’t know. I have been strongly identified with Evan, most people saying that they see a lot of me in the character; that, in fact, I am Evan…but the character is based on someone else. Someone I knew in those days. Back then people used to say we were much alike. Neither of us could understand it but after writing (and especially reading) White Wolf Moon, I can now see the similarities. I also think he would have preferred the second photograph but he’d also acknowledge that the more commercial pose is still best for an author portrait, especially the first time around.

Like I said at the outset this was one of the toughest parts of the process but, based on the reaction and comments the photo has garnered, I’m almost sure I made the right decision.

Almost….

OLD NEWS BUT BEIBS AGAIN…FOR THE LAST TIME….

Here I am, off topic again…and flogging a horse I thought was deceased. There’s still an occasional suggestion (one just yesterday) that I was unfair with my comments about Justin Beiber a couple of months ago. Apparently I should support him and be proud that the top act in the world right now is Canadian.

Yeah…no.

First…congratulations Justin and more power to ya kid. Live this for what it’s worth. Seize all the opportunities that this life has brought you and don’t let the naysayers grind you down. But I’m still not a fan.

But for me it isn’t all about Beiber…it’s the current state of the pop music industry.

We’re being served mush pie right now and it must be an acquired taste because I don’t get it. Yes I appreciate that it really isn’t about the music anymore. It’s the show, the image…it’s all about the glitz, the dessert without the dinner. Manufactured stars are a dime a dozen, throw them a synthesizer and a neat little app called autotune and voila! I’m not a Gaga fan either but I did watch a television show a year or so ago that made me realize that this woman does have a lot of talent. She sat at a piano and just sang. It was real and back to basics… no glitz, no glam, no fire-towers…and I enjoyed it. Can you see the Beibs doing the same thing? A ballad (no voice effects) backed by acoustic guitar, real drums, and a piano? Dare to dream! On the other hand maybe he could. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt…he’s earned that much.

There are some pretty great acts out there right now. My favorite is GPN (Grace Potter and the Nocturnals). A younger person asked me if Grace was like Katy Perry. That would be another “Yeah…no.” Grace Potter goes old time without augmentation and all the gimmicks. She’s pure in-your-face rock with one of the greatest true voices I’ve ever heard. She can sing anything from classic standards like “Fly Me to the Moon” to blues and country. I watched her on the CMAs in a duet with Kenny Chesney and…no lip sync! Of course country music thankfully hasn’t embraced supportive technology the way pop has.

I’ve also found myself listening to a lot of indie music lately, not necessarily for the rock but for the pure simplicity of it whether folk, rock, or country. Yes a few of these artists dive into the effect pool but many of them refreshingly offer up the real thing.

Then there was the “You dare compare Justin Beiber to the Beatles!!” response. No, I didn’t compare Beibs to the Beatles. What I said was that the Beatles attracted much the same audience when they burst on the scene but musically they quickly grew and took their audience with them. I would hope that Beiber will do the same thing. If he has the talent both he and his music should mature and evolve to gain a more sophisticated and wider audience base but that’s up to him or, dare I say, his handlers. Speaking of handlers…let’s give these new young male pop stars something to hold onto other than their crotch? Microphone in one hand and…I don’t know…cash in the other?

Simply, Justin Beiber was wrong for Grey Cup. I’d have preferred to see Lightfoot for the whole half-time show…maybe Neil Young, Tom Cochrane, Randy Bachman, Chilliwack, Shania…I don’t know…almost anyone else. It’s still no reason to boo the kid. He’s found his niche (perhaps temporarily) and he’s taking advantage of it. More importantly he handled the Grey Cup fiasco with a certain amount of class and maturity which is more than I can say for those low brows that voiced their opinion so enthusiastically.

BAD SEEDS….

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They suffer a wrath due in part to environmental circumstance.

Bad seeds.

They call ’em weeds.

From my ‘photo-words’ file again…I’m really enjoying digging through this old stuff.

It was a pretty good day yesterday as well. I’m now at 11,300 words into the White Wolf Moon sequel draft…three more on-line sales (THANK-YOU!!!), two new WWM facebook ‘likes’ (THANK-YOU!!!), and three new blog followers (THANK-YOU!!!).

I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of this!

Mike.

The Next Big Thing

Okay…now this is really cool!

Author Casey Voight nominated me in The Next Big Thing blog hop and I’m flattered. I also want to thank her for forcing me to extend my learning curve when it comes to blogging.

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The Next Big Thing is part interview and part award, consisting of a series of questions about a writer’s latest work and how it came to be. I’ve referred back to “White Wolf Moon” for some of the answers as the sequel is only 10,000 words completed (with a further 9,000 in my working folder) and the main thrust is similar in content to the first book. Now the questions:

What is the working title of your book?

White Wolf Moon Two? How original! That’s how it’s saved on my laptop but I shall come up with something else later. Due to some of the content which follows the central characters on promo tours, camping, and the like “On the Road” would be a really good title but some guy already used it a while back so….

What genre does your book fall under?

White Wolf Moon has been labeled so many different ways including romance but, like the sequel, it is really humorous general fiction with a pinch of biographical reality.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

One sentence?? Well…(takes deep breath)…picking up two weeks after White Wolf Moon left off Evan and Danny take a road trip and busk for s’mores and beers at campgrounds in the surrounding area all the time rekindling their life-long bond and reminiscing about the old tours they did as rockers and folkies in the Sixties while their patient and understanding wives stay home to appreciate the quiet and to debate the questionable merits of keeping them around until being called upon to entertain Evan’s ex-girlfriend Claire, her husband, and daughter Jenn, ’til the boys are back in town and Evan comes face-to-face with Devon (Claire’s husband) for the first time, creating an atmosphere of…I don’t know I haven’t written that scene yet (whew!!).

Where did you get the idea for your book?

The idea for the original book had nothing to do with publishing. It was intended as a diary of sorts, a collection of factual stories about my past that I could give to my kids. It occurred to me that they really didn’t know much about my life before they came along and a short-run memoir-style book would introduce them to who I was “back then”. As I am fortunate to have two of the people from those days as current facebook friends (who are also the basis for characters in the book) I sent them a copy to get their opinion. They both thought it should be published (secretly so did I) so with a lot of re-writing and some name-changing White Wolf Moon was born.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration for the sequel has come mostly through the reaction of people that have read White Wolf Moon. They provided me with some interesting questions and really great comments both pro and con. You can only hear “When’s the next one coming out?” so many times before you realize there should be a next one.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The original White Wolf Moon took two years to get to draft completion then approximately another year of tweaking/re-writing but I hadn’t intended on publishing it so it wasn’t a daily exercise. This time around I’m more dedicated to completing that first draft and I believe it will be done within six months.

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre?

This is a tough question. When I did the market research prior to publishing White Wolf Moon I found no other books exactly like it. Not to say there aren’t any (surely there must be) but I could only find titles that were comparable to specific elements of the story. One reader described White Wolf Moon as “The Big Chill meets Tom Robbins” which is about the best description I’ve heard. The sequel features the same characters and is currently leaning more toward the relationships and histories of the central characters.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh wow…the dream team. Some of these actors are those that I pictured while working on the original book.

EVAN MORRIS:  Jeff Bridges. Evan is a blend of “The Dude” and “Bad” and having been a Jeff Bridges fan forever there is really no other choice.

MARIE MORRIS: Lindsay Wagner. Evan even refers to Marie as “Jaime” in one scene.

CLAIRE MacAVOY: Diane Keaton…no question.

JENNIFER MacAVOY: The tough one here. Jenn is a got-it-all-together twenty year-old, perky, Kaley Cuoco type of girl. Even at twenty-seven Kaley could easily carry it off.

DANNY MANN: Dennis Hopper although now he has passed, I’m not sure. Any suggestions?

GINN (the white wolf-cross): There’s a Samoyed down the street….

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will probably drive the self-publishing road again. It has been (and still is) an incredible learning experience and it just makes sense to use the knowledge I’ve gained over the past year this time around. From the writing and publishing process, book-signings, media coverage, setting up a WWM facebook page, doing my own trailer and of course this blog…it has been an unbelievable adventure.

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?

As with White Wolf Moon the sequel will contain references to pop culture of the Sixties. I used them in place of dialogue to set a scene or describe an emotion. Movies, television programs, singers and their songs are dropped in throughout providing a little inter-activity for the reader if they choose to figure out the reference.

Finally I have to nominate five writers and bloggers whose pages I frequent for motivation, education, and sometimes for the simple joy of reading them. A lot of the people I follow are not writers and have no book in the works (that I can see), some are photographers, artists, reviewers and a couple have already been nominated…still, it was tough to narrow it down to five….

Gemma Rolleman

Shannon Thompson

Cheryl Moore

J.P. McLean

Candace Knoebel

So that’s it. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s been an interesting project.

In the words of Evan Morris: Love & Understanding…

Mike

Paths….

Paths

Life’s journey.

Paths that lead to Evermore

Paths that twist and turn

Then not so surprisingly

Twist and turn some more.

The above photograph was taken in 2010 along the North Thompson River in Kamloops. This part of British Columbia was engulfed in forest fire smoke. The thick acrid blanket lay heavy everywhere but the light of the filtered morning sun created quite an ethereal scene. I didn’t think the little camera I take on my walks would be able to accurately capture the mood of the moment but it came pretty close. The air was warm and still, there was little noise, and the world was orange…it was like walking through an old master’s painting.

(Text from White Wolf Moon)  

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