Tuesday, December 20, 2011

pricing ebooks--conflicting advice

Pricing of ebooks seems like a tricky proposition.  Amazon encourages pricing ebooks at a certain level by offering higher royalty rates on ebooks prices between $2.99 and $9.99.  They pay 70% royalty on such ebooks, whereas ebooks between $0.99 and $2.98 only earn an author 35%.  This ends up being a lot less money earned.

But of course, the question is: will a cheaper ebook sell a lot more copies, and thus even out the price differential, while at the same time reaching a broader audience (and increasing future sales of future books)?

I've read lots of conflicting advice and opinions on this one.  There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal about author Darcie Chan and the success she's had publishing the her ebook, The Mill River Recluse.  In the article,

She noticed that a lot of popular e-books were priced at 99 cents, and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to 99 cents. The cut would slash potential royalties—Amazon pays 35% royalties for books that cost less than $2.99, compared with 70% for books that cost $2.99 to $9.99. But sales picked up immediately. "I did that to encourage people to give it a chance," she says. "I saw it as an investment in my future as a writer." The strategy worked. Several reviewers on Amazon said they bought the book because it was 99 cents, then ended up liking it.

She took some other interesting and smart marketing steps for her book (some of which I might try), and also got some positive mentions on web sites that helped her start to sell a lot more books.  Sales started to grow fast.  So far she's sold more than 400,000 copies, earning more than $130,000.

Sounds nice.  My sales of Tornado Siren have not been quite that strong.  Not even close.  (Yet.) (Says the perpetual optimist.)  And sales have actually dipped quite a bit since the end of the summer, and now they're getting very, very slow.  (I've seen NO holiday season boost.)

Hm.  So, I wonder, should I lower my price to see if that will help boost sales?  It's been at $2.99, but is that making it hard to attract readers who have never heard of me?

And then I read this post on Joe Konrath's blog, a guest post by Elle Lothlorien, who writes about the opposite effect.  She found that raising her price on her ebook, Sleeping Beauty, from $2.99 to $5.99, helped boost sales, and made her a lot more money at the same time.  Her theory being that people don't value things that they don't have to pay as much for--so you enjoy your expensive cup of coffee from Starbucks partly because you paid more for it.  
For authors with one book, it’s worth considering creating “imputed value” first with higher pricing. With a decent novel, this will “prime the pump” with positive reviews from readers who are invested and who want to like your book. This in turn will lead to more sales.

I'm not exactly sure what to do.  The nice thing, though, about ebooks is that it's pretty easy to change the price.  I've been reluctant to do so, but it feels like I should try something.  So I'm going to experiment a little.  I'm going to try lowering the price to $0.99 for a month, and then try raising it to something above $2.99, maybe $4.99, and see what happens.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Measuring Matthew film

Back in October, I was on set for a short film being made of one of my ten-minute plays, Measuring Matthew.  The film is directed by Boston filmmaker Gul Moonis and produced byJeanne Shapiro and Shemoon Films, with the intention of sending it various festivals and competitions around the country early next year.  So who knows, it might be coming to a theatre near you someday.  (And certainly will be available on the Internet.)

The whole thing happened purely by luck.  Gul stumbled across my web site and started reading some of my script samples (Sure am glad I finally added them).  Several caught her interest and we had lunch.  In no time, I was adapting Measuring Matthew for the screen.  The stage version is published by Brooklyn Publishers, and has been produced by small theatres and schools across the country.

When I showed up for my two days on set (they shot for five days total), I was brought back to my college days, when I was making lots of short films and was certain that I was destined for a career as a screenwriter.  (Hey, I did eventually get one optioned by Hollywood.)  Except this crew was a lot more experienced and a lot bigger than anything we ever put together.  There were twenty people on set working to turn this into a film worth watching.  I did my fair share of standing around watching people work, but I also got to act as security guard, stand in for corpse, sherpa, and grip.

Back in the day, we shot everything on actual film, either 8mm or 16mm.  Measuring Matthew will be in HD video, shot on a camera that looked like a regular old SLR camera, but was a lot more powerful.  We had a great cast, including actor Nael Nacer, with whom I've worked before and whose work on stage I've always admired.  The two lead actresses, Renee Donlon and Audrey Claire Johnson, are talented young women I think you'll see often in the Boston film scene.

I was reminded how much the process of producing a film differs from producing a stage play.  There's a lot more control over the final product of a film, but the process can sometimes be tedious for the people involved--there's so much waiting involved.  (I happen to love the initial writing process for films--they may be the most fun of all scripts to write.)  For theatre, half the fun is in the process, and sometimes the process of putting the play on stage is more fun and fully engaging for the people doing it than for the audience.  For me, I'm grateful that 2011 has had me working on books, stage plays, films, and radio plays. 

Now Measuring Matthew is being edited.  I can't wait to see how it all comes together.  I'll paste some photos from the shoot below.  And the film has its own Facebook page, where you can lots more photos and links to interviews with the cast and crew, and find updates on how it's coming along.  And the DP, Chris Portal, has a nice post with lots of photos, too.

Lots of people crammed into a small balcony, for a ledge scene six flights up.

 Inside a very nice apartment we borrowed, all for some very quick shots that might take up all of about 10-30 seconds on screen, by the time it's done.

This an exterior shot that goes with the balcony scene.  The character is out on a ledge, way up high, but the magic of movie editing allowed us to shoot part of it only a few feet off the ground.  This was my first day on set, with nice and warm weather.  We shot at this location again a few weeks later, and it was cold and damp.

And this is me on the final night of shooting.  Talk about super long day--we were on set by 7:30 am, and worked until midnight.  I was acting as a stand-in for a character who gets run over by a car, so I had to lie on the cold ground while they got the lighting right.  Ah, the glamorous life!  At least I got to wear a coat and gloves--the actor who was in the shot had to be on the ground just in plain street clothes.  He was tough.

That's about it.  I'll let you know when the actual film is ready to be seen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Q&A at Urban Paranormal

Deva has posted a nice Q&A with me about Tornado Siren over at The Urban Paranormal Blog.  (Thanks!)  Check it out.  I met her through GoodReads, where they have just about every kind of book group you can imagine.  Deva runs a GoodReads group that specializes in reading and discussing Interracial and African American Paranormal fiction.  I think there's a group on the site for just about any kind of book you might write.  There are probably more GoodReads groups that would be suitable for reading and discussing Tornado Siren that I haven't even discovered yet.  (Deva found me, rather than me finding her.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Urban Paranormal Book Blog: Contest #2: Tornado Siren by Patrick Gabridge

You can win a copy the paperback version of Tornado Siren at:

The Urban Paranormal Book Blog: Contest #2: Tornado Siren by Patrick Gabridge

It's pretty easy to win, so if you haven't read it yet, I hope you'll check it out, and check out her blog.

(I still have a bunch of blog posts to catch up on here, including posting photos from the film shoot for Measuring Matthew, and an explanation of all the farming stuff that's keeping me busy now, and will occupy a lot of my time and energy next year.  Soon!)

(I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reading at Brookline Booksmith tonight, 5:54pm

From 5-8 p.m., during Brookline’s 1st Light Festival, members of The Brookline Library Authors’ Collaborative and invited Brookline authors will be reading from their works at the Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner. Books by local authors, suitable for holiday gifts, will be available for signing. Refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to the public.

Each writer has an 11-minute slot. Mine is from 5:54 to 6:05. (Give or take 30 seconds.) I'll be reading from one of my new novels (that are still seeking publishers). There are lots of great authors (see below), so even if you can't be there for my reading (though I hope you will), it'll still be fun.

I'll be reading from one of my new books--probably my new middle-grade novel, Buried Treasure, since First Light is a family focused evening.  Plus it's a fun piece.

I hope we get a good turnout.

Here's who will be reading:

Schedule (11 minute segments):
5:00 - Susie Davidson
5:10 – Gabe Galambos
5:21 - Zvi Sesling
5:32 - Mark Lowenstein
5:43 - Hillel Levine
5:54 - Patrick Gabridge
6:05 - David Prerau
6:16 - Sarah Smith
6:27 - Chuck Goldstone
6:38 - Larry Ruttman
6:49 - Wendy Lement
7:00 - Linda Barnes
7:11 - Hon. Julian Houston
7:22 - Carey Goldberg
7:33 - Beth Jones
7:44 - Lou Urenek
7:55 – Gary K. Wolf

And some bios:

Reader bios (alphabetical):

Linda Barnes has written 12 best selling mystery novels that feature the 6'1," redheaded Boston private eye Carlotta Carlyle. Four other mysteries feature actor/detective and amateur sleuth Michael Spraggue, an amateur sleuth. Barnes has also written award-winning plays and short stories. The popular Carlotta Carlyle character first appeared in 1985’s award-winning short story “Lucky Penny”; since then, Barnes has penned “Trouble of Fools” (1987), “The Snake Tattoo” (1989), the Boston Globe bestsellers “Coyote” (1991) and “Steel Guitar” (1993), “Snapshot” (1994), “Hardware” (1995), and “Cold Case” (1997), which was also on The Boston Globe bestseller list. These were followed by “Flashpoint” (1999), “The Big Dig” (2002), “Deep Pockets” (2004), “Heart of the World” (2006), and “Lie Down with the Devil” (2008).
Barnes’ many awards have included the Anthony Award and nominations for both the Shamus Award and the American Mystery Award (for Best Short Story for "Lucky Penny" in 1985). In 1987, she received the American Mystery Award for Best Private Eye Novel, and “A Trouble of Fools” was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Shamus awards. “The Snake Tattoo” was named one of the outstanding books of 1990 by The London Times.

Susie Davidson is a journalist, author, poet and filmmaker who writes regularly for the Jewish Advocate, the Jewish Journal, the Jewish Daily Forward and other media, and has contributed to the Boston Sunday Globe and the Boston Herald. She has written “I Refused to Die: Stories of Boston-Area Holocaust Survivors and Soldiers who Liberated the Concentration Camps of World War II” (2005); “Jewish Life in Postwar Germany” (2006); “Selected Poetry of Susie D” (2006); and edited a collection of remarks made by former German Consul to New England Wolfgang K. Vorwerk at area Holocaust community events (2008) (All Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville). She is the Coordinator of the Boston chapter of The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, an active board member in the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, and coordinates the Brookline Library Authors' Collaborative. She organized and hosts “OccuPoetry,” the ongoing poetry reading series at Occupy Boston.

Patrick Gabridge, an Illinois native, studied computer science at MIT and later became a writer. His award-winning plays include Reading the Mind of God, about the astronomers Kepler and Tycho, and Blinders, a satire on science and the media. Gabridge has long explored the topic of race in his work. His novel, “Tornado Siren,” is now available as an e-book for Kindle, Nook, and other formats (via Smashwords). His play “Curse the Darkness” was performed in the Black Box Theatre One-Act Play Festival, in Cranston, R.I. His play “Escape to Wonderland” was part of EstroGenius, in New York last month. His blogs include The Writing Life x3, Choosing No Car (about our family shifting to life without a car), and 200 Foot Garden (details on a really fun commuter/community garden).
Gabe Galambos has travelled to many of the locales that appear in his espionage thriller, “Stealing Pike’s Peak” (Iuniverse, Writers Club Press), including to the Sudan. He was imprisoned there in 1983 for helping Ethiopian Jews reach Israel. He has recently completed a small town New England mystery tentatively titled, “The Nation by the River.” He works as a cardiac sonographer. He will read from his new manuscript, a small town New England mystery called “The Nation by the River.”

Carey Goldberg is a journalist/blogger for CommonHealth at WBUR and a co-editor of “Mind Matters” at Scientific American Mind. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale and attended graduate school at Harvard University. She has been the Boston bureau chief of The New York Times, a Moscow correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, and a health/science reporter for The Boston Globe. She is a co-author of the 2010 triple memoir “Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak and Astonishing Luck on our Way to Love and Motherhood.”

Chuck Goldstone has made his fellow mammals chortle for long as as anyone can remember. His humor has appeared in magazines and his commentaries and essays were a regular feature of public radio’s "Monitor" and "Marketplace" for more than a decade. He is now a monthly guest on WBZ, where he is given a soapbox to rant and carp. He will read from “This Book Is Not a Toy!: Friendly Advice on How to Avoid Death and Other Inconveniences” (St. Martin’s Press, 2005) and maybe from a yet-to-be-published piece is someone asks nicely.
When not trying to get people to snort coffee uncontrollably from their nostrils. Chuck is CEO and Founder of Ideaworks/Chuck Goldstone Communications, helping organizations across the globe communicate more persuasively and tell better stories.

Hon. Julian Houston was born and educated in Richmond, Virginia before attending the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He is a graduate of Boston University and the Boston University School of Law, and was a community organizer in Harlem during the civil rights movement. He is an associate justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts (ret.), appointed in 1990. He had previously served for eleven years as a Justice of the Roxbury District Court. He is chair of the Executive Committee of the Long Road to Justice exhibit, a program of the Justice George L. Ruffin Society, which he formed with six other senior, minority criminal justice professionals in 1984. He spearheaded Roxbury Youthworks, Inc., which provides services to young people, and the Roxbury District Court Child-Care Center. He is the author of “New Boy” (Houghton-Mifflin), a coming-of-age novel set in the Civil Rights era.

Beth Jones has been a Prison Educator at Framingham Women’s Prison and an Instructor in The Prison Education Program at Boston University, as well as a Program Director at The Education Initiative at the Mind/Body Medical Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. She has written for The New York Times and the Boston Globe, contributed to the collection “Make Mine a Double: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not),” UPNE, 2011, and is a co-author of the book “Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood,” Little, Brown & Co, 2010.

Wendy Lement, who holds a Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from New York University, is Associate Professor and Director of the Theatre Program at Regis College. A playwright and director, she co-founded Theatre Espresso in 1992, a company that brings historical plays to schools, museums and courthouses. Her first children’s fiction book, Keri Tarr: Cat Detective, was published by Breakaway Books in 2004.She is co-author of And Justice for Some: Exploring American Justice through Drama and Theatre, published by Heinemann Press (2005). She has directed thirty productions at Regis, which include “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Good Woman of Setzuan,” “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet),” and “Steel Magnolias” (which won a Moss Hart Award). Her production of The House of Bernarda Alba won the 2000 New England Region's American College Theatre Festival, which was sponsored by the Kennedy Center. Her plays include: “Woman with the Red Kerchief,” “Salem's Daughters, King George III vs. Ruth Blay,” “Voicings: The Story of the Rosenberg Case,” “Dolphins: The Myth of Persephone,” “The Legend of the Christmas Rose,” and “Keri Tarr: Cat Detective,” which is based on her children's book, and won the American Alliance for Theatre and Education's 2002 Unpublished Playreading Project.
Hillel Levine, Professor of Sociology and Religion at Boston University and President of the International Institute for Mediation and Historical Conciliation, an NGO that works to prevent and resolve violent conflicts. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, and has held visiting professorships in Japan, China, Poland, the Soviet Union, Brazil and Israel. His five books and many articles focus on ethnic violence and approaches to conflict resolution. His research was the basis of an Oscar-winning documentary film, and two of his books are currently being made into documentaries and a feature-length film. He often gives lectures, appears on radio and television, and writes guest columns in newspapers.
His books include "In Search of Sugihara: The Elusive Japanese Diplomat Who Risked his Life to Rescue 10,000 Jews from the Holocaust," "Economic Origins of Antisemitism: Poland and its Jews in the Early Modern Period," and "The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions," about the redlining of mortgages enacted by the banking consortium Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan in the 1960s.

Mark Lowenstein is Managing Director of consulting firm Mobile Ecosystem. The author of three local running books (www.greatruns.net), including "Great Runs in Brookline and Vicinity," he is an avid recreational runner and outdoor enthusiast. He has run thousands of miles across dozens of communities in Massachusetts and other cities over the past 25 years. These books are terrific holiday gift items, though admittedly, December is not peak running season!

David Prerau is an internationally-recognized expert on national time policies who has been called "the world's foremost authority on Daylight Saving Time (DST)." As a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, he pioneered in the application of knowledge-based systems. As an author, he has four published books and many magazine and newspaper articles. And as a DST expert, he has been a consultant for the U.S. Congress and the British Parliament. He has appeared on about two hundred TV and radio programs in the U.S. and around the world. His book, “Seize the Daylight” (2005), results from many years of DST research, during which he discovered a great number of remarkable DST incidents and fascinating anecdotes.

Larry Ruttman produces the show “Voices of Brookline and Beyond,” aired on Brookline Access Television. His 2005 oral history book, “Voices of Brookline,” chronicles the testimony of 70 diverse and remarkable Brookline citizens and includes over 100 images. (Tonight’s readers Linda Barnes and Sarah Smith are included in the book.) Ruttman himself has lived in Brookline since the age of two, and is devoted to the town and its people. He published a column, “Brookline Then and Now,” for the Brookline Tab. Ruttman holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. His new book, “America’s Jews and America’s Game: Jewish Voices of American Baseball,” is due out in the spring of 2013 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Zvi A. Sesling, a former Brookline selectman, has published poetry in numerous magazines both in print and online, among them: Ibbetson Street, Midstream, Poetica,The Deronda Review, Voices Israel, Saranac Review, New Delta Review, Plainsong, Asphodel, Haz Mat Review, Istanbul Literary Review, The Chaffin Journal, Ship of Fools, Chiron Review and Main Street Rag. He was awarded Third Place (2004) and First Prize (2007) in the Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition, and was a finalist in the 2009 Cervena Barva Press Chapbook Contest. In 2008 he was selected to read his poetry at New England/Pen's “Discovery” event by Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish. He was a featured reader in the2010 Jewish Poetry Festival in Brookline. He is a regular reviewer for the Boston small press and poetry scene and he edits the Muddy River Poetry Review. He is author of the poetry book "King of the Jungle" (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010) and poetry chapbook, "Across Stones of Bad Dreams" (Cervana Barva, 2011). His next volume of poetry, "Fire Tongue," is scheduled for release in 2012. He has taught at several colleges in the Boston area and is on the faculty of the Jewish Community Center's Arts & Ideas.
Sarah Smith, a bestselling adult mystery author, won both the Agatha Award and the Massachusetts Book Award for best Children’s/Young Adult Mystery of the Year for her 2010 book “The Other Side of Dark.” She holds a BA. and a Ph.D. in English literature, both from Harvard University, and was a Fulbright Fellow and a Mellon Fellow. She was an Assistant Professor of English for several years, and presently works in the computer industry. She is Webmaster for the Mystery Writers of America. She is the author of a three-novel mystery series set in turn-of-the-century Boston and Paris and featuring amnesiac Alexander von Reisden: “The Vanished Child” (1992), “The Knowledge of Water” (1996), and “A Citizen of the Country” (2000). She has also authored “Chasing Shakespeares” (2003) and published a hypertext novel, “The King of Space,” with Eastgate Systems in 1991. Set in Brookline and Boston, “The Other Side of Dark” is about ghosts, interracial romance, and a secret kept since slavery times. It has also been named a Junior Library Guild selection.

Lou Urenek’s newest book, “Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine,” has been called “Bracing, beautiful and profoundly heartfelt” by the Boston Globe, and “Meditative and restorative” by the New York Times. He is also the author of “Backcast,” which won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2007 for literary merit, and was called "one of the finest meditations on fathers and sons that I’ve ever read" by environmental leader Bill McKibben. Lou is a former Nieman fellow and editor-in-residence at Harvard University, and was the deputy managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He was also editor and vice president of the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram. He began his journalism career as a reporter at the Providence Journal. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe and Field & Stream, among other publications. He is a professor of journalism at Boston University and directs the Business and Economics Journalism Program.

Gary K. Wolf, the celebrated author of the novel "Who Censored Roger Rabbit?," gained fame in 1988 when his literary vision of humans cohabitating with animated characters became a reality in the $750 million blockbuster Disney/Spielberg film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." The film won four Academy Awards and launched a multiple-picture screen writing deal for Wolf with Walt Disney Pictures. In addition, his ideas inspired Toontown, the newest themed land at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. His latest science fiction novel, "Space Vulture," written in collaboration with his childhood friend Catholic Archbishop John J. Myers, was designated a Sci Fi Essentials book and was a main selection of The Science Fiction Bookclub. Wolf’s novel "The Resurrectionist" is currently in production as a feature film at 20th Century Fox.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NYC and Escape to Wonderland at EstroGenius

October was a whirlwind of a month, so I'm behind in posting.  I traveled to New York twice last month.  Last week, I went to see fellow Rhombus writer Kirsten Greenidge's terrific new play, Milk Like Sugar, which officially opens at Playwrights Horizons tonight (and marks Kirsten's Off Broadway debut), after starting out at La Jolla Playhouse.  I'm always in awe of what Kirsten can do with the rhythm of the words that come from her characters.

Earlier in the month, I went to New York to see one of my own plays, Escape to Wonderland, which was in the first week of the EstroGenius Festival, at Manhattan Theatre Source.  I also had a chance to meet with folks at a couple different theatres, and a director, and a radio producer, and some friends.  (I tend to pack a lot into these trips).  EstroGenius did a nice job with my play, and it was a fun evening of new plays.  I was delighted to meet Mary Hodges, my director, and the actresses in my show, Sheila Joon and Darnell Williams.

(some photos from the trip:)

The front of the Manhattan Theatre Source space on MacDougall Street.  How many theatres are located above dog washes?

My friends Arthur and Nadisa came out to the show and have always been tremendous supporters of my work.  Arthur was instrumental in helping me produce my very first full-length play, In A Glass Cage, at Synchronicity Space on Mercer Street in NYC--exactly 21 years ago today.  (Thanks, Arthur!)
 The two lovely actresses from my show, Sheila and Darnell.

And last, but not least, the audience.  This is part of my continuing series of photos of the audiences for my plays.  We see lots of photos of actors and sets around theatre, but not much of the audience.  Without them, there's no point in doing all of this.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Playwright Submission Binge #19 Survey Results (2,270 submissions out)

In September, the Playwright Submission Binge conducted its 19th "Binge." The Binge group is an online community focusing on marketing for playwrights. Twice a year, in March and September, we take up the challenge of submitting a play every day for 30 days. After each submission, members are encouraged to post to the group with where they sent (including contact info, if appropriate), what they sent, and why.

Since I started the Binge in 2001, the group has grown from a dozen writers exchanging e-mails to more than 600 writers around the world. The generosity and positive spirit of the group continues to amaze me. In any given Binge month, dozens of people actively post to the list, but certainly not all 640 members. I was curious to get a sense of who actually does participate, so I set up a SurveyMonkey survey, asking people who had taken part in Binge #19, to tell us about themselves and what they'd submitted. I've posted the results below.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear back from 74 playwrights who had actively taken part in Binge #19. Together, in the month of September, they submitted 2,270 scripts and query letters. Most of the writers participating (94%) have had their work produced, and 67% percent have received productions as a direct result of their participation in the Binge. The group is making a serious impact, on its members and on theaters.  And it's a fairly experienced group of writers, who have gathered together to share info and offer support.

There's lots of interesting data here.  I'd love to hear your comments.  One thing that interested me is that we have more women than men actively participating.  There's been a lot of conversation about how male playwrights are over-represented on American stages, and I've wondered if that's because women make fewer submissions than men.  In our group, that's certainly not the case.

Here's a snapshot of Binge #19 and a cross-section of our membership:

Response Summary
Total Completed Survey: 74 (100%)
Total number of scripts and queries submitted during Binge #19 (by these 74 writers): 2,270 

How many years have you Binged? 
This is my first time.   15.1%
1-2 years    26.0%
3-4 years    24.7%
5-6 years    19.2%
7-8 years     4.1%
9-10 years   6.8%
Who can remember that far back? 4.1%

Has your work ever been produced? 
Yes   94.4%
No      5.6%

Has your work ever been published? 
Yes    69.9%
No    30.1%

Has your work ever received a reading? 
Yes 97.3%
No 2.7%

Have you ever been paid for any of the readings/productions/publications of your work? 
Yes   87.8%
No    12.2% 

Have you ever received a reading, production, or publication as a result of a Binge submission?
Reading        54.1% 
Production    67.6%
Publication   21.6% 
Not yet         27.0% 

How often do you post to the Binge list?
Often   23.0%
A couple times each Binge    27.0%
A couple times a year    14.9%
Rarely   23.0%
Never   12.2% 

Are you male or female? 

Male  39.2%
Female  60.8%

Monday, October 24, 2011

Elements of a Useful Reading

Back on September 17, as part of the Rhombus Readings, I put together a reading of my play, Flight, at Boston Playwrights Theatre.  It ended up being a very useful experience for me, as a way to see how much progress I'd made on changes and to get ideas for what to do with it next.  I got to thinking about what make up the essential elements of a useful reading.  Here are some of what I needed on that day:

A good chariot.  Here's my bike and bike cart loaded full of all the stuff I needed for the event--a big pile of scripts and binders, snacks, donation jar, and more.  (Really, I just wanted to put up a photo of my bike and cart.)

A space.  We are incredibly fortunate here in Boston to have the Boston Playwrights' Theatre.  They put on all new work (by writers with links to Boston University) in their two theatres, and they also provide cheap and free space to other organizations putting on readings or productions of new plays.  Rhombus has its regular meetings at BPT, and this was our second reading series held in the space.  I don't know what we'd do without the folks at BPT.

Actors.  I was extremely fortunate to have a cast of Luis Negron, Elise Manning, Brenny Rabine, and Michael Buckley.  They spent a whole afternoon with me, reading and discussing the script.  Even though our time was limited, they gave me important insights into the characters and the play as a whole.  Working with actors of such high caliber is critical for a new play.  Though it's possible for a strong performance to cover over weaknesses in a play, I really want the script tested by people of the highest skill level.  (And these four were also terrifically nice people.)

A hardworking director, and a friend to read stage directions.  Here is my director, M. Bevin O'Gara, going over notes with Alexa Mavromatis, who is a fellow Rhombus playwrights and who read stage directions.  I've had the good fortune of working with Bevin before, on a reading of Constant State of Panic.  She's super smart and was able to make the most of the time we had, and also helped me find our cast.  Someday, we'll get to work on a full production together. 

Yummy snacks.  Good snacks make for better readings.  Everyone is in a better mood after a home-baked brownie.  I like my actors and audience in a good mood.

An audience.  For our reading, we had about 20 people in the house.  They were good listeners and very responsive.  In some ways, for a public reading, a good audience is the most important part.  For a comedy, I always say there's no point even having a reading for fewer than 20 people.  You won't be able to judge laughs.  I worked pretty hard to get people in the seats, but it was still a struggle.  Saturday evening readings in September are a tough sell.  There's just too many full productions going on in September, as the season hits full swing.  I probably would have had a better crowd with a Saturday afternoon reading.  Or a different time of year.  I'm not a big fan of formal talkbacks after readings, but instead prefer mill-abouts, where we all eat snacks and talk about the play informally after the reading.  I got lots of useful feedback from the folks who attended.

That's about it.  I mean, you also have to have a script ready for a reading, copies of that script, a good way to take notes (I used my LiveScribe pen).  Having a little cash to pay the actors is helpful, if you can swing it.  (I can't afford to pay them what they're worth, but at least can give some gas money.)   I love that the tools to developing new plays are so basic and accessible.  It's not rocket surgery.  It's just a matter of bringing people together who are willing to spend some time on an interesting project.

Thanks to everyone who gave their time to help my make Flight a better play.  (I'll have another reading in NYC in February, from the id theatre.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Last Stop on Tornado Siren mini blog tour: Donna Hoke's My Life as a Wordsmith

Today, I make the final stop on my mini blog tour for Tornado Siren, at Donn'a Hoke's blog, My Life as a Wordsmith.  We spend some time talking about the differences between writing plays and writing novels, and how to navigate going back and forth from one form to the other.

Donna is a fellow playwright and member of the Playwright Submission Binge, where today we're all finishing the final day of a 30-day-long binge of script submissions.

Thanks to Donna for having me as her guest today (and to Lori and Diana for the previous stops on the tour).  I hope you'll come check out the final stop.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stop #2 on Tornado Siren Blog tour: On writing, living and loving

This is the second day of my mini blog tour for Tornado Siren.  Today, I'm over on Lori Foster's blog, "On Writing, Living, and Loving," talking about my decision to publish Tornado Siren as an ebook, and the in and outs of putting out an ebook. 

Lori's an old high school friend from our Saranac Lake days.  I don't think either of us would have guessed way back then that we'd end being writers.  Certainly I was headed straight for a career as a computer scientist.  Be sure to check out some of the other posts on her blog, about writing and motherhood and life, she's a lovely writer.

And thanks again for coming along for the tour.  I hope you'll check it out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Tornado Siren Mini Blog Tour Begins

Today's the start of my mini (three stop) blog tour for Tornado Siren.  Diana Renn has me as a guest over on her blog today, where we talk about multi-tasking around a zillion different projects.  She's a good friend and a terrific writer.  Her YA mystery, Tokyo Heist, will be coming out from Penguin in June.

So come on over, and check out the start of the tour.  (Please.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mini Blog Tour for Tornado Siren

Many authors, especially those of ebooks, now engage in blog tours to promote their books.  My inspiration/role model is my friend, Gene Doucette, who did a 30-day blog tour for his book, Immortal, earlier this year.

I had great plans for nice long blog tour this fall, but a string of readings, productions, and even a film shoot, that have caused me to trim my ambitions a bit.  (I know, I know, poor me.)

So I'm going to have a pleasant mini blog tour next week, where I'll be a guest blogger on three sites run by some of my friends, who all happen to be lovely writers.  I'll be talking about a little bit about Tornado Siren, and a lot about balancing a zillion different writing projects, switching back and forth between prose and plays, and the pluses and minuses of self-publishing an ebook. 

Here's the schedule:

Wednesday, September 28:  Diana Renn's blog (which features a great post on group blogging today)  (check out her spiffy new web site)

Thursday, September 29:  Lori Foster's On writing, living and loving.  She writes so beautifully about motherhood, but she writes about the author's life, too.

Friday, September 30:  Donna Hoke's My life as a wordsmith.  I love that she writes plays, books, and crossword puzzles.

Thanks to Diana, Lori, and Donna for hosting me.  To everyone else, I hope you'll check out the posts!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Rhombus Readings are this weekend!

Don't miss The Rhombus Readings this weekend.  We've got an exciting line up of new plays that we've been working on for the past year or two.  I'm delighted to get to hear my new play, Flight, read on Saturday night.  I've got a terrific director (M. Bevin O'Gara) and cast.  I've been making big changes since I brought the play to the Seven Devils Conference in Idaho.  (Even though my stay was cut short, due to family tragedy, I've stayed in touch with my director and dramaturg and the id theatre folks.)  And I've been working on the script in my Huntington Playwriting Fellows group, as well as in Rhombus.

Now I need to hear it in front of an audience again.  That's where you come in.  (And by audience, let's be honest, 5 people isn't much of an audience.  Now, 20 people, in a small theatre, that's an audience.  So bring a friend or two.) 

It's free.  It's fun.  And there will be good snacks.  (I'll bake brownies.)

All the readings will take place at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston

The Fakus by Joe Byers
Friday, Sept. 16
8 pm
A sinuous tale of three canny people and one large sum of money on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. All of them are deadly earnest. Trust is for sale to the highest bidder. Every heart has its price tag. Featuring Nancy E. Carroll, Paul Melendy, and Craig Mathers.

Flight by Patrick Gabridge
Saturday, Sept. 17
8 pm
Sarah spends her days in the airport, finding comfort in its organized chaos, forced anonymity, and careful security. Little does she know that beneath its clean and shining fa├žade, the airport - like the world outside it - is littered with lives torn apart by loss. Caught in the crossfire of the airport's lost souls, Sarah discovers there is no such thing as an innocent escape. Directed by M. Bevin O'Gara, featuring Elise Manning, Luis Negron, and Brenny Rabine.

The Embryos by Ginger Lazarus
Sunday, Sept. 18
4 pm
Mommy and Daddy love their embryos. Love them so much that when in vitro fails, they decide to take their precious blastocysts home and care for them like children. All might be well, except that "Leggo and Eggo" have voracious appetites and uncanny abilities beyond their developmental stage. When they run amok, the poor would-be parents are faced with a choice: save their embryos from the world, or save the world from their embryos. Directed by Barlow Adamson, featuring Robert Murphy and Lisa Tucker.
(There's a fun interview with the embryos from The Embros on the Playwrights Perspective blog.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Playwright Submissiong Binge (#19) Starts Tomorrow!

Twice a year, a bunch of playwrights take up a simple challenge: submit a play day, every day, for 30 days.  Once a writer submits, he or she reports back to the group what was submitted, where, and why. Over the years, a supportive online community of playwrights has grown up around the event. Tomorrow we start Binge #19. It's a great way to make your marketing chores a lot more fun and, because people are so generous, a great way to find out about possible submission opportunities for your plays.  It's free and low pressure. (There are more than 600 people on the Yahoo group now.)

Come join us at The Binge.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

report from Cranston

A couple weeks ago, I got to see my show Curse the Darkness at the Black Box Theatre's 6th annual one-act play festival, in Cranston, Rhode Island.  The space is a tiny little black box in a store front--it seats about 30 people.  The evening was completely sold out, which is always lovely and gives an evening the right kind of energy, whether the house holds 30 or 300.

Here's what the audience looked like:

I like this idea of taking photos of audiences.  They're sometimes the forgotten key element in the theatre.  I plan on taking more audience pictures whenever I can.

And here's my cast:
Ethan, Mia, Amelia, and John all did a terrific job with the show.  They clearly had a lot of fun with it.  They also served as stagehands throughout the evening, which worked perfectly for my show.  (You can read the entire script here to see why.)  It's exactly what I wanted.  The audience caught on after a few minutes, and laughed hard.  Rich Morra did a great job with directing my piece and the whole evening.  I was glad to share the bill with plays by friends Mark Harvey Levine (Scripted) and Nina Mansfield (Clown Therapy).

Curse the Darkness is just as fun as I'd hoped it would be (this was my first time seeing it), and I hope it will work it's way into a lot of festivals.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seth Godin comments on Consumers and Creators

My wife pointed out this post from Seth Godin's blog:

Consumers and creators

Fifty years ago, the ratio was a million to one. 
For every person on the news or on primetime, there were a million viewers.
The explosion of magazines brought the ratio to 100,000:1. If you wrote for a major magazine, you were going to impact a lot of people. Most of us were consumers, not creators.
Cable TV and zines made it 10,000 to one. You could have a show about underwater spearfishing or you could teach people to make hamburgers on donuts. The little star is born.
And now of course, when it's easy to have a blog, or an Youtube account or to push your ideas to the world through social media, the ratio might be 100:1. For every person who sells on Etsy, there are a hundred buyers. For every person who actively tweets, there are a hundred people who mostly consume those tweets. For every hundred visitors to Squidoo, there is one new person building pages.
What does the world look like when we get to the next zero?

I've very much felt the impact of this explosion in my attempt to sell my novels.  People are creating short bursts of text/images/ideas like never before, but I think this increased ability to feel what it's like to have an audience for their work has also greatly inspired people to write more books.  Just ask agents--they're getting more submissions from writers than ever before.  They're completely swamped in queries, editors are completely swamped in submissions from agents, and the number of self-published novels (especially e-books) is like a hundred year flood.  But maybe one that will never recede.

In a lot of ways, this is a good thing.  People are able to express themselves.  Writing and creating is a good thing for your soul, for your life, for your community.

It also makes it a lot harder to find an audience.  Twenty years ago, my novels would have had a decent shot (I think) of being mid-list books, and I could be making some money and finding readers.  Today, the mid-list seems to have mostly vanished, and publishers making most of their bets on sure things, and on authors who have already broken out of the internet pack and found a platform of readers.

In some ways, the world when we get to the next zero is really interesting.  People have a better appreciation of what it takes to create, and maybe they have an interest in consuming a broader range of input.  One thing Godin doesn't address is that people who create more (thoughts, text, blogs, tweets), also end up consuming a lot more input (of ideas, text, images).

We're running into the same challenges in the realm of playwriting, too.  With e-mail and software programs, it's technically easier to write and submit plays that ever before.  For quite a while, large theatres have been completely overwhelmed by the volume of submissions of scripts received.  In some ways, the old submission system (queries with samples, some scripts being read, some being produced, even without direct personal contact to the theatre) has become completely broken (see this interesting discussion by David Dower on the Arena Stage New Play Blog--I plan to write more about it soon).  There are just too many plays and playwrights out there for it to work for anyone.  Maybe that system never quite worked (though it depends on whom you ask).  My sense is that, oddly, more people are writing and trying to find submissions for plays than ever before, though the number of available opportunities (especially for professional productions) for those (full-length) plays is getting smaller.

Like Seth, I'm curious to see what happens as the ratio of consumers to creators continues to shrink.  I don't think there's any changing it.  I think it'll be a lot harder to make a living as a creator, but a lot more people's personal lives will be enriched by their own experience of creation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

last chance to see Curse the Darkness in Cranston, RI

This is the last weekend to see my short play, Curse the Darkness in Cranston, Rhode Island, at the Black Box Theatre in their ten-minute play festival .  Tracy and I will be heading down to check out the show on Friday. I'll be sharing the bill, yet again, with a play by the fabulous Mark Harvey Levine, and a few other writers whom I know from the Playwright Submission Binge (Nina Mansfield and Alex Dremann).

Here's a photo from the Lakeshore Players production of Curse the Darkness in White Bear Lake, MN.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Curse the Darkness a winner in the Chameleon Theatre Circle Contest

My short play, Curse the Darkness, is one of the winners in the 12th annual Chameleon Theatre Circle Contest.  The winning plays will receive staged readings on Saturday, September 10th, at their theatre at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center (it's near Minneapolis/St. Paul).  I'll post the exact time once they have it, in case any of you are in the area.  The readings are free and should be a lot of fun.

You can read the entire script by clicking here.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

reaching the finish line (sort of)

I just finished the first draft of my new Civil War novel about Robert Smalls (pictured above).  I started this project as a screenplay eight or nine years ago, but ended up putting it aside for a long time.  I did a ton of research, but couldn't find a producer who'd take a chance on a Civil War costume war drama at that time. 

But I never stopped thinking about Robert Smalls or the project and decided that someday I wanted to write his story as a novel.  Early in 2010, I started renewing my research, and Tracy and I even took a quick trip to Charleston and Beaufort, South Carolina, where most of the novel takes place.

People often ask me how long it takes to write a book.  The answer is that it depends on what you mean.  It took me fourteen months to write this current draft, which currently runs about 126,000 words or about 400 pages.  I think it'll take another year to revise it sufficiently so I can show it to people in the publishing industry.  This draft took a while to write, because I was doing research every step of the way, even though I'd done a lot of my initial reading back in 2003, and had been able to lay out a pretty decent outline for the story at that time.  (I was able to use quite a bit of my old outline, thought it shifted a lot.)

For me, novels are such big projects that there are many different finish lines.  The one I crossed today is an important one.  Now I have a structure and story in place.  The bones of the book are all there.  I've done most of the important research, though there's still lots more to fill in (but now I'll have a better sense of what I'm missing).  But my first drafts are rough--practically unreadable, I'm sure, to anyone but me.  Now it's all about clarifying the characters and working on the language.  I write a book like a painter might make a painting, first with thin pencil lines, and then gradually adding more and more layers of color, until the whole image finally comes together.  I've still got a long way to go.

But it sure feels good to have reached this milestone.  Now I'll have to give myself a little space before I even look at the manuscript again.  I won't even look at it for about a month, until the kids are back at school, and I've had a chance to get a little distance.  I'm sure I'll be surprised (and sometimes horrified) by what I read.  I tend not to reread the manuscript as it progresses, so there are parts of this book that I haven't looked at for more than a year.  In September, it'll be my job to load the whole thing back into my mind and start figuring out how to make it good.

But for now, I plan to enjoy the warm glow that comes from having finished a solid first draft.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

what I'm writing: early morning report from the trenches

Summer vacation is fun, of course, but it's also the hardest season to find time time to write.  In July, Noah had summer school and camp, so I actually had more time to write than during the year.  But now we've entered into the long hot stretch of August and early September.  I've been hard at work on a new novel for about a year now, about the Civil War hero, Robert Smalls.  It's been great fun and I'm getting close to finishing a very rough (practically unreadable to anyone but me, but that doesn't really matter, it's just getting the story and structure down that counts for me at this stage).  It's a bit longer than I usually write--I'm at about 120,000 words, or somewhere around 400 pages.  Just two more chapters to go.

This means that as of this week, my writing time has shifted to 5am.  If I set my alarm for 5, I can be at work at my desk by 5:08am, and get in about 2 hours.  (I used to get up early all the time to write when the kids were little, but I'm spoiled now that they're in school.)  Luckily, I have an outline and most of the research is done, though thanks to the internet, there is no hour of the day when my attention might not be drawn by a little bit of last minute research (like the range of a 20 pound Parrot Rifle (1,900 yards) or a 9-inch Dahlgren).  My goal is about 1,000 words a day, though closer to 1,500 would make me ecstatic.  (Yesterday I wrote 600 words and was grateful.  Today it was 1,400.)

With any luck, I'll finish this draft by the end of August, and then can get back to revisions of my new play, Flight, while this project settles for a month or two.  (I figure it'll take me as much as a year to revise the novel to a point where it might be ready to be submitted.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

report from Carrboro: Best of 10x10 (is great) (thanks, audience)

I got to see performances of the Best of 10x10 on both Saturday and Sunday and am grateful that I could come here.  (Thanks to ArtsCenter for travel and lodging!)  They've put together what may be one of the best evenings of ten-minute plays I've seen.  If you follow which writers get their work done in short play festivals, you wouldn't be surprised, because the writers included: Mike Folie, Mark Harvey Levine, Babs Linsday, Matt Casarino, Chris Lockheardt, and Doug Reed--all of whom have work that appears regularly across the country.  (It's almost impossible to find a short play festival without a play by Mark Harvey in it.)

The plays tended to be comedies (Matt's play, Green Eggs and Mamet, made me weep with laughter), which made me a little nervous about my play, Ship of Fools, which is an odd drama drama/puzzle about two women stuck in a lifeboat, who entertain each other by pretending to be other people (spoiler: the boat sinks in the end).  Sometimes an audience gets up so much momentum for laughing and having a good time, that they don't have patience for a short play which requires a bit of untangling during the short time it's on stage.

Both nights I saw the play, the audience was large--the venue holds 350, and it was sold out Saturday and close to sold out Sunday at 3pm.  I repeat--they sold probably close to 300 tickets for a 3pm Sunday show of ten-minute plays.)  They were definitely having a good time, thanks to good scripts and very strong performances.  I was worried my play might get swept away.

But it didn't.  (huge relief)  For a couple reasons:  First--strong performances.  The two actresses Jillian Holmquist and Jenny Wales, completely committed to the play and the game they were playing, and gave us a sense of what they were doing, despite only having a bare stage with two chairs.

Also, the sound/music design and performance helped channel the audience momentum and shifted the mood.  Nathan Logan, who designed the music/sound, also performed live on stage during the scene shifts throughout the entire performance--singing and playing electric guitar and keyboard.  I love having live music on stage, and he really knew how to be an unobtrusive presence during the plays (he was onstage the whole time), and then could really play during the shifts to get the audience where it needed to go.  For the lead in to Ship of Fools, he sang a haunting a cappella version of "Sailing" which was initially written and performed by the Sutherland Brothers in 1972--you can listen to it here--and made famous by Rod Stewart.  It worked perfectly.  (Nathan's version of it is still stuck in my head.)

The last factor was the audience itself.  The ArtsCenter 10x10 audience was incredibly engaged.  They were lively and there to have fun, but it was also clear that they loved being there (this wasn't attended out of obligation), they had a relationship with the theatre and the performers, and they wanted to pay attention.  As a playwright, I go to productions for lots of reasons (for fun, to see scripts in production, see good performances, to be moved, tickled, etc.), and one of those reasons is to be with audiences.  They vary as much, night-to-night, as performances.  Maybe more.  I think about audiences a lot--what makes them tick, how they will respond.  As a playwright, maybe I'm a bit of a conniseur of audiences.  I'm always looking for the right match between text, performance, and audience.  That's where the magic of theatre really comes together.

Here at 10x10, they have a kick-ass audience, and it was a treat to be part of it for two nights.

After the show, I talked to several people who said they loved Ship of Fools, and especially that it was a play that made them work, and that it moved them emotionally.  That's pretty much exactly what I wanted.  Very nice.

Thanks to Jeri Lynn Schulke, artistic director, for putting the evening together, to Lyden Harris for starting the festival and keeping it going for so long, to both Lynden and Emily Ranii, for producing my plays at 10x10 in the past.  They've really got a good thing going here.  And thanks to my director, Jerry Davis, and the entire production team for putting together a great show.

Here's a (somewhat blurry, sorry) photo of the audience waiting for the Best of Ten by Ten to start (and there's Nathan getting ready to play guitar).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freeman rocks

I've been very much enjoying Matthew Freeman's blog lately, including this post on How to Quit Being a Playwright.  The first point is my favorite, and the hardest part about doing it.  It's actually easy to quit (in theory)--you just stop.  And you don't need to tell anyone.   You don't need to write a furious blog post, there's no paperwork to fill out, no HR person to notify.  You don't get a farewell party.  There's no one who recruited you into playwriting who is likely to be hurt that you're leaving.  You'll be missed by some of your theatre friends, for a while, but not as much as you'd like.

I also very much like his recent post on Day Jobs and Staying an NYC playwright, too.  (Which also connects to a nice essay on the same topic by Barbara Hammond.)

Heading to North Carolina

This weekend, I'll be heading to the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina, to see my play Ship of Fools in the Best of Ten by Ten Festival at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro .  These folks have produced a handful of my plays over the years, and I'm excited to finally have a chance to meet them and see their talents in action.

Any suggestions for good places to eat in Raleigh-Durham (or Carrboro) and/or good farmer's markets (or farms to visit)?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thoughts Not to Think. (Don't read this list.)

There are lots of rational reasons to be discouraged and depressed as a writer of plays and novels.  There are 75-100 new MFA playwrights graduating every year, and nowhere near that many new slots for full-length plays on professional stages.  It's harder than ever to find an agent for playwrights, because the money keeps shrinking.  So many books are published every year that it's getting harder and harder for a new book to stand out.  Because it's harder to make money in publishing, publishers are tending to bid on books with clear blockbuster appeal, and the midlist book (and author) is dying a not-so-gradual death. 

Keeping your spirits up in the face of the business climate in our art forms is pretty tough.  I'm a pretty up-beat guy, most of the time, but once I start looking at the climate outlined above, it's easy for other, completely unhelpful thoughts to creep in.

Here are some thoughts that will not help you.  Don’t think them.  Seriously, don’t even read this list.

  • I’m XX years old.  I had my chance, it’s all downhill from here.  I peaked in 19XX.  Writing is a young person’s game
  • My friend K. just got a book deal/production/residency.  For $XXX,000.  But that’s never going to happen to me.  One deal was worth more than I’ve made in my entire career.
  • When I come up with the ideas, they seem great.  But when I finally get them on paper, they always seem to come up short.  Maybe I just don’t have what it takes.
  • I have some talent, but just not quite enough.  I’ve given it my best shot.
  • I’ve been at this for DD years.  If it was going to happen, it would have already happened.

I'm sure you can think of a few more.

One of the aspects that I don't hear much about, in our conversations as writers, is how we manage to keep all this crap at bay and not be drowned by it.  And it gets harder as we get older, as the new sheen of optimism towards attempting a writing career has worn away.

Sometimes I give in and indulge these lines of thought for a while.  It's only human, I guess.  It can help to get together with friends, with fellow writers, especially if there's good news to share.  Mutual whining doesn't help.  The main tactic that succeeds for me is actually sitting my ass in the chair writing.  For a good solid chunk of time, more than one day at a time.  String a few mornings together, and I can start to lose track of the other bullshit and remember that I like writing.  A lot.  The rest doesn't have to matter so much.