Escape Collective

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Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Giving Is Good

We’re nearly done with our sales drive to benefit ProLiteracy – a super awesome organization dedicated to promoting literacy, in the United States and around the world – and I’ve learned plenty of lessons.  First and foremost, I feel pretty excited to be doing something good.  There is no equivocation or irony or conditional responses involved; this is a good thing, for a good group.  Corollary to that, I need a better word than ‘good.’

But a bigger, maybe more important lesson to take from this is that other people like it too.  I know, it seems like a no-brainer, right?  Obviously people appreciate it when someone acts in a selfless way – especially when it does the whole world a tiny bit of good.  However, I didn’t anticipate there would actually be an immediate sense of success.  Of course, that is much different than actual success, but I’ll take what I can get right now.

I’m sure there are greater lessons to take away from this experience and I’m sure that as we dissect the hows and whys of it all they will come to us.  I know it’s a terrible thing to admit, but I don’t feel good at this whole ‘marketing’ thing.  Yes, I find it easy to talk to people – about almost anything, it seems.  And yes, I really love the work we’re putting out, which makes me want to stand up and push it in your face.  But I think the thing that has been bothering me (or blocking at the very least) is the idea that it is somehow all about money.  When I read that last sentence it makes me cringe a bit – of course it should be about money, at least to some degree.

Maybe I just need to separate the idea of me making money off of this work, from the success of the work itself.  I know from my research into marketing independent and self-publishing that this is a big hurdle for many authors.  Perhaps I just took it for granted that it wouldn’t affect me, since I’m not selling my own writing?  Perhaps I am a soft-headed fool who ought to attend a few more writer’s workshops?  Hm.

I’ve gotta say, I’m very grateful to the folks out there who have picked up some of our books today.  As much as I hope they enjoy the works, I really hope it inspires some people to do something similar.  It certainly has changed the way I’ve been thinking about my job.  And it really does feel pretty damned sweet to pass on our piece of the pie to a well-deserving organization.

Happy day-after-Christmas!  And happy several days before New Year!  Cheers!

When Patrick Jennings-Mapp isn’t working out his own, personal issues through his official work blog, he’s chasing his children through the house, much like a tornado chases trailer parks.  Real tornadoes don’t make as much noise as he does though.

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Day After Christmas Charity Drive!

Today we are donating all of our sales’ profits to charity!  After we pay the authors of our books, all the money we get from today’s sales goes to ProLiteracy.  Granted, it won’t be a whole lot of money, but we think that putting our money where our mouths are is a good example.

Today is supposedly a huge day for e-book sales.  So many people have just received a Kindle, Nook, or ipad that it sort of makes sense.  Of course, you can always download the free readers for PC or Mac, so there really isn’t any excuse.  Even for those who have never read e-books before, it has become so damned easy and cheap that it almost doesn’t make sense to not check it out.

As someone who is intimately involved in the e-book industry, I try to keep an eye on trends and predictions for the future.  It’s not easy and it’s far from a science, but most signs point to the field growing more and more into 2012.  We’re pretty new at this game of publishing and I’m sure we’ve made tons of mistakes.  The most obvious being our mediocre marketing skills.  It’s not for lack of interest, but more of a gap in our combined professional experience.  And it seems to be a widespread problem with us writers and artists; even when we produce fantastic works, we somehow fumble all the time when it comes to letting the world know.  Ha!

This event – donating our share of the pie to charity – is one of the steps we’ve decided to take in getting our books to a wider audience.  But it’s also a very sincere attempt to lend support to a great organization.  If you’ve never checked out our books before, now would be the best time to do so.  Not only do you get a very good, very cheap book (or two), but it is a cool thing to do; your karma and conscience could benefit considerably.  Mm hm.

Here are the links to our books:

16 authors, for less than five bucks

Corpus Pretereo is HERE and HERE.

 

Riveting detective noir in a Lovecraftian vein

All Hope Lost is HERE and HERE.

Regardless of how this all works out, I think we’ll be doing similar things in the future.  Of course, I hope that it goes like a rocket – propelling our sales through the roof and into the stuff of legends… but I’m not quite delusional enough to think that’s likely to happen anytime soon.  You know what might help?  Eggnog and rum might help.  Should be just the thing to take the edge off the holidays.  Cheers!

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  When he’s not trying to eat his weight in Christmas cookies, he’s trying to figure out how to drink his displacement volume in spiked coffee.

Cryptomnesia

 

from cognitivebiases.com

A recent article pointed me at THIS Jonathan Lethem piece in Harper’s, from 2007.  As I have a great deal of respect for Lethem I’m surprised I’d never read it before.  However, 2007 was a very busy year, so I’ll just forgive myself here and we can move on.  It is an eye-opening essay, on the inherent nature of plagiarism in literature.  I know I’ve read references to it, but it’s worth every second to read the article in its entirety.

For myself, one of the worst feelings in the world as a writer is to learn that someone else has already written the story that I’m working on.  It’s happened to me several times and it’s always painful – especially when it turns out that I’ve unconsciously swiped from one of my favorite authors.  Ugh.  But what’s really mystifying is when I accidentally ‘crib’ from stories and authors I’ve never heard of, much less read.  It’s also horrifying, to no small degree.

Certainly, there is truth to the notion that great minds think alike, that some stories are just floating in the ‘aether’ – waiting for somebody to write it down, solidify the words into the correct order.  Anyone who has ever created music, or art, or done improve theater can relate to the spontaneous connections – the magic that pulls different minds into one groove.  It’s not such a stretch to imagine that it happens in writing.

But we writers are all so very special, aren’t we?  So many writers I know take pride in their misanthropy – or, ‘isolation’, if you like.  Yes, we may all be of a kind, but our kind must “stick apart”, as the Discordians like to say.  We all share a common history, even if we’re scattered across the globe.  There is a common tapestry of film, music and literature.  Sure some of us don’t watch television, or listen to the radio, but none of us are truly alone.  It’s impossible to isolate ourselves in a ‘Faraday cage’ where we receive no input from the world around us.  And even if we could, who would want to live like that?  You know who was a productive writer in that kind of isolation?  The Unabomber, that’s who.

Lethem talks about Burroughs’ habit of cutting up passages of books, to work his writing ‘magic’.  My own, self-serving take on that is this:  we are all of us cutting up the books around us.  No one writes in a vacuum and not one of us is an island.  We are creatures who mimic and remix and reproduce with ease.  It seems to be seated in our minds as deeply as language itself.  The best and most noble of our own use their talents to guide this work, rather than be led by it.  When we harness this to our craft and deliberately work with our abilities, surely the results are good.  I mean, they are, right?  Geez, I hope so.

 

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  There really isn’t much reason for him writing this byline thing, but since he’s fallen into the habit he’ll probably never stop.  Also, he likes writing about himself in the third person.

 

 

Mondays are for Monkeys


This is just a little somethin’ somethin’, to keep you occupied.  A diversionary tactic?  Perhaps.  After watching this and hearing the results of number-crunching, I feel a hell of a lot better about my writing.  Mm hm.

Enjoy!

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  He has a couple of typewriters, but no monkeys – much to his eternal embarrassment.

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