Writing Fiction – More than a year has passed

More than a year has gone by since I began writing my first novel. I’m 47 Chapters and 68800 words into it, and I’ve learned a lot about writing fiction in the process. There have been some breaks in the writing process here and there, as I have taken two fiction writing courses on-line. They were useful at the time since each provided me with a useful framework for writing fiction.

My progress is hampered by an uncontrollable urge to edit my work. Not a good thing because it breaks the flow of writing. On the other hand, by constantly reviewing my work I have become more in tune with my characters, their needs as people in my fictional world, and how the interact and respond to that world.

I once wrote that I make use of technical supports available on-line. The big three for me are, Grammarly, NaturalReader, and now AutoCrit. These are essential supports which compensate for a moderate form of dyslexia. Without these tools I could never hope to produce anything of merit. These are useful tools for any writer.

The greatest insight into writing fiction to date is that technique is important, but without creativity there is no story. Although the support services promote good technique, more critically, the promote good rewriting and attention to structure and flow.

I need to get back to my manuscript now, so I’ll end this short post. More to follow.

L. A. Weiss

My first work, a work of non-fiction is  Through a Lens of Emptiness  

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The Day I Met the Jewwwzz Man

The day I met the Jewwwzz Man was a day like any other day. Well, not exactly like any other day, because we (my lovely wife of 48 years and I) were not home in gray, dreary Ontario, but in sunny, warm Mexico. So, it was a day like any other day, while on vacation in Mexico avoiding the gray, dreary Ontario winter that I encountered him, but again, not exactly like any other day.

The day I met the Jewwwzz Man, was a day during our yearly sojourn in Mexico when two friends were visiting for the week. One of them has limited mobility and uses a walking stick, and the other has a chronic lower back problem and doesn’t move along so well either. That meant our daily routine now included taking electric transports from place to place within the resort.

Taking transport vehicles, means that one’s person might be exposed to others who are also escaping their own version of a cold, gray, dreary winter. That inevitability means certain beings can intrude inside my Dome of Heaven. Whenever such intrusions occur, they might be limited to an I-It category of relationship, or elevated to an I-Thou level. They might be permitted to remain under my Dome of Heaven, or be banished to the netherworld far from that idyllic place.

If you don’t know the difference between I-It and I-Thou relationships, you can read my book Through a Lens of Emptiness or you can read Martin Buber’s “I-It and I-Thou.” Suffice it to say, that I-It relationships are limited to factual knowledge about something or someone, and I-Thou relationships imply emotional interactions. When the Jewwwzz Man intruded into my Dome of Heaven, we were on such a transport vehicle. He didn’t even have a name at the time and there was no way of telling who he really was. He was just there, seated one seat behind me on the transport.

Leaning forward into my space, he asked where we were headed, and I politely responded with the name of the restaurant. As these sorts of informal inquisitions go, I responded in kind. We exchanged some impressions of the quality of food at each place. He asked “Did you have the Paella?” I responded as best I could, offering my opinion of the cuisine, and he in turn offered his. He increased the audacity of his intrusion by introducing himself. Thus marks the transition from just another human traveling on the same transport vehicle as me, to an I-It relationship called Mike from Illinois.

Sometimes one can choose his I-It interactions and sometimes they just happen. Mike from Illinois just happened because to ignore him would have been contrary to normal civil discourse, and certainly contrary to my Canadian manner. However, it was not until the next morning that I-It Mike transformed into I-Thou.

Mike and I crossed paths on our way to and from the exercise facility (El Gimnasio) at the resort, he on his way to, and me on my way from. Because of our newly formed I-It status we immediately recognized each other and stopped to exchange a socially appropriate “good morning.” Mike decided to elevate his end of the relationship by asking “Where are you from?” to which I responded, “Near Toronto in Canada.” That should have been the end of it, but Mike decided to push the limits of our relationship to the next level.

He prolonged the interaction by saying, “My son (or perhaps it was his brother, I can’t remember which because I didn’t really care) lived in Toronto for a year and told me there were all kinds of different people living in there.”

To which I countered, “There certainly are, Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America.” Mike’s rejoinder tipped his hand, for with his next words I discovered his true identity.

Mike then remarked, “I understand there are a lot of Jewwwzz in Toronto ―a lot of Jewwwzz,” I knew who I was dealing with. It was the Jewwwzz Man in the flesh.

imagesT00DR7FU I responded, “That’s true,” all the while controlling an enormous urge to laugh a great big, loud, roaring laugh. You see, at that very moment, as the word Jewwwzz left his lips, Mike from Illinois transformed into a human-like Dr. Seussian character. There was just something about his face, the way his mouth formed the word Jewwwzz, and the way those sounds oozed and slithered out of his mouth, prolonging the “…wwwzz” sound that strongly resembled the Grinch, or a Whovien creature from some oversized Whoville. It was at this point in our relationship that I-It became I-Thou, at least for the moment. e999841f42e76f81e3b05891fdfb8974[1]

What the Jewwwzz Man didn’t know, couldn’t know, is that I happen to be Jewish. I took his comment to be a reflection of an intrinsic level of anti-Semitism, a form of the resident evil present in xenophobes. There was just something about his emphasis on “many different kinds of people” and “lots of Jewwwzz,” that screamed XENOPHOBIA. I-It Mike from Illinois, became, I-Thou Mike the Jewwwzz Man.

I went from just identifying Mike as a human being with a certain physical form from a certain place (just knowledge), to what Mike was like on the inside — a xenophobic, Mid-Western Caucasian, American, who had the temerity to evoke an emotional response in me. I am not angry with Mike. I do not hate him or care to get to know him better, fear his presence on the face of the earth, or revile him. Indeed, there is a smidgeon of sympathy for this narrow-minded and prejudiced individual.

There is something pitiable about a person who cannot see past the image of “all kinds of people living in Toronto” to describe a multicultural, cosmopolitan city. Mike’s true, negative feelings about people who are not like him, Caucasian, American, and Christian, came across when he said “lots of Jewwwzz” in conversation. After mulling this thought over in his head for a few seconds during a thoughtful pause, and then saying “lots of Jewwwzz” a second time without taking a second breath, confirmed it.

The essence of any I-Thou relationship is that it persists as long as the emotions related to it exist. I usually cherish I-Thou relationships because they fulfill me, but not this one. The Jewwwzz Man is more like the Grinch than he knows. I may never be able to relegate Mike from Illinois to an I-It status again, but I certainly can exclude him from my Dome of Heaven, relegating him to the nether provinces of my life experience. My Dome of Heaven definitely does not, and never will, include xenophobes.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author


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A New Adventure in Writing Begins

A New Adventure in Writing – Young Adult/New Adult Fiction

This is the first in a new series of posts. The initial series followed my adventures in self-publishing. Those posts focused on everything from working my way through editorial supports, revisions, financing the whole adventure, and some experiences related to marketing my book. Now, I’m going to try to get a book written and published by a traditional publisher.

There may be some expenses related to this adventure, but that will depend on how well I have learned to write and edit on my own, as well as developing channels for getting critiqued that do not require money or contract agreements. My adventures in self-publishing were exciting in their own way and netted me the experience I sought. I just don’t want to repeat the experience, nor can I afford to do so.

I had an idea for a plot for a story aimed at the Young-Adult market and promptly when about writing a partial first chapter. I sent it to a friend who writes middle-grade fiction. His comment was kind but pointed. He wrote, “Remember that dialogue is king,” which was a polite way to tell me that text full of exposition was not “king.” Obviously, I had another steep learning curve ahead of me, so I dusted off some software I own titled Dramatica Pro: The Ultimate Creative Writing Partner. How could I go wrong with that?

How has Dramatica Pro worked for me, you ask? The jury (ie my intellect) is still out on that question, because Dramatica Pro is based on something called Dramatica Theory, which is a theoretical, deconstruction of the structure for works of fiction, be they novels, or short stories, or plays, or screenplays. The analytical side of me, honed by years of study in pure science and later in educational psychology, loved Dramatica. The creative side of me was still that of a rather naïve individual who is ignorant about what constitutes good dialogue and how to develop great characters. The analytical side of me was happy with a useful structure to work with.

I have been engaged in this personal right brain/left brain conflict for about four weeks now, and so far it hasn’t ripped my brain into two. Here are some things that I have gleaned from Dramatica which have been useful so far:

· I have identified and developed the basic descriptions for eight archetypical characters.

· I have started sketching out my plot using a five act, rather than a three act format.

· I consider each act as journeys between signposts that mark the beginning, middle, and end of my story. Act I is the journey to the first signpost, and Act V is the journey from the last signpost to the very end of the book. I note that my favourite Scandinavian crime novelists, namely Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell, both use a five act structure to great effect, although I had no idea what a five-act format for a novel was until I worked through the Dramatica materials.

· Dramatica is not for the impatient novice fiction writer. Fortunately I am doggedly persistent and manically capable of endless repetition. These are the very traits that tend to drive others crazy and exactly the traits required to survive using Dramatica Theory as an approach to writing.

Thus far, I have an idea of structure and an idea of character and character interactions. I have a sense of plot development and understand the Dramatica concepts of theme and genera. I am still struggling with character development and am not even close to developing an approach to dialogue. I’ve engaged other muses, genies and gurus to help me in that area. They will be the subject of my next post.  akinator_1_defi1[1]

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author


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Marketing a Book #10 – Promoting Your Book and Yourself

20150523_162505 (2)Book Facts and Fantasy

I haven’t posted to this blog for a while. Since my last post there have been a few experiences related to book marketing worth writing about. The first relates to book signing opportunities and the second to direct to the public marketing at a market type event.

An author signing sounds like a terrific opportunity at first for the novice writer with his first book in print. In my case, the book is a creative non-fiction work. The opportunity was provided by Indigo/Chapters in Canada. I won’t name the bookstore branch since it is irrelevant to what I have to say. The store and the manager were most accommodating and welcoming, so that is not an issue. The issue is the reality of the bookstore as a venue.

I believe I stated in a long ago post that the idea of writing a book was daunting for two reasons; the enormity of the task, and the massive number of books available for the buying public to choose from. It was clear from the beginning that I would be fighting for oxygen the whole way. Not only are there vast numbers of books in print but there is an even larger ocean of eBooks in this world. All of those books are competing for the reader’s dollars before you put pen to paper.


Book signing display

When you have a book signing scheduled many factors influence the possibility of making a sale, particularly when you are essentially an unknown quantity. So the first reality is no name, no fame, and no line up of people wanting to talk to you or look at your book. I did sell one copy to an interested reader, and had a few good conversations with a few individuals, but that was the sum total of the action during two four-hour intervals on different days. Perhaps the writer of a niche non-fiction work should be pleased with that outcome, but I’m a novice at this, so that’s just a guess.

The people who visit a bookstore usually have a book, or specific author in mind. This chain of bookstores is big on quality, unique, non-literature gift items as well, which is a big draw. The gift buyers are not there for books at all. There is also a Starbucks on site, so there are some people who pop in for a copy of a magazine or a newspaper and a coffee. Even on a great store traffic day, the probability of having people come over to your table is very small. You might as well be “the Invisible Man.” In fact, if I were an invisible man who had written a book, it probably would attract some attention. I was just INVISIBLE.

The other thing to consider is the “Consignment split”, which can be as little as 30% to the store. Stores in this chain take 45% of a sale. That’s not a problem, it’s just the cost of having space made available for your event. I suggest taking advantage of an opportunity to have an in-store event. You might get some leads and make some contacts with the public.

Direct sales are the best way to earn some money from your book. Copies can be ordered from the publisher at a significant discount. The Canada/US Dollar exchange rate was much better when I bought my copies. With the current exchange rates, the cost to the author increases. If I sell a book for the $CDN equivalent, the cost would be close to $30 a copy. I have been selling my books as if the $CDN is on par with the $US. Since my copies were purchased at about $13.22 CDN a copy, my profit is $8.78 a copy, so 10 copies net me $87.80. At the current exchange rate, my net gain would be about $1.00 less per copy or $77.80 net.

I decided to try direct sales to the public at a Christmas Market held at a popular location during the last weekend of November. The cost of a 2.5 x 4 sq ft display space on a covered table top was $220.00 + Taxes, $245.00 total. I needed gross sales from 11 books to break even. I sold only 8. That’s the downside of my experience. The upside was the number of public interactions I had over those two days. Not only did I make some important contacts through those interactions, but I was also able to affirm the validity of my plan to offer guided autobiography/memoir writing workshops at different venues in the coming year.

Book display for November show.

Book display for November show.

The number of books one might sell at a venue is limited by two factors; the audience for the sale and the cost of admission to the venue. This Christmas Market was held at a Botanical Garden and the emphasis was on Christmas displays, a model train display, and a ride on a miniature railway through a lighted garden. Most of the people attending were families with small children who had already paid an admission fee to enter the gardens. Definitely not my target audience.

There were some older individuals that were members of the gardens and entered the site free of charge. They were few in number, but accounted for almost all my sales and for most of the interactions providing good leads. I was also able to get my business cards distributed to a wider audience. I have already booked sales tables at two additional shows for 2016, but this time my target audience is assured. The shows are for seniors titled Forever Young. In addition to the sales space, I was able to pay a small fee to guarantee a corner table spot and reserve a 20-minute slot to make a presentation. There will be between 1400 and 1600 senior citizens in attendance at each show, which are 100% within my target group.

Just one more thing… You are going to have to spend a bit of money to reserve these sales locations so choose the event wisely.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author

www.lalanweiss.com and www.lensofemptiness.com , and perhaps like my fan page at www.facebook.com/lalanweiss

publishing, signkng,

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Marketing a Book #9 – Learning About Social Media



Learning About and Avoiding the Block Hole of Social Media

It has been a while since I posted on this blog. I could have written this post several weeks ago, but I wanted to collect my thoughts about my time working with a Social Media Consultant.

I bought twelve weeks of time and expertise in the area of social media sometime in late March. My goal was to learn what I could about using social media and how it might be useful to me. I was primarily interested in Social Media as a tool and secondarily in using it to market myself and my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment. Although I had Twitter and Facebook accounts, I did not grasp the utility of either. I needed some hand holding through these media avenues and an expanded awareness of what else was available to me in the way of social interconnections.

At the outset, let me say that the overall experience of working with my social media consultant was excellent and exceeded expectations. My “expertise” in using social media, if I can call it that, is now limited by experience and time.

I learned about Facebook and Fan Pages (www.facebook.com/lalanweiss). I learned to make better use of Twitter (@LarryWeiss3) and particularly http://www.hootsuite.com, which I love to use. Also, I attained another blog as part of my author site www.lalanweiss.com and have just repurposed my original website, www.lensofemptiness.com, to advertise my services as a public speaker and workshop provider.

I now have a more complete author platform to work from and have more to so. I had no allusion about the benefit my new and expanded understanding of social media might have on book sales. In fact,there is no way of predicting the effect of using social media to promote a book or a service on its own. The fee I paid for my consultation and support was an educational fee, and worth every dollar spent. Without that support, I would still be wondering in the wilderness that social media can be to the uninitiated.

Social media can also become a black hole, sucking up many hours each day until little is left for meaningful writing time. My hiatus in posting to this blog is a case in point. I had several strands running through this blog at the same time I acquired my second blog related to my author site. There is also my Twitter feed on topics of interest to me that are unrelated to my book, which I needed to maintain, and regular posts to my fan page. I have also joined a few interest groups through Facebook and needed to keep up with them. It was really hectic for a while until I remembered some same advice I received years ago; practice selective abandonment.

Selective abandonment does not mean abandoning things you want or need to do forever, only for the moment. An individual can only work efficiently on one thing at a time, particularly if the things to do relate to writing. Different blogs for different purposes and different audiences require different frames of mind for each. In addition, work on a new writing project at the same time adds insult to injury, so selective abandonment is the order of the day.

At the moment, I find social media more interesting than useful, and more time consuming than I would like. I’m looking for the middle way between the Yin and Yang of Entropy and Order and gradually finding it. As in all things, everyone needs to find their own way around the world, including the world of social media. I paid for a guide and he taught me the signposts and showed me the pathways. If any of my readers are wondering in the wilderness of social media, I highly recommend hiering a guide for a while to get you on your way.

Until the next post, your faithful blogger,

L. Alan Weiss (Larry)

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Marketing a Book – #8 Public Speaking

Marketing a Book – #8   Public Speaking

probusIn my last post, I blogged about a book signing experience then ended by announcing an invitation to speak to a chapter of Probus, an association of retired former Rotarians. That event occurred on June 15, but it took some time to reflect on the experience. This was the first opportunity to present elements of my writing to the public as a presenter and merited considerable reflection. rotary

The invitation came as the result of an interview published in our local newspaper, which was the subject of an earlier post. The request was fairly specific, asking for a presentation on how I wrote an autobiography. The presentation had to be focused and address some specific points in one hour.

· What motivated my writing?

· How was the work of writing structured?

· How was the content generated and developed?

The venue was small and the audience numbered about twenty-five individuals. A PowerPoint presentation was saved on my hard drive and backed up in Dropbox. The hall was equipped with a newly installed 42 inch flat screen television with HDMI input ports, on screen instructions and a person in charge of the AV equipment with a minimum of knowledge about the system was there to help me set up. In fact, today was the first time it had been used in a presentation like mine.

I knew that AV equipment always needed setup and every system was different, so I arrived at the hall about thirty minutes prior to the time my presentation was to start. By the time, zero hour arrived everything was connected to my laptop and few PowerPoint slides prepared to illustrate the presentation were set at the introductory slide. I was ready to launch.

The presentation was titled, A LEGACY OF EXPERIENCE: Memoirs Speak Across the Generations: What do You Want to Say and to Whom? It touched on all the points as per the request, but also included some basic ideas about memory in general and autobiographical memory in particular. It was equally important to explain the nature and origin of self-image and self-esteem, two factors which influence how we remember the events of our lifetime.

Since my audience was essentially Caucasian and Christian and much of my writing is informed by basic ideas in Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism, it was important to explain the elements of those philosophies which shaped my thinking and writing. This audience, and perhaps most audiences I might face, need to see a shift toward Eastern philosophies as a move toward fundamental human values, not a repudiation of their fundamental belief system. The last thing one wants is to offend his audience, an issue that occupied my thoughts as I prepared for this event.

Once the basic concepts and philosophies supporting my writing were stated, the remainder of the talk focused on a structured approach to memoir writing. The concept of building an autobiography on the symbolism and structure of a Zen style garden was carefully unfolded for the audience. Each of the six elements found in such a garden was explained in terms of how it relates to the different aspects that form the narrative of a lifetime. In Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment, I use this specific structural organization and symbolism to document my own life narrative in order to illustrate how that structure is applied in practice.20150523_162505 (2)

Years of experience in the classroom hones one’s observational skills. It is possible to gauge the interest and focus of an audience during a presentation (lesson) by body language, and following it by the number and quality of questions and interactions from the audience. One also learns how to pace the rate of speaking, modulate the voice, and move smoothly from the front of the hall into the audience and back again as needed to maintain contact with the audience. The power and efficacy of a presentation is also enhanced by appropriate eye contact and through the body language of the presenter.

An experienced presenter, like an experienced teacher, carry an evaluation rubric based on the above points in their head. Also, they become adept evaluators of their own behavior as a presenter (teacher) while they are speaking. While it may appear immodest to the reader, I felt pretty good about the whole event based on an evaluation of my behaviors, presenting style, and audience reaction before and after the presentation. I am comfortable making this judgement since, as a teacher, I always told my students that “I would fail my own mother is her performance warranted it”, and have always rated my own performance by a rigid and high standard.

After eight years in retirement, one always wonders if they still have the skills that made them successful as a presenter of information. This first event in my new life as an author and public speaker was an important one. I learned “I’ve still got it,” whatever “IT” is and am confident there is a future for me as a public speaker. At the age of sixty-nine (this August) an enthusiasm to make new beginnings and take on new challenges not only exists but thrives. My next challenge is to generate some more opportunities to speak publicly. I’ll let you know how that works out in a few months.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author


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Marketing a Book #7 – A First Book Signing Experience

Marketing a Book #7 – A First Book Signing Experience

The long awaited first book signing event has come and gone. If life has its anti-climactic moments, this was one of them.

I contracted for the book signing event at the end of March (’15), about five weeks after the official release date of Through a Lens of Emptiness. 20150523_162505By then, the first available in-store event date was May 30th, not exactly prime book shopping time, but not the worst. At least it wasn’t a date in mid-July when most families are on vacation and the store will be essentially empty. As I was soon to learn, along with the time of year, the weather is another important factor in modulating the number of people frequenting bookstores on a given day.

The weather forecast for the day of the event predicted an advancing cold front with the possibility of heavy rain and thundershowers. The only question was timing. By noon on Saturday, May 30th the cold front had not yet arrived. It was generally a warm sunny Saturday on the last weekend in May and the traffic in the bookstore would likely be sparse. Unseasonably cold with drizzle would have been better. However, hope springs eternal and a positive frame of mind was the order of the day.

The signing was scheduled to begin at noon and last until five. My table was set up near the store entrance and ready for visitors by 11:45. 2015-05-30 13.20.48Over the span of the event, I spoke to three people, one of whom bought a copy of my book. I’ll discuss those contacts later in this post, but first here are some observations about book signings that may be useful to the reader

1. When traffic in the store is low few people will come over to your book signing table.

2. When you are an unknown author, don’t expect too many visitors.

3. If your book is a non-fiction niche item, it might not draw much attention without a clever attractor.

4. Most people who come into a bookstore have a specific target book or genre in mind and will search for that target rather than investigate your offering.

5. Those who come over to talk to you usually have a leaning toward the content of your book already.

6. There are many books for the bookstore visitor to consider and distract him or her from your book. The only difference is that you happen to be standing near your book, but it is no different from the bookstore browser’s point of view.

7. Another negative for signing event relates to what else is available for purchase in the store. If it has many gift items available for purchase as well, they will be a distraction for sure.IMG_20150530_203025

There were three interesting visitors to my table that afternoon. One visitor was a regular follower of Buddhist teachings and was attracted to the word Emptiness on the book’s cover. She actually bought a copy and took a business card with her. Before leaving my table, she spent some time talking to me about the importance of mindfulness in everyday pursuits. The second visitor talked a bit about the book and took a business card and exited the store. She was observed contemplating my business card and returned for further discussion, but did not purchase a copy at that time. The final visitor talked with me a bit and was also interested in the fact that we lived in the same rural neighborhood.20150530_203854

It doesn’t sound like a very productive book signing, but I got more out the afternoon than the sale of one book. The person who bought a copy of the book suggested another well-established independent bookstore where a signing event was a possibility. It might also be possible to couple the signing event with an author talk. The individual who gave my card and book such careful consideration suggested that a nearby regional library system might accept the donation of a copy of my book and give me the opportunity to speak about it too.

I also appreciated the chance to face the public and field some simple questions about my book and refine my answers. The traffic was light so there was ample time to review each interaction, the sense of the question and the strength and clarity of the answer. By the end of the session, I had a clear vision of the best phrases to describe Through a Lens of Emptiness.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness is about a journey of self-discovery in search of contentment.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness is about building a legacy of experience, wisdom, and insight to share with others.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness looks back at the meaningfulness of a lifetime.

When one is engaged in the process of writing, being able to step back and view your work dispassionately and critically is essential. The same is true for understanding the dynamics of interacting with the public and presenting key points related to your book as simply and succinctly as possible. As the marketing process progresses, there will be more, and hopefully better opportunities to present in public. I intend to seek those opportunities as much as possible. As I write this post about my first book signing, I am already seeking to book a second in the fall. I hope to schedule one in late November or early December when books are on the gift lists of many, the weather is not so nice, and the bookstores are full of people.

I have been fortunate to receive an invitation to speak to a group of retired professionals about my book. They are interested in the legacy aspect of my writing. I will blog about that experience too.

Until the next time,

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author – Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Please visit my author website and my Facebook fanh page too.

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The Kicking Horse River and the Way of Water

The Kicking Horse River and the Way of Water

Last evening (May 27), I attended another performance of the Kitchener Waterloo Teachers Choir. My son and daughter-in-law are members of this amateur choir. Each Christmas and Spring they give a concert. This year’s Spring Concert included the song, “Kicking Horse River”. The lyric of this song is based on a poem of the same name by the Canadian poet Pauline Johnson. The music is composed by Jeff Smallman. This song is strongly evocative of the power and personality of the Kicking Horse River as it cuts its way through the Canadian Rockies.kickinghorsemapKickinghorseRiver

The music and words “grabbed me” and tugged at the heart of a man who loves the mountains of British Columbia and the wild rivers that emanate from their glaciers and a myriad of springs on high. The words of the immortal Pauline Johnson, mated with Smallman’s composition, and the sounds of the human voice, conjured up the Taoist ideas related to the power and qualities of water, sometimes known as the Water Way.

If you go into the natural world and observe water or you experiment with it, water reveals its qualities: [Quoted from Tao and Water – The Real Spiritual Lesson]

– Water is relentless.  It never stops exerting its force.

– Its force is a manifestation of its nature.  It does not try to be something it is not, applying neither morality nor immorality.

– When it is restricted, Water seeks the weakest spot of any obstruction and applies constant force until it is free.

– When it is pressed or attacked, it changes form and repositions itself.  It exerts constant counter force to search for weakness.

– Water is opportunistic.  Given the slightest opening it will pass through.  It will do so while the opening is present.  It will widen the opening if possible.

– Water always seeks to do the easiest thing as long as it can.

-Water does not complain about the path it follows.  It simply follows the path.

– Water has a wide range of energetic expressions but continues to be Water.  It can be still.  It can be sluggish.  It can be swift.  It can be pounding.  It can be vapor.

When you compare the words and feelings expressed in Johnson’s poem to the qualities of water, the similarities are striking. Pauline Johnson was no Taoist, but she was a First Nation’s person who lived in the late 19th Century and on into the beginning of the 20th..PaulineJohnsonThe First Nation traditional view of the natural world is very close to the Taoist concept of the unity of man and nature. The Way of Water and the Unity of Man and Nature, are two significant themes found in Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

Water plays an important role in all lives as an essential basic need. Beyond that, when the Way of Water in all its manifestations and qualities, becomes part of one’s way of living, he cannot help but seek the Tao. I look for evidence of the Tao in all peoples, in all cultures, and in all things. Of course, I do not always find it, but that’s not surprising. Sometimes you just cannot see the Tao (which cannot be seen), but one can always feel the Tao when he is on the right path.

There are times when one is so moved by an experience, sharing it with others is the only thing he can do. The rendition of “Kicking Horse River”, and the words of Pauline Johnson created just such an experience for me. Have you had a similar experience. Please share it through the comment section.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author – “Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.”



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Marketing a Book #6 – A First Author Interview in Print

Marketing a Book #6 – A First Author Interview in Print

I was excited, and just a bit nervous to see the interview article in print. How would the photo of me holding my book look? Would the sense of the interview be reflected in the text? Those questions and others were answered this past Friday (May 8) when my first author interview appeared in our local newspaper, the Flamborough Review. FlamboroughReviewThe photograph was fine, and the published interview was fairly written and of reasonable quality. Over the years, my editorial eye is often cast on text as I read, so when I say reasonable, it is in the context of my editing methodology. It is quite an experience to be the subject of someone else’s writing and editing.

I’m still living the life of the début author, virtually unknown as a writer, with no established readership. This interview was guaranteed to happen since local authors are always interviewed. The interview was conducted at a local coffee house in Waterdown, Ontario about four weeks ago and finally appeared in print. A link to the article appears below.waterdown-ontario-historic-core-area-resize1[1]

Waterdown is the largest town in Flamborough, but it is still a village in style. Most of the rural residents of Flamborough receive a copy of the Review gratis, along with lots of local advertising. They are full of information about what’s on sale at stores in the area and lots of coupons for the food markets. Everyone else needs to purchase a copy if they want one. The paper has a circulation of 10000+. It is impossible to know what proportion of its readers actually read the paper from front to back.Waterdown's_Pub_The_Royal_Coachman[1]

If you have been following these blogs on marketing a book, or have just chanced upon this post, I hope you will click on the link at the end of this post and read the actual article. I would appreciate any comments you might have regarding it. .

I’m thankful for having had two opportunities to be interviewed. This recent article, like the Cable 14 television interview, reaches only limited numbers of people. However, even though the audience is limited, each opportunity gave me the chance to experience an interview based on questions generated by others. It is interesting to hear what interviewers choose to ask, and equally interesting to answer each question sincerely.

shoutingSince I act as my own agent, I continue attempting to generate additional interview opportunities and look for ways to present myself to the public. Currently, I’m working a few more angles to land interviews and a few public speaking opportunities (that’s the literary agent persona speaking), while the author persona tends to shy away from aggressively seeking publicity.

Kermit the Frog says it best, “It’s not easy being green… ” In my case, it’s not easy being a “green” author with no public profile and as yet, undiscovered by his audience.

The interview can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/qzxhud6. Let me know what you think of the published interview in the comment space below. If you have had a similar early interview experience, I’d like to hear about it too.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author – Through a Lens of Emptiness  –   www.lalanweiss.com

Please visit me at my fan page http://tinyurl.com/mz3tsoz

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Marketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

steeplearning2lMarketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

I began working with my social media publicist about seven weeks ago. The first few weeks were dedicated to organizing the campaign to come. This Wednesday marks the fourth week of the official relationship between the publicist and me, and I find myself climbing an ever steepening learning curve week by week.


Holy Moly, this is really steep.

Each successive week’s session begins with a review of progress based on the previous session and then we move on to a new topic. The first session focused on blog and twitter strategies, The second week focused on Facebook and the third on differentiating the role of a personal Facebook page and a fan page. This week we will look at Hootsuite: mechanics and strategies, and how to incorporate Sway into a strategy. I have been working away at building up a LinkedIn presence at the same time.

The only way one can learn about social media is to work with it. In my case, I’m a generation or two out of step with how these various social media channels function. I’m learning a great deal and making some progress, but I often feel like I need to catch my breath. Even this post will become a Twitter and Facebook entry because that sort of thing is the essence of social media strategies. I’ve also signed up for something called classmates.com with the intent of connecting with people I knew in the past. So far, I have linked up with one individual and started a conversation.

Trying to stay on track

Trying to stay on track

Social media coaching is certainly beneficial, particularly for a novice. It is impossible to say how effective social media networking will be as a marketing tool, but I certainly believe I’m getting the word out about my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life. Longevity and Contentment through many channels. Some individuals may even become familiar with my Nom de Plume – L Alan Weiss, part of my regular blog post sign off. I’ll continue to blog on my book marketing experiences as they unfold, including any progress made in the area of social media.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author

Please vista me at www.lalanweiss.com or on my newly created Facebook fan page

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