Disclaimer - If you find any grammatical errors or misspelled words and it bothers you...breathe and then go get the help you need. I am a human being, not a machine. I make mistakes and so do you. Enjoy! :D

Okay it has come to my attention that I have not written in my blog for some time now. According to my astrological calculations, over one month...unacceptable. I know everyone is just dying to hear what I have to say, right?....*insert sounds of crickets* Well at least the crickets will listen then.
    Thought I would take a moment to just talk about ideas for writing. The question I get asked, more often than not, is "Where do you come up with all of this stuff?" ( aka, books ideas ) The question seems simple enough, but unfortunately there is no simple answer...if a definite one at all. I blame it on my over-active imagination. When I was young I remember fighting off invisible monsters and going on adventures in my own backyard. I remember being obsessed with dinosaurs, fighting hordes of tyrannosaurs and other meat-eaters off with fake guns and swords in my grandma's backyard for hours on end...go ahead and laugh, I'd still do it if it didn't draw so many weird stares from people. I think all children have imaginations like this, well at least I hope they do, all that video game playing nowadays has probably stunted some of that creative time consumption...but I digress. But I feel my imagination probably was stretching the limits of "normal" for that time in my life, I still think it does even today.
     An over-active imagination and the ideas you pull from it are almost as much as a gift as they are a curse. I swear to you for every book I finish, 5 ideas have already manifested for new books in the time frame I spent writing the one. It never seems to stop. Ideas for new characters, settings, story lines, they emerge almost every single day of my life. Then I have to take the time to write them down, which is something any writer should do. If you get an idea for a character, general story idea, or even something as seemingly insignificant as a quirky conversation between 2 characters, WRITE IT DOWN. I have made the mistake too often in the past of imagining story elements that I simply figured I would remember at a later time and "poof" they are gone just like that. So don't be lazy like that, carry a notebook with you or type that idea down in your smartphone notepad, you'll be glad you did. Again, I don't care how insignificant the idea seems. I have post-it notes lying around with a character's name and then just one sentence of dialogue he/she spoke that just popped up in my head and I thought "I need to write this down."
    The problem with most of my ideas is they are just random things that sometimes have nowhere to be placed at the time of their inception. It is then up to me to, sort of, lay them out like a jigsaw puzzle and figure out in what story, and at what part, they go in. Though this is discussed in the preface of "Catahoula" I remember doing research for "Kentucky Moon" I had went out a purchased a dog breed book. While taking notes on hound dogs I came across the Catahoula Leopard Dog. I was absolutely taken aback by that breed. The roughness, beauty, and the breed's overall obscurity to the general public is what drew me in so much. And just like that, I started imagining this Walt Disneyish story, with an animated motif. A Catahoula Leopard Dog named Jasper, on the road trying to find a home in the swamps of Louisiana.  And just like that, another story was born by doing nothing but simple research for a current work at that time.
    It is as insane as it is fantastic when and where you will come up with stories. I still do not, and will never, fully understand where all of this stuff comes from. When I really sit down an dwell on the genesis of every story I have done and every story that will be done by me, it is almost eerie. The way they end up falling into place, all those misplaced ideas and characters. Where do they really come from? Why are there so many? Why will they not stop? I am sure some writer's would be over the moon with problems like this. Again, it feels like a curse and a blessing rolled into one. I just picture the inside of my head in sections, the largest one being a factory that dishes out nothing but ideas for fiction writing. Each idea falls off the conveyor belt onto the floor and I am standing there trying to put all of them together while the idea machine itself never turns off, just continually spits these story elements out with no end.
    So what sort of advice can I give to someone looking for inspiration for a story? Well, I can suggest this...the lion's share of ideas that come to me are while I listen to music. If it was not for music I doubt I would have created any books for people to read. The thought of a world without music is...well, unthinkable. Music is tied to us humans on some otherworldly level that I can not even begin to comprehend. It makes us happy, sad, angry, inspired. It makes us laugh, cry, hope, smile, gives us chills, and makes us despair. It hand dips us into a spectral caldron of emotions that few things on this earth can mimic. I say, with little doubt, that music has played some part in curing diseases, ending wars, and creating life. In short, it is "omnipotent candy you insert into your ear to feed the soul itself". I take it I need not go into much further detail as to why music helps me with my writing. If you don't already agree with me on this, just take some time to listen to some of your favorite tunes and just let your mind go...just see where it takes you. Some of my favorite places to listen to music for inspiration are driving in the car or while taking a shower, but honestly anywhere where you are by yourself works well.
  Another place where you can possibly pull ideas from is the night itself. Dreams and nightmares can play a pivotal role in seeking out material for writing. Let's not kid ourselves, the dream realm is a place rife with interesting settings and absolute insanity...what better place to get inspired and pick the fruits of your subconscious and dine on them. Just remember to write those crazy ideas down before you get too awake. For some reason or other the mind seems to slowly erase the remembrance of your dreams as the day progresses, so don't dawdle...yes I just used the word dawdle in 2013.
Though the suggestion of dream inspired ideas is something I admittedly do not use much myself, it may work very well for some...music is definitely my ultimate, be all-end all muse for writing.
 Well I hope someone, somewhere got something out of this drivel. The plain fact of the matter is I can't really tell anyone how or why these ideas for stories come to me, they are simply "just there". Unfortunately with that said, I would find it a near impossibility to properly teach someone "how to come up with story ideas". Maybe some of us are born with overactive portions of our brain ( i.e neocortex, thalamus, dipery doomus, twinkie biscuit ) okay those last 2 are not parts of the brain...but they should be. Perhaps ideas are just given to us by a higher power, or maybe we are seeing into other dimensions and pulling pieces back with us. The bottom line? No one knows for sure why some of us can come up with a thousand stories and the next can hardly come up with one...so let's just relax and enjoy those stories while we still can.    
 
 
Disclaimer - If you find any grammatical errors or misspelled words and it bothers you...breathe and then go get the help you need. I am a human being, not a machine. I make mistakes and so do you. Enjoy! :D

Welcome to my first blog entry...ever...anywhere, and the underwhelming feeling it will
surely leave you with. To begin with, I actually had to look up the definition
of a blog...yeah, I am not afraid to admit that. I had a basic idea of what I
believed a blog was, and I was pretty much right on the money. A blog is a place
where a person or group of person blithers on about stuff they hope someone else
will care about = a.k.a. a digital journal, more often than not, a 100% self
serving, digital journal...sometimes filled with helpful information to others.
Well now! I can certainly handle that...maybe...probably not. Especially given
the fact that I have no clue what to even talk about...hmmmmmmm. I guess I can
go on a bit about the publishing process itself.
    Being that I am an independent author, I can not give any insight into a "mainstream" process, i.e. dealing with a publishing house, illustrators, blah, blah, blah. The first novel I wrote, Kentucky Moon, was back in High School. Now when you are young writer,
you have this preconceived idea that the world is made of Coca-Cola and
milkyways. You think everyone will like what you are writing...after all, YOU
love it, of course everyone else will! Right? Getting published can't be THAT
hard...
    Flash forwards to the year 2001. August 5th, an early Sunday morning,
REALLY early. 12:41 am to be precise. I finally finish Kentucky Moon and I am elated. Finally, oh finally I finished my first book! Words come hard to describe the feeling, but
any author will know exactly what I am talking about. You feel on top of the
world, all eyes are on YOU. You are so awesome...at least that's what you think
of yourself, though you will not admit it to a single soul.
    So what happens next? Well the dreaded plight of editing, retyping, polishing the story, yeah, yeah, yeah, but after that. Oh yes, getting published. Back in 2001 ebooks
simply were, well, unheard of by most people. They were in their definite
infancy back then, and probably anyone who did hear of them laughed at the
thought ( some people still do ) so obviously digital options were scarce, so
being in print was my only road at that time. Seemed simple enough...I just
start sending my manuscript to as many publishing houses as possible, they read
my book, sign me on, and I'm an instant success!...wrong! No, no, my researching
instantly led me to find that publishers had gotten so big that they would not
as much sneeze around your manuscript without you having representation...aka,
you are a peon, nobody and you need a literary agent.
    Okay, so I need an agent. How do I do that? I went out and bought a giant tome called "The Writer's Market: 20o1" It was chock full of literary agents, their names, types of books they would represent, on and on. Anyway, I went right to work writing letters to
any agent I thought would have the least bit of interest in Kentucky Moon. I
stuffed all of my letters ( lots of them ) and their accompanied SASE ( self
addressed stamped envelopes ) with a joy filled heart, thinking I was going to
have dozens of agents wanting a piece of me, yes, literally fighting over me....
oh the naive heart of a novice. I started getting form letter after form letter.
  One such read - 

    "Dear Mr. McCloud, you are a nobody. No one likes you or your
stupid book. If you were a celebrity who wrote a book about Belgian waffles or
your infinite love for dog poo, we would be more than happy to sign you up....go
kill yourself, 

    Signed, Evil Literary Agent
P.S. Your book idea sucks"

  Okay, okay, that never happened! But that's what words of rejection look like to someone who is so full of hope and love for the success of their work. Basically no agent
showed interest except for a select few who told me to send the first 10 pages
of my book. The idea here is if they are not inspired from the first part of
your novel, they tell you to look elsewhere....which they all did.
    ( Sigh ) So at this point hope starts to fade. You get full of self-resentment. "Writing
sucks!" "Screw being an author!" "I suck!" "Maybe I should kill
myself"...alright, I didn't say that last one, but you get the idea. After
awhile self-resentment turns into anger, and then that anger turns into a
renewed sense of determination "I'll show them! I will NOT be looked over!" And
so wave number 2 came full force. I dug further, finding even more literary
agents to write to. I even went as far as paying for memberships to websites (
that will go unnamed ) for agent lists that I didn't find in the book mentioned.
And, as you can predict, the same outcome commenced.
    It's funny, you do, at some point, truly start to wonder if you are cut out for writing with all the rejections constantly being thrown in your face. But hey, that's the name of the game. I have a box of probably a 100 rejection letters before I finally quit
with Kentucky Moon. And that is not much at all compared to other authors I have
read about. I have heard stories of 1000's of rejection letters. How they found
that many agents to even write to baffles me. 
    The major problem with most writers is they write want they want to, not what they think the public wants to buy. This, in turn, makes the publishing industry want nothing to do with you, unless you are a celebrity. I truly don't think they care what you write
about as long as they know you will sell them books...I understand that. It's a
business, money has to be made...I get that. But even with that realization,
you still have bitterness inside of you. I would seriously rather write what I
want than bow down to public literary hunger any day. I write what comes from
my mind and put it to paper, with no regard on who will like it, except for me.
If other people love it, then that, my friends, is serendipity. Moving on.
    Regardless of all the rejections on Kentucky Moon, I find the strength to move
on. So I write my second novel, Catahoula. The same events come into fruition.
I send my letters to agents, and the same barrage of "no thank yous" and
"sorrys" beat me about the face and head all over again....I pretty much expect
it, but hope is always in the back of your mind. ( insert exaggerated sigh here )
    After this point I pretty much leave the whole agent pursuing thing be. It
just keeps getting more and more hopeless. The worst thing about agent
representation is, that even if an agent decides to take you on, there is no
guarantee you will even get published. The agent essentially is your middle
man that gets your manuscript under the eyes of the publishers. So your agent
may not even be able to convince anyone to publish it...wow. By now you can
surely see the reason for my disgust with it all. And if you are , or ever have
been, a struggling writer, you already know all about this. I can't even get my
foot on the first rung of the ladder in the publishing process. The dreams of
seeing my book on a shelf wane into obscurity.
    So what now? I stick to what I know...I keep writing. I start in on my third novel entitled Kamakazo. I just write away with nary a thought about the publishing process anymore. I guess I just felt like putting it out of my mind completely. Writing was all that mattered now. If something came up in the meantime to help me achieve this
seemingly unattainable goal, then so be it. Fortunately for me, and many other
indie authors, that something came....the popularization of the ebook.
    I remember an article catching my eye, probably some 2 years ago, about a woman
selling over 400,000 copies of her ebook on Amazon. As I read the article I
could feel that old desire and hope come flooding back into my veins. "You can
upload and publish your own books now? Right on the internet?! Sign me up!"
    And so it came, the great fall of publishing juggernauts. No longer would us tiny
authors go unheard, or have to jump through the loopholes of pretentious and
judgmental establishments who would rather wipe their behinds with our books
then read them...And every man and women, whose written words went unread, rejoiced in the dawning of the age of digital, self-publishing.
    And, just like that, I was a published author. But a long, hard road still lies ahead, the road of self-promotion ( a topic I am sure I will blog about soon enough) And yes, many
people will still look down on me, and still think I am "no one" simply because I
am not in REAL print. But let them look down...my books are out there for people
to enjoy (and hate) and that's all that matters to me.