Thursday Thoughts: Writing

I’m going to take a few days off from writing here-I think. Unless something inspires me to craft something spectacular, I am going to spend some more time on my current project, a yet unnamed novel (or novella) based on a short story from my most recent book, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Most of my stories are short-some very short, less than 100 words, but I plowed away at this new project during NaNoWriMo. I didn’t make the 50000 word goal (their goal, not mine), not that I thought I would, but nevertheless, I wrote more than I would have and would like to finish.

Interested in reading some of my writing? I have some free sample eBooks on my book pages. https://linesbyleon.wordpress.com/books/. If you are interested in reviewing any of them, let me know.

So, if you celebrate anything during this time-or do not, stay safe, be happy, and reach out to those who can’t be physically present. See you in a few days.

-Leon

The Importance of Reviews

(The Ongoing Journey of a Writer)

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” What’s going to make you pick it up?

How do people choose the books they read? Some will stick to the authors they like to read, an interesting cover can make you choose a book-or at least read the blurb before deciding “Meh.” But the driving force behind the success of books are positive reviews.

How do you get reviews? Get your books in the hands of readers. How do you get readers to want to read your book? Get reviews. Hey, wait a minute! That’s a Catch-22. You bet. I think of it like a new restaurant. You might be wary to give it a try until someone says that the food is good/amazing.

Here’s another restaurant analogy: If you don’t know about it, you are not going to go, are you? So, businesses advertise. It is important for new authors to advertise. to say, “Here I am! Check me out!” (I don’t know why I’m shouting…no one likes to be yelled at.)

Word of mouth is the least expensive form of advertising. If someone likes your book they will probably tell one of their friends, because we all get asked the question, “Read any good books lately?” And if we have, we will reply, “Yeah, you have to read [insert name of awesome book here]!” There was a commercial in the 80’s that had the line: I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on. Want to do the math? You should, its pretty cool. (I might do a math post in the future)

There are many sites that feature reviews of books, each having its merits and loyal followers. It’s easy to picture readers scrolling through books and not stopping on books with no reviews, but those 4 and 5 stars really catch your eye, don’t they?

Reviews will drive sales, which is what authors want. But reviews also give affirmation that what we are doing as writers has merit and makes a difference in the lives of our readers. I want to share some of the words that have made me proud of what I have done:

Thank you so much for the beautiful poem, it was very touching and your words have a healing effect.”  

I have loved reading this book. It has given me what I needed the most. It is a very charming book!

A very charming, witty and entertaining book of short poems and pictures about… everything in life. It was fun to read and I believe it would make a great gift for poetry lovers.

I know I will reread this book as I do most of my poem collection because the simple act of reading poetry makes me grow and change as a person, so each reading is an unique experience.

This book of poems was very intriguing. It made me stop and think—and, sometimes, stop and laugh

To be honest, I found it a breath of fresh air and it was a joy to read.

And reviews also confirm that everything is subjective:

I thought the pieces in this collection were mostly okay. I’ve read much better but there are much worse collections out there.” (Well I’m glad I’m not the worst.)

I didn’t get it.” (OK, a little out of context, but kinda funny.)

Overall, I have neutral feelings about this poetry collection… Perhaps it just wasn’t for me.” (Exactly, I can’t make someone like my books.)

IF you have been following my writing, you know that I enjoy humor, so when I put together my free eBook with selected works, I decided to have some fun with it and put this on the first page:

There’s fake news, then there’s fake testimonials…
What people are saying about “Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures”

“Opening this book is like looking into the head of Leon. It’s a little odd…”
 -Noel Snevets

“It kept my interest and it keeps my coffee mug off the table.”
– Elon Ven Sets

“Just when you think you’ve had enough, you haven’t!”
 -Lone Vessnet

“I had to ask myself, where has this book been? I then realized it had slipped under the sofa.”
  – Olen Nessvet

“Wow. Just, wow. Wait, what was the question?”
 -Anon

“Thirty-one.”
  –  A. Prime

In conclusion (What? Am I writing a thesis?), as a reader, please don’t underestimate the power of your words. Reviews don’t have to to be long-just honest.

-Leon

Why I Write

One of my pencil sketches

I sent this to my newsletter subscribers earlier in October.

I want to thank you for taking part in my writing journey. Writers write to share their ideas, visions, and emotions, and I hope that you find my weekly rambles entertaining. I write in a lot of different styles, which may or may not be the best way to keep a readership.

I think about it this way: My writing is like a box of…(I’ll stop there to avoid copyright infringement). But it is. You know the one, that assorted box that you get at Christmas, the one with the candy map. You always go after your favorites, but sometimes you take a little nibble of the one with the chocolate squiggle. Maybe you discover that you like it, or perhaps it makes you glad you didn’t buy a whole box of strawberry creams.

What was the first thing that I wrote that wasn’t part of a school assignment? Probably a song lyric, but I always scrapped it because I was never happy with the result. When I decided to pursue classical guitar studies, I began to compose, letting the music provide the emotion instead of words. I wrote many pieces, some I wrote down, still others I forgot. I recorded some, but it never came out polished. I make too many mistakes, I can never play as close to perfection as I want, I get nervous performing in front of people or a microphone, so it takes a lot of takes to get something that I am OK with. The first piece that I wrote is called Riviera Galliard, which is an homage to the Renaissance composer, John Dowland. I hope that I can record it and share it with you. There is my incentive.

I wrote a few others in the same style before turning to acoustic guitar after hearing the Canadian guitarist Don Ross. Unfortunately, most of those pieces have been lost. Either I can’t find the scores that I wrote down, or my memory decided that I didn’t need to know those anymore. I can still dig up little snippets, but it is like reading a corner ripped out of a book.

Fast forward to my poetic journey. I ventured back into lyric writing to make sense of a difficult situation. The poems followed as some of the unused ideas became short poetic pieces. Most of my poetry is short and not too complicated. As one reader put it:

 “Lines by Leon is an eclectic mix of poetry and thoughtful, personal reflection. The ideas are straightforward with an understandable simplicity.

I wanted people to reflect on the poems and seek connections without having to try to interpret deep philosophical meanings or search for hidden underlying messages.

During my poetic journey, I started to sketch images that came to me. Some of these images evoked ideas that became my short, short stories-one or two paragraphs that tell part of a story that leaves the rest to your imagination. Some of my stories became longer, but still without conclusion, similar to waking from a dream and lying in bed thinking, what the…?

Enter science fiction: My forever favorite. If you have read my blog post, Returning to Roots (and I hope that you have), you will know that my father introduced me to this genre. We would watch science fiction T.V. shows, and he would read me stories. It was only natural that I would turn to this topic as my writing developed. I was able to cross my styles when I wrote a series of post-apocalyptic poems that are featured in my next book, The Knot at the End of the Rope.

I also want to keep a sense of humor in my writing. Some of my poems and stories will hopefully make you chuckle or smile. My blogs and newsletters give me a chance to poke fun at things, be cynical at current events, and showcase my odd sense of humor.

Some writers stick to the same formula, and their readers stick with them, which is perfectly understandable. A successful author wrote that to be successful, you have to write what your audience wants. I do want to entertain readers, but I’m not trying to make everybody happy. I’m trying to make myself happy, by hopefully providing material that can be enjoyed by others.

If you are here for my poetry, fear not, I continue to write and still have pages to revise. It took me three years to get to my first book, and I promise that it won’t take another three for the next. For my sci-fi fans, I am proud to share my short stories, which could not have happened if it wasn’t for my father. Let’s all gather to share to love of the written word—no matter the style.

Leon

Revised Nov 11 12:00

I almost forgot. When I get reviews like this:

It makes me happy and lets me know that I am on the right path.

-Leon