A Condom for Your Words


Vintage "Akron Tourist Tubes" Tin

Vintage “Akron Tourist Tubes” Tin

Requests to check out more of Phreak Show have necessitated a means to that end.

Authonomy is my cure.

With my first two novels, I played the rankings game over there: chat & spam & and claw for 1 of the 5 coveted spots “on the desk”. Translation: work your ass off, burn a ridiculous amount of hours, harass the other members, needlessly obsess over rankings. And all to be listed in the -Top 5- on the last day of the month. The prize: a review from an Editor—apparently only quasi-helpful and arriving 6 months later. Authors who fight for and snag that golden ring end up  a little disappointed, it seems.

It’s a shiny carrot which isn’t worth chasing. Thankfully, there is a lot more to the site than that single aspect.

If you get caught up in the rankings and campaigning, you’ll miss the beauty of Authonomy. That beauty flashes in three facets: an amazing writing community, thoughtful feedback, and a public forum to steer interested readers to your work.

Virtual Betas & CP’s are awesome. I have gleaned some of the most useful, insightful feedback from amazing folks I’ve never met face-to-face. But it phreaks me out a little to email my manuscript to someone I don’t know. Not because I fear they’ll hate it or say heart-wrenching things. I’m cool with that. What scares me is that they have ALL MY WORDS. A stranger—one who may or may not be the same in real life as online—can enjoy my words, or gank them. Steal them.

These are the things I worry about: A ‘find-and-replace’ could instantly change out the characters’ names. Phineas becomes Barnum, Tera becomes Rachel. A quick re-titling, and my creation could be self-pubbed, online, in minutes. Phreak Show becomes Sideshow Nightmare. And I would have no idea. It’s akin to a kidnapping, dying the kid’s hair, moving her to a new city, and calling her Juniper Smith  instead of Erica.

I believe most people are honest in their cores. Generally, I trust strangers. I’m the weirdo who talks to people in elevators. I pick up hitchhikers. I couchsurf and sleep in strangers’ homes. But there is a part of me that understands that some folks smile while fingering the dagger in their pocket.

As creators, we must protect what is ours.

Thus, Authonomy.

I’m sure there are conniving, magical ways around it, but [CTRL C] doesn’t work on Authonomy. Also, I only post portions of my novels. NEVER the whole thing. This is my solution for minimizing the risk while engaging in risky behavior. It’s like a condom for your words. Is it failsafe? Of course not. Is it 99.98% effective? I hope so.

Gosh, this post sounds like I’m all paranoid and shit. I’m not really. It’s just that, you see, I invest all of me into my art. And the possibility of having that outpouring abused makes me want to guard the youngling like a tiny child clueless of the dangers all around him. Maybe I’m an overprotective parent. That doesn’t bother me one bit, because I want my kid to play and make friends, but I don’t want his naivety to get him hurt. You know, like a good Daddy.

So, guaranteed ALIVE AND BREATHING, on display for all to see, the first 7 chapters of Phreak Show.
http://authonomy.com/books/52485/phreak-show/read-book/#chapter
[Update: Due to some overhauling edits,  the excerpt is in timeout.]

Please enjoy. Comment. Or don’t. Love it. Hate it. Cringe, cry, smile, wonder, giggle, dream, root, scream, lust, beg for more. Any or all of those things. Just know, a mindful, cautious Daddy’s is sitting over there on that bench making sure you play nice.

Dang it was difficult for me to decide on an accompanying image for this post. Do you know how many AMAZING risque pics I could have selected? Oodles. Ah, but to push things a little without going too far… Welcome to the world of self-editing an online presence, Lucas.

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My, What a Big Tongue You Have


TonguePiercing

I imagine that whole tongue-piercing things hurts just a little.

My ears are pierced, and back in the day, so was my eyebrow. When I went in to get that piercing, a dude was getting his nipples done. He passed out.

I’m guessing that kind of hurt, too.

In the beginning, piercings are wet and raw and sore. They are, after all, wounds. Like most wounds, piercings heal over time. Scar tissue forms, the skin closes up around the opening, and the pain completely disappears.

Now it’s your job to transition from those thoughts, to this quote from Ira Glass.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

You’re smart. I’m sure you made the transition.

For the record, my gap is closing. I can feel it. There’s no telling how many canvases I’ve painted, waited a while to realize they were only ‘okay’, and painted over them. Multiple times. The same is true with words written. Millions have been set down, only to get digitally white-washed. Yes, the gap is definitely closing.

Because I have good fucking taste. And my ambition & striving won’t die.

I’m betting you have killer taste, too. Now, go lick some more stuff and discover what’s yummy.

I Like My Sleeves


PhreakShowSubmissionsChart

Because I love charts and data and spreadsheets.

Also because, why the hell not? Transparency is a trait of mine.

Sometimes that characteristic gets me in trouble, but it is an undeniable part of me. Often, I’m told, it is refreshing. Either way, it’s who I am. And I am a proud phreak who has learned to be comfortable in his own skin.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve thought of maybe changing to metaphorical tank tops—-or even going shirtless. Alas, I like my sleeves, and I like to leave my vulnerability dangling out there for everyone to see and prod. So, yeah. I feel better now. Huzzah for catharsis via confessional graphics.

If you’re feeling like, perhaps, there is more to the story, you are correct. Sometimes, even transparency has is limits, and a little opacity is required. If you’re reading this Invisible Ink, I ❤ your face. Wear your hearts on your sleeves, you bunch of phreaks. 

Agents Stalk Us Too


SneakyBurglar

All querying writers research potential agents.
Oh? You don’t? tsk tsk
What a naughty, naughty writer.

Submission guidelines and genre preferences are important, but we should totally research, investigate, and weigh our findings against our own personality and professional goals. By learning as much as we can, writers can focus our search on lit agents who would truly make a great fit. There is a lot more to an Author/Agent relationship than simply querying and finding rep. We’re entering into a business partnership. We’re committing to what hopefully will be an LTR. Sure, agents choose wisely. But the writer must also choose that potential partner carefully.

Agency websites give an overview, but they don’t provide the whole picture.  We are responsible for digging deeper: interviews, current clients’ websites, recent deals, rights’ management experience, Twitter feeds, interns’ blogs, etc. Writers can’t just scratch the surface and call it a day. I mean, we can, but if we do, we’re stupid. We should discover all we possibly can and connect the dots. Read between the lines. Make an informed judgment which goes beyond, “OMFG! S/he likes [x]. I write [x]. S/he’s open to submissions. Must.query.now.”

We believe most agents research potential clients, right? Recently I discovered this is, indeed, not an urban legend. It is truth. You know how we writers joke about stalking agents online? Well, the road runs both ways. And I’m not just talking about agents checking out blogs/websites and Twitter feeds. If an agent has genuine interest, that fact-finding can expand into indepth, hardcore, hours-long, all-hands-on-deck, digital tunneling, Googling, and breadcrumb following.

Recently, an agent mentioned a part of my web presence which I had totally forgotten about—Authonomy. I posted portions of my first two novels on the site, but Phreak Show doesn’t even exist over there. This agent also mentioned online info which has nothing to do with my writing—business websites, for instance. It didn’t creep me out or make me nervous. What it did do, was enlighten me to the fact that a great agent will be concerned about an author’s public image beyond just his/her writing. A great agent will look for anything and everything a potential reader or publisher could find.

A great agent will stalk you. 

Sobering? Scary? Are you ready for that? How long has it been since you Googled yourself?

When the Sky Catches Fire


borealis1

Apologies in advance. This post may end up completely disjointed with random junk plotted all over the map. There are two distinct things I’d like to wax poetic about, but (for reasons) I cannot. There are interested parties on two completely different fronts, fighting unconnected battles, which would skin me alive if I revealed recent troop movements or laid bare their battle plans.

Thus, this post will be encrypted: shot full with trickery holes, truths disguised as musings, vagueness muddying up the core ideas, red herrings squirming in the mix for good measure. Hopefully, it feels personal, yet mysteriously so. You may even feel you know what the words are hinting at. You may be right. You may be wrong. That’s the thing with ambiguity, it often tricks us into jumping to conclusions or seeing ourselves reflected. But, often, it is merely a trick of the light. Don’t fall victim to its whispers. Instead, merely float with me in the randomness of the aether.

For years now, I’ve wanted to go to Iceland. I envision this nexus of elemental beauty: I’m relaxing in a steaming pool fed by a natural hot spring, there is cold, pure-white snow on the ground, the Northern Lights are twisting like dancing ribbons above my head. It’s so utterly quiet. My breathing is the only sound. I have never experienced this in real life, with the heavens all aflame. But, someday, I will. This past Thursday, the sun propelled a solar flare in Earth’s direction. Tonight, there’s a chance I will see the aurora borealis pirouetting above my head. I’m right on the line of a “good” and “fair” chance. I can’t control whether the clouds block my view. All I can do is stand outside at 8 p.m., gaze upward, and hope the sky ignites with purples and greens.

I’m positive I’ve tweeted this in the past, and I’m pretty sure I’ve couched it within a previous post. I love the stacatto line in Jay Brannan’s The State of Music: “If I don’t know who I am, everyone will tell me.” I’ve never had much of a problem with knowing who I am. That doesn’t mean I’ve always fit in. Usually the opposite has proven true. Being both creative and stubborn doesn’t sit well with everyone. My belief is that it unnerves the more square among us. They sense something alive and powerful, perhaps something they do not have, and they fear it. Or envy it. But those who appreciate such a combination–normally because they nurture the same within themselves–are my instant companions. Those shining souls are who I choose to surround myself with. The more sparkly and full of  twisted, beautiful vision, the better.

It’s real easy to say, “I want a pony.” I suppose some folks get ponies all the time. Some people have to build bigger stables to hold them all. Over the course of my life, I have had a Shetland or two tied to the hitching post, but mostly I’ve been content to live without something  so frivolous. Every pony I’ve ever had came to me because I went out and lassoed the little fucker with my very own rope. In recent weeks I have been responsible for making others’ pony dreams come true. And they want flying ponies one day, then invisible ones the next. There is a lot of work in the finding, the research, the negotiation, the transport, the boarding, the continual care, the loving. Yeah, it’s real easy for some folks to say, “I want a pony”, and then have that baby horse magically appear. The thing about ponies like that is, they are so easily forgotten and neglected. And the cute little ponies always grow up.

I like to follow breadcrumbs. They can be digital, or mental, or physical; I’m not picky. I enjoy connecting the dots, following the string, reading the signs. Sometimes, I end up dead-wrong and utterly lost. That’s okay. Because, other times, I find the treasure.

Beyond Iceland, I have a long list of things I will do. Hang-gliding is one of them. I’ve checked skydiving, bungeeing, and ultra-lite flying off my list. I was so close to hang-gliding 2 summers ago. As part of a vacation where we made the journey the actual trip, a gliding experience was one of the scheduled stops. All was set. I would leap off a Tennessee cliff with an instructor at my side. The day before, he let me know that the wind forecast looked adverse, but he’d keep his eyes on it and let me know. Later that night, he broke my heart. The wind was going to be strong–which was good. But it was blowing sheer to the face–which was bad. The jump was cancelled. So my companions and I trucked onward to Hiddenite, NC and sluiced for emeralds and sapphires instead. I still want to hang-glide. Soon. But  right now, I can go open a little velvet bag and pour out the most amazing collection of semi-precious stones that I sluiced from a cold creek.

Well, that ought to be enough ambiguous story time for one day. I have gems to find, ponies to lasso, and flammable skies to [perhaps] bask in.

borealis2

If you’re wondering, only 1/4 of this is in anyway connected to the writing slice of my world. PRO TIP: Out in Twitterland, or on Facebook, here are two secret cues you can use to know that something awesome [but unspeakable] is going down on the writing front. 1. If you see this: *things*, then yeah, that’s referring to mega-cool writing shit. 2. If I tweet or post the song “Lucas With the Lid Off”, then you know some kind of amazing has landed. Follow the breadcrumbs. Or the dancing ribbons. Or the white rabbit. Or whatever.

All-Powerful Psycho Hairdressers


HairSalon

The temperature crept above freezing ’round these parts over the last couple days. Naturally, that translates to: cut off all your hair. Well, not all of it, but enough to regret the move if the frost returns. Ahhh, but such impulses maketh me happy.

I picked a good time to hit the walk-in salon. 2 stylists + 0 customers = no waiting.

However, the joint was quiet. So, obviously, it became my personal mission to entertain the tri-toned coiffured ladies. My hair-cuttin’ girl kicked things off with the old standby, “So, do you have any plans for the evening?” We chatted a bit about taxes and other mundane things, then the buzz of the trimmers filled the air again. The snip-snip of the scissors got my mind cranking, and I suddenly found myself writing a story about this pair of everyday Hair Technicians in their facade-of-a-salon.

Ahhh, but I couldn’t do that all alone. I needed to entertain them. Also, I needed their help. So I pitched the rough-shod inkling of an idea that was secretly sprouting in my brainmeat.

“I write, and I’m totally brainstorming some ideas about you two right now.”

The scissors stopped snipping. Highly tweezed eyebrows arched in the reflection.

“Y’all help me out. Let’s pretend this whole salon thing is just a front. You’re really like super-powerful beings, and these are merely your public personas. What special powers or crazy-ass gifts would a stylist possess and have to hide from the unsuspecting clients?”

Now, the whole scenario could have arced out in a lot of different ways: scissors driven deeply into my neck because I guessed their secret, wary stiff-arm clipping resulting in the worst haircut ever, a call for the strip-mall security to swing by and haul the weird writer out of there. But, the bored hair-artists perked up and played along. We laughed and dreamed up ridiculously fantastical alter-egos for the two of them. We cast the “weird dude that comes in for a haircut every week” as the evil nemesis who is trying to thwart the uber-stylists’ plans for world domination.

Other characters developed based on Mikki & Tabitha’s peeves when it comes to clients. Moms who let their unruly, feral kids flail and roll all over the salon. Moms who get all up in their business and scissor-block while the ladies are trying to cut their little darlings’ hair. Creepy, old perverted dudes who tell dirty jokes and move their hands a little too much beneath their covering smocks.

All-in-all, the most entertaining haircut I’ve ever received. Not too shabby an experience for the ladies either.

Now, I doubt I’ll ever write the story we dreamed up. But, it was great fun to have M & T to shuck off their boredom and play along for a bit. Also, I got an amazing early-Spring hairdo. Thanks, Mikki. I won’t tell a soul about the truly wicked power hidden inside your unassuming, cosmetologist hands.