Posts Tagged ‘writing’

The Book is Here!

May 3, 2009

Just heard from the publisher. The book is back from the printers.

Lots of them.

Cartons of them.

Pallets of them. OK, maybe not pallets of them. You can fit a lot of books onto a pallet.

All we need now is pallet loads of customers.

It’s the end of the author chapter and the beginning of the marketing chapter.

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The Clem Cover

April 2, 2009

Well, the final cover design is done.

covercropped01

Check it out – http://users.tpg.com.au/kkmiller/Clem/

The book is off to the printers.

We’re planning a book launch.

I’m now putting together a promo video. Lots of new stuff to learn in there. There’s a lot of promo videos out there. Some of them are pretty good, I don’t plan on being among the others.

The Next Step For Clem

November 29, 2008

That book, the one being published next year. Here’s the catch-up.

The publisher is Ford Street Publishing. Yeah, I know I can give you a link, but you can google it just as easily.

OK, here is is – http://www.fordstreetpublishing.com/

And here’s the book intro – http://users.tpg.com.au/kkmiller/Clem/

We are setting up for a June 2009 release.

That’s all, folks. Nothing to see here. Move along, please.

The Contract, The Cheque, The Date

October 28, 2008

Two out of three ain’t bad.

The contracts for the Clem book are all signed up and shared around. My copy is still sitting on my desk. I don’t have a place in the filing cabinet for ‘Publishing Contracts’, and can’t remember what happened to the contract for the first book.

And the first cheque arrived. Nice one. It ends with three zeroes, or five if I keep counting after the dot. Maybe I should say, “My latest royalty advance ends in five zeroes.” Nah. That’ll only invite requests for a loan until payday.

And number 3, we are talking about a release date. Nothing decided yet. Sometime through 2009.

Here’s a link. http://users.tpg.com.au/kkmiller/Clem/

The cover will change, this is merely a working sheet to inspire me. OK, it was a distraction dating from when the work of editing was getting me down. The publisher will get a designer to come up with something better.

The book is on the conveyor belt while I sit around drinking champagne. What a great life this is.

Skin

November 13, 2007

I’m sitting here waiting. Not that it’s doing much good at this time of night. After dinner on a quiet Tuesday is not the time when a publisher is going to call and offer a contract on my novel. I know there’s more waiting to be done. It helps to have thick skin.

An editor friend ran through the early ms. She sent it back filled with scribbles and attached pages of notes. It was daunting to see her thoroughness but it sure did improve the novel. She emailed me to see how I was getting on, hoping that I hadn’t got discouraged. It’s a skin thing, writing.

Then I met one of Australia’s most highly regarded authors who thought the work had merit and deserved some mentoring. This wonderful experience meant very significant work. Chopping and changing wasn’t easy. But hey, I can take it.

Lots of reading by the mentor and lots of writing by me and it was pronounced ready for submission. I sent it off to a publisher. Also entered a competition.

The query came back with a polite negative. They read the synopsis but didn’t call for the ms. It didn’t fit their profile. I survived it. Their politeness helped.

Then the competition result was announced. I’d been longlisted! Translated, I didn’t get anywhere. They sent the judges’ tally sheets and things got really interesting. The novel had been judged on the first 1,000 words, that’s it. The judges agreed that certain elements were missing from what they had read. All I had to do was move those bits to the early part of the work. Sounds easy? After all, it’s only a skin thing.

I sent the new beginning to my editor friend and the mentor. Got good responses. So I queried another publisher and they asked for the ms. And that is where I’m up to. Waiting. Sitting in my skin and waiting.

Back when I sent off my first short stories to a publisher I got the reply, “Three of these we would publish straight off, the others need work.” I got a little morose, and bit discouraged, I got angry even. I sulked a bit and went all quiet inside. It did me no good. Then I woke up. “Hey, they want three, that’s pretty good for a first time ever submission.” So I worked on the others, asked the editor’s opinion of their poor showing, took his advice, re-wrote some, discarded others, wrote some new ones. The result was a book in print.

I respect that editor. He published a book of shorts a year later and won one of Australia’s significant literary prizes. $15,000, how’s that sound? I’m glad I took his advice.

This writing lark has got its moments. I love it when the ideas come and the words flow and the universe seems to constellate around my keyboard. It makes even my skin seem more alive when that happens. But there are other times when a thicker skin is needed. Comes with the territory.

Sex

November 12, 2007

Coz I’m a bloke, that’s why, so it had to come up sooner or later. Let’s get it over with quickly, shall we?

Question:
What part of a man’s body expands up to four times with stimulation?
That boy in the back row, yes you, keep a lid on it.
Answer:
The pupils of the eyes.

Question:
What is the body’s largest sex organ?
OK you guys, keep it under control. Being fifteen won’t last forever, so you’d better get some practice for when it all ends.
Answer:
The brain.

There you go, sex talk over. Seems we haven’t quite got it together on this topic after all. All this fuss over such a little thing. Sorry to get a bit personal here. But the evidence is that it is really a little thing. Why else would I be getting all those emails about making it bigger?

What I want to know is how they found out. And so many of them. It’s not as if I’ve been advertising or anything. What, you’ve been getting those emails too? Well it’s good to know I’m not the only deficient one on the planet.

Our world sure does make the most of the sex thing. Especially the world of advertising. Oh yeah, and the world of spam. Who ever thinks of spam and sex in the one sentence? That’s what I want to know.

So then, let’s think about it. One part of the world is filling our in-box with stuff that says our sex thing’s too small. The rest of the world thinks that sex is the biggest thing that we’ve got going. If the truth is out there, what the heck is it?

When I was fifteen I could have answered this quite easily. Then when my son was fifteen I could have asked him. But I’m older these days. Funny, isn’t it? You get to be a sexegenarian and suddenly you’re past it.

Rain

November 4, 2007

I’ve just come home from a concert in our local cathedral, and I’m feeling good. The cathedral comes into its own for large scale performances. The acoustic quality really shines when there is an orchestra and a choir who climb over each other to bounce their voices from the high ceiling. Today there was a small orchestra and two hundred voices, half of them children from seven to twelve.

The concert was Rutter’s Mass of the Children – a latin Missa Brevis with some English poetry worked in. Lovely music, well performed, wonderful blending of the adult and children’s parts. Just the thing for a sunny Sunday afternoon.

And that is why I am thinking about rain. OK, that’s not the whole reason I’m thinking about rain. I’m thinking about rain because it has been raining. Several days of rain we’ve had. The river near here is up and flowing again. People are walking over the bridge just to look at the river. Hey, it’s only water in a gully. But that’s rain for you.

Several years of drought sure do make a difference. We’ve racked up five or six years now, seven in places. It’s a long thirst. For a while I was kind of pleased. In the first year I cut down on mowing the lawn. The second year I used one can of mower fuel for the whole summer. Beauty, mate! The third year and things were different.

Have you ever driven around your town and watched the trees dying? Around here they die of thirst and heat shock. One tree gone one year, another the next. Six years later a whole row of trees down the street are spindly sticks and we’ve given up hoping for them. It doesn’t matter how hard a tree works to keep itself alive, when the rains are gone for six years many just can’t make it.

And last week the rain. Steady, heavy, constant, gutter-breaching, rain. We lie in bed listening to it on the roof. We sit at the window and watch it. We stand outside and let it fall on us. We smile at each other and no words are necessary. And the world turns green.

There are those who say that had the world turned a bit more green a generation ago we might have been spared the drought. What a world we are passing on to the next generation. So many things of yesterday, gone.

This afternoon I saw something being passed on to the next generation. A hundred adults all dressed in black. A hundred children all dressed in white. The adults had printed scores in their hands, the children sang from memory. The adults had soprano and baritone soloists, the children sang treble in unison. The adults understood the latin they sang, the children struggled with a language heard only on the concert stage and unknown in their everyday world.

And the applause at the end, it was thunderous and those children came alive. Little kids who for forty minutes had concentrated and maintained their unison and struggled with harmony against the backdrop of a very adult setting, suddenly something was let loose. Broad smiles and shy bows to the audience and wide-eyed looks passed between friends and proud but subtle signals to parents in the crowd.

And the soloists and conductor were presented with gifts, but the applause went on and on for those children.

It was like rain on the roof, that applause. And I am feeling good.

Tilt

November 3, 2007

“Man down alarm on Kim Miller, showing G-Block south end.”

Sometimes my ‘scaredy button’ goes off. And when it does I am suddenly surrounded by officers. Sometimes five or six of them. They come running. They see I am OK and they call a false alarm back to the control tower and I reset the beeper.

Having a duress alarm on my belt is just part of working in a prison. It’s a little black box with a red button. Just behind my right hip. If I press the button it goes off. I’ve never had to do that. Chaplains don’t get attacked much in prisons. We’re kind of safe from attack. But if there is an incident that calls for intervention, I press the button. And they come running.

If I lean back in a chair for a few too many seconds it goes off. It’s got a tilt feature. Leaning back in a chair is easy. Especially after lunch.

On my first day working here it went off. At lunch time. I leaned back just a little too long. I might even have dozed off. Perhaps five seconds, perhaps ten, it was long enough for the button to think I had been attacked and was lying in a pool of blood. I wondered what the beeping sound was. They came running, those officers. They gave me a school grading – Beep 101, could do better. Nothing’s changed since I was at school, then. My first day on the job. Nobody much knew my name but the lunch room filled with officers anyway. Hey, it’s a good way to get to know people.

So began my lessons in standing up straight. No room for leaning here. No tilt from me, no sir. Soon I was like the rest. The microwave beeps to tell me that my cold coffee is cold no more. I sit up straight. I lean down to a lower shelf at the supermarket and somebody’s watch beeps the hour. I stand up straight. My name is now Rover or Bowser or Patch, or whatever it was that Pavlov named his dog. No more tilting from me. It’s all over red rover. I am the straightest of the straight-backs.

One day the unthinkable happened. They disabled the tilt feature. The gate officer told me when I got to work. He handed me my alarm and said, “We’ve taken off the tilt. Press the button and it works as normal. But there is no more tilt. It’s gone for good.” Suddenly I could snooze for ten seconds after lunch and nobody would come running.
“Why’d they take it off?” says me.
“Too many false alarms,” he said. “There’re all false alarms anyway. Control’s got sick of it.”
“OK” I said. And that was it. I kissed his proffered hand and went to work. I couldn’t wait for lunch time.

Then I thought of something. One day I had needed that tilt. It was in the lunch room. Walk in the door and turn left around the potted palm, you’re there. On this particular day somebody had watered the plant. An obsessive compulsive somebody. They watered that potted palm until it overflowed the pot. And the overflow flowed over the industrial style shiny painted concrete floor. I walked in the door and turned left in a pool of industrial grade slippery invisible water and ended up flat on my back, cracking my head on the concrete floor. That was it for me, tilt or no tilt, I was out for the count.

“Man down alarm on Kim Miller, showing G-Block south end.” I didn’t hear it, of course. But soon I felt somebody opening my eyelid and the voices of the ‘come running’ officers started to rouse me. They helped me to sit up. They called a nurse from the clinic. Then they took me to the clinic. They checked my blood pressure and my iris dilation. They found nothing. They checked my wallet. They still found nothing. “That is the sign of a chaplain,” I told them, “a dazed look and an empty wallet.” They thought I sounded pretty normal and they left me sitting there wondering how long it would be before somebody brought me a cup of tea. I take it black, one sugar. It took about fifteen minutes, just in case you are also wondering.

But that day was in the past. Today, there was no tilt. It was gone. I was free to snooze after lunch as long as I wanted, even for more than ten seconds. I was free to knock myself unconscious and stay there without interruption. Ah, the blessed taste of freedom in a high security environment. I wanted to share it, I wanted to wallow in it, I wanted to take it home and dip it in chocolate.

I didn’t, though. I didn’t do any of that. I just worked as normal. Bit of a let-down, actually. Work as normal. There you have it. Tilt or no tilt. Work as normal. The tilt’s been gone a month of more now. But work continues as normal. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I sat down to talk with a visiting colleague just outside the main gate. Ten seconds later he said, “What’s that beeping?”
“Must be the microwave,” I said.
“Out here?” he said. “What microwave?”
I looked around. We were outside. We were almost in the car park. He was right, there was no microwave. I looked at my beeper. It was tilted against the chair back. And it was beeping. “Just a moment” I said and I walked back into the gate.
“Kim Miller’s here” said the gate officer as I walked in. They called the false alarm even before the officers came running.
“I thought they took the tilt off these,” I said.
“They did.” said the officer, “but they put it back on again.”
“Why?” (That was from me, the why)
“The staff didn’t like it, thought it compromised safety.”
“When did they put it back on?”
“Weeks ago.”
“Weeks ago. It was only weeks ago they took it off. How long was it off anyway.”
“Cuppla days”
“Oh, that all.”

I’ll tell you something for free. Living with a false sense of freedom is a bit of a let-down when you find out the truth.