Question Me – Part 2

square-smashwords-logoSo over at Smashwords they have this built-in interview mechanism where they encourage authors to participate in a Q&A that posts on their profile page and gives interested readers a means to learn a little something about the author in question. Since I’m probably as unknown as they come, I figure it’d be a good idea to do an updated version of that 2015 Q&A here on the ol’ blogsite. Here’s the next weekly installment of the 2017 edition of who the heck am I?, if you will. One question at a time.


Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?

A: In terms of prose books, necessity, more than anything, I suppose.  An avoidance to the odds that are insurmountably stacked against a no-name author.  But also a kind of D-i-Y punk rock mindset of doing things yourself with little reliance on the establishment because they’re not going to go out of their way to make it easy on the un-agented and under-represented, those with a sparse resume—nor would you expect them to.  I was just getting my feet wet publishing in the Small Press when I discovered Smashwords as a viable partner and helpful tool for D-i-Y publishing.  Not that I’m currently in this for the money (ha!), but in terms of the monetary breakdown, self-publishing via digital partners like Smashwords and others, the distribution of earnings from sales is flip-flopped compared to traditional commercial publishing.  I’m a musician as well so the D-i-Y ethos is in my blood.  I suppose the overriding aspect is a sense of control.

As for comic books, well, you’re an indie author by simple default of how one can typically break into that particular industry. At this point it’s a more difficult path than publishing prose fiction. For starters, you have to rely on the contributions of an artist—editors want to see how an artist breaksdown and executes your written script visually. This is I’m told is regardless of the skill of the artist as a basic draftsman and storyteller. 9.9 times out of 10, the route you take there is to self-publish a comic you’ve created via print or the web and have that to kind of shop around to any willing eyes. In fact you have to do that multiple times, either a series of self-financed print publications or a series of webcomics, something visibly there to show that “Hey, I’m pretty good at this and can endure the hardships.” It’s far easier for an illustrator than a writer because they can simply send in or personally show their visual artwork and it’s more immediately reviewable by an industry professional. For writers, like any other industry for writers aside from indie books, it’s a situation of climbing a huge mountain and then once you get to the top of said mountain you find you also have to slay a dragon in order to get that chance to make a first impression.

To be continued . . .


Tune in Thursday for another Q&A with friend and author Jennifer Macaire!


ICYMI

Question Me – Part 1

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Question Me – Part 1

square-smashwords-logoSo over at Smashwords they have this built-in interview mechanism where they encourage authors to participate in a Q&A that posts on their profile page and gives interested readers a means to learn a little something about the author in question. Since I’m probably as unknown as they come, I figure it’d be a good idea to do an updated version of that 2015 Q&A here on the ol’ blogsite. So what follows is the first weekly installment of the 2017 edition of who the heck am I?, if you will. One question at a time.


Q: When did you first start writing?

A: I’ll answer this with when I first started writing prose seriously. And that was in the winter or spring of 1993 when after reading my mom’s paperback copy of Dean Koontz’s Watchers (1987) novel in late 1992 (which I still have)  and being deeply influenced by that reading experience and thinking I wanted to
be as imaginative and accomplished someday in deftly telling suspenseful stories in a very accessible way.

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I’d dabbled a little before that (the oldest story I remember writing was in 1989 or so), but at the time I still wanted to be a comic book writer since I’d been reading them for about seven years prior to getting bit by the novel and short story writing bug.  So fast-forward to 2017 and I’ve been writing seriously for about 24 years, with a few breaks here and there.

As for journalism writing, I lit the wick in high school as the school paper’s editorial editor, which suited me well because even though I had the title of editor, I was the only writer for that section of the paper and thus was free to write on whatever subject I wanted. The editor part of it was being the decision-maker as to what I would write about and of course staying on top of things in terms of deadlines and such.

Prior to discovering prose writing, though, I’d been wanting to be a comic book writer ever since I started reading comics in the mid-1980s. I used to draw my own little mini-comics and eventually started writing these dialogue-only scripts because as a kid I had no idea how you wrote them. Yet, all these years my dream to someday be writing them professionally has never waned. If you read comics regularly, you love them, and if you love them you want to create them yourself. It’s no different than reading prose books in that sense. The desire to create is fed by the consumption.

To be continued . . .


Tune in Thursday for my Q&A with friend and author Jennifer Macaire!


ICYMI

Three Questions with Brandon Rucker

2-Minute Drill Q&A with Brandon Rucker

Interview: Three Questions with Brandon Rucker

This little Q and A interview is taken from the lastest edition of the Liquid Currents Newsletter we have for Liquid Imagination Online. You can read a transcript of the interview below or click this link for the entire newsletter, which also features an interview with poet Felino A. Soriano, another Daily Kick in the Pants from David Farland, and other news (plus the last edition is just below it).

Without further ado . . . the interview:

Three Questions with Brandon Rucker

1) You landed an editing job with a publication that was once associated with Zoetrope Virtual Studios and Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope: All-Story, and you did this while still new to the game. What qualities did you have to make them take notice?

Wow. You’re taking me way back so I will have to grab a dust mop to clear away the dense cobwebs in this cluttered mind of mine. If you will, allow me a moment to recall the history and some details about Zoetrope: All-Story Extra. Better yet, I can just provide the official description (edited in past-tense):

  • All-Story Extra was an on-line supplement to Francis Coppola’s fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story. Each month, All-Story Extra featured two new stories submitted by writers via Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site. The stories were chosen and edited by guest editors—also members of Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site—with assistance from the New York editorial staff of Zoetrope: All-Story. All-Story Extra was created by Francis Coppola and five members of Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site, who comprised the Peer Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB selected the guest editors and nominated the stories that the guest editors considered for All-Story Extra. Guest editors could also consider stories featured in “The Top Three” stories and/or any others that they think worthy of publication.

Aside from that, I don’t know any finer details in regards to ASE’s founding or its inner workings. I do know that old school workshop members Mare Freed and Jim Nichols were part of that Peer Advisory Board, and were also the original Editorial Coordinators (i.e. liaisons). The Editorial Coordinator during my time, Barbara Garrett, was a good friend and a joy to work with during my stint.

Here’s a fun fact: the founding editors had also had work published in ASE as well. The reason their stories were eligible to be published through ASE is because the identity of the authors were anonymous so that the Guest Editor could have a more unbiased selection process, if I remember correctly. Finicky reader and maverick that I am, I went outside of the Top 3 as well as the other nominated stories suggested by the PAB because I was not overly impressed with what had been considered the ‘best stories’ by the voting membership. I cared even less for popularity contests or politics.

Now, to get back to your question more directly, in my opinion, the condition for Guest Editor, like any voluntary activity, requires that you have drive and passion, along with a selfless desire to help your peers achieve the goal of publishing. Naturally it helps to have some kind of editorial mindset, too. That might be an understatement.

Months earlier I was one of the founding editors of the fledgling (and now long defunct) webzine called Z End Zine which was founded and published by Kieran Galvin, who had corralled a handful of us upstart Zoetrope members to branch out into online publishing using his server. This was also a volunteering position, so the above ‘qualities’ applied. Naturally some of the workshop luminaries landed bylines in our small handful of issues. A few months later, I suppose I still had the editor’s itch because I found myself doing a two-month stint as Guest Editor for Zoetrope: All-Story Extra.

Another fun fact: I was the only guest editor to A.) Work without another guest editor, B.) Serve on two consecutive issues of Zoetrope: All-Story Extra [issues 22 (May 2000) and 23 (June 2000)].

2) Now you’re editing micro-fiction at Liquid Imagination. Is the editing different between micro-fiction and short stories (don’t laugh).

Other than having a smaller word count to read and scrutinize, I would have to say no, not really. I think in editing you bring a lot of the same core fundamentals to all forms of writing. The focus may change in some ways with a given form, but I still approach the writing with a sharp eye on the story details, the craft and basic mechanics of the writing, as well as a what I like to term as the ‘organics’ of the writing. That said, I think many editors approach another writer’s work as if it were their own, and that’s not something I like to do because the writing is not mine. However, with my name endorsing the writing, I do take the same amount of care and quality assurances as I would with my own writing, but I believe that my job as an editor is to support the author’s vision and, if I can, somehow enhance that vision to its utmost clarity.

3) Music and writing. As an accomplished musician who also interpreted every piece of poetry in one of our past issues, I can truthfully say that you know music, perhaps as well as you know writing. How does music and writing relate to each other? How do they differ? The reason I’m asking is because it takes an act of creativity to write a song, and songs often tell stories that are accompanied by music. And something else I want to know (so make this 4 questions with Brandon Rucker): Does inspiration used to write a song come from the same place from which you conjure up the inspiration to write a story?

Great, tough questions, which respectfully deserve to be answered after careful consideration. I think this is one of those things that multi-media-dwelling artists undoubtedly know internally, but rarely ever articulate into words for a general audience, so I will try my best to articulate this well.

The easy answer of how music and writing relate to each other is that, for me, their origins likely trace back to the same well. Yet I think motivations and goals can differ greatly and even sometimes be mutually exclusive at the same time. This isn’t double-speak, mind you. I just think that the variables are innumerable in the grand scheme of art. You know me. I should probably leave you with the easy answer on that part, otherwise we’ll be here a while. I always say, though, that most if not all art is ‘performance art’ because it is almost always created for an expected audience. Rarely is art created in a vacuum.

The obvious difference is in the sensory perception: one is auditory, the other visual. Another particular way writing music and writing words differs is that a musician is afforded the luxury of impressing upon the listeners the array of emotions he wants his audience to experience almost immediately. Sure, it’s not quite as immediate as, say, a visual artist who can get your reaction to their painting or sculpture within several seconds of viewing, but the gratification you get from listening to a piece of music is certainly a swifter experience than with reading a piece of fiction that’s more than a thousand words long. On the other hand, reading the words of a fiction writer is a little more interactive because the reader can then engage their (liquid) imagination, transport themselves into the story and become a part of it.

I think, for me, inspiration to write music definitely comes from a different place than the inspiration used to thrust me into writing a story. First, you have to understand that I’m far more into the actual music than say the words or even the vocals (though vocal melodies are a big part of what makes or breaks music with words). I’m an instrumentalist first, a vocalist dead last, LOL. So when I sit down with the guitar, or keyboard, or even the drum machine, my inspiration as well as my goal is far different than when I sit down to transform the story in my head into words on a page. For me, music comes from deep within my soul, and it may be cliché to say that it is innate, but for me that is certainly true. On the other hand, writing words is more cerebral. It is much more of a heady experience for me compared to music. Don’t get me wrong, composing and performing music can be a heady experience as well. Writing stories, even when inspired by true emotions, is still a more mentally challenging exercise because all of the filtering that we have to do as we channel the stories, the fictionalized lives of people and the world.

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2-Minute Drill Q&A with Brandon L. Rucker – by Steve Lowe (2010)

Black hatThe following Q&A was conducted January 2010 by  author Steve Lowe and originally published on his website steve-lowe.com

So far, this little project has Drilled authors of short story & novel, as well as a somewhat peculiar artist, but today we have a treat. This guy is not only an author, he’s a musician, and we’re not talking garage band here. He writes and plays his own stuff and he’s going to debut some new work for us right here, which makes us super flippin’ pumped.

The 2-Minute Drill is 5 quick questions and 5 quick answers from someone you probably haven’t heard of, but should hear from. This isn’t some rambling, long-winded author interview here. We dispense with the pleasantries and get down to brass tacks. We ask the tough questions and get the tough answers that you need to know.

Meet Brandon Rucker. This guy rocks. Don’t take our word for it, though, you can listen for yourself, but first, tradition holds that he must be Drilled, so assume the position!

2-MD: How many fingers am I holding up? (No peeking. No peaking, either.)

BR: Only one because you’re flipping me off.  Not a good way to greet your guest, I’ll tell ya that much.  That’s a surefire way to get your little show here cancelled, ‘cause I know people.

2-MD: What led you to pursue music and at what point do you actually think you’ll get any good at playing it, if at all?

BR: Ouch.  I guess you won’t be coming backstage after the show to meet my my brother from another mother, Darius Rucker. Y’know, Hootie?  Hey, did you know that Jimi Hendrix was my great uncle? (2-MD: Nice try, playing the ‘Hootie’ card on us, but we’re not that easily fooled here at 2-MD. But just in case, we’re sorry?)

2-MD: On a scale of 4 to yellow, how fast do squirrels from Muscle Shoals, Ala. travel when in heat?

BR: Burnt orange.  Them lil’ critters are fast at everything.  Ever see them mate?

2-MD: Gas, grass or ass, nobody rides for free. So which is it gonna be?

BR: Gas, if I’m driving, but if she’s driving it’s definitely ass.  As for grass, I ‘Just Say No.’

2-MD: Will you sing something for us right now? Please? Pretty, pretty please????? OK, we’ll be quiet now and everyone can have a listen. Go ahead…

BR: I tell ya what, since you’re struggling for ratings, sponsors and endorsements here at the 2-Minute Drill, I will debut the demo of a brand new song from my acoustic project, Sap. Link

Fence & Tracks 3

Wow, we are taken aback.  Never before has such beauty graced the Drill, aside from the flower print dress Pederson wore last week, of course.  If you were moved by that, perhaps you should listen to some more of Brandon’s music .  Make sure to buy a CD as well.  We’re getting quite the nice little kick back on each sale.

Brandon Rucker on the 2-Minute Drill With Steve E. Lowe

Posted today is my little interview with Steve E. Lowe for his ongoing feature the 2-Minute Drill on his Assorted Shitzengiggles blog.

We had some technical difficulties with WordPress that wouldn’t allow us to post a music widget to debut my newest tune, “No Sacrifice” for the yet-to-be-written follow-up Sap album.

But I have the link to the music widget right here, baby.

No Sacrifice [demo preview]