Wednesday, June 23, 2010

If You Belive in Lost Gods, Please Read

June 16th, 2010

Okay, so, Mill City Press is awesome. Yes, there’s a sizable upfront cost, but, as the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Right? And what MCP would be doing with my money is working their butt off to sell my book. Nearly everything I was planning to do myself is part of their premium plan and as far as I can tell they do everything a big-house publisher does for their authors. I have to have the book professionally edited in order to be eligible for the premium plan, so in total, it’s going to cost me over $5300 upfront. That sounds like a lot of money… and it is, but if I can sell 1100 t-shirts with $5 profit each, I’ve got it. I can do this, but not without God and not without the help of my family and friends.

No, I’m not asking you to stand on a street corner with a box of t-shirts, but what you can do is spread the word. Send everyone you know to once I let you know that I have the new logo uploaded. Have a link in your email signature. Put up fliers (look at the album in my Facebook photos marked “Fliers”) anywhere you’re able. I’m not asking anyone to donate anything. If you want to, that’s fine. I won’t turn it down. My good friend Kyle has already given me the first $20 and I am eternally grateful. God will bring me $5300, one way or another.

I hope to talk with someone about working on the logo here in the next couple of days. Sometimes it seems like I’m taking that test where you put the shaped blocks into the right holes and I’ve got a round block and someone keeps moving the round hole just before I insert the block. It’s initially frustrating, but when I think about who it is that’s moving the hole and why He’s moving the hole, there’s an inner peace that washes through me. Every time I hear a crow, I hear God saying, “It’s all right. I got you.”

I will be starting a new blog after this one. Look for The Raven’s Post. I will not be using my napalmcocktail email anymore. It’s gotten too spamerrific.

“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If There Be Crows

June 11th, 2010

The decision has been made. Self-publishing it is. I thought it was going to go the other way. I didn’t see a single crow all morning but as soon as I got on the golf cart to go out to Post 4, I heard one. I looked around and there it was—on an antennae on the roof of the high rise. Ten minutes later, I was sitting in the chair on Post 4 and counted six. Two hours later, eight flew right in front of me. God is awesome.

“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

The Fleece at the Door

June 8th, 2010

Well, I’ve all but made up my mind. The morning of Wednesday last week, I prayed that if self-publishing was not part of God’s plan, for Him to send all the crows that visit me somewhere else. Later that morning, I was on the 2nd floor, looking out the window. The sun had just come up and there, on the grass beside post 2, were all seven crows that visit me on the towers. I had never seen them all together so early in the day. The next day, as I was in my car leaving work, two crows were beside the entrance road. Never before had I seen them there leaving from work.
When I was getting my lunch ready this morning, I asked God if He could send more proof—to really cement it. I had to take 68 cups of drug test pee to Charlotte and I saw one fly over as I drove down I-485 and another one once I got on Harris Blvd. Then, I came back and I’m doing my first round of security checks. I just happen to look out the window toward the yard and there were three sitting atop a light pole.
I know what some might think—that crows are too common. They’re everywhere. Okay, if they’re everywhere, then answer me this—I was on Post 1 for four hours in the afternoon the day I saw all seven on the grass. In those four hours, I didn’t see a single crow. Now, you’re saying, ‘Well, there’s your sign. He sent them somewhere else.’ I say no. If He had removed them in answer to my prayer, I would not have seen them that morning. God is not a halfway kind of guy. Nor is he a slow starter. What He did do was, after answering my prayer by letting me see crows, prove to me that it is possible for an area to be free of crows for an extended amount of time. If He had just removed them for the four hours I was on the tower, that’s confusing. He put all seven on the grass as soon as the sun came up. No confusion from where I stood at the window. As far as I was concerned, that was my answer—my fleece at the door, dry as a bone.
Now, I still can’t get online until the 14th, so, what I’m doing until then is making sure the people closest to me are willing to be my marketing team. I’m using the word ‘marketing’ very loosely here. It’s more like guerilla marketing. Some, I will ask to go to every bookstore they know and ask if they have Lost Gods by Kenn Phillips, even before it’s released. Others, I will ask to wear a t-shirt from my Cafepress shop sporting an LG logo. I will ask everyone to spread the word however they are able about Lost Gods. I will put images in a photo album on my Facebook that you can save to your computers and put on fliers and post them wherever you want to.
I’ve decided that, in order to make it black and white, crystal clear, I’m going to ask God for one more day. When I come to work on Friday and I get a tower, if I’m blessed with even one crow, then self-publishing it is. If I get a dearth of crows, then I’m supposed to contact Comfort Publishing in Concord—first on my list of small publishers. Either way, I will be responsible for the majority of the marketing, so, that will not change. The main thing that will change will be the printer and how copies of the book can be purchased.

“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

At the Crossroads

June 2nd, 2010

No, I’m not selling my soul. I’m at the sort of crossroads where I have two options. I’ve been at this cross roads before. And I’ve ventured down both avenues. Here I am again… with a decision to make. One road has me continuing down the path of traditional publishing—finding an agent, jumping through all the hoops. The other road leads to self-publishing—, CreateSpace on Amazon or something similar.
This book is going to happen, one way or another. And it’s going to be big, one way or another. I remember writing, at one point, though, I’m not sure if I posted it or not, that self-publishing would be the easy route—that it wouldn’t take much faith. I’d like to take that thought back. Self-publishing would, indeed, make Lost Gods officially published rather easily. But I’m not stopping there. I plan to make a career out of writing. Turning a self-published book into a success—that will take some faith. You can count on one hand the number of authors in the modern era of publishing that have self-published and became a success. Christopher Paolini is the most recent that I know.
What lead to this train of thought, you ask? Well, minutes after my last blog, where I was talking about how it’s been a week since I sent the Steve Laube packet, I checked my mail—my snail mailbox—and right there on top was a letter addressed to me in my wife’s handwriting. My wife was sitting beside me in the car and recognized her own handwriting. I reminded her that she wrote out the SASE for the Steve Laube packet. It was a form letter rejection. My heart sank just a little bit. I was not in full-blown discouraged mode, but I had been feeling pretty good about Mr. Laube.
I’ve emailed everyone I can email in the agents list. The next step would be sending out snail mail queries and emails to small publishers that accept unsolicited queries. Then, I thought… what am I waiting for? This thing’s going to happen whether Bantam publishes it, Simon and Schuster or I publish it.
My wife, who, at one time, was against me self-publishing Lost Gods, is behind me with whatever I want to do. Now, I will not only need the help of my wife, but I will need the help of all my friends and family. I’ve got a new logo idea for merchandise on Cafepress. If someone wants to help me with the logo, that would be super. There’s only so much I can do with Paint Shop Pro 7. Profit from Cafepress will help with the cost of getting books to send to reviewers at newspapers and magazines. I’ll need help, also, with getting a book trailer made—like a movie trailer, with some deep-voiced voice-over guy saying cliché things, only it’s about a book… and mine will be less cliché. The camera, I have. The voice-over guy, I have. The film editing software, I have, too. The actors, I don’t have. So, who’s game? Anyone want to stand at the crossroads, ready to venture forth, one way or the other?

“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Let There Be No Speed But All Ahead Full

It’s been over a week since I sent the Steve Laube packet out. I know it’s barely enough for it to have gotten there and even if it has, it will probably be weeks before I get a response. Knowing that does not make the wait any easier. God, grant me patience.

We were on our way back home from dinner the other night. I was in the back seat with Kamden. He was being a little fussy so I was holding his hand. Kamden’s car seat was in the middle and I was to his left. My right arm was trapped underneath the top of his car seat, so I was reaching over with my left hand to hold his. With my head resting on the top of his car seat, my thoughts drifted to my sister, for some reason. The 5th anniversary of her death is in less than 2 weeks. Maybe that’s why. I started to think about what I know of the car accident. How she lay in a stranger’s arms afterward, in and out of consciousness. The car she was driving had veered right. We think she nodded off. 7 o’clock in the morning on an hour commute. She overcorrected, flipped the car on its side and hit a telephone pole with the top of the car. My eyelids became wet as I thought about what must have been going through his mind as he body fought to stay alive. Most likely, she thought of her one year-old daughter, having spent two weeks with her and Richard, her husband, after being away from them for two or three months as she dealt with post-partum depression among other issues that were weighing on her.

In the days that followed her passing, I was looking through pictures for ones that could be used for her memorial. I came across some of me and my, at the time, soon-to-be ex-wife, Liz, and some of me and my ex before her, Courtney. She had written little notes around the pictures. I was suddenly aware that my little sister viewed me as a screw-up. She didn’t say it but I felt like a failure and a disappointment to my whole family.

Her life lit the fire beneath me to give me the desire and determination to what I want to do while I can do it—to go all ahead full with Lost Gods. But until now, I have not had the courage to move on. I hold the memory of her in my heart, but until now, I’ve been afraid to rejoin those pieces of her that are still alive. Afraid because of what those notes said. Each day that goes by and I pass up the opportunity to reconnect, the fear grows, the guilt grows and the more haunted I am by the ghost of my sister. I don’t want to be haunted anymore. And I want to get to know my niece.

Now that I think about it… it’s not my sister’s ghost that haunts me. It’s mine. My ghost. The ghost of all my failures and mistakes. They’re all mine. I own them. I cannot erase them. Nor would I want to. Without them, I would cease to exist. So, how do I get rid of my ghosts? I have to realize that right now… I am not a failure. I am the best father I can be. I am the best husband I can be. I am the best son I can be. I am the best brother I can be. I am the best Christian I can be. I am the best correctional officer I can be. I am the best writer I can be. Right now, I am the best Kenn Phillips I can be. Even if I fail, and I will from time to time, as soon as it’s over, it’s on the past. As long as I continue to try and make the present a success, than I will be a success.

Without the past, the present does not exist. Without the present, there can be no future.

All ahead full. My two years in the Navy inspires me still, it seems.
“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Right On Time

“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

I thought I had my packet for Steve Laube all ready to go Friday but I realized at the last minute that I was lacking a SASE. So, it went out Saturday morning. It should be in Phoenix no later than tomorrow, I would think. I was more nervous on Friday than I was right before I clicked ‘send’ on the Turner Publishing query. Sending a hard copy query is totally different than emailing one. Especially a query that is accompanied by fifty pages of the manuscript. I was a little bit queasy. I’ll probably lose my lunch if I have to send all 318 pages hard copy. There’s a big difference in uploading an attachment to an email and printing out two-thirds of a ream’s worth of your soul, putting it in a flat rate box and sending it to a stranger.

Now, the question is, how nervous am I going to be now that I have to watch, not only my email for replies, but the mailbox and my cellphone. And I’ve got to be looking for two or three different area codes. No, I’m not so confident to be expecting a phone call, but I am confident enough to think it’s a possibility. I know there’s an agent out there with the intestinal fortitude to believe in Lost Gods as much as I do. I’d like to find him or her sooner rather than later. But I will just have to remain patient and have faith that things will happen right on time according to God’s schedule.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not What I Wanted

“All that I wanted were things I had before. All that I needed I never needed more. All of my questions are answers to my sins. All of my endings are waiting to begin.”
From Circle by Slipknot

I tried out for the PERT team again. Tryouts have changed since I was on it the last time. Instead of just push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run, they’re much closer to the physical agility test police cadets have to go through to pass Basic Law Enforcement Training. I wasn’t fast enough. I just found out today that I was passed over for the two case manager positions I applied for. A year ago, I would have kept trying, kept applying and then, if neither of these things happened, I would have said, ‘Eh, it’s just not in the cards for me.’ What if it’s more than that? What if they’re not happening because it’s not what I really want? I could keep trying, keep applying, working harder and I would eventually succeed, but only because I’m stubborn and I persevered. Not because I really wanted to. I still have faith that Lost Gods is going to be huge and entirely from God. Now, it wouldn’t be fair if I got a case manager position or on the PERT team, sent to training on the state’s dime, if I’m just going to be resigning in six months. And all the effort I put towards PERT team or case manager could be applied to getting published. Not to mention, neither the PERT team nor case manager would mean a pay raise. So, I’ll just stay where I’m at. I’ll apply for a sergeant’s position if it comes up. That does come with a pay raise and it won’t take away from the effort to get published.