Giving Readers Their Money’s Worth

During our year-end sabbatical and post-mortem/planning episode, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to do all I can to separate my art from money matters. This past year related issues brought me closer to abandoning writing than anything ever has in the past.

I’m planning on writing like mad, but I’m planning on giving it all away. Take money, marketing, business out of the equation so I can create without feeling the obligation to give people “their money’s worth” which is a phrase I haven’t been able to get out of my head for years.

Artists who make a good living learn to separate these issues, the art and the business. Great thinkers I’ve followed like Mark McGuinness at Lateral Action, Hugh McLeod at Gaping Void, and Bob Dylan at everywhere, have all managed to do this at various levels. Maybe I’ll get there after while.

For now, anyone who signs up for my newsletter will get every novel I write, free, including those already published.

Pause

tl;dr — I’m taking a break from my online presence

Here’s why.

I registered my first domain name in February of 1999. (It was spinhead.com, the one I use for my web design company and my primary email.) I’d already been designing websites for 4 years prior, and working with computers since I first went to work with my Dad sometime in 1976 or so.

For the past 20 years I’ve spent more and more time online.

And less and less time in the real world.

I’m trading the deceptive ease of online relationships for the messy complications of infinitely more satisfying connections in real life.

More time out in nature.

More time playing music.

More time with Best Beloved and our Little One.

More time sharing meals with friends. And taking my cooking from good cook to creative chef.

More time writing and studying the craft of writing, novels and music.

More time out in it and less time in my head.

Some Things to Note

If you know me in real life, you know how to get in touch. Do so, or wait till you see me later in the week.

Otherwise contact Sue (Sue@Spinhead.com or 715.296.0347) and she’ll know what to do.

Here’s what this is not about:

  • Nothing is wrong. Honest.
  • This is not a reaction, it’s an action. A choice based on deep thinking, meditation, and conversation with those I trust most.
  • It’s not about you. You didn’t offend or hurt me. Not now, probably not ever.
  • I’ll still be writing. A lot.
  • I don’t know when, or if, I’ll resume my previous online shenanigans, meaning posting everywhere, emailing like a dervish, living in social media. But don’t hold your breath.

P.S. from Sue – I fully support Joel in this decision. As his Chief Social Media Officer however, you’ll note that I’ll be managing his social media accounts on his behalf. So if you see his tweets or posts on his Facebook Author page, that’s me behind the scenes. 😉

Greenback Blues

You should have married Andrew Jackson
I know that you think more of him than me
I’ll bet Ben Franklin would be fine with you
and that’s fine with me as far as I can see

Alexander Hamilton is only half as much
as Andrew Jackson in your twisted mind
George Washington is peanuts and Lincoln’s not much more
but Grover Cleveland would be quite a find

too bad Woodrow Wilson don’t circulate no more
got your hands on him he’d never leave
but gimme just one Roosevelt to call a cab
and I’ll be gone for good you’d best believe

Post #300

with my Best Beloved on the Sacramento RiverDecember 8th, 2016, if I’ve done this right, my 300th post will go live here at my fiction site.

That would be today. And this would be the post.

I wrote my first blog post in 2002, fourteen years ago. I’ve written a few thousand posts at various blogs. I’ve written 9 nonfiction books, 6 fiction books, and more than 100 songs.

Writers sometimes forget to stop and celebrate just getting stuff done.

Four years of posting, mostly about my writing, while also maintaining my indie publishing website.

I feel pretty good about my writing these days.

I hope y’all feel the same.

asleep fall

a poem

and, overnight, fall
fall the leaves
fall the mercury
fall the crisp carpeting dead to begin the blanket
fall asleep
fall the snow another blanket to hide beneath
to lie beneath
what lies beneath
is falling
asleep

snow-window-sue

I searched for the word mercury to see if I’d posted this poem here before. I didn’t find it, but I found an amusing bit I wrote about the end of the universe, inspired one morning as I tried not to listen to the feed mill 100 yards up the street from our home in Wisconsin.

On the Eve of My Daughter’s Wedding

Five weeks ago, I was one of the most important people in her life. Now, a near stranger is the most important person in her life, and I’m barely a part of it.

It feels like death. It feels, inside, exactly the way it felt when my father died.

I know that, one month ago, she left, and she’s never coming back. She’ll go away and be part of someone else’s life, and we’ll see her now and then, but she’ll never really be back.

After all the years of stress and frustration and countless hours of worry and talk and tears, someone else gets to have the almost adult we created, and we get an empty hole.

It’s not fair and it hurts, and all anyone else sees is the angry whining selfish old man. Someone is taking one of my most precious possessions, and doesn’t even seem to care how I feel.

I’m scared and sad and lonely. I’m heart-broken over the projects we’ll never finish because she’ll go away and be part of someone else’s life instead of mine.

It’s not anger. It’s pain. That sound in my voice; the look on my face.

That’s my heart breaking.

bride

blue sky over a white house

blue sky over a white houseblue sky over a white house wind blows waving trees above a green yard where something doesn’t move doesn’t move at all until slowly slowly one arm reaches up to his head it’s a man is he hurt I can’t tell slowly he rolls on one side birds chatter in the tree then fly off to the wire between the telephone poles who has a telephone that needs wires anymore but that’s what we call them isn’t it he’s up on his knees now and I can’t tell if he’s hurt or drunk or decided to sleep under the stars except he’s not under the stars he’s under the tree in the green yard under the waving tree and the wind blows in the blue sky over a white house

Nothing But Stars

The blue-grey clouds squished over the rooftops down the road as I warmed my hands on my mug of darker-than-clouds coffee. A good night’s sleep would have been nice, thank you very much, but no, I got to bed early, tossed like a fish till all hours, then awoke, twitching and wild-eyed, at 3:13am. I’m not superstitious, so twitching awake from a nightmare to my WalMart digital clock displaying the usual number of disasters followed by the unluckiest number didn’t bother me at all. Not one bit.

bluegreyclouds

When it’s black night out here you can’t see the next house, a hundred yards up the road, unless Mort is going fishing and he’s up early. Otherwise, new moon like this, you see nothing but stars until the sun oozes up over the hills behind my cottage. Then, the stars are there one moment, gone in a blue-grey haze the next.

Except that was all in my imagination, of course, what with the thick dark cover of clouds. It would get lighter. It would not get sunny.

Matched my prospects for the day.

I swallowed the last of the lukewarm brew in my mug and went upstairs to shower, shave, and dress for my last day as an outsider.

Why Aren’t You Signed Up for the Newsletter?

Did you know that everyone who signs up for my newsletter gets not 1 but 2 free books? And they’re not has-beens or outcasts. You’ll get Through the Fog, my most popular book ever by a wide margin, and A Long, Hard Look, the first Phil Brennan mystery (oh, look, the second in the series will be out by year end.)

My 1st newsletter was a long time ago
My 1st newsletter was a long time ago
You also get the first look at much of my writing, opportunities for even more free books, and the audio versions of my 1-Page Classics absolutely free (they’re 99¢ to the average citizen.)

So why aren’t you signed up?

Tell you what: give it a try. Sign up. Grab the 2 free books. Grab the free audio stuff. Read the next newsletter. If you aren’t thrilled to be involved, unsubscribe. Since I have written multiple articles for business folk about how great it is when casual or uninterested readers unsubscribe from a list they’re not excited about, you know I’m not going to be bothered by it.

But at the very least, give it a try, eh?

Go Easy in the Boulevard

trafficThe last thing the police officer said was in English, sort of.

“You, go easy in the boulevard.”

My brother nodded vigorously.

I continued looking vaguely out the windshield at the traffic passing by.

Like many teenagers in the 70s, we sometimes took Dad to work so we could use the car.

Work just happened to be in another country.

… more … “Go Easy in the Boulevard”

The Serious Downgrading of the Phoenix Springtime Author Event

I assure you it will be NOTHING like thisI had been hoping to host a huge author event in Phoenix next spring.

I gave myself until September 1 to make a firm decision.

I can’t commit to a full-scale convention with speakers and workshops. What I can commit to is something much, much smaller: a simple meet and greet.

I’ll Be Here. Wanna Come?

… more … “The Serious Downgrading of the Phoenix Springtime Author Event”

Giving You the Best Books Possible

library-of-lightNot long after finishing my first mystery (about 8 seconds, I think) I realized I could do better.

Not long after finishing my second mystery, I knew it. Not just that I could do better than my first, but that I could do better than the one I’d just finished.

You may already see the pattern.

I have strong perfectionist tendencies I’ve spent half my life working to control. The pursuit of perfection is pointless, a burning of energy without value.

The pursuit of excellence is a different matter.

… more … “Giving You the Best Books Possible”

Tragedy, or Comedy? Knowing the Ending Makes All the Difference

Happy endings ahead on all fronts. This could have all become tragedy on various levels. You may know that comedy = tragedy + time. This means that the time you backed into the 100,000-gallon aquarium and flooded your new Cadillac can become a great story you tell over and over rather than something you never speak of again. In this case, all ended well, so feel free to laugh at my antics. Someone should.

pocket-change

6:55am

Awoke to my phone ringing. I charge it in the living room, so there’s no way I was going to get the call. Sue tried to catch it but it stopped ringing.

Her phone rang seconds later. It was my mom, sounding pretty sick. She’d tried to get a doctor’s appointment the day before because she could barely breathe, but they didn’t have anything until today.

She said “I’ll try again tomorrow, if I live through the night.” My mother is famous for her positive perspective.

This morning she couldn’t breathe so she called to see if someone could take her to the emergency room.

… more … “Tragedy, or Comedy? Knowing the Ending Makes All the Difference”

Help Me Succeed as an Author

Short and sweet: would you consider sharing my “books” page with a friend?

Just copy this link

http://joeldcanfield.com/my-books/

and send it to them with something like Joel’s books are mysteries that are more about people than puzzles. Here’s his blog, and if you sign up for his newsletter you get TWO free books. How cool is that? Also, he sends you a personal, handwritten welcome note. Also he’s funny.

Or perhaps you’ll find your own wording.

More fans leads to more income as a writer which leads to more writing, which means, you guessed it, more books for you.

Thank you.

Left Coast Crime: Why it’s not for me

I try to keep this blog on the topic of my books, and not the business of selling them. This post is a long commentary on why I’m glad I went to Left Coast Crime in Phoenix, and why I won’t be going again. If that’s not exciting to you, I’ll see you Friday when I get back to some kind of blogging schedule.

As I noted earlier, the short version: glad I did it, wouldn’t do it again.

My first writing conference, so perhaps my expectations weren’t realistic. I was looking for either opportunities to make fans, or information about writing craft. Neither happened.

This conference is designed for fans to meet and listen to their favorite authors. They did give me a 20-minute session in a side room, attended by 3 people. Fun, but not productive.

conferenceLike every convention there were opportunities for people to drink and mingle. I spent the d&m time with my wife instead. (More on that below.)

I heard some interesting panels. But if I’d formulated specific questions and gone looking for the answers I would have found them on the Internet. There is always a certain undefinable emotional benefit to being surrounded by 300 authors and 400 mystery fans, but it’s not worth the $300 conference price to me. (I stayed with friends in Phoenix so I spent $70 in gas and parking rather than $555 for the “convention special” hotel rate.

… more … “Left Coast Crime: Why it’s not for me”

Sometimes One Marshmallow is Enough

coffee-shop-menuIn the space of two paragraphs, Spike’s coffee shop was invaded by nearly a dozen loud business-suit types. Half the tables were already in use. Partial use, he thought to himself. Eight quiet bodies, minding their own business, reading or people-watching as the crazies of downtown LA staggered by. They’d probably chosen this building to live in because of the coffee shop. Didn’t even have to cross the street for the full Fauxbucks experience. That had been Spike’s reasoning when he moved downtown from out in the east (read “smoggiest”) end of the San Fernando Valley.

It wasn’t really Spike’s coffee shop, other than that’s what he called it: “Why don’t we meet at my coffee shop?” But he’d sat there most mornings the past nine months, enough mornings to recognize all seven of the other faces in the pre-business-suit-invasion moments.

Now those faces were putting on sham smiles. Yes, of course, please, share my table, crowded isn’t it, yes they make an excellent nonfat soy latte; newspaper meaningfully rustled and raised enough to indicate intent without overt rudeness.

“Mind?”

At least Camelhair Coat Dude wasn’t wearing a wool pinstripe like the two matching goofs who’d snagged a table by the door. Took Spike a moment to realize what the guy was asking; do you mind if I sit here? By then, he’d sat, and the question, and Spike’s understanding, were moot.

… more … “Sometimes One Marshmallow is Enough”

Another Free Book

I’m changing the reward for signing up for my newsletter. Right now, sign up and you’ll get my very first mystery, Through the Fog.

After the 15th, the free book changes to A Long, Hard Look.

To make it more interesting, sign up now to get one, and in the newsletter of the 15th, get the other. Free. Both of ’em. Because everyone on the newsletter on the 15th will get a free book.

At least one free book . . .

Death-Defying Heart-Stopping Leap of Faith. With Blood.

After I thought this post all the way through by explaining it to Best Beloved I discovered that the scene I was thinking of doesn’t exist in the movie. But it must have happened, so I’m going to write as if it did. Let’s all suspend disbelief for a few , eh?

Who’s seen Kate and Leopold? Ah, excellent. If you haven’t, and you’re a hopeless romantic, go watch it. (If, on the other hand, you often find yourself using words like “derivative” and “predictable” after suffering through a romantic movie, please, don’t; or if you do, don’t talk to the rest of us about it, eh? Good.)

Short synopsis of some core concepts: Kate’s friend Stuart has discovered holes in time. He accidentally brings Leopold back from the 19th century. Kate and Leopold fall in love (you didn’t see that coming, did you?) and after Stuart sends Leopold back in time, they realize Kate must follow him.

Thing is, to do so, she must leap off the Brooklyn Bridge at precisely the right time and fall through a portal which will appear below her feet. … more … “Death-Defying Heart-Stopping Leap of Faith. With Blood.”

Any Old Apple (excerpt)

AnyOldAppleA snip from the middle of my 4,000-word short story Any Old Apple. Yesterday, newsletter readers got the whole thing, and next month they’ll get the audio version absolutely free (for non-newsies, it’ll be 99¢. Do the right thing. Sign up for the newsletter. I’ll even send a copy of the story so you can finish reading it.)

Any Old Apple: An Excerpt

We join our hero mid-story.

His teacher pronounced his last name correctly, and Milton skated through the first half of his first day in fifth grade without major embarrassment. Last year, the ancient crone who creaked her way into the classroom every day had called him “Milton BOW drucks” no matter how many times he corrected her. … more … “Any Old Apple (excerpt)”