Keep going!

Years ago I was reading a book about USMC machine gunners in Vietnam. That was where I discovered the ‘Marine Corps way of doing things’: an artillery barrage followed by an advance, no matter how small, and then you did it all again. Well, sometimes writing is like that too…

I know this is true because, well, I was about 10 when I made my first attempt at writing a story (I’d been telling stories a lot longer…) and now I’m a writer and I’m running a publishing label. It takes time, effort, and learning to become a writer. It takes even more time, effort, and learning to become an author, one who has actually gotten something published. And, you really do have to keep working at it.

When I started Forever Mountain Publishing it was because I had something to say to the world and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. I have found in the process that I would like to help others say what they have to say. That’s why Forever Mountain does some of the things we do. I know we can make it on our own (I’m doing it…), but we’re stronger with others.

Recently I’ve been talking here and on my other blog about a book called Johnson Farm. This young adult novel was the first time that I really allowed someone other than myself to have a chunk of the creative work on one of my stories. I enlisted a talented young artist named Sariah Ann to do the cover.

JSFwordswood

Because we’re a startup company we used a Kickstarter to fund the publishing of the book, and the Kickstarter failed and didn’t fund. Even this cannot and will not stop us. If you have an honest desire to be heard and you are willing to put in the time, work, and learning things will work out (even if they don’t come out the way you initially expected).

My team and I did some rethinking and replanning. We found other resources. We found a way to get the book printed and into an E-book with a wide distribution. In fact the book is going to the printer next week!

The point dear reader is that if you want to achieve in writing, or any other field, you have to keep working at it. You have to find a way. As I’ve said, I know because I’ve done it. And soon I’ll be able to tell you where to buy a book that some people thought would never be published…

That’s it for this one dear reader. See you next post.

Blogging vs Books: Similar but different

As a writer and Editor in Chief I have to wear a couple of different hats in the process of getting a book out. Similarly writing a book and writing a blog post are both writing, but there are some real differences.

A blog: writing in the now

Blogposts tend to be things that are on our minds when we’re putting them up. To be effective they are generally about things happening (or at least on our minds) right now. If you’re blogging about something that happened when you were five it is probably because it has something to do with something that’s going on right now. It probably has some current purpose that you are trying to achieve.

Blog posts have a sense of immediacy. They are generally meant to be read shortly after you wrote them. This has effects on the writing process. You don’t have a year to get a blog post out; you want it out now. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t edit your post (PLEASE EDIT YOUR POSTS!!!). It means that you are going to have less time and work in your editing, fortunately you also have less to edit.

Blog posts are shorter (hopefully much shorter) than a novel or self-help book.  A blog post (hopefully) is simpler in terms of themes. There is a real difference between editing a 600 word post with one theme and editing a 50000+ word novel with multiple subplots and shifting points of view. This means editing a blog post can be simpler and more straight forward (I’m hoping you can maintain continuity for a page or two…). Keep your posts simple and to the point, that way you can edit them well and get them out there.

A book: longer, thicker, and more complex

A book has a lot more words in it (usually). If it’s worth reading it also has a lot more ideas in it. That means there is a lot more that can go wrong.

A book will probably have a different voice, sound, and feel than a blog post. You could have blog posts in a book, but the book has a lot more going on than a blog post (or most series of blog posts). There are (probably) going to be some differences in language used and (definitely) major differences in editing.

A blog post with 600 words and one main idea may be editable with a couple of hours work. A 50000+ word book is difficult to completely read in two hours, much less completely edited. Checking punctuation, point of view, continuity, and all the other aspects of good editing are going to take time no matter what kind of book you’re writing.

In fact some kinds of editing (worky icky line editing for example) are best left until you have the have the real ideas and writing part of editing done. Yes, fix that dropped quotation mark when you find it, but don’t obsess about finding all the dropped quotes, commas and periods until you are done getting the ideas and words in place. Until you get the big stuff in place dropped punctuation, misplaced capitals, and other issues of the sort are going to keep happening. Fix them if you see them, but don’t go hunting for them until there’s nothing else to fix.

You are going to have to put real time and effort into editing a book. (Well… you could just put in an hour or too in… if yyou only want a fewy people too read it… and then never read anything you write… ever again!)

You can get your editing done in a number of ways, but sooner or later it boils down to time and skill. Either you have to take the time and learn the skills, or you have to get someone with the time and skills to do it (better yet do both!). Either way if you want to write a (successful) book it is going to take time and effort, and not just in the first draft.

I don’t want to be “Mr. Bringdown” dear reader. I just want your projects to be the best they can be. You need to do the work or find someone who will (hint… editors and publishers help with that…).

Writing and editing are what I do. I want our writing (yours and mine) to be the best it can be. So I’m going to let you get back to work dear reader, and so will I.

You should at least try…

At some point today a Kickstarter I set up for a Forever Mountain Publishing novel (worse, one of my own novels…) is going to close without funding. Yes, it is a temporary defeat. But, you can’t let the temporary defeats get in the way (Napoleon Hill said that back in the 1930’s…). In fact, as an author and as editor in chief of Forever Mountain Publishing, I have gained a lot through this process…

Since the Kickstarter got started I managed to get the website for FMP up and running; I found and started my plan to rework the social media presence for my company; my wife (who is graduating with her doctorate in Education this semester) discovered a part of the company that she could participate in; and I got to give a talented young artist her first shot at a book cover. A variety of other positives have come out of the process as well.

But, the Kickstarter didn’t go…

No, it didn’t, but the Kickstarter was an avenue, not the only avenue. In truth my wife and I had a backup plan in place a week or so ago. We could have pulled the Kickstarter last week and still had a way to publish the book (I am starting a publishing company after all…). I let the Kickstarter run because it gave more people a chance to feel like they were participating in the launch. It was an avenue to show support that resonated with some people, and it would have felt more like a defeat to admit defeat and pull the campaign than to ride it to the end.

Even though the campaign didn’t completely go the way I hoped, I gained ground. Positive things happened that outweigh the negatives.

Yes dear reader, sometimes we fail. Sometimes we are defeated. But, if we never try we never succeed. (For those who want to pull out “Do or do not, there is no try”, or any other variation I will be dealing with Yoda and Mr. Miyagi at another time…)

The saddest defeat is self-inflicted. The saddest defeat is caused because you never tried.

There are other elements, dear reader, knowledge, planning, resources and other factors all have their place, but you never succeed if you never try.

That’s it for this one,

See you next week…

Boundary lines (part 1?)

How do we decide what is and isn’t appropriate? How do we know what to share with whom?

Once when I was young and foolish (at least younger and more foolish than I am now…) I was involved in a conversation with two friends, a missionary and an art student. The missionary accused the art student of participating in the creation of pornography because she was in a class where they were drawing a nude model. The art student countered that her drawings were not pornographic because they were an assignment to learn to draw the human form…

I have some books that include pictures our young missionary might also classify as pornography. I would have to argue that they are not pornographic, unless you were to use them for pornographic purposes. In my world and for my purposes they are not.

The pictures in question are appropriate subject matter in textbooks on human anatomy and developmental psychology. The pictures are meant to help educate the reader about medicine and human development (something that’s kind of important and necessary). But, it is possible for someone to use them for other purposes.

We can see similar things in other arenas. When I worked in mental health I had information about my clients that was important for me to know, and sometimes important for me to communicate to other people. There were also people who should not have been given (and probably still shouldn’t be given) access to that information. But, how do you know who, and whose purposes, are on the right side of the boundary?

This is a question and a subject that can be important to us as writers and consumers of books and other media. Sometimes it is not an easy question to answer, but it needs answering. And, since this is a writing/publishing blog it is a question that is probably worth discussing here.

This is meant to be a discussion and I really do encourage questions and commentary from readers. So, any one with initial questions or comments feel free to comment on this post or email them to me at forevermountainpub@gmail.com . I look forward to hearing from you and discussing this topic more in the future!

Not alone!

As people who regularly read this blog know I’ve been working on a novel called Johnson Farm…

About the same time I started Johnson Farm I got a crazy idea. There was a talented young artist I wanted to help progress and find opportunities for her art. So, I made her an offer…

When the book was well enough edited that I was comfortable with her reading it I would give her a copy and ask her to design a cover.

The art!

In January, just over a year later, the book was in the right place.

I’m actually not sure which one of us was more nervous when we met to have a serious talk about the cover.  For Sariah Anne the project was something new, something outside of here comfort zone. On my side of the table I was in the rare position of being the one “behind the desk”. I’ve worked with people before, but this was my project. Johnson Farm was my baby that I’d been working on for a year, and now I was putting my baby into her hands…

Well, this week I officially got the result…

JSFwordswood.jpg

This is the cover Sariah Anne created for me. It wasn’t my vision of the place… But, that was the assignment I’d set for her, to create a cover based on her read of the book. And I actually really like it!

More than just a cover…

At the same time Sariah Anne was working on the cover I’ve been doing the finish editing for the story. It’s a strange feeling seeing it all this close to done (literally down to a couple of misplaced periods and a couple of quotation marks in today’s work!). It feels like it is really coming together and I love the story.

This leaves the next question: where do we go from here?

Well this is where I can use your help dear reader…

At minimum I will be putting the book out as an EBook with a completion date of late April or early May. I would really like to get a physical edition of the book put out, but that takes money and my little company is just starting. So, I’ve set up a Kickstarter (here) and am offering some premium goodies to people willing to pledge money toward the book (for those not familiar with Kickstarter: if the project funds you get the premiums you chose when you made your pledge, and if it doesn’t fund you aren’t charged anything and we all walk away).

So dear reader… I’m going to ask you to take a look and (maybe) buy some books! I you do, you aren’t just helping me, you’re helping Sariah Anne as well.

If you can’t (or won’t) buy at this point, I understand dear reader and I would ask you to share this post or the Kickstarter with those around you.

That’s it for this one dear reader, and until next time…

Thank you in advance!

Why we do this part 3

It’s been one of those weeks around the publishing office…

The first thing I noticed was an email from one of my cover artists. She was telling me she was pulling out of the project because life was becoming too complicated. Another artist has been MIA since last month…

That was the start and it was followed by the discovery that there had been no (zero) progress on the Johnson Farm Kickstarter over the weekend. On the other hand someone had responded positively to my last blog post here…

The team didn’t stop… A cover solution was found and we worked to help our artists get something in so that they can say they completed the project (and at least one cover still might come out of their efforts!). In spite of a negative start we were still on track.

Then came another round of ‘you can’t succeed’. Someone actually told me to give up on Forever Mountain and come work for them. Well that sucked for the people who like to tell us we can’t succeed! The guy was trying to tell me to give up right after I got the sales report for one of our other books. In addition to Amazon and Barns and Noble we actually sold copies at iBook (I’d forgotten we were selling at iBook!).

It seems like some people love to tell you you’re going to fail. It seems easier to ignore them when you’re feeling the love from readers.

Next came press releases, and dealing with what to say (and what not to say) when announcing a project to the press. There are times that it is possible to get annoyed with the English language (not English people, not English speakers, I mean the actual English Language…), but you work your way through and find a solution.

And then there are edits, and posts to write and all that other ‘work stuff’ that isn’t so obvious when you’re dreaming about royalty checks and book signings… But then there is also that unexpected pledge on Kickstarter; that comment on the YouTube video you forgot you did; that phrase that comes out just right… And that was just Monday!

Don’t get me wrong. Writing is not an easy process. No art worth doing is really as easy as some people think it is. Any project worth working on will be a roller coaster ride. It will mean stretching yourself and learning to be better. It will bring its share of stress and pain. But, if it is worthy, it will bring joy too… And that is why we do this, because for all the frustration, for all the negatives we encounter, there are positives too. And they show up when we least expect them…

In the time since I wrote this initially the MIA artist reappeared with a great looking cover, some funding came through, and four pages I wrote for a project turned out to be one of those “it’s a starting point but not really part of the text” things… No it isn’t easy, but it’s what you have to do if you want to be a writer (or a musician, or a painter, or a…)

The secret art of stepping away

Earlier this week I found myself talking to a friend who is getting ready to go back to college. I gave her the usual advice that my wife and I give to all our college bound friends, make sure you take a fun class every semester.

Contrary to what some might think, we don’t give this advice just to make sure the person has fun. The reality is it helps with their other classes.

Why stepping away helps

Taking a fun class, or taking a day off from your big project to do something else, helps you because it changes your focus and lets your conscious mind rest from working on the class/project. We see the same effect with studying. You see better outcomes if you shift subjects every so often and come back later. (How long is a ‘so often’? That depends on the individual and your mileage may vary. For me it’s about an hour to two hours (for studying))

The key is to get enough in, and enough time in, to make a worthwhile step forward without spending so much time that you become counterproductive. In fact we can see the same principle in play in physics and chemistry when painting or putting a patina on metal. It is often a good idea to put on multiple thin layers rather than trying one thick layer that goes on all at once.

The multiple layers allow for better drying and damage resistance while the thick layer gets gloppy, takes longer to dry, and is more prone to chipping. Biologically multiple contacts and repetitions help build neural pathways and muscle fiber in ways that are very different from the patterns developed by the one shot approach.

Growth applications

We see the same principle in a lot of self-help and personal growth applications. This is why goals and affirmations are to be put up in visible places, so you can see them frequently and they get ingrained. It is much more effective to do it this way than the “think really hard about it once then go out for pizza” technique.

I know that this isn’t easy dear reader, but I also know it works. That’s why even though I’m up to my eyeballs in book stuff it’s a good idea to get away once in a while and do something different (even… Gasp… something that has nothing to do with writing a book!).

That’s it for today dear reader. Keep working on those projects, but remember to take some breaks along the way.

See you next week.

Don’t Fake, Become

It happened again yesterday. I heard someone say that old line, “Fake it till you make it.” Most of the people I’ve heard say that are well intentioned, but it’s really not a good message…

Most of the people I have heard say “Fake it till you make it” really seem to mean “Keep trying”. There also seems to be a component of “I don’t know how to help you”, or “I’m not going to help you”. The thing is, even if the person does go on to help, the message is still until you succeed you are a fake.

Calling someone a fake is kind of insulting and can be bad for moral. If it’s not there already, you are introducing the thought “I am a fake” into the persons thought process. There is a better way.

Don’t focus on “making it” (or faking it). Focus on becoming. For any skill, desire or dream are you closer to it now than you were before? If the answer is yes, then you are becoming. The key is to take a constructive step toward becoming what you want, and then take another.

There is a similarity in both theories. At some point you start thinking of yourself as what you want to be.

The difference is that the “fake it till you make it” plan often focuses on an external marker of achievement and you’re considered a fake until you get there. Under the becoming strategy the markers are internal. You can see that you are becoming what you want and because your markers are internal, on one can take that from you.

In fact, if you really are seeking to become, once you do become it is undeniable. You can create, and have created, that fact for yourself. It cannot be taken away from you unless you choose to give it up.

What you are becoming becomes part of your identity.

What we are talking about when we talk about becoming is not a quick or easy process. However, it is a possible one. In fact, to truly become, a process that takes you some time is the best (if not only) way to succeed. Becoming requires thought, planning and effort. Becoming demands integrity and honesty with yourself. You do not overcome your weaknesses by simply ignoring them (Told you this was hard!).

At the same time, do not let your weaknesses stop you. You are becoming. By definition that means you are growing and overcoming weaknesses. That means when you find an obstacle you find a way past it. You overcome it. You go around it. You build a team. You find a way.

When you practice becoming you grow and become more than you were. Your capacity increases. And, it can be an open ended process. If you choose wisely in what you choose to become there will always be new vistas and new achievements to seek after. You can be the greatest and still become greater.

There is far more to be said than I have said here. And, that’s ok. Like myself, my company and my blogs are becoming. They are growing. For now dear reader this is the thought: Don’t ‘fake it’… Become.

Why are we doing this (Part 2)

Yes, you could say we addressed this last week with our mission statement; however, why we are doing this is a bigger question…

‘Why’ doesn’t just make for a big question, it makes for an important one. Check out this post to see why.

As to the ‘why’ we’re talking about this week…

Generally the people we work with, and the people we want to work with, are talented people who are growing in their skills. They are growing in both their skill level, and in their skill set.  This means they have put a lot of time and effort into the things they do. In general we hope for rewards from what we do, but monetary rewards can take a long time to amount to anything significant. So, why do we do what we do?

When I say there is no one answer to this, it is literally because every individual has his or her own answer that is as unique as she/he is.

For myself the editor/publisher side of why I do what I do grew out of need. I wanted to tell stories and I had to learn the editing/publishing end in order to improve those stories and share them with others. As I grow in doing these things I find there is a level of joy in making a good story better. It has value because it makes me happy.

The publishing side is also rewarding because I get feedback from other people. As a publisher I get to see the people I work with grow as individuals and I get to see their work, and my own, appreciated by others. I get to share and see the fruits of that sharing.

As a writer/story teller there are many reasons for why I do what I do. The teaching sharing dynamic is still there, but there are other reasons.

Creating stories allows me to explore. It allows me to play with “what if” and “how did that happen” questions. Story telling can also be a way to safely analyze (or hide from) the painful experiences and questions of life, the things that are hard to deal with on their own.

The number of answers to “why do we do this?” is equal the number of people answering (at least). But one common thread is that we find value in what we do. Often we actually enjoy what we do (and when we don’t we do what we need to because it supports something that we do enjoy).

Each of us has our own reasons for doing what we do. I’ve shared some of mine. As for Carl…

Well, why does a dragon do anything?

The rest of you? Why do you do what you do? Feel free to answer in the comments.

Thanks for reading (and responding).

See you next week.

Farangian

Welcome

Welcome to the Forever Mountain Publishing website! Through the material here you will find out something about who we are and what we do. You may also find an opportunity for yourself.
Any good company should have a purpose and mission. And, to be really effective, that purpose and mission should be explainable in a concise, understandable mission statement. So, here we go…
At Forever Mountain Publishing it is our mission to produce books and other media that will help people to grow as individuals and active participants in an interdependent society; to help people become more and better than they have been before.
How do we do this? How can a collection novels and other books help individuals and communities to be more and better than they have been before?
The answer is… in many ways actually!
Throughout history (and what we know of prehistory) people have responded to and are/were motivated by stories. The number of boys and girls who have dreamed, aspired, and actively sought to become like the heroes in the stories and legends of their lives is beyond our ability to count. By producing quality stories; stories of succeeding, overcoming, and achieving, we can help motivate the individual and help others to have hope and believe that there is a way forward.
The nonfiction works we publish can provide information that the individual can use to improve her/his life and the lives of those around him/her.
It is true that the individual has to have hope and desire, but once they are in place information is a necessary next step. The stories can help with the hope and desire and the nonfiction then helps with the knowledge component.
“So when you say I might find an opportunity for me, you mean buy your books…”
Well, yes, but that’s not all I’m saying! Of course we want people to buy our stuff, and I encourage you to do that. However, we’re also looking for people who do things.
We are seeking to work with those who have potential that can be developed. So, we’re looking for writers, artists, editors, musicians, audio engineers and videographers who would like to work with us on projects. One of the purposes of forever mountain is to work with growing and learning individuals. This again fits with our mission. Sure, the man or woman who’s been in the field for 50 years has a place in the field somewhere, but when we can, we would really like to work with those who are growing and learning (of any age) and not those who are just coasting or slowing down.
As I have traveled the road that led me here to Forever Mountain I have found that people value the things they invest in (through time, money, emotion…). I have invested my time, money, and emotion into writing and publishing books to help people become better. I hope that those who come into contact with us and our products will invest their time, money and emotion so that they may become more than they have been before. And, that’s why I’m doing this.
Patrick S Kidder
Editor In Chief
Forever Mountain Publishing.
P.S.
If you have a desire to help or a project that you think might fit with our mission, don’t be afraid to contact us! It is our intent to grow and be better and we’re not planning on doing it alone!