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MIND LIKE WATER MONTHLY
Dedicated to helping the ebook community.
Issue #5: July 8, 2002
Publisher: Mind Like Water, Inc.
http://www.mindlikewater.com
newsletter@mindlikewater.com

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Welcome to the Mind Like Water Monthly.

July 4th has come and gone here in the U.S. without too many problems. I think for many of us it had a little more meaning than just food, family and fireworks. The dog days of summer are officially here. I'm recovering from knee surgery and the U.S. stock market is suffering. Many of us are wondering what's next.

Well, rather than being downbeat, I am excited about a software project Mind Like Water is working on that will help ebook authors compile collections of their own works and works of similar genres. I believe that one of the missing links in ebook sales is packaging. Do you remember records, also known as 45s? I do. They were popular, but compilations of records (i.e., albums, cassettes and CDs) won out. Your ebook may need the same thing: to be packaged along with other ebooks. I suspect that readers would love the value, whether perceived or real. I won't say any more until we're further along, but I welcome comments on what you would like to see in this type of product.

I would also like to recognize Diane, our editor. She does a marvelous job of editing, formatting and sending out our newsletter. Diane will be taking on the role of interviewer and I will continue with my advice and musings.

Remember, we invite you to contact us if you wish to be profiled in the Mind Like Water Monthly. Also, please tell us how we are doing and what we can do to better serve the ebook community.

Stay cool!

Best regards,

Michael Williams
Co-President
geoguy@mindlikewater.com

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Table of Contents
1. Feature Article: Packaging: Perception Is Reality
2. eBook Author Interview: Christine Duncan, Safe Beginnings
3. Tip of the Month
4. eBook Author Interview: Brian Vaszily, Beyond Stone and Steel: A Memorial to the September 11, 2001 Victims

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Feature Article: Packaging: Perception Is Reality
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I don't care what anyone says, people do judge a book or ebook by its cover. I know we would all like to think that we're better than that. Well, I'm sorry to tell you that we're not.

So what does that mean?

If you're an ebook author and you want to catch the attention of a visitor, make sure that you have a professional book cover. Remember, it's still hard for many people to see value in the written word. The value of a book is often tied to the cover art, binding and sometimes even the length of the copy.

It's ironic, but if I sold you a piece of paper for $30.00 that described the true secret to wealth and happiness in three easy-to-follow steps, you would probably feel like you had been "ripped off." On the other hand, if I beefed up the information to 200 pages, saying essentially the same thing over and over, and included beautiful cover art and a nice binder, you might call it a best seller.

I'm being a little facetious, but perception is reality and packaging is important. Every day, we see packaging that influences our buying habits. I have two kids that are a living testament to the power of packaging. For ebook authors, the verdict is to create or have someone create a nice book cover for each one of your products. Software has recently been developed to help you with this. Armand Morin's eCover Generator is one product (see our sponsor below).

The other option is to create an ebook cover yourself using graphical arts software like Illustrator, Photoshop, FreeHand, Fireworks or others. The downside here is that these programs are expensive and require a steep learning curve.

Probably the best bet is to hire a true graphical artist/web designer. Expect to pay around $50 to $200, depending upon the complexity that you require. If you would like more information on hiring a graphical artist, please contact me at geoguy@mindlikewater.com.

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eBook Author Interview: Christine Duncan, Safe Beginnings
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Michael: Let's start with the shocking quote that you sent me. Here it is: "Domestic Violence Leading Cause of Injury Among Women 15 - 44. U.S. Has More Animal Shelters Than Battered Women's Shelters." (fn1) Would you care to comment on this? 

Christine: I think the tendency when hearing the statistic about the shelters is to say no way, that's not possible, but unfortunately it's true.

The U.S. has 1,500 shelters for battered women, compared to 3,800 animal shelters. (fn2) And that's despite data that establish that anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of all women in this country will be abused at some time in their lives.

Battered women's shelters are underfunded. And during peak times, women who need shelters are turned down because there is no room. Another statistic that you may find shocking is that a majority of the women and their children who are below the poverty level at any given time in this country are there because of domestic violence. (fn3) Worse, over half of the homeless families in this country report they are homeless due to domestic violence. (fn4)

And like animal shelters, battered women's shelters have a time limit -- usually thirty days -- after which the women must move on.

Michael: How does your ebook Safe Beginnings dive into this topic? Have you been to a woman's shelter, or do you know someone who's stayed in one?

Christine: I would be surprised if there is an adult in this country who doesn't know someone who either has been to a shelter or should have gone to a shelter. The real question is whether we recognize the problem or not. Sometimes we are just unaware of what is going on in the lives of people around us.

Just recently, my husband and I were sitting in our office which is on the second floor of a fair size office building. Although the windows were closed and we were busy, we heard raised voices outside. We went to the window. A man and woman sat parked in a car in the alley below us. We saw him gesture sharply, and saw her pull away quickly and start crying. Because of the angle of our window, we didn't actually see him hit her, but her reaction seemed clear. We talked about it for a minute and then decided to call the police and let them sort it out. We reported the incident along with the license number of the vehicle. It turned out that the man had been picked up on abuse charges just the week before. Yet no one else in the office building we work in saw or heard anything that day.

I wrote Safe Beginnings because there was a fire in a battered women's shelter here in Colorado. The shelter was under construction at that time, so luckily no one was in it, but it raised so many questions in my mind that I couldn't leave it alone. What if the shelter had been occupied? What would that have meant to the women in it? It seems to me to be hard enough to leave your home and everything you own, but I could see having to do it for safety. What would happen if suddenly you felt unsafe in the shelter? It was a question I needed to answer.

I did a great deal of research into shelters in our area and used one as a model. The one I chose is almost unique in the fact that it allows women to bring their teenage sons with them to the shelter. Many other shelters across the country do not allow that. I would like to do a book someday exploring this, since 40 to 60 percent of men who abuse women also abuse children. (fn5) Could a woman leave if she thought her child would still be in danger?

Michael: It seems to me that a subject like domestic abuse would be hard to spin into fiction. Being a dutiful scientist, I would be tempted to present the facts and offer a solution (non-fiction), but I suspect that a powerful storyline would work much better. How does Safe Beginnings entertain and teach a lesson at the same time?

Christine: It's interesting you should say that. I am always amazed at how different authors handle different subjects. Truthfully, I never seriously considered a non-fiction book. I think people have a tendency to avoid non-fiction books on topics they see as serious or unpleasant. Obviously, I didn't want that. Nor did I want to make light of the topic, so I had a dilemma.

I see domestic violence as such a part of life in our society, but relegated, most days, to the background even in the lives of the women who live it. So I decided to do this as a mystery from the point of view of Kaye, a counselor at a battered women's shelter. Many people will read it just for the mystery. But the reader meets the women Kaye sees every day and hears their stories. Plus Kaye has a life outside of the shelter and the reader learns about that as well, all on the way to trying to solve the mystery.

Michael: Have you had any battered women contact you after reading your ebook?

Christine: I've been contacted by counselors who work with battered women and they have been so happy that someone is dealing with the topic in a matter-of-fact way in fiction. I am hoping as the word about the book gets out that I will hear from more women who have dealt with abuse. Anyone who has an interest in the problem is welcome to contact me through my web site at http://www.ChristineDuncan.com.

-- Christine Duncan
http://www.Trebleheartbooks.com/Chrisduncansynop.html 
http://www.ChristineDuncan.com 

fn1: Uniform Crime Reports, FBI, 1991.
fn2: Schneider, 1990.
fn3: Raphael and Tolman, Trapped by Poverty, Trapped by Abuse: New Evidence Documenting the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Welfare, 1997, p. 20.
fn4: The United States Conference of Mayors, A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America's Cities: 1999, December 1999, p. 94.
fn5: American Psychl. Ass'n, Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, 1996, p. 80.

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Why advertise in the Mind Like Water Monthly?

Online newsletters tend to narrowly focus their content to meet the needs and capture the loyalty of a very specific readership ... giving you the perfect opportunity to get your ad in front of your best potential customers! If you would like more information about advertising with us, please send an email to geoguy@mindlikewater.com.

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Tip of the Month
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Do something kind for someone online. Exchange links, or offer to mention or help someone else's business. What you sow is what you reap!

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eBook Author Interview: Brian Vaszily, Beyond Stone and Steel: A Memorial to the September 11, 2001 Victims
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Diane: I think your book Beyond Stone and Steel is unique in that you have taken an incident -- the September 11th attack -- that the entire world knows about and that has received immense news coverage, and you have written a completely imagined account of the final moments of fictional victims. Can you describe the emotional difficulties in writing this book, and what you hoped to accomplish for your readers?

Brian: Like many people in the United States, my emotions in response to September 11 were not only extreme, but extremely foreign. To describe them as shock, sadness, anger, and fear does not do them justice; there is a wide, perhaps infinite, range to each of those states, and the tragedy -- the method, the images, the numbers, the collective response -- took me far out of the range of familiarity. So far that, like so many others in their own way, I was questioning humanity itself. What is the worth of being human in a world where it is humans, with their anger, their ignorance, their hate, bringing about such devastation? In a world where this can happen, does anything really matter? I had felt such questions before, after reading about the Holocaust or some atrocity in Africa or a local murder without any apparent trigger at all, but because the cause had never been this close, the questions and any answers I found had never been so deep. Even if I could have avoided the images of planes slamming into the towers and people leaping from the buildings, I could not have escaped thinking about all this. I could not escape, to be more succinct, thinking about those inside. Inside the towers, inside the Pentagon, inside the planes: those beyond the stone and steel. These were, of course, the one group of people we would never be able to hear from in the media. The only place I knew I would be able to hear them was inside myself. And so I had to listen.

I did not sit down with the intention to write the nation's first 9/11 novel. I did not sit down to write a book at all. Nor did I sit down with a conscious decision that I would write as a form of therapy for 9/11. I sat down at my table on September 13 to write simply because I was compelled to do so. Because I am a writer and that is how I needed to address these foreign emotions inside me, and all the attendant questions. Writing is what I had to listen to whatever the victims were trying to tell me. 

I have written two books prior to Beyond Stone and Steel, one of which will never see the light of day, the other which, if I can return to it at some point with genuine interest, I may polish and try to sell. In an academic sense, those two books were far more difficult to write than Beyond Stone and Steel; the research, the plotting, the characterization, the process of following the right words with more right words was far more painstaking with those first two books. That they are 400 and 250 pages long, respectively, to the 100-page Beyond Stone and Steel certainly has something to do with it, but even my short stories and creative essays have been more painstaking in this academic sense. From the start, in other words, Beyond Stone and Steel poured through me like nothing I had written before. But while I can barely recall straining over Beyond Stone and Steel in a literary sense -- beyond reading everything I could about the victims as it was made available, in an emotional sense it is easily the most draining work I have ever experienced. In the three weeks it took to write the first draft, there were days, my wife tells me, where I worked on the book for twenty hours, stopping only for the washroom or to pour more coffee. And it is, in fact, my wife who told me, when I let her read the first fifty or so pages of my efforts, that I was writing a book. "A book not only worth sharing with the world," she said, "but that needs to be shared." I continued writing, and while the chapters that now constitute the book are not entirely in chronological order of being written, the final  chapter, with its last lines that I believe are the most powerful thing I have ever written, were written last. After typing them, I knew I had just completed the first draft of a book. I reread the first draft and knew -- but not without some guilt, as I had not strained and struggled with this book in that literary sense -- that I indeed had something that needed to be shared with the world. Through the voices of the victims, who were, in essence, all people so familiar to us, I had found an answer to what really matters in life. To what is important and worthwhile about being human. 

To say I was emotionally drained after completing that first draft is an understatement; the truer, though cornier, way to describe how I felt is as if some force far more powerful than me had borrowed my head, heart, body and knack for stringing words together for three-plus weeks. Then it just as suddenly departed and I was left feeling like a shell. Albeit, a hard shell: I did rewrite and edit Beyond Stone and Steel quite consciously for the second three weeks. But again, relative to anything else I have written, these efforts were very minor. And, aside from some typos, my publisher made no changes. They poured their own sleepless nights into creating the ebook versions and the print version of Beyond Stone and Steel in miracle time, especially considering the compelling and perfectly relevant cover they created and the high-quality feel to the trade print version, and in December 2001 it was released ... one of the nation's first 9/11 books and the first 9/11 novel, which are largely irrelevant titles, but a book that, by focusing directly on the heart of the tragedy versus trying to escape reality altogether, has helped readers focus on what is important, and worthwhile, about being alive.

In my biography in Beyond Stone and Steel, my publisher quotes me saying that if the book helps even one person focus on seeing and pursuing good in this world in the face of 9/11 or any tragedy, I will feel a true sense of accomplishment. While the book has received an extensive amount of professional reviews, and I am honored that they have ranged from positive to absolutely glowing, it is because of the many letters I have received from individual readers -- telling me that the book moved them, changed their perspective for the better, inspired them to do and say the things they always put off -- that I know there is now something special out there in the world, something worthwhile, with my name attached to it. Many reviews have stated the book "belongs on everyone's bookshelf," and I'd be lying if I said I don't dream of something close to that, but for a small book published by a small press and authored by a small name, Beyond Stone and Steel has already touched a large number of hearts; I am simultaneously astonished, honored, humbled and pleased.

Diane: I read that you took to the Chicago streets, 24 hours a day "except for bathroom breaks," with the goal of selling 4,000 copies of Beyond Stone and Steel. What was that experience like for you, and did you meet your goal?

Brian: In all senses but one this effort completely failed. I set out on this mission because I believe that people need -- not just "will enjoy" or "will find worthwhile" but NEED -- Beyond Stone and Steel. They needed it just after 9/11, they need it now, and as long as there is tragedy they will always need it ... or works in the same realistic yet uplifting spirit, of which there are forever too few. I am the author and it is both awkward and out of fashion to praise my own work so overtly (though again, with this particular work I felt more like an instrument, a living pen, than a creator), so I will revert to the customary standby of telling you what so many others have said about the book: it belongs on every American's bookshelf. I agree. And that's what drove me to this mission. With such an ambitious project -- not to leave the cold December streets of Chicago until 4000 copies of Beyond Stone and Steel have sold -- surely I would turn some heads in the media, leading to a lot more heads turning in public, leading to more people reading the book and, hopefully, an overall more positive outlook for everyone in what can seem like a very negative world.

Part one of the mission did not come to pass, however, meaning the rest of the parts could not, either. Despite my massive press release campaign, despite many calls to media on my behalf from my wife and mother and sister, despite literally rapping at the doors of Chicago's newspapers and TV and radio stations myself while I was tramping about out there in the cold, my story was not newsworthy. There were still too many "major" stories coming out of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan for some media, while other media were already trying to ignore 9/11 to make people believe they could escape the reality. Only a few small online sources, as far as I know, picked up on my little mission. Which is another way of saying that, to all the people on Chicago's downtown streets that I was trying to talk to, hand flyers out to, and generally make aware of the book, I was just another freak to attempt to ignore. People hustling to and from work on Chicago's streets, and people in the United States in general, are very, very good at ignoring. I got callused feet, a chapped face, a terrible flu, and plenty of nasty looks, but I did not get the satisfaction of coming anywhere near my goal. But there's one more thing I got, which made it all worth it anyway: I got to see how much certain people cared for me. Despite fearing for my safety or plain old wondering if I was a bit off my rocker, my wife, mother, son, sister and brother-in-law, my uncle, and several of my friends went above and beyond to support me. Way above and beyond. Knowing I have that in my life, that I have them, held me up throughout the effort on the streets, held me up when I gave up on the effort, and has held me up throughout all the heartaches that the mission has come to typify -- of believing so deeply in this book, pushing so hard to promote it, and yet feeling largely ignored. Like many writers, I can complain and I have complained about this, but I also know, as people go, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by those who truly care for me. They are the same ones who keep reminding me that I have made a positive impact, perhaps not on millions but certainly exceeding my initial goal of at least one. And that is something worth knowing.

Diane: A traditional marketing strategy for authors is conducting book readings and signings, which I see you have done. Are there challenges specific to ebook authors in doing book tours? If so, how did you meet those challenges?

Brian: While the book is available in all the popular ebook formats, it is also available in trade print. In addition to many wonderful independent bookstores throughout the nation, I was fortunate enough to get a call from Borders' corporate office stating they liked the book and would be carrying the trade print edition in their stores, even featuring it on the display tables in certain regions of the country. So I have had signings at both independents and the chains in more of a traditional sense, with the trade print version of my book advertised (at least to some small extent) in the store beforehand and available to sign and sell during my appearances. Still, if Beyond Stone and Steel was exclusively an ebook, I would be doing readings, including at bookstores, cafes, libraries, street corners, shopping malls, zoos, square dances and anywhere else people are congregated and might possibly hear me. I would have postcards or some such physical memento of the book -- listing where to find it online, of course -- on hand to sign and hand out, because in the tactile world people need a tactile record of their experiences to give credence to, or jar, their memories.

Diane: Fifty percent of publisher and author proceeds from the sale of Beyond Stone and Steel is being given to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. What made you decide to do this?

Brian: I did not decide to donate half of the proceeds to charity because I felt I had to, first of all. Beyond Stone and Steel is a work that has lifted, and I hope will continue to lift, the human spirit, and that is its own reward. A few people immediately dumped Beyond Stone and Steel into the category of "opportunistic products related to 9/11" -- of course they never read the book or even read about the book, and of course many of them purchased flags, candles or USA tee-shirts in the weeks following 9/11, fattening the bottom lines of those flag-, candle- and shirt-makers who largely donated nothing. A few other people -- also without having read the book or about the book -- questioned the tact of writing fiction about so great a tragedy, even as many of them surely watched, and were uplifted by, the fictionalizations called "Schindler's List" or "Titanic" or "Pearl Harbor." While the modern tendency has been to marginalize art as mere entertainment, I know that art speaks the essence of humanity. During such an immense tragedy, and more than any politician or news anchor or religious leader, it is the artists' responsibility to respond -- to point to the essence of living, to find the hope, to give direction. It was sad that so many artists seemed to believe they had to stifle their voices for a period after 9/11 when, in fact, their voices were more necessary than ever. To put all this another way, Beyond Stone and Steel is a work of art, however humble, and needs no justification beyond that. I am donating funds from the book to charity because I don't have any funds outside of the book to draw from. I specifically chose the college fund for victims' children because A) nothing is as powerful as education, B) the charity bases its distribution of money on their financial need, and I am hoping that their financial need will be greater than mine, and C) it is nice to know that, in a world where their parent or parents were ripped away from them, they will definitely have something to look forward to.

Diane: Your author bio states that you received words of encouragement to continue writing, from a poet, after winning an award for a story in fourth grade. I am interested in knowing whether you have had a mentor at any time during your writing career, and whether you have ever mentored an aspiring writer.

Brian: The poet Gwendolyn Brooks was the guest of honor at the reception for the short story awards. As I was hustling back to my seat after being honored on stage, more eager to sink back into the anonymity of the crowd than to share my certificate with my parents, a hand from the front row of the audience managed to catch and double-squeeze my hand. I stopped. It was Gwendolyn Brooks. Ms. Brooks, as the host explained in his opening speech, had won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1950, an especially magnificent feat for an African-American woman. She was a living literary legend, he clarified for those of us who had not yet encountered her most renowned poem, "We Jazz June," on a high school syllabus. Now this living literary legend was beckoning me, a fourth grader who was playing a hand-held Space Invaders game in the back seat of my parent's station wagon an hour earlier, to bring my ear down close to her.

"You've really got a knack for this, young man -- keep working at it," she whispered. Secret advice from one who is profoundly wise handed to a rare and chosen few. This is how I received Ms. Brooks' suggestion, and for years this is how I held on to Ms. Brooks' suggestion.

Looking back now, I also recall Ms. Brooks' sharing some quick words with each of the other children returning to their seat after receiving their award on stage. And I recall, as I witnessed this, that I easily convinced myself that her comments to them were surely quartz and topaz compared with the diamond guidance she had offered me -- perhaps merely a "Not bad" here and a "Decent, but don't quit your schooling" there for the others. Of course, from my adult eyes, I know her words to me were not exclusive, I know she likely offered the same compliment and advice to each of us as we walked by: you are very good at this, kid, never give up. And that is live testament to the same wisdom, and the same heart, that shines through Ms. Brooks' poetry. The program's host had built her into a breathing monument before our young eyes, and she chose to do something positive with that. If she could have, I sense she would have held each of our hands down the long path of literary knowledge, but she realized she could at least squeeze our hands quickly and offer something personal in the way of encouragement -- something that might, just might, make a bit of a difference. In my case, it did. While the meaning of her words have evolved over the years -- they are no longer about me alone, but about any and all of us who want to write -- they still help push me forward whenever discouragement oozes onto my path.

I expand on this moment in my life toward offering both a lamentation and a hope in answer to your inquiry about mentoring. Aside from Gwendolyn Brooks' thirteen words to me when I was ten years old, I have had no other literary mentor. By "literary mentor," I mean someone whose life has centered on, or at least hovered near, expression, exploration, and understanding through the written word (or at least publishing) and who can -- and does -- take time from their life to offer learned guidance in those respects. Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly sorry for myself, I also mean someone who has connections in the industry and can open doors for me, but I know that is not a "mentor" at all, but a "sugar daddy." I certainly have been gifted with a mother and a few special teachers throughout my school years who helped me realize I have what it takes to achieve my dreams, and a wife who supports my writing despite the lawn that needs mowing and the bills that need paying. I am extremely fortunate that I am and have been surrounded by good people, in other words; whatever I have achieved, and whatever is right about me, is due in large part to them. Aside from reading and commenting on my work, however, none of them have been centered on or even near "the writing life." In that particular respect, I have stumbled forward on my own ... on my own, but then again, never really alone, as, in addition to Ms. Brooks' advice, I have read hundreds of books -- manuals, memoirs, biographies, and more, but mostly novels -- that inspired me, and helped teach me, to write. 

So a mentor might have been nice (or it still might be, as I am a mere teen in writer years: thirty-two). At least a few of my many mistakes -- on paper, in my character, in my expectations -- may have been avoided with a mentor. The conversations over coffee or beer may have been more interesting, and worthwhile, with a mentor. Maybe maybe maybe. But I am not lamenting the fact that I never had a literary mentor other than thirteen words from Gwendolyn Brooks. I have got a knack for writing and I will keep working at it regardless. What I do lament is that no one ever really tried to be my mentor. Two of my creative writing teachers, one in high school and the other in college, only seemed willing to offer the semblance of mentorship to a few attractive women in class who, at least in their wildly imaginative minds, might spread their legs in return. Another college writing professor, his passion for writing only ashes after too many years of rejection by both female students and publishers, was among the teaching dead. I have met other older, more experienced authors and people in the "writing life" via conferences, writing groups and the like, but none of them ever offered more than a few pieces of advice or compliments in passing. It is also true I never asked any of them, directly or indirectly, to be my mentor, but there is a definite dominant/passive nature to the relationship with the inherent presumption, in the mind of the unsure and unsteady rookie, that the dominant mentor will do the approaching. It is also quite possible that no one ever deemed me worthy of mentoring, or that I have not been in the right places to find a mentor, or in the right places enough.

But in the last decade, I have chatted with many writers in their twenties, thirties and even forties, and, perhaps because this idea of mentorship is so deeply entrenched among the myths of literary life, the subject does eventually come up. And very few of them could claim anything close to a mentor, either. They, like me, have certainly been offered brilliant insight and loving care for a fee -- from writing programs, book doctors, struggling agents, how-to manuals, etc., but they, like me, had never been taken under the wing of a more experienced author or the like for what at least would seem like pure belief -- belief in this young author's potential, belief in the importance of passing on knowledge gained, belief in literature itself. I do not know if the passionate variety of mentorship I am describing really can exist at all. Living in a capitalist society, where you can turn your knowledge into a how-to book or a pricey seminar or a secondary career versus simply giving it away out of love for the art, certainly makes mentorship harder if it does exist at all. I do not know if mentorship used to be more common and there is some flaw, either in the current generation that should be doing the mentoring or in the generations that should be mentored. Perhaps "literary knowledge" itself has been so romanticized that no one except for a very small handful of septuagenarian and octogenarian authors, and those with best sellers, feel qualified enough to mentor. Or perhaps, as is the case in so many areas in the United States, no one has the friggin time. My hope, which I am trying to elevate to the level of a promise, is that, beginning when there is something at least resembling widespread respect for my skills as an author, I will mentor others -- not for the hope of sex, fame, or money, but for the love of literature. And despite the potential lack of my own money, or the certain lack of my own time.

Diane: What is your next writing project?

Brian: I am working on two new books. One, a novel, will be the perfect follow-up to Beyond Stone and Steel, with strong characters, a unique and compelling structure, depth, and hope. The other, not a novel, will be the moon to the sun that is Beyond Stone and Steel, with strong characters, a unique and compelling structure, depth, and hope, but also extremely controversial subject matter that I am intimately familiar with; this book will either completely kill or catapult my writing career, unless I publish it under an impenetrable pseudonym, which I am seriously considering.

-- Brian Vaszily
http://www.hardshell.com/beyondst.asp 

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