Tag Archives: Radiohead

Off-Topic: Songs that Blow Me Away

While I slog through the final edits on my novel and gear up to watch my New York Giants in the Super Bowl, please indulge me as I go off-topic. A friend of mine posted a great question on his Facebook wall: Name a song that blows you away every time you hear it. Let me share some of mine:

A Whiter Shade of Pale/Procol Harum

A Day in the Life/The Beatles

Good Vibrations/The Beach Boys

Hey Jude/The Beatles

Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding/Elton John

Touch Me/The Doors

Bohemian Rhapsody/Queen

Wish You Were Here/Pink Floyd

Behind Blue Eyes/The Who

Purple Rain/Prince

While My Guitar Gently Weeps/The Beatles

No Surprises/Radiohead

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face/Roberta Flack

Superstar/The Carpenters

I’ll Be There/The Jackson Five

Yesterday/The Beatles

With You I’m Born Again/Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright

The Rain, The Park and Other Things/The Cowsills

What’s Goin’ On?/Marvin Gaye

Bridge Over Troubled Waters/Simon & Garfunkel

There There/Radiohead

Bodhisattva/Steely Dan

Stairway to Heaven/Led Zeppelin

Your Song/Elton John

The Thrill is Gone/B.B. King

What songs blow you away every time you hear them?


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Spinning Plates or Spinning Wheels?

Over on Writer Unboxed, Kristan Hoffman blogged a couple of weeks ago about the challenges writers face in juggling not only the many elements of a novel, but in balancing personal responsibilities and their writing careers. Here is Kristan’s post. It was a thoughtful post and it resonated with me.

As I chugged toward the finish of my first draft of my work-in-progress, entitled, Life of the Party–A Tale of Politics, Rap Music and Social Media, I got an email this week from my graphic designer. The cover art for my first novel, Small Change, was ready. There was nothing stopping me from uploading the manuscript through the Kindle Direct Publishing program. I would soon be a published novelist. Not so fast. After seven rounds of line edits, there were still nagging doubts. I didn’t see any major problems, but there were scenes that weren’t as strong as they could be and characters that needed some polishing. I decided to do some “tweaks.” I’m still at it with no end in sight.

Writers can identify with the desire to make their work perfect. A novel is never really “done.” The writer simply reaches a point where he has to let go. So there I was. Kristan used the image of juggling scarfs in her Writer Unboxed post. What comes to mind for me is the Radiohead song, Like Spinning Plates, from the band’s 2001 CD, Amnesiac.

Anybody old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show will recall the spinning plates act (where did Ed find these acts?). This guy would line up a series of poles secured to a table and then spin plates positioned on top of the poles. The idea was to get the plates spinning fast. The trouble was, the plates would slow down. To keep them from falling, the guy would run back and spin them again. I feel like that guy right now. I’m itching to get back to my WIP, but I have to focus on my novel, and my marketing plan, and my launch. And, then there’s my family and my job. Spinning plates? Sometimes it feels like I’m spinning my wheels.

Kristan said it well in her post. She urged writers to  start slow with the juggling act.  Don’t add too many things at once, focus on what’s important to you, and accept the fact that at some point you will drop something. Even if it’s a plate, those can be replaced. Too many tasks result in spinning one’s wheels or crashing plates if you prefer.

Right now my sole focus is on my novel. Oh yes, and the need to maintain my blog, and follow other blogs, and read the latest novel. As Thom Yorke would say, “And this just feels like spinning plates.”

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks and priorities associated with your writing career? How do you manage these multiple priorities?



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Should We Give Away Our Work?

The New York Times published an interview recently with Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who pirated his own work by giving away free translations of his books until he was caught by his publisher. Radiohead achieved notoriety when they released their 2007 CD, In Rainbows, online and let fans name their own price. Author JA Konrath at one point was reportedly posting PDF copies of his novels on his website for readers to download for free on the theory they would pay the nominal fee for the convenience of reading his books on an e-reading device. What’s going on here?

Why would authors or artists give away their work for free? There are three reasons: to build an audience, to gain feedback for a work-in-progress, or out of a principled belief that artistic works and ideas should be accessible to all.

While this is great for consumers, I’m not a fan of the idea that artists or authors should give away their work. Artistic works are worth something. Although many authors toil for years writing novels with no expectation of being published or making money, we would like to think there is a financial reward for our achievements.

From a consumer’s perspective, it comes down to the “perception of value.” If you give away your work, the public perceives it as worth nothing. Wait a minute, you say. What about Amanda Hocking and John Locke, who amassed huge sales of their 99-cent e-books? They were practically giving them away. Correct, but there’s a big difference between 99 cents and zero.

Hocking and Locke made conscious decisions on pricing. They bet that interesting, well-written books priced ridiculously low would sell, and they were right. First-time authors who publish on Amazon.com generally choose one of two price points: 99 cents (on the theory they can sell
more books, even though the royalty rate is just 35 percent) or $2.99 (the price point at which the higher royalty rate of 70 percent kicks in). It’s a
calculated decision. Self-published authors know they won’t sell many books unless they price them between 99 cents and $2.99.

I plan to publish my first novel, Small Change, through the Kindle Direct Publishing program. I plan to set the price initially at $2.99. Why? I put
three years of my life into writing and editing this book. I believe it’s worth the price of a coffee and a donut, but that will ultimately be up to the reader to decide.

And what about well-known authors who elect to make their work available at little or no cost? According to the Times story, Coelho “continues to give his work away free by linking to Web sites that have posted his books, asking only that if readers like the book, they buy a copy, ‘so we can tell to the industry that sharing contents is not life threatening to the book business,’ as he wrote in one post.”

One could criticize Coelho’s methods, but he must be doing something right. Coelho has sold 140 million copies of his books and he has actively engaged readers through social media. According to media reports, he has more Facebook followers than Madonna.

Should artists give away their work?


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