02 October 2010

A Publishing We Go...

I have just announced that my children's story Lost Lullaby has been accepted for publication. The illustrations were done by Jen Davies and the cover art is apparently going to be by Aidana WillowRaven. It is exciting to know that you are on the publishing schedule; not exciting to see how many decades down the road before your book gets printed. I am hoping for a 2012 date but won't be surprised if it doesn't show up until a year or two after that.

Lost Lullaby includes a copy of the instrumental sheet music by the same name, "Lost Lullaby" composed by Daniel J Hay, (that would be me).

I also have recently had my There Be Dragon Eggs accepted for publication. This children's book is both illustrated by, and cover art by, Aidana WillowRaven. The current publication date is early 2011 -- which as we all know is not far from the date of this blog posting.

As the covers become available I will certainly get them posted. Soon there will be new webpages created and posted for each story. Now I have to move in to marketing gear because nobody can rely solely upon the publisher to get their book sales.

If you begin noticing postings, tweets, messages, email signatures, etc. showing up repeatedly or in strange locations -- well, chalk it up for excitement, high stress, and an attempt to make good on sales so other publishers will want to print my face on the back of a book. I'm hoping when they do they will include my stories between the covers.

24 September 2010

Printing Truth...

I keep an eye on all the discussions on getting published, alternate means of publishing your own book, companies that offer various level of author services, etc.

There just isn't any feeling that compares with getting signed by a literary agent, signing a contract on your book with a major publisher, and seeing it come out. I can't vouch for that because I have yet to hit each of those plateaus. Yet, I often work in the publishing industry and recently was Chief Editor. (I've taken a medical and personal leave.)

In the various processes I continually see manuscripts that are not ready to be seen by an agent or publisher and I see books coming off a variety of presses that should not yet have been printed. It is really bad, in my view, to see mistakes in books published by the major publishers. I think an author apology for any errors is stupid. It is more understandable in a small publisher to see some mistakes slip by. But that should be the limit. Books should not have come out of the press, whether it is off-set or print-on-demand with all of the mistakes that we are seeing, and this holds true in epublishing as well.

The problem is that so many people are writing and expecting to be published that the mass is letting mistakes go through to press because they aren't being edited. Combine the non-edited manuscript with a vanity press or a subsidized press and the number of poor books increases astronomically.

Having friends, crit-partners, writing groups, beta readers, et al is worthwhile but that is not a finished edit for your manuscript. I have never, (and I will repeat that), NEVER, seen a manuscript edited by friends and family that was able to go straight to press. I have had to edit material that several editors have looked at, that beta readers have read, or that the family English expert has passed as okay. In all honesty I have to have my own writings edited. I know a retired grammar teacher who has her stories edited by 5-6 editors, and sometimes 3-4 times for each one.

Unless you are just dying to give copies of your book to friends there is no reason to give your book to a vanity press and pay them for publishing. You can do the same with a number of printing on demand services (the same services many major and small publishers use)and have the same results for less money. And also, the unedited manuscript will still be the same unedited manuscript.

If you are proud of your work then get it edited. There is nothing wrong with a subsidy press if what they offer is what you want. It will cost you in different ways, but as long as you determine their offering is acceptable to you then there is no valid stigma - unless your manuscript is not edited.

There are subsidy printers that operate more like a small publisher, providing full editing services to their authors if, IF, their submission is accepted. They can be very good but just need author assistance to afford the publishing costs, marketing included. And best yet, they edit with the authors. They won't accept an unfit work.

You can not complain about being unable to find an agent, or a major publisher, if you have not had your manuscript fully edited: not family, friends, volunteer aspiring authors. You can not adequately edit your own manuscript in today's market and expect to be sought by publishers and readers.

I took a 700 page book back for a refund because it was missing a page. I returned a 500 page book because there were four errors on the first page. I've seen enough ebooks filled with errors, and no way to return them, that I've not yet ventured into ebooks. If I wish to buy poorly edited books I can do that easily enough. But I don't want poor quality books.

Stop and think about your favorite books -- how many errors are in them? The odds are that you will find very few errors in such books -- why would you consider publishing your own books without having made sure your error level is on a par with the books you most enjoy?

Disclaimer: I am an editor. I am for hire. I own a co-op publishing company; a cross between a flat-rate subsidy publisher and the full services of a small publishing house. I'll edit anything. I will only publish what is well written and well edited.

26 August 2010

Bootstrapping CD Recording...

At the suggestion of a Twitter Friend I am posting this page link: http://bit.ly/cGAF2M

It provides a way to donate to my recording project via PayPal Donate Button. Is there a reason you should want to help? I think so. Please take a moment to read, or just jump right to donating.

I compose music in the classical genre for chamber groupings and solo performance. Surprisingly some people think of my music as any of new age, meditational, spiritual, baroque, or renaissance. I also perform with my Flauto Dolce (sweet voice flute) which in the USA are called Recorders. (I assure you this is not the sound of fifth grader Recorders.) If you think of the instruments as wood flutes you will hear and even feel the beauty of their voices.

As a composer I had over 300 pieces of music stolen during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while I was helping a family recover their belongings from a sinking car. The music and also my instruments, which were stolen, were the core of my life. Since then I have acquired some replacement instruments and have written an additional 200+ pieces of music. I am in the midst of a publishing project to get the sheet music in print and archived so I never risk such a loss again. I would like to record all the music to CD masters as well. At present that would take about twelve CDs and 1-4 hours per recording session. A local studio is willing to work with my unique mic'ing requirements for wood flutes. Cost is holding me back. I am looking at total costs of about $70 per hour. At an estimated 30 hrs I need to raise over $2,100.

Because I can record in sessions of one hour each, if needed, I can work with small amounts and spread it out over time. If you would be willing to help with ANY amount of donation towards this project I would be very appreciative. Every donator will be listed on the CD insert by name or @Twittername (by permission) and every donation will receive a thank you gift of select live recording tracks from recording sessions. Donations over $40 will receive a copy of any two CD titles I am able to create. If you donate $200 or more you will receive each CD produced of the music presently written (estimated at 10-12 CDs). {If there are any sales proceeds I will share prorated to donations received.}

11 August 2010

Double-luck Death...

I'm not sure that humans have ever been attributed with multiple lives such as our feline friends enjoy. So what do we call those near-terminal events in our lives that fate prods a fraction past us, or time twists to thrust us just beyond? To me it has to be circumstantial luck.

Some people will attribute such saving moments as being due to a deity looking over us. I'm not about to argue that point because I'd hate to spend time in an intellectual debate when I could be out watching the next event that tries to end my life. I really want to be there when luck fails and death wins. Sorry, I've got no iPod...

You see, many years ago, decades past, a span longer than the number of years I'm willing to count, my life was ended by a white Rambler skidding on ice trying to avoid the foolish paper-delivery boy riding his bike in blizzardy snow sliding down an iced drive-way; a direct course for collision. The car hit me, knocked me off my bike and then slid after me for another fifty feet as if trying to reach me for another attempt. I was 12. He was 21. It was the first time I'd ever flown or gone body-sledding and I lost all memory of the event. I've always felt bad for the driver because the accident was my fault and unavoidable on his part. I was lucky. He was lucky. I lived. A 12-hour concussion later, a bone chip in my knee, and my best friends sneaked into my hospital room even though under the minimum age.

I think death got near twice more that same year. The previous summer I climbed up a steep river-side embankment of cliffish nature. It was vertical broken crumbling dried clay with interspersed chalk on the bank of the North Platte River. I always claimed it was fifty-feet up although as an adult I found the spot again and measured it at twenty-eight feet - the river must have raised the river-bed in the intervening years.

I climbed up that wall with hand holds and foot ledges crumbling nearly as fast as I could find new ones. I was showing off to my sister, of course, who didn't think I'd climb up to the square shaped opening near the top that had a tree hanging over it. At that age I'm sure it had to have been an Indian cave. So up I went. And I made it only to discover that the floor of the cave-like opening was a sloped bed of sand that constantly shifted down and outward causing me to scrabble back on butt, hands, and feet trying to stay in the cave. I feared an uncontrolled descent was about to happen. And there were no mummified remains in there to make the challenge interesting. Finding one small solid spot I suddenly stood and leaped out for the river far, far below.

You've seen the famous leaps off cliffs in to deep rivers that all the movie main characters have to do to evade the avengers riding hard behind them. That was me...out stretched, screaming for more distance, riding the air currents, hoping I'd land in the water instead of the solid shoreline. I made it. Hard. I landed in about 18" of water feet first, striking the bottom very hard even as I tried to roll. It is probably there that I suffered the first major damage to my knees and lower back.

And the previous winter, almost a year before the Rambler, I was caught in a snow storm with my boy scout troop and suffered frostbite and loss of memory. Well, I remember the healing of the frostbite and I remember the telling of the rescue. The National Guard had to come get us; as I have been told. But I have no memory of getting back from the camp site, nor any memory of more than the first night.

There have been other instances which I believe have used up more than a cat's share of lives from being hit on my motorcycle and doing a side-over roll through the air to land in the median wheels down, to triple lighting strikes of light pole, ditch, and road where I had been leaning, falling, running. Excursions that included a face full of glass particles and falling backwards off of a 40' ladder, having a nail bounced off my eye, a knife dropped by my best friend onto my head, massive tree fall on my camp site where my tent had been removed by a dozen feet and only minutes before... Well, enough incidents to last a life time, or more probably a short life time.

However, today death took a double shot at me and almost won. Closer than every other attempt besides using the Rambler to crush me. As my readers my recall, one of my pursuits is photography and near my home is a swamp of murky water and cypress trees and a fabulous stump. At least I call it a swamp. It is, more rightly, a lake of smaller dimensions but from the road I didn't know it had the depth of a lake. I have been waiting for the flood waters, and spring rains to evaporate into the air so that the water level of the 'swamp' would go down enough to wade out in to it. I really, really wanted to photograph that stump. It looks like the head of an elder Ent raising from the murky depths.

Should I remind you that today it was 97 degrees outside, humidity at near suffocating levels, and I'm wading into swamp water that feels like a hot bath; all this while wearing a neoprene wading suit, more commonly known as a boiling bag. The water turned out to be about three feet deep in most places but with a two foot deep mucky bottom. And it was sucky bottom material, trying to pull me in deeper, as if something didn't want me to leave. It took me nearly an hour of maneuvering around underwater logs, through muck and water, feeling out sudden deep holes, and perspiring like I was a leaky fire hose.

My waders kept taking on water every time the depth exceeded the top of the coverall bib. The suit billowed with extra warm water heated by my own body heat as it lay trapped between me and the neoprene suit. Finally, I got to where I wanted to take pictures and began working my way around the gigantic stump, hollowed by fire, openings peering like giant eyes. I tried to ignore the ballooned suit with water temperature surpassing my own, so it seemed, and things swirling around inside it with me.

In the process I forgot to test my footing. I don't have to tell you the result of my forgetfulness. Yes, you got it in one thought. I stepped into a deep hole. A very deep hole. Probably gouged out by the fallen trunk that lay across the bottom that now had me pincered between itself and the mucky bottom and sides of the hole. I'm 5'10" in height and there was no air caressing my thinning hair. My left elbow was locked straight up but it was submerged too. My camera strap, hanging down from where it wrapped my wrist was soaking wet, but my camera was skyward, surrounded only by air and humidity and not swirling in muddy water.

I'm not a smoker, and I play woodwinds. I have good breath control. Today I exceeded that control stuck in a mucky hole in the bottom of a swamp. Given a few more seconds and we could have changed the wording to, "There's a body in the hole with the log in the middle of the sea (swamp), there's a body, there's a body, there's a body in the hole with the log in the middle of swamp (sea)."

In what became somewhat frantic efforts I managed to twist my ankle, smash my knee against the submerged trunk, wrench my back and exacerbate the old broken neck injury. I finally managed to free myself with pain in my lungs, air all gone, head pounding and eyes blanking (or was that the mud). And, best of all, my camera remained rigidly aloft.

I managed to slosh to the stump and lean on it for support while I gasped for air and balance. I thought I was fine, breath under control, and managed to slosh some of the water out of my suit. My camera was safe. I again started taking pictures but carefully felt each step for depth. Yet, in only a few minutes I realized something was wrong with me; I was no longer sweating and my head and face felt feverish. My head started swirling with dizziness and my eyesight was fading.

At age 53 I've had three rounds of heat stroke, all since I moved here five months ago, and I vaguely knew I was in trouble. I clearly said out loud, "Damn'it, Daniel, you're going to die out here and nobody will every find your camera." And that statement was enough to urge me back to shore. Needless to say, I made it back and returned to my truck peeling the neoprene suit off while I stumbled down the side of the road still holding my camera up and away from my body. I yanked down the tailgate and heaved myself on to it setting the camera down in a dry spot and then spewing vile bile and gasping for breath trying to regain my mental equilibrium instead of completely passing out. No passing drivers felt a need to see if there was something wrong.

After twenty minutes, or so, with a slight breeze helping to revive me, I managed to get the camera and myself into the cab but could barely get the door open. Once in, I leaned on the steering wheel while trying to open the bottled water I'd left on the seat. I drank three bottles of overheated bottled water and eventually revived enough to drive the two miles home although with arms quivering and eyes trying to stay focused.

I could not find my set belt which is odd since it hangs from the sidewall but I made it home, or I wouldn't be here now. I sat in the front lawn and then later on my handmade Adirondack chair, with the garden hose pouring on me for nearly an hour before I felt strong enough to go inside. We don't have cold tap water here, which is probably a good thing, the shock of cold water on my overheated body and head may have been to much for me. Yet, it was cooler than my own body and the sun had gone down allowing the temperature to drop a few degrees.

The truth is that this really happened to me yesterday, not today, because I was unable to do more than dry off and collapse on my bed in a dazed, muddled condition when I returned. Why have I shared this with anonymous readers? Perhaps because I realized that I've probably used up more luck, more fate diversions, more twisted timelines, more confrontations with cessation of life than any one person has a right to expect. Maybe more so because I realized that an inanimate object was worth more to me than my human existence. I am the sole human companion to two canine pals. They curled next to me, upon the bed, and licked, licked, licked, arms and legs for hours. My arms and legs. They were showing their concern for me and those companions deserve my affection.

Life doesn't matter so much as how you choose to live it. Death doesn't matter either if you have chosen to live your life.

Hours later I still felt shaky, weak, drained, but managed to imbibe more water and ice-tea, and suck down some fresh tomatoes. I lumbered through a shower, dried, and collapsed back on the bed. My trusty companions no longer played nurse and went off to their own sleeping spots. And so, I knew I was returning to life ... once again lucky, but twice too close ...

25 July 2010

Being Chief Editor...

I was asked today, "What's it like. Being Chief Editor? Is it fun?"

Whoa... Slow down.

I was an editor before, in a time gone by. This is harder.

I was a publisher long, long ago. This is more difficult.

I was an author, edited, and published. This is more complicated.

I was a columnist, regularly. This is tough.

I've been there and done that, all of that. I am finding that being Chief Editor for 4RV Publishing makes me more aware of the lack of hours I have in a week and makes me pay more attention to what I type. Arrggghh!

I have many projects in the works from music I am composing, music I am arranging, music I am publishing, children stories I am writing, editing, and publishing, a photo studio to run, private chores around the house I share with my dogs, neighbors to help out, friends to learn about, Twitter to arouse, and of course assigning evaluations and editing for 4RV. Oh, and last, but not least, editing, final proofs, reproofs, re-edits, and more of both for 4RV.

Through the process I have learned a lot that I hope will be of benefit to me in the future. The odds are I am on the shorter side of my life line now. What I do and when I do it I hope has more meaning and value than most of what I have done in the past.

The tasks I do for the benefit of 4RV are not replacing my insomnia, nor improving my health, but then none of the other projects I take on have provided either benefit. It, nor them, have cured the loneliness that my dogs try to cure for me. Life goes on. I go along with it.

I'm still kicking and struggling with fate. I find being Chief Editor is lots of fun, lots of work. If somebody asks you about your job, your life, your task...you say "Whoa..." and think about it.

I'd take the train through the mountains before I took the speedy tunnel with nothing to look at. How about you?

13 July 2010

On Being Twitterpated...

The following was an email to a new Twitter friend. The reply back was "you should post this in your blog"... or something like that. And, so I did... (ignore all brand names, personal names, any suggestion of suggestions, and any thing that might make sense)...


First, thanks for following my blog. You may be the fourth person to do so...gosh, now I'll have to update it again.

I see you are Tweeting from TweetDeck. This is a good choice. If you haven't already done so set your screen up with a column that shows "mentions" - that will be anything that uses your Twitter address either in sent to you or if mentioned in the text of the message. Then you may want to make a list or two of people you want to be sure to see because once the All Friends gets busy it is hard to see any messages from them. I consider All Friends to be the bane and often don't even have it showing. I have one list that is Fresh and contains the people I don't want to miss. Then I have DM column loaded generally so I can get it too.

In TweetDeck you can turn on an alert and alarms. I have the alerts deactivated but turned on alarms for anything that shows in Mentions or in DM -- then I can ignore the rest generally.

I also went to Conversationlist.org (I think its at .org). It sets up an automatic list of the people you conversed with the previous day - as if you might want to talk to them again today. This means that somebody I spot on another users page, or in my All Friends list that I acutally reply to will show up again tomorrow. Eventually I may move them to my Fresh list or my Rawr list so they are easy to find again.

Of course, with people in columns and on lists you are going to see repeats of messages as they get updated to the columns. Takes a bit of getting used too but is handy. You can also go in to settings and tell TweetDeck not to show any tweet with certain keywords. I use this to remove some profanity and also to remove the hashtags people are using when they are in a group chat mode about some subject I don't want to bother with. It lets me keep them on screen for general chat but doesn't display their chats when hashtagged (#) with a subject they are discussing if I didn't want to be included.

Now for helpful software: Go to www.twitcleaner.com and sign in. It is great and used to be fantastic. Twitter made them stop allowing an automatic unfollow of spam/trash posters. But it will still analyze who you are following and the categories are great. When you see your report the light colored, italics, text are peeps not following you back. If its been three days or so since you followed them it might be wise to trash them.

Generally when I have spare time and am watching All Friends column I just unfollow anybody with a message I don't like. Helps narrow it down - and certainly for spammers. But the TwitCleaner will help you identify them, although at present you have to manually go and unfollow them.

There are other programs, such as SocialOomph that will allow you to autofollow anybody who follows you (a good way to get tons of spammers though). Or, if you have a specific interest in people who use a certain hashtag, do a keyword search in TweetDeck and then start followoing the people who use the keyword. If you use Google Chrome, let me know, because there is a nice extension I use to track users of keywords.

Next, if you like following somebody go to their page and click on who they are following or who is following them and browse the list for possibles.

Unfortunately I haven't found anything that will display the users bio blurb and the last few messages - which to me would be a better way of deciding if I wanted to follow them.

I also set Twitter up to send me any DM I got. It comes as a text message to my phone. You can also have it text you for anybody you want to follow. I used to do that for a few but one I really liked usually starts texting in the 5-6am range when I'm finally trying to sleep - so now just my DMs come in - and they generally arrive before they show up on the computer for me.

If I forgot anything let me know...er, if I remember I forgot anything I'll let you know.

Hope you enjoy,

31 May 2010

Rejections: To Be Or Not To Be...

I consider myself a good story teller. I am not so sure that carries over to being a good story writer or a good editor. I can easily count up the number of rejections I have on my stories because every one is in a folder on my computer. Then there all the implied rejections that float in the dust of silence. I don't like the rejection part of being a writer.

A sudden shift in some warp drive left me open to accepting an internship as an acquisitions assistant editor. That is reading query letters, synopses, and manuscripts. The key is internship, I believe, and it is very hard work for no pay. On a professional basis it could lead to paying positions in the future if I wanted to stick with it. It is a line item that can slip into a resume and bear some weight. Yet, on a personal basis I am not sure I'd want to expend the time needed to fill a full time position where my words are dashed off in short notes that end up dashing the hopes of other writers.

On day one I received a synopsis and first chapter and thinking I was reporting to the editor and publisher wrote up my comments. Other than being completely oblivious to the active voice and passive voice, the former not used and the latter overused, to which the publisher roundly chastised me, my comments were used as the rejection letter to the editor. Yes, mine. I was the one who yanked the cord that released the guillotine. There was enough to the story that the offer to resubmit was extended but the rejection was still tangible. I know the feeling as I have felt that slap many times.

On day two the file sent to me was a manuscript for novel. The publisher wanted my thoughts on whether they should make an offer. So I read nearly 30 chapters of a romance novel. My initial feeling was that it is only the first full I've done for the publisher so surely I'm merely being tested and will receive instructions as a response to my comments. Now, I am not the typical male reader who has never even touched a romance novel. I have, in fact, read a great quantity of them. Unlike many romance novel readers I also read just about every other genre instead of burying my face in a never ending stream of romance novels.

So I am well read and think I can adapt to the task of reading whatever is submitted to the publisher. I may learn otherwise, but have started out with two rejections. Any mistakes in a manuscript should not show up in a simple spell check. In this case a quick spell check disclosed several incorrectly spelled words. This immediately indicates the work has not been polished. Did I like the story? Yes, but it didn't grab my interest enough to make me want to finish reading it. However, I did read it completely and I noted a number of ways the tension could be increased, methods to add more bite to the conflicts, perhaps even refined resolutions. The resulting response to the publisher passed on to the author: As it is we don't want to publish this story, but if you choose to work it over, and polish it, we would be pleased to take another look at a submission.

So what have I done? I have begun inflicting rejections upon authors who share the same shoes I wear, who wear the same hats I change rapidly. They receive those emailed rejections that I dread to see pop into my incoming folder - only now those notices contain my words.

Since the words are mine and come from a publisher does that mean I am now a published author?

21 May 2010

(Book) -- Kaliac...

(Sneak preview...seeking publisher...excerpt...send links to friends...by Daniel J Hay.)

...Smoky grey wisps curled in gentle waves as great wings beat through the clouds with each resting stroke slicing through vaporous layers.

Far below, along the mountain trails, keen eyesight would have noticed a speck in the sky. Only a speck. In dawn’s glow or evening’s dim the speck would seem to be muted hues floating through the clouds. Obviously a bird of prey circling overhead. An active mind would have wondered about how high in the sky the bird was, as it would appear to be far, far, above the highest mountain tops. Most birds of prey would find it hard to stay above such a high mountain peak, but then, most observers wouldn't have been aware of the distance between themselves and the creature just barely in view. More rightly, most viewers, not having keen eyesight, wouldn't even know that Kaliac was above them - the distance so great that human vision would fail.

And then, in the bright of day or the dark of night no human eye would ever discern the wings, talons, or the great feathered tail, as it slithered up and over roiling couds. Each dive pulling apart the vast billowing clouds to drift unseen below.

Kaliac watched the trail through Trader's Pass with some interest. The movements of humans would spook the grazing markhor. Despite being both more massive and more agile than domestic goats the markhor would bound higher and further from the lower grazing trails seeking solitude in their efforts to protect their fawns. Each doe swiftly guided triplets away. The bucks would fan out looking for danger and family groups would disappear up thin winding trails. Elusive creatures. Few hunters saw markhor even though the downy wool, superb hides, and massive spiraling horns were considered valuable. Soft downy fur, pale white and muted amber in individually unique patterns were sought by the wealthy. Sheer crags, deep ravines, plunging trails and finely tuned senses kept the markhor far from most people.

Movement was good. Exposure. Dinner. Suddenly, with speed like lighting, Kaliac plunged. Wings and talons pulled far back he plunged beyond sight of the humans, feathers wind-plastered to face, head, and body. A twitch of tail, and in owlish silence he veered across the face of the mountain and struck with killing momentum. The buck died before realizing he had taken a stance upon a high rock that exposed him to the silent death. No mere mouse; and then they were gone. Kaliac shifted the slight burden to one taloned foot and soared into the clouds before heading home into the far reaches...... (the rest is hidden in the book...)

16 May 2010

Clip Art...

I am not sure what time it is at this moment; surely somewhere between the time I should have gone to bed and the time I normally finally, with great effort, fall asleep. Every so often I actually write material by hand. Whether it is text for the blog, or stories to add to my growing unpublished collection, or even more music - but what I don't do is draw, sketch, paint, or any of the arts in those areas.

I wish that I did because I often have need of art work. In fact, to follow through on my efforts to independently publish some of my children stories I need art - but its not coming from these hands. To create more interesting covers for the music issues I am publishing of my own music compositions I need simple musically related art; simple like in clip art.

Many hours have been spent in perusing the clip art I find on the Internet, and very little of it is usable by me, or for me, and still being free to use. At this time I don't have the budget to allow purchasing art work, graphics, clip art, or hiring an artist. So I keep wasting time trying to find the art work that I can use.

As an example: I am working on the cover for the http://danielhay.magcloud.com issue of "Susan's Concerto" which is for Violin, English Horn, and Bassoon. Can I find usable graphics that both look nice and blend well together (since I haven't yet found one image of all three, or any two of them, together)? Nope, I haven't. Where possible I would like to show an image of the instrument the music is written for - so much better than just a solid color cover with text on it.

It appears that I have to somehow evaluate the available music related art work in a royalty free paid service. Unfortunately I have been unable to find one, yet, that appears to have anything I can use.

So I go back to searching and searching just for the simple pre-made music graphic material; and can't even get close to figuring out a way to get illustrations for my children' fiction. I think I may have to quit working on my projects and get fully employed so I can afford to get the art I need. Somehow that just doesn't seem to fit my schedule but I guess I need to provide income to other people so that I can progress on my own projects.

30 April 2010

Publishing Music...

There are many ways to publish. I have two fields of endeavor needing publishing so I'm always looking for the best way. Not only do we have various technical ramifications we then have marketing concerns for our publications. If they don't sell we don't make an income.

I find publishing music to be even more difficult than the process to get published in the big publishers arena. Knowing that with about 200 pieces of music to publish it would take me years just to query half of them I chose to begin publishing as an independent music press.

The first round, or rather the first effort, is now going to press. I have chosen to use MagCloud.com as the publishing house. They produce magazine format material. Although not the standard for sheet music the format does suffice for collected works of solo music, and for longer works in any chamber groupings. At the time of this posting I have already uploaded four issues of the Solo Music magazine and one issue of the Music of Daniel J Hay magazine.

I call them magazines because that is the format used, the paper type, and the publisher is a magazine publisher. In my own mind I think of them as books. In either case, they are on line to be ordered at any time, are produced only when ordered, and MagCloud.com maintains the files, handles the order, prints, and ships. Then they send me my profits. It may not be a perfect world, but this process is a good substitute.

Having lost all my music once before I don't want to loose the new works at all. So I do have a variety of backups in different locations, and now will have a printable and salable form in another safer location. This does not limit my efforts though. I can, and will, be releasing my music in other forms and to other markets because exposure is required. I don't feel my marketing via MagCloud.com would give me a large share of my intended market. And, in any case, this does not cover the mp3 format at all.

So there will be further publishing to cover different formats and markets. At this time you can access my music issues at http://danielhay.magcloud.com

18 April 2010

Breezy But Not Quite Blustery...

I am sitting in the back yard, the area I fenced off with recycled chain-link fencing and various sized fence posts. I am sure it is not the world's best job but I did a two person job with just myself, and it is sturdy. It is not a stop-gap job but I did not want to pay for anything other than concrete and the pre-cut wire used to attach the fence to the poles. Its only purpose is to allow my dogs to be outside without my constant supervision.

How wonderful it is to be out here in the shade, yet wearing long sleeves while the dogs are sunning themselves a few feet away. As I look up  the steep slope beyond the fence my yard merges into the woods. The tree tops are blowing and birds are visiting. They have eye-balled the dogs and then scratch around in the short growth. "Eureka!" they call out as they snatch bugs and grubs and flitter off to nests hidden in the woods.

It is amazing that the laptop computer becomes nearly unusable out here. It still gets a good signal from the wireless router but the screen is so much darker, and it runs so much slower without the cord running to the wall. I have carved a niche out of the mess that was here and blended my section into the natural border, but nature and technology remain at odds. And nature is winning as it is replenishable and my laptop is not.

Eventually I will string an outlet to extend my convenience to this area, but when I do it will be as unobtrusive as I can make it. Due to the looming forest my back yard spends most of the day in shade at this time of the year. It is not conducive to gardening but I have located two small sections that get greater quantities of direct sunlight. It is likely that instead of doing more arranging and unpacking inside, I'll be out here digging and planting.

I need the convenience of technology for which I pay for satellite connections and cell phone service but I also need the not so blustery breezes, the filtered sunlight, the dancing leaves, and the chatter of the forest and woodlands. I am human so I leave a footprint but it doesn't have to be a vile footprint. I reduce, I recycle, I rebuild, and I regenerate. 

I do so in order that I can sit here sharing nature and technology on equal terms. It is not the home I would prefer if circumstances allowed, but it is a best fit given my goals, my life, and my efforts. So, I'll spend my time improving the here and now, continue to expand my reach, and allow the tang of nature to encompass me.

13 April 2010

A Boy Named Vinny...

Last year, in the midst of Klamath National Forest I was invited to a Memorial Day cookout. I knew two of the forty some people there, and four of the eleven dogs (two of them were mine).

I met some good people there, and more during the summer months I camped at the Hungry Hay Placer Mining Claim. I learned a lot about gold mining, and even found a very small bit of gold that took 4 hrs per day for six months to collect. Not even worth the gas to go to the store and back once, but it was fun.

I learned more about nature and used it to write more music and to write children stories. I remembered, and according to my notes, promptly forgot, parts of my life that had been blanked from my mind. Some memory lost to emotional trauma, some to physical trauma, and perhaps more to vanish as time goes on.

But this is about Vinny...a boy at the cookout who had spent the week at the campsite with his parents to hold the space for the gathering. And it is about a little girl, a friend of his family, who was celebrating her birthday. Now Vinny was a first year violinist and with some coxing from his mother had brought his instrument out to the camp. It was safe in their very long fifth-wheeler, and he had been practicing how to play Happy Birthday.

Vinny's mother felt he had mastered it well enough so she asked him to play if for the assembled guests. Uh oh! Stage fright set in and Vinny could not be persuaded to play. I saw fear in his eyes and a tenseness in his neck and shoulders. I had met Vinny a few days before so wasn't a complete stranger to him. I went over to where he and his mother were discussing it. She trying to persuade him, and him trying to back away.

"Vinny," I said, "I didn't know you played Violin. I played Cello for a very long time, but now I write music for people to play. I compose for most of the instruments in the orchestra." And so we chatted for a bit about his year of Violin playing. What he had learned, and the notes he knew. I told him I would write him a piece of music. And I did. That evening back at my campsite after washing some blacksands down to the cleanest particles...I pulled out a sheet of music paper and wrote Vinny's Tune.

The following day was the last of the gathering. I drove the four miles over there and presented the music to Vinny with his father present. These days it is not wise to offer children anything without a parent at hand. They need the security of knowing the offering is okay with their parents. The parent needs to know they have control, and that the offering is not something wrong. There is too much wrongness in the world as it is.

As most young boys, Vinny didn't really appreciate the gift immediately, but after his mother came over to join us and started asking him what notes this one, that one, and those, were he perked up a bit. I left him a message that the tune was his. Whatever his mood he could play that tune and take it slow or fast to suit himself. It could be sad, it could be speedy, it could be slow, it could be happy. And so it is. It is Vinny's Tune. I also told him that I hoped he continued playing for many, many years.

Why would I talk about Vinny and his tune? Because I have three children, whom I have also written music for, and named the pieces for them. They have yet to hear them, and may never hear them, as I don't know where any of them live. There is much I don't know, bits I do, and much I fear to know. Is it emotional? Yes. Is it physical? Yes. Will I live long enough to overcome either or both? Perhaps not.

This year I expect much of my music will be published and archived in other places than just on my computers. Someday perhaps my children will find my works, including the simple Vinny-like tunes bearing their names. They don't have to like them, but they will know that often I think about them and wish that the blanks were filled.

I am thinking that after I have posted Vinny's Tune for a short while I may post the pieces for my children. I may do that. I may forget because much of the present gets forgotten, but by writing here I may get around to it yet.

I seem to recall wanting a round-tuit.

29 March 2010

Spirit of Amraah...

It wasn't her given name but Amraah used a chosen name. She was a unique individual of an indeterminate age. She was older than my 51 of the time, and yet not so old she couldn't take care of herself on her travels through life.

She drove a van that she called Bear, and I think she told me he was Red Bear. She lived in her van and had been living in a vehicle for 15 years or more. She traveled where she wanted and kept limited contact with the world by laptop. Amraah was on a spiritual trip and felt infused with the spirituality of life.

In the middle of a forest, on a seldom used road, she stopped to help me where my truck was stranded. Three other people from the area had driven right by me. Amraah, on the otherhand, was not from the area and was just out looking and searching and had chosen this road for a reason she could not explain. Yet, she stopped to help a man she didn't know, and who with long ratty looking hair, beard, old beat-up truck, and two dogs, probably didn't look to savory.

After trying to jump start the battery in the truck she offered to drive to town, 38 miles away, so that I could get a new battery. During the drive she didn't drown me with her spirituality but there was an aura about her that told me she was different than anybody I had known before.

Before we parted ways I told her I wanted to name one of my music compositions after her. I told her that it wouldn't necessarily be about her but that I liked naming music for people. In this case the music turned out to be about her and to explore some sense of her spirit.

She gave me her business card so that I could tell her about it. And then I lost it for ten months. Today I found it and sent her a copy of the music "Spirit of Amraah" so that she will know I kept my word. I wrote the music that very night after returning to the woods and my truck. It is a different piece and the computer generated recording does not do it full justice because the repeats are taken at different tempos, but I hope she will like it.

As of the date of this posting it is also in the side bar for anybody to listen too, although at some point that mp3 player podcast will be changed to another piece of my music. For now, I hope the spirit reaches Amraah, and that it entices you as well.

14 March 2010

On The Road...

March 14th -- Unlike most blogs that make multiple entries per day, or one per day, my blog is less precisely timed. You might say that it is calendorically challenged. (I could have used "calendric" but "calendorically" seems to fit better.) This particular entry may be updated over the next several days or weeks as I progress across country from California where I can nearly touch Oregon, to Memphis, Tennessee which Google Maps tells me is a "1 day, 17 hr." drive. I hope to have the cameras ready to go during the trip, several of my Recorders, music scoring paper, and the laptop. I just may stop at any moment whether there is a railroad crossing or not.

--- There are a number of photographic projects I've deferred working on until I returned to a more populous area. I hope to finish planning them out so that when I've completed moving into my Memphis house I can get started on them again. Of course the music writing and practising, and the child lit. is like a faucet with no turn off valve. I've spent a year now in camping mode, more secluded then ever before, perhaps even lonelier than ever. I'm not sure if that stimulates or retards my music and writing. I guess time will ... In the mean time, you may want to bookmark this blog and watch it for periodic updates during the travel.

March 24h -- Well that didn't work too well. My long slow drive across country turned into a race in front of snow storms and heavy rains. I am now in my home in Memphis and just this evening got the internet up and running with the new satellite dish on the roof.  The trip itself was a challenge. I got run off the road in New Mexico by a big dark green semi. If you see any, look for tan paint on the driver's bumper and let me know. I ended up in the median bouncing across rocks with my overloaded truck. Blew two tires and had to replace all four. I had no other damage and the rest of the trip was uneventful other than stormy weather.

--- Upon arrival I moved right in and began some of the repairs that still needed to be done. Papers are signed and the house is mine now (as long as I make the payments). I've meet some of my neighbors and shared some hardcore yard work with Barry across the street. He suffered gout and I had swollen joints from unloading. But we got the edging all done for both yards, and helped their landlady (also mine) move stuff. Benefits us all, so we did well.

--- Also had 750 emails to handle and only half were spam that the filters missed. I have several photography projects pending for which I had advertised via Craigslist. I had a slew of messages regarding them so those projects may be on the way soon. The studio space is not quite what I expected but I hope to make use of it so I don't have to rent a studio. It will work well for the recording of my music I plan, and the video recordings for YouTube.

--- My employee in the Phillipines has continued working while I was on the road so other projects are moving forward as well. All in all I guess the month turned out better than it started.

--- Just as I was preparing to move, and finishing helping my friends move a friend of theirs, a dear friend proposed. I am sorry to say that I have had to turn down the offer simple. As some of the stress evaporates from the move process, and the projects get under control again, perhaps I will be able to consider her offer with the illumination that considers the welfare of both of us and not just my own selfish reasons. I have, for ten years, been a single person, but I truly enjoyed being part of a family. Life will wait on me and we shall see what happens.

Final -- Since this did not turn into a daily journal of my 2500 mile trip this is the last entry for this blog title. My dogs are snoozing on the floor in comfort. They have had all week to stretch out in any corner, on all the furniture, and even convinced me to put a step-up to the very tall bed for them to get up there to sleep as well. They have checked out the woods, the yard, the neighbors' yards and have decided that this is home. At least, as long as the food dish and water dish are filled and they can give me directions to make their life pleasant, then they are happy with where we are at. For those of you whom have read this, you will see that it is different from my standard blog posts, but it was a major change in an old life that is springing forward with a new spark. If you enjoyed this I hope you will still read my other blog entries. If you didn't like this one, then you most certainly need to read the others because they are different.

07 March 2010

Lady Grey...

My favorite Internet haunts are overflowing with inane comments on what is happening at the Oscars. Like most programs on television, I figure if I wanted to know what was happening I'd turn on a television. The fact that I don't own one anymore is a moot point, I could easily buy one or just visit somebody who already has it on (or never turned off).

Instead of growing irritated at the flow of messages that I can't filter out without turning off the people I normally enjoy reading, I'm sitting here drinking a huge mug of Lady Grey tea and listening to the "Taking Tea With Lady Grey" trio that I wrote a short time ago. I am both writing at projects and composing another piece of music in snippets at a time.

As Lady Grey comes to a close I click on replay, click on the tab for the score, contemplate a few notes, click on the blog screen and enter a few letters, then back to the score, the blog, the score, the blog, and eventually to a moment of pause and bliss. Those moments are when I sip tea and consider the mood that the music just provided.

Listening to one piece of music while writing another one is a challenge. The first challenge is to make sure I don't mimic the aural sounds with the new written sounds. I don't want a clone of Lady Grey. I found her to be both tasty as tea, and delicious as music but do not need to create a copy of her. She is there for my enjoyment as desired.

Just a moment, click, click, click, click, the process had to be started over. When I tire of the same music I'll simple click on the mp3 player and have it randomly play through all of my music. Music from solo to an eighteen voice brass ensemble. Trumpets, trombones, timpani, to piano, strings, woodwinds and brasswinds. And because I play Recorder many of the pieces are computer-voiced as Recorder.

It makes for a pleasant time without the repetitive voice and commercials on television. It lets me do what I want to do while I plan for a move across country to a house with space for my studio. And it lets me still enjoy the onslaught of Internet activity - I just bypass the parts I don't wish to view.

So all is fine in the world when taking your tea with Lady Grey...

26 February 2010

Pay It Forward Project...

Some of my friends and readers will recall that I lost most of my instruments in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Along with the file box of over 300 pieces of my composed music, all of my handmade wood Recorders, and my handmade Cello were stolen while I was helping a family retrieve their items from a partially submerged car.

I still have not replaced all of my instruments. I probably will never be able to because of the expense, however, I have received several handmade recorders since then as gifts. I can never thank those people enough for their help. I still don't have a cello although I did buy a very cheap one which actually fell apart in the repair shop. I have since composed another 100+ pieces of music. So, life goes on...

As those people helped me I try to help others. There is a delightful lady in Brazil, Clara Borges, who plays Cello in several orchestras, plays piano, and Recorders. She also teaches music. Her cello is needing repairs that she can not afford to have done. Can you help her?

I have created a webpage at http://bit.ly/cuoxts just to help raise donations to help Clara. Any donation amount will be most appreciated. Please read the webpage for details. Please note the return policy if enough money is not raised.

All donations will also receive a pdf file of one of my compositions. The greater the donation the more pieces of music I send. I have pieces suitable for most orchestral instruments so be sure to tell me what you prefer.

24 February 2010

(Book) -- It Is A Colorful Day...

(Sneak preview...seeking publisher...excerpt...send links to friends...by Daniel J Hay.)

It is a colorful day today. The sky is super blue and the sun is blazing yellow. A few puffy white clouds are floating along. I like those colors.

The grass is greener than a frog. The tree bark is browner than a worm. The house is painted pink. And I like those colors too.

I wonder what color I should make my clothes today? Should they match? Should they clash? Stripes, or dots, or perhaps ziggity-zaggity every which way.

If I had a rainbow I could wear it on my shirt.

If I had a cloud I could paste it on my shoe.

Or maybe I could mow the yard and cover myself with grass.

Okay now, I'm looking in my closet. I think I can find just what I want to wear.

Ah, a shirt that is light brown with short sleeves. On the back it has a big blue ball with white and green. Oh its the world. The entire planet printed on my shirt. On the front a big red heart.

And shorts, hmmm, blue, or green, or black, or brown, or... there they are... Stripped shorts in red, white and blue with gold and silver stars all over. Yes, those will be cool.

Socks will be fun to choose. I think I'll wear a neon-green sock on my left foot. It even has an orange stripe around the top. For my right foot I shall wear a black sock with lots of white dots.

Then I will put on a red sneaker for my left foot and tie it with yellow shoe string. On my right foot a green sneaker with a purple shoe string.

Look at me. I am covered with colors. All I need now is a funny looking hat.

Can you fine one for me to wear?
(Ends with a picture of many hats jumbled in a closet.)

14 February 2010

Feeding Mind and Body...

In today's short blog I would like to introduce you to www.feedingmindandbody.com and their efforts to spread books to families. They are associated with author David Baldacci's literacy foundation - www.WishYouWellFoundation.org.

Why am I telling you about those organizations? Because I believe one of the strongest pillars in personal growth, in national development, and solutions to the world's problems begins with educated minds. Educated means minds that are aware, that seek, that enjoy, that learn, and that share. This comes from imaginations that are stretched and exposed to new ideas, that explore the history and the future, and from developing innate intelligence. This comes from reading.

And so, I hope you will assist by donating as you see fit. Give books and you give new ideas. Support reading and you expand minds.

My own effort to donate will be contributing one of my children's stories for Feeding Body and Mind to distribute in any manner and any quantity that grant or donation support will allow. My contribution is the entire title and rights. Could your contribution be the funds for them to produce and distribute to those eager minds they serve?

If you are an artist able to illustrate this title with one or more contributed illustrations it will speed the donation along. If you would like to help a family read instead of starring at a flickering screen then email me at danielhay@gmail.com to see a story draft for which you can create art.

13 February 2010

(Book) -- Enchanted Fire...

(Sneak preview...seeking publisher...excerpt...send links to friends...by Daniel J Hay.)

The Story of the Enchanted Fire...or...The Boy With a Measuring String...

Once upon a time... Oh bother! Its another one of those stories. You know the type. Those stories that just could not be real. Nothing in life could happen the way those stories say they do. Nope. Not at all.

Nevertheless, we will go on with the story. However, just so you know... this story is real. Don't shake your head in doubt. Really, it is a real story. Truthfully it is a true story. Honestly. Honest.

You don't believe me? Phooey on you. Just go ask your librarian. Do it tomorrow or the next day, okay? (Uh, don't mention my name though.)

Anyway, once upon a time...ah let's just skip to the action...

“Grrrr...” (See, action already.) “Pokay, mokey, slokay, hokey,” growls the old man in a tall pointed hat. “Scrats, bats, colo, bolo,” he continues, “within this room you shall stay for eternity. Fire, spire, flame, smame, my treasures here you will guard.”

(Note: never rhyme the last words of spells or they explode on you.)

If we were actually with the spell caster we would see a sudden explosion of flame as a fireball bursts throughout the dark room. You would have seen his grizzled face sizzling in the heat as flame burst into existence.

“Aiieiee...” screeched the man as he stumbled backwards. He turned and ran up the tunnel he had laboriously carved into the mountain. When at last he reached cool night air any hidden viewer would have seen... well... a mess.

The wizard, for that is what he was, now wore a charred black hat. His face was scorching red. His beard and eyebrows were turned to ash and fell off even as he shook ash from his badly burned robes.

“Well, that is that,” he grumbled to himself. “My treasures are safe. Nobody can survive that guardian flame,” he laughed as he staggered away.

You know, of course, that many years went by. As the wizard traveled from place to place he would tell of his wonderful treasures and how he had protected them. He bragged about his eternal flame guardian. He said none could stand... (the rest is hidden in the book...)

01 February 2010

Tree of the Pyramids...

Some time back in history, during the dull, dry, text of bygone ages, there was a tree. Although this tree had never been exposed to humans and therefore didn't know an Egyptian from a Mayan, it was alive while pyramids were being built in more than one place of the world.

Something like 4,500 years ago stones were being quarried and heaved across the lands. They were carved and stacked, hauled, placed, and piled higher and higher, higher and deeper. The tree, just sunk it's toes deeper into the cool soil beneath the swamp. It was overlooked, nobody came around to cut it for firewood, nobody used it for construction of homes or palaces.

The tree, a common Swamp Oak, sometimes felt that it was all alone in the world. It was alone. It had outlived all the other nearby trees, and old trees just rot away. It didn't know that humans didn't want to build anything out of it. It just continued to grow and mind its own business.

Far away, pyramids were built and somehow the tree was destined to bear a carving that was even then being carved into walls of stone. It didn't feel the rumble of stone, nor hear the crash of carved stone striking the earth, but somehow a connection formed from far distant pyramids to the heartwood of this tree.

Years later, centuries later, thousands of years later, the pyramids are still in place. The swamp tree, long since having died, is discovered. It is not rotted away like it should have been. It hasn't turned to stone from petrification. The Swamp Oak is just very old wood and it is beautiful.

Parts of it made their way to an artist who carves Blockenflotes (Recorders) and slowly works of art were created. The art took the form of beautiful recorders from wood not normally chosen for such usage, but from wood that was over 4,500 years old. The wood from the heart of the Egyptian-ages Swamp Oak. As a sign of honor to its age the instruments are visual masterpieces as well as beautiful sounding playing pieces.

The carvings from the stone wall shared in these creations and were also carved into the new instruments. The link from far distant Egypt to the heart of the Swamp Oak was completed in limited editions only.

As a composer of new music for a very old family of instruments, and as a player of both modern and older version of those Recorders, I would like to obtain a set of the Egyptian Wood recorders. I would like to write new music for the old heart wood. I want to take those ancient wood instruments to young budding artists in our schools. I want to take the link from pyramids to a lonely old Swamp Oak to fertile minds of the modern world.

To do this I need to raise contributed funds of $4,500 to buy a set of instruments made from 4,500 year old wood. I am not tax exempt, but I would willingly form a non-profit if doing so will prove receipt of needed funds. I will make sure that all contributors are listed in the material honoring these fabulous instruments and the concert tours using them. If there are any proceeds from tours using these instruments those proceeds will be donated to other artistic programs as a way of paying forward on the heart of the old Swamp Oak.

If you can make any contribution please visit this link: http://eCa.sh/NPUw

25 January 2010


There are lots of nano-gnomes in my keyboard. They are always dodging this way and that, tumbling upside down, getting mashed by quickly depressed keys, but still they manage to change much of what I type. It is a never-ending story...that of trying to quash the pesky rascals. They must not have been hungry or they would have left supper where it belonged instead of making it super.

They do those things just to hear my explicative and expletive command of language -- where else do you think gnomes learn their troublesome magic spells. They only times I have ever found them helpful is thusly:
  1. They have an uncanny knack of infecting keyboards of typists and writers. This makes a great means of sabotage or revenge. It is very simple, just hold down the Cntr-Alt keys and every so softly whisper the URL of your target. In a blur you'll see a blue streak whirl through the keys and blast into the internet dragging bits and pieces of verbal flotsam and keyboard jetsum. Vouched, warranted, guaranteed. You'betcha'
  2. Or, if you are studying the history and magic of gnomes you will find that they make less havoc in your results. It doesn't seem to matter much to them which variety of gnome you are writing about being that they are a very close-knit species. However, there is a miniscule improvement if you are specifically reporting on nano-gnomes.
In the softest tones you can whisper in, if you speak of dropping snack cake crumbs, or tiny bits of fresh chocolate chip cookies, fibers from your clothes such as threads and lint, flakes of dead skin, hair, and nail clippings, they will calm down in anticipation of these edible or usable rewards. Mostly though, they can't hear the human voice as it is like the roar of a storm gale. This leaves us severely handicapped in our struggle for normalcy on the keyboard.

In closing, I should remind you to frequently clean your keyboard with a high-powered vacuum cleaner running at full power. There is no need to toss the debris into the nearest blender set on puree for they will immediately escape once you turn off the vacuum. No, your only defense is to leave the vacuum running, attached to a very long extension cord, and toss it into the ocean. Not the river, the lake, or the nearest pond. It has to be an ocean because only passing seahorses are attracted to nano-gnomes escaping from a drowning vacuum cleaner.

Remember to buy stock in your favorite vacuum cleaner manufacturer and carry insurance on runaway drowning vacuums. It will save you a lot of headaches. And never mention within a mile of a keyboard how you disposed of your vacuum cleaner.

20 January 2010

Query: Likes me, likes me not...

Like me, like me not, likes me, likes me not...

Ever play that game while pulling petals off of a flower? Sometimes that is what if feels like when sending query letters to literary agents. We have to keep up hope with every sent query. Yet, we know all of them are going to be ignored or returned with a "likes me not" note. There is no roller-coaster to equal the up and down emotional ride we subject ourselves too. Yet, we know that we have to continue sending, sending, and sending, because somewhere there is an agent who will read it and exclaim, "likes me!"

The literary agents we seek have requirements we must meet or they won't bother with our submission. So we struggle to meet them, one by one, group by group. As a writer we should be spending our time writing a new story or polishing our words to make the book better. Instead we are seeking representation and seeking, seeking, seeking.

I do not exoricate all agents. Oh no, not at all. For there are great agents in the folds. There are bad agents mixed in, and there are a lot of average agents. The same holds true for all social strata, all professions, all people. We desperately want to slalom our way, carving into the path of the best agent for our book. Still, although we jump the yawning gaps, hurl through hoops, and hone our words, there are inevitable road blocks we can not help but to slam against.

Let me tell you about one blocking wall I ran into today. I was given the name and email address of a potential literary agent dealing exclusively in the genre I write. I could not find an address nor a webpage so I emailed a note asking permission to send a query. As I only had the email address I wanted to find out where to send a query letter.

Ms. Agent responded with a short email that said I could send my query to her at this email address. She requested I put "Query" into the subject line. She also indicated that a webpage was being constructed.

Perfect! I had permission to send a query. And, so I did. Before clicking on the send button I reread my effort. I reread the submittal again. I reread both the query letter and the submittal text again, and again. Then I reread it one more time.

Perfect! It seemed to be perfect. It just had to be perfect. So with the click of a mouse I was again soaring skyward with projected hopes of an agent awaiting my query. With anticipation I had become so used to I tossed and turned with fractured dreams during the night. When morning came I had finally calmed down knowing that I would probably be waiting for weeks and weeks. Knowing that in those weeks and weeks I could expect another rejection or no answer at all. 

Expectations quelled, I powered up the laptop and steeled myself to confront the day's agenda. BLINK! blink, blink, blink. The email notifier was blinking at me. I looked and there in the special folder was a response from Ms. Agent. 

Ever have an instant adrenaline surge? Excitement crash over you? Ever feel propelled by a success you had schooled yourself to never hope for? There it was. Blood pressure soared, muscles quivered, fingers itched to type and tears glistened. Such a fast reply could only mean one thing...

NOT! It didn't mean anything good at all. Instead it was an email from Ms. Agent that said, "Thank you for this opportunity.  Unfortunately, I am presently swamped with submissions and can't offer to read even one more.  I am sorry and wish you success in finding an agent with more time to devote to your interests."

Wow... ever have an instant adrenaline surge? Waves of anger swirling over you? Ever feel denied after doing all the right steps? Ever want to curse and swear...?

I did, did, and did. Tell me please, what was the purpose of asking permission to send a query. Right! To make sure I was jumping in the correct hoop. What was the meaning of the response telling me I could send the query to that email address? Correct! To let me know that I could send a query to that email address.

Then why would a return to the actual submittal be a simple "I'm to busy to read your query?" What was the purpose of saying the query could be sent? Why not respond the first time with, "I'm sorry I am to busy to accept new queries at this time?" Or, as is more prevalent these days... why bother to respond at all?

Some literary agents do use autoresponders for queries. It lets the submitting author know the email did arrive and was not lost in spam. Most times those responses inform the author of the expected delay the agent has on being able to read the query. Some even give further directions. Most no longer bother to send a rejection notice although it should be easy enough to drag the query to a folder and have an assistant later send a canned rejection. In fact, they could use an autoresponder on the query address that lets the author know email arrived. It could state, "If I find I/agency is not the match for your work I will send a blank reply to your email so you can continue to direct your efforts appropriately." If you haven't received a reply within 4-6 weeks please feel free to contact ...." Nice, eh? Let us know you got our work, let us know you aren't going to represent it, and keep the ball rolling. 

This is all understandable due to the tremendous amount of queries they receive. But, if you are too swamped to read a query why bother telling the submitter to send it in the first place. I consider such a breech of etiquette. It is with some dismay that I realize that I am not in a position to do something about it. 

To the back burner it goes. It will not be deleted but will sit there and simmer. Perhaps...perhaps it will goad me on to make better query letters to submit to other agents. Perhaps it really was a canned response that Ms. Agent uses instead of a rejection of the material. I'd expect more truth in a rejection but some people can't handle expressing the truth. Perhaps it was an automatic responder Ms. Agent uses to allow herself time to actually peruse the text later and then when finding one she likes she comes back and says it was a mistaken auto response. Again, an unfair process.

For this author it is just one more stone wall thrown up to prevent success. Stone walls can be climbed. Stone walls can be gone around. Stone walls can be gone under. And a stone wall built on a weak foundation can be toppled. 

11 January 2010

(Book) -- Big Sister's Crocagator Letter

(Sneak preview...seeking publisher...excerpt...send links to friends...by Daniel J Hay.)

Dear friends,

Daddy took us fishing. It was not far to go. Down the big wide road we went, brother, sister, and me. We bounced upon our seats and tried to guess where we would turn.

The road curved south. The sign pointed to the left. Daddy went the other way and somehow got it right. There it was, the river and fishing ponds. Here a camp grew where the river made a bend. It flowed one way and then bent the other way. Daddy said the big bend was like our elbows. We should just hope it doesn't bend right back on us. If it did we would have to bend down to walk straight.

We looked at each others, brother and sisters. We giggled with hands over our mouths. If daddy heard us he'd tell another silly story. And then soon we would be laughing so hard our tummies would hurt.

Then mommy would look at daddy in that special way and say, "Daddy!" And we could all take a breath and stop laughing. Whew! I am glad. Laughing too much is silly.

We got to our camping spot. We got out of the car. Mommy and daddy said we could play on the merry-go-round next to our camping spot. Wheeee! 'Round and 'round we went. Ohh... dizzy we got.

When all of our camping gear was set-up we headed to the fishing ponds. On the way we stopped on a long wooden dock. It went way out into the lake. We watched crocagators swimming. There were fifty, or one hundred, or maybe one thousand. Long tails swished the water. Big eyes watched us. Gigantic mouths with a billion long teeth snapped together.

Both mommy and daddy said the same thing, "Stay away from them!" Wow. That's a rule when both say the same thing. And I asked why the sign said, "DO NOT FEED CROCAGATORS, if all those other people were feeding them"

Daddy said that many people ignore signs even when it is for their own safety. He pointed to the dock and said, "See those people? They are standing just six feet above the water. That is about from my head to my toes. They think they are safe. But they aren't. And they are teasing the crocagators with food."

He told us that the crocagators were six feet long. Some were ten feet long. Others were even longer. Somebody could reach out to drop food and any of those crocagators could jump up and SNAP! no hand, or no arm. Or worse, no little child.

Then we walked on to the fishing area. We got to carry our own fishing poles. Little sister even carried a small fish net but she wanted to catch butterflies. She called them flutterbies because daddy told her that is what they are named. Brother used to call them that. I used to call them that too. Daddy grinned at us, so we didn't say anything.

Mommy had a picnic basket. Daddy had an ice chest and the fishing gear box. We were all ready. I like catching fish. I always catch more ..... (the rest is hidden in the book...)

03 January 2010

Watching Fish And Patient Turtle...

When I first moved from Nebraska to New Jersey I felt somewhat out of place. We had moved from a town of 25,000 to a church camp and conference center with a neighboring town of 167 people and twelve thousand cows. I might be slightly off on the count of the cows since I didn't meet all of them, but Johnsonburg dairies sent seven or eight semi-trailers of milk to NYC every day. I am positive that it took more udders than it did people.

The camp was over 400 acres in size and I spent a great deal of time wandering the woods, investigating the swamps, the creeks, the springs, and the lake. I learned a great deal of nature and introduced myself to wild food harvesting. Once a year I would visit a spring-fed creek and collect a few mussels that the raccoons had not gathered. I cooked them in a broth I made from watercress and one small stewed fish. Ummmm... delicious.

I found I didn't enjoy catching and eating fish as much as I enjoyed watching them. I thought of myself as a budding musician then. I'm still budding all these years later and no longer have my handmade 12-string guitar because I gave it to my son-in-law. But my first summer at the camp I had a wonderful Yamaha acoustic and then later I had my Maton 12-string.

I learned to modulate sounds and how sound waves traveled through the air, wood, and water. The camp had floating swimming cribs and floating docks. Many evenings I would sit on the docks and play my guitar and sing, and watch the fish. The sunfish would gather around me first and fan out like steel filings attracted to a magnet. Behind them the bass would form and sometimes a few bullhead would gather below the sunfish. A large snapping turtle would cling to the outer edges of the floating swimming cribs and not move.

They weren't just immersed in the water, they were engrossed in the sounds. The fish in our lake preferred the minor keys and modes. If my chord patterns stayed in the major group too long the bass would slowly back away and vanish. The turtle would start looking around and the sunfish just disappeared. I learned to toy with my finned audience and could make them move as if choreographed ballet. At times I felt as if playing for the fish healed my soul from the hurts of adolescence.

Being a child of the camp director made "belonging" difficult. I belonged there but all the visitors were off-limits. It was difficult to stay aloof from the people there but I had a few friends and I had the fish. I am sure that none of the fish remembered my discussions with them, but perhaps that snapping turtle would remember. The turtle was still there, or seemed to be the same one, when I revisted the camp fifteen years later.

My father released the caretaker and their family moved away. I was heart-broken and shared my anger and disappointment with my congregation of gathered fish. I told them and the turtle of my sadness for the caretaker's daughter had captured my heart. She smiled and my world was lighted. She touched me and my soul melted. She taught me the majestic beauty of a horse and how to ride. And it was the turtle clinging to the wooden slats of the swimming cribs that heard it all. I entertained the fish with my music and their slow dance cured my riven heart.

I wonder if that turtle remembers the beautiful blond I fell in love with in a later summer and then surprisingly met again when I switched schools. My best friend David and I got to play ping-pong with her and her friend. She never new how much I wanted to talk to her more, but the turtle did. In the new school she knew me but just didn't know what I had felt for her.

Did the fish remember my anguish at breaking up with a high school sweetheart one year, then actually having her arrive at the camp with her parents and sister? Probably not, but the turtle would recall how excited I was then and the love songs I wrote for her even though she preferred Peter Frampton. And my circle of fish, with fins waving as they slowly drew in closer to my guitar and lamenting voice, drew closer still when tears coursed my cheeks when again my Martianette severed our ties. No longer to be her Preppie, but the turtle patiently listened to my pain.

One night under the stars a new throb in my heart sat with me and talked for hours into the early dawn. Under the shining stars and glorious moon she shared my heart with the ballet of fish and my good friend the snapping turtle. We sang together and they danced. We held hands while we talked and the fish drew in close as if they too wanted to be so close as we. But age and time drew us apart as well and the fish gathered near to sooth my soul once again. The turtle floated in the water and watched me and listened patiently.

And so I've learned patience of my own. I have no fins to steer my course. I have no shell to protect me. But I've known drawn hearts, twinned souls, and merged minds. My fish are gone and my turtle too, but those beautiful girls grew up to be beautiful women and fill me with wonder every time I see them in the distance or hear of their dances through life. The didn't know the inner me, but my fish did. They may not remember our fleeting pasts, but my turtle did and may still. And I remember.

So it is to fish and turtles, and all nature, that I turn for soul soothing. And it is with great interest that I learn about more wildlife, and I am always reminded of past love when I see nature at work. The mermaids of my youth weren't fictional. They were and are unique persons and I still sing to watching fish and talk to patient turtles.

01 January 2010

Happy New Decade...

Here we are in the year 2010, a few steps closer to 2525, and everybody has been wishing friends a Happy New Year. Yet, something is missing.

It is somewhat like Rabbit Rabbit Day. Some of my friends may remember Rabbit Rabbit Day, and at least one most certainly should remember it. The day came around on the first of every month when a smiling young lady would walk around campus and wish everybody a Happy Rabbit Rabbit Day.

Well, the new year is similar, it just comes around on the first day of each new year. But how would you feel if you were the decade and nobody remembered to pass on wishes for your new time? Miserable! Of course, so while we are all thinking of having happy new years, we should remember that this is the start of a new decade and decades have feelings just like years. If we take the time to wish our friends a happy new decade then we are empowering each of the new years within the decade.

Once empowered with the umbrella decade having a good span of time, then the shorter, although more prolific, year span has a stronger base to work from. A Happy Decade would therefore most certainly mean a Happy New Year as well.

I think it deserves consideration, and, in fact, should have its own holiday parties. The Happy Decade should be adorned with falling tinsel balls, big spot lights, and lots of foolish people shouting and drinking just like for its smaller sibling.

So, to get that ball rolling I will take it upon myself to wish you all a Happy New Decade, and of course a smaller Happy New Year.