About Writers, book promotion, Stories, writing technique

Carl E. Reed, Where Are You?

Writers of every stripe, self-published or working on it, brand-published, with minimal support, or else cut loose by a bankruptcy, the rug pulled out from under, we all need stroking and advice and a place to vent. Discouragement is a permanent part of our lives.

I fear this is what Carl Reed is experiencing right now. He’s written great stuff. He’d acquired some industry connections – last I spoke to him he said he’d just had lunch with an agent. But he has not made it out of the shadow, into the sun, not even in a small way. I google him up, I get nothing. I see links to Amazon, and to old interviews on Book Country, but nothing new. I don’t know how that web discovery thing happens, I can’t even think of what it’s called, but if this title pops up in a search and someone who knows Carl sees it, maybe we’ll get some info on him, or even a visit.

Think down the road. You’ve tried and tried, put your heart and soul into it, and nothing shakes out. What do you do? Keep plugging? Reclassify your writing as an absorbing hobby? Give up, like Arnbar, my friend from Book Country? Who writes beautifully, with a Mel Brooks-style commercial potential, my only criticism of his work was that it was too much of a quip-dependent stand-up routine. I couldn’t see it working for a novel. A novel of one-liners isn’t going to cut it.

My own coping strategy – I’m not kidding, folks – is I am convinced my work will be read down the line. Decades hence, even. That does me, does me just swell. The good thing about being a dead author is, I won’t have to give interviews. (I’m a raging introvert.) I’m not counting on making any money, so I won’t be disappointed there. I don’t yearn to be traditionally published, luckily, for I don’t think my thing has the necessary wide appeal. I feel for all you who chase that dream.

To put your all into a project, and wait and wait for a breakthrough is a soul-stomp indeed. The advice is, move on, start another piece, so that when you hit, you have two, three, many things to sell. That can keep you going for a good while.

Short stories, I don’t believe they have an impact until they reach a critical mass with wide distribution, or they are goosed by a well received novel, at which point we find them in big mainstream magazines. I was introduced to Irwin Shaw around 1960 by a story in Ladies Home Journal, I believe it was, that was quietly sexy (for 1960), drawing outraged letters to the editor. Filth! Trash! Filthy trash! Cancel my subscription! If you want a laugh, the title was: A Year To Learn The Language.

Major exposure is a coup, certainly. Lesser, as I’ve said, I’m dubious. My cousin by marriage Jim Meirose has been published in many literary journals (looking at his list again I see they are not the big names I thought they were), and has been interviewed several times in Central New Jersey newspapers, and he writes gorgeously and tastily, but still struggles, much as we do, looks like to me.

He’s got his style in hand, he told me he feels no further need to discuss writing. He must feel the same about marketing, or he would have barged in here by now. He’s interviewed and submitted and queried, worked it, for twenty years, first part time, now full time. He retired from the corporate world, probably with a nice pension, one of the lucky ones, two or three years ago.

His wife, my blood cousin, came out of a fervent Catholic family. That whole crew, it was the this society, the that society, the Catholic Young Adults, the whole nine yards. If anyone is in line for a miracle, it’s them. It takes something of a miracle, I’m afraid. That’s why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we fail. We’ve fought the good fight, done something grand.

All together now, with feeling: To dreammm  . . .  the impossible  dreammm . . . dee . . . da-a-a-a . . . dee-dee . . . dee-dee-dee . . . da-a-a-a. Hey, I feel better, how ’bout you?

The people who make it, how do they do it? Some go low-bar. Known quantities sell, dirty in particular. But not intelligently dirty, that may be Meirose’s problem. I’ll let you know after I read Eli The Rat. I expect it to be a smart, raunchy, rollick. If it’s not, I’m going to be bummed, for my sake, and for his. I want to be able to tell him that I think he’s brilliant, maybe get invited down (he’s two hours south) for a barbeque or something.

I accepted the Facebook friend request of one Jim Meirose, an author. I soon realized I was talking to my long-lost cousin. (It was blast-from-the-past Marybeth who’d contacted me, using his account, she hasn’t one of her own.) That side of the family and mine had not interacted to any great degree, lifestyles being the big divide.

Jim seems to be unwilling to interact with me as an aspiring author. He’s a minor celebrity in Central NJ, probably hounded for advice. Maybe he’ll engage with me as a reader.

It is great to be a part of this community, so full of wisdom and understanding and a ton of fun. Fun will keep us afloat, until our ship comes in. When you get downhearted, talk through it here. When they beat me up* in Wix Design Experts on FB, I trot over here and make light of it, easing my distress considerably. If, despite my efforts, Cousin Meirose continues unresponsive, ditto.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, kids. Until next time.

I’m kicking around an idea: Talk Dirty To Me . . . If You Write Like Henry Miller.

I guess I’d have to read 50 Shades. Gotta think about it.


* One annoyed Expert said to me, You don’t know much. How’d you get into this group? I told her, I warned Brett I’m no expert, but he looked at my site and liked it, a lot. That seems to have shut her up.


16 thoughts on “Carl E. Reed, Where Are You?

  1. GD Deckard says:

    First, get your book finished, edited & published, Mimi. You will be happily surprised.
    Second, Henry Miller is an under-appreciated comedian.
    Finally, to the point, so is Carl E. Reed. His Gonzo presence always lifted everybody’s spirits a level and yes, we need to find him and drag him (kicking & screaming but that’s just Carl) here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mimispeike says:

    We miss him, we miss his energy, I think we all up’ed our game trying to keep pace with him, but more than that, this laying low is so uncharacteristic of him.

    On a lighter note: Google has a graphic today celebrating Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. Who’s that? My husband looked him on on Wikipedia, reading out about his work on the microscope, other neat stuff. Talk about a humble beginning to an illustrious career, he was a draper who improved on lenses for the microscope so as to better evaluate fibers in the cloth he was buying.

    I was in the next room, clearing the dinner table. That’s Sly there, I yelled. I can use some of that for Sly. My husband yelled back: Your miserable cat was dead in the Pyrenees long before this.

    Excuse me, my miserable cat was a very forward thinker. I put nothing beyond him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike says:

    Man! I guess nobody agrees with me. (I figure it’s my opinions on short stories.) Okay, guys, tell me where I’m wrong. If Carl were here, he’d set me straight quick enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leeuwenhoek was a fascinating character.

    As is Carl. He told me once a little about his history. He was a wild kid, always in trouble, emancipated at 17, living in some ramshackle apartment in Chicago, I believe. (There was a door he couldn’t lock, so he found an old refrigerator and leaned it against the door so no one could break in.) A few years later he joined the Marines. He told the recruiter he wanted to shoot commies. He wanted to come home with the highest kill-ratio in the history of the corp. They said, “Okay, fine.” — and gave him a camera. A camera? He served his tour as a photojournalist.

    The thing that matters about this whole story is the reason he was telling me. My son, was (as he so often was, and is) in trouble with the law. Carl’s story helped me. I mean, if such an out-of-control kid, who seemed so hell bent on destroying himself, could grow into as thoughtful, generous, and kind-spirited a man as Carl Reed, well, there was hope.

    Helluva a writer, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mimispeike says:

    Here’s an interesting thought, expressed on Scribophile:

    Small presses have to give you more assistance in marketing. You are their bread and butter. They have no best-seller big names to pay the bills, allowing them to try unknown up-and-comers. What do the indie-pub’ed think of that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • atthysgage says:

      Mm, works in theory. Not so great in practice. Admittedly, I only have experience with one small press and they didn’t do much. I think they would’ve been willing to do more, but they didn’t really have much more clout than I did (which is to say, nil to scant). They hooked me up with some book bloggers, who dutifully ran my interview or my guest post, all of which resulted in bupkis. I’m hoping Black Opal might have a little more reach, but I’m not counting on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mimispeike says:

    Oh My God! Carl! Oh My God! Oh, welcome, welcome, welcome! We have been so missing you. What have you been up to? We are doing our best here to keep hope alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. GD Deckard says:

    The plan, is to get you released from the Ken Kesey Cuckoo Avery. As soon as you can, join us 🙂
    Email me at GD @ Deckard.com? I’ll add you to our group mail. Also, please write your profile for our Authors’ Page, and if you would, write a blog for this site.
    Welcome home 🙂


  8. Carl E. Reed says:

    Great to find you guys! Just for the hell of it I Googled my name the other day (I like to mournfully peruse the scattered internet details of my duct-taped-subcompact-car-into-wildebeest-tree ((even I don’t know what that means)) on-again, off-again—ahem!—writing career (((how many parenthetical thoughts is a bad writer allowed in a—what would a grouping of parentheses be, anyway—a parenthe-pod? Parenthe-pride? Parenthe-murder?))) and found Mimi’s electronic message-in-a-bottle washed up upon my Shorr. That’s not a typo; a hirsute hunchback busboy (name of Yelzo Shorr) with teeth like—well, teeth—and a nose like—well, a nose—who works the afternoon shift at one of my favorite burnt-cigar-and-fired-dueling-pistols-reek Bulgarian restaurants urged me recently to “do that internet thing and find out if any more of your writing has sold.” HA! Heh . . . :::sigh::: Which led me directly to Mimi and youse, of course.)

    Anyway—long story short—still in economic free fall. (Don’t ever attempt to drive a taxi for a living, folks, unless you relish 80-hour working weeks and paychecks—I kid you not—of sub-$100 totals after the %$#! lease is paid. Just started a 100%-commission radio advertising job today. Yeah. That should end well . . .)

    So. Here we is!

    What happens now, I wonder? (GD has given me some pointed directions I intend to follow in the short-term. Thanks, GD!)

    @Mimi: Thank you again for the shout-out! You know what they say about “whistling up the devil”, don’cha? 😉

    @ GD: This is your site, eh? Your doing? Good on ya! Well done.

    @ Atthys: So glad to find you again, old friend! I wish your family well. (And for the record—I didn’t lean a refrigerator against my broken-lock basement apartment back door when I was but a callow lad of 17 in Chicago; I man-handled the apt.’s useless fridge ((cause no electricity in that rotting floorboard rat-trap, don’cha know)) in front of the door so that it couldn’t open. Mustn’t strain anyone’s credulity by the inclusion of improbable details . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Carl E. Reed says:

    That should read: “my basement apt.’s broken-lock back door”, of course. Mea culpa. Nothing like grammatically face-planting in public, heh! And I’m missing a closing parenthesis. Any chance of an edit button on these posts, GD? The dangers of too-hastily-composed-and-posted scritch-scribblings to “teh internet” is that one’s syntactical and grammatical failings are preserved for all the world to jeer at . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      You’ll have an editing button (God help us all) when Curtis grants you Author’s privileges. I think you can send him a message by using the contact us feature.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. mimispeike says:

    Oh, Carl. We have missed you so. Let’s fight these battles together.

    I didn’t know how it was you found us. I left a message on your Amazon author page a while back. Guess you never look at it.

    Those creeps at Book Country. They deserve whatever they get. Which is about one posting a week. I go on once or twice a week. I don’t engage. I’m looking to see when they dry up and blow away altogether.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carl E. Reed says:

    Now now, Mimi: I’ve nothing bad to say about Book Country; they treated me very well indeed. Just sorry to see it end so–how did T.S. Eliot put it?–“Not with a bang, but a whimper.” PS. I’m still not clear on how or why Amazon delisted BC-authored titles; it killed whatever small, growing audiences BC authors had. As the madman on his way to the White House might tweet: “Sad.”

    Liked by 1 person

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