To Heck With the ‘Consensus’: Try it Anyway

There are Blogs or Sites within the writer-author community here on WordPress doing great, and there are those not doing great, just as there are authors mega-selling and those who aren’t. I’m not going to get into the reasons for that (except to say that if you aren’t a ‘celebrity’ you’re likely not going to be a ‘mega-seller’ until you become one!)

And how does one become a ‘celebrity’? I’ll sum it up in one word: consensus.

Here is how the consensus works, for examples.

The consensus ‘greatest rock band of all time’ is the Beatles, and nothing any other rock band does is going to change that, even if some band comes along in five years to revive this music genre that has–mainstream, anyway–fallen by the wayside somewhat as ‘everyone’ (according to the consensus) has now made rap, hip-hop, or ‘pop’ music their favorite (again, I’m not going to get into why this has happened, but I think it’s obvious why this has happened. The proof? Guitar companies like Gibson have declared bankruptcy, and guitar seller-outlets have also…because rock music isn’t THE popular genre it once was). Remember, this is the consensus, not necessarily the truth. And another thing: this is only true ‘consensus-wise’ in the US. In Europe it is still likely number one, and it has been growing in Asia for years.

The consensus ‘greatest guitar player’ in rock history is Jimi Hendrix.

My opinion? Hendrix IS the greatest guitarist in rock history, while I DISAGREE that the Beatles are the greatest rock band in history. While NO ROCK GUITARIST could play like Hendrix could back then, or in the 70s, 80s, 90s or today–could Page or Clapton or Walsh or Vaughn play his guitar like Hendrix played the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock? I  doubt it! So then why would the consensus claim the Beatles are the greatest rock band in history? Influence. Not talent, not music-writing, not stage performances (and the Beatles stopped touring in 1966 anyway! Too much Maharishi?), or personality (though John Lennon certainly tried here). Influence? Basically, as I’ve already states on other posts, the Beatles revived the genre that was already fading by 1963-64 what with most ‘Billboard’ chart-toppers being ‘boy meets girl’ tripe (and enough one-hit-wonders to make it tripe…thanks, American Bandstand!). Then came the Beatles and the so-called ‘British Invasion,’ which also revived the best of the American groups including the Four Seasons, Jay and the Americans, Bob Dylan, and a host of mostly Afro-groups and pop-soul stuff such as by the Supremes and the Four Tops and others.  Add to that the Beatles influence in the ‘psychedelicizing’ (as the Chambers Brothers would put it in their monster hit, ‘Time Has Come Today’) during the late 60s, new age stuff contrasted to Lennon’s huge faux pas in denigrating Christ in 1965 which nearly led to the out-casting of the Fab Four in the US on radio anyway, and Lennon’s ‘anti-war’ stances, again contrasted to George Harrison’s support for the Bangladesh ‘independence’ movement from Pakistan (and dependence on India…some even claim Harrison was a proxy agent for the Indian government under the Maharishi’s guidance!) and his crapola ‘My Sweet Lord’ nonsense supporting Hari Krishna’s cult (I had a friend who was victimized by this cult, and I do NOT appreciate Harrison’s promotion of this cult!)

Whether or not the Beatles are the greatest band ever by the consensus and whether or not you believe this (I don’t) doesn’t matter. What matters is how the consensus influences one’s thinking, one’s conformity (as I am someone who prefers non-conformity), and one’s buying habits. And one’s writing habits or creative habits, as well.

Don’t write something just because ‘the consensus’ would prefer that you do. Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut–two of America’s greatest fiction writers IMHO, to heck with ‘the consensus’–wrote what they wanted or were inspired to despite what a so-called ‘consensus’ wanted. In the 1990s virtually nobody self-published with printed novels (and only James Redfield of “Celestine Prophesy’ fame made it big in this business!), but I did so anyway because I was inspired to despite NOT having lots of money to do this. Today, anyone can self-publish, including in print (Lulu.com has some really affordable print-e-book programs if you want to check it out). I’d like to say these days ‘the consensus’ is meaningless, but I won’t, because it is only meaningless for me, a non-conformist and proud of it.

About the Prodigal Band Trilogy: the Main Characters, Part 1

In the previous post and other various posts, I stated that my main characters morphed from a gang or clique of boys in the area I grew up, Long Island and New York City, to rock musicians from England–a decision influenced by, first, the fact that I actually made it into a local band; second, rock music was my main connection to youth culture of my generation (60s and 70s); third, my fave bands of that era–and the most influential bands of that era–were Brits, and I had visited England as well as attended the 1970 Isle of Wight Rock Festival which featured the Who, Traffic, ELP, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix (who died in London a few weeks later) and others of note (some whom I missed since we had to leave early to get the flight back to the States).

That the most influential rock bands of that era were from England was a major reason my fictional band, Sound Untd, is from England. And what band from that era had the most influence on how I constructed my fictional band? Why, the Beatles of course! The so-called Fab Four–whom many claim are the greatest rock band of all time…basically re-invigorated the genre leading the so-called ‘British Invasion’ in 1963-64 as rock music in the States had been, IMHO, flat-lining since the plane crash of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1958. One doesn’t need to read the ‘Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll’ books to know that from 1959 until the Beatles, rock was tripe, was cutesy-wootsey, was just ‘boy meets girl, boy ‘dances’ girl’ stuff (and you know what they mean by ‘dance’–having sex, right?), with a few true rock outfits to keep the genre alive (Del Shannon, Dion and the Belmonts, Beach Boys and a few others). Folks, it wasn’t until the Beatles came around–and the groups that followed them–that I had any interest in rock music at all. With the arrival of the Beatles, my world–and the world of my friends–became consumed by listening to the radio and records, reading ‘fan magazines,’ including the British one called ‘Melody Maker,’ and even getting together and pretending we were the Beatles on stage as the Beatles records played on victrolas or stereos (and not just the Beatles, either) in bedrooms or basements. It was this “pretending” to be John or Paul or George that would later give me the idea of learning guitar.

It was the Beatles and the other groups that helped me to grow up amongst my peers and not just be the loner, sort of, that I had been before. Finally, I was able to ‘fit in.’ Finally, I became interested, somewhat, in boys–it would take several years, however, before boys became interested in me. I wasn’t exactly a ‘hot date’ if you know what I mean. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I even thought I was good-looking enough (despite my acne) and finally landed a boyfriend of sorts (whose acne was even worse, but anyway…). Oh, as for my friends–most were better looking than me, and one of them, who looked like the model ‘Twiggy,’ (remember her? And she appeared in the movie ‘Blues Brothers’ as well toward the end), actually had a rock musician boyfriend–lead singer and lead guitar, of course. Another friend also dated once or twice another band singer who graduated the year before I did. And another friend had her band and she could sing like Janis Joplin! So, folks, since I knew I had writing talent since I’d been writing since the age of 8 or so, what better way to get the ball rolling than to write fiction stuff about an imaginary rock band?

But from England…but where in England?

My fictitious band absolutely could NOT be from Liverpool because that’s where the Beatles are from, and because they spoke with one of the weirdest accents on God’s green earth–Scouse. Sing-songy, to the point of crazy (and yes, folks, out here where I live a recent property owner just happened to be from Liverpool). And anyway, no way was my group going to be from where the Beatles were. London? Nope. Several bands, especially the Rolling Stones, were from London and, as with the Beatles, the Stones were prominent enough to where they, too, would be a serious influence on how my band was created. Manchester? A group that hit it huge for about a year, Hermann’s Hermits, was from there, but after a while they just did what I thought was tripe. And it seemed to me that most of these British Invasion groups were from either Liverpool, London, or Manchester.

Another group from another part of England hit it big in the summer and fall of 1964, and this group did some very interesting–and different–music, more bluesy, and with a really, really good keyboard player that really titillated my ears–the Animals, whose first hit was a remake of the Bob Dylan song, ‘House of the Rising Sun.’ Later songs had a bluesy style, such as ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Bo Diddley.’ I saw them one night on the Ed Sullivan Show, and, after performing, Sullivan started to interview them, and–well, talk about weird accents! Neither I–nor by the looks of it, Sullivan–could understand about half of what they said, but it turned out they were from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is way up north and close to Scotland. In fact, the accent had a Scottish lilt to it–and that was the fascinating part. Their music, and their accent.

Then, in 1970–and I’ve stated this in a previous post as well–the night before taking the ferry from Portsmouth (I think, or South Hampton) to the Isle of Wight, I just happened to meet three guys from Newcastle, and while one of them was hard to understand, the others were easier–but still, they spoke with that fascinating accent, called Geordie. Several years later after meeting some folks from Scotland, they told me the Geordie accent (and there is a dialect, as well, but I won’t get into that) was very similar to and actually derived somewhat from Scottish. Historically it makes sense: Hadrian’s Wall, which the Tyneside town of Wallsend is named for, was in fact the old time border between England and Scotland. The portion of the county of Northumberland (or Northumbria) north of that wall was part of Scotland off and on for centuries, and was finally incorporated into England in 1744, the days of ‘Bonnie Prince Charley” and that war. And, the more I hear Geordie (YouTube videos and the like), the more I’m glad I chose that area and that accent for my characters in the band.

They come from the fictitious city of Walltown (south of Wallsend on the Tyne river where they build boats and stuff, and east of Newcastle), and the main tourist attraction of this fictitious city is an angelic statue called The Tooters (referencing the horn-blowing angels in the Book of Revelation). Well guess what? Across from Newcastle is Gateshead, and it just so happens that the main tourist attraction in Gateshead is–and angelic statue! (The thing is, it looks more like a bird, but at least it has wings, if not horns). And bear in mind I didn’t know ANY of this when I started writing my book(s)!

Finally, why did I call my group ‘Sound Unltd’? The original name for the group was the actual original name in my books, the Smash. Later, I changed it to ‘Smash Unltd’ (you do realize ‘unltd’ is short for ‘unlimited,’ right?). Two things caused me to change it to ‘Sound Unltd’–one, the fact that a group called ‘Sounds Incorporated’ existed in the 60s (of course, they never made it here), and that spiritual inspiration that came to me in the early 90s. Further, the name Sound Unltd is so ‘pretentious sounding’ that I figured no one would ever call themselves by that name, and so far, no one has–and they better not, since the name exists in copyrighted manuscripts! I do hope I never to lay out a couple o’ hundred dollars to trademark it!

Posting Links on Facebook? Yep, Folks, I DO Have a Facebook Page After All

Now I’m not being cutesy-wootsy here. I am 66 years old and I have a Facebook page? Heck, it’s even called “OmegaBooks!” I’ve had this page for about eight months and being so “tech ignorant” I didn’t even know one could push a “Facebook” button at the bottom of the post and link to the article on Facebook. Here is the link to the Facebook page.

Now, why does some old lady need a Facebook page? Because I’m learning how to do things MARKETING-wise using a technology I’m not very good at. Why not take the risk and make a Facebook page to help promote my books? After all, I am a month or so away from getting my two printed books Battle of the Band and The Prophesied Band formatted and uploaded to e-book sellers. Why not?

About The Prodigal Band Trilogy: The Theme-Good Triumphs over Evil

I began writing a book that would eventually work its way into three books that make up the Prodigal Band Trilogy–Battle of the Band, The Prophesied Band, and The Prodigal Band–back in the late 1960s in diary form as the characters morphed from just a group of guys in a gang or a clique, with or without girlfriends, living on Long Island-then-New York City, to rock musicians with or without girlfriends, living in England. Why the morph? Because of my own interest in rock music as well as actually having participated in a local band for a few months, and having gone to England in 1970, as well as the notion I had the rock bands from England were more worthy overall than American ones (and Brit bands were my fave bands anyway.) These topics have been discussed in previous posts here and on my blog.

The names and looks of the characters were created in the mid-60s with other characters being created in the mid-80s, which was when I started getting serious about the books, which was still just one book novel. But instead of a diary to write stuff that would later make up the book(s), I just wrote on notepad paper with pen.

In the meantime, I had a teaching job–more than one–and children, which of course took precedence over novel writing. Then came the use of an old 48K Atari computer that I typed ten chapters on, and, really, the whole thing was random…this character did this and that character did that and it was as if it was just a satire on the lives and loves of rock musician celebrities. It was funny, but meaningless in a way. At that point in the early 90s what I was typing onto 4.5 inch floppy discs was just a matter of getting these characters out of my head onto printer paper.

I do not remember the year–1992? 1993?–that I went outside one night and the spirit of the theme took over my head, “telling me” to remake the book(s) into a fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil. One problem–if this was going to be about a rock band, Brit or not, then I had to get with ‘the program’ so to speak because by the early 90s I had lost touch with rock music…the last I remembered was punk and new wave of the early 80s. Living in a rural remote area of far west Texas–where country music reigns supreme and rock music is considered by the hardcore fundamentalist Christians out here as some kind of devil worship (!)–I had no idea how rock music was evolving into what in the 90s was called ‘grunge’ or ‘rock-rap’ or ‘death metal’ or ‘emo’ or whatever. Until 1994, when I got a teaching job in a gang-ridden high school in El Paso. The job sucked, but the themes rustling around in the pop culture world of the high school didn’t. The majority of my students were Hispanic and at the time a female singer from south Texas, Hispanic–I don’t remember her name but she was huge among my students–was the rage, as was rap, especially among the few black students I had. But I did have some white kids as well, mostly children of Fort Bliss parents–these kids were into, primarily, Nirvana with Kurt Cobain–a major influence on my characterizations–and grunge groups like Nine Inch Nails and Green Day. All American groups–what happened to the Brits? Well, it turned out, I discovered, that the Brit bands from the latter 80s were still around.

And that, my friends, is why my fictional band, Sound Unltd, stemmed from the 1980s. Originally, they were supposed to be late 60s-70s group, but rock music had changed so much since then that I did not think it would be wise to make them a 60s-70s group.

Then, when I really began to get really serious after resigning the El Paso teaching job and moving back to the rural remote in 1995, I had a decision to make–just write a satirical book making fun of rock stars and celebrities with all the fun of sex scenes, orgies, drug use, and sex-drug-rock-n’-roll themes, or write a book or books exposing the fallacy so many who lived in my area believed to be true–that rock stars are all devil worshipers, and rock music was the ‘devil’s music.’ And more.

Around the same time, what with events like Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma City bombing–all around the time of a series of Satanic holidays beginning April 19 and ending with Beltane, Walpurgis Night, and May 1–and the so-called “Patriot Movement” against the so-called ‘New World Order’ (spear-headed by both Presidents George HW Bush with his 1989 ‘New World Order’ speech and Bill Clinton’s screeds about globalism throughout the1990s)–I felt it might be another good idea to incorporate an ‘Illuminati-CFR-Bilderberg-type’ organization into the mix, representing the ‘evil’ side…I mean, the symbolism they use–the ‘All-Seeing-Eye’ on the dollar bill and all atop a pyramid with the Latin phrase within-“ANNUIT COEPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM”–which means, “Announcing the Birth of the New World Order” (or some say, “New Order of the Ages.”). And, having read Biblical prophecy and growing more interested in the possibility that the so-called “end times” were getting closer to fruition, I figured this whole notion of “one world government” was not just some conspiracy theory, but getting closer–and who would lead this one world government? Those who clearly sought power and likely had the money to buy power–bankers and their minions in government and also the media and entertainment industries–and would willingly side with ‘the anti-Christ’ at the end.

Just a note here: the Biblical Book of Revelation, on which so much ‘end times prophecy’ is based, mentions three parts of the so-called “Beast System” which has to exist for all this prophecy to occur: the Dragon (Satan, or the Anti-Christ, or some person Satan/the anti-Christ inhabits), the Beast (which I suppose is a system that supports Satan) and the False Prophet (and there are all sorts of theories as to who or what the False Prophet is!). Thus, it is this notion of an evil system that provides the novel’s notion of ‘bad guys.’ And, according to prophecy, after the anti-Christ comes and sits in the temple in Jerusalem, the true Messiah, Christ–accompanied by a huge number of good angels–returns in the ‘second coming’ to overthrow the evil. Prior to this happening, all humanity must make a choice–side with evil or side with good.

And that, folks, is the overarching theme of my books–my fictitious rock band of world-wide renown must make that same decision before it is too late. The Prodigal Band Trilogy is their journey to that decision, and what they do with it.

Keys to Formatting E-books for EPub and Various E-book Platforms Besides Kindle

I do hope that the author of books who also has the desire or urge to format their printed books into E-Books isn’t just considering formatting for Amazon Kindle. For one thing, Amazon’s payout looks to be a pittance compared to some of the other platforms, especially Lulu. Now I do intend to format for Kindle because everyone and his or her mother has a Kindle device, right? And I know it is a very good idea to format for Kindle–for one thing, a friend of mine who downloaded my Prodigal Band FREE PDF complained that it was hard for her to read the PDF on her Kindle! That is likely because the Kindle Create format is different from a PDF format, which is simply an export from Word or WordPerfect. So, to satisfy folks who only have a Kindle reader which uses MOBI formatting, I will just have to accept a lower payout. Oh well, such is Amazon and it’s money-craving owner, Jeff Bezos, who will never have enough money (and, BTW, he is NOT “the richest man in the world”–which he knows and that is likely why he craves more and more money…it’ll take him years to catch up to the richest man in the world, which is the head of the Rothschild Banking dynasty, not Bezos! Bezos is “only”” worth a trillion or so. Rothschild, who OWNES the Federal Reserve Band and other central banks, is likely half-way to quadrillionaire status….a quadrillion is a one followed by 15 zeros! or the number 10 to the 15th power!). When you have this kind of money, money becomes meaningless in a way.

In any case I have finished formatting Battle of the Band for Lulu’s EPub format which also allows e-book buyers to purchase the e-book from other “partners” such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook platform, Apples iBook, the various Smashwords outfits such as Toshiba Book Place, Kobo and others–and even Amazon! (Just not for Kindle Readers..one would have to download  another e-Reader such as Calibre E-book Reader.)

There are two very important formatting issues one must address when using the EPub formatting tool, the Guide which can be downloaded here. One is using the “Styles” tool when using Microsoft Word (best to use the newest version, but I used Word2013): the Title, Copyright, and Intro-Preface-Foreword-About the Author pages and other intro pages MUST use Heading 1, while Chapters must begin using Heading 2, and subsections using Heading 3. And a lower Heading must NOT be above a higher heading–and all Headings must begin on the very top line of the page (the regular printed words use Normal, with paragraph spacing). And speaking of paragraphs…

If your paragraphs are NOT formatted correctly, your book will be rejected…

This is because EPub format does NOT allow numbered pages and the way it is formatted is how the Table of Contents is created. If your Headings and paragraphs are not formatted correctly, the Table of Contents is garbled, and your book  will be rejected.

It is extremely important to follow exactly the Lulu EPub Guideline PDF book. Make sure you use either “In Line formatting” or “Block”…In Line for novels and Block for non-fiction, or whatever. Finally, format your paragraphs the same way for not just “normal” Style, but Headings 1, 2, and 3 as well, according to the Guide. Hint: Use indent only for Normal, and keep Headings 1, 2, and 3 at 0.0 indent.

Hints: One, click on the paragraph symbol at the very top of the document on the Home ribbon next to the W (Word Doc) and the refresh circle, and a “paragraph” window comes up. Follow the instructions for each Heading or Normal Style guideline. Two, once one’s indents and “First Line” under the “special” function are established, right click on all Headings 1, 2, and 3 as well as the Normal Style boxes and you will see in all cases the “Modify” function. In each case left-click on Modify and choose font (Times New Roman, Garamond or Ariel are the only fonts allowed; I use Times New Roman) and font size, with Heading 1 being the largest and Headings 2 and 3 being smaller, and Normal being the smallest (I use 36 for Heading 1, 24 for Heading 2, 14 for Heading 3, as well as italics, and 12 for Normal). After fonts are dealt with, then click on the Format button below at the left and do what you did for the original “paragraph” function (or just use this tool and forget the “paragraph” tool, it’ll work either way). But you must do this for EACH of your Styles Headings and Normal.

Finally, there are instructions for auto-typing and auto-formatting that the guide says must be done as well. Go to the main menu under the FILE TAB. Click on the Options tab, and then click on the Proofing, then click on Auto Correct Options, then follow the instructions in the Guide regarding “Auto-Format” and “Auto Format As You Type.”

To make sure you are formatting correctly, click on the little “paragraph” symbol in the “paragraph” box right next to where the “Normal” square is in Styles. You will then see the various “Paragraph” symbols up and down your page. Larger symbols must come before the smaller ones in order.

One last thing–do NOT put your cover art (or what Lulu calls “marketing image”) on the very first page of your book! The very first page MUST be the Title page! You will submit your cover art separately, and guidelines for cover art (number of pixels and size and colors) are a whole other set of instructions! If you don’t want to spend days and weeks creating your own cover, go to pexels.com and download your COPYRIGHT= and ROYALTY-FREE image which you can then modify with your book title, edition, and author name. And one last thing–your Title page MUST only include what’s on the cover, or your cover must only include what’s on the Title page….that is called “metadata”…

Project Alert–Will Post More About My Books Soon (In Case You’re Wondering)

Right now I am working on turning my printed books, Battle of the Band and The Prophesied Band into e-books. That is, they need to be formatted for e-book purposes and sold through e-book outlets (several, in fact, not just Kindle or Nook.) That is, I have to re-type them! My printed books in 1995-6 and 1997-8 were formatted for ancient floppy discs on an ancient Macintosh LC475 computer using Mac OS 7.5! Both Mac computers (mother was an early PowerMac with Mac OS 8), both desktops, have had their hard drives removed and sold as scrap. Since I can no longer access these ancient computers (I now have a laptop with Windows 7, and no floppy drives anyway!), I am re-typing both books. Hopefully, Battle will be finished by the end of the year –and keep in mind, I have to format it according to specifications of the book seller, including a table of contents and a new cover.

Why? Because multiple people want me to do this, and because since I live way out of town it is not easy to go into town every time I have to send out one of my printed books. Our Post Office keeps weird hours, the price of gas is high in these rural areas, and my vehicle right now is not in good shape!

Here, and on my book blog, I will as soon as possible post articles about not only the characters and the story itself, but the factual events and historical narratives that these books are based on and drove me to write them. As I am re-typing Battle of the Band, I am realizing just how satirical it is! Since I’m not really into genres, the genre of “satire” might work for this one: genres–satire, horror, spiritual, adult.

But not “adult-adult” if you know what I mean. And I am taking out all the “f”-words if you know what I mean. The “s”-word is staying. My characters are my characters, right? Folks, I’ve never met a man who didn’t cuss–ever Christians cuss a lot!

Breaking News: Cost of Shipping Will Be the Same for All 50 US States

After sending copies of Battle of the Band and the Prophesied Band to various US states including Hawaii (but not Alaska, yet), I have discovered that basic rates for shipping to the various contiguous 48 states and Hawaii (by boat, that is–by plane it would be more expensive, and I do not want to add $3 or $4 more to the shipping cost…the packages they would be shipped in cost a little over a dollar)–that various shipping rates are basically the same, roughly $4.50 whether to Texas, Oregon, New York, or Hawaii.

Note: I was shocked to find how cheap it was to send a book to Hawaii! But it did take a while before the recipient got the book. Volcanoes, maybe?

Therefore, as one will see on the Bookstore page, all shipping costs for one single book will be $4.50 as long as it is being shipped within the US, and costs for shipping for both books will be $5.00 (since two books are being shipped in the same package).

Overseas costs will not change until I determine what the shipping cost to Canada or Europe would be. Keep in mind, both books are in the English language only.