June 19, 2010

Mum's Birthday, 2010: Connecting the dots between my Parents and Groucho...

Every year, on the anniversary of my Mother's birth, I post a little something about her on my blog. This year, I missed it. Her birthday comes a day or two before Father's Day this year - a chance to remember my Dad. I missed that too.

So now I'm taking time to raise a glass (a Grande Americano, really) to each of my parents, and spend some time reflecting on their personalities.

Angela Huntley Love (nee Clarke) was a complicated woman: a talented musician and singer, an amateur actor (Victoria Gilbert and Sullivan Society), and generally full of lively talents both realized and unrealized. Angela could be loud, boisterous and manic (literally), or quiet, withdrawn and depressed. Each of us has our polar extremes of behaviour, but her poles were a bit farther apart than most people.

Angela would sometimes doodle this little cartoon bird for fun. It looked kind of like a crane, with a round head, large pointed beak and long flowing neck. He always had glasses and smoked a big fat cigar. It was obviously inspired by Groucho Marx. Even as a little kid, I could recognize Groucho's face, even if I didn't know his name.

The maiden name of Angela's Mother, Edna Ursula Marks, might phonetically have spurred in her an affinity for Groucho too. I can only guess. Angela was also a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, as was the famous Mr. Marx.

So nowadays, while I'm re-reading Steven Kanfer's excellent biography of Groucho, I'm hearing little refrains from Gilbert and Sullivan, and thinking of Angela.

My Dad, James Evan Love, loved Groucho's speed and wit. Intelligence, and a fast mouth with which to use it, equated to a form of strength or power - something to be admired. Groucho was the comic rebel of my parent's generation.

Dad used to love to paraphrase Groucho, saying "I'd never belong to any club that would have me as a member." True to his word, Dad belonged to no clubs.

Well, maybe both of them were members of The Lonely Hearts Club.

Hello, I must be going.
I love you Mum and Dad.
Here's to you both...

June 05, 2010

Owe Nothing: Taking Book Marketing to the next level...

Ah, Spring. A time for growth, renewal, and positive change. And spring cleaning.

My personal web presence at www.ejohnlove.com has been in play since 1998, and has been the home of a variety of online personal shrines and pet projects, not the least of these is "True Life", my personal family memoirs project.

Creating Characters, and a world...

In 2002, during a particularly bleak period of unemployment, I reacted to my frustration and lack of control with an old, familiar escapist reaction: I began developing a habit of writing fiction. Scribbling in my notebook on the edge of my bed in the late and early morning hours, I created a cast of characters and a world for them, through which I could tell stories that spoke about the events and values of my personal life. I created a mythical family and others, composites based on real people. Jack Owen and his family, friends, his motel home, and his fictionalized Vancouver-Kingsway neighbourhood resulted from this. After 7 years, countless Starbucks runs, and seemingly endless, paragraph-by-paragraph writing and editing sessions, my first novel, Owe Nothing, finally came into being in April 2009.

September through October of 2002 had been an incredibly productive time for me. Not only was that when I began writing the first scenes of Owe Nothing, but it was then that I developed ideas for many of the characters who appear in the book, and also when further ideas for related stories were roughed out in my notebook.

My second novel, The Two Sisters (currently in progress towards a first draft), was sketched out in 2002, and not long after Owe Nothing launched online with Trafford, I revisited my notes for Two Sisters and started trying to flesh them out into a full-length sequel.

It was around this time that I realized that I might actually have a second novel in me, and maybe even a third one after that. I realized that this fiction writing thing was starting to become a major preoccupation, and maybe I should think about evolving it into a minor occupation.

Taking my book marketing to a new level...

In the first year since publication, I've confined my marketing and sales efforts to anything I can do online, particularly on some sort of semi-automatic basis. A Facebook page, AdWords ads, Twitter, promoting and linking my old fiction page (http://fiction.ejohnlove.com) in directories, blogs and message boards all over the web - I tried a number of tactics. While these may have helped somewhat to get me some web visitors, none of it seems to have resulted in any sales - if Trafford's records are to be believed, anyway.

I began to feel as if I were flailing around ineffectually, so I decided to find myself some good advice. Nowadays I'm taking counsel from a book marketing pro, and thinking about the future of Jack Owen, the character, and of E. John Love, his official biographer. It's time to move Jack and the "Owe Nothing Universe" off of my personal hobby site, and develop a separate new web presence - one that gives Owe Nothing and any related stories the focuses they need and deserve.

It's time...