Category: Adult fiction, 64 pages
Publisher: George Lee Hudspeth Jr.
Release date: December 2019
Tour dates: Nov 16 to Dec 4, 2020
Content Rating: PG-13 (some mild language - one religious expletive)
LCR: Welcome to my blog! I read your poetry book this past summer and I enjoyed it. Tell me, how did this debut book of poetry get started?
LH: Not too long ago, I looked back at my life and realized that I had put in three decades of full-time work. I wanted to reignite my fascination with art and creativity, and dive into my “second act.” I found some quiet time to consider the question, “How can I be more creative?” I let my imagination roam, and I wrote myself a letter describing those imaginings. The list of aspirations that emerged related to art and creativity: play more music, professionally record original music and do more creative writing.
My next step was to compose haiku for my relatives on their birthday cards. Soon I found myself writing longer and longer poems. Then I started diligently keeping a poetry, music and creativity journal. One day I gathered all my poems together in a pile, took a deep breath, and then spread them out on the floor to see what the collection looked like. I realized proudly that I had the essence of a complete book of poetry in front of me. Next I created a narrative for the collection, finished the draft manuscript and hired a book design company (1106 Design) to help me proof and design the book (paperback, hardcover and multiple eBook formats), select distribution options (print-on-demand) and then officially publish it. It was an amazing journey!
LCR: Did any songs inspire or play a part in your poetry book?
LH: I organized the book into five chapters based on themes and also to paint a chronological narrative: introducing myself to my readers; reflections on reality; darkness and survival; nostalgia; and a celebratory final chapter. Here’s how I pictured each chapter’s overall mood/theme, and the song that most closely represents that mood for me.
Chapter 1: “Dear Reader, Hello”
Mood/theme: travel; journey; friendship
Song: “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss” by Built to Spill
Chapter 2: “Reflections”
Mood/theme: existential-observing; existential-nature of reality
Song: “Heroes” by David Bowie
Chapter 3: “It’s Getting Dark in Here”
Mood/theme: mental health; surviving hardship
Song: “Revelate” by The Frames
Chapter 4: “Motion”
Mood/theme: nostalgia; departure and arrival
Song: “Into the Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Chapter 5: “A Celebration of All Things”
Mood/theme: celebrate life; carpe diem; love; inspiration
Song: “Witness to Your Love” by Garbage
LCR: What are some of your best tips and tricks for self-publishing a book?
- Hire a good editor.
- Hire a professional book designer.
- Take the time to carefully study other books similar to yours, using publicly available data on Amazon. Compile a list of these properties for each book: genre and sub-genres, rank, page count, self-published versus traditional publisher, price (for each format: paperback, hardcover and Kindle eBook), awards (if any) and your own notes.
- Engage with trustworthy beta readers who have a positive attitude about the beta reading/reviewing process.
- Join author groups on social media platforms, read lots of threads and ask questions. Basically, be a sponge.
- Plan ahead. Maintain and constantly revise to-do lists for book production (write, edit, design, proof, print and distribute) and marketing.
- Create your Amazon Author Page and take advantage of its many cool features. If you’ve already created it, make sure it is current. Many authors overlook this powerful, free marketing tool.
- Join the Alliance of Independent Authors (“ALLi”).
LCR: That's great advice! Will you self-publish again?
LH: Yes! In my experience, self-publishing has more benefits than downsides. I’m able to control the content, schedule, design, distribution and marketing of my books. I don’t have to pay a royalty to a traditional publishing company. All of that appeals to me. But to be successful at the business side of writing and publishing a book, you will have to wear many hats, not just that of Author. These are the domains in which you’ll have to either already have some modicum of expertise or learn on the job: graphic designer (for your book cover, interior layout and your marketing campaigns); accountant (track the minutiae of your book’s profitability), advertising copy editor (publicity), social media maven, paralegal (figure out print-on-demand distribution terms and conditions), negotiator (bookstore, library and corporate sales), web designer and so forth. Note: when you run out of time or feel it’s best to outsource, you can hire a consultant to teach you and/or to solve specific issues as they arise.
LCR: When you were writing this poetry book, did you set any content standards for yourself, for example, regarding profanity?
LH: I decided early in the drafting stage that I would not use the “f-word.” I realize that this specific word cuts two ways: it can completely turn off some readers and it can be very powerful emotionally (even for readers who don’t mind its use). I wanted to apply every linguistic skill I possess to explore, study, convey, describe and underscore emotional content, without resorting to the use of this particular word. I felt it would be a crutch and serve no useful purpose.
For example, my poem “I Don’t Want To” is about declaring one’s autonomy and independence from the authoritarianism of another person, institution or ideology; and it explores the different choices we have when responding to that situation. In the third stanza I express rage and frustration but without using the aforementioned word, like this:
Why don’t you try some self-appraisal
Can you do that?
I doubt you can settle
For the truth underneath your woeful hat
I realize that’s quite a few words in the place of one, but I feel these words get closer to the subtlety, the granularity and the nitty-gritty of what I want to express. In retrospect, I’m glad I made the decision to omit this word from my poetry book and that I stuck to my decision.
LCR: Ok, let's get to know you better. What is your favorite movie?
LH: Arrival. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. (Based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang.) In case you haven’t seen this movie, I’m going to try to avoid spoilers. Yes, it is a science-fiction story but it’s so much more than that. It explores the inevitable communication gap between humans and an alien species by considering how any sentient being (or race of such beings) perceives reality, space, time, matter, emotion, sense of self... In my opinion, the story then explores how that gap could potentially become a bridge, in spite of the enormous difficulty of doing that, and frankly isn’t that what being alive is about... creating bridges between ourselves and reality, and between ourselves and each other? There is plenty of drama, tenderness and—spoiler alert—a cool alien spacecraft. Bravo!
LCR: I've never seen that movie, and now you've got me curious. How about your favorite TV show?
LH: If you are reading this immediately after reading my answer to “What is your favorite movie?” then you may be surprised that it’s not Star Trek, Lost, Westworld or The Expanse (although those are all phenomenal shows), it’s Downton Abbey. Gotcha! ;-)
LCR: I loved Downton Abbey! Where can people get in touch with you online?
LH: I enjoy communicating with my audience through my blog, newsletter and social media, and I always answer emails (email@example.com). My blog’s main themes are artistic creativity, writing and self-publishing.
LH: Laura, thank you for hosting my book and giving me the opportunity to participate in this interview. I’m honored.
Lee Hudspeth is a poet, writer, musician, and fellow human being. Incandescent Visions is his first book of poetry. He is the co-author of ten nonfiction books in the field of Information Technology. He has written articles for professional journals like PC Computing and Office Computing. He is the author of over one hundred articles in the online magazine The Naked PC, which he co-founded and co-published. He lives in Southern California with his wife, two sons, and their cat. Find out more about Lee, his books, and his music at LeeHudspeth.com.