The Art, or Lack Thereof, of Branding

celtic knotI recently attended a seminar on author marketing. A fledgling seminar, but one that evoked introspection. The presenter talked about world view, framing, audience, using social media, brand/voice, etc. Then there came the dreaded audience participation. She asked for a volunteer to talk about their work in progress, or WIP.

All fingers pointed to me. Did I mention that most, no all, of the people in this seminar belong to the same writing group? Yeah, they were all quick to volunteer me. Thanks a lot.

The question posed: “What is your brand? Why did/do you write what you did/do?

I think several snide and smart ass remarks (mostly aimed at said volunteering friends) flew through my head. I bit my tongue. Why do I write what I write?

ravenI did get one snarky “So I don’t actually do what I write about.” comment in. Referring mostly to my horror short stories and not the paranormal novels in progress.

I thought about my first manuscript, the one that’s shelved for the moment. And, then the novel I’m currently working on. That’s the one I chose. I’m writing it mainly because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to write, the one my daughter told me she thought I would write first. She can now say “I told you so.” every day until I’m ready to publish it. This novel has been incubating for–well, for more years than I want to disclose. I’m not ready to say what it is just yet. All because I’m still thinking about what my brand is and why I’m writing it and anything else I write.

On the surface, my brand is that I believe in the possibility that there is something to myths and legends, something to our tenacious hold on subject matter beyond reality. For me, there is a knowledge at my very core, you could say built into my 529263_438050886289531_2114181660_nDNA, that shapes this interest.

I know I’m being vague, but this seminar really got me thinking and I’m still hashing all this out. Believe me, you’ll know when I do.

In the mean time, what is your brand? Whether you’re a writer or artist or entrepreneur, why do you do what you do?

A Wee Bit of ‘Grave’ Irish Humor

skeleton St. Pat'sOkay. This is going to be a wee bit of shameless, self promotion. I’ve written several short stories and I would like to share one with you here.  It’s dark humor, which I hope you enjoy.

If you like dark, horror, paranormal, you can find this story, three more of mine, and many more author’s stories, in the Darker Times Anthology, Volumes One and Two. They’re available on Amazon.com US and UK (links will be provided below). The full poem, The Gravedigger’s Song, featured in this story, will be published in the Darker Times poetry and flash fiction anthology, which will be available later this year.

There, that’s it for the promotion bit. On with the story.

The Gravedigger ~ RG Calkins

Jack Sullivan strides across the cemetery lawn, shovel slung on his shoulder, a lantern swings from his hand. He sings a tune not known to most.

            When I was young my elders said,

            Don’t walk on graves, disturb the dead.

            This sounded strange, I questioned not

            Tiptoed ‘round each crypt and plot.

            The dead don’t mind if you dance on their bones

            They’re covered o’re with earth and stones

            None reside b’neath the ground

            Their souls are free, no longer bound.

     He reaches his destination and tips his cap. “Ah, now, Mr. Stewart. ‘Twas a nice service here today was it not?”

     “What was that bizarre lay you were bellowing?”

     Jack chuckles. “One passed from me grandda to me da to me.”

     Stewart huffs. “It’s irreverent and disrespectful.”

     Jack shoves his shovel into the pile of dirt at his feet. “Aye, to some ‘tis, but most folk laughs at it.”

     “That’s preposterous.”

     Jack continues to shovel steadily. “‘Tis the truth of it.”

     A woman approaches. Her pasty face sour and gait purposeful.

     Jack stops and tips his cap to her. “Evenin’ Mrs. O’Connor. Come to pay your respects have you?”

     “I’ve come to spit on t’ bastard’s remains, I have.” She comes closer and hawks a gob of spit toward the dirt.

     “Ah now, Missus is that any way to be?” Jack scoops more dirt in.

     “He was a thievin’ son of a whore.” She points a bony finger at him. “You know the truth of it Jack Sullivan.”

     “Aye, I know it well.” He says to the woman’s retreating back.

     “What a course and bitter woman.”

     Jack distributes more soil into the hole. “As you say, Mr. Stewart.” He pauses only to light his lantern.

Stewart squints into the dying light. “Sullivan, do you see that man striding toward us?”

“Aye, sir, I do.”

     “Is it All Hallows? He appears to have on a costume.”

     Jack peers at the young man. “Nay, ‘tisn’t Samhain and he’s not wearin’ a costume.”

     “By God, man,” Stewart exclaims, “then the boy’s been shot.”

     Jack, unconcerned, removes a flask from the back pocket of his pants. “Aye, I b’lieve he has.” He takes a pull from the pint size container.

     “Good evenin’ gents.” The lad says with a slight bow.

     Jack holds out the tin. “Nice to see you Finn, care for a drink?”

     “Ah, now, Mr. Sullivan, I can’t accept your hospitality, but I appreciate the thought.”

     Stewart looks appalled. “You, lad, go along to the hospital.”

     Finn’s pale face turns to Stewart. “There’s naught they can do for me, sir.” He peers at the now filled grave. “For him neither.” Finn throws his head back and howls with laughter as he takes his leave.

     “Mr. Sullivan, I think there is something amiss here.”

     Jack raises his eyebrows. “How do you mean, sir?”

     Stewart makes a grand gesture. “Why are all these people milling about a graveyard after dark?”

     Jack follows his gaze. “Because it’s their home.”

Stewart’s eyes are wide with fright. “Let us flee, man.” His voice quavers. “These apparitions may mean to do us harm.”

     Jack grins at Mr. Stewart. “I’ll be goin’ now, but as for you . . .” the sound of metal against stone draws Stewart’s attention.

     Stewart stares in disbelief at the newly chiseled headstone.

     “Good night, Mr. Stewart and welcome home.”

     Jack slings his shovel to its perch, picks up his lantern and crosses the turf.

            It occurred to me that ev’ry day.

            We walk the crust of death’s decay.

            It’s futile to pick up your feet,

Irish Graveyard

            When everywhere a corpse they meet.

           The dead don’t mind if you dance on their bones

            They’re covered o’re with earth and stones

            None reside b’neath the ground

            Their souls are free, no longer bound.

© Copywrite- The Gravedigger, RG Calkins, 2012

Is féidir leat rince! – May you dance! ~ RG

Now for those links (right click and select ‘go to address’ or copy and paste the link into the search bar):

US

Vol. 1 – http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-One/dp/1481000985/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042840&sr=8-1&keywords=jessica+grace+coleman+darker+times+anthology

Vol. 2 – http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-Two/dp/1481971727/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042840&sr=8-2&keywords=jessica+grace+coleman+darker+times+anthology

UK

Vol. 1 – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-One/dp/1481000985/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042718&sr=8-3

Vol. 2 – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-Two/dp/1481971727/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042718&sr=8-1

The Thing That Is Social Media

As a new author, I’ve been told that I need to be on social media. I get it. The way the publishing world is today, you have to be able to market yourself.

And, I am on social media. However, sometimes I feel weird blowing my own horn.

Like this guy.

So, I’m going to suck it up and play my social media tune. Here are my Facebook and Twitter links. If you’re so inclined please LIKE and FOLLOW. It’s greatly appreciated!

Facebook

Twitter

Of course, following my blog is also an accepted form of social media as well. So, feel free to do that as well.

Thank you for reading my plea and for doing any of the above. I promise not to post anything like this in the future as I feel painfully guilty doing it.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Yours in shameless self promotion,

RG

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