A Plug of One’s Own

While slurping my morning coffee, to my utter astonishment, I opened an email from Amazon asking me to give 1-5 stars for a list of books which somehow included both of my own. They’re kidding, right? Taking the bait, I proceeded to blow the daylights out of my own legendary horn.

And may I just say, that in addition to writing darn fine novels, I can toss off two quite excellent reviews as well? There is every reason to believe Amazon will never allow them to see the light of day, as authors aren’t really allowed to review their own work, but hey, if offered a plug of one’s own, (thanking you, Virginia Wolff) who would resist?

First of all, to a degree that is professionally intoxicating, my books have been mentioned in the same breath with writers such as Eudora Welty, Willa Cather, Fannie Flagg, Billie Letts, Mary Karr, Mollie Ivins and Erma Bombeck. To a degree this list is proof-positive that my work won’t fit into any known genre, well, it is also likely why I’ll never retire from my literary earnings. But that’s okay. Don’t vex me with genre. Pshsf…categories…who needs them?

So here are my reviews, my own plugs, if you will.

Regarding The Edge of the Grace Period,  2000, this is a raucous and poignant story about people living on the edge of everything: the edge of family function, the edge of forever friendships (and some not), the brink of industrial, southern sensibilities, the fringes of faith, the tipping edge of bravery to grab Life by the throat and swing…it was this first book that elicited the above author comparisons.

Regarding The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, 2012, I spent seven years researching the offshore world (among other things) for this book. At the end of The Edge of the Grace Period, a story mostly about Darlene and her best friend, Karla…Karla goes off to work offshore. From that very moment I wanted to know how that happened and how that went. (I am personally a former merchant mariner; I went to sea in 1978 as one of about six total females sailing in the world.) Every last one of us gas up our cars easy as you please, without a second thought, never wondering how that sweet fuel gets from a hole in the ocean to our corner store. This is just one person’s story about who goes and fetches that fuel for us. It’s a unique story, from a unique perspective and that is seriously understating things.

Karla is a tall, skinny, gutsy, verbally-unfiltered 20-year-old who goes to work as a roustabout in 1980. (For the life of me, I always picture Sandra Bullock or Sara Gilbert.) She is hit with an onslaught of “you don’t belong here-isms” in what was and still remains an almost exclusively man’s world. She is a victim to every prank of the trade but after 26 years ends up as the boss. After hundreds of helicopter rides to rigs large and small, she is on her final trip home to begin a second career, one that is entirely out of her character. But on this last trip her helicopter goes down, and she is missing in the Gulf of Mexico. Her family and friends are gathered for a gigantic Welcome Home party; instead they await her fate.

Karla (Karla Jean to Dooley Wade, her whacked-out Vietnam chopper pilot and constant thorn) hasn’t cut her hair since childhood. Why not? She sports a braid so long is can double as a weapon. Find out how Karla gets pregnant, even though she is allergic to children, and it’s all her husband’s fault. So many twists and turns…and finally, find out what this new career is, because you won’t see it coming in a month of Sundays. Then there’s the whole “Is she dead or alive?” thing going also.

Don’t take my word for it. Go to Amazon (or Barnes & Noble) and read the reviews for yourself. I am happy to report there are more than just mine, which probably won’t show up anyway. Read them, enjoy them, share them.

And thanks for reading this…I not-so-humbly submit…a Plug of One’s Own.

Sue Grafton: H is for Hubris

The indie-published crowd is in a deservedly righteous dither after Sue Grafton and John Green tossed the lot of us into the “isolated” and “lazy” slush heap of artists. This author will not even validate their positions with a rebuttal. My only response would be the following: Gertrude Stein, Walt Whitman, Virginia Wolff, Beatrix Potter, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau, Anais Nin, Deepak Chopra, Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Zane Grey, William E. B. DuBois, Strunk and White, E.L James …self-published…every one. I could keep going but my indie-published, short-cutting fingers are tired. If this is the “lazy” and “isolated” conglomeration of authors of whom I am a part, well, I humbly accept my position within their indolent midst.

The publishing paradigm has shifted. To those on the “traditional” side, my sincerest good wishes and congratulations. But to those of us with the pluck and mettle, the tenacity and persistence, and the temerity to launch our best efforts into the hallowed realm of publication…kudos to you all, my thick-skinned brethren. Keep your chins up and your pens a’ penning.

Dorothy Hagan is the indie-published author of The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, (2012) seven years in research, writing and publication. (Not a lot of books written about women working in the gritty, offshore world of men. Honest. Go try and find one.) Oh, yeah. And Lazy Hagan also published The Edge of the Grace Period in 2000, POD with IUniverse, before most “traditional” people had even heard of such a thing. Ms. Hagan’s books will never go out of print and will be entirely available when Oprah calls up for the Book Club.

In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin and…You?

Imagine a world with no Leaves of Grass. Or The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. Or Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Or imagine further, that after you wrote that first draft, of the first attempt, of your first real writing adventure…imagine there was no tome of instruction called The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., with his student E.B.White. Yes, imagine if this first response in writing instruction, had not been available.

That could very well have happened. Because along with being great contributions to our literary existence, all four of these works have something else in common.

They were all…dare we say it? Self-published. Every one.

On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at 7:30 in the bright, early morning, I will be leading a session discussing the very topic of self-publishing, or indie publishing, as it’s called today. Technology now allows virtually anyone to be published. For some folks that’s not a good idea. But for others it is a duty to humanity to share their gifts. Depending on your contribution, self-publishing is not vanity. I would go so far as to call it duty. It is incumbent upon you as an author to find out if the world will benefit from your contribution.

Walt Whitman. Beatrix Potter. Benjamin Franklin. Legacies we have to enjoy because they were bold enough to publish their own work. Who among us is being called to join them?

If you have not registered to attend the Tuesday session, watch this blog for further announcements. More sessions are in the works. Thank you as always for stopping by.

Announcements:

Do you have an organization and need a speaker? How about some hot topics?
Would you like to know what Karla’s offshore world really looked like? How about a PowerPoint presentation to find out?
Or would you like to know the latest about indie publishing? And what that might mean to you?

I would love to come and join you! Just drop me a line here or at dothagan@aol.com

And did you know…

The Edge of the Grace Period is now live on Kindle! Check out this companion novel of The Offshore Triumphs, also on Kindle for $3.99!!!

Events Scheduled:

UHCL presents Small Talk/Big Ideas
In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin:
Indie Publishing Then and Now

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 7:30 am to 9:00 am
University of Houston at Clear Lake,  $15.00 admission
To register go http://prtl.uhcl.edu/portal/page/portal/ALR/roundtable
Seating is limited. To reserve your seat in the conversation by phone, call Kris Thompson at 281-283-2040.
This event is presented by the UHCL Alumni Association. For more information on the association, please visit www.uhcl.edu/alumni.

Southern Belle Book Club
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10 am
Bayou Vista

UH Clear Lake Official Book Tour Launch: Book Signing and PowerPoint Presentation
What would Karla’s offshore world really have looked like? The rigs? The helicopters? The gritty work?
Come join us for a PowerPoint presentation to have a look at just that! Stick around for a free reception and
book signing. Enjoy fabulous nibbles created by the inventive Cindy Smith!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 6:30pm to 8:30
University of Houston-Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Boulevard  Houston, TX 77058

Garden Room and Atrium I