Saturday, June 29, 2013

Networking in the Park

breakfast stack
By Keith N Fisher

Because of difficult circumstances for the past few years, I came up short when it came time to register for the LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference this year. I planned to cook a Dutch oven dinner to pay my way, but somebody beat me to the punch. They announced a get together pizza party on Thursday night before the conference.

After retracting my intention on Facebook, J Scott Savage suggested I cook breakfast on one of the days. I chose Thursday morning.

I planned to make three new dishes, along with one I’ve made for years, but settled for one. Everything turned out great and tasted delicious. As the time came and went, nobody came. I wondered what to do with the food when people began to arrive. I was relieved.

Those who came enjoyed Dutch toast, breakfast stacks, and fruit salad. I also made five gallons of TangÒ. Although, nobody left hungry, the food wasn’t the big story. Networking with my fellow writers was priceless. Even the kids had fun, and some of the writers set up a printer to make copies for the boot camp.

Everyone was pleased and I promised to do it again next year. Hopefully, I’ll be in a better financial position and offer breakfast for free. I hope the attached pictures will inspire you for next year.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.
Dutch Toast

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Intellectual Property Rights. Are We Milking the Lightbulb?

By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember last week when I told you about the cookbook I’m writing? I talked about the memories associated with each recipe. In recollection, A great debate came up so I’m going to ask your opinion.

Part of Dutch oven cooking has always been about sharing. Recipes get passed around and techniques get shared at every event. Ethics, however, have prevented us from taking credit for another person’s work. We passed other people’s recipes around but always gave credit to the creator. In competitions we always put the source on each recipe.

A few years ago, one of our Dutch oven associates called, asking for permission to include one of our recipes in his cookbook. Two things crossed my mind. During that time, we were all making staple bound, recipe sheets (not cookbooks) to pass out. I thought he was talking about one of those. The other thing I thought about, was the ethical code I spoke of. I expected to get credit.

When the bound and published, cookbook came out, there was no credit. We didn’t even get a mention.

Because of that experience, I quit handing out recipes. I’d always planned on doing a cookbook sometime, and I didn’t need any more friends stealing my recipes. Recently, I received an email from a good friend asking for permission to use one of my breakfast recipes in something he was doing. I’m grateful he asked, but I told him no, since I’m going to include it in my own cookbook.

The breakfast recipe I spoke of, as with most of my cookbook are my creations. I want credit and the chance to sell my cookbook.

With that being said, you should know, many of our competition recipes were created from bits and pieces we found in other, non-Dutch oven sources. We adapted and changed each recipe. Now they are ours. I once heard a comment from a famous rock musician, who said: "Every rock and roll song has already been written. Anything new is just a variation of what came before." Such is the case with a lot of recipes and most software, poetry, and even movies.

Which brings us to the point. In the news the other day, a story about litigation over rights to use a certain technology caught my eye. It seems two gaming companies use the Internet to control the use of the games users play. Although users purchase the games and the equipment, one of the companies will not allow users to sell games or equipment to others . . .

Now, wait a minute. I admit I haven’t researched the whole story, but that’s like Ford or Chrysler saying, you can’t resell one of our cars because it will cut into our new car sales. The game developers want to force every user to buy their software.

I agree. Every creator, whether they paint, write, make music, or software, deserves high praise and much more money than they will ever get. I know it takes a lot of time and energy to develop software. It takes years, and a lot of sweat, to write a book. Writing music can be hard, but the creators of all of those media, chose their occupation. Holding readers, listeners, viewers, and users hostage, is not the way to get compensation.

After several years of writing fiction and hoping to make a lot of money, (someday) I learned the facts. I learned that writing, especially in the LDS market will probably never make me a millionaire. Making a living might not happen either. Intellectually, that sucks, but I still choose to write.

How would you feel if while I signed your copy of my book I said, "Now, you can’t lend this out for others to read. They must purchase their own."?

Yes, there are copyright problems in all the creative industries. As a writer, I worry about piracy. I don’t want others stealing my creation and making a profit from that theft. I could sell each book for double the price to make up for the theft. I could keep selling my first book for the same price after my fourth and fifth books are released, or I could be grateful that somebody still wants to buy my first book, and offer to sell it to them for a discount. Piracy will always be a problem and holding honest customers over a barrel will not solve it.

As a writer, I’d like everyone to buy a copy of my book. As a consumer, I bristle when I’m told what I can and cannot do with a product I have purchased. I resent a license that tells me the new software I purchased can only be installed on one computer, even though I own five computers. I wonder about the greed of a company who wants to make a profit on an obsolete operating system that has been superseded at least four times. Shouldn’t some things be relegated to public domain?

Maybe I can make a living on the sell of one book or maybe, I can touch a heart. Microcomputers and the software we use on them have made the world a better place. Recorded music can inspire souls to reach great heights. How can you nit pick and put a price on that? I remember an era when musicians got a thrill out of hearing their song on the radio for the first time. I don’t care if my Dutch oven associate makes a bundle on my recipe, but I do want credit.

What do you think?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who is that Old Guy, Anyway?

By Keith N Fisher

I keep thinking about my life before the "old guy", kidnapped my body. In those days, I maintained my garden with ease, and didn’t grunt when I moved. I had hair. I see that "old guy" in my mirror a lot and I wonder who invited him into the room.

One of these days I’m going to grab him by the throat and force that old guy to give back what he stole from me.

I was thinking of posting this on Facebook and realized there’s a blog post in there. Life is grand. There is sadness in seeing others face the trials you once had, but there is joy in seeing them overcome.

This has been the season of reinvention in my life. I’m forced to analyze and find a new path to follow. I remember doing the same thing at eighteen, when I realized it was time to grow up. High school was behind me and I would have to go to work every day, for the rest of my life.

It’s also been a time of great celebration for my friends who’ve gotten books published. There is a lot of joy in seeing them overcome adversity and achieve their goals. I’m finishing my cookbook at a publisher’s request.

Speaking of which, It’s been both a pain, and a joy. During all those years of Dutch oven competition, I thought I’d written my recipes in the same format. I discovered I was wrong. Also, I’ve lost copies and just never got around to writing some of them down.

My writing time these days is spent reformatting and remembering recipes. I’m also inventing new dishes, but I’ve come to realize, there’s a story behind each recipe. Both good and bad stories and I’ve been reliving both.

Through it all, I stare at that "old man" and curse him for stealing some of the good things in my life. Then, after I admit the "old man" is me, I think of all the blessings I’ve enjoyed. I’m grateful for the journey, and I’m excited to be on the road. I also notice that "old man" looks kind of wise. Well, at least he looks that way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Jack of All Trades

By Keith N Fisher

There is a saying I remember from childhood. I’m not sure where I heard it, or what the context was, but it’s Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I’ve always interpreted it as a man who can do many things, but nothing to perfection. I look at my long work career and figure I took the saying to heart.

As a writer, I’m still trying to master the craft, but my experience in life helps me plot stories. A thought occurred to me the other day as I watched two of my friends. One taught, and the other learned, while they went through an aspect of a certain computer program.

I thought about the saying and all the bits of knowledge a writer collects while applying their craft. Also, the hands on experiences they have while trying to describe something, are invaluable. I have another friend who probably wouldn’t have learned about computers and the Internet, if it hadn’t been for her writing career. Some writers do ride alongs trying to learn about police procedure.

We interview people who’ve had the experience in an effort to describe it. We research historical events in order to give our characters an accurate plot. Some people sit in courtrooms, some in hospitals. Others make notes at baseball games. During the course of our research, writers become Jack of all trades, but never master any of them. Some know all the procedures of heart surgery without ever getting near a patient.

For these reasons, I think writers would make great quiz show contestants. More than that, however. Writers who research can weave a tale of intrigue that rings true to those who read. Those writers become a Jack of all trades, masters of writing.

Good luck mastering your craft—see you next week.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Time to Open the Store

By Keith N Fisher

Have I mentioned I’m at a point in my writing career when I have several books in different stages of submission? I feel like a merchant who’s been building an inventory, getting ready to open the store.

In my writing, rather than concentrating on one book at time, I’ve kept a project file. Whenever I got bored with a plot, or it just wasn’t working, I’d turn to another plot and write it for a while. It’s a good way of avoiding writer’s block, but it also allowed me the freedom to follow the muse. Like when I submit a manuscript, and forget it while I move on to something else.

Now, a lot of those projects are drawing near to publication. I’m waiting to hear from a publisher on one. Another, is with beta readers, another is going to critique, and so on. Part of the reason for all the books, is the length of time publishers are taking in the submission process. Time is valuable and it’s difficult to get through the stack.

Still, I wish it went quicker. It’s been a year since I submitted, The Hillside, to the current publisher. It was two years at another one before that. (Long story.) I’ve almost forgotten what I wrote about.

With that kind of track record, and the number of manuscripts I have ready, I could be submitting for the next several years. Not to mention my Dutch oven cookbook.

"What do you do for a living?"

"I submit manuscripts to publishers."

However, there are many plots in my project file. Some are half-written. I will be writing into my nineties and beyond. Nice to have your career all laid out for you. I just hope I get published soon.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.