Symphony vs. Stanza

beginning with merely four notes
Beethoven created an immortal symphony
a musical poem with voices numbering
over two dozen instruments

surrounded by the sound of genius
I bounce between inspired and humbled
trying to write a decent stanza

tio stib

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Writing Well 2: 4,000,000 Books and Me

Recently I read a blog post that hit me like a bat on the back of the head. The author, Claude Forthomme, noted that a new book shows up on Amazon every 12 minutes and appropriately called this a self-publishing tsunami.

Claude’s post is now two years old and I expect the tsunami is now even larger. My guess is that Amazon currently has about 4,000,000 book listings.

In the middle of that flood of books are my two quite unnoticed self-published efforts.

That’s a lot of competition.

In another post, Claude shares that only 40 Amazon best selling authors actually make much money. 40 out of four million. I’m not sure what your math background is but even with my meager numbers skills, it seems obvious that the odds for financial success as a self-published writer are about the same as winning the lottery or me being asked to dinner with the President of the United States. It should be mentioned that I’m not his biggest fan.

My current book sales will not allow me to buy a first class ticket to fly to Paris, in fact, those sales barely allow me to buy an occasional beer to drown my writing career sorrows. Perhaps it’s time to throw out all the writing guru marketing crap that tells me that if I only work hard enough and smart enough and, of course, write something decent,, and then have a bit of good luck, I, too will be among the 40 best selling Amazon authors.

Not remotely likely, Grasshopper.

In Seth Godin’s insightful podcast, “Live at Carnegie Hall,” he poses the question of how young aspiring musicians can create successful lives amidst the flood of musical competition released by the same free and easy internet access that has changed the world for all of today’s creative artists. Seth suggests another path for life success. Instead of trying to compete with that tsunami of creative talent, build a tribe of 1000 followers for your unique artistic gift. He notes the careers of musicians who have small but dedicated followers. By focusing on uniquely serving a small group of people with similar passions, such artists have created simple and meaningful lives.

After listening to Seth, I considered my writing career and decided to change my focus to building a tribe of followers around my writing passion, young adult eco-fiction. Here I write for young minds still open and curious about the Natural world, a world that feeds my own soul. I’m building relationships within the eco-fiction community by reviewing other author’s books and being involved with discussion groups. I’m continuing my efforts to support the Save the Vaquita Porpoise! movement. And I keep asking myself the question, how can I best serve the needs of this community, my tribe while pursuing my own life path?

No, Ive not given up on building my writing platform, rather I’ve shifted it’s focus to serving my tribe. Sure, I’d like to sell more books, and I suspect this will happen over time. However, I’m not making plans to fly first class to Paris. I’d rather go fly fishing on the Rogue River.

Here are links to the above mentioned articles- (please make links noted below)

Claude Forthomme’s Blog-

Seth Godin’s Podcast “Live at Carnegie Hall”-

Good writing!
Tio Stib Signature

Published on the Saturday Evening Post

Surprise! I’ve received the welcome news that my short story, “Almost heaven,” has been published on the Saturday Evening Post. Wow! Makes an oft rejected writer’s day.

Here’s the link-

“Almost Heaven” in The Saturday Evening Post 

Good writing!

tio stib


Writing Well 1, The Transformative Power of Classical Music

My thanks to Anthony Wilson, a fellow WordPress blogger, who shared the link to Benjamin Zander, brilliant teacher and inspiring human being. I’d heard his name mentioned many times, but never took the opportunity to meet him until now and thankfully so.

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, and new connections.

This talk moved me to tears, something I’ve needed for a long, long time.

Tio Stib Signature

Queries, Publishers, Rejections and Rewrites

A funny thing happened at the end of my last tryst with writing immortality, a guy actually offered to publish my book, and on his dime. Yes, for the first time in my less than illustrious writing career, somebody besides me is paying for putting out my work. I was a bit slow to realize this was happening.

During our fourth discussion, as I’m silently adding up the numbers he’s quoting for the publishing process and comparing them to my dwindling bank account, my new publisher friend said, “You do realize that I’m paying for this, don’t you?”

No, I did not.


True, there is no advance or instant wealth from this deal, but even better, he offered the services of an editor to guide me through rewriting the book. Yes, I was wise enough to realize that calling my manuscript a “rough draft” was overly generous, and I welcomed the opportunity to improve it with the aid of intelligent and insightful feedback.

And I wasn’t going to have to pay for this advice.


A brief history is in order. I finished this book in June and immediately went to work doing what I’d done with previous books. I sent dozens of queries to agents and publishers offering my literary jewel to a hopefully eager marketplace. Truthfully, as I’d done this previously, I had no illusions that this effort would be productive, but I felt some sort of beginning writer’s obligation to go through the process so I’d have a common subject to commiserate

with should I chance to come upon another struggling writer.

Imagine my surprise when, nearly as soon as I sent out my many emailed queries, I began to get actual email responses. Yes, these were all rejections but they were signs that someone had actually taken enough interest in my book to write back. Given that the typical form of agent and publisher rejection is no response at all, I was delighted.

How sad is that, a man rejoicing in rejection?

Why the sudden rash of written rejections? This time, I’d added a flashy bit of cover art to my manuscript, having hired an illustrator to crate something that would excite an audience response. This apparently worked, but it seems that after the readers turned to the second page, interest immediately waned.

Who says first impressions aren’t everything?

Somewhat wiser from previous marketing experiences, I’d also sent letters to numerous environmental organizations whose interests paralleled the theme in my book. I was encouraged when several of them offered to promote my book but not until it was published.

Are you familiar with the phrase “Catch 22?”

Yes, I’ve done the self-publishing thing and there is a certain sense of pride seeing my title on Amazon accompanied with a few positive reviews. However that pride dissipates quickly when I remember that my title is one of about two million currently listed on amazon. This realization put me back in the recliner chair reconsidering the meaning of life, and then a slightly more manageable topic, why did I write this book?

I wrote “Perils of Payeto, the Last Vaquita Porpoise,” to provoke a discussion about how Man relates to Nature in today’s world. I wrote it to encourage young people to explore ideas about how they can make their world better. I wrote it to give teachers a tool for studying how increased awareness of the natural world can lead to new ideas and programs to create a sustainable balance between the activities of Man and Nature.

Okay, that’s all noble and good, but what’s the practical reality here? I don’t really care how many copies I sell on Amazon, what I really want to do is get my book into the hands and minds of young people, especially in schools in Baja California.

I do enjoy my day dreams in that easy chair. I was about to dive into the question of how to get my book into those schools when I received an ∑email from a friend, the afore mentioned illustrator who did the dazzling cover. Seems he also worked for a publisher who was interested in the book. This turned out to be the guy who offered to ∑put my book out and pay for the process.

And here I am. The book has been rewritten and is much more solid for the effort. I’m about to get the English copy translated into Spanish, as publishing the book in an English/Spanish bilingual format seems to be a better way to offer it to the school audience I’m seeking in Mexico.

Looking back at the past three months, what did I learn?

Never give up!

Sometimes success is just a step away and it can sneak up from unexpected places.

Wishing you all the best!

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy: Writing Well , Why I Write Poetry

Am I A Poet?

Version One

I’m a writer
when lazy
writes poetry
on occasion
is sometimes worthy
of the name

Version Two

am I a poet
and just don’t know it
are my words sublime
though they don’t rhyme
do I speak of passion and romance
or merely do a two step dance
there are times when I wonder
if writing poetry is
my current blunder

Version Three

Is my poetry an art
or merely a creative fart
if I could see me in the mirror
would I see an artist there
as my words drop on the page
are they legacy or loony rage
can I pretend that this is passion
when I write with mental caution
are these outpourings of the heart
or a mind so bent it cannot start
still the question gives me pains
am I a poet?

what else remains?

tio stib, 2015

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