Sunday, July 22, 2012


Yesterday I wrote about how some composers all around the world made me believe in humans' capacity for beauty in the midst of an awful display of human depravity (the Colorado cinema shooter).

These composers have also sent me straight into a surreal place. I've never written a piece of work that someone else has transformed. Let me tell you, it's an emotional, visceral, thrilling ride. Like holding a newborn baby. Maybe I've had an overdose of oxytocin?

For the music lovers, I'm embedding the ENO entries as of this morning. You can open the original libretto and follow along, more or less, with the words. What is so stunning to me is the variety of expression and quality of each interpretation. Bravo! Bravissimo!

"Big love" to you all!
POSTSCRIPT: I wrote this blog a few hours ago; I was convinced that today was Monday and that the contest was already closed. (I even drove my son to daycare, and ended up in an empty lot, boggled.) I'm happy to report that there are many compositions still to be submitted to the ENO contest, which ends on the 23rd. I'll include all the ones based on The Lingerer here. There are also many, many more amazing minioperas based on other stories. I encourage you to visit the ENO site and listen to them.

And a link, because I can't figure out how to embed this one:

Like everything, this is all best enjoyed with a glass of wine and the volume turned up "too loud."

Have an extraordinary week!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


This weekend has been overwheming.

Along with everyone else, I woke up to the tragedy of the Colorado cinema shooting. At times like these, I slip very quickly into despondency about the fierce grasp the NRA has on the throat of America. A Texan, I must admit that I'm glad my brother can legally own a gun to protect his large property in the countryside. He used it responsibly (i.e., didn't aim it, and only held it at his side as a warning) to stop a deranged, drugged man trying to break into my mother's house. But I see absolutely no reason why any lawful citizen would need an automatic assault gun. Or twenty. There will not be zombie apocalypse.

So I was grateful when my despondency was averted by the ENO music being posted on Soundcloud. There are over 60 entries as of tonight. About 6 or 7 have been posted for my libretto, The Lingerer, and I've listened to them all several times today. Tomorrow, I'll create links to all the versions so you can see the variety and beauty that these talented composers and singers created. They breathed life into a libretto, and I am stunned over and over at the healing power of music.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the minioperas contest. I am overwhelmed by the humanity in the compositions, just when I needed humanity the most.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good Things are Afoot

A few exciting things have happened over the past week.

First, I booked my flight to London to attend the English National Opera event in October.
Minioperas! I have no idea what the evening will hold, but I'm outright giddy thinking about it. My younger son really hopes I get to meet Terry Gilliam; he's drawing a card for me to deliver to Gilliam, just in case.

This will be my first trip to England, and because I have to be back in Texas to teach, I only have THREE days in London, folks, including my arrival day (morning). What can I absolutely NOT miss when I go? And what places are equally appreciated on a postcard? I'm going to admit now something that will reveal my utter dweeb-ness: I adore Notting Hill. It's my favorite movie. I've seen it a dozen times, and I've used the Hugh Grant Walks Through the Seasons montage when I teach a film unit at SMU. So, I think I might have to go to Notting Hill.

Where else should I go? (I'm also a sucker for Jane Austen, the Beatles, and Monty Python.)
Abbey Road?

Second, my dear writer-friend, Sam, came over for drinks and chatting and, eventually as always, ice cream. It had been too long since we last got together, and I was so happy to flap our jaws about anything and everything. Isn't friendship great? Part of me wishes I had friends over every night (or every other night) for drinks. It's good for the soul.

Third, Daddy turned 89. I am lucky. So lucky.

And today, Brentney with the Dallas Observer interviewed me about my take on the changes in the publishing industry, and self-publishing's affect (read "Amazon's affect") on literary fiction. Thanks, Brentney! It's such a nicely crafted article!

Waiting on suggestions from the Brits and American travelers to London: cheap but clean hotels? not-to-be-missed landmarks?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lawyers, Step it Up

I've been following this story about the dangers of Deramaxx for over a year.
People's pets are dying horrible deaths.
Why the hell aren't the makers of Deramaxx being sued?
Lawyers, step it up. 

If you have a dog, PLEASE read this story. It just might spare your dog's life.
Holly, Amy's dog

Sunday Matinee

Sundays are great for matinees. And Vimeo's a great place to watch them. My nine-year-old son approves these videos.
Oxygen from Christopher Hendryx on Vimeo.

And Creepy:

Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

America the Free (Books)

To be blunt, this is a brief post about how my novel in ebook form went from oblivion to #1 in the Amazon Bestseller List for Top Free Literary Fiction  and #21 in the Top Free 100 eBooks. (Mostly told in pictures.)

Three days ago, I sat in my comfy-chair, looking forward to dinner and fireworks at Mema's house with the family. I was also thinking about my first novel, Song of the Orange Moons, which was published by an Austin press of great little books, and then disappeared into oblivion as the press unexpectedly closed shop.

There are still hard bound copies floating around on Amazon. But the $4.99 ebook, which I published (with ASD Publishing) shortly after on Amazon, in an attempt to keep the book-child breathing, sat deathly still on the digital shelf.

It was the 4th of July. We were celebrating our freedom. I decided to make my book Free for a few days--set it free and see what would happen. After doing some research and seeing how it's done, I went to KDP Select, placed the book in Free Promo status for three days, then went to Mema's for fireworks. The sale began at midnight, and this is what happened:

 The novel climbed the Free charts, and by the time I went to bed, I think the book was #24 in Literary Fiction. When I woke up, I received this snapshot text from my friend:

Song (with the greenish-brown cover) is at #3

Song at #2
At this point I am utterly boggled. What does this mean, I ask myself over and over. A few hours later, it's at #2, and holds this way throughout the day. In the meantime, it's climbing the charts for the Top 100 Free Kindle books:
#54 in Kindle Store

As I'm cooking dinner, I get a text from my brother with this image:
Song at #1
It held at this rank throughout the evening, and as I'm writing this post at 7:30 in the AM, the book is at #1 in Literary Fiction Top 100 Free and #21 in the Top 100 Kindle Store.

I don't really know what this means in the longer run (as in tomorrow, the next day, and the next). It's only a Bestseller on the Free List, so I fully appreciate the oxymoronic nature of the term.

What I do know is this: 
I have incredible friends who spread the word on Facebook and Twitter,  encouraging friends to download the book. I've been gobsmacked (my favorite word) by their encouragement. Because of them, more people know about this novel, and perhaps some will like it enough to recommend it to friends.

What I suspect is this:
That the economy has created a country of new consumers who hesitate to spring $5 on a book that they're not entirely certain (because it doesn't have a movie trailer yet) is a worthy read. I understand this phenomenon personally: these days, I only read books that are either on the NYT bestseller list or recommended to me by a friend or trusted website.
We shop at Half-Price Books, one local bookstore, and Amazon, and if the book is FREE with great reviews, so much the better.

What I think happened to push the book up the Amazon rankings list: 
I've been forwarded images of websites that have announced my book's listing on Kindle as free, here, here, and here. (At one of these sites, my book was mistakenly labeled as Religious/Literary. Although the girls in the novel must navigate their religions, the book does not promote any certain religion; I suppose it promotes love. Apologies to those who unwittingly downloaded a literary novel.) These sites have huge followings. Thanks to sites like these, thousands of people actually knew that my book was temporarily free and had the handy link.

Today is the last day of the Free Promotion, so please share the link with friends and family. (It's also available in the UK. #14 in Literary Fiction as of today.)

What I hope will happen:
For a few days, the book will stay in the Top 100, and perhaps, because of its visibility and the reviews, people will download it for $4.99. Of course I hope it sells some copies, after flying free in almost 9,000 downloads.
But I can say with absolute honesty that publishing the book was never about money. It's literary fiction, not pulp fiction. It's a serious book, and I'm encouraged that people are willing to give such reading a chance these days.