Saturday, October 8, 2016

What Happens After 'The End'

I now work for WFIU, the NPR-affiliate station at Indiana University-Bloomington. I was hired for front-desk and admin work, with an eye towards helping with production tasks on a couple of weekly programs.

Well, when a new half-hour arts magazine started up, I revved my production engine and said, "Er, I have an idea for a show."

That idea was aired this morning at 7 am, as the October 8, 2016 episode of Cafe Indiana.

"What Happens After 'The End'" came as my response to hearing so many talented writers in my area express bewilderment about what to do with their finished manuscripts. I had gotten Yu: A Ross Lamos Mystery published after six years of queries and submissions, and during that time came to the realization that that publishing a book in the 21st century was very, very different from what it had been before 1990 -- for writers, publishers, distributors and sellers, everyone involved anywhere in the industry.

For this radio story, I had the great good fortune to have as friends several writers with a  broad range of experiences in publishing: Claire Arbogast had gotten in with an academic publisher, IU Press. Annette Oppenlander had a bad experience with one "partnership" publisher - and she had to invest nearly $1,000 for the privilege. Terry Pinaud has worked with self-publishing service companies from AuthorHouse to CreateSpace over 20 years, as he cranked out six novels and a story collection. And K. H. Brower went whole-hog do-it-yourself by creating her own imprint.

And best of all, I knew Paul Burt - the fellow who published  Yu: A Ross Lamos Mystery in 2010, through his company, Open Books Press. Paul had a special story to tell: how Author House got started in a basement in Bloomington, Indiana.

You see, Paul worked in sales for the small business that eventually became Author House. It was called First Books when he was hired. With an infusion of venture capital, it became Author House -- leveraging bleeding-edge publishing technology to tap the market for what used to be called "vanity press."

And what did Paul do, seeing that he was in on the ground floor of what was about to become a global business phenomenon?

Click on What Happens After 'The End' and find out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Ring out, wild bells, because my story "Into Kansas" is going out to discerning readers in Berlin and cyberspace on May 14!

SAND Journal is a high-quality English-language literary magazine published in Berlin, Germany, in print and online.  Issue 13 will launch on Saturday!

Somehow my short tale of a strange incident at the wild edge of the Kansas prairie in 1879 rang their bell ... 

... and I am wildly grateful to the editors, copy editors and designers Over There!

Get SAND in your eyes online, or order yourself a copy. Imagine me dancing, grooving, drinking, shmoozing and dazzling everyone with my native wit at their party ... because I'll be exercising my bi-location siddhi superpowers to do so. Half of me will still be here in Bloomington, Indiana, doing yoga, recording an audiobook, and helping Mom get groceries.

She's going to wonder what put that mad, gleeful glint in my eye!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who Made My Clothes?

In honor of the hashtag #whomademyclothes, here is a poem by my friend Murray Gordon, of Seattle, Washington:

Get To Know Your Jacket 

Reach into the closet for your jacket

and grasp the collar which was sewn on by

Nan. She has a quota of twenty-eight

dozen per day. Thrust a hand into one

sleeve and twist the other hand into the

second one. They were set by Sideth and

immediately after topstitched by

Chong. Their machines are adjacent but they

are not allowed to speak to each other

for forty hours a week, fifty-two

weeks a year. Smooth the jacket around you

torso. Larita bodyseamed it for

you. She's been doing that job for more than

fifteen years breathing in lint all that time.

That the left and right fronts of your jacket

should match, Khamdy personally took a

marking pencil and marked your zipper at

the neck, yoke and waistband. Last year, she set


front zippers. The pocket welts were cut by

Eulalia who stands on her feet for

eight hours a day at the Reece machine.

The pocket zippers were set by Honee

who is so good that you will never

see a pucker at the corners because

she must make repairs on her own time. When

you put your keys, comb and change into

the pockets, you can do so with confidence.

They won't fall through because Jojo is the

pocket bagger. She is so fast that it

isn't necessary for her to think

anymore. William cut out the pattern -

360 ply. There is

not a moment anymore when he does

not hear the buzz of the cutting machines.

Pauline supervised the sewing line. They

gave her a raise, put her on salary

and now they don't have to pay her over-

time when the plant works on Saturdays. George

is the owner. He comes in late and leaves

early, takes two hour lunches and he

does not know the names of any workers.

Your jacket comes as an experienced

traveler. Ordered in Seattle from

a catalogue company in Maine, the

fabric was shipped from a Massachusetts

mill to the contractor in Seattle,

reshipped to a subcontractor in North

Carolina, sewn there and reshipped back

to Seattle to be inspected, tagged

and bagged, reshipped to Maine and then shipped to

your home address in Seattle. When you

wear the jacket no one will be able

to see any of this. What they will see

on the left front is a small label with

the name of a dead man woven on it

Monday, March 23, 2015

For a While, I Was Being Followed

Oh, yes, I did it --  I got a #Twitter account. Played around with it. Made some mistakes. Panicked. Got a grip. And now I have 87 followers.

That feels comfy, like a nice party or a warm crowd at a bar. I don't push for followers, mainly because I have discovered Twitter spam. Not my cup o' tea.

One thing I did that affects This Writing Thing is, I bought a year's worth of Twitter promotion with a marketing business called BookBuzz. You fill out a form giving a short logline for your book, submit your cover graphic, and boom (or, Tweet!) you're in rotation for mass Twitter appearances, with a link to your book's sales page, wherever that is.

So I hope some people have elected to visit Open Books Press, to check out YU, or to my site, to read the free chapters.

But the thing I have to tell you - OMG YouGuys! - I found #WernerHerzog's Twitter handle@WernerTwertzog, and Followed, because his Tweets are darkly hilarious haikus about life.

"I can no longer
Distinguish between The goatees of NASCAR enthusiasts, Leninists, Nashvillians, Mitch-MIllerites, And Brad Pitt."

I favorited and re-tweeted, and replied to that one, comparing Duck Dynasty to Rasputin.

Whoever @WernerTwertzog is, he Favorited, and Followed!

I squee'd a squee to remove the paint from my walls.

For 24 hours I was terrified to re-Tweet anything, because WERNER HERZOG WOULD SEE IT!

Then I got a grip, again.

And now, 7 days later, he's un-Followed me ... but he did Favorite something else I replied to one of his haikus.

I figure he does a weekly purge of who he Follows, just to stay fresh.

Man, for a while there I was looking over my shoulder when I left the house - knowing Werne Herzog was following me.

PS -- any movie Werner Herzog makes, go see it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Literary Reporting?

What do you suppose they mean by that?



Deadline February 16, 2015. $6,000 upon announcement of the winning proposal; $3,000 upon evidence of substantial progress; and $3,500 upon completion and acceptance by the Award committee. NYU ID and full online and onsite NYU Bobst Library research and reference privileges. Space allowing, an office at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, with WiFi. On completion, the author may be asked to present the work to the NYU journalism community in a mutually agreeable format.

It does sound kind of cool.

In other news ...

My Twitter handle (or "Twitness" as I prefer to call it) is @ShayneLaughter.

I have investigated, an app which allows your blog posts to go directly to Twitter.  I, being a spectacularly lazy blogger, would rather have something that posts my re-tweets on my blog.  Then I could fill the blogosphere with bon mots from the Paris Review, LA Review of Books, and other Lit-Twits.

Now that I've thought of it and said it out loud-ish on the Net, I'll just settle back in my lawn chair and wait for somebody to come up with the algorithm.  Send the check to my PayPal account, please.

And yes, I know I promised you more Spain pix.  Soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Days in a Warm Place, Part 2

In less than a day, it will be the final month of 2014.  These pictures are precious memories of July, in residence at Can Serrat, an hour outside Barcelona, in the foothills of the Montserrat mountain range.

Right this way ... my new friend Jacqui and I got off the bus from Barcelona and walked down a steep gravel road dragging our wheeled luggage ...

This view assured us it was all worth it.

Up the driveway ...

We come in peace, dude.

Loggia inside the estate walls. Henri the handyman would strap a full trash can to his back every day and ride the ATV up a steep hill to a trash bin in the little town of El Bruc.

The inside dining room.  We nearly always ate outside under a grape arbor, at a huge stone table. Which I did not take any pictures of, dammit.

The large studio. Several painters and sculptors could work in here together.

The small studio, big enough for two artists. That's Henri the handyman, shirtless as usual.

The writing room. A library of books from around the world, plus desks, deep couches & chairs & a couple of beds.

My room. I shared with 2 other women. The bed in the foreground is a sort of extra sofa-like bit of furniture. The open clothes rack was my "closet," because the 2 roomies used an enormous antique wardrobe. That arch beside the balcony french doors is the entrance to ...

My little cell. About 5x7, just enough for the bed and the side table. I grabbed it because it was a private space. The other two women shared a larger niche on the other side of a wall.

I really came to appreciate the mass of the stone walls, for quiet and coolness on summer nights.

More in the next post!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Days in a Warm Place

I know I left you all hanging back in June with just a couple hundred dollars to go in my crowdfunding campaign.  Bad blogger, bad! bad! blogger!

So anyway, I made it to goal and a smidge beyond. I had a grand adventure in Spain. I finished the short story I had thought I would just get outlined. I made awesome friends. I realllllllly didn't want to come back.

Here are pictures to prove it!

Cathedral in Barcelona.

Old City side street in Barcelona.

Poster for a poetry festival -- "Poetry Please!"

Barcelona rents bikes.

Oh, Gaudi, you wild and crazy guy!


Ceiling of the concert hall ...

It's got a winged horse, even!

That's a tree carved in stone, underneath the stained-glass central skylight.


The snack bar in the lobby ain't shabby, either.

All-around amazing craftwork from the turn of the 20th century. "Modernisme" in Catalunya was called "Art Nouveau" in France and ""Arts & Crafts" in England.

Then I went to the country. Next post!