Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.

OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.

Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.


Marketing Tips for Indie Authors by Akje Majdanek

Marketing Tips for Indie Authors              by Akje Majdanek

A lot of writers ask fellow WriteOn members for reviews to boost visibility rather than waiting for organic ones. While it’s supposedly true that more reviews mean more visibility, you could be sabotaging your own efforts. When readers see the same names turning up, again and again, it tells them this is a review circle, and the reviews are fake, so they avoid the books of those authors like the plague. .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·.

It’s also against Amazon’s rules for friends, colleagues or relatives to review one another’s books.

Amazon gave me quite a bit of grief when I reviewed Mark and Raymond’s books, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why they kept deleting my reviews. I discovered later it was because they suspected I knew those writers from the WriteOn community since all three of us were members. And they were right. My gushing reviews were legitimate, but against the rules, so I’m not going to review the work of anyone else I know from WriteOn, Wattpad or elsewhere. And you know what? Those reviews aren’t even necessary.

There’s a better way to boost visibility that’s endorsed by Amazon in their latest KDP newsletter, or maybe it was Author Insights. In any case, Amazon said it themselves, so it’s got to be okay.

To increase visibility, you must write more books.

The more books listed on your Author Central profile, the more visible you become, or so they say. Have you filled out your Author Central profile yet? Did you post a clever bio that tells potential readers what you write and piques their interest in your work? Have you added a blog feed so they can see your entries and follow your blog? You’re allowed more than one, so add this one while you’re thinking of it:

For any WordPress blog, you simply add /feed/rss/ to the end of your blog address. For blogs at other sites, it’s probably different, but it’ll be something like atom/feed or RSS/feed or some variation thereof. Check the FAQs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Okay, so writing more books increases my visibility, but it takes years to write more books! What do I do in the meantime?”

Glad you asked that. Most of you have written short stories, and short stories are books. You offer them separately, CLEARLY MARKED AS SHORT STORIES SO THE READER DOESN’T GET AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE THINKING IT’S A NOVEL. Seriously, make it clear it’s a short story. The readers talk to one another on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other reader sites, so don’t ever disappoint them. Bad word of mouth travels faster than good word of mouth. ヽ(゚Д゚)ノ

So let me show you what to do, using Soleil Daniels as an example since I know she’s published a short story collection on Amazon. Images From a Wandering Mind is a collection of 15 short stories, so that’s fifteen books she can add to her profile RIGHT NOW, TODAY! And if she adds a paper edition, that’s thirty new books. See how it works? At the moment she’s only got one book listed, so I imagine she’s darn near invisible. She needs to upload each individual story as a separate book for 99¢ each. It’s unlikely any of those books will ever sell because if a reader bought each one separately, it would cost about $15. Why pay that when you can get the whole collection for $2.99? But she’s not trying to sell those books; she’s trying to sell the entire anthology. The collection now looks like a great bargain, eh?

If you haven’t published a collection yourself yet, but you have some individual short stories, you might want to start publishing those now as you write them and then combine them into a collection later, calling it the complete omnibus or something similar, so the reader sees what a good deal it is to buy the whole works. You could even create additional collections based on themes or genres; for instance, put all your romance stories together in one volume and all your fantasy stories into another, etc.

Now, to be honest, I haven’t tried this myself since I only have one short story at the moment, but the rest of you might experiment and tell us whether it actually boosts visibility or not. ヽ(^。^)丿

OMP Admin Note:  Akje Majdanek is a writer and OMP Network member.  Akje is a guest blogger for the One Million Project website whose creativity is evidenced in her work.  Akje’s books–Der Reiter and Adeline–are available on Amazon at