Archive for October, 2007


Why National Novel Writing Month and a Million Penguins Sucks!

I given some thought to the whole idea of National Novel Writing Month. It’s a stupid endeavor to encourage people to write 50,000 words or 175 pages during November. This folly that flies under the guise of encouraging a herd of fledgling writers to write their first novel is wrongheaded in so many ways. First, this volume approach encourages the equivalent of mental diarrhea. Face it that many words is basically a mental dump and I don’t know about you but I don’t associate the word dump with anything that is worth reading. You might say that 2000 words in a day is not really a dump but few people can pace themselves accordingly so in the end it does become a dump. For many of these writers most of the words will be written during one particularly long and bitter weekend.

Furthermore and come on let’s be honest, some of the people writing can barely hold a crayon never mind undertake the writing of a complete novel. So you can anticipate a lot more crap to be hitting the Internet in the weeks ahead. Hell, I know that’s true because some of the crap is of my own volition.

This reminds me of the group effort to write a collaborative wiki-novel called a Million Penguins. Yuk, a group of anonymous writers gets together to write a crappy novel that nobody has a vested personal interest in and they expect somebody to actually read it? Isn’t that what we call a television script? Actually, I read a small piece of it and it’s basically a disjointed mess that you can’t follow. Trust me; don’t waste your time on it until they clean it up a bit.

So does that mean you shouldn’t write or participate in NaNoWriMo? Hell no, this is a democracy and I say go for it. Come on, your crap can’t be any worse that what’s out there already, including mine, right? Some of the most fun I had in life was when I went through a similar exercise two years ago and I wrote 400 pages of my first novel during a one month period in early spring. It was an exhilarating ride I’ll never forget as the ideas poured from my brain in a verbal torrent. Was it any good? Of course not, to this day I’m still cleaning the mess up but the ride was worth it. So give it a shot, you have a right to suck with the rest of us.


NaNoWriMo and the NanoMonkey 2007 Podcast or what the hell?

Yes, it is that time of the year for the annual National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. What the hell is that you ask? Basically it is a gimmick to get you wannabe novelists writing or should I say impetus to write that Great American cliché. You know you always had that great idea for a book and you fancy yourself as to having some rudimentary writing skills but you just never found the time or place to getting started. Well, wait no more since the goal is during the month of November to write 50,000 words or 175 pages in an effort to get a jump start on that novel. Kind of a misery loves company for writers endeavor that allows us to commiserate on the various manifestations of our writer’s block.

My contribution to this fool hardiness is assisting Chris Miller from Podiobooks with the Nanomonkey podcast or “Shouldn’t you be writing faster?” Chris works with P.G. HolyField and Kris Johnson on this podcast to give stymied writer tips on how to reach the exulted goal of 50,000 words during the month of November. Some are common sense writing tips, other are lifestyle recommendations. Yes, alcohol and drugs are discussed, not necessarily recommended but hey, if you got a dream go for it. Then there are my suggestions. I actually contributed two podcasts which I will discuss later and that are probably of limited value to any normal person. Fortunate for me, most writers don’t tend to be normal people.

So go ahead and write that novel, misery loves company.


The Hoax – Movie Starring Richard Gere

I had the opportunity the other night to watch the “Hoax” starring Richard Gere. Depending on your age, you may or may not know the true story about Clifford Irving’s claim as to having the access and the autobiographical rights to the mysterious billionaire Howard Hughes and his life story. Actually, for many of you Howard Hughes is simply the weirdo Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed in the Scorsese film “The Aviator”. However, back in the seventies Hughes was one of the few bona-fide billionaires that people had some knowledge about before today’s era of the celebrity watch. That is not to say there were no celebrity watches but that was the exclusive purvey of the tabloids and not of the mainstream news.

Anyway, the point is that Clifford Irving claims to have perpetuated his hoax on the publishing industry because of the shoddy way they treated his original writings. Like all writers they didn’t give him any respect for his work and Clifford automatically assumed that the publishing industry consisted mainly of idiots and fools. So think of the Hoax as the ultimate revenge film by an author and you can enjoy the message from this engrossing film.


Is the Extinction of Publishers and Agents Near?

Does a new publishing model really exist or is it still in the making? We have all gone through the frustrating efforts of trying to solicit a dialog with a publisher or agent. Notice I said dialog, to hell with getting an actual deal. I went through the exercise briefly and found it perplexing, incredibly stupid and some what amusing because of its inherent inefficiencies. I only sent out ten inquiry letters to a few random agents and got only a few replies. In one case, I actually did get a formal rejection notice that I kept. I won’t mention the agent’s name because they at least had the courtesy of returning a rejection notice but their response was curious in that the agent claimed to be working with an author on a project of a similar nature. Yeah right, more likely the agent never bothered to read my synopsis in its entirety but here is your opportunity to vent your spleen. Oh, yeah, where the hell is that project they were working on anyway? At least I got my project out as podcast.

Slush piles and the like are norm for this industry (?) and I agree with the assertion from Michael Allen, who wrote the depressing “The Truth About Writing”, that there are many more lotto winners than there are financially successful authors. And as form of mea culpa, we are to blame also, or rather I should say the advent of the PC and word processor since any blithering idiot can now post some words and claim to be a writer. I include myself among the league of blithering idiots but I will continue to work to improve my form.

So what about the traditional publishing industry? Is the end near? Well, I’ll tell you a little anecdotal story that might give you a little insight. I have a good friend who works for Doubleday and I met up with her at a friend’s party. She knew of my work and she gave me the name of a head huncho to forward my manuscript to. I dragged my feet for a few months frankly because I felt the manuscript wasn’t ready. Now keep in mind I have my other friend telling me to write another book and move on because nobody cares if you have written one book. However, this book is my obsession and getting it right is more of a priority to me than writing other stories. Anyway a couple of months pass and the word gets back to me that my friend is looking for a job because the entire Doubleday division was laid off! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.

So what the hell is going on? I’ll tell you since I am marketing type and I see this all the time. We call it convergence, new technology being disruptive and challenging the established traditional business models. Nothing is more traditional than the present publishing model but the Internet, ebooks, podcasting and blogging are changing the model in so many different ways. It happened to the computer industry and now it is happening to newspapers, television, music and other traditional educational/communication forms. Change is a bitch and it is up to us to separate the noise from the facts.


Welcome to Millennium Writing!

This is my first post about the art of writing and the trials and tribulations of finding an audience in the new Web 2.0 world. First, let me introduce myself as Erik John Bertel, the writer and narrator of Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot. Flores Girl is an adventure trilogy I have been writing for the past two years. The first book, the Children God Forgot is complete and currently available as a free Podcast at I am over four hundred pages into the sequel and have also begun work on the third and final novel in the series.

My blogging energies will be divided between the challenges of writing good fiction and the larger task of marketing those very same writings. Frankly writing fiction is fun, marketing is far more challenging and far less than fun.

Erik John Bertel

Get the Free Flores Girl e-Book at

Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot is an exciting speculative adventure story about the discovery of a new prehistoric people by two scientists, Sarah and Richard. Their discovery is threatened by both religious zealots and marauding industrialists. Download the e-Book in PDF, Mobi and Microsoft Reader formats. Honest it is free at Just click the chick!

For More Pro-Evolution Rants go to


October 2007

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  • Exodus - The Final Chapter
    Sarah and Richard must fight their way off the island in this final installment of the podcast.
  • Your Hands are Stained with Blood.
    As death and chaos overtakes the island, Sarah and Richard try to escape Reggie.
  • An Unlikely Ally
    Reggie begins a reign of terror on the island that will leave nobody, including the Ebu, safe from his murderous schemes. Reggie's only challenge will be a visit from the biggest murderer in human history.
  • The Capture
    Sarah and Richard must make their escape after witnessing Reggie's brutal capture of the Ebu.
  • The Guardian Meets the Lab Rat
    Bill is presuaded by Reggie to meet with Karl.
  • The Guardian
    Karl's fever starts to takes a toll on his sanity as his efforts to contact the Ebu becomes a religious quest for him
  • New Friends
    Sarah's relationships with both Richard and Flo take a surprising turn.
  • Christian Soldier
    Reggies discovers the island of the Ebu and begins his assault but not before Karl makes his move.
  • The Cost of Weakness
    A senseless act of violence challenges Sarah and her tenuous relationships with the inhabitants of the island.
  • Weakness
    Sarah is stricken by a life threatening illness that triggers a strange personal odyssey for her.
  • The Princess Meets Flo
    While observing the troop, Sarah forms a friendship with one of the Ebu that she names Flo.
  • By the Sea
    Sarah makes a risky first contact with the Ebu.
  • 14. The Wait - Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot
    -In this episode: Sarah and Richard wait for the Ebu at a small pond.
  • Discovery
    Sarah and Richard begin their exploration of the island in search of the Ebu.
  • Resolve
    After losing everything to the pirates, Sarah and Richard face their own personal failure and decide whether or not they should return to the states.
  • Pirates of the Flores Sea
    As they begin to set out for Sarah's island, Sarah's and Richard's boat is boarded by dangerous high-sea pirates.
  • All Work and No Play
    Before leaving for Sarah's mysterious island Sarah and Richard head out for a night on the town in Flores.
  • The Boss
    Sarah and Richard put their expedition together and travel to Flores Island in search of the Ebu Gogo.
  • Higher Calling
    Unbeknownst to Reggie and Bill, Karl, the head lab assistant at GenTech, is busily sabotaging the pharmaceutical giant's controversial stem cell research.
  • Corporate Citizen
    Ruthless elements within a large pharmaceutical company make their own plans for the Ebu.