Spencer Stephens

Author of 'Church of Golf.' Also a student of nearly everything.

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Kind Words

A few kind words or deeds can take you farther than a whole tank of gas.

A golf writer named Jeff Shelly, writing at Cybergolf.com (a blog produced in partnership with CBS Sports), recently described ‘Church of Golf’ as ‘an entertaining yarn’ and ‘a fun read.’ In the process, he made my day.

cybergolf.com

The editors at golf-fiction.com posted an excerpt of ‘Church of Golf’ after a review of the book to ensure it met their standards. It’s a nice sample of the book that anyone can read.

golf-fiction.com

A book fan from Croatia, Denis Vukosav, a ‘Top 100 Reviewer’ on Amazon.com posted a glowing review just a day ago. Denis works with a charitable organization in Croatia that promotes literacy and reading and that features wonderful information about Croatian writers on its website. I know they would be happy for any donations you might care to make.

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Finally, my lovely sister-in-law, Susan, has convinced the members of her book club in Charles County, Maryland, to read ‘Church of Golf’ and to discuss it at an upcoming meeting. Thank you, dear.

More to come soon, no doubt.

Getting More Attention

My grateful and sincere thanks to several nice folks who have posted reviews for ‘Church of Golf’ in recent weeks.

A golf blogger from Atlanta called C.O.G. “very engaging,”  and “very enlightened.” He said the book tells “a very cool story.”

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Since early December, eight more readers have posted reviews at Amazon.com, most of them five stars.

It’s nice getting good reviews. This is partly because most of us like having nice things said about our work. It’s also nice to think that somebody sat in a comfortable chair with ‘Church of Golf’ open on their lap, ignored their computer and their television and found entertainment and inspiration. That’s just so right there.

Getting Attention

My mama raised me up to know the value of modesty. Having that knowledge means that when I call attention to myself, I’m required to feel guilty. (Knowing the value of modesty and being modest are two entirely different things, it turns out.)

I’ve always admired folks who are naturally modest — or at least who seem to come by modesty naturally. Garrison Keillor, possibly the cleverest Minnesotan ever, seems to have that quality. And at the risk of sounding partisan, Colin Powell does too. They both seem like people who would make memorable and pleasant dinner companions. I doubt either of them spends time dropping names of celebrities or babbling excessively about their accomplishments.

But if you write a book and you want to find an audience, you can’t afford to be too modest. You have to call attention to yourself. You have to believe you have done something worth boasting about and then you start boasting, even if it goes against your sense of propriety. So the nice folks at  Saint Pete Press and I have coordinated an effort to boast. We have begun to contact numerous people who are prominent and have a public connection with golf. We’ve sent copies of the book to book editors at newspapers, golf writers, golf broadcasters and even celebrities who golf.

In the last week, Church of Golf and old Spencer have gotten some return on their investment in boastfulness. And the truth is, it doesn’t feel half bad. Getting public recognition and appreciation is kinda nice. A fellow could get used to it. Continue reading

It’s Here? Oh, How Lovely.

‘Church of Golf’ is available on Amazon, at long last. Please tell your friends and neighbors.

Amazon.com Link for Church of Golf

 

Patience Is Not My Virtue

When an important and long-hoped-for event doesn’t happen as quickly as you would like, you probably take a breath and go on to something else and say to yourself “All in good time.” You busy yourself with something else that’s important and take your mind off what you want but cannot yet have. You demonstrate maturity and evenness. You take satisfaction, knowing that you are setting a good example for those of tender years.

Me?  The Dark Angel of Impatience alights on my left shoulder and shrieks in my ear. I do not shoo her away because her feelings and my own are too much the same. I am left unable to concentrate. I snap at the people who love me. I pace. I channel surf aimlessly, as if I could find what I want being pitched in alluring tones by Fabio on the Home Boy Shopping Network. I hurl mustard-flavored invective at innocent drivers who slow me down on my commute to work. I threaten small and defenseless pets and make them pee on the carpet. I brood.

So it goes with ‘Church of Golf.’

October 15 once looked like a safe bet for the date on which the world could go to Amazon, click a button and expect to receive a hard copy of ‘Church of Golf’ via the U.S. Postal Service. The same date looked good for Kindle downloads. Not any more. Continue reading

Milestones and Merriment

In the last week, a couple of important milestones on the path to authordom have come and gone.  I approved the ‘marketing text’ — the blurb that appears on the back of the book that briefly describes the inside of the book — and the BISAC category (used by librarians and search engines to categorize and find books) for ‘Church of Golf.’ Also, the manuscript has been formatted so that it looks like a real book with chapter numbers, little squiggly things called ‘fleurons’ that divide sections; pages have been laid out with page numbers and the text has been put into the font and type size that will appear in the final.

One other happy milestone came and went: I told the publisher I was a little underwhelmed with the cover art that they had produced. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t all that good. I thought I was just venting. I didn’t expect that little old Spencer, not yet published or proven, would be able to have any influence. Two days later, I got an email with brand new cover art. I was blown away. It captures the precise feeling I had hoped it would. It features a lush photograph of a middle-aged dude getting ready to tee off on a golf course that is obviously tropical (possibly Hawaiian). He’s looking off into the distance (which the reader cannot see). The future of this particular golfer is something he’s very interested in and it’s a question mark. He gets to ponder his future while planted in a place as beautiful as any you could imagine.

Just perfect.

More to come soon, no doubt.

COG.cover.art.createspace.141003 cog.cover .art .alternative.141007 300x225 Milestones and Merriment

 

Judge the Cover

The cover art for ‘Church of Golf’ is complete. Getting the right combination of pictures and text that said to prospective readers ‘this is a funny and touching story about a guy whose life was broken and he fixed it with golf’ was not easy. I hope you approve.

 

More to come soon, no doubt.

The Joy of Being Almost Done

You tend to get a little giddy when a project you’ve worked on for almost three years is nearly complete.

This week, I’ve been making final changes to the ‘Church of Golf’ manuscript based upon comments from the handful of folks who have read it and shared comments. I’ve been narrowing choices for cover art. And I’ve been thinking that the target date for October 15 might be an actual date.

Tremendous thanks to Alan Mairson and to Lynda DeWitt for their extensive and insightful comments. As book editors, they are both first rate.

When the text is submitted to the publisher late this week/early next week, they say they’ll have proofs for me to review within 10 days. When I get the proofs for review, the book will be all laid out — chapter numbers, page headers, the title page and everything will in place. Once I approve the publisher’s cover art, they’ll have the cover work complete in about 10 days. After that, the book comes available in hard copy and in Kindle format on Amazon and then, soon after, in other outlets including the books section of iTunes. Folks can go to Amazon, click a button and in two days, ‘Church of Golf’ will show up in their mailbox — or it will appear on their Kindle or iPad (if they have the Kindle app) in nothing flat.

Usually I get up early in the morning and work on my manuscript before going to the office. Getting out of bed is pretty easy because so much positive energy is bubbling to the surface. Convincing myself to go to work is getting hard because it takes time away from finishing my book. It’s exciting to think that the text I’m massaging will be in hard copy and available soon. It’s exciting to think that there may be newspapers and magazines that will run book reviews or that there might be somebody riding the subway in New York reading ‘Church of Golf’ and the person next to him sees the cover and says “So what’s that book about?”

I have this recurring fantasy where I get an email from Dave Matthews, Bill Murray, Morgan Freeman or somebody else that’s awesome and they say “Dude, your book really spoke to me.”

More to come soon, no doubt.

 

 

How Does it Look?

This morning, my publisher sent me a first draft of the cover art for ‘Church of Golf.’ It was a nice start. It had the bright green grass in the background like I wanted. It had the title arranged like I wanted, but the font used for the title made the book look like a church bulletin — totally the wrong ‘feel.’ Back to the drafting board with some more edits.

Seeing the draft cover makes the final product feel real and close at hand. I’ve spent much of the past two-and-a-half years throwing text into a deep hole, waiting for signs it was filling up. Only recently have I seen those signs — such as seeing the cover art and listening to readers tell me how much they liked the ending of the story.

 

When You Realize You’re an Idiot

In preparing to publish ‘Church of Golf,’ I read that it’s wise to have your manuscript reviewed and commented upon by at least 10 people. I also read that it was a really good idea to have it reviewed by a professional editor who, for a fee, would review and comment on your manuscript.

So that’s what I did.

To do so, I had to resist my instincts. I had completed what I thought was a darn good first draft in March 2014. I had been over it and over it until I was sick of my own work. It seemed tight and clear and ready for an audience to fall in line to buy a copy. (Thought to self: “Editors? I don’t need no stinking editors.”)

I have since learned that most experienced writers and editors refer to this as the ‘shitty first draft.’ Even though the author has opened a vein and put himself into his work, people with knowledge of these things expect the need for substantial changes when the author thinks he’s done. They expect your first draft to suck. They expect newbies (i.e., guys like me me) not to know these things and to have emotional difficulty learning and accepting them.

And they would be exactly right.

Continue reading

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