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August/September 2004

RANTS AND RAVES #1

Robert J. Randisi

I've been given the opportunity by the esteemed CrimeSpree editors to have my say in each issue -- all 700 words of it. What I've decided to do is rant and rave about things that come to my alleged mind, while I keep count of my words. Some columns will be all rants (bad) and some all raves (good), and some will be a combination. And since I've already wasted 70 words I'll get to it.

I recently was involved in a discussion of the pros and cons of self- publishing. I took a stance against -- which I'll discuss in a future column -- which put me at odds with several of the self-published people on this particular message board. However, beyond that discussion I noticed two things. One, people will say things on a message board, or in an email, they would NEVER say in person. They will call each other names, denigrate each other's work and challenge each other to "step outside," when, in effect, there IS no outside. Hiding behind the anonymity of a screen name or, at the very least, being safe and sound in a chair in front of their own computer, some people will get VERY passionate about their subject, and VERY brave-more passionate and brave than they would EVER get in person. I believe a vehement argument carries much more weight when it's being present face-to face . . . don't you?

The second thing I noticed was people's signature lines. The length-and depth, and width-of a person's signature line seems to me to be in direct proportion to their achievements. That is to say, the LESS they have achieved, the LONGER -- and WIDER and DEEPER -- their signature lines tend to be.

And websites. Don't get me started on websites. (See, this is the point in one of these columns when my rant will start to roll!) My youngest son is eighteen, and he has had a website since he was fourteen. Why? When he has virtually nothing to say? I recently agreed to appear at a writer's conference and, during a telephone call -- a rarity in these days of email, and on a phone with a CORD, no less -- the organizer said to me, "I'll just lift your bio from your website." I was forced to very politely inform that person that I do not have a website. I find the size of people's websites to be in direct proportion to the size of their signature lines, which is in direct proportion to the magnitude -- or minutia -- of their achievements. Which all adds of to the size of their ego.

I say be proud of what you've achieved, but keep it all in perspective. Another self-published author recently had on their website that their book was "nominated" for a Pulitzer Prize," when, in truth, the book had simply been "submitted" for the prize, which an author can do themselves. In other words, this author was ballyhooing his achievement of having put a manuscript into an envelope and taken it to the post office. This author also has a huge signature line at the end of his posts, and emails. No perspective, whatsoever.

It's easy to get carried away when you don't have to face anyone with the name calling, chest beating and blatant self promotion. I'd just like to see people sign their names, again, the way we used to when we wrote a letter. "Sincerely, Bob Randisi." Remember that? "Sincerely," THERE'S a word we don't see much anymore.

I don't have a website, and my signature line is the same one that will appear at the end of this column each time it is published.