This was supposed to be a blog about my take home lessons on exposure versus paying venues. You see, I am loathe to give advice to (new or upcoming) writers, because I’m still figuring out the game myself. There have been some bumpy lessons along the way, but I’m tried to keep them to a minimum. I’ve been published in one charity anthology (Small Bites) and one e-book anthology (Crossings). Neither of which I regret, but that’s more than plenty when it comes to giving away my work.

I see the lure of pursuing exposure markets. Exposure is great in theory, but by exposure, you want to mean more than being read by the friends and family of the other contributors. The basic rule of thumb is that if a market doesn’t have enough of a readership to afford to pay you, the only thing exposed is their business. There are exceptions, of course, but as general guiding principles go, that’s a pretty good one.

The only work I give away is my reviews over at Hollywood Jesus. That’s legitimate exposure (almost a million hits a day), they have a new volume of their Hollywood Jesus Reviews 2004-2005 coming out soon (I have seven reviews in that one). And they sent me to Canada as part of a press junket for The Greatest Game Ever Played.

My First Junket

Some writers have mountain retreats that they go to in order to clear their heads, focus, or simply get away. I’ll take room service over the outdoors anytime. Not that I do this often (writer = no money), but I go to enough conferences where I’m put up in hotels by my day job (scientist = no money) or my work at the church (ministry = no money). In this case, Disney arranged for my impromptu trip to Toronto, Canada.

I didn’t have a lot of notice, but hey, it was a free trip to Canada and I’d never been. I loved what bits of Toronto I managed to see. It reminded me of Chicago, except with nice people. There was a mix up at the hotel, so the first day I didn’t get registered with the media group. So I resigned myself to staying in my room, ordering room service, and getting caught up on some writing projects. And let me tell you, the more expensive the meal, the prettier it is and the less it fills you up.

I ate very pretty on Disney’s dime.

As it turns out, the Toronto Film Festival was going on. If I’d had the chance, I’d have prepared better for that. I didn’t bump into too many stars, Woody Harrelson and Madonna (whose husband is about to inflict his latest cinematic turd upon an unsuspecting populace). Luckily, my years of training at horror conventions prepared me for this. Except that I missed all the parties. Though in retrospect, the last thing the church needs is pictures of me drinking out of Madonna’s bra or something floating around the internet (it’s bad enough that whenever someone Googles something like “postmodern”, “Emergent”, and “Indianapolis” they usually get directed to my web site).

It was like my first con where I didn’t know anyone. The big difference being that at a horror writer’s convention, the other writers will reach out an draw you into the community and have it was strictly every man for themself. Well, that’s probably too harsh an indictment (as well as too much a rose-tinted glasses view on horror conventions), but the sense of competition was higher. We all like our tribes best, evidently. Writers (sub-divided by the media you work in). Talking heads. Camera men. Producers.

Anyway, if you care even a little bit about the movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played, I have posted my interviews with the writer and director. I know, “who cares what a writer has to say?” But in the Interview with Mark Frost, a couple of us became utter geeks and tried to get him to talk about revisiting Twin Peaks or what he was doing in the screenplay to Fantastic Four 2 (come on, give us at least the villain!)

A Few Words with Bill Paxton was more like a monologue with someone just pushing the “play” button on Bill Paxton and letting him go. I guess he was trying to anticipate the questions he knew we were going to ask, but it was more like a politician following a script. However, I still managed to fashion an interview out of it.

We had a chance to talk to Shia LaBeouf. I’ll probably just do excerpts of that interview over here in a day or two. Shia was definitely not in diplomatic/always on point/Hollywood speak mode.

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