Saturday, July 30, 2011

Will Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber Buy My Book?

Well, I've been trying to restrain myself from posting on the weekends, because last time I had a blog, it was the monster that took over my life, and my writing suffered. But I have to say thank you to everyone who congratulated me. It's been such a long journey to authorship, and I appreciate the kind words. I can't imagine how Jon Konrath and others manage. I wonder if Prince William and Katherine have a blog. "Knighted six people today, but my beautiful bride wore the same pair of shoes to two of them. I love her. She's so practical." (And Billy, she's gorgeous.)

Okay, back to the grindstone.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Am An Author

I AM an author. Though the ebook version of "One Promise Too Many" is not in all distribution channels as of yet and the paperback version is two weeks or so away from availability, my first novel is available at Smashwords. Next up, "A Matter of Faith" coming in September.

Today, however, I rest, listen to the fat lady sing, let Jack Getze smoke a cigar for me, tip back a beer (it's supposed to be 104 degrees here today), and think quietly about the next book -- I have this Alzheimer's patient who has vital clues about a murder, but no one will believe him until he goes missing, and...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To Be Is To Fart

In the porcelain library, I'm reading a book, "Words of Wisdom - Philosophy's Most Important Quotations and their Meanings." It's taking me a long time to get through it. I don't like philosophy, but I've noted that philosophers lived long lives, that is, unless they killed themselves or offended the Pope and were disemboweled. This realization is making me rethink my natural inclination to have brain farts when I read long-winded philosophical arguments. Maybe I need to be more philosophical so I can live longer, maybe my characters need to be philosophical so they can have an enduring character trait. I can hear my detective, Roger Stark: "It's not the crime. It's the criminal." I don't know what that means, but it's a philosophy.

What philosophical gems do your characters spout?

Monday, July 25, 2011

MMWUC - It's My Party, And I'll Cry If I Want To

I'm having a book launch party. Why? Two reasons: (1) After busting my butt on ONE PROMISE TOO MANY for eight years to get it in publishable shape, I deserve it. (2) I need to be a marketing whore. I've googled book launch parties, and have asked for good and bad experiences related to the parties. Some party venues are out of my league, like renting a boat for a Chicago River cruise. Some have games not relevant to my book, like gnome tossing, though that does sound like fun. One caterer wanted $10K to do it. Not! I want to join Janet Chapman on the NYTimes Bestsellers list. So, I'll just do the best I can, have it at my palatial estate, call in favors from friends and family, hope the turkeys don't gate crash, and that someone comes.

Did anyone out there do a Book Launch Party? If so, how'd it go?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Letting Go

In three weeks, I'm supposed to birth my first novel, ONE PROMISE TOO MANY. I think I'm feeling like a parent getting their child ready to leave home for good. "I've read all the books on how to do things correctly." "I went to workshops and conferences on new and exciting ways to ensure success." "I talked to experts in all the right fields." "I have done all that I could!" The novel will just have to stand on its own merits for I can only encourage from afar, make introductions, open contacts new people, renew old contacts, and shout proudly, "I am an author. Hear my story's roar."

Oh wait, is that a typo on page 264? How could I fail my protag?

How did it really feel the first time you saw your book up somewhere for sale?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So Misundersood

My wife read part of my short story collection last night. Then, I was forced to sleep on the couch. "It's just a wild imagination," I pleaded. "It's not a psychopathic urge." Even Sydney didn't want to stay with me, preferring his cardboard box next to the oven. Sometimes writers are just misunderstood for no reason.
- - -
"Are the knives sharp?" Frank put on his coat.

"They could split an Adam." Johnny chuckled.

Frank looked over at Johnny. "Atom."

"Yeah, Adam."

"Whatever." Frank opened the door, and they departed.

After they dispatched Adam, Frank tossed the knives down the old well just as an escaping Higgs boson God particle from the CERN facility passed by. The explosion could be felt five hundred miles away.
- - -
Is your writing ever misunderstood by a loved one?

Monday, July 18, 2011

MMWUC - The Copperhead vs. The Carrot Top

I worked in the garden yesterday. Not shocking since I work in it every day. It's a nice break from staring at the computer. On the good days, ideas come together in a magical fashion. But that mental exercise can come at a price. The somnambulistic gardening work progressed while my mind played with the possibility of an alien detective on his home planet, which has different morals and laws than humanity, worked a murder case. I reached for a clump of badly decayed leaves bunched in the spring onion bed and grabbed the tail of a copperhead snake. I'm a red-headed, fat, tired, lazy, semi-old man with arthritis, gout, bursitis, cancer, poor eyesight, a bad cold due to cough, and a six-inch white man's jump, but Bob Beamon never jumped as far or as fast as I did. The battle with the snake lasted 2.2 seconds. I beheaded it with my trusty hoe. Now, some may say that the snake was just doing its thing, but he should have done it elsewhere. Black snakes, garter snakes, and even hog-nosed snakes I'll pick up and move out of the way, but poisonous snakes enter the yard at their own risk. Can't they read the signs I have posted? By the way, the snake gave me an idea to incorporate into the story.

So, the question is: So what's the biggest shock you've ever given your protagonist?

Friday, July 15, 2011


My dreams often start off semi-normal then devolve into angry, nonsensical, and frustrating experiences, but last night, something different happened.

Most people know I have a 19-year-old cockatiel named Sydney who loves me dearly and rules the house with a strong beak. Well, Sydney has two pets. They are Frick and Frack, two parakeets. Frick is blue-speckled and psychotic. Frack is a bluish-shade of white. He's a bit less jumpy than Frick and nips a lot less. Still, neither of them are people friendly. No hopping on the fingers, no sitting on the shoulders, no interacting with Sydney. It's our fault really. For the first five years of their lives they were the caged birds in the room because the few times they got out, they refused to go home. Then, they were clipped. I hate clipping birds' wings, but sometimes it really is for their own good. And parakeets aren't the brightest birds. They've been known to die of starvation, because they didn't realize that food was just below the shucked seeds in their feeder. Well, about five years ago, I started letting them out more because I sensed that they were unhappy in their luxurious wired condominium. It was a struggle at first. They'd flop to the floor, then learned to fly here or there, leaving unpleasant little presents and chew on everything. I'd have to catch them because they'd be too pooped, er, tired to fly back home. But I didn't put them into their cage. I'd sit them on top their cage and let them go back inside. Finally, after about a year, they figured out they could fly anywhere as long as they landed back at the cage. They sing more, eat more, and in a way, they seem happy. Sometimes when I talk to them, they actually look at me like they want to hear what I say.

Last night I dreamed about Frack. I walked outside via the sunroom door, and a white streak flew outside past me. He flew around the yard, soared far above the tree tops, dove with abandon, did somersaults in mid-air, and glided past me chirping excitedly. This went on for a long time, and just when I thought I'd lost him forever, he cruised back into the house. He landed softly on top of his cage, crawled around to the front door and entered it. I stood in front of the cage as he took a long, long drink. After his drink, he jumped back onto his little bar and almost seemed to be smiling. He tilted his head to one side and said softly, "Thank you."

I was so stunned, I woke up. I have to admit, I'm a wuss. I had tears in my eyes over his joyful flight. Was my subconscious projecting what I wanted to hear, or can one really sense when birds are truly happy?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday's Just Another Spot On The Calendar

The opening scene from "Throw Momma From The Train" played out in my office this past evening. Everything was banal. Even when I finally got chocolate, the words dribble out. "It was the best of times, but I still felt crappy." It wasn't even a "dark and stormy night." It was hot and wet, or moist, or humid or something. Heat lay over me like hot things that weigh you down. So, I gave up. And therein is the lesson. Just like the old mounds candy bar commercial used to intone (with a certain degree of literary license): "Some days you feel like a nut; other days it's confirmed." I went to bed, because, after all, tomorrow is another day.

What is the wildest thing you've ever done to get the juices flowing?

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is a test.

This is a test of the emergency blogging capture device. This is only a test. If this had been a real blogging emergency, you would have been redirected to the previous blog on this site. However, since you are already here, you might as well read your Monday Morning Wake-up Call anyway. This is only a test.

Rihanna fire, Mila Kunis, Mario Lopez, Monica wedding, gas prices.

MMWUC - Coffee with that bourbon?

Mondays are hard. Never mind that you stayed up too late Saturday night trolling the bars, quaffing beers with the boys until Bobby fell out of the chair and into the lap of the girl who won the wet tee shirt contest (her linebacker boyfriend was not laughing with you), or sipping wine with the girls until the hair-pulling began over some guy in tight jeans that no one would dare approach. All that caused you to sleep late on Sunday. Breakfast, yeah right! You barely made it to brunch before it closed at 2 p.m. And so, your entire routine for the day was shot. Sunday night's rejuvenating sleep didn't come until 2 a.m.; Monday's shrill alarm at 6 a.m. Coffee, intravenously, now. Mondays are hard. For some, they are kick-off bliss for new possibilities. For others, Monday is a reflective dump of what didn't I get done that now I have to pile onto this week?

So, the question is: Does your protagonist look for new possibilities or look at the pile of stuff on his desk and say, "Expletive deleted?"

Friday, July 8, 2011

What the Bunny Said!

I'm naked in a vast courtyard surrounded by impressive, brooding Gothic architecture and trying to find the class I forgot about my senior year in college. It's the last day of school, and I can't remember where the class is, and then I can't remember what the class was about. Was it German? American Novelists Before Vespucio? Dissection of Icky Creatures? I just can't remember. My heart races. I jump on a bicycle...not a good thing do when you’re a naked guy. I pedal uphill. I wake up in a pool of my sweat...okay the sheets are damp. Somewhat relieved, I lean over and say to my stuffed bunny, "What if nobody wants to read my book?" He responds, "Kind of like throwing a party and no one shows up." My sphincter clenches tight. "Right, I did that once." Then, I really start to panic.

Does any of this happen to you? Or, am I alone in the universe with my stuffed bunny?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Would Lady Gaga Like My Book?

On the Internet Writing Workshop, CM said that Nancy Pearl suggested that readers choose books based on the following hierarchy (most to least common): story, character, setting, and language. I thought the correct hierarchy was: ISBN #, publisher, dedication, how cute/handsome the author is (I'm screwed!), and the color of the paper. I asked for feedback on this question. The final tally was: (1) recommendation, (2) story line, (3) genre, and then everything else. So, I guess if you have a great story in a popular genre and the right person (Sarah Palin or Bill Clinton or Lady Gaga) recommends it, your numbers are going to be good.

I've forgotten the point of this poll, but in sum, a good writer who wants to be successful leaves no stone unturned when trying to create a positive reading experience. Don't go naming your thriller FUNNY STUFF HAPPENS AT THE BEACH instead of WHERE THE BEACH BLEEDS RED. Everything counts when you're looking for an audience. Where do you line up on this very unscientific poll?

REMINDERS -- On Thursday, I'm blogging over at Ron Voigts' site. He's the author of the just released YA mystery novel, PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE. Y'all come over and sit a spell. On Sunday, Bob Sanchez pops in here to teach you how to make pigs fly while writing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

MMWUC - How Big Is Your Stuff?

I suspect that this question is more easily answered by a plotter (the writer who plans everything) than a panster (the writer who lets it rip). Do you target the length of your scenes, chapters, and book?

The first book I ever finished, SECRETS, had five chapters of around 22K words each. Each chapter represented a major shift in the plot. I felt the structure helped the story, but I caved to conventionalism. Now, words are sequestered in 2000 (+/- 300) bit-sized chapters. It works, but for what might have been. I AM conscious of book length, trying to fit into the 60-90K range for newbies. I failed. "One Promise Too Many" is 95K; "A Matter of Faith" is 102K. This length also hurts me with POD pricing, but that's a story for another day. Now, I find myself tuned into the 2,000 word goal for chapters. Am I bad for doing so?

To what extent, if any, do you pay attention to the length of your stuff when writing or revising?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freaky Friday <-- cliché?

My long-suffering wife is sometimes scared after I dash off one of my wild emails (the weirdest ones never get seen). "And I sleep with you?" she'll comment. On Wednesday, I made an innocent, snide comment about an article in Publisher's Weekly, and I finally ended up, a few email exchanges later, with my 25-word synopsis for a new novel that I almost feel obligated to write, because it'll hit all the correct high-selling genre groups in the article. I give you: INTERSTELLAR CHRISTIAN WARRIOR -- A classic thriller in which an alien cowboy, spreading the Christian message throughout the universe, is hunted by his vengeful love child with Talia Shire. There it is: classic, thriller, murder, revenge, love, christian, sci-fi, and western.
Critical reviews are already coming in..."Yo! Alien." - Sly Stallone
Where do ideas come from?