You never know what you might see when you look out life's window. It could be breathtaking beauty, or a plain, drab landscape, or unspeakable horror. If you want to do more than just exist, take a deep breath, lift your chin up, and open your eyes WIDE!
A few days ago I experienced
my 48th birthday. I think when you get to be my age, birthdays tend
to be more like a necessary nuisance, not a thing of partying and merriment.
And given that my sacred day fell on a Monday, life went on without much
fanfare; just as I would have hoped. Nobody wants to be reminded that they are
nearing half a century like an inbound asteroid dooming the earth. By the way,
Monday is the perfect day to experience a birthday you’d sooner forget. Nobody
likes a Monday. Perfection in the natural order of things, I’m thinking. Until
Today I received a
birthday card from my oldest son (he’s 28). He’s a junior, but I’ve always
called him Robert; his middle name. I knew the card would be a little late
because he had contacted me about getting my address so he could send it, said
he had misplaced where he wrote it down before. But then I forgot—until today
when I checked the mail. And as fate would have it, the mail had not been
checked for several days and was stuffed with parcel, but buried in the pile of
slush mail was a birthday card, and here’s what it said, and what brought me
face to face with my unconditional love for my child, my son, a man above his years.
There’s no training manual
for being a dad.
No hard fast rules,
no one sure way
to be a perfect father.
All any man can ever do
is give it the best he has.
That’s what you did
for me, Dad,
And I want you to know
I know it.
I can’t say with certainty
that my son knew the impact of these words when he bought the card, but as with
anything worth believing in, I will cherish these words more than he may ever
know. For me, these words tell the story of my love for him, and how being a
father is perhaps the toughest job in the world. You see, I’ve always wondered
whether I was the father I should—or could have been when he was growing up.
Did I give him everything he needed from me? The answer, of course, is no. And
the guilt of that lies heavily. But we do the best we can and move on.
I am a believer in
things happening for a reason. My son picked this particular card for a reason—whether
realized or not. And it made my WORLD today.
I heard an interesting comment several days ago that
started the wheels turning in my overactive brain. The person said that if they
were to sit down and watch a movie, it needed to provide them with something.
Essentially they were saying the movie needed to educate or at least stimulate
the brain. Now I consider myself a pretty deep thinker sometimes, and am often
drawn to movies that are “thicker” in content, but sometimes I just like to be
entertained. The trick is to understand what you’re getting before you drive to
the theatre, before you drop a twenty on a pair of tickets (going alone is a
last resort) and before you vaporize another twenty on popcorn and goodies.
Being a fan of Kevin James from King of Queens, I recently
went to see his latest movie, BRING ON THE BOOM. If I had to evaluate this film
based on its intellectual merits, I’d have to give it a 2 out of 5 stars. Maybe
1 ½. But that’s not why I went to see it. I went to this show to give my mind a
break, to escape in mindless entertainment. And I have to say, Mission
Accomplished! If I were grading strictly on whether it was a fun movie that
lived up to my expectations, I’d give it 4 ½ out of 5. It wasn’t GOOD WILL
HUNTING because I didn’t expect it to be. Kevin James made me laugh—and sometimes
that’s all I need.
(FYI—Bas Rutten, an actual retired UFC fighter was
hysterical as Kevin’s trainer)
I’ve included a list of my top ten “mindless” movies.
Let me know your thoughts about what you like to see at the theatre, or your
opinion on my list.
1)Dumb and Dumber(the name says it all but it’s a guilty
2)Ace Ventura (“three
darts is too many!”)
3)Armageddon (any movie
that leads out with a ZZ-Top song is good by me)
4)Liar Liar (Can
you tell I like Jim Carrey?)
(Will Smith and Aliens? Bring on the jujube’s)
6)Bring on the Boom
(this one’s new on the list)
7)The Pirate’s of
the Caribbean series (Captain Jack Sparrow—what a great movie name played by an
equally unique actor)
8)The Avengers (The
Hulk was the BOMB!)
9)John Carter in 3-D
(Sci-Fi from way back)
10)The STAR TREK
movies from the original series (Okay, it’s out. I’m a Trekky)
I need now is a tub of buttered popcorn. (Don’ttell my cardiologist)
off, I would like to thank everyone who visited my site for the A-Z Challenge.
I really had a great time posting and reading other posts-some very funny, some
thoughtful, some…just out there. I regret I had to fade at the end, but the
real job beckoned. Kudos to everyone who participated, and a hardy THUMBS UP to
those who made it to the end.
been busy writing a few things. I recently started my major re-do of my web
site (Haven’t touched it in years). It’s starting to take shape. One of the
major issues I’m dealing with is linking all of my networking sites together. I’ve
hired a promotion service to help me out with this. I’ll let you know how it goes.
You can visit my website at:jamesrtate.com
also very happy to say that I’ve finally broken the proverbial ice and began
writing the sequel to BLOOD BIAS. The working title is BLOOD VISION. There
might be a pattern here. The book will feature Reese Glockman—the Chief of
Police of Ferguson Texas—and quite a few other characters from the first book.
While I’m on the subject, the early reviews of BLOOD BIAS have been GREAT! But
I urge everyone who reads it to go to Amazon and post a review. I’m still
looking for that review from a total stranger. I’ll be keeping a running word
count on this blog. I’ll also be throwing out lines from different parts of
each chapter. Just enough to keep you guessing, and coming back I hope.
plans for the future of this blog are coming together. I read somewhere “If you
can’t say something useful in your blog, don’t say anything”. I took it to mean
that if you want to keep readers coming back, don’t just chat about trivial
things. You have to have relevant content. I understand and want to do that.
been to several conferences and writers groups—enjoyed every one—but often
found myself wishing the speaker would give a visual representation of the point
they were trying to make. So, I’m going to dig up some of my conference
material and see if can spread a little light on the world of writing, and
perhaps speed up the learning curve for my fellow authors.
raise your glass and let’s toast to it. You promise to keep coming back, and I promise
to provide something useful and hopefully entertaining for your week.
enjoyed visiting with the other Bloggers from the A-Z challenge. I’ve met a few
kind fellows and fellowettes (is that even a word?), but have yet to write a
SINGLE word for my BLOOD BIAS sequel, working titled; BLOOD VISION. Until last
night! Wohoo! The prologue is off the ground. So instead of writing useless
babble on my blog and not getting anywhere with the novel, I’m going to convert
the useless babble into updates and teasers for the book. I don’t know what my
fellow bloggers will think about it, but at least I’ll feel better at the end
of the day.
So here goes.
Today is the
letter U. Here is a sentence from last night’s work.
“The guy holding the gun didn’t answer, just stared
blankly under the
shadow of the street lamp, the whites of his eyes bright and piercing against
the blackened backdrop of his chiseled face.”
I know the letter
U is buried in the sentence, but hey, I’m working with this the best I can. Now
here’s the kicker for tomorrow; the letter V must be used from NEW work from the
night before! I’m looking forward to the challenge. See you tomorrow.
I know! That was
too easy, but hey, it’s been a busy week. Saturday is the day we get to catch
up, to do the things we haven’t had time or the energy during the week to do.
Sometimes we even get to do things we want to do. I know! What a brilliant idea!
A very good friend of mine is having a crawfish boil today. Realizing that this
may be read by people from other states or perhaps other countries, I feel the
need to explain what a crawfish boil is, and why we eat these small crustaceans
that burrow into the mud (also called mudbugs).
It’s actually a
Cajun tradition. Us Texans, especially the ones living close to the Louisiana
border, are smart to catch on to a good thing. So, what we do is get a couple
of sacks of these live ‘critters’, a few sacks of red taters, maybe a few
onjons’, as the Cajuns say, and definitely a passel of corn-on-the-cob.
First thing to do
is get a BIG pot of water boiling over a propane burner. Add at least a large
bag of spicy seasonings. As the water boils, it will dissolve the pepper and
spices to create a powerful elixir for the crawfish, one that will darn near
have the little buggers dancing on your plate! Okay, I’m embellishing here. The
point is, it’s how much of this pepper-spice mix you put on your crawfish that
determines how Cajun you really are. Me personally, I like them middle of the
road, with just a good kick to-em. I know plenty of people who like em so
spicy, their sweat turns red! Honest!
are good on a Saturday afternoon, chased down with a cold beer, with a bunch of
friends trying to forget the work week. By the way, I have a friend who does
large crawfish boils for large groups, companies and plant workers or corporate
big guys. He usually does THOUSANDS of pounds at a time. Bon’ appetit.
There are no
sweeter words to the ears of a writer than “I couldn’t put it down”. All those
long hours of writing, editing, second guessing, and self doubt are washed away
in a single phrase from one of our readers. In a word, they found the story
Riveting. As I worked through what I might say in this blog, I tried to
remember the last story I read that was riveting; an “I can’t put it down
story”. I’ve come up with a few suggestions. But before I get to those, I am
blessed to be able to say that the early reviews of my book are all about the
“I can’t put it down” phrase. They say, no matter what your personality is,
that you have to learn to toot your own horn if you want to sell your books. So
I’m blaring the horn as loud as I can. It is a very good feeling to know that
people are reading my work and are putting off other important things to see
what happens next. Thanks to everyone, so far. Keep spreading the word.
All right! Here
are a few books I found to be so fascinating in one shape or form that I couldn’t
put it down. Forgive me if Stephen King steals the show.
1)The Drawing of the
Three—the second book in the Dark Tower series by S. King. Before there was
Being John Malcovitch, King did the Drawing of the Three.
Gone—Dennis Lehane. Writer of Mystic River. Super drama in these investigative
mysteries delving into human frailties.
3)The Long Walk--A
short by Stephen King for kindle readers. Teenage boys sign up to walk till
they drop-or are shot by the government. Last one walking, wins--but have
4)Any book by Robert
Crais—His Elvis Cole detective series is outstanding, fast paced with a
If you notice,
these are not deep intellectual readers, they are fast-paced fun books to read.
Stephen King fast paced? Yes. Not all of his books are 700 pages. And he
engrosses you in the character.
I’ve decided, with this blog about the letter Q, to poll my viewing audience. I know you weren’t expecting a quiz, but I promise this one will be easy. If you come across a question that is too difficult, just glance over the shoulder of the person sitting next to you. There really is no right or wrong answer. So why take the test? Just admit that now you’re curious about what I’m going to ask and let’s move on. Great!
First Question: Have you written a book or novella you are trying to sell? See, this is easy.
Second Question: Did you self publish?
Third Question: How long has it been available and how are sales? Not trying to get personal here. A simple-Lousy or Super or anything in between will do.
Fourth Question: What has been your best marketing tool so far?
Question Five: What would you have done differently if you had a time machine? (concerning your publishing, not who you married or whether you would have put down that five thousand dollar bet at the craps table)
And finally: If you are not published, do you have something in the works and what genre is it?
Thanks for Playing. The most creative comment will win a free copy of my murder/Mystery BLOOD BIAS if you’re interested.
I have discovered the secret to getting return bloggers! Leave them hanging! Sorry for the delay. Something about trying to make a living got in the way. This writing thing isn’t paying very well. YET! I’ve already sold thirty copies of BLOOD BIAS and it’s in its infancy! Wohooo! So, back to the story. I’m in NYC. I’ve got my pitch tweaked and re-tweaked, my speech all rehearsed, and confidence in my approach. The first agent, we pitched as a group. I thought mine went very well. Our job here was to Persuade (hence the letter P) this royalty of the writing world sitting at the head of the table to ask us for a copy of our manuscript based on our pitch. It’s like delivering a query letter face to face. Can you picture it? Day one; no sale! I spend the evening re-tweaking my tweaked pitch, Say that three times fast! Never mind. Focus here people.
Day two, editor one says no. Okay, I can do this! Second editor says YES!!! I’m ecstatic. At the meet and greet with fellow authors that night, I’m in very good spirits. An editor from a well known publishing company has requested my full manuscript! Day three results in another no. Well, at least I have ONE. All in all, I’d call it a success.
Here’s the plot twist, if you will. I remember two authors getting requests from three out of four. Their pitch was GREAT! Their story Idea was well received and everyone thought their book was a guaranteed seller. WRONG! When I returned home, I contacted these authors about looking over the first few chapters, just to see what the fuss was all about. I was shocked! The writing was, to be kind, not very good. I could not believe what I was reading. So what is my point? SIMPLE.
Pitch conferences are useless—even though I had a wonderful time, and would do it again—what really matters is your writing. I don’t care how much your promotion budget is, who you know in the publishing business, or who you slept with to get a stellar review, the bottom line is: YOU MUST HAVE A GOOD BOOK! Sales will fizzle, your friends will avoid you, people will say nasty things about you on Facebook!. You have to have a good book!
Enough Said! And NO, I didn't get a publishing contract. These editors obviously don't know what the hell they're doing.
If you notice; I’ve put a question mark at the end of overrated. No, that’s not a typo missed by my word program. About a year and a half ago I went to New York City to attend a Pitch and Shop Conference. What is a P&S Conference? Glad you asked. This is a conference where you go to pitch your book idea to different agents and editors. For three days you brainstorm with a moderator in a group setting with other determined authors, and refine your pitch.
You’re getting the idea. You hone the two paragraph ‘Blurb’ that you would put in your query letter or any other medium used to get the attention of an editor or agent. I had researched conferences and had seen numerous posts about a Pitch and Shop conference, all of them very positive. So off I went.
Let me back up here a second and say that I had to submit some information and be selected for the conference. I don’t remember exactly what it was that I submitted, but I know it was not part of the book I was pitching. I think it might have been the synopsis and some information about myself. If I recall, the price of the conference was around $600, but it was in NYC, the publishing hub of the modern world—OK, maybe I’m getting carried away there.
Anyway, off I go, armed with an enthusiastic attitude and a list of pitches I’d been working on. I arrive at the conference in downtown Manhattan early and greet my fellow ‘pitchers’ as they arrive. The list was amazing. There were lawyers, grad students, psychologists, people who wrote for magazines, and there was me; a high school graduate with no background in writing, and the only degree I held was a ‘working man’s PHD’ from doing woodworking most of my adult life. Needless to say, I was in heaven. I was surrounded by other serious authors, about to go face to face with four editors and agents, armed with a finely tuned pitch, from what I believed to be, a very good book.
This is getting a little long, so I’ll finish this up with the letter P tomorrow.
Have you been to any conferences you would recommend?
I know this may seem like an odd word for a writing blog, but hang with me here. My wife and I just returned home from seeing the movie, The Hunger Games. I have read the book, she hasn’t had the opportunity. My thing from the beginning of reading the book, and something that carried through as I watched the movie, is whether we, as a future society, would sit back and allow such a “Show” to go on? I personally can’t believe--even in a post-apocalyptic environment--that we would allow ourselves to be subjected to such a spectacle and be forced to accept it as rule. Two things that struck me here; one being the fact that this was the 73rd or other Hunger Games. So this society has let their children kill each other year after year with no conscience. The other thing is, the central character, Katniss, at least in the book, never really seems more than mildly disturbed about the State of her people, or the inhumanity of the games until her sister is called out. She wants to survive but doesn’t seem real concerned with how wrong all of it is.
I know what you’re saying—“This is just a work of fiction”, which is very true, but with the popularity of the books and now the movie, I’m curious to know mankind’s viewpoint on the subject. My wife seems to think that we are headed for a society that would openly accept this kind of “game” in the future because people have become numb to death and the idea of killing another human being. Her point is evident in video games, the popularity of full contact fighting, and in YouTube videos being viewed by the thousands due to their violent content. Reality shows seem to make it a point to see how mean we can be to each other.
Maybe my wife is right, but I for one refuse to accept that there is no hope for a better future than the one we have now, and that our children and grandchildren are doomed to a world of hatred and cruelty. I know we see a lot of that on TV and on the internet, but there is also a lot of caring, and helping others, and forgiving. I refuse to be numb.
I’m going to veer off the highway of writing for a day and take a pit stop at a place known as Musicland. I love music, and have a wide variety of likes and dislikes. One of the newer artists I like? Adele. What a voice, and the songs she sings seem to touch a nerve. That’s what you want out of music. When I was growing up in the late seventies, the Bee-Gees were my guys. In high school, rock bands like Foreigner, and Styx, and the J-Giles band kept the speakers popin’. Kenny Rogers has always been on the top of my list. Who can forget the Gambler and Lady? I even had an album (that’s the big round black disc that made sound when you spun it under an amplified needle) of the soundtrack from The Empire Strikes Back. I used to sit and listen to the musicians build to a fantastic crescendo as I pictured Luke and Darth Vader battle it out. Movie producers aren’t dumb. They use music to manipulate our emotions during a movie. You think you would cry at a sad scene if not for the well timed music coming out of the fourteen speakers around you? Maybe—but maybe not. The thing is; music is important in our lives. We link memories in our lives to songs from the past. We even have a special song at our wedding.
My stepson is a very talented musician in college. I hope he works hard at his dream and is one day able to share his passion with others. I’ve always been envious (in a good way) of musicians and artists. But I think I have my own passion in writing and am already getting the rewards of sharing that with others.
Some days you just have to step back, take a deep breath, and laugh out loud. Try it sometime. Life is way too serious these days. What does my boss think of me? How many books have I sold this week? Does anyone like what I write? How am I going to pay the bills this month? Just relax, read a funny book, go see a comedy at the theatre, watch your two year old play in the grass. Whatever puts a smile on your face, DO IT!
My wife likes to make fun of my family sometimes when we go see a funny movie. It seems that I have a rambunctious laugh—and so does my sister—and so do both my sons. What can I say; when we laugh we don’t hold back. Try it some time. The truth is, with life being what it is these days, laughter doesn’t come around often enough.
I know you’ve seen someone break out in raucous laughter, haven’t you? What was your first reaction? You laughed too, didn’t you? At the very least, you broke out with a large smile.
If you can’t do anything else today, try to laugh a little, or at least smile. It’ll make people wonder what you’re up to.
I’m thinking to myself that a lot of people may use kindness for the letter K, but I might have a different take on it from the writer’s point of view. Not too long ago, I read where a well known reviewer said if they can’t give a book at least three stars, they won’t review it. Is this a good thing? Or is this overdoing kindness?
In today’s society, we are told to be “politically correct” in everything we do. Don’t say this, or don’t say that. But are we really doing ourselves justice? Would you rather have someone give you constructive criticism, or just not say a thing? Someone once told me when you critique someone’s work, say something positive first, then point out areas where you think they might improve. Also, if you’re going to give constructive advice, offer it as an opinion. Writing is a subjective thing. What one person loves, another may hate. So if you’re the one receiving the “advice”, you have to decide whether you want to use it or not. It is said that if one person doesn’t like something about your writing, you can probably let it go, but if several people comment on the same thing, you might want to consider it. Writers, by nature, are kind to each other, probably because we all know the difficulty in getting published and the rejections we endure. But if you choose to offer advice on someone’s pride and joy, be kind in your approach.
I recently wrote a post asking my readers to be brutally honest with me on my novel, BLOOD BIAS. I want to learn from the experience. I wonder if I did the right thing.
I hate to borrow a well known slogan that’s been highly overused, but some sayings are just so darn accurate. Think about it for a moment. What is IT? Well, IT can be anything your heart desires, whether sports, or fishing, or jewelry making, or even writing. This slogan is so simple, it’s nearly brilliant. Of course, I seem to remember my mother using this term way before NIKE ever put it on the tube. If I asked why I had to clean my room during cartoons, she would point a stern finger in the direction of my bedroom and give me a heartfelt, “Just Do It!” If you had seen my room back then, you’d understand her firm approach. But back to my point. Sometimes we just have to shove aside the excuses and Just Do It. Jump in and get that story written. I have a book stuck at sixty pages. I know a lot of you can relate. Well, I resolve, right here and now, in front of thousands of people (You are out there, aren’t you?) that I will Just Do It and finish that book! Or at least get something on paper every opportunity I can. I won’t let the world dictate how much I can pursue my passion to write. If you’re passionate about your goals, post a comment and we’ll pinky swear that we’ll do it together, just us, thousands of miles apart, but connected by an invisible beam of something, or a cheap-ass phone cord, striving towards a common goal; to JUST DO IT!
H is for HOW THE CRAP AM I SUPPOSED TO KEEP UP? Man, did I take on a mountain of obligation when I decided to do this A-Z challenge at the same time my book was released. Throw in the fact that I run my own business and you can see why I’m pulling my hair out. Book promotions, planning blog tours, trying to find a site for a release party, ordering copies to sell; you get the picture. Anyone else have this problem? I wish I could at least read ten blogs a day from the A-Z list, but that’s a pipe dream at this point. I think we all have too many irons in the fire. Can we just slowwwwww dowwwwn? Must everything be done today, right this minute? Oh! And just when am I supposed to get some writing done on my next book. Wait! I see an opening in my schedule between midnight and three AM.
C is for Capture—as in someone’s imagination. What makes an artist different from another artist, a musician different from any other, a writer more interesting than the others? They have the ability to capture the attention of the viewer, listener, reader. Have you ever noticed, while browsing through a stack of paintings, one or two catches your eye? What is it about that particular painting that drew you in? What makes you buy one book and put another back on the shelf? You have to have something that captures the attention of the buyer. Ahh, but here’s the thing; people have different tastes and desires. What one person may see as beauty in art, another may not find it remotely attractive. So how do I build an audience, you may ask? Put your work out in as many places as you can. Increase your exposure. Find YOUR audience, and Capture their imagination.
Be whomever you want to be, and don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. I’ve spent the last thirty years being a cabinet maker, a very respectable and admired trade, but have recently come to realize that my real calling is to be a writer, to share my stories with whoever wants to read them, or if nothing else just to release them from captivity in my head. So often you hear a person mention how much they hate what they do but are afraid to make a change. Deep down inside they have a calling for something they may not even be aware of. Open your mind and soul to the world and you will find what it is your heart desires. But that’s only half the battle. Find the courage inside yourself to break out of the box that is your life and pursue your true passion. My wife and I recently made the decision to move to New York City in the fall of 2013. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve lived my entire life in the south, raised in Oklahoma, spent most of my adult life in Texas. Yes, that would be the state where they say, Ya’ll and Mornin’. Of the people I have told of our plans, half have offered encouragement—if not a little bit of envy that we can just pack up and leave without reservation to explore the world (or at least New York), but the other half have looked at me as though I’d grown a third eye, as if to say, “You’re going to do WHAT?” I am excited about the opportunity and am counting the days. After all, the center of the publishing world is in NYC. By the way, I HAVE visited several times, and fell in love with it the first time. The art, the culture, the attitude; CAN’T WAIT!
A perfect way to get someone’s attention is to show some ATTITUDE. I don’t mean the self righteous, nose in the air, I’m better than you, attitude. What I’m talking about is a confident attitude. Just as a football player must carry somewhat of a chip on their shoulder, we as writers must do the same. Do not go quietly into the night. Research, study, look for every opportunity to acquire knowledge about the art of writing, then show some attitude when you write. What is your attitude? Everyone is different. I know what you’re thinking. “Aren’t you talking about voice?” The answer is no—and yes. Your voice is a distinctive feel evident in your writing. Every writer needs to develop this, given the stiff competition out there, or else suffer the drudgery of mediocrity. People need to know it’s you when you write. Think about your favorite authors, what it is that you like about them. If you give it serious consideration, you’ll discover a pattern in their writing; their voice. But you have to take the next step. Sit down and write and develop an attitude that says, “I can publish this. I will find a way!”
Over the past five years, many thoughts have gone through my mind about what it would be like to see BLOOD BIAS in print. Well, the day has come. Good, bad, or somewhere in the middle, the book is available. I really wanted to have the print and digital copies available at the same time, but life seldom works out in the fashion we anticipate. As a matter of fact, this whole self publishing thing has taken longer than I thought. The truth is, within a matter of several days, you can self publish a book on Kindle or Nook, but a print book is a whole other cat. And to work with a company that is working with literally hundreds of books at a time? Whewww!
But back to the main point. Drum roll please.
BLOOD BIAS is now available at Booklocker.com, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles. As I said, it is available in print at this time (or as a PDF download at Booklocker) but will be available for Kindle, Nook, I-pad and I-phone within the next two weeks. I will update with news about that when it arrives. But for now, for everyone who has waited patiently though this process, the time is now. But before you search the sites for your copy—it’s hard for me to sign a digital copy, by the way—let me educate you on how this works for me as the writer. As the author, I am paid a royalty on each book sold. So let me say straight up, this not about the money. I am about building a fan base for future books. But let’s not put money in the pockets of those who have done nothing to earn it. Booklocker.com is the best bet for me. You will get your copy the quickest, and I make the most royalty. They are the publisher, so they get their share. I am the author, so I get my cut. If you purchase from Amazon or B&N or any other site, more hands are put in the middle. There’s one other thing. On the home page of Booklocker.com, there is a listing of the top sellers. I want to be on that list. So help me out.
And I need REVIEWS after you read it. So I’m going to offer a surprise gift to the first person who comments on BLOOD BIAS either on Amazon, or at this blog, or any other site that sells the book. You can comment on Amazon even if you don’t buy it from them. And just to be fair, I’ll offer one gift to a friend or family member, and one to the first total stranger that posts a review of the book. Uhhhh, by the way, you HAVE to post something that tells me you actually read the book. Just so you know. I’m not handing out a thousand dollar---okay, hundred dollar---okay, at least twenty dollar gift, to someone who didn’t read the book.
Thanks for all the wonderful support so far. Happy reading.
So! I’ve been tagged. Which means I have to answer these questions-exactly as they are asked, to the best of my knowledge. And then I’m supposed to tag others to answer these same questions. Does anyone really—as an adult—like playing tag? I suppose this is an exercise in outreach, getting to know others through the power of the ALMIGHTY BLOG, which is a good thing. Earlier today I was browsing through a few of the Blogs listed in the upcoming April A-Z challenge and was struck by the sheer number of people out there with a published book—whether self or traditionally—all trying to market and solicit their work, all vying for the attention of the reader. It overwhelms this obscure, non college-degreed, wish I was writing another chapter of my book instead of doing this, writer. Don’t get me wrong. I like posting on my blog, but is this really the answer to success?
Food for thought. I recently saw John Carter in 3-D at the theatre. This is adapted from the novel A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. For those not familiar with books, you might recognize the name as the creator of Tarzan. He died in 1950. The book was written in 1917. Amazing! Some stories are timeless. And the movie was AMAZING!
Here are My Tag Answers
1) What is the one book you couldn’t live without? Couldn’t live without is rather strong. Of course, the Bible falls in that category. Most impacted fiction, though, has to be The Drawing of the Three, part of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. The concept in this book has always stuck with me. 2) What can you see out your window at the moment? We have a large oak tree in our back yard, and beyond that, a wooden fence. The New York City skyline would be better. 3) What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Bananas, Peanut Butter and Miracle whip. YUM! My wife and I agree on most foods—but NOT that! 4) What fictional character would you most like to marry? I married my best friend and can’t think of one fictional character that could top her. 5) If ever a fictional villain was going to win, who would you want it to be? Roland, in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series spends his life on a quest and then finds out he has to start back at the beginning. This guy struck me as Clint Eastwood, Joe Pike (Robert Crais detective stories) and Vin Deisel all rolled into one. He is a many flawed character-which is what makes me like him a lot. But I understand King’s thoughts here. Life is seldom a happy ending. 6) How many types of cheese can you name off the top of your head? Cheddar, Stinky, Smelly—that’s about it. 7) If you didn’t want to be a writer, what would you want to be? A writer. No wait, maybe a Writer, or possibly a writer. Of course there’s always being a WRITER! 8) Can you play a musical instrument? I played trumpet in High School Band but probably couldn’t play a note now. Music is a talent. I’m fascinated by those who have it. 9) Do you own a Kindle or a Nook or any sort of e-reader? I have a Kindle fire, which recently replaced by old Kindle. I still like the feel of a print book, but you can’t deny the technology these days. It’s changing the way we do things. 10) If you do, how many books do you have on it? About twenty. I’m not one of those hoarder types. I delete them when I’m finished. Very few books impress me enough to want to read them again. 11) You just got published. In a glowing review, someone calls you “the next [insert famous author name here]”. Which famous author has to watch their back now you’re on the scene? Stephen King would be my obvious answer here, but I’m going to throw James Patterson under the bus. Ever since he started publishing with other people on the cover, his stories aren’t the same. They don’t have his voice. So I’ll take his place in the mystery market. Thanks Mr. Patterson.
“Therein lies the rub.” I can’t remember the movie I heard that from—maybe the Untouchables with Kevin Cosner—maybe not. Anyway, I’m going somewhere with this, I promise. You see, after five years of writing, rewriting, and agonizing over my manuscript, BLOOD BIAS is only weeks away from being available to the masses. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that my obscurity as a writer may hinder a drove of wild, crazy groupie fans from beating down my door to get a copy, but the thing is, an actual stranger—someone I am not related to, who isn’t a friend, or an acquaintance I’ve met through casual conversation—may actual read my book. So therein lies the rub. In other words, on one hand I am happy to be finally seeing my book in print (digital and actual paper), on the other hand, I’m nervous about it. The truth is, I have to prepare myself for possible criticism. I think the correct word here is probable. It will come from someone.
Writers tend to be their own worst critics, but we also have to be our own biggest cheerleaders (It’s not a pretty sight to see me in a skirt and chest hugging sweater—trust me). If that image disturbed your appetite, I’m sorry. I’ll try not to do it again. Anyway, I’ve had to convince myself that I wrote a very good book—if I can’t do that, I’ll never succeed in this business. And so I am convinced, but what will others think. There’s an old saying—“Never trust what your mother says about your writing”. I don’t trust anyone I know to tell me the truth. Will anyone have the guts to tell me my book “Bites the Big One” other than a total stranger? But the truth is, that’s what I want. Whether family or friend, acquaintance or Maytag repairman, I want the truth. How will I become better without the truth? I’ve been shunned by so many agents and publishers that I can’t imagine it could be worse. So if I had one wish over the next several months, it would be for my readers to give it to me straight, no anesthetic, just straight up with a shot of bourbon on the side.
Will you have the guts? By the way, anyone know the movie my quote came from? Anyone?
Do you ever wonder if anyone is paying attention to you, or what you have to say? The truth is, everything we say matters. Whether it's a fact, or embelished truth, or a flat out lie, what we say affects something or someone around us. And if you are a writer, what you wish for more than anything else, is to be heard. It's the old addage: If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it does it make a noise? Of course it does. And when you blog about something--which in the old days meant offering your opinion about something--it DOES make a noise even if no one reads it. The problem is, we WANT others to hear the 'tree fall', to acknowledge that they have at least laid eyes on the words that stumbled from our subconscience onto the blank page. For those of you that think it's easy, try putting together several paragraphs of witty banter or a short piece of intilectual gold worthy of someone elses time. And do this WITHOUT your english teacher looking over your shoulder pointing out your overuse of adverbs and your frequent run-on sentences. Go ahead! Impress me.
I'm in the process of getting my book formated for publication and was informed by the publisher that it would be 326 pages. Holy Mother of Jesus! Please excuse my language here. But just think about it. How many of you have written more than say, a ten page essay? How about fifty pages? Anyone for a hundred? 326 pages is in the neiborhood of 91, 365 words, give or take a hundred. It's months of work! And the truth is, I probably trashed or rewrote another 10,000 words trying to get it perfect, which I never will according to the editors and agents that keep telling me it's not good enough. I know what your thinking; SO WHY DO IT? The answer is simple: I LOVE to write. Love it! I was recently watching the remake of TRUE GRIT and had to write down a line in the movie that caught my attention. When the Sheriff was describing Rooster Cogburn to the teenage girl, he warmed her that Rooster "liked to pull a cork now and then". He didn't say, "He's a drunk." or say, "He's a drunken loser." For those of you who aren't aware of this, a movie has to be written--by a writer or team of writers--before the video camera is ever pulled out of its case. I wonder if this script writer would like to know that one of the lines he or she so carefully crafted made me stop and smile. I think I'll find them and let them know. I bet they'll be thrilled. What do you think?