Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Year Bookolutions

  1. Have to write and finish at least 10 books this year. Yeah, I know, I said that last year and only finished one. I'm going to stick to it this time.
  2. Have to go to more author events. I really missed those.
  3. Soon, I want to interview more authors in the Chicago area.

This year was hectic, but it's always nice knowing you can start fresh.

"He that can have patience can have what he will." — Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Where Have You Been?

The video that you see above is an adaptation of the classic story "Where are you going, where have you been?" by Joyce Carol Oates.

Ever since high school, this one story has followed me around. The first time I read it, I couldn't understand anything about it. I didn't know there were many layers to this one little story. The second time, much older, I was told that for a few extra credit points we could draw a representation of the story. That picture, I guess, is lost to time. Fortunately, In 2007, in my intro to fiction class, our teacher said we could do a short film for 30 extra credit points. I jumped at the chance. The films were only supposed to be 5 to 7 minutes long. Three other students jumped at this too. This short, however, was 13 minutes long which was way over the time allotted. But my teacher liked it so much he didn't care.

Hope you enjoy. Select the annotations for some trivia facts.

I played Arnold Friend while my girlfriend played Connie.

Have you ever read this story before? How did you feel when you read it?

"Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul." — Joyce Carol Oates

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Hey Folks!

Just letting you know that the day is finally here! My book For What It's Worth, the paperback version, is finally on Amazon. Whoo-hoo! Yop! And all that good stuff! Just search up my name on or you can click on the picture link on the right of this post that has the cover with the caption BUY THE BOOK HERE.

Let me know what you think, tell your friends, write a review. Heck, make my book a Christmas gift for a friend. Spread the word.

In the meantime...I'll still be writing. Happily, I might add.

"What is worth having is worth working for." — Philip Pullman

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

American on Purpose

Craig Ferguson is a man who knows what he wants.

He wanted to be American.

He wanted to be Sober.

He wanted to make you Laugh.

With his new book, American on Purpose, he accomplished all three.

Now I should tell you that I haven't read many autobiographies. I've read Dean and Me, the popular bestseller by Jerry Lewis himself. I loved that one. Had the perfect ending to a true life story. I've also read Gene Wilder's Kiss Me Like A Stranger, which I highly recommend. Gene is so precise with his words, you'll want to reread the book right after you've completed the last page. The same could be said for his novellas My French Whore and The Woman Who Wouldn't.

I've also read a biography on Thomas Jefferson, which thoroughly analyzed his strengths as well as his eccentricities.

Seeing a pattern?

When I read about someone, I often choose the books of the people I most admire and are influenced by. My girlfriend recommended Craig Ferguson's book to me. She said she couldn't put it down. I agree.

I covered the last 165 pages in one sitting. Yes, it is that good!

But it's not an all-out laugh-a-thon as you would expect. This book shows that the American dream is not dead. As a Scottish boy living in Glasgow, Craig learned quickly that he liked experimenting with life. When that experimenting lead to punk bands, drugs and alcohol, his life took a turn for the worse. It wasn't until he almost committed suicide that Criag re-evaluated his life, enough to turn his life around and seek help. He found many friends and many loves along the way to conquering the addiction of alcohol. But one of his loves was old U.S. OF A. In Glasgow he built up a reputation as an off-the-wall personality comic under the stage name of, get this, Bing Hitler. He found out many things about himself. He was funnier sober, loved to make people laugh and shows that anyone can live a dream. But you have to love that dream. He did both. Today, he hosts the Late Late show on CBS, which my girlfriend and I watch frequently. One thing I love is how random he is. And, despite the other late night talk show hosts, Craig looks like he's genuinely enjoying himself and just full of joy. Which is infectious. It just turns the whole room around the way he can make an audience bust out laughing.

This is more than just an autobiography. It's a great guide to quitting habits, living life to the fullest and starting over.

I highly recommend that YOU. READ. THIS. BOOK!

Craig's silly side:

Craig's book Interview:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Some time ago, I was stocking up on how-to guides on writing. What struck me the most is that every one of these guides had different rules on approaching novel writing. My view on the topic is this: BREAK THE RULES!

There will be things you disagree with, like I have with some of these guides. I value the difference of opinion on strategies to handling novel writing. But there are some things you have to figure out entirely by yourself or are limiting yourself by one person's set of rules.

In one book I read you need to erase your inner editor and just write whatever comes to mind. Don't bother fixing grammatical errors, just wait until the novel is finished. This does not work for me. I edit as I write because there is a need to, plus I'm always adding new things. If I were to write a 50,000 word novel and hadn't been editing the entire time, I'd feel like a train wreck just having to go back and correct all that mess.

Another book I read brought up a good point about making characters relatable by giving them phobias. Which I agree. Nothing makes a connection stronger than a character flaw that a reader can share and sympathize with. But, while the book was listing all the possible flaws your character can have, it specifically said, "Do not use Acrophobia~fear of heights or Claustrophobia~fear of closed spaces."

"Why not?" I said out loud while reading the book. Why discount those two? Especially when an estimated 5 out of every 100 people have a fear of heights. There is also a study saying that 7 percent of the world's population suffer from different forms of claustrophobia. I imagine one of the highest being premature burial.

Those numbers, to me, are too large to ignore and too ripe with ideas not to write about them.

Finally, the last topic I'd like to present to you is a situation that involved an evaluation of my first novel. In the prologue, a middle age man is searching for things to do in his vacation house until he decides to fall asleep. In that scene, becuase he is a lonely man who never married, he talks to himself. He thinks out loud, maybe two or three lines of dialogue. One editor told me that I should erase those lines. The reason being that they said "Characters don't talk to themselves."

When I first read that, almost instantly, my mind brought up several characters who do just that. Hamlet was talking to himself when he was contemplating suicide wasn't he? It's also something we do naturally. We talk to ourselves to remind ourselves of certain things. We talk to ourselves when we are lonely, scared, contemplating something, organizing our thoughts. We can even have a character talk to themselves to illustrate a mental illness.

So I say, why all these restrictions? Isn't writing an experiment itself? Shouldn't we be free to make the book how we see fit? It's our world after all, isn't it?

Have fun with it. Don't feel as if you are supposed to follow some kind of code. The rules are always changing with each debut book. Shake things up and be unconventional.

"Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing." — Melinda Haynes

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where's For What It's Worth?

Right now the book is off of the lulu site. This was a personal decision of mine. I figure too much time has passed between me actually releasing it to where we are now. I decided it was best to shift gears and go to my plan B.

I want more people to discover this book and I found that the website createspace is owned by Which means not only will the book go directly to the site but, since amazon owns this company, there is more of a chance of my book being accepted in actual stores since amazon controls a lot when it comes to providing copies for Borders and Barnesandnoble.

All this is to say that the book is not gone. It is just being redeveloped. It will still be print on demand and the price will remain the same. The only difference is a new distributor.

I recently transferred all of my files to the new website and ordered a proof copy. I should get the proof copy December 3rd. Sorry for making you guys wait a little longer but it's all in making this title more available. I will let you know when it's up again.

Thanks again for reading it, the ones that ordered the first copies.

"What really matters is what you do with what you have." ~ H. G. Wells

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My First Kindle Book

That's right. You can now get For What It's Worth on the Amazon Kindle. Even though I am not a Kindle owner myself, I wouldn't want to deprive the one million kindle owners from reading my book. It will most likely download to your Kindle in less than 60 seconds. For $1.99, the same price for a gallon of milk, you can read my book. So, what are you waiting for?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Drive

Let's say you decide to write your first book. You scoot up in your chair, pull out your laptop/pen & paper/typewriter sit. Waiting for the book to come around won't help you. Sometimes creativity sparks or it gets tapped out. The thing you have to realize is that you must make your book different from the countless others.

How do you do that, you ask?

Here's the secret.


I know, not that big of a secret, but still, it is one of the best tools in your workshop. The more you read, the better understanding you will have. Over the hundreds of books you could read, you'll develop tastes. Likes and dislikes. You'll be able to compare books to what you could be writing. Even bad books are essential. Read as many of those as you can because that will spark you to put down the book and say, forget this, I can do better than this.

You also have to have a drive. For that, I've prepared a list of books that will get you going. Stuff your mind with information on both the craft and the publishing industry. The better your understanding, the smoother your drive down literary lane will be.

The books that helped me:

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • The Story and Its Writer
  • The Writer's Handbook 2005
  • Novel and Short Story Writer's Market 2006
  • POD People by Jeremy Robinson
  • Plug Your Book
  • A Writer's Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon
  • No Plot? No Problem!
  • The Ultimate Book of Top Ten Books

It also helps to keep at your side the book/books you are most influenced by. Here are mine:

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't by Gene Wilder
  • Magic Man by Ron Base
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." ~ Stephen King

Friday, October 30, 2009


There are few things in this world that scare me...or at least get under my skin. When I was little, I'd run out of our neighbor's living room if they were watching a Freddy or Jason movie. But I can watch those today like they're nothing. Hell, I walk in to each of the Saw movies to see if it will give me an upset stomach. Not so much. I still get shivers when I see the old woman reaching out for Jack Nicholson in The Shinning though. That hasn't changed. That movie always scared the piss out of me. Also Pet Sematary. Looks like Stephen King was the only one who could successfully get under my skin.

Recently I've been combing through two of his works. Duma Key on audiobook, helps pass the time on the drive to and from work, and I've been reading his collection Just After Sunset. Some of those stories hit a note here or there. But the one that really struck a cord, which disturbed me, was "N."

In that story, King takes a thing like OCD and twists it so much, he almost has you going for a bit. I'm sure all of us have OCD on some level or another. I usually trot back to my car to make sure it's locked or the backdoor to someone's house. But I think that sort of thing is commonplace. Just double-checkin' is all.

But the story is creepy.

So, for a pre-halloween treat, please enjoy this animated short of 25 episodes based on Stephen King's story. Sleep tight.

"It is not wise to find symbols in everything that one sees. It makes life too full of terrors." ~ Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Dead Battery Game

The hardest thing for a writer to do is to actual sit down, get comfortable and start writing. In our daily lives there are distractions everywhere.

Y'know that old saying, "Couldn't (blank) to save his life?"

Well, what if the simplest thing to get you going on your writing was to create a deadline for yourself? Don't think you'll stick to it? How about if the deadline wasn't up to you but more your computer. If you're the kind of writer who types on a laptop, this will be the perfect exercise for you. Sometimes, to get the ball rolling, I'll play this game. I've only tried it on short stories but it seems to do the trick. Oh, and it has to be a laptop too. No desktop computers.

What you do is, bring your laptop with you to a place that is comfortable. Check the battery to make sure it's charged. When it is fully charged, unplug the battery charger and pack it up. Voila. Instant deadline. You now have to write, in a way, to save your muses' life. Depending on your laptop, you'll have anywhere from an hour to five hours of battery life without the charger. Maybe even a little bit longer. But now, with the charger gone, there's no stopping the creative clouds to start rumbling in. You have to type until the battery dies. Not to worry if it is good or bad, just so long as you type something.

In high school I would procrastinate all the way up until the very last minute on projects partly because those were when I would get my best ideas. The same might work for you.

And it might make writing a more furious, fun and challenging prospect.

Kimberly Steele, author of Forever Fifteen, a popular vampire novel, recently said in a forum that she wished she had the impetus to write a blog like mine. Thanks Kimberly. I feel honored that you read my blog and enjoy it. This post goes out to you and any other writer who wants a little extra kick to get their fiction writing going.

"One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter - who was a child at the time - asked me, "Daddy, why are you writing so fast?" And I replied, "Because I want to see how the story turns out!" ~ Louis L'Amour

Friday, October 23, 2009

Notable Movies #3

If there's one thing I love about fiction writers, it's Hollywood's ability to poke fun at them. There's no doubt in my mind that this new movie, Gentlemen Broncos, will be the funniest writer-parody movie this side of Throw Mama From The Train. With a cast including Sam Rockwell and Jermaine Clement from Flight of the Concords how could they go wrong? Even the trailer had me on the verge of busting a gut. See for yourself, readers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One of those Sunday's

I doubt that anyone has the same problem as I do when it comes to sunday's, but here it goes. Sundays for me have always been weird. Or they at least have the weirdest theme. I guess all the weirdos come out on that day.

It just so happen to be writing day for me today. Long time ago Wednesday used to be my writing day but I would never stick to it. Now I just write whenever.

So I drive up to the Caribou that I usually go to, sit in my car for a while, chat with my girl on the phone for a few and then I'm off to writing.


I enter and the place is fully stacked, looks like every seat has been taken and all I kept thinking was free coffee? oh please, free coffee day!

But it wasn't. I had to pay. Oh well. Then I sat down next to a woman who had one of those mini laptops. They look so cool. I'd say she was in her mid-fifties, had glasses and curly gray hair.

I was unloading my work station which consisted of my laptop(a compaq), extension cord, and two books; Just After Sunset and T is for Trespass, stacked on top of each other. The elderly woman took a glance and said, "Big Stephen King fan?"

"Oh Yeah," I said. "Love him."

"I was in his house."

I perked up. I don't know what it is, but I think I have one of those faces. The kind you can just confess to all and hope for the best. "Really?"

"Oh yeah. I used to live in Colorado. He'd give tours, him and his wife. They do a lot for the community. My work was just a couple of minutes away from his house."

"Wow," I said. "That's pretty impressive. Man, I just don't know how he's able to churn those books out one after the other."

"He's a recluse. That's why." Then she returned to her laptop, as if that last line should be the motto for all writers. I wonder if that's what it takes, to trap yourself inside your own work. Who knows?


I finish my short story (codename: one) and start reading some Stephen King. I pack up my stuff and exit.


After a quick detour to my car to ditch the laptop and books I get going, heading for the borders to skim through some books. Fifteen seconds later, I hear rapid footsteps. A man in a gray hoody is hauling ass around the corner as a cop is chasing after him. For some reason I was struck by the imagery of it all. I got little pictures in my head of silent movies where a crook would be dressed in stripes wearing an eye mask with a constable chasing, waving a nightstick.

The guy tries to hide in the parking lot, being indecisive as he stops between a silver pickup and a red dodge. "Stop! Down on the ground! On the ground!" The cop says, snapping me out of my reservoir of thoughts. Guess that hesitation cost him. If I would've still been near my car, that guy couldn't have been more than 25 feet across from me. Good thing I was across the street by then. Seven squads showed up. Wonder what the guy did.


I enter Borders the long way becuase there's a guy at the corner who is wearing rags, holding a red book with his thumb in the crease (I was thinking catcher in the rye but it could've been something else), with a cardboard sign half his height with sloppy writing. Couldn't read what it said but he was spouting stuff like, "It'll kill us! Wheat will kill us! We'll be looking at world war 3! We'll have to battle them UFO'S!"

Now you see why I took the long way?

Once inside, I planned on picking up No Plot? No Problem, a popular writing guide by Chris Batey who created the Nanowrimo site.

I found several books, jotted them down and was off.

I just knew I had to blog this. This day was to be a normal day. Have you ever had a weird Sunday? Tell me about it. More important, I think it's good when stuff like this happens because it teaches us writers to be observers, also to remember the details. That's all it takes.

Currently on my must read list:

"We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Love Letter to Amazon Kindle

Dearest Kindle,

Many times our paths have crossed...and yet I still don't know how to look at you. You seduce me with your young features. You tantalize me with your sleek design. Oh, how I would feel if I could just hold you in my arms.

And yet, I pause. Some things are just too good to be true. Once, on an otherwise festive night, I had given up on you. Then, like a shot in the dark, catching me completeley off guard; you lowered your price from 399 to 299. I have to admit, I felt my arms loosen, ready for an embrace. But only for a moment. That's what I would give you, dearest kindle. Only moments. For every time I'd find myself crawling in your direction, I'd find portable readers equal, if not better, than your charming looks and exclusive features.

Doubts bubbled in my head, even when you lowered your price again. Then you became slimer, then wider again. Lord knows what I should do with you because you still draw me in.

But then I thought further, and those thoughts led me to concrete conclusions. To break it to you kindly, dear, when, and if, I should travel - I wouldn't be pleased if I was stopped short, taken for a ride, backhanded by my own love affair with you. Why, I could have any book in the world and yet here you would sit, in my palms, on a train, plane, bus, or even short cab fare, and you'd go bust. You'd ignore me even as I would push your buttons. You'd stiff me for the heel I am, because I fell in love with you at one point. How could I go on like that - with a book that breaks?

You spell more trouble for me but there is that slight curiosity that bubbles as well. Would you stay with me for long? Would we last? What if I had lost you? Would I feel robbed of our time together. And worse, what if someone else had gotten a hold of you. You, my potential kindle. Where would I be then?

It was a cheery day, the day I found you had taken the literary cupcake out of many men and women's hands. I'll never forget it. George Orwell, the man who I've only read once, was the man you sneered at the most. His book was 1984, the same year I was born into this world. What a cynically depressing and ironic turn it should be that you would take that gem away from people - my birthright. Can love giveth and taketh away that easily? How can I tolerate this any longer? Many men and women trusted you, provided for you, gave you a home, some by a roaring fire. They should have tossed you into the kindle, kindle. When should I trust you? When should I hold you?

Until I decide what is best for me, I must think of you no longer. Our correspondence might continue on and it might not. The best you can hope to wish from me would be a shorter letter and probably a shorter temperament at that.

Am I still in love with you? I do not know.

Ta-ta, Kindle. May you find your place in the world.


(The man who once fell for you)

"Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood." — George Orwell (1984)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Evil At Heart

Some time ago, I entered a contest on a popular book website.

Today, I received a package with this sticker on it.

Though I knew what it was, I couldn't help but feel some slight twinge of over excitement about this. I guess we all silently hope that our top favorite publishers would send us a package, possibly containing a contract begging us to join their team, to be their next author they represent. (Insert long sigh here.)

Oh well, It was still great to receive the package. I love getting packages. I used to order books from all the time.

But what was inside the package was this book.

God bless Goodreads.

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain. It's the third book in the series, following a woman serial killer. I bought Heartsick, the first one, long ago, but never read it. I knew the book would be good, but I put it to the side. I placed it in my trunk thinking that if I had a really terrible run of reading badly written books, this Heartsick would be my own personal in case of emergency, break open glass.

The second book in the series is Sweetheart. I'm really eager to read these books. This copy that I got is an advance reader's copy which the company put out there to promote more ratings and reviews. I will read it eventually. But for right now, I'm backlogged in my reading. Right now I'm a hundred pages away from finishing T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton. (Haven't read any of the other books but with this one being so good, I plan to go back to the beginning.) After that, I plan on reading Just After Sunset by Stephen King. I'm really big into reading short stories now.

Anyway, If you have ever received an advanced reader's copy of something, tell me about it. Would love to hear it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Carly's Voice

The most enduring thing about writing is finding your voice. That's what I've come to understand over the years. It is not impossible to find it.

In august, on a night before I would return to my crappy graveyard shift job, I visited my girlfriend's house. Some time around 8pm we sat and watched this story on 20/20 about this girl who found her voice. Throughout my life, I have been inspired by people, friends, family, places, and traces of divine intervention. But this story that I saw was remarkable. It also told me that I had no excuses not to write. You wanna write? Sit in a chair and do it. All there is to it.

The girl they were talking about was Carly.

This is her story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To Scratch and Scribble Part 6

We've all done it. We've jotted, we've scratched, we've scribbled. While some take the humongous plunge of creating entire worlds all by themselves, others are more inclined to have training wheels set before doing anything too big.

After my first novel debacle, I decided to try and train my brain to recognize good ideas. I've found TV shows and movies that I liked or have come to like and watched them. I was obsessed. Then I stumbled upon

Here is a site that takes everything you love about tv shows, video games, movies and anime and tells you to make up your own story or episode and share it with others. Millions of people were doing this when I discovered it in 2001. Have a different ending in mind for The Shawshank Redemption? Have at it. Feel like you could've written a better plotline for Indiana Jones? Go for it! Or maybe you're one of the many people who have their own draft of Scream 4. You'll find it on this site.

If writing is all a matter of exercising that literary part of your brain, I believe that writing fan fiction truly helps.

On that site, I wrote two fanfiction stories for one of my all-time favorite games: Silent Hill. It was the best. One story, involving an author traveling to the haunted town to write a non-fiction book, evolved and became more fluid as I wrote. I got nine chapters up. It was 14,000 words long. I ended it on a real nail biting cliff-hanger when Jack(the protag) and his friend Dan(someone who is trying to escape the town) have just read a secret incantation which brings the other haunted world to the town. They are sitting in Jack's previously beaten-up car with a zippo as their only form of illumination. The last line of the story went something like this:

The glow from the lighter flickered away. We were left in darkness, listening to the howls of the screeching demons. They were ready to feast.

And that was where I left it. On a cliffhanger. Haven't gone back to it since. Because, dear readers, that was when my brain started thinking for itself. Stories were forming all on their own. I became overwhelmed by the amount. But I stand by what I said. Try fanfiction first. It really helps to take stories in different directions and find out what may be on the other side.

What fanfiction have you tried? Would love to hear them.

"There's a time and place for everything, and I believe it’s called 'fan fiction'." ~ Joss Whedon

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Are You (Tweet)ing Kidding Me?

Yes, it has finally happened. I am now on Twitter. I'm not going to update every five minutes but I will let you know my progress on the future books that I work on. I'll also have funny little tidbits, y'know, the usual stuff.

You can find me here:

Tweetin' my books.

There will also be a button link on the right of my page soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

For What It's Worth

(From the back cover)

It began with a handful of objects and became the short story collection not to be missed. Come to a place where the infamous Glock Block is just around the corner. Where your former selves run wild and fires become invisible to the human eye. In an age of hit men, crooks, specters and average Joe's; everyone has a story to tell and nothing is what it seems. Be prepared for a mischievous grandfather clock. Come to know Mr. Horace Grant, the loan shark who once had a heart of gold. Maybe you will be able to find some mirth in a depressed rhetoric teacher or perhaps you will unravel the mystery of the Poe Transporter. Whatever the case may be, everyone finds out their destiny and proves just how much they’re worth.

Told you it was coming out today. It doesn't have a ISBN code yet, but I plan on purchasing one for it. There's just a choice of what kind of ISBN I want.

But I couldn't pass up showing you guys where you can find it. Right now it is exclusively sold on

See if you can buy it.

Click the line below.

Buy The Book Here

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mover, Shaker, Book-maker

When I first posted the release date of my short story collection, I thought I gave myself enough time. The reality was I gave myself a good amount of time but didn't take into account the actual production of the book.

I consider myself computer-savy, able to learn things quickly. But I gave myself too little time to toy around with the book-making process. There were things that I had to become familiar with first.

What the flip is a PDF? Why does my document look warped when I upload it? How do I make the page numbers appear exactly where I want them? How do you make a wrap-around cover? These were things I would come to toggle with as the days progressed. It's not all that bad. Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty neat.

With Lulu, I found a way to not only release my work and make the transition from writer to author, but it also gave me a chance to see what it feels like to be in a publisher's position. They want their product to look and feel professional. That's what I'm going for, too.

But the big announcement of this post is that, since everything is done with the production of the book, it should be released no later than Sept. 18th. Mark that one down on your calender. I'm excited. Hope all of you are.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Elisa Lorello is Stepping Up

In June, I had the privilege of interviewing Elisa Lorello. She is the author of Faking It. So far, her sales are doing well and her second book may be just around the corner. She published via which is also the publisher I'm planning to use. They have a blog on that site as well. I found that they did their very first video author interview with Elisa Lorello. I applaud her drive and I hope her book continues to do well.

I first started reading my copy of Faking It in an ebook format, then bought the paperback copy. I finished it in about a week and a half.

I am pleased to say that this novel is "a classic, fresh, charming, comedic blend of romance and rhetoric. This book can’t fake it’s heart."

I really enjoyed it.

Here is the interview.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rushing The Gun

Hey everybody.

I know I said that the book would be out on Sept. 2nd or 4th but now things have changed. I recently quit my old job and have been, for the past three weeks, working at a brand new one. My old job was very part time. This new one is full time. So, with all the hours I'm working, even though I recieved the final edits, I have to push the release back at least two weeks. Sorry. Don't mean to make all of you wait.

I was rushing the gun. I thought I could handle these edits no problem and do everything in one day. That is not the case. I planned two months ahead of time to publish this new book. The second month was reserved for the editing process. It only goes to show that no matter how organized you are, you will encounter delays. But it's not such a bad thing. This will give me a chance to stretch my legs for a bit. I can look over 50 pages a day and be set.

I take writing seriously, as you can tell, and I want to go over the manuscript a few more times to polish it and make all the necessary corrections. If this book is going to come out, I want it to be good. I want it to be publisher quality good. Hell, I want it to be an experience. So be patient a little while longer and you'll soon be holding in your hands a crisp new copy of my first book. Thanks so much for following this blog. I'll let you know when the new release date is set.

~ R.S.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why I Write

John Kennedy Toole was born in 1937. After spending some time as a professor, he was drafted in 1961 where he taught English to Spanish-speaking recruits. By the time he worked in a men's clothing factory, he was able to write A Confederacy of Dunces. He had several unpublished works. He sent the manuscript to Simon and Shuster but it was rejected. From that rejection, his world crumbled. He began drinking heavily, had nasty headaches and would disappear from time to time. Toole committed suicide on March 26, 1969.

After his death, Toole's mother insisted that Walker Percy, the author of The Last Gentlemen, read her son's unpublished book. Walker was hesitant and later bargained with himself that he would only ready a few chapters to satisfy the mother and put it down for good. But Walker could not just put the novel down. He read that book well on into the night and fell in love with it. Later, he wrote the forward when the book was finally published in 1980. A Confederacy of Dunces won the pulitzer prize, sold 1.5 million copies and was translated into 18 languages.

I had never heard of the book up until a couple months ago when Chuck Palahniuk, in a web video describing his favorite books, recommended Confederacy of Dunces. I searched up this history and realized something. Writing literature is a way of putting your thoughts on paper, to immortalize your words. It was tragic how this author thought he was doomed and ended his life, but even he could not predict the novel's outcome. With his words he was remembered and established a legacy. To date, I have well over sixty ideas which I hope to publish. I write not only because I want to get these thoughts on paper but there is also an encouraging notion that my ideas will outlive me. That strangers will pick up my book, read it and say something about it. It may inspire them to write or it may make them look at their life differently. We don't know for sure. But I'd rather be remembered than be forgotten. So, I'm happy that God has blessed me with gift. That's why I write.

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." ~Jonathan Swift

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Slight Change

The book will be released on September 4th at 2:00pm. Full moon that day. Ooooo, creepy, huh? Need two more days to work on the book. So if you see that the book is not on on the 2nd, there's a good chance that it will be available on the 4th instead. Hope you all enjoy the book when it comes out.

On another note, I've decided to start writing again on Tuesday. On Friday I came up with two brand new short stories. Plus, there's another book project I'm working on.

Happy writing everyone!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

To Scratch and Scribble Part 5

A certain number of writers suggest that you do yourself a favor and write the crappiest stuff imaginable. They tell you to get all that crap out of your system by suggesting that you type anywhere from 50,000 words to a million. When the crap stops, the real writing begins. It's a filtering process that I guess we all have to deal with. Let's face it, all of us are not born perfect or can type up the next Catcher in the Rye.

Stephen King says, ''I'm convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.''

For this statement, I believe he was correct on a historical scale.

Let me tell you about my first bad book . . . the one you will never read.

The typewriter from hell may have caused me some problems but what I didn't expect would be the problems of the ego once I couldn't stop writing.

My first official book project was a half-assed idea. It was to be part autobiography and part fiction (don't worry, more confusion awaits). The basis was my hectic, sometimes unbelievable life, everything up until 8th grade which was also when I wrote it, and a side character who was a lackluster guardian angel. I guess I had a rotten trail of bad luck and this book of mine was the only release. I didn't care what I wrote down, so long as I wrote something. The idea would take on many forms. In some parts it would be a mystery, in others a drama, in spurts a comedy and in large a big convoluted mess.

I typed it up on an Acer computer which dwelled in my parents room. Each chapter would be two to three pages long. The book, as a whole, was 69 chapters at 156 pages. You'd think that would be it, but I wasn't finished with it and I was reluctant to work on it at all. The idea kept changing but not in a good way. It kept taking on new and unexpected forms as annoying as Hydra. Each idea I tried to vanquish, two more would pop up.

Somehow I bravely made the trek six houses down to my friend who took a liking to reading my work. Her and her friend read my tales and troubled times. They couldn't quite understand the guardian angel character or what I was trying to say when I introduced him. In one scene, I was at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal when the angels comes down, dressed to the nines in long black leather trench coat, sat down across from me and flung some ashes from his cigarette into my bowl. The chapter was no pivotal point in the book, it was just a scene with no real force behind it. Most of those chapters established nothing. They were just fillers. My personal "word vomit" book.

My friend and her friend liked some parts, and laughed in the right places. They knew how to let me down easy when they encountered a bad chapter or one that made no sense. But they were always interested in my ideas, asking what I was cooking up next.

One fateful day, I came back to the computer. Chapter 70 was staring me right in the face. This book became the bane of my existence. You can't work on an idea when it changes so much. You begin to question what the hell the original thought was in the first place. The title continuously changed as well. The first title I chose was The View. After I became sick of that, I thought up A Comedian's View. When I recognized that my work wasn't that funny, it finally became Never Shake Hands with a Jackass. I even drew up a cover with the crazy angel sitting in a chair on one side and a donkey with a censored bar across his eyes sitting in the other.

I couldn't write anything on that damn computer. I was blocked. My crappy filler moments had finally run out. The Jackass was me.

Now comes the part where I tell you why you will never read this book.

With a heavy hand, and an even heavier heart, I arched my finger and deleted the entire book. 156 pages after months of writing and it was all gone in 2.5 seconds. I was not ready. This I was willing to admit. But when you know it's not your time, you have to accept it with grace and understanding. There will always be another book to write.

"Great books write themselves, only bad books have to be written." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How I Became a Famous Novelist

I frequently check this one website ( for scoops on the latest movie rumors. One day I found that a book had just acquired a director. When I searched up the book, I found that it was released in July. Now that's fast business!

How I Became a Famous Novelist is the story about a man named Pete Tarslaw. After receiving a mass e-mail from his ex-girlfriend, announcing her wedding date a year from now in Australia, Pete begins to fume. Not only does he fume, but he also has a crummy job which he hates. While drinking some beers with his buddy, he watches an interview of a famous novelist that everyone likes, even his Ex. It is at that moment that he decided to tackle writing a book himself, somehow get it on the bestsellers list and upstage his Ex at her own wedding! Instead of writing the same formulaic airport novel, he decides to really hit hard by writing serious literature. He visits Borders and Barnes and Noble to start cracking the code that is writing and sees if he can fake it. He makes lists of what people like to read and key words they are drawn to. His novel, The Tornado Ashes Club, becomes a melting pot of ideas and genres. In each chapter there is an excerpt of either a fake novel, an interview or segments from his acclaimed novel itself. Steve Heley has really captured the trials and tribulations of writing while poking fun at the insanely rich eccentric authors of today. This novel is a feast for the mind and should be on every writer's bookshelf. It's a re-readable triumph of writing genius.

Steve Heley has written for The Late Show with David Letterman as well as American Dad. His first book was The Ridiculous Race.

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie."
— Truman Capote

Monday, August 10, 2009

Notable Movies #2

Even though I've only read the first chapter to the Time Traveler's Wife, I'm sure it's a good story. It takes two different genres and blends them: Romance and Science fiction. While time traveling establishes couples having distance troubles, it is important to come to know their struggle. Does time heal all wounds? Or does it open them up? As soon as I get my hands on this national bestseller, I will read it twice.

Audrey Niffenegger, the author, must be proud of this representation of her work. The trailer alone had me on the edge of my seat. Audrey, as I've found out, lives right here in Chicago and works as a professor in Interdisciplinary Book Arts MFA Program at Columbia - the same school I once thirsted to go to. Her second book, Her Fearful Symmetry, just sold in March for an advance of $5 million dollars. It should be out this fall.

So, with any book adaptation there is always the question of whether to read the book first or watch the movie, saving the book for the extra tidbits they left out. After much thought, I've decided to read the book first. 560 pages sounds too good to just ignore.

But what do you do when you know the movie is adapted from a book? Do you read the book first? Or do you watch the movie?

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Car Reader Fever

Growing up was tough. Especially if you don't like car rides. Picture this: a bouncy, off-the-wall, sugar injected kid completely bored with the drive (no matter what length) complaining every two seconds. That would be yours truly. It would be a long time until I would drive and I knew, at a young age, that my parents ruled the road. Car time was definitely not my time.

I'd huddled myself in the back all grouchy and unsatisfied as they blasted cassette tapes up front. I sought to remedy this problem quickly and with somewhat messy results.

For the first few times, I would bring my red egg of silly putty into the car. Parents are not fans of silly putty. Here's why: I got tired of constantly bringing it back and forth from the car to the house and was afraid I would lose my little pliable form of entertainment. I ditched the egg case and stuck the stuff right at the base of the back window of the van. Being that the interior was the same light brown color as the putty, it was virtually undetectable. Of course, it became a problem when I did that in summer and the van began absorbing a burning plastic smell.

"New rule for the van: No more Silly Putty!" my parents said.

That didn't stop me from coming up with new ideas.

I was a kid with an overactive imagination. So I thought to bring some of my toys into the van. Mistake number two. The van became a mobile playground as I abused my privilege bringing over twenty action figures all from my batman collection (the original 1989 movie version set) and would get the wedged in between seats.

"New rule: No more action figures!"

I was bordering on frustration. It wasn't fair. They listened to whatever they wanted on the radio and I was left to just sit there and take it with no form of escape? What was I to do without my made up plot lines of Batman and the great seat adventure?

Well, as luck would have it, I found an old pass time which was quickly dominating my world: Comic Books! They were to me what Indiana Jones was with his trusty whip at his side. I would bring twenty or so, under my arm. Since the average comic was twenty pages, I would never run out of time with my collected treasures. Sometimes I wouldn't even read, I'd just look at the artwork in appreciation. There was one drawback though. I had to focus a lot of concentration on the comics because there were times that the radio up front was blasted to an ungodly level because my mom had some hearing loss. Try reading a spider-man comic to Mariah Carey's "Emotion". I dare you. It isn't easy.

After training my brain to block off listening to all these pop stars, reading was easy. However, I don't doubt that I know Cher, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Madonna and a host of other pop songs line for line somewhere in the reaches of my mind. This disturbs me because I am not that big of a fan of pop music.

Luckily, my comics privilege wasn't taken away but my mind thirsted for something more. Thus, I turned to Novels, bringing five or so into the car. Still, I read while blocking out pop music. But I loved reading in the car.

Today, I own a ten year old beat-up Saturn. I still carry books with me everywhere. My father once told a person that "He's always got a book glued to his hand. He never goes anywhere without one." That's true. It's also an addiction. Now I read five books simultaneously just in case I get bored with one and want to move on to the next. Right now there are 50 books in the trunk of my car.

If I ever have some sort of problem with my car out on the road, I feel comforted knowing that, if I happen to be waiting on a tow truck, I have my own mobile library. Odd, I know, but I'm still doing it.

So what say all of you? What is your strangest reading habit? Were you a car reader like me?

"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." ~ Anna Quindlen (How Reading Changed My Life)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Great Amazon Rush

It began with the man they call Scott Sigler. Scott had a dream of becoming a published author and he was well on his way, already with his first book in production. But in 2002, when financial woes were hitting companies after the 9/11 event, Scott's book was pulled from production. Then, in 2005, he resurrected his works by podcasting his novels in the tradition of the old time radio serials of the 1950's. He's a writer of science fiction/horror novels and has gained a "junkie" following of fans since 2005. He wrote such books as Earthcore, Ancestor, Infected, Contagious, Nocturnal and The Rookie. All of them received high praise.

I first found his work by listening to Earthcore, which was so good, I was hooked. He later found some progress when he accepted a contract with a small press called Dragon Moon Publishing. In order to boost sales and gain attention he implemented what all podcasters know to be "The Amazon Rush day."

Put simply, his publisher told him when the book would be released, he let everyone know on the internet (with an ever-growing mountain of fans and downloads) that he was coming out with Ancestor on April 1st, 2007. Everyone bought it the same day and as a result his book was boosted to #7 on the Amazon charts Bestselling list. When he made the switch to Crown publishing, a division of the titan publishing company known as Random House, he did the same amazon rush with his novel Infected. He has since become a New York Times Bestselling author. He still podcasts, his sequel to Infected called Contagious is a hit with readers and listeners alike. Just recently he announced the re-release of Ancestor, his first hit with the readers, with a brand new cover and sure to have some more goodies.

After this monumental idea, other others decided it was their time to shine. Such authors as Seth Harwood, Mur Lafferty, J.c. Hutchins and Phil Rossi have gained readers through this system. That is what it is all about: Readers. If the point of movies is to get asses in seats, then the point of books is to get them in the hands and in front of the eyes of your potential audience. So, it is with great pleasure that I announce my first book in print: The collection of short stories that I've been working on. From today, you, the readers, have about a month until the book is released. I'm just beaming with excitement and am eager to know just how many people will read my work. I hope you enjoy it too.

In the meantime, I'd love to do some guest blogs to anyone who will let me.

Some of my shorts will make an appearance on some future blog posts and I plan to podcast the collection soon. Be sure to tell your friends and spread the word.

September 2nd, 2009 2:00pm. Keep that date in mind.

"The death of an author is obscurity." ~ Liz Dubelman

Monday, July 27, 2009

Notable Movies #1

To the best of my knowledge, this is Robin Williams fourth outing as a writer in a movie. He's getting quite good at it.

He played the crazy Walter Finch in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia (which I thought was a Stephen King adaptation and was disappointed by the mistake very quickly.)

In the strange adaptation of The World According to Garp, which I have the inability to finish, Williams plays a woeful writer constantly having a string of bad luck. Maybe I should read John Irving's book first.

And, of course, he played the curiosity driven writer in the hitchcockian suspense tale called The Night Listener.

Call me crazy, but I wonder if Robin Willaims isn't working secretly on some hidden opus tucked away in a shelf somewhere. He eerily captures the trials and tribulations that all us writers go through. I will be sure to check this movie out.

What say all of you? Does he mimic your behavior as a writer?

Friday, July 24, 2009

When The Waiter Rants, The Readers Rave

Have I got a treat for all you aspiring writers out there. He's been called the voice of 2 million waiters. Many of you know him as the writer of the popular blog Waiter Rant which in 2006 won a Bloggie Award for Best Writing in a Weblog. He was published by Harpercollins, working on his second book right now. The paperback edition of Waiter Rant is available now with all sorts of extra goodies. Usually I ask authors if they want to do an email interview but this guy wanted to do a phone interview. A first for this blog! Please welcome to the blog New York Times Bestselling Author: Steve Dublanica!

When Steve called me, I admitted that I still had about forty pages left to read of his popular book. "I die at the end," He jokes, catching me off guard.

"I guess that means there's no chance for a sequel, huh?" I ask.
"No," he continues, "There is. In the second one I get resurrected."

You can't beat his humor. From there, the interview started.

First off, when did you start Waiter Rant? I just subscribed.
I believe that was April 2004.

I got to tell you, I really like the fact that not only do you go through all the crazy customers you had to deal with but how it’s also an evolution of how you’re getting your writing career off the ground.
The thing was, when I started Waiter Rant I had no interest in being a writer.

I read in one chapter how you were writing something, showed it to a friend, he said it wasn’t good and you decided not to write. Give us more details on that.
Yeah. I think I was in college and I was writing a detective story. I wrote several chapters of it. And it just came out. It probably wasn’t good, y‘know, to be honest. But his opinion meant a lot to me and when he said it wasn’t very good I just shelved the whole idea. A better response from someone in a mentoring position would’ve been needs work but keep at it.


These Iphones suck.

I know. My brother has one and he can’t get internet on it.
Oh, they’re great time wasters. When I was at the DMV getting a new license, it was a lifesaver but if you have to make a phone call it’s a disaster.

They do everything but phone calls.
Yeah. So with the story, that was it. I never really wrote anything again until I started blogging. People always said to me, Dublanica can you write this report or a letter? They knew I wrote well. But I never looked at it, in any way, shape or form as a means of supporting myself.

In the book, you said that you are reading a lot of Phillip Marlowe stories. Who wrote those and is his stuff good?
Phillip Marlowe was a fictitious private eye written by a guy named Raymond Chandler. Chandler was an interesting fellow. He was a drunkard. He didn’t start writing until he was about 44. He worked for an oil company. He came back from England after World War I. Real mama’s boy, lived with his mother. He married a woman who lied about her age. She said she was ten years older than him when, in fact, she was twenty years older. So he was duped. But his wife was really beautiful when he met her. She was at the tail end of being gorgeous and pretty quickly she became an old woman. So he was drinking, he was womanizing and he got fired. He didn’t know what to do, y’know, he had no money. So he started writing what were called dime magazines or pulps. He wrote detective stories and he learned to write while doing this. So desperation made him write. He turned out to be, naturally, a very talented person. That worked very well for him. Then he came out with his first book in 1938. He wrote about seven books. They are the standard by which all detective novels are written.

So, would you say (not entirely) that you’re kind of following in this author’s footsteps? Not with the woman, or the oil or the drinking or any of that but as establishing yourself as someone who had it tough but made it out alive?
(Laughs.) Sometimes I feel that way. I mean, now I look back and think I never really had it that bad. But the interesting thing about Chandler was he started not knowing anything. He didn’t know anything really about writing. He did it, really, as a way to save his bacon. He never anticipated the success he was gonna have. But his stuff is literature. Pick up one of his books. The Big Sleep is really his finest work. A real great book.

I’ll be sure to pick it up.
It also tells you that you don’t have to worry about how old you are when you start writing. Because a lot of focus of writing today is like wunderkinds. “Oh! This 19 or 22 year old wrote this book.” But sometimes age gives you a perspective that you can have. Like, Frank McCourt just passed away, right? He taught writing for years and never wrote a book! He didn’t do it until he was in his early sixties. He finally got the distance that he needed emotionally from his childhood to be able to write about it. So sometimes age is a real blessing. I was old enough, at that point, to make sense of what I was doing and write about it. Yeah, people shouldn’t get discouraged if they’re in their forties or fifties or at any age for writing because you can do it any age.

Yeah. There’s always that mystery as to what the right timing is or it has to be a “ Am I ready to do this?” moment. “Or should I practice some more?”
Well, one of the great things about blogs is you get enhance to write everyday with some regularity. It helps you hone your ability to write. Also, the feedback you get from comments; people will tell you if it’s lame or good. That helps you out. It helps your confidence.

Definitely. I used to blog on Myspace until it’s popularity sunk. I went to open up a blog to inspire people to write, to get them excited about this stuff as much as I am. I think the first five posts, I just started bitching about how hard it is to write. But then I found the voice for the blog.
Yeah. I think the thing that people should know is that writing is very hard.

I was bitching about it to a friend of mine. My friend was like, “Would you rather be waiting tables again?” I said of course not. But when you leave that life behind, you have all this new stuff to worry about. You have deadlines and every writer has a time when they just can’t write. “I can’t write for shit today,” you’d say. But then you have to work through that. It’s a very lonely job. It’s a tough job. I think it’s very fulfilling but the thing that is the most fun is when the book comes out. You enjoy that. Then you have another book to write and you start worrying about that. There’s always something about writing that is not fun. That’s part of the deal.

Yeah. That’s the work that goes into it. You try to explain to people that you can’t write because of a block and they ask what the block is. You end up saying, “Well, I can’t describe it. That’s why it’s called a block!”
(Laughs again.) What I have learned is if your head is too full of stuff (family, jobs, relationships, money), if that stuff consumes your headspace that makes it very hard to write. A couple weeks ago, I was having a really tough time. And I just put down the work and sat to figure out the situation. Then I resolved it. Then I was writing again. That’s part of it.

A writer once said, “I love writing . . . I just hate the paperwork.” What’s your favorite quote about writing?
There’s a great story I once heard. There’s a guy who was like an award-winning poet. He had a son. The son was very intimidated to do what his father did, writing poetry. Finally, he starts writing poetry, he shows it to his dad. His dad looked at it. From the looks he was giving, his dad knew that his son had talent. The dad then said, “Well, congratulations. You’re a poet. Welcome to hell.”

Yeah. All writers get that. We love the parties, we love the recognition, we love holding the book in our hands. What we don’t love is sitting down and actually doing it. It is boring at times. One thing I think is true about myself is if I think I’m writing great stuff and am high on it and I think it’s really great and I think “I’m so good at this” and stuff . . . I’m writing shit.

When you spend a lot of time on something, it’s usually shit. But if you spend five minutes on something . . . For example, I wrote the prologue to Waiter Rant in five minutes. Everyone was like, “This is really good.” It’s amazing what works and what doesn’t. When I sent in my manuscript, I was fortunate not to have a lot of editing. One chapter I thought was really great and my editor was like, “Nope, it’s gotta go.” But I was like, “Man, that’s two weeks worth of work!”

What would you say is your favorite chapter of the book? Also, is it safe to say that you picked, out of the hundreds of posts, your favorite stories to go in the book?
I would say that 80% of the book is original and 20% is recycled materiel from the website. I never talked ill of my co-workers on the blog but with the book I was a little more forthcoming about their foibles as well as mine. Favorite chapter? I don’t think I have a favorite chapter. I can tell you my least favorite chapter was Paupery. That was the one I was getting most critical about and that was a chapter that went through a couple revisions. Never quite happy with it. That was my least favorite. And every girl I dated since then was like, “Oh, you like lap dances.” Wait! I think my favorite chapter was the fourth of July one. I wrote that one in the last 100 pages of the book when it was serious crunch time.

In that fourth of July chapter I was really feeling for you. You were inside the restaurant and that nice couple let you go outside to watch the fireworks. In 2003, I was working at Blockbuster, which can be hell too, and I had to work on the fourth of July. I thought, “This is ridiculous. Who the hell rents movies on the fourth?”
Social retards.

Exactly. So I couldn’t see the fireworks because I was trapped inside but I could hear them popping.
Yeah. It’s annoying. If you like fireworks, it sucks.

I love this book. I can’t wait to finish it. Each chapter you get at least one laugh out of me. One line in particular I have to ask you about. Because when I read it in that mother’s day chapter . . . I lost my sh*t. I just have to ask if it was originally written by you. The line is: Not taking mom to a restaurant on Mother’s Day is like Ebenezer Scrooge pistol-whipping Tiny Tim on Christmas morning. Was that all you?
Yep, that one I made up. Didn‘t steal it. (laughs)

In the Russell Crowe and me chapter, you were in danger of losing your anonymity with your blog at the time right when you were finalizing your book deal. Did you think Russell Crowe would tank the deal?
I didn’t think Russell Crowe gave two shits about me either way. I wasn’t so worried about that. My worry was my job was at stake. And I really could not work on the book until that whole thing was resolved.

How did it feel becoming a New York Time Bestseller?
The paperback edition just came out. I write about that at the end. New afterward too. But it was unbelievable! The only thing I wanted from my first book was the ability to write a second. I didn’t think I would go on Oprah or sell enough copies. My sales goal was very modest. But it came as a complete shock. It took a couple weeks for it to sink in.

Do you plan to write fiction anytime soon?
I’d like to. Traveling is a lot of fun with my second book but you have to do a lot of research, keep your notes in order; it’s laborious. It would be fun to just sit down and make it up.

Maybe you can get back to that detective novel you always wanted to write?
You got to write what sells. Graham Greene is a great example of this. In the morning he’d write entertainment to pay for his amphetamines, which he would take on a daily basis and then he’d write more serious stuff in the afternoon. The Power of Glory, which I think was self-published at first, turned out to be a masterpiece of literature. I have to figure that out yet and I’m a one book at a time kind of guy. I really can’t focus on two things at once. Maybe that’s a skill that will come later.

Novels can big undertakings.
The thing I tell people is you have to break them down into little pieces. Write 2,000 words at a time and keep plugging away at it until it’s done. Six or seven months, you’ll be done, work with the editor on the rewrites; you have plenty of time.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers who are really down in the dumps?
Things get better. You have to work to support yourself, but don’t give up. Carve out some time to write. Elmore Leonard, before he became famous, would wake up at five in the morning and write until he had to go to work. Robert Parker had two kids and a full time job and he wrote a page a day and within a year he finished his novel. It was his first book and it established him as an author. Ian Fleming would get up, sit at his typewriter and write 2,000 words every day. He’d have a book in three or four months. So, the trick is to sit your ass down and do the work! If it means sitting at a blank screen for three hours, then that’s what you have to do.

I wanna thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I was actually surprised because you were the first author who wanted to do the interview by phone.
I’d much rather do it over the phone. I hate email writing. I got to write enough during the day, I don’t want to write a long email.

Thanks again.
Thanks Rob.

"The most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the single most valuable investment a writer can make with his time." ~ Raymond Chandler

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To Scratch and Scribble Part 4

My best guess is that I was in seventh grade when I fiddled with my very first typewriter. In actuality, it wasn't mine. It was the family's typewriter. It was a pale tan Smith Corona electric typewriter. To this day, my parents don't know where they acquired it. That worries me. Because my first run-in with this thing led me to believe it was the typewriter from hell.

I'd set the thing down on the carpet in my room, roll in a sheet of paper and sit there with my fist under my chin and cross legged to boot. . . . for hours. This was at a time in my life when I knew I really wanted to write but I didn't have any ideas. I figured that just owning a typewriter would provoke the flood of words.

Days would pass, the blank sheet of paper would still be in there, collecting dust. One day I decided to just start typing something, anything, and figured it would take me to a plot or a well-crafted story eventually. Can't remember what I typed but, oh boy, do I remember what happened after I got two paragraphs into whatever I was dishing out.

I was just finishing the end of one sentence when I made a classic spelling mistake. On any other typewriter, you'd have to deal with it. But with this one, it had an extra ribbon that would erase your mistakes all by clicking a button. I pressed it, hoping it would wipe out the last two words.

It sprung into action with a loud CHUGGA-CHUG! CHUGGA-CHUG!

It erased the whole sentence.

I figured oh well, keep going.

A few more sentences and the thing got going again. CHUGGA-CHUG! CHUGGA-CHUG! CHUGGA-CHUG! It was a nightmare. It was erasing the last two sentences I typed. I didn't even press the button! It was still going, taking out five more sentences, eliminating my second paragraph.

I tried typing some more but this thing would wake up on occasion to feed on my scribe garbage.

The damn thing defied me, mocked me. It had no feelings or remorse after eating my words. It felt no shame when I screamed in fury, "Noooo! Nooo! What are you doing?! Stop that!" I slapped the thing, I flipped it upside down another time. I came close to throwing it down the stairs but didn't.

From then on, I wrote my school papers longhand. I hated that damn thing. A month or two would pass and I'd feel brave enough to try again, but, like before, the thing was waiting for it's daily bread; my poor writing.

I guess I could've removed the ribbon but something told me that if I tried taking this thing apart, I'd get a malicious high from dismantling it and wouldn't stop.

Looking back, I've come to value that little episode as a firm lesson. There is some amount of mystique to being a writer. It's all about timing. You can't force ideas, thoughts or the perfect combination of words. If you try, something, in this mysterious world, will smack you down before you get too full of yourself.

I can still hear the dreaded CHUGGA-CHUG! CHUGGA-CHUG!

But I believe that thing had a voice and it was coming in loud and clear, I just didn't want to deal with it at that time.

It said,


So I stopped typing on it. I took it's warning, reluctantly, but I still took it.

I recently found it in my parent's garage. They're planning to sell it in a yard sale. May God have mercy on the poor aspiring writer who tries to type with that thing. I'm certain that thing will be among the cockroaches should there be a nuclear Holocaust.

Found my dad in the backroom and I asked him if he remembered how I would go crazy trying to type and how that thing tested my patience. How I tried to write but failed to get anything down on paper for more than a few seconds.

"Hmm," He says, scratching his chin. "Maybe it didn't like what you were writing." He says this with a nod and a smirk.

I'm inclined to agree with him.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it." ~ W.C. Fields

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mur Lafferty is Playing For Keeps

Mur Lafferty first hit the scene of podcasting in 2004 with her debut podcast Geek Fu Action Grip. It later became Lesson From a Geek Fu Master as a podiobook featuring original essays written by Mur herself. If you love reading David Sedaris, you'll love listening to her 40 plus essays which had me laughing on those long drives to and from work. You'll hear funny stuff as to why she hates the color Pink, why all the pharmacy is a stage and why everyone would have a much funnier day if they just said, "Smurf You!"

She later podcasted her first serialized novel Heaven followed by the sequel Heaven: Hell.

Mur then followed up with a show discussing the art of writing itself called i should be writing, now in it's 122nd episode. "A podcast for wanna-be fiction writers, by a wanna-be fiction writer." It won the 2007 Parsec award for Best Writing Podcast.

She is now in her fifth season of the Heaven series and published a novel in 2008 entitled Playing For Keeps from Swarm Press.

I am delighted to have her here.

Now, please welcome Mur Lafferty to the Tales and Troubled Times blog.

What is your earliest memory of writing?

I was around 12 and I took my mom's electric typewriter/word processor to try fanfic of Fred Saberhagen novels and my own opus concerning unicorns.

How does it feel being published?

Unreal, honestly. It's an odd feeling. I keep waiting to accept it in stride.

When did you decide to be a writer?

About the time I stole my mom's word processor when I was 12.

Do you get writer's block? How do you combat it?

Not really. When I don't write it's because i have problem with too much to do and I have problem focusing on what to do first.

Where do you write? Do you write longhand, typewriter or computer?

I write in a horrible ergonomic area, either my rocking chair or my couch. And computer- my handwriting is terrible.

Tell us about Playing For Keeps and how you decided to self publish at first.

PFK is a book about people with superhuman powers, but not terribly good ones. I had wondered why all superhumans had crime fighting (or causing) powers, and wondered what would happen if someone had a crappy power. I got inspiration from The Tick, Piers Anthony's Xanth series, the comic books Powers and Astro City, and James Maxey's Nobody Gets the Girl. My protags were people who looked at superheroes with envy and bitterness, as they weren't successful enough to fight crime as well.

After I wrote PFK I tried for 10 months to get an agent. I sent it to one publisher who kept it for around a year. When I didn't sign with an agent, I decided to release via podcast and self-publishing halfway through, hoping interest in the podcast would drive sales with impatient listeners who didn't want to wait for the end. After a successful podcast run, Swarm Press contacted me and offered to publish it. I pulled the POD and the Swarm version launched in August.

What was your inspiration for writing it?

My good friend Jason seemed to have a power to summon an elevator during a busy convention, and I thought that would be the lamest power, but so useful right then. That got the ball rolling.

What are you working on now?

I'm writing the fifth and final season of my podcast serial, Heaven. I'm editing my novel that is untitled but I call Project: Underground. It's about a publishing company for monsters. And I have an agent now and am waiting on her to get back to me with suggested edits for the novelization of Heaven.

Favorite writers?

Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, China Mieville

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Persistence is key. If you keep going, you will eventually succeed in something. You will get better. If you quit, you never will get better, and never will get published.

"...set your fantasies in the here and now and then, if challenged, claim to be writing Magical Realism." ~ Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Scratching the surface of Scratch Beginnings

You may not know it, but given the crazy economic times of today there is still hope. One man has taken the will to achieve the american dream and has gone on to star on the Today Show, 20/20, NPR, The Artist's Craft and many others. And now we have a sit down with this blog's first Non-fiction author interview. Please welcome Adam Shepard to the site.

What is your earliest memory of writing?

My mom had me writing thank-you notes before I knew my ABC’s. Really. She wanted to make sure that we expressed how grateful we were for any gifts we received.

From there, I enjoyed creating stories, but writing wasn’t a passion of mine until I got to college. I was always pretty good at it, but I didn’t take the time to really foster this craft until I got to that level.

What inspired you to write SCRATCH BEGINNINGS?

I read a book the summer after my freshman year of college called NICKEL AND DIMED. In it, Barbara Ehrenreich basically writes on the death of the American Dream. Her tone really, really bothered me, so I took some time to ponder how I could write a response. Even better, as I looked around me at what a spoiled society we are—especially this younger generation, my generation—I knew that I could go out and make a discovery about what is really important.

I think there is a lot of power in writing in response. A lot of people have their opinions, but few really care to take action.

Tell us about SCRATCH BEGINNINGS and how you promoted it.

Scratch Beginnings is the true story of how I started in a randomly chosen city with $25, a sleeping bag, and the clothes on my back to see if, in one year, I could have $2500, a car, and a furnished apartment. Essentially, I was set on A) discovering the vitality of the American Dream, and B) meeting the guys living in a lower socioeconomic stream—at homeless shelters, etc.

I self-published this book initially, so promoting it was nothing short of the toughest experience of my life. Every night after work, I’d come home and email journalists, editors, producers…whoever for three or so hours. It was time consuming, but worth it in the end. Finally, after many, many rejections, a writer for the New York Post decided to write a piece about my story and that opened the flood gates for me to get on the Today Show, CNN, NPR, etc. and eventually receive an offer for publication from HarperCollins.

What were the most important things you learned from the experience?

Not to take anything for granted. We, as Americans especially, don’t understand the difference between want and need. I was able to get under the layer of superficiality and see that I could be happy without an iPod or a BMW or the coolest new jeans. It’s easy to talk about, but for me to actually live this experience gave me the opportunity to actually be a part of it.

More than my story, though, I’m fortunate to be able to write about Marco and BG and Easy E and Derrick, guys who are much more fascinating than me, and who have some very engaging stories to tell about REALLY facing adversity.

What are you working on now?

I just finished my second book, THE BEST FOUR YEARS, which is basically a look at how college students can make the most of their time from orientation to graduation. It’s a topic I’m passionate about, since most students today only go to school to graduate with a diploma and move on to building careers. College can be so much more than that.

Most of my time now is spent on airplanes and in hotels on the way to my next speaking engagement.

With the economy in the poor state that it is right now and job loss on the rise, do you still believe that the American Dream is obtainable?

Of course! Shoot, man, the greatest opportunities in this country come out of the deepest, darkest moments. Take the Great Depression. How many millionaires evolved out of that time period just because they saw opportunity while others were jumping off the roof. Really. It’s all an attitude. There are tough times and good times, but it’s all about how you handle your attitude during those times.

"Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. " ~James Baldwin