Category Archives: Humor

What Happens When Players Coach?

My first love, sports-wise, was baseball. Then there were the movies . . . oddly enough, this video really touches on much of what my novel’s about . . . all those confusing signals! What’s a player to do? It seems to be a great complement to the book description below.

This is an older description, but still very relevant, though some of the names have been changed since it was first posted. One of my readers – someone who has helped immensely – convinced me that the book is very much a romance. I can’t deny that, though this was never the intent, yet it seems that way it is.

I hope I’m not “making the wrong mistake” here, using a bit of a baseball analogy . . . thinking of Cupid as the pitcher . . . I’m still wondering if she cheats . . . hiding some of that slippery stuff under the tip of her cap! By the way, yeah, there’s plenty of Yogi Berra logic in Dawn at Last, but no worries, he’s just the catcher!

So here’s the old book description . . . and if you should ever read Dawn at Last, may she throw plenty of slow, sinking sliders!

An Older Description of Dawn at Last

Robin Belcour appears to have it all. She is a specialized therapist who handpicks her clients – all men who adore her – the only way she will have it. Managing a life for contentment is very easy when one shuts the door to love, an apparent necessity given her many secrets. Yet something haunts her . . . three recurring words . . . bound and impatient.

It would be unfair to label her as the protagonist in this tale . . . after all, there are five others playing games of their own, but all on the same field.

In these individual games of love, it seems that Cupid has put away the arrows. Instead, she has taken to the mound . . . playfully dishing out a menu of tempting curve balls, changeups, forkballs, sinking sliders, and the occasional screwball. The half dozen players that step up to the plate have varied backgrounds – apparently they’re allowed to swing away as much as they want.

Fate doesn’t mind – if Cupid’s the pitcher, then it’s safe to say that Fate is the manager, keeping an eye on a scoreboard that has no numbers! Together, Cupid and Fate make it all look like an art form, something new, but old at the same time. In a way, all the art becomes part of the game, fans and all!

Fate lets Cupid toss out all kinds of pleasant surprises. The players miss the signals, trying so hard to second guess this pitcher of opportunity. They seem to be their own worse enemies: a house painter who is really a dreamer, two very smart waitresses who sometimes live the dream, an eccentric art enthusiast, a psychologist who has nightmares of her past, and a lover of gardening . . . a man who only wants to make dreams come true . . . but for others.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether one is 24 or 52 in this pack . . . they intertwine in what is mostly a humorous calamity of mistaken affections. Perhaps only love itself can straighten out their trials of error. She masterfully dances around the mayhem, even letting these mysterious tulips become part of the dance . . . in more ways than one. There is the mystery of their tangled lives, but above that, there is the mystery of a different kind . . . of pure joy, of the greatest dance of all . . . will any of them ever learn?

The younger ones seem to make the complex simple, when it comes to matters of love and affection. The older ones are trapped in the complexities of their own doing – yet they thirst for something more simple – perhaps a little less drama?

This is very much a story of love – much more than a love story – right from the first word to the last one. It’s a wonderful, heart-felt journey of discovery, the coming to terms with one’s past – for some – and one’s present and future – for all. It is not a matter of lover conquering all, it’s more like she’s watching and laughing . . . by the time it’s over, you may wonder whether the dreams know more than the dreamers . . . .

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My Smashwords Author Interview

abstract art

Did Knee

Smashwords has this really nice feature. Authors can select from a list of questions and provide answers that form an interview. There’s also the option of selecting your own questions. It’s a great way to explain one’s work, much easier than trying to do it in an essay or a blog post.

Rather than send you to my Smashwords page, I’ve included the interview here, just below. If you have questions of your own, please feel free to use the reply link and ask away . . . just don’t ask about my radio, okay?

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Is it true that you write naked?

 Now why does this question remind me of Marilyn Monroe? There was all those reporters asking her is she has anything on when she goes to sleep. She once gave me this fantastic response, “Did I have something on? Of course I did, I had the radio on!”

My writing doesn’t punch the clock, except perhaps when I’m writing about something timeless. I haven’t worn a watch in over a decade. I’m not always writing, but when I do it can be noon as easily as the middle of the night. When I actually sit down and type is another story. My mind is very active – sometimes too busy – I get lost in my thoughts. When that happens I may just as well be naked. But then, even with our clothes on, aren’t we all pretty much that way?

 What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

 I have a strong need for finding a creative outlet. It really is a passion and a very satisfying one. I’m an artist as well. While I’ve always felt that I would do a little writing some day, there were times that I didn’t think the joy of creating art could be found in writing. I’m so glad to find out that I was wrong! It seems storytelling is a bit of a gift for me, and moving people, making them happy, giving them something to think about . . . this process is one of my great joys in living.

What do your fans mean to you?

When I hear from a fan, when she tells me what the book has meant to her, that can go right to the heart. It’s one thing to write something, hoping that it affects someone in a very positive way – it’s quite another to find out about that when it actually happens. While I don’t need that kind of feedback for motivation, it certainly does help. It’s much the same with my art. Sometimes I ask myself, “Why bother, aside from my own joy in the process?” Then a few people come along and tell me how it has moved them somehow, and I know it’s not just about me, that it is simply something worth doing, and so I continue.

How do  you approach cover design?

 I’m a firm believer that the cover shouldn’t matter. I also know that from a marketing perspective, it is important, especially in terms of catching people’s attention, and even more so for an unknown talent. As an artist, it is a different kind of challenge, and I couldn’t be more pleased in finally coming up with a cover that matches the book in both content and tone. I guess I’m a bit of a tease, and my cover is a gorgeous tease, but also it’s an honest one. It’s also a little mysterious, as it’s supposed to be!

What is your writing process?

Basically it comes down to elements and rules. While I’ve internalized much of the “Element of Style”, I still refer to it in a pinch. I’ve been using it for over 30 years now. I’ve studied all kinds of writing manuals over the years, though it seems the best ones have to do with writing advertising copy. Those books really do teach one how to write concisely, yet effectively. As for rules, once again I lean towards simplicity. I follow W. Somerset Maugham’s teachings, something I stumbled upon over 20 years ago, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Funny how it works. I read his “Of Human Bondage” in high school and now after all this time I begin my novel with three words, “Bound and impatient.” It seems like my characters must be somewhat like Maugham, just trying to figure out the rules of life are as they move along. One of them wants to be a writer.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

First of all, when I’m writing that is almost the only thing I do. Then there is the time spent on marketing, which actually takes up more time than the writing, at least for now, as an unknown independent author. When I’m not doing something book-related, by far my favorite activity is my art. Between the two that doesn’t leave much time, and that time is spent mostly with family, a little reading, watching a good movie, going for walks, trying to make the odd person laugh or smile – mostly strangers – or just being a pain in the ass for someone – mostly friends.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

 At my age, and almost without exception, there is this incredible urge to pee. Not to pee? That is out of the question!

Is there anything you want to say specifically about Dawn at Last?

 The most frustrating aspect of trying to describe the book concerns this issue of genre. I never gave it much thought until after the book was finished. It really crosses a number of genres, and I can’t find one where there’s a really snug fit. I really wish “Adult bedtime stories” would become a genre. That’s perhaps the best tag I could put on it, in a few words. My hope is that people will read the first few chapters and then decide if it fits for them. It really is one of those books that kind of grows on you as it moves along, so if you enjoy the first 10%, it only gets better.

What are you working on next?

 When I was about 2/3 done Dawn at Last it occurred to me that this could easily turn into a trilogy and I was quite excited about that. Since finishing the book I’ve vacillated on that notion, but readers keep telling me that I must continue the story. So given that, and my joy in cooking, for now I am stewing!

The characters make it easy to continue the story, but they also make it more difficult to keep them out of trouble. After all, there is only so much an author can do to protect the likes of Dawn and Sunni and Andrea. The trouble I see them getting into down the road is already starting to piss me off, and it doesn’t look like the men in their lives are going to help them too much, though I’m sure they will try their best.

Is it true that you once looked like Brad Pitt?

 Well yes, so I’ve been told, but you have to consider the source. She was only about 11 at the time, one of my two daughters, and the comment came shortly before her birthday . . . such a clever little girl! They are both gifted in their own ways . . . remarkable young ladies . . . now much quicker than their father. By that I mean it took me about 10 years to finally explain to my little one that since I’m older than him, in fact he looks a little like me. To clarify though, the actual statement was, “You know dad, if you had hair you’d look just like Brad Pitt!”

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Now please don’t be shy about using these share buttons – I’m honored when you do. 🙂

A Pinterest Guide to Dawn at Last

Now after posting a ton of text in my last few posts, it’s time for some pictures!

These are all from one of my boards on Pinterest. It’s a fun board, one where every pin is tagged with one of the chapters in Dawn at Last, but don’t worry, there are no spoilers in the picture, but there are some mysterious clues!

If you like this, you would be doing me a huge favor by using the StumbeUpon button at the bottom – it really does help – thank you!

These pictures are from chapters 1 through 13 (the first half of the book). The second half will come later – enjoy! 🙂

Chapter 1 – The Ending Begins

Chapter 1 - The Ending Begins

Chapter 2 – It’s Sunni and They’re Both Wet!

Chapter 2 - It's Sunni . . . and They're Both Wet - twitch- we all find our rivals by nebezial.deviantart.com on @deviantART

Chapter 3 – Squishing a Grape

Chapter 3 - Squishing a Grape

Chapter 4 – A Shocking Surprise

Chapter 4 - A Shocking Surprise

Chapter 5 – Seeing Double . . . Again

Chapter 5 - Seeing Double . . . Again  Lights,Camera,Action! by Slawa.deviantart.com on @deviantART

Chapter 6 – The Best Laid Plans

Chapter 6 - The Best Laid Plans - re-pinned from Shonni Hassoldt

Chapter 7 – Tossing One’s Truffles Away

Chapter 7 - Tossing One's Truffles Away

Chapter 8 – Exchanging Secrets

Chapter 8 - Exchanging Secrets  Repinned from @Clara :) Llanes

Chapter 9 – Trying to Plan a Destiny

Chapter 9 - Trying to Plan a Destiny

Chapter 10 – It’s a Date?

Chapter 10 - It's a Date?

Chapter 11 – Hot Topics on a Cool Night

Chapter 11 - Hot Topics on a Cool Night -    Nature's Canvas

Chapter 12 – It’s Not the Tips

Chapter 12 - It's Not the Tips

Chapter 13 – Fully Applying the Principles

Chapter 13 - Fully Applying the Principles  04122012 by simplemanips.deviantart.com on @deviantART

And there you have it, hope you enjoyed it, and if so please don’t forget to share! 🙂

abstract image of leaves

Just me and my Leaves

This has been the slowest week since the last one, and boy has it gone fast!

If you came here thinking today’s blog would be about you, think again – this one’s on me – or was that the last one? What can I say? I’m a writer. Hemingway said we’re all liars, but then can you really believe him?

The week in Review (or is it Next Week’s Preview?)

Actually I’ve got a lot done this week, but almost entirely in my head, and a little on index cards . . . why do they call them that anyway? I mean, does anyone in their right mind actually index them? Why not call them what they are . . . illusions of being organized . . . I’m smart though, I put little page numbers on them in the top right corner, and even circle them. I’ve got about 50 of these cards all over the place. I think about 12 of them have a single vertical line inside a moon, in the top corner . . . wonder what that’s all about!

Actually, I’m in the process of writing about five separate blogs, all very related to each other, and way too much for one blog. My intent was to have the first one written last night and posted today . . . this is not that one.

They are all related to three main subjects:

1. Building an author’s platform – It sure would have been easier if this were the 70’s . . . then I could just go out and buy the shoes, click my heels, and all would be well. Time after time I’m reading about the importance of just being oneself, and doing that basically all over the place. That’s fine, but it sure would help if that Wizard could whip me up a storm of “online oneness” – I’m sure he’s got the brains, not sure about the heart, and as for bravery, hmmm?

It takes a certain amount (a lot) of constraint to avoid flogging one’s own creative output, especially when it’s your main source of income and not something done on the side, but that’s an issue all on its own. As well, what I do keeps me occupied for probably 60 hours a week, maybe more, so it could never be a sideline.

2. The Book Environment – I’m using the term environment rather than industry. Actually, more and more, it feels like one of my projects is doing a case study on the whole mess – oops, environment – it is the best of times and worstest of days – catch my drift?

As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking, especially for one person, and it is only one of many projects. It’s an important one though. It’s tempting to say that every indie author should try the same, but I’m not sure about that. To begin with, this is where I actually use my MBA skills, not just in marketing, but mostly in strategic planning, part of which includes doing an industry analysis.

I have already identified the big problems, and opportunities, and collapse them in a sentence or two. That only took three months, not full-time of course. However, that isn’t enough – I need to flesh in more details – then focus more on “what’s next” in this crazy world of platform building, selling books and art and so on.

When I’m done, I’ll be posting my insights on here . . . you can be rest assured that it won’t be the same stuff you find elsewhere . . . and you will learn something valuable, whether you’re a writer or a reader, or both.

4. Technical issues – Should I switch from a hosted blog to self-hosted one? Should I shut down my art site for now, or roll it into a redesigned blog? Technically, I can’t fully integrate this blog into my website . . . that would be ideal. Then there are all the design enhancements that I need to make . . . this is the more mundane topic, so I’ll leave it for now.

Now For the Rest of The Story

I found this link in a discussion group on goodreads. Whether you’re a writer or someone who sometimes wonders about writers, you need wonder no more . . . instead, feel free to laugh your ass off . . . some of you may want to pee before following this link:

The Secret Life of Writers

PS – I found these secrets from another writer – you can find her here: Dianne Harman

Top 10 Reasons To Work From Home

This title isn’t quite complete – it should also include something about working solo, so in this context, here goes!

  1. On birthdays, at the surprise office party, I get all the corners, and now the cake only has 4 pieces!
  2. Some of those telemarketers can be really sweet, my bff for a few minutes, especially if she can manage to turn off that “Your call may be monitored…” function – still wondering when my quality will be good enough not to require the control purposes.
  3. When it comes to softball, now I’m always at bat!
  4. Over time, you learn that overtime is actually two words.
  5. Ellen can actually be pretty cool . . . over time she’s taught me to dance!
  6. You learn that staff meetings are something you can do in bed.
  7. Eventually you need to call an exterminator to find all the post-it notes.
  8. You no longer have time for two hours of minesweeper every day.
  9. You can give the cleaning staff the day off, and sometimes, if you’re really nice, it’s okay to make that two or three!
  10. Dreaming – day or night – goes uninterrupted and turns into an amazing novel or some fine art!
  11. Going out for pizza becomes an adventure . . . enjoy this video, it’s hilarious:

The Pizza Adventure!

Finally, if you’d like to add to my list, feel free to comment . . . love to hear from you!

But Sir, Are You Real?

Youthful Passions

As a child my first real passion was baseball. I loved to be outside and in the summer we played ball every morning, then we would hang out at the community center for hours after practice. For a break from the heat, we would go inside the youth building, where an endless tournament of ping pong happened . . . the winner keeps playing, so it all worked out more or less equal.

There was a drink machine, either coke or 7-up, and at the age of 11 or 12, we tended to lean toward the 7-up . . . after all, that’s what was on our team uniforms, so it made sense. For lunch we had two choices, but this was before the revolution began. We had a choice between plain potato chips and barbecue, and both came in only one size. The revolution came with the introduction of salt & vinegar, but by memory it seems we were unscathed by this – the youth center seemed to be sheltered from the onslaught.

In looking back, everything seemed so innocent then, and perhaps that’s something I’m most thankful for – everything was for fun, with no intent beyond that. That innocence carried through in more intellectual pursuits. At that early age, it was a pleasure to drift off to the library, which was half town away from the ball park, perhaps a mile away. It was a place to go to find some shade, pick up a book or two and sit in the grass, under a tree, and read awhile.

Eclectic, just because

This was all independent learning. My parents didn’t tell me what to read, nor my teachers . . . it was summer and I was free. So for the fun of it I would pick out a big book about some ancient guy named Leonardo da Vinci. The only part that wasn’t fun was lugging this monster home – bike or no bike! It was a mixed bag, a little Leonardo, some Archie comics, detective books, logic puzzles, The Iliad, and those pin-up magazines stashed in a friend’s garage, the ones that belonged to his father. That garage was a library unto itself, and every boy in town knew about it, much more so than the place where I discovered the ancient guy that liked to invent as much as to draw.

This “pattern” of seemingly random interests continued most of my life, though there were periods of interruption, such as 7 years of college and university, and then something called becoming an adult. Eventually I grew out of all that. One piece of randomness really hit home. I can’t remember when I first came across Salvador Dali – it’s so long ago – it seems I found the big books most intriguing, probably because of the pictures. Yes, I’m guilty of not reading about him, of only studying the pictures, or rather of losing myself in them, and again, just for the fun of it.

Along the way I’d do a little writing, often adding some sketches and doodle to the scribbles, though I can no longer remember the details, only the innocent pleasure of the doing of it. The process never became wearisome, and there are limits to all the running around, the sports and stuff, such as the raiding of gardens and orchards.

A Return or an awakening?

About eight years ago, I left behind a lifestyle that is beyond description now. I took a leap of faith of sorts by returning to my innocence . . . my creativity. I didn’t do it haphazardly, though at the time many may have saw my decision that way. It’s a different kind of heartbreak to be ridiculed for such a decision, something I’ll never really understand, and something I really wasn’t prepared for, and I’m thankful for that as well – the lack of preparation. After all, if I had been able to foresee that kind of criticism, I’m not 100% sure that I would have been brave enough to change direction.

At first I thought I’d do some writing, but then the art took hold of me, and that has been a great surprise. In the past number of years I’ve actually done plenty of both, though the only “official” writing is in the form of a book, the novel I’ve been blogging about lately.

It bothers me somewhat, this moving between the art and the writing, even though I know than many creative people have done both, but then I see no valid reason to specialize. Perhaps it is only in this deep jungle of self-promotion where the only trouble lies . . . my self-induced brand confusion?

It does get frustrating at times – frustrating as hell, to be honest – staying positive is more of a challenge than I’d ever want to share with anyone. By that I mean much more than becoming successful, which for me is no more than paying the bills, attaining enough “security” to do what I do, and helping my children financially as much as I can. Yes, these necessities are trouble enough, but it is the bigger set of questions and observations that trouble me so much more – the stuff that is much bigger than me – the kind of stuff that gnaws at our very existence.

My favored combat for these bigger troubles is humor, though I can lose days on end in a personal despair, and hiding that has become kind of skill on its own. I say all this because this morning I came across a wonderful video about a man who seems so little understood – one of my childhood heroes – and the warmth and charm, and perhaps a touch of innocence, is all encapsulated in this clip – and yes, there is plenty of humor!

A leading man . . . undoubtedly, but not necessarily followed

Catalog Writing, and then a Book

If you’re familiar with my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I enjoy the now-old TV show, Seinfeld.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Peterman, mostly because when the show was in its heyday, one of main job duties was writing catalog copy for the gardening catalogs I was running – yeah, there were a few “Elaines” around!

Contrary to what the video might suggest, when you write for a catalog, or for advertising, you really are forced to write concisely, yet effectively. The legends (gurus?) of advertising used to claim that all writers should have a stint in advertising. If you think that’s pompous or silly, here’s three writers who spent some time in advertising as copywriters:

Salman Rushdie

Helen Gurley Brown

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I could say more, but then I might be accused of being a windbag . . . should we just keep it at pompous? Honestly though, since I’ve never been to Africa, I’d really like to tell you some of my hockey stories . . . they’re funny. Ha, there’s even a little of that in Dawn at Last!

Salman Rushdie on Seinfeld