Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thank you for buying my chips.

I was in the grocery store yesterday and on the snack food aisle I went straight to the small section of Golden Flake products and picked up a bag of their potato chips.  I didn't notice that the Golden Flake man was there stocking the shelf until he said, "Thank you for buying my chips."  I was struck by the sincerity with which he said it; he was genuinely grateful that I was choosing his chips over Lay's and the (much cheaper) store brand.  I responded, "You're welcome.  I like yours the best."

You just never know how something so simple and so routine in your day may have significance (for good or bad) to someone else.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Vincent Black Shadow

This is the Vincent Black Shadow, the motorcycle Peter Bong rides in A Death on the Wolf.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Till I Have To Go Home

A lot of people not familiar with the Gulf Coast of Mississippi may wonder just what sort of "Southern accent" the kids in my novel A Death on the Wolf have. This is an excerpt from a news story taken in Pass Christian just after Camille went through in 1969. This boy is digging through the rubble looking for anything that could be salvaged and the reporter is asking him about it. The boy has the quintessential Southern Mississippi accent. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How I Ticked Off the Queen of Romance

In 1998 I was the managing editor of Genesis Press.  The publisher at Genesis was personal friends with Kathryn Falk of Romantic Times and had done a deal with her for us to put out some limited hard cover editions of romance classics to be published under the "Romantic Times Classics" imprint.  The first in the series was The Little Pretender by the legendary queen of romance, Barbara Cartland.  The publication of this book was to coincide with some sort of celebration for Barbara Cartland over in England.  Shortly before the text of the book itself was to go to the typesetter, I got the foreword text from Ms. Falk’s assistant at RT.  It was, to put it mildly, an amusing read because it outlined in great detail Ms. Falk’s first-hand account of the celebration over in England which had not occurred yet.  I especially liked her description of how Barbara Cartland elegantly walked down the grand staircase of her home to meet the attendees, etc.  I sent Ms. Falk an e-mail asking if she really wanted to put this in the book given that it was total baloney.  I ended the e-mail with a comment that even though romance author’s generally deal in fantasy, this was stretching it a bit.  About an hour later I got a phone call from the publisher telling me how “shocked and outraged” Ms. Falk was that I would speak to her that way and that she wanted me fired immediately.  So that’s the story of how I ticked off the queen of romance over a novel written by the queen of romance.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Now in paperback.

What could a 7-year-old boy in Pickens County, SC, the FBI, GITMO, the War on Terror, and the Pakistani government possibly have in common?  Read The Taking of Trevor Ward and find out.  Available exclusively on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New Cover

I've done a new cover for The Taking of Trevor Ward.  The original cover was a little too abstract and didn't give a potential reader much in the way of clues as to what the story is about.  This one does.

Also, this book will be released in paperback later this month.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Zero Sum Myth

There seems to be tendency among some self-published authors (and maybe a few legacy published ones, too) to believe that the world of books is a zero sum game.  This mindset is potentially fatal for a writer.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking of your book as competing (either directly or indirectly) with other writers' books, even in the same genre. Readers simply don't approach books the way they would, say, buying a car. Just because someone buys Book A instead of your book (both, say, historical fiction), doesn't mean if Book A had never been published that reader would have bought your book instead, and vice versa. Nor does it mean that if Book A can garner enough crappy reviews, your book will outsell it, which leads some authors to either ghost bad reviews for the "competition" or solicit their own loyal readers to do it. The only time books compete head to head is in an award competition where you know the reader/judge is going to be reading BOTH books and picking a winner. So don't view your fellow writers as competitors. After all, readers can buy their books and yours.

Lissa Bryan did an excellent post last week in her blog on this same topic.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Anne Rice on Self-Publishing

Here is an excerpt from one of Anne Rice's videos in which she has some interesting comments about self-publishing.  To view the full video, click here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Anne Rice on Writing

This is a clip from Anne Rice's interview on the show "InnerViews."  As she points out elsewhere in the interview, some authors count on having an editor to polish everything, cut, mold, whatever.  She doesn't and when she submits a manuscript to her editor, all she's looking for is feedback, not editing.  Every writer is different with no two having exactly the same writing techniques.  Not every author is capable of effective self-editing because some (maybe most) can't step back enough from the story to view it objectively, especially while he or she is in the midst of creating the story.  The way I do it or Anne Rice does it is not necessarily the "right way."  The only "right way" is the way that works for you as a writer.

Anne says she does not work in drafts, that she goes back over each chapter until it's the way she wants it and then moves on.  I do the same thing, but each re-work of a chapter I consider to be a "draft."  And because of something that may happen in, say, chapter 12, I sometimes do find myself going all the way back to chapter 1 and adding or altering material there.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Adulteration of a Genre

I used to have my novel, A Death on the Wolf, listed in the "coming of age" category on Amazon.  But then I started looking at the best seller list for coming of age.  The image to the left is a screen shot of the current #1 and #2 best sellers in coming of age, and if either of those books are actually coming of age novels, I'll eat my shorts.  All you have to do is read the descriptions to see that these are nothing but romance novels, plain and simple.  In fact, the top 20 spots on the coming of age best seller list are dominated by romance novels.

Maybe the whole notion of "coming of age" has changed, and if it has, then clearly my novel is not a coming of age tale.  For me, a true "coming of age" novel is the likes of A Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Piece, To Kill a Mockingbird, or A Gentleman's Game.  Coming of age stories should be about youngsters (and I personally would set a cap here of late teens) coming to grips with the realities of adulthood as they struggle to leave their childhood behind.  Something tells me The Bet and The Love Game would come up short along those lines.  But if that's the sort of story people are looking for who are looking for a "coming of age" story, then they would be very disappointed in my novel.  Hence, it is no longer categorized on Amazon as "coming of age," which, in my opinion, is a shame.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Square Books

When I was in law school at Ole Miss I spent countless hours and countless dollars at Square Books.  Seems odd to see my novels for sale on their web site.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Responding to a Rejection Letter

What writer worth his or her salt can't totally relate?
(Warning: Do not watch this if you are offended by profanity.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Taking of Trevor Ward

Jake Bond is not your ordinary private eye. A retired army colonel, Jake has a "gift" inherited from his father and honed throughout his years in Military Intelligence. High-powered attorneys from around the country have made Jake rich paying him to do the impossible--and he always delivers. Even the FBI and state law enforcement agencies call on Jake Bond for help when all else fails. But when a routine assignment from a divorce lawyer sends Jake to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, he suddenly finds himself in the middle of nowhere and up to his neck in a child abduction. When an AMBER Alert goes out naming Jake as the kidnapper, the stakes get personal, and Jake is determined to get to the truth and find the real kidnappers and their motives before it's too late.

My latest novel, The Taking of Trevor Ward, is now available exclusively on Amazon.

Ordinary Life is Enough

"The ordinary middle class life was enough to write about." --John Updike

When I began writing fiction in the early 90s, I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of John Updike who offered me invaluable tips and encouragement.  This quote from him during an interview he gave about  five years before he died sublimely captures his view of writing fiction, and to a large measure, mine as well.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nelson's Car

The car Nelson gets for his 16th birthday in A Death on the Wolf is a 1962 Studebaker GT Hawk. Here is what it looks like.

Just reminiscing

On July 21, 2011, I posted the following on my FB author page. I had just started writing the novel that would become A Death on the Wolf.

I re-learned a valuable lesson tonight. I have had the idea for a story in the back of my mind for the past two years. I've sat down countless times to start the writing, and each time came up dry. Tonight, instead of once again trying to force it, I just sat down at the keyboard, cleared my mind, and let the story unfold in my minds eye. But it wasn't the story from the back of my mind over the past two years. It was something new and different...and better. Object lesson: Don't try to write to a story, write from one. Listen to that inner muse; don't try to force it to listen to you.