The Guilty Party

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Authors and Blanche DuBois Have In Common

It is more than a bit humbling to realize that, as an independent author trying to get his book some attention (not to mention actual sales) one's motto is very much like the second most quoted line from Tennessee William's classic play "A Streetcar Named Desire." The first most quoted line, is of course, "Stella!" It's easy to remember and fun to say. For most of us, it is one half of our Marlon Brando repertoire, the other half being "I coulda been a contendah." from the movie "On the Waterfront."

But it is not the fate of most writers to be Stanley Kowalski. At least at the beginning of our careers we are doomed to be Blanche Dubois, doing the best we can in a world not very much to our liking (why else are we so persistent in creating our own?) and depending so very much "on the kindness of strangers."

It matters not what a writer might tell you about his work, this sort of testimony, quite rightly, carries little weight in persuading potential readers to have a look, plop down the ready money, invest in an unknown. What works is when strangers, real life, honest to gosh strangers who don't know the writer in any way outside of the book(s) he has written, who not only enjoyed it themselves but took the time and trouble to pass the word. Although the dominant method nowadays is no longer actual conversation, but posting reviews at Amazon and other bookseller sites and making nice comments on social networking sites, it is still known as Word of Mouth. And to my mind Word of Mouth is a sterling example of The Kindness of Strangers. It is, as I said, humbling to rely on it, but really, it's the most effective, honest method of advertising around and when it begins to work it is a wonderful thing.

So to the strangers out there who have taken the time to tell others that they have enjoyed Boomerang, may I say Thank You. You are very kind, indeed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Arizona Wine Country

Heading on up the road (I-17) to Arizona's North Central Wine Country.

Yesterday we, and by we I mean my wife, myself, and two other couples who are dear friends, took about a two hour trip up the freeway to one of Arizona's wine countries in the making.. There is one down south around Elgin and Sonoita, not far past where one can see the marvelous Kartchner Caverns, and we had originally planned to go down there, but a nasty hail storm wiped out most of the region's crop and shame on us, we really wanted a bit of lovely wine country scenery, so we switched agendas and went the opposite direction towards Cornville and Page Springs.
Page Springs Winery was our first stop. Very nice facility, a lovely bit of vineyard surrounding the place and, wouldn't you know it, the one wine we liked was the most expensive on the list. Had to pass it by. Felt bad about it, but it seemed wise to continue on in search of more pocketbook friendly discoveries.

Another little shot from Page Springs.

Just down the road at Oak Creek Winery we found a more modest establishment, our pourer was brand new to the job, and the bathroom was all but inaccessible unless one literally parked outside the door. Steady stream of slightly desperate ladies, don't you know. But we found a lovely red called "Sedona Woman" and just had to get a bottle. It is being set aside for a special occasion, like Thanksgiving, Easter or winning the lottery. We are counting on all three happening sometime within the next several months.

Outside the Oakcreek tasting room were a few picnic tables. We availed ourselves and laid out a nice spread of cheeses, bread, fruit, meat and scones. A most satisfactory meal.

Our third stop was at Javalina Leap. There we enjoyed an informative and entertaining tour conducted by a former college professor who wielded a walking stick as a pointer and who flavored his lecture with a slightly salty vocabulary. We learned about vine abuse, "terroire" "brix", the advantage of having no top soil, and the use of the Tom Sawyer approved "whitewashing the fence" approach to getting volunteers to work in the vineyard. I was also tickled to hear him use the word "plonk" in reference to poorly made wine (thank you, Lexi!). Considering the fact that he looked a bit like Rumpole of the Bailey, I should have expected as much. For those of you who have never read John Mortimer's wonderful Rumpole books, may I recommend you correct the situation at your earliest possible convenience.





We even had the opportunity to get a whiff and feel the heat rising from the fermenting grapes.


We ended our four winery tour at Alcantara. It is a bit more out of the way, down a dusty dirt road, but once there the environment is lovely, the tasting room is more of a living room with big leather furniture, and just down the hill is the Verde River. Oh, and we found another must have bottle in their Native Harvest.

So far the north central Arizona wine country has no vistas quite like this one we enjoyed earlier this summer in Temecula, California. It is a modest beginning to what may become a vital wine producing region, time will tell. But it was a lovely day spent with friends. Tough to beat.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The MIM




This summer has been one of exploration. We have gotten to a point in our lives where we have gone beyond recognizing that time is not infinite and now we are actually doing something about it, circumstances be damned. Or at least as damned as possible without completely ruining our credit score.

Anyway, we haven't exactly become world travelers, but we have tried to take advantage of what is out there and reasonably affordable. No time like the present for expanding ones horizons, right? We will kind of go backwards a bit in reviewing the summer so far as I have been remiss in not updating "Sketches" as I should, but today I have not only the material but the precious time to share with you the excursion around the world we took today courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum right here in Phoenix.

In the midst of one of the Valley's typical, miserable summers, the options available are pretty much Stay At Home and Sweat, Go Somewhere Else and See What a Livable Summer Is Like, or Find Something Interesting To Do Inside. Well, we have done a bit of each, with the MIM filling the third bill quite nicely.

Located just off the 101 Freeway on Tatum Blvd., The MIM is a beautiful facility housing what is reported to be the largest collection of musical instruments in the world. They have stuff from Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Italy. And about a hundred other countries besides. You wander around with little headphone dealies that link up with the videos playing in almost all of the exhibits. (There are still a few under construction at this time, including Australia. I was bummed 'cause I really was in the mood for a little Men at Work). And what you come away with is an appreciation of what is at once the diversity and the unity of music making in this crazy world of ours. The unity can be found not only in the fact that no matter where we come from, no matter what our political persuasion, religious affiliation or preferred shape of pasta (I'm a linguine man, myself), we all have a need for music in our lives, but that certain instrument forms are found all over the globe. You like the guitar? Cool, you'll find guitars or something that looks and sounds a whole lot like 'em in just about every culture. Strings and a sounding board can be found everywhere. You like drums? Well, they're even more ubiquitous than guitars. Poor countries may not have many pianos, but they sure as heck have a lot of hammered zither things and that just a piano with the outside stripped away and a more direct connection with the strings.

We left there wanting to hear more. But more importantly, we left there wanting to know why in the hell we can't make more music and less war. Music and dance=good. War=crappy. What's not to get?


Some of the instruments were flat out gorgeous.



Some are historically significant. This is the "Kitchen" Steinway piano. The first Steinway ever. Dig it.



Even Lichtenstein has an exhibit. It's small, but it's there.



These Mongolian musicians sounded really fine. And the setting looks nice too.


Can you say "gamelan"? I knew you could.


This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Gibson Johnny Smith model that George Benson played on "Breezin". The actual, factual guitar. How neat is that?


Almost as neat as the fact that they have Eric Clapton's original "Brownie" Stratocaster. Quite possibly the most revered guitar in all of rock and roll.


If you're like us, you're going to be there for a while, so it's a good thing they have a really nice place to have lunch. This is what my father-in-law had. Right above his Beef Bourguignon on whole wheat pasta  is the Southern Bourbon Pecan Pie four of us had for desert. It was, in his words, worth the trip all by itself.


And it was just as much of a good thing that they have a hands on place where you can pluck, strum and smack a wide variety of instruments yourself. Because I'm telling you, it's tempting as all get out to reach into the exhibits and sound a few forbidden notes.

Even the most avid music fan can get tuckered out in the place like The Musical Instrument Museum. Good thing there was a Dad Shoulder available for a micro-nap.


Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

(It's good to be back)

Friday, April 30, 2010

You Think Writing a Novel is Tough, pt. 2


A little over year ago I did a piece titled "You Think Writing a Novel is Tough" in which I examined a number of blurbs unknown writers (much like myself) were using to try to catch the attention of readers/reviewers at a couple of the writers' websites I like to loiter in. It was pretty apparent, at least to me, that what should be the simple, straightforward act of writing a sentence or two that neatly encapsulates ones novel is in fact a more than challenging task, one that is indeed fraught with peril. A lot of folks got a big kick out of the piece, others took exception and told me to go to blazes, or words to that effect. So to please the one set I thought we would revisit the subject. This time I restricted myself to the top ranked works at just one writers' site. These books are the ones getting the most positive attention, the ones most likely to end up in front of a professional editor for a critique and, who knows?! Perhaps even a published contract. If the editors can get past the blurbs.

 
The Twelfth House

Fiction, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Death awards John with mindreading.
The ancient sword awakes Aleksandra's pastlife memories.
David is after ancient civilisation's secrets. The race for survival is on.



Fiction? Really? I must say that I had no idea Death passed out rewards. Ancient swords can be tricky, so that looks like fun. And if ancient civilization (there was just one?) has its secrets, then perhaps David should exercise some courtesy and find something else to occupy his time. That race looks like it will be challenge enough.




Belfast Girls

Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Comedy

Three girls, friends from childhood. Supermodel Sheila Doherty is kidnapped. Can John Branagh rescue her? Her friend, Phil, is arrested. Mary takes an overdose.

 
Just a tad confused here, probably my fault. Is Sheila the Supermodel one of the three friends? Is Mary? If so, that just accounts for two. Unless Phil used to be Philleda and the reason for his arrest is because he absentmindedly stepped into the men's restroom at TGIF.


 

A Child from the Wishing Well

Literary Fiction, Thriller

Gerard's wish is to break out of paranoia, discover daughter Rosie's love.
Is music tutor Ruth's foul-smelling well a place wishes happen?
Psychological suspense thriller

 
I can hardly blame Gerard for wishing not to be paranoid anymore. It must be wearing on a person. As for discovering Rosie's love, has Gerard considered perhaps sneaking a look at her cell phone and checking her texts? Chances are most of them will be from her sweetie. And I can't imagine having a open, odiferous hole on the property is any enticement for prospective music students. But what do I know.



 

Phasmatis: Back to Life

Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult


You're a kid. You die. That's not how it's supposed to be.
So you need to get back to sort things out. But how?



Ask for Mr. Jordan. Unless he only handles grownups who died inconveniently. I'm thinking that would keep anybody busy.




 

Alby And Me

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Young Adult


A powerful and poignant evocation of the special friendship of two unusual boys, and the dramatic events that shaped their lives.

 
Powerful and poignant? You don't say? And it involves something special, unusual characters, and dramatic events. Gotta be good, right? But my first impulse when I see the word "evocation" is to evacuate the premises. Lord only knows what other sorts of verbiage the actual misdemeanor might contain in droves.




Future's End

Fiction, Thriller

In 2015 our world again stands on the precipice of global financial meltdown. This time we fall over into the cauldron of anarchy waiting below.

 
Oh now you're just bumming me out. Unless it means all records of my credit card debt are lost in the cauldron of anarchy. That would be cool.



 

Sicilian Shadows

History, Biography, Travel, Crime

Based on real experiences.
An English child. An ancient isle.
A sweetheart, mythology, the Mafia, good food, Frank Sinatra, philosophy and...a shotgun.

 
And it all adds up to….a book in need of an actual theme.

 
 
Deadly Nevergreen

Fiction, Literary Fiction, Thriller, Crime

Saxon burial mounds and smugglers' caves; thatched cottages and village churches; not a setting in which you'd expect to be kicked to death.

 
And in just what sort of setting could one reasonably expect to encounter death by boot toe? Come to think of it (now that I reread the blurb) just which setting are you referring to? Seems to me there is a bit of difference in ambience between a smugglers' cave and a village church. Or not. I suppose it depends on the smugglers and the pastor involved.

 
 
Impeding Justice

Fiction, Thriller, Crime

The Unicorn returns with clear intent ... to make life unbearable for DI Simpkins!

 
Ancient swords are tricky, but unicorns with clear intent are to be avoided altogether. Although think about it, when have you ever met a unicorn that wasn't at least a wee bit indecisive?


 

The Free

Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Young Adult

Live through the collapse of capitalism, blow by blow,
with a rainbow of self-help community adventurers..
Laughing and lamenting.. Inventing revolution.

 
Is this the sequel to the one about financial meltdowns and cauldrons of anarchy? And is the credit card deal still on the table?



 

The Keeper and the Rune Stone

Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult

An unholy ritual, a horrifying result. A ticking clock. Four children discover that there are things that go bump in the night.

 
Unholy rituals have a deserved reputation for horrifying--or at least deeply weird--results. Ticking clocks are simply doing what they were intended to do and should not be blamed for the time sensitive problems experienced by folks who most likely procrastinated their way into whatever bind they are in. And if the children will simply pull the covers over their heads they can be confident that they will be safe from the sound of the house settling.


 

The Swan Bonnet

Historical Fiction, Children's, Young Adult, Crime

Swans are endangered in 1920s Alaska yet Dawn plans to see the fall migration. In their seaport town, her mother's hat can decoy poachers.

 
Just how does a hat decoy poachers? Do we mean that it looks like a swan? If so, and there are swan poachers about, I'm thinking that wearing such headgear would be courting trouble.

 

Golden Moon

Fiction, Children's, Young Adult, Comedy

Golden Moon shares telepathic images and recollections about birth, mid-western ranch life, running Mustang wild and coming home to a boy's love.

 
And it's funny too.



Another Day in Paradise

Fiction, Romance, Business, Crime

Reed faces the horror of a wrong decision. Revenge is the only answer, but how ? He thinks he has fourteen months. It's much less.

 
These are all short, punchy sentences. But they don't really tell us anything, do they? What was the decision  Reed made? It must have been a doozy.
 

Arbitration

Popular Culture, Christian, Religious, Comedy

You're not coming in, you're not on the list. God's barred white folk from heaven. John-the-Catholic doesn't think it's fair. He thinks he has 'rights'.

 
The Big Guy would probably prefer "God has" to "God's", but maybe He's (sorry, He is) more open minded about such things than I give Him (or Her, covering my bases here) credit for. In any case, it looks to me like a deity is about to be served with a summons. Wouldn't want to be the fellow delivering that bit of paper.


 

The Time Hunters

Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult

Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy, Will Scarlet and a Sabre-tooth tiger called Milly race through and against time on a quest for the legendary Golden Fleece.

 
This one works. Leaves a person to wonder how it came to be in such company.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keep Learning


How many folks do you know who just seem to have stopped being interested in learning? Why read a book? Why learn a new skill? Why do anything that is challenging when just getting through life is enough for anyone? According to them life is doing their job, watching their television shows, going to the time share condo a couple of times each year. The time for stretching, for facing new adventures is past. That sort of thing is for young people.

Well, my father-in-law, who is in his seventies, decided he wanted to learn how to play the guitar. And he's going about it in a pretty intensive fashion, including taking lessons twice a week from two different instructors. One of the snags he has run into has been finding the right instrument, one that fits him, has good action (guitar players will understand) and ideally has the sort of sound quality that makes a fellow want to keep practicing. After two tries with an okay quality dreadnought and an entry level classical model, he asked me to go guitar shopping with him. Well, that was an easy "you betcha".

So a couple of days ago he and I went to Milano's Music in downtown Mesa, the place where decades ago I took lesson from a terrific teacher named Charlie Cooper. The salesman unlocked the padlock on the Nice Guitar Room and my father-in-law settled in to try a whole bunch of guitars. We almost missed the one you see in the picture. It's a Martin OM-1. Just the right size, beautiful action and a bell-like quality to its sound that made us both smile from the first note.

I know not everyone has a bucks to put down on a Martin. But that's not the point. Attaching enough importance to doing something new, something difficult, and making the commitment to follow through and take the challenge, that's the point.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We Have Met the Enemy And He Is Us




 

I have been a fan of the Phoenix Suns basketball team since the team's inaugural 1967-68 season. I had my radio tuned to every game and when the Suns made it to the NBA finals against the perennial powerhouse Boston Celtics in 1976 it was a wonderfully exhilarating if ultimately heartbreaking time to be a Suns fan. We had to wait until 1993 before the chance to win it all came around again and once again, even with amazing performances by Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson and the rest of the Suns team, we came up short, this time against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.


But as disappointing as those two Seasons The Could Have Been were, what has really been the bane of any Suns fan's existence has been how the team has been dogged by its reputation as soft. A finesse team. One that can run all day and score like mad, but when things get tough they wither. Bad calls or, more often, the lack of calls, messes with their concentration, makes them whine, takes them out of their game, literally hands the reins over to the opposing team. The teams who have been able to exploit this weakness have had the Suns at their mercy for years. And no team has gotten into and scrambled the heads of both the players and the fans more consistently than the San Antonio Spurs. They know how to push enough to get the Suns out of sync but not enough to get in trouble with the officials. They are always borderline and often over the line rough, but they do it in a way that makes it seem like they are just playing hard, not dirty. And the reason they do it is because they know it works.


Well, maybe not so much anymore. With Alvin Gentry as head coach the Suns have acquired a new persona, one that is tough, focused and together. They still score like mad and run like the wind, but under Gentry's leadership they have added that heretofore missing dimension. And they are doing it with players that just a short time ago were doing not much more than warming the bench, either in Phoenix or some other city. Louis Amundson, Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Channing Frye and Robin Lopez are integral parts of a team that is looking very much like a contender, something most experts would have said was not in the cards for the Suns any time soon.


How did Gentry do it? I think he made the Suns players believe in themselves and what they were capable of doing, not buy into what everyone said about them, what their "heritage" as Suns confined them to. He has shown them, or rather he has guided them to the place where they can show themselves, that they have control. It doesn't belong to the refs or to the San Antonio Spurs, it belongs to each of them, and good things can happen when they recognize and act on that fact.


Last night the Suns hosted the Spurs. It is true that the Spurs no longer have defensive specialist Bruce "Whack Your Arms" Bowen, and it is also true that All Star point guard Tony Parker has lost a step or two to plantar fasciitis. But as long as Greg Popovich is the Spurs head coach you can count on them to execute in the same old way, the way that used to rattle the Suns players and frustrate their fans. Well it looked like it was going to happen again last night. All of a sudden a fourteen point lead had shrunk to five and it looked like the slow-it-down, get tough Spurs were getting control of a game that the Suns had been dominating. But that only lasted a couple of minutes. The missed calls were, for the most part, shrugged off, the focus got turned up a notch, and the Suns took back control. They would not let the other team dictate how the game was played, especially not the game inside their heads. And the result was a convincing 112-101 win.


A couple of years ago we put a press-on lettering saying in our front entryway. It spells out what I think is a real key to making a successful life for yourself. I've been trying, with spotty success, to incorporate it into my own life, so I know how tough those few simple words can be to follow. But when I can see them being put into use, see the results, see it is not only possible but that the consequences are worth striving for, it gives me more determination than ever to do what it says above the mirror/hat rack by our front door.


 

Change Your Thoughts
And You
Change Your World

 
Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

And thanks to Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Japanese Friendship Garden and First Fridays

Just wanted to share some photos I took this past Friday evening. We took the light rail to downtown Phoenix to check out the Japanese Friendship Gardens and First Fridays. One is a serene oasis and the other is a bit of a raucous, if very congenial, "happening". I enjoyed both. Although my enjoyment of the even probably had a lot to do with discovering a little record (yes, I said record) store along the route blocked off for First Fridays. For about nine dollars I got albums by Count Basie, Joe Venuti and George Barnes and replaced a double album by Focus that I had ill advisedly edited out of my collection some years ago.







The light rail "driver" announced as we approached Phoenix that there would be a slight delay around 52nd Street as we changed drivers. On one side of where we stopped was the Tovrea Castle. On the other side of the road was what I suppose one would call, for lack of a more accurate term, a gentlemen's club. It did leave us to wonder just where the replacement driver had been spending his time.
















The Portland district, which we walked through on our way to and from the Japanese Friendship Gardens, is a nice area of townhomes and businesses like the insurance agency this Nash Metropolitan promotes.







Tap dancers. I love tap dancing.




Not exactly a hole in the wall, but definitely on the neighborhood eatery side, especially if your neighborhood is south of the border. We had a very nice meal here, although some of our party had to be persuaded not to retreat to the Quiznos across the street. Here's a link to a review site with some other folks' comments about Tacos de Juarez. The place doesn't seem to have its own website. No surprise there.







The lightrail train was packed on our way back to Mesa. This fellow, with his bicycle, took up more than his share of space. But it was tough to be upset about it since it was a pretty good bet he had no space to call his own. When we got to our station, which was the end of the line, he did not get off the train.



Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise


Although you might want to get off the train eventually.









Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday at the Museum With a Camera

I really like the Phoenix Art Museum. It is just a cool place to spend some time. We became members a few years back because it was actually the most economical way to ensure we could get into see one of those monster, super popular traveling shows that museums like to host, and we've just kept the membership going because we love the place and it pays for itself a couple times over every year.

This Sunday we went in order to check out the Ansel Adams "Discoveries" exhibit and the other photography exhibit which is called "Exposing Time". Both were fascinating. The Adams exhibit has about 140 images, many of them familiar, but just as many quite new to most viewers. For instance, there were color images he had done late in his career as well as snapshots he had taken as a young teen while on vacation with his family. Great stuff. The Exposing Time exhibit used a "time passes" format to showcase photography's ability to capture not only a moment in time but also the passage of time or even the effects of time. Before and after shots of a midwest town immediately after a tornado hit and a year later. An extensive series of pictures of four sisters, taken every year for over twenty years. All tightly composed and all amazing in what they showed us of each sister's character.

But one of the things I most enjoy about visiting any museum is seeking out photo opportunities for myself. Great museums are usually interesting buildings themselves, containing wonderful spaces with eye catching details all over the place, if you are inclined to have your eye caught, that is. Here are a few of the shots I took yesterday.



Looking out of a window pane that, if we were all remembered correctly, has been in need of replacing since last time we visited.


 I have been fascinated by this sculpture that has these liquidy silver shapes on a flat silver surface for some time. Now it is even more interesting because of the wall of graduated color paper that shares the room.

 A projected rectangle of light. Normally I'm not a big fan of this sort of modern art, but in this setting I think it works.



My wife and daughter caught checking out the other side of the graduated colored paper wall. 


Here's the thing about a visit to the museum. If you do it right, it helps open your eyes to the beautiful, mystifying, scary, freakish, captivating, stunning, wondrous sights all around you every day. And it would be a shame to miss those.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dances With Words

Dances With Words


Yesterday evening we watched the 1989 movie “Tap”, starring Gregory Hines. The story is predictable, the pace a bit slow, and the bad guys are not all that scary. But the performances, especially by Hines and Suzzanne Douglas, are excellent and, most importantly, the dancing is not only fantastic but it gets a lot of screen time. And thankfully it isn’t spoiled by the sort of editing that makes you wonder if any of those feet you get momentary glimpses of actually belong to the faces that flash by in separate shots. Like a Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers movie, you can actually watch the dancers dance. The movie opens with a powerful, steadily built solo piece by Hines in a tiny prison cell, and manages to fit in at least a few steps by Hines or some other member of the cast, which also includes a young Savion Glover as well as veteran Sammy Davis Jr. who was near the end of his amazing life and career when the movie was made.

There is something about dance, especially the percussive style of tap, that makes me smile. No, it goes deeper than that, it lifts me up in a way that only one other thing can do. That one other thing is reading a particularly well written passage, whether from a novel, poem, play or any other form of writing. And I think the reason these otherwise dissimilar art forms touch me in much the same way is because they both involve rhythm, they have a heartbeat. A good tap routine, no matter how complex or dazzling, has to come from a beat, a pulse, it has to know how and when to lay back, when to create tension and when to strike. The same applies to fine writing. Whether an Ogden Nash short poem, a tragic play by Shakespeare or a novel by Jane Austen, all good writing has a rhythm, all good writers know that it isn’t just what they say, but how they say it, using just the right words in just the right order with just the right punctuation that makes all the difference in the world.

When it comes to my own dancing I’ve got a pretty good sense of rhythm and movement, but I’m not very well schooled and I’m certainly not a natural. It’s just that, much like Darin Baer, the main character in my WIP, when I’m happy I just can’t keep my feet from moving. And when I need a lift, the right music and a bit of empty floor space works wonders. But nobody is going to mistake me for Gregory Hines or Astaire, and that’s okay with me.

But writing is a different story altogether. I am reaching for that same sense of rhythm, that sure handle on the pulse of the words that is one of the defining characteristics of all the writers I admire. The stories told by Twain, Wodehouse, Pratchett, Westlake, Dickens and so many other writers are great not simply because of their subject matter or plotlines (yes, ridiculously intricate plotlines are part of the Wodehouse charm, but Twain couldn’t sustain a through storyline to save his life, Huckleberry Finn meanders like crazy) but because of the way they present their truths, our truths, the shared rhythm of our lives. I may be late in  life to be reaching that high, but I'm still going for it.



As I sat in the bathtub, soaping a meditative foot and singing, if I remember correctly, “Pale Hands I Loved Beside the Shalimar” it would be deceiving my public to say that I was feeling boomps-a-daisy. ---Bertie Wooster Sees it Through by P.G. Wodehouse

“Where a man does his best with only moderate powers, he will have the advantage over negligent superiority.” Emma by Jane Austen


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Promo free

The paperback version of Boomerang has now been out for a year. The ebook version, which I hadn't even thought about creating until a much more tech savvy friend suggested it to me, has been available since September, 2009, so about six months. I had promised myself when the paperback was released that I would devote one year to trying to get the word out and that would be that. Well, a year is here and it's time I kept my promise to myself. I have to say that I am glad I did the ebook since it has found its way into a lot more Kindles and Nooks and Sony ebook readers than the paperback has found homes on bookshelves and nightstands, but a promise is a promise and so as of tomorrow morning I will not be loitering around message boards trying to get the word out about my novel. No coupons for half price ebooks, no searching for folks who do reviews, trying to get them to give some space over to Boomerang. My email signature will still point out that I have a book available and at least once a day I will likely check to see if any copies have sold on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but that is it.

I don't regret the time and energy spent, especially since I was smart enough to follow the "do an ebook" bit of advice. While the ten dollar paperback has been almost dead in the water for the past several months, since September almost six hundred copies of the ebook have been downloaded. Admittedly a good percentage of them were gotten when I was offering it for free, and it has become obvious to me that a lot of ebook readers like to build up substantial TBR (To Be Read) lists and that there is a good chance most of their accumulated stash will never get read, but on the other hand I have heard from lots of people who have read and enjoyed the book and never would have even heard of it if I hadn't made it available in digital form. A new message board devoted to the Nook, the ebook device being sold by Barnes and Noble, even was kind enough to select Boomerang as their very first Book Club ebook.


So thanks to all of my friends here who have understood this marketing effort and restrained themselves when I am sure they would have been more than justified in saying Give it a Rest, Would You?

But now it is time to get back to writing. It has never gone away, but it certainly has been a sort of second class citizen at times and I can't help think it has suffered, and I have suffered, because of it. Starting tomorrow morning I will let Boomerang take care of itself. Heck, I'm not even sure the paperback is going to be available that much longer. My understanding is that the folks at that little UK publisher are getting set to impose some sort of annual Keep it in The Catalog fee and I ain't going for that.

It won't be easy, breaking this habit of figuring out where and when I expand on or enhance or otherwise freshen up the marketing effort. But what I really want to do right now is finish The Baer Boys and then finish the next Ted and Jerry adventure. Checking the reports from Amazon or Smashwords and finding out one or two or even ten copies of my book have sold that day does bring a lift. But it's nothing like the feeling I get when I have written five hundred words of something new. That is success.

Matsuri 2010

Once again we attended the Phoenix Matsuri at Heritage Park. And just like last year we enjoyed riding the light rail from Mesa to downtown Phoenix. This mass transit thing, I'm tellin' ya, it may just be the wave of the future, eh?

Anyway, not much to report from the festival except it was pretty much as expected. The food was okay, the kimonos beautiful, the crowd good-natured bordering on bubbly, and the entertainment variable as all get out. I had a good time as did the rest of the family and the half-dozen friends of our daughter that came along. Next year, though, I want to go to the Highland Games. See some good ol' caber tossing.

Here are a few photos from yesterday.

 
A little bonsai demonstration



    There is a time capsule at the park placed by The Phoenix Gazette newspaper. Unfortunately, The Gazette no longer exists, so when the capsule is opened in 2080 it will probably be supervised by execs from YouTube or The Daily Show or something.                


 
  The dancers were practicing the mirror that was the glass wall. The kid, well the kid was just having a good time.

  
 The little one in the pink saw my camera and immediately struck a pose!

  
 This is Lucky Cat.

 
I just liked this view of the little bamboo plants and their marbles.

A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com. As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.