Month: January 2015

COVER REVEAL COMING SOON

Ladies and Gentleman

I would like to announce that my new novel THE BOMBER will be having it’s cover revealed on February the 2nd. (East coast U.S. time).

I am excited and I hope you will come back here then to see my new cover. I have discovered that I hate helping to pick book covers because I have trouble deciding between options. I would gladly welcome opinions on the days following the release. Please let me know what you think.

THE BOMBER is a story about a soldier, Joseph Starling, who returns to civilian life and finds that he does not feel accepted or comfortable in the world. When his best friend is murdered he uses a backpack bomb to gain revenge on the killer.

His life begins to spiral out of control until he meets a woman who also battles personal issues and together they try to make a future together.

It will be released on June 24th 2015 through Pen Name Publishing.

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Unasked-For Advice to New Writers About Money

Interesting article. Most writers I know hate dealing with money.

Whatever

I made $164,000 last year from my writing. I’ve averaged more than $100,000 in writing income for the last ten years, which means, for those of you who don’t want to bother with the math, that I’ve made more than a million dollars from my writing in the last decade. In 2000, I wrote a book on finance, The Rough Guide to Money Online. For several years I wrote personal finance newsletters for America Online. When I do corporate consulting, it’s very often been for financial services companies like Oppenheimer Funds, US Trust and Warburg Pincus. I mention this to you so that you know that when I offer you, the new, aspiring and dewey-eyed writer, the following entirely unsolicited advice about money, I’m not talking entirely out of my ass.

Why am I offering this entirely unsolicited advice about money to new writers? Because it very often appears…

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TEASER for The Bomber

Very exciting news, my first teaser has been released. My publisher has made a series of teasers and will release them fortnightly until my debut novel The Bomber is released in June 2015.

Here is the splendid teaser:

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Today I would like to share with you where it comes from in the novel and the general idea behind this byte.

The world in which I set The Bomber is a strange one. The setting is a city, like New York, London or Sydney. A western country that is involved in the struggle against middle eastern extremism and terrorism. The country has sent it’s troops to fight in overseas wars, these wars have become unpopular with some sections of the community and these people have come out onto the streets to protest, however a minority of the protesters involved take things too far and violence and unrest spread. It is a symptom of a deeper problem in this society, an issue of the disaffected, the unemployed, of failed race relations and the feeling of alienation among young people and new immigrants.

Anton Jones is a young man in the novel, he is a career thief and he finds this civil unrest both a problem and an opportunity as he makes his way about the streets at night. There is the problem of violence from the protestors and the issue of increased police numbers in the city. However due to the fires and looting, the stores and buildings lay open and available for him to steal what is left behind.

The main character, Joseph Starling also looks down upon the civil unrest. He is a war veteran and only just returned to the city. He is having a hard time adjusting to this world. He expected a lot more after having fought so long overseas and he does not like the violence and hatred all around him and he has had enough. Both Anton and Joseph’s lives become intertwined.

That is the world in my book, and the text in the teaser above shows the violence and destruction in the streets. Life will never be the same for any of the characters, just as it is for us in this new century.

The book reveals itself

Recently I have been doing things where I am exposed to people. It is not my favorite activity but one thing has happened. Some of these people have revealed to me their love of books.

I was sitting for a passport interview with a man and we started to talk about books when he reached into his desk and showed me what he was reading. It was On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I was amazed. One of my favorite books and it was there only two feet away from me the whole time. It was such an exciting revelation that I began to think about the books people have all about me.

On buses, in buildings, people walking by on streets, many of them are carrying a book. I am certain that on a busty street in briefcases and tucked under arms, there may be a Charles Dickens or an F. Scott Fitzgerald or a Kurt Vonnegut passing by. To me this is a genuine sign of civilization, that people, citizens, average people who work for a living, are reading some of the greatest works of literature our civilization can produce. These ideas are available and accessible to all and are being accessed.

It makes me so happy so live in a place where books on any topic, not just literature, are readily available to all people. You can pick a book about economics, politics, architecture and you can put in your head the best ideas and theories available. Even the most powerful politician or businessman can never rob you of those ideas once you ingest them. It is a miracle and a source of pride that people are taught to read. To read is to give food to your soul.

Today I was listening to a radio show, (NPR All Things Considered) and I heard a discussion on what it takes to have a successful musical on broadway. It struck me that these rules were awfully similar to having a successful novel. It listed the following points about broadway success;

Word of mouth is essential. A play needs every person who liked the play to tell their friends and family that the play is a ‘must see’ otherwise the play with shrivel and die.

Good reviews and bad reviews do not necessarily dictate the plays success or failure. The musical ‘Wicked’ was universally panned by critics, it had a string of negative reviews from popular critics yet it has succeeded beyond belief.

A big name celebrity can make a difference. The introduction of a celebrity into a play can boost numbers.

Ultimately the work must be good. It must be well written and enjoyable.

This is a reality of the book world: Word of mouth is essential, reviews (good or bad) do not necessarily make a success or disaster, a big time celebrity can sell a lot of books. (Grace Helbig, an internet star and someone I have followed for sometime had a huge success with her recent book). But ultimately the book must be well written or interesting otherwise it will not survive long.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

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Soon, Tuesday the 20th of January 2015, my publisher Pen Name Publishing, will begin to release teasers for my debut novel ‘The Bomber.’

Each tuesday I will take this teaser and give you, gentle reader, an explanation as to where the quote came from and how it fits into my novel.

It is a good novel, my cat watched me write it and he gave it two paws up and he never gives anything more than two paws up.

Why I wrote The Bomber

My debut novel, The Bomber is released in June this year.  It is a story about a man returned from overseas where he was fighting for his country. When he returns he finds that his life as a civilian is not as he expected. After his best friend is murdered by her husband he seeks revenge on the killer by detonating an explosive. His life begins to unravel until he meets a woman, who with her own issues, helps the man overcome his problems.

This novel is primarily about social isolation. It is a theme I find very interesting. It is my experience that social isolation is a factor in mental deterioration and I would suspect that it is a factor in people becoming fanatical to the point of violence. isolation creates paranoia in an individual. It gives a person a view that society is hostile. I have heard people admit that they feel ‘the world is against them’ when they lack friends and steady social interaction.

Social isolation is a terrible thing to face. It can hurt any person at any age, it is as crippling as a physical illness.

My main character, Joseph Starling, the man who becomes the bomber in the novel, is stunned by his isolation. His paranoia leaves him frightened, he sits in his apartment where his dark thoughts engulf him, drive him to a point which may seems abnormal or extreme, but which he feels is perfectly normal in the circumstances.

It is important to be kind to people. This is a major point of my work, there are people around us struggling every day. The lonely, the sick, the disappointed, we all have dreams, some are caught and some are dropped. No matter how strong a person seems, kindness is the best way to deal with others. Even when they are rude, mean, cruel, the best reaction for them and yourself is kindness.

John Green, a great writer- a man who could never be describe other than a good person (as far as I can tell) reminded me (not personally but through the interwebs) the other day of a Philip Larkin poem. Philip Larkin was one of the twentieth centuries greatest poets. He was also a man who suffered social isolation and crippling shyness. Sometimes his personal views on life were extreme and even offensive but his poetry was literary gold. I have included a poem of his I associate with my main character Joseph Starling. When he exploded his enemies apartment, Joseph also killed innocent people in the building below. It is something which Joseph will never forgive himself for or forget.

The Mower
BY PHILIP LARKIN
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

THE BOMBER will be released June 2015. Please visit my publisher Pennamepublishing.com for more information.

The benefits of a rainy day.

Writing is a wonderful activity. It exercises the mind, it relaxes, it excites, it makes you a better person. My favorite type of day to write is a rainy day. I love to have the window open so I can hear the wind and the rain drops, I love to hear the fall of rain across the rooftops, and hear the distant trees wave their heavy wet branches. I sit in my room, turn on the lights and type away.

It has always been this way. I was told as a child it was a European throwback, the love of cloudy wet days. I don’t know about that, I have never been to Europe.

The rainy day is a perfect excuse to stay home, comfortable and warm inside.

I watch people rush around in the street kicking puddles, pulling collars around their faces and the fearful damp patches that form across coats. I have memories of rainy days. One day as I was walking home from school I was walking past the bus stop where the school buses were picking up kids. I came to a series of puddles and I leaped them. A child from the window of one of the buses called out to me something rude, saying I was ‘chicken’ for not going through the puddle. This has stuck in my mind for so long. Personally I consider it sensible to avoid puddles but he must not. I wonder where he is now? Maybe he drowned in the flood of 2011.

It is funny how I used to listen to the put downs of others. I was told once when I was about 10 years old that a baseball cap I was wearing was stupid. I did not wear that cap again. i took it home and hid it. I found it the other day and it was in perfect near new condition and I was filled with joy. I took it and put it straight back on my head. I had formulated a new habit and that is if any one says anything bad about something I do I examine it, if I find they are right I adjust my behavior. This is usually constructive criticism, but if I find they are just being mean I do that thing harder than I ever did before.

For example at a recent high school reunion a man came up to me, (he was drunk) I was dressed neatly in a pair of grey trousers and a black wool coat. He was dressed in a pair of dirty mechanics jeans and a torn shirt. He looked at me and said;

“What are you all dressed up for, it looks like think you’re taking over the world.” He continued with a few more unkind things. After this I decided that when events came up I would dress as nicely as I could, I shall wear the best suits I own and take care of my appearance. I would not be shamed into dressing like a slob because of him. Years ago when I was younger it would have damaged my self esteem terribly, but now I become more determined.

It is raining now as I type and I am looking out the window. The sounds of the water, the soft cool breeze, the wind, the rhythmic dripping, I am relaxed. I had to go outside a minute ago and there is water in my hair, my shoulders are wet and heavy, there is water in my ears. But it is joy, it is joy.

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Polytheism is the reading person’s path

At the moment I have been thinking about Monotheism and the issues of the world. Monotheism or the belief in one God, is a rigid aspect of three major world religions and the cause of a lot of religious intolerance. There can be no God but God.

I grew up a Catholic and completed my entire education in Catholic schools, which,  as I look back upon this I am glad I did. Catholics like the Jewish and Islamic faiths put a lot of effort into story telling. The Church gave me a sense of story telling.

I still remember the first stories we were taught. While I was told the story of the prodigal son I was held transfixed. Then we were taught about David and Goliath, a story I still consider one of the greatest ever told.

However one thing the Catholic Church did for me that Judaism and Islam could not, it gave me a sense of Polytheism, whether they intended to or not. I remember understanding the mystery of the trinity at a young age. It was simple. There is one God but he is split off into three parts, Holy Spirit, God the father and Jesus. He could do this and still be one God because he is powerful. However I had another God, one I held as high as any of the three in the trinity, Mary. She was the ever-present Goddess, the one who was perhaps more understanding than God, sweeter and kinder than Jesus and less mysterious than the Holy Spirit. Then you had the saints, many demi-gods and heroes.

I loved this.

Then I discovered Greek and Roman Gods. These flawed, angry, horny, powerful, stupid, genius Gods who star in some of the greatest stories ever told, as good or even better than David and Goliath.

One minute Zeus is disguised as a swan in order to seduce a beautiful woman, the next Ares has transformed himself into a bull to win a golden crown, while three goddess argue over who is the most beautiful. This ancient religion had the most incredible stories. So great in fact, there are many of these ancient stories taken and reformed into the Old Testament of the Bible.

“The Creation
There was absolutely no world and nothing, except for God. One day he got bored and decided to create everything.

There was nothing, it was called Chaos. One day it gave birth to everything for some reason.
The Cleansing

In the Bible it says that men had become corrupt and God’s only choice was to pick one man to continue life, and subject everyone else to a flood so they would drown to death. He felt really bad about it though.

Zeus got sick of everyone and decided to kill them all with a gigantic flood.

God chose his one man, Noah, and told him to build an ark and take his wife, three sons and their wives to safety.

Prometheus knew about the flood and told his son Deucalion to build an ark and take his wife to safety. ” (From Cracked.com)

Of course it is not a competition even though ancient heroes such as Heracles and Perseus offer much more than the bible’s Sampson who is somewhat of a dull wit.  That is the entire point. To me as a reader, polytheism is the way to go. I want to know the stories of all the worlds religions, Jewish, Islamic, Christian Buddhist and hindu, I am also greedy for the stories of the ancient religions.

The stories of the ancient world are incredible powerful lessons and entertainments. I must admit that in Religious terms I do not have much faith in these ancient gods, they are cruel and unpredictable. The old testament god is a similar angry old man but the new testament with Mary and Jesus seem to become wiser, kinder and gentler. But in reading terms, the ancient texts are much more appealing than the bible and Koran.

Erotica

I want to talk about sex today. In my debut novel, The Bomber, my main character Joseph Starling, has a sexual encounter with a woman. I did not add this just because I thought ‘some sex would be good.’ I added it because I want my characters to be fully rounded human beings who experience human emotions and desires.

Serious literary erotica and writing about sex is a very hard thing to do. There is a need to balance the exciting sensual aspect of sex with good readable fiction. Too far one way and it can be sleazy, too far the other and it can become boring.  People like Anais Nin and D. H. Lawrence were masters of the erotic in literature.

Recently a friend of mine caught her daughter sending nude pictures to a boy on the internet and this was of course very distressing to her. She wanted to express to her daughter that doing such a thing is wrong for a girl of her age, and that it is necessary to wait until she was older and in a serious relationship before considering doing that sort of sexual activity. She spoke to me and she said she wanted to sit her daughter down and discuss the issue but that it was a very distressing and difficult thing to discuss. She went on to tell me a week had past so the yelling and crying stage was ending but there still needed some discussion about why the activity was wrong.

She ran past me a few things she wanted to say to her daughter. One of the things she said was, “I want to let her know how valuable she is. I want her to have enough self esteem to value herself so that other people value her as well. She is like a Ferrari I want to tell her, there are a lot of men who would love to take the Ferrari out for a test drive but there are not many who can afford and look after such a sports car. Her body is like a Ferrari and she must not let people take her for test drives, but wait for someone who will appreciate what a wonderful person she is.”

I had no idea what to say in response and I told her so. I do not know if that is a good thing to say to a young teenage girl or if it is not. I do not have children and find it hard to give advice to people about them. What I can say though is I found the simile enlightening and illuminating.

I think it is a great simile to use for serious erotic writing. You have to create characters like any other work of fiction. The reader has to understand them as people before you throw them into sexual situations. If you want to create a serious work that deals with sex, it can’t be a pornography of words. Build the characters as humans, sex is a part of life and a part of literature. Because it is a real issue it must be approached with respect and not as something that may create a cheap thrill or your work of fiction may not be respected in the morning.

Following I have two excerpts from “The Delta of Venus” by Anais Nin. I have no problem with the extremely detailed and explicit sex scenes because to me Nin has such a literary talent and to me, literary talent is everything.

“Her two hands were as active as her mouth. The titillation almost deprived each man of his senses. The elasticity of her hands; the variety of rhythms; the change from a hand grip of the entire penis to the lightest touch of the tip of it, from firm kneading of all the parts to the lightest teasing of the hair around it-all this by an exceptionally beautiful and voluptuous woman while the attention of the public was turned towards the stage. Seeing the penis go into her magnificent mouth between her flashing teeth, while her breasts heaved, gave men a pleasure for which they paid generously”

Here we read an explicit sex scene. Shocking and exciting. Alone its value is low. Alone it wold be nothing more than a thrill but when the piece is built with a writers skill it becomes a story that has great value. Below is the beginning to this erotic story and it creates the life, the value of such writing.

“There was a Hungarian adventurer who had astonishing beauty, infallible charm, grace, the powers of a trained actor, culture, knowledge of many tongues, aristocratic manners. Beneath all this was a genius for intrigue, for slipping out of difficulties, for moving smoothly in and out of countries. He traveled in grandiose style, with fifteen trunks of the finest clothes, with two great Danes. His air of authority had earned him the nickname the Baron. The Baron was seen in the most luxurious hotels, at watering places and horse races, on world tours, excursions to Egypt, trips through the desert, into Africa. Everywhere he became the center of attraction for women. Like the most versatile of actors, he passed from one role to another to please the taste of each of them. He was the most elegant dancer, the most vivacious dinner partner, the most decadent of entertainers in tête-à-têtes; he could sail a boat, ride, drive. He knew each city as though he had lived there all his life. He knew everyone in society. He was indispensable. When he needed money he married a rich woman, plundered her and left for another country. Most of the time the women did not rebel or complain to the police. The few weeks or months they had enjoyed him as a husband left a sensation that was stronger than the shock of losing their money. For a moment they had known what it was to live with strong wings, to fly above the heads of mediocrity.”

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