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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

Good morning. For this week's edition of Sunday Morning Musings I thought I would open a discussion about time or perhaps the lack thereof. Since I tend to lean towards the creepy and I wanted a photo for this post that would represent something to do with time, I thought that I would choose the hour of great significance for more than one occupant of the large colonial at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island. I believe you know the place.

All of us fill our days or perhaps I should say, have them filled for us, so how do we manage everything that is important to us? Now, we could talk of our families, work, housework, etc., but for the sake of this question, I am only asking about writing and reading.

For me, once you subtract eleven hours of work, housework and shuttling kids around, that only leaves so much time for writing, reading, blogging and updating websites.

Daily: I check my personal e-mail several times per day. Typically, I hear from my publisher, Gaynor, The Wonderful, every couple of weeks. Also, this instantly allows me to know whether anything of importance has occurred on Facebook or Vamplit Writers, etc., etc. I then head over to Facebook and check both my profile, as well as my Official Authors Page. Lastly, I usually check this blog to see whether there might be any new activity or followers.

Weekly: I have been posting a new blog once a week, so far. Typically I do this sometime Saturday or early Sunday morning. Once a week I usually set about across the Blogosphere, looking to get my name out there a little more, to look for blogs that might be mutual beneficial or simply just interest to me.

Monthly: It's sad for me to admit, but I haven't been doing much in terms of writing as of late. I have Dance on Fire's sequel in the can, as it were, so I have been focusing all of my time on doing the whole publicity thing for book one. I have two small points of research that I need to do for the book two, but they are extremely minor, so I am not stressing over them. I actually wrote the scenes, I simply need to revisit the actual locations to make sure that my details were accurate. The other sad fact is how I haven't been reading as often as I would like. Until I take the e-reader plunge, I must sit at the pc which is in my living room and attempt to read, listening to classical music in headphones in hopes of drowning out the kid and television noise. I am currently reading Andrew M. Boylan's, Concilium Sanguinarius. It is very good, but since I don't have a lot of time for reading, it is taking me forever. I am attempting to become more efficient with my time now that I have grown accustomed to how things play out. I have a couple of hardbacks on my bookshelf that I have yet to read: Pat Conroy's, South of Broad and Patricia Cornwell's, The Scarpetta Factor.

So, now I ask you, how do you do it? Perhaps it is mostly because I have only been doing this since February. Does it get any easier? Will there always be a struggle within me to find the time necessary for all of these pursuits? It seems to me that some people must never sleep (Wendy Howard, Gaynor Stenson and Nicole Hadaway come to mind). So, for anyone interested in leaving a comment, I would be curious to see how you juggle things like Blogging, reading and writing. Perhaps you simply would like to share what your days and weeks look like. That would be okay, too. I would love to hear it.

As for me, I'm out of time.

We'll talk soon...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

How's that for an attention getter?

Good morning and happy weekend, Fire Enthusiasts. I went with Pink Floyd this weekend for a couple of reasons:

First, I'm still in that 'tween stage where I know a lot of folks are beginning to discover my novel, Dance on Fire, but I have yet to hear very much in the form of reviews. I have been asking for a couple of weeks now, so it is a little disheartening. However, I know they're coming. A local Central Valley magazine, Traffic Magazine, has read the novel and indications are that a review is coming, perhaps as soon as their next issue. I have participated in a Q & A session with the Kingsburg High School. Their next issue of the Viking Voice Newspaper will carry both that as well as a favorable review. This is potentially a huge boon for me because they represent perhaps my target demographic. I know I simply need to be a little more patient, although it has been a bit maddening. Don't worry. Unlike Pink in The Wall, I have yet to begin shaving my eyebrows off or spent the day staring endlessly at the television.

Second, I have been doing this blogging for a month or so, but with little in the way of comments. Sometimes it feels like I'm on a remote mountain-top, broadcasting an independent radio show that has no interaction with others, so I am unsure whether anyone might be following. Is There anybody Out There? My thanks to the nine folks who have graced my blogspot. I hope you are well and successfully pursuing your interests with a measure enough of success as to make it all worthwhile.

I'm not going to write a short story this week like I did last time. I'm going to keep it short and sweet.

For anyone else who might be going through similar periods of being between phases, perhaps we'll have to do a better job of encouraging one another to see it all through. Often-times, it all feels like that last verse that completes the soundtrack to The Wall:

"...after all, it's not easy banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall."

Oh, and one more thing. I know it's only Saturday, but I still entitled the post: Sunday Morning Musings!

I told you I wasn't crazy.

I am a writer, however, so there is that!

Take care. We'll talk soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

Happy weekend, Fire Enthusiasts! How's it going so far? I hope all is well and that by the time your work-week begins, whatever time that may be, you will be refreshed and ready to go. Our Saturday was a little off because my youngest had an early baseball game and we had a wedding to go to in the afternoon, so here we are on Sunday attempting to squeeze two days' worth of stuff into one. Sound familiar?

In any event, congratulations to the newlyweds and to the Kingsburg Major's team, The Athletics, for winning their game. My twelve year old did very well. He pitched well, giving up only three runs over three innings. He also went 1-2, scoring once and driving in three RBI's.

This morning, I thought that I would simply share some things. Whether this "Sunday Morning Musings" becomes a regular feature or not depends upon the state of things. We'll see. So, without further delay, here are a few of my favorite things:

Music: Currently, I'm listening to the newest Corinne Bailey Ray, as well as Sara Bareilles. At any given moment I might spin the Ipod dial back to Zeppelin. I am intrigued by the recent Hendrix release, but I have yet to buy. When my right hand begins to shake uncontrollably, I will immediately surf over to Itunes and make some sort of purchase until the sensation subsides. You're waiting for me to tell you that I'm kidding, aren't you? You half expected to see "LOL!" printed next. There it was, but I'm serious. Ask my wife, she'll tell you! =)

Baseball Team: I guess I should tell you that my 12 year old's team is my favorite, but by now you have already guessed that I am one of those sad individuals who puts his hope in Spring that this will finally be the year that the Chicago Cubs end the drought and win a world series. One year our hearts were broken after the first two weeks of the new season when we lost the first 13 games. Other times it doesn't happen until mid summer. On rare occasions it happens by three game sweep in the first round of the playoffs (See: 2007 and 2008). However, since this is Spring, we will smile our mad smiles and shout this is the year!

Movies: Well, now this is always going to be different. It depends upon my current mood. If I'm in the mood to laugh, you might catch me watching Blazing Saddles. If I want to be scared, you might catch me watching The Silence of the Lambs, Seven, John Carpenter's Halloween or The Fog or The Thing. I have to give myself a lot of time off after watching The Exorcist, so I can only sit through that every few years. If it is a drama that I'm in the mood for then perhaps 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Citizen Kane or The Lion in Winter. Usually, I am drawn to romantic comedies. My wife will one day realize that she is the luckiest wife in the world because of this fact. Instead of attempting to drag her to the latest shoot 'em up, I want to go see Notting Hill, The Family Stone or Love Actually. What can I say?!? I will tell you that some of my absolute favorites are An American President, Casablanca, An Affair to Remember, anything James Bond, Creator, Before Sunset/Before Sunrise, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, West Side Story, Highlander, Silverado, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Year of the Comet (nobody saw it but my wife and I. It stars Tim Daly & Penelopi Ann Miller), The Professional and Somewhere in Time.

Television: There were some years when my wife would record all sorts of shows for me to catch up on during the morning. I worked Swing Shift those years. In the end, however, it just got to be too much of a burden. We do own several seasons of some shows on DVD. These are Mary Tyler Moore, Frasier and M*A*S*H. Some of the shows that I had to watch for fear that all life would cease to exist on this planet if I failed to do so would include: Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Pretender and The West Wing (Yes, I know. I vote GOP, but absolutely love a show about a liberal president! Yes, but the first few seasons were some of the best writing that television had ever seen!!).

Miscellaneous Favorites: Lactaid (Sorry, I'm lactose intolerant and like cheese and ice cream too much to quit eating it!); Snickers; chips and salsa; my quiet back yard which I pretty much did all by myself; Mexican Food; any book store that I run across; Berringer White Zin; Golf; Pepsi by itself and Coke when mixed with something greater than itself, usually Crown Royal; Disneyland; Monterrey, California; Carnival Cruises and Vamplit Publishing.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to mention any books. I will conclude these Sunday Morning Musings by mentioning some of the books that I have read and reread over the years. I discovered Headhunter by Michael Slade on a school field trip, part of which took us to a used book store. I have read everything by Slade since, but Headhunter is a mind-blower. I own many by Clive Barker and think that The Great and Secret Show and The Thief of Always are his best. My wife and I continue to follow Kay Scarpetta through the books of Patricia Cornwell. A Time to Kill is my favorite John Grisham. Over the years I have fallen off the bandwagon and then climbed right back up onto it to sit beside old Uncle Stevie; there are way too many to mention, but I'll list The Stand, Bag of Bones, The Dark Half and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon as some of Stephen King's best. Anne Rice's Servant of the Bones. I love Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs; however, I read the heck out of Red Dragon way before the film. My absolute favorite novel of all time, however, would have to be Pat Conroy's Beach Music. I never wanted to read this book, but was peer pressured into it by my sister-in-law who swore that it was the best thing since sliced bread or something. I can't really remember what she said, but I read it and I must say it is brilliant. Mr. Conroy writes the most beautiful prose that you will ever read. There is not one forced sentence in the entire book. Reading Beach Music is like tasting heavenly food. If you haven't read it, you simply must. He weaves multiple plot lines and flashbacks over the course of different time lines in a way that I could only hope and pray to be able to do. It is effortless and genius.

Have a great week. We'll talk soon.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's Going On?

Did I warn you that music would play an integral part in everything I do? You should see me at home. "I'm not washing the dishes-I'm listening to my Ipod. I'm not dusting or vacuuming-I'm listening to my Ipod." Get the picture?
The point of all of this, you may ask? Well, since no one has heard from me in a while on this thing called blog, I thought it fitting to use the late, great Marvin Gaye to help provide the ice breaker. That's him above. If you don't know that album, I highly recommend it.
So, now let me begin to fill you in on just exactly what has been goin' on with me of late. I have seen my novel published in multiple electronic formats, including for Apple's Iphone. Until recently, being published was only a dream, and now it has been fulfilled. Now, there's further word that the novel is headed for paperback, not by the end of the year, but perhaps a lot sooner than that. This was something I definitely did not think I would ever see. Holding my creation in my hands!
Okay, many of you knew this already. So, what else?
Well, the second book: Dance on Fire: Flashpoint, wrote itself during the time that I was looking for representation or a publisher. Draft one and two took eight months. And although I have a rough outline for book three, as well as chapter one written, the rest is all just floating around in my head; images and scenes and occasionally dialogue. I hadn't begun writing anymore of that because I wanted to see whether this thing was only a hobby or something more, something bigger. It turns out that this is something more, and just how big it might be remains to be seen.
Although a handful of sweet people have been buying the novel and telling me what they thought of it, and a handful more have asked for/won free copies, I have yet to hear how well received the novel might be. As I pen this, The Kingsburg High School is reading Dance and poised to feature it in the next edition of the student newspaper which is due just before Spring Break. The good people over at Traffic Magazine, a free and widely circulated Central Valley magazine, are doing a book review as well, and look to be featuring it in their April/May issue. From there the local newspaper, The Kingsburg Recorder, has also been pitched the idea. Whether they are interested or not, I really can't say, although I think I can safely guess that the answer will be a resounding: yes. That's not cockiness, talking. The novel is about vampires loosed in our city right near the start of the Swedish Festival (a real event), which just so happens to be the high point of our city's year. So, yes, I think they'll be interested...just a little bit!
I was going to title this post: the calm before the storm, because that's where we are, in a matter of speaking. I'm all over the Internet now. I have 57 fans on my Official James Garcia Jr Author's Page over on Facebook. A couple of times a week I'm hearing about someone who either just finished reading the novel, is reading the novel or is preparing to buy it. A couple times a week I have an opportunity to share with someone about it, because someone else will mention the subject (I don't like to hit people over the head with this). The reception in nearly every circumstance has been extremely positive.
Perhaps "eye of the storm" might have been a better title. A lot of exciting things have happened, but very shortly, so much more. Potentially, this could be a lot more...something bigger!
For now, I simply enjoy the goals that have been achieved. I sit back and listen to Marvin... Okay, you caught me. I should have said, "listen to Marvin on my Ipod while I finish doing the laundry". So, you were paying attention!
Well, Fire Enthusiasts, thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned. I'll be sure and let you know how it turns out...