Stalk me elsewhere

Monday, June 27, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. For me and my crazy schedule it is a time to catch up on some much needed sleep, attempt to take care of some stuff around the house, spend a little extra time with the family (hello, dear. *waves*) and, of course, to catch up on some extra stuff on my trusty laptop.

I'm currently waiting for my edits on Dance on Fire: Flashpoint to return to me. The talented Sue Midlock has created the cover art. I was involved with this one which was a pretty cool experience. I have a few other things that we can talk about in the near future, too.

In the meantime, however, I would simply like to tell/remind you about another blog that I occasionally write for: Something Wicked This Way Comes. You might remember the Ray Bradbury novel or perhaps the quote from Shakespeare's MacBeth. This blog is operated by Vamplit Published Authors and it is the home for dark and twisted book and film reviews, and also a place to showcase whatever we've got cooking at any particular moment.

Recently, I have managed to find some time to get some reading in. I read two fantastic novels and reviewed both of them there. One was Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker and the second was Seed by Ania Ahlborn. If you like that sort of thing, you really should investigate further by surfing on over and checking out my reviews. As a teaser, I can tell you that I will next be reviewing the 1980 classic, The Changeling. If you're like me and had yet to see this incredible film, then I hope you'll join me later this week where we'll be discussing it.

We'd really appreciate it if you came by. Many of you already have and we thank you.

We'll talk soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Dear

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts
So I had a polite quarrel with a sister in law once, before she and I had become family. You see my fiancĂ© and I were planning a Friday wedding for June 22, 1990. I say “we” but it was mostly my wife who did the work. I just want to make sure that I give the credit where the credit is due…

In any event, nobody gets married on a Friday was the argument. No, we needed to wait one more day and get married on Saturday which would have made more sense. I suppose that was a pretty good argument, except for one little thing. At the heart of the matter was the minor detail about that Friday being our two year dating anniversary. We met at junior college and became really good friends, until I went and fell in love and messed that all up. Thankfully, God was in the thing. When she told me that we would only ever be friends, I didn’t get mad, and we parted as friends. Over that summer, the woman who would eventually become my wife missed our time together and looked me up. She did not have my phone number, but managed to locate it through a friend of my brother. She called me June 22, 1988.

My friends, I may not be the most romantic guy in the world, but I am a little bit, and I was not about to get married on my two year anniversary plus one day. Hell, no! We became husband and wife on a Friday evening in my brother in law’s backyard in front of God and a large group of friends and family.

I tell you this because I want to acknowledge the woman who has stood beside me on this incredible journey that I suddenly find myself in. She knew that I was a writer when we met. During the course of our marriage that dream remained only that while two people became one flesh, and then eventually became a grand total of four. And after all of these years we find that the writing dream did not die, but simply waited.

I’m a published writer now. People are reading my words each and every week. Although I am all too often found sitting before my laptop after my very long and tiring day job, my wife has given me the space to do this, applauded my successes and loved me still.

I love you, too, dear, and I thank you for this and so much more. Happy Anniversary.
We’ll talk soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hello Fire Enthusiasts.
How is everyone? You know, I feel badly that I have done such a poor job of visiting your blogs. I typically see many of you on Twitter or Facebook and that’s great. However, one of the reasons why I left my spot at Wicked Writers was to free me up to do other things. I have been less successful with blogs, but I’m endeavoring to improve.

One of the reasons why I have been so busy is because I have really been doing a lot of events. Some of you may have seen a post or two concerning this fact, perhaps not. I have been asked to share how some of this has come about, so I’d like to take a few paragraphs to explain, if I may.
First of all, be aware that my ground is fertile. I wrote a vampire novel which takes place in my hometown. Not only did I mention Kingsburg, California, but I also used the neighboring towns and did a fair job of mentioning the valley in which these communities are located. I didn’t always feel that way about my area. People did not seem to notice me until I began doing events. I just want to make sure that folks understand because it isn’t the same thing as having written a western in Hawaii, for instance.

In any event, here’s how I have been able to start signing books:
Year One.
I spent the first year attempting to build a presence on the ‘Net. I covered most of the social networks. At some point or another I began writing for three blogs. During this time I garnered some reviews there. Six months into this effort, I had my local high school as well as a local magazine review the novel. The magazine review opened up an opportunity to write articles as the Kingsburg Beat Writer for a local on-line magazine that had just started up. Anticipating the soft cover version of the novel coming out, I joined the Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce and attended mixers.
Just as the first year was coming to a close my novel came out in soft cover. I began giving and selling copies, as well as attempting to garner reviews with it. I am in the first six months of this second year and I have been covered by my city newspaper (the Kingsburg Recorder), briefly mentioned by the newspaper in the largest city in my area (The Fresno Bee) and now reviewed in this month’s issue of Fresno Magazine.

Six Months into Year Two:
Being a member of the Chamber allowed me the opportunity to sell my novels in their building. I then partnered up with Pamela’s Boutique, a local shop in town. I had met the owner at my first mixer and she offered to sell copies in her store. Working for Kings River Life Magazine gave me an opportunity to attend my first library event. Then it was time for the annual Kingsburg Swedish Festival, a street fair of sorts that is the main draw of the year for us. I had a booth there and sold about 30 copies. Next, a wonderful group of ladies picked up my novel for their book club and then invited me to come and share my story with them and talk books. Recently, I had what promises to be the first of many author events at Pamela’s. I sold another 13 copies there.

(That's James, Sr. in the center)

The Next Six Months:

Armed with the excellent review from Fresno Magazine, I marched up to Fresno to speak with the big three: Barnes & Noble, Borders & Bereans. So far I have hit the corporate wall. They want me to e-mail corporate offices, see how many copies I’m selling and to know about return policies, etc. Vamplit Publishing is a new company which is building a firm foundation for itself and has a great stable of authors; however, we are not yet in a position to meet some of these requirements. I’m thinking that I’m going to back off a bit and focus on the smaller book stores in my area. I’m guessing that they will be more receptive. I have another library event planned for next month in Kingsburg, too.
So this is where I find myself, my friends. Things have gotten really exciting. The sequel to my first novel should be coming back to me shortly so that I may make some corrections. It should be published this year in both e-book and soft cover formats. I have already begun planning book three, although I am torn between wanting to pen book three of the trilogy and wanting to write something different.

(That's my great friend Mike, who I have known since grade school. He and his family came down to visit his parents and kept the surprise from me until he walked into the shop. Seeing the Graham family was the highlight of the night.)

As always you will be among the first to know.
Thanks so much for your interest, support and constant enthusiasm.
We’ll talk soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Morning Musings??

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I’m a little late posting this week. I usually try and have at least something posted for Monday. I’m still trying to figure out just what it is that I can handle at the moment. I had hoped to do a much better job visiting other blogs, but that still seems to be the one thing that I am having trouble doing. I’m sorry about this, by the way. I feel guilty as hell when I don’t know what’s going on with my blogger buddies.
Many of you know why this is and I hate to go over the same boring stuff: I work an 11 hour day job. My wife and sons have been very good about the fact that dad is married to his laptop every day, but I don’t have to like it. You know?
So I spend the little time that I can afford keeping up with article deadlines and promotion for Kings River Life Magazine, writing blog posts for myself, staying on top of Twitter and Facebook and now doing author events. For my next post I will discuss these events that I have been doing in detail, along with some of how they came about. I thought about doing a video blog for that one, but am unsure that it will work out. We’ll see.
In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a book that I just finished reading last week. Me, reading? Yes, it can happen! It is very rare, however. In any event, the novel is entitled Stop Me. It is a serial killer story that was done very well by author, Richard Jay Parker. I have had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Parker via the ‘net a few times and he seems like a really good guy. More importantly perhaps, he wrote a very good and very unique story, and I would like to tell you about it.
To read this review, please visit the Something Wicked This Way Comes Blog. It is a second blog that I contribute to, although far too infrequently. If you have yet to hear of it, then this is your chance to check it out. It is the home of several Vamplit Publishing authors. I don’t contribute as often as I would like, but I am hoping to do better in the future. The following is a teaser to get you to check out the review:

           howdy doody,

           on vacation

           slim, attractive, dreadlocked babe with a fun sticky-out bellybutton, likes rabbit fur

           forward this email to ten friends

           each of those friends must forward it to ten friends

           maybe one of those friends of friends of friends will be one of my friends

           if this email ends up in my inbox within a week I won’t slit the bitch’s throat

            can you afford not to send this on to ten friends?


We’ll talk soon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Happy Monday! No? *sigh* I agree with you. For most people there is no such thing as a happy Monday. If you are one of the few, good for you. If you are one of the majority (including me), then here's hoping that Monday will go easy on you.

My friends, these are exciting times. I'm doing author events now which have been marvelous. A big review just came out for me. The indications were that it would be favorable. Little did I know how favorable it would be!

I could tell you about this, as well as everything else that is going on; however, although this blog was designed as a vehicle for me to promote my work, even I don't want this site to become some sort of shrine to me. Let's keep the head/ego from getting too large, okay? Since I have a couple of events at the end of this week, there will be plenty of time for updates later. I will definitely fill you in on those details soon. For those who can't wait, please check out my Author's Facebook Page.

In the meantime, let's talk some music.

Most of you know how much music means to me. It is with that in mind that I would like to take a few moments to share my current playlist with you. It includes some old and some new.

Billy Joel: I don't know why, but I have been on one heck of a Joel kick for the last month or so. Although I appreciate most of Mr. Joel's catalog, I find myself drawn to everything that he recorded during the seventies. Some complete albums I already owned: Glass Houses, The Nylon Curtain and The Stranger. However, thanks to iTunes, I have been able to pour over that catalog and pick up several songs that I did not own. I have been playing the hell out of several cuts from Cold Spring Harbor, Turnstiles, 52nd Street and of course Piano Man.

SIXX: A.M.: If hard rock music is your genre, then you either know the tunes already or you recognise the name. Nikki Sixx is the bass player from Motley Crue. Apparently a book that he wrote which detailed his excesses ended up pushing him toward creating accompanying music. He did that and had a hit with "Life is Beautiful". However, it was only recently that I found a new album, quite by accident. It is called, This is Gonna Hurt. Being ever on the hunt for new music I thought that I would give it a shot. I was impressed with the musicians as well as the music. For the curious, check out the song "Lies of the Beautiful People".

Sammy Hagar: Yeah, I know. I just read his book, so now I've got his tunes stuck inside my head. Well, you'd be right. However, it's not his greatest hits that I find stuck there, but other stuff that I never really gave a chance. I've gone back and bought some of his earlier works from albums well before Three Lock Box, Standing Hampton and VOA. I bought a few songs from nearly every album, but find myself really playing Ten 13 and Not 4 Sale. I really love "Deeper Kinda Love", "Little Bit More" and "Tropic of Capricorn", but there's a lot of good stuff on the album named after his birthday in October. On the second one, "Halfway to Memphis" and "Things've Changed".

Warrant: So there I was a few weeks ago, looking for something new and I ended up stumbling across something old. I had five Warrant songs on my iPod and "Cherry Pie" was not one of them. Just sayin'! I can't stand that song. I feel demeaned just listening to it. However, I love "Uncle Tom's Cabin", "Heaven", "Down Boys" and "Sometimes She Cries". As my finger was going for the play button, I seemed to recall something about original singer Jani Lane being in some sort of trouble, so I wondered whether he was still in the band or not. It only took a moment to realize that this was definitely not old Warrant. I think I even frowned at the difference. Immediately, my finger began heading for the stop button. Yet, one second led to another and I was still listening. It may not have been the old stuff, but what I was hearing was damn good. Instead of turning it off, I tried another song. Then another. Folks, not only did I buy a few of those songs, I bought the whole thing!! If Rock music is your thing, try "Innocence is Gone" and "Sex Ain't Love". If you like the classic hair metal or power ballad stuff, try "Home", "What Love Can Do" and my absolute favorite, "Life's a Song". I love that some of the old bands that I grew up with are still rockin'. But I also love it when something old becomes new like this. I hope you'll give Warrant's new cd, Rockaholic a shot like I did. I can't turn it off!

That's not exactly true. I turn it off sometimes and play classic Billy Joel instead. ;)

Thanks for "listening".

We'll talk soon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Take on a Couple of Newer Films

Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. I hope everyone is doing well these days. I hope you are happily reading, writing and living.

My wife and I spent part of last weekend’s three glorious days off watching a pair of films, and I thought I would tell you about them.

The first film was Thor. We saw this one in the theater. We were looking for something to see as a family and we ended up choosing this one. Now, I must tell you that I grew up with Marvel Comics, so I was well acquainted with the mythology. However, considering the subject matter, I was not all that convinced that the filmmakers would be able to pull it off.

Thankfully, I can report that the film was pretty good. Even my wife thought it was okay, which surprised me. At first the film was too serious, but once the action turned toward Earth, we began to get some humor in the story which made it a good experience. If you like the Marvel films then I would recommend this one. It is definitely better than the terrible Hulk films.

This brings me to what I would call a disappointing film, Love and Other Drugs. Everyone and their mother knew that both Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway were going to be very naked in this film, but I guess I didn’t expect them to be completely naked most of the time. On top of that was the storyline of his brother who had no redeeming social qualities whatsoever. Also, seemingly every dirty word in the dirty-word handbook was used, and used frequently.

My hope going in was that although the film was R-rated, the payoff would be well worth it. Unfortunately, though it is interesting to see Hathaway’s character deal with her affliction and sweet to see her and Gyllenhaal’s character together, I found most of the film difficult to watch with my wife in the room. We've seen some things and heard some language in our twenty-plus years of movie-watching together, obviously. I just didn’t feel that this one was worth it.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m no angel. My eyes like to see eye candy like the next guy. However, as a body of work, I did not feel as if the story (which was a good premise) warranted the huge amounts of profanity and nudity that ended up in the final version of the film. I expected more from Edward Zwick. He’s the director who gave us Glory, Legends of the Fall and The Last Samurai.

Okay, I’ve said my peace. What do you folks think? Have you seen either film yet? If so, do you agree or disagree with me? How so? Am I making too much of Love’s nudity? As an amusing aside, a day later I caught a commercial for a showing on television of Hathaway’s film, The Princess Diaries. She looked so innocent and sweet in that, but I was suddenly picturing her naked. I almost jabbed out my eyes! Lol!

We’ll talk soon.