Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Season Ends, Another Begins

Its amazing how quickly four months goes by. It's a third of the year. And for me, it goes by like a long weekend. Football is officially over for me, at least on a such a time-consuming level that I can't write. My high school team that I coach finished with four straight losses to end the year 4-6. Not what we wanted, of course, and certainly not the high expectations that we started the year with. Over 20 seniors and you are supposed to be in contention. And we were. Of the six losses, we were ahead on the scoreboard in four of those in the second half. Not good times. Bad times. Oh well, this season is over and it's time to move on to another season... the one where I promised myself that I would finish one middle grade novel and one thriller. But to quote Lee Corso on ESPN's "College Game Day", "Not so fast, my friend!"

My wife due to give birth to our second child in the next two weeks. And if you haven't had a child, it has a tendency to cut into your plans. So writing is on my list of things to do, but it is rapidly being moved down the list, replaced by diapers, bottles, late-night feedings, and other baby-type stuff. Maybe I should just write in my Daddy blog!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Writing, Football and Other Stuff

We had our first official game of the high school football season Friday night. 35-6, we were on the winning end, but we played like donkey doo-doo. No focus, no emotion, no energy. I don't care what the score is, I want to play a good game. Winning is great, and I'll take it, but I want a well-played game. Hey, that's the coach in me.

College football started as well and my Ole Miss Rebels revealed something that I had been afraid of since the start of pre-season practice reports leaking out of the Oxford, MS campus: they are not a very good football team. A 14-13 loss to BYU showed that the offense has little to no weapons, and the defense is going to be called on to win a lot of games when they aren't capable of it. I hope I'm wrong...

On the writing front, not much is in the "Works In Progress" file. In fact, nothing is. Football season tends to do that. However, I did get an article published in Mississippi Magazine, so that was fun. My mom said they passed it out at The Grove on Ole Miss's campus for all the tailgaters. That is ultra-cool! If they made their way to this site via the magazine, welcome! Email me at and let's get to know each other.

I have done no promoting, no writing, and barely any thinking about writing recently. Unless you count writing a film breakdown on how to beat Palm Beach Central's 4-4 and how to combat their Jet motion counter and iso. No, that doesn't add to my word count.

Keep reading, folks! Rick Frost will return soon in a book tentatively called Rick Frost & the Escape from Gotham. And yes, it's set in the Capitol City of the World, New York! Talk to you soon!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mississippi Magazine

An essay I wrote about football in the South is featured in Mississippi Magazine this month. For their August/September issue, they always have a field guide full of articles about football, hunting, tailgating, etc. My piece is in the "On Being Southern" section.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A New Blurb

This is from best-selling noir writer Mike Dennis, whose latest novel SETUP ON FRONT STREET is available from Amazon. If you know of Mike and his writing, you know he's got the goods. If you have never picked up his stuff, why wait? Here's what he had to say about THE BACKSEAT VIRGIN: A SOUTH FLORIDA NOIR COLLECTION:

"Florida crime fiction writers had better make room for Scott Chase. His original voice rises from the Miami demimonde and drags the reader deep into its underbelly. These tough stories are what noir is all about."

Sounds like it's time for me to start writing some more noir. Unfortunately, my writing and posting will be cut drastically starting next week. It's August, as you know, and that means the start of football. As the coach for kickers and punters, as well as co-special teams coordinator at the high school where I work, my world is going to revolve around the pigskin. I usually kiss my wife and son on or around the first weekend in August and say "See ya in November!"

So to my readers and those who keep up with this blog, *smack*... See ya in November!!

Not really, I'll keep you guys updated on what's going on with the team.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rick Frost Has Arrived

This is ultra-cool!!! How about this for publicity? From an airport in South Florida:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

I thought about writing a long, heartfelt blog about my feelings for this country, and specifically the men and women who have fought to make it free. I thought about doing what countless others will do today, and rightly so. Because freedom isn't free, and needs to be defended. But I decided to let someone far smarter, far greater and much more of a hero than I ever will be do the honors today. From his speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, here is Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States:

"These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life...and left the vivid air signed with your honor…."

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you."

God bless America, and Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Backseat Virgin

I like shadows in my stories. Superheroes are great, so are adventure stories and even the occasional drama. But I prefer all of those to have at least a hint of darkness in them. Make me choose between Spider-man and The Punisher, and I'm taking Frank Castle every day (for those of you who are confused, that's The Punisher's real name). I rarely, if ever, root for the perfect hero. It's just not fun to follow someone who has nothing wrong with them. Because of that, I like writing those kinds of characters. Rick Frost, the main character of my YA adventure series, does have a dark side to him. I've only really hinted at it so far, but it is coming out more and more in later books. But that wasn't enough...

THE BACKSEAT VIRGIN: A SOUTH FLORIDA NOIR COLLECTION is four short stories and one short novella that don't just wade into those shadows, but dive in head first. I love writing noir, which is a style of literature that doesn't avoid the darkness, but glorifies it. The characters in noir stories are heading for doom; there's no avoid it. There is no happy ending, only an end.

These stories are set in South Florida in the late 1970's and early 1980's in the middle of the drug boom. Cocaine was just being discovered and had started to take off as America's drug of choice, and South Florida was where over 90% of it came into the country. With all that money, drugs, greed and power packed into one area, it was inevitable that darkness was going to creep in and take over. These stories highlight that darkness.

If you don't mind walking into the shadows with me, then click above and take the journey. I hope you like reading it as much as I loved writing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Review Up

This review is special. It is by Conner, a kid who is in the age group I was going for with Rick Frost & the Alaskan Adventure. His mom, Michelle, runs the That's What She Read book review blog. I want to thank her and Conner for their time and the opportunity to send them my book.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Little Honesty Please

Finally, the impact of self-publishing digitally cannot be ignored. John Locke, the author not the character on "Lost", is eighth on the list of authors who have sold over a million copies of their novels on Kindle. It's official. Don't believe me? It's in the Los Angeles Times, so it has to be true.

I have some problems with the article. Carolyn Kellogg, the writer of the piece, gives you straight facts in the first two paragraphs: Locke is from Kentucky, he's the eighth writer to achieve this milestone and the first to do so without a traditional publisher behind him. All true and all nice to know. But this is where the news ends and the scorn begins.

Observe the slant of the press in action: First sentence of paragraph three is "But at what cost?" Either it was intended as a nice pun, or Kellogg is just sour. The rest of the third paragraph and the fourth are more facts. She discusses Locke setting his price at 99 cents, Kindle Direct Publishing allowing authors to set their own price, the royalty rates of 70% for ebooks between $2.99 and $9.99, as well as the 35% you get for books lower or greater than that range.

Kellogg then writes "Which means Locke receives slightly less than 35 cents per Kindle ebook he sells." This sentence is by itself, in its own little paragraph. Anyone who writes knows that if you do that, you want the reader's eyes drawn to that sentence. She goes on to say, "Locke makes money with his 99 cent gambit than he would selling the same number of books with a traditional publisher."

Hey, Carolyn... sorry, Ms Kellogg, as that's how respected journalists want to be addressed, I have a response to your statement:

So freaking what?!

And yeah, I put that by itself; I want Ms Kellogg's eyes drawn to it. So what if Locke, or Amanda Hocking or I want to sell our books for 99 cents? So what if we don't go the way of the "traditionally published" authors? Why should we do it? Just because you want us to?

Let me get off the rant for just a second to continue the analysis. Don't worry, I'll come back to it. She goes on to say that Lock "puts a downward price pressure on Kindle ebooks in the process." Really? He does? So because he prices his books at 99 cents, that means that everyone who publishes through KDP has to do the same thing right? Apparently, Donovan Creed, Locke's hero in his under-priced books, has a gun to the head of every self-published writer in the world.

According to the logic of Ms Kellogg's column (and yes, it's a column, Carolyn, not a news piece), the only reason a reader buys the Creed books is because Locke prices them at 99 cents. And you won't buy a book priced at $2.99, or $3.99, or $12.99 will you? Oh, damn... wait. There's seven other people who have sold a million copies of their books on Kindle and none of them has a single book priced at 99 cents. Wonder how come readers are buying those books? Maybe Donovan Creed really can't be in more than one place at a time.

And this "downward price pressure" you talk about, Ms Kellogg? Price, as you should have learned in basic economics, isn't "set" by the producer. It is set by the consumer, in this case the reader. If readers didn't buy Locke's books at 99 cents, then he'd change the price. I know that because I'm going to assume he's a smart guy. He did write a few books.

Sorry, Ms Kellogg, I forgot. The only reason Patterson, Connelly, Charlaine Harris, Steig Larsson and the other traditionally published authors got to the hallowed million-sales pedestal is because they have a publisher behind them. Nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they are good writers. Nope, its not that.

Look at this statement: "If he sold a million Kindle e-books at 99 cents, he'd clear $346,500 -- nice work if you can get it. But if he were working with a traditional publisher, that $346,500 might be a lot closer to $1 million." Yes, it would be closer to a million. And the publisher would be raking in about ten to twenty times that million that Locke would be receiving... or the million the other seven on the list are getting. With Locke, he's keeping a larger percentage of the money.

Why the focus on money, Ms Kellogg? If writing were just about money, then everyone would be pumping out vampire novels. Yes, there's a lot of them. But people are devouring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice novels and there's not a vampire or sparkling teenager to be found. What's number one in fiction right now according to traditional sources? Tom Clancy's Against All Enemies. My Lord, Clancy is soooo 80's! Spies and espionage and right-wing crazies trying to destroy the world, right? How could he be number one if the focus is only on money and what sells, Ms Kellogg? Number two is a love story from a thriller writer, David Baldacci. Yeah, that's money-driven isn't it? A guy turning his back on all his fans just to write something from his heart. Give me a break. (Disclosure: I like Clancy, and his spies and espionage and right-wing heroes saving the world.)

To justify her position, Ms Kellogg invokes the name of self-published royalty, none other than Amanda Hocking, she of the instant success that make legends. "not everyone can sell 1 million e-books in five months. "In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books," cautioned one observer. Who? None other than Amanda Hocking, who was the first self-published million-seller to make headlines."

Did Amanda Hocking say that? Yes. Is it true? Yep, it is. But here's a few dirty little secrets for you: 1) not everyone who signs with a traditional publisher will sell more than a few hundred books; 2) those people who don't sell with traditional publishers can turn themselves into successes with hard work in the self-published world; and 3) its okay if you only sell a hundred books, because you are doing something you have wanted to do, not sitting on your tail wishing you had.

That is really what is bothering Ms Kellogg and the rest of the naysayers. We are doing something that has been a dream for a long time. For a lot of us, we have wanted to create a world, spin a yarn and have someone else read it. We are, to paraphrase my buddy Mark Terry, arrogant enough to think that someone might want to read our dreams. But we are doing it ourselves, not relying on someone else.

To Ms Kellogg and those like her, publishers sitting in New York are the ones who should determine what books sell. John Locke, Amanda Hocking and those of us who are self-publishing think that the readers should determine that. They are the ones we write for ultimately, right?

One last thing, and it a glaring case of not only how biased Ms Kellogg is, but also how arrogant she is. I'll quote her again: "not everyone can sell 1 million e-books in five months. "In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books," cautioned one observer. Who? None other than Amanda Hocking, who was the first self-published million-seller to make headlines."

I added the bold and italics to emphasize the mistake. If Amanda Hocking is the "first self-published million-seller", then how come there's not nine authors in the hallowed list that sparked this article in the first place. Could it be that with Locke, the media had to reluctantly admit that someone who didn't go the traditional route has done what they thought was impossible? So why isn't Hocking in there?

Because Carolyn Kellogg, the Los Angeles Times and the media do not want self-published authors to be a success.

They want us to fail.

News flash, Ms Kellogg... we've already succeeded.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whats In A Name

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schitzophrenia.” E.L. Doctorow said that. He was the author of the novel Ragtime, which the famous movie and play are based on, so the dude knows of which he speaks. But I am not sure if he was talking about pen names. However, in today’s world, he might as well be.

Just look at all of us out here. Nora Roberts writes sometimes as JD Robb. Stephen King had Richard Bachman. Joe Konrath (real name) writes under J. A. Konrath, Jack Kilborn, and now Joe Kimball. Heck, even Stan Lee, the creator of some of the greatest comics ever is really named Stanley Martin Leiber. Why do we do it?

Is it because we want to be someone else for a while? Because we want to keep ourselves hidden, even in the midst of putting our deepest dreams and hopes out on a page for the world to see? Or is because we just want to keep things straight in our minds, and perhaps in the minds of our readers?

I write under a pen name. My initial reason was more the last one than either of the other two. First, I wrote a book that was a pure thriller. It involved terrorism, a small town and was a lot of fun to write. But then I had an idea for a set of adventure novels. They would turn into the Rick Frost adventure series, of which two are currently available for purchase here and here (how’s that for a plug?). I still had ideas for more thrillers, some straight mysteries, and even had written a collection of noir short stories. So would they all be released under the same name? I put that question to my team of advisors, also known as my wife and a few close writing friends. Their answers were mixed, some in favor of a pen name, some not.

I decided to do it because I didn’t want the kids who would read my Rick Frost young adult adventures picking up my South Florida noir stories and delving into the dark and seedy side of life. So if one was written by Todd Bush, and the other by my pen name, then the kid wouldn’t know the difference. That is unless they did about five seconds worth of research on the internet and made the connection.

So what pen name would I pick? My name is Todd. But for some reason, people they either don’t know me, or know me and forget my name, always call me Scott. Don’t know why, just happens that way. I don’t have a bother named Scott, don’t even have friends named Scott. It just comes out. Maybe I look like a Scott. But I combined it with a random last name and got my pen name: Scott Chase.

Now I have my noir collection coming out next month. It is all about what happens away from the glitz and glamour of South Florida; how it was before the drug wars, and how it got to be the place it is today. The stories are not happy, not resolved at the end in a nice, neat little bow. But they are fun to write and, I hope, fun to read. They are also written by Scott Chase.

But do we use pen names so that we get to delve into a part of ourselves that doesn’t get to come out and play often? Perhaps that’s the case, because I don’t often get to show my love for the shadows, and curiosity for what’s happening behind the “Employees Only” and “Do Not Enter” signs at clubs and bars. Also, my mom worries about putting writing out that is… how to put it… less than holy might be an interesting way of saying it. So maybe writing under a pen name allows me to hide a little bit, even if I don’t want to. Let’s face it, if writing isn’t honest, then it doesn't have a prayer of being good.

Pen names have been around since the beginning of published writing. Ben Franklin even used one. They will still be around. I know a lot of indie writers who are using them to keep the genres they write in separate. But I am not going to hide that I am Todd Bush and Scott Chase. That wouldn't be honest. And I want to have at least a prayers chance of being good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I am a man without direction today. Father’s Day, the holiday we set aside to thank those who have taught us how to drive a car, check the oil, stand up for ourselves, and love the women in our lives… and for me, it simply a day I want to be over.

I have a son. He’s two years old. But today, he and my wife are on a trip to visit family and friends. I am happy for them. Most of the people who live up there have not seen my son, so it’s good that they went. But they are not here. I can’t hold him… kiss him… watch the US Open with him… I simply want the day to be over.

I had a father. He was 64. February 3 I received a call that he passed away. It was sudden, quick and still hurts. Today is not only Father’s Day, it is the final round of golf’s second major of the year, the US Open. My father loved golf. He taught me and my brother to play the game. I am decent, but don’t practice; my brother was a teaching pro who still is a scratch golfer. Every major tournament, as it came down to the back nine, when stress levels rose for the players and excitement built in my heart, I called my dad. His voice was also a little higher, a little more animated. He loved the game. We would dissect what was happening. As the tournament ended, I’d call for our own wrap-up show. It was better than anything you’d see on TV because it included talk about my son, my wife, and life in general.

But he is not here. I can’t hug him… shake his hand… listen to his laugh… watch the final round of the US Open with him… get excited as the holes ticked down…

I simply want the day to be over.

Happy Father’s Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sword of Calibum in Print

RICK FROST & THE SWORD OF CALIBUM is officially available in print!

Also, if you look to the right, you can order an autographed copy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Game of Outcasts

My favorite new TV show is “Game of Thrones” on HBO. The real hook that pulled me in was Sean Bean. He is one of my all-time favorite actors, always has been since I saw him in Patriot Games. Then he nailed all the Sharpe movies and finally, he was Boromir in the Lord of the Rings movies; maybe the best casting job of the whole thing. Bean is the consummate actor, who can play a good guy or a bad guy with enough charisma to make you like, or at least identify with, his character. He is terrific as Lord Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones.

However, a strange thing happened on my way to watching Bean kick some serious Lannister butt up and down the King’s Road. I found a character that I liked better than Bean’s Stark: Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf… the Imp… played wonderfully by Peter Dinklage. He is smart, hysterically funny and more than just the comic relief: he is the most well-rounded character in the whole group.

There is a scene where Tyrion is talking to Stark’s bastard son Jon, who is feeling sorry for himself because he is not recognized as an official son of the Lord of Winterfell. Jon has been seated with the servants during a feast, so he leaves and is outside brooding (good word, huh?). Tyrion, who is no stranger to being alienated, picked on, and looked down upon , literally, gives Jon some advice about being a bastard.

Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

When I heard it, I wrote it down because I knew it was special. Now a month or so later, I know that Tyrion Lannister was speaking to all of us who have chosen to self-publish. Because as much as we have pumped ourselves up for all that we have accomplished as a group and individually, we have become the bastards of the writing world.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the facts. As Joe Konrath pointed out on his blog, the Mystery Writers of America will not accept self-published authors, no matter how successful they might be. Also, announced on June 9 that best-selling author Michael Connelly had become the seventh member of the “over one million e-books sold for the Kindle” club, with the other six members being Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, and Suzanne Collins… and they left out Amanda Hocking and John Locke, who will soon join that club. Do a search on book bloggers who review books and you’ll find that most of them say absolutely and unequivocally “no!” to self-published books… and these aren’t corporate reviewers attached to magazines with millions of subscribers; these are folks sitting in their homes blogging in their spare time. Then, read the blogs of the most famous literary agents in the country and notice how they refer to the e-book craze as a curiosity, almost like you would describe a really interesting looking shirt hanging on a rack, and they talk about self-publishing like it’s the modern day equivalent of leg warmers and the pet rock.

You don’t have to go to Konrath’s blog or the message boards to see the scorn. Walk up to a friend you haven’t seen in a while and tell them that you are now a published author. You’ll probably get the wide eyes and the “Oh, wow!” look. Then tell them that you self-published. The “Oh, wow!” look just became a “Man, that’s too bad” sympathetic frown. Ever told someone that you won a contest, then that the prize was a fruit cake? Same look.

This is not the way it has to be. I say we learn from Lord Tyrion Lannister. The quote is good enough to say again. We should all frame it. Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

He is right. The world will never let us forget that we are – GASP! – self-published. Amanda Hocking signed a seven-figure deal with St. Martin’s Press. But the first time she goes to a conference or awards banquet, she’ll get the looks as she walks up, and if not then, definitely as she walks away from any crowd of the glorious, most-esteemed traditionally-published ones. “She started out self-publishing, you know… on the computer. Poor thing, probably had to eat grilled cheese and Spaghetti O’s, too.”

We should revel in the fact that we are doing this our own way. That we had the cajones to do something that others couldn’t bear to do. That is important, but it’s not exactly what Tyrion was talking about. We should do it better than those who are traditionally published. Write better books, craft characters that are so real that readers fall in love with them, take those who buy our work on a path so astonishing, so enjoyable that they will not be the same after they turn off their e-reader or put down their print copy.

As self-published writers, the publishing world’s bastards, we must be extraordinary. Tyrion Lannister, if you have only seen the show and not read the books I won’t ruin anything, but suffice to say he is a highly intelligent survivor who always seems to defy those who think he is too short, too stupid, or too much of a bastard in his own right to ever achieve anything.

He proved them wrong. So should we.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guest Post: Mark Terry

Todd: Mark Terry is an award-winning novelist, creator of the Derek Stillwater series, blogger, and an all-around great guy. He's also an email friend who has been a big help and influence on my writing career so far. His latest novel, The Valley of Shadows, is not only a new Stillwater adventure, it's available in hardcover and as an e-book. By the way, anyone who can start off a blog entry by quoting Crash Davis is alright with me. Here's Mark!

Fear & Arrogance

By Mark Terry

If you remember the movie "Bull Durham," at one point Kevin Costner's character, Crash Davis, tells Tim Robbins' character, Nuke LaLoushe, that "you have to play this game with fear and arrogance."

To which Nuke says, "Fear and ignorance. Got it."

Well, when it comes to the fiction biz, maybe they're both right.

I've often thought it takes a serious kind of arrogance (bordering on megalomania) to think that our daydreams not only would be of interest to other people, but of such interest that they would pay money for the privilege of sharing them. I know I'm supposed to say that there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but I actually suspect in this case that there's a wide gray borderland here littered with the corpses of unfinished and unpublished novel manuscripts, lying alongside abandoned dreams and failed writing careers--this is where the artist resides most of the time, and has to for their own protection. If there's anything that can kill a creative project better than fear, I don't know what it is.

The thing that makes novel writing so difficult is it's absolutely impossible to know if you're doing it right (or well). It's almost impossible to be objective about your own work, especially when you're in the middle of it. You may spend weeks or months or years working on something that you think is wonderful only for it to be a piece of crap. Or you may struggle with something you think is a piece of crap, but when you finish it and read it, find that it's just as good as anything else you've written. I know these feelings all too well.

That's fear.

Most novelists I've talked to who are regularly published also have this fear: I'm not going to be able to do it again, I won't get published and I'm going to have to go get some "real" job that I hate.

When really stressed, I have dreams (nightmares) that the writing didn't work out and I had to go back to work at the hospital.

PJ Parrish commented once to me that when she's stressed, she has nightmares about the writing not working out and having to go back to working at Big Boy.

I believe it.

It's a dream job, but it's not all roses. I'm not whining. I'm just pointing out that Crash Davis (or the scriptwriter, whose name eludes me at the moment) was probably right: we play this game with fear and arrogance.

What do you think? Are you all cocky, sure you’re the best thing since brewed beer? Or do you fear you’re writing garbage?

Todd Adds: Ron Shelton is the name you're looking for, Mark as far as the screenwriter of "Bull Durham" and my answer to your questions is that everyone who thinks they have something that another person not only wants to hear, read, see or experience, but needs to hear, read, see or experience has to have arrogance.

My dad once said that anyone who runs for political office has to be able to go into a room full of people and without knowing any of them, believe in his heart that he has better answers and greater solutions to the country's problems than all of them. A writer almost has to be the same way.

But just like most politicians (and if you don't believe me, check out the news lately), we need validation. We need someone to tell us that what we are doing is just as good as we think it is. And that is where the fear comes in. Great post by Mark. Check out his books, they are a great read!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can I Have an Autographed Copy?

Do you have many times I've heard that question or different variances of it?

"Can I have an autographed copy?"

"When do I get my autographed copy?"

"I want a free copy, and I want it signed!"

That last one is the one that bothers me as an author. This is a touchy subject, but I have promised a lot of people that I would never hold back from telling the truth on this blog and in my writing. To paraphrase Stephen King, "if you lie in your writing, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your readers."

I would never think to ask one of my author friends who has just published a book that they have slaved over for years, cried over in moments of darkness and despair, and finally bounced with joy as they held it in their hands (or saw it on their e-reader for the new generation) to give me a copy of their book. I want to buy their baby, the book that has been their dream for as long as they can remember. I want to support them, support their career. And the easiest way I can do that? Buy their book, not ask for a free one.

So, I have added a button on my website called "Want an Autograph?" It is a Pay Pal button that will send you to their website where you can purchase an autographed copy of one (or both) of the Rick Frost books. I will autograph the book, then send it to the address associated with your Pay Pal account. If you want, send me an email with the Pay Pal info and your address to so you can double up on the information distribution.

The price is $10.00 for an autographed copy. Normally, the book is $8.99, but this way I can take care of shipping. So, all those who want their copy autographed, now you have a way! I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Irresistibility Sweet Blog Award

MUCHO thanks to Carolyn Arnold for nominating me for the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award! Now I have to pass on the love, and there's rules.

These are stipulations:
1) Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2) Share 7 random things about yourself.
3) Pass the award on to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4) Contact them to let them know.

So here's my 7 random things about me:

- I have a dog that's named after my favorite book character, Detective Harry Bosch.

- I coach inside linebackers, running backs and special teams at the high school where I work.

- My in-laws just learned out to Skype, and that is hours of free entertainment.

- I graduated from a college that has an official mascot (Statesmen) and an unofficial mascot, the Fighting Okra.

- I love college football, so much so that my family knows not to mess with me on Saturdays.

- I started learning to write on a blog about being in the Air Force overseas.

- My wife is pregnant with our second child!!!

Next, here's my deserving blog buddies that haven't been mentioned by others (I don't have 15):

Once again, a big thanks to Carolyn!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Win An Autographed Copy

I am going to be giving away an AUTOGRAPHED copy of RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE June 15th!

To be entered, all you have to do is to send an email to and tell me you want to enter the contest.

It was supposed to be an adventure in the wilds of Alaska, a test of manhood for all the boys signed up on the school trip. Instead it was nothing more than a long hike through some pretty trees. That is until Rick Frost and his friend Ben Nakni see a plane crash into the forest. A real adventure has just found them.

The only survivors of the crash are Robert Blair and his daughter Alexis, who just happens to be the hottest teen actress in Hollywood. She was on her way to make a movie in the Katmai National Forest when the unthinkable happened. Rick and Ben pull them out of the wreckage as a team of assassins arrive to finish the job.

The crash was no accident. Someone wants Alexis Blair dead and that puts Rick Frost in the cross hairs. He wanted an adventure; he got a wild ride through the unforgiving wilderness of America's last frontier.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

Freedom isn't free. It is bought with blood and the lives of those who are willing to sacrifice for those they have never met. On this Memorial Day, visit a cemetery... remember a relative or friend... or say a prayer, thanking God for men and women who have the guts, the fortitude and the patriotism to lay down their lives so that we can enjoy everything we have.

God Bless America

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Two Book Recommendations

I'm recommending two books today written by good friends of mine. Both are in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense category.

First up is Ties That Bind: A Madison Knight Novel by Carolyn Arnold. "When a woman is found strangled in her home, Detective Madison Knight and her partner Terry Grant rule it an isolated incident. But when another woman is murdered by the same line of neckties, they know it isn’t a coincidence. Now they must figure out the connection so they can stop a potential serial killer before he gets to his third victim."

Carolyn is a great writer, a better friend and one of the smartest people I know when it comes to the craft of writing. I read her blog all the time for tips on how to be better. I highly recommend her book.

Next is Storm Rising: A Kelli Storm Novel by Kenneth Hoss. "When a murder investigation turns Detective Kelli Storm’s attention to a drug kingpin, the last thing she expected was to find a link to her father’s killer from twenty years earlier. "

Ken is a guy who is not only a friend, but an inspiration to anyone who thinks they can't do something. He is one of the most persistant, dedicated guys I know and I am not ashamed to say I admire him greatly. He is also a great writer. Highly recommend this one as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Review and Interview

I had the joy of being interviewed by the website "Have Coffee... Will Write." It was a great experience and I hope it's the first of many! Read it here.

The same site also just put up a review by one of their tremendous writers.

I have other reviews coming out and will let you guys know about them, good or bad.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Time Is Here

After years of writing, editing, querying, rejections and decisions... the time is here. My first novel is available.

RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE is officially out and available on and as an e-book. Here's the synopsis:

It was supposed to be an adventure in the wilds of Alaska, a test of manhood for all the boys signed up on the school trip. Instead it was nothing more than a long hike through some pretty trees. That is until Rick Frost and his friend Ben Nakni see a plane crash into the forest. A real adventure has just found them.

The only survivors of the crash are Robert Blair and his daughter Alexis, who just happens to be the hottest teen actress in Hollywood. She was on her way to make a movie in the Katmai National Forest when the unthinkable happened. Rick and Ben pull them out of the wreckage as a team of assassins arrive to finish the job.

The crash was no accident. Someone wants Alexis Blair dead and that puts Rick Frost in the cross hairs. He wanted an adventure; he got a wild ride through the unforgiving wilderness of America's last frontier.

If you are interested in purchasing a print copy, be patient for me. It will be available in a couple of weeks.

Thanks to everyone for your help, your support and I hope you enjoy RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

T-minus One Week

If I were an astronaut, you'd have me and my book sequestered at NASA, just going over the mission plan a few hundred more times, completely a few more tests and then getting ready for lift off. If my book and I were a football team, we'd been in the town where the Super Bowl was being held, with two or three more practices scheduled, as well as media day and the last two nights spent away from everyone before the big game.

But I'm just a self-published writer and my book is a simple YA adventure novel. We don't get to be sequestered (thank God, I could be on the Casey Anthony jury!) or go to a media day (which would damn sure help with sales). We only get to work on the edits for the second novel, and start writing the third.

RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE comes out May 15, exactly one week from today. The print copy will be coming out very soon thereafter. I am still a little shocked that this is happening. But it is, and soon you'll have a new hero in your midst, one who has a lot of adventures to go and hopefully a long time to get there.

I look forward to talking with you guys soon, and I hope you'll pick up a copy (on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc. for e-books; Amazon for the print version) of RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE!

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mom's out there, who gave birth to us, who nurtured us, who taught us, who coached us, who cared for us, who supported us, who worried about us, who cried with us, who smiled as we walked down the aisle, who stood waiting outside the hospital room door even with the nurse said not to, who spoils our kids, and who is the angel God created especially for us...

THANK YOU!!! We love you, Mom!!!!


Friday, May 6, 2011

I Write Alone

"A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right." ~John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961

When Mr. Hutchens wrote that, he might have directed the quote to the enormity of the task set before every writer as he or she sits down at the keyboard to try and create a new world out of thin air. But he touched on something so fundamental, so essential, and so powerfully sad that it might be missed as you read the words. To write is to be alone.

I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And yes, I realize it is actually a saga (no, Stephanie Meyer didn't invent that word) because of The Hobbit. I love the books, and I love the movies. The imagery, the drama, the thrills, the characters... I love everything about it. Remember the scene in the movies when Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry are back at the The Green Dragon (the pub in Hobbiton) after their adventure to destroy the Ring of Power. They each have a mug of ale in front of them, and as the party goes on all around them, the four friends simply look at each other with small, almost strained smiles on their faces. They are silent, then clink their mugs together in an unseen salute to the victory only they will fully understand or appreciate.

That's what it's like to be a writer. You and you alone know the immense amount of thought and planning it took to build the story. Only you know understand every little nuance of the character's lives. And even though many have, or will, read the book, only you know what happened between the lines and behind the scenes.

But beyond those things, there is the craft itself. Why the word "but" is better in once instance instead of "however;" when you read through the first draft for the first time months after writing the first words and discover a thread of theme loosely tied in the story arc; or how minor characters from your story are literary descendants of the greats like Gatsby, Othello or Bob Cratchit. No one who isn't a writer cares about these things. They don't want to hear about them. When you even mention writing, if the first few words out of your mouth aren't "royalties" or "advance" or "sales" then people aren't interested. Their eyes glaze over and if they were honest, they'd listen to you ramble forever, then when you ask them for a comment on something, they'd say "I'm sorry I quit listening ten minutes ago; I'm thinking about what I'm having for dinner tonight."

A writer sits at his keyboard, stares at the blinking cursor, and to paraphrase someone a lot smarter than I am, waits for blood to drip from their forehead. We agonize over things, pour over details and sweat each paragraph, sentence and word. Then after each painful battle has been fought, when the climb up the insurmountable mountain has been made and we stand on the peak of our own writing-centered Everest, we have to endure that most horrific and gut-wrenching of blows: to be rejected, however benignly, by those whose interest and praise we want the most.

It is a terrible fall and for some writers, famously it sent them into tailspins. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, they both drank themselves into an early grave. The list of writers who have destroyed themselves through addiction, depression or some combination of both is as long as some of our novels. How to avoid being one of them? I don't have the answer. Only a knowing nod, a small strained smile and a raised mug of Green Dragon ale. Drink hearty, my friends.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lombardi On Writing

There once was a guy named Vince Lombardi. He was a football coach. He won a lot of games, including the first two Super Bowls as the coach of the Green Bay Packers. He was also known as a supreme motivator and teacher. And he was one of the baddest SOB's to ever roam the sports world. What could he possible have to say about writing? Glad you asked!

Lombardi once said "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." Now before your tender heart, with your precious little 7-year old who picks you the best bouquets of daisies while he's supposed to patrolling right field, and the wonderful league you're a part of that doesn't give trophies out because 'we're all winners here!' start writing me hate mail, understand something: life doesn't give you a break because your feelings get hurt. I am not one of those "wouldn't it be great if everyone was equal and people were nice to each other" guys. I am a "life is unfair, there's always going to be someone better than you, and you are not going to win every time, so you better learn that lesson early on" kind of man. I'm also going to be that kind of parent to my son. He's only two, so winning and losing are foreign concepts to him, however they won't be when he's 32.

How does that "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing" quote apply to writing? Well, what is your writing goal? Is it to be able to hang published author behind your name whenever you introduce yourself at a cocktail party? That's fine. Is it to see your book next to all your heroes in Barnes & Noble? Knock yourself out. Do you want to be the next James Patterson and evolve (or devolve as some would say) from just a writer to a brand? Good luck to you. Whatever your goal is, you need to be clear about it and, this is the really important part, go all out until you reach it! Why quit if that's your goal? As Duke told Rocky when he was in the 15th round against the Russian, "all your strength, all your power, all your love, everything you got!" Now, a caveat if I may: be realistic about your goal. If you can't write a legible paragraph, then your desire to out-King King will probably not happen. But set your goal and win at it; that's all that should matter to you.

Lombardi is also the guy who said "The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work." If you don't write a lot, read a lot and then work hard at your craft, then why keep doing it? I am not perfect (read my book and find out, it comes out May 15... how's that for a plug!), but I am working on it. I am trying my best to get better with every sentence. And if the last sentence sucks, then I make the next one better. If you aren't working, you'll never get to that goal you set earlier.

The coach was asked once why he ran and worked his players so hard at practice. He replied, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Ever get the sinking feeling that the only people to read your work will be your spouse and maybe the hacker who cracked your email password? Ever feel like everything you are working toward, everything you have poured your all into is never going to happen? That's writer's fatigue setting in, and it can make you into a coward. You can curl up into the metaphorical fetal position (or literal for that matter) and just give up. Or you can bust your butt, push through and keep working. It's what would make the coach happy.

The last coaching point, as we call it football, I'll share is my favorite all-time sports quote ever: "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." Read that one again. Now, picture Karl Marlantes sitting in his home, a Vietnam vet who lived through hellish conditions, saw his buddies killed, was wounded in battle but somehow made it home. He worked on a novel called Matterhorn that told the real story of what he went through, in fictional form, for not years, but decades. Over thirty years after he started putting it on paper, he got to see his book in print. Then it became a best-seller. listed it as one of the best books of the year. People far and wide lauded it as the definitive book of the Vietnam War, telling the story of countless thousands who either didn't make it home or were unable to talk about the horrors they witnessed. Marlantes spent over three decades pouring his heart, his mind, his memories, his love, his strength, his will, everything into that book. And now he sits in that same chair where he wrote the book, probably exhausted in his soul, if not in his body. But he has a smile on his face because he is, to quote the coach, "victorious."

Whatever your goal is, you have to work. You have to want to win above everything else. But you also want the smile. You want to be lying on the field, with mud and sweat and blood pooling around you, as you close your eyes and taste, maybe for the first time, pure and simple victory. And what would Coach Lombardi say to you as he offered his hand and pulled you up?

"Good job. Enjoy it... for now," and with a pat on the butt, the coach turns, then calls over his shoulder to you. "Next season starts tomorrow."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Never Give Up

My wife and I watch "Friday Night Lights" the TV show. We love Coach Taylor, Mrs. Coach Taylor, and all the rest of the characters (and yes, my wife swoons over Tim Riggins, as apparently does every red-blooded woman in the world). The coach's big motivational phrase for his team in the first two seasons was something that will stick in our minds forever.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

No, this blog post isn't about a TV show. It's not even about football. It's about giving up on a character that is a part of you, that you've given birth to, nurtured, fought with and supported for years. You've stood side-by-side with this character through every rejection, every glimmer of hope and crash of defeat that you feel like they are real. In fact, to you they are more flesh and blood than some of the people you talk to every week.

So what happens when people don't feel the same way about that character? What happens when the public gets to know him or her and thinks they aren't quite the superstar you know they can be? How long do you keep telling their stories?

If you watch movies for kids, you've probably seen Toy Story 3. Remember the scene at the end when the toys are telling Woody that he needs to forget about Andy, that he's grown up and it's time to move on... that it's over? That scene made me a little sad, because I feel the same away about some of my favorite authors' characters that I've grown to love. I know the author will not be around forever and that retirement has to come. But what about the character that I've created? When is it time to move on? When is it time to say, "it was a good run, we tried but it just isn't working"?

A guy I follow on Twitter is debating this. He's written a character for a while and now he's thinking of stopping. It makes me think of Rick Frost, my main character. I have several books either written or planned for Rick. He's a real person to me. I know what kind of car he'll get when he turns 16, his favorite football team, the movie star he considers the 'all-time hottest ever', and so many other things that Rick might as well be a younger brother. But what happens after Rick Frost & the Alaskan Adventure comes out and people don't like Rick as much as I do? How long will I keep it up? How long should this guy I mentioned keep it up?

My advice to him? Listen to your character, not the sales numbers. If you write for anyone other than yourself first, then you are doing that character, that person you feel is as real as anyone else in your life, a terrible disservice. You are thumbing your nose at them. But most of all, you are throwing them the worst insult you could ever hurl: you are saying that they are just a character, that they aren't real and that you were lying to them all along.

Now, if they say that they are done, that you've told everything they want to be known, then it's time to stop. You have treated them with respect and they do not hold any ill will toward you.

Listen to the character; they are real to you. They can be real to everyone else. They deserve it.


I haven't written much here because of a few reasons. One is health related. Possibly the worst injury to a writer short of something doing a number on the their brain is in the wrist. Well, I took a tumble coming down some stairs and sprained my wrist. The doc said it was a Grade 1 sprain (side note: I had no idea there were different levels of sprains beyond "ow," "freaking ow," and "holy %#&%@ ow!"). Turns out, he was wrong. It's worse than that, or I'm not taking care of it. Probably both.

The second reason has been work related. I'm now working a couple of nights a week at our night school, which means less time for family and blogging. Guess which one of those two gets the most attention? Yep. So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'll blog more later, especially since it's less than a month until Rick Frost & the Alaskan Adventure comes out!!!!! May is ALMOST HERE!!!!!

To give you a quick update on what's happening with it the cover is done, the editing is done (and hopefully good... keeping my fingers crossed on that one), and the account is ready to go. The only thing lacking is the formatting. This is a specialized part of the deal and something I didn't want to leave to a rank amateur (i.e. myself), so I went with a pro. And they have been great to deal with. 52 Novels is their name. You can see the link to their services on the side of this page. I'll let you know how they do. I think they'll do good, they handle all of Joe Konrath's stuff.

Anyway, so far, the date is the middle of May for the release. I'll let you know if that changes. Until then, wish me luck with my wrist.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday at the Masters

It is the first weekend in April. To many sports fans, and all those who follow the sport of golf, it is also that special time of year when all the colors of the natural world seem brighter, richer and fuller. When the green of the grass spreads across the panorama of the Earth, the pinks and reds of the azaleas sparkle as the stars in the night sky, and you wonder what if God might be giving us a glimpse of heaven’s grandeur. When blue isn’t just the sky, but rather the eyes of those who have come before us, looking down and smiling at our devotion to the game they taught us to play, to respect and to enjoy. This is the time when history meets the future, and the present is so powerful you never want it to leave. It is the first weekend in April and it is time for the Masters.

This weekend also makes the first major golf championship I have watched since my dad passed away in February. He taught me to love the game, to honor its traditions and love its history. But most importantly, he taught me two very important things: first, to recognize the many ways that golf, and all sports really, teach us about ourselves and life and the nature of God; secondly, he showed me that golf is just a game, not something to be taken as serious as family and faith.

My father, Thomas Bush, saw his last Masters in 2010. It was fitting that the storyline of the week and especially the final round on that Sunday involved the players that it did. My dad loved the great stories of the game, the ways in which the sport itself seemed to take life by the reins and steer it toward a conclusion and a place where hearts are touched and lives are changed forever simply by watching. Phil Mickelson won the tournament. His wife and his mother had learned earlier that year that they both had breast cancer. Amy Mickelson spent the entire week in bed because of the effects the radiation treatment. As her husband walked up the 18th fairway, the tournament firmly in hand, Amy appeared behind the green. She wanted to see her husband win his third green jacket. After the last birdie putt rolled in, Phil made his way to his wife and they shared a tearful embrace. Jim Nantz, calling the tournament for CBS Sports, said “There’s a win for the family.” I didn’t know then that it was a win for my family.

I wasn’t with my dad when that final putt dropped. But I was on the phone with him off and on throughout the entire final round. Now, I want to call him more than anything. Instead, I’ll hold my two-year old son and smile as he shouts “gaw-ball! Daddy, gaw-ball!” at the screen. My father would have laughed.

Today, I’m going to try and document what is for me one of the most bittersweet sporting events of my life. It is ironic that the theme of this year’s tournament, which no one knows really until Saturday afternoon starts to get longer and the leaderboard begins to shape itself, is one of a “new generation” poised to take over the future of the game. The “older generation” that is about to be pushed out are, I’m terrified to report, my age. Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and the rest are at the point where one wonders if they will ever win another big one. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and the rest of the twenty-somethings are taking over. But instead of being upset, depressed or even stubborn about that development, my dad would have just laughed and said, “that’s life; you can’t stay young forever.”

These are some of the special moments from the afternoon spent watching golf and thinking of Dad:

- CBS just did a piece on the famous Masters Champion’s Locker Room, showing that the place is “intimate”, meaning small. The players share a locker with former winners. Jack Nicklaus, my dad’s favorite player, shares a locker with Horton Smith, the man who won the first Masters Tournament in 1934. My father’s favorite player linked forever with the man who first won Dad’s favorite tournament. As Jim Nantz would say, that’s special.

- Augusta National is the Mecca of golf, the Valhalla, the Eden. Everyone wants to play there, to win there. But one thing about watching it on TV that makes it so fun, so special, are the roars of the crowd. The great sports writer Rick Reilly said that the loudest sound he’s ever heard outdoors was not on the deck of an aircraft carrier, or in a football stadium designed to gather in and concentrate noise; rather it was at the 17th green as Jack Nicklaus rolled in his famous birdie putt in 1986 on the way to winning his record 6th Masters. Just now, I posted on my Facebook that if you heard a noise while you were outside, it was Augusta exploding. Tiger is back. He shot a 31 on the front nine and is one back of the lead. If Tiger Woods can come from seven shots back and win the Masters for a 5th time, that would be, in my biased opinion, my dad giving me a memory that will last my lifetime. He had Jack, I’ll have Tiger. I’m now officially rooting for Tiger Woods.

- At one point, six people were tied at the top at 10 under par. That late in the round, I can’t remember that happening.

- I remember watching Tiger delivering a beat down to the field in 1997; I remember Mark O’Meara the next year coming out of nowhere. Phil with his two-inch vertical jump after his first win in 2004; Angel Cabrera beating the man everyone outside of Angel Cabrera (and his caddy) wanted to win, Kenny Perry, in a play-off. All of those tournaments were special, for one because they were at the Masters, but the other reason is that I’d call my dad afterwards to talk at length about the whole thing, the emotions of winning, the agony of what might have been for those who finished just that close, all of it.

Now, the Masters is over. Charl Schwartzel has won by two over Adam Scott and Jason Day. Tiger Woods finished four back in a gallant effort. I wanted this year’s tournament to be historic, to be monumental. It was, only not for the reason I wanted. I’ll never forget the 2011 Masters because my dad watched it from heaven, and I had no one to call. But I do have someone to hug. So my son, AJ, will begin a new tradition soon of watching the tournament with his father. I hope it will be special for him. I know it will be special for me.

I love you, Dad.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Best Words of the Book

What are the best words of the book for a writer? The two I just wrote: "THE END".

I just finished Rick Frost & the Sword of Calibum, the second Rick Frost adventure. It should be ready for your reading pleasure this summer. Time to celebrate!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random Stuff Part I

This is a random sampling of things that have either crossed my plate, desk, mind or path in the last few weeks. Names have been withheld to protect the guilty, the innocent and the... well... you'll see.

- My friend Carolyn Arnold (yes, I name drop; sue me) did a tremendous piece on writers helping other writers, which you can find here. I posted a comment on the article, posted a link here on my blog and agree 100% with what she said. However, and you knew this was coming, I do have to add one little caveat. Sometimes you can be helpful by being honest. I am not giving anyone license to be cruel, but if you have the gift of diplomacy, then use it as a surgeon would a scalpel around a bundle of nerves, that is gently and carefully. Tell someone that they might need to get another beta to look at their work they swear its ready to be self-published and its, in the words of Charles Barkley "turrble." Its better they hear it from a trusted friend than when no one buys their stuff.

- A writer friend of mine had an email conversation with me where he lauded the virtues and necessity of a writer getting a copyright from the United States Copyright Office. Now, this guy never let an agent look at the work, a query or even a pitch. But damn it, he got a copyright, so there! No one's gonna pirate his self-published book. He got a by-God copyright!

- When you least expect it, you get a new team member in the world of writing. A teacher at the school where I work was having a conversation with me about writing, reading, stories and all that jazz when she mentioned the fact that her daughter was writing a book. Two weeks later, and I have a wonderful new writing friend that I'd like to introduce you guys to: J. L. Jackson. She is going to be a good one, keep an eye on her. Follow her blog, email her, you know the drill.

- A disturbing trend in this whole self-publishing craze is the 'throw it up and see what sticks' approach to writing. For instance, if you are penning (or typing as the case may be) a thriller novel and you delve into the Freemasons, the Anti-Christ, the Founding Fathers, the Kennedy assassination, the mafia, mind control devices run by the military, aliens possibly seeding the Earth with life, and the government knowing engineering 9/11, then you are either a) Dan Brown, b) a late-night radio show, or c) not writing a very good novel. There's no possible way for you to have anything worth reading if you think you can tie all that crap into one coherent plot. This goes to the "stop writing what's popular" line that is so prevelent, and rightfully should be. Here's a little bit of info you might already know but need to be reminded of: you are not Dan Brown (unless you are, and if you are, I emailed you a few times before you got big and I wanted to thank you for the advice, it was nice to hear back from ya)! Stop trying to be the poor man's version.

- Writing is a lot of work; good writing is excrutiating. Please, pretty please, those who are pushing the self-publishing method, let's not encourage speed and volume. Because its still about the quality, not the quantity. If too much crap is available from $0.99 to $2.99, then the good stuff at those prices are going to be lost or labeled before they get much of a chance. Take the time and write a good book. Then worry about publishing. That is all.

- Kiss your family. Give them an extra hug. Watch a movie, or better yet, read a book together. Family is very important. Cherish them. And in the words of someone very famous whom my wife and son love, "be nice to each other."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who Plays Who

My wife and I were discussing movies from books the other day. I'd love to say it was because she was trying to cast Rick Frost & the Alaskan Adventure in her head if it becomes a movie. But she was fawning over Matthew McConaughey in the movie version of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. It kills her soul that I've met Matthew.

So that brought on a discussion of books being turned into movies, authors selling the rights of their work, and other things. For instance, a huge part of the conversation was dedicated to who should play Connelly's main series character, Detective Harry Bosch, if the Hollywood folks decide to make other movies with McConaughey as Mickey Haller, the lead character in The Lincoln Lawyer. Bosch is the star of Connelly's universe and the foundation on which everything his fan's love rests. Casting Bosch will be almost impossible because the millions of people who have spent twenty-plus years of their lives with this character will never be happy.

Which brings us to Robert Crais, a writer who has done something rather revolutionary with his main characters. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike have solved crimes together in Los Angeles for fourteen terrific novels. But they have never graced the silver screen. Crais sold the rights of his stand-alone thrillers Demolition Angel, The Two-Minute Rule, and Hostage. The latter was made into a decent movie starring Bruce Willis. But Crais has repeatedly turned down all of the requests for the film rights to Elvis and Joe. He says that no actor can pull off what the fans have in their minds. And he's right.

Would I sell Rick Frost to Hollywood? Would I take Michael Connelly's view, that once the folks who make movies buy the rights to one of his stories they can tell it anyway they want to? Or would I go the Robert Crais route, forgo the money and say that my fans have the only true version of Rick in their minds?

I think I'm a Connelly guy. If someone (and yes, this is a direct message to those in the movie industry) wants to turn Rick Frost into a movie icon, then bring on the emails. My address is And if they want to make Rick older than he is in the books to accommodate whatever actor they choose? Go for it. You buy it, you guys and girls get to tell the story however you want.

Hopefully, you'll do it right and we can all entertain a lot of people. Because that's the business we are in... entertainment.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What I'm Reading

Before I get to the post, two quick things. First, I am not doing an April Fool's joke on here. Not a big fan of sites that do, but oh well. Second and most important: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone following this blog. You guys are the bedrock, the foundation of what I hope will be some really loyal and helpful friends. I wanted to just say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Giving you an update on what I'm reading and what's on tap for me to read. I follow the advice of Stephen King and a host of other writers that to be good at the craft of writing fiction, you have to read a lot of fiction. Here's my list:

What I'm Reading Now:

Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto

If you haven't picked this one up, let me forewarn you: Pizzolatto's writing will leave you wishing you had his talent with the written word. The story is a gritty kind of crime book set in the late 1980's and follows a muscle man working for a loan shark. Roy, the main character, has lung cancer and a boss who just tried to kill him. He and a girl named Rocky, who has an interesting story in her own right, and Rocky's sister leave New Orleans and head for the seedy streets of Galveston, TX. But trouble is waiting on them. So far, I love it.

To Be Read:

The Grove by John Rector

Lead Poisoning by J. E. Seymour

The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy *

Saving Rachel by John Locke

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy *

White Jazz by James Ellroy *

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

Origin by J.A. Konrath

And by the way, if that list seems short to you, that's because I read slow. If it seems long to you, well that's hopefully going to take me through the end of the summer, not the next few weeks. I hope so anyway. And just so you know five of the nine "to be read" books are on my Kindle.Galveston is on it.

I love to read. I love the escape to another time and place. I absolutely crave a good story. The writing doesn't have to be great, just enough so that I don't notice how bad it is. All of the writers up there are good ones, and if you haven't picked those books up or books by them, I highly recommend them.

* - throw in The Black Dahlia by Ellroy and you get the L.A. Quartet, which any serious crime writer should ready at least twice; Ellroy is truly the master of the genre that I love the most.