It will only hurt a little, just a pinch. That’s what the nurse says.

Remember that as we welcome a favorite of mine, Michelle Garren Flye. Michelle and I go back to the old +Horror Library+ days of the Zoetrope website. I’ve been fortunate enough to become a friend over the years, and worked with her on a couple of projects. I’ve been even more fortunate to have had the joy of reading her work when she wrote ~GASP~ horror.

It is an honor to welcome Michelle back to the Donor Center for The Pinch.

10 books. That is a lot of books to have written and released. Tell me, Michelle, is this what you imagined or is it better (or maybe even a little worse)?

Thank you for having me here, A.J. Let me answer your question with a little story. Once there was a little girl about seven years old who wrote cute little stories. Her mother said the little girl had a good imagination and could be an author one day. Of course, the little seven-year-old girl barely even knew what an author was, but that word—author—stuck in her head and germinated over the years until she was certain she wanted nothing more than to write and write and write her way into the stars.

Of course, real life intervened over the years and the girl grew into a young woman who let her dreams be mashed up into a way to make a living and became a journalist. When the young woman became a wife, she wanted better hours so she could spend more time with her husband, so she went to school and became a librarian. And then she started having children and took some time off work and started writing again, all the while dreaming of one day being able to call herself an author.

Well, with ten books out there being read by other people (even if it is just a few dozen), I know I can now call myself an author. But I also know I haven’t reached the limits of my dream. I still want my books to be read by a LOT of people. So I guess the answer is, the seed is still germinating and growing and becoming a vine that someday I hope will bear fruit.

Tell us about Island Magic—the tenth book.

Island Magic is the third in my Sleight of Hand series, a romance series featuring magicians as either the hero or heroine. In this case, the hero is Logan, a retired magician whose guilt over his wife’s death several years before has kept him from returning to the life of magic. When his wife’s best friend Rachel shows up at his Caribbean resort determined to party her way through her alimony, Logan wants to help her. In the process, he pulls off a pretty cool magic trick, falls in love with Rachel and finds out the secret of why she’s on such a self-destructive path. I like Island Magic because I feel like it has a lot more depth than the first two books in the series—although I’ll always love Andre, the magician hero of Close Up Magic.

I have to do this: You used to write horror, and you were magnificent at it. Why did you choose to go in the almost completely opposite direction with your writing in doing romance novels?

You are very kind to say I was magnificent at writing horror. I never deluded myself that far. I wrote some kind of neat ghost stories, but I was nowhere near as good as most of my contemporaries (including you). However, I’d probably still be writing those ghost stories if it weren’t for the fact that one day when my younger son was still a baby, I looked at his face and realized I wanted everything in the world to be beautiful for him. Love is the most beautiful thing in the world—the one power that can light up the darkest moment in our lives—so I decided I’d rather write about it. And that’s what got me started.

What are the differences between writing horror and writing romance?

Well, obviously, you’re aiming for a different demographic with romance. Romance readers are almost entirely women. But other than that… This is actually a very difficult question to answer. Every time I start to write something down about romance, I realize the same could be said for horror.

How are they the same?

Strangely enough, this is a much easier question to answer. Because yes. They are. Good horror is realistic. So is good romance. Good horror comes from the depth of your soul, and so does good romance. In both genres, you want to shock your audience (at least a little), keep them wondering, build suspense and finally come to an inevitable conclusion. Of course, horror never requires a happily ever after and romance does. 6. Is there a chance you may go back to horror one day? You know, for old time’s sake?

Always. I still get ideas for horror and I’ve never given up my fascination with a good ghost story. Whenever I travel, I find a bookstore and go straight to the local interest section to find the local histories and legends. And living on the coast of North Carolina, I’m determined I will one day write a book about a ghost pirate. Maybe it’ll even be a romance. Who knows?

The following is an excerpt from Island Magic, Michelle’s newest releas. Enjoy:

“Rachel!” The voice yanked her into semi-consciousness, or maybe it was the hands gripping her shoulders. God, had she fallen asleep in the waiting room? And why was everything so bright, and why did it all hurt so much? She wanted to tell him to leave her alone, let her rest for a few more minutes, but the anxiety in his voice when he called her name again made her push past the inertia.

“Jesus. What? Did I fall asleep?”

Logan stared at her for a second, then enfolded her in his arms. “Thank God. For a second I thought…” He stopped, pushing her away from him and she noticed for the first time the black marks on his face.

“God, what happened to you? Were you working on the plane or something?” She pulled away, brushing something gritty from her shoulders, feeling more in her hair. Why was she sandy? She looked around, taking in her surroundings with astonishment. “What?” She returned her gaze to him. “What am I doing on the beach?”

He frowned. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

“The waiting room at the airport. What happened? I hurt all over.” She struggled to stand, but he stopped her.

“Wait. Take it easy. You don’t remember getting on the plane? Maybe you hit your head harder than I thought.” He brushed her hair back from her face. “You’re not bleeding.” His frown deepened. “How do you feel?”

“What do you mean, how do I feel? I feel like a truck ran over me. I told you, I hurt all over.” Her voice came out sounding petulant and whiny and she stopped, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I just don’t understand. What happened?”

He hesitated, glanced around and finally said, “Let’s get out of the sun. It’s the middle of the afternoon and you don’t have any sunblock on.”

She let him help her to her feet, leaning on him as she turned toward the shadier area just off the beach. She stopped, first because she didn’t recognize the beach and second because of the smoking, blackened hulk a few hundred feet away. She gasped, her knees buckling beneath her. “Oh my God! Were we on…that?”

Before you click off the page, please check out Michelle’s links. Here’s the thing: she’s not just a great writer, but Michelle is a great person, who puts her heart and soul into her work. If you like romance, then you will love Michelle’s books> Check her out at the following links:

Michelle Garren Flye’s Website

Michelle Garren Flye on Twitter

Michelle Garren Flye on Facebook

Sleight of Hand Facebook Page

As always, thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends…

Cory’s Way, A Novel Print Version

Posted: November 6, 2014 by ajbrown in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Good evening…ummm…or morning or afternoon. How about just good day? Hmmm…it may be night where you are right now. Well, good whatever time it is where you are.

Let’s just jump right into the blog today, why don’t we?

The e-book for my first novel, Cory’s Way, is set to be released on December 6th. It’s a special day because it’s my son’s birthday as well and he has always asked me, ‘when are you going to do something for me in your books?’ Yes, on the day my boy turns 10, I am going to release my e-book—it’s a way of doing something for him in my books and making it even more special for myself.

However, the print book is ready to go. We have decided to go ahead and release the print version and pre-orders will be taken starting tonight, November 6th. Wait. Before you click on over to Createspace or Amazon, read on. I want to save you some money.

After creating the print version of Cory’s Way, I set everything up so it could be printed on demand through Createspace. Then I checked the pricing. Holy Cow Batmen (and Women). I was stunned to see how expensive I would have to price the books to make less than four dollars in profit. It’s crazy. Here’s a little math for you:

*What follows is full disclosure of the pricing of the print version of Cory’s Way.

The minimum list price is $10.33. At that price, I would make $2.00 (if purchased through Amazon) and you would still have to pay shipping, which is around $4.00 or so. So, you would pay around 15 bucks for the book. Honestly, that’s not too bad for you. It’s not too good for me. [The Createspace Store royalty would be a much better $4.15 per book, but who actually purchases through the CS Store?]

I decided to bump it up to $15.00 to see what the royalties would be. At that price, I come out better, at $4.87 a book (through Amazon), but you, the readers end up paying around $20.00 for it with shipping. [The CS Store would give me a total of $7.87 per books—not too bad for me, but again, who actually purchases through the CS Store?)

This has caused me quite a bit of anxiety. Why? It’s simple: I want you to read my books. I also want to make a little money from those books, but I don’t want to gouge you, the readers, in the process.

After a lot of deliberation and much discussion with my lovely wife, Cate, we came up with a plan. (Well, she came up with the plan. She’s good that way.) What’s the plan? We opened an online store for the book. Yes, that’s right, and it should be repeated: we opened an online store for the book.

Stick with me for a second. If you follow the link at the end of this blog, you can go to the Square store that has Cory’s Way for sale. Here’s the way it works: There are two items on this page (at least so far). Those items are for Cory’s Way for local folks and Cory’s Way for folks the book would need to be shipped to. Yes, there is a difference in pricing. Why? The ones that have to be shipped include the price of shipping, so they’re a little more expensive. Those prices are:

Local: $10.00

Non-Local: $13.00 (shipping included)

Those prices are significantly cheaper than the $15.00 list price (not including shipping) on Createspace and Amazon.

There’s one more perk to buying from this website: Since I ship them, each one will be hand signed.

What this boils down to is, yes, I want to make money off my books, but no, I don’t want to gouge the readers in order to do so. I want you to enjoy my work, but I don’t want you to spend $20.00 if you don’t have to. I wanted to make this a win-win for both of us. In this way, I think I have. I hope you feel the same way.

Before you go to the website, let me give you the synopsis to the book (which you can find in the descriptions of both items):

After his father leaves in the middle of the night, Cory Maddox and his mom, Gina, are forced to start over. Left alone while Gina tries to work her way out of debt, Cory deals with life as the new kid in school with no friends. Fleeing from the school bullies, Cory ends up under an overpass where an old homeless man lives. After being saved from the bullies, Cory and the homeless man, Mr. Washington, become friends.

But things don’t get any easier for Cory. Children are disappearing from around the state, and the bullies haven’t forgotten his escape the first time they went after him. And there is something wrong with Mr. Washington…something terribly wrong.

Accompanied by his only two friends and the unlikeliest of allies, Cory sets out to keep a promise to the ailing homeless man. Will Cory and his friends find a way to keep the promise, or will the journey prove too difficult for them?

Intrigued? I hope so.

If you would like to purchase the print book of Cory’s Way, please follow this link:

https://squareup.com/market/aj-brown

As soon as the first order of books comes in, I’m shipping all orders out. It may take up to a week for them to get in, but as soon as they do, all orders will go out.

Before I go, I want to thank you for taking the time to follow Type AJ Negative or to follow my author page on Facebook or for purchasing any of my books. I truly appreciate it.

Until we meet again, my friends…

 

 

 

 

Welcome to The Pinch. What’s The Pinch? Oh, it’s simple. You know when you go to the doctor and end up getting a shot? You know how that nurse (who just loves her job so much she could be a serial killer in any psychotic movie) who smiles at you and says, ‘We’re going to give you a little shot. It won’t hurt much…’ I always wonder who the ‘we’ is here?

The nurse then goes on to say, ‘It’ll only be a little pinch.’

First off, she’s lying. Don’t believe her. I’ve never been given a shot that felt like any pinch I’ve ever had. Second off, she’s enjoying herself. While you’re sucking in all the oxygen in the room, she’s smiling away. Little evil serial killer wanna-be.

Okay, I’ve gotten a little sidetracked. The Pinch is an interview series. They are four or five short, quick questions (though the interviewee doesn’t have to give short answers), just enough to tease you folks out in Reader Land. It’s also my way of introducing you to writers you (may or) may not know.

Our first Pinch is a young lady by the name of Claire C. Riley. I just recently found out about her through a Facebook group (yes, a trusty Facebook group—isn’t that how everyone meets these days?). Without going into further unpleasantries, why don’t we just get started?

Limerence, The Obsession Series, is along the lines of a romantic horror involving vampires. This is something we’ve seen before in another series that shall go unnamed within these dark halls. For those readers who have been ruined on vampires because of that other series, how does Limerence differ from it?

- Limerence was my debut novel and the second in the series came out in October, with the third and final installment set for release in 2015. How does it vary from the film that shall not be named? Pretty much everything about it is different, haha. I tried to take vampires back to the more old school route of Bram Stoker where vampires were dark and dangerous. I also tried to turn things on their head. In most books and film adaptations the woman wants to be a vampire, however in Limerence it’s the very opposite. So, there’s blood, and lust and danger and crazy-assed vampires!

You write about zombies as well. Why?

- I love reading about apocalyptic worlds, and some twisted part of me actually believes that zombies could possibly come about one day. Or something similar anyway. Plus for that reason, zombies are a big fear of mine, and I think it’s good to write about things that scare you. Facing your fears head on so to speak.

Tell us a little about Odium The Dead Saga.

- Odium is set several years after the outbreak, and our main protagonist, Nina, lives in a walled city protected from the Deaders out in the world. However, the city has become less than a happy place and people are forced to either starve or sell themselves to survive. Nina has had enough, and when a young girl is being kicked out of the city for stealing, she decides to go with her.

Nina, however, is not a fighter. She can’t use a gun or a sword; she has no survival skills whatsoever. She’s just an everyday woman determined to survive in a world overrun by the dead.

She’s feisty and snarky, she’s inappropriate and says what she thinks. Some say bitch, but I say that it’s just her defense mechanism. It’s better to have no friends so she can’t lose any one. Along their road for survival, they meet other survivors that are surviving the best way they can.

I also have out – Odium Origins A Dead Saga Novella part One and Two. These are accompaniments to the Odium novels and tell the back-story on some of the more important characters from each book. I LOVE writing these books and letting the readers know the TRUE story behind each character. And let me tell you, they are not what you expect them to be.

I love this line from your website: She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy. Do you sometimes have a hard time killing off a character you love or do you really kill them without mercy?

- I genuinely kill them without mercy! Haha, I’m cruel like that. However, do I regret killing some of them off afterwards? Yes, a lot of the time. In fact, some of them still haunt me

Another blurb from your website that I like is the description of your writing: Claire C Riley’s work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. Is there an old-school classic that you haven’t tackled that you would like to?

- There’s a lot that I want to tackle in the future to be honest, it’s finding the time that I have the problem with. My fans are greedy voracious, and I love them for it, but it’s hard to keep them fed all the time with new tales! I have quite a few anthology contributions under my belt namely, Let’s Scare Cancer to Death (a charity anthology) State of Horror: Illinois and Fading Hope: Humanity Unbound.

I love them all, but the Fading Hope anthology is one of my very favourites because it talks about a subject that I haven’t covered before – monsters! Like, real old school monsters. And in this anthology there is no hope whatsoever. It was a great collaboration of authors such as Jack Wallen, Rebecca Besser, Eli Constant, and several more, and each of us wrote completely unique and hopeless stories. It’s brilliant and really goes out of everyone’s comfort zones.

Thank you, Claire, for your time and answers. Keep the band-aid on for at least 24 hours to prevent any bacteria and infection. Or risk getting infected and becoming a zombie.

The following are excerpts from two of Claire’s books. Enjoy:

From Limerence II

The dining room is quiet at this time of the day. It is neither lunch nor teatime; however, I know that there will be food prepared. There is always food prepared. I take my glass from the stand and move along the counter until I reach Mad Donny, the chef here. He smiles warmly at me, as he always smiles.

“Mia, how are you today?”

“I’m good.” I mirror his smile as I look at the selection. “Hungry.”

“Of course—aren’t you always? What would you like? Something sweet? Something spicy, perhaps?” He licks his lips greedily and rubs his hands together. Donny is always hungry, though he should have learnt to control his thirst by now. He is far older than Evan, and me, and even older than most of the other vampires around here. His eyes gleam at me with an insanity that he does not try to control; it’s what makes Donny Donny. I don’t know how he does this every day; the smell alone would send me over the edge, but he seems to relish in it. Perhaps his pleasure from it is because of his constant overindulgence.

“Sweet, please, Donny,” I say and hand him my glass. Sweet is always my preference, especially after an unfortunate April Fool’s Donny played on everyone, which involved hot chillies and blood. The poor human never tasted the same afterwards.

He turns to the selection of humans behind him and, reaching for a youngish man, he pulls the seal from his wrist and holds it over my glass. The man’s eyes are glassy and hollow as he stares ahead of him at nothing. His lips are bluish and dry, and his skin pasty.

My stomach grumbles as the glass begins to fill, and I urge him to hurry, my fangs unsheathing in expectancy.

Down, boys. Not this time.

Donny reseals the wound and turns back to me with my now full glass of sweet B negative.

“Thanks.” I smile wider this time and hurry to a table by the window. I want to sit and enjoy the sun on my face whilst I drink. It’s cold out, but the sun still rises each day in retaliation of the coming winter.

The first sip is always the best. That first millisecond when the blood touches your taste buds is as if every one of my senses are being caressed by the hand of God. Every stroke, every touch awakens my very soul, devouring my body from the inside out—though without doubt, not by any God I know of.

© Copyright Claire C. Riley

From Odium The Dead Saga

“Let’s go.” JD moves off round the corner, and we follow him as one and without argument.

There are stains smeared along the walls, handprints and the words help us written in dried blood. I shudder and look at Duncan. He lowers his gaze away from me and away from the words, knowing only too well that he caused this. He could have saved some of these people if he wouldn’t have been such a coward. Instead he locked them all inside and sentenced them to death.

There are the remains of a body or two on the floor, but not enough of either of them remain to be reanimated, and so JD kicks the bloody bones to the side and out of our way. We can hear more growling coming from behind a closed door; we seemed to have riled them all up, by the sounds of it.

“That’s the medic’s room,” Duncan whispers.

I want to shout out no shit, Sherlock! since there’s a big red cross on the door, but JD turns the handle before I can get my words out. I swallow them down and ready myself as the door opens inwards and reveals to us the five zombies within.

They head straight for us with long, hungry growls, as if mamma didn’t give them their last meal before bedtime. Sludge hangs from their jaws and a cold blankness fills their eyes. Their lips peel back to reveal blackened and broken teeth and they push and shove to get past each other and to their meal. Us. I shiver and swallow down the stomach acid that has worked its way up my esophagus and into my mouth.

“I got this.” Crunch steps forward, and with her two knives, she decapitates the first two zombies with relative ease (if there can be such a thing when killing the living dead). JD follows her in, and when a zombie lunges for him, he deals with it with a quick swoop of his scythe down its middle. From skull to stomach it splits, and everything left inside tumbles into a pile on the floor along with its body.

Crunch laughs as she circles another, kicking it away with her foot until it falls on its back. She stands above it, placing a foot on its chest, and drives her blade through its face slowly and with a maniacal glee that sends shivers down my spine. There is something like contentment in her expression as she pulls the blade back out, gunk spewing out of the hole left by her knife.

The last deader has reached the doorway, and Duncan takes aim with his gun.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers as he pulls the trigger and the zombie hits the floor.

©Copyright Claire C. Riley

Intrigued? Good. You can follow the links below to her website, Facebook, twitter, Google+ and Amazon author pages. Check her out, and thanks for stopping by.

Claire C. Riley’s Website

Claire C. Riley Facebook

Claire C. Riley Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Google+

 

Let’s Make It Happen

Posted: October 10, 2014 by ajbrown in Uncategorized

What if I told you about a homeless guy on a street corner holding a sign stating he will work for money? And not just quarters or nickels or dimes or whatever spare change you have in your pocket. This guy wanted a job. A real job. No, he didn’t want handouts, but a hand up.

What if I told you about how this homeless guy managed to get a small apartment with nothing in it? What if I told you this guy went out and found a job that really didn’t help him get back on his feet, but started him along that path?

What if I told you about this no longer homeless guy who saved his money so he could start his own business? What if I told you this guy took this business and began turning a profit for himself and his loved ones? What if I told you this guy’s business is doing well? Oh yes, Faithful Readers, business is good for this guy.

Now, let me throw one more what if I told you out: what if I told you this guy would give the shirt off his back to help someone? Sounds like a real cool guy, right? Well, he is. He’s a good friend of mine. His name is Mitch (no, that’s not his real name, but if he reads this, he’ll know the reference), and he’s one of the best guys I’ve ever met.

But I don’t really want to talk only about Mitch today. You see, Mitch is somewhat of a success story. Sure, his business is still growing and people know he is going to do his best to get the job done right. He has a great crew working with him—with, being the operative word there, folks.

Mitch got knocked down, but he didn’t stay down. No, he didn’t stay down at all.

The point I’m trying to make is just because someone is down doesn’t mean they can’t get back up. Sometimes they just need a hand in doing so.

It’s not just about getting back up, though. It’s about hard work. It’s about application—applying yourself and your abilities to a task or tasks. It’s about determination to be better than what you are, to do better than what you had in the past. You can make things happen, but you can’t do it by doing nothing. Laziness doesn’t lead to success at anything.

My friend, Mitch (yeah, you know the guy whose name I changed for this blog), didn’t get anything by begging for handouts. Instead, he said ‘I want to earn an honest pay from an honest day of work.’ He wasn’t afraid to work to get somewhere. He took a few very calculated risks.

This is life, my friends. Life is about the experience, about working and earning your keep, about the pursuit of happiness. About doing things you never thought you could do. If you want to live—I mean truly live—then you have to put some effort into it. If you don’t want to live—and, yes, I mean truly live—then just sit back and watch everyone else as they pass you by, as life passes you by.

I am guilty of this—of wanting something and not really pursuing it. Maybe it was too difficult. Maybe I didn’t think it was attainable—at least not by me. Maybe—and this is probably more accurate than anything else—I didn’t feel like I deserved it, or that I would fail miserably. Maybe…just maybe I was afraid to take a risk because of what taking that risk meant: stepping out of my comfort zone. Maybe I didn’t believe in myself.

Oh…ouch. That last one hurt. Yes. It. Did.

My friend, Mitch McFakename, believed in himself. He believed if someone gave him a job, he could dig his way out of the hole he was in. He knew it might take a little while, maybe even longer than he wanted it to, but that didn’t stop him from trying, from working hard, from believing he would succeed.

“Let’s make it happen.” It’s something he said to me a couple weeks ago. Think about that for a second or ten. I don’t need to add anything to that. Read those four words again and again and again and let them sink in.

Let’s. Make. It. Happen.

We may not always succeed in the things we want to accomplish, but if we never try, we never know. And not knowing is worse than trying and not succeeding.

Mitch inspires me. He has a way about him that I’ve never seen in a person. I wish I had that way, that thing that makes him so unique. I wish I had that confidence.

One thing I do have is I am a hard worker and hard work trumps laziness all day, every day.

What if I told you I had a book coming out soon? What if I told you it’s different from anything I ever wrote? What if I told you I worked harder on this book than I have anything else in my entire life? What if I told you a man who was once homeless has helped me see there is more to life than what I thought there was, that there is more to the human spirit and the survival instinct than I thought there was. What if I told you knowing his story—the full story, not just what I’ve told you here—makes me understand that I’ve had it easy, and I’ve wasted a lot of opportunities to do things or make a change in my own life?

What if I told you I want to make it happen? Here’s a few of those things I want to make happen:

· I want to release my novel, Cory’s Way.
· I want to release my novella, The Forgetful Man’s Disease.
· I want to release another novel, Unbroken Crayons.
· I want to build my fan base—and I have slowly been doing that, thanks to the booklets, The Brown Bag Stories, I started putting out back in June of this year. (Go ahead, ask me about them.)
· I want to be a writer you’ve heard of, a writer that you, Faithful Reader, will say, ‘hey, he’s pretty good.’

There are other things I want, but these are some of my writing goals.

Go back and read about Mitch. Go back and absorb his story. If there is something you’ve wanted to try or do or something you’ve wished for, then don’t sit around and let life pass you by.

What if I said to you and you and you and me, “Let’s make this happen?”

Until we meet again, my friends…

I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. You know the story I’m talking about. If not, let me give you the Brown Notes version:

There was this rabbit, you see. And this rabbit was really, really fast. He was also somewhat of a braggart. You know the type, right? Those who think they are the best at everything and have no problem letting you know. Well this rabbit, he decided to pick on the tortoise.

Before we go much further, let’s give these two animals names. We’re going to name the rabbit Dennis. Why? There was this fellow I knew when I was growing up who liked to brag about all the things he could do, and Dennis was his name. For the tortoise, we’re just going to name him George. No reason. I just like the name. (I guess that’s a reason, eh?) Is that okay with you all?

Dennis constantly bragged to the tortoise about how fast he was and that no one–and Dennis meant NO ONE–could beat him in a race. But there’s more. You see, Dennis didn’t just brag to George about how great he was, he went so far as to put down George for being so slow of foot.

Now George was a kindly sort and he just shrugged off a lot of Dennis’s antics. But even George had his limits, and one day he grew tired of Dennis’s constant yip-yapping about The Great Hare Who Can’t Be Beaten.

“Dennis, even a great creature such as yourself can lose a race,” George said in his slow southern drawl–yeah, I imagine George to be a southerner, a country boy to the end.

“By who?” Dennis asked in jest.

“Well, by me.”

Whether or not George was bluffing Dennis will never be known because Dennis laughed out loud while holding his furry belly. I bet he went so far as to falling on the ground, and rolling about as tears streamed down his furry face. “You? You? Beat me? Well, why don’t you just try?”

George gave a nod and said, “Okay, Dennis. Tomorrow morning we’ll race from here to yonder (yonder being over there a hundred yards or so away where the apple trees were ripe with fruit) and I’m going to win.”

The very next morning they set out to race. All the other animals sat along the race route in their fold out chairs or on their pic-nic blankets. The kids ran around playing tag or Duck, Duck, Goose (a game the ducks and geese didn’t care much for). They had the media there, most of which were mocking birds, with their microphones and cameras, reporting on the big race. Odds were laid out by the bookies–hyenas with not much to laugh about except for the handful of animals who wagered the tortoise would win.

Then the race started. There was a pretty little cat named Sasha at the starting line in her cut off shorts and a T-shirt waving a green fig leaf flag, signaling for the competitors to take off.

And they kind of, maybe, sort of just stood there. George took a step and then another and another and had moved all of half an inch. Dennis, he didn’t move at all. He just looked at his watch and yawned and said, ‘You go right on ahead and get started. I’m going to take a nap.”

And that’s just what Dennis did. He found him a cozy little spot in the sun on the grass and fell right asleep.

George continued taking his slow steps and travelling not much more than a couple feet an hour.

When Dennis woke, he noticed George was only a few yards away, so he decided to run down to the all you can eat buffet and grab him some breakfast. He ate until his belly was full and his eyelids where heavy. Then he mosied on down to the start line again to see George wasn’t even halfway through the race. Dennis, being full and content from the buffet, decided to take himself another nap, and when he was done, he would jog to the finish line and be there in time for dinner and a midnight snack before George arrived.

That nap ran long and by the time old Dennis woke, George was almost to the finish line.

“Oh my,” Dennis said (well, he probably said something else that rhymed with duck or pit or ram, but that’s not really appropriate for this blog) and he took off running.

But it was too late. You see, George crossed the finish line by a hair in front of, well, the hare.

It’s been said George uttered the words, “Slow and steady wins the race,” when interviewed by the mocking birds later on.

You may be asking yourself, ‘why did he just tell us this story?’

I’m glad you asked.

I wrote a novel back in 2008, titled Cory’s Way. I’ve been working on it off and on ever since. Why so long? Well, I had the computer crash of 2013 that wiped out the edits I had completed. Then there were other projects I have worked on. Then there was the issue of confidence. I had never put a book out until January, 2012, and that was a short story collection. Put out a novel? How daunting. Then there was all the work–did I really want to put so much work into one story? Honestly, I didn’t.

Now, here we are, and for the last ten months I have worked on Cory’s Way, editing, rewriting, searching for cover art, trying to figure out a marketing strategy, talking to folks on how to do stuff I didn’t know how to do (and I’m still not so sure I know how to do some of them), having the cover created, editing some more, finding proofers, letting an agent read the story, building confidence and a bunch of other stuff. The release of Cory’s Way is getting closer and closer. However, personal goals for putting it out have came and went. I wanted to release it in July–on my birthday, to be specific. That didn’t happen. Then I shot for Cate’s birthday, which is in the middle of August. Yeah, you can guess that didn’t happen either. Now, I’m looking at a mid-November release, and, well, I’m not sure that is going to happen either.

But why? Why not in November?

Simple: it’s not ready.

The cover art has been created. The cover itself is done. The story has been edited eight times and proofed twice. Three separate rewrites have taken place. The forward has been written. The author’s notes and acknowledgments have been written. The bonus story at the end of the novel has been edited, rewritten, edited again. The book blurb has been written. The bio is done–but that may change before all is said and done. The entire book is completely put together. Formatting still needs to be done, and ARCs need to be sent out. And a release date–a concrete one–needs to be set.

With all of that done, why is Cory’s Way still possibly not coming out in November as planned?

Because, slow and steady wins the race, and I’m not sure the book is ready.

I can hear some of my friends whispering or even yelling, ‘If you keep going over it, then you will never put it out.’

I’ve heard that a few times, not with Cory’s Way, but with Southern Bones. It took me nine months to prepare Southern Bones, for publication, and another couple months before I was comfortable enough to put it out. But I eventually put it out. I eventually felt it was ready.

Here’s the thing: I know a few writers who are like Dennis. They are so ready to get their work out there that they rush through things and put it out, even though the books were not ready. Then they wonder why people are blasting the books or why they aren’t selling more. ‘It’s the greatest novel ever written,’ after all. They were in a hurry and that was reflected in the product.

I’m not one of those writers. I want Cory’s Way to be the best it can be. So what does that mean? That probably means I’ll read through it one last time. That probably means when I am done formatting it, I will probably go over every single thing to make sure it is right. I’ll probably go through every digital page, checking and making sure that all italics are there, that the fonts are the right size (and the right type). I want it to be right. Why? Well, first off, I want to put out a professional quality novel, but I also want the readers to be submersed in the story and have nothing taking them away from it–at least nothing I can control. I want the experience for the readers to be an enjoyable one. Because if its not, then the chances of the readers coming back and reading other works I have written, are going to be slim to none.

Slow and steady, folks. Slow and steady. I promise, I’m not like Dennis, but more like George, and in the end, I think the extra time spent on getting things right will make Cory’s Way that much better. And isn’t that what you want?

While I have you here, why don’t I give you the blurb for Cory’s Way? Here it is:

After his father leaves in the middle of the night, Cory Maddox and his mom, Gina, are forced to start over. Left alone while Gina tries to work her way out of debt, Cory deals with life as the new kid in school. Fleeing from the school bullies, Cory ends up under an overpass where an old homeless man lives. After being saved from the bullies, Cory and the homeless man, Mr. Washington, become friends.

But things don’t get easier for Cory. Children are disappearing from around the state, and the bullies haven’t forgotten his escape the first time they went after him. And there is something wrong with Mr. Washington…something horribly wrong.

Accompanied by his only two friends and the unlikeliest of allies, Cory sets out to keep a promise to the ailing homeless man. Will Cory and his friends find a way to keep the promise, or will the journey prove too difficult for them?

Intrigued? I hope so.

As always, thank you for reading. Until we meet again, my friends…

And here’s a sneak peek at the cover:

CorysWayFullCover

 

 

 

Quality: A Lost Art

Posted: August 17, 2014 by hollowshadows in Writing
Tags: , ,

I was at my son’s school recently. No, school hasn’t started back, yet, but it’s about to. It was open house and to say it was a mad house is an understatement. There were people everywhere and it was difficult to move around. Even with all that, one of my son’s friends’ mothers stopped me in the hall.

And that was no easy task.

I had passed her, not knowing she was there. Again, it was a mad house. I thought I heard my name—no, not my first name, but my last name, and there was a Mr. In front of it. I looked back to see one of my son’s closest friends and her brother and mother. I gave the little girl a hug and said hey to her brother and mother. That’s when all sorts of coolness ensued.

Through all the noise, her mom said to me, ‘I read your story online the other day, and I really liked it. Is there more to it?’

For a second or four I was confused. Did I have a story published online recently that I didn’t remember?

Then she asked, ‘Where do I find the rest of the story? I want to read it from the beginning?’

‘Ahh…’ It dawned on me.

‘You mean Dredging Up Memories?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ she responded, ‘It’s really good. I want to read it from the beginning. Where do I find the rest of it?’

Okay, stop, collaborate and listen…(Doh! Did I just write that? ::Looking at previous line:: Yup, I guess I did.) This was a great moment for me. Let me break this down for you:

  1. ‘It’s really good.’ Every writer wants to hear this from people. The fact that one of my boy’s friends’ mothers liked it and told me she liked it, felt really good.
  2. ‘I want to read it from the beginning.’ Dredging Up Memories is a zombie series. No, it’s not like The Walking Dead at all, other than the fact that it has a bunch of shambling zombies trying to eat the main character and any other living person. She had read chapter XVIII of the series. She liked it enough to want to read the story of Hank Walker from the beginning. Awesomeness.
  3. ‘Where do I find the rest?’ This goes with point number 2 above, but it is also it’s own little note.       Why? Simple: She asked where could she find the rest. She wanted to know and she asked. So often folks will read something by someone and say, ‘hey, I wonder if that person has written anything else?’ but then they never search out the answer to the question. She sought the answer, and I am thrilled she did.

These types of things make a writer feel good; it makes a writer feel as if he/she is doing something right.

Remember this for later.

I like flea markets. I like yard sales. For the most part, I peruse items on tables or on the ground or on chairs or even on an old ironing board (yes, for real and for true). Sometimes I find something I like at a price I like. Most times that doesn’t happen. Most times, there is nothing that interest me.

But sometimes while at a yard sale or flea market I run into people I haven’t seen in a while. Yeah, I know that can happen pretty much anywhere, like, I don’t know, the mall or a restaurant or the kids’ school. Stick with me here. There’s a reason for this.

There used to be a gentleman who worked at the post office right down from where I work. He was the nicest guy, always had a smile on his face, and always asked how you were doing. He went out of his way to help customers as best as he could. He was a great guy and when I saw him at the counter we always talked for probably longer than we should have.

After not seeing him for several years I ran into him three times in one day recently. The third time I saw him was at the flea market. Cate just happened to see him and pointed him out to me. I laughed. He did, too, when I walked up to him and told him I was stalking him. Since he was talking to two other people, I chose not to interrupt, but to wait patiently until he was done—or at least until he took a breath. While I waited, he said something that, to me, holds so much truth in it:

‘I always tell my sons if you give people your best and treat people with respect and kindness, then those people will always remember you and respect you and want to be around you.’

There’s so much truth in those words.

Stick with me just a little while longer. There is a point to all of this.

Back in October of 2013 the place I work at lost a giant of a man. He was well respected and dedicated to his work and his family and his faith. When he died it sent shockwaves, not just through the office, but also throughout the nation. A huge void was left in many lives when he passed.

When everything settled down and life started moving on at the office, I was charged with getting things in order, boxing things up, and cleaning out his office. I admit, it wasn’t something I wanted to do. This man had treated me so well, even when a lot of his peers looked down their noses at me. It took the rest of the year and on into the first month or so of 2014 to complete the task. I learned more about him just from going through everything and getting his office and conference room and library and storage rooms cleaned out than I ever did having worked for him for years.

I came across a little plastic plaque in his office. I had seen it before, and many of you have probably seen something like it as well. It read:

Quality is giving your best every time with a personal touch.

Let that sink in. Go ahead.

Sinking…

…Sinking…

Still sinking?

Here’s the point I’m trying to make:

Too often we don’t put our very best effort forward. Too often we don’t give it that personal touch. Instead, we rush through things to get them done and off our plates, and when someone slows us down we don’t add that personal touch, but we get grumpy and angry, and so many times we take it out on the person we should be giving our best effort to. Too often we don’t treat people with respect and kindness. Oh, they remember us when that happens, but not for the right reasons.

We see it everyday. Customer service at a fast food joint or the DMV or even at our own jobs. Most of us are guilty of not giving our best effort with every opportunity. We see it in our homes, as well. This world is no longer about respect and kindness, but more about what is in it for me.

We see it a lot in the publishing world. Just listen to anyone talking about the Amazon/Hachette feud. Just listen to any writer who is unhappy that they aren’t getting published and making money and someone they feel is inferior to them is being published left and right. We live in the all about me world.

This takes me back to the beginning of this post. You know that woman at the beginning, my son’s friend’s mom? Yeah. She’s an avid reader. And she likes my work. Why? The quality of it. If it were no good, then she wouldn’t have mentioned it to me. Quite possibly, she would have probably been a little uncomfortable around me. She may have even been thinking, ‘please, don’t ask me if I read the story and if I liked it.’ She certainly wouldn’t have asked me how she could find more.

With ebooks and self-publishing anyone can write something and throw it out to the world. Anyone can say he or she is a published author. Anyone. But they don’t have to work hours and hours on it—again, it can be slapped up on Amazon at any time and voila, published author. I talked about those people in my last blog, so I want get into that now.

What I will get into is something I have come to strongly believe in. Quality is not necessarily doing what everyone else is doing. Quality is about taking the time to do something that you can truly believe in, and at the end of the day you can hang your hat on it and say, ‘I gave it my very best.’ Quality isn’t just slapping something together and putting it out there and saying, ‘Yay, I’m going to be rich.’ For most of us, it doesn’t work that way.

This is why I do things the way I do them, especially when it comes to writing. When I first started out to get published at the end of 2003 I didn’t know any better. I thought everyone would love my work and that I could just write and the masses would come calling. What an idiot I was. I put sub par work out there, but not intentionally. I truly thought the work was good. It had to be right? Someone was willing to publish it, so it had to be good, right? Not necessarily. I have almost 200 short story publications, and if I could take some of them back, I would. In. A. Heartbeat.

Then I realized a truth that stung.

I sucked.

No. Really. I sucked.

When I realized this, I could have been defiant and continued to suck. Or I could have just quit and said, ‘this is too much work.’

After I realized how bad I S.U.C.K.E.D. I started paying close attention to what people were saying. I would pick out things in my own stories and focus on those things for several months. Then I would move on to something else and focus on it. And so on.

That’s when I came to realize, that for me to be the writer I wanted to be I couldn’t be like everyone else. I couldn’t be all cookie cutter. I had to write the way I wanted to, the way I enjoyed writing. For me, finding myself, my voice, was the beginning of finding quality in the writing/publishing world.

Believe me, there have been a multitude of times I wondered if the effort was really worth it. Go back to the beginning of this post and ask yourself, ‘was it worth it?’

Simply: Yes.

I’ve gone very longwinded today, and for that I apologize. If you have stuck with me until now, stick around for another minute or two and I promise I’ll wrap things up.

To create anything of quality you have to put forth the effort. You have to be determined. If the first ten times you fail to create what you want to create, do it an eleventh time. Nothing truly gained is done so without effort.

As a writer, I don’t want you to read crap. I especially don’t want you to read crap written by me. I want you to enjoy what you read. I want to tell you a story. I don’t want to just entertain you, but I want to give you an experience you can remember. It’s not quite like Disney World or a giant roller coaster or running with bulls, but I want you, Faithful Readers, to experience my stories. I want you to come away saying, ‘that was cool,’ or ‘that was awesome.’ If you go looking for other things I’ve written after reading one of my stories, then that tells me your experience with me was a good one. As a writer, that’s what I want: to give you my best with a personal touch and leave you with a good experience when I am done.

I hope your experience with me is always a good one. With that, I leave you with a quote from Aristotle:

‘Quality is not an act, it is a habit.’

Until we meet again, my friends…

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a value to everything. That value is different depending on whom you ask. It’s true. Let me give an example:

Kim Kardashian.

Okay, do you know what just happened? Half the people reading this just clicked the X button in the top right corner. Why? Because, like me, they are sick of hearing about Kim Kardashian (or any of the Kardashian’s for that matter).

The other half of you continue to read on for one of two reasons:

1. You like Kim Kardashian and you probably think this is about her.
2. You like my blog and you want to see where I’ll take this.

If you are those reading because of reason number one, go ahead and click the X button in the top right corner—this is not about Kim Kardashian.

So, here is how I judge the value in this case:

1. For the folks who went right ahead and clicked the X button, closing out the screen this blog is on, there is NO value in Kim Kardashian. For that, I am thankful, even though it probably cost me a few readers.
2. For the folks who read on because they thought this blog was about that Kim woman, and THEN clicked off when I told them it was not about her, this blog post had a value of around 50% interest.
3. For those of you still reading, welcome to the 75% value club. It’s nice to have you. Why only 75%? You haven’t made it to the end, yet.

Okay, so that value system is pretty much subjective, but the point is everything has different values based on different people. I like strawberry Kool-aid. I’m not a drinker of alcohol. Strawberry Kool-aid has more value to me than any type of alcohol. Again, subjective, but you get the point.

Let’s take a second here and look at the value of items or services. Someone who is a mechanic probably doesn’t value another mechanic’s service as much as someone who can do little more than crank a car up and put gas in it. The people who can’t work on a car would probably pay more for the service than someone who knows what they are doing.

If you don’t need an attorney, then there is no value in that service, whereas someone who just robbed a bank and got caught would probably think an attorney could be good money spent.

That’s still pretty subjective, though.

Let me take it in a different direction.

If you are one of my Faithful Readers, then you know that I would like to sell some of my books. If you have been awake at all and have Facebook and have any writers on your friends list, then there is a chance you’ve heard about Amazon’s letter to KDP authors involving the dispute Amazon has with Hachette. I’m not going to go into details, but it’s pretty much a ‘Mom, he’s touching me,’ type of thing. Name calling at its finest. They wish to drag the KDP writers into the argument, but most of us find this to be annoying, if not unprofessional, and honestly, a bunch of folks are pissed about it. Rightfully so.

The thing is, for all the great things Amazon has done for the ebook world, it pretty much frowns upon the same group of people who helped build its empire—the self-publishing (or independent) author. But that’s really for another blog post at another time. The point is this, though Amazon makes it easy to publish works to the Kindle platform, it also makes it difficult to get recognition within its own algorithms. Amazon essentially devalues the books for writers by not really making it all that easy to be noticed, while still taking in anywhere between 30-70% in royalties. However, right now they are acting as if we are valuable to them by asking us to do their bidding and help fight their battle with Hachette.

I’ve gone way off the topic here, but somehow I have managed to actually stay on it, somewhat.

Okay, let’s get back to real value.

People are willing to pay good money for books by the likes Stephen King, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and a few other well-known writers. For those folks, they get more value for their buck by purchasing proven authors. I can’t blame them. Many of those same people would not buy a book by an unproven author at the same price as one of the proven ones. Why would they?

This is where value comes in to play.

It’s like buying a steak dinner from a fast food joint when you know Longhorns or Outback is much better. Unless you really like that fast food joint, you’re going to want that steak from a restaurant that is known for cooking them. When it comes right down to it, Stephen King and those other famous writers are the real steaks and the rest of us are the fast food rip-offs. At least, that is how a lot of folks (including Amazon) view it.

But wait, let me tell you about some of us fast food rip-offs. Yeah, there are those out there who write books and slap them up on Amazon or Nook or Smashwords without even looking over the manuscript before doing so. They just want to get that book out there and start making money. Yes, they do. Those are the real fast food rip-offs. They also make it tougher on the rest of us.

Then you have those writers (and small market presses) who take their time with the production of a book—and believe me, book publishing is a huge production. There are those who pour over each story for hours and hours, reading the manuscript over and over, tweaking sentences and structure and grammar and spelling. There are those who spend hours looking for the right cover art and often going through several covers to try and find the one that not only fits the story, but appeals to the readers—because as writers and publishers we are under the belief umbrella that a reader’s first impression, the cover, can make or break a sale. There are those who seek out beta readers and editors and proofreaders. They ask questions of friends and other writers, so often hoping for just a little bit of help. There are those who go to great lengths to make sure the formatting is right, often going over each page to make sure the fonts didn’t mysteriously change from Times New Roman to Curlz, or that the italics and bolds are in the right places. There are those that when all is said and done and the story is as right as it can possibly be, who let the mouse hover over the SUBMIT button because, quite honestly, they are scared of whether the story will be received well or torn apart by the masses, or even just by one person.

What is the value of that book for that person? Why should that person sell their book—their hard work—for $1.99? Why would they not sell their book for four or five bucks more? Because the value of their work, as they see it, is not the same as it is for those who might possibly read it? For those doing the work, they believe—no, they feel it in their bones—that their work should be treated just like the real steak houses. Those writers aren’t fast food rip-offs. They are the real deal. Readers just don’t know that, yet. Many of them don’t know the value of an independent writer’s work.

Before Nike became the brand name in shoes, it was nothing. Before Wal-Mart became the mega-bagillion store it is, it was just an idea. Before Amazon became the king of Internet shopping and ebooks, they were just a dream in someone’s basement. Before Stephen King or James Patterson or J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins became even remotely famous, they were nobodies, scratching at the surface of the publishing world, wanting that one shot to prove they were the real steaks and not the rip-offs. You see, everyone must start somewhere, and to everyone, their own value is the most important thing to them.

Everyone values things differently. I think that’s a given. In order for anyone to make it in any business, others must find value in them or what they are doing or both. These days I rarely buy books by big name authors. These days I rarely buy books from the Big 5 publishers. These days I like to purchase books from small presses and the little known authors out there. Why? Well, a few reasons:

1. The big name authors have become too pricey. They know their fans will buy whatever they put out, including their grocery list. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve earned their spot among the real steaks.
2. I like to find new authors, ones I’ve never heard of, and ones you’ve probably never heard of either.
3. I also like to support those new authors and small presses.
4. I’m one of those little known writers, and the hope for me is that someone will pick up something I’ve written—will, you know, take a chance on me—and like it enough to tell their friends, and then those friends will like it enough to tell their friends, and so on, and so on. It’s my hope.
5. I just might be that person that finds a new writer and tells all my friends about that person (you know, like reason number four).
6. I’ve always pulled for the underdog or the little guy, and those little known writers and presses fit the description.

Now, about that value thing. No, this isn’t a value meal at Taco Bell we’re talking about. This is finding things that are worth your hard earned money. If you are a reader, then that means you want good books. You want to buy books by writers you know and trust and who have proven that they can deliver the goods. Sometimes, they don’t quite succeed in getting those goods delivered. Sometimes the real steaks aren’t cooked all the way.

I encourage you to take a chance on writers you’ve never heard of. You don’t have to spend 10 0r 12 or 20 bucks on a book to do that. Most of their works aren’t all that expensive. Just take a chance on a writer you don’t know. You never know what value you will find in a book from that no name writer. You may just develop a new favorite.

If you have made it this far, I thank you. I also welcome you to the 100% value club. You didn’t click off until the end. I hope it was worth your time.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Faithful Readers,

I’ve been a busy boy, folks.

Since my last post, The Ever Changing Momentum, back in June—yeah, that long ago—a lot has happened.

Let me see if I can recite this as short and as concise as possible.

I finished up the edits on Cory’s Way, my novel. It now sits in the hands of the proofreader. Troy Rider, the artist who provided the cover art for Southern Bones, is currently working on the image for Cory’s Way. I’ve seen the framework for it. Yes, I’m excited. The talented Paula Ray wrote the introduction and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s getting closer to being complete.

Okay, before you ask who is publishing Cory’s Way, let me go ahead and say, I am.

What?

You idiot. You’re not serious are you?

Yes. Yes, I’m serious.

I see it like this: No one cares about my writing the way I do. No one. I probably take longer to put these things out than a publisher would. I go over my work multiple times and even then I go over it again. I’m extremely hard on myself. Not that a publisher wouldn’t be—they probably would—but I know what I want to do.

I know a publisher has more resources. And I bet a few of you are thinking I’m taking the easy way out. Ummm…no. Doing this by myself is far from easy. I’ve had a book put out through a publisher (Along the Splintered Path). It was much easier to do it that way. I’ve also put out a book on my own. It took me almost a year to put out Southern Bones once I started working on it.

A year? Yes, a year.

That’s nothing. I’ve been working on Cory’s Way since 2008. It’s been a long journey.

I hope you all will pick up a copy when it’s released. I think it’s a good book, but then again, I was the story’s first reader (as Stephen King puts it) and I so enjoyed it.

Before Cory’s Way sees the light of day, my novella, The Forgetful Man’s Disease, will come out. It’s the story of Homer Grigsby, a man who outlived all of his friends and his wife; a man the ghosts of his past like to pay a visit to on occasion when the hard wiring in his brain begins to short out. And sometimes the ghosts know more than the living do.

Then there is The Brown Bag Stories.

What is that, you ask?

Why, it’s none other than a booklet I created to give away to people and coffee shops and libraries and anywhere else that will allow me to place them in their venues. Each booklet contains one short story, some of them previously published, while others have never been published. The booklets are really, really expensive.

How expensive?

They are absolutely FREE. That’s right. They are all of zero dollars and zero cents. I don’t know how anyone can afford them.

If you want a copy of the latest edition (or even the back issues) leave me a comment in the comments section or e-mail me at ajbrown36@bellsouth.net and I’ll get your home address and send them out to you. And, yes, the shipping is FREE.

Here’s the deal. Like Cory’s Way and The Forgetful Man’s Disease and Southern Bones, I’m doing the work. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. It’s sometimes a headache. I do the formatting. I have the copies made and I do the folding and stapling as well. It’s not easy. It may be cliché, but it’s a labor of love, from me to you, Faithful Readers.

Last, but not least, I’m working on two novels right now. One of them is still untitled. The other is a piece titled, I’m Still Standing, it may be the most brutal and difficult thing I have ever written. In the end, it just may be the most satisfying story when all is said and done.

So, since the last post, the momentum has picked up. I’m excited. I hope you are, as well.

Before I go, I want to leave you with a touch of humor. I tell a lot of stories here about The Boy. He is a staple for comedy, being funny and not even realizing it. This time I want to tell you about something that happened recently at Target, and The Boy was not the star of the show this time. Yes, he was involved, but his sister stole the show.

We were in line to check out. In order, it was The Wife, The Girl, The Boy and The Me. The kids had their own money and were paying for their stuff. The Boy tried to cut in front of The Girl, the way kids would do.

The Girl: I was in front of you.
The Boy: No, you weren’t.
The Me: Yes, she was. Get back behind her.
The Boy: (Pokes his lip out and gets behind The Girl. He then pokes me in the stomach.)
The Me: Stop.
The Boy: (Giggles and pokes me in the stomach. Hey, this isn’t Facebook and I don’t like being poked)
The Me: Stop.
The Boy: (Giggles again and pokes me in the stomach, yet again.)
The Me: I’m going to thump you in the nose if you don’t stop.
The Boy: That won’t hurt.
The Me: Yes it will. It will make your nose bleed.
The Boy: So. I broke your nose…twice.
[SIDE NOTE: Yes, he broke my nose twice while we were playing. Long story.]
The Me: By accident.
The Girl: Yeah, that’s what you tell your friends.
The Family: LAUGHTER

Yes, she got the sarcastic gene.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Ever Changing Momentum

Posted: June 9, 2014 by ajbrown in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Life is ever changing.

That is a fact. That is not opinion. It may appear like just an opinion, but if you think about it, it’s not.

You’re born. But before that, you were lust in your parents’ hearts (best case scenario here). You were, pardon the term and the Ozzie Osbourne reference, a shot in the dark. From there, you developed into a living thing in your momma’s stomach. Eventually, you passed through to the world and you are no longer a baby to be, but a full-fledged baby.

Then you grow. Whether you grow up, grow out, grow smart (or dumb) you grow. And grow and grow. If you’re lucky, you never stop growing in one way or another—hopefully, it’s the intelligence and character that grows. So, you see, life is ever changing. Fact.

With ever changing life, there is ever changing momentum. Life, not just sports, is about momentum. Stick with me here for a minute.

In sports, when a team seizes momentum their chances of winning a game improves. A team that can hold momentum for long periods of time through the season, and especially during the playoffs, can end up winning the championship.

Life is similar.

In life, you have to find your niche. Sometimes, you find it by accident, but most of the time, you find something you like, or something that appeals to you and you work at it. If it’s a job, then you get better and better at the job and that could lead to a raise or a promotion or both.

Romance is the same way. You meet someone you like, you go out and then you start working at the relationship. If you don’t work at it, chances are, it won’t last. My parents have been married 47 years, and trust me, they have worked at it. My dad told my mom, ‘when we get married, there will be no divorce.’ Do you really think that if my parents didn’t work at their marriage, that it wouldn’t have ended in divorce?

In reality, life is a LOT like sports. You have an opponent in both. In sports, it’s the other team. In life, it’s whatever struggle you are facing. In sports, you have to figure out your opponent’s weaknesses and use them to your advantage to win the game. In life, you have to figure out YOUR weaknesses, so you can overcome whatever difficulties you face. In sports, if you overcome your opponent, you get to celebrate. If you don’t, well, you go back to the locker room and try to figure out what you did wrong. Yup, life is similar. If you overcome your trials, then you can celebrate and relax a little; you can enjoy the time after the overcoming. If you don’t overcome the issues at hand, then you take a few steps back, and then have to figure out another plan in how to handle the problem. But when you figure out what you’re doing right, well, things can take off. That is the importance of momentum.

And momentum is ever changing.

Fact. According to me and life in general.

Writing is the same way.

Writers get momentum when a story goes the way it supposed to. The characters behave and do what the writer says to do. The descriptions and emotions are easy to develop. The plot plays out the way you want it to. Then you polish up a few pieces and send them to publications, and lo and behold, they get published. You go from there to bigger things, like collections or novels, and guess what? They get published. Momentum can do that for you. The right type of momentum builds confidence.

The wrong type of momentum, well, all it does is knock you down and destroy your confidence. All it takes is a string of unfinished stories where the characters don’t play nicely together and the scenes just don’t come together and the emotions and dialogue feel forced. A couple of rejections slows the good momentum, and then lowers the confidence. When the confidence starts to falter, so does the belief that you can write anything worth reading. Momentum is everything.

Life is about momentum, and every decision you make can change that momentum. Writing is about momentum. And every time you send something out to a publisher or even if you publish it yourself, you are taking a chance at gaining good momentum or facing the opposite direction.

What have you got to lose? I mean, honestly, what have you got to lose?

Momentum. Seize it when it comes your way. Look for it when it is hiding from you. But above all, don’t give up—Momentum is right around the corner and when it shows its head, everything changes.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Like Grandfather, Father and Son

Posted: May 8, 2014 by ajbrown in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I have two stories I would like to tell you. One involves my dad and me. The other one is about my son and me.

When I was a little boy, Dad would wake me up early on Saturday mornings in the spring and summer months. You see, Dad liked to fish. I didn’t care much for fishing, but I liked being around my dad so I always told him I wanted to go when he went. Thus, he woke me early on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) so we could load up the boat and head out to the lake.

Before we would make our way toward the lake, Dad always stopped by the Dunkin’ Donuts not too far from where we lived. We would each get a coffee–though his was usually bigger than mine–and a donut or two. The donuts were always one of the highlights of the day.

[SIDENOTE: Donuts are my greatest weakness. They are my kryptonite. END SIDENOTE]

Dad has never been a straw person. Or a top on the cup person. He always took the top off his coffee and threw it away. Me, wanting to be like him, did the same. There was one problem with that. You see, when we would leave Dunkin’ Donuts Dad liked to suddenly mash on the brakes, making the car jerk to a sudden stop. In those younger years of my life, I never failed to spill hot coffee on myself when Dad hit those brakes.

Sometimes I screamed.

Dad would then ease off the brakes with a cat-ate-the-canary smile on his face and pull onto the road, as if nothing ever happened.

“If you learn how to hold that cup you wouldn’t have that problem,” he would say after each spillage of hot coffee.

It took a while, but eventually, I learned how to let my arm, hand and cup move with the flow of the car, and when to let the cup go forward when he hit those brakes to keep it from spilling out on me.

I grew up, as kids tend to do.

Dad and I also share the same enjoyment of aquariums. I took a day off from work and he and I decided to go to Augusta to this place called Bob’s Tropical Fish. I was driving. Before leaving, we decided to stop off at the McDonald’s not too far from Dad’s home (the Dunkin’ Donuts was long gone by then).

I was driving. :)

You kind of see where this is going, don’t you?

We went through the drive threw, ordered our coffees and pulled out. Dad took the top off of his. I hit the brakes.

I’m smiling right now.

Dad let out a surprised yelp as hot coffee spilled on his hands and lap.

I said, “If you learn how to hold that cup you wouldn’t have that problem.”

It had come full circle.

The apprentice had become the master, even if just for a moment.

Fast forward to now.

Sometimes The Boy (my son) will walk out the front door in front of me to go to the car in the mornings before school. Sometimes when he does that, I let him get to the steps and then I close the door and snicker as I’m doing so. The Boy almost always let’s out a ‘Hey, open the door!’ as he beats on it, trying to get back inside.

“What?” I say. “I was just going to let you start without me.”

Do you see where this one is going? I bet you do.

This morning I had my hands full. The Boy did a nice thing for me. He held the door open so I could get out the house. I gave him a ‘thanks, buddy,’ and walked out the door. I reached the steps and I heard the door close behind me. I went down the steps, turned back to say something to him…and he was nowhere to be seen.

I could hear him laughing from inside the house. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I burst out laughing.

The Boy opened the door, his face glowing. He said, “Yeah, that’s what you get. That’s what you get!”

Of course, I continued to laugh.

It had come full circle, just like my dad and I had.

And I couldn’t have been prouder of The Boy.

Until we meet again, my friends…