Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turning Pro in 2012

As the year winds down, every blogger, media outlet, television show, and radio program looks back at the past year and reminisces about the best and worst of 2011. If they are not doing that, they are hammering you with Resolutions. I’m here to wish you a Happy New Year and avoid doing those things.

With the sun setting on 2011, many of you have achieved the success that you’ve been wishing and working toward, and for others, you may not be where you want to be, yet. 

What makes the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t? Is it talent? Effort? Knowledge? Marketing? While these things play a role, I’ll offer my two cents on what makes the difference. 

Your mind and thoughts … 

It’s that simple. Get out of your own way and put success in your head.

This blog post is not for everyone, because many of you believe that you are there. I wasn’t. Exactly one year ago, I had never published a book, created a cover, formatted the interior, or even wrote, THE END. Sure I had been working on my debut novel and I knew that someday I would finish. But, someday never came. 

Then, I read a blog post from Larry Brooks at If you haven’t stumbled across Larry yet, he is one of the best out there. In his post, he sidetracked from his usual story engineering and six core principles for writing success and hit me with something that burned into my core.

I formed a sort of mantra with it and posted it on my computer. I read it every morning. I read it every time I found my wheels spinning. I read it after spending ten straight hours with final revisions. I read it after "working" my real job all day with no time to write. I believe it was the most important change that put me on the fast track to success. I’ll share it with you now.   

This year I will officially turn pro as a storyteller.
I will establish a schedule. I will set goals. I will solicit feedback. I will study. I will become a scholar of my genre.

I will render myself fluent in the language of my craft.
I am writing for an audience. For money. For my career. Acceptance of that awareness changes everything.
Larry Brooks,

It’s that simple. Believe it. Post it. Say it, everyday. Start everyday with this affirmation, then come back next year and share with me your success. It will happen. It has to happen. The universe works that way.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Thank you for your support throughout the year.

You have made this a special time in my life with the launch of my debut novel, The Card. It's been a roller coaster ride since April when the paper edition was launched. Shortly thereafter, the Kindle edition hit the online bookstores.

By July, The Card moved up to #15 on the Kindle bestseller list in its category. I have been amazed at the success we've had up to this point. July also marked the launch of the Nook, Sony, and iStore editions of the Van Stone novel.

As the year closes, I look forward to completing the next installment in the ongoing series in 2012. Thank you again for all your support, encouragement and great reviews.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Can Authors be Rock Stars?

Pop culture, famous “A” list actors and mega sports stars fill the media spotlight. Huge numbers of fans flock to be a part of the “in” crowd or to see their hero in person. Jimmy Buffett, Phish, Lady Gaga or Kenny Chesney can sellout concerts in less than twenty minutes. 

All performers and athletes connect with their fans causing everything from mild hysteria, to crazy outfits and painted faces. The old black and white clips of fainting girls in the presence of Elvis or the Beatles has become an indelible image in our history. 

The question here is, can authors achieve that status? 

Throughout the United States, book sales revenues exceeded $11.6 Billion in 2010. Book sales increased in nearly every category according to Book Business Magazine. With the popularity of books increasing at such a high rate, where does the author fit in the pop culture phenomenon? 

At the recent MiamiBook Fair International, you would think that they might be gaining ground in the idol-worshiping category. Huge lines formed to shake hands with authors, with sellout crowds for many of the presenters. Fans waited in line for hours to see the likes of Michael Moore and Jim Lehrer, or most anyone with a political slant. The demographics tended to lean toward an older group with a sprinkling of younger fans in the mix. 

Then, the real “Rock Stars” arrived …

Teen and young adult authors drew the largest crowds. Some fans waiting in line for seven hours to see Jeff Kinney the author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and Christopher Paolini the author of the "Inheritance Cycle" books. Above all, the real star was Chuck Palahniuk the author of several novels and essays including perhaps his most popular, “Fight Club” which later was made into a movie and hit #1 at the US box office.

Palahniuk knows his audience. Backstage, I worked with a few others to ready the props. This author didn’t have a presentation, he had a SHOW. The fried egg stumbled onstage, and that was my cue to rush down the middle aisle and fling plastic/rubber inflatable brains into the frenzied crowd. Hundreds of rabid fans rushed toward the stage reaching for their rock star idol to toss the props. The crowd turned into a mosh pit of young people as the cacophony of cheers, screams and hissing filled the auditorium. 

The race was on to be the first to fill their brain… and this was no small brain. It about three feet across and held a lot of air. The room grew quiet, filled only with the hissing sound of inflatable toys enlarging. Five minutes or more passed as the many lucky fans competed to finish first. At last, a rumpled and light-headed kid jumped up and wavered from hyperventilation, holding his brain high.

This is the stuff of rock stars, the seemingly disconnected request, blindly filled by the fans. The crowd experienced their star author as no one else can. They connected and obeyed every command. Palahniuk chucked Three Musketeer Bars into the audience and they scrambled after them like fans after a foul ball at a baseball game, climbing over each other and taking shots to the head.

Palahniuk settled into a reading and the fans held their collective breath. The last stop on his tour was going to be his best. He had pulled out all the stops and the fans gobbled it up. 

Then something happened that I had only seen on the grainy black and white movies from the sixties … a young fan fainted. Boom. Right to the ground. Chuck Palahniuk tore at the hearts and minds of his fans. Some say it is the graphic nature of his material. Others said it was the seven-hour wait in the hot, humid Miami weather. I say it was fan-dom. That unexplainable thing that happens in the presence of your idol. Across the room, another group gasped and a murmur grew, signally the fainting of another. 

The phenomenon was working in full force. Palahniuk knows his audience. He gives them what they want. Later, talking with Chuck, he said that he has gotten used to the fainting. It happens all the time. He’s had well over one hundred fainting fans at his appearances. Now that is rock star status to me.

They may not be in the public eye the same way as rock stars, athletes and actors, but authors do have a place in the fan worshiping pop culture society that we live in. To some it might seem silly or overboard. To me—it’s awesome. To see almost a thousand fans go crazy over a WRITER is unbelievable. Young impressionable minds that devour books can’t be a bad thing. I’m not sure how many more authors are out there that have such a devoted following that they can fill up auditoriums with screaming, fainting fans. The one thing I do know. I met a rock star in Chuck Palahniuk.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Guest Post on Indies Unlimited

Check out my guest post on Indies Unlimited. A few thoughts about the state of books and a brief look at my volunteer gig at the Miami Book Fair International. Thanks to Stephen Hise at Indies Unlimited for inviting me to share my experiences.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Young Readers Give Us Hope

They came by the hundreds—some waiting for over three hours in line. As I walked along the sidewalk to the locked gate, the signs of waiting were everywhere. Most had relinquished standing in line to sitting on the dirty sidewalks in downtown Miami. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, so the heat wasn’t much of a factor in this concrete jungle.

The seven hundred plus faithful followers of ChristopherPaolini’s epic series, The Inheritance Cycle, queued, anxiously awaiting the chance to hear the New York Times Bestselling Author speak about his series. This was his first appearance at the Miami Book Fair International.

What struck me the most about the crowd was the number of young adults lugging volumes of books to this event. Eight-hundred or so pages in each of the four volumes presented a hefty task for the readers. In a world of hi-tech—low tech was certainly the key on this Sunday evening. I spotted only one Kindle throughout the waiting line.

Inside, fans jostled for the best seats close to their storyteller. The buzz was palpable as the guest of honor took the stage. Christopher spent the next hour dissecting his process and giving the fans nuggets of information that would never be found in a bio or interview. The crowd gasped together when Paolini broke into a couple of his created languages and dialects.

During the question and answer period, fans rushed to the microphone to have a chance to talk to their idol. Cracking, nervous voices of all ages, from young teens to adults, stood in front of their “King” like commoners awaiting the blessing into the kingdom.

Christopher connected with his fans as only he could. When creating a new fantasy world, the creator is the only one who could discuss origins and the future. While this is the end of the series, he indicated that other stories might emerge from the highly successful series.

The real fun began with the book signing line. Fans rushed to the line, the early birds cried foul, all for a chance to meet their hero. Fans stood in line for up to an hour and a half to have Paolini sign their volumes, and volumes they did bring. Stacks of books, all four of the series, weighed almost as much as some the kids carrying them.

They traveled from as far as Tampa, four hours both ways, just to have their thirty seconds with the author. Young kids stood nervously, waiting for their chance.

“I’m so scared.”

“I can’t believe I’m meeting him.”

“What if I trip when I walk up?”

“I’m shaking right now.”

… were some of the things I heard while directing them to the signing table.

The entire night had a profound impact on me. To see young readers like this, so excited about reading and meeting, not a sports figure or movie star, but their hero an author, made the process of writing all worthwhile. These kids waited in line, not playing games on their handheld consoles, but reading their newly purchased final volume. They talked about their opinions as to how the story progressed. They truly “dig” reading. When I asked, Christopher Paolini replied, “That’s why I do this, for them.” Those are some wise words for all who aspire to write.

There is real hope in this world that many claim will not see hardbound novels in ten years. The younger generation still appreciates what it means to hold a book in their hands. The thrill of having your hero sign your very own copy can’t be replicated easily in the digital world of Kindle’s and Nooks. While I embrace the eBook world, Sunday night was a special time for hope and dreams in the old school world of books.

Friday, October 28, 2011

More requests for The Card from Operation eBook Drop

This great program continues. I was recently contacted by several of our men and women deployed overseas for a copy of The Card.

Operation eBook Drop is a service for our troops serving overseas. Founder Ed Patterson wrote, "If you're overseas and away from your home and loved ones, your dependence on reading might increase - and so we developed a program for gifting you ebooks for Kindle, Sony, iPhone, Blackberry etc."

Independent authors from around the country have come together to provide over 4,000 titles to choose from. In conjunction with Smashwords, men and women overseas can download their free eBook with the codes provided through this free service, directly from the Smashwords site.

Thank you to those who serve. I am privileged to offer my novel for your entertainment. If you know of anyone serving our country who would be interested in this program, please contact me and I will forward their information to Operation eBook Drop.