Excuses, Dishonesty, and Tragedy

A daughter’s collect call from jail interrupts Thanksgiving dinner

Jail is the New GroundedTo look at Everett and Ella, you’d never know they’re the parents of a troubled, incarcerated daughter. They’re both successful in careers they love and they both espouse the family values with which they were raised, albeit modernized ones. Their home, where my wife and I were guests for Thanksgiving dinner, sits on a nice street in a neighborhood just about any set of young parents could happily work with.

When the phone rang the air at the table thickened slightly, as if a fly had entered the airspace. If the fly knows what’s good for it, it had better not land. A second ring offered a perspective on what it’s like to be the fly, buzzing in during dinner, which for Everett and Ella is a consistently early evening affair.

It was their old-school land-line ringing, and because, like a lot of us, they live and work by their iPhones, that meant that whoever was being ignored was family. Who else, besides mom and dad, first dials a land line these days? Regardless, ring number three provided satisfaction in the parental example they were setting for their four-year-old boy: no matter who’s buzzing around, during dinner, nobody touches the phone or the television. Read more

What’s a Mitzvah?

Performing a kind act solely because you’re in a position to do so

WE LEARN BEST AMONG EACH OTHERI don’t know many Hebrew words, but Mitzvah is one of my *favorites. Technically, it means “commandment,” but it also goes by the above definition, which is how it was broken down for me. I think about the word often ‘cause I’m almost always in a place in life where my right-now resources are relatively rich. Yet shedding comparisons, quieting the noise, ditching conditions, excuses, and all those countless words I’d use to describe my otherwise good intentions only leaves “because I can.” So, “help that person because you can” has become a personal commandment.

Right. Well, nobody wants to hear about how I threw a dollar at a homeless dude as I exited Breakfast Coma Café, so don’t worry, that’s not where this is going. You probably don’t really care what I do; more relevant is how one can be coerced into developing character. Read more

“Hi, I used to rob bookstores.”

Even with that opener, some indie authors have it worse than I do.

Mr. ConsequencesI get a lot of questions about what it’s been like to bring my story to market. I hear a lot of gripes from writers about agents, the traditional publishing industry, and whether or not the stigma of self publishing has decreased with our digital all-access passes.

Being congratulated on publishing a book is cool, though what I hear is, “Congratulations on not being a talker” and “Congratulations on learning what follow-through means.” You see, having come as far as just getting the thing out there is a big deal for me, because for too many years I was incapable of establishing and maintaining a relationship with delayed gratification. Today, I feel it’s important to be a resource for other aspiring authors who are navigating the many choices, pitfalls, and publishing models now available. The following opinions are based on my experience. To some in publishing, they’ll probably show what little I know about the very journey I’m on, but others may find ’em helpful.

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