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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taoism, Anti-Vietnam War Protests, Student Union Burning, Lawrence and A Lot More

In Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All I try to deal with Taoism. As the protagonist says in that work: The great thing about trying to explain the Tao is that you can't fail because you can't succeed. I've just realized that I have other stories that have Tao lessons embedded in them and didn't realize it at the time. Oddly enough, they revolve around two sports: golf (Downswing) and snooker (Blue Kansas Sky). Each story is available as an ebook; both are included in a paperback collection of stories, One More Victim.

But this is more of a promo post for Then and Now because it just became available as a paperback. At dinner with friends the other night I was asked what Lawrence, KS and the University of Kansas were like in that turbulent spring of 1970 when I was there: the burning of the Student Union, the curfews, the National Guard patrolling streets, the shooting of a student just outside of where is now the KU Alumni Association.

The questioner noted that his daughter, currently a student at KU and interested in creative writing, was thinking about attempting a novel about that time.

"Tell her I've already done it," I told him and laughed.

That's what Then and Now is all about. It's a fictional rearrangement, but a lot of it isn't fiction either. I started working on it in my 20s, gave up, went back, gave up. Then I found a method that clicked for me. Hope it clicks for other people. I summarize it this way:

Stan Nelson is mired in nostalgia for the 1960s and the woman he lost then. He figures his only way out is to write about why he is so frozen. He creates in words the times and characters of the Then. He locates those characters in the Now so they can comment on the veracity of his words about Then – except for the Chinese woman who first introduced him to the Tao. And it turns out understanding the Tao of building a tea hut in the Now just may be his release from the Then.

It has, I think, a pretty sweet romance story embedded in it and since 1970 is now 42 years ago I've taken to place it in the "Historical Romance" genre. I don't really know into what genre it fits. You tell me.

One side note. During the writing, I remembered an incident from the time that was buried in the Lawrence Journal World at about page 6 or 8 in the police reports. A propane gas delivery truck driver was checking his vehicle before pulling out from his house for his day's deliveries when he noticed a packaged wedged between the truck's dual back tires. The police found it to be a sack of dynamite sticks. Speculation was that had he driven off, the weight of the truck pressing the wheels together would have ignited the truck and ignited the fully load truck and flattened a one-mile radius. You know how memory is. Had I really remembered that or was it urban myth? I spent time at the microfilm reader and found the story. So that little event, so underreported at the time, has a role in Then and Now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thank You Note for Crazy About You

Thank you note arrived in the mail today from Marcia Epstein, who is the director of Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, KS. When Crazy About You came out as a paperback I sent her a copy because I've been donating $1 from every ebook sale (and will continue to do so for ebook and paperback) to HQCC because these wonderful folks, among other things, work the Suicide Prevention Hotline for this part of the United States.

I wish Crazy were selling better so I could donate more. But, you know, a small donation every month adds up over time and can become significant. It's good to find a cause you can donate money to regularly. Makes you feel better about yourself every month you do so.

I'll put a scan of the note below but here is a text copy:

Thank you for your support of Headquarters Counseling Center through your regular donations from book sales, as well as the dedication to the book. That was amazing, so touching to be right there with your father.

Thanks for sending us a copy. I grabbed it first -- and didn't want to put it down til I finished it. Then I  puzzled over how much was your experience. Although parts are disturbing, all of it kept me reading. Thanks.

Work is hard. Support for local services is hard to obtain. But what we do is important. So we keep on.

Thanks for helping us.

To which I say: thank you for being there so I can help. I wish I could do more.

Commercial time! Buy the book folks. $1 goes to these dedicated people. But if you want to donate directly go here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The 41st Sermon Now Available as Paperback

I am taking the steps to turn my ebooks into paperbacks. The latest work available is The 41st Sermon.  I've doing what I should have done from the front: pay an editor/proofreader to correct the manuscript. The errors I make are embarrassing to me when I see the corrections. I find I have a kind of dyslexia. I know the difference between brake and break and wondering and wandering and yet I make those bone-headed goofs.

As I get corrected manuscripts for the print books, I also resubmit the ebook files so that the corrected ones are available for Kindle readers.

The 41st Sermon has a connection to Walker Percy, that great Southern writer. I won't repeat it here, just refer you to an earlier blog. In the paperback edition, I was able to include an image of the note from Percy to me about the manuscript.

Here's the back cover text for the paperback:

When a 45-year old Episcopal priest, suffering from mid-life and mid-faith crisis, gets involved in a phony kidnap plot with his sexy blond parishioner the result is a supercharged novel of sex, payback for decades-old double-dealing, and despair, which only God can cure.

Father Christopher Talley, spends a week each year at a resort in the Ozarks. This gives him a chance to escape the constraints of his life as a minister – to fish, to drink, to cavort. He also writes his sermons for the coming year. This year, while at the resort, he runs across one of his parishioners, the lovely Molly, who says she is thinking of divorcing her husband, but has a different plot in mind.

...a strange story...lots of different themes – finding yourself, redemption, finding faith, learning what life is all about... I really liked the book, ... it had a lot of good things to say, and I thought the story was one in which many people could find enjoyment, once they get past feeling shocked about some of the issues that come up.... you need to be open-minded about the story, but if you are willing to do so, you should find something in here to love. Amazon Reviewer

Monday, October 8, 2012

Arrowhead Controversy Prompts Publishing This Excerpt from SPILL

In my comedy SPILL: Bil Oil + Sex = Game On the owner of the local football team sells the team to someone who will move it to Oklahoma City. Fans are not pleased, even though it's been a losing team for years. This is from the scene of the last game before the team is moved.

Game day Sunday, unfortunately, was unseasonably warm, clear, dry and pleasant. The police were hoping for a blizzard, maybe even give them cause to shut down the roads to the stadium. But, no. God, showing Himself or Herself or Itself for the humorist He, She, or It must be, provided weather that encouraged every rabid-mad fan to get his, her or its sorry ass out to the stadium to get drunk at tailgate parties and be prepared to riot.
Fans who couldn't afford tickets or even parking fees in the past now came in droves. Wiser season ticket holders stayed away. Tailgating quickly got out of hand. Police, for example, stopped one group playing tag football that was using a baby as the ball, forward passes and everything.
Open seating to the stadium quickly filled its 78,000 seats and another 10,000 fans were angry outside that they wouldn't be let in.
The assembled mob cheered the opposing team and booed when the Sharks were introduced. Ushers knew things were not going to be pretty when some fans started ripping off their plastic seats from their bolt mounts.

Book can be found here:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kickstarter Project Features Realism Artist

One reason I was delighted to collaborate on the Kickstarter project with Kansas City artist Nick Naughton is that his art work embraces realism. The Saltness of Time is a story much suited for realism. One of the scenes I hope he'll use for an etching illustration is this one:

It was a house made for another era, another place, a set of dreams beyond my understanding. In the failing light, and in the shadows of the trees, the air around the white, three-story mansion had a bluish tinge, the color of my own cold lips. The house needed painting. And what a job that would be! Wide eaves above the attic windows that were above that third floor. Fancy-cut posts, gables, and columns. The entire front porch of the house was screened in. It had the look of a plantation mansion, and I wondered if the porch might not contain a misplaced southern gentleman in a white suit and Panama hat, frozen in mid-stride while smoking his after-dinner cigar.

Below is an image of one of Nick's works. If the project get's funded, the DVD we're going to do to provide will document the letterpress and bindery process and  also show Nick working on the illustrations for the book.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letterpress Project on Kickstarter is LIve!

Got through all the hurdles at Kickstarter, it was really pretty easy, and the project to turn The Saltness of Time into a printed book using letterpress technology and a local bindery is now live on Kickstarter