Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Virtual "Cookie" Exchange Blog Hop

I tried to pretend that my friend Kerry Schafer had not asked if I wanted to participate in the Virtual Cookie Exchange Blog Hop.

I had a legitimate excuse. She asked just before Thanksgiving so I was busy... and stuff. But I have a hard time saying no to friends. So although I will be very liberal with my interpretation of the word Cookie (I'm a writer, I'm allowed to do that), I am providing a recipe from my vaults -- my secret sauce if you will.

Here we go!

(1) Get a spoon

(2) Fill spoon with Nutella

(3) Get an espresso cup

(4) Fill espresso cup with two shots of premium coffee (notice the handsome crema)

(5) Get spoonful of Nutella and deposit gold into espresso cup

(6) Get a whisk and mix gently, trying not to destroy the crema

(7) Voila, you have a double espresso infused with Nutella.

Consume liberally. Enjoy life.

This is where I'm supposed to nominate five people. I'd like to embarrass the five who I asked because they all chickened out. But I am a bigger person than that. Instead, they will contract a horrible disease in my next book.

Fight the good fight!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Book Review and a Great Cause

Command and Control by Stephen Russell

*I received an advance reader copy (ARC) for Command and Control from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Wow, is what I breathed out when I finished the book.
 Command and Control on Amazon.com
I felt slightly drained. Not only because the second half of the book slammed on the accelerator, but also because I was concerned—scared.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Command and Control is the second book by author Dr. Stephen Russell. The fact that the author is a medical doctor is important. I’ll explain soon. This is his second book in the Cooper McKay series.

Here is the book blurb from the publisher:

Doctor Cooper “Mackie” McKay’s plans for a peaceful retirement are once again derailed when a man with Ebola-like symptoms passes out on a flight from London. Mackie calls on his surgical skills – and a dose of creativity – to save the young man’s life. Instead of gratitude, however, he ignites the suspicions of the U.S. government.

After masked military responders forcefully remove Mackie from the plane, he finds himself in the middle of an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control. As a deadly pathogen spreads through health centers across the U.S., Mackie learns that the most promising cure is embargoed by the FDA. He soon suspects domestic terrorism rooted in Big Pharma and sanctioned by public health officials.

In the struggle for command and control of the outbreak, Mackie is caught in the cross-hairs of a governmental cover-up, where the only clear solution seems to be silencing the whistle blower.

So… does this sound familiar? Could you see this splashed on your local news feed? From the book's first sentence, this medical thriller, takes you through a journey that is way too realistic. Suspension of disbelief? Sure, I can do that, but this was written by a medical doctor. So everything felt real, possible, and scary as hell. 

Russell take the reader on a journey of deception, a mysterious outbreak, and people in position of power with questionable motives. A great book will teach the reader something new. This book delivers that in bunches. The reader goes deep in the belly of the beast known as the CDC, military response units, pharmaceutical companies, and explores our encoded genetic need for survival. I got how scary -- how fragile -- the world we live in really is. The smallest thing can be the tipping point.

When I started reading the book, I could not set it down. I did, however, mostly because at times I wondered if I showed any signs of a potential bacterial/viral/whateverial infection. Every itch was potentially a sign. Every caught could be the start—the end. This is how good a job the author did to scare this middle-aged man. The writing is smooth and powerful. The world we jump into is vivid, clear — almost felt like I can go to those locations and find my way around. And the story is superb — unfortunately, too realistic. I dare say, mainstream blockbuster, Dan Brown, could pick up a tool or two from Russell.

The book comes out Nov 14th which also happens to be World Diabetes Day. This author, along with others, will donate all proceeds of book sales toward juvenile diabetes as part of the BUY THE BOOK, FUND THE CURE event. Dr. Stephen Russell’s daughter has juvenile diabetes. He has stepped up to be part of the solution. So if you want to help fund the cure, your purchase will go a long way. More information can be found on the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/Buythebookfundthecure.

So, if you’re looking for a great thrill ride, help fund an amazing cause, and are willing to get uncomfortable a bit, then this book is for you. A fantastic novel. Highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You Need To Be Connected...

... to make it in the publishing business...

In a manner of speaking.

Couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a local school to speak to a group of tenth and eleventh graders about the journey of the writer (or any creative endeavor for that manner). We discussed many topics and then one student asked, "Do you need to be connected to make it?"

I live in L.A. Anyone worth their salt knows to make it in Hollywood you need to know people.

So I didn't hesitate. "Absolutely," I said. Silence from the young faces. "But not the type of connected you may think."

Writing is a solitary art. At first. As Stephen King says, write your first draft with the doors closed. Revise and edit with the doors open.

When you're writing, it's you, your characters, your muse, and maybe even your demons. When you're done you need your community.

I can't imagine submitting a manuscript (to an agent, to a publisher, or if self-publishing, pushing "submit" on Amazon) that hasn't been vetted by my team.

Who is in my team? It starts with my first reader, my wife. Them it goes to my beta readers, each picked over time because they bring something I don't have. Even after that, I have to have my freelance-editor go through it with a fine tooth comb. And after that, I get a select two to look at it once again before I even consider moving forward. If the timing is right, I make sure I attend read-and-critique workshops to further develop the opening chapters. Then, and only then, am I ready to send it to my agent.

These people--my tribe--are my connections. How did I get them?

Twitter, Facebook, writers conferences (Santa Barbara Writers Conference and Southern California Writers' Conference), professional writers organizations (Romance Writers of America and the local LA chapter).

In all cases, I helped and they helped back. I contributed and they contributed back.

You may start on an island but you will need your tribe to cross the finish line.

This coming week I return to my third consecutive Santa Barbara Writers Conference, running from June 7th until the 12th. These are all-day events, starting at 8 AM and ending at 1 AM or so (depending on your stamina and access to coffee).

Pirate workshop at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference ~ June 12, 2013 @ 11:58 PM
It's all read and critiques. Yes, you get to read your chapters and accomplished writers and workshop leaders help you refine your work. But the part that gives me the most value is when I listen to all these intelligent people speak and give feedback. Not only about my work, but all the feedback (particularly the other feedback). And as you develop as a writer, you also realize who is your type of writer. That's when you make your connections.

Find your comfort zone and jump into the wild beyond. Whether it's Twitter, Facebook, or a conference, you'll need to start somewhere. And if you're lucky you may build friendships that are built on a common love -- story telling.

Find your tribe. Make your connections.

Fight the good fight!
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