Do it wrong the first time

brainA brief anatomy lesson: I have a hard time finding a hat that fits, because I was cursed with a freakishly large melon head. Honestly, my neck has to put in overtime to keep my head from sinking down to my shoulders. People only use about 10% of their brains. If my head is bigger, my brain is bigger, ergo, my 10% is bigger than the average homo sapien’s. I should think that I would have a leg up on delicate-framed super models who have to shop for their hats in the children’s section.

It also means that I have more brain cells to devote to self-doubt, fear, and why some people wear their pajamas to Uber-Mart. (You know who you are.) That’s why I’m especially grateful for people who take the time to write reviews for my books.

Objectivity for a writer is about as rare as snakes on a plane. (Don’t believe everything you see at the movies.) Humor is anything but objective. By the time you edit the hell out of your manuscript and re-read it until your eyes bleed, the jokes seem pretty lame. It’s such a relief to get a confirmation from someone other than your mother. I’d like to share a very nice review I received yesterday from Grady Harp, one of the top reviewers at Amazon.

I NEVER DROVE A BULLDOZER: THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET LIST is not only incredibly hilarious, it also touches on the issues of those of us who are somewhere between declining gonadal function and trying to remember which retirement home has a sale on for the Golden Years.

A good review is a two-edged sword. A nice pat on the back, and the expectation that the next book will win the Pulitzer prize (or at least not suck). When soul-crushing self-doubt has me dragging my feet, I have to keep telling myself that the first draft is supposed to be wrong. Otherwise my brain cells will spontaneously combust with the effort of thinking up excuses not to write that next book.

I don’t think there’s any writer who has never felt insecure about their books. The good news: I won’t be getting the big head anytime soon, or have to invest in a three-man dome tent next time I go hat shopping.

P.S. Take a moment to check out the cool book trailer I made for Box of Rocks on the sidebar (with the butterfly). The plot is a little thin, but the special effects are amazing. I’m thinking Oscar.

No news is bad news

OK, so getting the tomato soup stains out of my white blouse may not be newsworthy, but they were as resistant as mutant super cockroaches (film at 11:00). Nevertheless, I spent the weekend perusing the help menu at Mail Chimp – a site for sending out email campaigns.

Look at any marketing websites, and they’ll tell you flat out that if you don’t have a mailing list, your career will fade into obscurity faster than that of The Turtles. (A sixties band whose only big hit was “So Happy Together.” Their other claim to fame was having the only top 100 song to find a rhyme for et cetera.) I’d just like to get my career out of obscurity, and find a rhyme for orange.

Spurred on by my need to start pimping the hell out of let people know about my new book, I went through my list of website subscribers and weeded out roughly 100 email addresses from spammers like genital.warts.69@nakedchicks.pl.  I spent the rest of my weekend dragging, dropping, cutting, and pasting my way to fame.

Unfortunately, Mail Chimp likes to bombard new subscribers with initial emails:

  • Confirm your subscription
  • Confirmation of your confirmation
  • Thank you for subscribing
  • Welcome new subscriber
  • Confirmation of your restraining order

They have all the elements I need, but navigating around their website is like running through the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland 47 times. Consequently, I’m very proud of my forms, my newsletter, and my self-restraint for not beating my computer with a garden rake, setting it on fire, and tossing it in the lake.

mail chimp sign up form banner

If you want to subscribe to my newsletter, you can either put your email in the subscribe box at the top of the side bar on the right (updates on new posts and newsletters), or click here for newsletters only. New subscribers will receive an uncensored excerpt from my book, I Never Drove a Bulldozer, complete with a picture of me in the shower. Best of all, if you don’t want to take out a restraining order, there’s an unsubscribe button too. Turns out I’m easier to get rid of than mutant cockroaches.

Walk the walk

Disclaimer: Despite the title, at no time during this blog will you find anything touchy-feely, enlightening, or socially redeeming. If you want self-awareness and personal growth, you should try www.DrPhil.com.

A well known author claimed that all writers should make a New Year’s resolution to “own” their profession. Even if your day job involves cow cadavers and goat guts, you need to define yourself first and foremost as a writer (and seriously consider a new day job).

Police officers have uniforms. Road workers have those ugly orange vests. Lawyers have Rolexes, penis cars, and $500 Italian leather shoes. Writers have half-price underwear. Since I don’t walk around with my Fruit of the Looms outside my pants (except on Tuesdays), how are people supposed to know my profession just by looking at me?

crime sceneI was at a mystery shop in downtown Charleston last week, shamelessly trying to peddle my books when I saw it. It was blindingly yellow and majestic. Even though yellow makes my skin look like I just ate three pounds of undercooked pork, I knew it would be mine.

I walked out of the shop with my new scarf and a spring in my step. I looked like the epitome of a mystery writer, or a serial killer. I knew now that I would have the respect and admiration of all my non-writery peers.  “Look at me owning it!” I thought.

My peers were staring blatantly at my scarf, or my boobs. Either way it was a win. I couldn’t attract any more attention unless my fly was down, and I had toilet paper stuck to my shoe. Do I regret spending $24 for a scrap of yellow fabric that accentuates the bags under my eyes? I figure it still looks better than Fruit of the Loom Tuesdays.