Fame or fortune

Two years ago I quit my job before they could fire me. My bosses seemed to have a problem with an employee who couldn’t open a CD wrapper in less than two hours. (In my defense, they use industrial strength plastic and tape that could support a fully-grown walrus.)

Since then, I stubbornly give myself little tests to see if I’ve still got it. Yesterday, after watching a football mascot doing push-ups in the end zone, I decided to try for one push-up. I assumed the position, arms outstretched, back straight, but somehow the brakes on my elbows failed. I don’t remember gravity being so heavy.

Desperate for a source of income that didn’t involve deadlines, push-ups, or CD wrappers, I embarked on my writing career. Unlike my abilities in high finance, I’m an excellent writer. Unfortunately, in my daughter’s words, “Your promotion team sucks!” First off, I taught her not to smass her elders. Secondly, she makes a valid (if somewhat cruel) point.

Just once, I thought, I’d like to see my name in lights. That just goes to show that Christmas wishes can come true. Christmas Eve Day I went to a book signing at Swift Books in Orangeburg for Box of Rocks. The owners and staff were amazing, but the holiday shoppers were preoccupied with stupid stuff like rushing to get home to their families, so they averted their eyes and sprinted past me like a herd of gazelle. One woman, fully laden with gift bags hurtled the mall bench to cross to the opposite side. I bet she could do more than one push-up.

With holiday sales of Kindles, Nooks, and iThis-and-Thats through the roof this year, (and in the interest of getting my daughter off my back) I thought I’d share with you some nice things that people have recently said (without any coercion or money changing hands) about Box of Rocks, which is available for every electronic reader known to man.

Move over Janet Evanovich, Karla Telega’s new book surprises like an ACME anvil! … Box of Rocks is a fast-paced, smartly detailed, and gut-bustingly funny mystery, and I really hope there’s a sequel!

Allizabeth Collins of The Paperback Pursuer

If you love a mystery with a southern drawl, with characters that jump off the page, and dialogue that will keep you laughing then you’re going to love “Box Of Rocks.”

Brenda of The WV Stitcher

Author Karla Telega does an amazing job with the characters—not just with the personalities she creates but also in how she adeptly intertwines their lives. I was pleasantly surprised by Cher and Maggie. Although they are older women, they come across as very hip and modern. Most readers will think it would be fun to hang out with them.

Leslie Granier for Reader Views

And one of my favorite reviewers:

The book hinges on the quality of its characters, and particularly on the friendship and chemistry between Maggie and Cher, who are its greatest strength … Murder and danger drive the plot along, but she uses a healthy dose of humor along the way.

William Kendall of Speak of the Devil

Thanks to all those who took the time to read and review Box of Rocks. I can think of no better testimonial than the opinions of people who love to read. Thanks also to all of you readers. Your visits here make all the lying blogging worthwhile. I would like to wish you all health and happiness in the New Year.

Time management from an underachiever

This is my typical day. You’ll notice that I spend about 17 hours a day on the computer. How do I do it? (Try to sound sincerely interested when you ask). I have insomnia, I don’t get out much, I rarely watch TV, and I wait till my leg hairs are curling before I shave.

My friend just published a book. He finds time to work two jobs, volunteer as a fireman, and write. All of us underachievers hate him (in the nicest possible way). Of course, he doesn’t have to shave his legs or pull down his pants to pee—definite time savers.

It’s obvious that I don’t get out much. Actual social interaction may be a necessary component of the human condition, kind of like watching American Idol, but I tend to eschew both. This gives me time to look up “eschew” in the dictionary.

My project for today is to learn to make a video book trailer. This would be easier if I could figure out how to a) paste a You Tube video on my website, b) find 3 midgets and a parrot to hum Wind Beneath my Wings. Maybe I need to set the bar a little lower.

Damn! Now I have that song stuck in my head.

I consider myself very fortunate that I can make my own schedule, be my own boss, and avoid spending eight hours a day swilling coffee and trying to look busy in a windowless cubicle. Also, I don’t have to change my underwear every day.

You wouldn’t know it to read my blogs, but I’m a very focused person. I just tend to focus on the number of pudding cups left in the box, and the length of my toenails. I haven’t found a job description yet to cover that.

Do what you must to make it through the day. I’ll just be over here contemplating how to paste a You Tube video and humming Wind Beneath my Wings.

How to write funny

I’m preparing my notes in advance for when I become a rich and famous author and am asked to travel about giving lectures for big fat consulting fees. At the end of this blog you will be asked to complete a survey, ranking me on a scale of one to five. Please feel free to fill out twenty or so. You can get creative with the names you use, although I. M. Hurling has already been taken.

For those of you who would prefer to take a nap during this blog, you can move to the back of the lecture hall now. We’ll wait.

Let’s break down how to add some humor to your writing:

  1. We laugh at what surprises us. Lists are particularly good for this. I like to use “the rule of three.” You can do this by using two perfectly reasonable things to illustrate your point, then throw in something totally off the wall for the third.
    1. I think that all seniors with their original hips should take up ballroom dancing. You’ll learn the box-step, the dip, and the fastest route to the emergency room.
  2. Irony should be in every humor writer’s grab bag. The Hitchhicker’s guide to the Galaxy is all about the quest for “the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.” After seemingly endless searching, they come up with the rather disappointing answer: “forty-two.”
  3. Exaggeration and understatement are valuable tools.
    1. Dave Barry is a master of exaggeration. … the taxi has some kind of problem with the steering, probably dead pedestrians lodged in the mechanism, …
    2. In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there is an epic battle between King Arthur and the black knight. When Arthur cuts off both of the knight’s arms, he answers, “Tis but a scratch.”
  4. Developing a strong sense of humor starts with examining what is funny in yourself. Our flaws make us laughable.
    1. I find that it’s important to keep a positive outlook whenever I’m climbing behind the wheel of a couple tons of steel. In all my years of driving a motorhome, I’ve only ripped the tailpipe off once, and those traffic cones had it coming.
  5. Circle the wagons.

One of my favorite techniques is to end a blog by sneaking in something from … Mr. Hurling, if you continue that, I’ll have to ask you to leave!