Here’s a blast from the past. Go to page 16 of this archived copy of the Feb. 6, 1995 edition of The Breeze, my alma mater’s student newspaper. It’s the profile piece I wrote about the first transsexual I ever met. I would never have seen this link, but Jenn, the subject of the article, recently contacted me to chat. She’s doing well and I believe like me is having a hard time believing this was from 21 years ago.
I’m enjoying THE WRITER’S LAB by Sexton Burke. Lots of cool writing prompts.
Here’s one I worked on this morning over tea on my back patio: “Write a scene during which one character reveals a powerful and emotional truth to another — without using any dialogue.”
Here’s what I came up with:
Randa’s [what was I thinking with that name? nevermind] ability to change her body had given us countless nights of pleasure. Any female body type we could imagine was ours to enjoy in the privacy of our bedroom.
But as I stood across from her in the kitchen, watching her make her skin transparent, I realized there was one type of body alteration she couldn’t do.
She wept as her skin peeled back to show me. An octopus-like mass of black tendrils enveloped the major arteries to her heart and lungs. Cancer. It pulsed in time with her heart beats.
Randa, for all her magical body-morphing abilities, could not cure herself of sickness.
The skin continued to retract down her abdomen. What else did she want to show me?
A fetus the size of my thumb floated in her uterus.
While at the Writer’s Digest Annual conference last weekend, I picked up this great handout from Wiseinkpub.com called “20 Ways to Help an Author Out.” I’ve taken the liberty of re-typing the tips here. Please apply them liberally to promote your favorite writer.
1. buy the book!
2. buy the book for others as a gift
3. face the book out at bookstores
4. read the book where others can see it
5. ask a bookstore employee where the book is located
6. leave a review on Amazon, BN.com, and Goodreads
7. “like” the author’s author Facebook page
8. reserve a copy at the library
9. attend the book release party and bring two friends
10. spread news of the book through your social media channels
11. arrange a connection for the author with your media contacts and people of influence
12. recommend the author as a speaker at your local library
13. if your library has an annual author luncheon or evening event, suggest the author as a speaker
14. create a Wikipedia page for the author, including details related to the authorship of the book
15. buy a few extra copies, and donate them to your local library, doctor’s office, and community center library
16. send a copy to your favorite radio show with a personalized note explaining why you liked it
17. take a picture of yourself holding the book, and post it on your social media
18. create a Pinterest board by pinning the cover, author’s photo, and any other photos or illustrations related to the author or book
19. offer to write 10 e-mails you’ll send to booksellers, librarians, TV or radio producers, book reviewers, or just to your network of friends and family
20. volunteer to help the author at book events
In honor of today’s opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, here’s a limerick from 5th-grade Matt Warner of White Oaks Elementary School, in honor of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. I hope this year’s athletes stay in better health than this guy.
This has been a thin summer for me news-wise as I’ve been loading the metaphorical gun with more stuff to fire at you down the road. Another novel is in the can and with beta readers, and I’ll soon begin work on a long short story that’s been commissioned by a specialty publisher. Mark your calendars for Oct. 1, when I’ll be a guest at Con of the Mountain in Clifton Forge, VA.
Here’s the newest stuff in print. Do yourself a favor, and check it out, eh?
On the personal front, family life keeps me busy. Here are some pictures. Enjoy!
Let me paint a what-if scenario.
Let’s say you’re the parent of one of those fifty people killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Today is your son or daughter’s funeral. You look to the edge of the graveyard to see a carnival being set up. Merchants lay out their usual wares of artwork, rugs, and chotchkes. Several new products display your child’s face: hastily designed T-shirts and mugs decry this senseless death. A billboard announces all sales proceeds will benefit your family.
How do you feel about that? Are you flattered and grateful? Or is it too soon?
It’s only been three days, and this is already happening in the publishing world. Except it’s not as a carnival next to freshly dug graves. I’ve seen several announcements for new anthologies of short stories and poetry where the sales proceeds will benefit an organized charity or the victims directly. This repeats a well-established pattern: something bad happens, and immediately there’s a new charity anthology.
I hope these are just good people who want to help — who want to do something, anything, to relieve the suffering. Most writers are good people. If wanting to help is their sole motive, then more power to them.
My worry, however, is every time a charity anthology pops up in the wake of disaster, writers risk engaging in opportunism and self-glorification. Every tragedy isn’t a sales opportunity. And charity should never call attention to the giver. I’m not alone in saying so.
I realize this isn’t a black-and-white issue. A commemorative product, aside from raising money for the victims, might raise awareness of the tragedy’s causes, or help process the black tar of grief. And I confess to being a hyprocrite about my qualms; once I organized and participated in a book signing benefiting a charity. Was I being totally selfless? No.
So, I have to wonder: wouldn’t it be more effective to pay a direct donation to the charity instead of making that donation contingent on commercial success? Wouldn’t it be better to quietly give support without publicly exhibiting oneself as a good person or advancing a political agenda or career? This isn’t about me, after all. This is about them.
I’m not going to tell writers and publishers not to create these products. I only caution them not to be vultures. If your motives are pure and your timing is right, then sally forth.
Next, he’s working on memorizing how they all died.
As a coda to my trip to New Mexico, where I met Ready Player One author Ernest Cline, here is my collection of Earth Defense Alliance patches, in promotion of his new book, Armada.
The blue patch at the bottom is the one Cline handed out to everyone at the signing. Penguin Random House sent me the top three for participating in the Phaeton video game promotion for Armada.
Just in case it’s not obvious, I am not Matthew Warner, the apparently well-known Catholic writer. Nor am I Matt Warner, the Old West bank robber whose colleague was Jack Ketchum, although it would have been cool if I were. I’m about as far as you can get from Catholic without being Satanic, and I keep a fastidiously balanced on-shore bank account. That is all.
Here are pictures from Deena’s and my whirlwind weekend trip to Santa Fe, NM, where we did some client development for Deena Warner Design and generally geeked out with our favorite bestselling novelists. Read the captions for more detail: