Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch
After the Fall 2016

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Day My House was Set on Fire: Part 2

When you've rummaged through the ashes, saving the little you're able to save, you're entitled to sit down and have a good cry.

Then you need to make a decision as quickly as you can: Do you have enough strength and material to rebuild where you stand? Or do you choose to move along and build a new house somewhere else?

I had lost the only copy of a completed manuscript ready to send to my betas. I still had the nearly illegible hand-written first draft. And if that was all I had, I believe I might have abandoned the book--because I was also without a computer for now, relying on one-hour sessions at the library.

Luckily, I did find a saved second draft on an old flash drive. The book had been through many drafts since then, but I decided quickly:
--I had the strength to work from this.
--I'd recover mentally what I could recall and re-imagine wherever I had to.
--I'd work the way I used to work before I owned a computer.

Strategy:
1) I printed out batches of pages from the flash drive. And since computer time was limited, I returned to the style of my youth: using various colors of ink to signal the different drafts of each page. Before typing anything I would do at least six drafts.
2) I would not obsess over total recall. I would begin by accepting that I could never recover exactly the version that I lost. In the end, life willing, I'd produce a better book.

Progress report: I'm now 1-2 weeks from sending my beta readers the first 100 pages of the Recovery Copy.

My spirits are high. And I will keep you posted!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The blog is still in business!

A recent laptop crash resulted in the loss of my book in progress--and restricted my online access. So though I'm still very much in business, my online time is shorter.

Drop by on Monday for an update on the manuscript recovery's progressing--and how I'm learning to sleep in the nude when my poor house is in ashes.

Till then, may the fours be with you--and the threes and twos!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Empty Restaurant Syndrome: Or Eat Here Before We All Starve!

My latest post on Authors Electric discusses ways of beating The Empty Restaurant Syndrome: the natural reluctance to enter empty places...or read unreviewed books.

It's never easy but with careful strategy, you can whip the ERS.

http://tinyurl.com/mycuwxj


Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Day My House was Set on Fire: Part 1

Disaster can strike in the time that it takes to move from one table to another one in Starbucks. Five minutes after booting up my laptop, my favorite table opened. I shut down...moved over...and got the Blue Screen.

With time and persistence and pluck, I can retrieve most of the files that I lost--except one: I'd failed to make a backup copy of my work in progress. And I was just days away from sending the 'show copy' to my beta readers.

I did find a saved second draft on a flash--but this was from a half-year ago and the book had been through many drafts since then.

The work I faced was staggering--assuming that I could remember enough of my changes to start.

Also, I had a new challenge:  once again I'd been left without a laptop, having to rely on one-hour sessions on library computers. I felt tempted to quit--and yet I had to try before abandoning what I believed was the best of my Boss MacTavin novels.

I had proven persistence and pluck. But I had no strategy for coping with computer time restraints.

So, that became the first all-important step.

Stay tuned for updates as I go. The Boss Recovery Copy is already underway, forty-odd pages completed.

The next report will tell you how--with my house burned down--I returned to the house of my youth...the way I used to write/revise before there were computers.

This is shaping up to be one of my life's great adventures.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Flash Bulletin #4

Following up on FB #3, regarding the one-year top secret weapon that I began to use on 11/10:

The heart of the weapon is Action--big and bold as day.

Issues: I still hadn't had any results from the staffing agency I'd contacted. When I called them back, I learned that one reference had not returned their call and the phone number I'd been given for a second reference was bad.
Strategies: I began digging for contact #'s for previous managers at my night job. Good people who knew me and my work, but who'd been transferred suddenly. They agreed to come through for me. I passed the info on to the agency.
Results: Received an excited call from the agency manager, asking me to come in.for another interview. Whatever the problem had been with the first interviewer, she'd made no record of the ID I presented and there didn't seem to be any notes. I clicked with the agency manager--and he called back the next day with a strong possibility...at a significant bump up in salary. A longer commute is involved. I convinced him I could handle it--because I had handled an identical commute in Portland--for six years. I may have an interview with this company by the middle of the month.

Conclusions: The weapon worked, and worked quickly, because I acted quickly, persistently and in a focused way. I dug, and kept digging, for A-list references. I redid my resume, giving the agency manager what he wanted. I agreed to a second interview with the agency--and nailed it. Ronald Reagan-style, I transformed my age into a powerful asset.

This is just one example of the weapon at work. Similar results are coming in already on selected other fronts. Stay tuned for the next report.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Scoundrel Time!

Hi, the chipper Tweet says. Please Like my FB page and I'll Like yours!

Well, part of you may recoil from the prospect of wheeling and dealing with strangers. But it's a jungle out there and we haven't seen even the tip of the iceberg of Online Popularity Games. Plus, Amazon does note the number of Likes. So what you may do in this instance is be upfront and above board, Liking as requested then sending back this Tweet: Glad to Like. Will you in turn Like my Author (or FB) page at (link provided).

You might be surprised to receive a Tweet in response, thanking you for Liking...but ignoring your own request.

What to do? You might send a followup, stating that you were pleased to do it...but that you've noted that s/he hasn't reciprocated. Why not? You made what you regarded as an honest deal and don't want to jump to conclusions.

When hours pass and you've still gotten no response, it's not looking good. Why not check the Tweeter's FB page and see what you see? What if you see a dramatic increase in the number of Likes since the first Tweet?
'
You could do worse than conclude that many others were approached with the same offer. You have three courses of action:
1) Let it slide and shake your head at such childish shenanigans.
2) Withdraw your Like and say nothing.
3) Withdraw your Like and send a DM stating that you've done so.

I opt for the third door--with the caveat of keeping the note civil.  And you?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

You can pay it forward with two clicks

If you follow and enjoy this blog, you can pay the pleasure forward with only a couple of clicks.

The first click will take to you my Amazon author page:

http://www.amazon.com/Reb-MacRath/e/B007WJQKYM

The second click in the top right corner will register a Like.

The seconds it will take you to do this will show growing interest to Amazon. This in turn will lead to more exposure and the sales that will enable me to produce more of the books you enjoy.

Two clicks. You can do it. And you never know: Lady Luck may like your style and come around to goose you.

Meet the Real Reb MacRath: Part 5

Childish and even ridiculous pleasures also define Reb MacRath.

Let me tell you why I'm smiling now.

On my week off from my main job, I'd been scheduled to work crazy hours at my part-time gig: 10 hours on Black Friday and 8 more today, starting at 6:45 a.m. Both days had been 'locked', meaning that I couldn't trade or give up the hours. Calling out might have meant getting fired. Apparently, I had no way around the loss of all that writing time.

For some reason, my instinct told me to check on Thursday morning. To my surprise, the days no longer showed as locked. I 'advertised' my Saturday shift, not hopeful of anyone jumping at the chance to start work at dawn. But, Friday morning, when I checked, I saw that someone had.

So I get to play Hookey today without hurting anyone. The store won't be affected. And someone who needed the money enough to start work at that hour struck gold. Best of all, though I do lose the money, I remember the childish thrill, years ago, of taking off from school.

What will I do with my day? I began with a cab ride to my favorite Starbucks at 6 a.m. to ensure I got the one table with an electrical outlet. And here I'm enjoying the delinquent delight of rewriting the new Boss MacTavin novel. Around noon, I'll mosey on down to the library to take care of other business. But--hey, this is Hookey day--I'll also take a walk, maybe go to a film, stop to smell a few frostbitten roses--or whatever's in bloom at this time of the year. I'll read. I'll do more roadwork on Action Manifesting. (A day job interviewing's scheduled for Tuesday!) And at home this party animal will do 800 crunches, then savor his favorite oatmeal and watch some Prison Break.

Though films aren't made about days such as this, I'm here to tell you, bubbas: I've got to play Hookey more often in the upfront way I've done. As the kids say these days:

Sweet!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On Drafting: Why More of a Good Thing is Better

For a long time I believed that the third draft was my 'show copy': when the manuscript had lost gross weight and been purged of typos, grammos and infelicities. Beta readers could now see the book in my head. And though I'd continue to fine-tune for months, I regarded the real work as done.

I've done a 180 on this point. The third draft, I now believe, is where I can get down to business. By this draft I'll know if the structure and pacing are sound, if the characters are breathing.But the devil's own work lies ahead of me still and there's no way any reader can envision the book that I have in my head.

From the third draft on, I refer to passes through the novel. For a mystery I'll need a few passes to fine-tune the placement of clues and the advances in detecting. I'll devote another pass to tracking the timeline and another to weaving research into the spots I'd left blank. Then I'll want to make sure the main imagery is well-developed and sustained. In my book Nobility, for instance, colors played a major part: the book begins with the word 'black' and ends with a 'rainbow of colors'. I'll need a slow and careful pass to focus on the transitions.

There's nothing boring to me about the process of rewriting. The first three drafts are brutal work, about as exhausting as digging a ditch. Then the jeweler's art comes into play in the various passes that follow. After three drafts and a half-dozen passes, I can show the work in progress to my beta readers. But, as a perfectionist, I want more fun.

I'll go through the book for more months still, stalking parts that still aren't clear and prose that doesn't crackle. I have at it, committed to making each page a party for the reader.

Why settle for anything less?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A five-star review...from Lebanon

Talk about eye-opening experiences! I'd received a message from a reader who wanted to read and review Southern Scotch. The correspondent lives in Lebanon, though, with no Amazon account to allow me to send her a Kindle gift copy.

Now, at the start of our ebook careers, getting reviews is a serious challenge. Not that long ago, sending out manuscript copies was a process involving both time and expense. But times have changed for the better in some ways. The correspondent was able to read Word documents. So I sent her a Word copy--and two days later this review appeared in Goodreads:

http://tiny.cc/7uz26w

Well, a 5-star review is a wonderful thing. But in this case I also had a strong, direct connection with a reader thousands of miles away. Reviews like this help our sales. But readers like this keep us going--for this sort of connection is why we all write.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Whichamacallit of the...Huh?

John Fowles' highfalutin' phrase 'the relativity of recompense' has stuck in my mind for decades. That's a mighty fancy handle, yes, but the idea behind it is well worth remembering. And it can help you in your life or in the business of writing.

Here's what it means in plain English: While we can't control all that happens, we can adjust our perspective to see the good side of things as they are.

Examples:
1) You wake up one day, suddenly fifty or sixty, and realize with horror that your dream of writing has fallen by the wayside. Fowles wouldn't have denied the advantages of succeeding while still young. But he would have listed the relative windfalls of succeeding later on in life: You'll have cleared much crap out of your system and be able to bring a rich harvest of life experience to bear upon your work...You'll be driven in powerful ways no twenty-year-old can equal...You'll be far less likely to make fatal mistakes with agents, editors or your fellow writers.
2) You've just quit smoking at age 40. On the one hand you feel justiably proud. On the other, you're tormented by all the times you've failed before and the twenty odd years you spent smoking. Once again, Fowles wouldn't have counseled denial. Yes, it would have been terrific if you'd never started at all or had succeeded the first time you quit. Then again, you've learned something from every prior attempt. You have an arsenal of skills to use against a formidable foe. And today you have something else you wouldn't have had twenty years ago: online support groups you can reach in minutes. One last point: when you were twenty, with a forever before you, you were beaten by the part of you that whispered that you could always quit tomorrow. Today you know that you don't have forever--and that you don't need the pain of failing and starting all over again.

Today Hotmail is down. I went into a funk. But then I did a mental pivot: I now had time to write this post and return to the rewrite of the third Boss MacTavin novel.

Try tipping your own hats today to the Fowles' wondrous Whichamallit of the Huh.




Sunday, November 17, 2013

How to Become a Stud Muffin or Yum Muffinette

So here I am writing a new novel about a wild action hero while the damnedest changes seem to be happening within me. While I get high writing about Boss MacTavin--this athlete, Corrector and fighter--I've begun to focus in my daily life on different sorts of courage.

--I'm logging in far more writing hours a week while working in more time for correspondence and social media.
--I've redoubled my efforts to ace my writing goals: to thrill, delight, move, astonish and inspire .
--I'm persisting as never before in my search for a job with a M-F day schedule.
--I'm experimenting with new ways to win ebook visibility and online klout.
--I'm devoting more time to my family and friends.
--I'm proceeding with a bold new plan to nail a set number of goals in one year.

It's all too easy to drift, we all know. Anyone who's tried to quit smoking or drinking or whatnot and failed knows that we usually fail by degrees if we can't keep the wind in our sails. But Stud Muffins and Yum Muffinettes sport the same charged faithful look whether they row or breeze on with good winds. They don't do this when they're in the mood or when they're in the presence of a Major Movie Moment.

No. When they're doing the laundry or cutting the lawn, they've got the same look in their eyes that you'll see when they shooting photos, writing books or lovingly pounding the keys.

The magic word: Congruence. Their lives and their work are cut from the same cloth.

For me, no time for Boss-style flips or brawls with bikers today, not even a roll in the hay with a Yum Muffinette. I'm off on an adventure--at the library.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Meet the Real Reb MacRath Part 4

True confession:

I just learned a lesson about talking shop. One of my strongest supporters had sent me a note to say how fired up he felt about getting--soon--a beta readers copy of the new Boss MacTavin book.

Well, writing does get a bit lonely at times. And at other times, more than a bit. I shot back a cheery note about some live alligators I was wrestling with in the form of technical issues: sustained imagery, rhythm and pacing, etc. He sent back another note of playful exasperation: he had no idea what I meant by these things since he was a musician who read books because he loved reading. He wasn't angry or even upset. But he gave me an epiphany.

If I were to hear him play one day, I wouldn't need to know how long he'd worked on a song's arrangement...or how hard he'd had to train to reach a particular high note...or how he'd altered the song's bridge from major to minor to gain an effect. I'd know when I listened if the song worked for me.

And that's what matters, isn't it? In fact, the less we blather about the creative process, the better. No possible good can come from revealing the number of hours we spent on a book or the extent of our labors. The effort is part of our pact with the Muse. And secrecy should be a part of it too. We may have to pay in blood to make the final product seem natural and effortless.

But, all in all, art's worth the price. And the Muse makes a wonderful mistress.

So...let's all smile and shut the hell up.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Hot Tip for the Serious Readers

My reading interests vary, as do yours, from time to time. I love mysteries, thrillers, adventure...and also literary novels.

I've just finished a terrific contemporary take on the classic Wuthering Heights. And on the strength of this book, I'll be looking for more by this author.

The Book: Bird of Passage.
The Author: Catherine Czerkawska
My review:
http://tiny.cc/jd0j6w


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hitting the Sweet Spot at Fifty...or Later

My new post on Authors Electric deals with Lawrence Sanders and other famous writers who succeeded later in life. Sanders's strategies may be of special use to some:

http://tiny.cc/iwwh6w


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Flash Bulletin #3

This flash is another game changer. Nearly six months into this adventure in manifestation, I had an insight that changed me:

The insights and tools I've made use of this far have all worked well: the rotations of five questions, the new 2 to three-day Playbooks, the list of 'inspired actions'...But, without abandoning those, I needed to sharpen my focus. Something to guide, even compel, me to take relentless daily action. Analysis was helpful. And planning was still groovier. But I needed a weapon to take to the field--one whose power would grow with each skirmish. And I needed a way to keep my sense of urgency ALIVE.

I invented the weapon 11/7-11/9 and put it to use 11/10, hacking at enemy hurdles that stand between me and my goals: financial, artistic, personal, physical. And I began with a driving sense of the need for secrecy. This has never been one of my strong points. By nature, I'm inclined to share and answer almost any question. No more. 

Among the things I won't discuss online: anything relating to my 'business office': release dates, numbers of sales, red hot links I use, etc...These things I'll share only with the most trusted friends and supporters

Among the things I will discuss? Oh, Lord, the blog won't die! It'll be livelier than ever here with posts about writing itself, writers I have known, reviews and more.

Timeline: This first version of the weapon has a 1-year timeline that will end 11/09/2014. At the end, I will share the specifics I've held back through the year--including sales. I'll list the goals I set--which I accomplished and where I fell short.

 Keeping it honest: I have one adviser to help me gauge my progress and to keep this on the level. I'll report to her twice a month with actions taken and results.

All will be revealed in November 2014. 

Once I've passed the finish line, I'll share the wealth will all.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coming Attractions: Next Week!

I know. This blog has seemed almost inactive, with little but touts for the three-day event (11/5-11/7).

But next week this blog will be jumping. You'll  find throughout the week:
1) A summary of the free event, with my own impressions about what makes an event a success.
2) A new Action Manifesting Flash Bulletin, revealing a new strategy that I will implement on 11/15.
3) A review of a novel you really should read.
4) A post that I must keep top Secret.

And...more? I'm never working harder than when I don't seem to be working at all.


Monday, November 4, 2013

It's okay to get excited now

Starting tomorrow, for three days, you can download a classic in horror--for free. And it's okay to be a little excited about your not paying a penny for an award-winning novel that's been streamlined and retailored for today. 

It's quicker and clearer. And the ending packs more punch.

The 25th Anniversary Edition of The Suiting has real terror in every stitch. So do get a little excited today...then download for free tomorrow!


Event dates are 11/5-11/7

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three-Day Free Event: The Suiting!

'One of the 100 most influential horror novels' will be free three days next week:

11/05-11/07

The Suiting: 25th Anniversary Edition is a streamlined, retailored version of the Stoker Award-winning novel that went on to be optioned for film.

Brad Strickland wrote of this anniversary version:

Twenty-five years ago Kelley Wilde wrote 'The Suiting,' a Stoker-award-winning horror novel that made quite a splash. Now Reb MacRath, the man behind the Kelley Wilde pseudonym, has reissued it in a somewhat revised version. It still packs a terrific punch. You might say it swings a mean--a real mean--bat. As for the story, it is mystical and horrific all at once, engrossing and involving in the same way that Stephen King's work is when King is on his game.



An old horror has come back with a new name and a hot new hair-do. Do your Kindle a favor and bag it for free. My way of thanking you for letting me return under the name Reb MacRath.

Cheers!

http://tiny.cc/mkdx5w


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Flash Bulletin #2

I've taken some big steps since starting this adventure in manifestation. And I'd learned the importance of focusing on what I do want and not what I don't want.

But two Don'ts resisted stubbornly:
1) I don't want to work the graveyard shift, beneath a tyrannical boss who blocks my every effort to transfer or get promoted.
2) I don't want to continue to suffer from low sales and few reviews on Amazon.

Lightbulb: 
I can't compel the specifics of change: when I find a better job, when my book sales start to spike. But I'll continue to suffer as long as I think of Don't Wants. Since these two were the trickiest, they were the ones to beat. If I couldn't succeed overnight, I could start--overnight--by taking bold, decisive actions.

What were the two countering Do Wants?
1) I do want a Monday-Friday day job working for positive, challenging peeps, at a salary that frees me to pay my bills, live a little and advertise my books.
2) I do want keep putting out 1-2 books a year, while gaining steadily in mastery of the ebook business: effective launching of new books and hustling of the back list, obtaining more reviews, etc.

Inspired actions taken:
1) I began to look into some new Twitter followers, checking out blogs if they asked me to look. I looked for those that entertained, but also those that nurtured: reviewing books or touting events.
2) I approached one author whose blog, I thought, was dynamite--and offered her a gift copy of The Suiting, which is still low in reviews.
3) I refused to accept defeat by the tyrannical boss. I contacted one past night manager who'd escaped--and, through him, another. I now had two of the three glowing professional reviews I would need to move on. I found a third from a coworker, whom I promised to help if he helps my escape.
4) I finished the third draft of my third Boss MacTavin novel and then began the fourth draft, while starting to drum up initial interest on Twitter.
5) I decided to stage a three-day free event for The Suiting, date to be announced.
6) I solicited help from a colleague, asking for the names of 6-10 free book sites I should contact.
7) I decided on a new, bold as brass strategy to maximize my Amazon assets--and to work, from here on in, from a position of strength. Others, with only a couple of books, have proven more gifted naturally at networking and hustling online. I needed a plan that was fueled by the force of the 6 ebooks I've already published...the 7th coming by next spring...and a back list of at least 5 more. In a bold fit that stunned me, I swore what I'd do.
8) After the sudden death of a sister, I decided that life was too short for anything less than much bigger and far bolder action.

Results:
1) Almost immediately after deciding to stop being beaten at work, I got a call from a staffing agency I'd approached months ago. I interviewed with them today and decided on the spot to accept a temp-to-hire position, if offered, at a salary we agreed on.
2) From the rekindled commitment to succeeding at my writing has come a re-Kindled new goal: to inspire, entertain, move and delight...to think of my readers constantly and to try to enrich their lives.
3) You can verify this for yourselves: It's simple and it's almost instant: from the moment that you shift your focus, with conviction and intent, to the things you Do Want...the world within you starts to change the world that is without. This doesn't happen through voodoo. It happens because you no longer stand in the way of the magic. And it happens because, through your actions, you greatly assist in the birth.




Monday, October 28, 2013

Coming Thursday: Flash Bulletin #2!

Exciting things are happening on the Action Manifesting front. In fact, to condense them into proper Flash length, I'll need a couple of days.

This one, I believe, is worth its wait in gold.

So put it on your calendars:

Thursday, 10/31

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oh, dear, what to do today--write or self-promote?

Here's a link to an article you mustn't miss--on the need to write, write, write....and not just Twitter, Twitter. It's the best thing I've seen the subject and I want to share it with you. It includes some terrific suggestions for other sites that you might try. And it asks you to consider: if you could reduce your hustle time to only an hour a day, how could you spend that most wisely:

Here's the link:

http://tiny.cc/1k1k5w

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Get Ready for The Blaze!

Don't forget: tomorrow, 10/23, the Books-a-Fire event will run through 10/29. That's 46 books in all genres from best-selling ebook authors for just $.99 each--including two of my most popular titles: SOUTHERN SCOTCH and APRIL YULE.

Put some real heat on your Kindles at:

Download October Sale Picture.png (155.3 KB)


http://www.booksafiregiveaway.com/

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Hot New Sale is on the Way: 10/23-10/-29

I'm proud to announce my participation in the Books-a-Fire sales event starting for six days on Wednesday. Here's the official announcement and link. You''ll find a terrific selection of authors and books for only $.99. Shop by genre, shop by author--your Kindles will purr with content.

The announcement

Download October Sale Picture.png (155.3 KB)

The Books-a-Fire authors are back with more fabulous deals and NEW books to buy. There are no gimmicks or hoops to jump, just incredible prices on every single book. Just point, click, and buy books in every genre for just 99 cents each.  

YES!  All 46 books on the page are priced at 99 cents to make your shopping easy and affordable.  For less than the price of a dinner out, you could buy every single book on the page.

To make it really easy, we've also created categories.  Click your favorite category at the top of the page and see all the books that are on sale in that category.  Load your Kindle with all 46 books and enjoy a quiet read now that the kids are back in school.  You've had a hectic summer so treat yourself to a good book today!  Go to www.booksafire.com

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Meet the Real Reb MacRath: Part 3

This isn't the post I'd intended: a playful little shockeroo I thought I might have to pull the next day.

I learned one of my sisters had died yesterday and 'intimations of mortality' suddenly struck on home ground. Both my parents had died. I'd lost uncles and aunts, grandparents, cousins, teachers, favorite actors and writers....But death had never touched one of my brothers or sisters. And even though some of us had grown estranged, we could still whistle in the dark with some security, believing our circle of six remained charmed.

The circle has been broken now. And now I see that I was blind in my belief that it was charmed.

My sister's name was Cher. And she had a remarkable life: falling from the heights of an almost Gatsby-like existence (summer and winter homes, golf and dinner with the poobahs)...to a long and painful crash...to a courageous rebirth. The banker's wife remarried and joined an even higher class--of caretakers. As she'd been cared for when she fell, she looked after the old and infirm. She loved her new work and was said to excel.

Now, demons love to play with us. And there may have been mornings when her heart ached with remembrance of all she had lost. But let me tell you what I know. If ever the demons did whisper, she would have remembered the people she helped, the family and friends she'd been blessed with. And she would have answered the whispers with this:

A high sun shines upon this day and I will not betray it. I'll give thanks for the work I've been privileged to do and thanks for the love I'm still able to give.

I loved her. I miss her. And I'm torn in two because just before I got the news I'd been heading to buy, write and send her a card, getting in touch after nearly six years. It's too late now. But it isn't too late to say the words she must have said...the lovely blonde who crashed and rose:

A high sun shines upon this day and I will not betray it.

Reporting for duty: the Real Reb MacRath...in the front lines with you all...taking bigger baby steps toward infusing my soul with a bit more largesse.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Coming Sunday: Meet the Real Reb MacRath: Part 3

This entry will be so revealing that I may delete it on Monday. 

So be sure to be here on Sunday, October 20th.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Big Bad Guns Make Big Bad Noise

My hero Boss MacTavin favors his Colt Python revolver, loaded with Teflon-coated bullets. It's a powerful gun and it looks so damned scary the sight alone stops a fair number of fights. But revolvers can't be silenced, at least not in the usual way. And this presents both me and Boss with creative challenges in working around the Colt's roars.



Attention to troublesome details like this is one of the signs of a pro. And inattention can result in loss of readers' trust. So I took care in SOUTHERN SCOTCH, the series debut, to provide Boss with an automatic backup gun which can, in fact, be silenced: the Beretta Minx.



Boss uses the silenced Minx twice in this book.  But for the final gunfight, he turns to the Colt Python--after staging a computerized blitz of fake calls to 911. Cops have scattered all over the city by the time he cuts loose with the Colt.

Now, THE ALCATRAZ CORRECTION isn't short on action, but it is short on gun play. Boss fires only once, at a speeding auto, from an apartment he's rented as Angus McPherson. Temptation whispered: Nobody will care if we simply move along. But once again I thought of trust--and took time to have the cops drop by. When they do, they find 'Angus'--without Boss's trademark patch--reeking of whiskey and ranting in an Edinburgh accent they can't understand. Boss is convincing enough that they leave without smelling any gun smoke. And I didn't lose the trust I'd gained with my intensive research on Alcatraz.

In the entry scheduled for Spring 2014, Boss will fire only once again. And this time I knew I needed to do something different. This one's set in Charlotte, NC. In one of the book's final scenes, Boss goes to a upscale neighborhood in the center of the city. The homes are small and close together. And I'd done enough research on Charlotte to know that the only homes with basements are located out in the 'burbs. Now, Boss has come by with reason to expect that he'll find a body, along with some trouble intended for him. And he really should have brought the Minx, since a shot here is bound to be heard. So I had to account for his taking the Colt--which I did--and come up with a way he could fire without having the cops there in minutes.

I found my answer in the bathroom, not far from the body--wrists slit--in the tub. But I only found it after Googling on the subject of silencing revolvers. I'll save what I found for the novel itself. What I'd like to share this morning is my intensified faith in trust earned through attention to details.

A parting example: when Brad Strickland read an early draft of SOUTHERN SCOTCH, the first thing he did was dig into my hero's change of name: from Pete McGregor to Boss MacTavin. I'd linked Boss to a wild Scottish brigand involved in a famous rebellion. Brad replied: Not possible because the name Boss did not come into circulation for some time to come. But--and this is why Brad Strickland rocks--I could have a little fun, while sticking to the facts, by giving the old brigand the nickname 'Bas Aithghear'. The phrase translates roughly to Sudden Death and Bas does look and sound enough like Boss to carry.

We may not always get it all completely right. But we can never stop showing we've tried to earn our readers' trust.






Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Coming Tomorrow

10/17: 'Big Bad Guns Make Big Bad Noise' 

This post will explore the importance of logic in dealing with characters who tote big guns...such as my Boss MacTavin. I'll review my strategies in the first two books for getting around his Colt's deafening roars--and give you a hint of his new tack in the upcoming third novel. I hope to show in the course of the post how inattention to details like this results in loss of readers' trust.

See you here tomorrow!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

On literary feuding

The fur's begun to fly over my latest blog on the great collective blog, Authors Electric.

Before you contemplate engaging in a literary feud, be sure to read this post!

http://tiny.cc/nc7u4w

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Flash Bulletin #1

I'd meant to christen the second phase of this year-long adventure with the triumphant announcement that I'd tripled my income in only a week. What better proof could I have offered that Action Manifesting works? And I came close, so I thought--but, actually, I came a lot closer to ruin.

My frightening steps to the Yellow Brick Road:
Goal: to escape from an exhausting, dangerous and poor-paying night job.
Strategy: Commence an online search, using a highly recommended source: indeed.com. I set a goal of 2 applications a day, minimum...or 60-80 month. By playing the 'numbers game', I hoped to beat the odds by getting out about 200 resumes within three months. And I cast my net wider to better my odds: different resumes: one for retail, one for data entry, one for copywriting/editing/proofing. Something would come through, for sure. And, lo and behold, something did.
Results: In less than a week I'd done two intensive online interviews using Yahoo's Instant Messenger. Despite my initial aversion to that format, I found the process pleasant enough and was impressed with the questions I was asked. I was even more impressed with the money to be made through either of these at-home online data entry positions. The first company would pay $20 an hour and include a free HP notebook, plus a desk and filing cabinet. Wow! Then the second offer came through, from--are you ready--Merrill Lynch. $25 an hour! Free HP laptop! Possibility of winning a home and a car at the end of the first year! Yayyy! Go, you hottie, Reb MacRath!
Alarm bells: There were no alarming alarm bells, if you know what I mean, at the start. I'd worked for a short while at bank branch office in San Francisco and for a long while I'd worked as  a credit verifier. I did have strong data entry skills. At one point in the online chat, my interviewer--Sarah--said she managed the HR dept in the NYC office--but she'd introduced herself as the office manager. Later she said pay would be biweekly--after telling me it would be weekly. And she seemed far less interested in my questions about actual paydates, etc, than in the software I would need for the free laptop. I needed the software pronto.
BAWWWK! Did this mean I'd have to pay for the software? Yes, but I'd be reimbursed on my first paycheck...at a still unspecified date. I said no, I didn't have the money. Sarah countered: Surely no one could trust the probity of Merrill Lynch. And the software would only cost $450, installed by the same vendor in a deluxe free HP laptop. Payment could be made by Western Union to the vendor. I said no again, I didn't have the money. I was put on hold for two minutes. And then:
BAWWWK! BAWWWK! No problem, I was told. They had a special fund for occasions such as this. Another company that processed their refunds would overnight a check to me to cover the expense. I was to deposit it by ATM only for quicker clearing, so that I could pay the vendor by Western Union and thus get my laptop on the way. Yes, yes, to tell the truth, alarm bells were starting to sound. But--hey, folks--$25 an hour and the chance to work at home?
     I got cracking, arranging for the land line I would need and the DSL. And I was waiting at home for the phone tech when a text message arrived: Sarah had tracked the package and confirmed the check was waiting at the UPS store I use for all mail. I had to pick it up and deposit it immediately--by ATM only. Go, go, go! I texted back: I'd pick it up after 5, when I had my phone installed. Forget the phone, she texted me--check must be deposited today!
     The check was waiting for me. And...

BAWWWK! BAWWWK! BAWWWK! The outside of the express envelope showed delivery from an individual in Atlanta, GA. The check itself was from a company in Sarasota, FL--and drawn on a bank in Livonia, MI. The check amount was not $450--but $2450. I texted Sarah back, confused. She responded: Forget all that and deposit it now--by ATM only!
Luckily, I walked straight past the ATM machine and showed the check to the bank manager. His verdict: beyond the shadow of a doubt, the whole thing was an out and out scam. The check would clear, on a pending basis, long enough for me to pay the 'software company'...then it would bounce, leaving me to pay the bank for funds disbursed.


Blue conclusions--and some not blue
Scoundrels abound. While I'm thankful I didn't deposit that check or give notice on my current job, I feel disappointed too: I may not have fallen for the lure of Easy Money...but I fell hard for the hot, sexy hope of making easier money. I ignored my instincts: to avoid online interviews with people I don't know. I shied away from questions I really should have asked and shied away from asking for anything in writing. I could go on, rapping my knuckles for other sins of omission. But the bluest thing that I was left with was this: the fear that I'd let down all who hope that Action Manifesting works. At first thought, it seemed I had.
     But the one thing most experts agree on--from Napoleon Hill to Deepak Chopra to Wayne Dyer--is the need to abandon the lust for control. We need to stop fixating on the precise new job we want, the exact salary, the exact timeline, etc. The principle is that the universe will take care of the details if we focus on purer intentions.
     I picked myself up, dusted myself off...and resolved: I'd continue to apply on indeed.com but decline all online chats. I'd restrict my responses to companies that had local offices with people I could meet. I'd get any offer in writing--and not give my notice at my current job till I felt completely secure. At the same time, I'd explore another chance to get out from under the night job--by changing a pleasant part-time second job into a full-time gig at an even slightly better salary. And I'd work aggressively to realize that option.
     My conviction is stronger than ever: Action Manifesting works. The caper with Not Merrill Lynch was simply a stern warning sign on the way.
   

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Meet the Real Reb MacRath: 2

You almost never get to know about the core experiences that drive and shape a writer's work. Some writers refuse, on principle, to provide that information: if the writing is good, it will speak for itself. Others leap onto the backs of their high white horses: their lives are their own business and they owe nothing to readers but books. Most others have secrets they fear to reveal--though disclosure would certainly bore us to tears.

I, on the other hand, do have a handful or whoppers. But I don't kid myself into thinking you really want to hear about the time when, in Japan, I hit on a Yakuza's lady...or my steamy train romance...or my mile-highing with a pair of stewardesses...or my accidentally kicking my Aikido sensei in the face. No, no, none of that! We need to stick to the high ground.

Which core moments are the keys to the heart of Reb MacRath?
1) Issue: I moved to Canada in 1968 and renounced my citizenship for "personal reasons" (mostly grief over the death of RFK). Though I'd intended to take out Canadian citizenship, I remained stateless without knowing why. Without knowing why, at least, until July 4, 1976. On the U.S. Bicentennial, I broke down completely--understanding what I'd done...and what I needed to do. I spent years fighting for the return to return home: finally receiving a Green Card to return. Five years later, I became an American again after having been stateless for half of my life.
Expressions: In The Suiting, Victor Frankl is an American expatriate who became Canadian, but only on paper. He's footless, without any center or abiding sense of self.
     In Nobility, the broken Ray mirrors my own damages in his stateless plight. He too returned from Canada, a Man Without a Country, unable to adapt or get the feeling of being a Yankee. He speaks of the cumulative horror of answering 'I'm nothing' whenever asked what was (American or Canadian).
     In The Vanishing Magic of Snow, old Jay Penny seeks salvation in the present by recalling his past glory days as a draft dodger in Canada. He's never found anything equal to his Seventies life in Toronto...as close to Twenties Paris as a rebel could have hoped.
 2) Issue: I studied martial arts--primarily Hapkido and Aikido--for over fifteen years. In that time, I broke so many bones that I'm hard put to write a book that doesn't have a fight scene or a man forced to take a bad smack down.
Expressions: In Southern Scotch, Pete McGregor shows up in the wrong part of town at the worst of all possible times. Mistaken for somebody else, he's beaten, crucified and half-blinded. He returns as Boss MacTavin, a rough-and-tumble Southern Scot who takes another beating while gunning for revenge.
      In Nobility,  Ray's beaten nearly half to death while taking on six pickpockets--to reclaim his lost honor at Christmas.
3) Issue: Love of Asian culture--and exotic beauty. I spent good time in both Japan and China and have read about Zen since my school days. 
Expressions: The early books I wrote as Kelley Wilde run over with young Asian women: especially Makoto and Angel Kiss. The Reb MacRath novels are far more racially balanced. Ray, in Nobility has a Chinese lover. Jay Penny, in The Vanishing Magic of Snow, loves a beautiful black singer. Boss MacTavin, in Southern Scotch and The Alcatraz Correction has Filipino lovers.
     Asian martial arts figure strongly in Mastery, Makoto and the Boss MacTavin novels.
4) Issue: Love of trains. A whole team of shrinks could have a field day with this one. But when I think of heaven I think of cross-country travel by train with a beautiful girl at my side.
Expressions: In Mastery, a train full of present-day Americans lands, with some help from a comet, in 1906 San Francisco. They're stalked by a fellow traveler: a vampire who thirsts for the blood of his day.
     In Nobility, a gang of thieves set out on Christmas Eve to pick the Amtrak Crescent clean.
     In April Yule, two ruined Yuppies recover their hearts on a train.

Now, wasn't that more fun than reading about my mile-highing with two sinfully sexy young ladies?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Coming Attractions

I'll have a few major announcements to make in the first Action Manifesting Flash Bulletin: a new format for the second phase of the year-long adventure. And that'll be coming on Sunday, October 6.

Tomorrow, October 3, look for the second installment of Meet the Real Reb MacRath: about the core experiences that are the keys to the heart of my work.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Art and the Confidence Game

So, there I sat at the end of six weeks' labor on the second draft. 50 pages to go before I could strut, proud as a peacock, into the third draft. That's where I start to shine. But wait:

The last fifty pages didn't let me off so easily.  I found myself facing daunting problems on three fronts: back story, mystery solution and pacing. I'd wanted these pages to whip like the wind and I'd wanted to leave readers gasping for breath. I'd taken a bold tack: almost any other writer would have stretched these fifty pages into 75-100--or roughly a third of the book. But I'd wanted to capture the rush of a sting whose main hope of success is its speed.

But, as I say, there were...problems. I grew discouraged and remained so..till I devised a plan:

Though I couldn't resolve all of the challenges yet, I needed to work and make progress--or my confidence would leave me. For the first time in my writing career, I began to paste in patches of research to rewrite at the third draft: the description of a world-famous mansion...description of a nearby hotel...far more detail on a gun...At the same time, I contented myself with the best I could do right now on the more troublesome scenes. In other words, I settled for less than my best on scenes I couldn't pull off yet while giving my all to the parts I could nail.  I might not 'get' the most resistant passages until the fourth or fifth draft. Hell, maybe not till the tenth.

It's a confidence game but it's one we can win if we adapt as we go.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review of Guns of the Waste Land 1 by Leverett Butts

Here's my Amazon review the astonishing first installment of this Weetern epic by Leverett Butts:

http://tiny.cc/r44u3w

Got $.99? Then do not miss this feast!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Meet the Real Reb MacRath: 1

I'd feel better about having some writers on my Kindle if they'd have me in their dens and offer me a carrot juice or Cafe Rebuccino. In fact, I'd settle for a post that lets me greet the spirit of the author of the book. And today I'll try to offer you the sort of things I'd like to know before I decide: Will I spend my time and money?

Who are my favorite authors?
I'll have to divide that one into three parts, since I delve freely into Classical, Pop and Literary.
a) Classical: the ancient Romans, foremost: especially Ovid and Horace, for their mastery of style and structure. Also: Tacitus, for his incredible fusion of gravitas and dry wit, eloquence and terseness. And Homer, of course, from the Greek camp: I've read most of the major translations. Russians: Pushkin and Gogol. Brits: Byron, G. B. Shaw, Oscar Wilde. Yanks: Mark Twain, Walt Whitman.
b) Pop: emphasis on mysteries and thrillers. Lawrence Sanders is, far and away, my favorite: in equal parts, a showman, stylist and commercial master. I also like: Stieg Larsson, James Lee Burke, Stephen King, Micheal Connelly, Sue Grafton, Sarah Paretsky, Lee Child, Brad Strickland, Michael Prescott, Claude Bouchard, Russell Blake, Diane Rapp.
c) Literary: I love the poetry of W.H. Auden and Leonard Cohen. Gore Vidal's essays. Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

What sort of films do I like?
I disappoint a lot of people with my preference for 'low-brow' films. Can't help it: I love action--and it shows in my work. That said, I don't go to just any old B-movie, though I do prefer Quentin T to Stanley Kubrick and Hitchcock to Terrence Malick.
Some favorite films: Kill Bill 1 and 2, The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Alien, The Exorcist, The French Connection, Chicago, Jackie Chan's Project X, Tootsie, Any Given Sunday, Scarface, The President's Analyst, Something Wild, Sleepless in Seattle, On Her Majesty's Secret Service...

What sort of music turns me on?
My taste is limited. I acquire a stable of favorites, then listen to them endlessly. Born that way, as Gaga says.
Likes: Rod Stewart, especially the Great American Songbook CDs. The post-Beach Boys Brian Wilson. Imogen Heap. Rolling Stones. Eminem. George Gershwin. Josh Groban. I'm always open, but nothing else is calling now.

Are there any movies or music that have a bad affect on me?
I'm allergic to the Beatles, though I salute their genius. I may leave the room when I hear them. Worse, if I even see a poster of Kubrick's 2001, I begin to weep and babble, crawling off on all fours. Kubrick never met a great idea he didn't like--to butcher.

I'm such a mild and temperate soul. Do I have any, well, pet peeves?
People who talk with their mouths full or spray the table with chewed goo. Petty, mean-spirited people with no  sense of the grandeur of my own personal woes. Hot babes who won't go out with me because I'm not famous enough for them yet. Bullies. Braggarts. Studmuffins with mustaches badder than mine.

Are there any ruling passions it saddens me not to be able to share?
Ah! The world would be a better place if everyone shared my passion for Prison Break, in toto, not just the first two seasons. And I wish more people shared my passion for the towering acting ability of William Fichtner, who played Agent Alex Mahone in PB. One of the best, and most under-rated, American actors today. And, frankly, I'm always a little bit hurt when a close friend refuses to share my belief that black cherry's the best ice cream flavor on earth.

Do I have any last words on the issue?
Of course I do, I'm Reb MacRath. It's a fine thing to have character. But it's far more difficult to do so while being one--and, preferably, a blend so rich it spins our blinkin' heads: outrageous, witty, quirky, lovable, feisty, sexy, sometimes wise.








Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Real Reb MacRath is coming!

A job-related emergency has set back till tomorrow the post I had planned for today: Meet the Real Reb MacRath.

I'll be sure to add a little something extra to make up for the delay.

See you Sunday!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Easy Art of Writing a 30-Word Review

So many writers have written about the hardships encountered in getting reviews of their work. The writers are right in suspecting that many readers do not know the need for even short reviews of books they have enjoyed.

When a new restaurant opens--possibly a great one--who wants to be the first to walk through its doors? Who doesn't find the prospect of all those empty tables more than a little unnerving? Who isn't put off by the sight of the waiters desperately hoping for something to do?

But as the tables slowly fill, night after night, and word of mouth begins to spread, we grow far more willing to give the place a try.

Circling back on the first paragraph: for every reader who doesn't know the importance of a short, simple review, I suspect there are others who do know--but who tremble at the prospect of sitting down to write one.

For those who are willing but fearful, here's a 30-plus-word review of The Suting's 25th Anny Edition that resulted in at least one sale the day that it was published.

"Starts off easy. Picks up speed. Then towards the end, hits like Ronnie Lott and runs you over. Great book. a must read for those who enjoy Horror. Thanks for the ride, Reb!"

The Suiting has received longer, more detailed, reviews. And I'm grateful for each one of them. But this mini-review from 'porkfatrulez' shows mastery of the short form. He gives an idea of the escalated pacing and the crushing final impact. Equally important, he conveys the suspense and the fun of the book as a Horror novel--and a ride. (The review earned one comment on Twitter: 'Told me all I needed to know. I'm rushing out to buy the book.')

Next time we don't have time to write a hundred-word critique, let's keep this in mind as a template of sorts. In just thirty words we can tell the genre of the book, what we liked best about it, and what others can expect: great plot twists, deep characterization, razzle-dazzle style, etc.

No need to do this every time. But if a book's enriched your life, why not take time for thirty words?





Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Chapter Twelve

This chapter marks the breaking point for the first third of this adventure. 

12 seemed, somehow, just right to me. My impression stemmed from my experience in the breaking of difficult habits: especially drinking and smoking. Each of those tricky endeavors had similar timelines with multiple points: 3 days to whip physical withdrawal--then a week, a month, three months to signal new growth in mastery.

But whether it's three months or four months, we all reach the same moment of truth--where we have to do something bold and dramatic: grow out of the act of NOT doing and start to positively DO. This phase of my journey took four months, not three. I wondered why. And with some help from my good friend Google, I learned:

--Twelve is a sublime number, one that has a perfect number of divisors, and the sum of its divisors is a perfect number also.
--The human body has twelve cranial nerves.
--The Twelve Olympians were the chief gods of the Greek pantheon. Odin, the chief Norse god, had twelve sons. King Arthur's round table had seats for twelve knights. Christ had twelve disciples.
--There are twelve days of Christmas.
--Virgil's epic poem, The Aeneid contains twelve books divided into halves.
--Alcoholics Anonymous has twelve steps, twelve traditions and twelve concepts for world service.

And on and on and on. My instincts and experience both seemed spot-on to me: the time has come to graduate. So today I throw a party for the lessons nailed so far:

1) Working a list of five principles, on a rotating basis, gave me both variety and a comforting sense of consistency. (Know what you don't want...Know what you do want...Get clear where you're confused or undecided...Feel your intentions already achieved...Let go of the need to control specifics--or of painful past experiences that still control you.)
2) Even so, I needed to put a slightly spin on the daily questions from one rotation to the next: e.g., day one, rotation one, 'What is my list of Don't Wants." became in the next rotation :"What are the top two Don't Wants that can most impact the rest, if corrected?"
3) I needed to whittle my lists down to size: ten Don't or Do Wants proved to be unmanageable. But if I arranged them in blocks? No such sweat. E.g.: Job discontent, financial stress, third-shift exhaustion and lack of time blocked together naturally: I don't want a crappy third-shift job that exhausts me, bums me out and leaves too little free time. Or: I do want a M-F day job that offers a comfortable salary, affording me more time to write. Etc.
4) I also learned to subdivide the lists. No need to tackle even five or six large blocks at once. Handle two or three, tops, in the next third--and handle those that best empower me to tackle the remainder in the final third.
5) The most challenging list proved to be the Don't Wants. And, remember, the goal is not to 'fix' these completely at this point--but rather to shift our focus to the list of Do Wants. After four months, I've managed to whittle my list by a third--things I don't think of as Don't Wants at all...but rather as their opposites: things that I Do Want and am committed to achieving.

So I celebrate the foundation today. And a handful of solid achievements, including publication of my sixth ebook with Amazon (The Suiting: 25th Anny Edition)...commencement of new job search...decision to relocate next fall...mending strained relationships and atoning for past wrongs...training for new fall photo...preparations for strengthening my online presence and promotional activities while taking care at the same time to better look after my friends..began the second rewrite of the next Boss MacTavin novel, due sometime early next year.

The adventure doesn't end with this twelfth chapter--it reboots. So be on the watch, my friends, for the Phase Two Bulletins!




Monday, September 16, 2013

Two Big Events are Scheduled for This Week

Thursday, September 19:

The twelfth chapter of Reb MacRath, Action Manifester will close the adventure's first third...making way for a new format--and a sharpened focus on results. The foundation and the frame are built. Time now to furnish my spirit's new house.

Saturday, September 21
Meet the Real MacRath: Part 1 will launch a new series of personal posts intended to give you a better idea of the man with designs on your Kindle. You may be pleasantly surprised by some of what you learn.

See you then!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Red-Hot Secret is Revealed

Wait no longer. Learn today 'How to Have Red-Hot Sex with your Damned Dirty Ape'.

Click on this link to be taken to the post on Authors Electric:

bit.ly/15mQNpe

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Have Red-Hot Sex with Your Damned Dirty APE

Tomorrow. Thursday. September 12.

Mark and highlight the date on your calendars now.

Damn the consequences, I intend to tell you all what nobody wants you to know:

How to Have Red-Hot Sex with Your Damned Dirty APE.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another Killer Cruise from Diane Rapp

I've read and loved Murder for Glacier Blue, the third in Rapp's series of High Seas mysteries.


Here is my review:

The third time's the charm for this author, who takes the crown of Cruise Mystery Queen with this third entry in her High Seas series.
Diane Rapp begins with an entirely different setting, a bit of nifty techno-magic and her most intriguing mystery.

Setting? This time we're Alaska-bound for an it's-about-time wedding between sassy Kayla Sanders and her fiance Stephen Young (a young Pierce Brosnan lookalike). The gorgeous ice-bound settings are enhanced by an ingenious art angle: an auction company, Genuine Fakes, will display and auction imitations of masterful paintings along with the originals. And Rapp brings her passion for art to bear in her descriptions of the paintings.

Techno-magic? The author intersperses a few lovely photos at just right the times: of animals or scenes. Back in the day when Lord Byron sprang to fame with Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, readers who hadn't traveled to his exotic settings thrilled at the descriptions. No cameras then, of course. Or cheap, easy means of image reproduction. But if there had been, we can be sure the showman in Lord B would have prompted him to make use of those means. This author has done that, precisely--allowing tradition-bound rivals to spend pages describing what she can show in a snapshot.
Another cool something-else: rather than lose any narrative speed, links are embedded in the tale for those wanting to know more about certain things.

And the mystery? It's a corker involving a ring of art thieves on the ship...the specific art they want to steal...why they'll kill to steal it.

Though the High Seas books aren't thrillers, it is a thrill to watch this author blend mystery, setting, character, humor and suspense.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kelley Wilde Grills Reb MacRath

Setting: The interview takes place at Starbucks in Charlotte's chichi SouthPark area. Surrounded by movers and shakers who couldn't care less about us, we sip the charred drinks the barristas assure us is coffee and get down to business. I am interviewed by none other than Kelley Wilde, my former self. For a ghost, Wilde looks feisty enough, thrilled for anything remotely resembling attention. I'm about to be put on the hot seat, I know.

KW: You remind me of my younger self, when I set out from the west coast to conquer the world in New York with a hot little book called The Suiting. The year was 1986 and--
RM: No disrespect intended, spook, but enough about you now. Let's boogie to me.

KW: You wouldn't even be here, Scottie, if it weren't for me. My first books came out in hardcover. The first won an award and was optioned for film, profiled in Success Magazine!
RM: Yes, yes, we all know about that. The reviews and profiles in Publishers Weekly, the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, the New York Times, the Toronto Star, etc. The fact remains, spook: you flamed out.

Enter the Zone of the Big-Time BooHoo. The ghost of Kelley Wilde weeps and begins to rant: financial and marital problems, combined with deadlines that he couldn't meet, led to the decline of books two through four. He begins to shout then of the treacheries of agents--till he sees me yawning. To my surprise, the spook dabs at its eyes and then chuckles.

KW: That isn't working, is it?
RM: Nooo. You agreed to those back-to-back contracts and the deadlines they contained. You married the wrong woman and let her drive you crazy. You chose the wrong second agent, passing up on a couple of all-stars in order to make easy bucks. You made some potent enemies by shooting off your mouth.Worst of all by far: you didn't have the discipline at that time in your life to succeed.

KW: Agreed.
RM: So...why did you chuckle?

KW: I'd needed a good cry, you see. And, oddly, the instant I had it, the whole sorry bag of the past went KA-POOF. Now I do have a few questions for you.
RM: Tell you what. You take me my surprise, and I'll let you do another of your famous sound effects.

KW: Does that include KA-BLOWIE?
RM: Well, if you insist. All right.

KW: Does your rebirth as Reb MacRath signal a brand new departure or a creative synthesis? If the latter, what parts of me have you been able to use?
RM: Well, I haven't made something from nothing. In fact, after the crash I made nothing at all till I stopped denying you. I had as much to learn from your weaknesses as from your strengths--and you had your share of both.

KW: Name the main narrative weakness you had to overcome.
RM: You may do one sound effect for not asking the main narrative strength you possessed.

KW: Hooray for me! KA-BLOWIE!
RM: Less is more...more or less was the lesson you needed to learn, but did not. You'd come to believe that cutting was the answer to all narrative woes. For every ten pages you wrote, you'd cut five, resulting in jarring transitions and an over-terse, clipped style that made readers work twice as hard, trying to fill in the blanks: where a chair was in the room, what a given character looked like, etc. The key fact is that editing means adding as well as deleting..

KW: And yet you're doing ebooks now, when I worked so hard to get into print.
RM: I'll answer that by bringing up a painful memory for you. Your first book had just been published. And you roamed all over Atlanta, trying to find it in bookstores. No dice. Finally, Mark Stevens--who owned a wonderful indie sci-fi and mystery bookstore--took the time to check Tor's catalog. Your publisher had not listed your first book!

KW: KA-SNIFFLE! Sorry, that one just came out.
RM: You earned it. And don't forget: your second publisher left out one entire chapter in the galleys sent out for reviews--causing some critics to complain of narrative confusion. And, for God's sake, let's remember the publisher who sat on a new book of yours for three years. Go ahead. You're entitled, just this once, to let loose with your trademark leader dots.

KW: ...............................................................................!!!!!!
RM: Here's my point, dear partner: when you think of all that might have been, don't forget what actually was. And don't confuse the stories of publishing's halcyon past with the cut-throat number-crunching business that it has become. You had your chance. Now it's time to move on, with dazzling new footwork, to brand-new frontiers.

KW: Did I hear you correctly? Did you just say...partners?
RM: Of course. As long as you remember that I'm the senior partner with the controlling vote.

KW: I can live with that if you'll give me a clue: what's your game plan for this unique balancing act?
RM: Well, it'll be tricky but it can be done. You had brass cajones--a good thing to have, provided one knows when to zipper his lips. You showed enormous persistence and vision in your campaign to get published: e.g., you changed the spelling of Kelly to Kelley to plant confusion all around...you rented a midtown P.O. box to hide your poor address in Queens...you withheld all personal details, ignoring the agents' demands...We can't make the same moves again. But the persistence and vision themselves are still gold in our account. I'll bring to bear the maturity and discipline I acquired in those years in the desert. And we'll continue to balance the backlog of work that I wrote while pounding sand with the new books that we're writing.

KW: I'm left with the wonderful feeling that you have something else up your sleeve, Reb MacRath.
RM: Well, bless your soul. You've just earned two sound F/X in big letters. The something extra trumps all else. And it's what should give us the most cause to dance. The sense has grown, in quantum leaps, that writing is all about our readers and not us. From first to final draft our focus should be riveted on conveying the same joy to readers that we find throughout the process. Whether we write fantasy or horror or mystery, joy's what keeps us going--even when that joy is painful. Go ahead, you've waited long enough.

KW: Thank you, Reb.
KA-POOPSIE!
and
KA-BLAM!



Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Interview by a Ghost

Correction: the interview's over. The ghost who grilled me has since left the building. And the interview will appear:

Sunday, September 9

Friday, September 6, 2013

Coming Monday, Sept. 9: My 4th Interview

I (barely) hold my own against some pretty damned bold questions from a witty interviewer known to all of you.

Get up early and allow us to try to make your day.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Chapter Eleven

Your feet themselves will tell you when it's time to find new footwork.

Though much has been accomplished since I began this log in May, much still remains to be done one third of the way through the year.

Manifestations accomplished so far:
--Completion of extended fast--weight loss of 30 lbs.
--Decided to where I want to live next year and corresponded re the logistics with a special west coast friend.
--Landing second job to prepare for cross-country move next year.
--Completion and publication of 25th anniversary edition of The Suiting, my first book as Kelley Wilde.
--Staged a successful Kindle 4-day 5-book free event to help launch The Suiting.
--Began second draft of the third Boss MacTavin novel.
--Discovered a company I want to work for full-time and began a campaign to get hired. More money frees me to work just one job.
--Succeeded in repairing some strained personal relations. 
--Began organizing all references for both job change and future move.
--Began intense physical training for a fall photograph to replace the current photo used on this blog, FB, Goodreads and Amazon.Goal: not to mirror my hero Boss MacTavin's rail-thin, ripped physique--but to more closely suggest it.
--Changed my hairstyle and grew a Boss-style mustache, then set up appointment for a trim and coloring before the photo.
--Found the photographer whom I want to work with: a man with a serious edge to his style.
--Fine-tuned the way in which I use my Moleskine logs.

Key new tacks: 
1) Expanding theme entries from daily to 2-3 days--to afford me time to really dig into an issue.
2) Adding a Playbook section to each new entry: things that needed doing before I moved on.

Not bad. for four months' work. And the better I get at the Moleskines, the higher the ground I should reach.

BUT...

I've begun to feel tied-down by the structure of these 'chapters'. With a four-month foundation beneath me, I need to try something different. For the second four-month stretch, I'll post occasional Bulletin/Report Cards: the goal being not only to record my progress but to compel me to act. And I don't plan to be a gentle taskmaster either, not with Julius Caesar and 50 Cent waiting to play cards each night. 

The time has come to shake things up.

The 12th chapter will be a party of sorts before I enter the arena of the second third. And I will list the weaknesses and issues I need to conquer, then devise my battle plans.

Stay tuned. The adventure is about to take some sexy turns....along with some pretty damned bold ones.



Saturday, August 31, 2013

Action Manifesters--Chapter 11 is coming next week!

Tuesday, 9/3, Chapter 11 of Reb MacRath, Action Manifester will start the two-part close-out of this phase of the journey.

You'll find new strategies and tools you can use. But I want to find a way to focus far more on results. And I want to follow a timeline: 1 year. The 12th chapter will take us to the end of my fourth month. So it's high time to bring some new footwork to bear.

After the 12th chapter, I'll post a review of what has been accomplished. And I'll outline my next immediate goals. A new format, still in the works, will allow readers to track me and decide if Action Manifesting really does the trick.

First things first: Chapter 11 will arrive on Tuesday.

Friday, August 30, 2013

And so it's over...and now rebegins

Many thanks to all who 'dropped by' for the Open House to download copies of my books.

Was the event successful? By my own standards, happily so. Thousands of copies of my six ebooks found their way to Kindle readers. And, to put this in perspective: in my first event, way back, I gave away 50 copies of The Vanishing Magic of Snow.

But talk about numbers is cheaper than cheap. I also learned some cool lessons, which I'll try out some time next year:
1) Twitter's a useful platform for any writer with more than, say, 10K-20K-plus followers. But we don't achieve results by ratcheting up the volume or the frequency of our promotional Tweets. For occasional special events, followers may tolerate our persistence. But too much will quickly turn into white noise.
2) The World Literary Cafe's Tweet Teams offer a strong alternative to endless streams of rank self-touts: on any given day, one can join a team of ten other writers--each one committed to RT'ing the other nine writers' Tweets. Numbers? If each writer has anywhere from 10,000-30,000 followers...Well, you do the math and you'll see the potential for reaching a huge base of readers.
3) Don't rely on Twitter exclusively. Other venues can help get the word about: free or bargain books. I'll publish a short list of such links soon.
4) Again and again, I have learned that readers have tried my books because they liked my Tweets--especially the pithy wit. They hoped to find the same thing in my books. They responded to my use of Twitter as a form of entertainment--vs. aggressive requests for their dough. Another way of putting this: use Twitter as a form of social engagement. And earn sales by winning hearts.
5) High on my agenda must be maintaining a far greater presence on at least a half-dozen forums: from Amazon Kindle to Goodreads...and on. 
6) Further develop this blog as a happening go-to place for useful information and pure entertainment. Not just talk of You, not MeMe.

I think that'll do it for lessons, for now. Six is enough to begin with.

Now the great adventure rebegins as I have at the second draft of my next Boss MacTavin mystery. Difficult but doable to write daily while working full-time and watering the garden of social media. But I'm in good company with other grizzled gladiators who do the same...and persevere...battling their way through the blues to the cheers.

Thanks for your support.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Event is On--and The Suiting is Here!

The switchboard is humming, as you can imagine, mainly with outgoing 'calls' to help get the online Open House event in gear.

Five books are free, as advertised--and the star of the show, The Suiting, has arrived at an introductory price of just $.99 from 8/26-8/29.

You'll find the Amazon link in the previous two posts. Here's one for the remastered, sleeker and quicker, The Suiting:

http://tiny.cc/cjkf2w

While you're (down)loading up on the freebies, consider giving this award-winning novel a try in a new streamlined edition.

Friday, August 23, 2013

What's wrong with a 3-day Event Beginning Monday, August 27th?

Nothing...except that Monday is August 26th--and interested readers expecting an event that ran from August 27-29 would be thwarted on both the first and last days. 

How did this happen? I see weeks as Sunday through Saturday. Amazon's scheduling calendars, though, run Monday through Sunday. Under pressure, I failed to check. No excuses--I messed up.

And I found myself in a serious jam, since I'd posted on this blog, Facebook and Goodreads--and had sent out hundreds of invitations. If I hadn't specified Monday through Wednesday, no problem: I'd have set the event back a day, using the dates I'd mistakenly picked. But I'd mentioned the days on Facebook and here, though not Goodreads.

Could this be corrected without confusing readers or ticking off hundreds of people with corrected invitations?

Solution: I've added one day to the event to accommodate all readers expecting a Monday through Wednesday event--and also readers expecting free books on the 29th.

The Open House now runs as follows:

Monday, August 26 -Thursday, August 29.

Otherwise, the Open House will run as announced: five books for free and The Suiting: 25th Anny Edition at an introductory price of $.99.

Sorry, folks. Me slip up but fix real pretty, I hope you'll agree.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coming Monday: It's Open House at Reb's Place!

To celebrate the launch of The Suiting next week, I'd like to do something better than offer you digital whistles and bells.

For three days I'm putting my work up for grabs:
1) The five existing ebooks will be free from Monday, August 27 through Wednesday, August 29. There's something here for everyone: from hardboiled mayhem to romantic suspense, from magic to hot, sexy angels. If you've enjoyed my Tweets or blogs, have a free look at what I can do in a longer form.
2) The Suiting is the Stoker Award-winning novel I wrote as Kelley Wilde. I've rewritten it extensively for this 25th Anny Edition. If you enjoy horror, then I want you to have this at an Open House special low price: The Suiting will be priced at $.99 for the same three days.

That's five for not one penny....and one for less than a buck. That's how an Open House is run at what I call MacRathWorld.

You'll find the first five books all listed here, along with the newest: The Suiting.

http://tiny.cc/yj171w

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Chapter Ten

My self-imposed two week darkness penalty will end tomorrow. And I thought about waiting until the lights were on again to sum up the adventure. On second thought, though, today makes more sense--as I stand here...

ON THE EDGE OF LIGHT
OR:
HOW I LEARNED TO REALLY SEE BY LIVING MORE FULLY IN DARKNESS

The heart of the adventure lay in making the most of the easiest parts: those days when I was working nights. After all: I worked from 10 p.m.-7:30, so I went home, slept and left to write for a few hours before work again--all in daylight. I'd learned to bathe/shampoo in darkness and could easily shave by the sunlight that streamed through the living room window. I'd learned to time icy shampooing so that my hair dried naturally by the time my shift began. The only hardships I suffered on work days were the loss of a little Prison Break before bed and my favorite oatmeal. No sweat.

Now, the 7 days off work posed the predictable problems: finding anything I'd failed to sensibly lay out at night. Those days, the adventure rocked.

But on the seven 'easy days'? I had to keep them honest too. So I turned to my Moleskine to keep me on track. I'd already used a good number of spins on my 5 basic questions. I'd played cards with Julius Caesar...I'd asked myself where and how I was still being a pussy...etc. Now I needed a fresh and appropriate tack. So...

How, I asked myself each day, can I use my new friend Darkness to ace (the question of the day)?

I began to think, think hard, of where else I still lived in Darkness: where I needed the help of more Light: employment, success on Amazon, strategizing for the upcoming move in 2014, etc.

Conclusion:
Two weeks without power can either be nothing--or the start of something big. For me, the past 14 days have been one of the greatest adventures in an adventuresome life. Not something I can talk about with many new people I meet...but there's a difference in the walk and talk of a man who has wrestled with Darkness.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Horror of It All!

My four-month 'remix' of my first Kelley Wilde horror novel, The Suiting, took an unexpected toll. Now that the book's been formatted and is about to be launched, I can better understand why the ordeal was so rough. It's a short story, but one that may help you if you consider reworking something you wrote long ago. My little tale may help you even more if your book's a horror novel.

Here were the things I'd prepared for as I set out to tackle my 25th Anny Edition:
--I needed to retype the complete novel, since I'd written it years before I got my first computer. Though I might have had the published copy scanned and converted into a Word Doc, I wanted to compel myself to pay attention to each word.
--I'd had stylistic quirks back than--especially an over-reliance on ellipses (or leader dots). I was very proud of mine and thought they made me unique. But I knew now they had to go...and that meant the slaughter of thousands of dots. I also needed to address my excessive use of different type fonts rather than making the words do the work.
--Though my style was quick, it was often unclear and, damn it, too circular: I'd start a strong scene, wander off on a couple of tangents, then come back to the narrative point. But over the past 25 years I'd learned to write more clearly and in a more linear fashion. And I wanted to bring these new skills to my book.

Oh, there were lots of other things I knew I could do to improve that first book and bring it into a new era. You'd be right, though, if you said: Hey, man, that's rewriting--it goes with the job. But for two reasons the rewrite still tore me apart:
1) The remix entailed time travel to my life in 1986, when I first began the book, and the two years that led its publication. A time of enormous confusion and pain. Nor was this a casual trip to the past--no, I lived there for four months, dealing daily with old ghosts and memories of miserable moments of shame. Enough said. Prepare for this: you don't just get to tidy up a book this old...you get to go through hell again.
2) Horror shouldn't be a cakewalk. And I don't want mine trendy or written to make easy bucks. It should be grounded in real fear and pain. So don't expect your friends to find you a barrel of laughs while you suffer old nightmares for months on end.

End note: The original plan had been to reissue each of the remaining Kelley Wilde novels on its own 25th anny. I'll have to give that a little more thought. No more retyping from scratch, that's for sure!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Diane Rapp's New Mystery Has Just Arrived

Diane Rapp has treated me to two terrific cruises in the twin previous entries in her High Seas mystery series.

Beat the August heat wave now with a cool Arctic cruise, a cast that's even cooler and a mystery guaranteed to serve up some premium chills: Characterization, setting, pacing...this author's got 'em all.

http://tiny.cc/wk8q1w

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Eat at Reb's--Revisited

The other day I got a nudge from a friend I trust: I'd started slipping on Twitter and Facebook into rank hyperbole: The new ending will knock your socks off...Here's cutting edge horror with a vengeance...etc.

The advice stung for a moment or two--not because I can't take criticism but because I generally favor understatement in my writing. Moreover, I admire ads that get the job done quietly. And economically. 

I work hard not to strain for the high notes. And yet...There may be something about the speed involved in Tweeting. Or the need to stand out in the dizzying rush of the daily Tweet stream. I don't know. I do know that my friend was right: the louder the rest scream for attention, the more effective it will be to send fewer, more commanding Tweets.

I'd drifted from the path I set when I set up my old website: 

At this stage I need an eyecatching billboard on the information speedway:  one that says, in effect, Eat at Reb's...outlines the menu and prices...and, vitally important, suggests the sizzle that goes with the steaks.  

That was good advice then and it's good advice now. Especially with the website down, I need to bring the spirit of Eat at Reb's to my Tweets and my posts. Take this blog, for instance. There's nothing fancy about its format. I don't have bells and whistles. Hell, I haven't learned yet how to set up archives for readers, arranging the posts into themes. But we take pride in what we serve here at good ole Reb's. We smile when we serve it and hope to leave you smiling too.

In the future I'll also be guided by a great cartoon from Playboy, many years ago. The illustration shows 5 pizza joints on a single block: 
Best Pizza in New York City
Best Pizza in New York State
Best Pizza in the USA
Best Pizza in the World

And...
Best Pizza on the Block

I'm sure you'll have no trouble guessing which of the 5 had the line at its door.

So, come on in and eat at Reb's. If the posts here whet your appetite, our new headwaiter Litotes will serve you a rich but nonfatenning dessert: Today's specials are: 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester! Chapter Nine

DARKNESS FALLS
OR: WHY I'VE CHOSEN TO LIVE LIKE A WILD ANIMAL
FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS

I decided the day that I started this blog to be candid about my computer shortcomings and share the best pratfalls I took on the way. I kept that vow. More recently, when I began to Action Manifest, I pledged to be equally candid. And the time has come to keep that pledge. Like anyone else, I enjoy sharing moments of success. But we need to keep this real--and that's what I'm about to do.

Listen:

My power's been shut off.

Correction: My power was shut off the very day I called to pay it. And I'd had no clue that the account was in the red. Correction: not that badly in the red.

When I called the power company, I went into shock. And I heard myself making excuses: I'm a writer, you see...I haven't been to the post office in a month to check my mail...I never got a warning call...When I got to the point where I started to say 'I'm irresponsible, I admit, but...' I shut up. This had always been my perception of Me: the wildly talented guy who 'forgets' to do some things. Sometimes some pretty basic things.

I shut up, I say. And I shut up long enough, thinking about that poor sorry old self, for the clerk to say: "Sir, would you like to pay that amount now by credit or by debit card? That would be the full past due amount, plus a reconnect fee of $70."  I said, ever so quietly, "No, son. No thanks. I'll pay it on the 23rd." This nice young guy began to plea, "Sir, you can't go without power for two weeks! Do you have the past due amount?" I said, "Yes, but that's okay." The answer freaked him even more. "Sir, please, let me get a supervisor! We can't waive the reconnect fee, but sometimes we can set it up on installments. Or I can give you some numbers of social services agencies." That should have worked, I suppose...and yet it did not. Not after starring in eight chapters of Action Manifesting. I simply could not be the schlub who'd been too irresponsible to pay his bill on time and now had to beg like a loser. I heard these words come from my mouth:

"Right now, more than help, I need to make the darkness my best friend."

I hung up. Life, I'd learned, is an outpicturing of our inner pictures. And I'd manifested darkness because I'd focused too long and hard on Not Wanting to be such a screw-up. I'd manifested darkness because I need, and need right now, to focus on the Do Want: becoming the go-to, responsible guy. To do this, I decided, I had to do more than accept the consequence of my nonpayment. I had to welcome the darkness into my life.

And so begins the two-week Blackout. Here are the rules, with no cheating allowed:
1) No lighting accessories allowed. No flashlights, no Coleman lanterns, no batteries for my clock/alarm. No candles. I have only the darkness to guide me and the moonlight, at night, through my windows. My cell phone will have to serve as my temporary alarm clock.
2) No store-bought relief from the heat: e.g., a new battery-operated fan.
3) No siphoning of power from the electrical outlet in the outside vestibule. A previous upstairs neighbor had run extension cords from it to his unit and enjoyed the full use of TV, fan, lamps, etc., after his own disconnect. No, this is my correction, one that I need, and I will not steal.
4) No use of the outside vestibule light to help me make my way.
5) No help from anybody. I pay my own bills and, from here on, I fix my own bleep.

So, how's it going, you wonder.
Yesterday, to steel myself, I cleaned the fridge out of all food and drink. I organized my clothes for this morning and set them in the living room, so I'd be able to see them even in the early light. I packed the things I knew I'd need: razor, shampoo, hair dryer, cologne. At 5 a.m., when I woke, I did 600 crunches and sponge-bathed in absolute darkness (so far, the water still runs hot!). Then I walked to Starbucks to roll the dice on Hygiene, Part 2: they have a private mensroom, which I was able to use at that hour to wash my hair and shave. During the week, I can use the gym shower at the church.

End note, for now:
Everything hinges on mindset and daily preparation. And complete success, for me, depends on no one that I meet knowing what I'm going through. I needed a lesson I chose to accept. I'm on the road today--clean-shaven shampooed and fresh. Tonight I'll return, around 11 p.m., to a dark apartment and need to get up by 5.a.m. tomorrow. No pity sought or accepted.  I'm in the zone with my new friend, darkness. I'm grateful for the chance to get this lesson in my blood and bones. After all, I can hardly be an Action Manifester and a pussy both at once. I screwed up and now cheerfully pay.