Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

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.