A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Deep Within the Valley of Top Secrets

It took me far too long to get hip to the value of secrets. I could never share enough--even things far better kept to myself:
--The incredible sex I enjoyed with my girl.
--Great ideas for books I was planning to write.
--New ideas for marketing.
--Fabulous good fortune.
This was far worse than simply bad form: wanting to be admired came across as boasting. Worse still, since I'd blathered, real bastards felt no compunction about helping themselves to my luck. Or my girls.

Years ago, a company sponsored a cross-country trip I needed to take for a book in progress. At that time I belonged to a large group of writers. Naturally, a proper fool, I rushed to share the news. Soon I began to receive requests from relative strangers about how I'd gotten sponsored. And years later, when I re-approached the same company, they did not respond. The odds, I knew, were way better than average that they'd been flooded with queries.

A few years later, at a dinner with a powerful writer I knew--an older man with Hollywood connections--I told him that I wanted to approach John Travolta to sell him on Nobililty, which I'd written with him in mind. Now, Travolta had been down for years and was just regaining some of his lost heat after Pulp Fiction. My writer friend laughed. Travolta? But a few months later, the writer told me that he was approaching JT to star in his own new book.

I could go on, but why bother? It took me far longer than most to understand why veils of secrecy shroud many new movies and books...why cunning Asian women often say of the men they adore, 'Oh, he's okay but kind of stupid'...why some never reveal their good fortune until the event is a wrap...why some never answer the question 'What's new?' except with 'Same old same old'...

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So I here I sit today blessed with good tidings that I'd love to share with all of you.

And I will.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Unspeaking the Language of Silence

People say the damnedest things. But they say even damneder things when they say nothing at all.

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Silence is generally a coward's way of raising his voice when he's angry. Its basic meanness often hides behind a superior stance: You're not good enough to talk to...You're not even worthy of a second thought or chance...I will not pollute my mind with thoughts of such as you...Etc.

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I've been on the receiving end of a few personal shunnings. But I resist the impulse to shun my shunners in return. My door is always open if they ever Sorry-up. I have no time for:

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But my thoughts turn now to professional dead air. Today a colleague lamented, on a private forum, that no one had entered a Comment on her new monthly post. Almost instantly, a small group of supportive members rallied to her side. The absence of some others let me to reflect on other forms of silence.

Heartless nonresponsiveness
--You approach your group or circle with a request for reviews, offering free copies. And one of two things happens:
    1) You receive no responses at all.
    2) You receive a few okays...proceed to send gift copies...but then never hear another word.

Leech nonresponsiveness
--You post, on a collective blog, a particularly useful piece, summing your experience on an important topic. And suddenly everyone is flocking to this or that agent...or using the scoop you've revealed. And yet:
     1) Not one appreciative comment is posted.
     2) Strangers send you messages requesting pro referrals...or readings of their books.

--The dear rogue who keeps telling you over and over that his promised review will arrive any day.

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Possible alternatives to the Silent Treatment
1) Gentle Correctives
--When a total stranger asks for a review, let them know they need to learn professional behavior.
--When a total stranger asks for any favor, let them know the Code: connect first on a personal level, then ask.

2) Plan B's
--When writers you put out books that falls short, let them know you love their work but can't review these...and tell them why. Tell them you hope to be there for their next.
--If you can't review a book, you can offer to tout it on Twitter or Facebook.
--If you can't even read the book now, let the author know your schedule. And offer what support you can.
--A supportive comment on a blog needn't run hundreds of words. Even a handful of kind words will be well received.
--If you requested a gift copy, at the very least send your thanks.

Summary Judgment
The Silent Treatment sucks. We can't engage with everyone or do the whole world favors, But we can do better than zipping our lips. No one will like everything that we say. Then again, none can say our hearts aren't as true as a lion's.

And...We all would do well to remember that when we vote with our thumbs down, we just might be totally wrong.
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Love, Mercy...and the Golden Globes: Conclusion

So, who really won at at the Golden Globes last Sunday night? Hats off to all trophy winners, from Ennio Morricone to Leonardo DiCaprio to Lady Gaga. But many of us were focused on one small part of the show,,,a duel that prove to be savage as hell.

Mel Gibson had been announced as a presenter. And his long-term nemesis, Ricky Gervais, would host the event once again. Since hearing of Gibson's selection, the Brit comic actor and writer had been sharpening his barbs. Later it was reported that he had close to a hundred zingers to choose from. For Gibson, the Globes represented the real start of the comeback trail after a decade of scandals and shame. He was now directing his first film in ten years. And, since 2006, the Very Bad year, his acting options had been limited to two major films that were barely released, a new film (Blood Father) that has yet to be released, and a small number of cameos.

So the Globes were important to Gibson. But could he survive Gervais...and the huge target on his back?

The contestants:

Gibson: convicted in popular opinion of misogyny, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Claims to fame before the Very Bad Year:
Acting: Max Max 1-3, Lethal Weapon 1-4, Galipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously, The Bounty, Hamlet, Braveheart
Directing: Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto
Awards: Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture

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Gervais: revered by the public for his verbal slicings and dicings of Hollywood greats.

Claims to fame before this night:
Hosting: Serial offender at three prior Golden Globes. Master of the below the belt jab. No one above or beneath his contempt.
Writing and Acting: The Night at the Museum movies. TV: The Office, Family Guy, Derek, The Ricky Gervais Show
Awards: multiple awards for The Office


Gervais' jabs were predictably cruel and cheap. But they were also recycled and tired: shots at Mel's past drinking and--hey, let's fan the flames some more--anti-Semitic remarks.

Now, hear this: Gervais may have had a hundred zingers in his bag. But Gibson only needed three: the shocking opening quip about how seeing Ricky always reminded him to have a colonoscopy. Then, when Gervais snatched his drink as if afraid that the alcoholic might steal it, Gibson responded in classic form: Don't worry. You need something to put you to sleep, I've got something that'll put you out for the whole night. Finally: unheard to the audience, Gervais tried to rile Mel by asking what the f--- he'd meant by 'sugartits' (which Mel allegedly called a female copy). Mel chose not to let it slide, since he's always denied saying the word. "I don't know," he told Gervais, "You'll have to ask the guy who said that."

                                          And Yet...

Life's still not a Hollywood movie. The internet is not abuzz with news of Mel Gibson suddenly swarmed with huge offers. Hosting the Globes was a start, as is directing Hacksaw Ridge. If Blood Father is properly released, and is a first-rate film, it may attract decent crowds. Word of mouth may work its stuff.

But the haters are still out there. And in the end it still comes down to Gibson: his commitment to proving again every day that he really is a changed man.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Love, Mercy...and the Golden Globes: Part 1


The Golden Globes will air tonight. And this post is experimental in that I have no idea how the event will play out. The huge news, of course, is that Mel Gibson will be a presenter. But is forgiveness in the air after a blacklisted decade...or will Ricky Gervais lead the charge of ridicule and venom?

Which Mel Gibson will we see?

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Now, all of us have heard The Tapes. And there's no way to praise them. Nor is there any making light of remarks that were made to the cops. An all-out alcoholic with--as they say--some real issues blew up.

He needed help--and got it. He needed some down time--and got that as well. In fact, for ten years he's been SOL, except for a handful of roles. His last film--an indie--wrapped 2 years ago but has still not been released. (Blood Father.)  His name is the instant release for any trace of venom or hate in decent human beings. They don't know and they don't care what Mel Gibson has done since his Crash. They only know what they've been told: he's a racist, a misogynist, an unrepentant brute...and a seriously rich bastard.

The following article is worth a look, if you'd like to look a bit deeper. It's by a professional journalist who began as a Gibson hater. She took the time to get to know him, hear his side of the whole story. Read for yourself before judging.


One quote well worth considering:

I’ve spoken to numerous colleagues who forgave Gibson for his anti-Semitic remarks (that list includes Dean Devlin, Mike Medavoy and Richard Donner) and they are quick to remind you who Gibson helped along the way. Start with Robert Downey Jr, who at one point was broke and an insurance risk on films. Gibson put up the insurance bond himself to secure Downey to star in The Singing Detective, which Gibson’s Icon produced. It was a performance that ignited the actor’s resurgence. I know that he also helped Britney Spears when she hit bottom, and that he tried to save Whitney Houston from the drug abuse that ultimately killed her. Not everybody is that generous: when Gibson himself needed a break that came when Warner Bros hired him for a showy role in The Hangover Part II, he was abruptly dropped when cast complained to director Todd Phillips. Mind you, these same actors happily worked with Tyson despite his felony conviction for rape.

Anyway, here we are on the day of the night of the Globes.

And anything can happen. Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson's first stint as a director since The Passion, may put him back on the A-List. Blood Father may soon be released. The crowd may go wild this evening and welcome the fallen star home. He may be allowed to direct his long-time passion, a film about The Vikings, though Leonardo DiCaprio won't work with him.

But this morning things are in the air. And Ricky Gervais giddily sharpens the knives he will wield:

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Monday, January 4, 2016

On Getting Back to the Business of Art

It has always been so...but can't always be so: I'd prefer to write and focus on the imaginative and technical sides of my art, hoping perfection of those would lead the dollars to come in abundance.

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To my way of thinking, I'd earned them. And I'd be pleased to be repaid in the thing I'd refused to sell out for. Decades later--with four traditionally published novels and four ebooks--I find myself struggling to master skills many newbies have easily mastered:
--Achieving Online Visibility when hundreds of thousands--maybe a million--new Ebooks are published each year.
--Obtaining reviews when most review sites are backlogged and some are temporarily closed....and even those who've been gifted with copies may not bother to read or review.
--Mastering social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.
--Effectively launching new Ebooks.

Etc., etc., etc.

So last year I decided to consecrate 2016 to the nitty-gritty...the nuts and bolts...the reality side of Ebooking. One fundamental decision I made took even me by surprise: I'd learn to tighten the zip on my lips.

I'd come to realize two essential truths: though books abound on Ebook Success, no one is sharing trade secrets and no one who has made a killing will help others poach on their turf. Correction: I should have said I'd realized three essential truths. For I'd come to accept that this is the world's way...without losing hope of improving the way.

Reflection took me back to a book on self-help I'd read decades ago.

This perennial bestseller is actually a commercial abridgment of Hills' massive original Law of Success (available in 4 volumes of approximately 250 pages each). Many readers of the slim paperback may have visions of literally thinking themselves rich--waking up rich overnight. And the publisher's version abounds with examples of poor people who came into money they'd simply imagined themselves having.

But the original Law of Success tells a far different, and far more useful, story--with the emphasis.  evenly spread among the guiding principles. Not just positive thinking or creative visualization but work, strategy, temperance, personality, character and more.

And one cornerstone that came back to me now was the principle of the MasterMind Group (MMG): men and women of power and destiny forming alliances...sharing their resources with like-minded souls...and inspiring one another. After all:

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Last night I learned a new strategy for improving my Amazon book page. And I can't wait to share it with the MMG when the round table is full.