Driving in Reverse


Who would’ve guessed it, the source of wisdom is not always where one expects to find it. There was a lesson to be learned in the courtesy mobility cart at work. You know the ones. They help shoppers with disabilities navigate the floors and aisles of a large store. Well, the one in my store goes faster in reverse than it does going forward. And always before that seemed odd to me. You’d think threes far more danger of running into someone going backwards. But who am I to question the design, right?

Then this morning I read a tweet from someone who expressed a piece of the truth. It said that sometimes you have to go backwards so you can get ahead. I made the connection. Perhaps it’s because I had just awakened from the sort of dream state that engenders self-enlightenment. I don’t know. But I have always believed that dreams send me messages. Whether I want to pay attention or not, listen or ignore, is left to me.

There’s a recurring character in my books. You read a lot about him because he’s my alter ego. He’s that guy I have, at times, always wished I could have been and yet, at other times I’ve been glad I didn’t turn out like him. Writers have characters like that. They allow us to explore possibilities on our journey to expose the truths within us. Well, mine is named Brent.

His last name is Woods, a name chosen for good reason. I was writing about a forest in a fantasy tale that was  tentatively called Dammerwald at that time. It eventually became The Wolfcat Chronicles. Since I was looking for an alter ego kind of name it seemed appropriate because a woods when I was growing up was the wooded area behind my house and I experienced a lot of fantastic adventures there from which some of my writing draws.

Anyway, that’s where Brent’s connection to The Wolfcat Chronicles lies and that’s how everything else began.

In one of the books I’ve written about Brent he says something that startled me. That happens for a writer pretty much anytime a kernel of the truth, seemingly by accident, emerges of it own volition. It’s like you type by sense of smell, instinct or whatever. And what you get is an unintended revelation. Brent said to me, and the other character to whom he happened to be conversing, “If you want to know the truth; here it is. Life is not about me, it’s about you. If you want to be successful, that’s all you need to know.”

When a character in a story tells you, as a writer or a reader, something like that, if you are paying attention you experience a wow moment. That’s when the tickles happen internally and those trigger the hackles, which on people are the tiny hairs on the backs of our necks. Those hairs raise in autonomic response to experiencing a piece of the truth. That’s how you know something is good.

Brent goes on at some length to explain to the other character, Lana, what he means. After making a statement like that usually a character has to explain it just in case the reader glossed over the remark and didn’t fully experience or benefit from the wow effect. But in this case, the wow happened to fit exactly into 140 characters. So it has been Twitter-approved as well. So, it must be the truth, right?

What Brent explained to Lana is the difference between true success and false success. True success is measured in terms well-beyond wealth or power. It comes from appraising the benefit others derive from knowing you and the influence you have upon them. A person who is truly successful can’t exactly measure his or her success because, by it nature, it is something others have to determine.

False success is the anthesis, of course. It is all about me and not about you. It is selfish and self-destructive. For a brief period everything seems to work well. Fame, wealth, power come because of self-focused determination that leads to apparent success. But the acquisition of the trappings of success corrupts the individual who does not possess the correct mental state for handling the benefits. And so, the trappings become a trap, a snare from which the pseudo-successful cannot escape, tethered to the corruption of the world around him or her and which he or she cannot be extricated. The trap destroys the the falsely successful.

That is why people who do not understand the truth crash and burn, their success flames out and proves fleeting. Unless the formerly false successful arrive at the enlightened moment, understanding that what made him or her successful previously were the people around him or her, failure continues.

You see, in the book about Brent and Lana, Brent is a writer. I know it’s a stretch of the imagination for a writer, me, to have an alter ego who is a writer. But it happens Brent and I are and have always been pretty close. So, whatever. Anyway, Lana is hired to edit one of Brent’s books about wolfcats and in the course of reading the story and living in his house, which is haunted mansion, she learns that Brent, who is – as a writer – at least partially nuts by anyone else’s standards, knows a lot of secrets about how the world works. She presses him. She believes in him and his art and wants to make him successful. But Brent explains to her that the real story he has to tell others is about her and not him.

Lana happens to be the alter ego of a character in Brent’s story. She’s his muse, if you will. She is the real world incarnation of a wolfcat. His story, then, was only ever for her benefit. Finding meaning from the strange life she has endured he helps her pull all the pieces together and learn about her destiny.

It all goes back to the truth, or at least the part of it, that seems antithetical at first. Going forward sometimes requires going backwards – or having that sort of outlook on life. One may find the truth from exposing the lies. That’s one of the examples Brent gives in the course telling the story. He shows Lana a path to the truth but allows that discovery to become a personal event, because that is the only way it will last. He cannot tell anyone the truth because each person needs to discover is or her relationship with the world. How it happens comes in many ways but most often it is through the expression of art in its many and various forms.

Brent, as an artistic sort, gravitates toward other artists. From my experience that is how it happens in life. Artists feed one another’s creative souls. Why wouldn’t we enjoy one another’s company? Artists tend to know other artists and understand the art if not the person. We naturally feel comfortable connecting with the creative aspect of the nature surrounding us. When Brent tells Lana the truth about success he hopes to explain why he is not concerned with becoming famous as a by product of producing his art. He says that success is not a goal or a destination but instead a process that is measured in another’s terms.

#success #failure #TheWolfcatChronicles #BrentWoods #truth #enlightenment #dreams #messages


How Not To Fail at Retail

I’ve spent most of my adult life working in retail, most of that time in management. It’s not a career I would recommend to anyone but if you like talking to the general public and having a career where no two days are alike, usually busy and at times you feel like a plate juggler with sixteen plats spinning and half of them wobbling, then it’s the right career for you.

I bring that up because over the course of working in retail I attended a lot of training seminars on selling techniques, motivation, leadership and even something called training the trainer. The last was intended, of course, to train me to return to my store and train everyone else. A recurring theme in all of the training I received was How to Succeed. Isn’t that really what we would all like to know? What’s the secret? What are the keys? Is success a strategic decision or does it happen as a random chance accident.

One of the greatest lessons I picked up from all those training seminars is that success is not a destination but a process. One of the most common mistakes people make in their quest for success is seeing it as a goal. You have only to look at successful people to determine that one of the reasons they succeed is they refuse to fail. Sounds silly, I know, but it’s true. They learn from their mistakes, make adjustments, start over again, keep working at it until they achieve the intended results. But once they arrive a some point that from the outside perspective may appear to be success, they seem completely oblivious to the fact that they might have succeeded. Why? Bbecause they are still engaged in the process of success. They have a longer range plan perhaps or their goals are constantly in flux. But they never seem to arrive at a point of satisfaction with what they have accomplished.

The adage about if at first you don’t succeed is kind of misleading, though. Trying is part of the problem in failure. “As long as you tried your best” will often result in lowered expectations. You become content with the attempt and not the outcome. “I tried” cannot be a satisfactory answer. To only ever try is to only ever fail to succeed. It’s easily proven. Drop something on the floor and try to pick it up. If you actually try you can’t possibly pick it up because that would not accomplish what you stated was your goal. If you pick the object up you have succeeded in not trying but instead doing.

With all that in mind, failure, then, is an opportunity to learn more about the process of succeeding. I had a boss when I worked for a major retailer. His motto was if you don’t fail you’re not trying hard enough. The company was extremely successful because it allowed its employees to have an entrepreneurial spirit. For managers it was really kind of like having your own company and using someone else’s bankroll. We were encouraged to think for ourselves and do what’s right for the customer without needing anyone’s approval. As front line employees, the ones who actually interact with he customers where all the revenue for the company is really generated, we were given the authority to be the hero and make the customer happy. This led to some exciting times during the a period of rapid growth and expansion for the company. It was kind of a perfect storm situation, a confluence of doing enough things right that even when we made mistakes it didn’t matter much because everything else covered for it. Sometimes we did really crazy things and because we believed we were going to succeed we made the impossible or unlikely happen. Not only did we think outside the box but also we were constantly working outside of the box.

Here’s an example of one of the craziest things I ever did . With every opportunity to fail instead I succeeded:


I ordered 12,000 – 1 gallon azaleas to be delivered the day an ad broke on the third week of February in Florida. They were in bloom. It was the right time of the year to make customer start thinking about springtime in Florida. I had one week to sell them. Did I do it? Well, no. But the only reason I didn’t sell 12,000 was that the vendor could only fit 11,500 on the truck. No one in his or her right mind would order that many live plants with the risk of them dying and suffering a sizable markdown to zero. But who said I was ever in my right mind?

I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to do it. I had a open checkbook when it came to ordering whatever I intended to sell. To everyone else who looked at it from the outside, including my district manager who showed up the day I was unloading the truck, it was a career decision. Yes, he told me if I didn’t sell all of them I was fired. Frankly, I didn’t believe him because firing someone who was crazy enough to work for that company at the time didn’t make a lot of sense. Going to work each day was a lot like jumping onto a train that was whizzing by at 90 miles per hour. It took a special breed of lunatic just to survive. Still, I took the ‘threat’ as a challenge and motivation to move a whole lot of azaleas in a short amount of time. I was not about to fail so making it happen was all I could do.

Certainly it was a gamble. But to me and the people who worked for me it became a fun adventure. Let’s see how many azaleas we can sell! Keep track of your sales, print out a duplicate receipt from the register every time you take a customer up to check out with azaleas. But the contest was not based on how many plants were sold but instead everything else on the ticket. To make it fair to everyone there was a prize for the most dollars total over the sale period and another price for the largest single sales ticket. It was a easy enough award. Each winner got a day off with pay.

Now we did a lot of other things too, like I had one of the employees out at the street with some azaleas and a sandwich board sign promoting the sale. I called local landscapers to let them know about the great deal we had going on. We were not going to mark down a single distressed plant. We were determined to sell everything we brought in.

One of the parts of the story that really confuses some people is this. We lost money on every azalea we sold, meaning our delivered cost on the item was higher than our retail. Azaleas were on sale for $1.25 each with a cost of $1.38. Investment was 11,500 X $1.38 = $15,870. We sold every single one of the plants. So the revenue on that one product was 11,500 X $1.25 = $14,375 for a net loss of $1,495.

How can a company make money doing that? Well it can’t if that is all you sell. But I considered that an investment, like advertising. It was a promotional expense in order to call attention to all the other great deals we had on things that we actually made a little money on. We were promoting everything on sale in our catalog paying particular attention to everything featured that applied to azaleas because they were in season and in demand. We made it a circus-like experience for customers. You didn’t have to ask if the plants were on sale. You didn’t even have to ask were the plans were because when you have 11,500 azaleas you merchandise them everywhere!

Making a sale into a true event, generating a lot of talk in the local community, we planned to succeed. And if you think people weren’t going home and calling their other plant-loving friends you’re wrong. We also had customer asking if they could use out store phone tell their friends. (This was before cell phones were ubiquitous).

How we made money was that while the customers were buying five or ten azaleas they were also buying the soil amendments like peat moss, fertilizer, shovels, landscaping fabric, edging and decorative mulch. A few decided to buy a new lawnmower, string trimmer or hedge trimmer. We sold a lot of grass sheers, gardening gloves and garden hoses as well.

As a result of ordering a truckload of 1 gallon azaleas between Thursday when the ad broke and the end of the sale, which was the following Wednesday, the garden department in my store was the top department in the entire chain with sales of $127,000 in February! The promotion has a residual effect as well. The following week sales comped (meaning comparative sales from one year to the next) 15%. The largest ticket sold during the contest period was $1,213. The largest total sales by employee was $23,455.

A week after the event my buyer from corporate office flew in just to take me to lunch. He decided he wanted to shake the hand of anyone who did something that crazy and made it happen. I finagled free lunches for both of the employees who won the sales contest and my department lead as well. Since it was kind of her idea to order a lot of azaleas in the first place it only seemed right, though her original order had one less significant digit to the left of the decimal point from the one I actually signed.

Me picking oranges in Mission, Texas

#failure #success #overcoming #retail #management #sales #azaleas


Success And Failure In Writing


Over the course of my working life I’ve acquired a pretty thick skin with regard to being rejected. That’s a good thing to acquire if you’re going to write – a thick skin. And you need to get used to being rejected. It happens a lot. As anyone who has worked in sales learns not to take ‘no’ personally, you have to understand that ‘no’ often means ‘not yet’. Some might state that as ‘no’ doesn’t really mean ‘no’ as they refuse to ever take it for an answer. It’s part of the mindset of countering rejection. Like a persistent, pestering five-year-old they refuse to give up on their heart’s desire. Like a hungry bulldog on a piece of raw meat they…well, you get the idea.

I was never all that excessive as a salesperson and that is probably why I was only moderately successful at it.

I had no trouble selling something I believed in or liked, though. Those things usually sell themselves. Just explain the features and benefits but have a sales ticket handy to close the deal. Things like that, the easy sells, don’t pay top commissions because less effort is required. Selling some unnecessary something to someone who doesn’t want it is what pays the most. And something someone doesn’t want pretty much defines that book you just wrote, especially if you’re an obscure first timer.

I know you don’t want to accept that, but it is the truth. And despite knowing that greed is one of the seven deadly sins, some of us are greedy. So you want to become rich and famous as a best seller author. Otherwise, why go through the agonizing experience of spending years writing a book and another year or two getting it published just to have no one want to buy it? We’re taught from an early age that this is a material world and one’s success or failure is often measured in terms of possessions and accumulated wealth. We sell our souls, at least figuratively, to the idea that more is always better when it comes to having ‘things’. The weight of those things and maintaining status becomes our fervent obsession. But is that really why you wrote that book? I mean, be realistic. There much more immediately lucrative endeavors and your time should have been spent pursuing those if, in fact, your overall objective was to become a rich and famous best selling author.

Not everyone makes it. You know that. We all play the game to some extent but usually we give up somewhere short of becoming rich and famous because we realize that we aren’t all that good at playing. A few of us gain some perspective and enlightenment from observing others and witnessing the results. It is almost a bromide that it is better to be unhappy and rich than it is to be unhappy and poor, so we opt out of the system at a point where we find a way of living comfortably between the two. But we are unjust as unhappy as we ever were because whether we are writing or not determined if we, as writers, are happy.

After years of playing the game, succeeding and failing like everyone else who doesn’t write, accumulating stuff that made it difficult to choose leaving high-paying, bad jobs with abusive working conditions, I gave up nearly everything I have in order to pursue writing. In retrospect I should have done it long before. I couldn’t have ended up any worse off. Perhaps it was wrong to do what I did for so many years, opting to be practical instead of pursuing my dreams. But the past couple of years I have learned how very little a human being truly needs in order to survive.

Yeah, I’m not rich. I don’t really need to be rich nor do I want to be. I’m pretty content having just enough. In the rankings of the rat race I’m poor. But as I refuse to participate in that competition what difference does it make. I’m not out to impress anyone with a flashy car, a big house, expensive clothes, watches and gadgets. Everything I have, except for my bicycle, will fit in the truck of a car. Imagine that! I have little stress in my life other than what I determine is necessary. I have goals that I set for myself but they are attainable and I am responsible to very few others. I have a couple of part time jobs to help cover expenses. Otherwise, what I do is write. That’s important knowledge and pretty radical in this material world, right?

One Over X 1One Over X 2

Thirteen years ago when my first book was published I wanted it to be best seller. I promoted it amongst my friends, coworkers, relatives, people I had known in the past, neighbors and even total strangers. I personally handed it to book critics who didn’t want to read it just because it wasn’t validated by some major publisher’s seal of approval. Although I’d signed on with a small publisher that won’t good enough. They equated that with using a vanity press even though I had not paid to be published.

I drove miles from where I lived to pitch my novel at bookstores. I donated copies ot local libraries. I attended fairs and conferences to pitch my wares. I sold a few copies. Moreover I learned something very valuable from the experience. Other than me and maybe my immediate family, no one cared about the book I’d just published. It was immaterial that I’d spend years writing it, that I’d spent countless hours revising, editing, and everything else involved in just getting it to a publisher. It was inconsecquential that I’d spent another two years working the book through the production process just to finally hold a copy of it in my hands. I signed a few autographs – on the off chance I ever became famous – and some people read it and gave me their feedback. The book was a first in more ways than one. It was enlightening to learn that hardest part of publishing a book was actually getting anyone to buy it.

As crazy as it may sound, part of the realization in my situation back then was that the true objective of a writer is to be read. If people decide to purchase a book the writer might earn at living at it. But truly, that is not the objective or writing. I also understood that success for a writer is measured in how many strangers read his or her book and like it, not how many friends, family and acquaintances feel obligated to buy it just because of a level of familiarity.

Colonial AuthorityThe Resurrection

So, as much or as little as I have promoted my books over the years, posting things in social media of late, and having scores of people I have known over the years congratulate me on my achievements, I have not sold all that many books to people from my past. That’s fine with me because I completely understand the process now. It’s just weird, isn’t it, having someone you knew when you both had pimples tell you that he or she has written a book. If you happen to read the book do you hear the squeaky voice of that kid you grew up with – that nerdy dude who used to sit off to himself or that shy girl who never spoke much. Why would anyone want to read a book he or she wrote?

My youngest daughter best expressed the sensation of reading one of my books. “It’s kinda creepy hearing your voice in my head as I read.” Okay, enough said. I get it.

When I write, what I compose is intended to be enjoyed, not the source of creepiness. Someone who feels forced to read it out of some obligation borne of friendship or shared genetics probably shouldn’t buy the book. Writers want to make happy readers not tormented souls. When I write I imagine it is for a person I haven’t yet met because I no longer expect anyone I know to read my books. For those of you who know me personally, if you ever read one of my books, I think you may be surprised at what you’ll find. Anyone who knew me way back when I was that weird kid was largely ignored actually had no idea I could string a few words together into something half-way coherent. Now there’s a book or, actually, several. Who would have thought it possible, right?

For all writers whether published or yet aspiring, I offer some advice suitable for having carved into something you could hang above the workspace where you write:

1) Most people you know won’t read your book.
2) Most people you don’t know won’t read your book.
3) Most people won’t care about your book whether or not they know you.
4) Until your book hits the New York Times Best Seller List, most people won’t know or care that you write.
5) After you make it as a writer, some people who buy your book won’t actually bother reading it.
6) But, because you don’t write for any of those people who won’t read your book, why should you care?


#Writing #ElgonWilliams #FromTheInside #ToTheCloser #OneOverX #ColonialAuthority #TheResurrection #TheAttributes #FriedWindows #Success #Failure #Publishing


‘Frieday’ The Thirteenth Acknowledgements


This morning I have been thinking about the future more so than the past. Although the two are connected to the present, the difference between people is largely about which direction is their focus. Although we all reflect on our pasts and strive to learn from our mistakes, it is not good to dwell on what has been. Obsession with those things that you cannot undo will prevent your arrival at destiny.

What is it about today that makes me philosophical? I guess it is the fear associated with Friday The Thirteenth, though I’ve never suffered from triskaidekaphobia. Quite the opposite. Some of the best things have happened to me on the 13th of the month. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days. I believe July 2nd is particularly bad for me. It is exactly eight weeks from my birthday, so maybe it has something ot do with biorhythms. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have tended to have mishaps on that day.

For example, when I was sixteen I amputated the tip of ly left little finger on that day. Also, I was married on that day. Although the marriage went well for many years and produced three wonderful children, ultimately it ended. There are many other examples.

That’s not to say I avoid getting out of bed on July 2nd. With my luck I’d fall asleep and the house would burn down around me. It’s just I’m sort of extra careful on that day. I try not to transact any important business on that day but it is not out of fear for what might happen just respect for what has happened in the past. I don’t believe in coincidence or accidents, so I have to believe that my apparent bad luck is part of a predictable cycle.

Going back to thoughts of the future, I’m not sure when it is the appropriate time to turn my focus to my next book in production, Becoming Thuperman. I need to do that at some point but I eels too soon. I owe it to my current release to promote its sale to success. For whatever reasons the reception has not been quite as good as I might have hoped. Some of the factors are my relative obscurity as an author and the fact that the project was finished literally days prior to release. That did not allow for advanced reviews to be generated in support of the launch. But books have longer life cycles than most people have been led to believe. It’s a good book. It will do fine. Anyway, my publicist and I are working on some things, so expect promotions and book signings, especially in the Orlando area.

Because of the crunch experienced in the production of Fried Windows an important piece of the book was omitted. No, it has nothing to do with the story other than how many people were involved in brining the dream of publishing the book to fruition. I wrote an acknowledgment piece that I sent to my editor but it den;t make it into the final version. So, I’d like to take this occasion to publish it here:


This is not my first book and hopefully it is not my last. I’m grateful to many for bringing this dream to fruition. Some I should have acknowledged long before now for contributing to my journey to be here as an author.

First and foremost, my family has been there for me. The past couple of years I have been living off the largesse of others. Without my sister Joyce and brother-in-law Jerry I would have been literally homeless. They opened their home for an extended period and I overstayed my welcome. Sir Barnaby, a.k.a. ‘Sparky’, their King Charles Cavalier, was a baby when I moved in. He became my companion every morning while I worked on this book and some of the others to follow.

Also, I need to thank my son, Rob, and his girlfriend, Erica, for putting up with me while I put the finishing touches on this book. Rob was int he finishing stages of his post graduate work, so it won’t the best of times for me to impose.

My daughter Amanda read the post substantive edit manuscript and gave me some helpful suggestions for tweaks. She is an example of someone who hasn’t given up on her dreams despite difficulties. The example of her determination has inspired me.

My youngest daughter Sarah, the last of my children to set out on her own, was my roommate for a while in Kissimmee, Florida. We had many marathon conversations about books each of us have read and some of the stories I have written.

Jina, my ex-wife, deserves mention. Although we still argue whenever we are in the same place at the same time, those three wonderful children are also hers. Some of the twenty-five years we were married were great while others I’d prefer to forget.
She never understood the writer that emerged full force in the Spring of 1995 when I decided my life was too short to ignore my dreams. However, she convinced her stubborn husband to see the doctor, else I would have died that year.

There are many people I have worked with over the years who suffered listening to ramblings and warped ideas that have become stories.

Jack Ericcson, my friend, taught me a lot about the publishing business. He gave me a few tips about making an engaging, dialogue-driven story.

Liz Flores, my friend, confidant and, for many years, my muse, inspired a character or two song the way. There have been other muses since but we are still in touch.

Ed Madore, Jerry Mannix, Carl Roberts and Joe Tyler were good friends and business associates while I juggled writing against the functional insanity known as retailing management.

Zara and Allan Kramer deserve my gratitude for having faith in this particular project and supporting my dream with a lot of advice, encouragement and resources. Without them Fried Windows would still be an unfulfilled dream.

My editor Michael McBride polished off the rough edges and helped make this book what it is.

Matt and Fletcher, the cover designers, outdid themselves in brining the imaginative Inworld to life.

My publicist and co-conspirator, Christine Gabriel, a fellow fantasy author, has endured my creative flashes that sometimes sound like rants to others. She may not also understand but she listens well.

I also need to thank all the other Pandamoon authors (Pandas) for their chats and continuing support.

Then, there is Kristin Hibbett, my 9th Grade English teacher, who did more to compel me to write than any other before or since. Over the years our student-teacher relationship evolved into something more respectful than how it started out.

Last, my mother and father, Alta and Bruce Williams gave me a name I didn’t like at all but eventually it grew on me. One of the reasons this book exists is because of that strange name grabbing attention as much as the bizarre title, Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce).



#success #published #newbook #FriedWindows #FridayThe13th



Fanning The Flames – Gaining Fans As An Author


It’s very hard to find someone who believes in you like a fan. I guess the first step is to believe in yourself. After all, how are you going to attract fans if you don’t think you are good enough to have fans.

As an author I have found it particularly true that self confidence is required to promote and sell one’s work. But there is a continuing battle within between the writer and the author. Against that everyone who writes struggles. Let me explain.

The writer is a person that wakes up early each morning and composes something, whether or not the author ever decides to do something with it. The author is more focused on the dissemination of work to readers, whether of not something is actually sold. Yeah, I know that usually people make the distinction between a writer and an author in terms of being published. But with the advent and popularity of digital self-publishing, there are many more authors. I think a true author is an artist and therefore he or she focuses more on the art of writing and sharing it for the appreciation of the craft rather than the more crass, business aspects of publishing.

Having said all that, for a writer to continue writing there must be income whether from a side job or the fruits of one’s literary labors. So the business aspects of being an author are necessary to consider if one intends to make writing a career.

I am fortunate in many ways. Though many in my family would tell you of my personal and financial struggles over the past few years as I pursued writing as a career, I gained a lot of business insight about publishing through my associations and failures. Also, my business background in sales and marketing have lent insights without which I would not hold a position that straddles both the creative and promotional aspects of the publishing business.

My publisher believes in my crazy stories, my art. That has helped bolster my confidence in my work. But my associations with other authors have benefitted me at least as much in understanding there are no magical secrets to succeeding in this craft. What works is as basic and simple as it gets. At some point, a writer has to want to do whatever is necessary to find readers. You cannot wait for someone else to do that for you or expect that the quality of your writing will automatically gain attention. Somehow, in some way, you must present your work in an attractive manner that gains the public’s attention. And in order to sustain your writing career, those people need to buy your work, recommend it to others and grow your fan base into loyal supporters. That’s the hard part.

Many new authors don’t realize how to gain fans. No amount of advertising or self-promotion on social media will substitute for the personal touch. An author must connect one-on-one with each reader. However that is accomplished it is essential to building a fan base. Responding to comments on blog posts, making personal appearances like book signings, exchanging emails, chatting whether through messaging or in chat rooms, all are ways for an author to connect personally with a reader. Without that one-to-one intimacy it is very difficult to persuade readers to attempt reading a book from an unknown author.IMG_0233


About Dreaming Dreams and Living Life

Me crop 2

People don’t stop dreaming; they just grow up. What a sad and sobering thought that is! But it’s mine and I’ll bet its yours, whether you had it before or are just dealing with it the same way as the rest of us. I’d like to think that it’s a choice whether to follow a dream. I’m saddened that so many of us give up on our visions before they come to fruition. Yet, it isn’t a matter of not being able to go back and start over, just the difficulty of remembering what it’s like to be as idealistic as you once were as a child.

Your dreams never leave you. You’ve just misplaced them behind all the other things that get in front of them and crowd them out, pushing them to the back of the importance queue. And when you’re battling it out in the adult world, surrounded by other grown-ups who have also set aside their dreams for the sake of practicality it’s hard to ignore what everyone else tells you is important, what needs to be your priority and what you long ago adopted as your ambition. In order to do what seems the craziest thing to everyone one else, you have to start thinking like you did when you were a kid. You need to believe everything is going to be alright – just like your father and mother used to tell you. You’ve got to believe that everything and anything is possible.

Gentte and me 1959

Reality is pretty persistent in grabbing your attention, though. That’s not your fault except that you accepted it at some point. It all started with your formal indoctrination – you know, that twelve or more years you spent in school. That’s when you’re taught how to play the game, when others groom you for success by their terms, force-feeding you the tenants of their faith in the illusion they believe. You adopt all the things they think are important. But there is always that piece of you that remains inside. It’s a part of your youthful nature that wants to do something else, the unexpected something – except that everyone around you would certainly believe you’ve gone mad.

So you continue in your daily quest for whatever it is that the money you earn affords you – seeking a comfortable life and the security of a steady paycheck to make the installments on your overly-mortgaged existence. You’re indebted to the system you’ve co-opted. But you think about it, don’t you? What could life have been like if only…

I’ve decided that the artistic temperament comes from our dreams. It’s stronger or closer to the surface in some than in others, but it’s always there. Unless you’ve allowed others to kill it – or perhaps you executed it yourself. You can find your way back, though. You see, you’ve distanced the adult you from the inner child. That’s all. Supposedly that was necessary in order for you to succeed in the adult world. Isn’t that what they say? That’s the lie, though. Being a part of the grown-up world, wearing big boy and big girl pants, is all about conformity. The system must keep the masses walking on the sidewalks and never straying off into the grass. We’re taught to worry about what others will think, what the neighbors are going to say while, all along the way, the distance continues to grow between us and other true aspiration. There’s always another thing that gets in the way, isn’t there? It distracts us from our hearts desire and our real potential.

Joyce, Genette and me in 1957

You can’t believe in possibilities when you’re beset with fires to fight and problems to solve. You’ve brought all of that on yourself, though. You decided to take on responsibility because others, well-meaning people you trust, told you that’s what you needed to do. And you forgot about being a model, an actor, a painter, sculptor, musician or a writer.

You look at artists with pity or disdain, thinking they’re a bit off and certainly not normal. Secretly you envy them, though, for their ability to escape the reality you suffer and daily endure. Still, look at all the marvelous things you have to show for you hard work. They don’t have the fancy car, the big house. That all comes from towing the line and doing what you are supposed to do. The material aspects of your life, the things you have acquired, are the evidence of your triumphs. They define the level of your success.The achievements you’ve earned through discipline and obedience have been substituted for your dreams. It’s why you don’t press the snooze button when the alarm clock goes off at 4 AM. It’s why you put in over sixty and sometimes seventy hours a week for the past twenty-five years of working for someone else, contributing to their success in business in exchange for your salary, bonuses, stock options and whatever else they used in their sales pitch to gain your cooperation.

Genette at wedding reception with Joyce, Jay, Mom, Dad and Me

Yet, you wonder about what makes those crazy artists different. How is it that some of them succeed and appear to love what they do? How can they be like that? How can they be satisfied with their lot in life without all those things that define your existence? But in the quiet of night you ask yourself if maybe you took the wrong path. You’re not really all that happy in your life despite all the trappings of success.

People aren’t supposed to be happy – that’s what you decided as you went along chasing someone else’s goals that you substitute in lieu of all the wonderful dreams you had. Each year it grows more and more difficult to find your way back to the path that, once upon a time, made sense to you when you were six or seven-years-old. The world was teeming with possibilities then, when you were naive enough to believe int he magic of the world around you. What wouldn’t you do to be that innocent again? If you’re lucky, enough of the dreamer remains within you that you might get the chance to visit your imaginary friends, reconnect with their world and experience what you lost in the process of growing up.

Me in early 1980's before job interview

That, my friends, is what Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce) is about. Forty-six days until launch and I can’t wait to share the story and adventure with you.