General

Author Talk: Q&A with Sawney Hatton

Howdy folks. I will be appearing at the Twisted World Villains & Vixens convention in Philadelphia the weekend of March 28-30, and will be sharing a table with author Sawney Hatton. So we figured it was an opportune time to check in and see what that crazy sonuva gun is up to:

Q: So… Sawney Hatton–if that’s your real name–you’ve primarily been a screenwriter for the last decade. What motivated you to write your first novel, DEAD SIZE?

Sawney_Hatton

SH: At the height of my obscurity working as a screenwriter in Los Angeles (credited under my other real name, which, frankly, is also suspect), I penned several spec scripts that went unproduced. Of these, DEAD SIZE was an original story I had been quite fond of. When I decided to take the plunge into novel writing (me being a ravenous reader of novels), I selected the script to be the blueprint for my debut opus, as it features all the elements I love most in a narrative: dark comedy, mystery, horror, fantastical creatures, artistic pretensions, and weird sex.

Q: Given your switch in mediums, what was the biggest challenge for you as a writer to pen a novel… other than your obvious talent impairment?

SH: A screenplay is pretty much bare-bones storytelling–you’re concerned with plot structure, action descriptions, character development, and dialogue. But a screenplay doesn’t read like a novel. It doesn’t have the same breadth of detail, the same immersive emotional impact. When writing a novel, you’re putting flesh and blood and guts and hair onto the bones of a story. You can say so much more in a novel, and for me that’s what makes writing one so challenging. You have to determine how much is too much, how little is not enough. You have to figure out what makes your story flow best. Every word–or omission of them–counts.  Dead Size 400x533_rev

Q: We see that you’re sharing a table at the Twisted World Villains & Vixens convention in Philadelphia the weekend of March 28-30 with author Russ Colchamiro, he of FINDERS KEEPERS and CROSSLINE fame. Why would you even consider pairing up with such a devious bastard, much less do it?

SH: He paid me, up front, in champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Q: We understand the two of you collaborated years ago on a short film that won some kind of twerky award for Best Movie or something equally meaningless. How did you two boneheads pull that off? I mean… seriously?

A: It is true Russ and I teamed up to produce a Twilight Zone-inspired video short called “Light Chasm” that went on to garner major acclaim at some performing arts high school in New Hampshire, I think. The work beat out 3, maybe 4 other submissions. We pulled it off the old-fashioned way: we used free equipment and paid nobody. We did have our creative differences; namely, Russ couldn’t act and I couldn’t direct. It was obviously a winning combination.

Q: Last question (two parts): Why on Earth should anyone spend their time and money on anything you’ve written? And, especially, what sort of serious mental or emotional problems would motivate someone to actually stop by your table and say hello at Twisted World?

SH: People should spend their time and money on my work because I am really tight with Ammit, the Egyptian devourer of souls. You snub my books, your soul is screwed for eternity. I’m not playing here, people.

I encourage all those with any serious mental and/or emotional problems to stop by my table and enlist. I am building an army of the imbalanced, which I expect will be advantageous when I declare war on ourselves.

About the Author: Sawney Hatton

Sawney Hatton is an author, an arsehole, and famed hunter of the Giant Beaver. Other incarnations of Sawney have written screenplays, produced corporate videos, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He laughs at death, which has made for some very awkward funeral services.

You can follow Sawney Hatton on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. His debut novel, DEAD SIZE, is available online most everywhere in eBook and paperback. His short collection of short fiction, WHITE SPACE & OTHER STORIES, can be found exclusively on Amazon (eBook only). Visit his website at www.sawneyhatton.com

 

 

In The Writer’s Chair: Big Ideas Using Few Words

As an author, when you start out with an idea, you think that writing the novel is the hard part. But then you do it, you have your novel, and then … it’s time to sell. To market.

When I first started talking to people about Finders Keepers, my ‘elevator pitch’, such that it was, lasted about half an hour. Okay, maybe not a half hour, but it took me so long to explain what it was about that I exhausted myself.

Why? Because I was trying to tell it all. And that never works.

For those of you who have read it, and for those who haven’t, Finders Keepers is a raunchy scifi backpacking comedy with a lot characters, told from various points of view, wherein various story lines slowly but surely come together into a pretty crazy – and satisfying – conclusion.

So there I was, fumbling my way through the description, until it became clear that I really had to figure this out.

In total I probably spent the better part of three months scripting, and revising, and re-writing myself until finally I could recite the essence of the novel that both hooks a potential reader, and stays true to the content.

Here’s how I talk about it now:

Finders Keepers is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips that I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against the quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. It’s like American Pie/Superbad meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Those two sentences have helped me connect with a lot of new readers, and sell a whole bunch of books.

Just two sentences.

But coming up with those two sentences? It took a ton of work, and an endeavor I’m proud of.

Is it my personal best?

Not sure.

But I’ll take it.

 

* This post originally appeared on the Crazy 8 Press Web site at http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/03/11/personal-best-the-finders-keepers-elevator-pitch/

 

 

Meet the Author: Russ Colchamiro at Farpoint SciFi Convention

Howdy folks!

If you’re planning to be in the Baltimore area next weekend — February 14-16 — you can find me there at the annual Farpoint science fiction convention. I’ll be mixing and mingling all weekend, signing copies of Finders Keepers and Crossline.

And — if you fancy such an endeavor — you can come hear me chat about writing and such on the following panels:

Farpoint Book Fair          Fri 2/14/14    10 pm     Dulaney Valley 1

Crazy 8 Press                   Sat 2/15/14     1 pm       Chesapeake 1

Crazy 8 Press
Authograph Table           Sat 2/15/15     2 pm     Atrium Front

Orphan Black:
Send in the Clones         Sun 2/16/14     Noon    Ridgely 1

Writing Humor               Sun 2/16/14     3 pm    Chesapeak

Hope to see you there!

Mark of a New Trilogy … or Aperitif? Chris Daughtry’s ‘Baptized’

Some movie trilogies peak in the middle, such as The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment of the Star Wars saga. And others really nail it in the final outing, as with The Return of the King, the third movie in The Lord of the Rings epic.

ESB2

The same principle can hold true in music.

Chris Daughtry burst on the scene in ‘06 with the solid, self-titled rock album Daughtry, after he rose to fame with his run on American Idol. The band’s follow-up album, Leave this Town, was an overall improvement, although very similar in feel and tone to the first.

But much like with The Lord of the Rings, Chris and the boys really brought it all together with his third — and IMHO, best album — the vastly underrated and underappreciated Break the Spell. A combination of soaring guitars, falsetto choruses, sing-alongs, and rolling thunder. return of king

So how does this tie back to the movies?

Intentional or not, Daughtry’s first three albums form a trilogy  — an evolution of musical creativity, telling one, longer epic story with a beginning, middle, and end. The first song on Daughtry? The ironically titled It’s Not Over. The final song on Break the Spell? Spaceship. That’s quite an evolution.

And now the boys are back with their fourth album, Baptized.

The title is no accident. Chris has re-emerged with a completely different kind of album. Gone (for the most part) is the growling rocker, replaced instead with a pop storyteller, as if Chris called upon his inner Rhianna, Fun!, and Katy Perry, and comingled them with his matured Hall of Fame voice, more engaging and emotionally resonant than ever.

baptizedClick here for my album review.

But with this bold new sound, a question comes to mind: Is Baptized now the beginning of a new trilogy of albums? Is this the new mojo we can expect from him? Or is Baptized an aperitif? A palate cleanser? A way for Chris to internalize the first trilogy of albums, take a (mostly) fun-filled getaway, and move on from them as an artist, so that he can emerge with an even more fully realized writing style?

Only time will tell.

But regardless of whether we’re experiencing the first installment of a new trilogy, or just a one-off album … I’m strapped in, like a Renegade, along for the ride.

It is said that even the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Where will Chris’ travels take us next? Have we really been Baptized?

Let’s find out.

Traitor? Hater? Or Bold New Sound? Chris Daughtry’s ‘Baptized’

Sure I played drums in a high school rock band, and though I had some ability, I wasn’t a big time talent like Chris Daughtry. And yet I find myself relating to his experience with his new album, Baptized. I’ll explain:

baptized

Last year I launched my newest science fiction adventure novel, Crossline. To date the reviews have been mostly excellent.

Mostly.

A few months ago, while doing promotion, one reader absolutely ripped me to pieces — I mean scorched me — saying that I had betrayed him, that I stole his money, having deceived him into buying such a terrible book, and that I should be ashamed of myself as an author for writing such drivel.

Why was he so angry? Why did he feel swindled? Crossline full cover.psd

Because the novel I delivered wasn’t the novel he was expecting. For those of you new to my work, my first novel Finders Keepers is a raunchy, science fiction backpacking comedy — think American Pie/Superbad meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s an all-out comedy that even drew some interest from Hollywood. This reader was drawn to my catalog based on Finders Keepers.

But while Crossline is filled with humorous moments — it might even make you laugh out loud in places; I hope it does — unlike Finders Keepers, it’s a science fiction adventure set, at least in part, during a civil war. And though the novel is absolutely loads of fun — with a host of female characters who are forces to be reckoned with, and are in many ways the true heroes of the story — during war, bad things happen, and sometimes to characters you like, or even love.

Which brings me back to Baptized.

Daughtry’s first three albums are rock albums. They kick ass, to different degrees. So … like many of his fans, when Baptized came out with a bold new sound, I was … shocked. I admit it. I didn’t quite know what I was listening to.

But as I had been through this experience myself, with my own work, and trusted that Chris would once again deliver the goods, I listened to the album, a song at a time, and then the entire playlist, over and over.

What’s my verdict now that I’ve gotten over my initial expectations, that I’ve accepted what Daughtry actually gave us, rather than what I thought I would get?

Thumbs up. cd boys

Chris and the boys have delivered a fun, radio-friendly pop album that shares some karmic DNA with Rhianna, Katy Perry, Fun! and others, with a mostly angst-less set list. I think this review here is pretty close to my own views, so I’ll pass it along for a more thorough song by song analysis.

With that, for me a few standouts on Baptized include the catchy, destined-to-be-a-hit “I’ll Fight”, about always being there for your kids (Chris I and both have young twins, so I relate), as well as “Cinderella”, a (mandolin?) based ditty with some snappy vocal hooks that could easily fit into Jack Johnson’s play list. “Long Live Rock and Roll” is an acoustic, thumping ode, and jest, about the joys of rock n’ roll, while “The World We Knew” and “High Above the Ground” are joyful reminders to embrace your moments while you have them.

chrisD

I’ll also call attention to “Traitor”, the album’s one true rage against the machine. A sound I would have expected to come from Nine Inch Nails, it’s actually not quite in sync with the overall tenor of the album … but wow. I’ve rarely ever heard a song that conveys so much seething ire over feeling betrayed, combined with a ‘don’t f**k with me’ attitude. When Chris sings, “Are you sure you want to play this game?”, there’s a lilting in his voice like he’s just daring you to come at him. You know he means business.

And if I had one ‘wish’ for any song on the album? It’s that Chris and the boys go all out on “Undefeated”. It’s a good, rousing tune as is, about staying on your feet no matter what life throws at you. But I submit that if re-recorded in a concert hall and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and an equally sized choir, it would have the scope and gravitas — the soaring power — to become EPIC. chrisd2

So where does that leave me?

Baptized may not be the rocker Chris has typically delivered in the past — it wasn’t what I expected — but it’s a damn good entry in the Daughtry catalog. You can dance a little, groove a little, and, when the album really hits its stride, clap your hands and smile.

And as for the reader who initially tore into me because he felt betrayed? In time, I won him over, too.

🙂

 

My New Year’s Resolution – Listen to Hank

When I think back to a year ago — one year ago exactly — I was in a similar, but distinctly different place in the world.

I was geared up, feeling good, had lots of positive mojo going, and beyond work and the family, I knew that 2013 was going to be a huge year for me on the writing front. I knew it in my bones.

I was about to finalize Crossline, my first original novel with Crazy 8 Press, and I was working on the re-launch of my debut novel, Finders Keepers, also with Crazy 8 Press.

And then ……. I got bronchitis. I typically don’t get more than one or two colds a year, but I managed to pick up some super strain from my kids, and I was really sick.

For four. Straight. Months.

Not fun.

Then, the day I finally stopped coughing, and felt good … I got nailed with some wicked stomach virus that wiped me out for three days. Grrrrr.

I ultimately got my health back, and I did, in fact, release both books through Crazy 8 Press, to critical praise. But I was also in the process of selling my apartment in Queens, and buying a house in New Jersey, which also meant packing, and moving, and lawyers, accountants, realtors, plumbers, electricians, painters, and so much more.

By the time 2013 ended, I was simply exhausted.

So what’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2014?

To remain as healthy as I can, to enjoy my new home, and continue to watch my children grow and thrive.

And while I’m at it, keep building the buzz on Crossline and Finders Keepers, do as many signings, and appear at as many cons as I can, and debut the Finders Keepers sequel, which, if all goes well, will be showing up this fall.

Ambitious? Maybe.

But you know what? If all my authordude endeavors weren’t just a little bit, well … crazy, and at least kinda BIG … then it just wouldn’t be any fun, now would it?

Because as my Finders Keepers giver-of-wisdom Hank would say, “If it comes too easy, Kid, it probably ain’t worth doing in the first place. So stop yer belly achin’ and go get it done.”

Thanks for the advice, Hank. I’m doing just that.

My New Year’s Resolution is now officially under way.

 

* Note: This blog originally appeared on the Crazy 8 Press web site at: http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/01/13/my-new-year-resolution-listen-to-hank/

Review: Orphan Black – Accept No Subtitute

Although I’m a little behind this season I’ve really been enjoying Arrow, and based on how it’s developed so far I’m confident it will keep getting better and better. Agents of SHIELD is, well, let’s just walk on by and leave that to others to pick on.

But if we’re talking about genre shows that I love, where I just can’t get enough, the conversation begins and ends with Orphan Black, on BBC America.

Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a dark, twisty, fast-paced conspiracy thriller with maybe the best performance … ever? … by an actress in any show, and I would argue the best of any genre show for sure. Tatiana Maslany is nothing short of brilliant playing nine — yep, nine — totally unique versions of the same character. I have no idea how they pulled it off, but man oh man they did.

But it’s not a one-woman show. It’s got a full cast of characters you either root for, or against — a shout out to Jordan Gavaris as Felix – and whereas they could have dragged out this 10 episode season into multiple seasons, just to milk it, they went full throttle and brought us so far so fast, without ever leaving us behind, that you just have to hang on try to catch your breath.

If there’s a problem with Orphan Black, it’s that they actually did pack so much story into season 1, it will be difficult to replicate the quality over season 2. But if there’s any show that might just pull it off, I’m putting my money on Orphan Black.

Tatiana Maslany?

Oh. Yes, please. Just tell me when and where Orphan Black is airing next, and I’m showing up.

* Note: This blog was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press Web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2013/12/16/orphan-black-accept-no-substitute/

Author’s Inspiration: Taking a Stand for Stephen King

I’ll just come right out and say it.

I rarely read Stephen King. Not because he isn’t good. It’s that I don’t like horror.  So me and his stories … not so much. And therein lays the irony. Here’s why:

As part of our Crazy 8 Press theme this month, we challenged one another to blog about a piece of writing that inspires us as authors ourselves. The_Stand_Uncut

In my previous life I received a degree in Secondary English Education from Buffalo State College. My plan — as man much younger than I am today — was to become a full-time high school English teacher. But after graduation I switched gears and went into journalism instead, and now I write novels.

Anyhoo, as part of my teacher’s course load at the time I was required to take a class in teaching writing. Enter said mad author scientist Stephen King. For my final paper — which counted for half of my semester’s grade — I wrote about (and gave a presentation on) the inherent value in teaching The Stand.

In particular I noted the epic novel’s modeling of dialogue, setting, tension, and character development. Granted, I found the book’s ending a bit weak, but the first 850 pages — eight hundred and fifty! — are absolutely mesmerizing. Trashcan Man. Fran. The Walking Dude, a.k.a. Randall Flagg. Whoa. I’ll never forget them.

The opening scene at the military site. The cough in the movie theater. And that heart-thumping trek through the Midtown Tunnel? Yikes. Talk about feeling like you’re in a moment — a moment so vivid and intense I could barely breathe — or wait to see what happened next.

But let’s return to Buffalo State College. I remember the scene vividly. It was the fall of 1993, in the English Department. The corner classroom was large, so there were many windows, and though the day was overcast, a beam of light shone on the floor, at my feet. I took it as a sign.

Because back then, the ‘Stephen King is a literary doofus-horror-hack-loser-disgrace-to-all-writers and writing’ campaign among the literati was in full effect, and as an emerging English teacher, not overtly championing classic ‘literature’ was equally popular.

So … yeah… I had a little edge to me that day.

But if you’re going to stand up among your peers and profess the writing of Stephen King as a viable English teaching tool … you gotta just go for it. Can’t hold back.

So as I stood before my classmates, and announced my topic, I endured the expected gaggle of snickers, eye rolls, and thought balloons casting all sorts of clever insults my way: Stephen King? I think Colchamrio will be pumping gas before teaching class! Ha!

But you know what? I didn’t care.

To this day, any time I get hit with writer’s block, I stop what I’m doing, reach up to my bookshelf, open to any random page from my hardbound copy of The Stand, and within moments I’m inspired. I must have done this a dozen times as I wrote Finders Keepers, and another handful as I wrote Crossline.

If I have an author’s inspiration bible … The Stand is it. It has served me well, and continues to do so.

As for my Stephen King presentation? I endured.

And I got an A.

 

* Note: This blog was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press Web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2013/10/21/authors-inspiration-taking-a-stand-for-stephen-king/

Ingrid Hall Interviews Author Russ Colchamiro

Author Ingrid Hall recently interviewed me on a whole range of topics, including what makes my wacky author brain work. Enjoy …

Hi Russ, lovely to meet you and by the way you have the best website I have seen in ages!! Spill the gossip!!

Hi Ingrid, great to meet you too! Okay. Here goes. I’m 42, married, with two young children and living in the Queens section of New York City, although I’m on the verge of buying a house in New Jersey. I’m a former journalist, now working in public relations for real estate companies. As a fiction writer, I’ve done some comic book scripts and short stories, but now I purely write novels. My debut novel, the raunchy, sci-fi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, was very well received. Think American Pie/Superbad/Hot Tub Time Machine meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My new book, the mysterious, action-packed space romp Crossline, is getting similar buzz. It’s fun.

Sounds like you are a busy bee and your novels sound like they would be totally up Lenora’s street! So, is writing your full time career?

Not yet, but I’m working on it! I’ve had some Hollywood interest in my projects, but nothing serious to report just yet. Certainly my goal is to write fiction and have that pay for my life.

What is the worst job that you have ever done, and why?

I scrubbed pots in a bakery one summer when I was a teenager. It was hot as hell, it was hard work, it paid lousy, and the owner was kind of a jerk. Other than that I loved it!

We’ve all done jobs like that, it’s a rite of passage! If you could have written any other book by any other author, what would it be, and why?

The Stand by Stephen King.

I am a huge fan of Stephen King, however I have never come across The Stand. I might have to check that one out! How would you think your parents would describe your book? Does this differ from how you would describe it?

Ha! My parents don’t read my books. I think they’re afraid they won’t get them, or won’t like them. That’s okay. I get it.

You’ve already mentioned that you write Sci Fi, do you have any plans to work outside of that genre?

My first few books have been science fiction, with a heavy dose of humor. The next few will remain in that genre. But I have plans down the road to branch out, with a few murder mysteries on the way, and maybe a spy novel, or even a series.

I love it when authors can be versatile! What inspired you to write your first book?

It’s a long story! My first book, Finders Keepers, is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand. Those adventures were not just truly exciting times in my life — and they were — but they helped shaped my perspective in many ways. They had such an impact upon me  me personally that I wanted to capture their spirit — and in some cases, the details — in a way a reading audience could join in, as if it was their journey, too. Separately, I had an idea for this outrageous, comic lunacy-style sci-fi adventure about a jar containing the Universe’s DNA. The two ideas may seem totally isolated unto themselves, but I found that they blended wonderfully into a novel that is fun, funny, and outrageous, but with some real heart to it. I’m actually working on two Finders Keepers sequels, to complete the first trilogy.

I’m definitely hooked! Do you ever get moments, and if so how do you hang onto them?

Definitely. I often get that thunderbolt a-ha! moment where I’ll frantically write ideas down on whatever I can get my hands on. Torn off pages of newspapers, napkins, the inside cover of a book I’m reading. Whatever. As long as I can take the notes. I just never know when or where those kooky ideas will come.

Or when you will use the kooky ideas if you are remotely like me! Do you have a structure when you are writing, and if so what?

I’m very big on getting the ending right. Of course it’s a matter of opinion if I’ve done so, but in my eyes I nailed the ending for both Finders Keepers and Crossline. I also know where the Finders Keepers sequels are headed, and the endings of both books are going to be awesome, if I do say so myself!

What are you reading at the moment, and why?

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, by James Hollis, PhD. It explores some themes that are important to me and I’m also reading some Batman graphic novels, because, you know … Batman is awesome!

What is your favourite movie and why?

Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are many others I love across various genres, but if I only get one movie, it’s Raiders. If there’s more fun to be had at the movies, I haven’t experienced it.

Do you have an opinion on life after death, and if so what?

I believe there’s a force to the Universe far greater than we can understand. We got here somehow! Whether it’s the gods, it’s magic, purely organic, or it’s just part of some wild dream, I’ll probably never know. But there seems to be some connective tissue in the Universe, some energy, that we’re all a part of. So that when our physical bodies die, I think our energies, or soul, drifts into the ether and finds its way … somewhere. As a parent, I want to believe I’ll always be connected with my children, even after we’re done on the Earth, but that could just be wishful thinking. I suppose we all have to move on, sooner or later.

We do and I am a firm believer in the continuation of the soul…Totally changing the subject, when you eat out would you choose Chinese, Indian or Italian, or other, if so what?

Depends upon the specific restaurant, but generally speaking … Chinese. Chicken with Cashews.

London, Paris or New York and why?

I’m a New Yorker, so big love there. I’m a huge fan of London as well. But, Paris? Not so much. We haven’t gotten along too well.

Ah, sounds like there might be a story or two in there somewhere about Paris…What do you have in the pipeline?

I’m halfway through the first of two Finders Keepers sequels. My plan is to write them back-to-back, wrapping up the first trilogy. After that, I have a baseball-themed sci-fi novel in the works, and then we’ll see what I’m in the mood for. My plate is full for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, I have lots of books lined up…It’s just so difficult trying to find the time to write them all! What inspired you to be a writer?

It’s not so much that I’m inspired to write … it’s that I have to write. Have to. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. It’s as essential to my personality as my DNA. That either means I’m really passionate, or crazy. Possibly both.

Do you write poetry or short stories as well? If so what?

I am so bad at poetry. I mean … so bad. It’s embarrassing. I’ve dabbled with short stories, but I have a tough time with them. I tend to write big, so I need more room to explore. Although I’ve written some comic book scripts, and I think I have a good feel for them. I quite like it, and hope to do it again at some point.

I think, poetry is one of those things that you can either do, or not do.  I definitely fit into the cannot do category! How do you overcome writers block?

Step away from the project, and let myself be distracted by something else. Anything that keeps me busy and out of my head. I like to exercise, so that often helps. I’ll watch TV, clean my apartment, go for a walk. Or I’ll just go and break things in frustration. Kidding! But distraction is a great way to get unstuck.

If you only had 60 seconds remaining on this planet, what would you say, and who would you say it to?

I would tell my children that I love them dearly, that I’ll always be with them in one way or another, and that I hope they build a life for themselves that makes them happy. That they should laugh and have as much as fun as possible along the way.

Do you have any pets – If so what?

I was always a cat person, but we’ve had a dog – Simon – for the last four years. He was a rescue. He’s a great dog. A little crazy at times, but a good dog.

Our friends have a dog named Norman, I’ve always found it strange how people give animals “real” name instead of crazy ones…

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Ha! Where do I begin? I would encourage my younger self to stay in good physical shape, say yes to many more opportunities, be responsible to myself, my family, my friends, and colleagues, and then make decisions based on what I think is important to me, based on my values, not what others think. And I would encourage my younger self to write every day, no matter what. I would also strongly recommend – if not insist – that I ignore the clerks and bullies of the world. Don’t let those fools get in the way of becoming who you are. To steal a line from Billy Joel as he ends every concert, ‘don’t take any shit from anybody.’ Laugh every day.

Russ, it has been my absolute pleasure meeting you today!

You can check out Russ and his AMAZING website at http://russcolchamiro.com/

This Q&A interview was originally posted at http://www.ingridhall.com/

In the Writer’s Chair: The Jelly Jar Fatality

It began with a jelly jar, and ended with a doorknob.

Okay. So I need you to be with me for a minute.

Being a writer, particularly an author who takes a year or two complete each novel, the research and writing process is predominantly a solitary experience, and one that readers — for the most part — don’t see.

Well … here’s a peak through that window as I look to finish the first Finders Keepers sequel, and my third novel under the Crazy 8 Press banner:

The last few months have been a whirling dervish. I recently sold my apartment in Queens, NY, and, at least for the time being, I’m living in my in-law’s loft in Central New Jersey.

And when I say “I”, I’m talking me, my wife, my three-year-old twins, and my dog. So, yeah … it’s an adjustment.

During this process — which is still ongoing — I’m also trying to buy a house in Northern New Jersey. If all goes well, it’ll be another 2-3 months, and then we get to start our new life, all living in one place with all of our stuff. Coolio.

Only … I still have to be a dad and a husband and keep delivering the goods for my full time day job in Manhattan. And … I’ve got another book to write! Yikes!

So where does the jelly jar and doorknob come into play? Glad you asked.

About three months ago, as we really started the packing process, and the end was finally in sight to sell our apartment, things started to fall apart.

Literally.

The first was the refrigerator. One morning, after having walked the dog, I came back — thinking about a key sequence I needed to smooth out for the Finders Keepers sequel.

But when I opened the fridge to get myself a cold drink … WHAM-O!

A jelly jar fell from the shelf, and smashed on the floor. The jar fell because the protective plate on the inner door fell apart. It broke. And by the way, have you ever tried cleaning up jelly and broken glass off the floor while keeping your dog and young son from trying to ‘help’ you? Double yikes.

Turns out, however, that the jelly jar fatality was just the beginning. In the following weeks, not one, but two more inner refrigerator shelves broke. Three of the four burners on my stove went out. The light socket in the hall closet died.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to hold the rest of my life together, and somehow find the brain space to keep the Finders Keepers sequel moving forward. Delusional on my part? Possibly. But I’m a writer through and through, and us writer dudes have a veeeeeery tough time putting projects on hold.

Nevertheless, the boxes are piling up in my apartment, all while we continue to pack, to wrap up negotiations on selling my apartment AND on the weekends going house hunting in New Jersey to find a new place to live while we also coordinate child care during the few months we’ll be with my in-laws.

And then the toilet seat breaks. Not the whole toilet, just the seat and lid. And because it’s us, it’s not a standard ceramic seat, but a specialty seat that needs to be special ordered. So when I called the plumber we used asking for assistance — perhaps not as cordially as I should have — he basically told me to stick it someplace unsavory.

Which meant me going back to him and groveling appropriately to smooth things over — which I did — and we got a new seat delivered and installed. And then three weeks later … it came lose again! Ah! But it was still hanging on. Barely.

So now we’re getting closer and closer to moving out of the apartment — movers are booked, closing is scheduled, we’ve almost — almost — arranged for day care in New Jersey – and I’m still holding out hope — fleeting as it may be — that I can advance the Finders Keepers sequel just a bit.

I did manage to squeeze in a weekend appearance at Shore Leave, in August, and I do have a few others signings lined up.

And then … just two days before I needed to move out — and have the buyer of our apartment do a final inspection before she writes us the big check — I reach for the doorknob, so I can enter the hallway.

Something I’ve done thousands and thousands and thousands of times over the past eight years.

I reach for the doorknob and … it fell off.

Seriously.

The doorknob. Fell. Off.

It was one of those classic ‘laugh or cry’ moments. And to protect my manhood here, I won’t say which.

Later that day, I went out to Home Depot to get more boxes, and pick up the inner doorknob stem to fix the darn thing. Only … Home Depot doesn’t carry that one particular part. Grrrr. Next up was a trip to the hardware store, which — mercifully — did have it, and after a few twists with a screwdriver, the doorknob was back in working order.

There’s actually more to this story — so much more — but it would take more time and energy than any of us have.

In terms of my living situation, my apartment is officially sold, the check has cleared and in my bank account, and I am, indeed, living in my in-law’s loft. With a nifty 2 hour commute —  each way, every day. But we’re getting closer to buying our own house, so there’s light at the end of this enormous tunnel we’ve been negotiating.

As for the Finders Keepers sequel … I haven’t been able to clack the keys on it for a while, but I’ll be back at it soon enough. The rest of the boys at Crazy 8 Press are bugging me to get that done!

But when I do finish, and I will … if you happen to notice a scene — or even a slight reference in there — to jelly jars or doorknobs … you now know the story behind the story. You’ve peaked through the window.

And if you’ve got a jelly jar story of your own … share it with us. Maybe it’ll make it into the next Finders Keepers novel.

Unless, of course, my computer falls apart while I’m writing it.

(Note: I am a contributing author/member with Crazy 8 Press. My latest blog entry, The Jelly Jar Fatality, was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press Web site on September 30, 2013.  For more information, or to read the original post, visit http://www.crazy8press.com/2013/09/30/the-jelly-jar-fatality/)

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