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Always sounds impressive doesn't it? I used to listen to those song compilations complete with news that surrounded their airplay as a kid. It all sounded so remarkable, as if the times we lived in were monumental and would be held up as an example to following generations.

So much for that. Much of the culture I grew up in is either a source of shame or hilarity depending on whether its being examined by a social critic or a comic. But as we've been told for years, write what you know. Every generation has lessons, and ours were pretty us anyway. In summary, I think we left things better than we found them. And that is a pretty good start. So I reference that era early and often in my writing.

Fortunately, no one is hanging around waiting for my infrequent posts. Most of the time I feel like the lone reporter jotting down his observations in an end of the world movie. Maybe, some archivist will stumble upon them and find something useful contained within.

I imagine its like all of us as we struggle for recognition. Each of us sat down and constructed our life long dream to share these stories rambling around in our heads and find our audience. Not for riches, we knew better than that. Artists like Fitzgerald, Maugham, and Hemingway are pretty rare. They made bags of money and are revered long after their passing. Most of the writers I know would settle for a few thousand avid readers who care about the stories they tell. And maybe enough money to rent a seaside cabin for a summer. And of course, spend our time doing more writing in it.

We took advantage of the time provided by the pandemic, and put ourselves to work. As it turns out, so did everyone else. It was always difficult to find an agent who took and interest in your work. Now its ridiculously impossible. Agents are so lined up, that they can't possibly even take a cursory look at everything submitted.

Ah yes Mike, but we have an advantage those who came before us didn't have, self-publishing!

True. And I'm grateful. I've published five novels this year. Five. I have two more in the works for next. To say I never expected to do that would be a hilarious understatement. But because of self-publishing, I have my work in a professional form out for public consumption. I built a website. I blog (occasionally). If I'd stumbled across a willing agent, everything would have been handed to me. I wouldn't have tried silly marketing ads to try and attract attention. I would NEVER had opened a Twitter account, or created a presence on Instagram.

You know, I'm almost happy I couldn't find an agent. I know things I didn't know last year at this time, and as I profess to my students, (hence, professor) life is about learning and doing.

And the people! Authors and readers from all around the globe! And I'm going to share an observation that many of you already know. Dylan West is going to make it folks. Big. If there is an 'IT' factor for authors, he has it. He researches everything to the final detail, creates a plan, and executes. And of course, his work is superb. Another lesson for someone like me that doesn't throw himself completely into the work.

All the people. Like the line from Logan's Run where Peter Ustinov never knew anyone but his parents until he met Logan. Yep. he wanted to see all the people more than anything. Well, we're meeting them. And I'll never believe there is one of us who would want to make it by stepping on someone else. I've always been a Pollyanna that way. Now I know lot's of other folks who feel the same.

So there it is. I'm better off than I was, just like all those year end compilations I recall. Despite the frustrations and setbacks, the goals we didn't meet, the connections that didn't pan out...lots of you feel the same.

Let's take time to be proud of ourselves, and raise a glass to the writing community. For those Fitzgerald's, Maugham's, and Hemingway's out there working toward their inevitable

discovery...they will take part of us with them. Kind of like Maslow's Pyramid, isn't it? Every new level is based on the essence of the one preceding it.

Now if you ever take one of my courses, you will have an idea what to expect. Did I mention Greenleaf's Servant Leadership?

All the best in the new year friends!

Your pal, Mike.

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Or, just when you thought had settled into a predictable pattern...

#book #reader #writer

I thought I'd had Sciatica before. I thought I'd had intense pain before with four torn meniscus. Nope. I never had pain that made me cry out, or made me ready to do anything to make it stop. I know there are suffering people out there with things that are much worse, and my thoughts and prayers go out to you. But I hope never to repeat this experience. To that end, I am seeing health professionals. Really good ones. But it could be that my days of doing all the yard and heavy house repair work are behind me. hard to accept.

So for now, the pain is gone, and I'm back to work and promotion. And in writing, your mind is never restricted by physical limitations. And whatever experiences don't do us in make us stronger! I'll go for that. In fact, much of the pain and suffering of prior years made me the writer I am today, and for that, I'm grateful that something good came out of it. It's all for a purpose.

For today, I want to say how amazed I am by the wonderful folks who say such nice things about my writing! It is truly gratifying that I can reach people that way. Now, if I could get some of those wonderful people to post those nice comments where others can see them...

I mean, the comments really help me determine 'how I'm driving the vehicle of my....never mind. I just wanted to insert Cheech and Chong here. (Did I mention my childhood fantasy of legal pot came true here in Arizona/) Good enough on it's own without a lame comment. But YOUR comments aren't go to goodreads or Amazon and let the world know what you thought of any...or all...of my books!

Enough for today. If things hold together, I can get back into regular blogging. As always, keep reading and let me know what you think!

In response to the twenty or so people who knew I was gone.

Interesting thing this blogging. I really never expected it to be a main driver in my ultimate goal, selling books, but to say the results are lackluster would be a gross understatement. No, selling books isn't my ultimate goal. Well it is, but only as a mechanism to supplement my retirement income and give me a plausible reason to write even more.

It could be that if I ever make it to big-time land, these musings and discussions could be a window into the mind of ole Mike, even if years down the road. In that vein, I'll press onward and see if there isn't something of value I can impart now. I did you know. Helped a couple of people working through various issues on twitter, even referred one to a previous post. We do what we can...

Anyway since I am where I am, I had to concentrate on my primary occupation, working in support of a Department of Labor grant and teaching a class. Had a big launch of a program that was truly my creation, quite proud of that. Students will be deriving a benefit for some time, since it is based on organizational skills. One of these days if I build an audience, I'm going to use my platform to promote what I believe is a very valuable set of programs...all at no cost to the student!

So Mike, now that you're back, anything worthwhile to say?

I thought I'd get back to character development. I've read some snippets of other writers work online, and I have to say I'm....amazed. Some are actually quite good, and others be charitable, not so good.

Part of the problem from my perspective is that the writing seems stilted and unnatural or at the other extreme, banal. Another issue is what I call comic book style writing. Long ago, comic book writers forgot they were supplying simple tales for kids.

Panel illustrations with over-reaching or abstract meaning or dialogue really surpasses the limits of the medium. Add that to television writers, then film writers who put out junk that caters to the bottom rung of intellectual pursuit, and you have generations of readers who have no idea what real writing sounds like.

Why Mike you over-inflated skunk, did you have a bad day at the office?

At the office, particularly in leadership positions, I would listen to any problem (I called them opportunities) anyone had to bring up. With a caveat. You had to offer a potential solution.

And perhaps its not a problem. Maybe the world has evolved (or devolved) to the point where inspiring yet realistic dialogue isn't desired any longer. In my book, What Watches and Waits, I had two hillbilly type characters who ended up being possessed by really nasty demons. My daughter took one look at the banter between them and others, and only had one word to offer. Really?

Yep. I wrote in official stereotype. But I've been around basic characters like those two, and their conversational abilities really weren't far off the realistic mark. Besides that, I didn't want to develop them any further, because people who don't have an education aren't interesting to me. (perhaps up to the two snob level now) So I maintain, for what they were, and their place in moving the story along, the dialogue was adequate.

Let me clarify. My parents, who didn't have college educations, enabled my siblings and I to achieve at a high level. Without them, or if they'd been less self-sacrificing, our journey would have been exponentially more difficult. Add to that the fact that a high school education in their day would have given you more useful information than many bachelor's degrees today and you see how wise they could be. But people without educations typically don't have social leverage. I want to write about people who do.

They were significant as a plot mover, but the reader had no idea until much later. Your main characters don't have the luxury of speaking in snippets or unrealistic manners unless you are writing parody. Even then a little goes a long way. Everyone has a basic set of emotions, that evolve and change over time depending on life experiences. Language has to convey all meaning in a literary work. Unlike movies or television, it is all you have to develop your characters on a personal level.

Oh come on Mike, the narration can set the characters!

My answer, maybe. But in my mind you can set a person up to be x, y, or z, but if the characters words don't follow you've broken an unspoken contract with the reader. Yes, yes, of course you could be illustrating a dichotomy, but that is an outlier. Kind of like my example of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea is a tale only a few could write. It truly is the same for complicated character set ups. Err on the side of Geraldine's what you see is what you get. (bonus points if you get that reference)

People don't just use research for location and historical accuracy. They have to do it for unfamiliar personality types and cultural factors. My next installment in the Arizoniacs is going to take them to England, and there is no way I can get that right without first hand observation. Now if I could only write off a trip like that...

My point is, there is enough bad writing in films and television. As novelists, we have a duty to step up our game. If we do it right, our works could be relevant long after we're a footnote in societal history. I'll keep trying anyway, even if it turns out that I'm the outlier now...

Enough for today, please help a non starving artist by buying my books, and enabling me to continue. Otherwise I'm going back to practicing guitar everyday. The neighbors really don't want that...

Next Week:

Let's continue with character development, or if you have another subject you'd like to cover, let me know. You have post-graduate level education at your beckon call...

Until next week, be well, happy, and good to each other...

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