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Because WHY We Make Art Matters

Did you watch the Oscars this year? It was my favorite Oscars, ever.

I am usually ambivalent about awards that pit artists against each other. Talent is unique, material is unique, and deciding which actor, musician or writer is “better” than others at the top of their game is a stunt pulled by and for marketing. What I especially hate are the “losers.” Yes, everyone feels sorry for the nominees who don’t win, but, honestly, they’ve been feted and will continue to be. They’ve grabbed the brass ring. Then winners inevitably give “the speech.” You know the one–“Hey, kid in the middle of nowhere who doesn’t fit in! I once was you, and here I am! Your dreams CAN come true!” Obviously for the statue-holder, that is correct. He was feeling alone and misunderstood in Paducah, yet here he (or she) stands. Can’t argue with that.

If your dream is to live through middle school and high school and eventually end up somewhere where you feel comfortable in your own skin, absolutely true.

If your dream is to win an Emmy or a Tony or a Grammy or an Oscar–no, those dreams CAN’T come true, unless you are one person out of 500,000 truly talented working professionals in any art form during any given year.

To my mind, the real “losers” on these shows aren’t the non-winning nominees. They’re the uber-talented, hardworking artists who aren’t in the auditorium and will never be. In other words, most of us. Talented artists who spend hours doing art and also work at the hardware store, the library, the community college because we live in a society where bankers and plumbers are valued and dancers and poets and painters and singers and writers are not. The losers are also the general public who are only made aware of certain easily-accessible pieces of art which are mostly “entertainment.”

But this year showed there was another possible way to win.

Okay, as far as entertainment value, it wasn’t close to the best Oscars. The opening number was XXX 2015_OSCARS_RD025_20150222_APS.JPG A  ENT USA CAinfectious and jaw-dropping as far as the special effects. The rest of the show proved that even Neil Patrick Harris, who rocked the Tonys and the Emmys, could not hold up the behemoth that is the Oscar telecast. It still implodes under the weight of its own importance. This year’s ceremony was crippled by the fact that all the winners were givens. (Although I’ve got to say that Meryl sold the grief bit before the “In Memorium” better than anyone ever has and proved her worthiness for yearly nominations all over again.)

But the reason it was great was that it was the first time I remember that we were all called to remember WHY we do art.

A couple of years ago, I was eNYTM_Actors_71diting a really wonderful book in which working actors talked about their craft, and how to have a successful life while being an actor. One of the best was Eden Sher, who plays Sue Heck on THE MIDDLE. She is phenomenal. USA TODAY and other periodicals have gotten tired of trying to call the attention of Emmy voters to this consistently bravura (and totally funny) show. They have never gotten the respect they deserve, but Eden is committed to her art and to her character (even at the expense of having “the Hollywood look” every week.)  Another mega-talent in the book was an English actor named David Oyelowo. I know lots of actors, and each actor has a pet project they will produce/star in some day. They also have a reasonable plan about how this is going to come about. Usually, this plan is in its 13th or 14th iteration. Mr. Oyelowo had played Henry VI for the RSC almost right out of drama school. He had then done a couple of interesting turns in quality BBC shows, after which he moved to the States. He was in EVERYTHING. In tiny roles. He was the pastor in THE HELP. (Do you remember there was a pastor in THE HELP?) The school principal in INTERSTELLAR. One of the Union soldiers who recite the Gettysburg Address to Lincoln in LINCOLN. The bag guy in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.  The other bad guy in JACK REACHER. So he was working all the time. But he had this pet project. He was going to play Martin Luther King, Jr. By the time he was interviewed for the book, he was on plan 12. Everyone in Hollywood knew that the project had been bouncing around for years and had lost funding (and directors) more than once. A lot more than once. But this one felt different to David. He is a man of principles and faith, and he felt the MLK movie was about more than David advancing his career. It was why he acts. He spoke about it in his NOW YOU TELL ME! entry. I thought of those as “genre comments,” filed under pet project.

You might notice I haven’t blogged much lately, even though I’m under strict instructions to be habitual. But I was tired of being a writer. Not of writing, but of being a writer. Making artistic decisions that are market driven. Trying to be fun and myself and yet do my part to market and sell my books. Watching famous friends who have grabbed the ring do it more easily than I (or at least in bigger houses and at fancier events). Truthfully, they often have people who do it for them. I thought, maybe I’ll just go back to writing little things that I like and that no one else has to like because no one else has money riding on it. (We writers often default to the introspective cave mentality.)

Now You Tell Me! 12 Actors Give the Best Advice They Never Got with all this wonderful acting (and artistic and living) advice came out, and it did fine. No brass bands, no brass ring, fine. Like so many wonderful books by wonderful people. Fine.

After the big push for my most recent novel, I was tired. I didn’t blog. I didn’t write. (I also didn’t clean the kitchen, lest you get the wrong idea.) I was just kind of worn down.

Then, last Wednesday night, I turned on the television, and THE MIDDLE was on. It was a 2-parter, in which Sue (our friend Eden) had to tell her boyfriend why she couldn’t marry him. This was just a regular sitcom on a regular night, not even a “very special episode.” And at the end of the show, Sue finally gaveeden middle Darrin her answer. It was one of the longest monologues I’ve ever heard on television–but you didn’t think of that, then. Because to “Sue,” every word of it was new and being discovered as she spoke it and deeply true. It was one of the most bravura pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. I was agog. This is WHY she acts.  (It is also WHY I watch actors.) If she isn’t nominated for her performance in “The Answer,” there is no justice in the world.  There’s every chance she won’t be. But as she was doing that scene, through however many takes, her WHY was plainly and proudly on display. Eden Sher, you GO, girl!

Which brings us back to the Oscars. You probably heard that David Oyelowo played the radical son of Oprah and Forest Whttaker in Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER. He and his family spent Christmas with selmaOprah, and David told her about his pet project. Lo and behold, it’s 2015 and SELMA, starring David Oyelowo, is up for Best Picture.  You probably also heard that his performance was overlooked for an award. So, in the eyes of many, he was a loser. In fact, the Hollywood Reporter always runs “brutally honest” ballot deconstructions in which various anonymous members of the Academy tell why they voted as they did. One woman said she found it very distasteful that the cast and crew of SELMA actually took a stand on current matters of civil rights. Apparently, they should make movies about it, but not actually DO anything about it. But that was David’s WHY.

On Sunday night, John Legend and Common performed “Glory,” the Oscar-nominated song they’d written for SELMA. The production of it was stirring. At the end, the audience in the auditorium leaped to their feet in an ovation that you knew was not just for the song, but for the film, for Martin Luther King, Jr., for nonviolent resistance, for the call for justice in this broken world.

The camera cut to David Oyelowo, who was doing his best not to cry. And then he was crying. david-oweloyo-crying-selma.ls.22215

And it had nothing to do with winning, or even with whether he was nominated or not.

It had everything to do with the WHY.

And I thought, God bless you, David. God bless everyone who is brave enough to speak up and speak out and work for justice. God bless everyone who holds onto the pet project that encapsulates her WHY.

And hell no, I’m not crawling back into any cave. I’m writing what I want, what I’m SUPPOSED to be writing, the things that feed my soul and tell me WHY I write. And I don’t care about the “voters” who want us to write about things but not DO things. This is about LIFE. It isn’t about awards. Or marketing.

David, man, you awakened courage and purpose in many of us, not by winning, but by caring.

And to my fellow artists, writers, actors painters, I say, “remember the WHY. And let’s go.”

 

 

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Pretty Normal…For a Writer

Last week I was the guest at a library book group. The librarian who booked me warned that they were a feisty group who would speak their minds. They were reading my movie murder mystery, THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS.

crazy writer on bedThey were a feisty group, all right, and we had a fine time. They were an intelligent group, also, who spotted and wanted to discuss not only plot and characters, but ways I’d decided to work with the literary references and mystery tropes. One man said, “I admit it that at first I thought the book had a little too much estrogen for me, but then I started seeing how you were playing with the reader, and I became fascinated. It became a great psychological game of cat and mouse.” We talked about the writing process and the reading process and the contract implicit between author and reader.

Then one woman spoke up. “Well,” she said. “You surprise me. You’re not what I expected a writer would be like. I mean, we hear so much about writers being loners and anti-social. You speak English really well. I mean, you talk really interesting. I mean–well, you know.”

Green quoteThe thing is, I do know. Truth is, if you’re naturally gregarious and a doer rather than a ponderer, you’re probably not cut out to be a writer. (At least not a fiction writer. You’ll likely do well at writing and selling self-help.) Fiction writers are made from the stares of kids looking out the window during class, often accused of “being somewhere else” while something not as interesting (say, math or the rest of life) is going on.

It’s not that we writers are an unfriendly bunch. It’s that we keep to ourselves for a living. In fact, I belong to a group of professional fiction writers who work hard at helping their aspiring counterparts and giving opportunities to each other. I brought a friend to a recent party. No one talked to her. I posit this is because chatting is not a writer’s strong suit. (In fact, during my formative years,  my father was the pastor of a large Midwestern church, hence, my definition of Hell is still “a coffee hour you cannot leave.”)  On the bright side, the aforementioned gathering was at a painter’s club andl the painters were thrilled to meet my friend. She is planning to start taking watercolor classes there.

Now, there are sometimes when being something “for a writer” comes in handy. For example,  sitting around a pool in Hollywood, surrounded by people with body types unavailable to most of us, it helps to think, “Hey, I look pretty good for a writer!” Or, perhaps you’re in an endless PTA meeting where a few completely jerkish parents are STILL holding forth on an issue of seemingly no consequence, and you think, “wow, I haven’t killed anyone. Great self-control for a writer.” Or, you’re watching a TV show in which they’re having “adventures” with the ghosts on the Queen Mary, but the voice over is using the word “ironically” in such an egregiously incorrect way that it’s much more jolting than ghosts talking–but you don’t throw anything heavy at the television. “Wow, staying really calm…for writer.” (Okay, I turned the show off. Couldn’t take it any more.)

Most fiction writers would likely agree with John Green’s quote, “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” I know the feeling.

And yet. Yet, now, somehow I’ve slipped over. I do love telling stories while looking people in the eye. More that that, some of the most fun times of my year are the “The Book Inside You Workshops” I lead  with fellow author and editor Tom Mattingly. It surprised me when I realized this had happened–this morph into a novelist who enjoyed standing in front of others and talking out loud.

I know exactly when it began to happen.

I started working in book publishing in New York while I was still at NYU, and I continued after graduation. My first two editorial jobs, at William Morrow and Taplinger, opened my eyes and taught me so much about books and authors and publishing. When visiting my parents in California, the writing teacher at the local community college asked if I’d come and talk to his creative writing class about publishing. I said sure. As I prepared my notes, I began to get excited. There was so much insider information I could give these writers that I would have loved to have had when I was starting out! I went to the class, and we all started talking–and talking and talking. Afterwards, I realized it didn’t matter what I’d worn or how I’d come across, all that mattered was the exchange of information. We were in it together.

storytellerSlowly, that’s what changed everything for me. It no longer became about me talking and others watching, it became about the exciting information I had to share, or the wonderful adventure of a story we were going to go on together.

Oddly, I stopped dreading looking people in the eyes when I realized that, instead of looking at each other,  we were looking together in the same direction. I got to be the one holding the lamp.

I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason, when I talk to others such as the library group, I seem pretty sane. (Also, I now realize that people will think you’re stuck up if they talk to you and you’re gazing into the distance so I’ve cut down a lot on that.)

Perhaps when we meet up, we’ll get into a stirring conversation about fantastical things. Perhaps we’ll use the word ironically correctly. Perhaps we’ll even discover we speak pretty good English for writers.

Until then, perhaps I’ll meet you in the middle distance…just beyond the next horizon…

IT’S NOT ALWAYS WRITER’S BLOCK: 3 Other Reasons You May Not be Writing

1typewriterSo. This book you’re writing. That you mean to write. That you’ve written some of. That you mean to get back to.

You’ve got the idea. You’ve got the talent. You’ve made the commitment. Why aren’t you writing?

You tell people it’s Writer’s Block, which can be kind of a catch-all, but usually means you’re unable to interact with the material in a meaningful way. Thousands of pages of advice on getting past Writer’s Block have been written.

But what if it has nothing to do with the material? What if you know what happens next, or you need a next book and your mind is as empty as the cornbread shelf at the grocery store on Thanksgiving?

Or you mean to write, you want to write, you know what to write…and it’s not happening?

Here are three possible culprits–once you’ve identified the suspect, it’s easier to make the arrest.

1)  Place in your creative cycle. 1 kayak over falls

This is something I’ve seldom seen discussed, but the fact is that human creativity has a cycle. Unless you’re a machine, you can’t constantly be on the “output” setting without taking time on the “input” setting. You need to see new places, talk to different people, read new books, think new thoughts, or you’ll have nothing to write about. Sometimes you’ve put all your creativity out there, and you simply need time to refill and replenish. Don’t beat yourself up about this. Think of it as a new beginning, a an important, wonderful phase for your personhood. Dive into that stack of novels awaiting you. Take that trip. Drive around your town at 5 in the morning or email a blogger or journalist whose thoughts you’ve admired. Watch documentaries. Listen to NPR. Agree or disagree and have a fine time doing it. When you start feeling feisty or excited or surprised or wonder-filled or ticked off, you’ll know it’s almost time to enter “output” mode once again.

 

2)  Priorities. 1 Yoda

Let’s get down to it. If you really really want to write but you just don’t have the time, well, you don’t really really want to write. Harlan Coben points out that Mary Higgins Clark was a single mom with 3 young children and a full time job when she wrote her first book. She did it by getting up at 5 in the morning before anyone else was up. James Patterson had a family and a high-powered 20-hour a day job running an ad agency, but he started coming in an hour early and closing his door and writing his own stuff. If you want to do it, you can find a way. Get up early. Stay up late. Bring a sandwich and write at lunch. Don’t watch a favorite show.

Some very important caveats: a) If you don’t have the time because you’re feeling too guilty because other things like housework and shopping and waxing the floor and seeing your mother and baking cookies for the bazaar are getting in your way, have a very stern talk with yourself. Explain that nothing trumps writing. Your writing time isn’t time you’re stealing from others, it’s a commitment you’ve made to yourself. Say that until you mean it. NOTHING TRUMPS WRITING.

b) Carve out that time on purpose: when and where it will be. In your home office at 5 a.m.; in your work office an hour before you’re “on call.” Make that sacred. You’re working.

c) Create your boundaries and explain them to others. Then make them actual boundaries. If the door to dad’s study being closed means kids, dogs and neighbors can come in and say, “what are you writing?” or “where are the car keys?” it isn’t a boundary. Kids, spouses and friends are remarkably trainable. If 5 to 6 is your writing time and you won’t be answering the phone, opening the door or responding to texts, give them a week, they’ll stop calling/knocking/texting. But your boundaries are only as firm as YOU make them.

3) Resistance.resistance

This is the internal force that fights against the undertaking of any creative project. It’s what makes you decide to mop the floor instead of working on your book when the floor isn’t even dirty. It’s what gets you to log on to your computer, open your manuscript–and go play games or watch videos for an hour. Steven Pressman, in his book (and his discussion with Oprah, below) claims Resistance rears its ugly head whenever you are poised to start something that will “move you to the next level” creatively or personally. It’s why there’s something important you need to do, you want to do, you know how to do–and you can’t make yourself actually do.

How do you overcome resistance? Apparently, there’s only one way. You identify it, call it by name and then run the creative ball down the field, knocking it down in the process.

In other words, you JUST DO IT.

(Of course, sometimes you might need encouragement and a plan. If that’s the case, you’re invited to one of the next TheBook Inside You workshops, in which Tom Mattingly and I work participating writers through whatever is stopping them and into a functional plan to finish their book and get it out into the world.  February 7 & 8, 2015 at the Middletown Courtyard Marriott and April 10 & 11, 2015 at Hyatt Place in Mystic, CT)

The Book Inside You Workshops

Meanwhile:

You Write

Questions. I’ve got Questions.

As you know, we writers spend our days in deep philosophical reveries, contemplating Life, the Universe, and Everything. However, there are some questions that seemingly cannot be answered, even by fiction. I have started keeping a list, and I present some of them here. If you have any more of these questions yourself–or, have answers to any of these questions (huzzah!) please weigh in.

+ Why is the song “My Way” only sung by known jerks?

blue roses

+ When did flowers cease to be about fragrance? The idea that we invent roses that look pretty but have no smell amazes me, and not in a good way.

+ Do we really need both “hearty” and “hardy”? It seems either will do.

+ Why do they make it so an $800 dishwasher depends on a 3 cent piece of plastic that holds the detergent chamber closed?

drink dispenser+ Why are the spigots in those lovely beverage dispensers so high up? A good quarter of the drink will be un-pourable.

+Why do people who make toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash assume everyone likes the flavor of mint?

+ Why do so many people think you need to come to a complete stop in a car before turning right?

+ Why do drivers now assume they MUST pass left-turning cars on the right, even if it’s dangerous, when they only save 10 or 20 seconds?

+ Why do people use “vanilla” to connote something boring or uninspired? I believe the flavor vanilla is phenomenal.

+ Why do they make pens that don’t write? Or at least don’t write for long, and are so choosy about types of paper and surfaces?

+ Why have police vehicles gone from flashing lights to a roadside light show extravaganza that blinds passing motorists?

+ Why do butter pecan and chocolate ice cream taste better when they come together in the same carton, rather than if you scoop them from separate cartons into the same bowl?

+ If the flies who are buzzing against the screen have lived their entire lives inside the house, are they suddenly really confused if they’re loosed into the vast expanse of sky?

+ Does Benedict Cumberbatch smoke simply to keep from being perfect? And can he not think of another fault that wouldn’t kill him?

+ Did they need to pay to install this sign?

not a through stree

 

A Field Guide to Eden

SPOILER ALERT–IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED CHASING EDEN, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

eden with lilacsSince the dawn of time, there has been a place that’s dwelled in the collective subconscious of the human race. It’s known to many cultures as Eden; where we once lived in a simpler time, in harmony with nature, with God, and with each other. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t paradise–it’s here on Earth, after all, and people will be people. But Eden was a place where the air was not toxic, there were no chemicals in food, and we were our best selves.

That is still the case in the hidden society referenced in the Eden Thrillers. We can’t tell you where it is or how to get there. And you’ll have to wait for the upcoming “inside Eden” book, SERPENT OF EDEN, for all the details. But here is a dictionary of terms to get you through until then. Or, until you visit, yourself.

serpent

 

With the publication of PLAGUES OF EDEN, the fourth of the series (and the first of the new trilogy), we’ve been asked for some reminders of the terminology readers will find.

The Steppe   how Eden-dwwellers refer to Eden

Terris world    how Gardeners refer to the rest of the world (where most of us live; also known as Topside)

Gardeners     residents of Eden

Mountaintop   The special school inside the Steppe where Agents and Swords train.

Vintner’s Cup    Training that every Gardener receives in how to grow and appreciate wine grapes

Terraces     The part of the Steppe that is planted as vineyards.

Swords of Eden   The 12 especially trained Gardeners who are the only ones that know the way into Eden

Agents of Eden    Gardeners who are trained to be agents of positive change in the Terris world

Messengers of Eden  Gardeners who act as couriers between Swords and Agents and those inside the Steppe.

Operative Coordinator (OC)    A Gardener who lives in the Terris world and oversees the activities of the Agents under her or his charge.

Terris Coordinator (TC)        The four top coordinators who oversee all missions in their quarter of the Terris world

Door Opening      The infrequent times that travel is allowed between the Steppe and the Terris world. One of the Swords is tasked to oversee each one, and to bring travelers back and forth.

eden thrillers top

 

DON’T KILL THE DOG and 14 other unwritten rules of fiction

Dear Up-and-Coming Author,

If you take your craft seriously (and I’m sure you do), you know the rules of grammar and the three acts of storytelling. You know how to craft a character and heighten tension. You likely also know how to add “hooks” so that societies full of nurses and Weimaraner owners will find your opus through search engines.

dead dogAs a public service, I hereby list the also crucial, but often unwritten, rules of fiction writing.

1) Don’t kill the dog.  You can kill the grandmother by inches or boil the baby, but if you kill the dog, readers will fling your book across the room (or their e-reader, which will break, causing them to blame you even more) and never buy or borrow another thing you’ve written. They will also badmouth you on all social media sites.

2)  Don’t kill Ned Stark or any other main protagonist who does the ethical heavy-lifting (at least, not until the end of the ned stark closebook). George R.R. Martin can get away with it. You can’t.

3) If your fan fiction begins to seriously go viral, hire a copy editor at once.

4)  Hope that your first novel won’t become a bestseller. (You’ll thank me later.)

5)  Have a room of your own where you can go to write, and where you really DO write. This room can be a coffee shop or library or a poorly lit basement. It will likely have to be somewhere out of the trajectory of your normal life, and hopefully will not have wifi.

6)  Play well with others. In this profession, as in all others, what goes around, comes around.

7)  Do not sleep with crazy people “for research.”  In fact, the list of things not to do for research is pretty long.

8)  Do not use the proper name of a beloved deity as a curse. You can justify it in many artistic and character ways, but it will hurt readers in ways you do not intend and will pull them out of the story. Even if you are profane with glee in real life, try to be more creative in type.

9)  Never underestimate the value of a cat or dog at your feet while you are writing. They make the best company and never make an inappropriate comment.

10) Do not blame your family for being hungry/wanting to see you.  You’ll eventually have to build this in.

11)  Never dis another writer in print or on social media. You may think of it as momentary amusing snark, but it NEVER GOES AWAY.*     * This does not apply if you are Lee Child talking to PLAYBOY, in which case you may say anything you damn well please and every writer on the planet will look at you with awe.

12) Realize you are writing because you love it and not because it will make you rich. Do not pre-order furniture.

13)  Come up with a great “I finished a book!” celebratory ritual. I finished my first book in 7th grade, at which time a banana split was the world’s greatest extravagance. Diana Gabaldon buys a new set of towels. That is probably more sustainable.

14)  Most important:  keep a sense of humor. It is your lifeline.

15)  Do not spend your time and creative energy writing or reading blogs when you should be writing your novel.

That being said, good blogs are often inspirational! Here are two writers to check out:

Laura Benedict’s Blog  “Time to Go Pro”

Meredith Cole’s blog “I’m Still Writing”

May I Tell You a Story?

ancientdead2Sam Golding, a young archaeologist heading a dig in Egypt, was perplexed. Strange things were being unearthed at the Tel El-Balamun site; objects from a different place and time period. His associate and friend Ibrahim invited him to go into town for the evening, but Sam demurred.

As he sat, puzzling over how to report what they were finding, a comet with a huge tail appeared in the Eastern sky. But instead of burning out, it grew larger. And closer. And hit the Earth a quarter mile from their dig.

Soon there was more large, fiery hail raining down on them. Ibrahim and another worker jumped into the old station wagon that served as their transport. It was hit.

The camp was destroyed.

Sam Golding had no way to know this was only the beginning.

This is how Plagues of Eden, our new thriller, opens.  (Well, in a very condensed version.)  After more than a year of work, the book comes out in two weeks, and I’ve been asked to blog about how writers feel during this time leading up to the publication of a new book.

Weird.

That’s my word. I’d love to know how other authors would describe it.

The conceiving, writing, and editing of the book are in the past.  The hoopla over the release is two weeks away. Print and blog interviews we’ve done and reviews we know are coming haven’t arrived yet. Radio interviews are scheduled, and B.K. and I love doing them, so that’s something to look forward to. So we’re stuck between past and future.

I love hanging out with my co-author, I love talking and discussing the books with readers. (See my recent blog post about the Writer/Reader Mind-Meld.)

The thing is, I’m a storyteller, a writer. A marketer, not so much. Many writers are in this camp, I know. But if I don’t help sell the book, readers won’t know it’s there, and they won’t buy it.

So, sometimes, I feel like I’m standing there, hat in hand, saying, “May I tell you a story? An exciting one? About a female Army chaplain who saves the world from a madman?”

Really, it seems that the point is to let readers know what the book’s about, and, if it’s up your alley, you take a chance and buy it.

So, here’s what the book’s about:

Another challenge with marketing is that I have the world’s coolest co-author. But writing thrillers with someone who’s active-duty military is kind of like writing with someone in Fight Club: the first rule of writing with active-duty military is you can’t talk about being active-duty military. That’s their main job. Writing is their stay-sane hobby. Hands off. And I truly understand. But part of the problem is, that means there’s LOTS of cool stuff I can’t tell you. But, buy the book. You’ll see. (Not a publicist’s favorite slogan.)

Having a book come out is a little bit like going to watch your kid in a school play or in a horse show. You’ve done all you can, and now there’s nothing more you can do but stand back and let them do their thing. The book is done. It’s printed. The story is told. The characters are crazy, or sexy, or interesting, or psychopathic. But they are what they are. They’re telling a story.

It’s about satellite-crashing and Red Tide and hitmen (and women) but it’s also about wine growing and relationships Vineyards Pugliaand Italy and China and France and Argentina and West Point. It’s about autism and Army chaplains and West Point cadets and people who are fascinated by chaos theory. It’s about what it means to be married to an secret agent.

Right now, I’m looking out the window at a doe and spotted fawns,  at a sky of Simpsons-blue, trees and lawns so green it’s as if we live in the shire. My book, the book that I have written and tended, the story I’ve loved, is about to be released to take its own path into the world.

photoweek24bJoin us on that path, if you’re so inclined. I’d love it if you did.

In other words, Psst…wanna buy a book?

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