Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remembering Pee Wee Reese on Jackie Robinson Day

As I listen to Marty Brennaman and Jim Kelch broadcast the
Reds game on this, MLB's Jackie Robinson Day, when all players wear number 42 in commemoration of this day in 1947 when the color barrier was abolished, it's easy to get a little choked up thinking about Cincinnati's important connection to that important season--and the Kentucky connection to it. 

And I do . . . get choked up about it, I mean . . . every year, I do. It's such a beautiful story about a Kentucky boy demonstrating nothing more than simple kindness.

And changing the world thereby.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Success - Writing and Publishing

Following is the meat of a post to a friend on Facebook in response to a question about publishing:

My last book was self-published, so I didn't work with a publisher on that one. It was actually my 8th novel and I tried a little to get some of the other ones published but never really delved deeply enough into it.

In some ways, I wish I would have tried to do more with them, but then again I think something inside made me want to wait to mature as a writer and as a person. And no regrets, there is only now. And speaking of now, I've written a 9th novel, working title The Obamacare Experiments, and now I'm pursuing a traditional publisher for that one more rigorously.

Find an Editor

One thing I've come to understand is that you have to invest in your product. That means you need to seek out a professional editor. It's expensive but it must be done, for four reasons.

First, it's the best way to learn. It's like hiring a tutor.

Second, writing is a collaborative process. It is very rare when a person can just write something down and have it published (maybe impossible). You need that professional with credentials. Why? So you will trust their recommendations. Preferably, you should find one from NYC with publishing experience, again expensive, but worth it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Emails About Kierkegaard

I know what you're thinking: "Gee, Todd, your life must be pretty dull if you're exchanging emails about a Danish philosopher from the 19th century." Ok, ok, I hear you, but hear me out.

Let me give you a little background on how this email came about. A couple of friends of mine read my book, The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, and one of those friends described my book to the other as, "out there." Which is about the best review a writer can hope for. Why? Because this means that the book contained ideas and concepts that the reader didn't necessarily agree with (or thought he didn't), and yet it was written well enough that he was able to get through it, he was able to finish the book. That's big! I couldn't really hope for more.

This fellow, I'm told, is also a big fan of Søren Kierkegaard, the aforementioned 19th century Danish philosopher (these are the upper crust circles of people who actually have favorite philosopher that I run in, folks, what can I tell you?). So much so, in fact, that he named his child after him (Søren, not Kierkegaard). Which I think is pretty cool because it's a pretty cool name, only I hope he didn't use the o with the slash through it (ø), which would probably get a little annoying for the kid.

Anyway, I was only vaguely familiar with the philosophy of Kierkegaard  (I'm a novelist, after all, not a philosopher, or worse a "philosophizer" as Robert Persig puts it in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), so after the conversation I went on line and brushed up on it, and lo and behold, what did I find but that the depressed Dane agreed wholeheartedly with everything in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder! He professed, you see, Kierkegaard did, a similar brand of what has been labelled "existentialism."

I had always heard the term bandied about and had an idea what it meant, but not until now did I make the connection between the "existence" in "existentialism" and "being" and "consciousness." These are all exact synonyms. What Kierkegaard was talking about, what Eckhart Tolle is talking about, what I'm talking about in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder--it's all the same thing.

And now from the email . . . Oh, and be sure to check out the link to the exercise mentioned a couple of times below so you know exactly what we're talking about when we talk about existence.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top 10 All-Time Blog Posts

After maintaining this blog for a few years now, here are the most popular posts. The second on the list is the most popular recently and will make it to the top at some point.

Give them a read and let me know what you think.

Jan 31, 2012

Feb 6, 2010, 3 comments

Aug 31, 2011

Feb 7, 2010, 6 comments

Feb 6, 2010, 1 comment

Jun 22, 2011

Apr 17, 2010, 2 comments

Sunday, March 9, 2014

5 Stars from Portland Book Review for The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder!

You may be wondering why I keep bringing up The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder. "Why don't you write another book already?" some of you may be thinking. Well, I have written another book. It's working title is The Obamacare Conspiracy and it goes to the editor on March 17th. I'm very excited about that.

But neither book is merely entertainment. They represent the latest generations in a long and hallowed genealogy that begins as far back as Plato's Dialogues, continues on through all the books about Jesus (he never wrote any himself), through St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and on into the present period with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art could be considered the father of The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder and the grandfather of The Obamacare Conspiracy.

These books unravel a philosophical conspiracy far more important to you and your life than The Da Vinci Code every could. They help you understand what may be missing in your life and how you can feel better--much, much better--without regard to what you believe (or don't believe) religiously speaking.

So the reason I keep bringing it up is because I would love to help you feel better, and The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder is a great place to start (if I may say so, myself). Spend the time on yourself, it'll be worth it.

Of course, the converse is also true. If you have no doubts, no anxiety about the future, no depression at all about the past, no curiosity about the deeper meaning of life, no concern for the constant conflict and suffering that seems to be the state of our existence on this planet, if you've lost faith in your religion or science to help you answer these questions, if everything is peaches and cream as far as you're concerned, that's fantastic! You have no need for these books.

If, on the other hand, peaches and cream wouldn't have been your first choice of descriptors, give The Self-Improvement Book Club a look. But be forewarned: you can't "unlearn" the truths it contains.

The Portland Book Review picked up on the foregoing. It's review by Rachelle Barrett states:
As the detectives question witnesses, delve into the life of the victim and interact with each other, they clarify not only the case but the nature of reality. Bookman and Berg come away from the case irreparably changed by having gained this new knowledge. Whether you are an avid reader of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or new to these types of books, you will be riveted to the story for one reason or another. And soon you may be introducing this book to a book club of your own.
You can read the entire book review here. For what it's worth, the reviewer's average is 3.9 stars. Thanks, Rachelle!

Monday, March 3, 2014

More Haiku . . . Sorry

Desert Heat

Always a mirage--
The road to happiness: long
And never ending.

Photo by Pete Turner/Getty Images courtesy of The Guardian


The wind blows, snow drifts.
Poor weather! It never wins.
We can wait it out.

Photo by Dmitry Sergeev Courtesy of Deviant Art

Washing Hands

In the winter while
Washing my hands the water
Turns from cold to hot.

Photo Courtesy of She Knows Living

You might also like: Rate My Haiku

Joy in My Ear

UPDATE: 2/28/14: My ear finally cleared for good! That's how long it took. This article was originally published 4/2/10. It got much better initially, but then I let it sit like that for a long time. In the end, it was just pain-body. When I finally developed enough presence to concentrate on it, I felt it move from my ear (like a little sprite or tiny benign demon that had found what it thought was a home; use what metaphor you will) into my cheekbone and then finally disappear.

Sweep your body clean daily. Search it with your awareness and winnow out any pockets of negativity in its physical dimension. Turn off your mind and feel your body from the inside. Call this meditation if you like.

It isn't pretty. Check your heart. Check your guts--negativity loves to linger there. Check your legs, your knees. Check your ears. Yes, that's right, you heard me correctly: CHECK YOUR EARS!