Stoking the star-making machinery.

With apologies to Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” song about shilling for one’s art. It’s similar to promoting a new book. And I’m stoking that machinery myself with launch parties, book signings, media appearances, and social media postings.

This is all part of publishing a book these days. If you’re not John Grisham, then you have to do all the heavy lifting yourself, regardless if the book is published by an established publisher or by yourself. Please don’t view this as a complaint, it isn’t. There is nothing like going out and meeting your potential audience face-to-face. It’s also not for the faint of heart. You’re out there, exposed. Your work is out there for all to see. What is this all about?

Norman Mailer once wrote and I paraphrase: A writer must have an enormous ego to believe anyone would want to read what he has to say.”

So, yes, it is about ego.

He also said the following: “Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.” and When I read it, I don’t wince, which is all I ever ask for a book I write.”

And about pain. And hopefully, acceptance. What do you think?

Now what?

That’s the question every author faces when his/her book is released upon the world. The endless hours of writing, rewriting, editing, and then editing some more are now over. What’s next?

If you’re someone like James Patterson who seems to write a new book before breakfast each day, that’s an easy question. If you’re like the rest of us, now comes the hard work – marketing your book, getting it into stores, getting media attention, and ultimately sales. None of this will make us rich though complaints on that would be far and few. That’s not what we’re in it for.

So, we do all of that. But then, if we’re lucky, a new idea bubbles up through the dark tar pit of our minds. And we’re off again, unless… it’s not a good idea. We start to write only to discover it fizzles out after a few chapters. There are very few writers who don’t have a plethora of book ideas that went nowhere. Maybe you think you’re devoid of new ideas, a possibility for sure, but not terminal. Ideas are like trains, there’s always another coming around the bend. It may not be on your time schedule, but you’re not driving that train…yet. Just be ready to board it when it does come.

Oh, by the way, Gwendoline Christie as Hannah.

As described in A Coward’s Guide to Living, Jacob Will’s love interest Hannah Bishop is described as “intimidating…tall, striking, very fit, almost muscular…and extremely attractive in a Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) sort of way.” So who better to assume the role than the actual Brienne herself, but Gwendoline Christie.

She’ll need no sword in this role, her strengths will always carry the day.

There are many other roles to fill, but I’ll wait until the director(s) call and ask for my thoughts. Wait, is that my phone ringing?

And while I’m thinking about it, Jessica Chastain. And Lasse Hallstrom for director.

Continuing the casting fantasy of my book A Coward’s Guide to Living, the pivotal role of the red-headed Reverend Rose Beecham should go to Jessica Chastain. As Beecham is described as an unusually good looking minister, Chastain is the natural choice.

Her previous roles as a gambling entrepreneur (Molly’s Game), political operative (Miss Sloane), and author (The Help), position her as perfectly suited for the demands of a minister.

And as her last role as Tammy Faye Baker was that of a minister’s wife, she can take the pulpit for real in this one.

Lasse Hallstrom would be a great director for this. His story telling in The Cider House Rules; The Shipping News; Haachi, A Dog’s Tale; and The Hundred Foot Journey, among others, points to his understanding of the human condition in all its forms.

A Day-Glo, Chromium Yellow Panda Bear? Well, of course. And now you can find out why.

That Panda Bear is only one of the characters in my new book, A Coward’s Guide to Living. In this coming-of-middle-age story, Jacob Will is charged with getting his life together via a most unusual method. He must commit a number of little deaths, “killing” those things preventing him from living a genuine life. Be assured, no animals or people were harmed during his quest.

His adventures will take him across the United States in an an attempt to fulfill that charge. Why did he destroy an expensive bottle of Champagne? What’s the meaning of that tattoo? And will he sue the manufacturer of a metal detector? Will he discover what love is?

These and more questions are answered in A Coward’s Guide to Living. Available now through Amazon on Kindle and paperback.

What is a friend?

It’s a word bandied about rather loosely without the true meaning attached to it. We receive “Friend” requests on Facebook, yet a “friend” on that site connotes something more than it actually is. Used that way, the word is becoming meaningless

The Oxford Language definition of friend is this: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Do we really have that bond with our social media friends? Ehhh, I don’t think so. Nor can we. We are too far removed because of social media to have a genuine connection.

While it’s true many us have lots of “friends”, how many of those could we rely on should the need arise? Do we need that many friends? And how many of them really share our values, ideologies, positions, even our taste in ice cream? How important is that? You decide.

We are too quick to make new “friends” that we miss the value in the real ones who don’t need or maybe even want to know where we had dinner last night. Or why they weren’t there with us. A true friend respects our needs and asks nothing more than the same from us.

Finally, are we true friends to others? Hopefully, yes. Otherwise, we’re just acquaintances.

Shakespeare on Cowardice:

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” – William Shakespeare

And make no mistake, Jacob Will was a coward… in love, truth, and most importantly, himself. He lived no truths, without love, and he would have to learn to know and trust himself before he could do anything about it. He would have to die at least eleven times before he could live.

He was fearful… and he was a coward.

Jacob Will was both, not the best combination for someone looking to destroy his former self in order to live a new and better life. Could he do it? Could he take that plunge (not a knife, but just as deadly in its own way) and come out on the other side?

Shakespeare may have put in best, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”

#acowardsguidetoliving