Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Willis Lee Howery.

That was my maternal grandfather's name.

He served as a medic in both World War II and Korea.

I can't help but think of him on this and every other Memorial Day.

Born in Iowa he was raised near and in Bethany, Missouri, he was adopted as an older child. Ten or so I think. I know his one regret in life was never tracking down his biological brother and sister and I wish i had the ability and knowledge to do so on his behalf.

He was more than my granddad. he was my fishing partner, my friend, and in many ways my father, as he was always the most steady and available adult male in my life.

My oldest son shares his middle name.

I wish he were here today and every other day, but his memory and influence live on.

I hope you have had a blessed Memorial Day weekend and taken the time to reflect on all of those who made this world a better place to be during their time here on earth.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It Is What It Is

Let's talk crazy ...

The world did not end On may 21st as Harold Camping predicted. Now the dude has refigured his numbers and claims the rapture will be October 21st. Harold spends more time recalculating than my GPS.

A Toronto couple has decided to keep the gender of their child a secret. The kid, named Storm is 5 or 6 months I think and the couple says they are not telling anyone the gender because they don't wanna label their child. Sorry folks but you not revealing the facts does not change the reality that the kid either has a penis or it doesn't. Somebody should  teach them the phrase ... It is what it is.

Conspiracy theories about President Obama abound here in my ultra-conservative area of Texas, but two people this week have tried to sell me on the idea Obama is actively trying to piss off all of America to instigate an all out revolt like we've seen in Northern Africa and the Middle East as of late. Both individuals limits their news to Fox and right wind radio so they assume everyone in America is pissed off. My response to their claim? There are no more pissed off people now than there was when Bush was in office, only now it's the other half that are angry. My comment was met with blank stares.

 And then there is this story ...

LAKE MARY, Fla., May 27 (UPI) -- A Florida man's lawsuit against Winn-Dixie Stores and a flower importer is seeking $15,000 in damages for a finger prick from a rose thorn.
Charles Imwalle, 41, of Lake Mary filed a lawsuit Monday against Winn-Dixie and Passion Growers LLC claiming he suffered pain, disfigurement, medical bills and lost wages after pricking his finger on a thorn from a rose he purchased from his local Winn-Dixie in February, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Thursday.
The suit states the roses should have been stripped of their thorns and the stems should have been wrapped more carefully. The litigation also claims anti-bacterial solution was not used in the display buckets.
Imwalle lawyer Paul Thompson of Altamonte Springs declined to comment on the case.
Sam Ferrara, founder of Passion Growers, said Imwalle's cut became infected and he blamed the roses, but the company sterilizes all of its flowers.
"We've been doing this 20 years," Ferrara said. "We've never, never had anything like this where anyone has gotten an infection by a thorn prick."

There was a prick involved alright but I don't think it was attached to a rose.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Funny Thing Is

I have been writing a long time now. Long enough that friends and acquaintances who do not know the nature of this business view me as a failure.

I know this by the way the broach the subject. Or react when someone else mentions it.

"Hey Travis, whatever happened to that book you were writing?"
"Did that book you wrote ever get published?"
"You're still writing?" 

I understand their position. Really I do. It's understandable to think after more than a decade of nearly constant effort you should have more than a couple dozen short story creds, a handful of contest wins, one ebook anthology, and a smattering of freelance work. But the nature of this business is not everyone who sets out to write a novel or even finishes one, two three or five will see it published. Especially by a traditional royalty paying publisher.

Lately there have been some big signs that I'm not totally crazy. That I haven't wasted an entire decade pursuing this dream. Plundered Booty has been well received and I thank the people that have taken the time to buy and read the anthology it is included in. I offer a double thanks to those who dropped me an email relaying their thoughts or left a review at B&N or Amazon. And my latest project, Lettuce Is The Devil has garnered FAR more attention that anything I've ever written. Both are humor projects.

And my blog, at least until lately when I've neglected it has always been successful. It too is more humor based than anything.

So I've gone the long way around to say this ...

I was talking to a  friend at work the other day and he was asking me about my writing endeavors. I was feeling pretty good that day so no doubt I was gushing about the way things were going.

And that's when he said, "It's about time you abandoned all that emotional women's fiction crap. A funny guy like you needs to concentrate on humor and forget about romance and all that other emotional stuff."

I realize he meant it as a compliment, but his words were somewhat like a punch in the gut to me. The first three novels I wrote were either women's fiction/romance. As were a lot of my short stories. I certainly do not think of any of them as crap. Sure some of it was rough in that I was finding my way as a writer, but the emotions he so casually dismissed as stuff was real. The hours I spent writing and editing those words made me who i am as a writer, funny or otherwise.

I came very close on several occasions to both landing an agent for that material and to publication. I still believe in my abilities to write romance and or women's fiction. Funny is not the only emotion I have in me.

And on that note I have decided to package three stories on my own. Two fiction and 1 memoir. Very soon I will release them for Nook and Kindle for the low sum of 99 cents. Maybe I'm trying to prove something. Maybe I'm simply trying to make myself feel better about where I am at this point in my career. Maybe as I begin to move more into humor writing I am trying to justify the years behind me. Whatever the reason, I hope you will check the stories out when I release it in the near future.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Little Friendly Scar Tissue

Nearly two weeks since my last blog post here at One Word. I think that is a record dry spell. Time has not been my friend as of late. Hope a few of you are still hanging around.

So anyway a friend of mine recently brought me a t-shirt back from the Virgin Islands. A piratey shirt from a place called Blackbeard's Castle. The shirt reads ... SCARS ARE TATTOOS WITH BETTER STORIES

I wore said shirt to a meet-up dinner with a group of fellow writers last night.

I'm quite lucky to live in a community where there are so many talented and successful writers.

I enjoyed chatting with Anita Howard. You may not know Anita yet, but you soon will. Anita is fabulously talented. Check out her blog here. She recently landed representation with Jenny Bent and trust me when I say she has a stupendous voice. Her latest endeavor is a literary YA Fantasy titled, Splintered. Here is the trailer.

I also got to chat with Kimberly Willis Holt, author of My Louisiana Sky, When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, as well as School Library Journal's Best Book of the Year). And the Piper Reed series.

 Then there were those that write adult fiction ...

Linda Castillo whose novel Breaking Silence, the third in a series starring Amish Country Police Chief Kate Burkholder is now available  for pre-order and is already getting rave reviews

“In addition to creating exceptionally well drawn characters and crafting a gripping plot that takes some shocking turns to a heart-pounding conclusion, Castillo probes with keen sensitivity the emotional toll taken by police work. The third in this series of thrillers (after Sworn to Silence, 2009, and Pray for Silence, 2010) is another winner.”Booklist

Linda organized our dinner and is she so pleasant to chat with it's almost hard to imagine she writes with such cutting edge suspense. 

Friend, mentor and tormentor Deborah Elliott-Upton was there eating a salad right beside me. Debbie is a helluva mystery writer with an unnatural hangup for Johnny Depp. Besides having a slew of short story creds to her name she blogs every Thursday over at Criminal Brief

And though I didn't get to speak with her as long as I would have liked RWA Hall of Famer Jodi Thomas was just down the table.   

So what the heck does this have to do with my t-shirt. Well on the way home, I was thinking about writing. (That's the great benefit of hanging around other writers. They inspire me to write.) And I realized how true the shirt's saying is in relation to writing fiction.

It is the scars. The damage inflicted in the past that shapes characters. Makes them who they are.  And like a scar how, when and what caused the damage is rarely revealed right away. It leaves the reader guessing, wondering.

Also tattoos are things we plan for. Things we don't mind showing. They can be interesting as can descriptions we writers directly parcel out to our readers but its those unexpected things that are slow or reluctant to reveal themselves that really capture a reader.

I have no tattoos, though I've long said I'll get one to celebrate and honor the first novel I sell. I do have a few scars however and yes, every one of them has a story.