Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Things I wish I'd known BEFORE writing my first novel

It's always great to hear authors share their journey and writing tips they discovered along the way.  It's with great pleasure that I welcome award-winning author Emlyn Chand.  She's taken the time out of her busy schedule to share the 10 things she wished she knew before writing her first novel.  You can watch Emlyn's book trailer of Farsighted on Youtube.

This is a guest post by Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted

When did you have enough confidence in your abilities to officially call yourself a writer?

For me, it was when I first received money for my work as a freelance columnist. For you, it may have been when you finished the first chapter of your first novel or won a prize for a short story. Maybe you never had any qualms about saddling yourself with this label. Maybe you still don’t consider yourself a “real writer.”

Me? Now I know enough to see that I was a writer long before someone handed me that first paycheck. It’s kind of something you’re born with—like it or not.

But being an author, that’s different.

The term writer focuses more on the craft—engaging in the actual activity of writing. The term author encompasses not only the craft but also the business aspect of it.

So when are you worthy of the label author? Why, when you publish your first book of course!

I write this post just days before I make the transition from writer to author. My first novel Farsighted released recently, which means my 26-year-long (AKA life-long) dream is finally coming true. When I look back at the journey that brought me to the peak of this beautiful achievement, I can’t help but think of what I wish I’d have known before starting on my path.

I’ve identified 10 lessons I’ve learned along the way. Maybe you already know these things. Maybe you don’t. I’m gonna share ‘em anyway...

1. Something’s gotta give. Writing is not something you can do with just a little bit of effort. To get through the first draft, editing, what-have-you, you'll have to work hard! Yes, you could space it out over several years, but if you want to finish anytime this year, you’re going to have to make sacrifices. For me, this was less time with friends and family, less television, and less attention to my health (eating right and exercising). Oops.

2. Write what you want to write—not what you think you should be writing. Boy, this was a hard one to learn. I’ve always fallen back on being “that smart girl.” When things didn’t go right in my personal life or when I was picked last in gym class, I took pride in my intellect. Therefore, I’ve always done what I can to improve my wit and make my best trait the best it can be. That being said, I spent a long time forcing myself to read classic literature. I did enjoy it, and I still do, but it’s definitely not what I find most entertaining (YA is). Still I kept at the classic literature because it was important to me that others respect my intelligence (damaged by high school much? :-P). Naturally when I decided to write a novel, it came out as literary fiction. That’s the me I wanted to portray to the world. I wanted people to salivate over my talent and proclaim my literary merit... Except the novel wasn’t that good, because it wasn’t a piece of who I really am. Now that I’ve cozied into YA, I couldn’t be happier. And the larger facade of who I once pretended to be has lifted. I. AM. FREE. Now this lesson doesn’t just mean: don’t put on a false front. It also means: don’t chase trends. Write what your heart wants to write, and it’ll all be good in the end.

3. You’re going to make mistakes. LOTS of mistakes. Practice makes perfect. Well, it makes it better than before. You may be an excellent writer, but if you’ve never written a novel before, you’re a newbie. That’s okay too! When writing that all-important first novel, you’re pretty much going to make every mistake in the book. In my first novel, I really struggled with keeping a consistent point-of-view and writing authentic dialogue. The POV problem was very difficult to fix, but in trying, I learned an important lesson—one I couldn’t have learned if I hadn’t made such huge blunders. Now that I do know how to correct and avoid these problems, dialogue and POV are two of my strongest areas (at least that’s what readers tell me).

4. Writer’s detour is a bigger problem than writer’s block. Writer’s block gets all the PR, but it’s not as dangerous as writer’s detour. When you’re blocked you’re not moving forward. When you take a detour, you’re moving in the wrong direction. Will you get to California quicker by taking a small rest in Boise, or will you get there quicker by following a pretty red car to Ontario first? (My advice, drive straight-on through to Cali if you can). Don’t get so caught up with a minor character (or a theme you want to convey) that you stray all over the place. Which brings me to my next point...

5. Structure is important. We writers fall into two camps: pantsers and plotters. Some pantsers consider themselves superior, because their writing leads their plots—not the other way around. I used to think like that too. Even if you want to keep your plotline fluid, you need some form of structure. Shudder at the thought of outlining? Then mapping your characters is crucial. You need to know where you’re going and/or who's taking you there. Otherwise you’re just groping about in the dark. Yes, writing is absolutely a creative process, but don’t under-estimate the value of good planning.

6. Novel #1 may never leave the drawer. Or it may leave the drawer, journey around the query circuit, and then come right back to where it started. My first novel DID get me an agent, but 9 drafts later, it still wasn’t good enough to publish. When my agent suggested I change 2/3 of it for draft 10, I decided to move onto my next project. I just wasn’t enjoying the process anymore. I’m so glad I finally called it quits on novel #1, because novel #2 is so much better, and now I get to put it out there into the world. If I would’ve kept agonizing over the inferior manuscript, novel #2 may have never happened!

7. When you’re done, you’re not done. I’m just a big ball of sunshine today, aren’t I? But it’s important to understand just how much work follows being “done.” Anne Lamott said it best in Bird by Bird, you’re going to write “shitty first drafts.” I can guarantee it! Don’t let that stop you, just be prepared for it.

8. Writing is a business just as much as it’s an art. Getting a novel published and promoting it once it’s out there is infinitely more work than writing a novel in the first place. That’s not to under-value the writing process, but it’s true. Sure, you can finish your novel, self-publish it, and then do virtually nothing to promote it. Fine. But if you actually want to sell copies of your book, you’ve gotta handle the business side of things. Finding an agent is an extremely formal business interaction—you even have to write fancy business (AKA query) letters. Marketing your book is a TON of work. It’s pretty fun (at least, I think so, but I moonlight as a book publicist, so I realize I might not be normal). However, being fun is not equivalent to being easy. Not even close. Expect lots of work and lots of stress and not very much sleep. The good news: you get out what you put in, so give it all you can!

9. Querying will destroy your soul. My unhappy place is remembering query letter Hell. I honestly can’t remember anything harder in my life. Ever. Make sure you have a good support system in place. Because even if you’re brilliant, you can pretty much expect a slew of rejections. I ultimately got an agent but had to suffer through 60 “not for us”s first. Of course, it hurts. As writers, we pour our hearts and souls into our manuscript. Our words are a part of who we are. Having a faceless stranger tell you it’s not good enough is pure torture. End of argument.

10. You will sustain injuries. Gosh, my neck is killing me while I’m writing this post. You’re probably going to get neck and back pain too. Headaches from staring at the computer too long. Possible eye problems. Definite poor posture. Maybe even carpal tunnel syndrome. That’s just the way it goes, so be prepared.

Seems pretty cynical, doesn’t it? I <3 the craft and would never abandon it (like I even have a choice), but I find that those who are starting out with visions of Stephen King or JK Rowling-esque fame already see the pretty side of writing—the glamor. Having a balanced picture is so important. Even still, all the practical knowledge just can’t compare to experiential knowledge. Follow YOUR path to author-hood, make your own mistakes, learn lessons from them, and then share with the rest of us.

THE BOOK: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).

THE AUTHOR: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book of Prophecies

Us humans are born curious.  We want to know about the world we live in, how things work, what others are doing.  We also want to know about the future, what will our lives be like in years to come.
Over the years there have been many prophecies.  Some have been bizarre, some complete rubbish and others have had elements of truth in them.  Many prophecies can be manipulated to fit the truth.
In the same vein as Nostradamus, Cesar shares his prophecies with the world.  Written as cryptic scripts which provide clues you have to solve to unlock the future.
For those who get a thrill out of decyphering cryptic clues, and those who have a penchant for fortelling the future, then this will be the book for you.  2012 is predicted by some to be the year the world ends.  Others say it will be the end of an age.  Who knows!  Maybe you'll still be reading this in 2013!

More about the author 

Cesar has a very experienced background in the spiritual world. He was brought up in a Christian family, but branched out from that base as he got older, seeking answers about the world around him, and the spiritual world around him.  In his mid-twenties dramatic events occurred in his life which challenged his very existence, but he learned from these experienced and most of learned that how that life is not just in our own hands.  Now Cesar is a firm believer that everyone has their own path to walk in life, and part of that walk is all about the choices that you make. Some people choose a good life and some a wicked life, but most of us live the life in the middle, influenced by the world around us and our own upbringing, Cesar understands that life is simply not black and white.

Purchase Links:

First Edition

Special Edition


Saturday, January 28, 2012

My life is a B-Grade movie

Have you ever watched a movie and thought, "What utter rubbish!  That kind of thing doesn't happen in real life!  No way Jose, that's not real!"  Welcome to my life.  Even I often believe that my life can't be real.  That this is some kind of a weird dream I am living.  One day I will wake up and sigh and say, "Thank God it was only a dream!"  I pray that day comes soon.
There are those people who go through their schooling knowing what career path they are going to choose.  They succeed at everything education, relationships, parenting, career.  They have a gorgeous house in the suburbs, go on great family holidays every year.  They are always happy and smiling, a bit like in those toothpaste commercials.  I am not one of those people.
Whether my life was pre-destined to be as chaotic as an untweezed eyebrow or whether I subconciously create the little dramas and adventures that populate it I'll never know.  I just know that some of the things that happen in my life are as unbelievable as a plot of a B-Grade movie.
It always amuses me when people say, "You need to put that in a book."  The problem is that I don't write fantasy or science fiction.  I write realistic fiction.  If I write about some of the stuff that happens to me, my readers will say "far-fetched, can't be true, improbable."
For example, take the events of the past week.
When my mother said goodbye to us at the airport after our holiday in Cape Town, I told her to get her cough seen to.  The next night she was rushed to hospital unable to breathe after a coughing fit.  Diagnosis: Pneumonia.  Now remember this is summer in South Africa.  While much of the world is freezing, it's the hottest time of the year in Cape Town.  How do you get pneumonia in summer?  My mother was released from hospital the Monday, re-admitted the Thursday and put on antibiotics intravenously.  Friday night her blood pressure starts dropping dangerously low.  Friday night on the other side of the world on his way to work at the Ritz in Naples, Florida, my son gets knocked off his bicycle by a woman failing to stop at a stop street.
We now have two dramas, two plot-lines in this B-Grade movie.  Remember, I am living in Tanzania.  My mother and my son, both in hospital.  Only one of them on the same continent as I.
My son luckily only has torn ligaments in his knee, a sore head and a bone cyst on his elbow.  He will live although his bicycle is a total write off.  The woman pays his medical expenses and buys him a new bicycle.  Despite advice to the contrary, my son wants no more than this.  He figures it's immoral to make someone pay for their mistake.
Already some of you are thinking, two dramas on one night, how improbable.  But I swear to God it's true,
My mother makes slow progress and is eventually discharged the Tuesday afternoon.  On Wednesday she decides, despite being told to stay in bed and have complete bed rest, to amble over to my brother's house.  He happens to live next door.  My brother has a very big dog.  It's paws are the size of side plates and it slobbers everywhere.  I think it's a bull mastiff.  The dog was so happy to see my mother, it jumped on her knocking her flying.
Back in hospital.  Cracked vertebrae, effectively a broken back.  Remember, she hasn't yet fully recovered from the pneumonia.
Doesn't sound real, does it?
But it gets more bizarre.  My stepdad has had several back ops.  For the last couple of months he's been getting a lot of pain from a pinched nerve.  He's scheduled to have an operation on his back on Tuesday to fix the pinched nerve.  The same day my mother will be having an operation to repair her broken vertebrae.  How romantic.  A hospital honeymoon both flat on their backs, sharing a ward together.
Seriously.  I mean, seriously.  Does anybody's life get more B-grade than this?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Introducing Karen Bell

There are so many good authors popping out of the woodwork.  Authors who would never be read if it wasn't for self-publishing and the whole Indie movement.  I love hosting Indie Authors on my blog and finding out how they got started on the rainbow-colored road to writing success.  Walking with Elephants is Karen Bell’s first novel.  Here is how she ended up on the rainbow road.
"I needed to be a writer. I had a conscious need but not the time when I was raising my kids, when they were babies. I tried to start a novel during naptime and sleeptime but I did not have the patience. I knew the patience to do it would come and eventually it did. After I graduated with a MS in mass communication and took a job as an editor, did I really believe I could be a writer. And that job actually gave me the inspiration for my debut novel, Walking with Elephants. There I was, living the fulfillment of the woman's movement. I was a working mother. Ah. The working part, although sometimes demanding was manageable for me, and living five minutes from home so was mothering. But then as my children got older, there was all the driving them everywhere. Picking up after a party when you have crashed and burned after a full day of work. Shopping for the holidays after work. Cleaning the house every weekend instead of doing something fun--or just not doing anything and relaxing.

Then I walked into the ladies room one day and saw a woman pumping her breast. This is wrong I thought. Somewhere a baby is crying. I was lucky. I stayed home with my babies, raised my babies. Went to work when they were older. I did some investigating and found out that there are countries where the mother gets one or two years maternity leave, not 4-6 weeks like this country. So I was inspired to write. But it took a very long time to finish the book--lots of starts and stops until I found my voice in the first person and interruptions called life.

I thought that writing the book was the hard part. But sadly, I was very, very wrong. Getting it published is almost insurmountable. This book beat out by years the books about the over worked mother in modern society. But no one would publish it until I found a small indie. After ten years of rejections someone said, yes. Then after one short year, the business closed. I took over as publisher because I couldn't find anyone who would pick it up and I didn't want to wait another ten years.

The publishing world has changed since I started writing. Self-publishling is now referred to as indie publishing to give it more status. And it has achieved more status. There are numerous ways an author can choose to do that.  But it is still a little daunting. Where and how to market? Where to advertise?
I spoke at a book club recently, and all the ladies loved, loved, loved the book. They say word of mouth is the best and yet even tough this handful think my writing is amazing, I'm still waiting for the book to go viral…and waiting.

So authors must have a thick skin. I keep telling myself that my new novel is excellent even though the rejections are rolling in. I am not defined by my rejections. But it is tough and I hate this part. In the back of my mind I know I could just publish it myself and bypass all of this misery and I probably will end up doing that. But right now I'm still sending out the queries. Luckily there is Smashwords and Kindle waiting in the wings.

Good luck to all you authors out there. Some of you might get wide acceptance right out of the gate--and that's the hook."

Karen S. Bell

Instead of forking out hard-earned cash for an over-priced ebook by a best-selling author, rather buy 3-4 ebooks by Indie Authors.  Here is the Synopsis for Walking with Elephants:
Suze Hall is at a crossroads. Her nemesis at work, Wanda, has been promoted and now will be her boss. Her husband, Bob, is leaving her and the three kids for a six-month sabbatical down under. To top it off, her best friend, Marcia, is missing in action--playing footsie with some new boyfriend!
Adding to this disaster stew, David, the gorgeous hunk who broke her young-girl's heart has coincidentally popped back into her life and has something she desperately needs to keep her job.
Walking with Elephants, a lighthearted slice-of-life story, brings to the table the serious work/family issues facing women today. It explores themoderndichotomyof aworkplace that is filled with homemakers who still must cook, clean, carpool on nights and weekends, shop for prom dresses, and "create" the holidays—such as Suze. But it also is filled with women who have the same drive as men, have no family responsibilities, and will do what ever it takes to get ahead. 
So step into the shoes of Suze Hall and commiserate over workplace politics, titillate your sexual fantasies, ride the wave of a working mother, and fall-down laughing.
The cover is a symbol of the message of empowerment of women. The protagonist, Suze, writes and essay at the end of the novel suggesting a paradigm shift from the patriarchal societies that have been in place for centuries to a matriarchy, such as is found in nature. Like elephants, hence the title.
 Reviewer said it's like Bridget Jones meets Erma Bombeck

You can find out more about Karen Bell on these websites.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Introducing Kat Jorgensen

People often ask me how I became a writer.  The fact is that you have to become a reader first.  Most writers read a lot growing up, many still do as adults.  Kat Jorgensen is no exception. 
A notorious daydreamer, Kat knew it was only a matter of time before she became a writer. She learned to read by age four and had her first library card before her fifth birthday. To this day, she can lose herself for hours among the books at her local library or neighborhood bookstore. Ebooks and online ordering have made it really easy for her to keep her To Be Read pile from ever going down.
Kat has kindly agreed to share how she creates her original and entertaining characters.

Get In Touch with Your Inner Characters

I’m one of those people who believe that everyone has at least one book in them. Now I have more books and characters in my mind than I’ll probably ever use. So how do we tap into our inner characters?

For “Your Eight O’Clock Is Dead” the main character, Becca Reynolds, presented herself to me almost totally formed. Basically, she is a younger, thinner version of me with much better hair. I have baby fine hair that I’ve struggled with all of my life, so it was a no-brainer to make my heroine have much thicker hair. And be at her ideal weight.

But what about her characteristics? They’re also drawn from me. Things happen to me that don’t seem to happen to other people. For years I’ve been entertaining my friends and family with my misadventures. It was easy to translate those events into Becca’s life. I keep a running list in a notebook of weird things that involve me - like getting locked in an airplane bathroom. You can bet that that whole episode will show up in a future book! I can still tap into my claustrophobia just thinking about it. I set Becca up to be claustrophobic right from the get-go. By the time I get to book 4 where I use the airplane scene, readers will be very familiar with Becca’s fear of enclosed, tight spaces, and they’ll be feeling her panic right along with her.

Basically Becca is a lovable screw-up. Her intentions are stellar. The follow through is not always what she anticipated and how she reacts in any given situation makes for a lot of comedic opportunities.

Becca is inquisitive. She loves life, and she loves a good mystery. She’s also guilty of sticking her nose in where it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) belong.

Family and friends are important to her, just as they are to me. So I peopled her world with a grandfather who gives her lectures because he cares for her and wants the best for her and a couple of hunky men (I only have one hunk in my life, and I’ve been married to him almost 25 years) - but hey, this is fiction. Becca gets to flirt and fall for two good-looking guys.

In my non-writing life, I worked in mental health for many years. The two doctors in the book are drawn from characteristics of many of the medical professionals I’ve encountered in my working life. I’ve taken quirks and exaggerated them.

Character development is fun. I always start with the characters. Who are they? What are they like? What are their strengths and their weaknesses? How can I use them for plot problems?

Try it. You may surprise yourself.
Kat Jorgensen

Like Kat, I am also the kind of person who attracts dramas and hilarious misadventures.  I thought those kinds of things only happen to me, so it was refreshing to find out that there are other crazy mayhem magnets in the world.  Many of my strange experiences have ended up in my books.  I often think that I have enough material now for plots and characters, please give me a break!
Kat has kindly offered her latest book, "Your Eight O’Clock Is Dead" as a lucky draw prize on my blog.  To enter the draw, you need to post a comment on this blog.  Kat will be delighted to contact the winner with details on how you can claim your prize.
If you wish to know more about "Your Eight O’Clock Is Dead" then here is the Synopsis:
Becca Reynolds is having a bad day. Her grandfather’s lecture (#405: Eat a Healthy Diet or Die Not Trying) makes her late for her job at Daley and Palmer, the psychiatrists' office where she works as the office manager—her title, not theirs. Then her sausage and egg breakfast biscuit creates an oil slick that takes out half her desk, along with that day’s patient files. But she knows the day has taken a really bad turn when she discovers the firm’s eight o’clock patient dead with Dr. Dick Daley’s letter opener opening the patient instead of the mail.
With the fledgling firm in danger of an early demise, Becca appoints herself the unofficial investigator since the police seem to be looking in all the wrong places and doing a half-assed job of solving the crime. She begins a journey to find the killer, keep the practice afloat and with it, her job. In the course of her interfere—er, investigation—she finds a virtual cast of characters who could have done it, including the fancy side piece of the murder victim, his wife, his business partner, and even his psychiatrist.
The case takes Becca from the sordid depths of the Russian mob, to the upscale West End of Richmond, Virginia (known locally as River City), and even to her own backyard. In the course of the story she finds herself in hot water, hot danger, and with dreams of hot men.

You can find out more about Kat Jorgensen and her work by checking out her websites.
Kat's website:  http://katjorgensen.com
Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/7lgmf4b
 BN: http://tinyurl.com/7lq642u
 Smashwords: http://tinyurl.com/7j8voy6


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Never judge a book by its cover

The old adage goes 'Never judge a book by its cover.'  It actually refers to making assumptions about a person based on their looks, but in this case you can take it literally.  The back blurb of The Bull Years intrigued me but the cover didn't grab me at all.  It looked like it was going to be the life story of a Russian porn star.  Luckily for me I ignored my assumptions and decided to give the book a read.  You know what they say - assume makes an ass of u and me.  I would have been an ass if I didn't read this book based on its cover.  The Bull Years was surprisingly good.

Not being one for reading fantasy, vampire novels, horror and science fiction, The Bull Years was exactly what I like - realistic fiction.  Realistic Contemporary Fiction.  The story is written from the points of view of four well-developed, utterly believable characters.  They are brought together by Steve Levine to participate in his 'Life Project.'  They have to go back into their past and confront one life-defining night at college which split their friendship and drove them apart.  The story covers two decades of their lives, interweaving each character's story together so that you end up with an excellent commentary of a generation.
The sad fact of life is that the grandiose dreams you had at college remain just that.  Grandiose dreams.  Life is full of disappointments, relationships and jobs that never work out as planned.  Phil Stern manages to portray that brilliantly in The Bull Years.  While some parts might be a little dark, it is spiced with a wicked sense of humour that will have you chuckling out loud.
The last paragraph of the novel was quite poignant.  "So never think it’s too late, or that your own life ultimately doesn’t matter. Because who knows? You, all of you reading this Note now, could become the next Bull Personalities for some future generation, just as Steve, Dave, Sophia, and Dave have for us today."
The message is clear.  Don't let life's disappointments deter you.  There was a reason you were put on this planet.
The Bull Years is available on Amazon as a Kindle book.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Introducing Guy Magar

It always interests me how people get into the writing business.  Because writers can be anybody.  Teachers, firefighters, film makers, housewives and house husbands.  They can come from all sorts of backgrounds, little or no education to being highly educated.  But they all have one thing in common besides a creative writing streak.  They all have a strong desire to share their message or story with the world.  Guy Magar was a film maker.  Here is his story.
Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot is an unconventional memoir because it deals with diverse topics such as the magic of making movies and the magic of finding true love. I’ve been blessed to have had such a kaleidoscope of experiences starting as a child in Egypt and immigrating to America, growing up in New York and learning to speak English, going to college at an incendiary political time in the country (late ‘60s), and then setting myself on such an unlikely journey to become a film director in Hollywood. That career adventure was a story I always wished to share because it’s been rich with wild and crazy experiences such as my first producer turning out to be a Mafia assassin, almost decapitating Drew Barrymore right after ET, and coming close to derailing James Cameron’s career though he is so talented I doubt anyone could have altered his storied destiny. Everyone loves to look behind the curtain of the movie world and this memoir takes them there.

Finding true love for me is all about falling in love with Jacqui, and having a Camelot wedding where I got to duel for her hand (a la Errol Flynn) in a romantic union that has blossomed to this day, and this journey was also worthy of telling especially with the extreme dramatic turn of Jacqui suddenly being diagnosed with leukemia three years ago.

That unique medical journey to heal her through a cutting-edge clinical trial was definitely a triumphant story of the human spirit - of her great courage - that deserved to be shared with the world. Everyone knows someone with cancer, and so I wanted to write a book about our experience that would inspire folks to get through their illness. For me, the grateful feedback from caregivers and cancer patients has been the most emotionally satisfying response to this memoir and the 18-month writing journey it required. It took me longer to write this book than any movie I ever made.

I wanted this book to be a good friend with which you curl up with while sipping a hot chocolate because writing this memoir was a celebration of life. For me, it’s about following your dreams and making them come true. And that’s magical, as it is for all of us, and I was hoping to share that universal commonality. I encourage my readers who share my story to be inspired to celebrate their own unique life experiences. It was my desire and hope that by sharing my magic it would inspire folks to reflect, to take the time to appreciate their own great life journeys. We are all so busy living life and dealing with our big and small daily challenges that most of the time we don’t take a time out to celebrate our own magic of being alive.
This is why the last parting line in my book is “Dare to dream…I did. From one magician to another: Peace.”
I invite you to http://www.kissmequickbeforeishoot.com/media/book-excerpts/ to enter our weekly contest and win a signed paperback and all you have to do is pick your favorite excerpt.
Thank you Cindy for having me as your guest.

From fighting fires to writing books Part Two

As promised, in Jimmy's own words, how he went from fighting fires to writing books. Check it out! Cindy

When folks ask how I got into writing I like to tell them I just fell into it, literally. It was winter, Christmas time really and we had just had a very heavy snow. My wife was not my wife yet, in fact, I'm not even sure if we were engaged. My wife is a Michigan girl living in Chicago yet her family still resides on the lower peninsula of that state in a suburb of Detroit. I was on shift with the fire department and unable to leave with her for the visit. I planned to take the train out.
I mentioned the heavy snow and the whole Christmas deal, a dangerous match that day. It was slippery and I was laden with an unusual amount of items, not just clothing but gifts as well. Being the young macho firefighter I thought I was I skipped on a cart or anything else to ease the burden. I basically shoved it all into a duffle and tossed the thing over my shoulder.
Big mistake!
I needed to make a transfer from the local rail to regional at Ogilvie Station in downtown Chicago. My first step off the car was the near killer. My right leg slipped, I fell and just prior to that missed step was the last time I was able to stand unsupported for the next eight months. The workers at the train station had to call an ambulance to get me to the hospital. I was set up for surgery the next day. I would be off of work convalescing for quite some time.
A week or so after the procedure to patch the knee up my then wife to be took my butt to the firehouse just to say hello. I hobbled in on my crutches. During the visit my shift mates asked me how I planned to occupy myself during my time away. As if physical therapy wasn't enough? Though I had always been a very active reader or avid reader the thought of writing something beyond a fire department run report had never entered my mind. In fact, in high school I was the kid in the back of the class avoiding the teacher’s gaze. I did my homework on the bus rides to and from school. My book reports and term papers were all completed in study hall. I cringed when I came across test answers in essay rather than in multiple choice. It took me ten years to get through junior college.
Regardless, for some unknown reason, "I might write a book" popped out. Then the laughing began along with the taunts, and for good reason. During that time my only need for writing was professional and even then it was penning run reports and much wasn't expected. I wrote in all capital letters. As for punctuation I would occasionally throw a period in just for good measure. I didn't even own a computer at the time.
But my future wife did and we were living together. I saw the comments from my fellows as a challenge. I accepted the challenge. We returned home and we fired up the computer. My soon to be wife taught me how to use the word program and the rest is history. I typed out my first book, used lower case and upper case letters and even made a point to add proper punctuation.
But the story continues.
I returned to the firehouse with that first novel under my belt.  I knew little about the publishing world, really nothing. I used my new found computer skills to search the Internet. My search was basic, how to publish your first book. Naturally one of the paid services popped up first. I clicked and ended up working with an outfit which called themselves 1stBooks Library. They are now called Authorhouse. My experience there is another story for another time.
I continued writing but honestly, the whole deal was really just a hobby. My gig in the fire service was top dog. I was enthralled with the new relationship in my life. I wrote a bit here and there when I had a little extra time but that was about it, almost forgotten after that first book. Then came the next mishap where my health is concerned, a fresh injury.
This one was a back injury which I sustained while extracting the victim of heart attack from a very tricky location. Did I mention I was a paramedic as well as a firefighter? If not, well, now I have. Anyway, to this day I’m not exactly sure what happened or what I did wrong but suddenly my right leg collapsed. I was able to walk but barely. I was sent off to the fire department's medical doctor. After a detailed examination including an MRI the Doctor found a herniated disk in my lower back. I spent the next year in therapy, surgery and then more therapy.
During that time away I wrote two books. I started to educate myself about the in's and out's of the world of literature. I built new relationships, some friendly and some professional. I started submitting to agents and publishers hoping not pay for publishing after that first experience. If you recall I said earlier that was another story and not really a good one.
The day finally came when the therapy was over and I had healed up from the back surgery. I'm no medical doctor so I'm not exactly sure how these ratings which appraise one's condition to return to work are set but I was informed that I was living along a border. I could give returning a shot or I could pension off and retire. And with the writing moving along I had considered that pension. But, the fire service was still number one in my mind. I was feeling good, strong and able. I chose to return to duty.
Three months later a semi truck rolled over into a gas station. I was working with a tool used for extrication and felt a series of pops in my back. Then that old sensation or lack of sensation in right leg returned. That was it, I was done. I no longer had a choice and had to leave the service behind. I had five disk herniations on three disks and had inflamed scar tissue left behind by the previous injury.
So, I continued to write and during the time I've been away I've managed to secure a couple contracts with independent publishers. I'm now writing paranormal stories for middle school aged children and adventure stories for adults, all of which brings me here to today. That's my story.
Have a great 2012!
Jimmy Gordon

Monday, January 2, 2012

From Firefighter to Writer Part One

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you can either sink into depression and rue your rotten luck, or you can make the most of new opportunities.  Jimmy Gordon did just that.  An injury put his firefighting career on hold and he decided to use his recovery time and write a book.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you.....Jimmy Gordon, author of Dartboard.  Drum roll please.

Firefighter and paramedic-turned-author Jimmy (J.D.) Gordon was born and raised in Chicago where he developed a taste for the finer things that the Windy City has to offer - pan pizza, live blues and the Cubs. 

Jimmy dropped into the world of literature, literally. After falling off a train and breaking his knee Jimmy had to spend quite a bit of time recuperating. While visiting the firehouse his peers asked what he planned to with all that time away. This when Jimmy said the words that he now claims to have changed his life. "I should write a book."

Despite some skepticism from his peers ("You don't even use punctuation on your run reports!"), he completed a novel, Island Bound, and made it a point to use punctuation throughout.

Another injury, sustained on the job, ended his career in the fire service. Aside from writing Gordon spends his Spring and Summer as an umpire for high school and youth baseball. He now lives with his wife and children in Glen Ellyn IL, a suburb of Chicago.