Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Tap Dancing Rhinoceros

March 22, 2015

Jenny and I finally got it together to order a second printing of our children’s book The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company. Took us two years, even though the original print run sold out almost as soon as we got them out of the boxes. We’ve gone with a different printer this time, so there’s always that sense of anxiety until you open the box and see that first book is the way you expected it. We have a crowd-funding campaign going at Indie GoGO where you can pre-order the book for the same price we’ll be selling it at the website.

10You can pre-order The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company here It will be here for Spring Art Scene in the first week of April.

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A Book All Young Christian Evangelicals Should Read

January 9, 2015

C.J. Campbell is a first time author with cerebral palsy. I mention the cerebral palsy because it is one of the factors that made his first book, The Zen of Beard trimming, such a team effort. For seven years he has documented his journey, at first to finish pastoral school and find a flock of his own, then as that dream became increasingly complicated, just to find a place in the world where he could have some peace. Seven years of journeys landed him in some very improbable, often heartbreaking, but always fascinating scenarios. Because he cannot rely on his own hands to write his own story, many different hands were used to dictate his story over the years. The true definition of the word “manuscript.” The work of many hands.

He doesn’t want me to hype the fact that he is in a wheelchair, or has a disability, or has suffered some terrible luck, and downright neglect, from people who should have been there to have his back. He has been manipulated and exploited (in my opinion) by evangelical Christian groups on more than one occasion to provide a spectacle for their traveling shows. All of that is chronicled in his book. He never gets bitter about it. As a reader, you might. I did.

he really doesn’t want me to mention the way he was treated by these church groups in any of my promotional materials. He just wants to have his story heard. Perhaps he has given up on his original dream of being a pastor to his own congregation. Maybe he is not as idealistic about his faith as he was when he started his journey. His book will come out in February.

The Zen of Beard Trimming

The Zen of Beard Trimming

Jason Russell, of Invisible Children, wrote the forward. In my opinion the book is very similar to Voltaire’s Candide. Except in reverse. C.J. set out with his faith in tact, encountered every type of zany misfortune you can imagine, and returned home with his faith in tact, but wiser. I want you to support this book. I’m not a Christian publisher, and in many ways this is not just a Christian story. It’s the story of a kid in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy setting out in the world to find the place the god he believes in intended for him. He persists. Things get worse. he presses on.

It’s a look inside a world few of us will ever be part of, even Christians. The traveling evangelical show. He writes about one of the most successful and emulated troupes, based here in Rockford. I think young Christians about to set out into the world would get a lot out of this book. Because faith is not a magic cloak you put on and everything suddenly turns out ok. Sometimes things still go horribly wrong. As they did for C.J. That’s when your faith is tested. As a non-believer, I still have the utmost respect about how C.J. handled those setbacks. I want you to read his story. Please help us in our final week by buying an advance copy of The Zen of Beard Trimming, and spreading the word.

C.J. Campbell

C.J. Campbell

I’ll be honest and admit I’m not a Christian, and this is probably not the kind of book my Zombie Logic Press normally publishes. But I am from Rockford, Illinois, a city devastated by blight, unemployment, violence, and misery. We are consistently told by the national media how awful we are. But that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to make the city a better place. I believe in the written word, and I believe there are very talented writers living in Rockford. C.J. Campbell is one of them. Our paths might have never crossed, but he took a position as head storyteller at Conveyor,a place where people tell their stories in different mediums. My creative partner, Jenny, was mesmerized by his story, and told me I should put his story into print. I told her if she believed in the story this much she could be project editor. She agreed, I think not understanding what a project editor does. (Everything). However, I couldn’t resist, and I was the first person to read the manuscript. It was a mess. It had been written over seven years on notepads, in journals, and then dictated to over ten different people before it was committed to a computer file. Aside from that, I loved it. It’s a very brave and funny story. He never loses his ability to laugh at things most of us would find devastating. What I’m saying is I want you to ignore the fact that I am not a traditional Christian publisher, and give this story a chance.

If You Had To Write In Your Own Blood, Would You?

September 24, 2014

Or you could just be happy for something small like feeling in your pocket and discovering your keys are there after you hear the door to the building lock behind you.

I’ve had a strange day. In my thoughts, at least. I have to be honest and admit I curate about a dozen blogs. Mostly because I like to write about various things like horror movies, poetry, fantasy football, politics, culture etc. I even have a blog about news stories in my hometown. I want to put some links to some of the various works I do here in case you’d like to take a look at it. Not sure why you’d be interested in Rockford, Illinois, other than the fact that it’s considered the 3rd fattest, dumbest, most violent, miserable city in America, and that where I sit and write this among the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. None of that really crossed my mind when I took the garbage out. Dummies Dummies

About 2,500 people read what I wrote today. Some bloggists might look at that number and scoff, others might think it’s a high number. The fact of that matter is the majority of those reads were a blog about piss. The rest were mostly about fantasy football.

Now if I were to write about something close my heart, like poetry, 27 people might show up on any particular day, but if I wrote some schlock about Elvira, Mistress of the Dark‘s boobs, I’d have steady traffic for months.

If I pretended to be an attractive woman writing erotica, I might get several thousand people to look at my writing on Amazon, but if I wrote a decent, heartfelt book about rhinos, crickets.

Trying to figure out what an audience wants in this life is fruitless, and it’s not something I’ve ever spent much time doing. What I do instead is I just write what I want, post it at one of my niche blogs, then go tinker with my fantasy football team.

I had a thought just before i took the garbage out that I wondered how many people would still write if they had to do it in their own blood. Not sure I would anymore. There was a time I would have.

Here’s some things me and my creative partner have made that you can buy.

Mermaids

Poetry

Then Exhaustion Set In

March 14, 2013

You know those commercials that tell you how fast a car can go from 0 to 60? Well, my life went from a virtual zero to a near infinity this past year. It’s not exaggeration to say I’ve probably had one of the more leisurely lifetimes in history. I eat. I write poetry. Sometimes I made drinks for people or delivered appliances, but I never took any of it very seriously.

Then things got serious.

And I’m busy.

Very busy.

And tired.

Very tired.

A few weeks ago I started really enjoying writing again. And I looked forward to populating this blog and a couple others with my random thoughts and poems. Then life caught up with me. i got offered jobs and newspaper columns and had to move and be responsible for children and fight other peoples’ battles and try to get enough rest in this maelstrom so i didn’t collapse. It’s been a ride. I keep waiting for it to slow down, but it doesn’t. I keep waiting for the next day with no responsibilities, but it doesn’t come.

I’m starting to feel like it’s paybacks for those couple thousand days and nights where i did what few people ever get to do.

Nothing.

Will nothing ever return again?

I sure hope not.

 

 

 

Eustress the Positive

February 18, 2013

One of the things I learned in psychology classes is that the body isn’t very good at differentiating between good and bad stress. To the body it’s much the same if things are changing for the better or the worse. All the body knows is things are changing. It’s another one of those cautionary sayings like “be careful what you wish for.” Or be prepared to get what you asked for. 

I personally enjoy long, dull periods where almost nothing changes, assuming the conditions aren’t abject poverty or misery.

I’ve never envied those who have been afflicted with fortune or fame. I think my best advice if anyone ever asked would be to avoid it entirely. 

I know I have.

Make no mistake, if you wanted to give me a million dollars I’d probably take it, but I doubt I’d do very much with it. I don’t have many unanswered needs or ambitions. 

Perhaps I shoot too low in life. I take great satisfaction in making “to do” lists of things that are easily achieved, then crossing those tasks off the list. It makes me feel accomplished. 

One of the most comforting things I ever heard was Andy Warhol’s quote that not even the President can get a better Coca Cola than you can. Or better sunshine, or better tasting water. See, you have the ultimate control over how much you’re going to enjoy every sandwich. 

I have a friend and we both tend to use George Clooney as an example of someone to whom everything in life has been given, but then a third friend interjected that Clooney had been hurt some years back during a film shoot and spends most of his day is some fairly serious pain.

Sometimes anonymity and time to work are the greatest gifts any writer can be given.

 

Mr. Snoodle Doodle Doo To You

February 17, 2013

It’s hard to take anything seriously while watching two kids run around the kitchen table singing Mr. Snoodle Doodle Doo, not that I had much of anything serious to say this evening, anyway. I’m just in a habit lately of making an attempt to write something every day. This isn’t the type of Saturday night I remember from my recent past. Thankfully. After the pizza and Play-Do I’m contemplating nothing stronger or more decadent than a cup of tea with honey. 

Who is this guy?

Me.

Ponies. Ponies.

Yes, it is true I may be on the dizzying precipice of a mild form of temporary madness, induced by sugar, white flour, and having small, energetic creatures whir around me in a frenzy, but I’ll take that over nights a decade ago where I wouldn’t even know where I was by this time on Saturday night. 

The only villain this night is Dr. Strangeglove. And with that I have some tea to brew.

I Should Have Stopped Writing Long Ago… But I Didn’t

February 15, 2013

I never really wanted to do anything but write. We took a vocational assessment test in 10th grade and everyone got back a book length printout about the careers they had chosen, where they should go to school, and how much money they would make, where they would live, and how many children they would have. My guess is those assessments were probably spot on, but I got back a single pag. One page. Because of the hundreds of ovals I had to choose from, I filled in only two: writer and baseball manager. I never really believed I would be chosen to manage the Chicago Cubs so there wasn’t much left to do except write.

One of my teachers called my parents in. She was concerned. She informed them I was serious about this writing thing and that was a problem.

And she was right.

It has been a great source of consternation to me all these years. In retrospect I probably had a better chance of being the manager of the Cubs than a good writer. Writing is harder. And doing it well is one of the most rare and elusive abilities in this world.

After twenty five years working in the service industry and delivering appliances, doing security, and cleaning buildings to support my unfortunate poetry habit, I have no further delusions my writing will ever amount to anything. I do it now for the same reason I did it then: I love it.

My parents never made any serious effort to talk me out of writing. Or enlisting in the Marines. It was my life and I was the one in charge of it. Hopefully there’s still a lot of time for me to write the best words that I’m capable of, but if they never come I don’t feel cheated by the process.

Consider Your Blog a Television Network

February 9, 2013

Mercifully for the reader I forget most of what strikes me as interesting enough to write about. For instance, I just wrote a blog about Sgt. Nick Yemana on Barney Miller. I leave the big game of how to solve the world’s problems and win at fantasy football to others. I used to hop out of bed at three a.m. and write down whatever inspiration I thought was going to change the world. 

Now if what I have to say isn’t more important than stopping two children from going full Omen and crashing out a second story window I let it pass. So, when i finally do sit down at a keyboard and no one is threatening to go thermonuclear I have to quickly get down whatever is top of mind. Sometime’s it’s Barney Miller. 

I have thought of being more organized as a bloggist and having an actual production schedule. Monday is poetry, Tuesday is sports, Wednesday is The Hall of Bad Dudes etc., but let’s face it, I haven’t combed my hair in a week. I think it’s useful to see your different ideas as “shows” on a network. Regular episodes will help the reader find and build a relationship with your shows.

Hypothetically it would be that way. In reality I’m happy just to slapdash any old thing together. Recently I’ve created some new blogs that need to be populated with fresh and interesting ideas on a regular basis. And I want to start a fantasy football blog for 2013. It will be a lot of work. But lately I’ve actually been enjoying writing. Hopefully I keep enjoying it and no one crashes out a window while I’m absorbed in these deep thoughts.

The Endless Mysteries of Blogging

February 8, 2013

I have more than one blog. On more than one platform. Technorati’s latest state of the blogosphere tells me there’s nothing unusual about this. I have more than one blog because I have several unusual and disparate interests. I like zombie movies and fantasy football and poetry and webcomics and… well, a lot of things. In fact this blog had been all but scuttled until a week or so ago when I decided I wanted to just write. MY other blogs had become restrictive in that the audience expects a certain thing. I’m sure most bloggers resent the perception some people have that what we do is share pictures of our cats and tell people what we ate for lunch. My impression of blogland is that if you did that, and didn’t do it with some sort of interesting twist, you wouldn’t have many readers.

Because I name this blog The Dirty Tricks Squad I was leaving open the possibility that I might use it to express some of my darker, more cathartic thoughts. But now that I’ve been writing a few days I’m not sure that’s what I want to do. I’d just like to write about things that are top of mind in my thoughts, life, or in the world around me.

I see people have started tuning in over the past five days and I’m not savvy enough to know where they are coming from or why they are here, but I hope you’ll be comfortable with me trying to write about an array of topics. 

At my most popular blog I know if write about fantasy football, or any sports related issue, people will show up in droves, which has led me to dislike writing about sports in any way. It’s just my nature to be resistant to giving people what they want too easily. You can get that anywhere. 

Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. to get out of bed and write down some lines that struck me as funny. I haven’t done that in years, but this morning they didn’t strike me as funny as they did last night. But that’s alright because for the first time in years I’m enjoying writing. No pressure. No obsession with how many people are tuning in. Writing should first and foremost be a passion. If it’s not, and someone isn’t paying you a lot of money to do it, I think it’s far too demanding and sometimes painful an experience to endure. I’m enjoying it again for now and I hope I’ll be able to say something interesting here.