Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Louisiana Burn Voiceover Teaser

So you're thinking about purchasing Louisiana Burn, but that $2.99 is just a little bit too hard to part with. I understand! And this is why I'm here to help. It's pretty easy to go on Amazon or other sites that sell books and read a small sample of them to see if you might enjoy it. But I decided to take it to the next level, and had the talented Lynne Darlington, a voiceover professional from New York, record an excerpt for me. At this point, I'm happy to share that very voiceover with you:
video

If anyone is looking for a voiceover professional for any sort of work, I'd highly recommend Lynne; she was a pleasure to work with and obviously did a wonderful job. Her email is lynnevoiceover@gmail.com for any inquiries. If you'd like to check out her site, the link is www.lynnedarlington.com.

Also, I'd just like to mention that all of my books, including the others in the Sam Larkin Trilogy, are now available as eBooks... They can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, the Apple bookstore and more, all for just $2.99.

Happy listening and happy reading!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to Keep a Conversation Going on Twitter

The masterminds behind Twitter must have been people who didn't like to listen very much. In case you're not familiar with the concept of Twitter, the whole idea is that people can instantly spew the thoughts out to the general public anytime and anywhere - provided that they keep their thoughts to a maximum length of 160 characters.

Needless to say, if you're trying to hold any sort of intelligent conversation on Twitter, it becomes increasingly difficult. Let's be honest; if you can help it, 'u'd rather not hav 2 typ like dis' to save character space. Unfortunately, it's unavoidable at times in order to fit in the information you want to convey, along with any links you may want to go with it.

But my question is this: Is it actually even possible to keep a truly interesting conversation going on Twitter?

Let's go back a ways to pen-pals (boy am I getting old...). You would write them, and wait days or weeks before you heard a reply. But wasn't it true that part of the fun in the anticipation of the response? In some ways it kept the conversation going, because there were always new things that were happening in between the letters, and therefore there was even more to talk about each time you had the opportunity to reply to a letter. Fast forward to the present period, and here we are with instantaneous Twitter, where you may only have to wait a few minutes before someone replies to your "tweet". Now, I don't know about you, dear reader, but in my life, not very much can happen in one minute. And therefore the topics presented in this "tweet-versation" must be concise in explanation, yet verbose in thought. And that, my friend, is the challenge.

Over the next few days, weeks, months I've set myself a personal goal to reach out to those people on Twitter that are following me, and I, them. Of the 960 or so who are following me, I have had the pleasure of just a few conversations and those only lasted a few "tweets". I think it's high time that these people find out who I really am, and I who they are. And thus the challenge begins.

I will post back some findings on this experiment at a later date!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Day in the Mountains or You Never Know!

When I was in sales many years ago, I attended a sales seminar facilitated by a failed salesman, who had changed his career path from sales to holding seminars on "How to Sell". It was much like unsuccessful actors or writers, who became critics or wrote book on "How to become a Successful Actor" or "How to Become a Best-selling Author". The one thing he said I found profoundly enlightening was "You never know where your next sale is coming from." which I have found to be very true; consequently, I am manic about self-promotion. This would embarrass some people and certainly offends the dignity of some authors; however, I have found that doesn't only apply to sales but also to opportunities.

People will never know about my books if I don't adhere to that philosophy. This is likely the reason I have more than 40,000 books (5 titles) in print or the eBook format. None were self-published. I met one publisher in a coffee shop. One in a grocery store. Most of this as a result of not being shy, which I will never be accused of. Strike up a conversation. "What do you think of these new electronic books?" "Do you read much?" They may look at me strangely, but I usually manage to get in the fact that I'm a writer. "Really? Do I know your books? What have you written?" and so on.

Case in point: On a recent weekend I was traveling in the mountains. I had a time schedule to keep to arrive in Brevard, North Carolina. The trip started from my home in Greenville, SC. Mapquest said it was 58 miles, an hour and twenty minutes. Fortunately, I left early, as I usually do. If you have a car set up by a NASCAR crew chief or have participated in the "Pike's Peak Hill Climb", you might make it in that length of time. I found that estimate extremely inaccurate, and I am not a cautious or slow driver. The road is two lane, no guard rails and steep drops into Never Land. Some of the most beautiful scenery I know of, but certainly not built for speed.

After being on the road for nearly two hours, Brevard was not in sight. I was hungry and frustrated. Suddenly, there was a small mountainside restaurant not much larger than the first floor of my modest house. I needed directions and food, so I stopped. As I got out of my car, a jeep pulled in and three young people got out. Two men and a woman. They were dressed for a day tromping through the hills - the men in jeans and she wearing cut-offs and knee length rubber boots. They would surely know where the hell Brevard was and how long it would take me to get there.

I used the standard southern opening: "Are you all from around here?" "No, we're from Greenville, SC." The answer came. Although my hopes faded, I asked if they knew where Brevard was and they did. "About thirty minutes away." "That far?" "It's only about twelve miles." Are you getting an idea about the road?

Being on a health kick, I order only two chili dogs. I have found after much research, one can only get "real" chili dogs at small "Mom & Pop" restaurants far from civilization. I did manage to ignore the home-baked pies displayed on the counter next to the sign that said: "I need ones". To my point, they were the best chili dogs I have found since I moved to SC.

Since the threesome that got out of the jeep were sitting close, I struck up a conversation, managed to give them a business card that listed my books and a picture postcard of the cover of my book, "Nothin' Left to Lose", which had just been issued as an eBook. In the conversation, it came out that one of the men, Aaron von Frank and his wife Susan own a public relations firm, bitTyrant. That certainly caught my attention. I am always impressed by young entrepreneurs, who look or sound like they know what they're doing. Needless to say, I asked them to contact me, that I would like to hear more about their business.

The following Monday - by the way, because I had left Greenville so early, I did make it to Brevard barely on time - I received an email from them, giving me their contact numbers and even a suggestion to have lunch together in Greenville one afternoon. I replied, "What about Thursday?" "Fine."

To get back to my point, we did have lunch on Thursday and a great conversation. They are extremely knowledgeable about the business they are in and because of their youth and intelligence, creative and willing to take risks, technically well-informed (something I am not) and have major clients and a new technique, "Method Marketing". I had found a goldmine. The lunch ended with their offering to come up with some ideas - a few of which would have never occurred to me - and a very acceptable financial arrangement.

"Are you all from around here?" I had asked and look where it led. The theorem: You never know where your next sale or opportunity may come from, and, if you find a small Mom & Pop restaurant in the wilderness, be sure to stop for a chili dog or two.

from L to R: Susan von Frank, myself, and Aaron von Frank

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Every Man Needs a Toy

As children we all grow up with toys. Whether they be dolls (for the ladies) or wood blocks (for the gentlemen) we all have our fun. As it turns out, men always keep a part of that little boy with them inside; and let's be honest, even men need their toys. The funny thing, though, is that the toys just become bigger and more expensive, in addition to probably being much more dangerous. But what is life without a little risk? Sometimes the open road is calling and you just need to get out there. So without further ado, a few photos for my lovely readers:





Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In My Opinion: Lists

Maybe it's a time to consider questions and I have so many of them I could spend several lifetimes trying to answer them, but answers are usually subjective. One of the questions I am most frequently asked is what is your "Favorite" book? Movie? Oops! Those who ask more often than not use the word "Film". They assume I am sophisticated. Who is your favorite actor? Actress? Then again, I'm asked,  what do you consider the "Best" book? Movie? (Oops again...) Film? The questions are totally different and rarely do they require the same answer.

If I were asked to name some of the "Best" films I've seen, I would have to include "The Mark" with Stuart Whitman (nominated for an Academy Award), Maria Schell and Rod Steiger, but it is not one of my favorites. It is very dark though it has positive resolution. The same with "Night of the Hunter" with Robert Mitchum. I don't think I could ever refer to any film as dark as these, as good as they are (In My Opinion), as a "Favorite". A "Favorite" for me is one I want to see over and over.

"Shadows in the Sun" is one of my "Favorites". Is it a great film? Is it one of the "Best"? No. (In My Opinion). It's a decent film, has a few interesting nuggets, good performances, but not one I would consider for my list of "Best" films. And what of the ones that overlap? For me the consummate example would be -- get ready to laugh at my lack of intellect -- "Pretty Woman". Fluff? Probably yes. Chick Flick -- a term I think demeaning -- not quite. Entertaining? Absolutely. A best film? Yes (In My Opinion).

Technically, after thirty years of acting and directing, along with the music -- I was a busy little bee. Wonder where all that energy went? -- I can give some evidence. The writing is superb. Does it make a statement about mankind? To say that would be a stretch, but does everything labeled "The Best" have to make a statement about mankind? And, personally, (and I know a number of generally classed as "significant" people) I don't know anyone who is qualified to do that. The writing in this film achieves its purpose.

From a theatrical point of view, I have seldom seen, across the board, better performances by a cast of characters. From the leading characters to the hotel manager (Hector Elizando) to the elevator operator (one of the best "bits" I have seen), the shop ladies, who are so typical of exaggerated "class" -- I know some of those -- Jason Alexander, slimy enough to make one's skin crawl, all the way down to the character who walks the streets of Hollywood shouting "What's your dream? This is Hollywood. Everybody has a dream!" Maybe that's the statement about mankind. The film, IN MY OPINION, is perfectly balanced, but my opinion is the only perspective I can speak from, a fact many pontificators ignore.

Why write this little bloviating piece of opinion? Because we are constantly bombarded with "Best" and "Worst" and "Favorite" lists, and some are even more absurd: World's Most Absurd Warning Signs, Ten Most Ridiculous Phobias, World's Best Shin-Kicker. Films, books, music, artists and performers seem almost sensible by comparison. The problem I have is that the compilers or authors of these lists do not preface their list with the three simple words: IN MY OPINION, which is all it really is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Am I Going to Write Next? Part Deux

In my last post I was at a critical point. I had the settings -- Nashville, Philadelphia and New York with various stops in between. I selected a group of characters from my experiences (I think most writers do that) -- a singer/songwriter, a producer, a group of organized crime personalities and a woman. Maybe two or three. Easy pickins, I thought. (no pun intended).

The next step was the most worrisome: putting words circulating in my mind on paper. The first line is critical. A writer can win or lose the reader with a good or bad first line. Often when I am in bookstores, I open numerous books to read the first line. Most of the good ones have been taken: "It was a dark and stormy night." (Weather is used a lot.) "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." (Social commentary has also been done.) "I felt..." (I am not going to write a romance novel.) I decided on "It's gonna be a good day." That leaves the option for interpretation to the reader. Positive? Ironic? Negative? Disappointing? Good or bad, that's where I was determined to start.

I don't outline (I would feel like I was playing "Fill in the Blanks" or doing a research paper) or look ahead. I let the characters tell me where the story must go. I seldom know what's going to happen on the next page. This is insane according to some of my writing friends, but the technique has carried me through five published novels. With this book I was lucky; the story created itself as I wrote, part of that being because I was so familiar with the material. Once it was completed, I was fairly well pleased, but, as anyone who writes knows, this is where the real difficulty begins. Finding a publisher.

First, let me say I respect agents and I respect publishers. I just don't understand them. I did a bit of agenting in the music business and, when an act auditioned for me, I either liked them or I didn't like them and gave my true reasons in hopes that it might help them improve. When I began submitting this book, Nothin' Left to Lose, (yes, the title came from "Me and Bobbie MaGee") the response was more amusing than devastating. "Love country music, love Nashville, love your characters. We're going to pass." "The book obviously has commercial appeal, but I'm not sure I will be able to sell it because I'm not sure it will make any money." What's commercial appeal? This one I loved: "Your book has too much depth to appeal to a country music crowd." Really.

Finally, I met a small publisher at a literary conference (The "country music crowd" was not there) and after some negotiation, she agreed to publish the book. She was very optimistic. Was going to do an initial run of eight thousand books, which she did. I was going to be published. I didn't expect to be John Grisham, but I couldn't have predicted what was going to happen.

Advanced reader's copies were sent to reviewers. I did my part getting newspaper coverage in any town I had stopped in overnight. "I was originally from here and I wonder if..." Small town newspapers are a sucker for home-growns who have become famous or might become famous and know where their town is. I was shocked when the book got a very favorable review in "Publisher's Weekly" and also in "ForeWord" magazine. I was floating. The publisher scheduled a few appearances, but I handled most of that and had a pretty good schedule arranged by the time the book came out. The launch for the book would be at Bay Street Trading Company in Beaufort, SC, Pat Conroy's home bookstore and a diamond among independents nation-wide.

Three weeks before the launch, I started getting responses from the stores I had contacted in my marketing plan that they had buyers and couldn't get books. My first act was to call the publisher. No one answered the phones. Finally, two weeks later, I managed to contact her and she advised me that they were filing for bankruptcy, but if I wanted to get books for the launch, I could come to Columbia, SC and she would provide them.

Actually, as I look back, that lack of cooperation (she couldn't afford to ship the books) was a blessing in disguise (cliché, Carl). I went and got the books and the store had a great response for the initial signing (over 300 books sold); however, I knew that was the end of it. The publisher would ship no more books. The blessing in going to pick up the books was that I located the warehouse where the books were stored.

Everything had gone so well and the response to the book had been so good that I refused to let it disappear. I called a friend who had a van and, under the cover of darkness, we drove to Columbia, cut the chains on the warehouse door and purloined a thousand books. I had already decided to buy the remainder from the bankruptcy court, but I knew that could be months away. I set myself up as a distributor with Baker & Taylor and proceeded to ship the books myself, set up signings and get on with the promotion. The book sold over four thousand copies in the first year from my jury-rigged efforts. It was later optioned for film twice by Tim Moore (the man behind Gran Torino, The Changeling and others). Never made it to the big screen, but the experience kept me going.

The only real problem I encountered after Nothin' Left to Lose was what I was going to write about next, but that's a story for another time and not any less dramatic.

Nothin' Left to Lose will be released an an eBook in June.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What Am I Going to Write Next?

Ahh, what a question! When I began the quest to write a book, I started, as many writers do, with a story that was nothing more than "Bibliotheraphy". Did I coin that word? In any case it was centered around a rather unsettled life I was going through at the time, not that much has changed. After putting that beginning aside for twenty years to pursue borderline careers in Rock & Roll and theatre and at the behest of college bud, Tom Robbins, I picked it up again.

I was again unsettled, but thought maybe if I continued where I left off, I could prime the pump. When I read it, I couldn't believe how (wonderful? No. Awful) it was, but it was a beginning, so I persisted. After two thousand pages with nothing happening, characters I could no longer relate to, affected description and more, I threw it away and faced the proverbial question: "What am I going to write next?"

I was lucky in one sense. I didn't have to live up to a previous "best-seller". I didn't really have to live up to anything, but I didn't have a subject, so I began another self-serving "Bibliotherapeutic" (I know I coined that one) novel. It would have been easier to write a biography of someone else. I did complete it, though not my literary therapy, and even came up with a decent title: A Slow and Careful Dance. A couple of agents liked it, but did nothing with it; consequently I went back to my old technique and "put it aside". (It is still there). The same question then faced me again: "What am I going to write next?"

I asked friends and fellow scribblers and was answered by one friend with a question. Don't you love that? Actually, it got me started on the right track. The question was, "What do you love most?" Obviously, in my previous two attempts it was "myself", but that didn't work. I thought about it for a minute and a half and answered. "Music." It was a revelation. An epiphany. I was elated and then asked myself what I was going to write about music.

The answer was not immediately apparent, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew there was something to that suggestion. I had, after all, been in the business for many years, had taken part in almost every form of music, except classical. Pop combos, progressive jazz, doo-wop, rock and roll country and finally management. Much has been done with R&R(Almost Famous) and Doo-wop(The Five Heartbeats), so I discounted those. It was in the last two, especially management, where I believed I could use the knowledge I had gained through experience and come up with a decent story line.

I had been in Nashville when the country music industry changed. The old familial atmosphere was becoming a money-driven environment that competed with the most popular forms of music. Lyrics began to loosen up a bit with sex becoming a significant ingredient via Kris Kristofferson (Help Me Make It Through the Night), the white and black hats arrived and with all these changes, the more seedy elements of Rock & Roll and other forms of music tagged along.

This was where the story lay. I had dealt with these elements in managing groups I represented in Philadelphia and New York. Michael Corleone had nothing on some of the people I had to work with back during my Rock & Roll days and the general public had no concept of what the industry was like. Even many of the performers had no idea. They had people like me to handle those things. The story was there. The characters were there. I could write about something from first-hand knowledge that provided information that not many people knew. Now all I had to do was write it.

The ghosts of novels abandoned past haunted me, but I made up my mind to persist and the quest began.

(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Dealing With Reviews

Some writers say they never read reviews of their books. Quite simply, since there is a significant amount of ego within most artists in any field -- actors, singers, painters, dancers, etc -- that I have met, I find it difficult to believe that those writers who say that they have no interest in accolades of their work. The thing is we get reviews from very strange places, which brings me to an interesting little story of one of my best.

When my novel, Lowcountry Boil, came out I was a little nervous. Not because of the quality of the work, writers I greatly respect -- Pat Conroy, Steve Berry, les Standiford, Carolyn Hart and others -- had already given me great compliments, which I read and re-read many, many times, savoring each positive comment. What made me nervous was that it was loosely based on an actual event in Beaufort, South Carolina, a nine hundred million dollar marijuana conspiracy. What interested me was not the drug story, but the fact that it was run by many of the town's most significant professional citizens, some of whom went to jail and are now back practicing their professions. It also included shrimpers, boat captains, environmental law officers, contractors and others.

I didn't receive threats or derogatory remarks when the book came out, but I was never quite sure that there were not some people waiting for the proper situation to seek some retribution, even though the characters were totally fictional, which no one believed. Quite a few people in town bragged about how much they knew about the conspiracy or that they could identify each character in the book. Even Pat Conroy said I wrote "faction not fiction". The fact that I hadn't received midnight calls or messages in my mail box constructed with letters cut out of newspapers did not remove all of my apprehension.

A few months after the book's release, I was having dinner at an eclectic "shotgun" bar on Saint Helena Island. On "hamburger night" the crowd was as eclectic as the bar itself. They had the best hamburgers and spread of food one can imagine. Lawyers, doctors, shrimpers, laborers and retired people from some of the area's most exclusive communities and all for $6.95. The bar is in a remote area of the island and has a small parking lot, bordered by a wooded area.

I had gotten there late and had to park in the back next to the woods. it was not a lit parking area. Very dark. As I was walking to my car, I was nervous. Would have been even if I hadn't written a book. Suddenly out of the woods came two men who could have been cast in James Dickey's "Deliverance", beards, baseball cap and big loads of dip under their lower lip. I noticed all this. I'm a writer, which at that point I wished I weren't. Needless to say, I became more tense, but the car was only a few feet ahead. Suddenly I heard a voice. Now you must read this with a southern accent with a mouth full of dip...

"Carl?" the voice said. I won't say what my bodily functions threatened at that moment.

"Yes," I answered tentatively, eyeing the distance to the car. The two men moved forward. Close. I could smell the Copenhagen.
"You wrote that book, Lowcountry Boil, didn't you?" one said, his face inches from mine. I tried to think of what Sam Larkin, the leading character in the book would have done, but nothing came to mind.

"Yes," I said, my panic beginning to grow.

The man brought his face even closer. I think it was the Copenhagen. "Well, let me tell you somethin', son, that's the finest book I ever read and you can look at me and tell I ain't the book-readin' type." He shook my hand with his own calloused one.

"That's right," the other man said.

"Thank you," I said and they moved on.

As I drove home, I realized I had been given one of the greatest reviews I would ever receive. If I could write something that appealed to Pat Conroy and the "gentlemen" I met in the parking lot, I had covered a wide spectrum of opinion. I patted myself on the back and smiled all the way to my front door. It had been a great night.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The "Weddin'" At Water Hole Branch, Fairhope, Alabama

First let me set the stage. I arrived back in Greenville, SC on Monday evening after a writer's event for literacy, to find an invitation to a "Weddin'" (Yes, no "g" and that fact alone pretty much committed me to attend before I even knew who was involved). Further research informed me that it was a "ceremony" to formally join friends/authors Suzanne Hudson (A Temple of Trees, In the Dark of the Moon) and Joe Formicella (The Wreck of the Sunset Limited, Murder Creek). It was to be held at Water Hole Branch, outside Fairhope, AL, down by the whiskey bottle fence. Yes, it is a fence constructed with whiskey bottles.

Readin' further, I was advised that Miss Manners would not be consulted. It was held on "Fat Tuesday," the last day of Mardi Gras, after all. Then came the "rules" for attendance: Leave your dignity at home. Appropriate dress included camos, jeans, Mardi Gras colors and anything else one chose to wear (an opportunity for the Ostrich-skin boots). And, no presents would be tolerated. NO-ZERO-NADA! A breach of manner given such clarity. It would be tacky. "Suzanne worried about 'tacky?'" The service would be performed by Brother Wilson, Suzanne's ageless, childhood minister, the only traditional touch I noticed... On a positive note, I didn't have to unpack and repack my suitcase; it was almost time to go. Two days! I agreed with the invitation that it would have been rude to plan ahead.

Fairhope is at best a seven hours drive from where I live and driving on an interstate in a driving rain was not my favorite form of entertainment, having done it a number of times while on book tours for Lowcountry Boil and Louisiana Burn. This drive was, however, undertaken with the joy and anticipation that rarely surfaces. I was going somewhere I wanted to be and see people I wanted to see.

Suzanne and Joe live at Water Hole Branch (a tidal creek for those geographically challenged). It is not fancy, but it is home and a virtual shrine to the beauty of nature and simplicity. Huge and ancient live-oaks, hung with Spanish moss, border the drive and are scattered throughout the large property. The house is not an intrusion on the natural splendor of the site. Three or four levels of steps and landings lead down to "The Water Hole".

For the event, Mardi Gras decorations - the ever-present beads and other traditional accoutrements of the holiday season - adorned most every open space. But it was not "tacky". The altar was a wall of empty half-gallon whiskey bottles, approximately sixteen feet wide and six or seven feet tall, all appearing to be the same brand and clear glass. It was placed under the "Whiskey Tree" in front of the branch. An Academy-Award winning set designer could not have created a more beautiful and appropriate setting. It vibrated with joy and celebration.

The attendees were an eclectic bunch. Successful unsuccessful people and "just folks". Some of the notables in attendance were Joe Galloway, author of We Were Soldiers (film by Mel Gibson) and a decorated war correspondent, Everett Capps, author of Off Magazine Street/film "A Love Song for Bobby Long" with John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson, Milton L. Brown, songwriter, "Every Which Way But Loose" and other major hits and a whole bunch of people with similar credits, and others who were "just folks", not burdened or privileged, depending how one looks at it, with careers in the arts.

All of this atmosphere and happiness was accented by the music of Grayson Capps (yes, Everett's son), a consummate delta blues guitarist and singer, and Corky Hughes, formerly with the group, Black Oak Arkansas and other significant blues and jazz groups too numerous to mention. The music was phenomenal and intimate even though it was being played outside. Of course Grayson's "Water Hole Branch" was a favorite, along with "Lorraine's Song", both taken to their limits by extraordinary guitar mastery and Grayson's hard-life, raspy blues voice. Nothing else would have fit. These songs and others by Grayson are downloadable.

I won't try to describe the bride and groom's attire, best you see the pictures. I really don't have the adjectives to give them justice. Enough to say they were appropriate. The ceremony was the only traditional about the whole day, which went on, I was told, until four-thirty. IN THE MORNING!

I have never experienced such an atmosphere of elation, joy and celebration in my life. I was you all had been invited. I think the groom, Joe Formicella, summed it up best when he said "If there is peace anywhere in the world, it is here at Water Hole Branch." He could not have been more "spot-on".
Myself, Grayson Capps, and his father Everett Capps
The Bride and the Groom

The Water Hole Branch


Grayson Capps

Monday, February 20, 2012

On Being the Only Illiterate at a Literacy Event and Headin' to a "Weddin'"!

Okay, I'm not totally illiterate except when it comes to computers and other basic forms of technology. I did get a 'smart phone' at one point, but had to return it and get a 'dumb phone'. Did you know you can hit the wrong button on one of those things and wind up with two round trip tickets to Sweden? It is possible.

THE EVENT: Getting back to Hilton Head for Cooks & Books was a treat. Seeing friends, great food, rubbing elbows with writers I admire and good entertainment. The fact that the event drew a huge crowd (I couldn't guess a number) was also a tremendous ego boost for one who has been off book tour for awhile. I assume they all came because I was going to be there. All of the other writers assume the same thing, so I'm not an aberration. As far as illiteracy goes, I was never able to get my computer to hook into my email site; however, I am proud to say no one else (those not illiterate) could get it to accomplish that task either. The good part was that I arrived home safe, with no tickets from the South Carolina Highway Patrol and no car trouble. What more could I ask for? (see the following...).

Upon being able to get back to my cyber contacts, I found that I have been invited to a "weddin'". I can't tell you where because the town could not handle the crowd, and they asked me not to spread the word. Suffice to say, it promises to be a wild time on the bayou. Whether the creek can be called a bayou, I'm not sure, but I like the image of a bayou better than a creek. The title on the invitation is: Waterhole Branch Weddin' to be held down by the whiskey bottle fence. Miss Manners will not be consulted. No major production. Put on your camos or your jeans or your Mardi Gras colors and come on over. NO-ZERO-NADA GIFTS!

Can you imagine a better "weddin'"? Of course it's an eight hour drive to and fro, but that's all right. Can miles take the place of friends? Not on my watch!

I know this is a short post, but I have to go see if I can scrounge up some camos. Jeans - normal jeans - will be passé at this event. And, I can "guaRUNtee" there will be stories to tell and, hopefully pictures to show when I get back.

Let me hear from you, so I can validate my continuing to write these things.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Swamp People

Well, a week has passed without incident. No arrests, no muggings, no romantic assignations, haven't heard from the IRS, and the heating system and fireplace are keeping me warm. Did do one thing of note: went line-dancing last night and learned that I am directionally challenged. I have no idea why those people couldn't keep up with me. They kept miscounting and turning in the wrong direction, which caused no small amount of injury.

Am off to Hilton Head today for the South Carolina Literacy Council. Pretty upscale event called "Cooks and Books". Unlike most charity events, they are footing the bill. Staying at the Westin Resort, a seventy-five dollar a head reception and the event on Sunday where the island's top chefs will have samples of food and seven other authors and myself will sign books. Sounds like fun and will give me a chance to see old friends like "Fast" Eddie and Chaz, the framer, and Deb, the beautiful.

The new Cole Sturtevant/Carsyn Thoreau novel is progressing. Three chapters done this week; however, a lot of time spent in research on the lowcountry and antebellum mansions. I feel musty and historical. I just wish I knew the motive for the crime - if there was a crime - and who did it. It's interesting for an author to be as much in the dark as the reader, but that's what makes it stimulating. Can't outline; it would be like writing a research paper. I will have to take a break from the new book on the fourteenth, which is the date my publisher says I will be sent the new novel, A Season for Killing to be proofed. My favorite thing.

Things I never thought I'd do: (Should this be a regular part of my posts? Let me know) I never thought I would become addicted to a TV series (of course there's always Law & Order because sometimes it's on every channel); however while scrolling through what was available during one of my breaks, I happened upon a series on The History Channel called "Swamp People". Having written a book, Louisiana Burn, set in Cajun country and having spent a lot of time in the area, I couldn't resist checking it out. The people, their challenges, the danger they face and the beauty are mesmerizing. I could not create these characters if I tried and they're not scripted. The people are real - I've met a bunch of them - and they probably know more of life than I will ever know. And they are funny. One would have to have a sense of humor when hunting alligators for a living.

I know this is a rather fractured post, but my time is limited. Have to get on the road. Like the swamp people say: Ain' no choice. Got to get out de're and do it again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Very Warm Welcome!

I'm Carl T. Smith, an author (published) and pursuer of other wildly "secure" careers. I am now blogging. We'll see how that works out. I must be off to a good start if you're reading this. Don't stop! See it to the end; it won't take much time out of your life. I promise to keep this blog site active, with true stories (The Night I Met Joe Namath, Pat Conroy Hosts a Book Signing), photos, and thoughts that may be bizarre at times, reviews I receive and those I write about others, work and name-dropping. Of course you may have already figured that one out by the story headings.

I was born in Chicago - do I really need to add the state? - but left the Midwest when I was two - not on my own - to move south to Virginia. I am a southerner, although I am on my birth state list as an "Illinois Author". That may have been because of a long layover at O'Hare. I have heard some authors from far adn wide have made the state list for that very reason. I matriculated (I love that word) with a BFA degree from what was then The Richmond Professional Institute of The College of William and Mary (Now VCU). It was the arts division. It was a great creative school in a downtown area as energetic as "The Village" of the thirties and "The Left Bank" in Paris in the twenties.

After years in music as a singer (believe me, in all genres: combos, big bands, progressive jazz vocal quartets, doo-wop, rock and roll and country), at the behest of my best college bud, Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, etc.), I turned to writing. He suggested it was a good thing to do if one had run out of options, didn't want to work, were lazy and could fail and still maintain some measure of respect. "I'm a writer," you say. "Oh," the receiver says with raised eyebrows.

Strangely, I got a book published (not my first, they were still in the desk drawer) Nothin' Left to Lose. Since the publisher went bankrupt the day the book released (that's another story), despite excellent reviews in "Publisher's Weekly" and "Foreword", the writing career had suffered a definite setback. However, without options, not wanting to work, lazy and though I hadn't yet begun to consider myself a failure (I was getting respect), I decided to marshal on. I made up my mind to write a suspense novel, and, since my neighbor on Fripp Island in South Carolina had been to prison, I was gifted with the most difficult task in writing: an idea.

I wrote Lowcountry Boil, a suspense novel that introduced the iconic character Sam Larkin, luckily iconic to both men and women. After 46 rejections (another story) it was published. It was a writer's dream; it sold. It was optioned for film four times. I was on my way, or so I thought. (another story) Then came the sequels: Louisiana Burn and Carolina Fire. A new one, A Season for Killing, is on the way (1st of March). It introduces two new characters - will they become iconic? - Detectives Cole Sturtevant and Carsyn Thoreau. Yes, I spelled her name correctly. Got it off a vanity place on a Corvette. Her hair was auburn...

This opening blog post is an introduction to me, what I write, mr irreverence, and a life that has been a gift in so many ways. By medical community standards, I should have been (like Dennis Hopper said) dead a hundred times, but, hey, what about Mick Jagger, Mickey Rourke, George Jones and Willie Nelson? Maybe we all drank from the same fountain somewhere along the way!

I hope I'll see you next time (if I don't I'll hate you) and, above all, thanks for humoring me. I'll be devastated if you don't show up again.