Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Review

...my to do list recently bared a set of fangs and made short work of my backside. It appears that my calendar in the month of June is full, which of course isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Coaching my son's baseball team will eat up several days a week. (We're pretty darn good ;)

My first book signing is tentatively scheduled for mid-June, preferably a Friday evening.

While not delving into the matter with too much vigor during this post, there are now seven children living under my roof. (For those who don't know, my wife and I are licensed foster parents.) And for those of you who've kept up on the story of a certain young lady who occasionally pays us a visit...well, I'll be saving that surprise for another day :)

I've been informed that copies of "South of Charm" have been sent out to a handful of reviewers, and am nervously awaiting my lashes.

David has recently hinted that my name's been tossed into conversation to perhaps be invited to this year's Buckeye Book Fair, now the largest author event in the state. Black Sharpie is ready. Fingers are crossed.

In the meantime, Jennifer from "Serendipity's Library," spent this past weekend in "Charm," and has posted her review. She somehow managed to get her thoughts typed up before even the local paper. Jennifer, I'm forever grateful! Please link over and check it out ;)

Lastly, I leave you with an excerpt most will agree as something a bit less than "Charming..."

...I discovered a box of Wheaties, misplaced in one of the cupboards above the stove. Nearly hidden and shoved back to that place in every kitchen where long-forgotten edibles are stored for proper spoilage. Too much left to throw away, too little to waste time on.

I studied the team photo on the front of the box. The NCAA champion Tar Heels, with Michael Jordan's gaping smile front and center. Growing concerned, I tried to remember how long ago North Carolina had beaten Georgetown for the title. But I was hungry, so I rinsed out a bowl from the sink and took my chances.

With the bowl on the kitchen counter, half full of cereal, I was preparing to drain the last swallow of milk from the plastic jug in my hand, when I stopped, eyes focused on the wheat-colored flakes, thinking I'd seen something move.

I lowered my chin to within an inch of the bowl. Spotted an orange bug, or worm, I wasn't sure which, taking its time burrowing a path under the top layer of cereal. Then I spotted another, and that was enough.

I reared back, trying not to think about what I'd nearly swallowed, grabbed the bowl, emptied it into the over-flowing trash, and watched the flakes scatter and fall through crevices made by empty soup cans and crumpled packs of cigarettes.

Not thinking clearly, I returned the Wheaties to the cupboard, deciding I wasn't hungry after all...

"South of Charm"

Thanks for reading,

EL ;)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shhh! Can you keep a secret?

...during the past week, best selling writer John Sandford released "Buried Prey," the next highly anticipated saga regarding the life of Minnesota Special Investigator Lucas Davenport.

Within the same cluster of days, one-time power agent turned writer, Nathan Bransford, released his YA grandslam, "Jacob Wonderbar," armed with a nationwide release, an upcoming book tour, and a blog posting of the first chapter to his five thousand loyal followers.

And despite the ache of salt being rubbed into an open wound, I managed to stumble across a handful of blog postings this week describing the do's and don'ts of our precarious world of publishing...and found myself guilty of breaking more laws than I'm willing to share.

All this during the one and only week that "South of Charm" was quietly placed onto the shelves of a select few Indie-Book stores scattered about locally, including my editor's shop, The Wooster Book Company.

It happened without the help of bullhorns or a guest appearance on Good Morning America. No ads were taken out on massive billboards foreshadowing the city limits. No articles in the Times. Just a few copies squeezed onto the "Local Writers" shelf, three rows back from Sandford, and hardly noticeable behind Bransford's cardboard display of a giddy eight year old dressed for a launch into space.

You won't yet find it on Amazon, and if Googled, the title appears as a blip, an accompanying photo or two, and nothing more.

And so by Thursday, I was glum, figuring my chances of making a sales splash had been thwarted on game day.

Then on Friday morning, having not heard a peep from my publisher, a twenty-something fellow named Bob from our warehouse, entered my office smelling of grit and mildew, and plopped into a nearby chair. I've often considered Bob out of sorts when not armed with an axe and covered in chips from a recently downed maple tree. He's overweight, foulmouthed, and troubled when unable to stir up a healthy fist fight during Happy Hour.

I prepared myself to be sprayed with obscenities for not inspecting the chemical ingredients in a length of pipe to be sent out for x-ray. Instead, he downs the remainder of his bottled water, pushes out a belch, and says, "Wanted you to know that I bought your book yesterday after work."


"What? Did ya think I couldn't read or somethin? The big dumb warehouse packer can't barely spell his name, much less read a damn book?"

I raised an open palm in defense. "No no...I mean...thanks Bob. I hope you like it."

Not sure how to respond, he hesitated, offered a nod, and stumbled out the door.

...it was later that evening when I received an email from David, my editor, whose short message lifted my spirits.

"Your book did well today."

I've been informed of an upcoming book signing or two, staying local. The review copies have been shipped out, and the results will coincide with the Kindle release, be them positive, or not so much.

Until then, "South of Charm" is available through Wooster Book's website in the link below. It's the story of a ten year old boy named Danny. He's got a bit of a problem. A secret that he's not wanting to share. And he's about to find out that he's got something a bit more inside of him. Something inspiring. A talent he never knew he had. Powerful enough to stir an entire community into a frenzy. But is that really what he wants? When you're ten years old, is that what anybody wants?

...A day in the sun had burned Mom's cheeks and forehead, the flesh above her brow stretched tight, causing her scowl to appear uncomfortable to maintain.

I followed her gaze to an unoccupied corner of the dining room, where a metal shelving unit was being used as a storage supply for extra menus and utensils bound together in napkins. My eyes darted from the hateful expression frozen upon my mother's face, to the cluttered shelving unit, searching the shadowy areas on either side for anything out of order.

While sitting next to her, I glanced down and noticed that she had backed out of the sandals she had worn while touring the battlegrounds at Gettysburg. She had balled up her toes, clenching them together like oddly shaped fists attached to her ankles.

Having lowered her arms to where they rested upon her thighs, she had joined her hands together, her knuckles trembling.

Troubled, I turned my attention back to the far corner of the dining room, scanning the area in question. When we first entered the restaurant, I spotted a six-by-eight bronze sign fastened to the wall next the hostess station which stated that due to safety requirements, the dining room's full capacity under state law was one hundred eighty-five people. With nearly every table being used at that moment, I was confident that the restaurant was full. However, while everyone else in the bustling eatery was able to see one hundred eighty-five people enjoying their meals, I was convinced that somehow, Mom was seeing one hundred eighty-six...

"South of Charm"

Thanks for reading ;)


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cars, Guitars, and Children from Mars...

So here's the week that was...

...received a phone call at work. Recognized my wife's cell phone number, thought it odd of her to call the office before my lunch break, and picked it up.

"What's up?"

"The car's dead. I'm at your sister's place, stuck in the driveway."

I grimaced. "Well...I'm at work."

"Considering how I called you there..."

"Okay, well try and start it with me listening."

I heard a clickety-clickety-bzzzz, and nothing more. Then my wife said, "Any ideas?"

"Sounds like a dead battery. Gonna have to call your step dad and have him replace it. I'll pay him back after work."

"Well...I don't have time for this!"

"Would you rather walk?"

"Very funny." Click. I dropped the phone onto its base, tried to refocus on the doldrums of Quality Control. Tried not to think about my book release.

At that moment, in a section of town considered precarious by many, three young kids, the oldest being a day or two shy of four years old, the youngest, a little girl hobbling on knees barely mature enough to support her weight, were spotted walking hand in hand along the sidewalk. Three soggy diapers clinging to their waists and nothing more, they were stumbling barefoot under rainy skies in the direction of a busy intersection. And Children's Services were called...

A few minutes passed, the phone rang again. My wife's number. I released sigh, considered my options, picked it up on the third ring.

"Wait till lunch and I'll see what I can do."

"Shut up and listen! Our social worker called. ...there's three of them! She's not even sure where they live yet! I asked her and she said Mars for all she knew! ...the oldest is still in diapers!"

I held the phone out from ear. "I'm not following and you're giving me a headache. Is the car running yet or not?"

I listened as she caught her breath, no doubt silently counting to ten in order to explain the situation without shouting. Telling herself to be patient, she was speaking to a male after all. Then, "I got a call a minute ago. They picked up three kids walking through town in nothing but diapers. They have no idea where they come from, but they're wanting us to take them in until they figure out what's going on."

My turn for a breath. "Did you say three?"


"Are you kidding me? There is no way..."

"Look, I know. But I really want to do this. The little girl's only like, a year old."

I grew quiet. Turned and looked out my office window. Watched the rain falling like a plague. Imagined walking through it with nothing on. Wondered what the temperature was. Then closed my eyes, cursing under my breath while offering my computer a nod.


Later that evening I watched from the kitchen table as three little people quickly took over my home. Already caring for our own three kids, we'd just added three more. A little boy who they guessed to be four. His younger brother, a possible two year old hiding under a head of bobbing curls the color of straw. And a little girl, one-ish, who'd maybe taken her first steps a week earlier. All of them, now bathed and clothed in hand-me-downs from the basement, screaming and playing and running in circles around the family room.

My wife joined me at the table, a fatigued grin on her face.

"Do we know where they're from yet?" I asked.

"They tracked down the mother. She was passed out on the couch. These guys made it downstairs from a third floor apartment. Decided to go to the store to get some food."

I huffed. "So I take it we can't give 'em back for a while."

Her gaze met mine from across the table. "Thank you for saying yes."

"The oldest one is still pooping in his pants."

"I can fix that."

"It'll be tougher than a car battery."

"It'll be fine."

And it was then, amidst the mayhem of vagabond toddlers from another planet, when my oldest son entered the family room, his acoustic guitar cradled under an arm.

Without a word, he sat down on the floor and began playing. The chorus from "Stairway to Heaven." Nearly the entire scale to Dave Matthews's "Crash," followed by something called Five Finger Death Punch, a name I found disturbing, but a tune worthy of tapping a foot to.

And as he played, the kids quieted down. They stopped running. Stopped screaming. Sat down next to my son. And listened.

The house became a home once again. I offered my son a wink. And my wife, looking ever more like the cat who snagged the canary, leaned toward me and said once again, "It'll be fine."

Thanks for reading...