Bring Your Kindle or Kindle App!

This Saturday, March 7 from 2-4 pm, I’ll be showcasing my latest ebooks at the Cuyahoga County Library in Parma, OH. I’ll be one of 44 other local Cleveland Indie authors getting to showcase work to an open audience. That’s a cool thing.

And hey, it’s a free event.

There will be a few other self-published writers speaking, but hey, you should totally come and check out my booth regardless. Just sayin’.

And oh, did I mention it’s free?

Here’s a link to register for the event itself if you like. Otherwise, hope to see you at my booth. With a mobile scanner ready.

 

Cleveland Indie Author Conference

Author Conference

As the picture suggests, a FREE author conference is coming up in Cleveland. And I’ll be fortunate enough to be there. Not just as a spectator, but as an author with a table full of goodies.

This is not the first “author event” I’ve been to though. A couple years ago, I was at Mount Union University for a similar function. Designed for alumni – that’s me –  I got to have my own table, surrounded by other alumni with published works of their own. It was a good experience and I was happy to be a part.

However, I won’t be on “home soil” this time around. This is a public event and full of folks that have probably never heard of me before. But hey, I’m willing to try and change that. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll encounter. And that’s exciting in its own right.

The Cuyahoga County Public Library showcase starts at 11 am and ends at 4 pm, Saturday, March 7.

 

“A Dinner with Titans” – The Heart of the Matter

In my last post, I talked about my February title, A Dinner with Titans. It’s all a part of the #12Months12Books challenge I’m undertaking. I feel one part inspired, one part insane. And I’m doing my best to stay on the inspired side of things rather than drifting into the insane section of “unachievable goals.”

But, here’s the deal: I’m excited. A Dinner with Titans is a story I’ve been working on for a little over a year, rotating through several drafts, and finally arriving at the one I’m about to let loose. As I’ve stated before, it’s a story about the hearts of people and honestly, I can’t think of a better analogy for the heart than a castle. You’ve got your defenses; you’ve got your high towers of solitude; you’ve got your isolation – the works. But, you’ve also got your beauty, your strength, and your safe haven. All the things that sum up the human experience from a heart perspective.

I’ve tried my best to do the analogy justice. It was no easy task and I’m sure when I read it later, I’ll be wanting to add more. There’s just so much ground to cover and within the context of a single fiction, it’s hard to tackle it all. My main character, “Caretaker,” has to do just that.

However, the big question I’m after is this: what is it about our hearts that make us want to protect and give them away so willingly? That’s where I’m going with this story.

Why and how do make these decisions. Why do we let some people in, but shun others? And how do we deal with the pain when it comes our way. My Caretaker has to make these choices throughout and I’m hoping the reader can relate to each of these in his own way.

 

 

#12Months12Books – February: “A Dinner with Titans”

A Dinner with TitansFirst off, much thanks to Diane Zizka – the one responsible for this cover piece. Thank you for your talents and hard work! It was much appreciated. I can’t do anything with watercolors. You’re a pro.

Now, onto the book itself, A Dinner with Titans.  Here’s a quick synopsis:

My February story follows a young man, Caretaker, who owns a castle in the wilderness. Everything’s fine except for one thing: he is surrounded by Titans, huge beings that destroy castles (like the Caretaker’s) and rule the land outside his walls. Over the years, the Caretaker has watched others fall and crumble, leaving him lonely and cut off from the world. But, the Caretaker makes a bold move and lifts his doors for one night – to host a dinner. For the Titans. His goal is to somehow make peace with those who might threaten his castle. But, when he opens his doors, he encounters something terrible. Not just the Titans themselves, but something sinister that has been eating away at his castle for years.

Okay – as you can guess, this story is a fantasy. But, I’ve written it as an analogy for the human heart. The Caretaker lives alone, behind his walls – guarded and afraid; fearful of being overtaken by the ‘Titans’ – the people we idolize or aspire to be like. His past experience tells him to keep his distance – to stay safe inside his castle – but his real enemy is not what’s outside his walls, but what’s inside.

When I was high school, I was asked to bring in an object representing love. I brought in a tiny paperweight. One that was shaped like a castle (terrible, right?) and honestly, I had no good explanation for it. But then I had to tell the class my reasoning, and I remember that presentation ending quite well; lack of preparedness and all. The ‘home is where the heart is’, but in my story, it’s a castle.

Looking back, I never dreamed I’d actually write a story about that concept, but hey, I’m a believer now.

I’ll have some more stuff to chew on with the next post. Till then.

#12Months12Books

I’ve started a personal campaign to write and publish 12 books in 12 months this year. Yikes, right? I would invite anyone else to join me, if they wish. Or take it as a challenge too. Much of this decision had to do with a desire to share my work more. And do so on a consistent basis. The rest came during some reflections over the past year.

In 2014, I did a lot of writing behind closed doors. Rather, I did a lot of experimenting. I started about 20 short stories, finished nearly half of them, and by year’s end, I published one of those of short stories. By the numbers, that’s not incredibly bad. But, if I were to continue this way – following through once every 20 times I began – it wouldn’t bode well for me in the long run. I’ve recognized I need greater discipline, specifically in bringing things to completion. This challenge will help me become better in that arena, I feel.

Or cause me to have a nervous breakdown by August.

No matter – I’ve started off 2015 on the right track. As I’m typing this, my January story is done and released –  The Color of Soul – and February’s title, A Dinner with Titans, is on its way to a final edit. Here’s my hope and prayer to stay the course as I head into March, April, and beyond.

Good to luck to those who are facing their own challenges this year. #12Months12Books, here we go.

Brotherhood – “The Color of Soul”

My latest ebook, The Color of Soul, is a story about two brothers. Sometimes, I feel like that’s all I need to say about it. When you’re talking brotherhood, you’re talking a unique arrangement. It’s a predetermined connection; started at birth and continued for life. And it doesn’t matter if you like the arrangement or not. You’re “stuck”, but you’re also incredibly blessed at the same time (and for the record, the same can be applied to those with sisters too).

In my life, the term ‘brotherhood’ has real resonance. For starters, I have five brothers of my own. All ranging from mid-forties to early twenties; me somewhere in the middle. With so many faces, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. But, the company around you is eerily similar. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing some of you, but not all of you. You see much of your own self in them, and conversely, they get to see so much of themselves in you. My brothers and I share plenty of familiar interests. We share certain viewpoints, beliefs – even mannerisms. And that’s not including how much we look like alike! But, at the end of the day, we’re different men. Each with his own life; his own trials; his own challenges to face.

Which brings me to this story. You see, I have brothers ahead of me, but I also have brothers behind me. I’ve been the “big brother” a long time, but I’ve been the “little brother” much longer. I know what it’s like to look up and see the next in line. I saw my older brothers with a golden lens and I wanted to be like them, if I could.

When I got two younger brothers, things changed a little. I found myself wanting to return the favor. I wanted to share interests, share insights, and ultimately, share life. Just as I had with my elder brothers. I didn’t know it then, but I’d come under a strange burden: being a big brother.

As an older sibling, you tend to feel a sense of guardianship. It’s not as demanding as being a parent – that’s a truth, but it’s a place where you can learn what it’s like to look after someone. And it’s completely voluntary, too. You can make the investment in your younger siblings, or you can choose not to. It’s really that simple.

My characters, Curtis and Fin, share a mutual investment with one another. They are brothers, yes, but their journeys are vastly different. And each brings that journey to the table; literally and figuratively in this story.

So here’s hoping you enjoy. The Color of Soul is now available on Kindle.

The Color of Soul – January 24, 2015

The Color of Soul

In keeping with my book-a-month challenge, I’ll be releasing another ebook this weekend, The Color of Soul, on Kindle. And yes, the black and white cover was intentional.

This one is shorter than last month’s, The Scientist’s Dilemma, and follows two brothers who have sat down to craft a story together; two creatives bouncing ideas off one another, making something original, and using plenty of color to do so. Told through the voice of the elder brother, Curt, this was a story I literally wrote in about two weeks. I’m not short-changing the effort, I just wanted to tell a story between brothers. I have five of them myself. It’s an interesting dynamic and I’ve enjoyed it greatly. It felt good to touch on that in this short story.

What’s more, I wanted to produce something simple. Something that was original and something that was unique. I feel this story does some justice in that arena so I’m pleased with that.

I’ve always been intrigued with how color affects mood. Each has a specific feeling attached to it. The brothers point that out rather poignantly throughout. Right down to the core.

Since it’s a shorter story, it moves along rather quickly and my hope is that people can read it in an hour or two. But, if it takes you longer, then that’s just as well.

Moving forward, my other hope is to have The Color of Soul in audio format. So as I prep for February’s next release, I’ll be working towards my first audiobook. Much thanks to my friend, Kris, who has been schooling me in audio training. It’s clearly been needed and I’m grateful.

More to come on that later, but for now, The Color of Soul is slated to be available on Saturday, January 24. And for those who read The Scientist’s Dilemma, there are a few “easter eggs” in The Color of Soul for you. Enjoy.

Holiday Reading: The Screwtape Letters and Blood Meridian

I’ve been busy reading both of these books during the holidays; Blood Meridian for much longer than The Screwtape Letters. The former is written by a man who may be better known for his story, The Road (McCarthy). The latter is a literary hero of mine (Lewis). And both are powerful wordsmiths. For example, some of his (Lewis’) sentences can be as long as a whole paragraph, if not as long as the page itself – complete with semicolons, hyphens, and multiple commas for good measure. And McCarthy can be just as lengthy, capturing the imagery of a sunset on an entire page and then casually jumping ahead three days in the next paragraph.

Basically, you have to be paying close attention when reading these guys. Otherwise, you’re bound to get lost somewhere.

If you know nothing of C.S. Lewis, it’s like this: asking for a small order of fries, but instead getting six pounds of ribs. At first, most people would be happy about the surprise, but would soon find themselves overwhelmed by what they’ve undertaken. And, if they’re feeling that way, they walk away before the meal is finished. That’s how I felt the first time I read something by Mr. Lewis – overwhelmed. But, I soldiered on and found Lewis’ works to be as engaging as they are difficult to understand, at times. Nowadays, I expect ribs; not fries. As for Mr. McCarthy, his style can be frustrating too, but I’d compare it to finishing a final exam. It may take you a couple hours, but if you stayed focused throughout, you’ll feel good about the result.

As for the reads themselves, Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is a dark tale about a demon, Screwtape, writing letters to his nephew – Wormwood, who is also a demon – about how to properly kill a man’s soul. Yikes, right? And McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is a fictional tale set in the old west – filled with plenty of violence, gore, and paces itself in a less apologetic manner than any John Wayne movie you’ve ever seen. Indeed, my holiday reading hasn’t been for the light of heart.

But hey, that’s okay. I’m not trying to kill the holiday spirit by reading dark or evil tales – I’m just doing some much needed weightlifting; specifically for my brain. I remember having to read books in high school that I hated; for instance, The Scarlet Letter. God bless the soul who likes The Scarlet Letter. I understand it’s been regarded as a classic, but to me, it’s just boring. As an adult, I can’t bring myself to read it again. However, I can bring myself to appreciate its word choice, its context, and its large vocabulary. And as a writer, I can challenge myself to read something for that very reason: to enhance my overall knowledge of words and ultimately, become better versed in how to use them.

When I first started writing stories, I found myself emulating the author I was reading the most. If I was reading something by Hans Christian Andersen, I’d shadow his work in a similar fashion. The same thing happened when I was reading Tolkien, Frank Herbert, or Stephen King. Essentially, what I was taking in, I was pushing out. This was good, at first, but I stopped this pursuit once I felt I had a “handle” on what I needed. That was the wrong choice. Like, applying for college when you’re still in the eighth grade – you can’t expect to do calculus well without first taking pre-calculus. A lot of aspiring writers tend to miss this, myself included. They jump into the deep end with an idea yet have nothing to draw from other than popular cliches or a list of their favorite phrases, often recycled or paraphrased from that favorite story. “They were frozen with fear”; or “They’d never seen anything like it.” Not. Good. Writing. I’ve found it’s better to diversify one’s literary vault than to squeeze it tight. If you’re writing historical fiction, then read lots of historical fiction. Find the buzzwords. Find what works; find what doesn’t. Then you can move forward.

At which point, you get to enjoy the fun part: finding your own style and voice. Only this time, you have a plethora of new toys (words) at your disposal. You’ll face less odds of sounding foolish to your readers and more like someone who has done their homework. A better place to find one’s self in and a better way to become less reliant on just one story.

The Scientist’s Dilemma… Here at last!

TheScientistsDilemma_JCLFaltot_Release

I am once again diving into uncharted territory with the release of my short story, The Scientist’s Dilemma, and I’m excited, to say the very least. I’ve spent a good deal of time making this work known in one way or another so this is the moment of truth. I’m finally getting something out there again. That’s a great feeling.

The past 12 months have been difficult, but good. I felt challenged by something that said to “write smaller” and here is the result of that acknowledged challenge. So after writing several short stories and needing to grow in specific areas, I was feeling confident enough to put another work out there. It’s not to say that this was at the top of that pile, but it’s the one that felt the most appropriate.

My first two books were essays; this is a straight fiction. My first two books were rather angst-ridden and littered with hard questions; this story has served as one way to absolve some of those anxieties and quell the desire to have all the answers at once. In retrospect, I think it all makes sense now.

But, enough of all that. My hope is that if you’re reading this, then you’ll consider giving The Scientist’s Dilemma a read and ultimately be encouraged, if not entertained, by it. Many thanks to Andrew DePolo, one half of the Twin Composers, for creating this slick cover. Looking forward to the next one we can cook up.

Till next time,

J.C.L.

 

The Scientist’s Dilemma – December 4th!!

It’s nice to have a solid release date and I have one. I’ve been posting, tweeting, and Facebook-statusing lately about my short story, The Scientist’s Dilemma, but I’ve been neglecting to mention when it will be arriving. So here it is: Thursday, December 4th for Kindle and Kindle apps. No paperback, no hard cover, just electronic this time around and it’ll be starting at $3.99 per download in the U.S.; an amount that will vary in other parts of the world. So I hope you’re one of the folks who has the capability to give it a download soon. No matter what part of the world you’re in.

And that’s it for shameless self-promotion and now onto a small amount of self-reflection.

It’s been over a year since I last published something and I forgot how nerve-racking the anticipation can be. As a writer, you must knowingly enter a certain mindset prior to releasing your work. The reason being that when you are putting something out to the public – one such as The Scientist’s Dilemma – you are inviting a wave of opinions, thoughts, critiques, and hopefully a small amount of praise directly to your doorstep.

A good analogy would be standing on the other side of a dam, pulling back the gates, and taking a deep breath as the wave comes crashing over. Yes, I’m sure that sounds overly dramatic but sharing stories is like trying to impress total strangers with a good joke at a party. Your acceptance – your initiation, if you will – is dependent on so many things: knowing your audience, having a strong delivery, and ultimately giving a compelling message. All three of those have to come together if your goal of making new friends will come to fruition. The same applies to writing and sharing a good story. And if I’m lucky enough to make some new friends then hey, that’ll also be a win in this newest of endeavors.

More later.