It’s Finally Here!

FALTOT

Ok – so I’ve been periodically keeping my blog up to date about a book I wrote and at last, that book is available. I’m very excited (seriously), but also fully aware that the road ahead is quite long. So no trumpets blaring, no grand entrance – just me being ecstatic over another publication.

Any who are interested in checking it out may do so at any of the following websites (but I’m sure there are more):

http://www.barnesandnoble.com
http://www.amazon.com
http://www.iuniverse.com (not up yet, but will be).

This took a while to come about but this venture was certainly worth it; as is any hard labor. Now it’s just time to share it with others. And be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly criticisms/experiences that may follow. So here’s moving forward with a positive outlook. You have to be that way when you write a book about being single anyway, wouldn’t you agree? Otherwise, you’re just sunk before you get started.

More good stuff to follow soon!

Till later – J.C.L.

Been rather quiet lately….

It’s not that I’ve been uninspired or that I’m too busy, I just haven’t felt compelled to blog about anything lately. In truth, I’ve been trying to make some things happen on the book release front. Editing and proofreading are by far my least favorite part of writing. Yes, there’s the wait associated with having completed your work, but nobody likes to chop up and reassess their own projects. Once you finish something, you feel like it’s a done deal. Ah well.

The other downnside is that revisions sap your strength. I love to be creative but when it comes to restructuring that creativity, it can feel like a total buzzkill. Any writing endeavor I may have had gets pushed to the back of my mind, or the bottom of the importance list as I focus on the less enjoyable parts of this process. And so, things go quiet for a while.

That being said, I’m pleased to say that the editing and all that jazz is DONE. So now comes that waiting part. My book will be ready to go live in the next couple weeks so when the time comes I will not be so silent anymore. In the meantime, I’ll look to share some more snippets and/or excerpts. How else are you supposed to get the word out? Am I right?

Till the next time then.

A Small Snippet from the Next Book

The title of my book is too big to put in a single header (Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts…made while being single), but here’s a short exerpt I’d like to share regardless.

To set the stage, one of the chapters focuses on some quick and easy survival techniques. Nothing too crazy like hunting apartment squirrels for food; or the burning of bedroom posts in your gas fireplace for warmth – just the basics; the things you wouldn’t necessarily think about if you were about to live on your own. These are but two of the many within the chapter that I felt up to sharing this afternoon.

So here we are. Hope you enjoy a good laugh or two (as well as some enlightening insight for thought):

If it still smells good…then you can eat it.
If it doesn’t, then please throw it away. My stomach can handle just about anything. Old salami, stale bread, even a box of Cheez-Its that have made it through three relocations (yet were never been opened)…you name it, I could probably engulf it with minimal side effects. But I will warn thee – do not, under any circumstances, think that your stomach can handle spoiled milk. Dairy is public enemy #1 of things-to-not-eat-when-past-expiration. So no, no, and no. I’d sooner partake in a cage fight than be force fed spoiled milk. A broken nose or a busted jaw pales in comparison to the backlash of curdled milk consumption. Bruises will heal and bones will mend, but the scars within the lining of one’s stomach will last forever.

When moving locations, the amount of “free” food you provide…is proportionate to the amount of “free” help you get.
It’s no secret that I’ve relocated plenty of times. Each move became a more arduous task than the last. The first one entailed the use of my parents’ vehicles; the second involved a friend’s truck; and by the time I got to the latest move, I needed a conversion van, three cars, and a loading dock. You tend to accumulate a ton of crap when you live alone (which still boggles my mind) but since you can’t move everything on your own, you need some “hired help”. The only problem is, nobody works for free these days so you have to come up with ways to acquire certain aid.
In my experience, I’ve discovered that a large cheese pizza with pop is equal to 2.5 college students. This equation changes if you add a six pack of beer though. In which case, the result is now equal to three adult males. Add the pizza and you have the makings of a basketball team (with one really tall guy to cover the extra .5).
I will caution on one thing though: don’t always think that three adult males are greater than 2.5 college students. In fact, college students will work for less, do not bark back when given orders, and there’s a good chance their endurance levels are higher. You’re probably better off trying to get college students in that case. They’re beyond critical thinking, semi-efficient when given proper direction, and easily bought with a few pizzas; the future of America at its finest.

Stay tuned for more updates this weekend!

Possessing the “Look” of a Writer

Long Hair Photo

That’s me in the foreground, not the back.

My friends often tell me how I don’t always fit the profile of an aspiring author. They say that I’m missing certain “criteria” as it pertains to being a writer. This picture may be proof of that, no? Well, it’s not that I’m uneducated, or that I’m from the Midwest, or that I have a slight love affair with giant squids (those animals are amazing, aren’t they?!); no, it’s the other aspects of my life that seem to be lacking in their eyes. I’ve spent some time compiling their various reasons and I have placed the top 3 below.

So here we go.

A) A long, scraggly beard – Writers are sometimes viewed as being unkempt. That means we tend to neglect certain facets of our hygiene; the most noticeable being our hair. We are so focused on our writing – a process by which we hope will aid in shaping the world and solving various theories of the universe – that we forget to shave. In the olden times, when scribes were dipping their quills in ink, shaving must have not been very important on the morning “to-do” list. Famous writers like Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Socrates; these guys sported some hefty facial hair. Norelco and Gillette weren’t around back then, but these guys could have at least picked up a cleaver and done a halfway decent hack job to their beards. And yes, I am well aware that there are female authors too – I just didn’t really feel like going there on this one.
B) I don’t do drugs – This is an interesting one. Geoffrey Chaucer once stated, “People can die of mere imagination”, and I couldn’t agree more. A short trip on a foreign substance could lead to a balcony leap or something equally foolish in pursuit of an original idea. I’d rather suffer through a few writer’s blocks than dip my tongue in acid for some inspiration. Besides, and I quote Geoffrey again, – “All human activity lies within the artist’s scope”; so basically, just living amongst people will give a writer everything he’ll ever need to write about. Or at least provide him with something to get him started. The rest is up to the creator.
C) Lastly, I don’t isolate myself – As much as I’ve enjoyed having my own apartment, I don’t really love the “living alone” thing. It’s alienating and can be depressing at times. To alleviate this, I like to have some company when I can. But even more so, I’ll leave my apartment to be sociable, thereby being active in my pursuit of companionship. If you look at some of history’s great writers, you may not get the same picture. Henry David Thoreau was famous for his cabin in the woods; a place he went to for solidarity and quiet so he could better focus on his work. As much as that intrigues me, I don’t foresee myself doing that anytime soon. But hey, you never know….

When you look at these stereotypes, I suppose you could say that I don’t really measure up. Yes, there are several modern writers who don’t fit this this bill either so I suppose there’s hope for me yet. I’ve done my best to find a picture that would accurately, and adequately, showcase me as “fitting the description” so there you have it. I’m obviously lacking in facial hair. That much is certain. And you’ll notice that another person had to have taken the picture (hence filling the “social” criteria). The only thing in question is my expression, I figure. And I may appear to be somewhat homeless. The hair on my head could have been harboring a nest of birds, but I don’t recall that ever being the case so we’re good there too. Granted, this photo was taken about eight years ago so it’s not exactly current, but you get the idea.

Maybe one day though, right? Then I’ll know I’ve “made it” as a writer. When the world tells me who I am – I’ll know what I’m meant for. That’s the goal, correct? Well, that answer is no, absolutely not. If the world tells me that I’m to be unclean, a user, and an alienated man – then I’ll know that I’ve lost my focus. However, if I’m called to suffer a few trials then sure, I’ll do my best to see it through (minus all the hygiene troubles, of course). The last thing I’d want is to be just another guy whose selfish rebellion against himself skewed his own perception as to what he was meant for.

At which point I’ll reluctantly put that sweatshirt back on and sit in a pit of despair as I await divine inspiration. Come to think of it though, if I still have that hoodie, I’m donating it to charity right away. That and my hair if it ever gets that long again. No doubt about that.

Remodeling: What a pain, right?

This is going to be a short one.

It is my hope that many of the changes around here are not going unnoticed. In an effort to make that known, I thought I should post something about the remodeling I’ve been up to. This is in part due to my getting antsy for the release date. Not in a bad way, but more in a “Hey, you’re finally going to publish your second book” antsy. So rather than carry on about potential pitfalls or other fears, I’d like to mention some cool things going on:

1) A good friend of mine was kind enough to do some promotional photos for me. You can check her out at http://ksmithphotographs.com/ I went ahead and posted some of these on my Facebook page. You may also check these out at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Epiphanies-Theories-and-Downright-Good-Thoughts
2) Additionally I went and changed the banner and logos for the Facebook page and also did some tweaks to my blog. I figure you need a change of scenery every once in a while (don’t we all?).
And lastly,
3) My late nights of reviewing and editing have earned me a new status on my Starbucks card. That means I get a free drink (or food item) upon my next stop there. Everybody needs a place of Zen; mine is the local coffee shop.

Yes, it’s the little things in life that make the labors worth your trouble. Or it’s just the affirmation that you can order a hot tea and not pay a dime for it. That’s reassuring too.

That was fast!

We all love to get things in a timely manner. This typically means as soon as possible; not humanly possible – nay, that would take too long. Instead, we prefer to get things before the time that was told to us. That’s why we must be conservative in our lead times when we make promises. It’s sales 101 if you ever take the course.

In my case, I received the production draft for my next book, “Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts…made while being single” this morning. I was quite pleased by this, to say the least (I’m holding my excitement back as best I can as I type this). I was not anticipating the turnaround to be this fast so I believe a nice pat on the back is deserving to my publisher, iUniverse, for their efforts.

*pats on the back from across the computer* – Did you feel that iUniverse? Just checking.

Now comes the least favorite part: any final edits. A few weeks ago I posted a picture of the cover page for this book. The original manuscript was somewhere in the neighborhood of 155 pages but still needed some tweaks; not to mention (but I will) how I decided to combine the book rather than split it in half. This brings the total to just about 250 pages. I’m excited on so many levels but it appears my evenings will be spent doing some final reads before this is absolutely final.

In the meantime, I’ll provide a few snippets here and there that I hope you all can enjoy.

Till next time!

Made a difficult choice for my next book…

Ok, so I’ve been touting the next edition of “Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts…” recently and I had to make a rather gutsy call: instead of taking the advice of my publisher and splitting this book in two, I’m going back to my original plan of combining the whole thing into one book. This brings my next book’s page count to over 250! This, coincidentally, is nearly TWICE the size of my first book.

Go figure, eh? “Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts…made while being single” will effectively be two times the length of “Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts…made while playing video games.”

Apparently, I had much more to talk about when I was single than when I was playing video games. I suppose that isn’t much of a shocker to anyone, but hey, that’s just what I’ve discovered along this journey. My reasons for doing this are varied, but overall, I just knew that this book was more than just another humorous venture: it was therapeutic; it was introspective, and it was chock full of good info for anyone who has tried to find meaning in life. Since that’s what the core of this book is about, I don’t want to shortchange anything by releasing a partly or halfway done piece of work; no, I’d rather it all be out there.

With that in mind, I am under a slight delay but am still shooting for a release in the next month or so. More info to come on that and a potential book signing event in May here in Cleveland (this writing books stuff is a lot of work!).

Till next time…and with more pages.

All is well – I found a lost shirt

I felt like being a little more light-hearted this morning. Yesterday was fileld with some real self-reflection type stuff, but this morning? Well, it’s a reflection but in a different way.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been missing my gray thermal shirt. It’s not my favorite shirt or anything, but it is a valuable piece of my wardrobe. Like most guys, if I get a new article of clothing, I wear it as much as possible for a few weeks. I like letting people know that a) I dress myself and b) I can, in fact, keep up with the times. When you’re my age and you start looking through your closet to find only shirts that say “Be Like Mike” or “Hollister”, you begin to shop around. It’s as important for you as it is for your social circles – they go hand-in-hand, so to speak.

So anyway, I recently got this nice gray thermal. I love thermals. They’re like under armor but without that peel-me-off-slowly factor. Every holiday or birthday, I tell my family to buy me a couple thermals and I’ll be happy. Sure enough, I’ll receive a thermal but what’s more prevalent these days are items like socks or boxers. I believe I have enough boxers to wear for two months without doing laundry (and that’s not even turning them inside out either).

My thermal is right in there with the most coveted pieces of my clothing arsenal. But a few weeks back, I lost it. I couldn’t find this thing anywhere. Did I leave it back at my parent’s house? Did I leave it a friend’s? Maybe my girlfriend’s? I really had no idea and once I got through asking every plausbile guilty party, I had nothing to show for my efforts. I felt sunk. Clearly some thermal gnome or enemy of mine came and snatched my shirt away. This was my logical conclusion.

Woe is me.

Funny thing is, when we lose something, we still keep blaming everything under the sun but ourselves for this lost object. Sure, I may have misplaced it myself, but this is me we’re talking about. I don’t misplace things. I just keep them hidden till I want them later. And I hide these items so well that even I won’t be able to remember where something is when I go a-searchin’.

Ok, that may not be completely true of my own character, but clearly I’ve been down since parting with my thermal so abruptly. Well, wouldn’t you know it; as I’m cleaning this morning, I find myself digging to the bottom of a dirty clothes hamper and lo and behold – there she was. Wrinkled, smelly, and inside out; I believe one of the sleeves was scrunched inwardly, making it appear like I had no left arm had I been wearing it recently.

Despite the outward appearance and the clear lack of cleanliness, I still gave my thermal a nice hug. I was elated. This kept me from shopping and complaining for another week so I was now in a good mood. I then realized that I had stuffed my thermal in there several weeks ago and just never got to the bottom of my laundry hamper. Here, all this time, I had been moaning and groaning for something I couldn’t find, but all I had to do was dig a little deeper in my own mess to find it.

I don’t want to go any deeper with that thought, but rather let it ride a bit. Instead of dwelling on that, here’s to a day enriched by a shirt found that once was lost. It may have been buried in some gunk (quite literally) but I eventually pulled it back from the depths.

Now, I just need to wash the darned thing. And not forget it in the dryer. That could be much worse (and more embarrassing) than leaving it at the bottom of a dirty clothes basket.

Ok, time for some shameless self-promotion.

Rough Draft

The above picture is the printed manuscript of my next book, “Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts…made while being single.”

It’s longer than a few pages, I assure you, so don’t let the angle of lens fool you.

With the first draft finally in hand, I’m a little on edge as the countdown to the release date begins. It’s been a long road for book #2 in this series; a road that I thought would culminate last July 2012 (yes, it’s been that long), but it’s really been worth it. THere’s an old Chinese proverb that says the “journey is the reward”, but I feel whoever said that never really finished anything in life. They must have kept trucking along; hopeful that when they looked back on their life, they’d be happy at what they left behind them. In reality, most journeys are arduous undertakings. The hours in which we travel are long, never passing how we would prefer and our goals beckon at us to come closer even if we are completely unable to do so. That being said, I don’t always buy into the “journey is the reward” talk. The reward is merely how you perceive your labor whilst along that journey. For me, I’ve honestly enjoyed putting in the hours, making the edits, and carefully remaking more edits. My reward is the elation I feel over doing what I love to do: tell stories. Stories that I hope others find to be entertaining, but enlightening as well.

So I’ll end this with a “stay tuned for more” message as I work towards a release date. There’s still some final edits to be made.

Epiphany: You can avoid any fist fight … if you’re naked.

I didn’t experience this, per se, but it was something my younger brother told me while in conversation. Whether or not he actually employed this tactic is still a mystery, but I found it funny and entertaining regardless. We were bantering on the phone about life and what not when he suddenly joked that “nobody wants to fight a naked guy”. I laughed; he laughed and we went on in the conversation. But once I hung up the phone, the thought returned to me. Not of one guy fighting another guy who was nude; my mind simply returned to that peculiar notion.

So here’s the question – does anybody want to fight a man who is without clothes, aka naked?

When I think of the fights I’ve witnessed (and there were a few), I discover that there are a few common denominators in each of these situations. One, both participants were of about equal size in stature. Sure, one guy may have been slightly larger than the other, but this isn’t heavyweight boxing. You don’t exactly “weigh in” before an impromptu bout. Second, these fights revolved around a disagreement that apparently warranted a physical altercation because for whatever the reason, their differing views were not solvable with words alone. And Third, each party wore his own suit of armor – pants, a shirt, and maybe a ballcap for good measure. So there’s the key components, but of course, one fraction stands out from the rest.

The first two are no-brainers when you think of fighting. Nobody heads into a fight they knowingly think they’ll get pounded in. It’s the real reason for why I sought out the larger, stronger upper classmen during my middle school days. When you’re 5’5″ and weigh 110 pounds soaking wet, you understand that making big friends is as much a priority as getting decent grades. More to the point, you calculate the risk involved. If you’re of simliar size, relative girth, and possibly foresee a victory – you may charge in with the hope that all the hours you spent watching those Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris films will pay off. So, in this case, size does matter.

Once you’ve decided you’re relatively big enough to tackle your opponent, you may still attempt to “talk down” your offender. Nobody wants to face physical harm if he can avoid it, so you may taunt or jostle back and forth on who has the better car, who knows more stats on ESPN, and whose mother is more saintly than the other. But if these open threats don’t cut it, and the words about your mother are too brash, you may feel the tension reaching a fever pitch. And you know what’s about to transpire – a fight is on your doorstep. But just before the critical moment when the first punch is thrown, you do something rash.

You tear your pants off and expose yourself.

So what happens next? I can only imagine the types of responses you’d receive, but I’m sure your would-be attacker will be utterly miffed on how to proceed next. “I can’t hit a naked guy”, he may think. “That’s just…weird.” And so, the crisis is averted. And peacefully nonetheless. You may have invoked public humiliation but what a story people will have to say about you later.

“Hey, did you hear about the ‘naked brawler’?”
“No, but you’re saying this guy fights when he’s naked?”
“No, man. He stopped a fight by getting naked.”
“Whoa. Brave dude….”

So you see, by openly avoiding the confrontation, you may initially be labeled as a crazy person, but in the end you’ll be seen as a brave soul who was willing to bear it all. At least that’s what I would hope to happen. But who can be sure as to what may actually occur? I’m just inclined to believe that nobody wants to tussle with somebody that’s naked. Whether it’s out of sheer guilt or just being creeped out by the circumstances, all anger directed towards a naked person runs away like a streaker at a football game.

We all have disagreements with one another so that’s always going to be a given. I will never get along perfectly with my peers; that’s just the result of human interaction in daily living. And since I’m a human that’s interacting daily, I’m going to wear clothes to cover myself. This is yet another human trait we accept as being socially permissable since we don’t want to experience public shame. Being naked exposes us and who wants to be exposed like that regularly? All you nudist colony dwellers can just be silent for a moment, please. I’m speaking in generalities here.

But to take this one step further, a physical “fight” is meant to establish boundaries, is it not? If I’ve upset you and overstepped your boundaries to the point of no return, a fight may occur between us. We have both been exposed, if you will, for something that has ultimately irked us to the core. We don’t see eye-to-eye so now we have a problem. We can either walk away or try to prove that our way is better than the other (and vice versa). Sometimes we walk away; other times we don’t and thus, an argument ensues. But if you tear away the clothes of either party, then one of us is completely and utterly, exposed. And when we see another person whose guard is completely dropped, their very being beared, we are in shock at their sudden self disclosure. And hence forth, our minds will be burned with the image of someone whose body we may have never wanted to see.

Once again, problem solved.

So am I saying that all fights need to end in nudity? No, not exactly – unless you’re married, right? (a little marriage humor there for you…) But it does make one think what drives us to enact physical harm upon one another. Are we so insecure with ourselves that we must resort to physical pain in order to ebb a disagreement? Or is the finality of bringing physical harm to another the only way to “get one’s point across”? If it’s the former, then being naked strips us (literally) of our insecurities before the other person; thus eliminating the need to fight. And if it’s the latter, then we’ve already achieved physical harm since the other person’s body has been revealed to others. So yet again, the need to prove a point is superceded by the other person’s sudden act of behavior.

That may sound all philosophical and such, but I think it has some reverance. But if we are still requiring a simpler explanation then I give you this – fighting a naked person, stranger or relative, is just too weird to comprehend. So if you ever find yourself backed into a corner and about to throw down with somebody, remember this – a quick drop of trousers will change the dynamic of your situation in an instant. And hopefully for the better.

And to my little brother, I pray that you never did this. But if you did, I’m proud to know you avoided all manner of confrontations with this method. Just don’t do it around the house on holidays. Because let’s face it, I will still fight you despite the weirdness.