Friday, October 26, 2012

The art of being me.

      Some folks have never mastered the fine art of just being themselves. They have no foundation of core beliefs to rely on for a sense of who they are as they live their daily lives. Worst yet, some are driven to achieve something which gives them a sense of self worth. I've seen this in the Marines, when I worked for the State Police and when I was writing books. These people don't take pride in the things they have accomplished on their own....they only take pride in what others think they've accomplished. How very sad that we define ourselves by the way folks see us and not in how we see ourselves.
     Anyone who was in the Marines longer than the time it takes to step on the first yellow foot print has seen this phenomena play itself out in a thousand different ways. The most common ways are claims for tours in combat zones they didn't have and of course their entire service was spent on the forward edge of the battle area. All of this nonsense would be followed by claims for medals and the honors that others have earned...and they haven't. These people (and the other services have their fair share...ask any Navy Seal) never once consider the fact that they served to be an honor. anyone who will listen, they paint themselves in the light of hardships, so others can see they've achieved a status they've felt cheated out of. 
      Why is it that folks like that couldn't take pride in being a cook or motor transport driver?  I know a cook who received the bronze star for his part in hand to hand combat  at Hue and more than one motor transport driver who received the Purple Heart for delivering the groceries. Yet if you ask them, the very first thing they'll tell tell you is they were a cook or MT driver in the Marines...the rest you have to drag out of them
       In my time with the State Police I observed the exact same behavior. For some of these folks, if you weren't a "Road Dog" you were less than a full fledged police officer. I've listened to tales of  arrest, car chases and any number of dangerous situations these folks seemed to be constantly involved in. Yet I knew that for the most part they wrote traffic violations and handled the occasional domestic dispute. They seemed determined to convince people they deserved the uniform they'd earned.
      I had one friend when I was with the State Police who worked in Latent Prints, rarely carried his weapon and who in his career helped convict more law breakers than the arrest records of any ten average "Road Dogs". I've never heard him or the officers from Ballistics brag...they just did their job well and took a quiet pride in their work.
      I've had several folks tell me I have to get my work I don't. I've had two publishers of e-books offer to look at my work and that is an ego boost in and of itself. Several of the folks I know have offered to help me search for a new publisher....this is a badge of honor I've done nothing to deserve. I was contacted by old friends, several new ones and of course my family who've offered encouragement.
      I'll also add that I've been contacted by two neanderthals from my past whose sole purpose was to offer me a ration of BS. Of course when you consider the fact that between the two of them they lack the ability to walk, talk and gargle Ten High at the same time...well consider the source. It would have been nice if three of them had harassed me, but that won't happen now. 
      My point in this trip through the mine field of life is simple. I set out to write a book and have it published.....I wrote eight and had five published. I told someone in one of the interviews I did, that if you finished a book you are an author. If the book is published, then you are a published author. I finished with the notion that if someone (family doesn't count here) bought the were a successful author. 
     I also just finished working one very small B&E for a friend this week. Old stupid habits die hard, but I proved to myself I'm still a forensic (be it somewhat rusty) analyst. Linda is right about one thing, I would work myself to death in a hurry if I went back to that type of fun. That or she'd catch me and I'd be a dead man....any way you looked at it, that is out.
    If I keep looking for a publisher, I'll write about what I encountered on this thing. But I think my next hobby just may be collecting tobacco pipes. If you think about it...there are more than a few who would say this is a good thing for the world of literature.
    Collecting tobacco pipes has a certain attraction for me. I like smoking(it freaks certain types of people out) and it's something Linda wouldn't kill me for me doing.
    You see...I know who I am...I've always known that little tidbit of information. I define myself by what makes me laugh and what I enjoy. I've also known for sometime now, that some things are to be enjoyed and others endured. Folks...if you define yourself by a title....what are you going to do when someone awards you the title 'perfect asshole?"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Professional Ethics

      I find myself once again without a publisher, which is and isn't the reason for this blog. The fact that I've left a publisher has no life altering consequences for me, it's enough to say I left. But this was the action which led me to the desire to write the following.
      Most folks who write are unable to find a home for their work no matter how well written  their short stories, poetry or book may be. There are also times when authors  feel it best to sever a relationship with a publisher for one reason or another...especially when their working relationship has become disagreeable. When a published author reaches that point, it really doesn't matter if you've got a bunch of published books or are at a loss to find a home for your first work. The truth of the beast is you're right back where you started from when you wrote the end for the first book.
       Any unpublished and every published author will tell you exactly how daunting a task finding an agent or publisher can be. I believe it would be almost impossible to understate the difficulties you face as you go through the process of submitting queries in an effort to convince folks to even look at your work. I had no idea where to even start when I began the search for a home for my first book. I now find I'm in different circumstances and face the same problems I had the first time. This leads me to the very reason I'm writing this.
      When my wife "suggested" I get the first book published....I of course agreed with her. I may be old, at times forget five minutes ago and need my naps....but I'm not a suicidal fool. When I parted company with the publisher I was with, she suggested I contact two of the agents who have e-mailed me from time to time in the last year....I had and have reservations.  
       Aside from the fact I felt their actions at the time were unethical, I firmly have the conviction that to deal with them now would be much the same as swimming in a cesspool. So I am at ground zero and left with the choices of ; finding a new hobby, doing some part time work in forensics or play with this writing thing some more. It really doesn't matter which choice I make, they all have a few problems and one has two dangers.
      We'll start with the dangerous one first. If (and I would like too) I secured my stack and started doing only one or two cases a month...or week...or maybe a day there is the weapons problem to consider.
     My wife had and has forbidden me to work case work for anyone on threat of  death...that's the first danger. When you consider the number of weapons in the house....the fact she's a better shot with a pistol than I am...well that becomes a very unattractive hobby.
       Having another MGB-GT would be a great hobby or I know where there is a beast of a 68 goat with all the right things to enhance it's performance. She who should not be named has stated fine...the Can-Am must go. I suggest both...she suggested a trip to the pistol range for target practice. So you can clearly understand that one was also out of the picture, I have no desire to be part of her "sight picture".
      I've (her threats have in no way influenced me) have decided to find another publisher or maybe an agent this time, it has it's problems....but doesn't have the danger factor. This led me to go back to my files to see just who I'd tried to entice to look at my work the first time. Of the files I'd kept, one jumped out as a starting point. One of the few agents who even took the time to not only reject my first book...but also offer reasons and advice.
     I e-mailed Mr Andy Scheer looking for information.....and once again advice. I had noted in my files from the first time I'd queried him, his advice had been to seek an agent or publisher who preferred the genre your work fits. Anyone who has dealt with the search for a new home can understand just how impressive his actions were. 
     Knowing that what I have to offer is not the type of work he prefers, I felt fairly safe asking him a few questions. Once again I found this professional to be as generous with the little spare time he must have as his success shows his expertise must be.
     Why is it that there are so few men and women in literary agencies and publishing who won't take a few seconds to respond to someone they'll not be making money with? Why is it that there are so few people in this industry who won't take the time to offer encouragement, advice or even a kind word? Those are questions I don't have answers for or would even care to hazard a guess as to what those reasons may be.
     Every author seeking a home can tell you from their research, that the most common explanation from most web sites for these folks will state the answer is the high volume of queries revived daily. They all claim to be overworked and more than a few will state that no response is to be considered a rejection. 
     Perhaps a better question would be, "Why aren't there more folks like Mr. Scheer working in this field?"  There are a lot of people who say all the right things...but there seems to be damn few who actually do what they say. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

                               One of the most amazing things in the world ....friends.

          It's often said by old fogies (myself not included here) that we make very few friends in life, but our lives will be filled with hundreds of acquaintances who will enter and depart our daily lives almost unnoticed. I've found this to be one of the truisms of took awhile, but I came to understand this is a fact.
         True friends and enemies are a constant, you know exactly how you feel about them and even time can't change those feelings. If they depart this world before you do, in one way or another you immediately notice the difference. If it's a true friend...the world feels smaller, colder, and diminished by their absence. On the other hand, if it's a long standing enemy (enemy-someone you would gladly kill if it were legal) feel the world is far better off without them. Somewhere in the middle of friends and enemies  fall another group of folks we classify as acquaintances. Acquaintances are the folks you like or dislike and can barely remember their names shortly after they've  departed you life
         The reason for this diatribe of jumbled thoughts is I made a new "friend" on Facebook yesterday. Nothing strange or out of the ordinary about that if you think about it. The process is really simple: someone sends you or you send a "friend request", which is almost automatically accepted and your "friends" list is increased by one.....and normally it's someone you've never met. But increasing my friends list by one this time released a flood of pleasant (mostly) memories loose, allowing them to run rampantly through what little gray matter I still have left.
        The first of these unbridled thoughts was an attempt to define just what a friend really is...I'll add I have no doubts in my mind how to define just what is an enemy. I came to the following definitions of friendship I'd like you to consider.
       One: A friend is someone who can(and in my case will) belittle you for almost anything they can grasp in their evil minds. They will ridicule, berate, and celebrate all of your short comings publicly in vile attempts at humor. At the very same time they would gladly give up their life for you if the need arose.
      Two: A friend is a pleasant reminder of times shared together in all types of circumstances you've shared in life. I'll add that some of those circumstances are ones you would rather not share with your wife or children. Of course telling "your friends side" of the story to their loved ones is entirely different and always necessary at every chance presented to you.
      Three: A friend is someone you've held in your arms or who've held you during the worst moments of your life. These are the times that will never be ridiculed, berated, celebrated or ever mentioned again by either of you. They become a hidden, shared bond of a deeply seated love which is felt, but will always remain buried in the very depths of your souls.
      Four: A friend is someone you are never truly parted from. Distance and time doesn't destroy the bonds of true friendship, even death will fail to break this bond.
     My father told me on several occasions that in my entire life I would be lucky to make two or three friends. I now understand exactly what he meant and realize just how blessed I've been in my lifetime. I have a wife who is and has been a friend from the very first moment I set eyes on her. But she is not the type of friend I'm referring to...she was a gift I didn't deserve from God.
     In my entire life I've managed to make seven friends, eight if you (and I do) count a bitter enemy who became a cherished friend. I now find I am down to three friends and it looks like it may be two shortly. We haven't seen each other in years, rarely communicate more than two or three times a month and would still die for each other if the need arose. Yet we have no need for a "friends page" and know what is truly important in our profiles...we are friends.
     I know the three of you clowns sneak over and read this thing. I also know the chances of us all being together for one last hurrah are slim to none now. But could I suggest  we take the time on Pap's birthday for a shared drink of "Ten" only marred by distance? We can still tell the same lies of our youth and share the company of other friends who'll be joining us...but not drinking . Remember, "Here's to assholes and those like us...damn few left." See you there.