Monday, April 15, 2019

Let's Help One Another

Now that I am a full-time writer my routine is a bit different. used to be I stole time to write. I carried a notebook and wrote by hand in starts and stops. At work, int he park waiting for my son's soccer practice to end, in a variety of doctor and dentist waiting rooms. Then I'd type it all up first chance I had and add more.

At least that is how I did it for fiction. Freelance work was a bit more linear as I'd do the required research and then write the article up usually in one fell swoop.

Over the years my body of creative work has piled up. In addition to the published works and sold stories and articles I have numerous works both finished and incomplete. The toughest thing these days is staying on one project because I often feel like a have the voices of a thousand character whispering in my ear. Characters and projects actually.

And then there is the hunt for new and continued freelance work, because as a full-time writer I can't rely on royalties for books past or the far off splash of future royalties. I know Mr. King and Ms. Rowling do not share this financial problem, but I'd be willing to bet they have to fight off the siren call of other projects in order to finish one.

The ability to finish books separates the professional from the hobbyist much more than talent. I have known some incredibly gifted writers who never once finished a novel.

I say all of this to motivate some, and remind others. Including myself. Finish the damn thing already!

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In other, slightly related news, I have started a new blog focused entirely on music. Most content is brand new and what is not has been backdated (some old material from this blog as well as a few of the articles I wrote for other media outlets). Come check it out The Feels.

My goal with this blog multifaceted. I am a passionate and prolific listener of music. Well-written emotional lyrics speak to me far louder than a catchy beat or a flashy exterior. I am not bound to any one genre but I do lean to the Americana, Folk, Singer/Songwriter side of things. A traditional country song is hard to find these days, but I do love a good two-stepping tune if it has heart. Rock, the occasional rap, zydeco, jazz, EDM, Funk, even POP if it has substance. I am picky but not particular so sharing what I feel are worthy songs is something I am compelled to do.

I have been fortunate enough to dabble in some lyric writing with some really talented musicians and I have a notebook full of lyrics that are just waiting for my burgeoning guitar skills to catch up to. I have no desire to sing, but the emotional impact and complete storytelling in a three or four minute window calls to my writer's soul. Sometimes I have a feeling to express that feels wrong for a novel or even short story. So this blog is also to keep my ingrained in the music community.

And last but not least, I hope this blog will bolster my writing income. I am currently writing for another music blog here in LA and they are part of a network that allows them early access to songs. Independent and those on labels. This opportunity comes with some financial gain and I would like to focus my reviews and listens to music that speaks to me, but only a select number of blogs are approved. To get there I need my Alexa ranking to increase as well as my Spotify followers to grow. I would appreciate any help y'all can give me with that by sharing this link on your blogs, websites, or social media.

https://www.atthefeels.com/  

And you can help by giving me a follow on Spotify. There are playlists for most of my books so for those of you that have read them you might find those especially interesting.

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Jed, The Joads, & Me

I didn't strike gold, or get blown west by dark dust bowl clouds, but in the Fall of 2017 I made pretty much the same migration as the Clampett's, Woody Guthrie, and Faulkner's famous family.



Texas to California

Most people that know would say me and Texas fit together like boots and jeans, but sometimes life takes us all places we never thought we'd go. Sometimes things fall apart so better things can come along, and make no mistake that my life is better out here in Southern California than it was back in the windy Texan Panhandle.

My journey started way back  in the fifth grade but of course I had no idea back then that it would lead me to the Golden State. I met Connie in Mrs. Davis's class. She hadn't gone to elementary school with me before then because she lived in a neighboring district but her old school did not have an Enriched Learners program so she transferred over to Oakdale. We had no whirlwind puppy love romance, but we were friends until her family moved to California our seventh grade year.

More than two decades later we reconnected through the powers of social media. This eventually led to me and my two boys moving west and it has been great for us all.



Food, Funk, & a Few Folks 

I am told I have an accent but if you ask me I sound just like everyone else. Nevertheless, the first question I get asked is, "Where are your from?" Guesses range from Arkansas, to Georgia, Tennesee and often Louisiana probably because I often wear a New Orleans Saints cap. (By the way if you are reading this Roger Goodell you and your corrupt NFL officials all suck. I stick by my theory that the NFL Commissioner caught some venereal disease from a Bourbon Street prostitute during a bygone Super Bowl in the city and has held a private grudge agasint my beloved Saints ever since)

But I digress.

The second question I get asked is, "What do you miss most about Texas?"

My mom tops that list, but she is finally coming out to visit at the end of the month. Friends are also on the list but the power of social media and with a few visits back and forth and it is not hard to maintain those relationships. 

Live Music is not quite the same beyond my cherished Texas dive bars, but I have found a number of cool venues, including The Cave up in the mountains at Big Bear, which hands out warm pork rinds as you wait in line to get inside. 

Little-by-little immersing myself the the Southern California Music scene. I have also been fortunate enough to see Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, and a few other of my longtime favorites that simply do not play in or around Amarillo.




That brings us to food.

Man oh man do I miss Texas cooking. Not always, because I have my smoker and grill and to stoke my own wood box I can cook up some damn tasty meat. Good thing too, because what passes for BBQ out here in California is a damn shame.  

Tex-Mex is few and far between, but the chain Cafe Rio does the subgenre justice and they easily have the best queso I have found in the state.

Californians do love their avocado this and mango that. And for the love of Gad stop putting fruit in sweet tea. Raspberry, passion, watermelon. All of that shit is perfume water not suitable for hydration. McCalisters Deli can you please bring your southern sweet tea to SoCal?

And don't even get me started on quality french fries. The venerable Golden Light Cafe in Old Route 66 in Amarillo, Blue Sky, and Coyote Bluff all serve up a hand-cut style of fry that might as well be a Brontosaurus in California. 

In-n-Out is not Whataburger. I don't hate their small little round burgers, but I have to eat two if I want to be satisfied, And their bland fries are palatable, when dipped in the imported salty greatness that is Whataburger ketchup.

I have railed enough for today, but soon I will be back to highlight the things I love most about my life here in So Cal. 


 

 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Unliked

Years back, I eagerly ordered a copy of a novel. A novel written by a fellow blogger. Not a blogger that I read everyday or that commented regularly on my posts, but a blogger some of my closest friends often touted so I had read enough of her posts to know she was a very talented writer.

And her book was very well written, but man did I hate her protagonists. Both of them. Still finished the novel hoping for character growth. And grow they did ... on my nerves. Oh the arc was there just like it should be a good writing and this was good writing, it was just about people I hated.

I've always felt the same way about Holden Caulfield though I know many people who think of Catcher in the Rye as the ultimate American novel. I suspect those same people voted for Trump, because I imagine Holden grew from that entitled snotty teenage boy to be an entitled pugnacious fool and if you admire those qualities in a human then Trump was clearly your candidate.

Which brings me to this. Reading that novel I realized I did not care for this particular blogger. Her ideals were not shared by me and while I had never articulated that thought until I read the manifestations of her ideals within a fictional character.

No, I am not saying that every character in fiction is a direct representative of the author who created them though this was the case between the blogger and this novel. You will just have to trust me on this as I can't explain without revealing too much or being more longwinded than I already am.

Since that time social media has exploded and now we read a deluge of thoughts and opinions from every one we know. The bloggers I met and read were people I had no prior relationship with so it was fairly quick and painless to know if I wanted to keep reading their posts or not. And it did not really matter if I chose to move on.

This choice is not so easy anymore.

I have had to disassociate from a few long time friends and even some distant family. I do not do so easily, nor do I run from a healthy debate, but some people are looking simply to agitate.  They prefer to poke, prod and belittle rather than discuss or debate rationally. Hate is venomous and every knows it is not wise to play with rattlesnakes. I suppose the bushes have always been full, but now everyone has a outlet to rattle their tail.

Me included. Maybe this post feels like hate and bigotry and you will never again read this blog. If so I bid you adieu, but really I write this because I am curious in this heightened era of divisiveness  have you had to distance yourself from people you otherwise had a relationship with?  And if so what does it take before you make that decision?

       

Thursday, January 31, 2019

If It's Good Enough for Cher, Michael Jordan, and Garth ...

... it's good enough for me.

Don't call it a comeback
I've been here for years

Me and LL are cool, so I'm sure the esteemed Mr. J won't mind me borrowing a couple of lines from his lyrics. What I am trying to say here people is that I am once again going to be using this space to speak, share, rant, and ramble.

I tried to use a blog on my dedicated webpage, but the format was cumbersome to post at and even worse for folks wishing to comment or take part in the conversation.

So much has transpired since I last post here, personally and professionally. I will do my best to catch y'all up over time, but we will focus on the latter for now..

I moved out of Texas, and now live in sunny Southern California where I write full-time. Freelance articles of a wide variety, as well as continued work and promotion of my fiction.

I released a new novel WAITING ON THE RIVER which is available in print and ebook and a collaborative collection of shirt stories titled Hemingway that is a companion piece with an album of the same name by musician, Dan Johnson. The stories in that collection expand on the songs while telling a bigger story delving into the humanity of the choices we are all forced to make in life.

I will be back with at least one post a week to catch y'all up and I will also be posting some writing samples that were once published elsewhere but are now unavailable so that potential clients can have a place to read a variety of my work.

Hope to hear from y'all so please take a moment o say hello, ask, a questions, or chime in with a comment.  
 



  





Tuesday, August 23, 2016

See Ya' There

I am proud of what I did here for over 8 years, but as they say all good things must come to an end.

This blog is now inactive. For new blog posts from me please visit ...

http://www.traviserwin.com/blog 


It is a process but I will be moving the posts that still have relevancy as well as the ones that simply make me smile over to the new site.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Good Beer, Good Music, and Bad Bad Marketing

I'm not going to lie. I am an opinionated person. I'm also pretty outspoken even when my opinion is not all that popular.

I am critical of certain things more than others.

Beer.
Literature.
Music. 
Sports. 
Humanity and basic kindness for others.

In no particular order, these are things I am passionate about. The later at times spills over into politics but don't worry this spot isn't about politics. It is about critics. Like me. Sometimes I think those of us with with staunch opinions are labeled negatively. Sometime we are called snob. Heck, I've even described myself as a beer snob, but I think technically that is the wrong term.

Without consulting Merriam or his friend Webster I will say snobbery strikes me as a bed mate of judgemental and judgemental I am not.

Oh, I hear you skeptics out there. How can an opinionated critic be anything but judgmental?

Easy. Before I pass down my opinion. Before I criticize. I consider one question ... What is the intended audience?

Let's go back to beer. Yeah, I think nearly all the mass produced swill of Bud and Coors and Miller is nothing more than the glorified urine of of their respective CEO. But hey, its obvious there are millions of adoring fans. I mean people have to drink something while they are listening to the corporate manufactured music of people like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line? One bad but shiny and heavily marketed recipe deserves another just as a finely crafted Russian Imperial Stout goes well with a perfectly grilled medium rare steak while listening to some fine tunes by Jason Isbell.

Or maybe you want something a little less heavy. Go ahead sip a good ol' Shiner Bock while you listen to Dan Johnson and the Salt Cedar Rebels regale the fine state of Texas. This duo pairs nicely with a number one combo from Whataburger, or a plate full of Tacos to gain the full Lone Star experience.




I get ticked when companies and artists try to inflate their intended audience by luring in unsuspecting others. Like 50 Shades. I get it. it sold millions of copies, but that doesn't make it good. More people mock it than praise it and that is because some publishing executive decided that eroticized Twilight fan fiction needed to be be thrust hard and deep against every lonely and horny woman in America who is tied down to a job, family, or household. But one kind of bondage isn't exactly like the other.

Sadly the novel has now tainted the erotica genre by draping the finely crafted books under the same pleather hood. Just as people hear the words country music and think Nashville and the whine of Rascal Flatts or the melodramatic moaning of Tim McGraw. Here in Texas country music means Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson. Waylon and William Clark Green. People that put emotion above commotion in both their lyrics and performances.

So yeah, while I am of the opinion that the corporate record company music is crap, that beer sold by companies that market their fancy bottle and cans harder than they do the product inside is nothing more than pablum for the masses, that most of the stuff we are TOLD to like and buy is a scam I recognize there is an audience who don't want to learn, explore, try new things. This is corporate America's intended audience. 

And I'm not among them.          
  




Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dust Bowling with Vick Schoen

Today I am sharing my blog with Vick Schoen. Vicki and I were critique partners for many years. Through several different groups the two of us wrote on. She has been essential in me becoming who I am as a writer. She has a new novel set in the dust bowl era here in the Texas Panhandle.  


Historical Fiction As It Was Really Lived





In the Texas Panhandle during the 1930s, the hard, cracked earth seemed to turn on the men and women who had nurtured it all their lives. The decade-long drought had rendered the fields barren, susceptible to the constant wind tearing away the topsoil. A tough place to eke out a living. Some folks left. Some died. Some lost their nerve and their hope. But the strongest survived and became the backbone of the area. These are the folks who personified the enduring values of the American West. These are the heroes of Inherit the Texas Earth.


These are the people who joined the Last Man’s Club promising to remain in the area and support each other through the hard times. These are the people who found time to play and laugh and love during one of the most trying eras in American history.

Writing about them was a challenge. I wanted to make my fictional characters strong enough and vulnerable enough to pay just homage to the real players in the drama. And I wanted to acknowledge the land on which they built their futures.

Meet some of the main characters.

Willy Gil Kellogg talking to Gramps as the old man is dying ... 
Gramps lay on his side facing the open windows. An evening breeze was making an unsuccessful effort to clear out the odor of medicinal alcohol and vomit. The western sky glowed with oranges and pinks—the day’s last attempt to keep the night at bay.
“Will, come ‘round over here.” Gramps’s voice sounded small and empty, not the commanding, full resonance Willy Gil had heard his whole life. “Pull that chair up. I got something to say to you.”
“Yes, sir.
“You comfortable, Gramps?”
“Oh, sure.” The old man sucked in a shallow breath of air. “’about as comfortable as a snake in mud.”
Willy tried not to grin—but did anyway. “Grandma says eat some soup.”
“Well tell her I ate it. Make her happy. But toss it out the window. I’d just throw it up.”

Rosemary Fielding on her first morning in Texas ...
Rosemary looked at the wheat ready to harvest, the shack needing repair that would be their home, this plot of land Pa had signed a lease on yesterday claiming, “The good Lord’s wantin’ us to be Texans.” Sharecroppers. That’s what they’d become.
Pa had tried cotton farming and failed. Then he’d worked at the sawmill in Augusta and failed at that too. Now was his opportunity to fail at wheat farming. About the only thing he hadn’t failed at was getting Ma pregnant.

Quan Blackhorse on returning to his family’s abandoned home in the Texas Panhandle ...
Quan sat cross-legged on the floor picturing what had been before the accident. His mom baking bread, his dad coming through the door dirty, tired, and proud. He strained, trying to make his memory retrieve the sounds of the Comanche his father spoke only to him, but it had been eight years. He shook his head. Then he rose and spoke to the air. “I am back, Father. I cannot assuage my guilt, but I will redeem your name. The burden of injustice is now mine.”


The Land
Willy Gil walked the hard, sore ground that was his farm, mourning. Mourning for events that couldn’t be changed and now needed to be put to rest. Mourning for the child and mourning for the family member who killed her. And now the killer appeared terminal.


You can read chapter one of Inherit the Texas Earth at vickischoen.com