Friday, September 5, 2014

Abacadabra, Don't Make Me Stab Ya

I was recently talking to a non writing friend of mine (they need a cool muggle-like moniker so we writers can quickly establish things when speaking about our not writer friends) when they asked me why I spend so much time researching when I write fiction.

"Just make something up," they said. "Why do you care if the neighborhood is right, you can see that bridge from the corner of that street, if a doctor would really prescribe that medication with those symptoms? It's all make believe anyway."

I nearly choked. I was downright incredulous on the inside but I smiled and racked my brain for a way to describe the magic of a fiction book to an obvious non-believer.

Then it hit me. Magic is the answer.

The really good authors truly are magicians. But we don't have smoke, mirrors, and scantily clad women in tight sequined dresses to fool the eye. we have clever words, emotions, and honest storytelling to deceive our readers.

I'm gonna go ahead and say it -- David Blaine, David Copperfield, Lance Burton. Y'all got nothing on Kent Haruf, JK Rowling, Barbara Kingsolver.

It's all an act, an illusion. The people who buy tickets or gather on the street to watch a magician and those who purchase novels all know they are being duped, tricked, bamboozled to believe in what is not real. And this is where the research comes in. So long as that audience or reader do not see up the sleeve, or spot the wires dangling they are perfectly willing to suspend their belief. A simple mistake ruins the whole thing whether it be a magician knocking over that mirror or me writing about Amarillo being overrun with Armadillo's. Armadillo's are a rare critter here in Amarillo, but can be found aplenty not far south of here.

I've read novels, otherwise good novels where the author made a simple or stupid mistake that jolted me out of the book. Once a readers pauses to think Uh-uh Buster, that ain't how it works, you've lost them.  And that my friends is a very non magical explanation of why I'm anal about the small things when researching my novels.

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Yeah it's been a while since I blogged but I've been in morning over the price of bacon. It's hard to sit down and right posts on a blog with Bacon right there in the title and not get a little choked up. Also I've been editing polishing and otherwise writing my butt off in the hope I can afford more bacon. Now on to the beer portion of this post ...

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If you are a discerning beer drinker and are not on www.untappd.com you my friend are missing out. Beer drinking social media that keeps track of the different beers you have consumed, offers recommendations based on your personal ratings and puts the social in social drinker. Look me up by name.

You can share pictures along with the reviews like this one of what might be the best beer I've ever tasted.





And here was my original Untappd review ...

Hell yeah! Puts hair on your chest and a smile on your face. Smells harsh but tastes smooth. Thick malty and robust.

That's it poured up in a glass. Nice and dark, like a good beer should be.      

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Hybrid Author

 I'm lucky to live in an area ripe with literary talent. Right from the start of this journey I had a wealth of knowledgeable and talent writers to draw inspiration, motivation, and education from. People like Dianne Sagan. Now the rest of the world can benefit as well. Because ...
The Hybrid Author, by Dianne G. Sagan, is now available on Amazon.com.
View The Hybrid Author book cover.jpg in slide showWith a publishing industry in constant change, authors find themselves trying to make decisions about whether or not to self-publish or traditionally publish. Mrs. Sagan’s book explains what a hybrid author is, what options are available, and how to decide what path to take in this ground breaking book. It includes interviews with C. J. Lyons, Joanna Penn, J. A. Konrath, Hugh C. Howey, Marie Force, Barbara Morgenroth, Jennifer Archer, and of course, Travis Erwin. 
Author of 21 books, ten ghostwritten (six of which were best sellers), Mrs. Sagan is a hybrid author with books published traditionally and self-published. She brings her experience and knowledge to writers in this timely book.
View Dianne 2.jpg in slide show
Reviewers are calling a treasure full of information valuable to all writers. You'll want to add it to you personal resources. You can find out more about Mrs. Sagan and follow her at http://thehybridauthor.com

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

And People Thought Ozzy Was Disrespectful

I'm a proud Texan.

I know my state history.

I have visited the Alamo.

So I have always enjoyed the famous Davy Crockett quote ...






And I do love keeping my beer cold, so when I spotted this can coolie in a little gift shop in Chillicoathe, Texas, I found it quite tempting.

After all what better way to honor a true Lone Star hero who died while fighting for Texas's independence against Santa Ana's army ...

a man who stood his ground despite being outnumbered nearly ten to one ...

than with a beer holder declaring his bravado?

I turned it over to check the price and what did I find?


The man killed him a bear when he was only three, but 178 years later ... the Mexicans are still getting the last word.




Sunday, March 30, 2014

Expectations Are Dangerous Things

The bar is set. Picture it now ...

Shot glasses carefully arraigned. Beer chilling on ice. The hum of the margarita mixer.

No not that kind of bar. What are y'all lushes?

I meant the bar of expectation. The bar which I assume is a metaphor from the track and field world as in the high jump and pole vault where competitors must achieve a predetermined height or goal.

You've waited for months maybe even months for a certain movie and finally, All Dogs Go to Heaven Part 19 is here. But then the actual flick simply doesn't live up to your anticipation. It failed to clear the bar.

Books, movies, new seasons our favorite TV shows. Albums, return trips to favorite restaurants, a new post from one of your favorite bloggers. (Don't kid yourself you know that's why you are here) 

At one time or another we've all been disappointed by something eagerly longed for.

And sometimes it is this very pressure that creates a problem. Heck we've all been awaiting Harper Lee's next book but something tells me she never quite came to grips with the success of To Kill A Mockingbird. I dare say she even feared any follow up would follow short. J.K Rowling released a book last year under a pseudonym to escape some of the hype and pressure. And look what happened to Lucas when he finally put out a new round of Star Wars movies.

On the flip side we've all stumbled into that movie we thought would suck or that dive cafe expecting a ho hum experience only to have our expectations blown out of the water by a great viewing or taste budding pleasing extravaganza.

Let me share a recent day in my life where expectation and reality fought a hard battle in my life.

There I was in Plano, Texas. Ready to watch my son and his soccer team battle. Now we've been making the nearly 6 hour trip to Plano quite often since last September as his club team plays league play all the way down there since there is not much of a soccer culture up here in the Texas Panhandle. His team had battled hard and improved greatly while adjusting to bigger playing fields, hotter temps, higher humidity and the challenges of facing more experienced teams. Despite the improvement they were a combined 0-14-2 heading into a weekend where they were slated to play the two best teams in the league. Expectations were low yet his squad battled hard and tied the very best team in the league. it felt like a win for his team and a loss to the other guys. All because of expectation.

Post game, we dined at a place called La Hacienda Ranch. 


We'd eaten there the week before and the steak fajitas were the best I'd ever had. Week two, I'm proud to say held up. The place was just as tasty the second time.


And then I went to Whole Foods.


Y'all know me. I'm the Lettuce is the Devil guy.

Organic! Healthy! Green!

These are curse words in my vocabulary and her was an entire store not only full of that stuff but the kind of beatnik, hemp sandal-wearing, do-gooder yuppie moms people. How could I, a devote meat man enter the den of vegetarians, vegans, and various other vagabonds of the  "healthy living" lifestyle?

My expectations were below ground level. The bar was set deeper than carrot roots. 

And then I spied the beer aisle. 

I felt like a like a hungry panther upon catching sight of a juicy cottontail in a field of dandelions.

I spent the better part of an hour ogling battle of all shapes and sizes from locales all over the world. Ales, Lagers, Stouts, Pilsners ... OH MY!    

I bought one of these on one of that. A bottle of trappist from belgium. A lager from Germany. An amber from California and then I spotted the dunkel. 

I like dunkels. No I love dunkels.   

 from the German Beer Institute website ...   Dunkel — The World's First True Beer Style
German Dunkel ("dark") beer is a deep-brown, mahogany, or sepia colored all-barley lager. It is soft and elegant, with a rich, mildly vanilla, nutty-sweet palate and a dry, rounded finish that is never harsh, toasty or acrid. The beer is full-bodied, with a chewy texture and a firm, creamy, long-lasting head. Though it looks much like a British dark ale or Porter, unlike these brews, a Dunkel has a typicallly clean lager taste without any fruitiness at all, and next to no nose.


 
Except this dunkle wasn't exactly German. It was Texan, But from German ancestry according to the bottle. It was brewed jsut up the road in McKinney Texas at a place called Franconia Brewing. I was so sure I'd love this beer I bought a whole six pack versus all the other singles I'd picked up.

Well folks let me tell you, and this is painful for a prideful Texan to admit ... not everything is bigger and better in Texas. The dunkel was an awful disappointment. If you check that description up above you will not find even the slightest of mention of peas. Yes those evil little green suckers good for nothing but thumping off the dinner table. Peas. That is what this dunkel tastes like. In the bottle, poured in a mug, it doesn't matter the stuff tastes like damned peas. Peas people.Why for the love of all that is holy would anyone brew beer that smells and tastes like garden peas?

Franconia Dunkel you broke my heart with your overriding pea flavor. At least Coors Light only tastes like pee. Yes, I consider urine a slight improvement over peas in the taste scale.

To be fair it's not the worst beer in the world. I mean there are people who enjoy the falvor of peas but come on man warn a fellow. Put it right there on the bottle ... HEY, IF YOU AIN'T A VEGGIE LOVING PEA POD PARTIER! THIS ISN'T YOUR BEER!

But don't try to sneak in your evil healthy living flavors on an unsuspecting fat guy. It's not right to trod upon his expectation like that.