Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ties That Bind

My life is tied to written words.

I chose to bind myself to them. Sure my mom led me to a love of reading with those countless trips to the library, but I fell in love with books and stories, characters -- imaginary and otherwise of my own volition.

That love of reading created the writer I am today. Now I'm bound to written words all the more. Writing is are how I express my ideas, my emotions, my sentiments. But it is also how I learn explore and investigate.

What I write isn't always true. That's the beauty. As a writer I can deliberate lay out untruths and still not get labeled a liar, but rather a novelist, a purveyor of fiction, an examiner of the human psyche.

Fiction authors do not tell the truth in the traditional sense,but we do reveal ideas, emotions, and sentiments that the universal truths of this world. We create something believable, tangible, and lasting. Or at least we do when at our best.

How do we do it?

By watching, studying, living.

Writing is often about the underbelly of life. The rawness lurking in the shadows that few of us ever want to expose to the light of day. Writing and reading are liberating pursuits.

I originally wrote this as a lead in to discuss my father. He passed away a few weeks ago. He was only 66. Unfortunately his affairs were not in order, and as I have always been somewhat estranged from his side of the family, I now find myself juggling to carry out his last wishes while settling his estate amidst dissenting views. This means a mess of lawyers and a pile of he said/she said.

No doubt a story or character will be born from all of this, for that is how the mind of a fiction writer works.

We search for bigger truths, hidden meanings, and scraps of humanity in all situations. Good and bad. This is definitely one of the bad, but I am a writer. My emotions are tied to words so perhaps the truths, the ideals, the emotions of this will eventually elevate my ability to tell a compelling story, because unlike people, written words, can live on forever.



Friday, April 10, 2015

Yes I Am

It's been a while now since my last book came out. Late summer of 2013 for those keeping count.

The reasons behind this fact are varied, but the result is I often get asked one of two questions ...

1) When the is next book coming out?
2) Are you still writing?

The first question is a tough one to answer because that fact is not up to me. (Unless I choose to self-publish which I have given serious thought for one particular novel I STRONGLY believe in, yet have never quite placed. Despite several disappointingly close calls) 

That second question always surprises me on several levels. One I know how passionate I am about the art of writing so I'm almost offended when someone assumes I could quit. And secondly I want to scream "ARE YOU NOT PAYING ANY DAMN ATTENTION AT ALL?"

 I'm always writing something. And sharing links on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I can even understand people not clicking over to read whatever it is I have shared but to ask, "Are you still writing?"

This is where it gets dicey. It is easy to be that guy that only hocks his wares. The social media equivalent of an Amway salesman, but I try to limit the hey will you buy my books posts. I share the stuff that is free out there a bit more often because hey, its not selling if there is no money involved.

But even with that aside I often talk about writing realted things. I share book news and the success of my writing friends. I live and breath in a world jam packed with literature. I talk about these same things in my face-to-face interactions. not incessantly but often enough I wonder how anybody can ever ask with a  straight face, "Are you still writing?"  

The one place I have been lackadaisical in updating is this blog so while no one has left a comment here asking ... "Are you still writing?" I could understand it from my readers here given my lack of updates.

So here goes some of the proof

Half a dozen articles ranging from Country Cliches to Beer to Crime for a place called Wide Open Country (they will be posting more over time)

Top O' Texas Football, Baseball, and Softball Magazines

and I have also been doing a good bit of business writing (press releases, blog posts, newsletter material, and magazine submissions) as well as social media work for several businesses. My favorite of which is a company called Femco Drain Solutions. 

Femco makes drain plugs for oil oil pans and other fluids and really it is a clever little gadget that makes it possible to change your oil without getting your hands dirty. It speeds the process up and is especially vital for fleets of all types as it streamlines the oil change process while also making it safer, cleaner, and more efficient. They also make great gifts for those hard-to-buy-for men so with Father's Day coming up give them a look at their website.

I have also started a new novel which I am very excited about. It is a bit different than the women's fiction I usually write, but I am having more fun writing and researching it than I have in a number of years with any other project.

So yes, I am still writing. Every damn day. Until I die.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Galloping Along

Earlier this week this blog hit Birthday #8.

Eight is a long time in internet world though if I am being truthful the heyday of this blog and most others has come and gone. People move on. Fads change. Focus shifts. If video killed the radio star then social media killed the blogosphere.

I miss the old days of such a vibrant writing community, but obviously not enough to do my part to keep them alive. I don't create or visit other blogs the way I once did. Frankly, I wonder how I ever found the time back then.

So much has happened to my gang of online friends. Some have passed on, others have finally found the success they so richly deserve. Others have disappeared altogether. I get a touch sad if I think of those that quit chasing their dreams. Perhaps they found new dreams to go after. Perhaps they are happier than those of us still fighting away in the tough world of publishing.

Some I keep up with via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram but it is not the same level of intimacy that the old blog world had.

But life does march on. Time gets away from me often and then I remember something or see a picture of a child I remember being born posted and think How, How the hell is it possible that kid is so big. Or I see photos of kids I remember going to their first day of school who are now teenagers. Elementary kids passing their drivers test. Teenagers growing up and getting married and producing grandbaby pictures.

It all get overwhelming at time. To think on it and study on how much time has slipped by makes me melancholy at times. As of life itself is passing me by.

But that is a dangerous habit. Looking back is never healthy. The writing life is not for the faint of heart. I think it is a trap we place on ourselves. A trap for which there is no escape.

The wildly successful are under pressure to produce that next great thing.
The mildly successful fight to hand on.
The yet to be successful wonder when their turn will come.

Few writers I have ever met are content and satisfied with their position in the business. I think this is because we live in our heads too much. Twisting turning examining our fates with the same scrutiny we do our plots and characters.

I'm just rambling on. Getting out thoughts. I suppose this is a long winded way to say I miss many of my writing friends. I miss the excitement of the chase that came with being pre-published. Now the saddle of expectation weighs me down but every once in a while I need to remind myself this is a race I chose to run.     

Monday, February 23, 2015


While blogging has not been going great, I have been busy writing. I'm excited about a new fiction project I've recently started, am pitching some other stuff I've just finished polishing, and luckily been swamped with a good bit of freelance work from sports writing to music.

You can check out some of that work here if you wish.

Freelancing can be fun and profitable but at the same time you get pigeonholed by what the client wants. Compromises have to be made and sadly not every business relationship is made to last. Sometimes both the ideals and ideas clash. I freelance not because I have to, but because fiction writing is a slow moving process and sometimes it is nice to see your words and ideas read in a timely fashion. And hey, every paycheck is a validation in a pursuit fraught with disappointment.

Having said that, my musical writing juices have been cooking as of late so I've been doing a lot of music writing and much of it is for myself as much as anything else. I love to attend live shows and I'm fortunate to have a handful of musicians I can call friend. One such person is Ray Wilson.  

Ray was gracious enough to send me an advance copy of his new CD Troubadour . Following his read I thought I'd write up a complete review to help spread the word so more people can check out his music.

Ray Wilson -- Troubadour

Ray Wilson is an old soul. That is apparent from the first note on Troubador. The album builds momentum taking the listener on a pleasurable time-warp of delicious funk and soul.

The opening track, “Rebel In Faded Old Jeans,” is smooth and smoky and perfectly sets the tone for the album. A hard guitar lick underscores the passion of the unnamed rebellious troubadour, but somehow it is understood this track is Wilson’s pledge to give his all to both the album and his audience.

“Racin’ Jake”  is a haunting coming of age tale about the challenges that make us who we are. Musically, it is perhaps my least favorite, but the tune is one everyone can relate to on some level. The third track “Misty Waters” showcases Wilson’s vocal smoothness, but is otherwise only a prelude of the album’s real emotion and power which shines through on the back half.

The folksy emotion of Wilson and the range of his voice materializes with “Sit Beneath The Tree” and carries right into the fifth track“Soul” which is lyrically my favorite selection from Troubador. “Outside on Sunday,”  is a delicately balanced tune that you can’t help but sing along with upon a second, third, fourth, and beyond listening, and within the boundaries of the album feels like a perfect place for our troubadour to land after a hard Saturday night.

Sounding a bit like a third Everly Brother, Wilson resurrects the crooning ballad with “Silver Threads,” and again reinforces the overall story feel of the album. Wilson has given us a life story whether it is meant to be a metaphor of his own musical journey, or more likely that of the collective inspirations behind his sound. I get the sense that Wilson is reflecting upon the way things used to be, both in regards to music and life while reminding us life can slip through our grasp if we don’t grab hold when we can. “Underdog” punctuates this point with its message that our strength must be internal if we are truly going to persevere, because without faith and self-belief, today’s underdog is simply tomorrow’s has-been. 
Wrapping Troubadour with a reprise of “Rebel In Faded Old Jeans” Wilson brings it back around to triumphantly declare, he is here to stay and that his old soul is one that cannot be denied.  The nuances of the album come alive on second, third and fourth listening, but the smooth buttery vocals and folk brand of blues make Troubadour an entertaining listen the first time through.   

For ordering information or to purchase a digital copy please click here. 

If you live near Amarillo be sure and come out to the Golden Light Cantina March 6th for the official CD release party. I sure plan to be there. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You're Not Perfect, And You never Will Be

Practice makes perfect ... or so claims the common refrain. But it seems to me that perfection is a an arbitrary assessment at best. Sure you can score 10 out of 10 on a test. Maybe even a 100 out of a 100 but does that mean you have perfect knowledge of a subject. Not really. It means you knew as much as the test taker expected you to know.

I say perfection is an mythological concept. Bring you arguments if you have one but I say it is an illusion, a label no different than the genre classifications we slap on the books we read, the music we listen too, the movies we watch. It makes us content to say this fits here. this is the best I can do therefore I did a perfect job.

It's bullshit.

Most will say a baseball pitcher threw a perfect game if he gave up no hits and no walks. The more stringent might say perfection is 81 pitches or 3 strikes to three hitters in each of nine innings. But I say even that is not perfection because those strikes rely upon an umpire deciding those pitches were strikes.

But I digress thereby proving this post (or any of my others) isn't perfect either.

Now in some occupations such as medicine and law there is not even the claim of perfection. It is widely accepted for a doctor to have a medical practice. Same for lawyers. Their best effort is considered good enough. Odd considering the gravity of their actions.

Authors however are not usually afforded this same leniency. Not from many readers. And certainly not from themselves.

I'm fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to sit and talk with dozens if not hundreds of authors over the years. Most have at some point mentioned the funny letters or emails they get from readers pointing out the missing comma from paragraph 3 on page 189. Or the one time the word hear appeared instead of the correct version here in Chapter 18. Don't get me wrong it is always nice to here (see what I did there?) from readers and it is nice that they care enough to take time out of their day to not only read but comment. However, isn't it odd that people will choose a handful of erroneous words to point out rather than the 98,000 words the author got right?

By the way of you missed 2 or all the way up to 494 answers on a 98,000 word test and still finish with a 99.5% which would be rounded to a 100 thereby scoring the illusionary mark of academic perfection.

But again I digress. 

There are lots of pressures to be perfect for writers. From audiences wanting that perfect ending to a series. To editors wanting your books produced on a perfect marketing schedule. Agents wanting that perfect premise that will make the book easy to sell.

But those are simply the pressures of the business and authors would love to achieve those things themselves. They are motivation. Drive. The very heart of our ambition and love of writing.

However ambition has a dark side. And for me as well as a lot of authors the pursuit of perfection can be a steep impediment to progress. I can't sit down and write until I think of that perfect premise that will make my agent squeal with glee. Or finally land me that agent or book deal.

Then the roadblock grows taller.I can;t really get started until I come up with that perfect first sentence that will grab a reader by the throat.

And wow I finally got started. I have a couple of damn good chapters but this manuscript needs a title. I can't possible write another word until I think of the perfect title.

You got your title and now you are 8 chapters in but that beautiful scene in Chapter 2 that you though was perfect no longer works because the character you thought was going to be a bartender is now the director of East Tawakoni's MADD chapter.

 Hours ... days ... weeks go by and you still are trying to figure out a perfect way to save Chapter 2 when you decide she used to be a bartender but then she served too many Rum and Cokes to an out of work accountant who plowed into a minivan full of kids on his way home.

Your character escaped prosecution, but not her own guilt and now she is a crusader for the cause. Yeah it's perfect.

Wait no it's not. Your swarthy 2nd generation Cuban American hero inherited his wealth from the family's rum business.

No wait it is perfect. Star crossed lovers at odds over their pasts.

No it will never work because if she falls for him and his blood money your central protagonist is nothing but a hypocrite

That's when the dark thoughts creep in .... This whole book is crap. I am a hack. I can't do this.

I think all writers hit this point on nearly every lengthy project. Maybe even on the short ones. The key is to accept these thoughts as part of the natural process. To maintain your faith in yourself even when things are not perfect. Writing is an art that must be practiced, but even then it will never be perfect.  



Sunday, November 16, 2014


I'm still trying to get me bloggin' legs b'neath me. Yeah I know it's not Talk Like a Pirate Day, but what the hell, might as well have some fun anyway.

I spotted this pen the other day for a joint called SHEMEN Dental Group. I don't even know where this group is located and I'm sure they provide fine dental care but the name made me think of big-knuckled dentists, clad in red leather high heels telling me to run and spit as they rubbed their five-o'clock shadow.

 While I have been a quiet blogger I am still a pretty active Tweeter. Here is a pic I posted over there of a shoddy headline I spotted in my local paper a while back.

 And what would Twitter be without the occasional selfie?

And then there is Instagram. I am a sporadic Instagramer.  After all, I don't even own a cat and I'm not a big believer of  posting pictures of every meal I eat. But When we have had some spectacular sunsets here in Amarillo as of late and sometimes things are just to visibly beautiful not to share.

A photo posted by Travis Erwin (@traviswriter) on

A photo posted by Travis Erwin (@traviswriter) on

On the beer front this one pretty much speaks for itself.

The obligatory book reference for this post ...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Killer B's

I changed the name of this blog last year because I'd reached the goal spelled out in the old one and well because Bacon, Beer, and Books are three of my favorite things. However as I reflect on the months that have passed since the name change I realize it hasn't been a great year for two of the three.

Bacon has become some sort of fried glistening gold and as much as I like the crunchy strips my tightwad side just can't pony up 6 buck a pound when I can still get steak for that.

I guess I should have named this sucker Beef, Beer, and Books.

As for the latter I haven't had a great writing or reading year. I want to blame time but maybe time is what you make it and I haven't done a great job. Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorites I've read lately.

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

I got this one free as part of Amazon's Kindle First program. Now this YA Mystery sales for $4.99 but still a bargain at that price. It is the tale of old magic in a new world -- circus lore, old vendettas, and young love and a great read.

Anatomy of a Spy by Stephen Parrish

Anatomy of a Spy is a brief sketch of the quintessential American spy. The author draws on his experience serving under Clyde Lee Conrad, one of the most notorious turncoats in American history. Written primarily to help authors of espionage fiction, Anatomy of a Spy will also enlighten readers of the genre, as well as anyone interested in the little-known facts and often bizarre reality of the world’s second oldest profession.

As a long time fan of the noble Stephen Parrish I had to read these even though I have no plans to ever write a spy novel. The how-to element aside, this book is just flat out entertaining, enlightening, and engaging. Parrish delivers a wryly witty look at spy culture while sharing his brush with spooks during his tenure as a serviceman on foreign soil.

The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

A woman’s dark past collides head-on with her mysterious present in this surreal and gripping family drama.

A haunting tale marvelously crafted. I wanted to say more about the way this novel is written but I can't without potentially spoiling the reading experience.  

I will try to chime in with my thoughts on my reads more often but now lets get to the one subject I did have a great year in ... beer.

I gotta say the craft beer revolution is a glorious thing. If your idea of beer is still associated with Bob Uecker, claims of Rocky Mountain Spring Water, or talking frogs then you my friend need to wake up your taste buds and experience the glorious side of beer. Here are my top three beers of late ...

3) Devastator from Wasatch Brewery in Utah

A strong, amber lager (8% abv) with a nice malt aroma and flavor. Double Bocks date back over a century when Monastic brewers knew it as "liquid bread." Made all the better when drinking in the great outdoors.

2) TurboDog from Abita Brewing in Louisiana

From Abita Brewing ...
A dark brown ale brewed with pale, caramel, and chocolate malts and Willamette hops. This combination gives Turbodog® its rich body and color and a sweet chocolate, toffee-like flavor. Turbodog® began as a specialty ale, but has gained a huge, loyal following and has become one of our flagship brews.

This ale pairs well with most meats and is great served with hamburgers or sausages. It is a good match with smoked fish and can even stand up to wild-game dishes. Turbodog® is also great for marinating and braising meats and cooking such things as cabbage and greens. Colby, Gloucester, Cheddar and blue cheeses go nicely with Turbodog®. It’s perfect with spicy Louisiana jambalaya or Spanish paella. Some even like it paired with chocolate!

1) Ola Dubh 12 Year Special Reserve by Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland

No doubt the best beer to ever touch my lips.

From the official description ... Ola Dubh 12 pours black with a modest spattered head that reduces slowly, leaving behind textbook lacing. The aroma is delicious; smoky Worcestershire sauce, leather, iodine and grilled steak. Flavours of smoky-sweet malts, roasted peat, coffee beans and a well-bittered finish. Overall this is a rather exotic brew with a defined barrel influence. It’s refined rather than over the top and very delicious indeed.

I know it is a bit early for a year end best of post but it's been a rather crappy year blogging wise so I'm flushing the past with this entry and starting anew. Hope you enjoy a few of this picks.