Friday, October 30, 2009

While I'm Away

My friend Cicily Janus asked me a good while back to do a guest blog for her over at WRITING ABOUT YOU. I finally got it done so hop on over and see what I have to say. And while you are there check out all the exciting stuff going on with Cicily. She has a new Jazz book that comes out soon and then there are her Writing Away Retreats which by all accounts are awesomely awesome. Though rumor has it she is still insisting upon serving attendees salad along with the meaty main courses. I'm not going until she has an all meat menu, but that's just me. Seriously check out her schedule of retreats. She has some great authors, agents, and editors lined up.

And there is still time to email me your agent story. Send them to travis AT traviserwin DOT com

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stepping Out

So before I got caught up in contest fever, I was writing a series of blogs based upon the ideas and first line suggestions of my Facebook buddies. On deck for that was the post inspired by Avery Debow. She wanted me to use the line ... "It wasn't even my shoe."

So I wrote a poem.

It wasn't even my shoe,
slipped my foot in anyway.
Planned to walk a mile, maybe two.
A stroll nothing more than child's play.
But that ever-changing view,
left me confused, bathed in dismay

Now I'm no poet. Pentameter, and all that jazz still baffles me, but I am a big fan in taking that walk in somebody elses shoes before you get up on your high horse and criticize.

Right now I'm working on a Post for a friend's blog. Soon as I get it written, and she posts it I'll share the link, but I'll give all of a preview and reveal it has to do with writer's, (specifically unagented/unpublished writers with novelists ambitions) that routinely criticize and blame literary agents for dashing their dreams.

Are there bad, irresponsible agents out there? Yes. They are people in every job that are inept, but if we as writers often get caught up in the notion that agents are some kind of evil guards. The only think blocking entrance into the magical kingdom of publication and that my friends is pure nonsense. I won't say anymore to defend that position until I write that other post, but I have plans to do my part in fostering a better relationship between we, the unagented writers of the world and the agents who simply are looking for books and writers they both love and feel as of they can place with publishers.

I am declaring November 1st, Literary Agent Appreciation Day, and as such I want writers to send me their best story involving a kindness extended to them by a literary agent. An anecdote when an has gone above and beyond to help them out. Especially if they provided that service not as your acting agent, but simply to offer a helping hand. I will post as many as a can that day and hopefully these stories will change the view of at least a few of the most jaded among us. Send those stories anytime to my email travis AT traviserwin DOT com.

And yes, I hear the voices of those very same jaded now. "Sure Travis is more than willing to suck up and kiss the arse of agents now. He just won a contest over at an agents blog and he's feeling the love. But what was he saying last week, last month, last year, when those rejection letters were stuffing his inbox?"

And to that. I say the same exact thing. Don't believe me? Then have a gander at this post titled, Put That Shoe On. And when you do, please take note of the date, April 23, 2007 when I first expressed these sentiments. So yeah I'm feeling good right now, but I truthfully do see agents for what they are supposed to be. Advocates and business partners for we writers who seek to make a living in this very complex world of publishing.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I won ...

As I type the above words I am still somewhat stunned. I have won writing contests before. I made the top 500 in the Amazon contest while competing with something close to 10,000 other writers.

Sp why does wining Literary Agents Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest feel like my greatest achievement as a writer?

Maybe it is because that paragraph comes from my very own memoir, not a fictional world I created?

Maybe because this has been one hell of a tough year and I've spent much of it debating if I really was good enough to make that top 1% of writers that get their novels published?

Maybe because I really have not been writing the way I sued to or should be?

Maybe because I read at least half of those 2600 entries and realize the talent level I was competing against?

Maybe it's all the maybes together?

Whatever I know I am truly elated and that I have new energy and desire to sit down and finish that memoir, because as cool and overwhelming as winning the contest is. there is no maybe to it. I'll need a heck of a lot more than a strong opener to finally land that agent and book deal I have been working for these past 8 years.

I'm taking this win as a sign that yes, I am good enough to be in that top 1% and yes, as long as I keep plugging away I can achieve my goals.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to vote for me or my fellow finalists. And if any of those 9 happen to find this blog I want to congratulate them and say thanks for making the contest one I am proud to have competed in. Without so many great entries this wouldn't mean quite so much.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Feel Great

Two posts in ONE DAY!

Been a long time since I managed that, but I couldn't resist tooting my own horn. I did make the finals in Literary Agents Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest. I already feel like a winner after being one of the ten finalists out of more than 2600 entries. Hop on over to his blog so that you can read all of the finalists entries and vote for your favorite. There are some really good ones so the competition from here on out will be extremely stiff.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Little Piggy Went To Market

Yep, I fell off the wagon again and let more day than I aimed too slip by without blogging. The flu has struck the Erwin household and while both my sons and my wife have suffered I am proud to say I have remained virus free. No doubt my ultra-healthy eating habits helped stave off the evil pork-infused germies.

I am sure all of you who are writers have heard about super blogging agent Nathan Bransford's latest contest. For those who have not Mr. Bransford is hosting a first paragraph contest. I have entered several of is contest and frankly never made so much as an honorable mention. Given the fact that his current writer's battle brought in nearly 2651 entries chances are I won't again, but in a way I already feel like a winner.

Never before has anyone other than a few people who already read my blog regularly commented on my entries, but this time I've heard from quite few people both regular blog reader and nearly a dozen total strangers. Some commented on the previous post and some sent me email. It makes me feel great that after having read my paragraph they took the time to find my bog or email address and comment.

For those who are curious I will save you the trouble of scouring the nearly three thousand entries and paste mine here.

Here you go the opening shot of my memoir in progress ... The Feedstore Chronicles

Coming-of-age stories are often fraught with symbolism, hidden metaphors, and a heaping mound of other literary devices. Not this one. I came of age while working at a dusty, Texas feedstore. A place where To Kill a Mockingbird involved a twelve-year-old and a BB gun. Of Mice and Men was a problem easily solved with rat poison. And David Copperfield was nothing more than a dude that made shit disappear.

The finalist are to be announced tomorrow. It would be awesome to make that cut but there are tons of talented writers and I've read so many great entries that I know the odds are slim at best, but all of the kind comments have given me an added boost and forced me to get back to work writing the rest of the memoir. I'm about 30,00 words in so far. With any luck I'll be through with a solid draft by the end of the year.

Happy writing to all of you, and good luck to my fellow competitors.

Friday, October 9, 2009

V is for Victory!

It seemed like it should have worked out fine.

That's exactly what The Missouri Tigers head coach must have been thinking when my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers scored 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of last nights game to come back and triumph over their Big XII rivals. It was a sloppy game played in a torrential downpour, but at least the good guys won.

Go Big Red!

No doubt this wasn't the post Lisa had in mine when she suggested I start a post with the first line "It seemed like it should have worked out fine," but since I got caught up watching the game last night instead of writing, this is what you get.

I have another busy weekend of flag football games, but this Saturday is also the annual Carnival at St Mary School. If you are here in Amarillo be sure and stop by between 12 and 7 for some great fun and even better Mexican food. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

By the Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin

I have one ... A big, hairy one I might add.

Get your mind out of the gutter people. I'm talking about mustaches.

Actually I have more than a mere mustache as I have chosen to ring my entire pie-hole with hair and grow and sport the uber manly -- goatee.

Why you ask?

The simple answer ... because I can.

Like standing up to pee, growing facial hair is a staple of manhood. Sure there are women that grow a pretty good 'stache, and a few gals can even take the stubble to an elite level and grow a beard. But unless you have circus ambitions, it's generally frowned upon to have both facial fuzz and boobs. Yes men, that means even if you are manly enough to grow chin decoration that rivals ZZ Top, man boobs greatly diminishes your manliness.

But Travis you say. Is it really all that manly or cool to have something growing on your face that is named for an animal? And a goat at that.

Yes. Yes it is. Billy goats (the ones that actually sport goatees) are indeed bad ass. Need I remind you that Billy Goat Gruff did prevail over the evil troll lurking beneath the bridge.

Okay, you say. Facial hair is manly, but it tickles to kiss someone a hairy upper lip.

Given the fact I've never kissed anyone with a hairy upper lip I can't verify the accuracy of this statement, but I will say ... perhaps, some people enjoy that tickle.

What? Are those cries of BS I hear in the distant. Are there actually naysayers chanting -- shave it off -- shave it off.

Fine, fine. I'll come clean. I have my goatee for two main reasons.

One, I look about twelve without it. Or at least I did the last time I was clean shaven, which would be August of 1997, exactly two months prior to my wedding. And then I was clean shaven only as a result of an ill-timed sneeze. Trust me fellas, if you are holding an electric trimmer and feel even the slightest urge to sneeze -- stop trimming your goat until the urge goes completely away.

Two, I'm lazy. I hate to shave. Having a goatee means less surface area to manscape. It's no different than filling your yard with rocks and cactus and claiming to be environmental friendly because your new "zero"scape has less needs. Bullshit. Your just too dang lazy to water and mow. And given the fact I am one chromosome away from being Sasquatch I'd be shaving all the damn time if I wanted to maintain that sensual smoothness the shaving cream companies claim is all the rage with the ladies.

But what are the drawbacks to having a mustache, goatee or full beard?

1) Honey. No I'm not getting fresh with you. I'm talking about the sweet nectar of the bees. Honey is not a friend to facial hair. Neither is syrup.

2) Extra shampoo expense. Yes guys it is very important you suds the goat every morning. Or evening if that happens to be your shower time.

3) Toddlers and chewing gum. Neither kids nor Hubba Bubba are all that dangerous to beards when faced individually but together they spell real trouble.

And other than the increases virility and sex appeal what are the benefits of letting the facial follicles freely frolick?

1) Extra warmth. The only time my wife will let me get away with a full beard is when I have a hunt planned for the cold mountain peaks of Colorado. And trust me a furred over face is indeed warmer when the chill of 13,000 feet is blowing across your cheeks. (Hey, I just realized that same argument could apply to justifying a hairy arse.)

2) The soup at lunch tasted really great. And now thanks to your 'stache you can enjoy that same flavor hours later with a mere flick of your tongue.

3) Should you ever become a wanted man you can alter your appearance in minutes, simply by shaving, whereas if you rob that bank while clean shaven you'll have to lay low for days, weeks, or months. (Time frame varies according to your manliness level and ability to grow facial hair)


This post was inspired by my Facebook plea for blogging ideas. My FB buddies responded and this is but the first of several posts to be inspired by their comments. I asked for topics or first lines and these are what I got and what you can look forward to. Int eh order in which I received them.

Shannon aka Bubblewench said ... Moustaches, good or evil... discuss!
Lissa served up this first line ... 'It seemed like it should have worked out fine.'
Avery tossed this line out ... "It wasn't even my shoe."

Kim handed me a serious subject .. Autism now affects one in 91 American children. Have fun...
Deborah suggested ... Oktoberfest
Melanie asked ... "Whose hair is this and why is it stuck to my chest?"
Jenn offered a trio of words and wants them all included in one post ... Mummies, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Britney Spears.
Shonda begged for ... "Ism's"...... what are they and what can they do for you?

Should be interesting and varied blog fare.

So, let's hear it. To be, or not to be ... Hairy ...

That is the question.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Google Monster

First off I want to wish my beautiful bride, Jennifer, a happy birthday today. If I wasn't a tightwad I'd be out buying her something nice rather than blogging. She certainly deserves it.


I only served up 5 posts for the month of September. that is my all time low for the 2 1/2 years I've been blogging. I might do better this month but the pace will not pick up until after flag football ends mid month.

Not blogging as regular led to a sizable drop in hits, but enough people visited for me to still get some humorous Google searches last month. Thought I'd share my thoughts on a few with y'all now.

light a match for poo smell led one hopeful Googler to this post. What cracks me up is the word the fact the searcher used for rather than to get rid of. Unless of course they really are in search of ways to create poo smell. In that case I suggest a trip to Golden Corral and a twelve pack of beer. They might have to wait a few hours but soon enough their abode will be filled with the hearty aroma they so crave.

today is the first day of the rest of my life
landed a visitor here. My concern here is that if you really do wake up feeling that optimistic about your future do you really need to turn to google for the next step. Hey Mr. Sunshine, step away from the computer and go out do something to enjoy that new beginning. Much as I like y'all to read my blog I really ain't all that inspirational.

is it illegal to scatter ashes in Amarillo I really don't get how my post on pissing cartoon characters and Osama Bin Laden has anything to do with cremating your loved ones. Furthermore, I like my hometown, but it's really not the kind of place that most people would choose to spend eternity. A high mountain peak, the currents of the ocean I get. But dumping my burn body in some bar ditch next to a feedlot just isn't all that romantic. And the way the wind blows around here you aren't going to stay put anyway.

don't pass out around your friends I'm thinking of you have to google this one you've already done it. And chances are those friends just may not fall into that category anymore. Given that the post this search led to is all about lying I'm thinking this searches might have needed a good excuse why their eyebrows are missing.

weird enema tricks I can't help but wonder of this search came from David Letterman's staff. After all stupid human and pet tricks are no longer fresh. Nevertheless, if the show deploys the procedure of this post their ratings are bound to plunge into the shitter.

ten literary characters I would totally make out with And I still stand by my list.

fruit smelling poop This inquiry leads to the same post as the poo match from above. But for the record I might know a few things about meat smelling poop, but I have no working knowledge of fruit smelling poop. What am I, a monkey?

cockamamie joke Surprisingly, this Google search does not lead to every post on my blog, but merely this one. By the way cockamamie is a vastly underused word.

St Joan of Arc sausagefest Okay this google searches leads to this post because of a comment left by one of my regular readers. Thing I find ironic is that their is a festival honoring someone who met their end by being burned at the stake, and this honor is paid by cooking the flesh of a pig. Y'all know I'm a carnivore through and through but if ever there was a time for salad this just might be it. I'm thinking St Joan would be all for a flameless celebration.


And if you are out and about in Amarillo tomorrow October 3rd, be sure and stop by the Hastings store on Georgia between 1 and 3 to pick up your signed copy of my friend Ron's historical look at our city through postcards