New Look to Blog

I changed the photos and background of my blog. I also rewrote the “About Me” page. I want to emphasize my fiction writing more here at the blog. I don’t want this site to only be a repository for my columns. I want it to be more about entertainment and story telling. Let me know what you think. I am doing some test posting to Facebook and Twitter today so don’t be annoyed if you see several posts in a row that may not say that much. IMG_1256

A Good Week For Me As A Writer and…Turkeys

Sorry to be neglecting the blog. I try, I really do try. I think of a million things to blog about and then time just slips away.

I have had two exciting developments this week as a writer. One involved the new manuscript “The Revenuer” and the other involves a potential sequel to Going Green. Don’t want to give out details yet…counting Chickens before they hatch and all of that sort of thing. But when something concrete happens you loyal friends will be the first to know. I expect it to be 6 weeks before I hear anything for certain.

Just a quick note. I am a long time turkey hunter. I suppose I have harvested about 30-35 turkeys. I should have harvested at least twice that many, but I hunt primarily public land and that can be extremely challenging as the turkeys on that land are more heavily hunted and thus more cautious. The past two years my son Nathan and I have had some very frustrating days. Long difficult hikes in the woods have yielded no turkeys seen or even heard. Today was different. Today I had a wonderful painting play out before my eyes. Only the turkeys were real. Two magnificent gobblers in full color and plumage under a rising sun strutting only 75 yards away in a gorgeous hardwood bottom. This lasted over an hour. They never got close enough for a shot, but the show was well worth all the frustrating days.

My Inner Mickey Mouse

Last time I posted about three seemingly unrelated topics, Mary Poppins, Mickey Mouse, and the singing group One Direction.

Actually it was more about the author of Mary Poppins, Walt Disney and the reaction of tens of thousands of young girls to the positivity of One Direction. Then I promised to tell you what I thought any of this had to do with me.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for you and I will try be subtle in what I say so as not to. But there is a scene in the Mr. Banks movie that was very powerful to me. Disney and P.L. Travers are sitting alone over tea and they have a deep and personal discussion (or mostly Disney does) about story telling and what makes them story tellers.

Without giving too much away, it was pain and tragedy that led both these authors to create characters that brought joy to millions. For Walt it was the Mouse, for Travers it was the nanny. As the scene unfolded (by the way critics all over the internet have already delighted in telling everyone that the conversation never happened in real life. I say, “so what?” the reality of their lives was as depicted and the motivation behind their creativity was the same as depicted)…anyway…as the scene unfolded, I am embarrassed to admit I cried. I sat there in the theater and blubbered. Because I realized that though I have now completed three books and one manuscript, I still haven’t written a book I need to write.

I need to release my inner Mickey Mouse.

Some of you know my childhood story some of you don’t. Some of you only know a small part of it. But it was my childhood that honed me into a story teller. It was through my own pain that my sense of humor blossomed. And that’s okay. The last thing I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me.

On the one or two occasions I have shared my entire testimony, I have always emphasized that I don’t seek pity and I don’t think my story is any harsher than anyone else’s story. We all have difficulties and sad things we experienced. It was just that mine combined with the personality traits that God gave me and created a writer.

That being said, I have lost count of the number of times I have had someone who knows me well tell me, “You need to write YOUR story.” They think that the funny stories I have told about my own life is where my real calling as a story teller lies. I have never pursued anything like that however because I’ve never known how to tie these stories together into any kind of a narrative.

To be sure I have incorporated some of these anecdotes into my books here and there. But what both Travers and Disney did is created a central character and projected some of their own experiences onto that character. That’s what I am going to try and do (only mine won’t be a cartoon character).

While I loved writing my other books, I think my real strengths are in writing for the heart. Humor and nostalgia are where my strengths lie and the best books combine these two.

My very first published work can be found on this blog. It was entitled First and Last. It was a story that pulled at the heartstrings and was about my Pop taking me on my very first hunt as a boy, and me taking him on his very last hunt as an elderly man.

That story was published in the 25th Anniversary edition of Turkey Call Magazine and has since been republished in two more magazines. It has been seen by over a million people. And THAT reminds me of the One Direction audiences. Those girls were drawn to the positive message. The world is wacky and warped enough. Maybe they don’t want to read scary conspiracy books. Maybe they want to be uplifted and edified in the midst of the madness swirling around them.

So I am going to be doing a lot of brainstorming. I don’t know when I’ll come up with my story, I don’t know what the character I want to create will be like or look like. But I think I have a new goal as a writer.

 

Mr. Banks and One Direction

Tonight my family and I went and saw “Saving Mr. Banks”. It is the story of Walt Disney and his 20 year effort to convince the author of Mary Poppins a Mrs. Travers, to allow him to adapt her novel into a movie.

While I have already learned that at least some portions of the film are not historically accurate…I don’t care. This is a WONDERFUL movie and I already place it in my personal top 5.

I think it appealed to me so much because it is a story about two storytellers. The interactions between Tom Hanks as Disney and Ema Thompson as Travers were priceless to this story teller. I won’t spoil the movie for you but it is a must see. A very uplifting and yet poignant film.

Also the other day, thanks to my daughter, I saw something I never thought I would see. Namely, the “One Direction” movie. Ashton is at home right now and was watching the movie on DVD when I got home from work. I sat down with a glass of iced tea and watched the last half hour or so with her. Something struck me and it is related to the Mr. Banks movie.

This boy band toured the world in their documentary movie. They filled stadiums to overflowing around the world. In all cases the stadiums were almost exclusively packed with girls from 14 to say 17. The girls sobbed as the band sang. They were overjoyed to be seeing the band in person. I hadn’t been very familiar with the songs of One Direction but something struck me. The songs I heard were very positive. They sang about true love and inner beauty and unconditional love.

And all of these thousands and thousands of young ladies from all this variety of cultures around the world drank it in! That is the message these young girls long for. Instead the world gives them the message that they are only sex objects and nothing more. Most of the entertainment world treats our young women like little more than animals to be manipulated for meaningless sex.

So these fairly wholesome young guys come along and sing about true love and accepting these girls as they are and become a world wide sensation.

Not the first time this has been done I know, but it is unprecedented in this decade.

I just looked at the clock. It is late. Tomorrow I will tell you how these two things are related and what any of this has to do with me.

The Tower of Babel

Tower Cover

It’s Here!! The Tower is Here!…http://tinyurl.com/l7ymqns in their first collaboration, The Rain, the award winning authors placed readers inside the ark during the harrowing hours that the outside world was washed away and for the years voyage that followed. Now this sequel http://tinyurl.com/l7ymqns sweeps readers up in a non-stop adventure that begins with Noah and his family, and continues to the time when Nimrod ruled the Valley of Shinar and built The Tower. Along the way, expect intrigue, romance, suspense and the sometimes violent, never-ending struggle between good and evil. You will be amazed at the tie ins to the world in which we currently live! If you prefer paperback, click here to purchase. http://tinyurl.com/mz8lapo

Free Copy of The Rain

I blogged the other day about the release of my new book The Tower here: http://chrisskates.com/?p=1344

For the next couple of days, you can download a free Kindle version of the first book in the series entitled The Rain. Download here. This will give you a chance to catch up on the series prior the the June 12th release of The Tower.

If you don’t have a Kindle App on your laptop of mobil Device, I love mine. It is much easier to read a book in that App than say as an Adobe File. You can get a Kindle downloaded onto your device here.  

If you have already read The Rain or own a copy. Please download anyway. It helps us in the Amazon rankings and costs nothing. Only takes about 30 seconds.

Finally, you can buy the paperback version here.

Skates On Writing

I am discovering that writing is no different than any other passion. Once it becomes business, it is difficult for it not to loose something. Today I was at Marshall County Library for an author appreciation day. The event was very well done and my compliments to the Library staff. They put on a first class event.

The bad news is, hardly anyone showed up. Granted it was a sunny Saturday afternoon but you have to pick a day and go with it and I assume people would prefer to get out on a day like today than a snowy or slushy winter day.

There were 20 authors and, excluding author family members and library staff, about 10 interested readers. I sold two books each at a discount to another author. It took me roughly 4 hours to prepare for drive to and participate in the event.

Unfortunately, this event is not an outlier. This is closer to the norm for writers. And that leads me to the business aspect. Writing for me, stopped being about just writing about three novels and a couple of short stories ago. You have to write, get published, market your fingers to the bone and then try to write anew.

The marketing part is the most frustrating and incredibly time consuming. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, calls to media and follow up calls, and follow ups to those follow ups, and about 100 (literally) emails per interview opportunity, all take up time and energy.

I have been trying to write a sequel to Going Green and quite frankly I am doing a TERRIBLE job this time. I write a weekly column now. That gives me exposure which is good, but it requires research which is bad. Word limits can be a challenge. It takes me much longer to write 750 words on a topic than it does 1500 words on the same topic. I can usually explain a concept in great detail. Trouble is, nobody has time to read that much explanation. So editors like word limits. To write succinctly is much more difficult for me and more time consuming. All that being said, writing time on my new novel suffers.

Today was….shall we say interesting. Of the 20 authors, 10 were writing on the occult, vampires, werewolves, wizards…not my bag. But BOY is this stuff popular now. If only I had made Ashley a wizard. Meanwhile, one author had just signed a 6 book deal with Simon and Schuster. I have to wonder if I will EVER sign one of those. Yet I would not be interested in that authors type of stories. I cannot come to terms with why so many people are into this genre but it is a multi-million dollar genre so I guess I am the oddball.

I sense that people want to escape. It’s enough to make a writer want to go back to writing humor. I have felt so serious lately I am not sure if I have a whole book of funny in me anymore.

A quick note. Two people were out of place today. I say that in that they were above the rest of us. Their stories were higher. Their stories were greater. Missy Jenkins was there, courageous survivor of the Heath Shootings, as was Beth Baker.

Missy wrote a book titled “I Choose To Be Happy”, Beth wrote, “Giving Him Back To God” about the loss of her little boy Caleb. I was honored to appear with these authors and have written them both a note of encouragement. No one moved any books today and that can be depressing. But these ladies in particular deserved better.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone was extremely nice and the library staff was wonderful. They have no control over public interest. MAN this is a tough business.