Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
So we ended up only five of us at Loy Khatron. The streets are lined with table after table of guh tongs for sale. Many designs and they’re all beautiful. Each must take an hour or more to construct but sell for twenty baht each – that’s sixty-eight cents to you and me. Some are made of bread, I am told. This reminds me of scripture. “Cast your bread upon the waters….”
We went to a temple on the khong – it’s insane, reminds me of Vegas only worse, because this is their religion. There were monks everywhere; their speeches blaring out from loud speakers so close together they drowned each other out. The smell of incense permeates the air. I think about how that’s probably all that is left of their prayers to the golden idols lined up everywhere: pay the money; rub the golden thing for luck, and your prayers and dreams will all come true – oy ….
We make our way to the khong and its madness – little boys from six to twelve years old jumping in the polluted water to retrieve the guh tongs people have lit and sent out because people put money in them for luck and for a promised return tenfold of their gifts to the river goddess. The boys are being “supervised” by a guy about twenty years old – if they find money, he will help them out of the khong and they can rest for a minute before being screamed at to get back in. Any reluctance and they are physically pushed back in! There’s an older, toothless, yellow-eyed skeleton of a man shivering and obviously in withdrawal, the twenty year old is screaming at him too. I don’t need an interpreter to know he is not welcome; this is the young man’s territory. My friend Ole sees me watching the scene play out. She tells me the twenty year old is angry because the sick man needed help to get out of the khong and the twenty year old already helped him once and will not do it again. He is telling him if he doesn’t move on that he will let him drown. Harsh and not very “Thai-like” as they are taught from birth that younger people always respect older people. I guess there’s an exception when money is at stake.
The boats on the khong are just like buses; they transport people all over Bangkok. One comes dangerously close to several boys, who all scramble to the dock with their arms stretched up as high as they can, but the twenty year old is too busy screaming at the sick man. I got a picture of him pulling a boy out of the water just in the nick of time. The rest of the crowd shows no reaction or emotion or concern. The Thai people are VERY non-confrontational. To them this is normal life. There are two women with infants on either side of the dock. One has obviously been severely beaten and recently at that. They are beggars. They say nothing; it is forbidden. They plead with their eyes and facial expressions looking down pitifully at their infants, then up at you, then down again, then up again. It is very difficult to hold their gaze or even to glance out of the corner of your eye. I already know on the way back by I’m going to drop some coinage in their cups – my head is swimming, my heart is aching, what more, if anything, can I do in this freaky circus-like atmosphere?
I can pray and I can bless in Jesus’ name. So I do. They each smile gratefully. One reveals no front teeth, which she is obviously self-conscious about. The other smiles gingerly, unable to complete the gesture due to the pain and swelling from her recent beating. My Thai friend Ole tells me, “They are form Cambodia.” I detect a hint of disgust, but my job is to lead by example, not to judge or condemn. The believers here are very new to the Lord; the church itself is just over ten years old. It must be very difficult to go in the opposite direction of ninety-five percent of the rest of the population in such an ancient, deeply embedded culture. I’m proud of my Thai brothers and sisters; they all work very hard for their church body and Jesus. I tell her I don’t care where they’re from, they belong to Jesus and my responsibility is to obey his leading. Besides, it must be terrible if thing are so bad in your own poor country that you have to go to another poor country just to beg. She smiles and takes my hand. We walk together this way; you can do that in Thailand without people thinking you’re a lesbian or something. It’s refreshing to see men walk arm-in-arm as friends and brothers!
So, our little group is finished with that portion of the outing. The Thais suggest we go eat some food. I couldn’t eat it you paid me. (As I write this it’s nearly noon the next day, and I still can’t eat a thing – this happens a lot to me when I’m here.) We end up walking very far because the roads are jammed with people going to the khongs and the temples. We end up at the sports arena next to the university where there is a man made fish pond packed with HUGE catfish and with beautiful fountains and lights – we’re back to our nice area of town. I can’t get the images of the poor and victimized out of my head but I don’t show it. If you’re going to be here, you gotta be cool. You have to maintain and handle it, and you have to handle it well.
There’s always a market here EVERY NIGHT, the place is packed – sardine can packed. Nobody looks angry. Nobody gets impatient. This is life. We just deal with it. Special care and extra room and patience are given to the elderly, children and the infirm. We baby step our way along and finally find a spot next to the water to sit and rest our sticky, sweaty bodies. It’s actually pretty nice. Fireworks are exploded intermittently with no regard for group safety. There’s not a cop in sight and there is no need for one; people manage themselves very well in Thailand – I like that a lot.
We watch couples and families come to the water’s edge to pray, light their guh tongs, and send them floating. I see a father, his wife, and three children come along. The father lights the candles and incense and prays so solemnly, deeply and sincerely. My heart is breaking; I don’t know if this is breaking the “rules” or not, Lord, but please forgive him in his ignorance and if you can, honor his prayers ANYWAY and bless and protect his family. The currents created by the fountains prevent the guh tongs from floating out very far or very long so they congregate along the edge. Pretty soon, along comes a guy and his maybe six-year-old son. He retrieves the used guh tongs, searches them for money (destroying them in the process). The particularly nice ones he stacks and carries to the street where maybe his wife or someone he’s working with will fix them up and resell them. And so it goes….
I had visions of grandeur, of a whole group of us singing praise songs and declaring Jesus as king and fighting and warring in the spirit – ugh! I realize this is not going to happen – again, the Thais are non-confrontational – even in spiritual things, something I’m thinking Jesus may want to change in his church in Bangkok. But as for me, there is NO WAY that I’m leaving this place without making some sort of declaration! So I stood up and raised my hands and said, “We declare that Jesus Christ is the one true God, the king over all kings, the God over all gods and goddesses; he is the creator and master, king of all kingdoms in all the earth!” While they (the Thais present) wouldn’t or couldn’t say it themselves, they heartily agreed with a resounding “Amen” and grins from ear to ear!
We leave that place after about an hour, weaving our way through the masses, past the food stalls and sidewalk sellers, back to our beloved center where I end up praying for Thailand harder and deeper than I ever have, long into the night….
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Now what in the hell does this have to do with Black Friday? Well, while sitting in my office early Friday morning, I was wondering what my Saturday blog would be about. It seemed natural to write about Friday's nationwide buying (feeding) frenzy. I didn't want to wait until this morning to write the whole blog, so I got a head start. Basically, I will copy and paste a nasty picture of Black Friday early and then post this blog.
The real purpose of this blog is to try and help newbies seriously think about blogging. The purpose of the blog title and picture is to draw you in. It's just like a grabber to publicize a book. "Oh, look, honey, here is a blog and disgusting picture about Black Friday!" OK, now you are hooked into reading the blog! I'm not sure what it is about the human mind that draws us toward mayhem, but why not use human nature to get people to read your stuff? Why not, indeed....
Trickery, you say. I say, not! I'm just using every tool available in the quest to become a known author. If you want to stop being a newbie author, you better learn to use any and all tools at your disposal too.
I'm just saying,
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I certainly can relate to my newbie brother and sister authors out there. The road to recognition is long and perilous. Trying to find help on the Internet is akin to wildebeest crossing an African river during migration. The crocs are hiding and just waiting to pounce! During my first year out as an aspiring author, I got pounced on more than once. Unlike the wildebeest though, I came out unscathed except for an empty wallet and savaged pride.
Except for your Print On Demand partner, if it costs money, run like hell in the opposite direction. And, when it comes to a POD partner, you better make sure you do your homework before committing your manuscript and money. I personally recommend Wheatmark, Inc., mainly because I did my homework and Wheatmark delivered by publishing my first murder mystery. They are also publishing my sequel as you read this blog.
My second year as a published author has been spent establishing my author’s credibility, finishing my sequel, along with starting my third murder mystery. Oh, did I tell you the second year is tougher than the first? Sorry about that. No one said it would be easy, and if they did, they either gave you bogus information because they didn’t really know, or just wanted your money. I’d be betting on the latter.
You have to give yourself at least five years of promoting, building credibility, pressing the flesh (as the politicians would say), and keeping the wolf from the door. While you are doing all of that, you need to keep writing works that are unique, fascinating and page turners.
Now enter the real challenge. Are you over-the-top passionate about what you write? If you are and family and friends are clamoring for more, continue to write. Don’t quit your day job, and dig in for a five-year uphill adventure. If you are not super passionate about your work and no one seems interested, don’t shoot a dead cow. Find something you can be passionate about and go forth onto a different path.
If you are now insulted and indignant, it’s time to take that other path. Of course you wouldn’t have read the last sentence anyway because you would have already gone to another site that is telling you how simple it is to write and publish a book. Come on in, partner, big bucks and fame are just a few short months away! Good luck, Charlie, you are about to be removed from your hard-earned money.
There is no magic formula for writing success, but here is the formula I use:
Passion + Commitment + Perseverance + Unique Books = Success
There is still no guarantee you will ever make money writing, but with the formula above, at least you have a fighting chance.
Monday, November 22, 2010
My daughter, Nissa, is cooking only the second turkey in her life and if her small practice turkey a few weeks ago is any indication, it will be delish! Family will bring all the fixings over to Grandma's house and we will celebrate and give thanks that we are all together on this very special day.
There will be many family members and friends not present, but we know they will be celebrating and giving thanks in their own part of the world. My daughter, Kimberry, as her name is pronounced in Thailand, will be working hard teaching in that country. To those loved ones who have passed, we light candles at the table in remembrance. It's a tradition that fills us with love and peace.
We will surely remember and give thanks to all our servicemen and women who are risking all so that we may live in a country that provides so very much for our freedom to celebrate and worship according to our individual beliefs. We also are thankful for the care our wounded solders are receiving and wish them a blessed Thanksgiving.
We also will give thanks to our fellow countrymen and women who work hard to support and maintain households that raise and nurture children who are the future of our great nation.
Americans are a giving people which is demonstrated by the effort to provide Thanksgiving food to the less fortunate through donations and volunteerism.
There is so much to be thankful for. I wish everyone a wonderful turkey day and remember to leave room for dessert. I just hope there is turkey left over for sandwiches the next day. Yummy!
I'm just saying, Happy Thanksgiving!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Here's my point; graduating high school is critical for anyone who wants earn money after graduation. Graduating from college is critical for anyone who wants to make even more money after graduation. Post graduate work is critical for anyone who wants to be an astronaut, scientist, Dr. Phil-type TV host, etc., etc., etc., add nauseous.
What if you don't want to continue your education after high school because you want to be a rock star, Kelly Ripa or whatever? OK, at least you have learned the basic educational rules. Now you have some rules to break, but without a high school education, you have no rules. Therefore, you have none to break. That's not good. The more rules you learn, the more rules you can have fun breaking.
You can do what I did after high school. I began a career in construction and lived the high life and then the low life and then the high life and then.... I was at the mercy of economic conditions and lived like a yo yo on a string. Feast or famine was the norm.
What does this have to do with being a writer? Well, I believe too much education relegates you to technical work that is really boring. Too little education and you might as well stay a construction laborer. The optimum level is a high school education and at least fifteen years of working and maintaining a household. Now you are ready to write! You know the basic rules and you have life experiences in the real world.
I like the unfettered mind. When participating in book festivals, I meet all kinds of writers. The ones who have a stiff upper lip and a head as big as the Goodyear blimp, I avoid like the plague. The writers who sit at their tables with smiles, direct eye contact and a willingness to know what you are thinking excite me. These writers are curious about everyone and everything. They are working wives and mothers who write to keep their sanity in a crazy world. Husbands and fathers who write because they are compelled to do so. Divorced folks who write about their pain so the pain doesn't hurt so much. Everyday people who began writing because their passion to do so was undeniable. These are my kind of writers!
There is no doubt in my mind that in order to start that first novel you must ask yourself one question and answer it truthfully. Is writing my one real passion? If the answer is yes, start that book no matter what is going on in your life. If the answer is no, find your passion and follow it. If the answer is, “I don’t know,” you need to live some more life before you can discover your passion. Your true passion will never have to be decided upon. Either you have it or you don’t!
Writing wasn’t my passion until later in life, but once I recognized it, the passion burnt a hole in my brain and novels started pouring out. I can’t imagine a day without writing being a part of it. My parents always accused me of talking just to hear myself talk. It was true, and now I write to see what I have written, and what I have written always excites me. I say this with modesty and humility. No one on the planet would have guessed that I could or would write two novels with a third on the way.
This blog says one thing that is the God honest truth. If you have the passion to write, fear not and write till the cows come home!
I'm just saying,
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Our passion, while we write our first novels, is right up there with sex and chocolate ice cream. We just know there is a traditional publisher out there that will snatch up our effort and make us Best Selling Authors! You start sending queries to every publisher on the planet knowing that one of them will want to read your manuscript. After many dollars in postage and months of no responses whatsoever, you hang your head in shame, wondering if you could even write in the first place.
Rest easy, my fellow Unknown Authors, and hold your heads high. You have accomplished something few people ever dream of. You have written a novel! That fact, determination, faith in your abilities, and aggressive marketing can and will allow you to publish your book without a traditional publisher. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and walk proudly into the world of P.O.D.
Welcome to the 21st century! Unless your name is Stephen King, your only real hope of being published is Publish On Demand or self-publishing. Google "publish on demand" and you will be introduced to PODs from around the world. Yes, you pay for their services and not all are equal.
PODing is not self-publishing. When you self-publish, you end up with a garage full of books that you must promote and sell. I call that tailgate marketing. You also pay for printing and shipping to get your books to the garage in the first place. This form of being published has been successful for some authors who have the time to become a roaming bookstore.
I wanted to start my second novel right away, so I researched publish on demand. In this scenario, books are not printed until someone orders one online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). I don't have a garage full of books starting to mold because I don't have time to sell them.
My second novel is finished and I will send it to my POD publisher next week. I have started my third novel and hope to have it published next summer. Having a POD partner has enabled me to build credibility as an author by having multiple books for sale on the Internet. This is called the Author's Platform.
Two years ago, I was in the mindset that there was no way I was going to have to pay for publishing. I have since learned that unless you are an established author, there is no other way. The trick is research, research and more research. Don't take anyone's word about publishing. Find out for yourself what is available. Establish a budget and stick to it. Most of all, don't ever give up on yourself. If you have any questions about your publishing path, e-mail me. Two years ago I couldn't even spell author and now I are one!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I thought about wearing blacked out sunglasses and pretending to be blind while I am there, rather than have him catch me accidentally glancing at his cojenes. Lets face it, the morbid temptation is there.
The truth is that I have met Paul, and I found him to be a very intelligent, gracious and giving individual. He is married and believes in closeness with nature. I mean real close to nature!
The fact that Paul provides a space for authors visiting Quartzsite to sell their books for free is the real deal. What a great venue! Thousands of tourists seeking warm sun and clear air in the winter makes for a perfect place for unknown authors to sell their books. My hat is off to Paul for providing this opprotunity for unknown authors like myself to mingle with other authors and book lovers who travel there from all over the world!
Thank you, Paul!
Who knows, if it's warm enough, I might get close to nature too....
I'm just saying,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The following is the e-mail string between me and a policeman named Dave in Texas:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 2:08 AM
I am considering using Wheatmark. Would you recommend them?
Thanks in advance,
From: Mitt [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 4:23 AM
I would recommend Wheatmark in a heartbeat. In this high-tech POD publishing world, where self-publishing is really the only option for unknown authors, it is critical that we be able to trust our Publish On Demand partner. Wheatmark, Inc. has treated me with respect, kept their word, and offered the best service in the industry. They are out front with every aspect of what they can provide for a reasonable fee and the responsibilities of the author.
Is the process easy? No. If it were, everybody on the planet would be bestselling authors!
Please mention my name to Grael Norton if you decide to use them. No, I do not get any kind of reward if you do. I just like them to know I am thankful for the wonderful service and free education they also provide for clients. I have recommended other new authors and one best selling author friend to Wheatmark, simply because they are the best in the industry.
Go for it!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 3:29 AM
Okay, I'm a cop working the night shift. That's why I'm awake. You??? Thanks very much for responding. I have had my manuscript ready for several months and have sent numerous query letters to no avail. My patience wearing thin has brought me to consider self-publishing. My biggest concern is the effort Wheatmark puts into marketing. Am I going to be selling books out of the trunk of my car. I am in Texas so maybe I should say the bed of my truck.
Pleased to meet you, Dave. I'm awake because I write murder mysteries full time and early morning is the very best time to do that. How did you find me all the way from Texas?
Now comes the hard part.... Unless your name is Stephen King, you are responsible for promoting your books. It's a fact of life worldwide, not just in America. The chances of getting a traditional publisher to fund that effort is nil. You would have a much better chance of winning the lotto! The thing about Wheatmark is that after you sell 2,000 copies, they will take over paying for the cost of promotions. No other POD in the industry offers that deal. Plus, they are ready and willing, through seminars and other means, to teach you what you need to know to promote your work. Keep in mind that promoting your books will be your job until you leave the planet.
No, you don't have to sell books off the tailgate of your truck, although I have done so with some success. The Internet is how Wheatmark approaches their educational process. I have a Blog, Websites, Twitter and Facebook working for me 24-7. The real effort is getting name recognition (Wheatmark calls it your Author Platform) and getting that recognition is a tough nut to crack.
I have one book published, Evil in the Mirror, the sequel Day Stalker is finished and ready to be published, and a new one in the writing process called, The Phoenix Code. I started my writing career February of 2009 when construction died here in Arizona. I have also written two e-Books during that time. I am still unknown, not making any money, and working hard to get known. The truth is that it takes up to five years to accomplish your author's platform! Wheatmark was always upfront about the hard road ahead and they were right on the mark!
I tell you this because it's the truth and you must be motivated to become a best selling author. You must also have great passion about your work. One thing about my slow rise up the ranks is that it has been thrilling and exciting. Book signings are fun, as are radio interviews. Promotion is the key, but time management is also important.
I could talk all night about this stuff, but I must get back to work. If there is anything else I can do to help you, please let me know. We authors must stick together so we can learn and prosper. I also want to thank you for protecting us from the bad guys.
I am now waiting for his reply. What a small world we live in.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
My mother always made sure we were on hand when Dad was leaving on a mission. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned what the missions were and their significance in the surrender of Japan. To this day, his records are sealed.
It wasn’t long afterward that my mother married my dad’s best friend and we moved to California. My step dad was a Navy veteran and right up to his death of cancer in 1980, I could have not loved him more. He was the only dad I really knew and he treated us with love and respect.
Today is the first time I have officially remembered my veteran biological father on Veterans Day. I want him to know how much I appreciate his sacrifice for our country and freedom. I also want him to know how much I love him for being my father. I was truly blessed.
I’m just saying,
Milton Andrew Wigley Winstead
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
What you are attempting to do seems so difficult that most people won't even try. That first sentence is really just a matter of baring your soul to the whole planet, knowing they are going to ridicule you into obscurity. While contemplating my first sentence, I though about jumping off a cliff as an alternative. My thoughts were, What the hell am I thinking? I don't even know how to write! God, I hope no one reads this.
The sentence started with one word. That word was Detective. I looked at the screen and realized one word wasn't enough. Of course it wasn't enough, dumb ass, I was trying to write a novel, I thought to myself. So, I typed the second word which was Mull. OK, what about Mull, I reasoned. Then came the third word and then the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Holy cow, I was off to the races! Before I knew it, I had completed a chapter.
It was at this point that I realized that novels were just words strung together in a meaningful way so as to tell a story. Before the words came to me, I had a mental picture of the scene. Once I pictured the scene, the words came to me from that scene and flowed onto the page.
I was excited to continue and continue I did. Three months later I had the rough manuscript of Evil in the Mirror. No one was more surprised than I. How can it be this easy? I learned later that, in my case, the hard part was editing and proofing. What I couldn't believe was that I had written a novel, and during the process I would e-mail chapters to family and all of the feedback was more than just positive. Everyone wanted to know when the book was coming out so they could read it.
I have since finished the sequel and started the third book in the series. The moral of the story? Well, you don't have to be educated to be a writer. I barely graduated high school and spent many years in construction wishing I could write a book. I have learned that you can truly do anything you set your mind to. The trick is to write that first word. Look at it for a while and then write the second one and third....
Written by Regina Brett:
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come...
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
Monday, November 8, 2010
Like the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes, an Arizona cop killer seems to be indestructible and immortal. He targets only rookie police and then kills them with cruel intention and purpose, while leaving cryptic messages written in what appear to be Egyptian hieroglyphics at the murder scenes.
When Jon Mull's partner, Manny Gonzales, helps his son Victor join the Tucson Police Department, he has no clue that this act will haunt him forever when his son becomes a victim of the ruthless killer.
This third in a series of Jon Mull murder mysteries will keep you glued to your seat and turning pages while the detective duo hunts their most ruthless killer to date while desperately trying to figure out The Phoenix Code.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
The foot travel in and out of the store was constant and the staff passed out Evil in the Mirror bookmarks to everyone at the cash registers. We met interesting people and passed out free candy to anyone who stopped.
I love book signings and surely look forward to January, February and March in Quartzsite, Arizona, at the Oasis Bookstore. You will find me sitting in one of the free selling booths provided by Paul, the owner, selling books and having fun in the sun.
I am excited about meeting the thousands of Quartzsite visitors from around the country who all love to read and spend time in the warm and sunny lower desert during the winter months.
In the meantime, I will be working on my third novel, The Phoenix Code. Jon Mull will again be involved in murder and mayhem that takes him into the dark mind of another diabolical killer who is targeting rookie cops throughout Arizona.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Yes, it's true; the evil twins will be in Tucson, Arizona, this Friday for an Evil in the Mirror book signing at Bookmans Speedway from 12 to 2 p.m.
We both promise to be on our best behavior during the signing, maybe!