Monthly Archives: February 2014

About Me: 20 possibly interesting things…

I saw a post on author Randall Wood’s blog titled 25 Things About…Me and thought it might be fun to do something similar here.  So, without further ado:

  1. The first pop song (and the one that got me started on “that” kind of music) that I heard and really loved was Paul McCartney’s Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey off his solo album, RAM.  I was about 11 or 12.
  2. I wrote my first complete story as a seventh grader.  It was called “The Argonauts” and it was about a baseball team made up of all my friends that competed against other baseball teams from other cities.  My teacher said I should become a sportscaster.
  3. I started taking organ lessons at age 5.  My teacher was a man named Kay McAbee, a well-known show organist.  At that age, I was considered to be something of a prodigy.
  4. I joined grade school band in 6th grade as a mallets player.  In those days it meant I played glockenspiel and chimes for that band.  My band director was named Mr. Dan Kobe.
  5. In little league, I played second base.  My first game I went 2-2 at the plate and made like 4 errors in the field.  I never got another hit the whole season, and I only made like 3 errors in all of the rest of the games.  Turned out I was pretty good defensively and pretty horrid at batting.
  6. I published a magazine called “Rock” when in junior high.  We only made one copy and we passed it around to kids in our class.  We published at least 5 issues.  It was all about the stars of that day and age – bands like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Chicago, Elton John, and Led Zeppelin.
  7. I was ranked first in my class my freshmen year in high school, out of 600 plus students.  I ended up graduating in the top ten, but could never get back to first after a disastrous turn in my speech class, which I took during summer school.  (Bad idea for me.)
  8. I decided that I wasn’t going to be a bell player in high school band and took drum lessons.  I marched double tenors for two years and snare for two years.  I was section leader for a semester my senior year.  I was the only one who could play every instrument in the section.  Playing multiple instruments became a theme in my life.
  9. I knew that I wanted to be a dentist when I graduated high school and it was a major reason I went to Loyola University in Chicago.  I wavered in that goal between junior and senior years, when I thought I might like to go into graduate studies of chemistry.  But I went to dental school anyway and haven’t been unhappy with that decision.
  10. I played in rock bands all along.  Some of them were called TANGENT, EXODUS, TENTATIVE, and NITROUS ROXIDE.  While playing in bands in high school I realized that if I wanted any say in the song selection I better learn how to play guitar.  I started singing in TENTATIVE, and in NITROUS ROXIDE I was the primary lead singer.  Ever since then I’ve always done a portion of the lead vocals, up until now.  I can play guitar, keyboards and drums, and I can fill in on bass if needed.  Later I have played piano and keyboards on my friends’ CD projects:  The Exit Specialists.
  11. Favorite musician growing up:  Paul McCartney (and Wings).  Favorite band now:  The Beatles.  I didn’t stray too far.  Favorite musical era:  Late 70’s/early 80’s.  I loved the Cars, the Stray Cats, Crowded House, the BoDeans, New Order, the Cure, Erasure, Rockpile, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe…should I keep going?
  12. I saw a Chicago band called Mike Jordan and the Rockamatics over thirty times.  Maybe even forty times.  They were a tremendously fun club band back in the 80’s and into the 90’s.  They had roots going to John Prine’s backing band, The Famous Potatoes.  Other favorites that I saw more than twenty times:  The Elvis Brothers (from Champaign) and the Bad Examples.
  13. I was exposed to the writings of Isaac Asimov in eighth grade, and the writings of Stephen King in late high school, but I really got reading King in college.  Other favorites included Robert Heinlein, Dan Simmons, Orson Scott Card, David Brin, and F. Paul Wilson.
  14. I joined Prodigy (an online dial-up service) back in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s and was active in the Stephen King Club and another bulletin board called King-Horrible?  When Prodigy raised rates, we migrated to Delphi Internet Services.  We started out in a virtual corner of a forum called The Clubhouse, but we soon formed our own forum called The Book and Candle Pub.  There I helped run the place, moderating discussions, coordinating author visits, and doing a little of this and that.  I started writing seriously again at that point.  Some of the authors whose visits I helped coordinate included David Feintuch, Jack Chalker, Janet Young Brooks (aka Jill Churchill), Bill Pomidor, and Terry McGarry.
  15. I wrote my first novel-length work in the late 1990s’  It is a “dental mystery” and I’m currently rewriting it to bring it up to date and plan on publishing it when it’s ready.
  16. My favorite baseball team is the Cubs, and I also enjoy watching pro basketball.  Michael Jordan brought me into the NBA, but I have stayed with it and I love sports statistics.
  17. I love to ride, though I haven’t done it much in the last couple years.  My longest ride was on the Elroy-Sparta trail in Wisconsin.  We did a little over 50 miles on that day.  Most of my rides were more in the 25-30 mile range.
  18. I broke my ankle in late 2011, and still have the plate and pins fixing the fibula.  It has really affected my mobility.  That was the first surgery I’ve had.
  19. I used to dream of retiring from dentistry and opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore.  Now I don’t know what I want to do when I retire.  I still might try the bookstore thing, but probably will look at a specialty mystery/sf store, something more like that.
  20. My favorite vacation spot in the whole world is probably Arizona.  I’ve traveled to every part of the state except the southwest corner and have found so many cool things to see and do there.  From spring training baseball to Sedona, it’s my favorite state.  (I’m not so impressed with their politics.)  My second favorite is probably Disney World, and I’ve been there enough times to feel that I could write a sort of guidebook about it (under my real name) called DOING DISNEY!

And that’s about all of the semi-interesting facts about me.  At least the ones I’m willing to share!



So which am I?

Lots of activity in the blogosphere about self publishers recently.  It seems Hugh Howey had someone do a study about numbers of self published titles in the Amazon best seller lists, and then did some data extrapolation to determine estimated sales numbers and estimated dollar figures for sales, and he found that self published titles were beginning to become the majority of ebooks sold.  Others jumped on his data, and reblogged it, making their own comments about it.

On top of it all is the old “tsunami of crap” argument resurfacing, that as more and more people self publish, more and more “bad” books surface.  Apparently by “bad books” they mean poorly edited, typo-laden works, mostly by self publishers.  Maybe they mean bad stories as well, but mostly they talk about the quality of the craft used to write these books.  In other words, the stuff that a good copy editor will find and presumably correct.

Well, I wonder where I fall.  Am I part of the tsunami or are my works professional?

Here was my hope.  Most of the short stories I’ve published have been through the wringer with readers.  Then I put them through my wringer again as well.  I read them and reread them, correcting turns of a phrase and adding in missing words and fixing typos that generally were something like using “fee” instead of “feel” (in other words, typos that the spell check didn’t find).

So I thought (and still think) I’m putting out a pretty good product, even though I haven’t had anyone “professionally” edit these works.  Am I the best judge of that?  Probably not.  The reader is the best judge.

But maybe the stories aren’t good enough.  Maybe I’m not a good enough storyteller.  Again, I can’t judge.  I think the stories are pretty good; they’re the stories I wanted to tell.  So who does judge?  Readers, I’d guess.

Yes, I made three of my covers.  But I had four of them done for me by a professional who happens to be a good friend, someone who has designed covers for small presses.  Two of them are a little rough, I know.  My latest, for DEAD OR ALIVE, looks pretty decent to me.

I started with these short stories because they’ve been through the wringer, and because my hope was that they’d generate some sales and some income which I could then use to pay professionals for editing and covers on my longer works.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve only got the short stories, a 14 story collection, and a Disney guidebook (under my real name) out there so far.  I don’t do much promotion; I’m not on Facebook every day suggesting that people buy my stories.  I don’t tweet; I have been less than regular with updates to my blog.  I’ve hoped that somehow word will spread and a few will get sold here and there.  We’ll see.

So the question remains:  am I part of the “tsunami of crap”?  Who gets to say whether I am or not?

In my estimation, the only ones who get to make that judgement are readers.  So far they haven’t voted enough to let me know one way or another (all of my reviews are 5 star so far, but there aren’t many of them), but I intend on continuing to plug away until either something happens, or nothing at all happens.

Thanks if you’ve bought one of my stories.  Heck, thanks if you’re even here reading this.  I appreciate any recognition I get.