Are You Self Published?

IMG_4053“Tell people you are a writer.” My publisher gave me this advice, so did my wife and about a hundred of my closest friends. That statement is the foundation of a platform (don’t you hate that word). Things should move on logically from there.

Strangers are supposed to ask, “What are your your books about?” So I’m ready with an ultra short synopsis or two. One thing leads to another and pretty soon they’re asking for my cards looking for my Amazon Author Page on their smart phones and promising to tell all their friends, who happen to be intensely interested in books exactly like mine. Continue reading

“I 35” was a lot rougher road than I expected

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I wrote a little story entitled, “I 35” mostly in my head on my way to visit my sister in law in Bisbee, Arizona. By the time I got there I had the plot worked out, a couple of catchy lines and knew all there was to know about the characters. It was pretty easy. The story actually happened almost like I planned to tell it in the living room of my 1950’s childhood home. Continue reading

What is that Goose Bump Feeling? ASMR

Most dogs have a special spot.

Most dogs have a special spot.

Most dogs have a special spot that if touched will make one leg do a meaningless little dance. It’s pretty obvious they like it. Nobody has the slightest idea why, especially not the dog. Sounds can have similar effects. Sirens make dogs howl. My mother told me it was because their ears hurt, but look at a dog’s face when he does it some time, and what you’ll see is the look of joy. Continue reading

A Highway or a Short Story Collection?

Castle Valley on I-70

Castle Valley on I-70

Highway 70 through Utah is basically a series of short stories tied up by a ribbon of cement. It runs through a region of the state called the San Rafael Swell where there were no major roads at all before it was built. There is a 110 mile stretch of the highway where there are no towns and no service for automobiles, but every few miles there is another scenic and historical roadside attraction. Continue reading

My First Library Book Fair Ever

Jim Stovall at the Hardesty Regional Library Book Fair

Jim Stovall at the Hardesty Regional Library Book Fair

Jim Stovall was the motivational speaker at my first Library Book Fair ever. The event was held at the Hardesty Regional Library in Tulsa on Saturday, Sept. 13. 2014. I didn’t have the slightest idea who Jim Stovall was or why I should be really happy he was speaking at an event. Shame on me.

I had no idea Jim Stovall was blind or that after losing his sight he went on to become:

  • An International Humanitarian of the Year
  • A National Olympic weightlifting champion
  • An Emmy Award winner
  • The Founder and President of the Narrative Television Network
  • One of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans awarded by the U.S. Jaycees
  • A National Entrepreneur of the Year
  • A recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Blue Chip Enterprise Award
  • A world-renowned author and speaker
  • The author of, The Ultimate Gift. Best seller and now a 20th Century Fox major motion picture
  • Karen Marie Graham, author and publisher

    Karen Marie Graham, author and publisher

    It takes me—and most authors—from six months to a few years to finish a book. Jim Stovall has managed to write fifteen best sellers including two that were made into major motion pictures by dictating them. At his Hardesty lecture he said The Ultimate Gift was dictated in five days start to finish and sent off to the publisher with no edits. This book was then made into a movie staring James Garner (another Oklahoman everybody should know about) and Abigail Breslin.

For his work in making television accessible to our nation’s 13 million blind and visually impaired people, The President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity selected Jim Stovall as the Entrepreneur of the Year.  He was also chosen as the International Humanitarian of the Year, joining Jimmy Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Mother Teresa as

Sean Al-Jibouri, Jazz guitar.

Sean Al-Jibouri, Jazz guitar.

recipients of this honor. Steve Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes magazine, said, “Jim Stovall is one of the most extraordinary men of our era.”

Aside from having one of the greatest speakers ever, the book fair went pretty well. Forty authors—including me and Jim Stovall—were there signing and selling books. It’s safe to say he sold more than I did (probably more than everyone else combined) but commerce was brisk all around, exposure was good, and everybody went away smiling.

Karen Marie Graham, author of Promises You Keep, and children’s book, Thank You God for Everything, did an excellent job of organizing the book fair. When she isn’t writing or organizing events, Karen is the driving force behind the Oklahoma publishing company, Books-A-Daisy.

In the quiet moments between events, entertainment was provided by the outstanding jazz guitarist Sean Al-Jibouri.

 

 

Shiprock / Rock with Wings

Rock with Wings / Shiprock

Rock with Wings / Shiprock

If you drive through the four corners region of the Navajo Reservation along either highway 64 or U.S. 491, you will see a magnificent 1,800 foot tall rock formation rising out of the desert. It seems totally out of place in the surrounding flatlands. To early Euro-American pioneers the rock looked like a sailing ship with three masts. They called it Shiprock. Sin e white people were the ones making the maps, the name stuck.

Sunset / Shiprock

Sunset / Shiprock

Long before Europeans entered the area and turned the Native American’s lives upside down, the Navajo (Diné) called the formation Tse Bi dahi (Rock With Wings). According to one of the legends, the Diné originally lived in a cold land in the far north and were being harassed by a much larger hostile tribe.

When the shamans prayed for deliverance, the ground beneath the tribe became a huge bird that transported them on its back. It flew for a day and a

Monster Slayer and Born For Water. Navajo Hero twins

Monster Slayer and Born For Water. Navajo Hero twins

night before landing at sunset where Shiprock now sits. According to some of the legends, the tribe lived on the rock after being transported and only left to tend crops and fetch water. Disaster struck when the trail was destroyed by lightning. Many of the tribe were trapped on the mountain and died. The Diné forbid climbing on the haunted mountain so the ghosts (Chindi) of the stranded tribal members won’t be disturbed.

Everything was going pretty well after that, until Cliff Monster, a giant dragon-like

One of the Hero twins, Rock art.

One of the Hero twins, Rock art.

creature, climbed onto the Bird’s back and built a nest, trapping the Bird. One of the hero twins, Monster Slayer killed Cliff Monster but not before the bird was mortally wounded. Monster Slayer cut off Cliff Monster’s head and threw it far to the east where it became today’s Cabezon Peak. Then to keep the bird alive Monster Slayer turned him into stone, where he remains to this day.

Tony Hillerman’s book The Fallen Man begins when a white rock climber falls to his

Monster Slayer represented on a weaving

Monster Slayer represented on a weaving

death off of Shiprock. Climbing has been prohibited everywhere on the Reservation since 1970, but private land owners and grazing rights holders often grant access for a fee.

My soon to be released novel, Trial Separation (working title) starts off at Shiprock. It is easy to see why this stunning rock formation is important in the Native American Culture, and why it is a central feature in regional literature.