I'm not saying I'm behind on book reviews, but Emily and I listened to American Gods while driving to and from Missouri—in 2015. So, I am saying I’m behind on book reviews, and since this one’s easy I thought I’d knock it out.
Not that Neil Gaiman needs any help from me, especially with American Gods on its way to becoming a TV series. (Wait, the show's first season is over; I'm behind on posting blogs, too.) Better that than a movie—I can’t imagine how they’d fit this story into a two hour or so time frame.
Main character Shadow is released from prison early, on the news that his wife has been killed in an accident. He’s flying home for the funeral when Mr. Wednesday appears next to him during a violent storm, and offers him a job. What’s the job, and how does Wednesday know so much about Shadow? That’s just the beginning of the mystery, and as close to normal as this book ever gets.
The grieving Shadow just wants to be left alone, but soon finds himself in a war pitting old gods against new gods as he wanders across the American Midwest, meeting every sort of odd character, human and otherwise. And that’s about as close as I can come to describing this mind-twisting novel in ten thousand words or less.
Although I like listening to podcasts and audio non-fiction, I haven’t had good experiences with fiction on audiobook. That changed with American Gods, which is narrated (performed?) by George Guidall. At least, my version was; I've since learned that there's at least on other audio version. Thanks to Guidall I can’t imagine Wednesday being played by anyone but Anthony Hopkins (well, I can now), but he does a great job with all the voices, as well as Gaiman’s wonderful narration.
This audio addition of American Gods is, I assume, unabridged, and so seemed to take forever. That’s a compliment. It was like an endless bowl of ice cream that you never get tired of. In fact, this novel is the reason why I usually give books I really like a four out of five rating. That way there’s room when the occasional perfect reading—well, listening—experience arrives. This is it: Five out of five.
https://www.amazon.com/American-Gods-Low-Price-MP3/dp/0062314297

(By the way, the series is just as mind blowing. Instead of trying to shove all this story and characters into one movie, there's actually room to expand it a bit. I couldn't imagine how they could turn American Gods into a TV series either, but they did it, and it's a work of surreal genius.)



It was a busy week, but I was able to get the 4H Creative Writing projects in just under the wire. Don't let anyone tell you judging is easy, especially in an area that can be so subjective. If I was a sports judge, I suppose I'd rather be in track and field rather than figure skating, for instance.

What makes it harder is that there are three categories: beginner, intermediate, and why the heck wasn't I that good in high school? You can't judge them by the same standards; it would be like failing a fourth grader because he couldn't do advanced trigonometry, which is maybe a bad example because I never could do advanced trigonometry. I don't even know what it is. I'm still trying to figure out what x equals.

My problem is that I tend to go too easy, out of empathy for how I might have reacted to a harsh comment at that age. (Hint: I had very low self esteem.) But in trying to balance that, I worry about being too hard on the writers. They need to know if they have weak areas to be worked on, but they don't need me turning into that jerk chef on those cooking shows. So I try to be--I don't know--gentle, but guiding. All this stressing myself out is also why I struggle to do book reviews.

In any case, I've never seen a single 4H entry that didn't show potential for great works to come. That's exactly the kind of thing the world needs: imagination, industry, interest, and literacy. Which comes awfully close to the 4H motto of head, hands, heart, and health.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jul. 2nd, 2017 09:45 am)

I'm taking a little break from the internet for a week or so (well, to an extent), because I've got 4H entries to judge. To many people I suppose that means judging animals, but 4H also has a creative writing challenge; it turns out they needed an experienced, knowledgeable, creative writer to judge the entries. But they couldn't find one, so for the last few years they've used me.

These are young writers in different categories, ranging from elementary to high school. Some of them are much better than I was at their age ... and some are as good as I am now, which is fine except I have decades of experience over them. It's nice to know there are still young people who take writing seriously!

Hey, the interview with me is up at KPC News!

This is from the Albion New Era. KPC owns many of the newspapers in the area, but I don't know how many others this will be in, if any. However, the link to the interview online is here:

http://kpcnews.com/news/latest/new_era/article_f2535b22-10e0-5e29-bec7-79fbc7441c10.html

There you can see a color version of the sweater that Emily hates so much, which means I hate it too and does anyone want a free sweater?
 Jeez, three days before the author appearance in Avilla. We got a new shipment of bookmarks to give away, and new business cards, both designed by Emily ... also a new folding table, and a new canopy, not designed by Emily ...

 

Oh, and we have books. It's very important, when trying to sell books, that you have books to sell.

 

But I always feel nervous and unprepared before these things. Mind you, we've done at least a few every year, since that first one in the summer of 2011. Well over a dozen at this point.

 

My first book signing ... which was easier to set up, because I only had one book to sell. Now I have nine!

One of my favorite places to have an author appearance was the Noble Art Gallery (which, come to think of it, is half a block from where we set up for the first one). It's inside, has all that art, there's a sense of history, and a big window with a view of the Noble County Courthouse. But I've been there three times now, and the most recent time last year was poorly attended; I suppose I went to the well too often. Still, they're the only brick and mortar location with copies of our books for sale when I'm not there.

 

You could say my easiest author appearance was earlier this month, at the Albion Fire Department's annual fish fry. They sold three copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, even though I wasn't even there! But it wasn't really an author appearance, as I didn't appear, and it wasn't a book signing, since I didn't sign them. It's possible at this point that there are more signed books out there then there are unsigned ones, so maybe the latter are worth more.

 

Adding to my nervousness is that most of our appearances have been in Albion, although we've also shown up in Kendallville, Auburn, and Cromwell. Our trip to the Avilla Freedom Festival will be my first time in that town, so there's an air of uncertainty. Does anyone in Avilla know me, besides some emergency services people and the crew at the 4 County Mall? We'll see.

 

Meanwhile there's always worry about the weather, and getting set up properly, and finding the nearest bathroom. (Hey, I'm no spring chicken. And even spring chickens have to pee from time to time.)

 

Will our new awning get blown away in a windstorm? Will people laugh at me for taking books to a street fair? Will I sell zero books, and end up taking a loss? (It's happened before.) Will they have elephant ears? Will I get powdered sugar all over my inventory?

 

Stay tuned.

While walking back to the Spring Shelter at Pokagon State Park, I encountered my wife with a fella named Fred. Good thing too, because I would have made a wrong turn if she hadn't pointed the way, and the right way was still a half mile hike. Fred is the saddle barn's only mule:




That photo posted on Instagram at the time, but for some reason Blogger has never updated its app, and it usually crashes when I try to post from my phone (although a previous post I thought didn't go actually posted twice).

I'd planned to work out of the car while she was on the job (I'm revising Beowulf: In Harm's Way). But it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk the to the Spring Shelter even though I'd already hiked almost four miles earlier in the day. It's in a wooded area along the saddle trail and usually quiet, except for the people who go there with empty containers, for the spring water. They've quite literally piped it right out of the ground.



Since I was carrying a leather case with my laptop, iPad, and my ancient iPod, I checked the weather forecast first: No rain predicted. Then I looked at the weather radar: No rain in the region. So I got there, laid my stuff out, and was engrossed in revisions about an hour later when big drops started falling on the keyboard

Just a brief shower to remind me I'm not in charge. And, after all, the Spring Shelter includes ... wait for it ... a shelter. At least I could see the clouds that were the source of my torment; and when I checked the radar, sure enough, there were the showers popping up. Not like last week, where it started raining on my while I mowed the lawn -- despite the fact that there wasn't a single cloud overhead.



Just goes to show, there's no such thing as a perfect writing spot.
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Weathering Indiana Festivals

In one of my books I included a photo of the Onion Days Festival, in Wolf Lake, Indiana. Never mind that it’s called Onion Days—that’s another story—but the photo was taken in the early 1900s, over a century ago.

Hey, I wrote the book; I never said I took the picture.

There are also photos in Albion of what would one day become the Chain O’ Lakes Festival. Those pictures were taken some fifty or sixty years before there was a Chain O’ Lakes State Park … so if the street fair had been called that at the time it would be some pretty amazing precognition.

While researching local history I was shown many photos of fairs, parades, and other gatherings from back a century or so: A late 1800s fair in downtown Kendallville, a 1914 wedding in the middle of Albion’s main intersection … to this day we’re still doing a lot of those same outdoor gatherings. (I assume they shut down traffic for that wedding, but maybe they had to use a team of wild horses to drag the groom in.) )
In an all too humorless year, I have to remind you from time to time that everything looks a little better after some romantic comedy. Well, I don't have to, but I do have to promote myself now and then, so please spread the word about Radio Red. It's not every year I release a book ... well, okay, it has been every year since 2011 ... never mind.

Imagine if Groucho Marx and Katherine Hepburn were reincarnated, and found themselves solving the mystery of who's trying to sabotage a small Michigan radio station.  Say, that's pretty good ... I made that up as I was typing it.

If you've already had a chance to check out Radio Red, please leave a review, and remember: It's the most fun you can have on the radio, without being shut down by the FCC.


http://www.simonandschuster.com/search/books/_/N-/Ntt-Mark+R+Hunter

https://www.amazon.com/Radio-Red-R-Mark-Hunter-ebook/dp/B01MRZ52DM

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/radio-red

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/R_Mark_Hunter_Radio_Red?id=ObK_DQAAQBAJ

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/radio-red-r-mark-hunter/1125362462

And all my books are required by contract to be available at www.markrhunter.com, of course.


(Also, don't forget you can get a different look at the novel's opening scene in the story I wrote for The Very True Legends of Ol' Man Wickleberry and His Demise.)

While hauling stuff out for spring cleanup I ran into a reporter right in front of my home--camped out, no doubt, hoping for a good quote, or a photo of me with my hair in curlers. (Just kidding: The newspaper office is just down the street, and the rest of town is just up the street.)

The next day he stopped at the house for an interview and we had a nice, hour and a half long talk about all aspects of writing and publishing, and I got to show off Radio Red as well as our other books. I also pimped our upcoming appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festivals, of course. But I don't know what all will make it into his article--I'm sure he has only so much space, and we covered a lot of territory. Turns out I love to talk about writing, go figure.

I'll let you know when it comes out! Meanwhile, as usual, check out all our books at www.markrhunter.com, or stop by here for the latest.

Any author will tell you their success at finding readers lives and dies on reviews. Well, and sales. That's a given.

Actually, not all writers will tell you that. Stephen King doesn't worry about reviews so much. Neither does Rowling, these days. Come to think of it, these days they don't have to worry about sales so much, either.

Still, for most of us reviews are a big deal. There's one thing we all desire more than reviews, though: Good reviews. If the reviews contain the words "greatest ever", "genius", or "eat your heart out, King and Rowling", it's probably a good review. Not always, though. Here's a review I got for my first novel, Storm Chaser:

"This is the greatest ever waste of space--getting people to buy it was a genius con. Eat your heart out, King and Rowling: You'd have never gotten away with this."

So there are always exceptions. Here are some questionable reviews my other books received:


Storm Chaser Shorts:
 "Dude, shorts are never mentioned at any of these stories. Sure, there are some storms, and people get chased once or twice, but that's only two-thirds of the title. No truth in advertising!"

 
Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With the Albion Fire Department:
"This book should have been way longer. He didn't cover every single day. He missed most nights. And what's this 'or so' crap? This guy will never write another history book again."

The No-Campfire Girls:
"I'm all for adventure, but don't they have a safety director at this summer camp? Arrows, explosives, storms, fires--it's an insurance nightmare. Also, it has all these teenage girls, and no representation from teenage boys; it should have been more gender neutral."

Slightly Off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns:
"Opinions are fine as long as they're mine, but these just aren't my opinions at all. Also, I have the strangest feeling the author is trying to be funny. That's just unacceptable. I'm fairly certain I'm offended."

Images of America: Albion and Noble County:
"Okay, this is lazy, lazy stuff. They're supposed to be writing, and instead they jam the whole book full of pictures. And they didn't even take them themselves! Somebody paid them for this? (Update: Okay, somebody pointed out that 'Images' is in the title, but that's just lazy titling.)"

The Notorious Ian Grant:
"So this offensive guy drives all the way across America just so he can insult people in a different state from the one he usually insults people in. Then he's surprised when people want to kill him. Well, California wisecracking doesn't cut it in the Hoosier state, fella: Take your sexy stubble and go home before you get Tazed just like everyone else in this story."

Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All:
"I appreciated all the photos, but I don't know what they're of. Also, I'll bet the jokes would be funny if I knew what they were about. I think this is about history. I don't like history, but the section on Indiana celebrities was cool. But I've never heard of most of them."

Radio Red:
"I've never heard of this book. Should I have heard of this book? Maybe if it was free, I'd try it. Why do these writers want so much money, anyway?"


I'm afraid to even bring up the newest anthology, The Very True Legends of Ol' Man Wickleberry and his Demise. I mean, it's got violence and ageism in it.  On the other hand, it could be worse. None of the reviewers specifically referred to me as a "bad writer".

Well, none that you'll hear about from me.


“Local Author (That’s me!) Follows the Story”—in which I talk to Eric Olson about planning, not giving up your day job, and the Klan. Oh, and writing.

 

 

(Just don’t forget if you search for me online to put in my middle initial, so Mark R Hunter. Otherwise you’ll end up reading about British politicians, Olympic rowers, Hollywood photographers, or dead people.)

 

Molly Daniels Says, “Happy 'Bison-Tennial’ Indiana!” 

 

50 Authors from 50 States highlights another Indiana author, Molly Daniels:

https://annettesnyder.blogspot.com/2017/04/molly-daniels-says-happy-bison-tennial.html

"I grew up in Tippecanoe County, where I survived the Blizzard of ‘78;  traveled to the Indiana Dunes once; and spent many happy hours canoeing down Sugar Creek, then exploring Turkey Run and The Shades State Parks."  Emily and I were on the way back from visiting Turkey Run and Shades State Parks when our car was totaled in an accident last year; but we don't hold it against the parks.

Oh, and I get a sidebar next to Molly's post. :-)

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Gy_rmmUypC4/WMfEKYPbosI/AAAAAAAAH4E/i_J7CNV-UoovOIjhzdnXkRcBPh7O3KR2ACEw/s1600/4-2%2BFobiddenLove_fullres.jpg

I keep forgetting to warn people about my newest novel: There is sex in Radio Red.

That warning might seem unnecessary: After all, it's a romance novel, even if I prefer to call it a romantic comedy just to be more specific. But romance writing has diversified quite a bit over the years: Some is heavy with the sexy stuff, some "sweet" with no sex at all. They're humorous, tragic, Christian, gothic, Amish, and every sub-genre imaginable. All of mine have some degree of mystery in them, but "romantic-comedy-mystery" was a bit too clunky. So being sandwiched into one genre doesn't mean it fits the expected conventions.

My first romantic comedy, Storm Chaser, had one brief almost-sex scene in it, kind of a second base thing. Its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, had no sex at all, which is kind of strange considering Ian is a celebrity bad boy. My other fiction, The No-Campfire Girls, is a young adult novel, and I am not going to tackle sex in a book about teenage girls. Nor is there any sex in my Storm Chaser related short story collection, although in one of the stories a person could jump to that conclusion.

None of the non-fiction books have anything to do with sex. Maybe they'd sell better if I added some ... hm ... I'd like to announce that my next book will be Sex in Indiana.

Anyway, some of my readers might not like to read sex scenes, so I thought I should throw in the warning. Who knows? Maybe it'll attract new readers. But it fit in with the characters and the story, which for me is the important part.

Zora Marie talked to me about author's stuff on her blog this week:

http://blog.zoramarie.com/author-interview-with-mark-r-hunter/

Among other things we discussed time, inspiration, dogs vs. dragons, and marrying book cover designers.

I’m the Tuesday special! Well … yesterday I was the Tuesday special.

 

http://thewritewaycafe.blogspot.com/2017/03/tuesday-special-with-mark-r-hunter.html

 

Rumor has it I have a book out ….

I got both print and e-book editions of Radio Red up on Goodreads now, I think. It would have taken less time for a competent person to do, but Emily was sleeping.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33838293-radio-red
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Mar. 4th, 2017 11:45 am)

Surprise! In addition to the e-book version, Radio Red is now listed for sale in print on Amazon:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Radio-Red-Mark-R-Hunter/dp/1682996018

 

And another surprise, it's listed as being published February 28th--even though the official publication date is March 7th. I suppose they put it up as soon as the print setup was done, and hey--who am I to complain? Now my baby is out in the world.

 

Since we were going by the March 7th release date, we don't have the print order form up on the website just yet, but stand by. Meanwhile, the print copies we ordered should be here in a week or so. Don't be surprised if you see me standing at the back of a Ford Escape sometime soon, hissing at passersby: "Hey! You wanna read a good book? No? How about my book?"

 

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f_8TEVhwsSI/WGSSMCuQ-tI/AAAAAAAACw8/PheGowPIsw8XMJI8yWy-1AmJMC6vPN1pQCPcB/s1600/RadioRed_Cover2.jpg

 

 

 

Buy links for Radio Red (and our other books):

 

http://www.simonandschuster.com/search/books/_/N-/Ntt-Mark+R+Hunter

https://www.amazon.com/Radio-Red-R-Mark-Hunter-ebook/dp/B01MRZ52DM

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/radio-red

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/R_Mark_Hunter_Radio_Red?id=ObK_DQAAQBAJ

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/radio-red-r-mark-hunter/1125362462

(This is the big non-Radio Red announcement post that only newsletter subscribers have seen so far. As we'll see later, it does relate to Radio Red--in a big way.)


Awhile back I was invited to write a story for a fiction anthology e-book: The Very True Legends of Ol' Man Wickleberry and his Demise. Me being the type to kill two birds with one stone (It's just an expression!), I made a connection between that book and Radio Red, and had a lot of fun with it. And now it's up for ... free!





Ol’ Man Wickleberry is a man of legend – or is he a legend of a man? With a scruffy beard and a dislike for humanity, how long has it been since he met his demise, and what is he doing in his ghostly afterlife? The stories may differ, but all of them are true. We swear. So if you’re ever wandering alone in the woods at night, and find you’re not really alone, it just might be Ol’ Man Wickleberry.


Enjoy eight tales by seven talented authors including:

Vendetta by Chris Harris: Mr. Baker is on his way to steal a deal when he’s snowed in. Stuck waiting at a rustic tavern, he’s ambushed by an old man with a strange story – a story that’s beyond belief. Or is it?

Evil Animals and Automobiles by Mark R Hunter : Ol’ Man Wickleberry hates deer so much he sometimes prompts them to an untimely end, with the help of those newfangled automobiles. But the next victim might be Ol’ Man Wickleberry, himself.

The True Story of Ol’ Man Wickleberry by Jonathan Harvey: Jonathan Harvey puts the Terrible Turtle spin on the Wickleberry legend. He names himself Papa Harvey and weaves a tale that is strange and bizarre, but still interesting. If only he wasn’t constantly being interrupted.

Out Walking by Joleene Naylor: The mysterious carnivorous white rabbits sound too strange to be true, but Ol’ Man Wickleberry can’t stand the thought of missing some rare game. It seems a walk is in order…

Body Swap by Ruth Nordin: A teenage boy makes a trade with a man who was thought to be dead.

Weirdly Normal - The Hike by Simon Goodson: Vincent hates hiking. But more than anything else, he hates their guide's endless wittering about the horribly scary myth of Ol' Man Wickleberry. Just when Vincent is certain the night can't get any worse... Ol' Man Wickleberry himself makes an appearance!

Wickleberry Elixir by Terry Compton: Rick and his two fellow college students just wanted a few extra college credits and the money from the work study. Then the professor demanded more details. But details sometimes lead to answers no one really wants or believes.

Ol’ Man Wickleberry (The Other True Story) by Jonathan Harvey: Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O, and next to this farm lived Ol’ Man Wickleberry, E-I-E-I – Oh. It seems Ol’ Man Wickleberry doesn’t like these kind of goings ons. A short story that’s rhyming good fun.





It was loads of fun. And the best part for me is that connection I mentioned earlier: My story about Ol' Man Wickleberry happens to take place during the opening chapter of Radio Red--but from a very different perspective. It's not a spoiler: The scene is the inciting incident of the novel, and is actually on the back cover blurb and in the story's description, so fear not!

You can find Ol' Man Wickleberry for free on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/700221

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-very-true-legends-of-ol-man-wickleberry-and-his-demise-joleene-naylor/1125700942

 And it's on Amazon. At the moment it's 99 cents there, but our illustrious editor is working on price matching and getting it down  to zero, too--keep checking back!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZF588Q
I'm at odds over what to do with my newsletter: I promised subscribers early notice of writing related stuff, and exclusive content (and a dog photo with every e-mail), but I just can't seem to attract many new subscribers. When you add that to the fact that some subscribers don't open all the e-mails, I have to question whether I can justify putting so much effort there. On the other hand ... I promised.
 
Now, the newsletter has a button that allows me to put notifications up on Twitter and Facebook when a new one comes out. Alternately, I could take the newsletter and also post it on my blog, where I have more followers, and presumably some of those followers actually read my blog. I could announce on my other social media sites when it comes up on the blog, which I do for just about everything anyway, but that would take away from the whole special aspect of it that I had in mind.
 
Or I could do some combination thereof.
 
Many authors swear by newsletters over blogs or social media, saying there you have people who actually opted in to hear what you have to say. But if you're not already well known, you have the problem of getting people to opt in to begin with. What do you authors do, and how does it work for you? And as a reader, where would you prefer to hear from your favorite writer? Also, as a reader, am I stressing out way too much about this exclusivity thing? I mean, I'm not giving away the formula for KFC's special coating.

"You haz chicken?" My very first blogged dog photo, from way back when.
ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:11 pm)
I'm working on my taxes ... by which I mean I'll get all the paperwork together, then pay someone else to work on my taxes. Something tells me I'm not the only one who procrastinates until the year is gone, then rushes to find all the paperwork.

This is when I put together my writing costs and income, and I've got to say 2016 wasn't a good year for author-stuff. As a business goes, it's a pretty darned expensive hobby. In the electronic age there's less cost in paper, ink and postage, but more cost in everything "e": electronics, electricity, enternet ... *ahem*.

Last year wasn't as red inky as I'd thought, though: I ordered fifty copies of Radio Red, but it was after the first of the year. That means I have to go all Harold Hill to keep 2017 from being red inky, too. (Not to worry, dear reader--as soon as they arrive I'll do my best to recover my cost, which is to say I'll push them like a desperate drug dealer.)

Harold Hill? Come on, the fast-talking salesman in "The Music Man"! Look it up.

So it's not looking good for the whole "retire into the life of a full-time writer" plan. Still, as long as I have a pencil stub and a piece of scrap paper you'll find me writing something, somewhere. That's just what we do--for most writers, it's an addiction. Maybe the desperate drug dealer comparison isn't that far off.

Much as a writer needs to write, a working writer needs to sell, so I'm cutting into my writing time to get manuscripts into the mail again. No agent or editor is safe from me! For you authors out there (Working writers are "working", whether they're trying to sell or not), how much time do you put into selling and promoting?

Good times.
.

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