MANday Week 10 – Injured Reserve

What Do I have in common with Tom Brady and Wes Welker?

All three of us have torn our left ACL.

Here is a video of Tom Brady going down after being hit by Bernard Pollard in 2008.
That was a very sad day for Patriots fans!

Here is Wes Welker going down after making a hard cut against the Texans. It is so easy to admire this guy! He’s smaller than most of the guys on the field. He’s fearless and leaves it all on the field every game. 

Fortunately there is no video of me tearing my ACL doing flips on the trampoline in 2009. The difference was that while those guys were sidelined, there was a silver lining to my injury. My work was hit with a huge infusion of energy. I was stuck in a chair with my laptop and in eight weeks I cranked out The End of Marking Time.

If you’ve been following my MANday blog, you know about my challenge with Jillian Dodd and that the day for my photographs is fast approaching. You also know that I’ve been hurting the last few weeks and that my exercise is suffering.

This week after talking with my doctor, I’ve decided to stop working out altogether. The pain in my side is too severe to run or to do planks. For the next few weeks I’m going to take it easy while we figure out what is wrong.

While I’m on injured reserve I’m going to focus on writing. My goal is to finish the first Deadly Junk book and get started on the sequel to The End of Marking Time this fall. The delay will also give you more time to tell your friends to get their comments in so Jillian can get to her goal. Jillian and I originally thought she could get 5,000 people to comment. It seemed realistic since she was offering a $500 prize. 

Once I’m back on my feet, I’ll get in a few weeks of hard workouts and head for the photographer.

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The Hippie Hippie Shakes

Last week at the beach I saw something that made me stop and watch for a solid 15 minutes.

No, it wasn’t a woman in a bikini.

I saw plenty of women who’d worked on their figures and their tans. And some who’d picked out really skimpy suits.

Some guys had been working hard in the gym, their sculpted arms clear evidence of time hoisting weights. They attracted their share of attention, too.

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The guy who stopped me was soft around the middle. At first I stopped not out of admiration, but maybe freakish curiosity. He had long hair and a vibe that screamed hippie, more in the way he moved than the way he looked.

He twirled two hula hoops around his body with a funky rhythm that was hypnotic, the way a belly dancer entrances her audience. This guy seemed indifferent to his audience. Maybe his audience was only me and a few other people who peeked now and then, but his joy came from mastery of his body’s connection to the hoops.

I waited for them to fall and to my surprise they didn’t.

He spun one hoop around his knees. I was certain he was losing control. Then as if to prove me wrong, he hopped one foot out and spun the hoop around one knee, the other raised high and twisting in the air. The guy had control of his hoop. As long as he wanted it to orbit his body, it was going to obey.

While I was standing there I thought of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. For those of you who haven’t read it, he suggests that to truly be a master of something you need to put in 10,000 hours. As I watched trick after trick I was certain this guy had put in his 10,000 hours and was a true master of the hula hoop.

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He performed several tricks, but his mastery went beyond the tricks themselves. He performed with flair. You couldn’t help but feel a funky 70’s vibe when you watched. I could almost hear The Beetles singing Strawberry Fields.

A woman, I assumed she was his girlfriend, stood up to join him. She was better than anyone I’d ever seen with a hula hoop, but she didn’t compare to him.

He twirled the hoop on either side of his head, on one elbow, and sometimes he grasped it in his hand and moved it around, not twirling it, but using it as a prop for the melody in his head.

All the people who grabbed my attention that day on the beach had worked to be who they are. The women watched their diet, worked out, chose a sexy suit, and primped their hair for the beach. The muscled guys pumped iron with dedication.

Hula Guy stood out partially because he put so much time into what he loved to do and partially because he took a risk. Twirling a Hula Hoop isn’t the most masculine endeavor and when he started I bet Hula Guy encountered plenty of resistance.

He worked hard to be an artist and he has my utmost admiration for his dedication, creativity, and artistry.

What unique outlet do you pour your creative energy into?


MANday Week 9 – More and Better Sex!

Today marks 22 days until my photo session for Jillian’s MANday blog. Guys, if you haven’t been following along, I’m going to give you the best motivation ever to get started on an exercise program.

First, have you heard this old joke:
Guy 1: How do you know when a woman has an orgasm?
Guy 2: Who cares?

This was funny when I was twenty-something, but now I realize how crucial sexual performance is to a man’s self esteem.

Guys, when you see a woman’s magazine with an article titled Ultimate Orgasms, How To Make Them Longer And Stronger, do you pick it up?

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I know you ladies read these stories because they are prominently featured so often. Did you know when you walk out of the room we pick them up and frantically flip to the article for advice? We put them back as soon as we’re done and try to remember how you had them organized on the coffee table so you don’t know.

Maybe you’re smarter than we think. Maybe you leave them out for us to find, hoping we’ll learn something. Hmmm…

You know what’s coming…

This week I read a bit from Women’s Health. While it didn’t have offer much in terms of technique or creativity, one thing caught my eye. The author suggested that women who have more masculine partners had longer more satisfying sex and you guessed it, more orgasms. Hmmm!

Good thing I’ve been working out for 9 weeks! My stamina for everything has really improved.

Guys if you haven’t joined my MANday workout program yet, check out this article from Men’s Health
It’s a great exercise for your abdominals. And don’t forget the pushups. If you’re going to hold yourself up for an hour, some added upper body strength won’t hurt.

So what have I been doing?

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My daughter and I went to Horseneck Beach yesterday so I could work on my tan. The farmer’s tan wasn’t going to cut it for Jillian’s blog, so over the next three weeks, I’ll be stopping at Horseneck regularly. For those of you not from New England, it was in the high 90’s the last two days. That’s smoking hot for us northerners!

I’ve got a video to help you guys get in the spirit. Way up above I promised to get you more and better sex. Well, if that article isn’t enough proof that getting in shape will help you attract ladies, I can tell you I watched women drool over the chiseled guys on the beach all afternoon yesterday.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

In between talking to my daughter and watching the girls watch the guys, I plotted a third of the sequel to The End of Marking Time. I’m in love with the new story and it has an ending that rivals the original. I can’t wait to start writing!

And I did actually do some exercise this week.

I walked 11 miles last weekend. I haven’t been running or doing much ab work due to my ulcer, but otherwise I’m feeling great.

I have some good news to report. After a few weeks of focus, pushups have become routine. I can bang out ten pushups anytime, anywhere, and I’m doing 30 to 50 every day. That’s a big change from when I started. The more I workout the more I am impressed with how quickly my body adapts to new exercises.

If I could give you one thing today, it would be the feeling I had this week, realizing that something that had been a real challenge was now well within my limits. Wow does it feel great.

So, tell me about your workouts and what you think about those gossip rag sex articles.


Keep Your Dream Alive

Some mornings I look in the mirror and even I think I’m nuts.

At one point or another, everyone who knows me well (except my brother) has told me I should give up writing and get a real job that comes with a regular paycheck.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

My particular brand of insanity goes something like this:

Work all year on a book.
Pay for editing and cover art.
Publish.
Wait for money to come flowing in.
Earn back almost enough to pay for editing and cover art.
Repeat.

The vast majority of writers out there can relate to the sheer joy of the creative process and utter befuddlement when it comes to marketing and sales. Most of us have no idea why some books sell and why some great writers struggle on in anonymity and poverty.

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I don’t think you can truly appreciate the frustration until you’ve spent a year working on something that everyone tells you is great, yet still doesn’t sell.

For me marketing seems more like voodoo than science. I must say I’ve done a lot of fun things with book marketing and I’ve made some great friends on Facebook and at conventions. I’ve also been really fortunate to enjoy great feedback from readers. Those kind words above all are what has kept me going this long.

I often get comments from people who think I’ve gotten rich selling books. Some have even accused me of being greedy and only caring about money. That one really makes me laugh. For those financially minded among you, I’ll share some numbers.

I’ve been writing (and marketing) what amounts to a fulltime schedule for almost 12 years. This spring I broke even for the endeavor. Imagine a job you’d work at fulltime for 12 years without getting paid and you’ll have an idea how much I love writing. Another interesting number… This year I have given away 120,000 e-books. If everyone who took a free book this year sent me one dollar, I wouldn’t have to listen to Johnny Cash at 3:00 A.M.!

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Needless to say, being an indie writer is hard. So I hope the next time you see a shabby-looking writer burning copies of Twilight in Barnes & Noble, you’ll think twice before turning him in.

It’s not just writers who have it hard in this economy. So many of us are really struggling to make ends meet, I thought I’d share some of the things that help me keep the faith when I’m feeling down.

The first thing that comes to mind every time I’m thinking of giving up is a saying by A.L. Williams, a direct marketer I crossed paths with in the 80’s. He said, “All you can do is all you can do.”

I don’t know why I always hear this saying when I’m down, but the quote has a special brand of circular logic. At first it tells you it is okay to give up if you’ve done all you can do. But then, just when you’ve rationalized selling your copy of Microsoft Word for gas money, you realize there is one more thing you haven’t tried. It works on me almost every time.

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When that doesn’t work I pull out my Foreigner 4 CD and listen to the greatest song of all time. Jukebox Hero. How can you not love a song about a kid who finds passion listening at a concert hall door and then learning to play guitar? He makes it big and still loves what he does. And the song rocks!

There is one more song for extreme cases of it’s-time-to-give-up-itis. It’s Never Give An Inch by 38 Special. The song talks about how hard it is to make it when millions of people want the same dream. Sorry, this song isn’t on Youtube. You can find the lyrics here. Or you can play a sample on Amazon here

I wonder if these artists had any idea people would be playing their songs for inspiration thirty years later. I guess that’s what art is all about and why we are willing to struggle so hard to make our own.

What inspires you to keep going when things get tough?


Manday Week 8 Women Go Crazy for Good Abs!

I’ve gotten a bit off track in the last two weeks. And I want to share my progress, but first I need to tell you about something I learned at poker.

Last Wednesday I sat next to a mild-mannered older woman, about seventy years old. We were playing No Limit Hold ‘em and she has trouble with her hands, so I was dealing when it was her turn.

We all know each other pretty well and this particular woman sometimes needs help knowing which chips to put in. She’s meek and goes along with the game. She rarely talks and when she speaks, her voice is very soft. I get the sense she’s there to liven up an otherwise boring Wednesday night.

About an hour into the game she lost her chips and it was time for her to go.

She started to get up and then looked at the guy next to her and said, “It was really hard sitting next to you all night. I know you have a great six pack under there and I really wanted to throw you down on the floor and jump on you.”

The image was hilarious. The woman is very short, large, and forty (maybe fifty) years older than the guy she was talking to. He is buff and quiet himself. All he could do was smile until she left.

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I tried to find a pic that reminded me of them.
This was the best I could do.

If I wasn’t sitting directly across from her I never would have believed it.

We laughed about that for an hour, but it taught me a very important lesson: ALL WOMEN Love Abs!

Guys, take it to heart. Go visit #plankaday!

Ladies, remember if you want to help Jillian, comment on my MANday challenge.

On a more serious note, my workouts have been suffering the last two weeks.

One good thing… I noticed this week when I stand up behind my desk I see abs (3 sets of two) reflected in the mirror across the room. I haven’t seen them since I was in my twenties, so that’s kind of cool. (and now you ladies know I often write with my shirt off.)

A few of you sent messages this week wondering where last week’s MANday post was. I wasn’t sure what to write last week because I had two setbacks.

First, I hurt my back doing some intense ab exercises. I have lost two weeks of planking because it took that long for my back muscles to return to normal. My back issue is nothing serious, I just stressed the muscles a bit too much. They are better now.

The second problem isn’t going away quite so easily. I’ve developed a stomach ulcer and I’m in pain most of the time. I ran once this week and I’m doing some upper body work, but I’ve had to really limit my ab workouts because I don’t want to aggravate the problem. I’m also sleeping more to give my body a chance to heal.

I feel like I’m on track for the photo on July 14 but at this point in the contest I wanted to be pushing the workouts hard. Unfortunately, I can’t do that right now. If you stop by facebook or Twitter and are wondering why I’m not there, I’m probably fishing, trying to relax and get my stomach back into shape.

Since I know how much you ladies love abs, I’m going to share some in this post.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to share your workout progress with me.

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Deadly Junk

I’m about halfway through the first book of my new Deadly Junk series and this weekend I had an experience that will give you a behind the scenes look at Deadly Junk and what’s coming this fall.

One serendipitous thing about this title is that it keeps taking on new meanings for me as I work through the story. Usually my book titles have at two meanings, one apparent and one that you understand a little more when the book is finished. This time around I’m finding meanings around every corner.

This weekend my brother held up something for me and said, “Now this is Deadly Junk.” He was right.

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Doesn’t he look like an action hero?

Lorado, the main character in Deadly Junk, is modeled after my brother’s life. He’s involved in two very different worlds . Bringing them to life has really been an eye-opening experience for me.

The first world is junk. Yard sales. Estate sales. Stuff people leave on the side of the road. You name it. If it has value, my brother can spot it at thirty miles per hour.

Each book in the series talks about several valuable things he’s found while I’m writing the book. I incorporate them into the story and tell you a little about what they are, why they are valuable, and how you can find them for yourself. If you are an eBay junkie, or can’t help stopping at yard sales, you’ll enjoy the antiques and collectibles mentioned in the books.

Today’s topic is something for the kids.

About two weeks ago my brother was offered a collection of toys that would make any ten year old boy lose sleep for a month. Someone had been saving Matchbox army vehicles and plastic figures for years and decided it was time to get rid of them.

When he told me how many pieces I was amazed. There were 8 bins brimming full of cars and army men.

In July I’m going to visit some good friends who also happen to read my books. One of the boys is having a birthday, so I decided to combine the parents’ love of books with the boy’s birthday present and give him something straight out of Deadly Junk. Here is the collection I assembled.

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Notice the heap of green men in the background!

The 2,000 men and dozens of vehicles didn’t make a dent in my brother’s collection. But it took over an hour for us (yes I had some help!) to set the pieces up for these photos.

Here are some more action photos:

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Great detail on these tanks.

I loved these crawling guys

 

 

Playing with these guys brought back memories for me. When I first saw the collection I was in awe of the sheer numbers of pieces. The shiny helicopters, all in mint condition, grabbed my attention first. When you are a kid, you get a helicopter, maybe two. This collection held fifty identical helicopters! What kid wouldn’t want them for his airbase?

My brother has spent days with these toys, but he wasn’t excited about the pieces he had fifty or a hundred of. He spent his time researching rare models. The thing I’ve learned about buying large lots is that there are a few pieces mixed in that are valuable. In this case, one piece paid for the entire lot of 50,000+ pieces. The trick was finding that one piece and a few more like it.

When you read Deadly Junk this fall, you’ll learn about finding the treasure mixed in the chaos. I hope you’ll join me then.

So, did you play with toys like these? Or were you a Barbie girl?


How We Caused the Zombie Apocalypse

In case you’ve missed the news this last week, there have been some really bizarre stories of cannibalism in our media. Alexander Kinyua allegedly killed a student at Morgan State University and ate parts of his brain and heart. And then there is the gay porn star, Luka Rocco Magnotta, who dismembered his former lover. And the really strange Mao Sugiyama who served his own genitals at a banquet. Yummy!

Finally, Rudy Eugene ate parts of a homeless man’s face before being shot to death by police.

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(Credit: Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner

Eugene’s mother protested that her son was “a nice kid”. Of course he was. It wasn’t his fault. If you don’t understand, allow me to explain.

When I was a kid there were 30 to 40 cows wandering around the pasture behind my house. There were more down the road and if you preferred chicken or turkey, we raised them ourselves. Pigs, too. Drive around our town and you could see your next meal, or maybe next month’s meal.

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These critters are much faster than people!

By that point in our history we could no longer rely on wildlife. Even for someone like me who could kill and clean and prepare wild animals for food, there just weren’t enough available to eat every day. We needed livestock to survive. But then the cows disappeared. Where did they go?

Somewhere along the line advertising grabbed hold of us. We started rushing in a pack to buy what everyone else was buying. We scarfed McDonald’s hamburgers, ignoring the occasional bone fragments and cartilage because everyone else was eating Big Macs and fries.

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Farmers faced relentless price competition and wrung every last penny out of the livestock lifecycle. It wasn’t fun being a cow anymore. Or a small farmer either.

The little guys who made lean fresh hamburger and tender juicy steaks went out of business. We got so focused on all the hype, the big yellow signs and red packaging that we ignored the great products that were right in front of us. They were so much better, but we we were blinded by 30 second commercials.

The guy down the street gave our money right back to us when we fixed his car or sold him bread or babysat his kids. We ignored all that for cheaply made, overly-processed food and that little guy went bust.

Something else happened while we weren’t paying attention. The pack has made us dependent on the economy for our very survival.

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This scares the Sh*t out of me. Why? Look at our economy. Look at Occupy Wall Street and the unrest in Greece. If our economy comes to a screeching halt, if our currency is suddenly no good, we’re going to get hungry. REALLY HUNGRY. Imagine if beef shipments from Texas stopped for 3 weeks. What would you eat if the supermarket was suddenly empty?

People would realize their next meal is walking around right in front of them. But it wouldn’t be cows. It would be people. People wander on every city street. If you want to find one, their houses have lights that show you the way to them at night. They don’t even run when they see you coming. And they are made of meat. What could be easier?

These cannibals in the news aren’t degenerates or freaks. They are just a few years ahead of their time.

There is one thing you can do to prove them wrong…

Look for little vendors who make great stuff. Your local dairy farm may be gone, but you can still find neighbors like me who will sell you a book for $2.99 when the big guys want $12.00. Drive to the local hardware store, or farm stand, or independent restaurant instead of one of those chains.

You may discover what you knew a long time ago. Local stuff is BETTER than McDonald’s and Wal*Mart. A lot better.

Buy local. It may cost a little more sometimes, but it could save you from being eaten!