Funky Friday: Sonny Knight and the Lakers Make New Sound Old

I’ve often joked that if I managed to make it to Heaven, I’d want my own horn section whose job would be to follow me around and punctuate my conversation with James Brown-style R&B call-and-response awesomeness.

More realistically, I’m constantly on the lookout for new bands that reach back to that classic soul sound and drag it (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the 21st century. Some bands try, succeed a little, then peter out (I’m looking at you, Red Hot Chili Peppers), while others, like Sonny Knight and the Lakers, do right by the Godfather of Soul. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Sonny Knight and the Lakers Make New Sound Old

Tuesday Writing Tip: Every Generation Has Something to Say

I’m a child of the late 1960s, which – if you do the math of generational pigeonholing – puts me squarely among what has historically been referred to as Generation X. Because we can with some clarity recall live in the final 30 years of the 1900s, we are the last of the true 20th century boys and girls.

The Generation X moniker comes in large part from the novel/short story collection Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland, and has since been used as both a term of derision/proud banner by those who view this demographic from the outside and those who belong to it. Continue reading → Tuesday Writing Tip: Every Generation Has Something to Say

Tonight, I Invade Your Earholes (In the Most Pleasant of Ways)

On Air sign

As I’ve written here before, I love being on the radio. It’s like TV, but without the need to actually be handsome or … you know, wear pants.

So when after enjoying an awesome family Disney World vacation this past spring, I returned home to find frantic e-mails from Codorus Press honcho Wayne Lockwood telling me a radio host was trying to get in touch with me … well, that was just the cherry on top of the Disney princess sundae.

Turns out it was Dr. Howard Margolin, who’s a host of the popular science fiction radio show Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. Needless to say, I got back to him very quickly and we arranged for an on-air interview. You’ll be able to listen to that interview live tonight at 11:30 p.m. Eastern. If you’re in the New York City/Long Island area, you can tune into 90.1 WUSB, or click the Destinies link to listen to the live stream. The show will also be posted as a podcast for you day-dwellers to listen to at a more amenable hour.

Howard’s a great interviewer and in a few decades of doing this has talked to a lot of really big names in the genre for the program. I’m truly honored to be among them.captphil_online-destinies

Perhaps the best part about talking to Howard is he doesn’t just read the book’s back cover blurb and ask a bunch of general questions. He reads the whole book, then takes copious notes and asks some very specific and probing questions. Honestly, I’m prepared to have to answer some questions about Immaculate Deception that even I hadn’t considered, so be ready for a thoughtful and in-depth discussion of the book.

Howard was also kind enough to invite me to read an excerpt of the novel, which I recorded ahead of time and he was kind enough to tidy up a bit for broadcast. So there’s another little bonus for you, since the only other readings I’ve done have been live and – except for one instance – haven’t been documented for posterity.

So join me tonight on the radio for some fun. And if you’re lucky, I might even decide to wear pants.

 

Another Public Display

Tonight I have the pleasure of doing something a lot of writers don’t enjoy – talking to people in public.

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Yours truly at a Brandywine Valley Writers Group public reading in the fall of 2012. Unlike many writers, I like public speaking. Maybe too much. OK, I’ll shut up now.

The topic will be indie and self-publishing and I’ll be one of three writers on a panel made up of members of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group, a great bunch of professional, amateur and aspiring writers based in West Chester, Pa.

Joining me on the panel will be fellow authors Jim Breslin and Jorgen Flood, both of whom have gone about their own publishing adventures via independent or self-subsidized means.

Jim is an editor by day, writes short stories and has produced his own anthology titled Elephant, as well as shepherded the excellent Chester County Fiction anthology, featuring a number of friends and fellow BWVG members. Jim is also the founder of the West Chester Story Slam, a monthly storytelling competition that is now so popular he has to sell tickets and has since spread to other areas of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Jorgen, who hails from Norway (cool accent!), has three titles to his name, non-fiction and historical fiction among them.

One of the reasons I was invited was to discuss the unique structure of Codorus Press, the publishing collective I helped form along with my good friend and former newspaper colleague Wayne Lockwood.

But along with chatting up the many upsides (and occasional downsides) to publishing independently, one of the things I always stress when speaking to groups of writers is this: Whether you’re publishing through traditional means or independently, the fact remains that you can’t just write a book, put it out there, hide at home and hope it sells.

It’s incumbent on every author – no matter how his or her book is published – to get out there. Talk to people about your book. Make connections. Pick up a copy of your book and put it in someone else’s hands and tell them how good it is. Inspire other writers to do just what you have done. I’m constantly hammering away at the same point: Wayne and I are just a couple of guys who had an idea and a manuscript and decided to do something different, and there’s nothing stopping anyone from doing the same thing.

The fact is that being a writer can clearly be divided into two areas. First, there’s the artistic. If you’re a fiction writer, you’re creating something new entirely out of your own imagination. If you’re writing non-fiction, you are using your journalistic talents or your own experiences to convey to the reader a truth or your own observations and experiences.

Second (and this is the bit that lots of writers like to deny), there’s the commercial. Once the art has been rendered, you must now think of the resulting work as a product that has to be appropriately packaged, marketed and sold. And part of that is being willing to get out there and talk to people. Sure, social networking and PR services will help. Great reviews are wonderful. But I’m convinced that one of the most important parts of being a writer – or any kind of artist – is making that connection with the audience.

I will admit that I have a slight advantage in that I’m a naturally gregarious person who is comfortable speaking to groups. But not every public appearance you make needs to rank up there with other great moments in public speaking. The key is to make yourself available, be friendly, respectful and willing to engage. Most of all, be appreciative that anyone has shown up at all, and those who are there want to hear what you have to say.

 

Radio, Radio

Once upon a time, I aspired to be a broadcast, rather than print, journalist. It was during those early, heady days at the University of South Carolina that I realized as much as I loved being on the air, I loved writing better.

And honestly, I was probably better at the writing anyway.

For the last 20 years or so, my full time job has been writing or writing related, but I’ve still relished every chance I’ve had to appear on the radio, usually promoting something.

Last night I had the chance to join Carlette Norwood Ritter on her podcast Lette’s Chat. The show was co-hosted by my good friend and fellow Codorus Press team member Tom Joyce, and we had a great time talking about Immaculate Deception, the process of writing, combining sci-fi with erotica and satire and what’s up with those scuppernong grapes, anyway?

We were also joined by a special guest caller, so listen in and see how much fun we had. You can link directly to the podcast here.

 

On the Hunt

We have lots of fun when the Codorus Press crew convenes in person to attend a regional book festival, genre convention or speaking engagement, as evidenced by team member Tom Joyce and his magical movie making machine. This is the second video to come out of our visit to the Gaithersburg (Md.) Book Festival back in May, this one featuring yours truly. Enjoy!