Monday, May 30, 2016

The Beauty of the Unexpected

This blog is dedicated to Christopher L. Carter. The man who calls me Fay Rey to his King Kong.

I want to write about my love story with the man in my life. I keep thinking about how he has become this unexpected yet beautiful blessing. Then I wonder maybe if I share my experience in how I finally found the "right" love not just another lover other singles in search of love might learn something. 

I've always dated a "type" of guy. My attraction to creative and intelligent men is what you might call my peccadillo. Creativity and artistic genius turn me on like nothing else. In my last love affair I was so intrigued with my lover's artistic abilities. It excited me. 

Well after a four-year love affair ended in the most negative way possible (he lied, cheated and conned money out of me), I took a deep breath. I am 50-years-old and the years ahead are beginning to be fewer than the years behind. Upon turning 50 I realized I was no closer to my personal goals than I was five years ago. It was time to take a good, hard look at myself -- a personal inventory if you will.

I took a few weeks to just be quiet, be still, and think. I had to start the mourning process of letting my former lover go. I had to realize that I felt tremendous grief, especially under the circumstances. The man I thought I knew never existed -- it was all one big treacherous lie. I still feel tremendous grief that still hits me in waves. Sometimes I'll see something that reminds me of him and tears just start spilling. Yet I realized too the importance of grieving and letting go. Feeling that grief. Feeling and releasing the tears and pain. When you have not just a break up, but a complete break down of the reality that was never anything but lies, it turns all of your memories upside down. I will probably deal with the aftermath of the situation for a long time to come.

Yet as I was grieving I realized once more than I couldn't keep hiding from developing a personal life. I slowly emerged back onto the single scene and when I did so I almost immediately met Chris. But in meeting him I had to open my heart to something completely different. I had to set aside my so-called peccadillo and think of the possibilities of someone who wasn't set in my typical mold. 

Chris is this huge teddy bear with tattoos up both arms. He's three times my size. When I laid eyes on him in person I was overwhelmed and thought, "Oh my! He's BIG!" We sat down and started talking and within minutes he had me laughing till my stomach hurt. The entire restaurant was watching us, because we were consumed in laughter. He is a tremendous storyteller and like my lust for intelligence over brawn, I suddenly found myself with both! 

Now here we are ... happy and in love. He says it was love at first sight. For me it was totally unique. He won me over with his heart, sense of humor, brilliance, but most importantly his ability to understand me -- and what at that moment in time came along with me. He has an MA in behavioral psychology, which is a bonus. He understands the hurt and trauma I've gone through. He knows to never take some of my anxiety as personal to him. 

The lesson learned: give someone you might think isn't your type a chance. You just never know

I used to think the lover who hurt me the most was the love of my life. But someone who really loves you would never, ever do some of the terrible things the other guy did. But that's okay! Because I got to the other side and now I have the true love of my life. If love can be measured in the pleasure of tremendous laughter, friendship, and unconditional acceptance then I came out the other side the true winner in this game of life. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chapter 17 - The Abused

The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start murdering the others. The novel is set to release in Fall 2016. 

Reader discretion is advised. Some of this content may be profane and not appropriate for readers under the age if 18.


            Frank had gone outside to get some air. He had just finished his first session with Craig. They spent the first time discussing how Frank did feel powerless, and while he wanted to let go and understand that he had to give it up to God, he was mad at God. God took Jonesy. His entire life had turned into a feeling of being lost and powerless. So, admitting that part seemed like it should be easy. Nothing felt easy or effortless anymore though.
Frank had been the type of easygoing guy people loved to be around. He was always laughing and going along with what it was he needed to do. His supervisor could ask him to mop shit off the floor, which on a few occasions he had to do after some asshole shit or pissed inappropriately in the holding tank, and he would without complaint. In fact, Frank had prized himself on being a real team player.
These days though he wasn’t playing on anybody’s team. He hated being sober. Sobriety forced him to remember Jonesy and to feel how awful it felt without him. A day didn’t pass where Frank didn’t think about him. Whether it was the memory of Jonesy throwing lighter fluid on the campfire and frying his eyebrows or how he used to egg Frank on to go talk to some chick who was hot.

“Ah, go on, talk to her.”
“No man, you talk to her.”
“You’re such a puss. Look she’s staring right at your sock drawer.”
Frank knocked Jonesy’s shoulder. “What did you just say?”
“You know … the sack pack.”
“Fuck off man. You’re crazy.”
“Hey, if you don’t go for it man, I’m on it.”
“Uh-huh. Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Jonesy never did go after the girl. He was actually pretty shy. And after Mitzi’s death Frank hadn’t had the energy to try again. He used to chuckle that Jonesy was his “missus” without the sex. But then again, a lot of old married folks didn’t have sex anyway. So Frank just choked the chicken on a regular basis and spent his free time with his best friend.
Right before his death, Jonesy did meet a girl named Elisa who crowded in on their weekend adventures, but she only lasted a few months and left after she met a Hell’s Angel up in Ukiah. Jonesy was pretty unaffected. The way he looked at it he didn’t have to keep Playtex tampons and Trojans in his tight storage space on the bike anymore. As for Frank he hadn’t minded Elisa – she was okay company for when Jonesy took all his jogs. 
Frank thought about how Jonesy was such a health nut, and how he would be so disappointed in the addiction problem. But then again, if Jonesy were still around it wouldn’t have happened. Before he died he and Frank ate nothing but healthy shit – granola, whole oats, multi-grain breads, organic vegetables, and anything that said “glutton free”. Frank found the whole glutton craze stupid.

One day he had said to Jonesy while they were eating “glutton-free vanilla pudding,” “Yuppy scum all think this glutton-free shit is some diet thing. They quit eating glutton and lose weight.”
“Yeah, so…” replied Jonesy as he shoved vanilla pudding in his mouth with a plastic spoon at the campground bench.
“So … are you suffering Celiac’s Disease?”
“You know that digestive disorder?”
“Then that glutton-free pudding ain’t going to do you no good.”
Jonesy looked at his pudding for a second. “I feel better though.”
“Yeah, okay you and like 50% of the American freaks who say the same thing.”
“Ah, fuck you dude. Got eat your Jell-O and rot out your insides.”

Now as Frank reflected on it he realized none of that had mattered in the end. Jonesy ate good foods, exercised, and took impeccable care of the body “God” gave him. Then what? He fucking fell off a 10-story cliff and died. Frank thought life was suddenly pointless. Why not shove the drugs in his mouth. He could be hit by a rail car or smoked in some random gun play. The very unpredictable nature of life and death had him completely freaked out. And with his best friend, who was a rational guy, not here to stop him, he was unstoppable.
This whole drug rehab thing was a waste of time as far as Frank was concerned. Had the CHP human resources bitch not insisted on it, he would still be on the street shoving any kind of drug in his mouth. He didn’t want to feel the bitter pain of being left to fend through life without his buddy. When he remembered Jonesy it left an ache in his heart. And when he felt the enormous pain of it, he did drugs and felt nothing. In fact, he felt euphoric when he had the good stuff. He missed his friend. It was that simple.
Before walking out for air, Craig had confronted him about his attitude or lack of commitment to the program.

“So, you think admitting you’re powerless means you’re less of a man?” asked Craig.
“Powerless. Yeah, I’m powerless to stop taking the drugs, right?”
“Apparently. You’re here aren’t you?”
“God is a cock sucker.”
“What the hell is with you people? Language! Who cares. We could be swallowed up by the devil at any minute and all you care about is whether I speak in obscenities or not,” Frank said and sat up straight. “Okay fine. God is an insensitive deity.”
“You blame God for your addiction?”
“I blame God for this whole shitty, wait … crappy world we live in.”
“Then you should find it easy to give up your belief you have any power and you need our help to get better.”
“No, I need your help to slit my throat and go to hell.”
“Do you think Jonesy is in hell?”
Frank paused for a second. “No, Jonesy has a damn halo and he’s laughing at me, taunting me about the pearly gates being locked just for me.”
“So you think you don’t deserve to go to heaven?”
“Not after what I’ve done … and seen.”
“And what’s so bad about what you’ve done?”
Frank became silent. He didn’t want to admit his dark secret. Craig continued to look at him and wait. Frank shifted in his chair and got up.
“I need some air,” he declared and raced out of the room.

Now he stood outside. He noticed Kendra in the rose garden talking to Kevin. They looked deep in conversation. He watched Kevin pick a rose and hand it to her. She blushed.
“What a douche bag,” he thought to  himself. “Fucking picking up on the woman in rehab.”
Craig touched his shoulder. “We weren’t done yet.”
“Doc, I’m tired. Do you mind if I go up and nap?”
Craig stared at him. “Since it’s your first one-on-one I’ll give you a pass, but realize it’s going to get even harder before it gets better.”
“Great,” Frank said with  his head down as he headed back inside.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Top Common Mistakes Writers Make

On-the-Nose Dialogue - On-the-nose dialogue that tells the reader exactly what you want him or her to read. No mystery or intrigue, but just saying it all outright in "on-the-nose" statements are hallmarks of weak writing.

Story Exposition in the Dialogue - Telling your story through dialogue in long monologues. Please tell the story in the narrative unless it's a narrator.
Repetitive use of characters' names - How often do you actually say someone's name? Not often, so please avoid the same in your writing.
One voice, many characters - All of your characters sound like a middle-aged white guy. Make sure you have unique voices for each character. Tip: use a real person you know or actor or actress and base your character on his or her voice. Study how the person talks, expressions, tone and inflection.
On-the-head storytelling - Not to be confused with "on-the-nose", because this is storytelling where you don't respect your reader's intelligence and hit them over the head with your story, themes or metaphors. You literally "tell" them and in doing so you don't allow them to think for themselves. Telling them what to think loses intrigue, mystery and interest.
Impatient writer's syndrome - I made this one up, but it's a problem where the writer rushes to tell the story and doesn't develop a real story or characters. The impatient writer doesn't take his or her time to develop, describe and create a fully realized world populated with interesting characters.
Flowery, cluttered writing - Over description of minutia and settings will kill the pace of the story. Unless the minutia is an integral part of the story, don't describe it. Modern writing steers clear of flowery language, so avoid it. Make your story move and flow and grab your readers.
Just too far out - Readers can only suspend their disbelief so far before they just give up on your story. Your world has to have rules even if it's a fantasy world. Your world has to make sense to modern thinking. It has to fall within the constructs of an actual world where logic still applies. Creating characters or worlds so far removed from the typical reader's ideas of reality will cause rejection. For example, most people don't suck blood to eat and live forever, but we all understand the need to eat and desire to live; therefore, we can relate on some level to the idea of the vampire. A genderless blob with no personality that does nothing but float and do nothing isn't particularly relatable to anyone. We are all searching for something that is emotionally resonate and makes sense to us. Make sure your story makes sense.
Wrong Structure - We all have expectations about how a story is told. You can't hook a reader by telling the end at the beginning. You can use a "hook" to reveal something about that end to keep the reader engaged, but you have to them tell the story that actually reaches the end. Writers who so disrupt the natural, organic storytelling experience had better do so with skills and brilliance otherwise they will lose their opportunity with the audience and be rejected.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Chapter 16 - The Abused

The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start murdering the others. The novel is set to release in Fall 2016. 

Reader discretion is advised. Some of this content may be profane and not appropriate for readers under the age if 18.


            Stanley Lentwood stared down at the rose garden. He noticed the crazy lawyer Finley Sullivan was walking all around the hedges in a nervous pace. Stanley wondered if Finley’s drug use had damaged his brain. Just then a knock came to the door.
“Come in.”
Robert Scoffer opened the door with his usual bravado and strolled into the room with his cool confidence. Stanley turned and took a seat in front of the sofa. Robert just dropped down to the sofa. He appeared bored and put out that he had to do therapy.
“So you going to give me some of that God crap?” asked Robert. “Pray for me … all that?”
Stanley looked at Robert puzzled by his sudden comment. “Why would I do that?”
“Eh, I went to this therapist once with Lynn—”
“The woman you conned.”
“Yeah, that cunt—”
Robert shrugged in a way that it was almost like a jerked tick of sorts. Stanley made note of the odd body language.
“Yeah, whatever.”
“So what happened – in therapy I mean?”
Robert’s eyes glassed over in a way that he was reflective about it for only a moment and then his “act” returned. “The counselor, some Hispanic dude, had us praying and shit. How stupid.”
“You think prayer is stupid?”
“Yeah, well, we were there as a couple to get advice and help and this dude has us praying, hugging each other. It was useless.”
“But you weren’t a couple. You were married to …” Stanley eyes drifted to the file, “Shell. You had a wife. Why were you doing couples counseling with your mistress?”
“She didn’t know that.”
“She was my mistress.”
“So you admit you were lying to her. Because …” his eyes went to the file again “you told the court and authorities she was, ‘Just a crazy, emotionally unstable bitch who you rejected and she was spurned and pissed.’ But if you went to couple’s counseling you must have been a couple, right? She was obviously under the impression you were a couple.”
Robert stared at Stanley and didn’t say anything.
Stanley shifted forward and stared right into Robert’s eyes. “Do you know the difference between your fantasy worlds and reality, Mr. Scoffer?”
Robert got agitated, “Yes.”
“Okay, so then why did you lie about Lynn?”
Robert brushed his hand off toward Stanley. “She was a bitch. She abused me.”
Stanley had to suppress a smile. Robert was an atypical sociopath, and he was maintaining his narcissism pretty well. They had all agreed in staff meeting not to let Robert work with a woman, especially after his manipulative attempts with Sandra, who would have none of it. No, Stanley and Craig both agreed Robert needed a male perspective.
“Let me ask you something, Mr. Scoffer.”
Robert flatly stared at him.
“Do you understand cause and effect? Our actions have repercussions. When we do things to other people … when we hurt them by using them for our selfishness, we have to face the consequences. So tell me, how did Lynn abuse you?”
Robert looked confused.
“You said she abused you. Please explain,” prodded Stanley.
“She yelled and ranted and raved and called me names.”
“Hmm… and she just did that? No reason? No provocation?”
“Not really.”
“Are you sure?”
Robert again looked confused.
“Could it be that you were lying to her and manipulating her. That maybe she got angry because you were messing with her mind, heart and body. Again, do you understand cause and effect? When did you start doing drugs?”
“High school.”
“So, Mr. Scoffer when we’re young men we learn cause and effect between the ages of 18 to 25. If you were doing drugs in this period of time you altered your brain. You never learned cause and effect when most men learn these things. You acted on Lynn and she reacted to you. Since your actions were corrupted by your lies and manipulations then her responses were based on those manipulations. A purely honest action would get a purely honest response. A purely corrupt action will get a purely corrupt response.”
“Okay, so…”
“So, let me ask you again. Why did you go to couples counseling with a woman you professed to never have slept with? You told the court she was crazy. You were never involved with her. Yet you went to a counselor, a marriage and family therapist, with her. Can you explain that?”
“Um, well, we worked together. I was trying to smooth out the working relationship.”
“Oh, so you’re going to sit here in rehab and keep lying – to me.”
Robert stared at Stanley with a look of contempt. Stanley understood this man’s pathology. He saw men like Robert come and go. They would go back out and the lies would continue in their lives until finally something really bad happened. This justice usually came in the form of jail time, which so far Robert was skirting. Men like Robert would never change their ways until something catastrophic happened, and sometimes that tragedy involved one of their marks seeking revenge that would either put Robert in a hospital or on a cold, hard slab in the morgue. Thing is, no one would be surprised or cry for him. Most people would simply shrug and think he simply got what he deserved.
Stanley wrote some notes in Robert’s file and then looked back up. He was stern and looked Robert right into his pretty-boy blue eyes. “You are here to reform your ways. I am not a mark. I’m here to help you kick your addictions and learn what it means to be a man. I’m not your judge or jury. So lying to me is useless. Of course, I understand you’re a pathological liar so separating fiction from fact may be very difficult. But let’s try some very basic approaches. Just say yes or no. Did you or did you not have an affair with Lynn?”
Robert continued to blankly stare and then said, “Yes.”
“Good. Now did you or did you not lie about it to the authorities and your family and friends?”
“Well …”
“Yes or no.”
“Well…” Stanley could see Robert wasn’t going to easily give this one up.
“Yes or no.”
Stanley then sat up straight and became stern. “Mr. Scoffer we are going to sit in here day after day until you easily and efficiently say yes to the truth. So you go back to your room and use your time to consider and sort fiction from fact. Because in here, I am not your mark or your ‘come-up’. I am your therapist. I have one goal: to get you to reform your ways and clean up your life.”
Stanley got up and walked around his desk back to his executive chair. Robert didn’t move. He didn’t seem to know how to respond.
“Go,” dismissed Stanley.
Robert scowled at him and then finally relented. He slammed the door behind him. Stanley never flinched. He was accustomed to men like Robert – men who didn’t have the slightest clue what it meant to even be men. Men like Robert who deep down inside were weak, cowardly and insecure, and used people to prop up their egos. Robert was an addict and conman without heart or sympathy for those he used and abused. His narcissism prevented him from seeing how his actions affected others. All he could understand was what he wanted for himself. Women like Lynn were what they called on the streets his “come-up” and he would never be able to relate to the hurt he caused her and others in his life. The fact his wife knew these situations and continued to stay in the marriage made her not only his enabler but also his accomplice. Yes, Robert’s rehabilitation was going to be tough.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chapter 15 - The Abused

The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start murdering the others. The novel is set to release in Fall 2016. 

Reader discretion is advised. Some of this content maybe profane and not appropriate for readers under the age if 18.


            After coming out of detox, Kevin was shaken. He had detoxed on his own many weeks before arriving at rehab. He wasn’t really gay. He just liked sex and gender didn’t matter to him. He thought of himself as more sophisticated than the average guy.  He had never had enough money to go to school, but he had been good with engines and machines and managed all right.
When he met his former wife he should have felt lucky to have this educated, beautiful woman wanted him, but he was arrogant. He thought she was lucky. He bragged to his buddies how this poor desperate chick wanted him. He had always been good with women, acting like their best friends and listening to boring drama-queen shit about friends and boyfriends. Merry though was always quiet and reserved. She never whined about stuff. He liked that about her. At the same time her coldness was hard to deal with, too. She could be nice and all, but she had this layer of iciness about her.
He wondered about her every now and then. Jude had quit talking to him after their drug bust. She had so expeditiously divorced him and never contact him again. He wasn’t surprised. She could be decisive and quick when she felt burned. Once her sister lied about their mom’s Christmas present, a food processor, costing $200 to get an extra $100 out of Merry, and when Merry caught on she never spoke to Carrie again. Of course Kevin knew they had a long contentious history. She had shared some of her tortured childhood with him, but judging by her ability to detach and cold people out, he figured the abuse went pretty deep.
He received her alimony checks each month right on time without question. It made him feel almost bad in a way. He knew it was court-ordered, but the way the checks so faithfully arrived made him think somewhere in that ice-cold heart of hers she still felt something … maybe. He honestly couldn’t say. Yet the checks arrived on time each month. With two grand in his account it allowed him freedom to work at his leisure. But truthfully it had given him too much freedom, which is how he wound up getting deeper into drugs.
The addiction had become at first a welcome friend to ease his mind from daily burdens. Drugs and booze made him feel good. It made him forget the ever-growing coldness in his marriage. It made him able to tune out Merry when she asked him to help around the house or at least put his shit away after using it. His drug-fueled binges left his memory foggy, but he did recall taking a Bic razor to her throat once and then laughing like a hyena at the ridiculousness of a cheap plastic razor being able to do any real damage. Merry though was shockingly distant and unaffected. She just stared coldly at him while he cackled on and on. He thought she would make a great dictator or something. Nothing ever seemed to bother “her-coldness”.
And then he had started up with Jude, a man. Most women got confused by the whole homosexual thing. It’s hard to compete with genitalia that is unlike your own. Merry though – she had no fight in her when she caught him with Jude. He saw the light in her eyes dim even more. Jude was callous but also insecure. He had worried that Kevin’s meal ticket would leave them high and dry, and that Kevin would go back after her. Jude had fantasies of a gay life with his lover at his side. And really Jude wasn’t such a bad guy. He was handsome and caring when he wanted to be. On Valentine’s day he bought Kevin those “tickets” where you pick one and have to do that to your guy. The first one was “suck his cock” and Kevin obliged even though it made him gag sometimes. He refused to swallow as that was so “gay” to which Jude cracked up.
“What you’re not gay?” he had chuckled.
“No, I’m pansexual,” Kevin had flatly replied.
Jude’s response was continued laughter. He thought pansexual sounded like an airplane ride straight to “Gay-ville” as he referred to places like The Castro or Guerneville in the redwoods. Kevin remembered a particularly perverse and fun weekend spent in the redwoods running naked along this stream bed that was empty (it was late summer), but absolutely beautiful with ferns and plant life lined along the edge of it. He remembered the banana slug and even the snake hidden in a tree trunk all coiled up.
His memories of Jude were also corrupted by drug-fueled homosexual orgies with Jude’s various buddies. By this time his marriage to Merry had transformed into a farce. They quit having sex even though mechanically speaking it was pretty good sex. But when Kevin tried to connect with Merry on an emotional level, she was vacant. He would stare into her dead eyes and hope for something more than physical relief to show her feelings and pleasures. All she did was moan and close her eyes to her husband. She could blame him all she wanted, but she had checked out of the relationship long before Jude came along.
Jude wanted them to do a commitment ceremony, but Kevin wasn’t interested in the gay lifestyle. He liked Jude, but his preference really was with women. He did want a family, too. And since had been raised by a Protestant minister, he felt a slight twinge of disgust at the idea of raising children with another man. Of course, he never mentioned this feeling to Jude, but he figured Jude might have sensed it. So when they started doing heavier and heavier drugs, Kevin felt sure Jude was truly checking further out of their relationship, too. The drugs enabled them both to avoid reality. And once Merry was gone, Kevin no longer had any barrier to going as deep into the drugs as he preferred.
Now here he was in rehab. Jude was gone. Merry was gone before Jude. His life was vacant, and he was facing forward as a sober man with a shameful past. But he often smirked, he still had his charm to get by on. He could charm any woman and even the most devout lesbian out of her panties. He was good looking and sweet when he wanted to be.
On this day, he was supposed to start individual therapy with Craig. He liked Craig. He seemed like a down-to-earth guy who understood more about drugs than most. His frankness in their group therapy made Kevin feel like there was someone out there who could maybe help him stop. He did want to stop. Drugs were ruining his life, and he hoped to shape up and find normalcy, whatever that was for him and no one else.
He found himself knocking on Craig’s office door and being asked to come in. He walked hesitantly in and sat down on the toupe-colored sofa. He noticed all these shrinks had sofas and blankets. What were the blankets for? So you could cuddle your “blankie” while you confessed your sins, he thought to himself. Craig motioned to him to have a seat, and Kevin plopped down. Craig walked from behind his desk and took a seat in the chair across from the sofa.
“Hey, you know they put me in detox, man.”
“They put most people in detox.”
“Yeah, well I was straight, dude, and that sucked. These drug heads were like screaming at the top of their lungs and shit. I was like the only sober dude in the joint.”
Craig glanced at his file. “Hmm… well our executive director ordered it.”
“Why? And who the fuck is this person?”
“You don’t get to meet her. In fact, she doesn’t work with patients and she prefers no close contact to keep her objectivity with you all.”
“And she gets to tell me where to go?”
“Someone who won’t even look at my face?”
“Who the fuck makes these stupid rules. What is the dude like Ghandi – too good for the rest of us addicts?”
“He is a she.”
“Look, let’s talk about you. How are you doing.”
“I hate this shit.”
“You will for a long time.”
“How long?”
“The rest of your life.”
“Are you fucking serious.”
“As a heartbeat.”
“You know they want you to cut the profanity, right? It’s part of self-respect.”
“How’s that? And who f— … shi— crap, whatever! Cares!”
“We do. We are going to retrain your way of being. We want you to value yourself. To love yourself enough that you would never think to pollute the body, the temple God gave you, with drugs. And when we’re through we hope you will return a reformed man to society. A man who understands what it means to be a man. And how a man should behave and treat others. We don’t promise for one minute you will ever stop craving the drug, but what we do promise is it will get easier over time. And we’ll give you the tools to help.”
Kevin shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah, okay.”
“All right let’s see … you ready to relearn your life skills?” asked Kevin as he sat forward and clapped and rubbed his hands together.
“F— um, yeah.”
“Turn to step one of the 12 Steps. ‘Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addiction and that you life has become unmanageable.’”
“Ah, come on doc. Only the cops think that.”
“Oh, so your life was so great that you got busted, thrown in jail, and wound up here. Is that right?”
“No,” said Kevin sullenly.
“The first step doesn’t mean you’re less of a man, Kevin. It means you’re actually more of a man by admitting you’ve got a real problem. Do you?”
“Do I what?”
Craig stared at him.
“Yeah, yeah, fine.”
“You have to mean it for this program to work.”
“F— um, okay … yeah! Yeah, yeah!”
Craig got up and opened the door. Kevin looked at him in confusion.
“I want you to go. Go to the rose garden. Sit in the bastion of nature. And I want you to think about the first step. And when I see you tomorrow, we are going to discuss it.”
Kevin stared at him. He reluctantly got up.
“I fu— shi—, huh!” he sighed searching for better words. “I hate roses.”
“Grow to love them. And don’t forget to study the aphids. No go.”
Kevin looked once more at Craig. “Aphids? Are you for real?”
Craig just stared at him. Kevin had a fleeting thought of blowing him to get out of the rose garden. This thought almost made him chuckle aloud. He miserably obeyed his new “master,” which is how he would come to think about Craig, the counselor, the therapist, the guy who told him to sit in a fucking rose garden to search for answers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What comes first the book or the title?

I coach writers as part of the services we offer. During my coaching sessions I discuss titles for books. The title and cover are very important to your sales potential. Writers ask me, how to come up with a stellar title? The answer:


Where does inspiration come from?


Can you force creativity? I don't know. Creativity exists in every profession, including science. It's the ability to look at something entirely different. 

What came first, the creativity or the inspiration?

I think in some ways they bubble up together. An inspired thought is often a creative thought. A creative thought is an inspired thought. The proverbial all-time chicken or the egg question. 

For me when I come up with titles it's often the title creates the story. When I came up with the idea to do the California Girl Chronicles series, I thought of the title first. I thought that sounded like a great title. The next question I asked myself: what would a California girl's life be like? And thus Brea and the City of Plastic was born. She would be the manifestation of what a "California girl" would be like, and her experiences would be the quintessential California girl. 

My next work of fiction Body in the Trunk -- same process. The title hit me. Then I back filled the ideas around it. 

So back to the question, how do you come up with a great title? I don't have a specific answer. Some people write their books first and then a title organically springs up from the process. Some people like me come up with the title first.

Ultimately, inspiration isn't quantitative. It's qualitative and cannot be created or measured. It can be a flash of light in the mind. The only thing I say, is always keep intelligent people around you. If someone is your muse and they inspire you somehow keep them in your inner circle. A great muse is hard to find!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Book Promotion - Insider Strategies

I often respond to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) queries to promote and market 3L Publishing ( I read today a question:

How has the digital age changed your PR strategies?

Good question and relevant to the overall transition from print-based services going to e-services. Here is my hands-on experience with the digital evolution of public relations and marketing:

Media kits don't necessarily have to be printed anymore. When I was a magazine editor, we received all press promotion in the form of paper media kits. The print costs for the folders and content could be enormously expensive. The cost was naturally transferred to the client. A national media campaign just for print costs alone cost thousands of dollars. Now my best estimate is that a small minority of media still want print media kits sent. I do run into those outlets that want sample copies of print books to be included, but even these outlets are starting to accept the eBook version and e-media kit. The savings on print and postage is enormous.

Bloggers are having a greater and greater impact, but many of the small- to medium-sized bloggers are not included on major media contacts lists. This means your PR professional must be astute at research to dig up those bloggers with the most impact on your target markets. If your PR pro isn't a specialist in your market area this can be an entirely new learning curve. Time will have to be invested in research for your professional to come up to speed. So do consider that information when hiring someone.

For more information, contact 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

5 Excellent Reasons to Hire Me

No. 1 -- We started as a marketing and public relations firm.

Yes, I have a BA in public relations. I began my career working in a public information office. I was the editor of an internal and external magazine, which gave me the experience in publishing. Ten years ago when I became an independent consultant, I focused on marketing and public relations campaigns. I am a marketing specialist who understands the various sales channels.

No. 2 -- I am a technical writer and can provide technical writing for white papers in the information technology market.

Most people think I am creative, which I am. What most people don't know is that I spent 20 years in the IT marketplace. I was an early innovator in web content when the web wasn't much more than a bunch of hyperlinks. I've authored dozens of white papers for IT marketing support, including papers for UPnP, HPNA, enOcean, 2Wire, and others. I also was publisher of California Computer News for almost 10 years.

No. 3 -- I am a public relations specialist.

I put my skills to use for myself. I've been interviewed in dozens of publications, including Wallstreet Journal, Elle, Redbook, Success Magazine and others. I've gotten clients excellent coverage in regional and national magazines, too. I have contact lists for some of the most respected broadcast and media outlets in the nation.

No. 4 -- I am a screenwriter.

Yes, it's true. I had a movie titled Virtual Seduction air on Showtime. I've optioned another one, too. I know how the entertainment business works and can help other screenwriters with guidance and insight.

No. 5 -- I am available to hire on contract!

Yes, I am searching for some steady contract work to stabilize our income. I'm bold and I have moxy. Enough moxy to just put it out there! Hire me today and you will never regret it. Check out my resume below and then contact me at or call 916-300-8012.

The closed mouth doesn't get fed! ~ Chris Carter, my better half LOL

Michelle Gamble
Mobile: 916-300-8012
Bachelors of Arts - public relations and minor in political science, San Jose State University, 1988
Equivalent of Bachelor of Arts in completed course work - English Literature, Sacramento State University
Masters of Arts completed coursework except for incomplete thesis - English Literature, Creative Writing, Sacramento State University
3L Publishing -
Chief Executive Officer/Founder
  • Launched Publishing Division from the ground up, including pioneering the hybrid business model that combines self-publishing with traditional publishing.
  • Branded and promoted the company, including development of logo, tagline, look and feel, website, marketing collateral materials, blog establishment and writing, newsletter (First Word), ongoing promotion to media with high-profile placement in Success Magazine, Redbook, Elle, Bloomberg News, BlogNation and dozens of others.
  • Oversee the overall company vision and programs in both publishing and marketing and public relations and annual business strategic plan.
  • Oversee and direct development of company systems and book fulfillment, including Amazon, Kindle, iBook, Nook, and Baker and Taylor.
  • Oversee and manage overall contracts, administration of accounts, and accounting programs.
  • Social Media management and development with the Michelle Gamble, author, Facebook page with 4,500+ connections, fan page, Twitter, and Linked-In.
  • Identify and acquire new fiction and nonfiction book properties (over 75 titles in the catalog).
  • Created, launched and developed writers' group Writer's Who Mean Business with over 1,000 members.
  • Overall program management of the books and custom publications.
  • Overall project management and creative development of all author marketing and public relations campaigns, including branding each book, directing social media, and creating and managing PR campaigns, media relations, media kits, press releases and more.
  • Developed curriculum for educational programs, including ground-up creation of workbooks and workshops.
  • Second Bloom: How to Reinvent, Rejuvenate and Realize a New Life (Winner Indie Excellence Awards, Runner-Up Writer's Digest, Indie Book Awards and Franklin Awards)
  • Smash: A Smart Girl's Guide to Marketing and PR
  • Vanity Circus: A Smart Girl's Guide to Publishing
  • 50 Magical and Memorable Family Vacations
California Girl Chronicles: Brea and the City of Plastic
California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break
Body in the Trunk
*See 3L Publishing's catalog at
Produced Movie: Virtual Seduction (Roger Corman/Concord Productions)
Merchants of Chaos (optioned script)
  • Public Relations Campaigns (Online, Print and Broadcast Media)
  • Public Relations Content Management and Creative Executive
  • Media Relations Expert
  • Marketing Content Collateral
  • Website Development and Content Creation
  • Marketing Brand Management
  • PR Placement:
    • Success Magazine
    • CNN
    • ABC National News
    • Wall Street Journal (Print and Radio Network)
    • Redbook
    • Forbes
    • Elle
    • MORE Magazine Online (Online Contributor)
    • Engineering News Record
    • Business Journals
    • Regional Media in Major Market Cities (e.g. NYC, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco)
    • San Francisco Book Review (Columnist and Contributor)
    • Miami Herald
    • Sacramento Bee
    • Comstock Magazine
    • In-Style Magazine
    • France Today
    • Dr. Phil Show
    • The Price of Business, Bloomberg
    • Blognation
    • Modern Dog
    • Conversations, Cyrus Webb
MGR CONSULTING - 2006-2009
Public Relations/Marketing/Project Management
  • CSUS - Sacramento
  • Sutter University
  • Global Inventures
  • CalTrans
  • Comstock's Magazine
  • Sacramento Magazine
  • Technology Journal
  • McGraw-Hill Publications
  • Duran and Venables
  • Placer County Association of Real Estate
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Kiwanis
  • California Writers Club
  • Capital Valley Festival of Books
  • California Writers Club
  • Writers Who Mean Business (Host and Founder)
Executive Director, Marketing and Technical Publications
Executive Editor
Centers for Digital Education and Government
Editor in Chief/Publisher
California Computer News
California Department of Water Resources
Department of Public Information, Graphic Services and Photography