Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Humble Legend

I'm not much of a concert-goer. In my youth I attended several Hank Jr. concerts, along with a sprinkling of others, but that was a couple decades ago.

My iPhone has a mix of songs and artists. On it you will find artists such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, 'Til Tuesday, The Bangles, Sinead O'Conner, Hank Jr., Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Prince, Miranda Lambert, Eagles, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Nirvana, Carrie Underwood, Pistol Annies, .... you're beginning to get the idea?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Going Home Again

They say you can't go home again, and maybe you can't, but yesterday I went back to my old high school.

Father and son
A few weeks ago I was invited to speak to some eleventh graders at South Pontotoc High. So much has changed since I graduated in 1982. So much remained just as I remembered it.

The cafeteria was bigger. The nice ladies in the serving line asked my wife and I what we wanted, which was definitely a change from the way it was back then. Back in the day, we ate what they put on our tray or we didn't eat.

My wife and I, along with our home-schooled sixth-grader, Logan, arrived at 7:30 am. Our host, Mr. Martin Rodgers, greeted us at the office and escorted us to his classroom. The hallway looked like a smaller-scaled version of 1982, though I know it hadn't shrunk. It felt a bit nostalgic to be back in one of the classrooms where I'm sure I had a class at some point.
talking about writing

In all, I spoke to three English Lit classes and a psychology class. During the first class I was so nervous I'm not really sure what all I talked about. By the time the last class rolled around I was exhausted. I honestly don't see how teachers do it day in and day out.

Exhaustion and nerves aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and wouldn't trade it for anything. The students were well-behaved and polite. A few asked questions. A few said they wanted to read my books. A couple came by to shake my hand afterwards and thank me for coming. One hung back to tell me I made him want to read.

If I made one connection, said something to reach one person, then the day was not wasted.

My wife Sharon
A few days ago one of my old high school friends asked me if I ever thought I'd be going back to South Pontotoc as a speaker. No, I didn't, but I'm glad I did.

For more about me or my books, or to invite me to speak at your event, visit my website.

Friday, August 15, 2014

5 Elements of a Good Review

Norton Road
Most of us probably won't take the time to leave a review for that book we just read. It's the same as with any other product or service -- we pick up the pen (or pull out the keyboard) when we feel cheated, or think a product or service was so bad we have to vent. In the old days, it usually meant writing a letter to the company, or calling customer service and giving them an earful.

How many times have you written a letter or made a phone call to tell someone how much you liked their product? It's easier now, because there are lots of places to write reviews online. Amazon will send you an email and ask you to review products you've purchased. They make it easy. Is it any wonder their customer service is so outstanding?

But is it important? You bet your boots it is. Reviews, both good and bad, let a company (or in my case, author) know what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Businesses are very keen these days to monitor social media (especially Twitter) for mentions of their products. Sometimes it might not seem like it, but most businesses WANT to deliver a good product at a competitive price. Why? Because it makes them money.

Book reviews are critical to an author. When is the last time you purchased a book on Amazon without reading at least a sampling of reviews? And if you think your review won't matter, you are wrong. Sure, maybe a few of the top authors get so many reviews and sell so many books that they don't bother to read them anymore, but most authors, like myself, depend on them.

So how do you write an effective review?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

10 Questions: Sharon Purdon

Sharon Purdon -- author's wife

Booneville, MS
The Ark, Booneville, MS

It's been a while since I've conducted a 10 Questions interview. When I launched this series a couple of years ago I wanted to interview interesting people from all areas of the writing world. Most of my interviews have been with other authors. This time I wanted to interview the wife of an author, and thought what better person to answer my questions than the woman lying beside me?

I'm a bit nervous, because I intend to post the interview with the answers she gives. No content editing. No please hon you can't say that.

She knows things about me no one else knows, but hey, I get to control the questions so I'm okay, right?

Let's see.

#1:  Tell us something about your background. Where you were born? What interesting places have you lived?

Biloxi, MS
Let's see ... my background would be a book in itself, but for now...... I was born in good ole Booneville, MS. Growing up, we lived ALL over the place; Booneville, Florida, Chicago, Booneville, Hattiesburg, Booneville, Memphis, Booneville, Caledonia, Alabama, Rienzi, Petal, & Booneville.  Somehow, we always ended up back in Booneville, so I guess that song: "You Can't Go Home Again", doesn't know how many times I've went back home. And then I met Carl and have lived in Randolph for thirteen plus years and guess what....We've talked about moving to Booneville.

Gulf Shores, MS
I guess the most interesting places I've lived would be Hattiesburg and Petal, Ms. Probably because of being so close to places like USM (my favorite college), Lake Shelby, and Biloxi.......I love going
to the Coast!

#2:  Are you a book person or movie person?  

I guess I'm more of a movie person. Not that I don't like to read, because I do and I do. It's just that when I start reading, I don't like to quit until I've finished and that just can't happen often. Reading a good book and having to stop before I'm finished is like getting into a good movie and having to turn it off before I've finished watching it.  *Book lovers don't be hate'n on me*

#3:  Of the three books your husband has written, which is your favorite and why? No fair to say all of them.

I love all three, but I guess my favorite would be "The Night Train". One reason would be because it was his first and I remember how excited we were when he published and we actually held that first finished book in our hands! Another reason is because I can relate to how Jayrod felt. Kids don't know how cruel they can be or the impact of their bullying. Sadly... adults can be just as cruel...

#4:  There are pros and cons to everything in life. What do you consider the biggest pro and the biggest con to being the wife of an author.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What's Stopping You?

School starts tomorrow in our neck of the woods. We've had a mild summer here (almost like fall at times) so there was plenty of opportunity for the young people to enjoy themselves outside (supposing they can see their gadget screens outside). Now it's time to buckle down and learn something.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Writer's Block

Every writer has it from time to time. It's the polar opposite of feeling your muse and it sucks. I'm talking about writer's block. Erectile dysfunction of the brain. You know, it's when you sit there looking at a blank page and the cursor is blinking hey you! I'm waiting.