Monday, May 16, 2022

Great book signing at Sunshine Book Company in Clermont, FL


On May 1st, I had the pleasure of selling and signing my books at Sunshine Book Company in Clermont, FL. Clermont is a little town outside of Orlando and the Sunshine Book Company is a cute little bookstore near downtown.

We had a great event and several friends and family were among the visitors, to include my brother, my nephew, and friend and fellow author Vale Anoa'i. Also attending were a few pro wrestling friends Vertigo "The Cure" Rivera and Hardkore Ferrari. No headlocks or piledrivers were needed for everyone to have a great time!

Coming soon: on 5/28, I will be at Hello Again Books in Cocoa Village, Florida for a book selling and signing. Hope to see everyone there!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Book signing and Book Selling at Hello Again Books in Cocoa, FL 5/28/2022

 


I am super excited about this book signing. Whereas my last book signings we at my book's spiritual home, this book signing will take place where I grew up. 

Years ago, my mother owed a bookstore called Once and Again Bookstore in Melbourne, FL. Unfortunately, due to hurricanes, economics, and trends in book buying, she couldn't stay open. But it was there that I came up with the idea that I was at least as good as the worst writer in any bookstore. I still think that.

Now Curveball at the Crossroads is in multiple bookstores across Florida. Some are there on commission and some are there because the bookstore ordered them. Either way, readers can find my debut novel.

For many of these bookstores, I would like to do book signings. That requires coordinating and scheduling. On Saturday, May 28th, I will be at Hello Again Bookstore in Cocoa, Florida, the closest independent bookstore to where my mother had her own bookstore years ago.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Book signing and selling at the Oxford Exchange Book Fair 4/28/22


I am happy to announce that I will be at the Oxford Exchange Book Fair in Tampa, Florida on April 28th, 2022. The Oxford Exchange is located at 420 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606. I will have copies of Curveball at the Crossroads - both the first and second editions - as well as my other books to include the underground sensation The Man Makes You Work.

This is the second year I have done the Oxford Exchange Book Fair. It is an awesome experience and introduced me to a bunch of other authors. Writing and bookselling is such an individual endeavor that to meet others in the same boat is really cool. As an author, I was able to see what others were doing and compare and contrast best practices. At worst, you meet other authors to follow on social media.

I am particularly excited about this year's event even moreso than I was last year's because of the excited surrounding second edition of Curveball at the Crossroads. To showcase a product I am proud of that looks great to an audience of book fans should be a lot of fun.

I hope to see everyone there. For more information on the Oxford Exchange Book Fair, check out their website by clicking here.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads Book Signing at the Juke Joint Festival

 


Super excited about this news.

My book is going home. Home to the Crossroads.

I have been wanting to do a return trip to Clarksdale, Mississippi for several years and the publishing of Curveball at the Crossroads is providing the perfect opportunity. I will be signing copies of Curveball at the Crossroads at the Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art store in Clarksdale on Friday, April 22nd at noon to 1pm. 

I visited Cat Head years ago and it was one of the coolest stores I ever been to. Now to sign my book there and to be an advertised part of the festival is an awesome feeling. Big thanks to Roger, the owner of Cat Head for being receptive to the idea of me swinging by. And a big thanks to him for already posting Curveball at the Crossroads for sale on his website.

Also, for my book collectors: I will also be selling several copies of Curveball at the Crossroads signed by the cover artist, Grego "Mojohand" Anderson. Mojohand is famous in the blues scene as he has done countless posters, album covers, shirt designs, and anything that can show an image. He is fantastic and highly recommended if you like blues art.

My upcoming trip to Clarksdale will also be my first out-of-state book signing, so that also adds to the significance of the event. It is easy to market my book to my local area, but to have reasons to go interstate and spread the word about Curveball at the Crossroads is a great thing.

I hope to have some great pictures from Clarksdale. Hopefully some with a copy of Curveball at the Crossroads. After all, the Mississippi Delta is the spiritual home of Curveball at the Crossroads. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Interview with Curveball at the Crossroads Narrator Torian Brackett Part 3



In this segment, I talked with Torian about the development of the audiobook. 

He discussed his process in creating voices and his thoughts on voicing the Devil. 

Includes Chapter 11 of the Curveball at the Crossroads audiobook!

The audiobook is available by CLICKING HERE.



Monday, March 7, 2022

Interview with Curveball at the Crossroads Narrator Torian Brackett - Part 2

 


Here is part 2 of my interview with Curveball at the Crossroads narrator Torian Brackett. In this part, we talk about the development of the audiobook. Torian Brackett discusses his recording process, his initial thoughts on the book, and the voice of the story's play-by-play announcer.




Monday, February 28, 2022

Interview with Curveball at the Crossroads Narrator Torian Brackett - Part 1

 


This is part 1 of a 2-hour long interview I did with Curveball at the Crossroads narrator Torian Brackett. I am not sure how many parts there will be, but each part will feature snippets from the audiobook. In this episode we talk about the development of the audiobook. Includes Torian's initial audition.

I learned a lot talking with Torian. I am not overly familiar with the audiobook market and industry, so this was a big learning experience. I hope viewers get as much from it as I did. Maybe these might even inspire people to check out the audiobook, as I think Torian did an amazing job.




Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Books, Blues, and Baseball - A Weekend in Tallahassee

 


A big part of being an author is selling your book. Some authors don't like that part. I love it. As an extrovert, I enjoy meeting people, I enjoy telling them about my book, and I love it when I complete a sale. 

Which honestly, is kinda weird as I have never worked in sales in my life and I have no desire to. Selling my book as a hobby is completely different from selling a product for a living. Maybe one day my book or books could be my living, but I am not expecting that at this point. This is just fun.

As mentioned in previous posts, my first book signing was scheduled at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida on February 19th, 2022. Going to Tallahassee was a homecoming for me, as it was in Tallahassee way back in 2001 that I published my first article, a piece on library security sensors for the FSView & Florida Flambeau.

Tallahassee is a four hour drive from my home in Tampa. Tampa is a growing metro area and Tallahassee has seen its share of growth in the last 20 years. But small towns along the state highway to the Florida state capital haven't changed in two decades, probably even longer than that. It's rural Florida, deeply conservative, and very old fashioned. Not much changes along these roads. The Dairy Queen is still where it is, the gas stations are still where they are, the 35 mile per hour speed trap still exists, and the town famous for banning Satan is still just as small. Travelling from Tampa to Tallahassee is like driving through a time tunnel, where progress stands still.

I arrived in Tallahassee on Friday afternoon, just in time to meet with a college student I have been helping with resume and career advice. I remember being a clueless college student, so any help I can give is help I didn't have. I might have had a more stable career with a little guidance, so hopefully I can help someone not face the same challenges I have faced. As well, college students keep me open to new ideas and perspectives. There are new thoughts that having a younger "mentor" is a good thing. They help me as much as I help them.

After a Friday evening dinner, I spent the night at a friend's house. I had to get a good night's sleep for my big day on Saturday.

After brunch with one of my old professors, I arrived at the bookstore near 2pm. The signing was scheduled for 2:30, but I wanted to get there early in case we needed to set up. We didn't do a reading, a Q&A, or any other audience participation. I was set up with a chair, a table, and several copies of my book.

People were already there waiting for me before I arrived. Parents of a longtime friend had come in his place as he currently lived out of town. They bought two copies of the book, one for him and one for themselves. Besides my friend's parents, my old professor joined me, as well as several other old friends, some of which I hadn't seen in nearly 15 years. There was a steady stream of guests saying hello and buying my book from the bookstore. I would say my first official bookstore event went very well.



After the signing, my friend and I ventured a short ways out of Tallahassee to the Bradfordville Blues Club. The BBC is one of the best places in America to see live music. It is an old juke joint along an old dirt road where blues legends of yesterday, today, and tomorrow mingle. There is a long history to the Bradfordville Blues Club, and the love and respect the current owners have for the legacy is palpable.

What I did not know until recently was that a large grass field aside the Bradfordville Blues Club was once a baseball field. This discovery will be its own essay eventually, but whereas the BBC was an influence on Curveball at the Crossroads before, now Curveball at the Crossroads could almost be called a literary tribute to the Bradfordville Blues Club. 

With this new knowledge in mind, my friend and I took several pics of my Curveball at the Crossroads poster around the Bradfordville Blues Club. The artwork for my book was done by prominent blues artist Mojohand, so naturally the art of the book fit with the vibe of the bar. We also took several pics of the book poster on the old baseball field. Curveball at the Crossroads was in its spiritual home.

Before I left, I signed a book for the club and gave it to the club manager so he could give it to the owner. It was the least I could do.



After my friend, his girlfriend, and I got dinner, I returned to the Bradfordville Blues Club for the night concert featuring Tampa blues guitarist Selwyn Birchwood. Selwyn has recently become one of my favorite new blues players. Not only is he local, but he is also becoming nationally recognized for his original songwriting and blues guitar prowess. With any luck, he could be the next Robert Cray or Gary Clark, Jr. Don't be surprised to see his name in bigger and bigger places.

As I pulled into the club parking lot, the parking attendant told me to pull to the right of the bar near the band's van. She told me that if I had books with me, they would be cool with setting me up with a table to sell books during the show. I was flabbergasted. Earlier in the week, I messaged the club asking if I could sell books there, but didn't get a response. But they had gotten it and wanted Curveball at the Crossroads there.

Not only did Selwyn put on yet another great show, but I made money before, during. and after the show. I had a table six feet from the stage, right in front of the 200 or so people in the audience. And before the show, the owner of the Bradfordville Blues Club introduced me and my book to the crowd. Within minutes, people started coming up, talking to me, and buying books.

To sell my book at my favorite blues club was an unbelievable experience. 

Following a phenomenal Saturday night, I kept the blues and baseball vibe alive Sunday by attending a Florida State University baseball game. The weather was perfect, the field was pristine, and the sound of the ball pinging off the bat filled the air. There is no better daytime activity on an early spring day in North Florida than watching baseball. Of course, it always helps that the Seminoles won.

When the game was over, I drove to my friend's house, joined them for dinner, said farewell, and embarked on my return journey to Tampa. It was a perfect weekend of books, blues, and baseball.




Monday, February 14, 2022

Signing Curveball at the Crossroads at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, FL, FEB 19, 2022




Years ago, I was a fledgling young writer for the FSView & Florida Flambeau and a Creative Writing major at Florida State University. Although I wrote hundreds of articles on a wide array of subjects, and even had my own column for a few semesters, I always got excited to see my name in print. It was always a great feeling to know other people were reading my words. 

I credit my time in Tallahassee for giving me the confidence to write and keep writing. My time in Tallahassee gave me a writing bug that continued after I got my first fulltime job. I started blogging, which turned into freelancing, which eventually turned into a few books, including my first novel, Curveball at the Crossroads.

So I am super excited to share that I will be signing copies of my debut novel Curveball at the Crossroads at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, FL on Sat, Feb 19 at 2:30pm! Sharing my writing back where my writing started.

Hope to see y'all there!

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Book Review: Fixing the Indies by Norm Kaiser


Throughout the last 15 years, I have gone to countless small professional wrestling shows. I have travelled to flea markets, gyms, small civic centers, and fairgrounds to support those trying to make a career in squared circle. While a lot of my travels were to support my brother who was working his way up the ranks, along the way I met some great people who put their bodies on the line in name of entertainment. From them, I learned a considerable amount about how the business of wrestling runs.

Years ago, I bought Norm Kaiser’s book “Fixing the Indies: Saving Independent Pro Wrestling from Itself”. I am not sure how I heard of it, but it has been sitting on my shelves for at least five years. One of my new year’s resolutions is to read some of my older books and not get distracted by new book purchases, so I figured Kaiser’s book would be a great curtain jerker for 2022.

(Curtain jerker – wrestling slang for the first match of the night.)

First and foremost, Fixing the Indies was written 10 years ago. Wrestling has changed a lot since, for better and for worse. Some of what Kaiser writes about are still problems with the business, from the top to the bottom. But some of his discussions makes him appear to be a crabby, old man who would be happy if pro wrestling promoters modelled their shows after MMA.

Let’s start with the positives: the book is well put together. It seems self-published and I cannot find any mention of Foxbat Books anywhere on the web. I noticed no typos in the text. I wish the photos were better aligned, but overall, the book is well done for a niche book.

In the book, the biggest positive is Kaiser’s emphasis on REALISM and COMBAT. He makes a lot of sense. Pro wrestling should never be mistaken for synchronized swimming. Unfortunately, pro wrestling shows are filled with “spot fests” – moves planned and performed with athleticism and crowd response in mind, not the acting of a true fight. Kaiser writes that pro wrestling should look like a fight, not a competition to see who can do the most flips, dives, or choreographed stunts. I think he is 100% correct.

Kaiser also gives good advice in regards to professionalism. Looking like a fighter is important. Matching colors are important. Being in shape is important. Having clean, if not, well-presented gear is important. Staying a character is important. I also like Kaiser’s advice that bad guys not mix it up with fans as it detracts from the bad guy’s prime focus of winning the match.

There is also good advice about merchandizing and promotions, but it is a mixed bag with negatives I will discuss shortly. 

Possibly the best part of the book is Kaiser’s book is his breakdown of heels, the bad guys of pro wrestling. Kaiser talks about character a lot. Some I agree with – too many flip-flops, stop listening to internet wrestling “experts”. Some I don’t – he is very negative on gimmicks and the characters that have made wrestling fun. But his analysis on heels was great.

Kaiser breaks down heels into 12 types:

  • The hater
  • The traitor
  • The coward
  • The bully
  • The hothead
  • The whiner
  • The opportunist
  • The sadist
  • The braggart
  • The madman
  • The pretty boy
  • The trash talker

He analyzes what makes each type effective and attractive. He advises not to be all of the above as characters would then be too cartoonish and unbelievable. Heels should work within the constraints of normal human behavior. It is that commonality to the average asshole that makes them hated. 

Now on to the negatives. 

Number 1, first and foremost, is credibility. I have no idea who Norm Kaiser is. There is no bio, no picture, no quotes from established names, no blurbs and reviews, and very few stories from the road. That kills this book. Kaiser can have all the ideas he wants, but unless they have been proven to make money, they are just his opinion. While he has some good points, the only part of the book where he claims to have any knowledge beyond opinion is in the physical fitness portion in the back of the book. There are too many segments that start with “I have been to wrestling matches, and here is what they should do better”. Kaiser needs to prove his bona fides.

Second, Kaiser weighs down the book with way too much social conservativism. He likes a very conservative style of old school wrestling and doesn’t understand the allure of anything else. He doesn’t understand why wrestlers come out to that hippity hop and why anyone would wear anything but trunks to the ring. No makeup, no tattoos, no masks, no jeans, no bare feet, no flair, no individuality. Often times, his social commentary borders on insulting, which hurts his credibility.

Third, even for a 2010 book, there are way too many outdated references. It is clear Kaiser is a late boomer or early Gen-Xer. There are references to M*A*S*H, Dukes of Hazard, Charleston Heston, and other pop culture icons from the 1970s or earlier. Using outdated references is a great way to lose the reader.

Fourth, Kaiser rarely ever mentions women. His only use for women in a wrestling show is as “rainmakers” at merch tables. He suggests promoters find attractive girls with large breasts to work the tables, because that’s what wrestling fans like to see. In nearly 350 pages of wrestling commentary, Kaiser never once discusses female wrestling. Nor does he discuss female wrestling fans, often suggesting that the only people who buy wrestling tickets are male. I know the book is 10 years old, but even then, there were great women working the independent wrestling circuit as well as millions of female wrestling fans.

And if he wasn’t being sexist, Kaiser is also insulting. Especially to anyone he doesn’t understand. For example, he writes that “nerds are typically great photographers, web designers, and computer people” and understanding technology is what makes them “nerds”. He then instructs would-be promoters to find a nerd and get them to do things for the promotion for free. This is straight-up bullshit and reeks of high school jock arrogance. And that is just the insult that stood out the most. There are many others. 

Overall, Fixing the Indies is like an independent wrestling show. There is some good content, some bad content, some cringy attempts at humor, and some outdated content that the promoter wants to shove in there because he likes it. For all it’s flaws, however, there are nuggets worth keeping and it is money well spent.

In conclusion, would I pay to see Kaiser’s promotion? Probably once or twice. More if I knew some of the performers.

Would it have personality? No.

Would it be tighter, cleaner, and more professional than 90% of independent wrestling shows? Yes.

Does Norm Kaiser need to get with the times, stop insulting people, include women, and better understand the audience of modern professional wrestling? Absolutely.

In the words of the ancient philosopher Joe Dirt, "It's not what you like. It's the consumer."


4/5 stars.