Thursday, January 13, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads featured on Amazon Live

I have been friends with my buddy Adam for a long time. Over a decade. In the last few years, he has become quite the maven in online sales. He has several youtube channels pitching products, instagram pages promoting wares, and Amazon videos discussing the intricacies and finer points of many great and wonderful goods. He has become a master at selling. An online Billy Mays, if you will.

So it is always a pleasure when Adam invites me on his new Amazon Live show. He broadcasts live to Amazon every Tuesday night at the ELITE DEMONSTRATIONS channel. This past Tuesday he asked me to be his co-host and in turn, he would include Curveball at the Crossroads in his product carousel. Super great deal for me as I enjoy being in front of a camera and I can't beat the free advertising for my novel.

Along with Curveball at the Crossroads, Adam frequently features other great products such as the Facebook Oculus, amazingly comfortable blankets, a massage gun, a GPS tracker, Trivial Pursuit, and funky room lights. It is a mix of the practical and fun. And my book.

Last week, we had dozens of people watching the show at any given moment. That might not sound like much, but it was triple what we started with weeks ago. The goal is to get a lot of viewers as Amazon promotes their Live platform as a competitor with QVC or Home Shopping Network. The fun thing abou Amazon Live is that anyone can be a creator and the ability to make money is not limited to a TV network. And of course, if you buy my book through Adam's show, he makes a little money, Amazon takes their slice, the publisher takes their slice, and I am left with the rest.

It's not much, but every bit helps. And every review helps, which is important to the almighty Amazon algorithm. It's how I become a best seller.

And it all starts with people watching ELITE DEMONSTRATIONS on Amazon Live on Tuesday nights.

Check it out.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Introducing Torian Brackett, narrator of Curveball at the Crossroads

One of the elements I am incredibly excited about in regards to my debut novel, Curveball at the Crossroads, is the audiobook. When I wrote Curveball at the Crossroads, I imagined parts of it announced as part of a radio broadcast. So when I began the self-publishing process, I knew it had to eventually include an audiobook.

(Click here for Curveball at the Crossroads on Audible.)

Being that I have never recorded a book reading, I knew creating the audiobook was way out of my league. I had to bring in professionals. So I looked online and found The Audio Flow, an audiobook production company out of Chicago run by Jocqueline Protho. I called Jocqueline and spoke about the book, my ideas, and how I envisioned Curveball at the Crossroads: The Audiobook. Jocqueline was awesome and we came to a quick agreement. After a few weeks of details, she sent me an audition, claiming the voice actor she found was "perfect" and that I wouldn't need to hear anyone else.

She was right.

Torian Brackett is an actor/performer from New York City. He is the mind behind TeeBeeVO and an exceptional performer, who has graced stages, voiced video games, and been in countless commercials. He is also the same age and demographic of JaMark Reliford, the protagonist in Curveball at the Crossroads. He was indeed a perfect choice.

After connecting on social media, I had a chance to meet Torian in Orlando, Florida during the Christmas holiday. He was in town visiting family and I am only an hour away in Tampa. We met for brunch and had a great chat. We talked about the characters, their personalities, and our perceptions of them. By giving them life through sound, Torian may know my characters as intimately as I do, and that's saying a lot.

(Funny aside: my book was the first thing Torian signed as a voice actor. A book signed by him and the cover artist is going on my bookshelf. I will also have books signed by Torian, the cover artists, and myself available for sale if interested.)

Expect a video interview between me and Torian very soon. If our brunch was any indication, it will be a great discussion if you want to know the behind-the-scenes of Curveball at the Crossroads.

Check out a sample of Torian's narration in the video below and click here for the Audible link to Curveball at the Crossroads.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Curveball at the Crossroads Book Release Party

On December 20th, 2021, I will be hosting a book release party for the 2nd edition of his highly acclaimed debut novel, Curveball at the Crossroads, from 6pm to 9pm at James Joyce Irish Pub, 1724 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605.

In a limited 1st edition printing, Curveball at the Crossroads received positive reviews from sportswriters, radio hosts, bloggers, podcasters, and New York Times Best Selling authors. Curveball at the Crossroads was also named runner-up, Best Book by a Local Author in Creative Loafing Tampa’s Best of the Bay 2021 Issue.

The 2nd edition of Curveball at the Crossroads builds on this success with a new cover designed by Grego “Mojohand” Anderson, one of America’s premier blues folk artists. This new cover captures the essence of the story while using the symbology of blues folklore.

Books will be available for purchase at a discounted rate and signed by the author. Drink specials to be announced. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Curveball at the Crossroads available everywhere!


I am super happy to announce Curveball at the Crossroads is now available everywhere! It has been a long road to get the book globally available, but it is now on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Abebooks, IngramSpark, IndieBound, and most importantly, through your local book store! 

For me here in the Tampa Bay area, that would be Tombolo Books - click here to order Curveball at the Crossroads from them!

Please remember to support local businesses, they need your help!

I also offer signed copies - both of the 2nd edition and the limited 1st edition. I take venmo and cashapp. Hit me up at @JordiScrubbings on twitter or instagram!

On a personal note, it has been such a long journey to get this book to the masses. Somewhere deep in the bowels of this blog are posts where I documented the writing process. That was in 2012/2013. Almost 10 years later, it's out and not only are people buying it, but they are reading it. And they are enjoying it.

That makes the journey worth it.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Curveball at the Crossroads featured on Elite Demonstrations


My good friend Adam from 911Studios has a channel on Amazon called Elite Demonstrations. Adam hosts a show regularly on Amazon where he demonstrates products, from vacuum cleaners to Christmas trees. Adam talks about it all. And he often offers amazing deals on these products exclusive to his channel.

A few days ago, Adam was kind enough to include Curveball at the Crossroads in his carousel of products. He spent a few minutes talking about the book and provided a link to the new ebook available on Amazon.

(Disclaimer: I gave Adam a physical copy of Curveball at the Crossroads because he likes baseball and is a friend of mine. Since however, he has made a youtube review for the book that has nearly 7,000 views and offered it on Amazon. I am lucky to have friends who support my work.)

You can watch Adam's Elite Demonstrations video where he discusses Curveball at the Crossroads here:

A Very Macho Christmas Party! Trees, Electronics, Gifts - Elite Demonstrations, Amazon


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Curveball at the Crossroads now available in ebook


I am super happy to announce that Curveball at the Crossroads is finally available on ebook!

Curveball at the Crossroads is available wherever ebooks are available, to include Barnes and Noble and Amazon. There is currently a slight discount at Barnes and Noble, so you can save 50 cents. But at most, the Curveball at the Crossroads ebook is $10.

Only $10 for a book named runner-up Best Book by a Local Author in Tampa Bay 2021.

Check it out here:

Curveball at the Crossroads ebook - Barnes and Noble

Curveball at the Crossroads ebook - Amazon

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Curveball at the Crossroads named a Best Book by Creative Loafing Tampa

Super excited to announce that Curveball at the Crossroads was named one of the three best books by a local author in the last 12 months in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2021.

That's huge. Not only is Creative Loafing Tampa read by thousands of people in the Tampa Bay area, but it also has a large online presence.

I definitely want to thank everyone who voted for Curveball at the Crossroads. Thank you!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Remembering Florida Wrestler Norman Wright


Farewell to Norm, standing far right

These posts never get easier. But even if someone passes through my life on few occasions, I still like to write about those memorable moments. I feel it is a great way to pay tribute.

Way back when I first moved to Tampa, I attended Florida Championship Wrestling. FCW was the training ground of WWE and, as I have written often, it was a family-like atmosphere with a great fanbase. It was where I started rocking my now famous afro wig and joined the famous (maybe infamous?) Afro-Squad.

It was also where I met Norman Wright. Norm was a local wrestling fan with eyes on joining the wrestling business. Norm was a good dude, a nice guy, who always said hello and was a pleasure to be around.

If I am not mistaken, Norm trained with FCW for a bit as well, learning the ins and outs of wrestling. After finishing with the WWE's affiliated school, he then set a sail into the Florida independent wrestling scene, where breaking in is tough and networking is tougher.

But Norm made it, and in 2011, he wrestled several matches in All-Star Wrestling under the name "Roman Wright". I was a regular at ASW shows and saw Roman in the ring quite often. Roman was a tough guy who battled well in the ring, although he drew the ire of fans with his attitude and demeanor. Roman was opposite of Norm, who was a friend to anyone in the crowd.

While that was the extent of my time seeing Norm wrestle, it was a few other times I saw him around town that I will always remember. In 2019, I saw him at the now-closed Franklin Manor nightclub in downtown Tampa. He was hanging out with a few ladies and enjoying himself. We caught up and he told me he was working at another nightclub. It had been years since we talked, but we caught up like old friends.

But my greatest memory of Norm was in October 2008. October 19th, 2008 to be exact. The day the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays played Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Being new to South Tampa, I was looking for a place to watch the game. I discovered the Press Box, one of Tampa's oldest sports bars. It was packed for the big game and there was not a table to be found. Fortunately, I spotted Norm sitting at the bar with a friend. Although I had only met him a few months earlier at the FCW shows, he waved me over to join them. The whole night was electric was the Rays won and made their first World Series in franchise history. I will forever be appreciative of Norm for finding me a spot in the crowded sports bar and letting me hang with him and his friend.

Farewell, Norm. You were a good dude gone too soon.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Selwyn Birchwood concert at Skippers Smokehouse, Tampa FL

It has been a while since I reviewed a concert on this website. I used write about all the concerts I went to. Over the last few years, I haven't done that as often. Admittedly, COVID-19 shut down the live music scene around the world and there wasn't much to write about, but even before then I wasn't documenting as I was years ago. So excuse me if I am a bit rusty.

I am relatively new to the work of Selwyn Birchwood. Although I read his name in articles and saw it on marques for much of the last 10 years, I never took the time to look him up until I saw his song "Guilty Pleasures" on YouTube. I am a blues stickler/purist and I was super impressed. He had soul, he had a groove, and he nailed the blues.

A few months later, during the pandemic, I saw Selwyn in the background in a large blues tribute show video. I think it might be the BB King Tribute in the Capital Theater, but I am not sure and the videos for that show aren't complete. Regardless of where it was, I said to myself that I better get his music before he gets super huge and too expensive to see live.

In 2020, Selwyn put out a new album, Living in a Burning House. The album contains a song called "Freaks Come Out at Night" (no, not a Whodini cover). The video for this song was filmed at the Bradfordville Blues Club, outside of Tallahassee - one of America's last remaining juke joints and one of my favorite places to see live music anywhere. If I wasn't a fan of Selwyn Birchwood before, I was definitely a fan at that point.

I finally had a chance to see Selwyn live in May 2021 at the Safety Harbor Art & Music Center in Safety Harbor, Florida. The Art & Music Center is an interesting place and the crowd was a bit subdued for my taste, sitting throughout the concert and applauding only between songs. I prefer a more active crowd.

And that is what I got at Skipper's Smokehouse.

I arrived with a few friends a few songs into Selwyn's show. Oddly, there was no opening act on the bill, only the headliner. Although I wasn't disappointed, I found the lack of opening act interesting and kinda unique. It is rare to not see an opener.

But no opener leaves more time for the headliner and that was who I was here to see.

Selwyn Birchwood and his band rocked for over 3 hours. They played a lot of his new album "Living in a Burning House", which was a lot like the time I saw him in Safety Harbor months ago, but this time he mixed in several of his older songs, such as "Guilty Pleasures" and "Hoodoo Stew".

All night long, the dance floor at Skipper's was filled with people rocking and grooving to Selwyn and his band. He is one of the few blues acts to incorporate a saxophone and it definitely makes his sound more layered and unique. Selwyn also plays a happier type of blues. Instead of wallowing in the sad things in life, his music tends to be more upbeat and celebrating positive ends through the negative.

While creating his own sound, Selwyn Birchwood did some classic blues impersonations, both in voice and in riff, covering some Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. But like he said, the reason he doesn't play like them is because they are them and he is himself, therefore there is no reason to play like them.

Overall, it was a great show. Three hours of blues, groove, soul, and dancing makes for a great time. Especially on a pleasant Florida summer night. Selwyn Birchwood is the real deal, an entertaining bluesman with a modern sound that calls back to the legends of the genre. He is one of several new artists carrying the blues on to the next generation.

On a social note, my friend's friend who joined us was a young mid-20s Black girl who wasn't used to the blues scene, but wanted to come out for some live music. While she had a great time and did quite a bit of dancing, she mentioned how it was weird how she was a minority in a show performed by a band that was 80% Black doing music her culture invented. There weren't many Black folks in the crowd. I told her my theory on how the blues was stolen from Black people in the 60s and Black culture moved on to R&B, Soul, and eventually Hip-Hop. But from my perspective as a white dude, it was interesting to see and hear her reaction to the music and to the crowd. 

Before I close, however, I want to mention the venue. Skipper's Smokehouse did a lot while closed to clean up and make the concert experience more comfortable. Outside of the always tight parking, Skippers is a great place to see a show. Everything was cleaner, from the bathrooms to the stage to the walls of the venue. 

My one complaint was with the obnoxious older couple who tried to push my friend and her friend off of their seats when they tried to find a place to sit. They got an attitude and the incident almost turned into a mess. But we avoided conflict and spent most of our time on the dance floor directly in front of them, blocking their view and rocking to Selwyn Birchwood.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Alexa Bliss replies to criticism


I am a pro wrestling purist. I like old school wrestling, where big dudes who looked like the toughest guys in the arena slugged it out for championships. When championships mattered. When wrestlers came from Parts Unknown and belief was able to be suspended.

Pro wrestling is big business these days. Wrestlers are stars who attend award shows and do big interviews.

The problem I have is when they break kayfabe. As wrestlers, they play one role - that of their in-ring persona. They are not actors, playing different roles in different movies. Wrestlers are more like Pee-Wee Herman. They are their performing role for the extent in which they are that role. If they move companies and change roles, names, or characters, then the old character ceases to exist. They don't talk about the old character.

But unfortunately too many wrestlers today are treating their in-ring persona as just a thing they do when the cameras are rolling. Their gimmick is only something they do when they are in a pro wrestling environment, whether it be a ring, a stadium, or an autograph signing. The gimmick is just a job, not a way of life.

Perhaps the worst offender of this new mentality is Lexi Kaufman otherwise known as WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss. For years, Lexi Kaufman has ignored the traditional rules of kayfabe and varied between her real life and wrestling personas. This differentiation has become more obvious when her gimmick became a dark, possessed, demon girl while in real life she likes Disney movies, playing with her dog, and hanging out with her significant other.

All of her real life hobbies would be fine if she broadcasted them under the name Lexi Kaufman. Instead, they are all published under the name Alexa Bliss, the name of a demonic, evil person in the WWE Universe.

Lexi Kaufman has never been one of my favorite pro wrestlers, if she would even call herself that. She probably prefers "sports entertainer", a term invented by WWE.

Recently, Lexi did an interview in which she stated that she would like to get into acting because "she is doing a lot of acting now in WWE". I cringed when I read that. Such a blatant disregard for kayfabe.

So I did what I normally do, and I tweeted my objection to Lexi's comments. Notice however that they are attributed to Alexa Bliss. That purposefully blurring of the line is what makes wrestling unique. Actors don't do interviews as their characters, but wrestlers do interviews in their gimmick. As they should.

But apparently Alexa Bliss wants to get away from her doll holding, creepy wrestling career and get into acting. Or is that Lexi Kaufman's goals? What are Alexa Bliss's goals in the WWE?

My tweet objecting to Lexi's interview was seen by Lexi who replied on her Alexa Bliss twitter account. So who replied to me? Was it Lexi, the Disney-loving athlete-entertainer? Or was it Alexa Bliss, the dark, demonic, doll-carrying wrestler?

Either way, she came back with a heelish reply. And I am ok with that.