Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads at Motorworks Brewery with the Bradenton Noles

On November 5th, I had the awesome opportunity to have a book signing with the Bradenton Seminole Club at Motorworks Brewery. The Bradenton Noles were kind enough to let me visit for the game watching party as the Seminoles took on the Miami Hurricanes.

Meeting the Bradenton Noles was a lot of fun. They are some great people and they bought a good amount of books. And Motorworks Brewery is a fun place for local beer.

Thanks again to the Bradenton Seminole Club for having me.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Connecting Jackie Robinson to Curveball at the Crossroads

Creating art puts you in elite company. Not everyone exercises their creative genius in their lifetime. Meeting other creators is an awesome feeling. Especially when your creation is connected to their creation through other associations.

As I've mentioned many times, my debut novel is entitled Curveball at the Crossroads. It is a baseball novel set in rural Mississippi about a young African-American baseball player who makes a deal with the Devil. The audio version of Curveball at the Crossroads is narrated by Torian Brackett. Torian did an amazing job.

A few months later, Torian posted on social media that he another baseball book project in the works. He was narrating "Call Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom Fighter" written by Yohuru Williams and Michael G. Long. I cannot confirm or deny that doing Curveball at the Crossroads opened Torian to additional baseball opportunities, but I like to think so.

A few months after Torian's announcement, New York-based rapper Skyzoo announced that he was part of a Jackie Robinson documentary entitled "Get to the Bag". Skyzoo dropped the trailer for his project in October 2022.

Now here is where I tie it all together. In mid-2021, Skyzoo performed in Tampa. He has been one of my favorite rappers for years and I could not miss the opportunity to see him perform. After the show, I realized I had a box of books in my car. I acquired a signed CD from him and gave him a signed copy of Curveball at the Crossroads. I remember writing in it that his music has gotten me through some tough times, so it was personal. It was very cool moment for me as a creator to present my creation to a creator that I admire.

I am not sure if Skyzoo has read Curveball at the Crossroads yet. But now there is a chain through creators, associates, and subject matter from my novel in Tampa, Florida through Mississippi to New York City and laying its home in Brooklyn. We are taking JaMark Reliford and the Blues to Ebbets Field and hip-hop.

Be sure to check out Curveball at the Crossroads as well as Torian's Jackie Robinson project and Skyzoo's Jackie Robinson documentary.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads at Bookstore1 Sarasota Book Fair October 22nd 2022


I love book fairs. As much as I love solo book signings, book fairs are better than solo book signings because I have a chance to meet fellow authors and writers. They also attract more people than solo book signings. They are a chance for me to see how other authors peddle their wears. I have learned a lot from fellow authors.

For example, the last few book fairs I have gone to I forgot to bring a mailing list. Mailing lists are important. Especially if I want to build a fanbase. 

This coming weekend, on October 22nd, 2022, I will be headed to Sarasota, Florida for the Bookstore1 Sarasota annual book fair. Bookstore1 is a very cute bookstore tucked in downtown Sarasota. They are around the corner and through the breezeway from a weekend market. I think there will be plenty of foot traffic for the book fair, which of course is a great thing.

Book fairs are also a chance to be outgoing and use my best sales pitch. I am basically carnival barking my book, trying to convince people to buy it instead of any of the other books for sale. But it is not a competition. It is a celebration of local authors and their creations.

But for real, Curveball at the Crossroads was runner-up, Best Book by a Local Author in 2021 for a reason.

The Bookstore1 Sarasota book fair should be a great time. Here is the link for more information:


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads in the FSView


Tallahassee Talent Promoted to the Big Leagues - Kani Schram, FSView, 10/2/2022

Since publishing Curveball at the Crossroads, I have had the honor of some great reviews and write-ups. People have compared me to WP Kinsella, Christopher Moore, and other fantastic authors. It is all very humbling and very special.

But no review has been more special than my most recent in the FSView and Florida Flambeau. The FSView and Florida Flambeau is the campus paper of my alma mater, Florida State University. It is also the newspaper where I got my start twenty years ago. It was the first place I saw my name in print.

For those curious, I have reprinted some of my old FSView articles here under the tag "The FSView Collection". Since the FSView's website doesn't have a good archive, I figure I am not breaking any copyright laws reposting my own stuff.

The FSView has always had a soft spot in my heart. Once the Florida Flambeau, the paper merged with the FSView in the 1990s and became the FSView and Florida Flambeau. The paper has a history of speaking truth to power, taking on the campus powers-that-be on several occasions. Even though I wrote for the Lifestyles section, I always kept the history of the paper in mind, especially if I had the chance to write about less popular groups, clubs, or people.

But to now be written about in the paper? That's awesome.

I want to thank writer Kani Schram. She is a freshman writer for the FSView and even though she is in the beginning of her writing career, she did a great job with the article on me. I was very impressed and I hope to read her work again as she continues to bigger things.

I don't know how many FSView alumni have continued writing. I don't know how many have been written about in the same paper that they got their start. It is an awesome feeling. Among all my reviews, this might be one of my favorite.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Talking to Drinking With Authors


In an attempt to promote Curveball at the Crossroads, I have made appearances on several podcasts. On the recommendation of fellow local author Mark Muncy, I contacted the fine folks at Drinking With Authors and we scheduled an online conversation.

About Drinking With Authors:

We always imagine a day when we’re having a drink at our favorite bar, dive, or even eatery and our favorite author comes through the doors. Much to your luck, they sit next to you and conversation ensues! That’s what Drinking With Authors is all about! Join us over drinks to discover the backstory and journey of authors like Tamara Lush, Connie Y Harris, Kenya Wright, Jonathan Maberry, Dan Wells, Jeffe Kennedy, Heather Graham, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and so many more. We interview authors all over the spectrum including those who just started their journey with their debut book and those who have scripted some of our favorite television and Netflix shows! Pour yourself a drink, pull up a seat, and join us as we get to know our favorite authors and gain some inspiration for fellow writers and sheer entertainment for fans!

Listen to my talk with Drinking With Authors here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads Audiobook Review


I never realized how difficult it is marketing an audiobook. While the audiobook market is in the billions, how do you promote an audiobook? With a physical book, I can show it to people anywhere and they can touch it, feel it, and hopefully buy it. But with an audiobook, there is another level of engagement. They have to play it and find the time to listen to it.

One of the ways I learned to promote the Curveball at the Crossroads audiobook is to submit it to audiobook review websites. A few months ago, I submitted the Curveball at the Crossroads audiobook to AudioFileMagazine.com. They publish dozens of audiobook reviews. I wasn't sure if they were going to review it or not. Lo and behold, last week they sent me an email stating their review was published.

Narrator Torian Brackett gives star treatment to each character in this story of a faustian bargain. Seventeen-year-old JaMark Reliford is poised for big league baseball--until he blows out his arm. After leaving home, depressed, drinking, and smoking, he meets a tall man in a zoot suit. The tempting voice that Brackett gives the devil entices JaMark with promises of baseball glory in return for his soul. Soon he meets Betsy, the love of his life--and another standout performance by Brackett--and moves to the Major League. But these successes are marred by his heartbreaking worry about the future of his soul, coupled with terrifying visits from the devil. Audio is a must for the subtle humor that shines through JaMark's anxiety. S.G.B. © AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine [Published: SEPTEMBER 2022]

I agree. Torian did an amazing job, although the review failed to mention my favorite part - Torian's spectacular job as the play-by-play radio announcer.

Hopefully this is the start of the audiobook taking off in sales. Or at least the start of other reviews. I hope other enjoy the Curveball at the Crossroads audiobook as much as I do.

For those who haven't heard, he is a preview of Torian Brackett's narration of Curveball at the Crossroads.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads Review by Guy Who Reviews Sports Books


Book reviewers are busy. There are a lot of books published and a lot of books to be read. On this site, I think I have reviewed maybe a dozen or two. I can't imagine hosting a website dedicated to regularly reviewing books. But thankfully, some people have better dedication to reading and writing than I do.

Lance Smith is one of those people. Lance is a sports book reader who writes for his aptly named website The Guy Who Reviews Sports Books. Very early on in my marketing process, I sent Lance a copy of Curveball at the Crossroads. As you can see in the image, it is the first edition, which was no available as of November 2021. But that is the version Lance had and that Lance eventually read.

I emailed Lance several times, typically once every few months, to see where Curveball at the Crossroads was in his to-be-read pile. Every avid reader has a to-be-read pile. Finally in August, Lance emailed me to say he was starting the book. A few weeks later, he emailed me to say he enjoyed the read and that the review was published on his site.

A very good rating is worth the wait.

Lance had a lot of great things to say about Curveball at the Crossroads. For example,

This story was an enjoyable read for a few reasons. One is that Lortz developed his characters well, especially JaMark, his love Betsy, JaMark’s Uncle Rufus and Inga, the old woman who Uncle Rufus said was the only one who could help JaMark.  All of them are people with whom the reader can relate, even if the reader was never a major league pitcher, an awesome Southern cook or someone who had trouble staying out of jail.

Click here to check out Lance's write-up about Curveball at the Crossroads.

And if you haven't picked up at copy yet, here is the Bookshop.org link: CURVEBALL AT THE CROSSROADS

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Google called me a genius


I am not going to argue with Google. If Google says I am a genius, then I must be. The internet doesn't lie.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads at Tiger Dust in Tampa, Florida


A few weeks ago, I met with the owners of a fun, quirky, little store in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa called Tiger Dust. Tiger Dust is an oddities and antiques store that specializes in the unusual. Included in their cornucopia of curious collectibles is an amazing library of hard to find and rare reads.

Including copies of Curveball at the Crossroads. It always great when local businesses want to partner with local creatives to put out good products. Especially when my book fits their library's description to a tee.

"You'll find vintage horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and occult books in our library. We also have a case with cool old books about Satan and his hilarious antics!"

My book isn't the only local book that Tiger Dust sells. Local author and entrepreneur Josh Ginsberg also sells his books Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure and Tampa Bay Scavenger at Tiger Dust.

On the last Thursday of every month, Tiger Dust invites all their local vendors to hang out in the store and talk about their products. The last Thursday in July was my first event. Besides Josh and I, there was also a local jewelry maker visiting. It was an awesome vibe.

So visit Tiger Dust at 4222 N. FLORIDA AVE. TAMPA, pick up a copy of Curveball at the Crossroads, and tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Another great review for Curveball at the Crossroads


As a self-published author with only one novel to my credit (for now), I always appreciate kind words from readers. Every reader is valuable. But kind words from those who have published, or those with a background in writing, warms my heart even more. Not that I need acceptance, but their reviews let me know that I did the right thing by putting my book out to the public. It lends assurance that what I felt when I wrote Curveball at the Crossroads is felt by others who have served the common reader.

So I was particularly happy to read a new lengthy review of my debut novel by longtime Tampa area sports writer and editor Bob D'Angelo. After I saw that Bob wrote reviews and posted them on the Facebook Baseball Books group, I connected with him and sent him a copy of Curveball at the Crossroads for his perusal. I am very glad to read he enjoyed it.

The devil is in the details ... - Bob D'Angelo's Books and Blogs

One of the things I really liked about Bob's review was that he compared Curveball at the Crossroads to the book turned play, "Damn Yankees". I need to watch "Damn Yankees" and read the book it is based on, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. I had heard of it prior to writing Curveball at the Crossroads, but didn't know the plot or it's similarity to Curveball at the Crossroads. But as Bob writes, although they have similar backstories, how the tale is executed is vastly different.

I really enjoyed Bob's review. If you are interested in Curveball at the Crossroads, please do check it out.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Reading The Man Makes You Work on YouTube

For the last few months, I have been creating short videos in which I read pieces from my book The Man Makes You Work. I post these videos both on my TikTok page and on YouTube, where they are considered Shorts.

At 15 seconds each, these are perfect bit-sized commercials for The Man Makes You Work. They also provide me over 510 opportunities to mention The Man Makes You Work on social media.

So I have decided to post a few of these videos here on occasion. Here is the first one I did back in February. 

These are super fun to make and are quick easy content. Expect more of them here.

And if it gets deleted or shut down, blame The Man.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Reading Dostoyevsky Short Stories

I have a lot of literary classics on my shelves. Too often, however, I get caught up in reading the latest and greatest in modern literature to take a step back and enjoy something timeless. So it was with great interest that I dove into two collections of Fyodor Dostoyevsky short stories. These two books contained a few of the same stories, but were not completely similar. There were 13 short stories in total, but three were in both, leaving 10 unique short stories from one of the greatest names in Russian literature.
Dostoyevsky is a difficult read. Not because it is overly dense or dry – although one of the stories was incredibly dry, individual breakdown later – but because Dostoyevsky’s work comes from a period where male figures were the end-all, be-all of the story. Only in a rare case in these stories are women treated decently. Not well, just decently. Throughout the selection, women are bullied, beaten, mentally tortured, and overly doted upon. To put in modern parlance, there are serious incel themes in Dostoyevsky’s short stories. Enough for me to have to research what other writers have already written about Dostoyevsky’s possible issues with women. Granted, I only read 10 short stories of his incredibly prolific selection but there was a too many occurrences to discount. 

Let’s look individually at a few of the 10 stories I read: 

White Nights – This was the only story I had read before. Years ago, I remember enjoying this story but upon a second read, the main character definitely has social problems. In this story, a male loner meets a sad young girl along one of his nightly walks. Despite her telling him she has a love interest, he claims to fall in love with her over the course of a week. While her current beau is out of town, our loner protagonist keeps her company and they do get to know each other. When she claims she doesn’t know if her interest will be returning, the main character suggests she write him a letter. There is a delay in the love interest’s reply, disappointing the young lady and making the main character think he has an opening in the life of the one woman he has ever talked to ever. After the delay, the love interest returns and the main character resigns himself to the lonely existence he had before with no interest in finding anyone new. 

Did 19th century St Petersburg have that bad of a social scene or was the main character that anti-social that he, in his 20s, could not imagine finding anyone else? He only knew this girl for a week and he was convinced she was the girl of his dreams and that there would be no other opportunities for a relationship. Dostoyevsky captures incel thinking here generations before the term became popular. 

The Christmas Tree and a Wedding – This story was disturbing for a modern reader. It was short in the book I have, at barely 12 pages. But its content made me feel somewhat dirty and incredibly annoyed. This story begins with a socialite attending an end-of-year party for the pre-teen daughter of a prominent gentleman. While there he notices another socialite, this one with a sour-temper and poor demeanor. This second character attempts to make good with the prominent gentleman and tries talking to the young girl. The narrator thinks it odd, but continues his own socializing. Five years later, he walks past a wedding. When he looks inside, he recognizes the bride as the same young girl, now 16, and her husband as the poor demeanor, sour-tempered man from the previous party. The narrator describes the young bride as disinterested, teary-eyed, and looking for mercy. 

I guess this was commonplace in 19th century Russia but reading about a teenage girl who was courted then married to an evil man by the age of 16 is creepy. I realized Dostoyevsky writes about the downtrodden and the mistreated often, but the acceptance of the situation by the narrator made me do a double take. I had to re-read the final page where the narrator notices the couple, sees the young girl’s plight, but still walks out of the church and goes about his business. The young girl has no agency, rather she is a pawn between the rich father and the opportunistic antagonist. 

Notes from the Underground – I really did not like this story. The first half was the rambling of an anti-social man with severe social anxiety. The second half was his description of events leading up to him being completely anti-social. It reminded me of the movie Taxi Driver and there are others who make that connection. Perhaps I should appreciate Dostoyevsky for creating the genre of disgruntled, frustrated men who look negatively at the world’s progress. Maybe if I was more like that, I would appreciate it more, but that’s not me. 

While the comparisons to Taxi Driver are apt in the first half of the story – which really could have been cut or switched with the second half – the second half of the story is even closer to Scorsese’s film. After 50 pages or so of his anti-social screed, the narrator tells a story of how his life with severe social anxiety. He has few, if any, friends, he over-analyzes every interaction, and tries far too hard to impress people. When they either react or fail to react, he completely misreads their opinions of him. After completely fumbling an attempt to socialize with past classmates, he gets drunk in their company and desires to fight the leader of the group. When he gets to their watering hole ready to fight, he finds no one but a prostitute. He sleeps with her, then goes on a rant, insulting and degrading her. He then offers to help her and get her out of her lifestyle. 

Following those events, the prostitute does find him and looks to better herself. But instead of being the hero, his social anxiety again flares and he breaks down in front of her. After she realizes he is social imbalanced and only talks a good game, she leaves. He returns to his over-analyzing and anti-socialness. 

Again, Dostoyevsky gets credit for popularizing and breaking ground with the anti-social anti-hero, but I finished this story thinking this character seriously needs help. 

A Gentle Creature – Another horrible main character and another tragic woman. Again, our narrator is a male with serious social problems. This story starts with a man sitting next to the body of his deceased wife, who has recently committed suicide. That might be a sympathetic premise if not for the fact that he mentally tortured her. For some reason – perhaps it was the culture at the time – our narrator has a complex about owning a pawnshop. He is also battling guilt for not being as aggressive during his time in the service as those in his unit. He takes both of these guilts out on his wife. 

Of course, just as in The Christmas Tree and the Wedding, the main character of A Gentle Creature is a creepy man, this time in his 40s, with an obsession with a younger bride, again 16. I struggle to think how these two could have interacted as husband and wife. He chides her for her immaturity and passion, not realizing that she is not an adult, at least by modern standards. He often mentions that he has to break her of her old ways of thinking. His methodologies include lying to her, ignoring her, and not telling her any of his faults until it is too late. While he does this, he also holds over her head the broken family and poor circumstances she came from. 

There is a scene in this story that is reminiscent of a scene in another Scorsese film, Good Fellas. Struggling with her abusive husband, the young girl takes a gun and points it to the main character’s head in an attempt to kill him and end their marriage. Whereas Henry Hill grabs the gun from his wife, the main character in A Gentle Creature lays silent, calling her bluff. When she fails to pull the trigger, he congratulates himself for breaking her down again. 

The torture eventually gets to the young girl and she throws herself out of an upper floor window, plummeting to her death. After she is gone, the main character remains clueless, not realizing the amount of stress he put on her. 

I am so curious as to Dostoyevsky’s inspiration for this story. Another story in which I ended up despising the main character. 

Akulka’s Husband – This story was very short, only 10 pages, so I will keep the review short. But it is just as disturbing. The main character is a young man in prison who tells the tale of why he is incarcerated. In his younger years he associated with the local bully. Being from a poor family, he thought this was the best way to gain prestige. After the bully claimed to have slept with a local rich man’s daughter, the main character joined the bully in belittling the girl, calling her unpure and a whore. Their torments caught on throughout the town, making her undesired by any other man. The main character’s mother, knowing the girl’s reputation, tells her son to marry the girl so they can be part of a richer family. When he does, he faces the wrath and ridicule of his friend, the local bully. 

During the course of their marriage, the main character finds out that the bully never did sleep with his now wife. When he accuses the bully of lying, the bully flips the narrative and tells the husband that he was drunk during the ceremony so there is no way he was in his right mind during the vows or the consummation of the marriage. The main character agrees with the bully, claiming again that the bully is his best friend. The idea that he might have been tricked into wedding the girl infuriates him and he repeatedly beats her until bringing her in a field and slitting her throat. 

When the authorities find the wife, they arrest the husband, and put him in prison. 

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man – Lastly, here is the only story in the entire collection I actually liked. In this story, a sullen man is taken on a trip to an alternative Earth after meeting a young, unfortunate girl. This story was vastly different than the previous stories as instead of trying to save her, the negative main character blows her off and goes home to ponder suicide. Thinking the world is worthless and he equally has no place in it, he stares at his pistol until he falls asleep. 

He dreams that he shoots himself in the heart and his spirit flies through space and lands on an alternate Earth where there is no science, no religion, no power, no money, and most importantly, no struggling. There are only people joyously celebrating being alive on this Earth. Unfortunately, his pessimistic attitude about life sullies the society and eventually they fight, create divisions, and suffer. For his sins, he wants nothing more than for them to kill him. But they do not. 

When he awakens, he realizes that the joyous Earth was better than the Earth he came from. Although his friends and neighbors think his story of another Earth is ridiculous, he changes his entire perspective on life and attempts to make the world a better place, to include finding the young girl and helping her. 

This had sort of A Christmas Story plot, although instead of three ghosts, our main character is taken to another planet. I will have to see when Dickens wrote A Christmas Story compared to when Dostoyevsky wrote The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. I also need to look up the science fiction influence. I did not expect to read the idea of flying through space in a 19th century Russian short story. 

Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with Dostoyevsky’s short stories. If you were keeping track, there were five stories about men whose interactions with women ranged from lovelorn to abusive to murderous. Only in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man did the man do the right thing after being inspired by a female interaction. Ironically, it was the interaction that was the shortest and the one that was rejected by the man that created the most enlightened character. 

Of the two books of Dostoyevsky short stories I own, I will probably only keep the one with A Dream of a Ridiculous Man. The other book will probably be traded or donated. The less incel lit I have, the better.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Great Book Signing at Hello Again Books in Cocoa, Florida

On May 28th, I had another awesome book signing event. This time I was at Hello Again Books in Cocoa, Florida. 

I was really excited about this event as Cocoa is close to my parents' house and it was an opportunity for them to see me doing my author thing. My mother came by as well as my brother. I also had several friends come by, many from high school and some who have moved into the area through the years.

Years ago, my mother used to own her own bookstore. I used to think that I was at least as good of a writer as the worst writer in that store. That was my motivation to write a book and have it published. I wanted to be on the shelves of bookstores. 

To not only be on the shelves, but to be signing books and to have bookstores promote me as an event is icing on the cake. It is a very cool feeling. One that I doubt will get old any time soon.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Returning to the Crossroads and Selling My Debut Novel

In 2009, I took a trip to the Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I journeyed there after five days in Memphis with no plan and no idea what to expect. As luck would have it, I arrived during the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Music Festival. I had the pleasure of not only exploring Clarksdale, but also seeing some great local bands and meeting some great local people. Clarksdale was one of the highlights of that great adventure.

Thirteen years later, I finally returned to the Crossroads. This time, I brought my debut novel, Curveball at the Crossroads, which was highly influenced by my first trip to the Mississippi Delta.

I published the 2nd edition of Curveball at the Crossroads in November 2021. One of the biggest changes between the first and second edition is the new cover designed by famous blues artist Grego "Mojo Hand" Anderson. Grego was great to work with and did an amazing job capturing the essence of the book in the new cover. Best of all, I was able to piggyback on Grego's reputation to open more doors for the book. 

One of those doors was with Roger Stolle, owner of Cat Head Delta Blues Folk Art Store in Clarksdale. Roger carries a lot of Grego's art, so I knew Cat Head would be a logical fit for my book. After emailing Roger and sharing news of Curveball at the Crossroads, Roger agreed to order copies of my book and we discussed a possible book signing. He recommended I visit during the 2022 Juke Joint Festival. After looking up the event, I quickly bought my plane and event tickets.

Not only was I visiting Clarksdale again, but I was also having my first out-of-state book signing. 

To make things better, Clarksdale is Curveball at the Crossroads' spiritual home. I believe every book has a spiritual home. It could be the author's home, but it might not be. It might also be where a scene of the book takes place, but it also might not be. A book's spiritual home is the place that inspired the book. For example, if a visit to medieval castle inspired me to write a wrote a fantasy tale of knights and elves that took place in an imaginary kingdom, then that real life castle is my book's spiritual home. Although Curveball at the Crossroads takes place in Rosedale, Mississippi, Clarksdale is definitely its spiritual home.

Because I booked so late - I did not realize hotels for the Juke Joint Fest fill up a year out - I ended up in an Airbnb about an hour away in small Como, Mississippi. According to wikipedia, Como has a total area of two miles and is home to 1,200 people. Much smaller than my current home of Tampa, Florida.

Despite of, or perhaps because of its size, Como was the perfect place place to stay. It was quiet, it was serene, and my host and the guest house I stayed in was amazing. Couldn't have asked for a better place, even if my drives back from Clarksdale along Mississippi's dark, two-lane highways were kinda creepy. But that's part of the fun, and who knows, it might be the inspiration for another book or at least another scene.

I arrived in Mississippi on a Thursday afternoon. After checking in and unloading my bags, I drove to Oxford, Mississippi, home of the University of Mississippi and, more meaningful to me, Square Books, one of the most famous independent bookstores in the Southeast.

Square Books was everything I thought. A cozy, two-story bookstore in the middle of the town square, Square Books had a perfect mix of current best sellers and regional authors. After giving them a copy of Curveball at the Crossroads to sample, I bought a small pile of new books for my own collection. With luck, they will like Curveball at the Crossroads and I will be making a return trip to Square Books soon.

After grabbing a beer at an Ole Miss bar and eating dinner at a southern diner, I returned to Como to plot my weekend in Clarksdale. My book signing at Cat Head in Clarksdale was scheduled for noon, so I knew I had to leave early and get up even earlier. So after planning and plotting, and getting some new reading done, I called Day 1 of my adventure a success and went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning, ate breakfast, got ready, said hello to the horses outside the guest house, and headed down to Clarksdale. Not knowing how busy Clarksdale or Cat Head specifically would be or the parking situation for the festival, I arrived an hour early. Although I got a good parking spot a short walk from Cat Head, Clarksdale was already buzzing. Bands and bluesmen were already playing and tourists were already milling about, buying t-shirts, festival programs, posters, and other blues memorabilia.

Clarksdale is not a very big town. Bigger than Como, but not very big compared to other metro areas. Downtown Clarksdale, home of the Blues Museum, the Ground Zero Blues Club, Cat Head, and several juke joints, is only a few blocks. But due to a decline in the national and regional economy, Clarksdale relies on its music festivals to generate revenue. Even though the Juke Joint Festival wasn't officially starting until Saturday, there were already several vendors and food stands on the streets of downtown Clarksdale. And wherever a performer could fit, there was someone playing the blues. They played in front of stores, in stores, on corners, on the railroad tracks, and even on the back of trucks. Live music was everywhere.

After briefly checking out the scene, I walked into Cat Head. Roger was already busy, but found the time to set me up in a front corner of his store. He had several copies of my book already in his store, so I grabbed all his copies for my table. I also brought several copies signed by cover artist Grego "Mojo Hand" Anderson.

Within five minutes of setting up, the first customer walked to my table looking to buy a book. When he saw I also had two Curveball at the Crossroads posters that I was using for the table, he offered to buy one of those as well. First customer, first sale. Also sold a poster to boot.

Customers ebbed and flowed through Cat Head for most of the early afternoon, perusing the shelves, checking out the wares, and for many, walking to my table to see what I had to offer. Within the first hour, I sold the copies Mojo Hand signed and was running low on the other copies. Over ten books were gone in the first hour. I was excited.

By the end of the second hour, I was out of books. Every copy Roger had in his table of books was sold. People were excited to talk baseball and blues. Among the customers who visited my table was Michael Kinsman, head of the San Diego Blues Festival. Michael and I talked about future orders and his idea of presenting the book to prominent blues media writers he knew. Not only did he buy a book, he wanted more to share with others!

All in all, it was a fantastic book signing. I did not expect to sell out. Even Roger admitted maybe he should have ordered more. But, on the other hand, two hours is a good amount of time for a book signing. I had the rest of the day and the rest of the festival to enjoy.

For the remainder of Friday, I walked the streets of Clarksdale, consulting my festival program on which bands will be in which bars when. I saw some absolutely fantastic acts, from acoustic street performers to full electric bands, culminating with Ted Drozdowski's Coyote Motel. Coyote Motel was blues with a stoner groove. Very cool stuff. In a bit of coincidence, one of their better tunes was called "Josh Gibson", after the 1930s Negro League baseball star. So baseball and the blues started and ended my day.

Driving back to my Airbnb Friday night was another adventure. The roads from Como to Clarksdale formed a square, with Como in the northeast corner and Clarksdale in the southwest. To return to Como, I could go north first, then west, or west first, then north. I decided to retrace the path I took to Clarksdale, heading north first, then west to return to Como. What I did not think about, however, was how dark and lonely those two-lane Mississippi highways were. Rural Mississippi at night is complete darkness. Ain't nothing out there but you, the road, the woods, and graveyards.

I woke up Saturday morning, again said hello to the horses, and drove back to Clarksdale. I started the day seeing renown bluesman Terry "Harmonica" Bean. Terry Bean was a must-see for me. Not only because of his music, but because of his backstory. Back in the 1980s, Terry Bean was a can't miss baseball prospect from the local high school. Legend has it, he could throw over 90 miles an hour with both arms, and was as good a pitcher as he was a hitter. He was the real deal with a ticket to the pros. Then it all came crashing down with an injury to his right arm.

If that sounds familiar, it's because it is the backstory of JaMark Reliford, the main character in Curveball at the Crossroads. Except, whereas JaMark made a deal with the Devil to return to baseball, Terry Bean followed in the footsteps of other family members and became a bluesman. He has been playing the blues ever since, travelling the roads and performing in small bars and juke joints throughout Mississippi. Along the way, he has become an encyclopedia of the region, blessing listeners with stories of how life used to be in the Delta.

Following Terry "Harmonica" Bean, I met with my old friend "St. Louis" Frank Chambers. Frank is another walking encyclopedia. He used to travel from St Louis to Clarksdale regularly until moving permanently to Clarksdale years ago. I met Frank at the Riverside Inn in Clarksdale during my first visit in 2009. The Riverside Inn is a historical landmark that the people of Clarksdale are refurbishing after years of wear and tear. In 2009, I stayed a few nights in the hotel and Frank was a regular in the lobby/lounge, mingling with the visitors and catching up with "Rat", the owner of the establishment. Frank and I connected on Facebook and have been in touch ever since. Although he doesn't go the festivals anymore and age is starting to catch up, he is still as connected and personable as ever. We went to Clarksdale's best (maybe only?) Mexican restaurant for lunch and caught up on the last 13 years.

After lunch, Frank and I went to the Riverside Inn to see how the old place was doing. The inn has seen better days structurally as a tree recently punctured the roof and the wooden foundation needs updating. But because it is a cultural landmark, they are getting grants and donations to fix it up. Although I stayed there during my first trip, I asked if one of the new caretakers for the old place could give me a tour. From Aretha Franklin to Ike Turner to JFK, Jr to Bessie Smith (who died in the building when it was a hospital), the names of people who stayed in the Riverside Inn is long and distinguished.

I said farewell to Frank, left the Riverside Inn, and returned downtown to the Juke Joint Festival. I stopped in the Delta Blues Museum as well as Ground Zero Blues Club. The Ground Zero Blues Club is partly owned by legendary actor Morgan Freeman and his picture graces the wall along with so many other blues and Clarksdale legends. I bounced around for a few more hours, saw a few more musicians, and even returned to Cat Head to buy myself some swag.

By Saturday evening, I had two shows left to see, Terry "Harmonica" Bean again and Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, a 23-year-old blues phenomenon who has already played the White House and won a Grammy. Kingfish was to not be missed.

Although I saw Terry "Harmonica" Bean earlier in the day, there were two reasons why I failed to give him a copy of my book after his morning show. The first reason was because I left before he finished. The second, and more important reason, was because I was out of books. However, in my visit to Cat Head, I saw they had two new copies of Curveball at the Crossroads among the books. So, yes, I bought a copy of my own book to give to someone else. Such is the life of a small writer.

When I got to the Delta Blues Alley Cafe, Terry was setting up. I was able to talk with him for a minute or two and present him with a book. He thanked me and told me that he was the Mississippi equivalent to classic '80s baseball stars Dwight Gooden or Bret Saberhagen. Hopefully we can talk baseball and blues again sometime. 

Terry "Harmonica" Bean's show early Saturday evening was a fun jam, not too dissimilar from his morning show, but with a better crowd. He rocked some John Lee Hooker-style boogie blues and got folks dancing. There was also beer served at the evening show, so alcohol was probably amplifying the audience participation.

But unfortunately for Terry "Harmonica" Bean, his show overlapped with the headliner for the entire festival, the star of the region, the next great blues ambassador, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram. After 30 minutes of Terry Bean, folks started filing out of the Blues Alley Cafe to walk the few blocks to Kingfish's show.

For some interesting reason, the concert coordinators of the Juke Joint Festival decided to set Kingfish up in an old bank, not outside on the main stage of the festival. The bank was a cavernous old building, with the word "BANK" outside, just as you expect an old bank to be in a old southern town. There were a few hundred chairs aligned inside the bank with band's setup along the back wall. Although the building had the frame of a bank, it lacked any of the inside bits and pieces, such as a teller counter, offices, and any other furniture. Perhaps it was biggest empty building in Clarksdale.

Layout aside, when I got there, I found a spot close to the side of the "stage". I was approximately 15 feet from Kingfish's left. So I never saw him head-on, but it was probably the closest I have ever been to a Grammy winner performance.

For those who haven't seen or heard of Kingfish, he is the real deal. Straight from the cast of Buddy Guy and the 3 Kings of the Blues - Albert, Freddie, and BB, Kingfish has the chops and riffs to play the blues the way the legends did. He has been blazing a path through the blues scene with his first two albums, already winning the aforementioned Grammy, being featured on national TV, and playing the White House for the Obamas back in 2015. He is as big a deal as deals come in the blues.

Interestingly, when I was scrolling through my pictures from my 2009 visit, I have a pic of Kingfish playing in a kid's band when he was 10 years old. Now 12 years later, I had a chance to see him again.

Kingfish did not disappoint. He rocked through several of his own songs and many blues standards. Although it was a short show - only an hour - he proved again that he is the future of traditional blues.

After Kingfish's stellar performance, I rolled back to Como, full of all new blues memories. My flight back to Tampa was early on Sunday, so I missed the final day of the 2022 Juke Joint Festival. But from my trip to Oxford, to my book signing, to lunch with an old friend, to closing with Kingfish, my return to the Crossroads was a huge success.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

New Curveball at the Crossroads Book Trailer


Super excited to reveal the updated book trailer for Curveball at the Crossroads. Like George Lucas in 1997, we made some visual changes to our original video. You might notice the 2nd edition cover. That cover definitely pops more than the first cover and gets more readers' attention.

Big thanks to Bill McArdle at TampaBayNightLife.tv for the video work and my friends Steve Carney and Patro Mabili for their voices.

Unlike George Lucas, in my new trailer, Greedo doesn't shoot.

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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Curveball at the Crossroads interview with Minor League Baseball

I have been e-friends with Minor League Baseball writer Ben Hill for a long time. I met Ben at the Orlando Winter Meetings in 2010 or so. When I wrote for Bus Leagues Baseball I wrote about how he visited Florida in 2012, but unfortunately I was out of the country. I did finally have a chance to meet him in a ballpark with fellow Minor League aficionado Jeff Perro in Dunedin in 2015. Check out Ben's write-up of me sampling hot dogs at the ballpark. Priceless!

When Curveball at the Crossroads finally hit the market, I knew one of the people I wanted to read to was Ben. Ben is guru of the Minor Leagues and an admirer of the whimsy, which are both present in Curveball at the Crossroads. On the list of reviewers and people I wanted to talk to about my book, Ben was a must.

I sent Ben an early copy and doggedly kept asking when it was going to make the top of this TBR (to be read) list. This winter, Ben finally read Curveball at the Crossroads.

Here is Ben's review:

As for the book itself, I enjoyed the story and thought the closing section where he was working at Inga's was particularly strong. Also appreciated the absurd humor, and that it was conveyed in a dry way that never felt self-consciously zany. On the less positive side, it still felt better served as a  long short story (or a novella) to me. Plot momentum weighed down by too much day-to-day, month-to-month, season-to-season baseball details. I've always tried to accentuate the positive in all I do professionally but also want to be honest on both sides of the equation.  

He liked it, he just thought it should have been tighter. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. But despite the mixed review, Ben would do me a huge favor this week by having me on official Minor League Baseball podcast The Show Before The Show Episode 341.

On the podcast, Ben asked me about my writing history, influences, and how Minor League Baseball plays a role in the book. I thought it was a really great interview with questions I don't normally get about the book, but questions I thought were important, especially in regards to the environment in which the book takes place.

I downloaded the podcast and uploaded the 14 minute segment with Ben and I into a youtube video.

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.