Friday, March 23, 2018

Coming Summer 2018

It's been three years since I released Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed. Three long years. What the heck have I been doing all that time?

Following a brief break and a series of false starts that resulted in a collection of abandoned Chapter 1s, I settled on a new story, which turned into two books, and may eventually result in a third (fourth, fifth?). My goal is to release the first, entitled The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo, this summer. Jason is 15, going on 16, and still waiting for his parents to grow up. The story is set in 2003 and told entirely through online exchanges with friends. I'll describe it as The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole meets Nick Hornby's Slam. (Not sure what the Venn diagram of readers for that combo looks like. Anyone else in the intersection with me?)

I'm currently on the nth round of revisions, with at least one more pass to come. I'm still toying with releasing both books together, but the longer things drag out, the more I rethink that.

If you'd like to be the first to know when they are available, please sign up for my email list. I promise, I do not spam. I only send messages when I have something significant to announce (which as you might guess from the fact it's been three years since the last book came out, isn't all that often).

In the meantime, if you want a taste of what's to come, here's the first ~2,000 words of The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo. (It's not divided into chapters, which should make sense once you read it.)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Discoverability and pure dumb luck

As an indie author, I have a soft spot for indie artists generally. I particularly love to discover a new band that hasn't broken big (yet). I've found bands on Twitter, sometimes from a tweet recommending them (Rizzle Kicks, H/T to James Corden), and sometimes via direct contact from the band itself (Lux Lisbon). Discoverability has always been the key to an artist's success, but discoverability is so different now to what it was a generation ago. Musicians can find an audience halfway across the world without trekking there in a broken-down van to play a crowd of 20 people. Sometimes purely by accident.

My son is 8 and into music. If you drew a Venn diagram of what we like, there'd be a reasonable sweet spot in the middle. Most of those songs are ones I've introduced him to, despite his initial reluctance to give anything I like a chance. From AC/DC to Trombone Shorty to Snow Patrol, he has added a fair number of my tracks to his mp3 player and/or Spotify list. It doesn't often flow the other way, though. He gets a lot of his music from whatever they play on Dude Perfect, which mostly all sounds the same to me, bland synthesized music and cliched lyrics that play well behind footage of morons performing trick shots.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Parkland survivors offer hope that something might finally change

A lot can change in a week.

Seven days ago, 17 lives were needlessly lost in the horrific shooting in Parkland, Fla. My first awareness of it came via Twitter, before any details were available. Another school shooting. The all-too-familiar depression and hopelessness that washes over me during these incidents struck me harder and harder as information was reported. Many injured ... multiple fatalities ... more than 10 deaths ... then, finally, 17 dead. And eventually a grim sense of relief that the count had finally stopped going up.

Happy Valentine's Day.

I had taken the afternoon off to buy and prep a steak for our traditional Valentine's cookout. But by the time my wife got home from work I didn't feel much like celebrating anything. It felt wrong to be grilling--to be doing anything I enjoyed--with such a tragedy for all intents still unfolding, knowing so many families were being irrevocably torn apart. I felt more like crying than anything else. But I put my best face on, partially because I still don't want to talk about things like this in front of my son. He's 8. He shouldn't have to know these kinds of things happen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The muddy fence

Every morning during the week, I wait for the school bus with my son out in front of our house. Yesterday morning something looked different. It took my brain half a second or so to process it, because it was so unexpected. An entire panel of my neighbor's fence had been turned from white to black.

Theirs is a corner house, and over the years they've been victims of a number of lawn jobs, which sadly seem to happen on a semi-regular basis here in Suburbia. This time, however, it appears to have been an inside job.

Those tracks in the snow come from the driveway, where I'm guessing someone was blocked in. There are five driver-age occupants there, requiring quite a bit of car shuffling at times. My working hypothesis is someone was parked in, decided it would be quicker to pull across the lawn than get the blocking vehicle moved, got stuck, and spun their tires until the sky rained mud.

I only wish I could have seen it, because it must have been spectacular. I mean, if you look close enough, you can see mud on the fence surrounding their pool in the backyard. How high must have it been arching through the air? I bet it was beautiful. In a dirty, muddy sort of way. And in the way that things like this are always more spectacular when it's not your fence.