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May 13th, 2010


Well, it’s out there.
More than two years after I first sat down before the blank screen, staring at a blinking curser on page one of what would become PLAY DEAD, the book finally hit shelves last week.
Many of my friends and acquaintances are already asking me how it feelsto actually see the book in the stores.  Well, of course it feels great.  I mean, I haven’t gone crazy or anything.  It’s not like I went into bookstores all over Manhattan and moved it from the lower shelves to eye level for better viewing.  Never.  What writer would stoop to such a level?  Not I, to be sure.

I just had my wife do it for me.

As great as it is to see the book on the shelves, it’s sort of a strange feeling to know that it’s ‘out there’ now.  One of my former college roommates called and asked if I felt a little ‘naked’.  Perhaps exposed, would have been a better word, but I knew what he meant.  And yes, I suppose I do feel a bit exposed to know that the book is now available for public consumption.  But then, that’s what every writer strives for, isn’t it, the opportunity to see our work (our baby) through to completion, and then set it out into the world?
If you’re reading this newsletter, I’m assuming that you have at least some interest in reading PLAY DEAD, and I certainly hope you enjoy it.  I know I had a blast writing it, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be working on another one, which I can’t wait to put ‘out there’ as well.

The work on book two is coming along.  I’m currently writing furiously to meet a July 15th deadline.  Writing under deadline is, of course, a new experience for me, but perhaps it is a healthy one.  It forces me to do more writing and less thinking…at least until the later drafts.  I think I can always benefit by doing less thinking, whether I’m trying to finish a book, close out a tight tennis set, or figure a way out of the fix my son has put me in on the chess board.

Perhaps Nike says it best, right?  Just do it!

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So, let’s talk books.

I had a strange exchange with my wife the other day while she was sitting before her computer.  It began with her saying,  “Amazon thinks I’m a geek.”
“Amazon who?” I inquired.
“Oh.”  This information made me as curious as it did defensive.  “And how’s that?”
“Wait, hold on…” she said.  After a few more key stokes and a brief contemplative pause, she asked, “Have you been ordering books from my Amazon account?”
“Actually, yes.”
“Well, then they think you’re a geek.”
I hit pause on the Tivo remote and rose from the sofa.  “I beg your pardon?”
She was right.  Amazon-dot-com does think I’m a geek, at least if the website’s reading suggestions - which are determined by my previous purchases – are any indication.  The books they presumed would interest me were, to say the least, rather geeky.
If one who didn’t know me saw the list, they might gather from it that I’m either a true renaissance man with a vast wealth of interest…or a psychopath.

The above exchange with my wife, coupled with the fact that I’m being asked more and more what I like to read, led me to do some investigating into my reading past. 

Since 2002, I’ve kept a written list of every book that I read each year.  Since I began keeping the lists, I have never gone back and taken a look at them until now.  It proved to be quite an eye-opening experience.
The first thing that grabbed me was the fact that, yes, there were some geeky titles on there: 

The Inner Game of Tennis
Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way
Jimmy Connors Saved My Life
Island of the Sequined Love Nun
My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot

All terrific books, but let’s face it, none of them are going be suggested readings found in the The Male Guide to Making People Think You’re Smart and Cultured (not a real book, but it should be).
I guess the best way to answer the question of what I like to read would be to say that I read whatever interests me in a given time and place.  I definitely read as much non-fiction as I do fiction.  And I certainly read a lot outside of the genre that I write.  It works for me, and I think it helps me to be a better writer.  I’m sure the fact that PLAY DEAD is part horror comedy, part splatter-gore zombie novel, and part sports satire, is a direct reflection of my reading all over the map.

Shakespeare said The play’s the thing.  Well, for me, the story’s the thing.  After all, I could care less about golf, but I devour every Dan Jenkins and Rick Reilly golf book I can get my hands on.  Whaling is not exactly high on my list of hobbies, but Melville sure spun a good yarn around it, didn’t he?  My hope is that with PLAY DEAD I’ve written a football book that will also appeal to those who wouldn’t know a Denver Bronco from a Denver omlette; that I’ve written a zombie novel for those who wouldn’t know George Romero from George Jetson.  And did I mention that it also has a prominent love story?

In the end, I’ll just say that I’m trilled that PLAY DEAD is finally ‘out there’, and I hope that you’ll all check it out.  And should Amazon-dot-com think you geeky for reading it…well, join the club.

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