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Monday, September 28, 2015 22 comments

The Headshot. Or not?



I'd like to paint a picture: Think headshots. Informal or formal? Profile pics. The dreaded Selfie.

But, does a blog or book need a photograph of its writer/author?

My first book, REVIVAL: The Donald Braswell Story comes out in five weeks, and the other day, my wonderful publisher requested a short author's bio.

(Naturally, I thought of Elizabeth Seckman, but decided to send in my own.)


Right before I emailed it over, I wondered should I add a profile picture, nay, a headshot even. (My long-suffering mother will tell you I've been a cheeky lad all my life.)


I did attach a recent headshot, and while it may, or may not be used, it begged the question: Why is it important?

My answer is: Simple curiosity, (and I like looking into people's eyes.)


I really dislike talking to anyone who wears sunglasses (especially indoors!), mainly because the eyes are, of course, the windows to the soul.

Plus, I hate looking at myself when I talk. Really, can't you keep your hands and arms from flailing so bloody much!!

(Yup, I don't Skype either :)

That led to one step further. I recently consolidated social media and now have the same profile (French for "ugly mug") on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.


I generally update the picture once a year, not because the camera finds me more attractive (more like I break the camera) it's just that I like having a recent picture.

(I have OCD. Look at my Twitter - I maintain it daily so that I have +/- the same followers as following.)

Special Edition Profile for Tina's Memorial post (2014)

So, let me ask: For those who do use a headshot, do you update the picture as time goes by?

And, if you don't use a headshot, may I ask why?

Told you I'm curious!

Today. (Note: Hair slide to bottom of face)

Friday, September 18, 2015 12 comments

The Day The Elevator Died...


It's Friday, let's have some fun.

On a recent Irish holiday, I stayed at a quaint, old hotel. Place was awesome, the staff and food were great, but over the last 150 years the hotel naturally expanded. Ok, no worries.

However,  getting out of the (only) elevator, and already confused that I needed the third floor -- when my room was #513 -- I literally stood in front of this sign for about two minutes. Then I noticed little three-step stairwells dotted all around.

The hotel had obviously expanded to the sides and back, rather than up, but I wondered if I'd stepped into the Twilight Zone?

Or better yet, an Irish Fawlty Towers?

A few days into our five-day stay, there was a problem with the elevator. Just wasn't working. No problem, we only had the three floors to get to room #513.

Then, I noticed a harried tour guide with his trusty clipboard. He was doing everything humanly possible to get a busload of Irish (able, and not-so-ably bodied) seniors to their rooms. But, with signs like this, many of the new guests got a little lost as they travelled up and down the many mini-stairs.

(There were nooks and crannies, and most were filled with grannies. It was truly hilarious :)

Having navigated -- and by now mastered the numerous halls and corridors -- my eight-year-old son and I spent the next while lending a hand (and elbow) as we steered people in the general direction of their rooms.

About an hour later, I saw the same tour guide, sans clipboard and asked if everyone found their rooms?

He nodded, and the look of relief was evident on his face. I laughed when I saw he was headed toward the hotel bar.

"Off for a pint?"

"Oh, you better believe it."

Perhaps the best thing was how everyone handled the unusual situation: With humor and grace. People met each other as they rounded corners with a smile and a question.

"Found yours yet?"

"No. You?"


...and off they'd go again with a wave and a "good luck to you."

The whole event was a highlight for us, and yes, I'm easily amused. (Back home, I asked my son what was his favorite part of the trip?

"Helping at the hotel with the 'lost' people."


PS: I'm sure Manuel would have been harried, Sybil would have disapproved, but I know Basil would have been proud of me -- so long as I didn't mention the war :)

And hey, am I the only one who always thinks "pitch" is the next word after "elevator"?

Friday, September 11, 2015 9 comments

9/11 - Never Forget...

(This is the annual "reprinting" of my inaugural post on Sept. 11, 2011 - lest I one day forget why I wrote it.)


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.

September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."

Source: Anthony Grimley
Five months prior to 9/11 and new to California, I had met several fellow Irishmen at a pub or six, which networked into an interview with a starched suit who looked me up and down to see if I could sell gold coins.

"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the uninformed American sports fan.

My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so no skin off his nose.

They call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two in. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I later went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales that they'd receive the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.

That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)

I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seatbelt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.

As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.

In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."

On 9/11, as always, I'll wear my Liz Claiborne WTC shirt that I bought 'cos the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the forefront (it was 2002 before I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.) I will also reflect on how I awoke thinking only about me, but ended the day thinking only about "U.S." and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.

May the good God bless the souls of all those lost on 9/11, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harms way while we scream to get the hell out of there.

Thomas J. Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 8 comments

IWSG - Short Story Contest - Open Now :)


Enjoy story stories and contests?

Check this out from the gang over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group.


The IWSG Short Story Contest 2015

After the success of last year’s IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, we decided to create another book. This time it’s a short story competition with the top ten stories getting published in an anthology. (Authors will also receive royalties on sales.)

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Theme: Alternate History/Parallel Universe. That’s right, we’ve decided to go the speculative route. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines, except erotica or graphic violence.

Story deadline: November 1st 2015

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to TheIWSG at gmail dot com before the deadline passes. Make sure to include your contact details.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:
Laura Maisano - Senior editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian fiction
Russell Connor – Author and owner of Dark Filament Publishing Startup
Candace Havens – Editorial Director for the Covet, Select, Select Otherworld, Select Historical, Embrace, Indulgence for Entangled Publishing. She is also a nationally syndicated columnist and award-winning and best-selling author.
Dawn Frederick – Literary agent and the founder of Red Sofa Literary
Alice Speilburg – Founder of the Speilburg Literary Agency
Michelle Johnson – Literary agent and the founder of Inklings Literary Agency
Kendare Blake - Author
Lydia Moëd - Associate agent at The Rights Factory

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. The winners will also receive an exclusive badge to display on their blog.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

(Suggested Tweet below)

The #IWSG short story anthology contest is open! For details - http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2015/09/iwsg-post-day-and-special-anniversary.html #contest #shortstory #anthology

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 22 comments

IWSG - Did a Book Tour Work For You?


Where has the year gone already? It feels like someone is stealing my months!
(Doesn’t it feel like it’s only been 15 years, eight months and two days since Y2K freaked us out.)
And, while that global cyber non-crash meant our $15-a-month AOL accounts and chat rooms remained up and running, just know it’s still *okay* to freak out the first Wednesday of each month. (Yes, younger reader, the oldies initially paid for the privilege of dial-up email :)
Anyway, where was I... oh yes, it's Insecure Writer’s Support Group time again!
Founded by Alex. J. Cavanaugh, who has a very special IWSG-related announcement—breaking today—so please head over and see what’s going on.

I’ll wait, (this pretentious $5.35 coffee is too hot to drink anyway.)

Welcome back (See, I told you!)

My main insecurity is probably similar to anyone who’s a couple of months away from the release of their book [cue dodgy horror music]: Marketing.

REVIVAL: The Donald Braswell Story comes out Nov. 3, and while my plans are percolating like a well-needed carafe, I’m starting to second-guess myself.

I’m not planning a cover release, and only a limited book tour, (mainly because I don’t think either work as well anymore.) But do they?

If I don’t use the usual routes (a plastic coconut bra/pen set giveaway will get me only so far…) how do I get the word out via the road less travelled?

Let me ask: Have you tried something new/different – and if so, what worked for you?

Happy IWSG to one and all – and don’t forget to check in with Melissa Maygrove and she where she’s ranking this month :)

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