Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bradley 'Boo' Barrett~Character

A favorite character of mine is Bradley Boo Barrett from my first novel 'No More Mister Nice Guy' . He plays a short but critical role, and is much like I was in a former part of my life. Boo lives on the outskirts of normal society stuck in a 1970s Rock n Roll past. At this point, I won't explain the origins of an old cowboy who makes an appearance in this chapter. That would be much too big of a spoiler. This complete chapter is from near the end of my first novel, No More Mister Nice Guy. Thank you for considering the read.

The Beginning of the End

He gazed with wide wonder at the surrounding world as if looking upon it for the very first time; his new long-coat was overlaid with the dust of centuries and smelled of the ancient earth. Uncomfortable within its ill fit, he hunched his shoulders trying to adjust himself into the hand-me-down. Then, quite imperceptible at first, the coat began to pull and tug at itself until it hung perfectly tailored to his frame.
Gunner stood shadowed in the alcove of 3501 Broadway in Sacramento, California; he looked out upon a newly minted world. Old chafing cares and concerns were gone, faded shadows against a galactic background. Those had been stripped of their power to influence his actions or thoughts. Without thinking, he stroked the purple silk that peeked from his rough-hewn overcoat. And smiled.
Peace was a living force within him now; it hummed and coursed its way through every cell of his being. And, for the first time in his not-so-long life, each thought flowed coolly uninterrupted one after the other in perfect order at a steady unhurried pace. He liked it. Heck. He loved it, and restrained himself from dancing and shouting right there. Instead, he stretched as if waking from a long, long sleep and coolly secreted himself in the shadows as he waited for something big to happen, of which he knew every detail.

Several blocks west and south in a long neglected dying neighborhood, Bradley “Boo” Barrett sat halfway up the thirteen wooden steps that led up into his crumbling hundred-year-old house. Dry rot ate away at its supporting beams and the porch leaned so that a discarded bottle or can would roll off the edge and into a growing pile of empties. He was three weeks behind on his rent and could care less.
The bitter end of an outsized joint sizzled in the wetness of his lower lip. He cursed it, as much for burning out as for the injury.
"That'll leave a blister," he whined, and pulled his lip down using a discarded rearview mirror to survey the damage. He winced as he poked and prodded the wound.
The fifth sixteen-ounce can of Budweiser that morning crunched under his boot heel, and he kicked it into the pile of empties alongside the porch. He thought for a moment he might have enough to recycle and buy another case, but then considered the work involved and found it wasn't worth it.
Boo, at fifty-three, was fifty pounds overweight. A youngish mane of smooth, straight blonde hair fell to the center of his back; it was the only thing he was fastidious about. His face was fleshy, smooth, and pale; cheeks and nose were flushed pink, exaggerated by the good buzz he had going. The clothes he wore and his manners remained in a constant state of ruin, which somehow he thought was cool.
“Hildy!” he hollered into the house. “Let’s go for a ride!” She didn't answer, so he banged on the side of the wooden house with the palm of his puffy hand and shouted again, “Hildy!!”
“What is it, Boo?” Halfway through a box of Oreos, she was watching old Warner Bros. cartoons. Her exaggerated irritation was intentional.
"Today would be a great day to let the Pontiac out of its cage. Wanna come along?" In Boo’s boyish mind, giving the 1973 Catalina's 455 cubic-inch engine a chance to stretch was like taking a dog for a walk.
"That might not be such a good idea...Boo." Her mothering tone rankled his nerves.
“I’m your husband not’ch your child!” and wagged his head back and forth, mouthing her words.
“I saw that Boo—”
Amazing, he thought. Was he that predictable or could she really see through walls?
That little chat was headed downhill quick, and if he had been a little more or a little less buzzed, he just might've stormed into the house and taught her a thing or two.
“Don’t worry about me, I be alright,” his words were slurred, but only slightly, according to him. In his reasoning: He had never been arrested, yet he’d driven a million times, well maybe only a thousand in much worse shape than he was now and hadn't he just received a promotion and a raise? Head of the spray team at WestWing Manufacturing – makers of fine office furniture. He had good reason to celebrate and flap his feathers a little. Besides, it was Sunday, hardly anyone would be on the road. Boo's image of himself as a fine, upstanding member of the community grew as the seconds ticked off.
Hildy knew his argument backwards and forwards, and barged down the center aisle of his thoughts... “It only takes once, Boo. Busted or kilt,” she hollered loud enough to be heard over Bugs Bunny's voice two doors down. “Why don’t you stick around and do something here for a change? There’s no shortage of things that need fixin’.”
God! That woman’s voice is irritating. "Fine, have it your way. Stay here; I'm headed out. See you in an hour or so." He saw the loose threshold of the front door over his shoulder, cursed, and swore he would fix it when he got back. That’d show her.
Boo shook out his long, straight hair, and slid down into the cushy cocoon of the bucket seat. He turned the key. The engine labored as if he had just woken it from a deep sleep, then it fired. It always did; Boo spared no expense in keeping the old car humming like a top. The big motor roared to life. Boo smiled. He loved the sound and feel of that monster forcing its breath through twin GlassPack mufflers.
“They don’t make cars for men anymore, only puny sissy little girl cars now. Always afraid someone's gonna get hurt.” This started his rant, to nobody, on current affairs and the sad condition of the world.
As he backed out over broken concrete and rocks, remnants of a once nice driveway, one of those girly imports had the nerve not to slow and let him out.
Beep! Beep! Puny car—puny horn, thought Boo. The Neon screeched to a stop just in time to avoid hitting his Catalina; hell, even the tires sounded small. If they had collided, Boo would be buying a new quarter-panel, the girl would need a new little Ford and plastic surgery. They both knew it. Boo cursed. The lady driver gave him the finger and she sped around and away.
He turned out onto Broadway, his favorite profiling drag. And as he barreled up, or down, the street, all depending on where you stood, he was oblivious to the role he was about to play in history.
Out on the road, Boo felt good, free, happy, and in control; the car didn't give him any lip. He pressed the pedal and she responded eagerly. The faster he went, the better he felt as the lullaby hum of the mammoth car coursed right down into his bones. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” filled the air. The stereo had been worth every penny, especially at the pre-owned SPECIAL DEAL price. The first owner had come out one morning to find frayed dangling wires where his sound system had been.
He was now on a second turn down his favorite stretch of Broadway. Palm trees filled the median, leftovers from more prosperous days for this neighborhood.
If it weren't for the fog of his chemical buzz and the euphoria of speeding his monster Land Yacht down the road, he would have seen eight-year-old, soon to be nine, Esmeralda Sykes, as she walked Pickles, her Chihuahua, across Broadway at 35th. She was also under the influence, but her drug of choice was hot chocolate. She was little-kid happy, a pleasure most of us too soon forget.
Neither of them saw the old cowboy standing in the doorway of the abandoned building, likely, he was the entire reason for the unfolding drama. It wouldn't have changed a thing if they had.
Boo’s buzz vanished the instant he saw Esmeralda and Pickles; his head became crystal clear and he executed what he thought was the perfect panic swerve to evade them. Unfortunately, a 1973 Pontiac Catalina at seventy-five mph doesn't respond well to sudden turning commands; the right two wheels came up off the ground and the left front caught the curb of the median, which sent 4,310 pounds of steel and rubber warbling in a slow, wicked arc through the air. The massive grill hit a stone median marker, ripping the steel bumper from the frame. The trunk raised higher than the hood, much higher, and caused the rear to swing towards Esmeralda and Pickles. The car twisted, then flipped.
Fractions of a second before it happened, Billy saw Boo’s failed maneuver; a close observer would have seen the cowboy run for the girl before the car was close enough to be a threat, but by the time Billy reached her, the car was airborne. Time froze. Boo and Esmeralda both remembered the car frozen in midair. Bill scooped up the girl and brought her and Pickles safely out of the car’s deadly trajectory.
With an ugly crunch of metal and ... something else, the car came to rest on its top. Boo was trapped inside. He was still conscious and semi-cooperative when the gunslinger reached him.
“Where’s the girl!” Boo screamed with what little breath he could draw. Stricken through with terror, his oversized bulk hung upside-down and strained at the old-fashioned restraint system. Until the cowboy crawled in to rescue him, he’d alternately watched as gasoline dripped on the headliner and the nice pair of ostrich-skin boots protruded out from under the crumpled roof. Twisted legs clad in blue jeans were only several feet from his unblinking eyeballs, and he wished they’d just roll up and go away like the Wicked Witch of the East under Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.

“She’s okay; let’s just worry about you,” the gunslinger said as he produced a large Bowie knife and sliced him free of his restraints.
Thank you for taking the time to read this excerpt from 'No More Mister Nice Guy'. Would you consider buying and reading the full book. It currently is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars.
I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
M. Matheson
Please check out my short stories, free at SMASHWORDS
If you'd like to leave a comment and find the form tedious you can comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Preview of 'Taking Jericho'

This post is a preview of the first draft of my second book ‘Taking Jericho’ which should be available at all your favorite EBook retailers by early 2015.
Here, I will give you just enough of the introduction so you will understand the book and also a complete chapter titled ‘Believing’ about the powerful dynamic of believing in/for other people.

The missing parts in-between is the incredible story of how my wife and I came to found a church in a poor neighborhood of Sacramento, and of the amazing people we encountered along the way. What's missing here are many of the incredible stories we witnessed as God unfolded in their lives.

As it says in the introduction below, this is a story of God. God’s story in me, the one-time atheist motorcycle outlaw, and the little church my wife and I founded in the inner-city of Sacramento.

This book is about overcoming odds, the terrible odds bet against your life and mine, the odds against me or you ever making a significant dent in this often cold, sometimes cruel and always amazing world. Obviously, this is not a book meant to make you feel better about yourself and give you permission and justifications to continue to sit around and bemoan your likely fate while doing nothing about it.
Wal-Mart or your local Christian paraphernalia store stock hundreds of books that will tell you how great you are, which is true, and will make you feel better as you do nothing, which is not true. Humans were crafted for the struggle, and built for the fight; it is part of what makes us into who God intended us to be.
Can you picture the Master of the Universe thinking about how much he adores you while watching you stare unblinkingly at the endless proliferation of television shows about our terrible fate?
I didn’t think so.
This book is a story of God. God’s story in me, the one-time atheist motorcycle outlaw, and the little church my wife and I founded in the inner-city of Sacramento.
If the G-O-D word just made you spit your coffee or chamomile tea onto your Nook or Kindle, STOP and give it a chance. I promise I won’t try and convince you of God’s existence and benevolent character. I’m just telling my story that I believe is interesting; most people that hear it find it fascinating and downright entertaining.
Chapter 11
After reading the incredible stories in the past few chapters, you must keep in mind that these miracles happening in the most unlikely of people didn’t suddenly spring from the ground unexpected; nor did it come from merely lots of hard work, grunting and following the manual to a tee.
I have already told you a bit of my account, yet without the stories behind the curtained stage, I would not be here to tell you this saga; there are numbers of incredible people that believed in both Dottie and me. They believed firstly in Christ, which in its right sense lead them to believe in people.
The church I first landed in, Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship of Anaheim, California, is a place filled to the rafters with this kind of believer, a people quick to believe for the most down and out to become the one that would exceed them all. If you haven’t got faith, they will have it for you until the day you can see and walk for yourself.
Somewhere inside my once cursed life lurked a person who longed for something, someone, anyone or anything to believe in him. Hell, my chaotic carousel might have screeched to a halt if I knew for sure that my dog believed in me. I was not alone.
Using the word believe eight times in two paragraphs violates every rule of good prose, but 'believe' is just too big of a word to say once and pull out the thesaurus for the rest; the idea behind belief is a winding twisted maze. So much so, that if believe was a person he/she could have some serious identity problems and likely need to be dragged drooling and babbling into the nearest twelve step group. The Greek word most often used for believe in the New Testament hinges all its resources, hopes and dreams on its object—trust might be a better word. I have chosen to put my trust in Christ, which leads me to put faith in people that I’d naturally rather not trust, people I wouldn't leave alone in a room with my wallet.
In short, I may not trust them, but I do believe in them. I do not allow myself to say, I hope for them because it is just not strong enough to convey how one person lifted up by Christ can believe for the fellow inhabitants of this planet. God has called us to do something great within other human beings, and I will do my part to see God’s greatness come to pass in their lives.

Anthony’s Story:
Anthony was a heroine addict. He was homeless and occasionally slept on the sidewalk outside our first little storefront church. I would buy him food, a sleeping bag, and other necessities from time to time; he waffled in and out of our services at which he mostly slept.
On one encounter, during the week and not a church day, he told me,
“Pastor I’m sick of this, I’m tired and ready to get well.”
My response was that beyond a prayer and believing along with him, I didn’t have much to offer, and that was okay with him. I laid hands on him and prayed believing God to deliver him from his prison. Bells didn’t ring, there were no smoke or tears, but he vanished.
No, not before my eyes, but I didn’t see him for so long that, sad to say, I mostly forgot about him. Until one day when the teenagers were having a carwash to raise money for some project. I hate car washes.
A good-looking man dressed in a suit approached me and said, “Pastor Mike… You don’t remember me do you?” and I couldn’t say that I had.
“I’m Anthony.”
As I stood there happily stunned into silence, he explained how right after our prayer a Christian Home took him in and helped him get clean. In his words, he now served the Lord full tilt, didn’t even smoke cigarettes any longer. He was just stopping by to thank me.
Without someone to believe in someone else, nothing of substance is likely to happen. Little gets done in a vacuum. Seldom does God work on a poor sap like Anthony or me as we float adrift and alone on our sea of despair headed towards self-destruction.

Without believing in the potential, not merely of people themselves, (save that shlock for Oprah and Dr. Phil) and placing a strong belief in what God can and will do in some willing loser, it all just becomes a dog and pony show—put on to make those who sit in the pews feel good about themselves.
Pastor Carl Friedrich and his amazing church walked into my life when I walked through their doors. Add to that, Don Marion, who pastors the church in Sacramento now, who was a strong mentor and friend and still is to this day. Jerry George, who was grace and faith personified; we became close as brothers, his purpose in our friendship was to see me become what God envisioned. Pastor Rick Fuentes who despite an unending list of severe illnesses led people to overcoming lives; he always told me the hardest things which often pissed me off. I had to apologize to him too often.
The power of one person believing in another, mixed up into the cosmic ball of their own faith along with God’s sovereign influence can accomplish anything.
The outstanding stories of what God has done are merely a skin stretched over the faithful people that believe in and for them.
I know the one in whom I trust,
and I am sure that he is able to guard
what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
2 Timothy 1:12 New Living Translation

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why is really WHY we write...

If you are a writer, by which I mean you are writing something the world might see without having to find it in an archeological dig, then I know already that you look at the world through different eyes. You see things, do things, or events happen to you or someone nearby and sparks begin to fly around in your brain; it gives birth to something near tangible, whether it's the bare beginning of an imaginary tale or the answer to some mysterious part of a work in progress.
Writing never happens 'cause you sat back in your chair, pinched your eyes and wished something to life. If it did then it's BS (Baloney Sandwich), and you should make that sandwich; if you get lucky--in the process you might cut off a good portion of your finger; now you have something to write.

Just a little while ago, my boy Tobias and I are out adventuring headed for a ride downtown on the light rail, first searching out a place to park which ends up blocks away; the only two paths to the train platform are in the street or along the tracks. What's more fun for a little boy? Along the tracks of course. Among broken rocks, gravel and umpteen unusual items including one big, no huge, drain grating, possibly the largest he's ever seen in his three-and-one-half years. He always stops to look into the depths of dark holes for spiderwebs and perhaps whole worlds of things.

What I need to know is how come, in a universe full of reasons, at that exact moment, did his precious little Kazoo choose to leap out of his pocket and down that drain? 
Why not six or two feet before or following? I'll tell you why. Something otherworldly had to have timed and targeted it to go through those grates to land just out of practical arms reach.
I can only think of one reason the universe decided to gift me with such a spectacular event.
It was not about me or Tobias, not even the Kazoo. It was all about you and all about WHY it leaped from his pocket at that precise moment. It wanted me to wonder WHY. I'm not interested in the mechanics, but perhaps a little curious about mathematical probabilities. The possibility, I assume, is astronomical that along this path at this precise moment it would fall. A message? I like to think of it like that. 
Beyond fodder for writing, there is what many call a higher power, I choose to call him God, plucking away on the strings of this world. Here is the point where you to stop and say, "What a weirdo!" I don't care. I have heard worse.
But, if you in your sane, rational mind can walk away from something like that without incredible wonder, you are crazier than I and not a writer.
Something as fortunate as that happens and a writer figures he has struck gold. By the way I did retrieve the Kazoo. A little crawling on the ground, a couple of scrapes on my forearms from forcing them farther through than would comfortably fit and it was all worth it just to see Tobias' joy. The extra credit bonus was all the thoughts I get to process and blend into words, stories, tales and this blog.

If you aren't a writer, though, you just might've been pissed off or irritated. But, then again you wouldn't likely be reading this, would you?


Monday, September 15, 2014


Yeah! If you thought the title was corny, so did I...but it's all I got. This is a follow-up to a blog post titled, Tweet Tweet which had a much nicer ring. If you skip over and check it out you'll find it was about my experience gaining Twitter followers. I reread it and the small numbers seem near ridiculous now.

But, the principles are solid only the scale grew larger and I had to figure a way to cut down the time it took to keep up good relationships with an ever increasing crowd. After all, good relationships is what it is about.

In that previous post, I was all worked up and dancing on tabletops about gaining a hundred followers in ten days, good stuff. Since then I've seen steady gains of up to 50 a day. Like I said, same method. I'm now hovering around at 1800 followers (9,020 on 10/31/15 which proves my points) and most of these are good home-grown followers (real people). The reason I'm hovering: Twitter has a rule that if you follow 2000 people they won't let you follow any more till you get a lot more followers and that number seems mysterious and arbitrary. Without being able to follow everyone who follows you, growth is much slower. Update on 11/1/2015 I've discovered that once you clear that glass ceiling and can prove that you don't put out junk and real people want to engage with you, that mystery ratio goes away and you can follow as many as you want without regards to how many follow you.

Still, I thought I'd share a couple things I learned to make the work less time-consuming. I'm aware that I could pay a monthly fee for a company to do all my posting, but somehow that felt disingenuous, and I couldn't bring myself to do it. For a while, I let JustUnFollow send auto DM messages thanking new followers but after getting a bunch from other people, I couldn't stomach it any longer.

My biggest help so far is the Hootsuite SMMS short for Social Media Managing System; which allows me to schedule up to 350 Tweets or Facebook posts at one time to one account. If I put all the info for my message in a correctly formatted Excel spreadsheet (it's simple. They even give you a template) voila I have the next few weeks Tweets all set to go.

I set my posts at half past the hour so if I want to post anything else, I insert it at the hour or fifteen or forty-five after so it won't get crowded.

I value all my followers old and new and I schedule some of their book links in my bulk uploads so they come up regularly as retweets. As for my new followers: after the initial nice thank you Tweet and a courteous retweet of one or two of their messages, I wait a few days or a week and gang up all the new followers in a message thanking them again. They get a mention and I usually get a retweet with more exposure.

Ganging up 'Thank You for Following' Tweets gets time-consuming when the follows are coming in hot and heavy 100-220 in a three to four-day span.

Thank you Mighty Google! I went searching for a program that might help me... I didn't find one that would do it all for me without relinquishing my sovereignty, but I did find an excel spreadsheet that you register as an app with Twitter and it feeds you all your followers in a neat little list, newest at top. Martin Hawksey, God bless him, has made it fairly easy for the average Joe to accomplish this. Now, I run this spreadsheet every few days and give all my new followers a mention.

All I had to do was paste that list into a notepad and put little @ symbols in front of each screen name. Way better than before but tedious. So, I DM'd a follower @tianyuxu who is an Excel Guru Data Cruncher and asked if he would help me with the formula to add the @ symbol before each name. He was only too happy to help. Wango Tango it's now as easy as 1-2-3 to put together the bulk thank you tweets.
I could go on, but it's getting late. If anyone has something to add or comment please do. I'm no expert, but I am good at learning.
Peace All,
If you'd like to leave a comment and find the form tedious you can comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or Facebook/M. Matheson

Friday, September 12, 2014

No Longer a New Author

So, I am guilty. I did it. I am no longer a new author. When does that happen? It might be when you forget that you even have a blog, and find that said blog is so lapsed that your profile says "Upcoming book" when the book has been out for a month. I have been so wrapped up in promotion for 'No More Mister Nice Guy' that it is no longer new.

I've also been writing a long short story, OK possibly a novella, 'The Eagle Claw Hack' about an indie author who is so frustrated with his constant readers for 'their' lackluster performance he sets out to hack Amazon and make them buy at the point of a gun. Is the fiction truth or at least a reveal on the twisted inner workings of yours truly--Maybe and maybe not. I'll never tell.
 In the meantime, news from the front:
Lettered- a short story is at 200+ downloads and you can get your own by clicking the title or here.
No More Mister Nice Guy is on all eBook retailers. At SMASHWORDS you can find any filetype you want for your particular reader and here's a code to get it for free-YD98L.
BUT and that's big but- If you pay full price I will donate my royalty to The Wounded Warrior Project for the rest of the month of September.
That's the news for now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What Inspires You?

I was recently asked on my Goodreads author page: What inspires you?

I'm easily inspired, so I'm afraid I might come off a bit garish to those that struggle with "getting inspired."
Truthfully, I was inspired by the question because it gave me a moment to think about something I hadn't given much thought to in a while.

This is my answer to the readers question.

I make myself an observer of life going on around me, from the seemingly mundane to the marvelous, from the dreadfully boring to the amazing. There's a story hidden behind every person and every act. If I forget that, it's only because I permitted myself to become weighed down and distracted by the cares and worries of my own life, and even those bear stories worth telling.

Now that brings a more detailed question to my scary little mind:
If I am working on a particular project, story, book, or what-have-you, and I need some inspiration to continue on or fill a certain bill, how do I get it?

My answer for myself and any who would ask is, stop trying so hard. I know, I know, it all sounds very antithetical to what we are trying to accomplish here, but inspiration is not some kind of galley slave you can keep chained to the oars and demand it row when the wind fails your sails. Neither can inspiration be tricked into giving up its treasures at a particular time.
What I do in times like that is work on something else, read a book entirely unrelated to what I am working on or do some research on some aspect of what I am working on. Often inspiration comes walking by whistling a liesurely tune and acting as if he would pass by my house entirely without noticing me sprawled on the porch gasping for breath.
Very seldom does the particular dose of inspiration I need at the time come from the internet, Twitter, Facebook or other social media. Go for a walk instead, no matter where you live. Call a friend and have no agenda. Go play at the park with your child.
Then you just might find that your inspiration had been hanging out with them and waiting for you to join the party.

Origin and history of the word, Inspiration, from
c.1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from O.Fr. inspiration, from L.L. inspirationem (nom. inspiratio), from L. inspiratus, pp. of inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in-"in" + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit)

There you have it. Beathe in something fresh. Chill and try not to try to hard.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Whoever Liked Grammar?

Grammar and punctuation were not many peoples favorite subject in their early educations, and in later college educations was only taken seriously since without it you'd fail. Admittedly it wasn't something I was very interested in either, until I decided to get serious about writing.

If I wanted to improve my craft, I needed to go lower to the roots and not start at the top of the tree. I remember taking a community college class in basic grammar, only because I had procrastinated in signing up, and College Composition was already closed. When I showed up the professor asked, "What are you doing here?" which didn't do much for my self esteem, but he was wondering why I would take it at all.
But, I learned many things in that basic course that helped to improve my writing. The first two sessions were wholly taken up by the professor, younger than me, lecturing the mostly teens and burgeoning adults on the importance and value of COMPLETING the ENTIRE class, while I sat starving for his knowledge and hoping he would teach me something. I was the old man in the class (my early 50s).

At this point I'm finding it hard to transition into my intended subject so I'll just leap.

Three books every aspiring writer should read and keep on their shelf:

Strunk and White's 'Elements of Style'

If you were stranded on a desert island and needed to improve your writing this would be the book to have. It takes a no nonsense approach to STYLE, not flair but style. Not just die to the rules grammar, but syntax people would like to read,which is not dissimilar to properly penned words. My copy of this book is dog-eared, bent, folded and near mutilated.

Next on the list of top hits I would put 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' by Lynne Truss. 
I know reading a book on punctuation sounds like one of the torments from hell, but Lynne makes it worth your while; it's very humorous style leaves you grinning and learned.

Wikipedia quote-
The title of the book is an amphibology--a verbal fallacy arising from an ambiguous grammatical construction—​and derived from a joke about bad punctuation:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
"Why?" asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"Well, I'm a panda," he says. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."
Irrish-American author Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes, wrote the foreword to the U.S. edition of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. In keeping with the general lighthearted tone of the book, he praises Truss for bringing life back into the art of punctuation, adding, "If Lynne Truss were Roman Catholic I'd nominate her for sainthood."
I can't improve on that.
Last but not least is 'Sin and Syntax'

Now, it has been quite a while since I read this last one, but I remember it being like reading something that suddenly enlightened me on some finer points of deep spiritual life, only this was on crafting prose; the two not too unlike each other.

These three books were important primers on grammar, style, punctuation and prose. I'm sure there are many others. I am also sure not everyone is dying to read a book on any of those subjects.
Do it. You will be glad you did.


Monday, August 4, 2014

For Goodness Sakes, Be Brief

"For Goodness Sakes, Be Brief" - I thought it was a cool title, and could think of nothing else to put there. There I go again. I could have left off the first sentence, and come to think of it, this one too. Left them out in the cold cold darkness of never existed and if it did, leave it in the garbage can or dustbin, you choose.

I've struggled all my writing speaking life with being brief. I love words. I love the sound and sight of them, especially my own. But, alas, I have had to learn to clip, truncate and edit my words down to the 'only necessaries.'

I found it wins more hearers, readers etc. People look at an article, and unless you are famous, really famous, they will not read more than a sentence, if that, unless they can see the end from where they are sitting.

Blessed is the preacher who preaches short, for he will be invited back again.- from my circle of friends.

If no other bit of advice stuck into my heart it was this: Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings   -Elmore Leonard quoted by Stephen King but probably originating with William Faulkner's “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

Have you ever found yourself infatuated with a sentence of your own creation, yet down in your heart you knew it was Frankenstein's Monster, which he wanted to be great but was horrendous. I have.
I have hovered over the delete key as I've edited my work, knowing it needed to go but doing everything to keep it. I have spent countless wasted creative minutes maybe hours trying to make that sentence work. You too? I thought so.

So, in closing I'm reminded of something learned from the author I admire most for his storytelling ability, Stephen King.
He received a scribbled comment at the bottom of a rejection slip that changed the way he rewrote his fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this note: 
“Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. 
Formula: 2nd  Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

I've taken this to heart and it has served me well. Twitter has helped with its damned 140 character limit.
Still I came back and added this next line.

I am so well know for going long, I've requested this on my headstone when I die, because it's what i am guilty of saying at the end of every conversation- "Just one more thing..." 
I never stop. God help me.

If you'd like to leave a comment and find the form tedious comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or Facebook M. Matheson

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Common Courtesy and a Handshake

In my previous post on July 10, Tweet Tweet I shared how I doubled my number of Twitter followers in a couple weeks. Well, it's a couple more down the road and I've added about 350 new followers, not doubling my 413 but quite near.

I only share that to give you an idea of what can be done. I'm new at this and after watching ya'll who have thousands of followers, I've learned it's more than method. It is what we all like to feel around us-- common courtesy and encouragement. You are all a bunch of caring, encouraging and friendly people, especially the Horror writers, who would think. I bet they don't want anybody to know so, shhh.

Now, for the most part, we are dealing with unseen people, but it still works. People need to know that they matter, that they are noticed and someone cares. How the hell are we suppose to do that on Twitter.

Follow people you like and hope they return the favor.
When people follow you FOLLOW them back whether you like them or not, but not the automated bots. If you look at their post you should be able to tell if you have a real live person there or not. All Retweets and no direct posts is a CLUE. It's not proof but it means something.

After people follow you-for heaven's sake- Thank them. Then take another step and Retweet some of their posts. It's how they'll meet other people.
It also helps to put interesting stuff of your own, pithy quotes, cute puppy and kid pics etc. Start a conversation, butt into one. It's OK.

One thing I found to help make us a friendly community:
Every day or two I put together a post that looks something like this,

I found this gets thrown all over the Twitterverse. People like seeing their name in lights.

What's all this got to do with selling books? Relationships my friend. All sales or at least the good ones thrive on relationship.
Be sincere. Sincerely care

Sell and promote your book, but do it sparingly. People don't want to feel used.
A good book on the basics and some advanced stuff is "Twitter for Writers" by @RayneHall 

Lastly- it ain't easy. It's a lot of work. An app like I use @hootsuite helps a lot. You can write a lot of posts and schedule them for the future.

There is a lot more to say... But people hate it when you go long.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lifestyle Interrupt-us

Don't let your lifestyle get in the way of your writing. Yeah Yeah! I can hear the boos and catcalls from here, and some trash even landed on my desk, no doubt thrown from the top balcony on the East Coast.

As I often say here on this blog (and in real life), stick with me a minute and I'll make it worth your while--hopefully.

In the present version of my life I am the major caretaker for my now three-year-old son and also the homemaker. Not Mr. Mom or stay-at-home-dad but a homemaker. Since my wife's career has taken off and she is the main breadwinner, it's a no-brainer. I'm learning to cook in a most efficient manner, and do laundry without killing the clothes. The house could be cleaner, but HEY!

If you are a struggling writer, filled with the desire to write and actually want people to read what you wrote, you need time, and lots of it.

Well, as the newest version of my life ramped up, my time to write kept shrinking until I was about to kill it and throw the body off the end of the pier. NO, not my family--my dreams of writing. Don't pick up the phone to call the authorities on me just yet. I know where my priorities lie and I love my wife and little boy more than anyone or anything. Including writing.

I just couldn't do it though. I couldn't kill the writing, bug, dream, passion, gift, vision or whatever you want to call it. SO, I had to make it fit within my life. 

I have written on trains, model and real, in parks and playgrounds, at museums and while my son slept in my lap. I have penned some good words while I was holding one end of a Hot Wheels track or playing trains on his elaborate wooden track. I have edited my book while cooking dinner or waiting for the clothes in the dryer to fluff for the tenth time.

The great thing is, we now have iPads. iPhones and all kinds of technological marves that make it possible.

I never thought I could write outside of dedicated time, but I have done it. Now it's like breathing.

This is not a, hey look at me (well maybe a little since we writers are a narcissistic bunch). This is a slap, shove or pat on the back to say, "Keep writing!" No matter your situation, don't let your ifestyle dictate your destiny.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tweet Tweet

Could it really be that simple? A little birdie told me so. 

When I sent my first novel out to the editor @BZhercules I finally got down to the business of promoting my book "No More Mister Nice Guy" a tale of improbable redemption.
From reading, watching and common sense I learned I needed to build a platform from which to be heard or seen. So, starting with less than 300 followers 10 days ago, I've been able to get to 413. That's over 10 a day or better than 35% increase with little more effort than collecting quotes and great tweets to retweet. It's all about relationship even if it's not face to face.
Here it is:
Get an app like @hootsuite or others. Then you can schedule tweets and FaceBook posts to go out while you play sleep or write that next book.
Collect stuff people would like to see then Retweet or post. Don't forget to post links to your upcoming book and blog like this one, but don't overdo that one. You might lose followers like rats off a sinking ship, and who's to blame them.
Next, keep an eye on new followers and send out a post with all their names such as - Hey you all look good. Thanks to my new followers @mikeyznsacto @billyjoebob and so on.
Make sure you also follow back those new followers.
Next go to their profiles and schedule Retweets of their best posts, promote their blog provided you read it first. One I like is from @NatRusso he started inexperienced like myself and works a day job. He's a great writer and has lot of good wisdom.

Very important, be polite. Always thank people for following retweeting or promoting your stuff.

Like I said, I learned by watching.

Soon enough the follows will start piling up.

Reminder- I only just got started at this and have only a hint at what to do. This is my blog that I use to promote and build my platform. I wrote it while riding the train with my 3-year-old son. If you like it. Promote it and I'll promote your book blog or whatever.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Smashwords 2014 Survey

Every author new or old trying to market their books needs this information. Valuable information to help you make decisions on how you market, price and promote your book.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Editing Psychosis

I don't think I'm truly psychotic, my associates might tell you a different story though. But, I am guilty of something I've termed 'Editing Psychosis'. It is not the inability to edit, it is being unable to stop and say, "Enough already." Different than perfectionism, it takes a perfectly good and often great sentence and twists and turns it until it is often unrecognizable and barely to be comprehended.

The only way out I've found is to hit UNDO enough times to get back where I started, turn off MS Word and if need be the laptop, desktop, iPad or phone and go do something entirely foreign to writing. If we call ourselves a writer, then very few things fall outside the pale of our craft. 

All of lives experience is collected by our crafty little minds and stored, filed and or stacked in messy little piles on the desk of our mind; the people in our lives all make for tremendous characters.

We just need to put down our work, step away and refresh. If we are unable to do that we need to write new material instead of going round and round the editing carousel.

My manuscript is out to my editor who I believe is a great choice @BZHercules. Beth did a free ten-page test ride and I thought the results stellar. So after several drafts and countless hours in the editing dungeon and a paper proof, I released 'No More Mister Nice Guy'. He was probably glad to get away from me. offers the lowest prices & highest quality services to #indies. Please send any inquiries through She offers a wide range of author services and also academic editing. Trailers, Book Reviews and Featured Authors.

Find me on twitter @mikeyznsacto

Monday, July 7, 2014


If you have found your way here, you are one of the fortunate (hopefully) first.  Greetings! and Welcome.
This Blog's purpose has several folds:
1. A place for Mike Matheson to offer some form of public service.
2. A place that public service could possibly be of value.
3. A place to build a collaboration of first time authors like myself.

Collaboration has varied definitions depending on who, why and what you are collaborating on, so before I lose you. 

I wish to share not only my experience navigating the waters of first-time authorship, though I do love to talk about myself; I wish to learn from you, hear your story, get tips and feedback on your journey as you navigate the huge ocean of publishing your first book.

The main point of contact at this time is Twitter @Mikeyznsacto I've found there a veritable New World of Indie authors such as myself.

If you are in the process of or have recently published your first book, of any genre, I'd love to hear from you. Tweet me follow me DM me and let me know you are out there.

I've never once been short of something to say or write. I can give a pretty good short story on that piece of bark littering my front walk. Never had writer's block, understand it YES, but so far (Knock on wood, cross my fingers, stick needle in my eye and all that rot) never had it.

So, I would like to feature items by you the New Author like me, longer than a TWEET on your experience, your tips etc. 
Also, I will promote your new book on my Twitter feed and possibly here at First Time Author. No Erotica please

Please if you are very accomplished at your craft already and would like to teach us--Tweet it and I'll ReTweet it or possibly share it in my posts.

Mike Matheson