Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Signings

When my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published I did quite a few signings. With the release of the fifth book in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series Care Homes Are Murder, I’m doing two launch signing events: Who Else Books, Broadway Book Mall, 2 PM Saturday July 13, 2013, 200 S. Broadway, Denver, CO, along with Liesa Malik, author of Faith on the Rocks and Boulder Barnes and Noble, 11 AM- 2PM, Saturday, July 20, 2013, 2999 Pearl St., Boulder, CO.

I now do fewer pure book signings. Typically, I give presentations to libraries, book clubs, service organizations (Rotary, Optimist, Kiwanis, lions, Sertoma, NARFE), and retirement communities. The current speech I give is titled, “Rejection Is Not a Four Letter Word,” and discusses rejection that everyone encounter, whether new writers or famous authors. At the end of my talks I sign books for people who want author signed copies.

I have a bias against doing “readings.” When I go to hear an author speak, I like to hear about their writing life and their work, but don’t enjoy listening to an author read part of one of his or her books. I can read the book, but I want to know more about the author.

What do you think of book readings versus presentations?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Halfway Point to Hawaii

I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and after moving first to California and then to Colorado, I’ve returned numerous times, visiting my mom and stepdad when they were still alive and since for family vacations.

When we’ve flown on United Airlines, the crew often has a contest for passengers to guess the time the plane will pass the halfway point to Honolulu. They provide the takeoff time, total expected flight time and anticipated wind speeds for the first and second halves of the trip. From this information passengers can  make their calculations and turn in their estimate on a sheet of paper given to the flight attendants.

I’ve tried this for years. I go through all kinds of elaborate calculations and have never won. Then last summer when we went to Hawaii on a vacation, I decided to not do any calculations but wing it with a gut estimate. Wouldn’t you know it, I won. I became the proud owner of a Hawaii travelogue book, which I did use during the trip.

Have you ever entered this type of contest, and if so, what happened?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Racquet Sports

I played competitive tennis as a kid and in college. Afterwards, I retired to social tennis. Then about twenty years ago, I started playing another racquet sport called platform tennis. It’s played on a court a third the size of a tennis court and surrounded by a wire mess fence. It’s tennis rules except you only have one serve and you can play the ball off the screen, using a paddle.

I’ve written a mystery novel with platform tennis as a central part of the mystery. This manuscript has not been published yet.

A number of years ago when I was visiting my daughter in Venice Beach, California, I played paddle tennis, which uses the same type of paddle as in platform tennis but with a tennis ball, deflated by sticking a nail in it.

Recently, I’ve started playing another racquet sport called pickleball. It also uses a paddle on a small court but with a waffle ball. You serve underhand and there is an area six feet from the next that you can’t step into to hit a volley.

What various racquet sports have you tried?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Forty-fifth Anniversary

Tomorrow my wife and I will have been married forty-five years. As the saying goes, the first forty-five are the hardest.

In addition to being a wonderful wife, mother and companion, Wendy is my first reader and first editor of my manuscripts. After I complete my dozen or so editing passes of a completed manuscript, she reads it through and finds every grammatical error and inconsistency.

Although the thought had not occurred to me forty-five years ago, it’s a good think I married an English major.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Historical Walking Tour of Boulder

Yesterday I took a walking tour of part of Boulder led by a local historian. We saw houses of different eras and heard stories of residents.

We stopped at the Sink, a local joint near the University of Colorado. Boulder instigated Prohibition in 1907 and it lasted into the 1960s. The Sink was the second place to serve 3.2 beer after Tulagi’s. The Sink also had a distinguished employee in the sixties, Robert Redford. When President Obama visited Boulder in April, 2012, he added his signature on the wall (it’s the portion of the picture below covered with plastic).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Care Homes Are Murder

My latest geezer-lit mystery, Care Homes Are Murder (ISBN 978-1-4328-2692-5), will be released by Five Star, an imprint of Gale/Cengage Learning, on June 19, 2013. This is the fifth in the Paul Jacobson geezer-lit mystery series, following Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living With Your Kids Is Murder, a finalist for the 2009 Lefty Award for best humorous mystery, Senior Moments Are Murder and Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, a finalist for the 2012 Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2012. I also have a published standalone paranormal mystery, The V V Agency.

In Care Homes Are Murder crotchety octogenarian Paul Jacobson returns to Hawaii for a vacation with his family and becomes involved in a series of crimes, while struggling with the problems of his short-term memory loss. He faces a number of strange coincidences involving acts of vandalism, drug dealers and two murders. Paul puts all the pieces together, escapes a watery grave, and with the help of his friends, solves the murders.

Care Homes Are Murder is available on and or contact your local bookseller.

What others say about Care Homes Are Murder:

“A Hawaiian vacation goes awry for memory-challenged Paul when a death at an assisted-living facility seems suspicious. Enjoy the laughs as he tackles his fifth case.”—Library Journal

“The lighthearted fifth Paul Jacobson mystery takes the crime-solving octogenarian and his family to Hawaii . . . this combination of travelogue and Keystone Kops humor, with a geezer joke or two thrown in, will appeal to most cozy fans.”—Publishers Weekly

“An older man continues his sleuthing streak. Despite the fact that Paul remembers very little, someone thinks he knows too much. It will take family, friends and a lot of luck to keep him alive . . .often amusing.”Kirkus Review

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Meet Christy Dyer of Oak Tree Press

My guest today is Christy Dyer who is working at Oak Tree Press (OTP), the publisher of my paranormal mystery, The V V Agency. She’s a recent college graduate from Western Illinois University and majored in English, with a minor in Professional Writing. Most of her free time is spent reading for pleasure (mostly fantasy novels), writing, and watching movies (loves animation movies). During her time at Oak Tree Press, she has met wonderful authors who have given her great advice about the publishing world. While at Oak Tree Press, she’s also looking for work as an editor.

Mike: What is your interest in the publishing industry?

Christy: I am a huge reader, even when I was little, and I always wanted to work with books no matter what. I have entertained the idea of being a writer, but that would require me to actually have time to write down my ideas. So I thought about the publishing houses and helping authors get their stories out to the readers.

Mike: What are your responsibilities at Oak Tree Press?

Christy: I am the Acquisitions Editor. I read over people's queries and manuscripts to see if they would work well with OTP.

Mike: How did you make a connection and get an internship at Oak Tree Press?

 Christy: I found OTP by Google search, saw an email, and decided that I should give it a shot. I have already tried several publishing houses in Illinois, and they all told me that I needed experience. I was very surprised that Billie Johnson of OTP contacted me back. After that we met and discussed what I would be doing. And that is how I got the internship!

Mike: What should my blog readers know about you?

Christy: After college, I am trying to live in the "real" world, as many people put it. I am also interested in editing, so I will be working as one separate from OTP. I will read everything and anything!

Mike: What's the most interesting thing you've learned so far with the internship?

Christy: Reading fast is a must! Seriously though, there are many queries that come through us and I have to read them all, including the manuscripts, so I'm learning how to read faster than I normally do.

Mike: What are your career goals?

Christy: I am hoping to continue working in a publishing house, possibly as an editor since that is what I studied in school, and maybe try to write my own stories.

Christy, thank you for joining me and best wishes with your new career. Anyone who wants to reach Christy can contact her via email: Facebook:  or Twitter:  pixiedust5791

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Johari Window

I recently came across a concept I had used many years ago called the Johari Window. It specifies four quadrants, with the intersection of what we know about ourselves and what other know about us. In one dimension are two columns, What I know about myself and What I don’t know about myself. Two rows are What others know about me and What others don’t know about me. The intersection provides the four quadrants of:

-          Open – Known by me and others

-          Hidden – Known by me but not by others

-          Blind – Known by others but not by me

-          Unknown –Not known by me or by others

This provides a good model to learn more about ourselves with input from other people.
It can also be a good model for developing characters in fiction writing. Put together a list of what is Open, Hidden, Blind and Unknown about your protagonist and other key characters.

Have you heard about the Johari Window before or is it new to you?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Watching Tennis on Television

How many of you watch tennis on television? With the French Open just completed, we’re now on track for Wimbledon and the US Open.

I played competitive tennis as a kid and in college, but now play a racquet sport called platform tennis. I’d rather play sports than watch them on television, but when I do watch tennis, I prefer to see doubles rather than singles.
But over ninety percent of the television coverage of tennis shows singles. I guess I don’t enjoy watching two players on the baseline hitting balls back and forth. I like the strategy of doubles and the net play. The irony is that most people who play tennis, play doubles, yet the coverage favors singles. About the only time doubles is shown on television is when the Bryan Brothers or Williams Sisters are playing.

I’ve concluded that this fits in with our culture of the celebrity. The networks feed the desire to see the individual triumph rather than the teamwork of doubles. Personally, I think the teamwork aspect of doubles adds to the excitement and interest, but I appear to be in the minority.
What do you think?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Boulder Aging Advisory Council

Yesterday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Boulder County Aging Advisory Council. The meetings rotate monthly through different locations in the county, and this time we were up in the mountains at Allenspark. Here’s a picture of my car pool with Mount Meeker and Longs Peak in the background.

One of the subjects we’re studying is how to provide more senior housing options in the county. This is a real challenge given the projected significant growth in aging population over the next two decades. We need to find more flexible solutions that allow seniors to age in place in their communities. Unfortunately, many local zoning regulations go counter to some effective solutions such as multiple non-related adults living in the same home and easily adding mother-in-law units to existing property.

Do you have any good solutions to the housing situation for older adults in your community?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Doing Something Different

I find that I develop habits and do certain things the same way, time after time. This is useful for brushing teeth, taking showers and shaving, but in my writing world, I try different topics and different genres.

My published novels are mysteries, including geezer-lit and paranormal. But I’ve also completed manuscripts for historical, middle grade and young adult mysteries. Then I’ve also written several mainstream novels.

Right now I’m once again trying something different. I’m interviewing a 94-year-old World War II veteran and prisoner of war about his experiences. He has the most amazing stories that I’m trying to capture and document. We haven’t decided what we’ll do with the result, but I’m sure learning a lot and enjoying getting to know him.

In your own life where do you do the same things and where do you try something different?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Be in the Now, Turn Off the Autopilot

Do you ever find yourself operating in autopilot mode, not really being aware of what you’re doing? A recent small example for me. In the morning I turn on my computer and then go to shave before sitting down to writer. Several times recently, I’m shaving and can’t remember if I turned on my computer or not. It had become a habit and I didn’t even pay attention to what I was doing.

Now there is something to be said for not wasting a lot of brain cycles doing something like turning on a computer, but it does beg the question. Am I paying attention to what I’m doing? At the time I was turning on the computer was I thinking about something I had done the day before or thinking ahead to something I’d be doing in the future? I clearly wasn’t in the present.

I know I can easily get lost in the past, trying to relive some event that didn’t turn out very well. Likewise, I can stress over things that are off in the future. There is something to be said to be in the present, live it and enjoy it. This doesn’t mean giving up on planning. But the planning exercise is something that is being done in the present.

The present moment can be an interesting and exciting place. Do you find yourself operating in the past or future and missing the present?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life, Writing and Other Miscellaneous Activities

I’ve received a number of comments from people who have enjoyed pictures I’ve posted after I take walks.

Here's the background. I write every morning when not doing events or family activities. 

I typically take a break in the middle of the day to play platform tennis twice a week and walk on other days. This is my mental break as well as a chance to get exercise. If I remember, I take my camera along and snap a few pictures. 

Then in the afternoon I do administrivia and social networking.

What's your daily schedule?

Here are a few pictures from the last week: