Showing posts from January, 2018

Sub-Atomic Micro Fame Revisited

A little less than a week ago The Portland House was released.

My second memoir and my fourth book.

If you'd have told me as little as eight years ago that I would be saying that I would have laughed my head off at you. Yeah, right. A writing fool. 

But here I am. And, whenever I get all puffy chested, I always bring myself back to earth by referring to my success as just a glimmer of "Sub-atomic micro fame."

No best sellers
No Pushcart Prizes
No early retirement
Not selling out Wembley
No national book tours
And certainly no movie rights

The only way to go is up from here. That's a good philosophy for all of life, not just writing.

At the same time, my writing journey has helped me in so many intangible ways.

It has given me a community of writer friends both locally and nationally. Friends that feel like family, these people encourage me, bolster my confidence when I'm doubting my work and cheering me when I hit a win. It is two way though, as I do the same for …

The Next Chapter

If you follow this blog, you know that I don't write about work a lot. For the most part, I have chosen  to keep work separate from my writing pursuits. The events of the last week however call for a post dedicated to work for a bit, so please indulge me.

I work in a small division housed inside a large Parks and Land Use department. The Land Information Systems Division is four people in size. We are small but mighty mappers.

Well, last week, my boss and friend of 21 years retired. This guy hired me literally 6 months after he started at the County. He and I worked together - but separate - at SEWRPC before that and barely knew each other. Based on what he'd heard from others, when I applied at the County, it was my job to lose. I interviewed, he hired me and well, the rest is history.

There are too many funny stories to recount of our days together at the County. One of the more memorable ones though was when we were gathering a bunch of software together to send back to the…

The Portland Perimeter

The big day is almost here. The Portland House comes out and will be available via eLectio Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Online this Tuesday, 1/23.

As part of the lead in to the release, I have been showcasing a few of the characters in the book. Today rather than focusing on one specific character, I'd like to focus on the neighborhood as a whole. We had such a great neighborhood back then, and I think the days of sending kids out the door to "come home when the streetlights come on" are gone forever, and that's too bad.

Of course, what makes a neighborhood are the people. I can still go down our block from end to end and name almost every family that lived on our block. Fifteen years in a place will do that for you. A few of the memorable ones that may or may not be mentioned in the book include:

My friend Michael from across the street. We grew up together through our high school and college years. He was a gifted athlete and guitarist. I found out a few …

The Making Of A Trailer

Writing a book is a whole lot of work. It takes hundreds of hours of writing followed by more hundreds of hours revising. Then, on the chance that you get published, it's a whole lot more work of promotion, platform building, selling, etc.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love every step and every stage of it. I am blessed to be where I am - no doubt about that.

But at the same time, one of the funnest parts of the publishing/promotion process, for me at least, is putting together a book trailer. For this book, two of the guys, Nick and Bill, who helped with the last trailer, agreed to get the band back together and do another. They are good friends who make the process a lot of fun.

It started with Nick putting together a skeleton music track. As you'll hear in the video, it's dramatically different than the one for Dirty Shirt. We were shooting for a 70's vibe to match the book, and I think the electric organ does that well - a sort of Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog sort of …

A Map For The Story

It has been a great weekend of old friends, writing friends, and work friends. One event after another for the past four days. And that Viking game. Whoa. It's all good and I'm not even totally drained yet, so I'm not sure what's up with that.

But I wanted to post anyway with something I think is about the coolest thing going. I put together something called a Story Map. It is a geeky GIS thing, but I am so happy with the way it's turned out.

What it does is combines my writing with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and puts both into a fun little application called a Story Map. It is essentially that - a map with a story to it. Or, in this case, a story with a map to it. I plan to put it on my website and, more importantly, enter it into a contest at the statewide GIS conference coming up in a couple of months.

Note: I built this with a free ESRI account totally on my own personal time. These things can be made for parks and any other number of things at work, b…

Our Minnesota Twins

In continuing my character peeks for The Portland House: a 70's memoir, which releases on 1/23/18, I would like to introduce a couple of my step siblings that make an appearance in the book. Their appearance is brief, but as stepsisters, they were a fun part of my life growing up.

My mom (Mary Lou) dated Jack for nearly 10 years before they married in 1979. Jack had 8 kids by his first marriage, ironically enough to another Mary (Ann) who also lived, ironically enough, on Portland Avenue. So we were corporately, over a dozen strong as a step-family on Portland.

His youngest girls were identical twins named, Maggie and Theresa. And I mean identical. They were more often referred to as "Hey, Twinnie" by their blood family because they were that hard to tell apart.

These two were the ones that came to most of the joint family events Jack and Mom arranged, like trips to the beach, the cabin, and a few camping trips. They were both very athletic, cute and wicked funny. I'…

The Black Hole Years

In continuing to give a quick expose' on some of the characters in The Portland House: a 70's memoir, today I will talk about a character who plays a much bigger role in the book, namely my mom.

Obviously, Mom is a central character in the book , after all she is the one who got us to the house and the one running it. But that doesn't mean she is always present in every story. Many of the stories involve interactions with siblings that ultimately ended up at mom.

Mom worked full time during our years on Portland Avenue and as a result, she had to rule remotely. Sometimes this was done over the phone, She says she used to hate it when my sister Jane and my brother Rob would call her from separate extensions in the middle of a fight they were having. To add to this scenario, Rob was hearing impaired so had trouble hearing mom's responses on the phone. She shouted, "You two figure it out and I will deal with you when I get home!"

To which Rob replied, "Huh?…

The Other Portland House

Yesterday marked three weeks until the release of The Portland House: a 70's memoir. On January 23rd, it becomes available on the eLectio Publishing website as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble online and iTunes. As a prelude, over the next few blog posts, I'd like to introduce you to a few random characters in the book. Some will be more significant characters than others, but all played a part in my childhood, whatever their role.

Today I'd like to introduce my grade school friend Pat S. I have three friends named Pat in the book as well as my sister Pat, so I try and use last names in the book to keep them straight.

This Pat was one of my better friends through the grade school and middle school years. He lived almost exactly one block away, on the 1200 block of Portland.

As I allude to in the book, I met him more out of a sense of curiosity than anything. He had a crew cut haircut, and would occasionally stop his bike across the street from our house and stare. Because …