Whew, where have the last however many months evaporated to? Between two – at times three – jobs and some family commitments, there has been little time for other things.
That being said, I am excited to announce that a new book project is finally underway!
Like my debut, Beyond Silence and Light, this will be another collection of short fiction. Unlike that book, however, this one will feature linked stories – tales involving murder, mystery, suspense, and, well, the end of the world.
Also, a couple weeks back I was a guest for the second time on the Hanging With Monster Podcast. We had fun talking about this book, the one before it, the one coming next, and all sorts of other stuff about the creative process from concept to delivery.
First, a quick update on the release of (Not) Just Another Ballgame.
Production got underway a few weeks ago, but upon receiving the proof copy (always exciting for various reasons), a bit of a snafu reared it’s ugly head. We ran into some unexpected technical glitches post-upload, and have been working to resolve the issue. It’s about 99.7% ready, but sadly my original hope for a May 1st release has been dashed.
But that’s okay. It’ll be out very soon, and I’m excited for everyone to read it. So stay tuned.
Last weekend I was a guest for the second time on the Hanging With Monster Podcast. We had a blast with this episode, talking about the new book, the next book after this one, my creative process, love of baseball, next projects and all manner of other things. The episode will be available to stream soon.
Now on to other odd stuff…
Realizations are a funny thing.
One evening earlier this week, I saved the article I was working on for a client and stepped outside on the balcony. Or is it a terrace? Is “terrace” just another word for “balcony?” I feel I should know that. Whatever it is, I have one, and I stepped out on it.
It was a warm spring evening; calm and comfortable. To my right, the citrusy glow from the setting sun reflected off the building next door. Below, a group of elderly folk sat at picnic tables on their newly refurnished patio, chatting the waning daylight away. The Cubs game droned on the TV in the living room. They were not so warm, though. Ice cold, in fact. But that’s another scary story.
Looking around, I realized I’d seen this view before.
Just over a year ago, right when the pandemic kicked into overdrive and I was laid off from my fulltime job, I took this view in. It was time for a change. So, like any other creative, I pivoted to other things, explored other avenues, and get other shit done. I stood out on the terrace, balcony, whatever, that day and looked around. The trees had just begun to blossom with their annual leaves and the spring air felt good. Later, I watched those leaves change color, wilt, and plummet to the ground. Snow and ice began to temporarily set up shop in those trees until they started to blossom again. Now, here we are today. Full circle, right back to where things were a year ago.
But are they really the same?
Like Uncle Lewis gratefully confirming that Aunt Bethany did not break wind, hell no!
Compared to last spring, there is a burgeoning sense of normalcy out there again…sort of. A year ago at this time, everyone felt the grip of growing uncertainty and panic. Today, with more businesses and venues reopening, and live sports and music once again thankfully becoming a reality, things are moving in the right direction. Of course there are myriad problems everywhere, but its still different from how things were just twelve months back.
As I realize that, it sort of confirms that nothing is ever set in stone, and it’s important to be adaptable to changes, because they happen constantly. I’m also bewildered at how fast this past year has gone.
Yes, time flies and all that. But the usual pace of life shifted right up to something like the seldom-used “ludicrous speed” setting of Spaceball One. When I reflect on the fact that I’m about to release my second book in eight months, along with writing for dozens of new clients, working with different people, and constantly adding other exciting projects to the mix, I feel like I’ve gone to plaid myself.
Where am I going with this stream-of-consciousness stuff? No idea…pivoting again.
Is there a point to this? Not really, but maybe that is the point.
So why did I write about it? It’s what I do.
(Not) Just Another Ballgame will be available soon.
The manuscript for (Not) Just Another Ballgame is in the can, and the final editing process is underway.
We’re shooting for an early spring release, which is obviously just around the corner!
Designer Molly Errek once again delivers stunning cover art, which can be seen right here:
(Not) Just Another Ballgame, edited by Denise Baran-Unland and featuring a foreword by longtime SABR member, baseball historian and author Gary Livacari, is a collection of essays that highlight just a tiny few of baseball’s compelling moments from days long gone – with a couple more recent tales inside as well.
Here is the full chapter list:
A Lucky Bounce or Three: Washington’s Wild World Series Win in 1924
The AAGBBL Turns on the Lights at Wrigley Field
The Greatest Game Babe Ruth Ever Pitched?
The Brakeman Completes Another One
A Perfect Game, Perfected
The Clowning of Germany Schaefer
The Mays Malaise
Silence of the Bats: The 1917 White Sox Go Hitless Two Days In a Row
The Great Zim, Cocky Collins, and one Daring Dash for the Dish
Ruth’s Mysterious Gambit: The Final Out of the 1926 World Series
Johnson vs. Williams: The Forgotten Duel of 1918
The 1919 World Series: Did the White Sox Lose, or Did the Reds Win?
Mathewson’s Monumental Marvel of 1905
A Great Game Seven Finally Ends the Greatest Drought
Field of Dreams: Is the Beloved Classic Really a Baseball Movie?
Excited to announce a compilation of stories from baseball’s olden days, coming in spring 2021!
This collection focuses mostly on the Deadball Era of America’s pastime, but will include some more modern tales sprinkled in for fun. As you stroll down hardball memory lane in this book, you’ll discover some fun bits of info such as:
Who really played the first night game at Wrigley Field?
What happened with the mysterious final out of the 1926 World Series?
Has there ever been such a thing as a perfect perfect game?
Did the Chicago White Sox lose the 1919 World Series? Or did the Cincinnati Reds actually beat them?
What was the best game Babe Ruth ever pitched?
Is Field of Dreams really a baseball movie?
…and much more.
(Not) Just Another Ballgame features cover art by Molly Errek and a foreword by SABR member and baseball historian, Gary L. Livacari.
Partly, it’s one of sadness as today marks the 49th anniversary the great Duane Allman’s tragic passing. In another context, it’s not even a mini pebble really, but today also marks exactly one month since the release of Beyond Silence and Light.
And a whirlwind of a month it has been.
Actually, the same can be said of the last seven months, for a different reason(s). Either it’s age, changing opportunities, embracing several new projects, a global pandemic or all the above, time is rocketing right on by these days.
The point is, thank you all for this past month, during the initial run of the book’s release. It’s a humbling feeling; that is, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I made some art, put it out in the world, and people are reading it – and seem to be enjoying it:
“I need more! I loved it. You write so well!”
“You are a very talented writer. That ‘buttered toast’ metaphor in “Chappie’s Game” was truly masterful.”
“I’m halfway through the book and it’s FANTASTIC! Can’t wait to read the rest. So proud of you!”
I’ve received many similar messages and emails recently, for which I am truly grateful and appreciative. The support and encouragement have inspired me to get a head start on book two of the (possibly three book) series. Pre-production is underway, and the proverbial ball will be rolling in earnest before too long.
So, again, thank you very much for reading! It means a great deal.
I was sitting on the couch in my darkened living room last night, flipping back and forth between Monday Night Football and The Shining.
As I laughed for what is an unnumbered time at the maniacally brilliant and comically dark exploits of Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance, and simultaneously watching the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense with awe (and as a Chicago Bears fan, a twinge of envy), I noticed an email had arrived during a commercial.
It was a notification that the Kindle version of the book was now live.
A similar email appeared this morning, with the same announcement for the paperback.
A major thank you to all who helped with this project, and of course to everyone who reads it. I hope these simple tales provide some small measure of enjoyment! Click the image below to check out the book on Amazon.
A few necessary tweaks were made, and the second (and hopefully final) proof copy is on it’s way to me. Once that looks good, Beyond Silence and Light will see the, um, light, of day.
We’re shooting for an official release date the week of 9/28/20, and possibly sooner if I get the proof and run through it quick enough…
Look for the final announcement on the book’s release date within the week.
On a related note, I was honored to be the most recent guest on the Hanging with Monster Podcast this past weekend. Had a good discussion with host Jamie Randolph about the book itself, the writing/editing processes, some of my influences, and and a bunch of other entertaining jargon.
Don’t forget to go and give the Hanging with Monster Podcast Facebook page a follow so you can stay up to date on all the awesome upcoming guests that include a bevvy of creatives, musicians, artists, athletes and more!
I returned from an errand last Friday to see a package tucked behind my front door. Inside was the first proof copy of Beyond Silence and Light.
Although not an official version – yet – I must admit it was still pretty cool to see a tangible result of the project, even if it’s just in the demo stage. Proof copies exist for a reason. Not only to see the book in a format other than the screen, but because text is simply different on the printed page. It’s not something illusory either – okay, it kind of is – but the illusion becomes reality when you read through it and pick up on a little error. And another. And a couple more. Going through a proof copy, you find tiny little things that most readers would miss, and that I myself missed when finalizing the manuscript – which was on the computer, and again, vastly different from the printed page. But I digress.
The little hiccups are being fixed, a new proof will be ready soon, and that means the official release is just around the corner. Stay very, very tuned.
Coming up on the 20th, I will be doing an appearance on my pal Jamie’s podcast, Hanging With Monster. It’s a cool new show that features guests in various exciting and creative careers – artists, writers, musicians, producers, tattoo artists, extreme sport athletes, gamers, etc. and talks about their different projects, creative methods, crazy stories and all else.
You’re probably thinking, “well yeah, no s**t dude,” and you are correct. Since the pandemic hit in mid-March, so much has changed in every facet of our lives and livelihoods. Technology and advances in business and marketing tools were already speeding along at a trekkian rate, but the chaotic uncertainty that has befallen our globe in the past five months was even faster.
Concerning marketing and advertising, a lot of companies (especially SMB’s) were already reaching their own various uncertain points, pre-pandemic. Many just didn’t know which direction to take with their marketing initiatives anymore. MarTech, for all it’s terrific capabilities and scarily-cool features, has saturated the landscape to the point of overwhelming and confusing clients – which is the opposite of what good marketing aims to do in the first place.
Perhaps now, as businesses adjust to new operations, personnel groupings and overall models, this may be a good time to get back to basics. In discussing this idea with several colleagues and in various posts among peers on LinkedIn, most agree that this could be a chance to hit the marketing reset button in a lot of ways. Simple is good. “Tried and true” is such because after all, it works. Maybe it’s time to revisit that idea.
But with all those fancy bells and whistles still waving around like carrot-bait to the unsuspecting rabbit, it’s important to get the right perspective on what those simple things are.
Having been at ground level on both the agency and client sides in recent years, as well as an elevated perspective of both in recent months since my layoff, I’ve seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t. When breaking strategies down to the basics, often it becomes what not to do, that leads to success.
Don’t put a square peg in a round hole
We’ve all heard this before, and it’s one of the truest idioms of all time. It starts with your team. Simply put, don’t put people in places that they, and in turn, your company, can’t succeed. That’s just Organization 101. Just because someone on staff knows how to use MS-Word, doesn’t qualify them as a software engineer. Nor is a frequent flier qualified to be a pilot. Instead, you want the right people in the right places, according to their strengths and expertise, to contribute their parts to the bigger picture. Sounds simple right? It’s surpising how often businesses get this wrong. Whether by piling on numberless new duties or shifting/consolidating so much that the person finds herself in essentially a whole new role, it works against the organization almost every time. Learn where people and their strengths fit together. Cohesion is everything. What is synergistic internally, will translate to good work externally.
Don’t not be helpful and informative
Face it, people don’t want to get sold to. They don’t want to hear about your latest 20% off event or how miraculous your product is. Those are the “what and where” details. Clients and customers want a real connection. They want something they can relate to. They want good information and help with a problem they are facing. They want to know why they should partner with, or buy from you and not the other guy down the street. You address this with the “why and how.” Too many companies focus on the former, which is often tuned right out by their target audience. In times like these, being helpful and educational, and effectively communicating with your audience is more important than ever. They can get whatever product or service anywhere. Good, basic marketing will show them why they should get it from you. Don’t always sell – always help.
This should be a no-brainer, but some busineses teeter perilously on the edge of straight up lying, when all they really want to do is enhance some facts. Of course everyone wants to hype up their products or services. New rollouts and promos should do just that, in fact. But there is a line. It’s all about setting expectations – realistic, honest ones – not fluffy BS. When you over-hype a product or over-promise a service, client and customer expectations change. If you’re too good at either of those things, they will start to believe your product or service can do things it cannot do. This is bad, bad territory. Once they realize your product or service does not live up to the capabilities you told them they have, you will lose their trust. You will lose credibility. You will lose revenue. Nobody wins. So just be honest. Own your products and services and be realistic about what they can and cannot do for someone. Show transparency. Don’t over-hype. Don’t promise ABC if you cannot deliver ABC, and hopefully D, E and F, too.
So, what does all this mean with regard to the idea of going back to marketing basics, you might ask? It means that doing just that, is not a bad thing, especially with the frightening state of the world today. The pandemic notwithstanding, a lot of the marketing world has taken some things for granted in favor of shiny, new, complicated toys and in turn, have lost some of their real values.
Focusing on, and optimizing those for granted channels could have a strong, lasting impact as businesses reset and reassess. Good, clean websites, active and engaging social media, entertaining videos, helpful email campaigns, memorable graphics and branding, informative blogs, etc. By their nature, you can’t fluff these up too much – a brick is still a brick at the end of the day. But these bricks build trust and credibility, things that everyone is yearning for right now. They can build a strong, needed – and simple – foundation, especially for SMB’s. It might not be a bad time to scale back to that.
Every so often, an interesting idea begets another. And more after that. The next thing I know, I have a head (and notebook) full of potential writing projects. Which one to start with? What to focus on? Should I write one, all, or none of them? Bands and artists grapple with similar things when creating their music.
But much like how songs are assembled for an album, or a setlist for a concert, so can stories for a book.
Which is why I’m thrilled to announce that my first book, Beyond Silence and Light, is on it’s way!
Edited by Denise Baran-Unland and featuring artwork by Molly Errek, with creative contributions from Todd M. Calcaterra, I’ve had a lot of help on this project from some really talented people. I’m excited to bring Beyond Silence and Light…to light.
Beyond Silence and Light (we’ll just call it BSL), is a collection of short fiction, possibly the first in a series. The stories include supernatural thrillers, travels through mysterious afterlives, strange dreamscapes, one man’s baseball eternity, and a few other fun and nostalgic tidbits. The result is a ride through dark worlds very near to, and perhaps interconnecting with, our own.
I took a headfirst dive back into fiction writing a couple years ago. Having long been professionally writing marketing and advertising content by day, plus magazine and newspaper features and baseball history on the side, I realized that writing only nonfiction could feel a bit limiting. I needed another creative outlet. So, I started writing short fiction for fun, eventually publishing some stories in a local literature newsletter and some other platforms.
This is how BSL began. (You know that old cliche about the marketing exec with a novel stuck in his desk drawer? Yeah, me.)
The original plan was for a baker’s dozen chapters, but during pre-production I reduced it to nine. One story per chapter. Short and sweet. A few stories therefore, went back into the old purgatorian drawer — either to remain there forever, or possibly (spoiler alert) be resurrected later. But first things, first. The nine that made the cut for BSL are all over the map, encompassing several themes, settings and oddities.
At the time of this writing, I have just completed the second round of revisions to the manuscript…so we’re gettin’ there. Release details to follow!
Stay tuned for the next part of this behind-the-scenes blog on the development of BSL, including the cover art reveal, release info, chapter blurbs, and more.