Author: Bob Mayer (page 1 of 45)

To “Self”-Publish, You Need a Team

kirkus-coverI’m linking to an article I wrote that was published in Kirkus:

To “Self”-Publish, You Need a Team


The Facts About The Kennedy Endeavor (How Many Did You Know?)

I rest my fiction on a foundation of facts.  Often I write a novel because I find a series of facts so intriguing, I have to investigate further.  For  The Kennedy Endeavor, these are just a few of the more obscure facts (beyond the history of The Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.):

Kennedy gave a speech to the United Nations referring the nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

OIeg Penkovsky was a real person.  It is uncertain whether he was a traitor or patriot to the Soviet Union, but he was executed either in the horrifying manner depicted in this book or by firing squad on 16 May 1963.  He might well have been the man who saved the world from nuclear war.

Anastas Mikoyan did represent Khrushchev at JFK’s Funeral.  He did talk in the Rotunda with Mrs. Kennedy and she did mention the Endeavor that her husband and Khrushchev had been involved in. Green Berets were flown up from Fort Bragg to be part of the Honor Guard.  As a former Green Beret, Kennedy is revered among our ranks because he was the man who made the beret official and he recognized the need for such a unit and highly trained men.

The United States did position a battery of 15 Jupiter Missiles with nuclear warheads in Turkey, well before the Soviets tried to put missiles into Cuba.  They were supposedly withdrawn as part of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet General on the ground in Cuba had complete authority to use the tactical nuclear weapons under his command, an almost unheard of granting of powers.

During World War II, Khrushchev’s son, Leonid, was either killed in action as a pilot or executed by Stalin.  The records are unclear. Khrushchev’s “Secret” Speech on 25 February 1956 denouncing Stalin turned the Soviet Union on its ear.  It’s reported some delegates left the 20th Party Congress and committed suicide.

No one has a complete map of the warren of tunnels underneath New York City and no one knows all of it.  The City Hall station is still used as a turnaround for the #6 train, but has not been an active station since the end of World War II.

marymeyerMary Meyer (on the right in the photo) was JFK’s mistress and did know Timothy Leary.  It’s reported she dropped acid with President Kennedy. A black man was arrested for Mary Meyer’s murder, but his attorney got him acquitted as there was no evidence.  The bullet to the heart and bullet to the head is indicative of a professional assassin.

Half Light, painted by Mary Meyer, is in the Smithsonian Archives.

Jesus James Angleton was one of the most intriguing characters of the Cold War.  The movie The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon is loosely based on his life.  He was the first one in Mary Meyer’s house searching for her diary after she was killed.

Khrushchev was removed from power the day after Mary Meyer was murdered.

25 November used to be wildly celebrated in New York City as Evacuation Day until Lincoln started Thanksgiving.

In 2009 Contractors accounted for 48% of the Department of Defense workforce in Iraq and 57% in Afghanistan.

The USS Beale incident, where a Soviet captain wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo on the American destroyer harassing his ship, only truly came to light thirty years later.  Strangely, though, the 1965 movie, The Bedford Incident, mirrored these events.

My wife was present as a young girl in Berlin and heard Kennedy’s Ich Bin ein Berliner speech.  I was in the Bronx, learning duck and cover. The original notes for Kennedy’s autopsy have been lost. The removal of Kennedy’s body from Texas before an autopsy was performed violated Texas law.

Mary Meyer was Mary Meyer.  She lived by her own rules until she was murdered.

The Jefferson Allegiance. The Kennedy Endeavor.

So You Want To Make A Living Writing? 13 Great Truths

It’s a great life. I’m my own boss. I wear shorts and t-shirts to work, which is in my house. I sit at my desk with a great view of the TN River with a blank stare, drool running down the side of my mouth, and I’m working. Well, not really. Because no one’s paying me for my great thoughts. They’re paying for my writing. I’ve been doing it for over a quarter of a century and here are some Great Truths I’ve learned about making a living as a writer.

  1. You can. You constantly hear “No one makes a living writing novels.” I’ve heard it for decades. In 2012 I was at a conference where I gave a keynote, then was listening to another keynote speaker saying “Don’t quit your day job”. And it started to worry me, until I realized my day job was writing. So I didn’t quit.
  2. It’s the best time ever to be a writer. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years and have heard all sorts of gloom and doom, but I can honestly say, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time. That’s not to say it isn’t an extremely confusing time.
  3. There is more information than ever before out there. Which could be bad too, but seriously, you can garner a wealth of information about the craft and business of writing without leaving home.
  4. Leave home. One of the greatest mistakes I made in my early writing career was not networking. Even in self/indie publishing, it’s key to network with people. I know you’re an introvert, but get out there and talk to people. It’s a people business. And network with a couple of other serious writers on your craft. I’m not a fan of large writers groups getting together and doing line by lines, but 2 or 3 serious writers working on story, like we do in Write on the River, is invaluable. Find better writers than you to work with.
  5. Publishing is full of great people. Yes, both in the trad and indie world. Everyone I’ve met is there because they love books and stories. You hear terrible stories about publishers, editors, agents, Amazon etc. but pretty much everyone I’ve met has been really nice. In fact, I’ve been very impressed with how nice the people at Apple, Amazon, Pubit, Kobo etc are, especially to authors.
  6. Writers support writers. Mostly. I always advise writers to join their local RWA chapter. It’s the most professional writing organization around and your local chapter has tons of expertise and friendly people and monthly workshops.
  7. It’s about story not the book. Change your frame of reference. I sell stories. In various modes: digital, audio and print. Wrap your brain around that concept. It’s about the content not the format! I market using . . .
  8. Slideshare, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. all from home. I used to not be a fan of book trailers, and while I don’t think they do much direct selling, they increase your digital footprint. And they’re cool.
  9. The framework of the story is evolving in the digital age. Since you can self-publish just about anything, you aren’t constrained creatively. I think self-pubbing is doing what the cable networks did to TV. HBO broke ground on new formats for series and characters. Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood. Other networks have picked it up. Have you seen Orange Is The New Black? And its precursor Weeds, which my wife and I are binging currently? Jenji Kohan does things with story that are crazy. And seriously, Weeds was Breaking Bad before there was a Breaking Bad. Definitely a different format there. I love studying story and then playing with it.
  10. You can study story in books, but also on Netflix and On-Demand. Watch everything twice. The first for enjoyment of the story and characters and to learn what happens. The second time is the key as a professional writer. Because you know what’s going to happen you can see how the writers crafted the story and characters now. The second time is eye-opening. If Marie hadn’t stolen that damn state spoon in Breaking Bad, Hank would still be alive and the story would have gone in a completely different direction. Get it? You didn’t the first time you saw it and probably forgot that little event. The second time, it looms large.
  11. Focus on craft; not marketing and promotion. You can’t promote crap. The best marketing is a good story; better marketing is more good stories.
  12. The gatekeepers are readers. While traditional publishing is still a viable path, they no longer control distribution. This is such a fundamental change in the business paradigm, I truly believe very few people grasp the implications. New York is hanging on to its antiquated business model instead of embracing change. As part of the transition in the Army from a focus on conventional forces to Special Operations, I saw how hard change is in a large organization. But evolve or . . .
  13. Bottom line: The only person who can stop your success is you.

Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author.

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