My Creative Career

Most of my life has been as a businessman, not a writer.  My first love was art.  Even in college my desire was to be an artist.  I was a creative person who desired a career doing just that—being creative.  Like a lot of people, those first impulses didn’t work out.  I needed to make a living and someone said CPAs made a lot of money—so why not.  It’s only my life we’re talking about.  What could be wrong with being stuck at a desk the rest of your life crunching numbers?  The answer, of course, was a lot.

What does it mean to be creative?  When I was painting, it meant creating an image of something that was unique, or interesting, or appealing or something?  If my painting of a tree looked just like the tree, was that creative?  How about just taking a photo of the tree, was that creative.  I think my art career never happened because I struggled with images that were not unique.  I wanted to paint a tree that didn’t look like a tree, but was the essence of the tree.  Even I didn’t understand what that meant. 

Okay, forget the tree, I will become a creative accountant.  Of course the first unique image that popped into my head was a jail cell for being a too creative accountant —not a good image.  I dropped the creative part and spent a good deal of time just becoming a good accountant.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  I enjoyed numbers and seemed to have a talent for crunching them.  I achieved a level of success that was rewarding, but not fulfilling.

Prior to becoming an accountant, I had been self-employed in several endeavors.  From food service to retail, I had owned my own businesses.  I had some success and also experienced failure, but during this time I realized I enjoyed business.  It was like a puzzle.  Lots of pieces to move around and try to figure out how they all fit together to generate sales and a profit.  Not every day, but on many it actually felt creative.

Next came my period of working for giant corporations which was not so creative.  Mostly what I learned from that experience was lots of nuts and bolts accounting and that most top executives were assholes.  Maybe that MBA stood for something else?  Most of the successful people I met had one thing in common, they were bullies.  There were, of course, exceptions but by far the most practiced management style was intimidation.  The age I’m talking about was total alpha male domination, so that might have been the reason; but being kind, considerate, thoughtful or even deceit were traits honored at home and abandoned at work.  The world is still full of those people; be very cautious.

After the big company nonsense, I found much greater joy and success working for myself and several smaller companies.  The biggest difference, other than the people seemed more human, was the appreciation of creativity.  Innovation is the life-blood of smaller businesses.  I’ve always been an idea-guy and eager to share opinions.  My biggest business successes were with companies that appreciated the innovation and my willingness to try new ideas.  At this point in my life I had the right combination of experience, knowledge and guts to try things others wouldn’t—it failed on occasion and succeeded every once in a while.  In many ways I had solved the business puzzle.

Now, I write fiction books.  Writing is obviously creative—I’m making stuff up; can’t get much more creative than that.  I enjoy the process of thinking about the story, the characters and devising the plot twists with subtle hints.  But what is not fun; is the business of writing.  As an indie author I have complete control over every aspect of what I do.  Or said another way, I have almost no help in doing what I do.  This is not the writing part, have lots of help with editors and designers; this is the business side.  Selling the books, planning marketing, making a profit. 

You would think with my business background this would be a snap.  It’s not.  The main reason is that it is very limited.  There are some variables, but mostly the decisions are; do you go exclusive with Amazon or more broadly with a few others?  Do you sell your books at x or 2x?  Do you have free books?  Do you advertise on Amazon, Bookbub, Facebook or others?

I’ve been doing this for years now; and I’ve tried most everything at least once.  None of it works really well.  Ads are expensive and the return is questionable.  Free books generate interest, but it is hard to make much money from free.  You can go wide and thumb your nose at Amazon, but probably it costs you sales; still tempting.  So-called experts, usually selling something, say develop your brand; establish your presence on social media—no doubt it helps, but only a little.  Most people advising indie authors are making a lot more money than the indie authors.  The real advice might be find a market niche full of desperate people and sell than advice like “try harder.”

It is a new year and time to stop whining and do something different.  Be creative.  Be innovative.  Okay, I’m willing; but not sure what that is?

I’m afraid the indie author phenomena powered by e-books and Amazon has created a creative glut of decent books that nobody knows about.  Maybe even great books that go unread; because there are literally tons of books available and not enough time to read a small fraction of that quantity.   

Maybe it’s time to pull out the paint and brushes and create a tree that looks just like a tree but isn’t and suffer in silence.

Plan B-Billionaire Special

This original art is for sell for $7,500,000.  I’m going with the concept of only needing one really rich dumb ass and life will be great.  It’s a very creative concept!

Thanks for being a reader!

Auld Lang Syne (Old Long Since?)

The new year is about beginnings; and maybe endings.  Who hasn’t said “okay, this next year is going to be different (or better, or happier, or more successful, or thinner, or……..).  As most of us can attest that usually doesn’t work out.  But still, it is a symbolic new beginning.  So what’s new this year?

My writing has slowed to a crawl.  This is not uncommon for me as the old year ends.  Usually starting around Thanksgiving, it seems my focus goes astray and my writing stops.  That was not my plan this year.  I was chugging along on Durango Two Step but some mystic force turned my brain to mush and everything stopped.  So even though I was trying not to; my old habits kicked in.

I’m sure in January I will get back to pounding the keys and moving the story along.  DTS is going to tie up a lot of loose ends for Vincent; and I’m sure he is anxious to get that done.  Plans after DTS are a little vague.

Many of you are probably familiar with a project I started and stopped; Doctor Hightower.  This was going to be a mystery but also a little Sci-fi tacked on.  I know, not exactly my thing but the concept has great appeal to me.  Got about a third into the book and hit one of my on-going mental blocks.  I’m sure that says something important I should pay attention to; but I just ignore these hang-ups and move on to the next project (or take more naps).

My current plan for 2020 involves finishing DTS (which is the 4th Vincent Malone book), finish the first Doctor Hightower book, and begin the 5th Vincent Malone book.  Of course, like most long-term plans all is subject to change, or stated more correctly; this will change.

If you are a reader of my books you know that I more or less ended the Pacheco and Chino series.  I’ve been pleased that several of you are not happy with that situation.  I still think the story line had reached kind of a natural end for Ray Pacheco.  Not going to revive that series (at least I don’t think so); but have been thinking about a new series with only Tyee Chino and a new partner.  I will keep you informed as this starts to take shape.

Should have the Santa Fe Mojo audio book available in the first part of 2020.  This has been an unusual odyssey.  Lots of starts and stops that have caused this to extend beyond anything anyone imagined.  If I knew all of the details, it probably would make for an interesting story—but most of this has been out of my hands.  The people working on this have had a lot of other complications that have caused significant delays.  I still believe the end product will be a quality production.  I’m looking forward to a completed book and evaluating whether or not there will be more audio books in the future.

My blog and newsletter are important ways for me to communicate with interested readers.  I really do appreciate everyone who has signed up.  The timing and schedule for these will be the same in 2020.  The blog will be weekly on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  The varied days just has to do with my schedule and giving me some flexibility.  I think last year it was mostly Saturday but will stick with one of those days each week.  The newsletter is monthly and goes out on or about the 15th of each month.

The newsletter has a fairly established format.  Usually with two articles written by me.  One of those covering writing, or my books or something related to indie authors in general.   Also I usually cover a location that is featured in the books or will be featured.  This includes food, restaurants, points of interest or specifics related to my writing.  Most months will have an artist or author article highlighting someone I recommend or admire.  And, of course, an update on my projects and often a favorite recipe.  When you sign up, this newsletter is emailed to you each month.  You can also access old newsletters going back several years.

This weekly blog is a little different animal in that it can be about anything.  My focus will still be writing, my books, indie authors, characters and all things related to writing and marketing fiction books.  However, from time to time this blog will take off in new directions in ways that I can’t predict; but hopefully are interesting. 

2020 stands to be an intriguing year.  The US Presidential election should dominate much of our news.  Hopefully we don’t split ourselves apart any further as we pick a President.  I’m a sports fan so there will be lots of new and fascinating sports stories; full of drama and intrigue with little if any consequences to our real world (drama without consequences—what could be better).  We will all get older—if you’re very young that is usually good; for the rest of us, not so good.  Hopefully mankind does not make the world a worse place, and we can all feel better about our planet and ourselves at the end of 2020. 

Happy New Year Everyone!

I want to encourage all of you to continue being readers—not just my stuff; but all things.  Books are not our only source of insights but they often convey a depth that is missing in much of the other forms of entertainment.

  Thanks again for being a reader!

An Incomplete Journey in Writing

I wrote my first book in 2009.  This may be a surprise to some of you, because the first book you can buy was published in 2015—The Bootlegger’s Legacy.  I actually refer to the TBL as my first book.  That should be corrected to the first book I actually wanted anyone to read was the TBL.  The actual first book was The Originals.  It is not available any more (thank goodness). 

First “real” book

I still think the story line of The Originals was good.  It was about a son finding a mysterious past about his father after his father’s death and the world shattering consequences of that discovery.  The story was good, but the storyteller had a lot to learn.  I sort of got burned out three fourths of the way through the book.  I wanted the whole experience to be over; so I ended it abruptly.  What I had not thought about much when I began to write; was how hard it is to write a full-length novel.  Towards the end I just wanted it to be finished and rather than doing the hard work of writing when I didn’t want to; I just stopped.  Created a false ending and declared the whole experience done.

That was ten years ago.  The world has changed a lot and my world has also changed—but not that much.  For about half of that time I wrote very little; licking my wounds from the first experience.  But after that huge pause, I have turned out ten books which are available today.  I have experienced a level of success that was not expected based on my 2009 experience.  And that is completely thanks to you, my readers. 

Writing may come easy for some, like a good athlete with natural gifts becoming a great third baseman.  If you have great talent, a lot of things are easy.  My talent for most of my life was numbers (yep, I was good with numbers) and painting.  Not writing.  My connection to writing was reading.   I loved books.  Being an avid reader might make you a good reviewer, but it does not mean you can write a book.  I know.

Even with that love of books I had never thought about being a writer.  For one, the prospect of actually being published seemed remote.  For most of my life the book publishing industry was controlled by a handful of large publishing companies.  But the world changed.  The on-line retailers and e-books created a whole new environment for books.  Suddenly being an indie author was a solid path for a writer.

Writing that first book opened my eyes to the difficulty of producing an acceptable book.  Sure you need a story and some reasonable ability to write complete sentences; but that is just the beginning.  Like so much in life I learned that it was actually very hard work.  Now I’m not suggesting this is on the same level as ditch digging all day, but it is hard work.  Physically hard, mentally challenging and emotionally draining.  That is hard work.  I had anticipated that I would sit-down at my computer and within weeks have a rough draft.  After several weeks all I had was a rough outline and many discarded pages of failed attempts at telling a simple story.  At that time, I was still fully employed and was writing very early in the morning or very late at night.  Anyone who writes a book while working full time at something else is to be admired.  It was a struggle and led to my abrupt declaration that the damn thing was done; when in reality it was not.

The next book which I began in 2014, five years later, was much different.  I had learned a lot, but most importantly, I was no longer working long hours at another job.  For the Bootlegger’s Legacy I spent almost full time just writing the book.  That was much better.  We may think otherwise in our multi-tasking world, but being able to concentrate on one thing with full energy is the best path to creative success.  Writing is hard enough without a zillion distractions.

Today I have a process to writing which allows me to handle my life and writing better than when I began.  At first it felt like I should be alone and undisturbed to focus on writing—ah, yes; the great artist is at work– do not disturb.  Good way to alienate anyone and all most everyone you care about.  Being an asshole may have some historical basis for creative people, but it sure doesn’t make for a happy household.

Now, I know there will be spells when I am not writing, usually because I’m stuck on some plot point and don’t know how to resolve the conflict; but rather than screaming and throwing things (I’m sure I never did that), I relax and enjoy the break as my brain works on the problem.  I pick my writing times (early morning, late evening) when it’s the least disruptive. 

So over the years I have become a smarter writer, I have more help (which I welcome—with exceptions) and I no longer think my books have to be perfect—but they do have to be good.  That distinction has meaning to me—don’t obsess over every little thing—do your best and move on.  My goal is to write an interesting story that entertains and in some way informs the reader about flawed people and the complications of life—and yes, a little humor along the way.  Some days I get there and some days I don’t.  But I will keep trying.  Maybe even get around to rewriting that first book and call it the Un-originals, or something equally stupid.

Thanks for being a reader!

Lifetime supply of books?

Books have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They have inspired, entertained and taught me many things about the world and myself.  In my youth, books competed with movies and the very limited television as entertainment; but had no equal when it came to education and self-fulfillment.  Today is an entirely different world.

Yesterday my internet was out for hours, some kind of Comcast problem that was eventually, mysteriously resolved.  That disruption created a sense of being disconnected from the mother ship.  How do we access the thousands of movies and TV shows streaming away as we sit idle?  There are literally more entertainment and educational options available than anyone could possibly watch.  If that is the case, will there be a point in the future when there is no need for anything new.  Of course new will always be alluring, but the reality is, without additional time, the need for new might just go away.

So we have a lifetime supply of books, movies, and TV shows to keep us entertained; why try the new author who may or may not be entertaining, or educational, or even good.  Why risk that time on something that is not known?  I don’t know the answer to that question.

Even now it is hard to break through the clutter.  I read there are something like 2,000 to 4,000 new books published on Amazon every day.  Many of those books are indie books that sell very few copies.  Currently there are almost 50 million books on amazon available for purchase and the number is growing.  Only a very small percentage of these books sell 500 copies.  But that glut of books creates a maze of confusion that complicates the ability to reach readers—so many books so little time.

Due to this problem the free book marketing web sites came into existence.  Bookbub, Freebooksy, Fussy Librarian and many, many more.  These sites advertise to their members/followers for a fee from the authors the availability of free books or heavily discounted books.   They exist because of the thousands and thousands of independent authors who are the majority of their customers who are looking for new readers.  I use these sites to give away free e-books because it works, sort of.  A newly released book gets a lot of attention and will result in follow up sales of the free book and other books by the author—but it is short lived.  So you spend money to advertise your book to an audience that mostly wants free books in hope of what exactly?  That you give away tons of books?  That those free book seekers will actually spend real money and buy your other books?  Yeah, I’m not sure of the reasoning either; but I do it.

Should a reader not accept free books because that does not provide support to the author?  Of course not.  If the author is stupid enough (or wise enough?) to offer free books, the reader should lap them up.  But what is the commitment to a free book?  Nothing?  If you read the first ten pages of the free book and it doesn’t hit you right, would you continue or just move on to the next free book on your device?  If you had paid $25 for a hardback book, you’re going to give that book every chance, not just a glance.

What this comes down to, is I have no idea how to reach readers who might enjoy my books; other than free books or very expensive Amazon advertising.  But even that approach has limited success in the overcrowded book aisle at Amazon. 

Another approach that works great, but I have no control over, is reader recommendation.  This can be on-line reviews or word-of-mouth.  Readers trust other readers not to steer them wrong, and that boosts sales.  But that is about the first reader liking the book; and that hinges on writing.

Okay, everyone knows this; the best way to have success writing books is to write good books.  Amazing revelation! 

I recently revised the Muckraker books; Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange and Murder So Final.  Why?  To make them better and to make them more readable.  This can be a painful process for a writer to be critical of one of your masterpieces.  My co-author, Stanley Nelson, was helpful in that regard, occasionally a little too helpful.  We did accomplish our goal—I think the books are better and, hopefully, the reader will agree. 

The promotion for the re-introduction of these books will include, of course, free book days on Amazon.  The Murder So Wrong e-book will be free for download on December 10th, 17th, 21st and January 24th.  If you haven’t read these books give them a try—after all the first one is free.

Thanks for being a reader!

Is there objective truth?

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

We seem to be living in a time when truth itself is subject to interpretation.  My truth is truer than yours.  Just the idea of that deserves a Wow! 

“The idea that all truth is subjective, that there is no objective truth, is a myth. Everything either has an absolute truth value (even if we can’t know it) or is an opinion or belief.”

“This doesn’t mean we can know every truth, this doesn’t mean that what is true for the observer isn’t unique to the observer. It just means that ultimately, underling that, “that which is the case, is the case, independent of our ability to confirm it” and “statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value.”  From an article by Thomas DeMichele.

My older brother had an outsized influence on my early years.  One day we were discussing something and he asked me if I had empirical evidence for my statement.  Of course as an ignorant kid I had no idea what empirical meant.  This is pre-Google, so I found a dictionary and looked it up.

“based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”

That made sense to me, the truth is something that you can demonstrate as true because you have verified or observed the evidence of its truth.  “I saw it with my own eyes!”

Fast forward to today and our almost unlimited sources of “information,” “facts,” “eye witness accounts;” and we find ourselves in a world where truth itself is subject to interpretation.  Even though I believe I can see with my own eyes (under the right circumstances) that the world is curved; someone else observes the same thing and says its flat.  We both believe we have observable facts (empirical evidence) of the opposite conclusions. 

Everyone has bias.  Old verses young is a bias.  White people view the world differently than black people.  Republicans live in a different environment than Democrats.  Rich have no idea how the real world looks to the poor.  Religious people see one thing, secularist another.  Everyone has a bias.  Can any of us view empirical evidence without our bias determining the “truth.”  Probably not.

Through much of our history we have relied upon other people to guide us toward the truth; to help us overcome our natural bias.  Priests and preachers have often been our truth tellers; even when we knew much of their truth was not true.  Politicians, leaders have on occasion provided a guide towards the right answer, not so much today.  Scientists have always guided us towards their truth; but today we are suspicious about science because much of it contradicts things we want to believe.  Judges once held a lofty position in our society, but they too are under a dark cloud.  Where do we go to find “real” truth?

Your answer to that question will be based on your bias.  That is a problem.  How do we reach a consensus to what is true if there is not an authority that can establish truth from myth or propaganda?

That search can lead to trusting charlatans because they are very good at scamming people.  Honest people often say they don’t know; the con-man always knows.  The people with absolute assurance that they have the answers are almost always wrong.  So here we are needing a truth teller who is willing to admit that they don’t know the truth all of the time; sounds like a hard sell.

There have been times in my lifetime when we trusted journalist to tell us the truth.  In many ways, that is still the answer.  Our founding fathers thought so and built it into the constitution; with the protected rights of a free press.  But technology and the vastness of communication has worked to create confusion on how the free press does its job; and has gotten entertainment all mixed up with actual fact finding.  Now our bias dictates what press is correct and what is incorrect.  No objective truth, just choices.

I have a real bias toward books as a source of truth; but of course I write fiction (nice word for lies).  But there are authors who have been able to convey truth while telling a story.  Maybe we should read some of those wise men again. 

Technology may be the ultimate solution.  Our national truth computer one day may be able to take all of the facts and sort through the noise and spit out the truth.  Of course many people will not believe the machine, which obviously was built and programed by people with bias.  Even with a truth machine, it will be easier just to live in our own bubble and believe what we want to believe; after all, I am right.

Long live the King!

This is a special Thanksgiving week post replacing the usual weekend timing.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thanks for being a reader!

Bless the Editors!

Writing is mostly a private activity—it’s definitely not a team sport.  My best writing takes me to the world of the characters and becomes immersive.  When that is working, I write at a rapid pace and the results are good.  When I’m distracted or the real world is demanding my attention for one thing or another, it is difficult to write; and if I do write, it’s usually not good.  So left alone, undisturbed by the outside world; I’m an okay author.  If the other stuff is interfering, I’m not an okay author.  I’m mostly a grump.

I emphasize this to make a point, writing is not only a private activity it is also very selfish.  My guess would be that some of the best authors were some of the worst people—they cared about themselves and their books; not much else.  Ernest Hemingway had a reputation for drinking, direct prose, many wives, and a foul mouth—he was quoted on more than one occasion stating he was a man’s man; and he lived his life to please himself.  As a person he was considered cold, aloof, but he also had great friends; which seems like an odd contradiction.

From a Philip Young article, “Hemingway’s prose style was probably the most widely imitated of any in the 20th century. He wished to strip his own use of language of inessentials, ridding it of all traces of verbosity, embellishment, and sentimentality. In striving to be as objective and honest as possible, Hemingway hit upon the device of describing a series of actions by using short, simple sentences from which all comment or emotional rhetoric has been eliminated.”

Someone once said I wrote like Hemingway; I took it as a compliment, until he explained further that I wrote simple sentences.  Still not sure if he was trying to insult me or if it was praise.  I decided it didn’t matter.  The famous intellectual Popeye said it best “I Yam What I Yam.”

As I have written more books, the total is ten or about 700,000 words; I realize that you cannot write any differently than the way you write.  All of those words have to be mine.  I cannot write a Hemingway novel any more than I can write a Tolstoy or Christi novel.  For good or bad, it is mine. 

You may be wondering “how about those editors, don’t they change your words?”; yep, they do.  So I lied, the books are not just my words they are the words of several people who help me—and I don’t like it.  Left to my own devices I wouldn’t have an editor.  Stupid, but that is what I would do. 

Would my books be better without an editor?  Absolutely not.  The only reason I would forgo editing is my selfishness.  But even one of the most selfish great writers, Hemingway, had an editor.  Supposedly it was the same person for many years and Hemingway was very dependent on his work.  Hemingway might have been selfish, but he was not stupid.  Now the greatest novelist of all time, Leo Tolstoy, probably didn’t have an editor.  If he had that thousand-page War and Peace would have been whittled down to about four-hundred pages at most.  It would have been just War.

I have just gone through the process of making changes to the Muckraker Trilogy.  This involved new covers along with some re-writing and new editing.  I would much prefer producing new manuscripts without any old baggage to tidy up; but the process of review has improved these three novels.  These books written with Stanley Nelson as a co-author have not had the success of my other books.  Could be the story, location, time or characters don’t fit well with my other series; but this is a very good story.  I know that’s not exactly an unbiased opinion.  You should try at least one.  You will discover Tommy Jacks and a wonderful odd-ball group of support characters.  It’s a murder mystery but much more.

My best-selling book, all-time, is Dog Gone Lies.  It’s the first Pacheco & Chino novel and the second book I wrote.  It has consistently been the best-selling book—even last month it was the number 1 seller.  I have a sneaky suspicion that is due to the word Dog being in the title.  People love dogs and that title alone may be the reason it’s the top seller.  With this insider knowledge it was tempting to rename the Muckraker books to something that would spark sells.  Some ideas included; The Dog Murders, Dog Days Mystery, Dog and Cat Murders, Puppy Crimes, and my favorite, Dog Gone Good Murder Story. 

It was after that private brainstorming session on new titles that I realized I had been spending way too much time alone.  Of course my trusty editors would have never let me rename the book; Dog Gone Good Murder Story, even if it would have been a best-seller.  Bless those editors.

Thanks for being a reader!

Cynics and Idealists

Most of my books feature main characters who are flawed and cynical.  That cynicism comes from a life time of experience that demonstrates it’s a cynical world.  There are exceptions.  Tommy Jacks in the Muckraker series, is an exception; he is an idealist.  But he is young and has yet to experience the harsh reality of life over an extended time.  Although he has plenty thrown at him in those books, at the end he is still more positive than negative about his fellow human beings.  Tommy is the exception, someone who might be idealistic their entire life.

Vincent Malone and Ray Pacheco have both sought to find a new place to hide from the cynical world and they both discover new reasons to be optimistic.  These were jaded, hard-edged people who mostly had a sneering approach to their challenging existence.  Now in their “golden years,” they have discovered fulfillment and meaning when they were least expecting it. Both had lived a large portion of their life as non-trusting tough guys, but now they are positive, even unsuspicious and almost romantic.  Contrasting traits tend to make great characters.

I have gone through long periods of my life where I was a cynic.  My defense for this curmudgeon attitude was based on experience.  With the exception of a couple of decades, most of my life I have been self-employed.  This involved numerous business activities; ice-cream store, popcorn concession-stand, shoe stores, accounting, printing, real estate development, business broker, consultant, financial adviser and a few I’m sure I have forgotten.  One of my first business ventures in my early twenties might have led to some of my cynicism.  It was a popcorn concession-stand.

Lots of circumstances played a part in how this happened, including the involvement of my father, but suffice it to say we ended up with a lease in the lobby of a new concept discount store.   This is the late 60’s and Walmart had not happened, yet.  This was a huge store and something new.  It was a big success with massive crowds waiting almost every day to get inside.  The stand was right in the middle of that huge lobby.

We sold peanuts, popcorn and drinks.  You would think you might make a little money peddling such low dollar items; but this was a monstrous winner.  The first year was an amazing success.  Have trouble remembering all of the numbers, but I think the profit for the first year was close to $30,000.  May not sound like much but that was 1969.  In today’s dollars that’s $205,000—selling popcorn! 

The lease required us to pay a percentage of revenue to the discount store.  I reported my sales to them every month and gave them their slice.  They couldn’t believe it.  One of the managers said they had no idea you could make that much money just selling popcorn. 

We had a five-year lease and of course realized with these numbers they would either demand a much higher percentage or they would not renew.  But I couldn’t blame them—it was just a hell of lot more profitable than anyone thought when we started.  But we were going to enjoy the five-year run.

Right after the first year we received a letter saying they were terminating the lease.  They indicated in their letter that they were exercising the option as spelled out on page 14, paragraph H4. Rights of Landlord.  To cut to the chase the landlord had the right to cancel the lease for almost any or no reason at all (should have hired a lawyer before signing that lease).

Here I was barely in my twenties, married, two kids and a group of big businessmen in suits decided my little popcorn business looked too good not to steal (legally, as it turned out).  That would make almost anyone a cynic.

Now to be fair, over the years I have met many business people who were as ethical and honest as anyone I have ever known.  Also many of my less than successful adventures into business deals were aided by people who invested or encouraged me to try whatever my latest scheme was.  Almost always trying to help without any reward for them.  The opposite of the discount store suits.  But it’s funny how you tend to remember the scoundrels who populate our lives while overlooking the good people.

Maybe that is why my books are chocked full of these types of characters.  A flawed person tends to be a more interesting person.  Plus, they are so much easier to write about.  As an author I would think a book about only nice people would be very difficult to write; and maybe even difficult to read.

The latest book I’m writing, Durango Two Step, has a long list of bad guys in only the first few chapters making it great fun to write.  Many of these bad guys will not survive; but our heroes, Vincent Malone and George Younger, will be fine.  It’s great to be an author and create your own world.

Thanks for being a reader!