The Magnificent Aschenbachs

Lately, many people have been asking me if I’m writing a sequel to The Gym Show.  While I think a sequel would be an excellent complement to what will always be (maybe) my favorite novel, I had already begun my second novel before The Gym Show became so popular.  So will I write a sequel?  Yes.  But first, my compulsive personality insists that I finish my second novel, The Magnificent Aschenbachs.

Would you like a peek?  Thought so.  Here is an excerpt from The Magnificent Aschenbachs.

   After that rather strange greeting, January’s initial reaction to Richard’s home was one of awe, but she fought the urge to appear wide-eyed and naïve, and tried desperately to appear as if it were an everyday thing to walk into a spectacularly furnished and appointed mansion like the main character in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.  And, like the nameless protagonist, January felt childishly out-of-place and wished she had worn something a little less showy (Gold lame, January, really?) and a little more conservative.

    Sadly, she didn’t have clothes in her wardrobe to match the splendor of the home, and she certainly was not dressed in the same manner as Richard’s mother, the formidable looking Angelika.  What did Angelika say to Richard when he had introduced her?  She knew it was German by the accent, but she had no idea what she said.  Richard had seemed rather taken aback, and even now, he was still somewhat quiet as if Angelika’s words had generated in him some meaningful response that he was still trying to piece together in his perplexed state.  January felt as if he was going through the motions of shepherding her through the house without really considering her at all.  This was turning out to be one of the most awkward and uncomfortable experiences she had ever remembered and wondered if all first dates were this excruciating.

The story is set in the mid-80’s in Indianapolis, and if you’re a Booth Tarkington fan, you might recognize that the title is a play off his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Magnificent Ambersons.  Think of my interpretation, though, as another slice of life in Indianapolis, told mainly through the eyes of a young inner-city teacher who faces daunting challenges both in her professional and her personal life.

It’s going to be spectacular, I promise!  Estimated time of completion?  I’ll keep you posted.

Don’t believe me? Just read.

 

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People I meet or even folks I haven’t seen or talked to in a while often respond skeptically when I tell them I’ve written a novel.  Their response is usually along the lines of, “Oh, well, isn’t that nice,” especially if I tell them that my novel is self-published.  Before writing and publishing The Gym Show, that would most likely have been my reaction, too.  There’s some real–how shall I put it–ill-crafted prose out there in the world of self-publishing.  When you can purchase a self-published tome about dinosaur porn, is it any wonder self-published books get a bad rap?

But that isn’t the case here.  Just because a novel is self-published does not mean that it’s not of the same caliber as a novel that is published by a traditional publishing outfit located somewhere behind the impressive but elusive edifice of a Manhattan skyscraper (a method of publishing, by the way, that is fast becoming obsolete).

The bottom line is this:  If I didn’t think that The Gym Show was a compelling read, I wouldn’t expect anyone to purchase or download it.  But I do believe it’s a compelling read.  And so do the following readers, who posted their reviews of The Gym Show on Amazon and on Goodreads.  Don’t believe me?  Just read.

Reader Reviews of The Gym Show
(click on each image to enlarge the review)

 

Giovanna Mandel Laura Baer Laura Flowers Renaye Parsey Dr. Pritchett Andrea via Goodreads Charlotte via Goodreads William Nist via Goodreads

And if you have read The Gym Show and want to comment, please do!

Thinking Outside the Book

The Gym Show

I had a wonderful conversation with Mary LoVerde yesterday.  Mary is quasi-related to me by marriage, and I had the privilege of meeting her at my nephew Lynn’s wedding.  Remember?  The wedding I never made it to?  Luckily for me, though I never made it to the wedding, I was able to meet Mary at the reception.

After our chat yesterday, I’m so glad I didn’t get lost on the way there.

I wanted to ask Mary’s advice about the publishing world.  Having published four bestselling books, who better to ask?  My question was simple:  How do I get a mainstream publishing company to read and review my book The Gym Show for publication?  The underlying question:  How do I make The Gym Show a bestseller?

Her answer was surprising.  She asked me why I wanted a publishing company to take over the sale and distribution of my intellectual property.  I told her that I thought this was the only way to get millions and millions (yes, I think big) of people to read my book.  I was wrong.  Apparently, according to Mary, the publishing world is changing, and more often than not, writers are opting to publish their own work under their own terms.  The writers, not the publishing company, the literary agents, nor the publicists, are the ones in charge of their own destiny.

So I am putting myself in charge of my destiny.  I’ve written a terrific book–I think it’s terrific, and a whole lot of others who have read it agree with me.  Over and over I hear, “I couldn’t put it down.”  That, to me, is the mark of a good story.

Sure, there are naysayers out there, some who have already made their opinions known.  But you know what? Unless it’s constructive criticism, I don’t give a fiddler’s fart about what they say because I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.

The Gym Show is a great story, it’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Am I going to write another novel?  Already in the works, my friends.  Am I going to write a sequel to The Gym Show?  I don’t know …tell me what you think.

Blowing Out My Candles

Tomorrow marks another year I’ve blessed this planet with my presence—what year, you ask?  Silly you, I’m no good with numbers.  Let’s just say I’m somewhere north of 39.

Satisfied?

So today, I’m taking this opportunity to write down my birthday wishes in no particular order.  Know that, since all but one of these are wishes and not hard and fast goals with a clear purpose and a timeline, I reserve the right to embellish and, well, dream a little.

So here they are, the five things I’d like to do before my next birthday:

  1. Build a time machine. Once I’ve programmed the time machine to transport me back to the mid-1960s, I’ll travel to New York City’s Madison Avenue where I, dressed and coiffed in my best Pucci-designed mini-dress, white go-go boots, and bouffant hairdo—accentuated by aquamarine eye shadow and frosted white lipstick, of course–will walk in front of the building that houses Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and wait for Mad Men’s Don Draper to emerge from its monolithic edifice for no other purpose than to light my cigarette.  I don’t smoke, I am not planning on taking up smoking, but before I die, I want to hold upright between my pink lacquer-nailed fingers an unlit cigarette and watch Don Draper whip out that old school Zippo and light me up.  That’s all.  After a long and thoughtful inhale, I will look up smolderingly through thickly false eyelashes and thank him in my best sultry 60s voice, and without taking my eyes off the candy, be on my way.  Once I’ve turned a corner and know that he is no longer looking back at me, I’ll carelessly toss the cigarette onto the sidewalk and grind it out with the toe of my boot.  It is the mid-1960s after all.
  2. While I’ve got the use of a perfectly good time machine, I want to go back even further to 1924’s Downton Abbey and shake some sense into that Droopy Dog of Downton Edith Crawley. Poor Edith (Do we ever utter Edith’s name without prefacing it with the modifier ‘poor’?) bears a bastard child and has to watch it being raised by the farmer in the dell and his shrill-voiced wife while sister Lady Mary (who really is no lady, let’s be honest) has not only ****** a Turkish diplomat to death (To the death!), but has just recently taken poor Lord Gillingham out for a test drive and found him to be somewhat unsatisfactory. That Lady Mary had enough foresight to protect herself from the fate of her sister (what her Granny calls “an unfortunate epilogue”) doesn’t endear her to me at all.  She practically forced her lady’s maid Anna to go into CVS, embarrassed and shamefaced, and buy the rubbers she used on The Incredible Mr. Limpet (you see now why Julian Fellowes didn’t allow us to be privy to that scene), which further proves that she has no intention of marrying the poor bastard.  Mary wasn’t even woman enough to take a chance on making another baby.  Edith, hold your head up high, girlfriend.  While your less than virtuous sister looks down her nose at you—even without knowing your shame—she herself is busy breaking every rule of Edwardian society.  Be a woman and go get your baby back.
  3. Sit down with Lena Dunham (writer-producer of HBO’s Girls and author of an awful memoir) and tell her the things her mother should have told her years ago, like, “Lena, you’re somewhat on the chub-chub side.  No one wants to see your naked body.”  Or, “Lena, no one cares about your twentysomething angst.  You really don’t know what angst is,” in addition to, “Just because you were drunk and high and he didn’t call you afterwards doesn’t mean that it was rape.”  And most importantly, “Lena, some things are better left unsaid.”  You see, whereas I think Lena Dunham is somewhat intelligent and may have talent as a writer, apparently no one’s loved her enough to tell her that most of the country doesn’t want to see or hear about her weirdness, her “unwanted sexual encounter” at the hands of a made-up boogeyman, her courageous “alternative-ness”, or her dabbling in pedophilia.  Give it a rest.  You don’t seem to realize that the east coast salon society is but a thimble-full sampling of the rest of the country.  This goes for all you other creatives out there who think it’s cool, it’s hip, and it’s a thing to wallow in multiple sex partners and be proud of it, live off your parents, experiment with bisexuality, cry rape when a random hookup doesn’t go your way, and chronicle it all because people will think you’re so “brave”.  It’s not a thing.  It really isn’t.  It’s just disgusting.
  4. Become a software engineer.  I won’t go into too many details, but just understand that if I became a software engineer, my day job would be a whole lot easier.
  5. Now this is a real goal, not a dream or a wish, and the one thing that I want most to actually happen:  Have someone out there in the world of publishing read The Gym Show and see it for what it is—a compellingly good and solidly written story that should be published by a mainstream publisher.  A story that could potentially be made into a movie that people will actually want to see.  Maybe an indie film?  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  How do you get the powers that be to read your work—do you have to be a Lena Dunham? Because if that’s the criteria, forget it.  Write a better episode of Downton Abbey than Julian Fellowes?  At this point, it wouldn’t be that hard, let me tell you.  Don Draper is a marketing and advertising genius, maybe after he lights that cigarette for me I can pitch him my novel. Bottom line, it’s going to happen, and I intend to make it happen before my next birthday.

So wish me luck.  And a happy birthday!

Have you read THE GYM SHOW?

Sometimes, a girl just has to toot her own horn …

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Have you read this yet?  If you like small-town intrigue, a puzzling mystery, a little bit of humor, lots of gossip, and a great ending, then you need to.

The Gym Show tells the story of a man faced with a seemingly impossible set of circumstances.

The social structure governing America’s youth experienced a stark transformation near the end of the 1960s, but change came late to the small town of Mercyville, Pennsylvania, where the rules had yet to be written. When high school principal Jim Adamson discovers two of his students engaged in an activity that can only be described as taboo, he is at a loss as to how to manage the situation. His efforts to do right by the students involved in the incident begin to uncover a wickedness that threatens the entire community.

Jim’s own demons compel him to re-examine his values and ask himself to what extent he should be protecting his students from the depravity residing within his beloved school. He challenges the powers in Mercyville, who simply want to sweep these troubles under the town’s rug, and with the help of a most uncommon ally, he finds a solution, but in doing so, he risks everything.

Against the backdrop of the high school’s annual crowning event, The Gym Show takes the reader through seven months in the lives of Mercyville High School’s students and teachers, the community and its leaders, and the man who does things his way—thoughtfully, but without regret and without apology.

The Gym Show is 415 pages of fascinating characters, complex relationships, and a tapestry of events that culminate in an ending you’ll never forget.  I am looking to broaden my audience because I know that I have told a good story, and I want the whole world to read it. I have been extraordinarily pleased with the feedback regarding The Gym Show—the majority of the reviews (see The Gym Show Reviews) have been positive.  Several Indianapolis-area book clubs have featured my title and have subsequently invited me into their circles, eager to discover where I found the inspiration to write this compelling tale.

This is my first novel; however, it is a story I have been writing in my mind for the past thirty-five years.  I think …no, I know you’ll enjoy it–just as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Buckle up, because it’s quite a ride!