Retiring to Cyberspace. The road less traveled.

I am a retiree. At least that’s what I’m called now. I left my occupation as a sales agent seven years ago.

I was in fact, a face to face and on the phone kind of guy, that’s what I did. I’d call you, make an appointment and show you my wares. I traveled from my home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Alaska, Houston, Texas, and Scotland.

All the time with my wares, my laptop, and my spiel. We salesmen always had a spiel, or what is called our story of what we are selling.

However, in 2011 I’d had enough of the road, enough of the whole thing. I no longer wanted to hit the road. I was done. What was next I asked myself? Who would believe that writing books would be the answer?

If we all search deep in ourselves, our true desire in life will come out. Perhaps, and I say this with all honesty, we have no way of achieving our dream of some greatness, but if we strive at what we desire, is that not achieving the dream?

So, in this vein, I began to write. I actually picked up a writing career I’d dropped back in 1988. I’d once fancied myself a freelance writer. I’d sent off several inquiries, been accepted and had written for large newspapers and magazines in Canada.

But, and this was a major but, there was little to no money in it. A travel article that was a full two-page spread with pictures would net me $120.00. A small two-column op-ed piece could get me $80.00.

I tried, I said to myself, I didn’t want to be broke my whole life, so I put away my IBM Selectric typewriter and went back into the world of sales, where I would happily make money until my retirement.

In retirement, what reared its head was the failure in 1988. Imagine that. My brain still had the memory of that day I folded up my writer’s tent and tail between my legs, said, “you’ll never be a writer…there’s no money in it.” What my brain had remembered was my writer self-cowering and the words, “chicken!”

The way of marketing writing had changed dramatically since I’d left it. Imagine that. Well, not too hard to imagine when my sales calls had changed from face to face meetings to internet communication. I’d been sending off PDF’s of products instead of having to appear with product samples, so why wouldn’t the world of writing change as well?

What changed the world of writing drastically was Amazon and eReaders. It took me some time to realize that. I had to learn about Search Engine Optimization, SEO, and keywords that make Amazon’s algorithms put my works in front of its readers and get purchased.

Was it hard? Absolutely. I started my writing journey in 2011, first by relearning how to write good fiction by taking a multitude of courses and reading books, then by writing numerous stories that my beta readers thought stunk like ripe cheese. I have great beta readers.

I was the old guy in the back of the class. There were numerous younger people, mostly female, writing vampire stories and things with people who were dead but somehow moved around and ate people with their blunt teeth. I stuck to my fiction.

I would come up with a book from that class. I wrote only the first chapter of it. It was about a Polar Bear finding a dead body in an oil camp, I called it Polar Bear Dawn. The young people in the class called my reading, gnarly.

I published that book on Amazon. It went nowhere. Well, it did go somewhere. It went to the very bottom of the Thriller and Mysteries category. It would take four more years, three more novels, two novellas, and a short story, none of them finding much success for me to finally throw up my hands in frustration and wonder what the hell was I doing?

I could have been playing more bad golf, learning to play bridge, I hate bridge, or learning to make pottery, I have the same feeling on pottery. I wondered why I was spending this time writing when I was getting nothing from it. No sales, no reviews, and I could hardly pay for my next book to be edited.

Then, in the mystery of Cyberspace, where I read about and took a course in marketing on this fascinating thing called the web, I found out something special.I put my first book for free on Amazon and every other book site I could find. Let the world find it. Let them try it, read it, see if they liked it.

It seemed simple. I tried it. I put Polar Bear Dawn for free everywhere. Yes, you could download it in England, Australian, America, Canada and all of Europe. There was no cost, just read it. I did, however, put the first three chapters of my next book, Pipeline Killers in there…well just in case they liked what they read.

What happened you ask? Well, Polar Bear Dawn got downloaded every day. It went from a lowly one million in the rankings to the upper one to two thousand. That’s actually a really good place to be on Amazon. Anywhere above 10,000 is kind of golden.

People liked the book. They left reviews, and they bought my other books. How about that? So, here I am, after only 4 years of publishing my first novel I actually make money as an author. Is it a lot of money? No, it isn’t. But it will pay for my next books to be published and for several bottles of good scotch per year. We retired people don’t need that much.

My days now are spent working in Cyberspace. I publish there, I market there, and I get paid there. Every day, I pull up my Amazon account and see how many books are purchased all over the world.Is it nice, yes, I could have tried to work for Walmart as a greeter…no scratch that, they would never have hired me.

If you want to read any of works and see how a retiree works in Cyberspace, you can look at my website at www.lylenicholson.com.
If you have comments or notes of your similar success in this strange field of writing, please contact me.

The night before Christmas, looking back on a writing year.

This has a been an amazing year for my journey in writing. I almost gave up writing. Not that I didn’t love to write, it was that I wasn’t getting any readers.

I hadn’t figured out the mystery of Amazon and its mighty search engine, therefore, readers couldn’t find me, buy my books and give me feedback.

That all changed several months ago. I put my first book, Polar Bear Dawn, permanently free on Amazon. To my amazement, people began downloading my book. They even read it! Then they posted reviews, and most of them liked what they read, and they bought my other books – and they liked those as well.

The result was, I’ve become an author who has an audience. That is a very nice feeling. For those who liked my Bernadette Callahan RCMP Detective series, there will be a short story, a prequel and another in the sequel to Pipeline Killers coming out in 2017.

I’ll also be publishing a narrative non-fiction of my journey of finding a half-brother I never knew about. The book will be called Half Brother Blues, Chasing my Mother’s Ghost and finding her secret son.

Next year I’ll be changing my website, offering another free short story and building a mailing list where readers can get notification of my new stories. Yes, this is a whole new world for me, and I thank the readers who got me here.

A writer without a reader is Turkey with no stuffing, eggnog without the nutmeg or…okay, I’ll stop, as I’m making myself hungry. Safe to say, that a  writer need readers and readers need writers. When we find each other, it’s a wonderful thing.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and happy reading to you wonderful voracious readers who make the world of writing possible, and happy writing to all you writers who live in your own heads and make the magic happen on paper.

 

 

 

For 2016, how about forgetting goals, and resolve to push your boundaries.

I know every year, we all do the same thing. We make some goals. We are going to get richer, thinner, smarter or come up with a way to make our life better. All the books and all the pundits tell us that goal setting is the one thing that will help us.

Great. You set some goals, some pretty big ones, where you’re going to lose all that weight that has been magically appearing around your middle, you’ll take that course, and get around to decluttering your life – in essence, a magical new you.

The problem is, and we all see this. By this time next year, you’re writing  the same goals. Somehow, those pesky pounds fell off then jumped back on. You find you’re no wealthier, and the magical new you faded sometime in June.

So, what if you just resolved to make little changes. Things that would stick? The reason I’m putting this out there, in the past year I resolved to just make small changes. I wrote just a little more every day, and I submitted some of my work to a National Newspaper.

Strange thing was, I ended up finishing another novel, and getting an essay published in the Globe and Mail. I hardly felt like I did anything strenuous. I just added a bit more effort and pushed my own boundaries.

I heard this story of a man who was extremely overweight and unhappy with his life. One day he walked out his front door and walked around the block. It was a struggle. He continued the next day and the next until he was walking a mile every day. Then two miles. He lost all his weight and felt wonderful. But he’d done it in small steps. Not by trying to jog three miles a day.

For those who are  amazed at the world of writing. No writer completes a book in a day, a week or even in a month. They may do a short story in that time or they may pound out a first draft of a novel in a month, but then they go over it, painstakingly word by word and sentence by sentence until it’s finished.

They may have a goal of a short story or a novel, but to get there, they need to push their boundaries and personal limits each day.

I also participate in road bike racing. We have these 90 and 100-kilometer rides that we do with large groups. To get to a 100-kilometer bike ride you start with a 25, then you push it to 35 and then 50. All the time you’re pushing your limits of endurance on the bike.

There are some road bikers that call this pushing the pain. If you can’t take the pain that your body is going through after a solid three hours on the bike, you’ll never make the four hours it takes for the race.

This, indeed, is pushing boundaries. However, to get there, you make small steps and before long, there you are at the finish line.

So, if you’re like me, and you’re tired of writing those lofty goals and seeing them crumble and wonder what happened? Try small steps. See what your boundaries are, then push them out a bit. Walk a bit further if you want to get healthy, write a bit more and submit more if you want to be a writer.

We all know what our goals are. We just don’t know how far we can push our boundaries until we try. I wish all of you happy reading, writing, and a new boundary by the end of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have 57,204 readers on TripAdvisor, and only 5 of my new novel. Now What?

I opened  my email this morning and was delighted to see a report from TripAdvisor. “You have 57,204 readers of your reviews.” I’ve posted some 78 reviews, and received 56 helpful votes. How nice is that?

I then opened my Amazon account where my four books reside. My most recent one, MisDiagnosis Murder, was published several weeks ago, and I was hoping to see some results.

What did I see? 5 sales in four weeks! Then the red line that signifies sales dropped to zero. If you’ve ever watched the heart rate monitor on medical shows you’ll know my experience.

The red line on the bottom, it denotes no sales. No life, as in nada, zip, zero. Yes, in the words of Billy Crystal from the movie Princess Bride, “the patient is not all dead, just nearly dead.”

Is there a point where you should  give up as a Writer?

I think every writer asks this question. I did give up an earlier career in freelance writing for magazines and newspapers when I found the returns dismal for the effort I put in. You’d think I’d want to walk away now, when the returns are even worse.

But in every writer, there is the need to express on the page what is inside them. They never know what it is until it’s on the page. They discover the story, just as much as the reader does, and they become a part of it

The returns for writing can be poor. Back in my business career, I had this motto, “Return on Investment.” That was the king. If something did not return a profit in a certain period of time, I would drop it.

Why don’t I drop it now? After all, I’ve spent over 5,000 dollars in the past four years in publishing my books, with very little return. Shouldn’t I just give up?

Well no, I’m not done yet. There are more books inside me, and I’m sure there are inside of all the other independent writers.

Are the Naysayers right about Indie (Independent Writers), is this is fools game?

When I started writing and publishing four years ago, Indie Writing was just taking off. Many said it wouldn’t last, and some said it would be a way for editors and book designers to make money, while writers make very little.

Some of that is true. But I’m glad that book designers and editors are making a living. Why shouldn’t they? After all, if it were not for editors, some of the writing you’d see would be objectionable. And, for the book designers, I think they are worth ever penny.

Is there a way for Indie Writers to actually make a living, or at least make back their costs?

At this point in time, there are numerous people out there banging a drum to tell Indie writers that all is not lost. They will find us those ever elusive readers.

You have to understand that the writing world has taken on Tsunami like proportions with the implementation of e-books, and print on demand. Amazon’s Kindle was probably the largest game changer since the Gutenberg printing press was invented in 1440.

The stats are that some 600,000 ebooks and print on demand books are hitting cyber space every year. This is wonderful time to be a reader. For the writers who are trying to make a living. Perhaps not so much.

There is a tendency to be washed out to sea by this Tsunami. I mean, really? How many more romantic zombie books can be written? Or how many more shades of grey are there before everything turns to black?

Is there help out there for Indie Writers, or just people who are trying to make money off of us?

Back in the days of the gold rush, they claim the only ones who made any money were the people who supplied gear to the miners. Want an example? How about Levi Strauss. You may be wearing his jeans right now.

In my short four years of writing, I have found some very honest writers who want to help other writers. K.M. Weiland and James Scott Bell come to mind as two successful writers who are sincere in their efforts to help writers. It shows in the excellent books they’ve produced on the writing craft.

For books on marketing, I’m a big fan of Joanne Penn. However, when I listened to her last webcast, she claimed the key to success was writing 20 books.

Here is my slight problem with that math,I’m just turning 63. I produce a book at a snails pace of one per year. I need 16 more years on the planet to get that number. I’ve decided I’ll take up the challenge, eat more oatmeal and reduce the amount of olives in my martinis. Here’s hoping for book number 20 on my 79th birthday!

Taking the title of Highly Unsuccessful Writer, and owning it!

In all this, I’ve decided I will take on the title of highly unsuccessful writer. Many people ask me what I do. I  say, “I’m a writer, but a highly unsuccessful one.” It’s kind of a joke, but it’s okay.

Owning that title, makes me want to move forward, to write more, to get better, to see if over time…maybe I’ll sell 10 books next month! Okay, that’s a lie, I do want to sell more books and achieve a wider audience. All writers want that. It’s how we justify what we do.

For those of you who want to see how a truly unsuccessful writer does, you can see all my books on my webpage at www.lylenicholson.com.

for those of you who want to know where to find the best Mai Tai on Oahu, you can check me out on TripAdvisor. Apparently I have quite a following.

For any writers out there who would like to comment, or admit they too are highly unsuccessfully, and owning the title, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

Catching Jesus for Johnny Cash. My true story.

This story took place forty-four years ago. You could ask, as I’m a writer, why it took so long to write about this. I have to say, I don’t know, but here it is.

How I ended up in Israel in Johnny Cash’s movie ,Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus (1973), is a longer story than this blog will allow. Let’s just say a series of events led me, an 18 year old kid with all of 50 dollars in his pocket to Jerusalem in November of 1971.

I was desperately in need of work. I remember walking into the hovel that was my Arab hotel and finding this guy giving a pitch how Johnny Cash was looking for actors. Extra’s he called them, for crowd scenes and background, and some to be Apostles and Romans.

The promise of food and money propelled all of us, hippie backpacking travelers, to the King David Hotel where we sat in groups while Johnny Cash and the director, Bob Elsfstrom looked us over.

If you ever want to know what a piece of meat feels like as it’s being considered by the  buyer, go to a casting call for extras. Not that Johnny and Bob were disrespectful. It was in the manner that they discussed our looks and if we’d fit the part.

I was mulled over several times by them. Bob thought I was perfect for Andrew the Apostle. Johnny didn’t see it. He thought a French kid was better. He thought I was suited for John. Then after he mused a bit, he didn’t think I was right for anything.

After what seemed an eternity, they chose me to be an Apostle, but they weren’t sure whether I’d be Andrew or John. I felt like all my years in junior league baseball, when I was the last pick, and then the captain tried to figure out where I could do the least damage to the team.

It turned out I was to be Andrew the Apostle after all. I was given some nice robes by the costume department on the set a few days later and informed, that none of us would have speaking parts. We would walk behind Jesus for the 12 days of shooting. Jesus we’d learn, was Bob. The director Bob. Bob was tall, blonde, blue-eyed and extremely white.

I have no idea why Johnny Cash chose Bob Elfstrom to play Jesus. It could be because Bob directed a documentary on Johnny a few years back, or the film had a small budget. We did have one Actor. Paul Smith. He played Peter. He’d go on to be Captain Bluto in Popeye with Robin Williams, and in the 1994 remake of Maverick, a western.

Other than Paul Smith, there was this rag-tag group of hippies that were recruited from the streets of Jerusalem. We were from America, England, France, Holland, Ireland, Israel, and me, the Canadian. I was the youngest of them all.

We climbed into the back of a truck every morning at 6am in front of the King David Hotel, and drove in a caravan of vans and cars towards Jericho for shooting. Jericho was empty. The six-day war of 1967 had cleared it out. Arabs had fled from the advancing Israelis army.

All that was left were empty streets, a few mangy dogs, and a great backdrop for a movie about Jesus. A western was being shot there in the spring.

I had no idea until we got on the set, that nothing in a movie is shot in sequence. The first day of shooting was to be where Jesus turned water into wine in front of the guests at a wedding. We were to sit on mats tapping our hands and feet to music while drinking wine and eating.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. I thought, I’m getting paid, no it wasn’t much back then – it was 12 US dollars a day, but we were getting fed, and to just sit and listen to music with a camera filming us. How bad could that be?

We did it for hours. A camera man is never happy, because the light is never right, and somehow, even the bright sun in the noon day sky doesn’t appease a camera man. And of course, then the director will never be happy, and so it goes.

That one scene took all day, and unbeknownst to me, the wine was not fake wine. The prop guy was supposed to get a red color to blend with water to make pretend wine – he couldn’t find it. He’d bought real wine.

No one told me, the dumb eighteen year old from Canada, and when half way through shooting someone said, “hey, I think Andrew’s drunk.” I remembered looking around with a dreamy look on my face wondering, “who’s  Andrew?”

I  realized  Andrew was me, and managed to pretend drinking the wine for the rest of the shoot. Johnny only smiled and chuckled at the sight of his drunk Apostle.

The next few days we walked behind our Jesus. He was a kind Jesus, our Bob. He was more interested in how the shots worked, where the light was coming from and camera angles. Johnny was there giving us guidance over every scene.

If you can imagine that tall man, dressed in black, standing there before us. That is how I remember him. He’d rise up even taller with that big black bible in his hands and give us a lesson about the scene we were about to recreate.

The idea for this movie had come to Johnny in a dream. He claimed that God had spoken to him, and told him to make a movie about the life of Jesus. He’d told his wife, June Carter, about the dream. She told him to go ahead and make the movie. Here we were, living this dream with him.

On day three of shooting, we were told we were going up in the hills above Jericho to do the Crucifixion scene. I don’t know why, but I was taken aback. I thought this scene would be at the end of our second week of shooting. It was happening sooner than I expected.

The convoy wended its way up a dusty, rocky slope and came to a stop on a large hill above Jericho. We scrambled out and helped to unload two pieces of  brown plastic that were then bolted together to form the cross.

The prop man dug a hole as good as he could in the hard rocky soil and after several attempts judged the apparatus solid enough to hold Bob, our Jesus.

Bob walked from behind a truck. He was dressed in a white loin cloth, his arms and legs covered in a makeup of blood and dirt. On his head were the crown of thorns. The entire set went quiet.

Bob laid down on the cross, and the prop man wound some plastic cords around his wrists then pasted some spikes to his hands. The make up person slathered his hands in red gore.

We all helped to raise Bob up on the cross, and several people worked with shovels to secure the cross in the ground. When the prop man was happy it was secure, he gave the thumbs up sign and we sprinted back to our positions.

I was off camera for the scene. A few Apostles with some Roman Soldiers clad in their plastic armor and June Carter in robes of Mary Magdalene were in the foreground.

The camera man shouted, “rolling,” and Johnny Cash began to give his sermon about the agony of Jesus on the cross to set the scene.

We all stood motionless as this incredible scene unfolded before us. Then we saw the cross move. It jerked slightly. Then it began to lurch violently forward.

Bob was heading for the ground. Face first.

“Catch Jesus,” Johnny yelled.

Almost as one, the Apostles, the Romans, and anyone not holding a camera ran forward and grabbed Bob on the cross before his body met with the rocky earth.

We flipped him over, and laid him gently on the ground. Johnny and Bob conferred with the props man, the hole was dug deeper, and we hoisted Bob up again.

This time, Johnny was barely getting into his sermon, when the cross lurched violently and began plunging to the ground with Bob.

“Catch Jesus!” Johnny commanded.

“Oh, yes, catch Jesus!” June Carter repeated.

This time our catch team was faster. We made it the thirty to forty feet over that rocky ground in our flimsy Apostle sandals in record time. We cradled Bob, and turned him over to lay him on the ground again.

Serious discussions now took place with Bob and Johnny. They were losing their precious  daylight. The clouds and the sun were doing these speculator things over head. Bob had to on be on the cross to take advantage of this.

They needed to try it again. The had to get the shot. They raised Bob up on the cross again and the prop guy got busy with the shovel.

This time I asked if I could help. I explained to the prop guy that I’d just spent three months doing nothing but shoveling gravel on the railway in Canada’s far North. I could see his shovel technique was wrong.

I’d learned to make railway ties as firm as concrete by shoveling from the outside in. I took his shovel, and in my thin Apostle sandals I made a base for the cross that held. To this day, I think all I added to Johnny Cash’s movie was my shovel technique. My acting was lousy.

The cross held. We were getting the shot. The skies were doing all manner of wonderful things in the background and our cameraman and Johnny was ecstatic. Then we heard the jeeps.

A steady drone could be heard that got louder and louder until we all turned to see two Israeli Army Jeeps with large machine guns racing up the hill.

They braked a few feet from us. The dust blew over us like a cold chill. All I could think of was, “what now?”

Johnny Cash walked over and talked to the soldiers with his interpreter. The soldiers had been sent to investigate a report by tourists that someone was being crucified on a hill. They’d come to check out if we were terrorists. After Johnny’s explanation, they smiled and waved at us, then turned their jeeps around and headed back down the hill

The light cooperated for another half hour while we watched Bob, as Jesus, die on the plastic cross above Jericho. Johnny Cash’s thick southern voice blanketed the set as he spoke the words from the bible, and his heart about the death of his beloved saviour.

We shot more of that movie over the next week, and I watched Johnny Cash as he conferred with Bob over every scene, as he directed us and guided us.

His movie would be released a few years later. The critics didn’t like the movie, and were especially critical of Bob as Jesus. Some said he was the worst person to every portray Jesus. The film they claim, went from movie theater’s to church basements in a matter of weeks.

But what can you say of the passion of Johnny Cash. He wanted to make a movie about Jesus, and he did. His movie, Gospel Road, is in revival. I picked up my own copy on Amazon several years ago. Yes, it’s bad acting. I should know, I was one of the actors.

There’s great cinematography, and a wonderful country music soundtrack, and the melodious narration of Johnny Cash. His passion comes through in the narration, no matter what you think of the motley crew that were his cast.

After all, not once when we were on that hill, and the cross was falling…not once did Johnny tell us to “catch Bob.” Such was the passion and the immersion in the film by Johnny Cash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books that define us teach us or send us on journeys. Here are some of mine

After reading a great post from K.M. Weiland about books she thought were the best she’d read for writers this year, I thought, well, what about some of the books I’ve read that have defined my life. Some have even sent me on journeys…and I thought I’d share a few in this blog.

I grew up reading books. My father was an avid reader and so was my mother. My dad, as a Canadian of Scottish heritage read the collected poems of Robert Service. From him I learned of Canada’s harsh north and ballads of the World War I.

The poems were both beautiful and gruesome in their nature. Robert Service was the first “Cowboy Poet,” and his poetry spoke of both the beauty of life, and how life could be cruel.

His best-selling poems were, “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” and the “Shooting of Dan McGrew.”

I perhaps attainted a taste for black or gallows humor at an early age. My father died when I was 15, and I would find my own books. I embarked into the world of books, not as entertainment, but to taste the world. You can do that through books, even more so than through television.

I would read the books of Leon Uris and his Mila 18, and Exodus. I have no idea why I’d read books on the struggle of Jews. I’m not Jewish, had only two Jewish friends, but their struggle spoke to me.

At the age of 18, in 1971 I’d taken planes trains and automobiles to Tel Aviv, and lived on a Kibbutz, (collective farm) and would work in the orchards, the chicken houses, and would fall in love and have my heart-broken by several Israeli girls.

I doubt if that was the intention of Leon Uris in writing his books, but that’s how it worked out for me. The struggle of Israel was very real when I was there. The Egyptians threatened to “have Israel in the ocean,” by New Years, and the Israelis said, “Let them come, this time we’ll march to Cairo!”

I got to see all of this first hand, just by being inspired to go on a journey of exploration from reading books. I wouldn’t have another great inspiration until I returned home and went to College.

My time in College was brief. A total of 18 months, but it was awash in books and ideas. In the early 70’s Marshal McCluen was telling us, “The Medium was the Message,” in his books, and Leonard Cohen had come out with his book, Beautiful Losers.

There were also numerous books regarding spiritualism. Herman Hessee had written Siddartha, about the journey of Buddha. I read that and numerous other books and would take another journey, but this one only had me closing my eyes to look inside, to the world of meditation.

I would spend 5 years in an Ashram, also know as a Monastery from 1973 until 1977. Great years of studying silence, and also of reading the Bible, the Koran, the Bahagavita, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the works of Lau Tzu. What did I find? They all seemed to point to the silence within.

Some would think I was sidelined, or went on a detour for all those years, but really, I spent time that many will pay great sums of money to go to retreats and sit in silence, and try to achieve a quiet mind.  Okay, I have to admit there was no sex, which can put a damper on things and is probably the reason I left after 5 years and got married.

I would then enter the world of business and sales. Yes, I think I was called the “talkative Monk,” in my Monastery days. A trait that would serve me well as I delved into a career in sales and marketing.

I’d read books like the One Minute Salesman, and realized that  you only have seconds to get someones attention when talking to them. I actually became a good salesman.

My sales business made money, and then I read books on investing in real estate. I made money at that to. Funny how some knowledge when applied can work.

Then somewhere in all of my selling, and business of investing and working with real estate, I got back to the world of fiction. Who knows why. I think the real world is wonderful, but the world of fiction tugs at the outer edges of our imagination, and makes us dream bigger.

I started to read writers like Kurt Vonnegut Jr.. I was actually reading him again. He was one of the writers I read extensively in my brief College career.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. reminded me of Robert Service, the Cowboy Poet of Canada, the man with the gallows humor. Vonnegut was also spoke openly against war, against governments who sent people to war, and his books detailed a world were people went off into other existences, like Slaughterhouse Five.

My wife introduced me to Douglas Adams. His books were the HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life the Universe and Everything, and So Long and Thanks for all the Fish.

Why was I so enthralled with these books that many thought were almost slapstick? I really couldn’t tell you. But I do know from my 62 years on this planet, that we are the sum of all of our experiences.

It could have been my father’s cowboy poetry, my four months in Israel, (wandering on the Kibbutz to look for bomb shelters, and find they’d been made into photography dark rooms,) or my years in silence in the Ashram. Who knows?

I now write my own books. And strangely enough, they are dark humor. I tell my readers that,”People die, but only those that deserve it, or didn’t see it coming.”

Am I trying to emulate Kurt Vonnegut or Douglas Adams? I don’t think so, I think they were such unique individuals that no one will ever perfect their style. I believe all writers can develop a unique style if they allow themselves to delve into what makes them individuals.

I wish all writers great writing, and all readers great reading. May your reading take you on journeys of discovery or just provide you an adventure from your armchair.