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The Method to the Madness

No literary agent. No major publishing house. No expenses. No regrets.

People are reading my first novel.

“Blood Red Syrah” shines from shelves in a couple of libraries from coast to coast. I’ve signed copies in California and Florida. My book is available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

I spotted the glossy cover from a distance almost as soon as I walked into the Barnes & Noble store in State College, Pennsylvania.

Other than money and marketing, prestige and power, as a writer I’m really no different than Stephen King, TC Boyle or Carl Hiaasen. I’ll bet more people in Northeastern Pennsylvania know me than know Boyle. Take that TC.

I learned a lot in the process.

I’m not in the rush writing the sequel as I was when I yearned to see my words between paperback covers. I’m more patient, make fewer mistakes (fewer, not less) to clean up for the next printing, and take more time checking to be sure the storyline is tight and accurate.

After a week in Florida I even started notes for another novel called “Swan Dive.” All I’ll say right now is imagine exploding seagull drones and nude alligator wrestling. As you might imagine, gators don’t take kindly to slipping into sequined wrestling tights. But I have many months ahead of me to continue promoting and publicizing “Blood Red Syrah.”

I’m looking forward to Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Free Library Express Bookstore at the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., in downtown Scranton, PA, when I’ll join several local authors to sell, sign and talk about our books and the method to the madness.

All too often in Scranton, books and writers get lost in the arts shuffle. People should remember words matter. Plays, poetry, short stories, novels and other written creative expression shape any real hip scene – assuming hip is still a word.

Then I’ll see you Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Barnes & Noble grand re-opening at 421 Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Twp., for a homecoming, of sorts, when, from 4 to 6 p.m., I’ll give a brief reading from “Blood Red Syrah,” take questions, and discuss what went into writing my first novel.

I lived in Wilkes-Barre for 17 years, longer than I lived anywhere in my almost 68 years. I did a lot of writing in that town as a newspaper columnist. I raised a lot of hell. Had I still been writing columns, I’d have been on the scene back in June when an EF2 tornado ripped through the Arena Hub Plaza and took part of the Barnes & Noble back and side walls with it. But one look at Times Leader photographer Sean McKeag’s picture of B & N repairs shows you can’t keep a good bookstore down.

Yet, as such sacred spaces nationwide disappear even without tornadoes, readings by writers – particularly local writers – become increasingly rare. Reading, writing and thinking shape the cornerstones of civilization. I’d rather people carry a book than a gun. You don’t have to be Proust or Pete Hamill to understand the lifesaving value of words.

Let’s survive and evolve together.

Come see us. Buy a book. Read the book. Think about the book. Let’s march as a literary army toward a shining national resurgence of bright ideas.

God knows we need it.

Sorry about that.

Outlaw novelists are expected to be smart-asses, you know.

See you at the bookstores.