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Name: Jay Michael
Location: Georgia, United States
Interests: my children, fiction writing, singing tenor, anime, witty and well written shows. Also into manga and I always carry a towel. :)
Expertise: I know all the answers, they just aren't in synch with all the question. Oh, and I excell at being a standout smartass.
Occupation: Computer related
Message: message me
Tonight I will join other Vabella authors at the annual Carroll County Cultural Arts Alliance 32nd Annual Arts Gala from 7 to 9 pm at the Amp in beautiful downtown Carrollton Georgia! This social affair is a fairly big deal and I'm excited to be a part of it. I'll have copies of Flight of the Armada, The Biggest Little Fan of the Red Ball Express, Mr. Nice Guy and my newest, Fields of Fire, for sale. Hanging out with people I like, at a venue I enjoy, for an organization I admire, really rocks my socks so I'll be grinning like a Cheshire Cat on catnip all the while. Now all I have to do is "git me sum culchur." Maybe next year I'll have A Chatterstrip at the End of Civilization finished and published! Won't that be a trip for Greater Metropolitan Roopville/ Carrollton!
This Friday I will also be at Underground Books off the Square in downtown for the (official) release of Book Zero: Fields of Fire. Well, not just selling and signing, I'm also going to give a talk on How I Wrote a Massive 26-book Epic and Lived to Tell About It. We'll have some wine and snacking goodies on hand too.
I'll have visual aids to explain where ideas for stories come from ("when a mommy character or a daddy character are defined enough where you are comfortable with how they would react a different situations, then you can throw them into a plot mixer and record how they manage to come out of it - or not. And that's where stories come from!" well okay maybe not THAT flippant) and why villains can't just twirl an evil mustache but must be a fully realized person with good traits as well as bad.
It'll be pretty much what I'll put on here as I sort out just how and why I do, what I do.
I'm gearing up to attend the Cobb Central Library Local Author Book Sale Saturday, April 6 at 266 Roswell Street, Marietta Georgia from 11 AM to 5:30 PM! That's tomorrow!! Yeehaw, y'all! I'll be selling and signing my Flight of the Armada, Biggest Little Fan of the Red Ball Express, and what few remaining Mr. Nice Guy books I have, as well as talking to people going by.
Then next Saturday, April 13, I will be at the Neva Lomason Library in Carrollton selling books in a booth from 10 AM to 6 PM and sitting on a Author's Q and A panel that afternoon from 4 PM to 5 PM. It's free to the public and I should have my latest book in print, Book 0: Fields of Fire, ready for sale.
I have social phobia that I battle each and every time I step out the door. Most people do not believe it. I tell them I studied acting for a reason because nobody is going to see how terrified I am of crowds. However, I am not a famous author yet so I can't do the J.D. Salinger hermit thing yet. For the now I'm just going to have to slog it out and hear "I thought you'd be taller/ thinner/ younger/ a different gender" but I don't suppose that's so bad.
When I first wrote Flight of the Armada, I told the story of the main and secondary characters and what happened to them. Okay, that does not convey what I wrote exactly - there are actually eight "Main" characters and a dozen secondary characters. The rest of the galaxy of support characters - some 500+ characters - are not really filler characters because they have stories and personalities of their own. Several times I will drop in a scene with one of these characters in order to remind the reader that the Thuringi society is not just about the royals or the nobles or warriors, but the population as a whole. Nobles, commoners, warriors, civilians, Airmen and Aquatic all have a chance to show themselves and what they do.
Tark Garin is one such fellow. Tark is a character I really go into depth with in later scenes in the series. I then turned around and placed him in the storyline earlier with a brief mention, and then here and there until his deeper scenes showed up. It served to make his presence a natural part of the Thuringi world where characters pop up and thus reminds the reader "Oh yes, it's THIS guy/gal again!" I did several support characters this way and it really helped color in between the lines so to speak.
Okay, I admit this is sort of a test to see if anyone even reads this, or the series. But I really do need this done, so it's not simply a "who's out there?" deal.
Thing is, I have Book 9: Trouble in the Dark edited to my satisfaction, but I would like to see if I could get a beta reader or two to look at it and give me their thoughts, suggestions, red pen marks, that sort of thing. If so, let me know! Send me an email - email@example.com.
Family stories have been passed along for generations since the dawn of time. When I was two, a remarkable event happened in my family and I grew up listening to the story told over and over again. Unlike many families, we had newspaper clippings to verify the tale. The gist of it was, my sister Lela had waved faithfully to the passing trains behind our house in Elgin, Oklahoma for four years, since she was three. By the time she was seven, our family was in dire straits. Papa had been out of work for some time and couldn't find another job anywhere or if he did find one, it didn't last long. He traveled to the northeast of the state to look for work while Mama and us six children remained and waited for good news. The train crew meanwhile started up a correspondence with Lela. Eventually they found out our circumstances and arranged to have Christmas come to us. Vabella Publishing just printed this story in a small novella called "The Biggest Little Fan of the Red Ball Express."
I won't give away the story but it is a heartwarming Christmas story, and I say that honestly and without sarcasm. There are a few unique stories that cannot be duplicated easily without losing all the flavor - Jean Shepard's "A Christmas Story" immediately comes to mind. TV networks try desperately to work up what they think are 'heartwarming' Christmas stories but they fall into three separate categories with multiple subcategories: Adaptations, Miracle Stories and Santa Capers.
Adaptations take already established Christmas stories like "It's A Wonderful Life" and Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and put what is thought to be a clever twist - use a currently popular television series and toss in the elements of Wonderful Life, or make a TV movie with some non-traditional casting and clever plays on the character's names. This is why Shepard's "A Christmas Story" stands alone - you have to have the time, the place and the characters to pull this story off right. You can't modernize it and even though different elements the story touches a wonderful chord in everyone, such universal affection is specifically for this story and no other 'version' will do.
Miracle Stories are the ones where something sympathetic is in a crisis and only the beautiful/talented/spunky heroine and her hunky/talented/kind-hearted love interest work together to somehow meld a Harlequin romance with a Christmas setting. Usually there's a cute/sensitive/trusting child involved to put just the right amount of "awww" in the story, and usually a mysterious 'angel' to provide the miracle. These elements (called "Hallmarks", heh) are used over and over again with only a few cosmetic tweaks separating one story from another. They are the Mr. Potato Head of Christmas Stories - you can change the setting, change the crisis, change the occupation of the characters and change the hair color according to whichever actor you hired but in the end, all you're doing is switching out the Rounded Eyes with the Mad Eyes and changing the Lips with the Mustache - the basic potato underneath will remain unchanged. There's going to be a problem, crisis hits, heroine realizes What Christmas Is Really All About, and she winds up in the arms of Hunky Hero and the child looks adorable and the 'angel' usually disappears, leaving behind the miracle.
Santa Capers - what has this poor jolly old elf not been through? Santa's been nearly late, kidnapped, killed and replaced, overthrown a dozen times by greedy elves, imitated by grinches; he's been single, married, fathered a son, fathered a daughter, childless, wise, dense, traditional, modern and fought Martians. Just about anything that's going to happen to Santa, has happened. Ever since Clement Clarke Moore defined him and Thomas Nast illustrated him, Santa has been through the wringer. He's been a scold for good behavior and an excuse to guard against bad behavior. He's gone from being respected to loved to mocked. He's been peed on by little kids and the butt of every fat joke, elf joke, work-one-day-a-year joke and responsible for endless songs. He's even been accused of driving his reindeer over someone's grandmother in song. Santa has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the Christmas season.
I wrote "The Biggest Little Fan of the Red Ball Express" both as a tribute to my sister Lela and my family, and because I figured it was about time we had a genuine heartwarming story, one that actually happened over fifty years ago. The setting is not a typical Christmas one - no picturesque snowscape, no sexy main characters gazing longingly at each other from across a trumped-up problem, no middle-class wreaths on doors or cheerful packaging under a well-trimmed tree. It was a familiar setting to me, a setting that returned every year as a child but this specific event with the Red Ball Express only happened the one time. Since I was only two when it happened, naturally I had to rely on newspaper clippings, family word-of-mouth and a large portion of my own imagination to tell this story. This is a 'true Christmas fable.' Creative non-fiction. Based on a true story.
But it is from the heart, something I believe vital if you are telling a Christmas story.