Book Review: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” and Why I’ve Been Gone

I kill books on Audible. I listen, I read, I listen, I read. I am always searching for something, whether entertainment or in this case, Raw Power.

Yes indeed, Iggy Pop has his place in between chapters of this book. Better than Adderall. Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World is a firecracker to jump start your working habits.

There have been so many distractions away from my writing, editing, and publishing. We bought an old farm house, I was in uniform, work, work, and more work. I love teaching but it takes away from what I should be doing. One day soon, I will change that dynamic.

Without Deep Work to help guide my priorities, I would have been lost. There are so many great quotes from this book as these are rules to live by:

“We tend to place a lot of emphasis on our circumstances, assuming that what happens to us (or fails to happen) determines how we feel. From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes…” ― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

“…what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

“If every moment of potential boredom in your life—say, having to wait five minutes in line or sit alone in a restaurant until a friend arrives—is relieved with a quick glance at your smartphone, then your brain has likely been rewired…”

― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

A bit of the Book Description:

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories — from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air — and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.
What I Liked About this Book:
 
During a recent project which I will highlight in a later post, I was forced OUT of my comfort zone in order to do what I love: the creation of a book from manuscript to market. I was responsible for the editing, layout, and final version of a great project- The Forge: Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program Workbook. I say out of my comfort zone because a textbook about Six Sigma wasn’t in my repertoire but when an old friend calls, you jump. I am also committed to publishing anything that is good. Most people who know me can tell that I’m game for anything.

 

At the height of the project, we moved, I was called to uniformed service, taught, and of course…there were challenges with the project. Deep Work gave me the focus that I needed to complete tasks in a meaningful way and avoid distraction.

Without this book and intended focus, I would not have been able to finish this textbook that needed to be in the world.

Of course, this meant shying away from social media, focused writing only on personal time, and a delay in the next Letters Never Meant to be Read book. These are sacrifices that we all make as writers/editors/publishers when there are things called priorities and that evil called time.

When I would have been Tweeting, Blogging, Posting, and making clever memes, I was packing boxes and taking the necessary steps toward the finished product: a book.

Deep Work is a recipe for success but it does not come without sacrifice or consequences. Interestingly, this blog only continued to grow readers in my absence on social media due to my back catalog. My books continued to sell, and the world still turned without checking my phone all the time. That is part of what the book is all about.

I still went on Twitter, I still checked on things from time to time, but I did not focus my attention on these efforts as I had in the past. This desperation and yearning will get you nowhere when there is real work to do. I have to thank the author for the focused attention and emphasis on downtime that the book suggests.

“Your goal is not to stick to a given schedule at all costs; it’s instead to maintain, at all times, a thoughtful say in what you’re doing with your time going forward…” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World 

“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

 

What I didn’t like about this book:

Deep Work is hard (whine) so be careful what you wish for. This is not a ding on the book but more of a concern for what we as a society consider Working. If you hold a mirror in front your day and find half filled with answering email and pointless meetings, watch out.

I could have used a few more tangible activities but I was able to read between the lines and accomplish what needed to be done by the concepts arrayed in the book. We can all say that about this type of book because people looking for something to help typically like to be force-fed.

I would love to have a writer’s version of this book as I think it would be extremely helpful (and it would sell).

 

What this Book Does for My Writing:

I tend to work on too many projects at once. In the past, I have been able to focus on some “low hanging fruit” and accomplish book projects that I knew could be a finished product in the allotted time.

Deep Work made me realize that when I write, I just need to write. Phone off, distractions gone, just me and the page. I knew this before but I have a hard time remembering that this peculiar activity makes me very happy and fulfilled. When I can be in the moment, spinning yarn, I am at my best and happiest. I also get better at my chosen craft. Deep Work is about that concentrated focus that will turn you into a master instead of a forever apprentice.

The book warns against telling people that you are headed for Deep Work. I made the mistake of announcing my awesome plans on Twitter half way through the book, not that anyone was paying attention. The point is that it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is The Forge textbook, Letters Never Meant to be Read II, the book I am writing with A.M. Hounchell, and his other manuscript that RWM will be putting out this fall.

If you are looking for a decent read to adjust your working habits and productivity, I certainly recommend the Audible Version of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

5-Stars

 

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Book Club Discussion Questions for Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss

 

 

I am thrilled to know that a fan is using Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss for their upcoming book club. On a previous post: A Day in the Life and the Premier of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss, I received the question: “I am looking for book club discussion questions for Worked Stiff: Short Stories to tell Your Boss. Help, please!”

Certainly the highlight of my day, this question is what makes all the time, worry, and editing worthwhile. I do believe that this salty collection is a great pick for a book club because there is something in those pages for everyone. The collection contains romance, horror, adventure, superstition, robots, jam jars, glances at the future, and friendship. Stories are both long and short. The Audible version will be out soon, from Pamela Hershey, the voice of Letters Never Meant to be Read.

If you find a story just doesn’t jive with you, skip it for later and see if the next one resonates. The Nail is my personal favorite. There are many characters and each story is so different. Feel free to let me know which ones you’d like to see more of.

The collection starts with a breast cancer survivor who finds new life and revenge in ocean and sand. The collection then veers off to Instance of Death where a man goes on a Voodoo trip to New Orleans in order to die after his life goes off the rails. This is one story that I would love to see as a movie. Many stories follow, short and long, all with common themes, one of them the plight of the working class and the consequences of debt. Not all are sad nor happy, not all contain revenge.

Something for everyone.

It all started last fall when I was underemployed. Isn’t that how all mischief starts? I feverishly wrote before the light of day. I tested live on the phone to unsuspecting victims. I was posting these and other stories on my blog.

Without further ado, below are 10 book club discussion questions. Thank you Joan R. Reese. Feel free to send an email with your address to rustywheelsmedia@gmail.com and I will send you a signed copy of the paperback version!

Book Club Discussion Questions for Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss

1. What were the themes of the book? Were they brought to life in a unique way?

2. Has anything ever happened to you similar to what happened in the book? How did you react?

3. What surprised you the most about the book?

4. Do you have a favorite story in the collection? Why?

5. Was there one story you didn’t want to end or think should be a novel by itself?

6. Were there any particular quotes that stood out to you? Why?

7. What did you think of the structure and style of the author’s writing?

8. Did one Point of View/Narration style work better than others?

8. Have you read other books by this author? 

9. Did your opinion of the book change as you read it? How?

10. Did the author shed light on the problems and joys concerning everyday people in an entertaining way? 

“Dear National University” from Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

This is going in the next Letters Never Meant to be Read and I hope this stirs up at least a little controversy.

This one is to National University, my alma mater where I earned my MFA in Creative Writing. I have another one for Southern New Hampshire University that I will preview soon as well. I hope to pin one against the other, or at least gain awareness of nonsense. Please share!

 

Dear National University,

 

This summer, I applied to be an online adjunct professor for your creative writing program. In response, you sent me this trash:

 

Dear Marc,

Thank you for your interest in teaching with the College of Letters and Sciences.

We received your application to Job ID: 5551 – PT Adjunct – Department of Arts & Humanities.

Upon review of your education history, we see you are a graduate of National University. In order to promote academic diversity, we look for individuals who have received their master’s and/or terminal degree(s) from other institutions.

In the future, should you obtain a higher level degree from a different university, you are more than welcome to reapply.

Thank you,

National University

 

What does that mean, academic diversity? Do you know how old school you sound? It’s 2017 and you can’t be a contradiction. You can’t eat cake and say that you don’t promote frosting. Is this how you prove that you aren’t a degree mill? Is this how to prove to the world that you aren’t an overpriced printing press? What a joke.

I am in debt! Can’t you see I need help?  Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of your literature, your workshops, and your grueling masquerade. We were lovers. How could you deny our offspring?

You dare insult my industrious nature. My ambition is more than your cake. I’ll chop wood anyway and warm someone else’s hearth. See me chopping away? You have made a mistake. You have given me more fuel.

I was in the habit of telling everyone that you did me some good. I recommended you to others who were lost. In return, as a sign of your affection, you hold onto moldy habits and rotten rules. You clutch bitter knives to ward off pests. Pests like me. I will be a hoard and strip the land of your existence. How dare you deny me?

Maybe I will obtain a higher degree from a different university. I will chop so much wood. I will get honorary degrees all over the damn place. I will give speeches at graduations that people will put on YouTube for inspiration. I will deny your existence. I will deny our love.

Tell Southern New Hampshire to hire me because you won’t. Tell them how rigorous and robust your program was for me. Tell them it was worth it.

 

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“Dear Benefactor” -A Sample from the Next Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

This is a sample of a Letter I wrote for the next Letters Never Meant to be Read. We received numerous submissions for the next volume and it will go on pre-order soon! Thank you all who participated. It gives me great pleasure to receive a letter from a stranger, to see their hopes, fears, and dreams come alive on the page.

This Letter goes nicely with the launch of my Patreon Page, an experiment I am trying to help with the funding of the next Letters Book. This letter is written in the wordy, turn of the last century style. This was a time when authors were more apt to have a patron or benefactor. Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy, and/or are seduced!

 

Dear Benefactor,

 

Here I give you a great opportunity to continue on an age-old tradition of supporting the arts. No, I am not a charlatan, although I could be if I had no guilt at all. No, I am not a beggar. It just seems plain to me that I could be doing better for myself, better for the world with a change of station. If only I didn’t have this weight of impending disaster over me. This impenetrable cloud that follows, darkens my existence by stealing my time and thoughts away from my writing. Worry and debt have formed great men, but I have served enough of both to occupy a lifetime. Some find hardship and poverty to be inspiration for their best work. I have had the right amount of these disasters and I simply ask for assistance in continuing onto the next great phase.

It may seem by the opening that I am not accomplished, a loser perhaps. This is not true, I am a gentleman by the old sense. I am a person of letters and books. I am well educated, addicted to ambition as well as accomplishment, and have risen up to a certain level despite my poor pedigree. But winning in these games has not come without cost. I find myself mooring over the smallest of expenses and checking my accounts far too often.

Even a small amount of patronage would give me a little respite. I will not dawdle with this given time though. I will write and produce in such a way that you have never seen. I will be the most prolific, the unstoppable. I will be the creator of many worlds and people, for you. The small gesture to my potential will seem dainty in comparison to what I will build. Then, as time continues and I add to the pile of record, our achievements, I will undoubtedly garner interviews. Books will be written about me, about my undying tenacity, about our legacy. Only then will I divulge the real truth about you, about the goodness in your heart, about your care and generosity. I will put you upon the pedestal of time and you will be known.

If you are uninterested in the investment of legacy, then perhaps you would like companionship. Perhaps you want both, are like myself, want it all. I can offer you the sweetest of gestures, the most passionate rhythms this Earth has to offer. I can see you as you were, long ago, past those still pretty eyes, into your youth. I can look at you in wonder, your naked body on display for me, caress your hair and forgive the small tolls that time has ungratefully taken on you.

I can be your best lover, your secret in revenge against the world that has been so ungrateful. I can last long or be as hasty as you please. All of your fantasies will come to fruition, all you have to do is ask. No, tell me, say the words, and I will be whoever you want. Say nothing, and I will be myself, your everything. I do not care if you are dying, we all are. I do not care if you aren’t as pretty as you once were. I can see through the wrinkles and the grief. I am unassuming and I know no age. I span time with humor and delicate forethought. Think of your most dangerous desire, the one you fear would bring you public shame if it ever got out. Tell me. I won’t even bat an eye, only smile, and give it to you.

Please don’t think of me a tramp. Yes, I am taken, you might be too, but not in those moments. No one has all of me, but you can. He may have left recently, or long ago. Use me to parade around in defiance. Show me off to your cohorts, travel with an escort. I can speak another language. In a tuxedo, I am quite dashing. We all play roles, let me play one for you.

Is it not the same when I clock in an out? When I go away in uniform, am I not leaving them behind too? Those that I love, that are close, they need provisions. I go and get them to ensure a future. It does not matter who I am when I am away, as long as I return unscathed. It does not matter how I secure a future, but that I do. Besides, one cannot judge another who brings happiness and enlightenment into the world. I will bring you passion and joy, you will allow for our enlightenment.

Of course, we don’t have to be lovers in the physical sense. You could simply be my publisher, my editor, my muse. I can scribe love letters to your heart’s delight. Our torrid love affair can be only in the mind, on sacred parchment that historians will marvel over. While I toil away in joy, creating a collection of books and thoughts, we can span great distance with touching moments of bliss caught on record. You can provide needed expenses, and I, a mountain of dreams.

I will still want you though, I must warn you. I am a romantic, if you have not already guessed. I will desire for your body along with your pretty mind. If that physical connection is not your choice, tease me with my own desires of the flesh. Play games, wring out of me the most desperate and sentimental words from my wet cloth. I will be loyal.

If you have found any errors in these words, good, you are doing well already. Please, beg my forgiveness. If they are filled with mistakes, let these words serve as an example of the cloud that is looming. I write in haste, eager to slip away from the bankers and the phone calls. I can assure you, I am not expensive compared to what most use their money on these days. I am not a spendthrift. I will use what is given to me by your delicate hands for one purpose and I will never appear ungrateful. I will get the cloud away from my back and write as if every day I shall perish by midnight.

Do send something soon though, a message that you are at least thinking about my offer. I am an optimist and I think fondly on tomorrow. If not, I will soon be beaten down by the doldrums of a petty, debtor existence. And while I will not give up on my dreams, I will become bitter by their making over such a long, hard road. By securing a more comfortable route now, I will ensure the necessity to pay it forward one day. I will reach down as you have here and offer a lifeline to another dreamer. I beg you to give me something more to admire about tomorrow.

I hope you are well and in good health. I hope the spring sun shines upon your face, and by morning, you have cup of tea for me and a story to tell when I arrive. Write soon.

 

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Here is a link to My Patreon Page. Any level of support is appreciated, Benefactor: 

https://www.patreon.com/marcdcrepeaux

 

 

Book Review: Mervyn vs. Dennis by Niels Saunders

 

Video Version:

 

 

 

I’d listed wholesome hobbies like gardening and Pilates while my real interests were horror films and binge drinking. Lies upon lies, it didn’t end there…”

I first discovered Niels Saunders on my WordPress Reader. He had few blog posts on his site nielssaunders.com and at the time, he was promoting his new book. What really caught my eye was the cover of this gem right here. I know, super vain right? It reminded me a bit of Andy Warhol and as I read the story inside, the cover made even more sense.

This was in the spring, and Niels had just released his second book Grand Theft Octo which sounded hilarious as well, but I wanted to check out Mervyn vs. Dennis first.

This was part of my summer reading list and I shamelessly asked Niels for an ARC, something I don’t normally do. Really, I was just testing to see if he would respond to my poke and he did. Never fear though, I bought the paperback version as I think it is a wonderful design and as it turns out, I enjoyed his writing.

 

Book Description:

Deep in debt, Mervyn Kirby gets a job he doesn’t want by pretending to be racist. His new boss Dennis Lane thinks he’s found a kindred spirit. When Mervyn confesses he’s not really racist, Dennis thinks it’s just part of the act. Day by day, to Mervyn’s horror, Dennis worms his way into Mervyn’s private life. Despite his fears, Mervyn is torn: his new job pays well but he despises Dennis and everything he stands for. How far will Mervyn go to free himself? How far will Dennis go to become friends? Will they settle their differences or end up killing each other? And why are so many shifty people carrying pineapples around town?

Ah, the pineapples. Love that part of the story and I believe Niels could do a lot with this concept as far as social media is concerned. If only I were his publicists…

 

What I liked about this Book:

The characters are hilarious. From the self-depreciating author to the near stalker Dennis, and all the co-workers at the video game testing lab. The girlfriend and the banter with sandwiches was great too. By far, my most favorite character was Braithwaite, the elusive and super-star CEO that knows just how to rocket a party. At nearly every turn, Saunders introduces a strange quirk or reveals hilarious humanity with candid dialogue between the troop.

The book also starts with something I am all too familiar with: Check out the dark absurdity in my  Letter to a Prospective Employer or The poem The Dreaded Interview in Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common.

Niels takes this sentiment a step further and is superb in his presentation. That grumbling voice that holds back a loud shout in the street. Whether you are in America or England, if you are a young man, you are likely underemployed and pissed off.

I saw a 1-Star review on Amazon that cited that they liked the story but were lost with the young male language. Well, that is who this book is about, go figure, and I appreciate it very much. His protagonist Mervyn Kirby (1st person POV) begins dazzling prospective employers with ridiculous fonts and clip-art(!), of all things, on his CV. I will now have to try this. All of his experiences are lies and he has been led into this desperation, did not choose it for himself. The final straw is pretending to be racist and it actually worked! Brilliant, Saunders captures the frustration of our generation in only a few chapters.

The author’s snarky description of setting is great as well:

His office was so normal, it looked like a porn set. His face was so generic, it looked like a disguise.

Such a great line and an economy of words.

There are so many funny quotes in this book. The three nights it took me to read it, my wife was startled on several occasions by my laughing out loud in the darkness of our lair. I have not done this is quite some time and it felt great:

Don’t you dare call me a homophobe. This is the friendliest gay-friendly non-gaybar in town. 

Then I saw the fridge. It was one of those monstrous American ones with double doors and its own ice maker…

What? Niels, what kind of fridge do you have? I must have a British fridge because it is boring, scratched up, and makes awful noises in the night.

Besides golfing with Braithwaite, my favorite (that is how you spell it) scene is the party scene. The mayhem, the drugs, the free booze, the music, the girls, and Dennis with his music were the perfect mixture of chaotic debauchery and adventure.

Again, characterization and setting were masterful in this book. Every time I open a page, I am reminded of another funny character with their quirks. Mervyn’s brother is a great example. They are all mixing it up together and a true human side of life is shown throughout the dialogue.

 

What I Didn’t Like About this Book:

 

I enjoyed the ending sure enough, and I am not going to spoil anything here because I do think it is worth a read, or I wouldn’t be doing this review. I’m not a fan of how it unfolded, how the author lifted the veil and explained the origin of the story. This was the author’s choice. Since he is Mervyn in a way, I can’t blame him for taking the story in that quite natural direction. I was all caught up, until the author told me to stop being caught up so I could learn how it all went down. It’s a tactic, just not one that I was thrilled with.

This is not for the faint of heart. I know, all us Americans are Puritan prudes on the outside while we wag our finger and oppress in public. Get us behind closed doors, though, and we’re all like Dennis’ sister, whips and chains and naughty games. I am only saying this as a disclaimer to my readers who may not be ready for a sexually charged roller-coaster that includes low-brow humor as an appetizer. There are some surprises which I found funny, but some may not.

 

What this Does for My Writing:

 

Saunders rarely lagged and has a penchant for the concept that less means more. He believes in periods, I do not, but should. I read WAY too much Edgar Allen Poe and Faulkner growing up and I spend a great deal of editing time trying to tone it down. Saunders does not have this problem, or if he does, he hides it well behind good editing. I can learn something from his style of writing as he is straight to the funny point, no frills. He does not meander or go far off course even though the book is a decent size (264 pages print).

 

I feel like I got through this review and didn’t talk enough about Dennis. He reminds me of a more harmless version of The Cable Guy, played by Jim Carey, who worms his way into the life of another through undying friendship that just doesn’t exist. I wanted him to be there, forever pestering, assuming, denying, and demanding of Mervyn.

4 out of 5 Pineapple Stars

This was a fun summer read. I will be buying his other book Grand Theft Octo as well and reviewing later this fall.

I also think Niels could write a great letter…

Where is your pineapple? I’ve got mine right here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Dreaded Interview” -Reading from Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common

 

Video Version:

 

The Dreaded Interview

 

I see that you are wearing new shoes.

Did you buy them just for this interview?

Did you think you were going to get a job here?

Well then, you may have come to the right place.

Sit down, sit down.

 

Where is your paperwork?

Ah, here it is. I have it after all.

Seems to be a little missing.

Seems to be a little empty.

Have you conquered any challenges lately? No?

 

You don’t have to fidget while sitting there.

That chair will hold you just fine.

Would you like something to chew on?

I am going to smoke, do you mind if I smoke?

Would you like a smoke? Not yet, ok.

 

How long have you been standing outside?

How long did it take you to get here?

Are you looking for a job?

What job do you feel you are best qualified for?

Oh yes, the only job we have available.

 

There is no real job here.

Only a mundane task in a sense.

Can you hold my sweater?

Good, glad you could do that at least.

Says here you have worked in dungeons before.

 

We have a dungeon here too.

Look around, you are so lucky.

There were thousands of applicants.

We picked yours at random.

Can we count on you?

 

Don’t worry about a thing on your first day.

When can you start? Tomorrow?

You’ll start tomorrow.

But I don’t know what you’ll be doing exactly.

Do you? Well…do you?

 

That is why you are here!

You must help us figure out what we are hiring for.

The dust eats at everyone who works here.

The halls echo too, you must watch out for that.

When can you start? Tomorrow?

 

We have spent a long time.

Looking for a proper candidate.

How long? Days.

But we haven’t hired in quite a number of years.

What is the job exactly? We don’t know yet.

 

I am glad you drank your water so quickly.

I am glad you came at the correct time.

I am glad you wore those nice new shoes.

You are hired but the halls still echo, remember that.

Our time here is complete.

 

If you liked this poem, please share. More poems can be found in:

Top 10 Tips for Writing Your Own Letters Never Meant to be Read

The deadline for Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume II is upon us and I thought it might be good to open the dialogue for those of you out there who are ready to take the plunge.

Don’t be afraid, if you get in your letters a little past the deadline but before final layout, it may still make it in this edition. If not, I will be publishing many, many more of these books in the future. We are always accepting submissions…

Letters for this series can be to anybody, even yourself if the need be. In that effort, I have created the following Top 10 Tips for Writing Your Own Letters Never Meant to be Read.

 

10. Think of your favorite Government or Private entity

Come on, we’ve all got that favorite line that we have to stand in or please hold music we enjoy. Take a shot across the bow to that DMV office or customer service representative. Tell them you want to speak with their manager. Put them on hold for once and write your letter.

9. We all get Ripped Off

Ok, so it happens. Swindlers and confidence people are out there to get you, and sometimes, you cave and lose. Feel like you’ve been done wrong? Cheated? Get your revenge in words, write them a letter!

8. Think fondly on that Unrequited Love

Wonder what could have been? Wish you found those words years ago? Want to speak the truth? That man you met at that restaurant in Madrid waits for your words. Write a letter to your true, unrequited lover.

7. Go to a Cemetery

A little creepy for some, but I happen to live by one. This often provides countless hours and pages on what could have been. Find your own family plot, or even better, someone else’s family plot. Write letters, don’t take your thoughts to the grave.

6. Think Outside the Box

A letter to the owner of that hotel that gave you bedbugs? How about a letter to a broken, public toilet? Your stubborn uni-brow hair? That fish you caught and let go or ate? The ideas and words are endless.

5. Write a Letter for Someone Else to Someone Else

Seen atrocity in your time? Want to do something about it? Have a friend that is cheating on another friend? You can easily disengage your own feelings and put yourself in another person’s shoes. Go ahead, practice true empathy.

4. For Your Younger Self to Open

Think of a letter that you wished you could send back in time to your younger self. Examine the hard truths and fun lessons you’ve learned along the way. Date it: Open by ______ ____ if that helps.

3. Think about all the Money

Yes, you could make money just by getting things off your chest. This provides a wholesome way to air your grievances anonymously while making a little side cash. Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. pays generous royalties by contract to writers who contribute three or more letters in the collection.

2. Dance More, Worry Less.

Music can really get the juices flowing when it comes to writing letters. Blast your favorite oldies or modern hip-hop right into the next room. Dance to your heart’s desire while dictating letters to your personal assistant.

1. Keep Your Thoughts Organized

Letters should tell a story and be complete, nothing left on the table (or under). Grab those gems from under the rug and hold them in the light. Describe them, feel them, make others understand. To do that, you must be clear and concise. Go crazy if the need be, but make it a planned crazy. One way to plan your letters is to jot down the key points you want to address, leaving room on the page for your interwoven thoughts and transitions. Go on the journey yourself and take others along with the finished product, a letter I’m sure you’ll be proud of.

 

Happy Writing and We Look Forward to Hearing From You!

 

 

“Dear Denton” a Letter in Video Read by Marc D. Crepeaux

 

Here is a video version of me reading “Dear Denton” from Letters Never Meant to be Read.

To Send In You Own Letters for the next volume, Please check out my Submissions Page. 

 

 

Dear Denton,

 

I wish I could have been there to stop you. Anyone would have tried but I do think some of your friends or family would have been unsuccessful. It sounds so cliché to say but it had to be said. Being realistic, I believe in survival of the fittest and I know that you just weren’t meant for this world. It can be perceived as heartless but you weren’t very happy so off with it anyway.

What was going through your head when you purchased that gun from Wal-Mart? It is like any form of consumerism I suppose. You shopped with a smile on your face and asked to see the gun behind the counter. You may have been so happy that you didn’t feel that tight pressure when you handed over the money to the cashier. I can imagine you whistling your way back to the Cutlass and prying the cool steel from the cardboard in the cab like a young boy getting a new action figure. I imagine you peeling away the packaging with such intensity all the way home, in that incessant multitasking way you always had. I can see you smoking like a chimney, your last few, or did you already quit? Rolling down the side of the road, knowing the spot was already picked out many times before. I can see you pulling over and loading the gun, or was it already loaded when you left the parking lot? Were you crying? Did you cackle like you always used to or were you resolute? I wonder if your last thought was your crazy mother, your crazy girlfriend, or was it just music in your ears? Did you pray? Were you high?

At your wake, your mother was completely hysterical and she told me you loved me. I find that hard to believe because we hadn’t seen each other in years. She also said something I still don’t understand, that you were already in heaven. I thought that blasting yourself in the face on the side of the road meant that you were definitely going to hell. I asked another Catholic once and he gave me a confusing answer. He said that if you were able to ask for forgiveness between pulling the trigger and actually dying, you were good. I find this scenario more likely for someone who missed and dies in a hospital bed surrounded by family a few days later. But you didn’t miss when you shot yourself in the face.

Every time I see a beauty of a guitar, I imagine you standing there smoking, telling me how you could modify it or how you could give it a romp. I remember when I got my loan while at school and we went out shopping by where you lived for music equipment. We took the same Cutlass Cierra you shot yourself in and loaded it up with live show gear. I know, I know, I should have bought recording equipment instead. I thought I was going to be a rock star. The thing is, you could have been one, even if it was medium scale in the new industry.

I am always reminded of you by the painting The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. I’m pretty sure you loved that painting and I find it interesting that Picasso painted it after his friend committed suicide.

If you are in heaven or are a roving ghost, the least you could do is give me some insightful advice or scare the bejesus out of me in order to get me to change my ways. I must be doing a decent job of it though, no one that I know that has died has visited me yet but I wouldn’t mind hearing your sarcasm again.

I remember leaving my shirt in your room on purpose after I took a shower, knowing that whatever girls you had over would get to see me come into the room all nonchalant, looking for my shirt and just throw it on. Kind of funny because I am porcelain white but it worked at least one time all the same. She was too young and I was too stupid to follow through, but I remember her and she remembers you.

Thanks for helping me find my place among the muck and the history and the pretentiousness that was Purchase. You helped me branch out and I didn’t feel so bad about being so green. It was great to go to your house during breaks and play guitar and talk about women. We had a great time hanging out with the nerdy girls of that suite and pretending to be so depressed and in pain.

The problem was, you were never pretending.

 

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Book Review: Lust, Money & Murder Books 1-3.

Video Version:

 

 

WARNING- I received a free Audible credit from the author Mike Wells to review this book (bribery). Well, not exactly because I COULD have used the credit on ANYTHING to include Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology that I’ve had my ear on…

But I did the right thing. Besides, I enjoyed Mike’s last book that I reviewed Passion, Power & Sin so much that I gave his work another go. I burned through these 10 hours in about 2 days while getting ready. driving, and cooking dinner.

 

Book Description:

Born in the worst suburb in Pittsburgh, Elaine Brogan is bright, beautiful and bold. When her father is falsely arrested for passing counterfeit $100 bills, Elaine vows to become a Secret Service agent and track down the man responsible. After barely surviving the arduous Secret Service Training Academy in Laurel, Maryland, she is transferred to bleak and blustery Great Falls, Montana.

But things do not go as planned, and Elaine soon finds herself betrayed and thrown into an adventure that takes her halfway around the world, from dark and mysterious Sofia, Bulgaria, to Moscow Russia, and finally, to Milan, Italy. In the end, will Elaine find the love and happiness she truly seeks…or will she turn to a life of obscene wealth, power and corruption?

 

What I Liked About this Book:

 

I want to talk to you about crime…NOT the ones that I am thinking of committing but counterfeit to the 100th degree, murder, two-timing, and espionage.

Mike Wells has an uncanny ability to take a crime such as counterfeiting, research the heck out of it, and tell a believable, worldly tale that spans several years and country borders.

Both books are led by a strong female heroine who is cute, has some grit, and contains enough moral ambiguity within her small body to get the job done. Elaine Brogan is a great character and I especially enjoyed her origin story to include her college years and her time spent at the secret service academy.

I also enjoyed the concept of counterfeit operations. These went beyond money, and into the realms of dress and apparel. The premier villain, Cattoretti, has a great backstory with humble beginnings in Italy to knock-off and counterfeit tycoon.

Does Mike Wells know what he is talking about? Are the machines and processes he describes real? SURE. I have no idea, but the story-line, again, is so believable that I don’t even care. Truly Entertaining.

The Audible performance was once again superb.

 

What I Didn’t Like About this Book:

 

Formula much? The formula for this plot is almost identical to the last book.

Let me throw together the recipe for you:

  1. Female heroine with troubled past who is so driven that obstacles blow themselves up in her undying path.
  2. Main Villain with everything. He is clever, charming, comes from a poor background, but is also a killer.
  3. A regular guy hero with special attributes.
  4. High Crime that spans national borders- in this case, counterfeit.
  5. An awkward side-villain who has some strange bedroom behaviors and his even weirder partner.
  6. Ancillary characters that sometimes have deep background info, sometimes die, but always play a role in the progression of the story.
  7. It all works out in the end. Or does it?

 

Voila! You have both of these books. I’m not going to lie, this is quite entertaining. Even though it is formulaic, plenty of the top sellers that are going like hotcakes in the airport right now are the same way. Can’t exactly knock a good thing, and I figure Mike has plenty of tricks up his sleeve a this one goes on until newly released book 11.

Hard to knock something that works.

But I don’t think that I can read Baby Talk, sorry Mike. I am interested in Wild Child and The Wrong Side of the Tracks though, both from around 2014.

 

What this Does for My Writing:

I thought I wrote a crime novella, Modern Waste, and am working on the next Worked Stiff: Crime Does Pay, but my little meth-driven capers in the backwoods and petty thieves of North Georgia couldn’t hold a candle to the criminal empire building that Mike creates.

I do like these books and it makes me think about my own formulas. I took some jabs at it above, but if it pays the bills and people are happy and entertained, who cares?

Again, Mike Wells has so many series and books that he probably wrote one while I was filming and writing this silly blog.

His common use of strong female leads also provide inspiration for my own.

 

4- Stars. 

I certainly recommend these books to anyone who just wants to sit on the beach this summer and chill with a good yarn. You can span a lot of time and territory with Mike’s work and you don’t even have to get locked up!

 

 

Author Transitions From Blog to YouTube Sensation

Don’t worry folks, just a little walk around the yard and me mumbling to myself. Don’t fear, I will still spend some time typing away for your enjoyment. I have several books that I am working on right now for fall release.

Do Send us some letters though, the flexible due date for Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume II is July 15th!