Hello Letter Writers,
Hello Letter Writers,
Last year, I discovered A.M. Hounchell on Twitter, read a book of his in one sitting, and did a review the very same day. We became fast friends that still have never met in person. But, it was clear to me even then that he could write. I got him to compose some letters for Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume II, and somehow we decided it was a good idea to start a separate book together as well.
“Ever play chess by mail?” I asked him last summer. How old of me and super nerdy. He is at least a decade younger than me and has known no world without cell phones.
“That’s what we’re going to do, I have a few ideas,” and I laid out the groundwork for our then unknown collaboration.
We erected the skeleton for a story idea, a good and twisted plot full of holes, and the promise of a great journey. I wrote, sent, and waited. He wrote, sent, and waited…
I sent him the first chapter which included two scenes last July. He sent me something back. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting at the time, but what I got was crazy.
There, Quintessential Reality was born, and Shelly’s life was in our hands. Can two men write as one woman? We never doubted that, just where we were going. We actually wrote for Shelly in both 3rd and 1st person point of view. Hard to talk about, super fun to do.
I honestly feel better writing for a female protagonist and have done so on many occasions in Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. Sure, I grew up with a house full of girls and now live in the same manner as the minority sex, but does that make me some kind of expert? No. Easy to say, harder to prove.
I can admit that women provide me a great mystery of character, like a warm puzzle you never quite get, but you still try. When I was a little boy, I would pull on curling irons that were hot and ready to go on the bathroom sink. They were marvelous and I was curious. I have the scars to prove it. That kind of mystery, I did it again on the page.
Writing as a woman is both liberating and challenging. Also, the manuscript was combed by kind and brutal female beta readers, so neither one of us could play the fool.
Here is the book description and result of our dark and wonderful collaboration lest I give away any spoilers:
Shelly’s life is perfect by any conventional sense. She has a loving husband, two children, a great house, and her career as a real estate agent is really taking off. Just as her daughter’s sweet sixteen birthday party is in the works, Shelly’s life begins to unravel. She starts to realize that in suburban America, life choices are less about what you want, and more about the cards you are dealt. Mental illness is only half of her dark and twisted Quintessential Reality.
After each incident, Shelly confides with the reader, telling her true feelings about what is really going on.
She’ll have to battle her inner and outer demons to find her true self– buried deep below the rubble.
Her options are to Dig or Suffocate.
That’s right, folks. The ENTIRE Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. catalog will boast FREE Amazon Kindle Versions from Tuesday-Saturday. (4/17-4/21)
See which FREE KINDLE book suits your fancy from our Amazing Authors by clicking the links below:
Don’t Forget About Our Letters Contest!
Always accepting submissions.
We Dare You…
When a certain Army and college buddy comes to call, I always answer. Daniel Klein and I have known each other for a decade and have gone back and forth with business and sound advice that have been mutually beneficial.
Over the years, both of us have had our share of ventures, harebrained schemes, and ideas come to fruition. His wife could recount at least a half dozen business ventures that we cooked up, feeding off each other’s creativity.
Although our ultimate business models are not the same, our paths have crossed and will continue to cross in the years and projects to come. I have learned that not all business partners need to share the same passions. They can cross tracks when warranted and be just fine. After all, forcing the issue with business has its time and place with B2B collaboration.
The making of The Forge: Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program Workbook can account for one of these fantastic collaborations.
This brings me to my first glorious summer as a teacher. I had big plans. The 2nd Letters Book was in full motion and I was dabbling with my YouTube channel. I had a backlog of story ideas and all the time in the world…or so I thought…
Daniel called and I answered. I knew that he had a side business developing Six Sigma Courses that he built with The Forge. He told me he had a manuscript that would be ready soon. He knew that I was crafting an independent publishing machine that could handle such a project, and we were off.
“I’m not going to be able to edit the math…” I remember saying this to him over the phone and he agreed. 🙂 Toward the end of the summer, I received the finished manuscript that would soon turn into a full-fledged textbook.
Creating a textbook for Daniel’s Six Sigma Course was important. Not only does it give you clout in your industry, a textbook can also provide another source of revenue. On top of that, a textbook will give you a permanent business card and something to fall back on should your business change or you go in another direction. It should be the backbone of any training platform, and Daniel knew this.
Books are a legacy. They can reel in new clients who are unsure about taking the plunge with your company, or offer that college or university an incentive to seek out your instructors. They can even buy your textbook for their classes.
So, what did I know about Six Sigma Green Belt Certification before I took up this project? Not much. My experience with lean operations or lean anything was intuitive, not formed by doctrine. Some Six Sigma principles can be seen in the Army, but we usually find a way to muddy the waters by adding bureaucratic layers.
The truth is, I was a novice about the subject matter and only learned what I was doing right and wrong after reading the book for the thirtieth or so time. I learned a lot just from reading the book.
What I do have an eye for is good writing and how to take a project and all its pieces to that final stretch. I also know how to take a manuscript, any manuscript, and bring it to market. Lucky for me, that was my job.
For all you editors out there, I kindly recommend that you branch out your skills and edit a non-fiction book once in a while if your main clientele is sci-fi, for example. Or, if you write fiction for a living, edit business books and the occasional fiction just to keep your mind fresh.
I found that I could only edit this book for two hours at a time. The subject matter was fine and it was only painful before I realized what my work schedule needed to be on this project. After that, I was fresh and willing to put the time in and get it right. I had a routine for editing this book, and that was important.
Layout. Well, after my second publication, Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common, I thought I had all the tools necessary to layout a book, any book. Seriously, a 8×10 poetry book with full-page illustrations was NOT easy, but I learned so much that I thought I could tackle anything.
Anything, that is, until a Six Sigma Textbook came along. Needless to say, we pushed through and a book went to market. The gritty details were all a learning experience as my skills were tested. Throughout this layout process, I learned so much and had fun. I am confident that any project that comes at me now will be a piece of cake after the last performance.
Shouldn’t have said that…But in all seriousness, I do recommend getting really comfortable with Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign. Special thanks to my buddy Glenn at Sarcopress for helping me through a bind… or two…
The finished product represents hard work and dedication for all involved. To bring something from an idea to a tangible product is something that gives me great joy, even if it’s not mine.
I do recommend this book and these courses for anyone that wants to get a leg up with this Lean Six Sigma training platform.
With The Forge’s flexible, live interactive online class, you can gain essential Green Belt online training, as well as Lean and Six Sigma skills at your convenience to improve your company’s standing – and your own – in the business world.
The textbook is a great solution for anyone that needs the down and dirty version of the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification. Most textbooks on this subject are just painful to read but we made sure this one is not difficult for the beginner.
For all you editors and indie publishers out there, I recommend you branch out your catalog and your skill set. That way, when an old friend comes to call, YOU can say YES to a new project and get your feet wet for a change.
We created this body of knowledge to take someone with zero knowledge of the concepts of Lean Six Sigma and bring them to a level where they could confidently pass a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt exam. Our goal for the readers is to get them ready to certify as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Whether it be as a student or independent reader, this book will be a key part of your preparation for certification. This book includes an introduction to tools and techniques that you may not have encountered yet in practice.
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That’s right, folks. The ENTIRE Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. catalog will boast FREE Amazon Kindle Versions from Thursday-Monday.
This is in a knee-jerk reaction to our new book Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II which is out now.
See which FREE KINDLE book suits your fancy from our Amazing Authors by clicking the links below:
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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,
“…what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.”
― Cal Newport,
“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,
A bit of the Book Description:
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.
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.
If you are looking for a decent read to adjust your working habits and productivity, I certainly recommend the Audible Version of
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 email@example.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?
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.
I recently edited, produced, and published Andrew Brechko’s Where Did You Go?: A 21st Century Guide to Finding Yourself Again. What started as an enthusiastic discussion in the middle of a night maneuver, we two soldiers decided to produce a book together. Then, after bouts of sweaty misery in the Louisiana swamps, contacts were exchanged and promises were made.
Hard to believe, but 7 months later, we had a finished product that I believe to be a great starter book for my Army buddy Andrew, which also carries a good message to the reader. Given some coaching and time behind the keys, Andrew can be a prolific non-fiction author with excellent subject matter. On the whole, the book serves as a new path to take and has reportedly caused entire sections of the workforce to call it quits and follow their dreams.
After things settled a bit, I put the book up for audition on ACX. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we received over 40 auditions. I suppose that self- help or time management style books that are short are the bread and butter for some producers.
What an amazing platform and God Bless America because I found Barry Dean Evans.
Barry entered the voice over world at radio station KANS in Larned, Kansas. After a degree in Radio/TV Journalism from Kansas State University (EMAW!) he continued at NPR affiliate KSAC in Manhattan, then with radio station KFDI in Wichita, KS and KRMG in Tulsa, OK. Barry then became chief recording engineer and voice talent at Irving Productions in Tulsa for more than 30 years before starting Irving Sound, LLC in 2012.
Barry has voiced, appeared on-camera, edited, produced and written radio and television commercials from coast to coast and around the world. His projects include, the BASSMasters, ESPN, the Kentucky Derby/NBC, the University of Tulsa football and basketball, the Outdoor Channel, White Tail Country, Under Wild Skies, 6 Flags over Texas, Sonic, Arby’s, Thrifty Car Sales, Phillips 66, Garmin, Dowell Schulmberger and he was the voice of ESPN Classic for 10 years. His most recent work has been for CitiBank and GTA Telecommunications in Guam.
ESPN classic? Really? Such luck that Barry took kindly to our little project and produced an awesome Audiobook. Here was his audition and sample of the work:
Editing is hard. Editing a first-time author? Dangerous. I teach English, I should know where commas go, right? Wrong!
Barry did such a great job at reading through minor errors that I did not see with my eyes peeled, and run-on sentence structure. I plan to use his recording when I edit the book (again) and release the 2nd edition.
Turns out, both Andrew and I have an unusual attraction to the same plague: long-winded sentence structure.
I spent many cold mornings between 5am-7am writing and rewriting his work. I even sent it off for proofreading to my “go to guy” just in case. I feared the danger.
The danger that Andrew and I both fear is periods.
All is well that ends well though and I can do better, WILL do better. I have learned a great deal. With solid voice artists like Barry, we can all see our dreams come alive with sound.
I urge anyone with a book out there on Amazon or other platform to consider publishing their title with ACX. With more Audible customers every day and less competition overall, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
If you are wondering how to produce your audiobook for free with ACX, check out my previous post on “Why Audible and ACX are a MUST for Indie Authors.”
If you have any questions on producing your own Audible and iTunes versions, feel free to ask.
Now, go click a few dozen times, find your actor, and produce the Audio. I dare you…
Check out Andrew at http://abrechkooutdoors.com/
This is my first year teaching and the moment is upon us here in the South, Summer Vacation. I have a number of plans to include some light burglary and home repairs. But above all, I plan to do a great deal of READING and WRITING.
Below is a short list of the books I intend on reading. Some are not Indie, some are. Just like my writing, I will genre hop. If you do not see your genre included here, DO NOT be afraid to ask. I am always open to explore. Other books are for sport, entertainment, or writing practice.
If you want your work to be reviewed, I accept ARCs, but if I can, I will buy it. You can check out my review page above or just shoot me a message below or on Twitter.
Due to the fact that I will likely spend a lot of time in the car this summer, Audible copies are often moved to the front.
This is by no means a complete list, but a starter list and NOT in any particular order. I hope to review these books and many others, so please send in your requests.
2. Scooped this up on Kindle Unlimited, already started and I like it so far…
3. Niels Saunders follows my blog and I am genuinely interested in his writing. Not going to lie, I DO want to take a picture with a pineapple and I love his branding. If he is paying attention, he will send me an ARC. He has a newer book out Grand Theft Octo that I may get to later.
4. and 5. I received these copies from Joanne Van Leerdam all the way from Australia! Stained Glass will be a gift after I read and review. I reviewed her short story collection New Horizons here.
6. 80% finished already, Jack Donovan is very interesting indeed.
7. Picked this up at a bargain at McKay’s Used books in Knoxville, TN. Great Store.
8. Picked this up at a bargain at McKay’s Used books in Knoxville, TN. Great Store.
9. This book is written entirely in letters. Such great practice filled with enjoyment for the next Letters Never Meant to be Read. Also picked this up at a bargain at McKay’s Used books in Knoxville, TN. Great Store.
10. Because “Your Mother Should Know…”
12. The Eon Chronicles: A New Order Emerges Book 1 of the Eon Chronicles Trilogy (Volume 1). I actually went to high school with Daniel Sopp and now we are sort of family by marriage. I have been meaning to get to this book. It is out of print now but maybe if it is good, I can convince him to let me do a reprint.
14. Because I well…run. I picked this gem up at Alan’s Used Books.
16. I have read some of this already. Sections of the book are for traditional publishing methods, but I will revisit this and possibly review.
17. Have to see what this is about and check out Derek Murphy’s tactics in fiction form. I will read this with my daughter.
18. Because…I want to know.
19. Newer cover is better and I listened to it before. I will listen again, maybe it will help…
20. Love a little Faulkner. A little hard to follow at times, but it gets the words flowing.
21. I got to like day 12 and got distracted, which the book warns against. I will follow through with this and review.
22. Same as above. I started reading tactics in the book and got distracted from finishing. I will finish and review.
23. Because…Jack Donovan
24. Because…Jack Donovan
25. ADD YOUR TITLE TO THE LIST!!!
Too many? Too little? We’ll see.
Don’t see your book on the list?
Comment below and I am sure to oblige. Remember, Audible books will usually be reviewed sooner!