Changes for the Home Stretch

One of the pieces of advice I received when I started shopping THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER to different publishers was to make sure I had a blog. At the time, another blog of mine already existed, but it was much more personal and family-oriented in nature. So, I started this blog with the idea that it would serve as my “author” blog.

Once I had the blog up and running, the next piece of advice I received was that I needed to make sure that I blogged on a regular basis. If I went too long between entries, the blog would cease to be effective. Another article I read also suggested that not only should I be active, but I should be predictably active. The idea is that a blog will attract regular readers much more readily if they can know on a regular basis when they should expect new entries.

For about eight months now, I have tried to do this. To be honest, I’m not sure if anybody noticed but me. But I did it because it is an industry norm. Or so I’m told.

Well, the truth is, I have noticed its effectiveness.  When I started this blog, I was lucky if 15 to 20 people read an entry. Now, on average, a typical entry will get around 50 to 60 views on day one and anywhere from 20 to 30 in the next two days following. Numbers that are certainly not setting the world on fire, but pretty decent considering where I started.

Now, one thing I have noticed is that I have been pretty consistent about publishing a blog post on Monday. I haven’t been quite as consistent with blogging on Thursday (sometimes it slips to Friday and sometimes I have missed altogether), but I have noticed that my Monday posts are routinely more widely read than my Thursday or Friday posts. I don’t know why, but they are.

So, taking into account the numbers and the fact that I am running out of things to say, moving forward, I am going to blog each Monday and that will probably be it. (I fully understand that most people’s response will be, “What is he talking about? Does he honestly think we care when he posts stuff? What kind of ego driven maniac are dealing with here?”)

The reason I am putting this out there (to be completely frank about the marketing strategy I am trying to employ) is to hopefully maximize my efforts with those who have become somewhat regular readers. If they know when to expect something, they will be less likely to miss it. Not every post between now and August will be book related, but the reason this is important is that when they are book related, I am then dependent on those regular readers to help me disseminate some of the more “Major Announcement” kind of things that will be coming in the next few weeks as the release for THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER is now a mere three months away.

What kind of announcements? Well, the cover art should be done very shortly. A new look to the website that will more effectively promote the book will be up soon. Short previews of the novel itself will appear in some posts and hopefully announcements of positive reviews (that’s a big assumption, I know) will post here as well.

But here is my huge request. If you are a friend, family member or complete stranger who is marginally excited for the release of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, I really need your help in the coming months. I realize these requests are unfair as they are favors I will likely never be able to repay. But I ask because as anybody who is trying to make their dream a reality in this new world of social media knows: one extra share or one extra like can be the difference of something going viral or something going stagnant. So here are my requests.

1. Share and like posts that deal with “major” announcements regarding THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER.

2. Invite people to “like” my author page, preferably more than once. (Invite more than once, not like)

3. Hopefully some author signings will be announced. If you are one of those people who doesn’t like to pre-order things or distrusts putting your credit card on the internet and happens to live in one of those areas where a signing is announced, please (yes, I have fully reached begging mode here) take the opportunity to visit that store where the signing is scheduled and request a copy be ordered for you ahead of the book’s release. Currently, only one is scheduled for sure and that is the book’s release party at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ.

4. If you live in a state other than Arizona or Utah, I’m probably not gonna be signing anywhere near you. If you have plans to purchase the book, please consider purchasing the book now as a pre-0rder from Amazon.com. You can do so by clicking here.  Pre-order numbers affect the efforts in marketing the book by the publisher as well as bookstores that will consider stocking a book.

If you are a person who hates to be “that guy” or “that girl” who pushes things on their friends and family, I understand. If you would prefer to not “like” every post or not suggest people follow my page, I get it. I won’t let my kids sell their latest PTO stuff door to door because I don’t want my neighbors to feel pressured. I totally understand. But if you think you might be buying this book, this last request is the request that matters most. If you do pre-order it, whether it be through a bookstore or on-line, I thank you more than I can express. It means a great deal to me.  Really, Thank You.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive. I hope when the final product lands in your hands you aren’t extremely let down. If you have followed this blog regularly, then you probably have a good idea of what to expect from the writing. Except now there will be a story included. I can’t believe it is coming so quickly. Thanks again everybody, for all the support you’ve provided and for anything you may do going forward. You’re great.

For anyone hoping for a less pushy post, all I can offer is my latest post from last Thursday in case you missed it. (It wasn’t a Monday post, so it is likely that you did.)

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives August 13, 2013. Ryan Rapier the author’s facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor. As noted above, it can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon.com. Just think parents, it will be here just in time for you to enjoy as you send your kids back to school.

 

This Mail Bag (Blog Post) is a Complete Ripoff

Do you enjoy being frightened? If so, I encourage you to google the phrases, “book blog” or “book reviews”. Go ahead, do it. I’ll wait.

Okay, assuming that your head didn’t just explode from an overload of information you couldn’t possibly process, and you were able to make it back to this post, you are now likely sitting there stunned at the number of people who blog about writing books, reading books, reviewing books they’ve read or some combination of the three. In fact, what you may not have seen, but trust me when I tell you it does exist, are blogs who sell a service known as book blasting where they will coordinate with a number of other blogs on an author’s behalf, so that your book will be featured on a large number of blogs at the same time. To a first time author, it’s overwhelming, believe me.

Now one of the things that is common on a lot of these blogs are “interviews” with different authors.  What this consists of is the blogger providing a list of questions to an author, who then fills out answers to said questions before e-mailing them back to the blogger. These interviews tend to be pretty generic (as one might expect) and often consist of questions like, “Favorite ice cream flavor” or “Dogs or cats”. At least that is what I have seen on the LDS book blogs. Maybe on other blogs, they move into the more provocative questions like, “Boxers or briefs”, but the truth is, I don’t know. I didn’t look.

But a common thing I hear a lot is that you have to get yourself out there, and these interviews are a way to do that. Well, that got me thinking. You know what would be way more fun than answering generic interview questions? Answering questions from all of my faithful readers and followers. It’s a concept that was designed by one of my favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons. But then I realized, in order for this concept to work, you actually have to have faithful readers and followers.

Or do you?

So, in a continued effort to “get myself out there”, I will be answering questions that cover a wide range of topics that interest me that have been submitted by my faithful fans…all of whom I have made up…along with their questions. We’ll see how this goes.

Do you believe it was an affront to Jesus and Christians everywhere when Denver traded Tim Tebow in order to have a chance at signing Peyton Manning?  B. Graham – Charlotte, NC

No, I do not. I believe the Denver Broncos are now the front runners to win the 2014 Super Bowl. If they had kept Tim Tebow, this would not be the case.

Follow up question: Does your lack of faith in Tim Tebow imply that you hate Jesus?

I sincerely hope not. But I will admit to hating all thing associated with the Florida Gators.

Are you a regular user of DoTerra oils?  M. Kay – Dallas, TX

No, I am not. I have heard great things about their products, but my only experience with them was when I accepted a small sample of an oil that claimed to be an aphrodisiac. However, after applying the oil, my wife reported absolutely no difference in my behavior. I apparently was as pushy and obnoxious as usual. In hindsight, maybe this experiment was a bad one to base any kind of judgment on.

Twitter or Facebook?  M. Zuckerberg – Palo Alto, CA

I recognize the possible irony of my answer as this post will go out via Twitter, but I will definitely have to go with Facebook. Maybe I am showing my age, but the whole point of Twitter is kind of lost on me. With Facebook, I feel a little like it is a huge family and school and mission reunion all rolled into one. I can have back and forth conversations with a lot of different people I have known over the years or just choose to peruse/stalk people’s lives that I have an interest in.

With Twitter, it’s different. To me, it feels like I walk into a room where every single person I am “following” is shouting at each other without taking the time to listen to what anyone else is saying. Having said that, anyone who found this post through Twitter, I obviously was not referring to you. So please be sweet and retweet. (As an aside, the best part of Twitter is also its worst feature: the easy retweet. It’s great when I want to share something without much hassle, but there are some people out there who sit and retweet everything anyone they are following has ever said. It’s ridiculous. I once saw someone brag-tweet that they had been cut off for exceeding their maximum tweets for one day. You have to be well into the triple digits to have that happen to you. And to be proud of that? Searching for a life might possibly be in order.)

What is your favorite movie?  S. Spielberg – Hollywood, CA

(Upfront, I admit that this question is barely a step up from “Favorite Ice Cream” but I don’t care, I wanted to answer it.)

When it comes to favorite movie, I think everyone should be allowed to take a Golden Globes approach as opposed to an Oscar approach, in that everyone should be allowed to have their favorite movie and then their favorite comedy or musical. If a comedy is your favorite movie, there is a possibility you may need more depth as a person. Or at least learn how to lie so it sounds like you have more depth.

Anyway, my favorite comedy or musical would have to be Maverick. I’m still despondent that a sequel was never made. As far as my overall favorite movie, for years and years it was The Hunt for Red October. But since 2008, that honor has belonged to The Dark Knight. (Any and all comments regarding my depth will respectfully be kept to yourself.)

Do you believe that the re-election of Barack Obama as president is a sign that western civilization as we knew it is over?  R. Limbaugh – Palm Beach, FL

No. I believe we reached that point when more than 5 people on earth found Kathy Griffin to be humorous in any way.

What was your favorite part about writing a book?  J. Grisham – Oxford, MS

The bitter arguments that nearly ripped apart my marriage when my wife would be forced to tell me that something I  had written wasn’t very good. She was always right, which only made hearing it that much worse.

What is your deepest, darkest secret that embarrasses  you still today?  O. Winfrey – Chicago, IL

That the character of Edward Cullen is actually based on me during my college days.

Follow up: Are you serious?

Of course not. What kind of moron shares their deepest, darkest secret with the world on a blog. Now if it was Cosmopolitan, People or OK magazine, that would be different.

What historical event, that happened during your lifetime, has most influenced your life?  R. Rapier – Thatcher, AZ

Dead serious here, folks. The 1978 decision by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to extend the priesthood to all worthy males, which basically meant black men of African descent. Learning about the history that surrounded this event forced me to evaluate all I ever thought I understood about my faith, my religion and my belief system. Some might suggest that thinking too much about this issue could only lead to a negative outcome, but for me it was just the opposite. I believe my faith is stronger today than ever. However, I now do tend to think about some things a little bit differently. Maybe we’ll revisit this in a future blog post. Maybe not. (Picture me shrugging my shoulders to indicate I’m not really sure.)

If you could change one decision you have made in your life, what would it be? 

I would have started to write my book sooner. I love writing. That’s why I keep a blog. (That and it is highly suggested by my publisher and several other writing friends.) I regret that I never took the time to make this dream a reality sooner. But the truth is, the book that I wrote would not be the same had it been written any sooner than when it was. So now that I’ve said that, maybe that’s a decision I wouldn’t change.

*****

Well, that’s it. My first Bill Simmons Mailbag rip-off. I hope he doesn’t have the idea of bolding the questions and leaving the answers unbolded copywrited. Now if anybody out there reading this has additional questions they want to leave in the comments section or through a message on facebook (you can try Twitter, but I offer no guarantees), I would be happy to produce a follow up post to this one. But again, that’s assuming anybody out there is actually reading this. And for anyone discovering ryansrapierwit.com for the first time, now comes the shameless promotional message that accompanies each post.

Ryan Rapier’s debut novel, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, hits shelves and Amazon warehouses on August 13. You can pre-order this book at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ or on Amazon.com by clicking here. Or, you can request a copy be ordered for you in advance of the release date at any store where LDS books are sold.

If you, or anyone you know, enjoys liking pages on facebook for no other reason than clicking that little thumbs up gives you a rush, feel free to visit, www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor and give our thumbs up a click. We promise twice the adreneline rush of any other page out there or your money back. If you want, you can also follow my twitter handle @RyanRapier, but…whatever.

This Wasn’t In the Brochure

I’m going to be straight up. There are a few things about being a parent that I dread almost more than death. In fact, if you catch me on the right day, almost might come out of the equation.

Now I’m not talking about the normal go-tos. The dirty diapers, cleaning up puke and potty training are obvious and frankly, child’s play. No, I’m talking about the insidious things that generally come later in life. Things like:

Recorder concerts – Now I recognize that I am going to have to attend a lot of different recitals/concerts/sporting events with varying degrees of talent being showcased. That’s not a problem. If a child of mine has an interest in something, I am more than happy to support them and attend said events as they work through the difficult early days prior to their talent and hard work paying off. It is  part of the parent/child contract, and something I am happy to do. But Thatcher schools has this crazy idea that in third grade, they need to give every child (Not those with an interest in music. We are talking every child) a recorder. Wait a minute, I take that back, they require us as parents to go buy every child a recorder. Now for those who don’t know, a recorder is a poor man’s version of the clarinet and, when played incorrectly, is first cousins with a dog whistle. Needless to say, third graders play them incorrectly about 97% of the time. So, they force each of these children to learn a few songs on the recorder (which requires wayyyyy too much practice time at home) and then invite all the parents to come and listen to their children play these songs they’ve been enduring at home for the past month in a concert setting. What you discover is that no child has learned to play the recorder any better than your child has and so if you close your eyes, you realize that the “concert” could just as easily be a mass exercise in torture at your local bird sanctuary. I have now survived two of these blitzkrieg assaults on my eardrums and am steeling myself now for the third one which will take place next year. But I never give up on the dream of some congressman finding an obscure entry in the Obamacare bill that requires the immediate destruction of all recorders nationwide. I know it’s not likely to happen, but come on. Have you seen the size of that bill? And it does purport to encourage preventative healthcare. I can’t think of anything more preventative than taking away all the recorders so I don’t accidently break one over the head of some unsuspecting and undeserving music teacher.

Pinewood Derby Cars – There are many reasons I am hoping this baby we are expecting is a girl. Daughters have a way of nestling their way directly into a father’s heart. They also do not require the father to make a pinewood derby car each year between the ages of 8 and 10. Oh how I hate this rite of passage that the scouting organization forces upon its members. The main problem is, I am not a skilled worker of wood nor do I own a lot of tools needed for effective wooden car construction. So, I am left with these admittedly imperfect options. I can build it from scratch and have a wonderful bonding experience with my son that is shot to h#@! the minute we put that car on the track and it finishes a good three second behind all of the other cars. That’s what happened to my oldest son on our first attempt. The next option is to go to Hobby Lobby and purchase a pre-cut car that looks awesome, but requires very little from me. I basically have to hand it to my son with a sheet of sandpaper and say, “Get after it, bud.” and then go park myself in front of the TV, providing “expert” examinations on the wood’s smoothness at varying intervals. This is what we did the second year and while the bonding was definitely lacking, my son took first place in his age bracket and was thrilled. The only downside was the nagging guilt I felt at my lack of involvement in my son’s success. This year, I was faced with the perfect storm I’d been dreading for months. It was the only year I would have two sons in the cub scouting program at the same time, requiring me to build two cars instead of one. So, I did what any delinquent father would do and I bought tickets to the ASU/UofA basketball game that was scheduled for the same day as the pinewood derby and I got them and myself the heck out of Dodge. Surprisingly, I felt less guilt with this option than I did with the pre-cut car. Go figure. Anyway, this year worked out so well, I am half thinking of making this a tradition for at least…the next two years. Even if ASU is playing in Pullman, Washington that weekend, I will still have to give it serious consideration.

The Birds and the Bees Talk – Another reason I am rooting for baby #5 to be a girl is this horrific life moment that any decent parent cannot escape. Shannon and I have a deal. She will take the girls and I will take the boys. I would assume most other couples would have a similar arrangement, but there is no way in Hades I’m ever gonna ask. Because I really don’t want to know if there is a couple out there that doesn’t. Anyway, when my oldest daughter reached this pinnacle of life, my wife got on Facebook and started gathering a hundred different ideas on how best to handle this. She got books and she went into that talk as prepared as if she were facing a final in her last semester of college. She did great. She covered every base and was ready for every question. I was proud of her. As it turned out, she either did such a good job, or my daughter just isn’t a real talker about personal things, but she had relatively few questions to deal with. I was hoping and praying for similar experience.

Anyone who knows my oldest son is knowingly shaking their heads right now. There isn’t a topic on this planet that involves science in any way that isn’t going to get fully dissected by a thousand inquiries. I should have known this. But I didn’t. I think I chose to approach this whole thing with a dash of denial.

So, on a warm spring morning, I took him to get a Dairy Queen blizzard and we went and parked under a tree. I didn’t have books, I didn’t have diagrams and I didn’t have any great ideas provided by my network of social media friends. I just laid it out as best I could. I tried not to hold anything back and then I waited…hoping…gaining confidence with each passing second that he just sat there eating his ice cream.

And then the dam burst.

He started off easy enough, but then he moved to things that I hadn’t thought of until well into my high school years. He even threw in a few questions I couldn’t answer. By and large, when it was over, it had ended up being a good experience for us. And if nothing else, I will be wellllll prepared for son number two in a few years. But it got me thinking.

When my dad finally came to me that fateful day to have the talk, I had already been through a thorough education at the hands of my peers at Duncan Elementary School. Looking back, I knew far more than I should have while at the same time not really knowing anything. This made things tough on my father because I didn’t have any questions. I also think there is a major difference in this younger generation and the one I grew up in. Because I can remember clearly that even if I had had questions, there was no way I was going to ask them of my parents. It would have been way too embarrassing. But my son, to this day, will come back to my wife and I with no shame or embarrassment. It’s actually pretty cool.

But I also realized this week that this level of comfort between child and parent has its downside.

My daughter and I were driving along listening to my iPod when a song came on we have sung along to a hundred times. But this time, there was no sound coming from my daughter’s side of the truck. When the song ended, she said, “I can never sing along to that song anymore.”

I was confused. “Why not?”

My question earned me a huge eye roll and a look that practically screamed, “COME ON, DAD!!! Don’t be such an idiot.” It’s my favorite look. It makes me feel so good. Anyway, she combined her expression with a mumbled, “I just…I just can’t.”

And that’s when it hit me. The title of the song references something that can be taken two very different ways. Very tentatively, I asked if that reference was the problem.

“Uh, YEAHHH!!!”

I have never experienced such conflicted emotions in my life. It is one thing for my son to be so open about personal things. It is just kind of who he is. But my daughter…Never! So the fact that she would be this open with me was like the ultimate validation of my parenting.

On the other hand. I was horrified. I have always wanted to live in a fantasy world where my thirteen-year-old daughter never learned of such things. Never mind I knew what she was talking about at her age, in my mind, she should never have known.

And another thing. I chose to assume at thirteen that my parents didn’t know anything about this…act I’m referring to. And it was guaranteed I would never breath a word of it to them.

So there I sat in my truck trying not to look as stunned as I felt. I attempted to casually talk with her and assure her the song did not contain a line she thought it did. I hope it went okay. I think it did.

But I will admit to one thing. Part of me wishes that the old teenage/parent version of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell still existed. A much bigger part of me is grateful it doesn’t. I would not trade the relationship I have with my daughter for anything. That night was unique in that most of my family was out of town and so she and I got to eat pizza and watch a movie mostly on our own. It was a night I will not soon forget.

But while changing a dirty diaper or cleaning throw up is beyond nasty in the moment, within minutes, it’s over. It’s gone. This reminder that my children are growing up in a world filled with the vilest garbage is not fading at all. And so, although I might prefer to turn a blind eye, I will do everything I can to keep the channels of communication open. I may not always like what I see or hear, but at least there will be a better pay off than what I get from those infernal recorder concerts.

SHAMELESS BOOK PLUG ALERT

My book THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, arriving August 13, 2013, deals with the difficulty of a parent communicating with a teenage child. It might also touch on one man’s frustrations with aspects of scouting. It can be pre-ordered through Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ or from Amazon. com by clicking here.  You may also request a copy be ordered for you through any bookstore selling LDS fiction.

If you are not currently a fan of my author page on Facebook, please take a moment and “like” it for updates on cover art, interviews and reviews that come out as the release date draws closer. That link is www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor

Thank you to everyone for your continued support.

Sumo-Sized Praise for THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER

As I have previously mentioned on this blog, and as anyone who has ever attempted creative writing can attest to, writing a novel is not a one-shot-and-your-done process. You often have to write something, come back to it and realize you have no business thinking you can write, trying again, coming back and realizing you still have no business thinking you can write, taking your work to your spouse who confirms that you have no business thinking you can write, and so on and so forth until after five, six or twenty attempts later, you finally have a decent draft you can present to peers for a critique. When you finally get to that point, it can be very nerve wracking because you have arrived at a place where you realize you can’t do much better. You think to yourself, “Either I have talent or I don’t, because I cannot look at this story one more time without setting it on fire and then finding a dark corner to hopefully drink myself into oblivion.”

Okay, maybe that’s a tad dramatic, but it’s not far off. (By the way, your spouse will likely be more than happy to join you in setting it fire if she hasn’t done so already without your knowledge.)

So for me, after I had been through this gauntlet of hell, there was one logical choice when it came down to seeking a “peer review” from a fellow author.  I put peer review in quotes because my experience up until then was hacking my way through one unpublished novel while she, on the other hand, had published four. It’s kind of like calling your local karaoke star and George Strait peers. Anyway, the person who seemed the most logical was fellow Gila Valley author, Jennifer Griffith.

Jennifer, as mentioned, has published four novels. Her latest, BIG IN JAPAN, a story about a 300 pound man who finds himself unexpectedly caught up in the world of sumo wrestling, has even reached as high as #9 on the Amazon sales list for sports novels. And she knows a thing or two about critiquing manuscripts. Thankfully, she agreed to take a look at mine.

It turned out I couldn’t have been more fortunate. She provided a great perspective and gave me very sound advice that led to an overall strengthening of my story. She was also very supportive during the process of submitting my manuscript to agents and publishers. I owe her a great deal.

Anyway, when THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER got picked up by Cedar Fort Publishing, instead of saying thank you, I instead asked her for another favor. I asked if she would be willing to provide an endorsement. Once again, she was gracious and willing.

So first of all, let me say how much I appreciate Jennifer Griffith’s help and support through this entire process. And second of all, let me express how grateful I am for the following words that are extremely kind. Thanks, Jen. Her endorsement now follows:

Todd Landry would be the slightly cynical, charming everyman – if his life weren’t tinged by the tragedy of the death of his wife. Marci died too soon, leaving him with three kids and no idea what to do next, how to deal or how to progress.

He’s been putting on a good face for his children, but his parents and siblings know everything’s not okay and have insisted he get some counseling. To appease them, he’s been going faithfully to Dr. Schenk, a detached psychiatrist who’s ready to drop Todd as a patient because he refuses to speak in therapy sessions week after week. The doc issues an ultimatum: Todd must write or be dropped as a client. Todd knows the only thing keeping his family off his back is that he meets with Dr. Schenk, so he (extremely) reluctantly agrees. And he starts writing a blog.

What ensues in Ryan Rapier’s debut novel The Reluctant Blogger, is the unfolding of a life. It’s a life rich with history, emotion, and characters so true to life you’ll swear you’ve met them in church or are related to them yourself. Todd’s obstacles and efforts toward healing are fraught with emotional and social danger, and with frequent hilarious predicaments, all told through Todd Landry’s dry wit and his incisive descriptions of the friends and family that populate his world.

Rapier has an uncanny ability to take the reader from laughter to wrenching emotion in a matter of paragraphs. The whole page-turning journey is a wonderful roller coaster ride with characters the reader is invested in from page one—all the way to the highly satisfying ending. – Jennifer Griffith, Author of BIG IN JAPAN

BIG IN JAPAN is available in select bookstores and on-line at amazon.com. You can also visit her blog at www.authorjennifergriffith.com or you can like her Facebook author page as well at facebook.com/jennifergriffithauthor.

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER will arrive in bookstores and mailboxes August 13, 2013. It is currently available for pre-order at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ, or on-line at Amazon.com by clicking here. If you aren’t currently liking Ryan Rapier’s author page on facebook, please do so for no other reason than we are a self-absorbed society that judges ourselves by how many people are our “friends” or “like” us…and I’m no different. The page can be found www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor

Random Streams of Consciousness

After all the sugar that entered my blood stream over the weekend, it is hard for me to maintain a single coherent thought for more than a minute. Therefore, today, I am going to comment on a topic until I lost interest or focus and then move on to another topic.  We’ll see how it goes.

– Speaking of sugar, why is it that every major historical achievement that warrants its own holiday has been reduced to seeing how much unhealthy food a person can ingest in a day? For instance, how do we honor the truly blessed event of our forebears discovering this land of opportunity and plenty? By eating pie. Not a piece of pie, a pie…each…maybe plural. And you can top that pie off with some turkey and rich mashed potatoes dripping with gravy. But regardless of what the main course holds, you better have 36 pies waiting in the wings on Thanksgiving day or people will begin to question your level of gratitude.

Or how about the birth of the Son of God, the person responsible for each of us being able to return to live with God?  That’s right, Candy Canes, Sugar Cookies and any sort of imalgimation of chocolate, peanut butter, popcorn/rice crispies, and frosting. And nothing says Glory to God in the highest like a reenactment of the nativity topped off by several glasses of egg nog…and cake balls. (Who invented cake/oreo balls? Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever simultaneously loved and hated one person more in my entire life.)

And finally, how does the modern day Christian celebrate the single greatest act ever performed for the benefit of all mankind? With ham, of course. And as many Cadbury chocolate eggs as you can scrounge because you know full well the day after Easter their black market value will quadruple.

So, as I step on the treadmill today after a complete meltdown this weekend, (my wife had the nerve to tell me Saturday night to stop eating the ice cream in the freezer. I calmly explained that the only way that was going happen was if she stopped buying the ice cream to put in the freezer in the first place.)  I will start again and work tirelessly over the next month to undo the damage I inflicted on myself in three short days. Hey, that should be just in time for Memorial Day. AWESOME!!!

– For those who may have wondered, I didn’t win my golf tournament. I didn’t even come close. And I think the reasons are, #1, I am not that good of a golfer. #2, I need to quit getting so excited in the days leading up to this event. I was so overly amped that I barely slept three or four hours the night before and then spent the first six holes unable to breathe out of excitement. By the end of those six holes? I was down 13 shots. Yeah, that’s not a good recipe for success right there.

– Letting your kids make decisions for themselves has got to be the hardest thing to do in the world. This morning, my son was so excited that it was April Fool’s Day (AFD). He desperately wanted to wrap his arm up and put it in a sling for school. Now think through this with me for a second. He wanted to dibilitate himself for an entire day by removing the use of one arm so that he could yell, “April Fools” during the last five minutes of school. Who really gets punk’d in this situation? I can only imagine everyone around him who had the full function of both arms all day long reacting with a barely interested, “Huh? Oh…good one.”

Good one that is, until he mentioned that his best friend pulled the same prank a couple of years ago. Now take another moment to think about this.  Who are you trying to prank on AFD? Your friends, of course. So…do we really think your best friend, the same guy who has performed this clever act of subterfuge before is gonna be taken in by this? My son’s response, “Well, it was two years ago and he only had a wrist brace.” Okay, got me there, son. He won’t see this coming at all. But this is the same son who demanded to wear a neck tie with his polo shirt to school. I tried desperately to stop him, but he assured me everyone else was doing it. Turns out, he was right. At least five other boys were taking part in this fashion travesty. I don’t know what that says about his friends, but it reminded me that sometimes, I just have to let things go.

– A trend that has started in the last few years is having video trailers for books, much like previews to a movie. If my book is going to have one, I have to produce it myself and I have had some initial conversations regarding just that. However, I was hoping that I might get some input. I know not many people like to respond to blog posts, me included, but if you have a moment, please tell me if you have ever seen a book trailer. And if so, did it help in your decision to seek out a book that you might not have otherwise read? I’m just curious.

-Finally, a personal request that if you are a reader and interact with other readers, please introduce them to this blog or send them to facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor on facebook so they can like my page and get updates regarding THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER as its release date gets closer. In the next couple of months, the cover art from the book as well as previews from early chapters will appear on this blog and hopefully heighten people’s interest in the story.

So if you know a family that might be interested in a humorous LDS novel about life, love and relationships, set a date to ask them to visit this blog by, invite them over for dinner and if they accept, I can just happen to be there as well to share a short message about my book. Oh wait, that sounds a little too familiar. Never mind. If you could just mention my page to anyone who might find it interesting, I could ask for nothing more.  Thank you.

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives in bookstores August 13, 2013. It is currently available for pre-order through amazon.com by clicking here or through Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ.

 

The Closest I’ll Ever Get To an Emmy

I’m always a little stunned at the people my brother knows. As I have documented previously on this blog, he has dropped the odd e-mail into my in-box over the last few weeks with unbelievable endorsements from Eric Samuelsen, playwright and former president of the Association of Mormon Letters; Carol Lynn Pearson, author, playwright and poet well known to LDS audiences; and Stephen Carter, editor of Sunstone Magazine. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have put together a group of endorsements like that.

Well, he did it again.

Before I get to the latest message, let me give you some background. Kurt Bestor is a composer. Now, he isn’t just any composer, he is a grammy nominated composer of over 40 film scores and over 40 themes of television programs and commercials. In 1988, he was awarded an Emmy for his collaboration with Sam Cardon on the original music for the 1988 Winter Olympics telecast on ABC. He has performed for audiences all over the world and his annual Christmas concerts have played to sold out audiences for over 24 years straight in the western United States

So, when my brother’s latest e-mail arrived with the following message, I was stunned.

Ryan Rapier’s new book “The Reluctant Blogger” is a refreshing addition to the growing LDS fiction market. Unabashedly, Rapier embraces the vernacular and culture familiar to LDS readers, but he does so in a way that seems honest and unobtrusive. Using language that is very much natural to contemporary Mormon “hipsters” and the college-aged LDS crowd, the novel comfortably and naturally approaches topics and relationships that are authentic, germane, and engaging. It’s easy for me to recommend the book. ~ Kurt Bestor (Emmy-award-winning and Grammy-nominated Composer.)

I wish to thank Kurt Bestor for his time and effort in reading my book. I am also truly grateful for his endorsement. And once again, I wish to publically thank my brother, Jerry Rapier, for his efforts on my behalf. I could not ask for a better brother. I got to spend some time with him and his family earlier this week and I was reminded again how much I regret not living closer to them-especially now that he has a brand new son who is one of the cutest little babies I’ve ever seen. I recognize that as an uncle, I may be biased, but seriously…that is one cute kid. Thank you, Jerry, for all you have done on behalf of my “baby”, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER.

More on Kurt Bestor and his music can be found on his website, www.kurtbestor.com.

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and at Bookworms bookstore in Thatcher, Arizona. If you are a resident of the Gila Valley, or would like to travel to a remote yet beautiful corner of the Grand Canyon State around August 17, please contact Bookworms to pre-order your copy and be a part of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER’s launch party. Bookworms can be found on-line at www.bookwormsbookstore.com or by calling 928-428-7626.

My Betrayal Is Complete and My Thanks to Steve Westover

Growing up in Duncan, Arizona, there were three unalterable truths to life:

1. If the price of copper was good, life was good. If the price of copper was bad…pray with every ounce of your soul for the price of copper to be good.

2. There is no perfect amount of rain in one year. Either it was not enough and all the crops were going to suffer, or, the Gila River would flood and wipe half the town away.

3.  After Satan and Darth Vader, the most pure evil to be found on the earth were the green and white clad minions of Thatcher High School.

To go a little geek on you here for a moment, Thatcher was like Mordor in Middle Earth. All the surrounding communities lived in perpetual fear of the dark riders being dispatched from Minas Morgal on their soulless green and white bus for the sole purpose of laying waste to our (put in your favorite sport, ie. football, basketball, volleyball, etc) team. How we despised them. (I’m sure there is some connection that could be made to basketball coach/principal Paul Nelson being Sauron, but we’re going to leave that alone.)

A victory over Thatcher was an event to be celebrated for days. A close loss was worthy of cursing, egg throwing and eventual nasty letters being written to the local paper. But more often than not, most contests, as far as Duncan was concerned, ended in complete and utter devastation.

So, five and a half years after my graduation from high school, you can imagine my family’s concern when I went and married a girl from Thatcher. It was not pretty. Shannon was accepted, but the taunts and the ribbing was intense in the early years. But the way most of them came to grips with this new arrangement was the fact that we would be moving to Mesa and would not be living in either place. This remained the case for nine years.

Then, Shannon and I felt the need to get our young family back closer to the home we’d grown up with. Which led to a discussion. Where were we going to live?

Duncan was off the table immediately. There were simply no jobs available to make it feasible. That meant we were moving to one of the three communities in the Gila Valley: Safford, Pima or…Thatcher.

My wife made the decision easy. She said, “I can live anywhere…but we’re going to live in Thatcher.” Decision made.

So, almost eight years ago, my family settled into our home in Thatcher, Arizona and life has been perfect since. Or has it?

When it came to attending sporting events, I had very little problem switching my allegiance to my new locale. Well, less problems than I thought. Rooting for the Eagles still causes me to get chills every once in a while, but as the people wearing green began to be my friends and the boys competing happened to be the same ones showing up in my teacher’s quorum on Sunday, the difficulty I experienced waned.

Except when they played Duncan.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t let it go. As I have recorded earlier, when my brother-in-law graduated a couple of years after we moved here, I subtly wore a red polo shirt with grey slacks (Duncan’s school colors) to his graduation. When the two teams would compete, I would undoubtedly find myself on the Duncan side, sitting with my extended family, rooting on the rebellion as we stared into the face of the Death Star. It’s apparently part of my DNA.

But as of last Friday night, it appears I’m going to have to succumb fully to my inner Benedict Arnold.

My oldest daughter will enter high school next year. Up until now, sports have never been of interest to her. They still aren’t, other than a sudden fascination with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. (Shannon and I discussed disowning her, but my wife wouldn’t let me.) But since she was a little girl, she has been fascinated with being a cheerleader. There have been times I had thought the dream had died, but in truth, it never had. This last week, after two years of dance classes and a lifetime of ear-splitting yelling around the house for no reason, she put her skills to the test and tried out for the Thatcher High School Spirit Line.

And she made it.

As a father, I could not possibly be more proud of her. She worked harder for this than anything I have ever seen her put her effort toward.

As a Duncan High School alumnus, I feel my duplicitous life has finally come to an end. I am going to have to don the dreaded green and white.

So forgive me, my fellow Wildkats. To complete the metaphor, the ring has finally taken complete control of my soul and there is no turning back.

But to my daughter, I am so proud of you. And for you and for you alone, I will happily turn to the darkside.

 

In other news, I received a message back from another fellow author in the Cedar Fort ranks who agreed to read my book. Steve Westover lives in rural Missouri and has published four books with Cedar Fort. His stories tend to be action/adventure oriented.

When I first approached him with the idea of endorsing my book, he responded that he would do his best but that he was very busy. I could accept that. With a book having come out at the end of 2012 and another two books due out this year, I was surprised he had time to answer my e-mail. But I’m grateful he did.

A week or so ago, I finally heard back from him and thankfully he had found the time to read THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. His thoughts?

Heartbreaking, emotionally charged, humorous and real: THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER will grip you by the throat, leaving you desperate for closure until you turn that final satisfying page.

I will admit to having never thought of my book as one that would grip you by the throat. But when I think about it, I like the visual.

So publicly, I would like to thank Steve for taking time out of his packed schedule and reading my first novel. It was admittedly a gamble for him. But even more so, I would like to thank him for his extremely gracious endorsement. I truly appreciate it.

More about Steve Westover can be found at http://www.stevewestover.com

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives August 2013 and can be pre-ordered at amazon.com by following the link at the bottom of this post.  Thanks again to everyone putting up with my ramblings for your support.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Blogger-Ryan-Rapier/dp/1462112544/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363036787&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Reluctant+Blogger

Why I Love Being A Generation Xer

I’ll admit it, I love that my parents never really got me. I love that my kids give me the “my dad is so weird” look while trying to process my latest sarcastic remark. I love that in spite of being the smallest generation over the last century by almost half, Generation X has effectively changed the world to meet our needs. Please Us. DO WHAT WE WANT!!! Because, according to the generations that have gone before, that’s what being a Generation Xer is all about. It’s all about me.

Never mind that the end-all of human existence for many of the WWII generation was getting their picture in the paper or their name on a wall. Forget about the fact that Baby Boomers made us suffer through the Hippie movement and all of its “Finding Yourself” garbage. (No really, please forget about it.  Baby Boomers have been trying to forget about it themselves for years.) No, when it comes to self-centered narcissism, supposedly no one does better than an Xer.

If you don’t believe me, here are a few examples of our naked selfishness at its worst:

I won’t join Rotary. Generation Xers are, for the most part, refusing to follow in the tradition of their forefathers by joining civic groups and clubs. They don’t see the point. If their experience is anything like mine, they are invited to attend one of these meetings where they are subjected to mediocre food, odd renditions of songs sung by the entire group that were outdated during the Lincoln presidency, silly traditions like referring to each other as “Lion George” or “Lion Stanley”, and then comes the program.

When I was four-years-old, a lady in my ward (who would later become one of my most favorite people in the world) went on a trip to The Holy Land. When she came back, she invited my parents (and me by extension) over to view her innumerable slide collection. About an hour in, my little four-year-old self couldn’t take it anymore. I was beyond bored. I have never felt that bored again…until I listened to “Brother so-and-so” at a Rotary meeting talk about a recent trip he had taken. He went forty-five minutes strong without breathing. Through the whole experience, I kept thinking, “There are so many better ways I could be spending my time.” It was a safe bet I wasn’t going to join anyway, but the program cinched it.

Now, I don’t, in any way, want to suggest that these clubs cease to exist. For those who are a part of them, I am sure they fill a purpose. But just let me write a check for ten dollars to…whoever, and let me be on my way.

I don’t want a plaque, I don’t want a party, I just want a check. Most Xers I know feel the same way I do. Don’t waste money buying me something in order to recognize my accomplishments. If you like what I did, especially in the workplace, save the money and just give it to me directly. I don’t want my picture in the paper. I don’t want a cake. Just show me the money, baby, and let me go spend it how I want to.

Loyalty only extends as far as my paycheck. Right after I graduated from ASU, I went to work for the FedEx Corporation. During my training, I met tons of baby boomers who expressed that they, “bled purple.” I didn’t say it out loud, but to myself I thought, “Well that’s stupid. Because FedEx bleeds green, and they don’t give a rat’s rear-end about you.” Shockingly, my tenure at FedEx Corporation lasted no longer than three tumultuous years. I couldn’t stomach the constant use of the words, “Great New Opportunity” as way to describe the latest way they had found to screw me and my fellow employees. And that brings me to another way in which I am a self-absorbed Xer. I despise being condescended to. Which leads me to my last example...

I will not take abuse in order to achieve or hold onto a status. If someone wants me to serve on a board, be ready for my opinion. If my opinion is not what you want to hear, kick me off the board or get over it, I really don’t care which. I have no desire to be the president of anything, and being on any committee, board or whatever, really just means more of my time being taken up. I will serve, but don’t think my membership on said…whatever, means anything to me, because it doesn’t.

Now why am I talking about this? In my upcoming novel, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, one of the key plot lines revolves around the main character and his struggles with his father, many of which can be attributed to generational differences. It is a subject that fascinates me. And here’s why.

To most people over 50, my generation was truly seen as obnoxious, selfish and ungrateful. But here’s something I’ve noticed in my life that makes me grateful to be born when I was.

My parents were amazing.  I love them dearly. But there are differences in my relationships with my children and the relationship I had with my parents. My parents had their own music. Because of their influence, I love to listen to old Simon and Garfunkel songs or Neil Diamond or Chuck Berry or…the list goes on and on. But the interest was never reciprocated. Neither my mother nor my father ever expressed a desire to get their own recording of my latest Def Leppard single. They never seemed interested in singing along to Bad Medicine by Bon Jovi. And when I purchased Prince’s latest release, it wasn’t long before I was only allowed to listen to it with headphones or when both of my parents weren’t home.

A couple of nights ago, I was driving with my thirteen-year-old daughter somewhere when Bon Jovi’s latest single, Because We Can came up on my iPod. I started singing along. Within seconds she joined me. Because she had heard it on the radio and liked it. Then came Rumour Has It by Adele, followed by Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen. Both of these songs are recent releases and would be considered her music. But it was my iPod we were listening to. And we were enjoying it together.

Now I know music is a trivial thing, but the point is, my daughter and I have a lot in common. And those commonalities take effort on my part. I can talk to my daughter…actually all of my kids in a way I don’t remember being able to with my parents. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I’ve talked with several of my friends and each has expressed something similar.

I’m not trying to imply that family wasn’t important to generations before mine, it was just handled differently. But the reason I don’t want to join a civic organization is because I don’t want to sacrifice the time it would take away from my family. I don’t feel a strong loyalty to a company or board membership because my first loyalty is to being home. Beyond that, I just don’t care. I don’t go to work for validation or recognition. I go because it pays for the experiences I want to have with my wife and kids. And if it ever stops doing that, or wants to get in the way of those experiences, I’m done.

And that is why I love being an Xer. I respect those who have gone before me from the pioneers down to my parents, teachers and mentors. But I like my life. And I like my value system. And sometimes, I like being viewed as selfish. Because when it comes to what is important to me, it’s true. I am selfish.

For more generational fun, look for THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER coming in August 2013. Or you can pre-order it now on Amazon.com and not think about it again until it shows up on your doorstep, right before your kids go back to school. Just click on the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Blogger-Ryan-Rapier/dp/1462112544/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362687384&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Reluctant+Blogger

All Hail The Greatest Weekend of the Year

Oh boy. We are almost there. With each passing day it gets closer…and the anticipation builds.

Of course I am speaking of March Madness and the greatest four days of the year. I mean, if we were ranking a single best day of the year, definitely Christmas would be number 1. But if you are looking for a stretch of days that is better than any other, forget spring break, cast away the idea of Thanksgiving weekend, and look no further than the first four days of the NCAA college basketball tournament.

Now I can hear the detractors warming up already.

“Ugh, basketball. I hate basketball. And it ruins my television watching schedule for two weeks in a row.” As a Person of Interest fan who has to take a leave of absence from my favorite show, I get this complaint…but it’s bogus. Why? Because I say so.

“I don’t like sports. They’re boring.” Umm, WHAT?!? Thirty-two games in thirty-six hours where the loser’s season is done and the winner moves on for a chance at immortal glory? How can anything be more compelling than that?

Since I was in high school I have lived for this event. I fill out my brackets and I gorge myself on basketball for days. When I went on my mission, I nearly succumbed to insanity for having to miss it two years in a row. I missed the infamous Chris Webber time-out. I’m sure it was against mission rules, but thankfully my mother sent me the Sports Illustrated detailing it all at my request.

About fifteen years ago, my friends and I came up with a concept. Why not give our wives a break from non-stop basketball and get together to watch the first Friday’s games at a sports bar near ASU campus. The first year we did this, ASU was in the tournament and both ASU and UofA played on the same night. It was heaven. My friends and I became part of the game vicariously along with 150 of our suddenly closest friends whom we had never met before. A tradition was born. Every year since, I have made my way to a sports bar with my friends from those college days and we eat chicken wings and watch basketball. I have detailed this somewhat on a previous blog.

(As an aside, the other night, I took my two boys to an ASU basketball game and we stopped and had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. I wanted to begin indoctrinating them on the joys of wings and b-ball. The place was busy and so we had to sit in the bar. That is where my friends and I normally sit during the March Madness weekend. I thought surely they would have a great time and begin looking forward to joining me in my March tradition when they were a little older. Sadly, I learned I am raising at least one boy who is much more righteous than I. After being seated, he leaned over to me and said, “Don’t ever do this to me again.” I replied, “Do what?” “Make me eat in a bar.” He was dead serious. Maybe this is a tradition that will not be passed on for generations.)

Anyway, a few years ago, my friend, Heath, suggested that since we now have to travel to Mesa from Thatcher for this event, we should throw our golf clubs in the car and get a round of golf in at a nicer course down in the valley. I couldn’t think of a better idea, so we did.

In the four short years since that harmless little round of golf, insanity has taken root and a truly grand event has been born. What started out as a round became two rounds when we realized the amazing price we could get if we played the same course twice. Then, since we were missing work on Friday anyway, we figured we might as well get up early and leave town at day break and get a third round in on Friday before going to watch basketball, with the other two rounds coming the next day on Saturday…

…And since we are playing three rounds of golf, why not make a trophy and give it to the person who has the best overall score from the three rounds AND engrave their name on the trophy and the year they won. It makes total sense doesn’t it? Yeah, my wife doesn’t think so either, but she is a kind, patient…long-suffering woman.

So last year, the members of my golf foursome and I took part in the first annual March Madness Invitational. I didn’t win. But I am hooked. And I am almost breathless in anticipation for this year’s March Madness Invitational and the corresponding basketball watching with wings and unlimited Dr. Pepper. I think a portion of heaven for me will require this weekend to continue into the eternities.

Now, as an author, I tend to write about what I know. And that is why both my love of the NCAA tournament and my love of golf both make an appearance in THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. They certainly don’t play a major role, but they are there. How could two things so important not be?

Speaking of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, my brother continues to work diligently on my behalf. Last week, he sent me another e-mail from Stephen Carter, editor of Sunstone Magazine. Sunstone, as an organization, has been around since the 1970s and in their own words, “serves…Latter-Day Saints and others for whom life and faith is a wonderful but unique adventure. Sunstone brings together traditional and non-traditional Latter-day Saints, promoting an atmosphere that values faith, intellectual and experiential integrity.”

In other words, they were the “and I’m a Mormon” campaign long before the Church marketing department decided to make that their feature catch phrase.

Anyway, Stephen Carter had this to say about THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER:

“With gentle humor and an open heart, Rapier delivers an engaging story about the joys, sorrows, and complexities of family life.”

I can only imagine how busy Mr. Carter must be, and so it is with the utmost gratitude and humility that I wish to thank him for his time in reading my book and for his kind words of endorsement.

I am so appreciative that I’m inviting him to join us at the Gilbert, AZ Buffalo Wild Wings on March 22nd for chicken wings, unlimited carbonated refreshment and basketball. But if he is even a half-decent golfer, he is sadly disqualified from the March Madness Invitational. I don’t care how nice his endorsement is, I want my name on that trophy.

Drive-By Fruitings and My Regards to Mandi Tucker Slack

First of all, I just have to get something off my chest. Three days ago, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address. I didn’t watch it. In fact, I haven’t watched a State of the Union in years. I didn’t watch them when Bill Clinton gave them, I didn’t watch when GW gave them, and I certainly don’t watch them now. If I want to watch people iterate their wish lists for things they can’t possibly pay for, I will go stake out a department store Santa line this next December and get more than my fill. But that’s me.

However, the thing I find amazing is how my Facebook news feed blew up during and after the speech with all my conservative friends howling about how partisan the president sounded and how dishonest he was during the speech and so on and so forth. To which I say, “Yeah, you’re probably right…but so what. Did you expect something different?”

I would like to give my rabid political friends some advice:

TURN OFF THE TV AND THE RADIO.

I promise you’ll feel better. It won’t change anything that Washington is going to do policy wise, but at least you don’t have to think about it. You’ll be able to breath deeply and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings more fully. It’s a tranquility you really should get used to. Since no one in Washington seems even remotely interested in tackling the debt and it appears inevitable that everyone’s taxes will go up regardless of assurances otherwise, it is likely that you won’t have any money soon to distract you from enjoying the joys of nature all around you. In fact, you might not even need to worry about having a house to block your views of the great outdoors.

Regardless, understand this: President Obama has been who he is for four years. He then won reelection. He will never have to run for political office again. So my conservative friends, ask yourselves: why on earth would he say anything you want to hear? So then? My advice is don’t waste precious energy whipping yourself up into a frenzy over things you cannot change.

Having said that, I am now going to whip myself into a frenzy over something I cannot change, but that is completely unrelated to politics.

Can I express one of my biggest frustrations with the process of getting a book published?  Well, it is my blog, so I guess I can.

I think query letter’s are of the devil.

As an author, I spent over a year of my life pouring my soul into a novel that means a great deal to me. I have put all of my emotion and lost countless hours of sleep trying to ensure that the story I’m trying to tell is as polished and perfect as I can make it. Then, in order for me to have a shot at getting it out to the masses, I have to sell over 100,000 words to a publisher or agent in a one page letter that only allows for one paragraph as to what my book is about.

Really?!?

Had I known five sentences would be the difference between success and failure, I would have saved myself a lot of time worrying about character development and just focused on writing the world’s greatest limerick.

I mean, I understand that agents and publishers can’t read every manuscript that crosses their desk. I get that. But I began following a couple of literary agents on Twitter and they would tweet some of their judgments on query letters they were pulling from their “slush pile.”

Some of the comments I read were, “While this particular concept sounds like it could be interesting, the writing just wasn’t very strong.”

WHAT??? How the @!*% would you know? You just based your opinion on a bodybuilder’s strength by watching him thumb wrestle. How on earth could you know if the writing is strong or not. If a book has any depth at all, an author is seriously going to struggle wrapping up the plot in a four line synopsis. I defy anyone to capture the essence of Gone With The Wind in five sentences or less. The same challenge stands for Grapes of Wrath (Actually, if anyone could do that for Grapes of Wrath, I would be forever grateful. I might actually make it through the five sentence version.)

Anyway, despite my rage and angst at a process that is inherently unfair, it is the reality of publishing. And so, against my own advice, I am railing against something I cannot change. Thankfully, there are a few exceptions out there, including my publisher, Cedar Fort.  Cedar Fort, and to be fair, most major LDS publishers, will accept full manuscripts. For that, I am truly thankful.

And now that I have that out of my system, I need to take a moment and express my gratitude to a fellow author in the Cedar Fort stable.  (Categorizing authors who publish under the same house as being in stable can really be taken two ways. Either I am a thoroughbred, a stallion, a stud…or a nag. I’m really not sure how to take that.)

Mandi Tucker Slack is currently in the process of releasing her second book, Tide Ever Rising. In fact, it officially released this past Tuesday and she has been wrapped up in book signings and launch parties. However, through all that, she took the time to read The Reluctant Blogger and kindly provided the following endorsement:

“A story that proves there is hope beyond loss, and healing becomes possible through love. Uniquely-written, Ryan Rapier’s The Reluctant Blogger will warm your heart.” – Mandi Tucker Slack, Author of The Alias and Tide Ever Rising

So, I wish to express my deepest appreciation to Mandi, and let her know how much her sacrifice of time during this busy portion of her life means to me. While I have not read her latest, I have read The Alias and found it to be a highly enjoyable distraction. Which is exactly what a good novel should be.

More information about Mandi’s books and about Mandi herself can be found at http://www.mandituckerslack.com. Both The Alias and Tide Ever Rising are available on Amazon or most places where LDS novels are sold.

Meanwhile, The Reluctant Blogger is now also available on Amazon for pre-order and will release in August 2013.

Finally, anyone who has survived to the end of this post and is still wondering about the title, Drive-By Fruitings, well…it doesn’t mean anything. I couldn’t think of a title for this post and have always loved that line from Mrs. Doubtfire. That’s it. Sorry to those who were hoping for a Robin Williams or Pierce Brosnan reference. You will have to leave disappointed.