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of these meetings where they are subjected to mediocre food, odd renditions of songs sung by the entire group that were outdated during the Lincoln presidency, silly traditions like referring to each other as “Lion George” or “Lion Stanley”, and then comes the program.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

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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.

Parting Shots: Part Three of a Conversation with Author, Jennifer Griffith

Two weeks ago, I posted the first portion of an on-going conversation between myself and Jennifer Griffith, author of BIG IN JAPAN, and one of the few people I entrusted my early manuscript to of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER.  Part one of our conversation can be found here, while part two can be found here. Below is the third and final part of our conversation.

After asking about her novel, I took the opportunity to finish our conversation by asking Jennifer the following question:

RR:  “Now, I’m curious, what were some of your initial reactions when you started reading THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER? I’m tempted to clarify the question further, but I think I would prefer the answer I will get if I leave it fairly open.”

JG: “When I first started reading it, the very first chapter, I thought, man, this guy can write. It was a breath of fresh air for me. As we got a little farther into the story, I thought Todd, your main character, was a sad case, and I worried that the story might end up being sadder than the kind of stories I usually read (although I do like a good Nicholas Sparks novel from time to time). But about five pages in, I started to recognize (and get!) the sense of humor that pervades the novel. From that moment on, I was in it for the whole ride.

 
One thing that I love about this book is how quickly (like, by page three) I cared about the characters in the book. From chapter one, I wanted to see this man triumph, I ached for his tragedy, I longed for his relief. It is the test of a true writer whether he/she can get the reader to care about a character, and I definitely connected with Todd from the start. And what a good, good journey you took him (and thereby, us, as readers) on!
 
As I read it, I was discussing it with our friend Aimee. She and I kept saying how this story will appeal to women since they love all the talkiness of this style of writing and the relationships that are the core of the story, but it will appeal to men as well because of the real man that Todd is. It’s got broad appeal. I am sure it will find a good readership. I’d recommend it to any of my reading friends. (Almost. There are some who only like Wimpy Kid books.)
 
I need to add one more thing, my other impression of the novel is that it is a story that is very timely. It touches on issues that members of the church deal with all the time and that have in the past been avoided in public discourse. Recently, these issues have been discussed more openly, and I think this book is hitting the shelves at just the exact moment, and I see it helping a lot of people come to grips with realities they never thought they’d have to face in their family relationships. I see it as a healing book.
 
And here’s my final question to you: Where do you expect to see THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER received the best? By that I mean, who do you think is the book’s best audience? (And for the record, I do see it having broad, broad appeal.)”
RR: “I think my strength lies with women over 50 who were avid watchers of DALLAS and THE LOVE BOAT in the late 70s/early 80s. I mean if someone liked JR Ewing back in the day, this is definitely the book for them.
Seriously,I have to admit I don’t know. I think that is one of the problems a person can run into when they just sit down and start writing without knowing their genre, their target audience or even where the story is going to end up. It may end up being the book you wanted to write, but when it comes to the business/marketing side of publishing, things can get tricky.
I think Generation Xers, male or female, will relate best to the story because that’s my generation and I write like an Xer. If you buy into stereotypes, my book would probably attract females more than males, but the men who have read it have made comments like, “I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up reading the dust jacket, but it ended up being much different than I thought it would be, in a good way.”
So again, I don’t know. I think most anybody who gives it a chance will enjoy it. I’m sure there are exceptions, but that will always be the case. My hope is simply that whoever picks it up finds themselves invested in Todd Landry and the people who surround him. And when it’s over, each reader is a little sad, because they feel as if they have to say goodbye to new friends. If I accomplish that, I will have succeeded.”
I would like to thank Jennifer Griffith for her time and willingness to take part in this exercise. For me, it has been a lot of fun to learn about her motivations and experiences in writing BIG IN JAPAN, and I have also enjoyed getting a chance to reflect on my experiences writing THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. If anyone reading this has any questions for either Jennifer or myself (not that I expect any), please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post or on the Facebook link that likely brought you here.
BIG IN JAPAN, from Jolly Fish Press is available at most bookstores and is available on-line at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. 
THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives in August, 2013. For more information on its release, go to facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor and click “like” for updates and additional postings. Ryan can also be followed on Twitter at @RyanRapier.

Excuse Me, Sir, Can You Spare Your Name?

First of all, great game last night. I was hoping that the Forty-niners would pull it out, but…I really didn’t care that much. My team lost three weeks ago and I was mainly watching for the commercials.

Speaking of commercials. Living where I do, the God Made a Farmer ad was my favorite. Not funny, but made me proud to be the product of rural America.

Other favorites:  Joe Montana stain, Leon Sandcastle, Stevie Wonder and the voodoo dolls, and…ah, we’ll leave it with those three because what I really want to comment on is:

The Three Worst Ads of the Night.

1. Who on earth thought any of us would want to see a supermodel make out with THAT guy. He looked like Pat from the old SNL skits. Furthermore, who took that thought and said, “You know what would make this whole idea better? Extending the kiss and amping up the sound effects. Yeah, let’s do that.” Now I will grant you that they are getting a lot of buzz today, and maybe that was their goal, but I will tell you this. We have a new Carl’s Jr. opening here in the little town where I live. And I will not be going. EVER!!! And the reason I won’t be going is because I boycotted them long ago when they came up with the idea of showcasing the sound of people chewing their food. That is the most disgusting thing in the world and they think it will make me want to buy a hamburger? It makes me want to vomit. So, no Carl’s Jr. for me, thanks. And you can add GoDaddy.com to that list after last night. (Okay, they were probably already on the list, but they definitely moved up to the second position after last night.)

2. I know a good idea for an ad. Let’s make a beer that is bottled all in black and we will have a bunch of people dressed in black dancing with gold highlights on their faces and skin so that they look like rejects from the Capitol as described in The Hunger Games. Definitely a can’t miss.

3. Did anyone tell Calvin Klein that 1) This is a sporting event, therefore the audience will be made up of at least 50% men, and 2) umm, dude, kids in the audience?  I was watching with my 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. Thanks, Calvin. You definitely provided me the most exercise I got during the evening as I scrambled to grab the remote and change the channel. Not that I wouldn’t mind looking that good in my underwear, but still.

Now to the main topic of the day. Endorsements.

I hate asking people for help. It’s almost a disease for me. What is even worse is asking someone for help that I don’t know.

Now, just the other day, I was informed by my publisher that at this point in my book’s young life, I needed to get out of my comfort zone and ask anyone with notoriety that I might know to read my book and provide an endorsement. I felt a little sick. The problem is, I live in a small town and I don’t know very many people with notoriety. In fact, almost none.

Now, I do know Stephanie Meyer. She and her husband lived in the same ward we did back in our Arizona State days. She even threw my oldest daughter’s baby shower when she served in a Relief Society presidency with my wife. The problem is, that was almost fourteen years ago and we haven’t exactly kept in touch. So, I would feel a little awkward about calling her up and saying, “Hey, remember me? I know it’s been fourteen years and all, and you went on to massive wealth and popularity while I…not so much. But see I have a book coming out and…well, hey, you up for giving it a once over?” Something about that just feels wrong.  But I probably could have pulled that off were it not for the second problem. I don’t know how to contact her. In fact, that’s likely a much bigger problem than the first one.

So, that left me with a couple of options that I have taken advantage of, but still not many. So I did what any little brother does and ran to my big brother for help.

Jerry Rapier runs Plan B Theatre company in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is well known and well connected among the Utah arts community. The awards and accolades he and his projects have racked up over the years are quite extensive and could command their own blog entry themselves. My salesman of the month award from Countrywide Home Loans just prior to the housing crash pales mightily in comparison.

I felt silly having to reach out to my brother for help, but I didn’t see many other options. Thankfully, he was more than willing to help and immediately sent my book to Eric Samuelsen, playwright, retired BYU professor and former president of The Association of Mormon Letters, an organization dedicated to the production and study of Mormon literature and its enjoyment by all. I didn’t come up with that last sentence, it’s on their website.

Needless to say, I was thrilled Eric Samuelsen would even be willing to take a look at my book. My greatest hope was that he wouldn’t hate it. Three days later, I received the following endorsement:

“So you need a book cover blurb? Tell me how this one works:

“Man, I liked this book. Warm and human and real. A novel about growth and loss and pain, about Mormonism and judgement and forgiveness, about recovery and redemption. I read it in one afternoon, just couldn’t put it down. A winner.”

That’s my honest response. Really really liked it.”

I’ve never been so shocked in my whole life. When I had started writing THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, my greatest hope was that it wouldn’t suck. And now, THIS??? I have to admit, I cried a little. (To be fair, Jerry said he liked it, too. But he’s my brother. He has to say that.)

And so, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you. I don’t know if either one of them will read this, but I wish to express a massively huge thank you to Jerry Rapier and Eric Samuelsen. Your willingness to help me is immeasurable and something I doubt I will ever be able to repay. And since Jerry is continuing to hook me up, additional thanks are directed your way.

I have to admit, I’m now getting a tad excited for August.

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, by Ryan Rapier, arrives in August 2013 from Cedar Fort Publishing.

Have I Sacrificed My Man Card?

I had an uncomfortable realization last night as I stood among a group of Young Men’s leaders following mutual?

I’m embarrassed of my book in a testosterone heavy environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not embarrassed that I wrote a book or that it is getting published.  All that is absolutely still awesome, its just…

We were standing in the church parking lot talking about church basketball when suddenly my friend who is the young men’s president says to the group, “I know he’s not going to say anything, but I’m going to. Did you know Ryan wrote a book that is getting published?”

The response was great.  Everybody was surprised and congratulatory and very supportive.  But in that instant, I realized I desperately did not want them to ask THE question. “What’s it about?”

I know this says something terrible about me, but I immediately thought, hmmm-dead wife, depression, psychiatrist, blogging (in general), issues with family and a romantic aspect throughout. Not exactly the makings of a new Old Spice commercial.

And I have had those conversations with men and they go something like this:

“…and so that’s kinda the gist of the story.”

Crickets

Finally one guy will volunteer, “Sounds…interesting,” said in a tone of voice suggesting anything but.

Thankfully, last night nobody asked the question. One guy did say, “Well, you’re going to have to read and tell me about it because I don’t read.”

I said, “Fair enough.”

So, my dilemma is figuring out a way to better market my book to men in a way that I don’t lose valuable male “street cred”. Maybe I should say, “It’s about a group of Mormon guys who like to watch basketball and golf who are all die-hard Sun Devil fans. And it’s funny.” Not much of a story there, but boy doesn’t that sound masculine.

Anyway, please come back tomorrow for the second part of my conversation with author, Jennifer Griffith. Intellectually we are knocking it out of the park. You will be smarter just for having read it. Or your money back. Also, if you haven’t been to my facebook author page, facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor, please visit and help me boost the number of likes. I realize this is shameless self-promotion, but I had to give up all facades of dignity and propriety the second I decided to publish a book. Now it is all about me all of the time.  Thanks for reading.

The Tradition of Taking One on the Chin

One of the things I was determined to do when I set out writing a book centered on Latter-Day Saint characters living in an LDS culture, was not to have the book based in Utah. No offense to my Utah friends and family, but I get tired of reading about Mormons in Utah. I get tired of hearing about BYU and the soft snow of winter falling on…whatever it is soft snow falls on. I wanted to write about people I knew-people who had been born and raised in the desert and had little to no concept of soft snow falling on anything.

So, I decided to set my book in Gilbert, Arizona. I wrote about characters who had been born and raised in this community that has been swallowed up in recent years by the grand mass known as the Phoenix metro area. I personally did not grow up here. I was born and raised in a small community in southeastern Arizona. But for nine years of my life, I lived and loved this town that has carved out its own section of the Valley of the Sun.

Another aspect of my main character’s life that is referenced many times in the book is that he and his friends attended Arizona State University. Todd Landry is not a Cougar and he never will be. In fact, if he’s being completely honest, those who profess to have attended “God’s college” really get on his nerves quite easily. He is a proud Sun Devil who bleeds maroon and gold and has a particular distaste for all things Red and Blue coming out of Tucson.

Maybe I am wrong here, but I would imagine most authors write a bit of themselves into their protagonists. Because this is where I certainly did. My wife and I both graduated from Arizona State and continue to be proud members of Sun Devil Nation. Which brings me to this last weekend.

In an attempt to indoctrinate my children, I took my two boys, aged 10 and 8, to their first college athletic event. We got up early (and missed a pine wood derby…dang!!! sarcasm intended) and drove with some friends down to the Arizona State/University of Arizona basketball game.

The weather could not have been more perfect and it was absolutely awesome to walk around the campus, showing my boys where their mom and I went to school, long before they were born. We ate lunch at the Memorial Union and both boys were highly jealous that a school existed where students could get Papa Johns or Chik-fil-A any time they wanted it.

When we finally got back to the arena and settled in for the game, it was more fun than I could have imagined watching my son’s different reactions. Neither boy has shown a huge interest in sports, although the 8-year-old is coming around somewhat. But both boys were fascinated and the 10-year-old even admitted it was much more interesting watching it live than on TV. However, he is my technology kid and he was very mellow through the entire event, taking in the big screens and other technological gizmos that surrounded us. The 8-year-old, on the other hand, bought into the game itself, hook, line and sinker.

When he figured out that people yelled during UofA’s free throws, he told me he was going to concentrate all of his hatred (he reads A LOT!!! and has the vocab to prove it) and put it into his screaming. Turns out, the kid has a lot of hatred. He screamed at the top of his lungs every time and never quit.

Sadly, UofA basketball is almost always better than ASU. About the last quarter of the game, UofA started to pull away, much to the chagrin of my boys. The Tucson fans were there in abundance and began to chant, “This is our house” over and over. Both boys were highly offended and wanted to yell back something in response. And that was when my opportunity to teach them about the realities of a rivalry occurred.

I explained that because we lost, we had to sit there and take it.  But I encouraged them to bottle it up and hold onto it (healthy parenting at its best) because I intend to take them to the ASU/UofA football game later this year. It will also be in Tempe and there is a much better chance ASU will come out on top. And when that occurs, I will show them how good it feels to lustily chant something back at these people who were taking such pleasure in our pain. I can’t wait.

And so, my boys have now been inducted into a grand tradition. They now despise a rival. I’ve never been so proud. Now, I just have to pray that neither one of them ends up attending that podunk college to the south. I don’t know if I will ever recover. Although, having a UofA alumnus in the house would be better than having to deal with the holier-than-thou attitude of one returning from BYU.

My debut novel, The Reluctant Blogger, arrives in bookstores August 2013. For more information and updates regarding the release, please follow me on Twitter or “like” my Ryan Rapier, Author page on Facebook.