Thursday, January 8, 2015

Motivation Comes in Many Shapes

MOTIVATION: The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

The big thing about humans, we're moody -- some a little, others a lot. One day the energy flows and we're ready to tackle life's problems like the Green Bay Packers. The next day, something's upset us, made us want to slack off a little, complain or even feel sorry for ourselves. It happens pretty much to everyone.

But as a writer, I really need to write every day. I can't wait for motivation in the form of inspiration or anything else. I need to write on the mediocre, busy, troublesome and totally gruesome days, or nothing would ever get done with my name on it. I'd finish a new book every decade. Thus, self-motivation is important to me. If I don't work through those bad days, fight on when I'd rather be in bed watching Star Trek reruns, I might as well take up painting.

So how do I motivate myself? Well, there's always the wife. If I did nothing around the house for too many days in a row, she'd either throw me out or nag me to death. This is why some guys secretly call their wives "The Whip." Also, the cat keeps me hopping, the self-centered furry beast forcing me in and out of my chair all day answering her latest whim, coming inside for petting, or going back outside to chase rabbits.

But my best self-motivation technique is to get angry, information I picked up accidentally one day coaching baseball. Yup, nine and ten year old children taught me that self-motivation is a lot like love -- some is better than others, but it's ALL good.

I coached Little League baseball over a span of six years and two sons. (My daughter said she'd quit if I participated.) My teams were always about having fun and learning the game's basics, not winning or pressuring the kids to perform. There were seasons when we did make the playoffs, some years in which a couple of our boys made the all-star team. But our players knew very well -- and their parents appreciated -- our team's focus was on having fun. (During the final inning of one championship game, the score tied and the game too tense, I stopped play and walked onto the field for a meeting. Everybody joined in the pitcher's mound huddle, even our three outfielders, the boys on the bench and the umpire. When there was total silence, I said, "So where are we going after the game -- ice cream or pizza?")

Okay, back to the motivation story: One year we went most of the season without winning a game. My boys were having fun, but they weren't very good or even dedicated. A bunch of wild fourth graders -- including my own -- is what I had for a baseball team that season. Near the end of the year we played the undefeated champions of our league, and I heard one of their coaches tell his players before the game, "We could beat these guys with our hands tied behind our backs."

I was incensed and called a rare team meeting minutes before the game. I told my kids what I'd heard. I told them I didn't care if we won or not, but said we should try our hardest, show the other team they couldn't win with only one hand. Make them play their best to beat us, I said. "Win or lose, let them know they were in a baseball game today." Parents told me later I was fired up when I spoke, and it turned out my little speech fired up the boys. We played our best game ever. We hit, fielded and ran the bases like a championship squad -- they grabbed line drives out of the air, chased down long fly balls near the wooden fence, made perfect throws and batted crucial hits with men on base. In short, those boys played the game of their young lives, and -- in a result that shocked the whole league -- we beat that undefeated team. It turned out to be that team's only loss all year. It was more than a wonderful moment. I still remember the excitement and pride my boys felt that day. It shined from their eyes. Pretty sure pride was shining in mine as well, because clearly my impromptu, anger-fueled motivational speech changed our season for the boys. We all learned a lesson about trying our best.

Ever since, I've understood the importance of motivation in human lives -- especially my own -- and I've never forgotten how the bad actions of otherwise good people gave those boys and me a reason to perform at a higher level.  I mean, anger made me a better coach because for the first time all year, I gave the team an uplifting speech. I believe what this all narrows down to, if and when someone makes you mad, see if you can't use that anger as fuel for something good.

So where do I find anger to motivate my writing on those darker days? Easy. I already mentioned the wife and the cat. Then there's the internet, television news and certain friends I can call on the telephone. Quickest of all is to look up the infuriatingly gigantic online sales numbers of a certain celebrity writer. I spent a few days with the man once and found him antagonistically smug.

Bottom line, I'll repeat: Motivation is a lot like love. Some is better than others, but it's all good, and we should latch on to the stuff however we can.

This was a guest post from my creator, Jack Getze. He is today greatly unmotivated.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Widow is Redhead of the Week

Half Irish, half Lebanese, Amy Marie Yasbeck is the widow of John Ritter and best known for her role as Casey Chapel Davenport on the sitcom Wings from 1994 to 1997. She has appeared on numerous television shows and co-starred in films like Pretty Woman, Problem Child, Problem Child 2, The Mask, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

Amy says she met Ritter at director Dennis Dugan's house during a read-through of Problem Child in 1989. Ritter suggested she eat a bagel and cream cheese. He thought she was too thin.

Her late husband John died on their daughter Stella's fifth birthday, and a day before Amy's 41st birthday. She released her book, "With Love and Laughter, John Ritter" in September of 2010.

She was born on September 12, 1962.

According to Radar Online, a Hollywood gossip site, Amy has "finally found love again — and it’s with one of the lawyers who helped secure her family’s financial future.

"Michael Plonsker, 56, was part of the legal team who filed a $64 million wrongful death lawsuit against Ritter’s radiologist and cardiologist, and the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. where he was taken after collapsing on the set of 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter on September 11, 200," Radar Online said.

Yasbeck, now 52, is currently starring in the online series Little Women Big Cars.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Amy and John.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Have a Happy

Anybody celebrating anything this week, eat, drink and hug the people and animals you love. At my house, in which seventeen people, a dog and a cat will gather for an old-fashion, fish-only, Italian Christmas Eve dinner, we wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TFA Visits Katee Sackhoff's Movie Set

The Famous Author is hipper than we all thought. Not only does he know who Katee Sackhoff is, he was on the shooting set this week of her upcoming movie, grinning and trying to stay out of the way -- mandatory for movie set visitors.

Honestly, I'm jealous. While he didn't get to actually meet Katee and drool on her shoes, he watched her rehearse, perform and interact with the director in a movie to be entitled GIRL FLU. Not bad for an old man who didn't fall in love with Katee during Battlestar Galactica like more moderate age groups. TFA says he's a fan of Longmire, where Katee has been one of the main characters. A deputy sheriff I think. Longmire is a cowboy show, currently cancelled but seeking a new home. Why would they cancel a show with Katee in it? It's for geezer audiences.

Katee is not really a redhead, me thinks, but we found this picture of her, and that's good enough for Austin Carr's Redhead of the Week. Katee might be be redhead of the year. What do you think?

Here's Katee's offical website.

And here's a Facebook page with shots from the movie production.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Another Fun Reacher from Lee Child

Lee Child's ex-Army Policeman Jack Reacher shows up in D.C. to say hello to a wonderful voice on the phone, but the surprise he gets isn't happy. Reacher finds himself on the wrong side of the lockup, back in the Army and way deep in trouble, Reacher getting blamed for everything except World War II. I particularly liked his relationship with another wrongly blamed Army type -- the sexy female he came to see -- and the lengthy and exciting road trip they take. The ending was a bit of a let down, although the lack of a major final confrontation played out logically with the story. I am getting a bit tired of Reacher beating up nine guys at once and never taking a punch. Is it even possible to fight three or four men and not get a scratch? Well, these stories are way too much fun to care about that, and have no fear, Mr. Child, I -- and a million others -- will read the next Jack Reacher as soon as we're able.

Friday, October 3, 2014

SUSPECT is Robert Crais' Best Yet

Understand first I haven't met a Robert Crais novel I didn't like. Haven't given them all five stars, however, as RC is always on his game but some are better than others. So when I give SUSPECT five stars, I'm saying this is one his best. BUT -- I would give this book six stars if could because I believe this is his best book ever. I just loved it. I put it down -- had to go out to dinner -- but it was done by breakfast the next morning because I wanted to see how Scott and Maggie came out. I couldn't put it down is a cliche in this business. I did. I had to in order to sustain my marriage. But I didn't want to stop.

Who is Maggie, you might ask? Well this book is about Maggie, an ex-Marine German Shepherd who's now about to be rejected from the LAPD K-9 unit, and Scott, a LAPD patrol officer who lost his partner and was shot three times in an unsolved murder. Scott wants to join the K-9 unit to an effort to heal himself and get back to work. He dreams and thinks of his dead partner much of the time. Maggie the dog thinks about her dead former partner too, a Marine killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Maggie was shot twice trying to protect her Marine handler after the explosion. Both Maggie and Scott are wounded emotionally and physically. Both have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What a team!

The story is about Scott and Maggie learning to work together, both of them needing the other's help. Can they get their act together and solve the murder that killed Scott's former partner? But I called this story RC's best ever because of two things: One, the emotional level of this book is over the top for RC's work. These two protagonists will wrench your guts with their mistakes, their courage and the love they eventually share. Two, significant scenes are told from Maggie's point of view, and for me this was stunningly unusual and a joy to read. You will learn unbelievable facts about dog's noses and how they see the world, and if you have any love for dogs or animals in general, I believe this could be your favorite Robert Crais book, too.

Please, RC, give us another Maggie and Scott story someday. -- AC

Friday, September 26, 2014

TFA Takes a Vacation

Figures. We have a new book coming out next month, we're locked and loaded in our final re-write of BIG SHOES -- number four in my mystery series -- and The Famous Author has major commitments due for fancy blogs. So where is he when most needed?

Hilton Head. Of course.

"Relax, Austin, I'll be back this weekend."

"That's what you said a few years ago when I had to track you down in Mexico."

"Yeah, but I'm a much better person now. I quit drinking that mescal stuff."

"Oh, well, then everything's fine. What was I thinking? So what's with the alligator?"

"Number two son and I saw one on the golf course Monday. Looked exactly like this one."

"Poor baby."