Sunday, April 26, 2015

Katee Sends Me Her Picture!

Sure I had to donate some money to her charity, but that's half the fun of spending it. The dough went for another cause beside my own self-gratification. Hope you guys and gals can read what she wrote to me. Just in case you can't, the words say "You're a peach, Austin."

Darn right I'm a peach, Ms. Katee Sackhoff. And so are you. The star of the rekindled television series Longmire is a former redhead of the week, and The Famous Author also spent half a day on one of Katee's movie sets. But Kathryn Ann "Katee" Sackhoff is best known for playing Lieutenant Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on the Sci Fi Channel's television program Battlestar Galactica.

Check out her new website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Katee Sackhoff Saves TV Show

When LONGMIRE the television series was cancelled last year by a network we won't name, four million viewers cried "No freaking way!" And thankfully, after weeks of negotiation, Netflix stepped into the fan-rescue role, contracting to air the show's fourth season sometime later this year. Filming began this week in New Mexico.

It's a fun show, based on Craig Johnson's mystery novels, which I think of as a combo of cops and robbers plus cowboys and Indians. Longmire stars Australian actor Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, the nonverbal (strong and quiet) Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman and Adam Bartley co-star, as does the lady who graced our pages back in November as Redhead of the Week ...

I know you haven't forgotten Katee Sackhoff.

Well, obviously I can't reveal my sources, but I have it from a major figure concerned with the show* that without Katee onboard, this show was destined for reruns. The first network says they dumped the show because its viewers were too old, an audience profile advertisers didn't like. (I can't imagine why. Geezers like The Famous Author spend money, too.) And having Katee with the show -- she's popular with millions of young men because of her starring science fiction and fantasy roles -- convinced Netflix to stream the new season.

Thank you Katee! Here's her website where you can browse her private store for pictures, autographs and tickets to her various charity events. She works hard and not only for herself. I just sent away for a signed picture ... I hope she thinks I'm a peach.

Click here for Katee's store.

* -- Key words for journalism students are "major" and "concerned with." Could be a director, producer or six-foot, 250-pound fan.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Redhead Still Has Her Smile & The Cash

It's been over seven years since Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman first graced our pages. As Redhead of the Week on Tuesday, November 27, 2007, we reported Nicole ranked among the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. $130 million was the figure Celebrity Networth placed on her net assets. She'd won the Academy Award for Best Actress by playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours, starred in hit movies like Cold Mountain, Fur, The Stepford Wives and Bewitched, plus sold a ton of Chanel No. 5 by appearing in perfume advertising.

Unfortunately, times have changed. Though The Crimes of Austin Carr still loves Nicole -- we are forever loyal to our redheads -- the world of Hollywood has turned. She's too old for the big parts, they say, especially after her latest film "Grace of Monaco" bombed. One British critic -- where she was voted Worst Acress of 2014 -- described the film thusly: "A plucky woman fights to stop the super-rich having to pay their taxes."

Unsuccessful films like Grace of Monaco will not affect Nicole's current net worth but could cut the movie offers.

Born on June 20, 1967, Kidman received her breakthrough in the 1989 Australian thriller, Dead Calm. Performances in To Die For, Days of Thunder, Moulin Rouge and The Hours won her worldwide critical acclaim. In 2003, Kidman received her Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Kidman is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a successful recording artist.

Because she was born to Australian parents in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kidman has dual citizenship of Australia and the United States.

Thanks to Nicole, Wikipedia and Celebrity Networth

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ten Strange Things About TFA

As a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, TFA rode with the Associated Press and The New York Times on an oil tanker (The Arco Juneau) out of Valdez, Alaska. They were loaded with the first oil traveling the Alaska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, and were the target of multiple bomb threats -- something they told him AFTER they arrived at Cherry Point, Washington. Way to get the scoop, TFA.

He used to work with the grandson of a very famous New York mafia don.

He once delivered -- in person --  a rich dentist and the dentist's large campaign donation to California Governor Jerry Brown and his rock singer girlfriend Linda Ronstadt. She pretended TFA wasn’t there.

He didn’t get the job once because his shoes weren’t shined. What a dope!

His friends call him TFA (The Famous Author) because he is so NOT famous.

BIG NUMBERS is a conglomeration of exaggerated true stories: Fish drowning fishermen; brokers marrying their rich clients’ widows; men living in cars trying to make alimony payments.

TFA loves things from Mexico, especially Mariachis, chili Colorado and tacos.

He has a sometimes dog and a permanent cat that he grouches at for coming in and out of the snow.

He actually believes the third time is the charm because after two divorces, he tried one more time and has now been married 35 years to the same woman.  
He gets sinusitis every winter when the house heat goes on.

He grows secret vegetables in the wife’s flower garden every summer.

Thanks to Jack Getze for being the butt of this joke.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Silent Takeover by Mama Bones

I write funny, or screwball mysteries, but I scared myself silly writing Big Mojo, the third novel in my Austin Carr series. Maybe the book really is a thriller. What happened, a supporting character -- Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli -- took over as my favorite writing voice, and that is not supposed to happen. Austin Carr is my chosen speaker, the man whose strange ideas about life found voice inside the devil on my shoulder. Austin’s the star of the show. He talks in first person. It’s his series. Says so on the cover of every book.

Looking back, examining Mama Bones' creation and early appearances, it’s hard to say when and how the change-over occurred. Austin did all the talking in book one, Big Numbers. Mama Bones tickled my funny bone when she showed up in book two, Big Money, by playing out a story I’d heard about one of my wife’s aunts who cheated at a church-sponsored bingo game. In my fictional version of this family story, the cheater — Mama Bones — was the mother of Austin’s boss and tougher than week-old tomato pie. She was hard-edged, owned a sarcastic sense of humor like Austin, but she also had a gigantic heart. And though no scenes were written from Mama Bones’ point of view in either book one or two, I knew she’d be back in Austin’s life.

Why? Because I enjoy making other people laugh, telling stories that crack people up, but I enjoy stories even more when it’s me doing the laughing. Pecking away at that tiny computer keyboard, I like to giggle and hoot while I’m making this stuff up, and I’ve discovered through the comments section of Goodreads and Amazon that if the scene, characters or dialogue make me chuckle or laugh, chances are excellent my fans will enjoy the work as well. Good thing, eh? Or maybe that’s why they’re my fans.

Another reason I knew I’d be coming back to Mama Bones was the wealth of tales I had about my wife’s old aunts and uncles, people now dead. The stories were safe to tell now and way too interesting for this writer to ignore. Thus, I have Mama Bones growing up in the summer resort of Asbury Park where her parents leased special soda-making equipment and illegal betting cards to venders on the Jersey shore, a business begun in the 1920s by her grandparents. Mama Bones’ grandma and grandpa were also political organizers, collecting cash from new Italian immigrants and boardwalk businesses, then delivering the bag money and the local Italian vote to whichever party paid them most.

I wanted to use this background, so in Big Mojo, the third and current series offering, I gave Mama Bones dozens of scenes from her point of view. Like I said, I’m not exactly sure when, but somewhere during the writing of her dialogue and thoughts, she became my favorite character. She was funny, tough and eccentric enough to keep me entertained, verbally abusing her son for being outsmarted by Austin; wondering if she should go for the Sig Sauer 9mm under her pillow; or creating a magic potion to dunk Austin in shark-filled waters.

Yes, I love people that make me laugh, and Mama Bones did the job. I tried her out for a bigger role in Big Mojo and she jumped on it — the whole relationship between her and Austin being funny because the two of them always try to out smart-ass each other. In addition to the humor, though, what gives their interplay a tough edge is underlying tension over Mama Bones’ beloved son Vic, Austin’s partner. Austin can’t be sure of Mama Bones’ intentions — or loyalties. One of Big Mojo’s climactic scenes is probably a good example. I don’t want to give the ending of book three away, but in book four, coming out later this year, Austin briefly recalls what happens in Big Mojo: “And while it is true Mama Bones saved my life several times, the most recent occasion involved only a last minute change of heart, her outlaw hand on a switch that could have ground me into mincemeat.”

I can't wait to find out what she does next.

(The lovely portrait adorning our page today is not actually Mama Bones. Mama Bones is a fictional character and doesn't sit for photographs. I think this is a portrait of my great friend, Carmela Mastria, a lady whose brains and brawn helped me create the Mama Bones character. Or it might also be Aunt Bea.)

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.