Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Soul of an Indian

While researching The Black Kachina, I ran across the story of a special man named Charles Alexander Eastman and his book, The Soul of an Indian. Born in 1858 with the name Hakadah, later called Ohiyesa, finally renamed Charles, this awe-inspiring Native American spent the first fifteen years of his life living the nomadic, natural life of a Santee Sioux (or Dakota tribe) of southern Minnesota. Then Eastman went to college, graduated from Dartmouth, earned his medical degree at Boston University, became famous writing popular books, and served two U.S. Presidents.

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If you haven't read Soul of an Indian, you should. His spiritual ideas about nature not only gave heart and meaning to my novel's half-breed character, Asdrubal Torres, they helped create a villain many readers will root for. I know I did. Even more personally, the book critically changed my view of the world.

The son of a mixed-race Sioux leader and an army officer's daughter, Charles certainly experienced an unusual life. A few highlights:

As revenge against the white man for killing his father, the 15-year-old Ohiyesa was planning an attack when the supposedly dead father showed up to claim him.

When the U.S. Army killed several hundred Sioux at Wounded Knee, Eastman was one of the first physicians to treat victims on the battlefield.

President Theodore Roosevelt asked him to find a better way of protecting Native American property rights and land titles.

He served President Calvin Coolidge as an U.S. Indian Inspector.

Charles was one of three founders of an organization that became the Boy Scouts of America.

Toward the end of his writing and speaking life, he purchased land and lived alone in the woods.
It's that last entry that helps explain my personal attachment, I think -- how Charles' book, by delving into the spiritual side of man, nature, and what he calls "The Great Mystery" of the "Unseen and Eternal," twisted my worldview.

I'd never thought about nature the way Charles Eastman did, and I bet few of you have either. Basically, he saw nature (like all Native Americans, he said) as God. He didn't believe in churches when he could worship on a mountain top or inside a virgin forest.

"One of the things that makes you feel good is to get out into nature," he wrote. "Go walking, go hiking, go swimming in the ocean, or wherever you live, in a river or a lake, experience the beauty of America, experience how America is such a sacred place. Everywhere you go in this land, our people have been there and they have said, 'This place is sacred.'"

I won't directly discuss religion or politics. Promise. But like many people, I love the beach and ocean for the sense of calm it gives. Until reading Eastman's book, however, I never considered lakes and oceans might be a deity. I don't think I do now either, but I obviously feel something of what Eastman wrote about when I'm alone in nature. I feel part of the living things around me. I sure did when I walked alone in the deserts and badlands around California's Salton Sea for research on my novel. My attachment to nature was undeniable. The noisy talking of birds; the memories that might be in the rocks; the opposing gifts of wisdom and death provided by bark from an elephant tree: All of these ideas ended up in my story as the result of Eastman's writings.

"The spirit of God is not breathed into humans alone," he wrote in The Soul of an Indian. "We believe the spirit invades all creation and that every creature possesses a soul ..."

What works for a tribe of hundreds might not work for millions, but I offer another Eastman quote, not as criticism of any economic system, but as an example of Native American ideas that influenced my novel's character and perhaps myself. I'm still reading, still trying to understand everything Eastman suggested.

"It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome," Eastman wrote. "Children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving."

First published on Janet Rudolph's blog, 8-16-2017

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How Does Giving Away Your Book Work?

Over 80,000 people have downloaded BIG NUMBERS since it went free more than a year ago. Reviews have climbed from 50 to 118, maintaining over 80% 4 or 5 star average. The other three books in the series are selling better than before, and while The Famous Author and his publisher Down & Out Books are reasonably pleased with the campaign strategy, I -- Austin Carr -- am NOT!

Why? Because that stupid, rat face, lying bastard TFA is working on another thriller without me! Can you believe this guy? I get him some percentage of 70,000 new readers (A bunch of people download but never read it. Hey it's free, they say. Maybe I'll read it. Maybe I won't. Who cares, it's free!) and TFA is still hacking away every day, writing a new tale about some female Air Force officer.

It really is outrageous. I'm the star of an award-winning series, TFA. Stop ignoring me! I know for a fact he has Austin Carr #5 in the works. It's outlined, kinda. Maybe 100 pages of a first draft. I've had a lot happen to me in three years. I'm not the same man. Come on, TFA. Be nice.

Ultimately, there is nothing I can do about this situation, of course. TFA never listens to me. But he might listen to you. Buying additional books in the series might convince TFA to get busy. Or maybe not. How about trying BIG NUMBERS free, see if you like my sarcasm and one liners? Might help.

Download a free copy of BIG NUMBERS from AMAZON.


Or iTunes.  Or Kobo.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blog Tour Hides TFA's True Villainy

Scoop! The Famous Author (TFA) signed me up for another blog tour this fall, but I've learned the whole thing's a rope-a-dope. (Don't we all miss Ali, The Greatest?) Not that there's anything wrong with my wonderful tour people or the nice, mostly lady bloggers who've promised to review BIG SHOES, my fourth novel.
The problem is TFA. He's flipped. I found out for a fact that the next "Austin Carr Mystery" he's writing won't even have me in it! And I mean absolutely no mention whatsoever. TFA's writing some historical mystery that takes place in 1963 when I wasn't even born.

The novel is only an Austin Carr Mystery because it's about one of the other Austin Carr characters,  Angelina "Mama Bones" Bonacelli, and two murders twenty years apart in Asbury Park.

How could he do such a thing? How do you write a book for a series without the main character in it?Actually, I understand. Totally reasonable for TFA. The man is nuts. The question is, WHY?

"Mama Bones is more popular than you," he said. "She gets more favorable mentions in reviews."

I don't believe him, but that's his excuse -- he's giving the fans what they want. If anybody disagrees, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

TFA added: "I'm going to show how Angelina -- "the little angel" -- Bonacelli from Asbury Park turned into a Sig Sauer-toting bookie from Branchtown."

Well, good luck with that one, TFA. A little bit, this reminds me of that plan you had to get rich on the undersea treasure hunting stock. Remember that one?

Anyway, we'd love if any pals showed up on the blog tour, trying to win some cash and free books. TFA and I both love a friendly face in the audience. Here's a link to more information about my Book Nerd tour and even a sign-up sheet if you blog and want to receive a review copy of BIG SHOES and the chance to offer your readers a cash prize.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meet Hilary Davidson and Reed Farrel Coleman

If you're a crime and mystery fan or, heaven forbid, a writer of such things like The Famous Author, I can think of at least two big reasons why you'd want to attend this weekend's Deadly Ink Mystery Conference at Hyatt Regency hotel in New Brunswick, N.J.

1. Hilary Davidson
2. Reed Farrel Coleman

These two crime writers are among the best in the business. They sell tons of books. Each will be available next weekend -- Friday August 5 through Sunday August 7 -- to meet and greet, answer questions, and perhaps sign a book if you're interested. Deadly Ink's 2016 line-up may be the best ever! Other authors in attendance will include Jeff Markowitz, Jeff Cohen, Steve Rigolosi, Susan Solomon (now known as S.A. Solomon) and New Jersey's fabulous Sisters in Crime chapter, sponsors of the event.

You can catch both Hilary and Reed Saturday morning at 11:20 a.m. when Toastmaster Davidson interviews Guest of Honor Coleman.

Hilary Davidson has won the Anthony Award, the Derringer Award, the Crimespree Award, and two Ellery Queen Readers' Choice Awards. Her life of crime started when she published her first short story in Thuglit in 2007. She has published more than 30 short stories Beat to a Pulp, Spinetingler, All Due Respect, Ellery Queen and many other publications. Her debut novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the noir poet laureate in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman is the New York Times Bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. He is also the author of the recently released Where It Hurts, featuring retired Suffolk County cop Gus Murphy. Reed is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year and a three-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories. He has also won the Macavity, Barry, Audie, and Anthony awards.

I'll be there, too, hanging out inside The Famous Author's briefcase. If you ask to see me, you'll win a prize. TFA is pretty excited this year. He's bringing me along because our 2015 release from Down & Out Books, BIG SHOES, was nominated for Deadly Ink's annual David Award -- honoring the best mystery published during the prior calendar year. The prize is in memory of David G. Sasher, Sr.

The David Award nominees for the best mystery of 2015 are:

Ornaments of Death by Jane K. Cleland
Big Shoes by Jack Getze
What You See by Hank Philippi Ryan
Forgiving Maximo by A. J. Sidransky
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

If TFA wins there'll be no talking to him for months. The egomaniac. But my money's on Hank Philippi Ryan.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

F Y I -- Sake

They serve sake in Japan however you like it -- hot, cold or room temperature -- although the quality of the sake and the season are often factors. Heated sake -- a wine made from rice -- is a winter drink, but the best is rarely consumed hot because taste and smell are reduced. Old sake and the lower-quality stuff are often heated before serving.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Patricia Highsmith On Being an Artist

This book offers few tips on writing suspense fiction, which was the reason The Famous Author picked it up at a used book store, but few books on writing have inspired him more than this one.

Ms. Highsmith was an artist in every sense of the word, and through her own thoughts and explanations of the subject, the reader gets to know her own singular artistic sentiments and temperament. What a wonderful time it would have been to sit with her during a meal, although TFA suspects she would have found him boring.

The writer of the Mr. Ripley sagas gives readers much outdated information about agents and publishers and contracts, although perhaps hanging onto your film and foreign publishing rights will always be a good idea for writers. Most important to TFA were the passages on art and how an artist should live her/his life. Few artists will ever be rich and famous, Ms. Highsmith says, so it's best to focus on the art itself.