Promised Land is Now Available

FINAL EBOOKI’m pleased to announce that my latest novella, Promised Land, has been published and is available on Amazon.com. Promised Land is only being published digitally for now, but it could end up as part of a short story collection I am thinking about publishing sometime in the future.

Here’s the book description for Promised Land:

Jake Reeves is a fifteen year old who should be enjoying his summer vacation from school. Instead, when his mother suddenly vanishes, Jake is confronted with his father’s strange interest in a TV preacher, and a police detective’s suspicion that foul play is involved in his mother’s disappearance, with his father as the lone suspect. Just when it seems that Jake’s summer can’t get any more confusing, an older girl he has a crush on starts paying attention to him, and then she disappears too.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Be sure to pick up your copy and give it a read this weekend. In the meantime, I’ll be working on an update to my plans for the rest of this year. Things have changed a little, and I want to let you know what to expect.

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Promised Land Cover

FINAL EBOOKMy last three book covers have been designed by a young lady from Athens, Greece named Elena. I’ve been really happy with all of her designs, and this new cover for Promised Land is no exception. How do you like it?

Promised Land will be published this Thursday, March 31.

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Promised Land: The Rest of the Story

Oxford AmericanI had picked up a copy of the Oxford American because I wanted to read an article Tom Franklin had written about his relationship with the recently deceased writer, William Gay. I was interested in pursuing an MFA at the University of Mississippi where Franklin was teaching at the time, and I thought it would be a good idea not only to read a little of what he had written, but to also learn more about Gay, a writer who was extremely well respected, but who, at the time, was a complete mystery to me.

I was touched by Franklin’s personal remembrances of his late friend, and the article prompted me to buy a copy of I Hate to See that Evening Sun Go Down, a collection of Gay’s short stories. I enjoyed the book, and it helped to define for me what Southern writing, and particularly Southern Gothic, is all about.

In that same issue of Oxford American (Summer 2012), I found an essay written by David Lumpkin entitled “Church is Wherever You Are.” In the essay, Lumpkin told the story of the disappearance of his mother when he was fourteen years old. There were a lot of strange twists in Lumpkin’s story, including that his mother, to everyone’s surprise, was under investigation for theft at the time of she went missing. But the twist that stuck with me was the way his father turned to TV preachers to help him cope with his wife’s disappearance. I’m not sure why I latched on to that one odd fact, but I knew I wanted to write a fictional story about it.

I worked on a rough draft for the story back in 2012, but it really never went anywhere. Eventually, I put the story away and forgot about it.

A couple of years later, in the fall of 2014, I was looking for story ideas for a fiction workshop I would be taking the following spring at the University of Central Florida. I knew I’d have to turn in two short stories, and I really wanted to have one of them completely finished before the fall semester ended. I had no idea what I was going to write.

In late September of that year, I attended the MTSU Writes Writing Conference at Middle Tennessee State University. I had been asked to introduce the keynote speaker, Tony Earley from Vanderbilt University. I was excited for the opportunity, and looked forward to attending the conference.

As I listened to the various presenters, I thought about the difficulty I was having in finding a story to write. I knew the semester was about to get much busier, and I really wanted to have a story completed before that happened.

I remained lost in my thoughts until I heard the next speaker start to tell the story of how his mother went missing when he was just fourteen years old. Wait a minute, I remember thinking. I know this story. As I listened to the speaker (I couldn’t remember his name), I started to remember what I had read in the Oxford American, and what that essay had prompted me to write. Talk about an omen. I knew that I had to finish the story I had started two years earlier.

During the next break at the conference, I asked Karen Ford, the event organizer, about the guy who had spoken about his missing mother. “That’s David Lumpkin,” she said. “He teaches here at MTSU.” I got excited all over again. Not only had the essay been reintroduced to me, but the guy who wrote it taught in the same town where I lived.

I was so excited, I went up to David and introduced myself. It was then that I realized I really didn’t have anything to say to him. Why would he care that I had previously read his essay or that it had prompted me to write a story? I felt like an idiot. David was very polite, but it was obvious that he wasn’t particularly comfortable with the attention I was paying to him. I felt like I had blindsided the poor guy, and I knew I should just end the awkwardness and walk away.

I was about to end our encounter when I abruptly and involuntarily blurted out, “I’m writing a fictional version of your story.” Okay, I may be dramatizing it a bit, but this is how it felt to me. For some reason that I still don’t understand, I felt compelled to tell David that his life and his essay had prompted me to write a story. My excitement was genuine and my intentions were noble, but I’m certain that I must have seemed like a madman to him.

David probably should have called security or told me to leave him alone, but he didn’t. Instead, he was very kind and indulgent. I finally regained control of my faculties, and excused myself. I can only assume that I left David wondering what mental institution I had most recently called home.

I revised the story David’s essay had inspired, and got some excellent feedback when I presented it in workshop. This led to more revisions, and eventually, some quality time with my editor, Melanie Neale. Melanie had some great ideas (she always does), including the suggestion to change the title of the story. “Missing,” she said, was too bland. She proposed “Promised Land,” and just like that, the story had a new title.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Promised Land will be published later this week. Stay tuned…

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Road Stories is Live!

Road Stories eBook CoverToday is the big day. My collection of novellas, Road Stories is live and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and at great independent bookstores like Parnassus Books in Nashville, Powell’s Books in Portland, and Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City. It’s an exciting day.

If you been following along on my journey, you know that Road Stories is a collection of my three previously published novellas: Tierra del Fuego, Lake of the Falls, and Back on the Road. If you’re not familiar with these novellas, here’s a little bit about each of them:

Tierra del Fuego — Matt Cravens has always trusted his wife, but lately she’s been acting strange. He fears she’s having an affair, and when he confronts her, she promises to tell him the whole story when she gets home from work. But she never makes it home. When she is killed in an auto accident, Matt is consumed with feelings of grief and betrayal, emotions that prompt him to leave his home and his job, to find answers in one of earth’s most remote places. Will Matt find the answers he’s looking for? If he finds them, will he ever be able to return home?

Lake of the Falls — Kevin Hargrove is a workaholic attorney who has been in a rut so long that he has given up on ever getting out. That is, until he takes a trip with his father to their former small hometown in Northern Wisconsin. Kevin hates the idea of going back, but when he unexpectedly runs into an old high school flame, he starts to think that getting out of his rut is not only a possibility, but a necessity. Can a divorced workaholic really change his life in his childhood hometown or was Thomas Wolfe correct that you can’t go home again?

Back on the Road — The year was 1983, and three college friends set out on a road trip inspired by Jack Kerouac’s book, On the Road. They planned to spend most of the summer traveling across the country, seeking adventure and putting off adulthood, but sometimes, even the best laid plans don’t turn out as intended.

Whether you buy the print version of Road Stories, or you opt for the digital version, I hope you enjoy it.

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What is Road Stories?

Road Stories eBook CoverI’ve had a couple people mention to me that it sure seems like I’m writing and publishing a lot of stuff in a very short time. I can understand why people would think that, but it’s not quite what it seems.

I published Tierra del Fuego in September 2015, Lake of the Falls in November 2015, and Back on the Road in January 2016. Now I’m about to publish Road Stories next week. But don’t be deceived. Road Stories isn’t new material. It’s a collection of those first three novellas. I’m publishing Road Stories because I wanted to offer the novellas in printed form, but each novella is too short to print on their own. So I’ve combined them into a collection, and am offering them in both print and digital formats. I hope to have an audiobook version available soon, as well.

If you haven’t read my first three novellas, pick up Road Stories. You’ll have all three stories in one place, and you’ll save a little money in the process. If you have read the first three novellas, be sure to pick up Promised Land, a new novella that will be available in March.

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Ernest Hemingway, Sir Sterling Moss, and Lou Mindar in the Same Sentence

Road Stories with HemingwayHey, isn’t that Lou Mindar’s book, Road Stories, sitting next to three of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous novels, as well as a replica of the Mercedes Benz 300 SLR that Sir Sterling Moss drove in the 1955 Mille Miglia? Why yes, yes it is.

That’s a proof copy of Road Stories in the photo. I’m excited that the book is ready, and will be officially published on Monday, February 29. The book is available in both print and digital, and can be found wherever fine books (and not so fine books) are sold. That’s right, even in bookstores (although you’ll probably have to order it).

 

 

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Road Stories Cover

Road Stories eBook CoverI’ve been working with a designer on the cover for my next book, Road Stories. This is my first print book, so it is the first time I’ve had to worry about the size of the book, back cover design and text, spine text and size, etc. It’s taken some time, but I finally received the final design files this morning. I’m a happy camper.

Here is a sneak peek at the ebook cover. The front of the print book will look identical. There’s still some work to be done to get the book ready for publication on February 29, but we’re getting closer.

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Thank God for Leap Year

Leap YearEarlier this year, I set out my goals for 2016. One of those goals was to publish my first print book, Road Stories, in February. I had planned on publishing it mid-month, but I’ve run into a few challenges. Publishing a print book is a bit more involved than publishing a digital book. The cover is more involved, the front matter (the text at the front of the book that comes before the actual book content) is more involved, and the upload of the manuscript is more involved. It’s taking time to learn the process, and as a result, the print book won’t be available mid-month.

The good news is that the book will still be available in February. Thanks to the fact that this is a leap year, Road Stories will be available beginning Monday, February 29. I still have some work to do to get it ready, but I’m committed to having it published by then.

Time for me to get back to work. Thanks for following along.

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Why Give Away Your Book for Free?

The More You ReadHey, Lou, why do you give your books away for free? It’s a fair question. I just released my latest book, Back on the Road, and I’m already giving it away for free. Why would I do that?

Actually, there are two reasons I give my work away for free. First, I want people to read what I have written. Sure, I hope that if they like what they read, they’ll buy future books. I’m not above making a little money from my writing. But it’s even more than that. I want people to enjoy the stories that I write. I want them to be entertained. I’ve been writing for a long time, but until recently, no one has read what I’ve written. What’s the point of that? I want my writing to be read.

The second reason is a little more selfish. My hope is that if I offer my books for free, people who take advantage of the offer will write a review. Amazon reviews are incredibly important to a newbie writer. The more reviews a book receives, the more attention Amazon pays to the book. With enough reviews, Amazon will promote a book to likely readers, and will list the book as an “also bought” when readers search for a book.

Back on the Road is available for free today and tomorrow (February 1 & 2). I encourage you to pick up a copy. I hope you enjoy it. And if you get a second, please leave a review of the book. Written reviews are great (they carry a lot of weight with Amazon), but even a simple star rating is helpful.

Happy reading!

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Book Launch: Back on the Road

ebook finalThe year is 1983, and three friends—all recent college grads—set out on a road trip in search of adventure, and as a way of postponing adulthood, at least for one more summer. The impetus for the road trip is a desire to follow in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac, author of the classic On the Road. What they find as they travel from Illinois to California is that crazy things can happen on the road, the bonds of friendship are fragile, and ultimately, everyone has to find their own way through life.

This is the plot behind my new book, Back on the Road, available now on Amazon.com. Although the book tells a humorous, irreverent story, it also has some serious undertones. I wanted to explore what society expects of twenty-somethings as they strike out on their own and attempt to become solid citizens. There’s an unwritten script that we’re given as we march into adulthood that sets out expectations and suggests next moves. But that script isn’t a good fit for everyone. Sometimes people have to forge their own path.

Back on the Road is available now on Amazon for just $2.99 (Kindle version), but will be available for free next Monday and Tuesday (February 1 & 2). If you’re looking for a good book to read over the weekend, pry your wallet open and invest $2.99 in a fun read. But if you can show a little restraint, you can get the book for free in a few days.

Just a reminder, Back on the Road and my other novellas (Tierra del Fuego and Lake of the Falls) will be available in print next month. All three novellas are being joined in a collection I’m calling Road Stories. I’ll have more news about that project as we get closer to the publication date.

As always, thank you for following along on this journey. I hope you’re enjoying it.

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