Reading Buddies: Investing in the Future.

By the time I was eight years old I had hunted bear with bow and arrow, ridden across the open plains upon magnificent horses, and hacked my way through lion infested jungles. By the time I was ten years old, distant lands were no longer foreign and the world had become my playground.  All this and more I accomplished solely through reading without ever leaving my home. As a kid, books were my escape from a quarreling family and chaotic life. It wasn’t until later that I realized how my early love of reading had paved the way for my achievements in adulthood.

Reading is vitally important. Our lives revolve around its daily usage. Pause for a moment and think about the people you know, their stations in life, as well as their levels of literacy. Generally you will find people with high degrees of competency were or are avid readers.

My son was always encouraged to read, and that same encouragement is being passed on to my grandson. Through my son’s thirst for knowledge and my daughter-in-law being an elementary school teacher, my grandson’s reading level will be quite good — but not all children are fortunate enough to receive encouragement or have a father and mother present in their lives for whatever reasons.

I’m a “Reading Buddy.” It’s an odd title, but one I wear proudly. Two days each week I volunteer to go to my grandson’s elementary school, sign in, and go to a teacher’s classroom.  The teacher selects two or three students to go with me to the cafeteria where we will sit, read and discuss books the teacher has chosen for them that day.  I read to them or they read to me. I ask them about the books and they give me all sorts of answers, some even related to the books. Those little elementary school cafeteria chairs are not the most comfortable in the world, and the pay for being a “Reading Buddy” is zero – but the personal reward I receive is far greater than a treasure chest of gold. Their smiles are my paycheck. And if lucky, I might do something for one of those kids that make a difference in their lives.

There are a dozen reasons why some children may not receive encouragement at home and this writing is certainly is not intended to be a soap box to preach from. Yes, some of the reasons disturb me, especially when it involves parents being more concerned with their own lives than that of their child’s. But there are single parent homes where the parent is often gone, working two jobs to support the family or the parent’s own literacy level may not be adequate to help their child learn to read. And worse, as I experienced today, a child may have recently lost a parent and feels lost in life with little reason to want to read.

Give back to your community. Invest in the future by investing your time with a child. Volunteer to do something with the talents you have. Teachers are overworked and underpaid. They appreciate every bit of help they receive.  After all, they are establishing the educational foundation of the children that are tomorrow’s leaders.

A flower needs water and sunshine in order to grow.  A child needs love and encouragement to flourish.

Glenn

Note: In our school district volunteers must complete a form and undergo a background check before being allowed to work in any of the schools. It’s another good process to insure the safety of our children.

Born with the Devil in Me…

"I was born with the devil in me..."Review: “Bloodstains”   Author: Jeff Mudgett

I received a copy of “Bloodstains” from a friend. My only knowledge of it was that the author was said to be the great-great-grandson of a man believed to have been Jack the Ripper.

As a former law enforcement officer my interest in the psychological makeup of serial killers and sociopaths was heightened by this book. I had read articles, books, watched movies and documentaries, and heard countless theories about the true “Jack.” Nothing seemed of a definitive nature to truly identify the infamous murderer and in all honesty, part of me doubted this writing would be any different.  But, I remained open to all possibilities—and am glad I did.  I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

In the prologue you are introduced to Herman Webster Mudgett, the great-great-grandfather. History knows him as Dr. H. H. Holmes, the infamous serial killer, yet calling him such does his pure evil little justice as you come to know him throughout the book.  In the cover’s photo of Holmes’ eyes you sense he is devoid of emotion. It is the indifferent stare of a man who sets his own boundaries of humanity regardless of how degenerate they may be.

Within the first chapter you realize a dysfunctional chord runs throughout the Mudgett family. Bert, the grandfather, was a man who remained to himself: cold, hard, seemingly without love from his family, or displays of love to anyone. In life he was focused on his grandson, Jeff. Yet never was there outward affection a loving grandfather should have for a grandson. In death, he was only considered with disregard. Other family members have their problems as well, but it is Jeff’s introspection as an adult, his questions about lack of emotions, concerns about his lineage, his odd thoughts and such that becomes our focal point. And it is not until his father presents two boxes, items willed to Jeff by an uncaring grandfather that the true essence of the book begins to be revealed.

I now take absolute care in not writing any form of spoiler pertaining to “Bloodstains.”  I state this because the story is well written, each page so masterfully woven with the next that I fear too much information could easily be divulged.  But once the boxes were produced, my mind locked upon them, demanding to learn more.

The boxes contain two private journals of his great-great-grandfather, Herman W. Mudgett, aka Dr. H. H. Holmes. The journals are keys which unlock doors of knowledge that have never been ventured through since the beast closed them. And like Pandora’s Box, once the doors were opened, the evil within escapes.

This book is not for anyone with a weak constitution. It is not a graphically written horror story or tainted with pornographic flavor. But it will be disturbing, chilling, and emotionally destructive to the average person innocent of the mindsets and actions of serial killers. I also believe there will be readers who do not complete the book simply because it evokes such a spectrum of horrid mental images.

You follow Jeff’s plight and struggle with his bloodline demon. You begin to learn information which contradicts other writings about H. H. Holmes, about Jack the Ripper, yet you will find yourself nodding agreement that this is plausible and sickeningly truthful. There will be moments of doubt and confusion, and you will wonder about Jeff’s own degree of sanity, but the threads of the story are so tightly woven that soon its full tapestry, however macabre, comes clearly into view.

Could a demon have risen from the entries of a murderer’s journal, infect and disease Jeff’s soul as it did, especially with the writer being his lineage? Such a question is one each individual must answer for themselves. After having spent time as part of a paranormal investigative team and researched related subject matter through the years, I would not cast it all aside as foolishness. After all, the Catholic Church still performs exorcisms.

The presentation of Dr. H. H. Holmes in “Bloodstains” rightfully depicts a man as heartless as Vlad the Impaler, but displays a level of intelligence worthy of acknowledgment in the field of medicine. This acceptance of his dual nature creates conflict with a reader because you want to see him solely as a wrong-doer, not one involved with academic scientific pursuits.

When the last page was read, I sat in silence, debating my new concerns with all the tales about Jack the Ripper. Within the book I had viewed Jeff’s internal struggle with a demon so vile Hannibal Lecter paled in comparison to, and realized once more the mind still retains unexplored regions. I was relieved though that a troubled grandfather at last received his worthy redemption. And when I closed the book, I felt it remain in my thoughts for many hours.

“Bloodstains” is well written—no, it is masterfully written. Jeff Mudgett has bared himself for all to see, whether good or bad, presenting the reader with a turbulent story that allows for personal acceptance or denial. I give this book the highest marks for the depth its journey carries a reader. Everyone has skeletons in their family closet. Unfortunately, some have demons.

 Glenn

@GStarkeyBooks

Organized Confusion

Yes, that is my current status. The holidays are behind us and a new year is here. I’m sitting in my office, drinking coffee and staring at “Willie” (my Labradoodle), wondering what I should do next.  Okay, I know my desk is here, somewhere, even though it’s buried beneath an avalanche of papers, business cards, and small boxes. I should clean it.  But I also need to play ‘catch-up’ with backlogged correspondence, file some documents, make data entries for income tax purposes, review today’s marketing numbers of my books, and considering I am a novelist – actually work on my current novel. Of course I cannot forget the tribulations of daily life mixed in as well; to-do lists, gym time, car problems, house maintenance repairs, and filling the holes in the yard that Willie dug last night.

So, what comes first? How do I develop a daily work schedule which allows me to accomplish a multitude of tasks?  Have you found yourself in this writer’s quagmire? Anyone have a magic answer? If so, I’m open to suggestions.

Recently while reading various postings from writers, I’ve seen a common complaint about having too many websites to monitor, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, and dozens more. These sites devour a majority of your time with marketing postings and responses to their internal writing groups. Some authors have stated they are reducing their activities on several sites to allow better focus on their projects. I agree. There are almost too many social media activities. Like the old saying goes, “Too much of a good thing can become bad.” But which sites will serve an author best? And for what reasons?

I know I’m not the only one weighing all of these factors in order to find a balance in life. I would love to hear some of the “tricks of the trade” from seasoned writers and everyone in general. Meanwhile, I better put on another pot of coffee because I can already see this is going to be a long day.

Glenn

@GStarkeyBooks

 

Photo credit: Unknown, Internet.

“Life Is Not Fair….”

Life is not fairby Glenn Starkey.

Television has become as comical to me as it is frustrating. On those rare occasions when I may relax and enjoy a program without the guilt of neglecting my ‘to-do’ list, I scan through the cable channels, pause on one and find myself saying, “Life is not fair.”

Have you taken a serious look at the variety and popularity of shows that are available? I’m always left wondering, “How do the people in these television shows find these jobs?”  I know you have at least seen the commercials for these shows. Imagine the various resumes these ‘stars’ have:

“….For years I chased Sasquatch through the forest. Never found the big bugger, but came close. I stepped in his poop one time. I did catch a bad case of poison ivy though!”

“….I was the star of a show where I raced against the clock to gorge myself with plates the size of Texas, overflowing with spicy, fried foods! Some had peppers so hot I could start a campfire when I passed gas!”

“….Before I went to rehab, I was the star of show where I traveled the world drinking and reporting on booze in every bar we could find. I can only remember some locations; most are black spots in my memory.”

“….For seven years my team and I traveled America in search of ghosts. We only found demons though and performed over three-thousand exorcisms. Nebraska and Iowa are safe now because of us!”

There are also other superb shows to choose from such as the rich, irritating housewives from various cities who spend their time arguing and shopping; the twenty young, beautiful women cat-fighting over a single guy who they had never met before yet want to marry because he is their ‘true’ love; and of course, the house filled with cameras for voyeuristic pleasure to watch young men and women connive to be the last person remaining.  The list goes on and sounds worse as you define the shows in basic terms.  It’s the dumbing of America. Excellent role models for our youth. These stars and starlets will have fine resumes of their careers.

But what about the unknown people who daily star in our lives with little or no recognition or a good-salary spot on a television show?  Their work resumes would be simple:

“….I taught school.”

“….I fought fires.”

“….I drove ambulances.”

“….I patrolled the city streets.”

“….I carried a rifle and a hundred pound pack across Iraq and Afghanistan.”

So, the next time I see a television show where a man’s sole job is to travel the world to reel in a monster fish or I see screaming legions of Beiber-fevered teenagers adding to his billion-dollar plus yearly income, I will once more say, “Life is not fair….”

Fortunately, I never expected it to be.

 

photo credit: unknown photographer

“It won’t happen to me….”

“It won’t happen to me….”

“It won’t happen to me….”

by Glenn Starkey

 

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life protecting people in some manner whether alone or with a team, unarmed or carrying concealed weapons. Shadowing people of all levels on executive protection details may sound exciting, but they encompass tiring, long hours of extreme alertness.

We wish the world was only filled with good people. Unfortunately, that is not the case. With a holiday season, the flow of money and opportunities for crime are higher than normal. Protecting yourself and loved ones daily doesn’t require a bodyguard or the carrying of automatic weapons, but it does demand your personal awareness of immediate surroundings and common-sense.

The subject of this writing could be a semester long course or months of intensive hands-on training. I do not have the luxury of time and space here so I will touch upon a few basic elements to consider. By the end you will be shaking your head and saying, “I knew that!” yet these very points have been the most overlooked by crime victims because they believed “It won’t happen to me.”

We’re going to look at personal security actions from the level of an everyday citizen, not a CEO or major public figure. For now let’s break your life into four components: (1) Personal Communications, (2) At Home, (3) Travel and, (4) Public Venues. There are more we could use but we are keeping this simple due to brevity.

PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS: Think about computer fraud, those phishing and scam emails, and computer viruses. Some of the banking phishing/scam emails appear quite authentic and it’s easy to be duped into submitting your personal data. And don’t fall for the “Millions of dollars are waiting for you to claim in Nigeria” scams.  Primarily, bad guys are trying to hook the greed in weak people with these emails. Another scam is to receive an email from a friend which states he/she is overseas, lost their wallet and need you to wire them money. Of course they will repay you upon their return. The email address looks authentic, you want to assist your dear friend, you send money and later discover they were simply in the next state visiting relatives.  It’s amazing what all scams are out there. Changing passwords on your computer and the various programs you use also helps. One last item; be careful what personal information you give out over the telephone.  Be sure who you are talking to before providing information to callers, even if it means you must call the main number of a company and request to speak to the caller again.

AT HOME:  If you park your vehicle in your residence driveway, lock it when unattended. Don’t leave valuables lying in the seats. These attract the attention of car burglars prowling neighborhoods at night.  Keep a cell phone in your bedroom at night to use to call the police if needed.  Remember to lock your residence’s doors after you have entered the house. Check your windows to insure they are locked. People often open windows to air their homes and forget to lock the windows later after closing them. Don’t open the door to strangers or allow them to enter unless you know them. If someone displays an ID of some official nature, don’t be afraid to call their agency or the police to properly identify them. When ID’s are flashed at you then quickly closed and put away by the unknown person, simply tell them to display it again so you can better read it. Don’t be intimidated by shiny badges and fancy ID’s in leather wallets. Fake badges and homemade ID’s are easy to acquire.  Insure your residential alarm works properly. Call your alarm monitoring company at least once a month and advise them you are going to test it – or set off the alarm to see if the alarm company is actually monitoring.  During Christmas, don’t display wrapped gifts where they can be seen through the windows. Everyone wants to stand their Christmas tree in the front main window of their homes, but it also serves as a beacon for burglars wanting quick hit and runs.

TRAVEL: When you are out and about, keep your vehicle doors locked. Be aware of vehicles that seem to be following you on roadways or from store to store. Be alert to your driving; no texting or long unnecessary mobile phone conversations.  At a red light, leave space between your front bumper and the vehicle in front of you. You want enough room to pull out and go around them if needed. Car jackers will attempt to box you in between their vehicle behind you and their partner in front of you. Always park your vehicle at businesses in well-lit areas if possible. Try not to park in desolate areas.  Does your car alarm work? Remember, you can use the alarm function to attract attention along with sounding your car horn (and headlights on bright during daylight hours also grabs attention.)

PUBLIC VENUES: Be aware of people around you, especially those people that seem to be too close when there is no need to be. When out in public, don’t flash your money where everyone can see. You would be surprised how often people do this without realizing their actions. Ladies, keep your purses zipped, snapped, and closed under your arm in front of you, not swinging open behind you. Men and women – if you carry briefcases or laptop bags keep them with you and beware when setting them down. It takes less than a second to calmly walk by and grab one.  When walking through a parking lot, keep your head up and scan the area around you as you walk. Bad guys don’t generally want eye contact with their victims before they strike. Don’t walk like a victim with head down and shoulders slumped as if you were a meek lamb. When walking to your car, have your keys out, finger on the panic button, and look about your vehicle as you approach. If you see someone lingering around your vehicle or cutting through a parking lot walking toward you, slow down to see where they are truly heading or even return inside the business where you just came from. When you enter your vehicle, the first thing to do is lock all doors, then do the thousand little things you would normally do which distracts your attention from noticing someone is walking up to your vehicle.  Also, let your family, or someone, know your basic travel schedule in the event something occurs and you are not home by an appropriate time.

These are all basic, common-sense actions you should think about year round. There are far more, and every geographical location has its own specific issues, but the ones I’ve listed will be of general everyday assistance to you.

To start training yourself, play a game.  The next time you are at a busy store or the mall, watch the people as they pass by.  Look at the number of women’s purses that are open and hanging behind them.  Watch how people carelessly set laptop bags, briefcases, and electronics down and pay little regard to them. Watch how people flash wads of money and which pocket they return the money too. Look at how people walk and their overall demeanor: are they acting like a victim or someone you wouldn’t want to confront?  Next time you walk by a car parked next to you, were there valuables laying in plain view, inviting a car burglar to smash the window, grab and run? And pay attention to people’s hands, where they are and what’s in them.  Any police officer or Secret Service agent that has worked the streets will tell you no one has ever been shot by someone with a pair of empty hands.  If you are confronted by a robber, stay as calm as possible and don’t try to be a hero. There’s nothing in your wallet or purse that cannot be replaced.  In this day and age, robbers shoot people for little to no reason in order to see them die, so don’t take chances.

As a writer, you can easily incorporate people’s antics into your novels and have a sense of realism.  But most of all learn to pay attention to your “gut-feeling” that something may be wrong.  Women’s intuition is real. Men have it too. Listen to your senses. Animals survive in the jungle because of their senses. We live in concrete jungles. And if you believe nothing will ever happen to you then I have some swamp land to sell you that will make a great parking lot.

Be Safe.

 

@GStarkeyBooks 

 

Black-Eyed Friday

“It’s mine…No, it’s mine…Get away!…No, you get away!”

BLACK-EYED FRIDAY

by Glenn Starkey (@GStarkeyBooks)

Prior to Halloween I walked through a major store and observed Christmas products already intermingled with Thanksgiving items on the shelves. Goblins, pilgrims, and elves are a confusing menagerie of images when you are supposed to only be buying a bag of candy for “Trick or Treaters.”

By Thanksgiving though, Christmas ornamentations were fully hung in the stores along side of “Black Friday” shopping countdowns. Now cardboard elves were staring across the isles at cardboard pilgrims standing beside native American Indians holding turkeys. And Black Friday advertisements loomed on the horizon as if announcing the coming of the end of the world!

Somewhere along the line in America we leaped from Halloween to Christmas, leaving Thanksgiving a blip on the calendar, its significance almost buried beneath the avalanche of oncoming sales the following day.

When we awakened from our naps brought on by the usual Thanksgiving over-indulgence, and the annual televised football game ended, something magical occurred. Within the snap of a finger we were catapulted into a Christmas mindset, the season of “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.” We had just been shot through a time-warp from witches to pilgrims to elves, yet realized the transition would not be complete until we are past the infamous gladiatorial shopping day—Black Friday. Yes, it is the single day of the entire holiday season in which we cast out all good will toward our fellow man (or woman as seen in the news) and take no prisoners at the mall!

While some people chose to forego the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving all together and literally camped outside the doors of major retail stores, others chose to leave directly from their Thanksgiving dinners to be in line at midnight when the doors opened.

(Now play the soundtrack from THE TERMINATOR) And at the tolling of the bells, the doors swung open, the stampedes began, and the brotherly love of Christmas transformed into a gladiatorial battle…Insanity fueled the masses… By that evening, television news stations were reporting a woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers that had closed in about her; a shopper Tasered another shopper during an argument over a toy; a woman accidentally struck another woman’s two years-old child while in a fight over a video game, leading to further fighting between the women; police were forced to wrestle a violent shopper to the ground because he had ripped something from another person’s hands, and a 61 year old man fell dead in a store and customers stepped over his body to continue their shopping …. The news reports kept coming, growing stranger by the moment.

And by late that night, the wild-eyed, wounded combatants and weary campers returned home (or were awaiting release from jail) with precious bargains in hand, ready now to celebrate the true essence of the season and spread “Peace, Love, and Joy” among their fellow man for a few weeks. But to honor this special day and those with such Christmas spirit who found it necessary to kick, bite, punch, pepper-spray, and Taser their fellow shoppers, I believe we should now call it “BLACK-EYED FRIDAY.” Hopefully, their handcuff marks, bruises, and black-eyes will have healed in time to sing Christmas carols and rejoice with “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.”

Having swept through the holidays like a fast-forwarded movie and the whirlwind of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black-Eyed Friday, and Christmas activities drawing to an abrupt halt, on Christmas Day there will be people who sit in their chairs wondering why they are so mentally exhausted, glad it’s all over for another year.

What a pity. What a sad commentary it is in many ways. But as I have learned through the years, there are still good people in this world and the true essence of Christmas will not be lost.

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Glenn Starkey Interview by Steel Diamonds

Steel Diamonds Publishing is an eBook publisher

This interview may also be found on their site http://ebookpubs.blogspot.com/

Q: What was the inspiration for your novel “The Cobra and Scarab”?

A: Watching a television documentary about the beautiful Egyptian queen Hatshepsut and her questionable rise to power as “King” and Pharaoh, I became intrigued by the gaps within the story.  She supposedly stole the kingship from her stepson, the rightful heir Thutmose III, and announced she would relinquish control once he reached an adequate age.  But she didn’t and hatred grew between them. She suddenly died; he became Pharaoh and then had her name and any references to her smashed from everything in Egypt. Thutmose III went on to become one of Egypt’s strongest military rulers—and the documentary ended. There was no further information about the cause of Hatshepsut’s death except hints of treachery and murder. Now hooked, I continued to research that period of history and kept finding the same basic storyline.  It was then I realized my novel, “The Cobra and Scarab,” lay within those historical gaps.

Q: In looking over your work I find it difficult to place them in a certain genre. What category would you say best suits your work?

A: My novels are a blend of action adventure, historical fiction and suspense. I will probably always have some aspect of history as a foundation for my books, but believe readers of almost any genre will find interest in my writings. I say this with confidence because I’ve had several readers tell me that there is something for everyone in my books.

Q: Your book “Solomon’s Men” has been published in print, but not as an eBook. Is this a marketing strategy, a dislike for eBooks, or the publisher’s decision?

A: As I answer this question, I am awaiting the online arrival of “Solomon’s Men” as an eBook for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple iPad. When “Solomon’s Men” was originally published, there were no eBooks. My writing career came to a screeching halt at that time due to cancer, which is now in remission, and the events of “9-11.” The demands of my security manager career with a global oil corporation magnified ten-fold and never slackened until I retired.  Having been asked for years by faithful readers when another novel would be coming, upon retirement I chose to renew my writings. I found the publishing world had drastically changed and discovered eBooks were a new avenue. From the beginning then I wanted “Solomon’s Men” released as an eBook.  It just happened to fall as the latest book to be released due to the volume of work involved with publication of multiple novels. “Year of the Ram” and “The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” were recently released in print form.  “The Cobra and Scarab” is also out as an eBook.

Q: The Amazon.com shows only 1 of your books left in stock. Are we to assume they have been selling well?

A: I recently saw that on Amazon.com and was quite pleased. With my return to writing there has been a resurgence of interest in my novels so I hope this is an indication of the future for all my writings.

Q: While you have a limited number of reviews, you have received nothing but the highest marks. As a writer, how does this make you feel?

A: “Solomon’s Men” has truly been received well. It has all the reviews at this time because the other novels have just come out. I know readers have begun ordering them so hopefully more reviews will be forthcoming. As for receiving the highest marks, it is an excellent feeling! It gives positive validation to my overall creative efforts as an author.  I want readers to undergo a roller-coaster ride of emotions with my novels, and the great reviews to date tell me I have been successful.

Q: How much research have you done for your books?

A: I generally spend three to four months performing intense research for a book such as “Year of the Ram” where I included actual ancient war devices invented by the Chinese.  During those months I am also mentally perfecting the overall storyline I want. Once I actually start writing the novel, the beginning to end process is over one year. My office becomes a disaster zone due to books, magazines, notes, photos and drawings scattered throughout the room.  My wife looks in, shakes her head, and walks away.

Q: Your other new book “Year of the Ram” sounds very intriguing. It also sounds very violent. Would you say it is suitable for all age groups?

A:  My novels are written with a historical foundation and history is often far more cruel than I write in my books. “Year of the Ram” is set against the backdrop of a savage war after the Mongols captured China as its own. It is an epic novel of a man torn between his allegiance to his father—the Great Khan, the struggle to save their nation against the onslaught of a massive greed-ridden army, and the discovery of a son he never knew had been born.

I do not write children’s books or for young adults, but I find it odd that a historical fiction novel is thought violent while novels and movies of paranormal, horror, gory zombies, blood-sucking vampires, and throat-ripping werewolves are so widely acceptable for today’s teenage youth.

Q: Do you feel the ability of authors to publish independently without the use of an editor has in any way degraded the overall quality of books in the marketplace?

A: There is a definite need for quality filtering of some form, whether it is an editor or an author’s well-disciplined pre-publication review process. The degradation in quality of books due to a flood of indie published works, especially free eBook publishing, has become a major heated point of discussion on many book seller forums, such as Amazon.  This is creating an unjustified backlash against all indie authors.  On almost every forum you read postings which state indie writers should be filtered/separated from  “the good books” (referring to major publishing houses) because of their poor writing skills.  Based on the volume of irate comments, you realize all indie authors, good or bad, are being lumped into one pile labeled: “Stay Away.”

Q: What has been your most successful marketing tool/strategy for your novels?

A: Social media networking is a tremendous tool. But I also find simple word of mouth recommendations from one reader to another, giving those reviews about your novels that you will never know of or hear, is the strongest marketing tool.

Q: Where do you see yourself as a writer ten years from now?

A: I see myself writing, still trying to feverishly get the hundreds of ideas out of my head and into books.  I want to develop a strong readership and following that will be anxiously awaiting my next work. I definitely see myself demanding that the next novel be even better than the last.

My website, book excerpts, and blog is http://GlennStarkey.net

I can be contacted through the contact page on my website.

Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/GlennStarkeyAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/GStarkeyBooks

GoodReads: www.Goodreads.com/GlennStarkey

 

My Day to Howl… Two Books Released!

This is a rare opportunity for me, one that will probably never happen again soon. But I am happy to announce that two of my novels, THE COBRA AND SCARAB: A NOVEL OF ANCIENT EGYPT and YEAR OF THE RAM have been published— and released almost on the same day!

Not only were they released in print as softcover and hardbound, but THE COBRA AND SCARAB was also released as an e-book for Kindle, Nook, Sony, iTunes and others.

Normally, I do not write about my novels with any depth in my blog because each novel has its own page here on the website, but today is different and it is a great feeling.  I know my fellow authors fully understand the raging river of emotions you undergo when you see your book hit the market – but for two books to do so at the same time is a pure adrenaline rush.

Authors know the volume of work and effort that goes into the making of a novel—research, the writing, more research, the editing, the worry, the mental fatigue, finding a publisher, the marketing, and more marketing….

So, excuse me, because for today (and maybe tomorrow) I’m going to howl about how happy I am to have two more of my novels released.  You can find them on Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and other book sellers. And I also learned that another will be coming out soon in e-book, but I have to wait a few more weeks.

My sincere gratitude to fellow authors and friends that have been so supportive— especially to the readers that have contacted me asking, “How much longer before we can read another book?”

Well, I can now answer, “They are released and ready for you!”

Sincerely,

Glenn

Twitter: @GStarkeyBooks

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/GlennStarkeyAuthor

Goodreads: Glenn Starkey

My books on Amazon.com.

Everyone has a story, whether good or bad.

 

The innocence of a child....

Everyone has a story, whether good or bad.

by Glenn Starkey

 

I was prepared to write about the mental exhaustion we feel from months of constant editing, proofing, and preparing our books for print or e-book publication, but a Facebook posting I read this evening abruptly changed my thoughts.

In brief, the posting was from a young man, 19 years old, asking whether it was wrong to carry such dislike toward his father for neglecting him through the years, leaving his mother, their family, and starting another family—and still seemingly ignoring him. A reply from his sister, one year older, came immediately, echoing the same emotions toward their father, only with stronger animosity. Knowing them I felt a deep hurt because of their pains, yet realized regardless of what replies they received, only the passage of time could heal their wounds, if ever.

Unfortunately, divorces occur in families, and all too often leaves everyone bitter, resentful, and scarred—especially when children are involved. In Vietnam I witnessed the effects of war upon families. As a police officer on the streets I responded to more violent family disturbances than I wish to remember. My wife works for a law firm that handles divorces. Each evening I see how disturbed she is when children have been swept up in parental battles.

There are no perfect families. Everyone has a story, whether good or bad, that can be told about their families. All too often though, many of the stories range from alcoholism and physical abuse to abandonment and worse. Those events have a long lasting impact on children that is often not discovered for years then becomes one source of adult life problems.

I’m not a psychologist or a licensed therapist, but I once heard of a method for helping someone who silently carries such hurt from their youth: write it all in a journal and then burn it.

If truth were known, every author has placed a piece of themselves in their novels. I know I do, and it’s done without intention. But baring your heart in a private journal, writing every vile thought and memory you’ve held secret and captive within, and when complete, burning the book, works to some degree to cleanse the soul. It is the statement and release of those inner demons which is most important.

Of all things though, we as adults, as parents, should always remember that our children must be protected and feel loved by us. We are responsible for nurturing their overall mental development and confidence that will carry them through their lives.

There are enough hardships and obstacles in life without carrying additional baggage from our past.  We cannot undo the past, but we do have control of the future—and the future is today.

When the last sands of my hourglass are about to fall, I hope my son will have a good story to write about his lifetime with me.

How do you feel?

Regards,

Glenn

@GStarkeyBooks

photo credit: Jake Starkey

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

by Glenn Starkey  @GStarkeyBooks

One of my aunts telephoned to remind me of another aunt’s birthday. Horrible as I am at remembering such important dates, I gladly accepted the information.

“Glenn, you know how much she loves to receive one of your letters….”

The telephone call came from the same aunt that had saved letters I wrote to her long ago from Vietnam as a young Marine. While one aunt cherished letters she often referred to as ‘mini-novels,’ another aunt eagerly awaited her annual ‘birthday’ letter from me. I knew a nice Hallmark birthday card with flowery phrases and artwork would be acceptable to send, but it would never be as highly valued as a personal letter.  I realized how amazing it was that a personal letter, well-written and comprised of family events and incidents, could bring happiness to someone. The thought kept churning within me for hours.

As a society, we are possessed by the insatiable hunger for advancements that allow us to communicate faster and with greater ease. We are in a technological race we will win in the long run, yet in the end, will have lost the value of one-to-one personal contact, and the importance of our written word. Take a moment to consider the evolution of our communications with loved ones.  For this writing I am solely referring to letters to family members or dear friends, not business activities.

We began by calling a letter “snail mail” when sent through the postal service. Delivery took too long, so we introduced email into the equation.

Email was found to be fast, arrived within seconds of clicking a ‘send’ button, and you could address it to as many family members as you chose – and they in turn could ‘forward’ your email on to as many people as they wished. Often you received an email with multiple headers consisting of dozens of addressees, all before you ever received it.  That really had a ‘personal’ touch for you, didn’t it?

We were not satisfied though and developed ‘texting’ to one another via cell-phone (which should not be performed while driving.) Next in the mix came Facebook whereby families and friends used it to keep in touch, ‘post’ notes of their activities, to say ‘Hello’ and inquire about each other’s lives or tell of special, personal situations. And of course, all your ‘friends’ were able to read what you posted. Twitter had a similar usage, and Google has joined the technological race as well.

With letters, we typed or handwrote each using full words and sentences to express ourselves, our emotions on a subject. The letters were sent from one person to another, not copied to you on a string of addressees.

When cell-phone texting came about, entering full words became too slow so abbreviations were given birth which spread and became a norm. Facebook allows for full words and sentences, but as we know, Twitter restricts users to 140 characters, forcing U 2 chop ltrs 2 simply say, “OMG, TY” or “O I C U 8 1 2.”  I hate being forced to use such abbreviated codes to express myself. It feels like the ‘dumbing’ of America which I also compare to a long list of ‘reality’ shows on television.

I read an article which discussed how high school and college students had difficulty writing required papers because they were so accustomed to daily usage of texting abbreviations. Another article stated a school district in Indiana was considering not teaching cursive writing to students anymore because of the reliance upon computers. I recently learned the school district in my hometown is discussing the same action. If our youth cannot properly write a school paper or do not know how to write in cursive, where are we being led in terms of private, personal communications as a letter is from one person to one another?

While a mailed letter may be considered old-fashioned to some in this day and age, it still holds an important place in our society. The same as a reader may prefer to physically hold a book in their hand rather than a Kindle or Nook, a well-written letter held in some people’s hands is equally valuable. Throughout my life I have grown with the various trends and electronics as they came along.  I experienced the evolution of technologies and used them to the fullest in both personal and corporate life. But there is an older generation of people who did not, and they still find happiness in the arrival of a well-written letter addressed to them. I do.

Have you ever witnessed a loved one or elderly friend open a special box and retrieve a bundle of letters, all tightly bound with a ribbon or string? Did you ever watch as their eyes grew wet and their fingertips gently brushed across the envelopes with reverence?  Somehow the moment would be lost if they were to open a folder and pull out printed emails to show you.

We are writers. We compose novels and short stories with a variety of events and spectrum of emotions. Our books often overflow with characters and their quirky actions.  Writing a letter to a loved one should be nothing more than a simple creative exercise in which you fill it with personal news they should know or would find humorous. Write about the stupid things you did such as locking yourself out of the house or the car. Grandparents love to hear about the antics of their grandchildren. They miss them and want as much news about their grandchildren as possible. I have an aunt who dearly loves animals. She enjoys my tales about our dog chewing and destroying everything in the backyard (and a ninety-three pounds Labradoodle can do a lot of damage!)

Consider your letters to be ‘mini-novels’ for the greatest readers of all, your loved ones.

Granted, not every communication should be a handwritten or typed letter. There is an appropriate time for those special writings, but we need to pause and consider when a personalized letter might bring joy or create a fond memory for those we love.

Don’t let the art of letter writing become lost to society.

Glenn

 

Photo credit: Boy writes with pencil, The University of Iowa, ca. 1920-Fredrick Wallace, 1894-1984