Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stray, the novel, reduced to $2.99 for 30 days. Coupon Code for $2 off paperback.

Stray has been reduced to $2.99 for the next 30 days, amazon site only. Stray on Amazon

Also, if you are interested in the paperback version of Stray, use the following code on createspace for $2.00 off:  89HPA4HE  Only available here: Stray Paperback  

In other news, I snagged the line below from a Blog I follow (who of course snagged it from someone else.)

"The lust for comfort kills the passions of the soul."

Time to get out of our comfort zone and blast past previously self-imposed artficial barriers.  Whatever they may be.  Be the hero of your own life and adventure into the universe.

Yes, yes, I know. All of this so hard to do with a full DVR waiting for me, the postman bringing me netflix movies everyday, and a bag of sour cream cheesey ruffle chips on the table.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My novel, The Jade Rabbit, at the editors office. Chapters 1 and 2 available

I have released my baby for her first overnight.

Sure, a handful of trusted baby-sitters have watched her for a few hours here and there, but never an overnight. Now she is completely away, for many overnights in fact, and I will have to sleep with my cell at my bedside.

Of course, I am speaking of my coming novel, The Jade Rabbit, which has been sent to an editors office.  Fortunately, I can call whenever I want to check in.

What's it about you ask?  Here's a blurb.

A female infant is abandoned by her birth-mother in a small Chinese village and spends her first ten months in an orphanage. She is adopted and raised in the United States where she becomes a social worker in order to help children in a desolate Detroit neighborhood. This woman is the first person narrator of The Jade Rabbit.

As director of a shelter for runaway and neglected youth, Janice Zhu Woodward gets pulled into the lives of the lost children of the streets and is forced to relive her own traumatic past. To stay strong and spiritually inspired, Janice emulates her adoptive mother and becomes an avid, nearly obsessed marathon runner.  When a mysterious girl with dreadlocks is abandoned at the shelter's front door, the two form a relationship based on their common bonds, and together, rediscover the transcendental power of motherhood love.

Chapters One and Two available here: Chapters one and two of Stray





Preview of a Q & A Session

Here's a preview of a Q & A to appear on the blog of  Teresa Morrow at Key Book Promotions.

How long did it take you to write your book?
Stray took me one year to write, and another to re-write and re-write. I finished it about 8 years ago, and found a publisher in a site called www.booksunbound.com.  They helped me with some editing, made me a cover, and suddenly I was tops on their "coming soon" list.  Unfortunately, there I stayed. For years. Apparently, I got in at a moment of turmoil, and now the site no longer exists, so my book, and my contract, was set free.  It was a blessing, because indie publishing fits me.

What is your greatest joy in writing?
When my characters develop their own personality, and handle situations without me. I love each and every one of my characters in Stray, and they are still making decisions in my mind long after the novel is over.  I hear them and talk to them.  And I realize how crazy that sounds.  In the thick of writing, I live in both worlds, and usually wish I could stay in the world of the novel.

What is your biggest struggle with writing?
Time.  I work a full time job as a therapist, and have two children.

Please share with us more about your latest book.
Stray, my first novel, is the story of a substance abuse treatment center, and a next door animal shelter, and the parallels between the stray, lost souls in crisis struggling with their addiction and the stray, lost animals looking for assistance.  The caregivers at both sites have the same needs and longings, and there is an interconnectedness of all the characters that ripple back and forth. Alcoholism, heroin addiction, family legacies, the inner world of animal rescue, all provide the drama for the grity yet compassionate story. Plus, a few real wild surprises just to keep it interesting.

What is the message of your book?
That we are all flowing in and out of each other all the time, and that in each of us there is a yearning for wholeness, salvation, and a place to feel loved and call 'home.' On a larger level, the novel addresses the importance of putting old voices at rest, and "killing the voice" of the negative and domineering father or parent in you. In that way it’s actually a retelling of the oedipal myth.

Why did you choose to write this book?
My eyes have been witness to things and my ears have heard some things that needed to be put down.  But its more about the writing. I have been a writer since age 10 when I made up stories about aliens and related fun topics.  And the setting of the story is 100% true. I worked at a substance abuse treatment center, and we shared an expansive parking lot with an animal shelter.  And even though the story is fiction, there is little in the novel that did not happen and is not true, except the bits of truths are scattered and shared by different characters. It helps to have had some of my experiences. If I told you all that went down, it might burn off all of your ears.

Who is your book geared towards?
Hmm, well, you have to be okay with a bit of grittiness, but, as one reviewer wrote on Barnes and Noble, "it just goes to show that love is the answer." It is not a horror nor an occult novel, but a psychological thriller. My first cover featured a strung out heroin addict on the cover, and it was misconstrued as some sort of monster putting a needle into their tongue. It jumped to number 1 on the occult list on Amazon, and in the top ten in horror.  My wife kept asking me about the occult horror novel I wrote, and I couldn't explain. I read some message boards about the cover of Stray and the feedback was illuminating. I changed the cover which is now a picture of a confused golden retriever, and this is perhaps more indicative of the content.

Do you incorporate blogging into your marketing for your writing and/or your book?
http://markmatthewsauthor.blogspot.com/
I just started this blog, yet my most interesting marketing technique was to offer my eBook for free for a short period. Thousands and thousands of downloads followed, to my delight, and then positive reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.


What subjects do you cover with your blog?
That's the hard part. I can't compartmentalize my life that well. I want to include my family life, my work life, my writing life, my thoughts on everything. So, that’s' what I will probably blog about, right or wrong. The first message begs the reader to skip what bores them. I suppose that’s unnecessary huh.

Do you incorporate social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin) for your writing and/or book?
I am on LinkedIn, have a twitter account, but to date I have just started and enjoyed the networking of Goodreads as much as any. Not sure why, but it fits my tastes best.

Where can people purchase your books?
Amazon, of course, and Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Itunes,  -  all the typical sites, and my garage or upcoming yard sale. (the paperback is finally available.)

What else is in the works for you for 2011?
The Jade Rabbit, my second novel, is to be shipped off to an editor soon, so hopefully to be released by the fall.
The novel is told in the first person from the perspective of an adoptee from China who has abandoned at birth, adopted by parents in the US, and grows up to become the director of a shelter for runaway and neglected youth in Detroit. She gets sucked into the lives of the lost children of the streets and is forced to relive her own traumatic past of abandonment. She copes by emulating her adoptive mother and becomes an obsessed marathoner. There are some real juicy delights in this novel, I promise.

How do you come up with the idea for this novel?
I worked at a runaway shelter, I have first hand experience with Chinese adoption, and I am an avid marathoner myself. I have made sure to 'write what I know' yet also take some risks with this novel. I am so excited about its release. In my dreams, it is read to the song of a Florence and The Machine song.

Chapter one of The Jade Rabbit is available here: Jade Rabbit, chapter one

How can others contact you?
xmarkm@yahoo.com

THE WHOLE INTERVIEW TO APPEAR HERE: http://www.keybookpromotions.com

8 Candid Thoughts About Substance Abuse Treatment From An Insider

8 Candid Thoughts About Substance Abuse Treatment:
From an Insider


1. Cliche to say, but treatment works. It saves lives and ripples to save families. You will hear all the stats about only 1 in 10 who participate in treatment will stay sober for a whole year after discharge, but there is other stats that state almost 50% of those in treatment will eventually maintain long term sobriety.

When you squeeze an Orange, you get Orange Juice, because that's whats inside. Inpatient and residential treatment squeezes folks a little better and you find out whats truly inside. Yet intensive outpatient gives the therapist and client real life scenarios to process.

2. Treatment doesn't work, for some folks. I believe that substance abuse treatment has cast too wide a net, and that there are many patients in substance abuse specific treatment, who are actually primarily personality disorder or other issues. For these folks, using drugs or drinking is just one of many symptoms.

I am not talking about the bipolar or depression diagnosed client where the two disorders feed off of each other and make both set of symptoms worse. The problems I find are primarily when dealing with specific personality disorders.  Many of the social arenas provided in treatment, including groups and 12 step support meetings, are actually just another stage for the narcissist or anti-social personality disorder member to practice their pathology.

3. There are too many recovering addicts treating other addicts. Okay, maybe I contributed to the problem, but I find that when folks become experts and well-versed at AA or NA, they tend to expect others to work a program or get sober exactly as they did. These are the folks who do way too much self-disclosure, and every moment is an aa/na meeting, and they have a slogan for every situation.
One irony I have found in two different work environments is that when staff needed another staff to confide something personal in, they tended to gravitate to the 'non-recovering' staff member.

4. AA itself is not treatment.
Let me explain. The focus of treatment needs to be on clinical issues such as negative, self-destructive thoughts, inability to manage emotions or self-soothe without substances, or social anxiety. Treatment is facing cognitive distortions, behavioral patterns, and yes finding hope admist spiritual and emotional despair. Treatment is not writing out ones first step, listing 3 examples of powerlessness, and getting a sponsor. These things are essential, I believe, but they are a supplement. Too often, the steps are force-fed and seen as the primary therapy themselves.

5. Substances are different, yet addicts are the same. Certain substances are simply more powerful. A small dot of cocaine or crystal meth, a small rock of crack, a spoon and a lighter simply have a different effect on the mind.  In this case, I do believe you have had to have used them to understand, and this is an example of the power of a clinician being in recovery. That said, once a heroin addict, alcoholic, or cocaine addict are in the middle of their cravings and in their seeking mode, the inertia to use is all the same.

6.  The 12 steps are not about staying sober. Look at the steps, and the sole reason for working them, the result, is a spiritual awakening.  And once you have a spiritual awakening, (all the while doing the clinical work) you will not need to use substances.

7.  Addicts will not follow suggestions one hundred percent, or even 90 percent, or even 75 percent, nor should they.
This drives therapists crazy when a patient consistently ignores suggestions to change (as in, if you are jumping off a plane, I suggest you use a parachute.)  Yet making choices is essential, including the wrong ones, and there is more to learn by failing than fear of failing.
100 percent of us clinicians can agree with their dentists recommendation to floss their teeth regularly, but maybe 30% do.

8.  Clinicians, MSW's, Psychiatists, and other caregivers experience incredible stress, however, it is the healthy few who use their skills to address these issues.
In writing the novel Stray, Stray on Amazon  I wanted to demonstrate the connection between the lifes in crisis of the patients, the stray animals, as well as the caregivers.  All of them struggled, yet the ones who survived (speaking of the humans) and then thrived were the ones who tried to address and change these issues.

I will add to this list as the spirit strikes me. Feel free to comment.

So we beat on, boats against the current

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

And I plagiarize, of course, but the saying brings to mind the importance of an ending, and a chance to blab about my personal preference.

I typically do not like an overly polished ending. I want a story or a novel to keep playing in my mind long after its over. I want to let my brain try and figure out, based on what I know about the character and experiences, how they will handle future challenges and conflicts. This is not always easy to do, as some sort of cathartic release typically needs to happen, and to keep some things dangling is to risk irritating an invested reader or viewer.

The closing lines of a novel can often dangle this out there. This line is from the novel,

The Beach:
"I carry a lot of scars. I like the way that sounds. I carry a LOT of scars."  A line that keeps my brain wandering.
The Great Gasby with the Great ending.....

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

In both of them, I, as a reader, can't help but think of my own scars, and can't help but think even as we try to move forward, we are against the current and constantly being bombarded, and perhaps are even doomed to repeat the same mistakes we have made in our past.  The ending is just the beginning of another novel, perhaps a similar set of internal psychological warfare to be waged, but the players and drama have been changed.  And some of our new baggage and scars weighing us down as we face it.

Okay, that paragraph was for my U of M English prof.  Let me get back to mass media.

There's The Killing, a "cool as the other side of the pillow" TV series on  AMC . Loved the cliffhanger ending (besides the 'out of character' actions of the male detective, which I assume will be explained later.) And now I am faced with a summer of deciding what happened, both using my knowledge of the characters and the pattern of the writers.
Of course, this is a series that will be continuing so it is perhaps not a fair example. So, there is one more example.  The Sopranos. A perfect ending.

I ran into Michael Imeperioli at an arcade one day. We were both there with our kids. He was in Detroit filming Detroit 1-8-7 and I approached him and told him I loved his work in Life on Mars, and added "you know the whole world is waiting on a Sopranos movie."

He is such his character I expected him to shoot me in the foot, but instead he just answered in his nasal voice "Well I don't think there's going to be one." He had a very concerned look on his face that I read he took expectations of his fans very seriously.
And I thanked him for his time, but I should have also thanked him for not ruining a perfect ending.

Stray: Origins (now available in Paperback)


Stray, the novel, is on Amazon and coming out in paperback.  Stray At Amazon/Paperback and Kindle
I actually finished the novel in 2001 and it initially found a publisher called Booksunbound.com. Unfortunately, they held it hostage on the 'coming soon' list for years before going out of business and the novel, and my signed contract, was set free.  I was very excited to finally publish it electronically , extra excited when it was downloaded a few times, and did some cartwheels when I made it temporarily for free and thousands and thousands of downloads followed.

The idea for Stray came to me after leaving work each day, which shared an expansive parking lot with an animal shelter, and hearing a cacophony of sad, desperate, explosive barks from the dogs in the fenced-in yard. They did not sound much different from the sad, desperate, explosive words I had just been listening to at the substance abuse treatment center where I worked. The stray, lost dogs at the shelter and the stray, lost souls at the treatment center all shared a common thread.  And, of course, those who were working to help them all had traces of 'strayness' in them as well, and easily diverted from there path of wholeness and tranquility.  There is not a therapist out there who shouldn't switch chairs at times with most every client.

I am also of the 'we are all connected' belief and that the butterfly wings in Arizonia add to the turbulent winds in Maine, and that every time a priest takes a gulp of wine during communion in Minnesota it causes a cow to burp in India.

So, the story weaves together a recovering alcoholic turned therapist, , a family of heroin wizards and changelings, a woman adopted from the far east who works at the animal shelter, and a newly orphaned alcoholic named James plus the  ten year old girl who eventually adopted his lost dog.

As for the novel, it is not the worst thing you ever read, but don't take my word for it. Here is a list of reviews: Reviews of Stray

Nothing to Offer But My Own Confusion

Nothing to offer but my own confusion.  Thanks for looking at my first post.  I will not pretend you are even reading it or will continue to read it. That would be presumptuous.
Some of the confusing events I will blab about include writing, running down roads, recovery from addiction, parenting, and the behavioral health field. Fortunately I have a couple of  novels, a dozen marathons, 19 years sober, 2 children, and 17 years working as a clinician to provide some material. Read what you want, please skip whatever bores you, and know that I wish you well as you move on.

Nothing to offer but my own confusion. Its a Jack Kerouac quote, before I get accused of being a plagiarist, I will call myself out.  But I love the quote, so there you go. It is hard to take life too seriously, because its all we have. Whatever we do today should be important enough that we would trade away a day of our life for it.  But to take yourself too seriously is a terrible sin, so I will try not to do so.  I'm just a stooge looking for a couple of partners to connect with to make a comedy team, and to discover if I am a Larry, Curly, or Moe (or even a Shemp) is my existential crisis.

I am just now reminded of a Buddhist meditation. Take a deep breath and hold it.  Hold it, hold it, hold it... good. Now imagine as you hold your breath that for all that moment you are dead.  Watch around you as the world goes on. See how it moves without you. Notice how insignificant you are.  People walk and talk and sleep and move and function. Even those tasks you had to do at work won't keep you from dying.
Now, when the time comes you want to rejoin them, go ahead and exhale and start moving amongst them again.  But see, you died for a minute, that wasn't so bad, life went on.

(The tragedy of your loved ones and all your possible pasts and futures notwithstanding.)

Sorry if that all sounds odd. Like I said, skip what you want. Yes, the only ones for me are "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time."

That's quoting Jack again.   It's too late in time to have a new thought, I suppose, all of us just standing on the shoulders of giants and thinking we are tall or standing on third base and thinking we hit a triple.

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