Monday, July 25, 2016


My new novel, published by Black Opal Books:

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States government encouraged all eligible young men to enlist immediately in the fight against its enemies overseas. All eligible young men except Japanese-Americans.Nisei is the story of Hideo Bobby Takahashi, a Hawaiian-born Japanese-American who must overcome prejudice, internment, and the policies of his own government to prove his loyalty to his country.Narrated by Bobby Takahashi and read by his son, Robert, 46 years after Bobby’s death, the story details the young Nisei’s determination to fight honorably for his country and return to the young love he was forced to leave, a girl he cannot have because she is white.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Deviant Acts

October 12, 2015
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My newest novel, Deviant Acts, was released November 14. . My publisher sent galleys of the book to well-known reviewers like, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Book Page. I paid for the postage and the cost of the galleys, so I hope they did, anyway. I really don't expect to be reviewed by the big boys and girls, though I believe the book is written well enough and has a good enough story to consider a review. But then again, like all other authors, I'm in love with my writing. A natural progression for authors is that your first hate your writing, then you doubt it, and then you love it. The doubt it stage usually produces the best work. I wrote Deviant Acts when I was in my doubt it stage, but now I love it. I know. I'm as confused as you are.
 What is the origin of this book? How did it surface from the goo of my brain? When I sire a novel it usually comes from actual events I've experienced, or from current and historical events that others have experienced. In 1968, my brother Ed used to send me frightening, grotesque letters from Vietnam describing what he and the other soldiers were experiencing. He talked the hardships and dangers as well as the drugs and women. I knew they had to be true since, like my protagonist, Eddie stepped on a mine, though he did not come away unscathed as my character in Deviant Acts. Eddie, instead, spent what seemed like forever in a Tokyo hospital. Ironically, at the same time, he’d also send letters to my mother that were so uplifting you’d think he had been vacationing at a theme park. Anyway, I wanted to use his stories in the novel as well as other Vietnam War stories I had heard from friends, relatives and enemies. Thus began the tale of a Vietnam veteran loser, who by facing adversity, overcomes his foibles and bad habits to do the right thing. Here’s the blurb:
    Jackson Hurst, lives his nightmares with his eyes open. Only the heroin he’s been addicted to since Vietnam keeps the horror at bay. A poster child for losers, Jackson’s addiction has cost him his job, his girlfriend—and unless there’s a change soon—his life. That change comes in the form of the wicked Aunt Camille, a Vermont millionaire who desperately needs Jackson’s services to retrieve her twenty-year-old daughter, Cheryl, from kidnappers. Camille wants her back at any cost and she wants the kidnappers, who maimed her only daughter, murdered. Jackson could use the money—no, he desperately needs the money—but can he stay clean long enough to get her back? And, more importantly, can he kill again, despite the demons that haunt him from the war?
The book starts out in Charlotte and ends up in Vermont. I know little about Charlotte except I once visited it with my wife. Her grandparents lived in the old section of Charlotte, which was changing its demographics with considerable speed, the area morphing from the old Southern white to new Southern black. I tried to capture the feelings of her grandparents whose parents had lived there since the the Civil War. I was born in Vermont but left the area when I was ten. Still, I love to write of the place because of its odd characters and weird politics.
The plot of the book is simple. As I wrote above, Jackson’s evil Aunt Camille hires him to find and save her kidnapped daughter. Her reasoning for choosing her loser nephew is because she wants the kidnappers killed for cutting her daughter's ear off. Camille figures, who better to hire than a loser ex-veteran who was booted out of the Marines for his participation in a massacre of villagers. How he goes about the task of trying to save his cousin brings out some of the most interesting anecdotes and adventures in the book. I won't say too much, but you can guess the tone of the novel by the award I received at Dennis Lehane’s, Writers in Paradise workshop. I was given, “The Best Use of a Penis in a Book,” award. Quite an honor. I'm glad they didn't give me a trophy.
Silliness aside, Deviant Acts was also awarded an honorable mention from Sable magazine and was shortlisted in the Debut Dagger award. So it's not Hemingway, but it's not chopped liver, either. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy the book for its story and quick pace. Thanks ahead of time for reading the book.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Please visit my new website:
Play some chess against a computer on the site and listen to some classical music.
Sign up on the site to receive news of new books or events.
I won't sell your e-mail and I won't send you spam. Scout's honor.
I'll also be moving this blog there as soon as I can figure out how visitors can comment on it.
Also, my story The Adventure of the Nine Hole League was published in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #13


Friday, May 23, 2014

Nisei wins the Columbus Creative Cooperative Great Novel Contest

My novel Nisei, won first place in the Columbus Creative Cooperative Great Novel Contest. Grand prize was $1000.
Press release:
We are pleased to announce that Terra Chalberg has chosen Nisei by John White as the winner of The Great Novel Contest 2014!

You Don't Know Me by Jessica Halliday was chosen as the runner-up.

You can read more about the announcement here:

Congratulations to John White and Jessica Halliday. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to Make a Bad Book Trailer on a Limited Budget

The competition is tough out there, baby, with over five million books available on Amazon. So how do you stand out from the minions and get your name to be a household world among the literati? A well-written interesting book helps, but apparently it's all in the marketing. A good book publicist cost six figures, while the bottom of the publicist heap will run you about four thousand for three months of her trying to get you on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

So like most new authors, you handle your own marketing. One tool necessary for promotion is a book trailer. Again, they can cost thousands or as in my case $1.76. I downloaded Microsoft Movie Maker for free and used the $1.76 to buy an Almond Joy candy bar. With the software on my computer and the candy bar in my belly, I put together my own book trailer.

It's a bit premature to release the trailer since the book won't be out till the end of the year and my new website is still in production, but common sense has never stopped me before, so enjoy my $1.76 book trailer.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fear of Public Speaking (or Improv at Jersey Boys)

As writers of self-published or small-press published books, we know exactly how much help will get marketing and publicizing our work: zero to none. And so, the burden is on our stoic yet sensitive shoulders to hawk our goods and knock some sense into the ignorant and unwashed in order to get them to buy our books. This means getting interviewed on blogs and websites. This means doing talk shows on AM radio stations in Podunk, who the hell knows where, at 4 AM. This means telling your story on cable TV public access stations at 6 AM on Sunday when even God's asleep. But it also means speaking in front of a live audience. This audience could be your writers group, a hip bar, a library, or even a writers' conference. I've spoken at libraries where more people have shown up to use the bathroom then they did to hear my spiel.

Public speaking is nerve-racking. It's painful to watch a nervous speaker fall apart in a presentation. There are usually signs that the dude is nervous: rapid breaths, pauses where it looks like they couldn't remember their name let alone their speech, a sudden wet stain down the front of their pants, and of course, fainting.

My wife has a terrible time speaking in front of an audience. She stutters, stammers, and worst of all, develops hives, large red splotches all over her face and arms. If you gave her a choice of speaking in front of a group or death, she’d choose the latter.

I'm not a bad speaker, but I'm not good either. I don't have the experience a best-selling author does speaking to 40 or 50 large groups a year. So I practice when I can.

Last night, Pam and I went to see the musical, Jersey Boys, at the Bob Carr Theater in Orlando. We had front row seats and the play was fabulous. During intermission, Pam went to the restroom leaving me there in front of the stage to stretch my legs. What a great time to practice my public speaking, I thought. I turned around to see 2500 theatergoers all looking in my direction. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For the next five minutes I spoke of my writing, my books, and anything else I could think of while staring in the eyes of patrons who must've all thought I was nuts. I spoke softly but gestured wildly, imagining I was at the largest writers’ conference in the world.

I tried to imagine my audience was naked to calm my nerves, but ever since McDonald's and KFC changed the shape of the American body I just can't do that anymore. It just doesn’t work unless you're talking to a convention of supermodels.  Instead,  I took deliberate pauses between sentences and thought of something relaxing, like surfing or golf.
When my children were about ten-years-old, I taught them public speaking skills by offering them a dollar if they could talk about a subject, any subject, for one minute, without saying, um, or like, or you know. The girls failed most of the time but when they nailed it, that dollar felt like a trophy to them. Now my daughters tell me the game gave them the confidence to stand up in front of large audiences and feel completely calm.

Back to the Jersey Boys. I finished with a flurry and a bow to the 2500 confused patrons, who seemed to be really looking forward to the show starting up again after the intermission.
In conclusion, if you go to a play or a ball game or a rock concert and some nerd gets onstage and pretends he's a keynote speaker, don't call Security. He's just a writer and you know how they are.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Day In The Life Of A Writer

A Caveat: This is not about a famous or best-selling author's day. A best-selling author's day always starts out by dropping the only child off at the private school, returning home in your Audi Quattro, fixing a nice cup of tea with a few scones, and then writing for three hours. After that, the rest of the day is left to enjoy. This post is about an average serious writer. Me--Average-- "C" student all my life, except for that Music Appreciation class in college. Aced it.

  • 5:55 AM. You wake up to the GD alarm clock, Sonny and Cher singing, I Got You Babe, and you say "Shit" for the first word of the day. You hit the snooze button and sleep for nine more minutes until you wake again and nudge the spouse off your side of the bed that she hogs during her REM part of sleep even though you're at the end of your mental tether with her damn annexation. You hit the off button on the radio and say "Shit" for the second word of the day. Hopefully, your prose will improve.
  • 6:15    You shower, shave, etcetera, etcetera and then stumble to your car with your banana in your hand (a real banana-shame on you) and as you back out of the driveway you realize your publisher was supposed to send you an important e-mail and they are in Oregon and you are in Florida so it probably is in your queue and came at midnight because of the three hour time difference so you go back in the house and irritate your wife  who wants to eat her Grape Nuts in peace and she knows you hate Grape Nuts but you need to get on the read your mail.
  • 6:30    You're finally away and on your 40 mile commute to Orlando so you put some Ernest Hemingway in the CD player and listen to his short simple prose that will totally affect the chapter you write later that night. All of your sentences will be succinct and active with little exposition. The problem with that is the day before you listened to Joseph O'Connor and all your writing that night was in long sentences, heavy in exposition with little dialogue. You swear if you put Dr. Suess in the CD player everything you write that night will rhyme.
  • 7:30  You arrive in Orlando and see two homeless guys asleep on a bench in front of your office building and think, wow, you could dress in a tuxedo and sit between them on the bench and use that for your bio pic in your new website. Then you come to your senses and go to your office and prepare for your endless meetings. In the first one the group discusses the merits of integrating the Bills of Material into the Gant charts and for the next hour your mind drifts to your antagonist and how he needs some compassion otherwise you'll turn off your readers and you should do the same with your protagonist because he might not be lovable enough and then someone asks you a question about the latest engineering project and you try to fake it that you were listening to them by agreeing with whatever the hell they just said.
  • 12:00 PM: During lunch you edit the last chapter your wife typed and then you start on the next one trying to remember Hemingway is dead and he can't affect you if you fight it. As your lunch hour ends, you try to clean all the Dorito red smudges off the college ruled paper you were writing on so that your wife will be able to see the words and not type ass instead of assume.
  • 4:00 PM : You get ready to leave work when you realize your administrative aide has left for the day and you have to type your own memo.
  • 4:40 PM  You finally start your commute home and write in your head the next chapter after this chapter so you won't be influenced by the next Matthew Pearl audiobook you bought.
  • 5:50 PM  You arrive home, kiss your wife as she leaves to go work out. Then you ride your bicycle for three miles, where you decide the protagonist's love interest should collect porcelain pigs.
  • 7:00 PM  You and your wife cook dinner and compete against each other by yelling out the Jeopardy answers before the other can.
  • 7:30   You retire to your writing room and write for two hours without checking Facebook, Twitter, or cute videos on You Tube. You do leave the computer on though to research train schedules, British Slang, rigor mortis and other stuff you're writing about that night.
  • 10:00 PM  You have relations with your wife by first removing (This is We have censored all the content for the next four paragraphs-Thank you for your paitence) and finally you prepare for sleep. In bed, your mind races with plots and characters and publishing and editing and costs and then you check the clock and it's 2 AM. You get up and take a Advil PM.
  • 5:55 AM  You wake up to the GD alarm clock....