Turning the Page One Last Time




As the end of the year approaches, we ready ourselves for the inevitable changes it brings.

The weather shifts, you recycle your underwear drawer, everyone’s state of mind—all the little things in everyday life that shift as we say farewell to the old year.

This year, there are some things changing that I didn’t expect, and here’s one... this will be my last article for a magazine I have been part of for a long time.

I have written columns on every holiday, every genre, different writers, do-it-yourself books, and even covered sports and Hallmark movies. Nothing was sacred, and everything was a target. I’ll admit I had fun trying to figure out ways to turn any subject into something book related.

I realize now it was fortunate I never wrote about anything prehistoric. Of course there were cave drawings that showed the daily lives of our ancestors, so I guess you could say those were early books?  Some of those folks were pretty good artists. Better than some paintings I’ve seen—you know the ones— random splashes of color that look like a paint mixer exploded, and carrying a price tag of $70,000? To quote your everyday caveman... “Uggh”.

Where was I?

Oh yes, change.

Chapter One

I found InD’tale a long time ago. I’d see it at conventions and hear people talk about it. Then one day, I received an email telling me that I was nominated for an award for some cover art I had done, so I figured… hey, it’s party time.

After I lost (we won’t talk about that), I spoke to a couple of people I had met at the InD’scribe convention and asked if they needed writers. I plied them with drinks, and they agreed, not really understanding what they were agreeing to.

Back then, I was a little more unhinged (I know, hard to believe) and more than a few people worried that I couldn’t play well with others. My main concern was that I’d have to tone things down and write more professionally. YUCK.

I have loved being able to ramble on about anything and everything in this magazine. There were reservations when I was given full freedom to write about anything I wanted. It could have seemed like a big mistake. But the caveat was that my articles had to be PG13 in content, around 1000 words in length, and about books. (Which was fair, given that the magazine itself was about books. But it did mean I had to shelve my notes on why tacos are healthy, how a good movie is better than therapy, and why cookies should be a national treasure and celebrated everywhere at least once a month with a parade... marching band included.)

Chapter Two

Ahh readers!! THAT was the main reason I wrote for the magazine. After a couple of years, I had exhausted all the standard things about cover art, writing tips, and some slightly weird areas like the history of horror.

Then the publisher pulled me aside, and as we talked, I asked if I could write more from a reader’s perspective, or as a book lover talking about nerdy book stuff. I wanted to do something different; to speak directly to people in my odd little way. As a writer, it is much more fun for me to feel like I’m sharing my thoughts with those who will understand them—and that’s you, readers.

So every month, I’d pick an idea and write about it. Or there would be a theme for the month, or holiday, that would spur me to see what else I could find. Then I’d be like Dr. Frankenstein, piecing together my weird ideas.

At the conventions I attended, I loved listening to readers talk about their passion for books. It’s pretty amazing to hear how intense people are about the stories they read. To me, that was what really mattered.

The backbone of the literary world is the readers. Writers can write a thousand books about billionaire bachelors and their random journeys into romance, but if readers don’t read those books... Monitoring trends, and understanding readers’ interests will always be crucial for writers, and magazines help in that area, along with surveys, questionnaires, market trend reports, and so on.

Chapter Three

I can’t help but think that times are changing way too fast. I think our society is getting away from the little things that add pleasure to life. A good book, a glass of your favorite beverage, a pet, and a quiet place where you can unwind and let go.

More and more people want everything shown to them in a two-hour movie with a bucket of popcorn, an extra-large drink, some candy, and a side of nachos for good measure. They end up having to go to the restroom halfway through the movie, and have indigestion for hours afterwards. Meanwhile, the screen blasts imagery and loud sounds at them, instantly presenting the story in vibrant technicolor, and removing the need for any kind of imagination.

On a side note: Not all book heroes look like Henry Cavill or Brad Pitt. I do understand why some readers may want that (my wife has explained it at length) but please understand that us average men can’t compete. We tend to have more flesh and less hair. But that’s beside the point.

Final Chapter

In conclusion, I’m going to add a few personal comments. I really hope everyone liked my mental gymnastics and easily distracted train of thought. I figured if it was my slightly off-kilter sense of humor and lack of direction they wanted, who am I to refuse? Just ask my editor what it’s like to keep me focused. Squirrel…no, wait... butterfly...

This magazine gave me the chance to write stream-of-consciousness style articles, where I could discuss my feelings about books, authors, and genres. And as I did, I learned a lot about a variety of amazing things. For that I will always be grateful.

A direct note to all you readers: thank you for letting me play on these pages every month. I had a blast.

And with that, I am writing my last sentences here. Like the end of a great novel, you know it’s inevitable. So, you will turn the page and read those two final words...