Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On the Reading of Old Books (Which I unfortunately wrote)

I read an old book the other day. Old is a relative term since the book was published this century. However, it qualifies as old to me, since I wrote it long enough ago that I'd forgotten exactly what I'd written. I read my old books from time to time, not all of them, just the ones that catch my eye in moments of boredom. This particular book used to be my favorite. I recommended it to anyone and everyone. "Some of my best work" I used to say. I don't anymore, not after rereading it. Now I am a little embarrassed. The book itself isn't bad. In fact, the overall message is quite good. The problem with the book is that it came out of my "cute" period, a dark time in my writing life when I thought I was far more clever than I could ever be. Little flourishes within the text that I once considered entertaining I now find annoying. My artistic touches get in the way of what I wanted to say. I found them so distracting that I had to close the book and put it back on the shelf. I must assume that I was not alone in this reaction since the book never did very well sales wise. The experience taught me two very important lessons. First, I must never forget the writer's mantra: Write Tight. That is, do not add unnecessary words, no matter how cute and clever they may seem. The second lesson? Always, always, always have a good editor. The editor I trusted, the one I considered a close friend who always told me the truth about the words I put on a page, left the publishing house shortly before I turned in this manuscript. Whoever took over his job, and to this day I have no idea who it was, hardly touched my first draft of this book. I'm not sure they did anything beyond changing a couple of commas into periods. Great editors turn decent enough writers into really good writers. I need more of them in my life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another amazing story I get to tell

Lopez Lomong is many things: A college graduate, a world class athlete, a US Olympian, and one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. If you are unfamiliar with the Lost Boys, watch this video. Lopez was not part of the original group of boys who walked to Ethiopia then to Kenya. While those boys were walking, he enjoyed a normal life in south Sudan. Then the war came to his village. His story is amazing. Lopez and I tell it in the upcoming book, Running for My Life. Watch for its release in July, 2012.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Releases, Part 2

I first learned of the inspirational yet tragic story of Ed Thomas in March, 2010. The moment I heard it, I knew I had to write the book. He invested his life in a small group of students and football players in a tiny little town in northeast Iowa, yet his life made an incredible impact. Even if you couldn't care less about football, you will want to read this book. Order it here: The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story

New Releases, part 1

At long last my book with 2007 World Series of Poker Champion Jerry Yang is now in stores. One day in 2005 Jerry happened across the WSOP on television and paused to watch. He'd never played cards in his life, yet after watching for one hour he stood and proclaimed to his wife, "I can do this, and when I win, I will use the money for good." Two years later he was world champion, and that's not even the best part of his story. "All In" takes you from the hills of Laos to the WSOP final table. You travel with Jerry and his family as they flee through the jungle, communist soldiers hot on their trail. This is, without a doubt, one of the most emotionally compelling stories I've ever had the privilege of telling. Order it here: All In: From Refugee Camp to Poker Champ