An amazing trip to Southern California ….

la-jolla-coveHi, friends and readers:

I always tell people that I think travel is the most enriching experience you can allow yourself, even if it only involves camping in a state park 100 miles from your home.

Last week, a friend and I flew to San Diego, CA. His uncle owns a very nice home in La Jolla, just a few blocks from La Jolla Cove, which you see in the top photo I have posted here. It’s one of the prettiest places I have ever visited. Of course it’s also one of the most expensive communities in California, a place I could never afford. I liked it anyways ….

We spent one day attending a PGA tournament at the Torrey Pines course, which was quite beautiful. We saw many big-name golfers up close; it was a nice way to spend a day.

camp pendelton cabinsThe next day we met two friends at Camp Pendelton Marine Base, to play a round of golf on the base course, which was lots of fun. The day was beautiful:sunny and still, and just about 72 degrees F. Then, after our round we took occupancy of two oceanfront apartments located directly on the base and at the beach. The lower photo shows you what the apartments looked like. We could only stay there because one of our foursome was a retired Marine. The beach was next to a jetty, and the surf there was really good. I didn’t have my board with me but I enjoyed watching other guys surf. The waves w ere huge compared to those in Florida.

Just walking around the base was interesting. We encountered many young Marines in uniform, going about their duties. All were friendly and respectful, and I had to admire them for all the drudgery and discomforts they have to endure.

The last day we were there it stormed so we couldn’t enjoy the outdoors much, but we did build a big bonfire in one of the concrete pits the base supplies. What a treat ….

This was my first visit to Southern California in eight years, and I’m sure glad I went. Give it a try sometime, if you get the chance. You won’t be sorry you did.

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A great article on why self-promotion by writers doesn’t work ….

reading nookHi, friends, readers, and fellow authors:

Firstly, have a look at the room appearing in the photo to the left here. It’s the reading room of my dreams. I wonder where it is?

On to other matters ….

I have been writing fiction for twelve years. It took me two years before my first short story was published, five years before my first novel, Josef Jaeger, was published, and another two years before my second novel, Tyler Buckspan, was published. I spent the better part of 2015 working on a huge novel, 135,000 words, that I thought was pretty good, but about three weeks ago the fourth publisher in a row turned down my submission. They said sorry, they liked the book’s premise but it was too long. And I think they’re right, so I am rewriting portions of the book to trim them down.

If you follow this site you know I also write erotic fiction for gay men under a pseudonym. I’ve done this since 2007, and I’ve had short stories published in over twenty gay fiction anthologies released by several different publishing houses. I’ve also had about ten novels published under my pseudonym. So I’ve done okay with that genre, but still ….

After twelve years in the trenches I still have not landed a contract with a major publishing house, nor have any of my books made the best seller lists. As a writer I am still pretty much unknown.

moonscapeNow, I’ve attended a few writer’s conferences, and I spend time reading articles on how to get ahead in the publishing world, and the conventional wisdom these days seems to be that self-promotion is a major key to success in publishing. By self-promotion I mean having a website to promote your works, Tweeting daily, posting daily on Facebook and Instagram, and so forth. I know a lot of authors do this, but I’ve always wondered if they might spend that time more productively by focusing on their writing and their submissions to agents and publishers.

This morning I came across a post by an author named Delilah S. Dawson that addressed this topic in depth. Her conclusion: these days self-promotion is a waste of time. The market’s just too flooded with self-promotion, plus readers find this sort of thing annoying. I know do. Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.whimsydark.com/blog/2015/4/13/please-shut-up-why-self-promotion-as-an-author-doesnt-work

Ms. Dawson’s of the opinion that the key to success in writing is to work on making your writing better, and I could not agree more. I think I’ve written some pretty good books. My favorite is Tyler Buckspan. But I also know I can write better books if I just keep working at it. So that’s what I will do instead of spending two hours a day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If I write well enough, at some point folks will take notice, and then I’ll get where I want to go.

Have a nice Thursday, everyone.

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The beauty of Yosemite National Park; Happy New Year to my readers and friends ….

yosemite #2Hi, friends and readers:

I just returned to Florida after a holiday trip to Northern California with my partner Greg, to visit his older brother and his sister-in-law, who just had their first child, a baby girl. But we also took time to visit Yosemite National Park where we stayed at the historic Wawona Hotel inside the park for one night. We took a wonderful 2-1/2 hike alongside a gurgling stream near Curry Village, and we also took in some very spectacular views of El Capitan and Half Dome, two rock formations that are truly breathtaking. Snow dusted the trees and rocks; the place looked like a fairyland, and I feel so lucky to have experienced Yosemite in winter. If oyu ever get the chance to do so, don’t miss it.

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Merry Christmas to my friends and readers ….

christmas bulbsHi, friends and readers:

It’s only a few days before Christmas, and tomorrow my partner and I will head to our fishing camp to spend a few nights there. This will be the last day before Christmas that I’ll have Internet service, so I thought I would take this time to wish everyone a happy holiday season.

I grew up in west St. Petersburg, in a single-parent home. We didn’t have much materially, but my mom always made Christmas special for me  and my sister. We always had a tree and presents and a nice Christmas dinner.

My mom passed away in January of this year; she was 89. Losing her was very hard on my sister and me, and 2015 has been rough at times as we cope with Mom’s passing. We bought a  memorial bench from the City of St. Petersburg Beach with a plaque commemorating Mom’s life. The bench sits on her favorite spot on Pass-a-Grille Beach, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week my partner and I put up a real tree, a Fraser Fir. We sent our Christmas cards and we baked Christmas cookies for our neighbors, and it’s been fun. So, I’m in the Christmas spirit, even though Mom is not here to share the holiday with us.

Marry Christmas, everyone.

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Gun violence in America. When will we finally stop the carnage?

gunsHi, friends and readers:

The latest mass shooting spree in San Bernardino, CA is yet another reminder that way too many people in this country have way too many firearms, and I’m not talking about hunting rifles. I’m talking handguns, assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons. We make it so easy for crazy people and religious fanatics to get their hands on guns, and that’s because our gutless U.S. Congress refuses to stand up to the NRA. They’re fine with letting the carnage continue, and how tragic is that?

I love this photo I have posted here today. I don’t know where it was taken, but it seems that steamroller is about to crush those many hundreds of weapons into flat metal, rendering them harmless. And how I’d love to see something similar happen in my hometown. But of course it never will. Our idiot Florida Legislature is this year considering an “open carry” law that will allow people to carry handguns in holsters everywhere they go: the supermarket, the bank, you name it, and wouldn’t that make you feel safe? Oh, and they also want to let students keep firearms in their university dormitories. That’s real smart.

We are the only developed western country that allows this sort of nonsense. Our murder-by-firearm numbers are through the roof compared to France, Germany or England’s. Europeans look at our gun culture and simply share their heads in disbelief.

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Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Enjoy a discount on my titles from Prizm Books ….

happiness #2Hi, friends and readers:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays because it doesn’t involve all the complications of gift-giving that come with Christmas. It’s just a time to gather with loved ones and friends, and to enjoy good food and drink.

Due to a lot of different circumstances, this year my partner and I will dine out for Thanksgiving, which would not necessarily be my first choice, but it’ll still be a nice evening, and there won’t be any cleanup.

I also want to let you know that one of my publishers, Prizm Books, is offering a Thanksgiving weekend, 25% discount on my titles with them. The discount code is: Thankful2015, and here’s a link to the Prizm page where you can check out my books:

http://www.prizmbooks.com/zencart/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=8

The discount offer lasts until midnight on November 27, 2015, so act quickly if you want to save on these titles. And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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The Flavet Villages at the University of Florida ….

flavet #2Hi, friends and readers:

Back around 1949, my father attended University of Florida. My parents were already married at that point, and the university offered housing to them on campus. The buildings were known as “Flavets” because they were occupied primarily by WWII veterans. The buildings were actually old military barracks converted into apartments. One Flavet Village still existed when I attended the University of Florida in the early 1970’s, but now all of the buildings have been razed.

flavets photoMy mom always spoke lovingly of the days when she lived in the Flavets. She said the married students at the time had great camaraderie because everyone was scraping by on very little money. They had to make their own fun, and they did. Potluck dinners were frequent. Of course there wasn’t any air conditioning and the heating systems were ineffective, but that didn’t really matter.

The plaque to the left is all that’s left of the Flavets, and I doubt that many former Flavet residents are still living. My mom passed away in January 2015, at the age of 89. Every time I visit the university I make a point to walk through campus, and this plaque is something I always stop to re-read, as a sort of means of honoring my mother’s life and to remember the many good times she enjoyed while living in Flavet Village.

If you ever visit UF and you want to see the plaque, it’s located near Tolbert Hall.

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I’m just back from a trip to Maine ….

gazing #2Hi, friends and readers:

This morning I returned home from an eight-day stay in the great State of Maine, one of my favorite places in the world. Maine is so very different from Florida. It is sparsely populated. Aside from Portland and Bangor, most Maine towns are small. The coastline is rocky and beautiful. Inland there are granite-peaked mountains covered with evergreens. And everywhere are huge “ponds”, as they call lakes in Maine.

One of my best friends owns a cabin on a “pond” in aa remote area of central Maine. The cabin has a generator and a gas refrigerator and stove. The lights are gas as well, so we don’t have to run the generator too often, which eliminates noise. There is no TV, radio, or Internet, and cell phones don’t work there. The nearest town is 23 miles away. We spent our time hiking, mostly. Every day we hiked a different trail. We cooked all our meals, mostly on the grille. And then one night we enjoyed a lobster dinner, a real treat.

Time spent in Maine is time I treasure. It gets me in intimate touch with nature. I had close encounters with two moose. They are majestic creatures, and despite their huge size they are timid. I love moose ….

If you have never been to Maine, I recommend you visit there, and not just Down East along the coast, which can be a bit touristy. Go inland, visit Baxter State Park and the other parks in Maine, you won’t regret your time spent there.

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The pleasure of collecting Florida bay scallops ….

Seafood: ScallopHi, friends and readers:

I have a fishing camp I share with friends. It’s on an island on the Chassahowitzka River, right where the river flows into the Gulf of Mexico. I have been going up there since I was in high school, as a friend’s family owns the island and the three cabins built on it. Our cabin has a generator, a gravity water system, and even indoor plumbing. We have a propane stove and refrigerator too.

Every year, during August and September, bay scallop harvesting is permitted in Florida, and this past weekend my partner and I went up to the river to collect scallops. They are found about three miles from shore. They live on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in grassy areas where they like to hide. We anchored our boat in such a spot, and then we spent about two hours collecting these tasty shellfish, using masks, fins and snorkels. The day was beautiful, with blue skies, a light breeze, and excellent visibility in the clear Gulf water. We collected a whole bucketful, which we shelled back at our cabin. Then, last night, I sauteed the scallops while my partner grilled a steak to go with them.

Ah-h-h-h, you’ve got to love fall in central Florida …..

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My beautiful Yamaha FG180 acoustic guitar ….

Yamaha FG-180 1073Hi, friends and readers:

Back in 1972, when I was a third-year student at University of Florida, I bought myself a brand new Yamaha FG180  acoustic guitar. It cost me $150, which was a huge amount of money for me at the time, as I was living off a student loan and my part-time job in a linen room at a university dormitory. But I bit the bullet and bought the guitar, and it has traveled all over the world with me. I used it when performing in cafes and bars in Gainesville when I was at UF, and then in Tallahassee when I attended law school at FSU.

I still have the Yamaha, and it still has wonderful tone, although the face of the guitar is a bit scarred up from years of strumming chords with plastic picks. I also own an Ovation Legend guitar, which is more of a high-end acoustic. I love my Legend, but I’ve only owned it about seven years, so I don’t have all the memories with it that I have with the Yamaha. A new FG180 today costs between $500 and $600, but the old ones like mine with the red label inside the body are now collector’s items and often cost more than the new ones.

Last year one of the tuning keys on the Yamaha came loose, and I wasn’t able to keep the guitar in tune. The repair wasn’t something I felt I could do myself, and it took me forever to find a guitar repair shop who would do the job. Last week, I finally got the Yamaha fixed, and with a new set of Martin strings it sounds amazing.

I guess you could say this guitar has been one of my long-term friends, and I plan to keep it until the end of my days. If you’ll checkout my February 21, 2015 post, you can see a photo of me with the Yamaha, way back in 1977. :

http://www.jeremfishback.com/blog1/2015/02/21/jere-as-a-young-man/

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