Rising from the Social Media Grave

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Vampire VicWhat’s the biggest challenge facing today’s writers? Not strangling their publicist when she asks, “Why haven’t you been blogging?” But even as you envision your coauthor’s hands around her neck, there’s a voice in your head saying, “You know she’s right.” And, “You should get Allan off of her.”

That voice is in your head nearly every day. Like your publicist, that voice knows you can’t sell books without interested readers, and blogging, posting and tweeting is a great way to find them. That voice has been heaping heavy helpings of guilt on your head. Without the guilt, you never would have leaped right past constructive dialogue and encouraged Allan to strangle your publicist, who is really a sweet person and just trying to help.

So anyway, thank goodness we didn’t spend our days on social media, because now we have another book written! We just finished Book Two of the Vampire Vic Trilogy, VV2: Morbius Reborn. This sequel is everything you loved in Vampire Vic, and nothing you hated, squared! Depending how much you loved the first VV, that could be a pretty big number.

Why won’t VV2 contain all that crap you hated the first time around? Because this time we have an editor! Adrienne Crezo is her name, freelance editor and managing editor at Writer’s Digest, the oldest and largest magazine for writers in the U.S. That means no more four-page run-on inner monologue accounting soliloquies, or weird sex. (Thank God she didn’t get her hands on Java Man.) (Don’t worry and don’t tell Adrienne, but right before VV2 heads to the printer, we’re going to put all the weird sex back in.)

Meanwhile, the design team at the Killion Group is hard at work on the cover. KG was the creative force behind the Java Man cover, so we’re excited to see what they have in store for the VV trilogy. Book One, Vampire Vic, was released in what we like to call the pre-KG era, or B.K.G. That was the cover design Stone Age, Harris Gray and friends painting in the cave, so KG is also creating a new cover for Vampire Vic. Same old story, in a fancy new suit.

We hope you didn’t give us up for dead, during this quiet period. If it’s not too early to be giving thanks, we want to say how grateful we are our publicist refrained from acting out on her own strangulation fantasy (and publicly provide this clue for the authorities in case it’s still on her to-do list). It’s good to be alive, and ready to make some holiday season e-noise.

New Year’s Resolutions

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Harris Gray ResolutionsSour Grapes, by Gray

Yep, I got a mouthful of them. But 2014 is going to be a new year.  A new me.  

Upon reflection on 2013 and the last 15 years, I have a lot to be thankful for. I recently had my business’s 15th anniversary. Published two books last year with one of my best friends I’ve ever had and will ever have.  My family is healthy and I love them, they in turn love me.  I truly have a lot to be grateful for, to be gracious for, to humbly thank all those who have made this past year, this life worthy of thankfulness.  

Instead, I crave, yearn, desire for more.  I need to have our work looked at, read, consumed at astronomical rates.  To have readers, critics & other writers see us for the geniuses we are. That our work is seen as meaningful, funny, thought provoking and ready to put a serious belly laugh on you.  A laugh so severe, you pull a stomach muscle and need medical attention.  

But time and money get in the way.  We can’t spend nearly as much as we would like on our “craft”.  We are a long way from our writermobile tour that we are set to do at a moment’s notice.  Our wives taking turns driving, as we spins yarns in the back of the RV.  Going from town to town, signing books & giving out half-ass advice & pieces of our hilarity.

The business.  Fifteen years of blood, sweat & tears (wow, that would be a great band name).  Sure, I have the best employees, customers & friends a person could ever ask for.  Again, I am told I need to see the bright side. I try, Lord, I try.  Those are great things, immeasurable things.  I still have mountains of debt.  A 75 hour work week, daily stresses that show on my face, demeanor and general attitude.  If I could have one week of continuous vacation once a year with my family, it would be a damn miracle. My lovely, loving wife, always the optimist. Lets me know that most small businesses only make it two years.  I think those people had the sense to get out when they could.  

Upset with myself for not seeing the bright side.  My wife, family, friends & customers are all supportive and amazing.  People who love me and want to be around me, supporting me.  Then, I get ever more depressed because I don’t appreciate them way I should.  Self-loathing to the nth degree starts again.

Every year, I say to myself and I am told how perseverance, hard work & a great attitude will make 2007 better than ever, then 2008, 2009 and so on. Well, it’s 2014. The guy I write with has so much talent, heart and desire that I want 2014 to be a year for him to remember.  A writing year like no other. Where time is abundant, and the ideas flow.  Where the scotch is old and the storylines are fresh.  On the road, with our wives in tow.

I hope for, will work hard for, a certain amount of success in my business’s 16th year. To work a reasonable week, so that I can see my loving, caring, understanding family. To take my deserving family on an adequate vacation.

I love the works of Arthur Miller, Lorraine Hansberry and Philip Van Doren Stern. But can’t figure out whether I am more like George Bailey or Willy Loman.

Yep, 2014 is going to be a new year.  Walter Younger had it real tough. George Bailey had so much to be thankful for, but Willy Loman had a life insurance policy.

Harris Gray ResolutionsFine Wine, by Harris

Don’t look now, but 2014 is shaping up to be a great year! 2013 was an odd duck to put it nicely, but if nothing else, an essential step toward 2014. Calendars aren’t like high-rise hotels, you can’t skip 13. So 2013 was a step, even if it the tables were turned and we were the ones who got stepped on in order to get here.

You know how (if you’re lucky) you wake up one day and drink a bit of coffee on a long morning flight home and realize how blessed you are to have your partner? I’m reading a novel by Stephen Dobyns, The Burn Palace, and there’s this bookish nerdy kid who follows around the cool kid, hoping they’ll become friends. That’s a recurring theme in novels, an appealing one to me, never mind that I always fancied myself the cool kid. Of course I’m not, I’ve always been that other kid. And just as the storyline always goes, I eventually get the cool kid to like me. Now we’re writing books together.

Yes he’s a little gloomy sometimes – and I like that! I get the biggest kick out of cool dudes’ tales of woe. Probably because they actually have tales to tell, unlike us bookish nerds, and they tell their tales hilariously. Somehow the cool suffering dudes know how to make you laugh. In this particular real-life story of mine, it also turns out they know how to write. That is what you call a blessing. I think last year’s trials and tribulations were necessary to open my eyes wide enough here in 2014 to see it. So thank you, 2013.

(But still, good riddance, 2013, you hurt a lot of people and so I can’t help but think of you as a necessary evil, and I don’t know many people who feel otherwise.)

Back to Stephen Dobyns – have you read this guy? He’s incredible! Such a unique style. I remember reading his novel The Church of Dead Girls back in the 90’s – I was pumped to write like that guy! Exactly like him! Of course I couldn’t, but that desire launched me forward, and I started off writing sorta like him, and then as the pages and days piled up, nothing at all like him, but by then, who cares?!? Stephen Dobyns had unleased the story in me. That is such a beautiful thing, that one writer does for another.

And I’m going to tell him so. This is new in 2014! Connections, connections, you have to make connections! That’s what all the how-to-be-a-(marketable)-writer bloggers tell you. Of course I knew they were right, but oh how it hurt trying, all year long in 2013, trying to connect with people I didn’t know….

…and then in 2014, it finally dawned on me: I should connect with people who I feel connected with! That might actually be fun! Which made me realize, I’ve never told the guy who inspired Java Man, the brilliant science writer Stephen Hall, just what he has meant to us. So I did, and next thing you know he has a copy of Java Man in his hands, and we’re calling him Steve. And regardless what happens from there, the world just feels a little better having corresponded with this gentleman.

And so Stephen Dobyns is also going to receive an e-mail from Harris Gray, telling him how much we admire him, and how a passage in The Burn Palace, about this nerdy bookish kid wanting to be a vampire when he grew up, because “Have you ever seen a nervous vampire?”, how it made us think that he might get a kick out of a story about, yes, a nervous vampire who didn’t have the self-confidence to bite someone. And then maybe he’ll let us send him a copy of Vampire Vic, and who knows, maybe that will lead to a mention to someone else who we’d enjoy being connected with, and so on and so on, in the magical way that connections often work.

Finally, did you know my writing partner loved Lorraine Hansberry? I didn’t. Likewise he didn’t know that a few weeks back I stumbled across Sidney Poitier on a movie classics channel, that I paused for a moment (with finger on the Channel-Up button) to enjoy the master, and ended up spending two hours falling in love with A Raisin in the Sun. Incredible writing feeding stellar performances. Until now, 2014, I had no idea who Lorraine Hansberry was. Thanks to my partner (and Mr. Poitier), that problem has now been rectified. Makes me excited to taste more of those grapes he bottled these past fifteen years.

Merry Christmas from the Java Man

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JAVA MAN Blog TourAllan:  We are very pleased to announce the winner of the Java Man blog tour: Marissa Aldana! Marissa will receive a signed copy of Java Man, a Kindle Fire HD, a pound of coffee from Crowfoot Valley Coffee, and a $50 Amazon gift card.

Jason:  Man do we love readers, coffee drinkers, gift givers, and Marissa.

Allan:  How could we not love Marissa? She is all those things. But, what if she doesn’t love reading our book, and drinking your coffee?

Jason:  I can pretty much guarantee she’s going to love that coffee.

Allan:  Agree. Everything is wonderful or at least better when I’m drinking your coffee. Say we have a way-overdue home improvement project, and my wife refuses to shell out any more dough for a handyman. And say she’s busy. I’ll brew a pot of Crowfoot, fill a to-go cup, and dig in. Next thing you know, the lawn is cut. If Marissa reads Java Man while enjoying your coffee, we’re gold.

Jason:  I only hope our prize package reaches Marissa before Christmas. There is something magical about curling up Christmas morning with a cup of joe and a good book.

Allan:  Our package faces a lot of competition from all the holiday gifts. Our package needs to be stronger than the other packages. Faster. Evolutionarily designed for success.

Jason:  I think I know the analogy you’re working on. Probably shouldn’t.

Allan:  I’m talking competition, Jason! It makes the world go round! It’s the only reason we’re here today!

Jason:  No, I know.

Allan:  If Christmas morning finds Marissa holding our little bundle of joy, it means our package was stronger and faster than the millions of other packages! Won’t that make you proud?!?

Jason:  There it was. Alright, and what does it say about us if our package does not reach Marissa by Christmas?

Allan:  We blame that on the postal service.

Jason:  Hopefully it’s not too late to say congratulations as well to our five 2nd-place winners: Veronica V., Teo A., Claira Pam V., Lisa B. and Ruth A. Each of them has received a Java Man e-book by email.

Allan:  That’s the high-tech, high-speed way to get our package to you.

Jason:  Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway, and for giving us a great first year as Harris Gray. That’s the best Christmas present we could ask for.

Allan:  What a warm feeling. Honestly I wish the whole world was holding our package in their hands, right now.

Jason:  That’s not quite like wishing for world peace…but it’s not a bad New Year’s resolution.

Clean Shaven – The Vampire Vic Audiobook

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Vampire Vic, audiobookFor half of Harris Gray, on the cusp of becoming the Colorado Johnny Depp, there was no rush. For the other half, the new Vampire Vic audiobook couldn’t come soon enough. The beard vigil is over; VV is now available for your listening pleasure.

You’re going to like our narrator, Paul Neal Rohrer. Paul is a thirty-year veteran of film, TV and stage, internet radio host, acting coach, and the voice on twelve other audiobooks. Feels right  that VV was Paul’s 13th. And with Friday the 13th and then Christmas fast approaching, there’s no better time to let a vampire whisper in your ear, or to put that vampire in the ear of someone you love.Vampire Vic, Audiobook, Vampire, Humor

We’re thankful for Paul and his audio tech team (a one-woman team named Cyndi), and for the folks behind the scenes at Audible who put the finishing touches on VV. Half of Harris Gray is also glad to be clean shaven for the holidays, free to eat with reckless abandon and not worry about getting cranberry sauce and bits of the Christmas goose in his beard. The other half has decided to maintain his beard, a vigil without a cause; he just couldn’t bring himself to write Santa (Amazon) and cancel his order for that pirate costume.

The Vampire Vic audiobook is available for multiple audio formats at Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

VAMPIRE VIC audiobook by Harris Gray on AmazonVAMPIRE VIC audiobook by Harris Gray on AudibleiTunes graphic2

An Extra Shot from the Java Man

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“Hey I have an extra shot here, would you like it?”

How we dream of hearing that line from our baristas as they craft our mochas, lattés and Americanos. An extra shot, to take our drink to a higher level – just knowing that jolt of flavor and energy is on its way lights up your mind. Sadly, some coffeeshops will toss that extra shot, right in front of you, unwilling to slip it to you for free.

Not here. We love slipping you what we got. JAVA MAN is the tale of Brian Lawson, but it’s not the whole story. There was an episode, back when Brian was a California teen…legend has it Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships, but did you know it was a girl named Marnie who punched Brian’s ticket to North Dakota? This is a short story of first love, young Brian Lawson head over heels and going way too far to get the girl.

An extra shot complements a great drink. For readers of JAVA MAN, this origin tale explains a lot. An extra shot can get you hooked. If you haven’t read JAVA MAN yet, we hope this Extra Shot leaves you craving more. Click here to take your shot.

An Extra Shot From the Java Man by Harris Gray

JAVA MAN by Harris Gray on Amazon JAVA MAN by Harris Gray on Nook JAVA MAN by Harris Gray on Nook Add JAVA MAN by Harris Gray to Goodreads TBR

THE GIVEAWAY IS STILL OPEN! BARELY! THE DOOR IS CLOSING – GET INSIDE! NOW!

One grand prize winner will receive a KindleFire HD with $50 Amazon Gift Card, a signed copy of JAVA MAN, and 1 pound of Crowfoot Coffee. Five second prize winners will receive an ebook copy of JAVA MAN. Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY!

[Click here to enter via Rafflecopter]

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