Sunday, February 28, 2016
One Hell of a Week
It's been a hell of a week. I had two major events happen. The first after a lot of study, I flew out to California to take a contractor's exam. This is low voltage license that my telecommunications company needs in order to stay working in the state. Low voltage is everything under 90 volts. This will not include the power sockets, but it does include your telephone, cell phone, cable TV, satellite communication, radios, home theater, sound engineering, it's a pretty big deal. I have twenty years in the telecommunications industry and worked my wan from a know-nothing cable-puller to engineer and I'm now operations manager. I've had a chance to see the full spectrum of the business. I understood that part, it was the other parts I only had vague knowledge. I needed to get educated.
I took some online courses, picked some brains and took a test prep course. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. On Thursday I sat in the California State License board facility and took a very difficult test. Two actually. The first was a business and law and I passed that with flying colors. It was a little more nervous about it because these were specific to California law, which, let's face it is pretty wacky. The second exam was the tradecraft portion. These questions started popping up and I had no answer to them. It was multiple choice and I was able to figure some out, but it dawned on me that none of what I studied was on that exam. I was screwed. I agonized over it, did the absolute best I could and when I completed, I knew it was going to be close. I need 65 questions correct. The number correct = 64.
My heart sank. I went out in the lobby and the exam administrator went out there with me. Her heart was breaking for me. She knew I'd flown in from Georgia just to take it and it would be three weeks before I could take it again. Another trip. I was devastated. You either have the knowledge, or you don't and this case I came up short. There wasn't a telecom question on that test for me to even get a foothold. Frustrating. The administrator and I talked and since my flight was out at 1pm the next day, it gave me a enough time to come back and take it again. They made some provisions and I went immediately back to my hotel and crammed for the next ten hours.
While that was going on, the second event: I'd been named the Rave Review Book Club's author of the week. Since Sunday February 21st I'd been blog hopping. I wrote several pieces on things that we influences in my writing. For the most part I kept them light fun and around 500 words. Give everyone a taste, but not wear out my welcome. That's what this blog is for. :)
For those not familiar with the Rave Reviews Book Club. It's an organization of authors who support other authors. It's founder and president, Nonnie Jules, has created something I've found to be unique in the author community where it's a pay it forward approach to support. Me, as an author, pitches in and help other authors and in return they support you. It's something earned and I've made real friends doing it. As a bonus, I've read some wonderful books by great people that I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise and my life had been enriched by it. If you're an author reading this, I invite you to check them out: Rave Reviews Book Club
Sunday: I started my tour off with a very lovely and sweet soul by the name of Priya Prithviraj @priyaprithvira has a wonderful blog Priya's Lit Blog and she posted my first blog post about book covers and my experience with them. I got to know Priya and she's amazing. Please stop by her blog and find out for yourself.
Monday: I moved on to talk to Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko @jinlobify. I love her she writes books that touch back to one of my interests when I was studying cultural anthropology and her books involve stories from Africa tribes and cultures. Her books Legend of the Walking Dead and Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women should not be missed. I had a short post on editing called Editing for Dummies
Tuesday: the blog tour took me to John W. Howell @HowellWave. John writes thrillers and he writes them really well. His books My GRL and His Revenge are non-stop and relentless. He's a great guy, an award winning author and I had a lot of fun hanging with him. On his blog Tuesday Anything Possible I talked about my take-no-prisoners writing process.
Wednesday: I got to hang with the lovely Marlena Smith @mlh42812. She was so warm and welcoming, she a blogger and an awesome human being. She's always engaged and engaging. I talked about the trouble I have with social media promotion "services". My post was called It's a Trap Obviously, you must say that title in the voice of Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars Return of the Jedi.
Thursday: Was a special day. I got to talk with Nonnie Jules @NonnieJules, herself. She's the author of SUGARCOATIN' IS FOR CANDY & PACIFYIN' IS FOR KIDS!: "Yes, I Said It!", she's also the owner of 4WilsPublishing and an amazingly talented person and I have no idea how she does all that she does. I was thrilled to talk with her and below is our full interview.
Friday: I got to play with Bette A Stevens @BetteAStevens. She the incredible author of Dog Bone Soup and a book that's high on my pile to read Pure Trash: The Story. Bette is a fellow New Englander and she has a wry sense of humor. The kind you only find in Maine. With her blog Happy reading and Writing I talked about my influences.
Finally on Saturday, I talked with fantasy author Mistral K Dawn @MistralKDawn whose book include Captivated by the Winter King, Bound by the Summer Prince, Taken by the Hunstman and Intrigue in The Summer Court. This was the most intimate of my blog posts. It involved humor in the dark places. Specifically events that occurred the day my dad died and how humor helped me process pain.
MARK ABERDEEN in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF WITH NONNIE JULES?”
By reviewsbynonnie on February 26, 2016
Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them. WE get personal! Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF,” YOU are an open book!
Today, I have with me on the “SHELF” our Current “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Mark Aberdeen!
RRBC Exclusive - Mark A
NJ: Before we get started, how does the “shelf” feel to you? Is it comfy?
Mark: Not particularly. I’ve met really great authors and read amazing books by them and I feel a little like I’m reaching beyond my ability. I’m excited to be here and honored by the invitation. I’d like to think I’m worthy, but I’m not wired that way. I’m still shaking off a working class, Catholic upbringing that instilled in me a sense of when good things happen, it’s a trick.
NJ: Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?
Mark: My name was given to me by my parents. I’m proud to wear it and if nothing else prove we aren’t all horse thieves and robber barons.
NJ: Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
Mark: I was born in a little town on the Connecticut shoreline, East Lyme. Famous for lyme disease and the high school marching band, which thankfully and much to their betterment, refused to display my musical talents, rhythm and coordination. Lives were saved. I now live north Georgia in small town outside of Atlanta.
NJ: WOW! I’m scheduled to be in Atlanta next month. I just might give you a buzz so that you can have me over for coffee. Mark, are you married or single?
Mark: I am married to a fiery redhead and I’m in a constant battle for my soul. The preferred food of gingers the world over. That’s a joke, honey, really! She’s a wonderful woman, sexy and the love of my life. I’m truly lucky.
NJ: Do you and this sexy red-head have any kids? If so, how many? Sons or Daughters?
Mark: My wife has a son from her first marriage. He’s grown and off to make his mark in the world. I have no kids otherwise.
NJ: (Are you absolutely sure about that, mark?)
Any pets? What kind?
Mark: We’re dog rescuers. We take in those “problem” breeds. As of this interview we have two huskies and an akita. They are wonderful, but three high-output fur factories. They are a constant source of amusement and furniture recycling as one of our huskies must have a little beaver DNA in his make-up. Rescues are very rewarding, but it takes time, patience and knowledge that each dog is going to bring its quirks.
NJ: Oh, Mark, we think they’re really cute! They look a little shocked at the things you said about them, but they’re still cute (in a big-eyed-dog kinda way?) So, why don’t you share your favorite food with us.
Mark: Whole belly clams. It’s the first thing I absolutely have to find when I visit my family and friends back in Connecticut. They are my absolutely favorite food.
NJ: You absolutely HAVE to find them? Well, ooooooooookkkkkkkk. What’s your favorite color?
Mark: A deep rich dark metal flake red. Preferably on an American muscle car.
NJ: Awww, yes, I can just picture you in it, Mark! What’s your favorite sport?
Mark: Baseball. I grew up going to games at Fenway Park and nothing’s more comforting to me than a ballgame. My family was very divided about football teams, but we were all Red Sox fans. I have a deep love of New England sports.
NJ: OK, great! How about your favorite TV Show?
Mark: Shows currently on: Game of Thrones. All time: Fringe
NJ: Favorite Actress/Actor…
Mark: I think I’ve gotten the most enjoyment of watching Robert Downey, Jr. perform. I grew up watching him in the 80s and he’s always been mesmerizing. When he strapped on the Iron Man suit, it was all over for me. In my opinion, he’s the best actor of his generation.
NJ: I’m glad someone is recognizing him for his talent and not holding on to his past. Good for you, Mark! I love him, too but my fave movie that he is in, is “Home For the Holidays” (1995), funniest movie ever!!! So, Mark, are you a couch potato or workout nut? Be honest…
Mark: I lean toward inactivity if given a choice. I wear a fitness band and I do like the jolt of reaching my goals. As long as I have a goal, I’ll find ways to be active. If I don’t, you’ll find me on the couch, or more accurately, in my office.
NJ: Oh…so, what you’re saying is, this is you, too…
Dog sleeping on treadmill
*Sigh* OK, Mark, why don’t you tell us about your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to stomach-punch somebody?: (For the record, NJ does not condone violence but she does believe in being honest, so she has to admit that there are times when she feels like some friendly stomach-punching is a little necessary).
Mark: Talking, playing with a cell phone, or otherwise being rude in the theatre. I can forgive most transgressions in life, but I can’t abide having a movie disrupted by a lack of consideration. To those people; turn it off and get engrossed in the story, it’s what the movie goer paid money to do. Tune out the world for two hours, it’s not going anywhere.
NJ: So, basically, you’re talking to me, Mark, huh? I get it but I’m still not turning my phoneSSSS off! I am much too busy to be away from my phoneSSSS for even a milli-second! So, make sure you sit way down at the botttom. Now, are you neat or messy?
Mark: It depends whether I’m trying to work. My work space has to be organized and I’m a touch OCD in that manner. In my general living conditions, I allow a little bit of clutter to accumulate as our week tends to be very busy, but I have limits to what I can endure. On the weekends I go on a cleaning rampage unless I’m writing. When I write, the world could burn and I wouldn’t notice.
NJ: Oh, my! Note to self, stay away from Mark when he’s writing! Facebook or Twitter?
Mark: I prefer Facebook for social interaction, trash talking, sharing cool stuff, sports, pictures, etc. I like twitter for my author marketing and networking. I maintain an author page on Facebook, but I really keep that focused on book related events and announcements.
NJ: Name two of the most supportive people you’ve met on either Facebook or Twitter? Hurry and tell us so we can become their friend.
Mark: Angie Atkinson, she’s a life coach, blogger, author, inspiration, she’s a book reviewer and all around amazing person. I feel like she’s always in my corner and I can’t thank her enough. The other is Laura Hildago, she’s an amazing cover artist and did my book covers. I really enjoy working with her. I do have a lot of new friends I’ve met through Rave Reviews and that list would take me an hour to list. I’ve never met a more supportive group.
NJ: Mark, that’s very sweet of you to say! Thank you!. Nonnie Jules or Wonderwoman? Be honest…
Mark: Nonnie, of course, that’s not even a fair comparison. Although, I might save Nonnie the worry if I was attacked by the Legion of Doom.
NJ: Thank you, Mark and for the save, too. I’m only in this WonderWoman thing for the cute, skimpy outfit. When she starts getting attacked by Legions of anything, that’s when this WonderWoman turns into the Bionic Woman and uses her bionic legs to run!! Everyone knows the names Mark Twain and Stephen King but how about you give us two names of some INDIE authors that you favor.
Mark: Michael Bailey. He writes a book series, it’s a YA superhero series and he just released a fantasy book. Just amazing writing and a nerdy sense of humor that I really appreciate. The other author I can’t recommend enough is John Darryl Winston his series is gritty, dystopian and he had wonderful, rich characters and a brother and sister team that must be based on his real life. He’s an up and comer and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit the mass market.
NJ: OK, what is it about these up-and-comers that you’ve come to like?
Mark: Both write very fantastic stories with tremendous humanity. Even in their most outlandish they feel grounded.
NJ: Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read…
Mark: AI: Initiate by John Darryl Winston and A Wizard of Dreams by Robin Chambers.
NJ: ONE good INDIE book you read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…
Mark: I’d have to go with AI: Initiate
NJ: What was so great about it?
Mark: It’s YA dystopian future done absolutely right. The story isn’t about the whiz bang of the world, which is something that immediately turns me off. Where the author writes pages of description in order to describe a hat. What John does is take this very strong relationship between a brother and sister and use it as the focal point to tell an amazing story of this dirty dysfunctional little world. It’s an amazing story.
NJ: After you read books, do you post reviews?
Mark: I do post reviews. I think it’s important to provide feedback.
NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?
Mark: I base mine on how the book affected me. Did I feel something when I read it? I can forgive the occasional typo and grammar error if the story is strong.
NJ: Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
Mark: I definitely like posting positive reviews. I have posted less than stellar reviews although it’s always my policy to keep them constructive. I want to help the author. I’ve been through the process. I know how hard it is. I’m sure my books aren’t perfect and I hope that someone would show me the same kindness. Also, not every book is for everybody. I think it perfectly okay to pass on a review if I determine a book wasn’t for me.
NJ: Read any poorly written books lately?
Mark: I don’t want to say it was poorly written, in fact just the opposite, but I wasn’t sure what the author was trying to do. It wasn’t a text book, but it wasn’t a science journal and it didn’t break new ground. It felt like a recap of general science knowledge. I have a strong background in science and I’m an engineer and I thought the book would be right up my alley. The book was probably written for the young, or for those with a passing knowledge in science. It was written by someone with a passion and not necessarily an expert in the field. The book confounded me.
NJ: Where’s your review so I can go and check it out? LOL! No, seriously.
*Are you an author? Yes. I’m an author.
Mark: Here it is (Review)
NJ: How long have you been writing?
Mark: I was writing when Y2K was a thing. I wrote for a magazine called Shallow Graves. I published some short stories and interviews in it. I had a lot of fun with it until they move away from being a magazine and became on online media platform. As for novels, I had many, many failed attempts and the first book I thought had a real shot was Dex Territory. I started the book in 2004, finished it in 2008, had it rejected for four years by every publisher I could find and threw it in a metaphorical drawer. I went on with other things. It sat in an online folder until 2014 when a friend of mine hooked me up with the man who would become my editor. We reworked the sh%^ out of it, and it was published by TWB Press on Dec 24th of that year. The first draft of my second book, Knight and Dex, was completed in eight weeks. It was released on Oct 31st of 2015 and I’m currently writing my third book in the series it’s called Dex Machina.
NJ: What books have you written?
Dex Territory is my first in the Dex Series:
Dex Territory by Mark Aberdeen
Book 2 Knight and Dex is also available:
Knight and Dex by Mark Aberdeen
NJ: Which one do you think is the best?
Mark: DEX TERRITORY is the closest to my heart, but the KNIGHT AND DEX story is far better. While Dex Territory is a large world, the books coming after it are cases and it’s nice to use fewer characters and build on relationships. Not that there won’t be plenty of action. I love writing swift moving stories with the goal of leaving my readers breathless.
NJ: Do you have a blog or website?
Mark: Yes I do: http://www.markaberdeen.blogspot.com/
NJ: Name three great online resources or organizations that every author should belong to…
Mark: I can’t recommend the RRBC enough. They’ve helped me in more ways than I can imagine. The public library system. I’ve donated my books and time to my local libraries, they’re a great resource for finding writing groups, continuing education, I’ve had book signings, I’ve spoken to kids and aspiring author groups. It’s important to keep interest in our libraries. They do a lot more than loan books. While they’re not strictly an online organization, I haven’t come across a public library that wasn’t eager to help. There’s one more, but I don’t think I can mention it here but it’s very helpful spreading the word to a mass audience. There are a lot of authors as part of this group and I haven’t found it to be particularly effective in driving traffic to my websites, but I have met some great people through the group and been turned onto some good reads.
NJ: Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
Mark: The RRBC hands down has helped me and it came at the simple price of helping others spread the word, read some books, leave reviews and have chats with interesting people. I’ll take that price all day long.
NJ: Mark, that is great to hear! How specifically have you been helped by RRBC?
Mark: I’ve had pretty steady sales through the first couple months of my new release. I have new reviews and even one in the UK, thank you, Robin! The recent online book trailer tour was very enlightening. I saw some incredible work and amazing visions in a very entertaining way. I basically took a tour of the RRBC and see how diverse the group was and the stories they told. It was humbling.
NJ: WOW! Great testimony! Mark, since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, any other thoughts you’d like to share about the club?
Mark: I think it’s a marvelous organization and I recommend it as much as I can.
NJ: Have you come across any other online entities like it?
Mark: Nothing I’ve run into is quite like it. I know it isn’t one of those organizations that’s looking to prey on authors and for a fee throw out some tweets that become background noise in the twitterverse. This group is real people with the goal of helping other real authors get noticed. I only wish I found this group sooner. I would have wasted a lot less time and money.
NJ: Another great big WOW! That really makes me feel good to hear you say that, Mark! Because that is exactly who we are, a group of real people, genuinely invested in the support and success of our fellow members. Would you recommend us to your friends and family?
NJ: That’s great! Well, Mark, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words?
Mark: First, keep writing, dreaming and exploring those strange worlds living in your imaginations. Sharing stories connects us as a community. It’s a way for us to relate to one another. It’s important. Second, believe in yourself. Everyone has a novel in them. All it takes it parking your butt in the chair and writing it down. You can’t talk about writing, you can’t think about writing, you can’t wish you were writing, you have to put words down one after the other until your story is done. When it’s done, stop. Lastly, thank you to Nonnie Jules for hosting this interview. I hope everyone enjoyed it and you all don’t unfriend me in a mass panic. I’ve enjoyed my time with RRBC and the new friends I’ve made. I wish you all the best of success in your writing and I hope you will take the time and enjoy mine. Let me know what you think.
NJ: Mark, thank you for joining me ON THE SHELF today and for being such an awesome and kind guest! I’m sure you had a good time (being as though you didn’t end up on the floor…hehehe). To my guests, please support Mark by picking up a copy of one (or both) of his books above. You can also support him by visiting the blog stops on his tour which ends on Saturday. You can find the tour line up here.
Have you joined Rave Reviews Book Club yet? Well, here’s your chance! And since Mark was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you. Take care and we’ll see you next time, right here on the shelf, with another AMAZING RRBC member!
It's been a busy week. I hope I was able to do justice to the amazing people who supported me as I went through my juggling act. As for my test I blew it away when I retook it on Friday before I flew back home to Atlanta. The random questions this time leaned heavily into the telecom world and I can now proudly say I'm a licensed contactor in the state of California. This was a hard week, but those make for the best stories.
My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher www.TWBPress.com has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.
Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!
Keep those reviews coming!!
Where can you find me?
You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at: