Big-ass plans for 2018

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate New Years Eve. Always have. The week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally a time of self-flagellating reflection, semi-soul-numbing-regrets and non-clinical depression. That generally comes complete with a lot of whining and binge-eating the remaining butter tarts. With the Duchess working retail, and my customers inconsiderately on vacation, I have too much time to think about stuff. Nothing good happens when Wayne starts a sentence with, “I’ve been thinking.”

This year is (slightly, ever-so-slightly) different.

By the way, this is not a request for “attaboy” Facebook messages or offers of assistance or your therapists’ contact information. I go through this every year and come out the other side. It’s just a way of setting up what I have to say next.

As I look forward to 2018, there are three things to look forward to.

  1. In May, the release of “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.” Co-written with my boss and friend, Kevin Eikenberry, this is a very real book from a real publisher and the hope is that it will kick-start the whole “paying the rent” thing. It’s available for Pre-Order now. Just saying.
  2. This summer will see the release of “Acre’s Orphans”, the second story in the Lucca series. I’m guessing August?  I had hoped to have it out by now, but hubris is a terrible thing. “How hard could it be to do a world-class business book AND the next novel in the same year?” I can now answer that: way more than I thought. For those of you awaiting the next adventure. It’s coming. By the way, I killed off someone major in Chapter 15. Can’t wait to hear the complaining…..
  3. After 17 years in Chicago, the Duchess and I are planning to leave Chicago for Las Vegas. Now, I’m well aware that if you want to hear God laugh, tell Her your plans, and nothing is set in stone. Still, that’s the plan. No more frigid winters (it’s -5 Fahrenheit this Boxing Day morning as Iwrite this. I think it was either Mark Twain or Simone de Beauvoir who famously said, “F#@*! this”.) And it’s time to start the next chapter of our lives. Of course, if anyone wants to buy a few copies of my books to help fund the move, we’d appreciate it. While I love Chicago,  and Her Serene Highness will be staying behind, it’s either move or be murdered in my sleep by a woman raised in Miami and still pining for  Los Angeles after all these years. I’m already packing boxes.

You never really know what a year holds, but I am excited for the challenges I know I (and we as a family) will face.

My own self-absorbed whinging aside, I wish for you an exciting 2018 of chasing your dreams and fighting the weasels to at least a draw.

A Jack London-Harry Houdini Love Triangle: Rebecca Rosenberg

If you’ve read The Count of the Sahara, you know my fascination with real-life characters who behave in ways so crazy you’d think someone was making it up. So when I found Rebecca Rosenberg’s book, “The Secret Life of Mrs. London” I was intrigued. I mean, the wife of the world’s best-selling novelist (Jack London) having an affair with Harry Freakin’ Houdini? And it really happened? I had to learn more.

BTW the title of this post was originally “A Harry Houdini/Jack London Love Triangle With Rebecca Rosenburg,” but I realized that probably read wrong and would probably upset Mr. Rosenberg. Punctuation and grammar matter, people.

So Rebecca, what’s your deal?

I live on our lavender farm in Sonoma, California, which Jack London named Valley of the Moon, and wrote his books. My first book was Lavender Fields of America, a non-fiction coffee table book. Recently, our farm was destroyed in the Sonoma/Santa Rosa fires, but we are rebuilding and replanting as we speak! I am fascinated with remarkable people who lived before us and their improbably, fantastical stories. That’s why I write biographic historical fiction.

Oh my gosh. I have nothing clever to say to that except I’m so sorry. Tell us about your book…

Jack and Charmian London

The novel starts in San Francisco, 1915, just as America teeters on the brink of world war. Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, struggle under the strains of marital discord, brought on by infidelity, a lost baby, their dream home destroyed by fire. (There’s a creepy coincidence don’t you think?)  Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband. But Jack doesn’t see it that way. Until, Charmian is pulled from the audience at a magic show of the beguiling escape artist, Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own troubled marriage. And suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her, entranced by his sexual magnetism, and drawn into his mysterious undercover world, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape

I share your fascination with this period of time. What makes it so intriguing?

The Houdinis and the Londons…. probably an awkward evening.

I wanted to write about Jack London, the most popular, highest paid author of the early 1900’s, who wrote 50 novels in 20 years with the help of his muse, editor and typist, Charmian London. The couple was as unconventional, free-loving, and bohemian as they were adventurous, building a ketch and sailing around the world in 1907, encountering the Lepers of Molokai, cannibals and headhunters. They created a utopic 1400 acre Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen, California, complete with pig palace, one-hundred thousand tree eucalyptus grove, prize winning Shire horses. All the while entertaining guests as diverse as Socialist cronies, Mother Jones, Upton Sinclair, Clarence Darrow, to famed botanist, Luther Burbank, to Ed Morell, the prisoner who inspired The Star Gazer.

But, when I discovered the little known fact that Charmian had an affair with Houdini, I knew the story had to begin there. Houdini was the most famous magician of his era, but his mystery only starts there. Houdini traveled Europe performing for the Tzar of Russia and the German Chancellor, and reportedly spied for our government.

Nothing could hold Houdini- no safe, no jail cell, no chains or locks… yet he wrote Charmian:

“I now understand how kings give up their kingdom for a woman. I love you.” Houdini wrote her passionate letters until the end of his life.

What was your favorite scene to write?

It was fascinating to depict Houdini’s iconic illusions and escapes, and include the Londons in them. But perhaps, I love how the novel starts with Jack and Charmian boxing! They loved to box, and it is symbolic of their relationship and how it binds them, yet tears them apart.

Where can people learn more?

I would really appreciate readers to review the novel on Goodreads!

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

The Long-Distance Leader is completely, utterly, finally complete and available for pre-sale.

Readers of this blog probably don’t think about my non-fiction work very much, but let’s face it–Lucca, Byron and their colleagues don’t pay the bills. My newest book, co-written with my boss, friend and colleague Kevin Eikenberry is now available for pre-orders.

The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership will be released June 5, from Berrett-Koehler.

Looks good, doesn’t it? It is. If you lead remote project teams, or have people working from home and you’re struggling to be the leader you want to be, this book is for you.

If you’re unfamiliar with my non-fiction work, check out my Amazon Author Page for more details.