Shameless Self-Promotion Update

With The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership out in the world for just over a week, I’ve been doing an incredible amount of promotion. Most of it is completely work-related, and you can find out everything you would ever want to know about that book at www.LongDistanceLeaderBook.com. 

By the way, if you’re traveling through an airport, it’s now a Hudson Booksellers Best Seller!

I’ve also had a couple of chances to talk about my fiction work. Most enjoyably, an old colleague from my stand-up days, Keith Tomasek, has a terrific podcast about the arts and the creative process, The Inadequate Life. Recently, we talked for an hour about my stand-up days and the transition to being a grownup, as well as the ins and outs of publishing. It was a blast. If you’d like to hear it, it’s here. I think it’s the most wide-ranging and probably most honest interview I’ve ever done. And for a media ho like me, that’s saying something.

I got into corporate training because when I left stand-up, I had a 15-year hole in my resume and only one marketable skill; I could stand there and talk.

To Keith Tomasek, The Inadequate Life podcast

 

I was honored to be on The Inadequate Life podcast

 

“I like to tell people I’m the love child of Alexandre Dumas and Hunter S Thompson and let them figure it out.”

When asked by James Quinland Mervey what my influences are….

Also, a fellow writer named James Quinlan Meservey interviewed me for an ongoing series on his blog about literary influences and why we do what we do. It was a lot of fun. You can read it here if you’d like. And check out James’ fantasy work.

Volcanoes, Scorpions and the Glamour of Public Speaking in Guatemala

So there I was, 300 feet above the Guatemalan jungle, in my socks, talking to some very smart people about my newest book, “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.”  

Take a look at this picture. None of it is doctored:

Me speaking at the Remote Work Summit at the Eagles Nest Retreat in San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala

All my life I’ve dreamed of traveling to exotic places, seeing the world, and speaking about my passion; helping people communicate more effectively and making work suck less. This is a moment few people will ever experience (or even believe me when I tell them about it.)

I was miles from home and civilization, speaking at the Remote Work Summit, overlooking the jungle and talking about The Long-Distance Leader. Yes, the attendance was less than expected and disappointing, and yes, I was staying in a place with no air conditioning, a bathroom down the trail that I shared with 5 other cabins (and a passive-aggressive scorpion,) it was the rainy season, and when I wasn’t walking through the rain to the banos, my roof leaked. Travel logistics were a nightmare, but I got to see sights like this:

Lake Atitlan from San Marcos la Laguna

Because of my schedule, I couldn’t stay for the whole conference so I was up at 4:30 Saturday morning for a sometimes-terrifying 6-hour journey to the airport. Passing back through Antigua, I saw Monte Fuego at the end of an alley and took this picture:

Monte Fuego the day before the eruption

Sunday afternoon, my phone blew up with messages, asking if I was safe. Turns out that lovely mountain now looked like this:

The volcano erupted on Sunday, June 3

Basically the paradoxes of life were encapsulated in this trip:

  • I got to travel to an exotic place to speak about my work and met some amazing people, but it wasn’t the financial success I had hoped for. The story of my life.
  • It was a frustrating, crazy trip with a lot to whine about, but I saw and experienced things I would never have seen otherwise, and despite the mental and physical exhaustion, I’m grateful to have gone.  Also a recurring theme.
  • I was bitching about some of the logistics and accommodations, and having to be up at 430 in the morning, and leaving the conference early. Yet I got out before a horrible disaster that has left dozens dead and many people unable to get home. I am one lucky sonofabitch.

If you’d like to see all the pictures from my trip and read some of the commentaries, I have made the flickr page public. Check it out

As a writer, these experiences are priceless. Like the late, great, Steve Goodman once said, “we do it for the stories we can tell.”

 

“The Long-Distance Leader” is Out in the World

Today is launch day for The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.  This is the result of a lot of research, work with clients and looking at the way people really work today. Kevin Eikenberry and I are very proud of this book, and hope you’ll enjoy it.

I share this because even though I have written several other books, and most of you who read this blog know my fiction work, launch day is always a day to celebrate and heave a big sigh of relief. The book is debuting at number 75 on Amazon’s list of business/coaching books, and we’re delighted by that. Of course, we’re looking for best-seller status.

It is available in paperback, e-book and audio book wherever you buy your books including Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, airports and Amazon.

I also share to ask for your help. Here’s how:

– If you lead a remote team or know someone who is, buy a copy!
– If you would be willing to share on your Facebook wall (or other social media), we would appreciate that too.

You can learn more by visiting http://LongDistanceLeaderBook.com. There you’ll find sample chapters, free downloads and bonuses. Of course, you know the drill. If you like the book and find value in it, please tell your colleagues and co-workers (and, of course, Amazon. Reviews matter even though it’s unseemly to beg for them.)

Thanks for your good wishes, positive thoughts, and assistance. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Traveling to Guatemala to Promote a Book About Not Having to Travel

Tomorrow I get up at dawn’s early light to catch a flight to Guatemala. There are two ironies here. The first is that I’m traveling to one of the least affluent and technologically advanced countries in the hemisphere to talk about one of the wonders of the modern world: working remotely enabled by technology.

The second is that while I have traveled more than a lot of people, I haven’t been

Ah, the glamour of international business travel. This is my destination.

to a lot of the “good places.”  True, I’ve never been to Paris in springtime, but I”ve been to Warsaw in December. Can’t tell you what Monte Carlo or Rome are like, but I can tell you where to hide from a sleety downpour in the industrial suburbs of Prague. My Brazil was the business district of Sao Paulo, not Copacabana Beach in Rio.

So, I’m off to a small village in the mountains of Central America, during the rainy season,  where I had to look at several hotels before I could be assured I would be pooping indoors. I wish I was kidding about that, but I’m not.  There aren’t a lot of 5-star resorts in that part of the world.

So why am I going?

My new business book, “The Long-Distance Leader” is out from Berrett-Koehler books on June 5.

My new book, co-written with Kevin Eikenberry is called, “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.” It launches June 5 and so speaking at the Remote Work Summit, a unique event put on by the young, energetic, and globally focused women at Rebel And Connect, is both my honor and kind of my job.

Here’s the thing: I’m excited to go.  I’m complaining a bit (turns out as I get older, my need for basic creature comforts has increased) but I really want to see that part of the world with my own eyes. People ask, “why would you want to go somewhere poor and under-developed?” and I have a hard time not responding,”because it’s poor and under-developed.”

For one thing, my writerly curiosity is always more focused on how “regular people” live than the rich and famous. Anyone who’s read my work knows that I try to avoid the Great Man theory of history, and look at how events impact the common person. That’s the noble version. The real dirty little secret about how I travel, and I’m not proud of this, is that I don’t particularly like rich people. They make me uncomfortable.

By the way, it won’t look like this since there is a 90% chance of rain every day in Late May and Early June.

Why would I travel half-way around the globe just to sit in a place that looks like any hotel in Chicago and spend it with people I would go out of my way to avoid if I were home? I prefer dive bars to swanky lounges, hole-in-the-wall diners to fancy eateries, and open-air markets (even in the rain) to shopping malls. The same is true of travel. Why go somewhere else if it’s not going to be something other than I can see at home?

So I’m off to see a different part of the world, do some work, help some people, and learn something new. Talk to you when I get back. I’ll have pictures and memories.

 

Incas and Conquistadors with Dennis Santaniello

One of the guiding principles of my blog- hell, my life- is that swords are way cooler than guns. That means there are certain periods of history I find more interesting than others. One of those is the Spanish Conquest of South America. It’s an exciting, if not very pretty, period.

This week’s featured author, Dennis Santaniello, has just released the first of his “The Conquistadors” series of short swashbucklers.

So, who’s Dennis Santaniello and why do we care?

My name is Dennis Santaniello. I’m a writer from New Jersey. I’ve written screenplays and novels for the last 15 years, and I’m finally ready to share my talent with the world. I’m a typical writer: introverted, weird, but also warm and genuine. My genre is Historical  Fiction, and I’ve been writing my epic trilogy “CONQUISTADORS” for the last 10 years. I’m a minimalist and I believe in conciseness, patience and get to the point story-telling. Life is short. Your time in this life is even shorter. Read all the Jane Austin and Emily Bronte you want, it’s simply just not for me. I tell stories in an effective and powerful way. And I always prided myself in doing so.  Why? Because I care about my readers.

Granted, you’re not much on word count. What’s the first book in your series, “Brothers and Kings,” about?

In a nutshell, my book “Brothers and Kings” is about a Spanish soldier named Sardina and his journey of finding gold in the great Inca empire, but it is also about Manco Inca: a king who tries to salvage his kingdom from utter destruction.

Why this time period?

The time period is from 1527-1540 in Peru. I wrote the book because when I was 10 years old I was pissed that there were no good fiction books about the Spanish Conquistadors. So I decided to write one for myself. Well, it took me 20 years, but I think I rectified that. Now I’m sharing it with the whole world.

I can see that. Acre’s Bastard is my delayed response to reading “Kim,” and wondering why we never knew what happened to him. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene is the Battle for Cusco. It is pretty cool, to say the least.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

You can find me at dennissantaniello.com or on Twitter: @philosofarmer

 

Subscribe to my 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 at 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 of all types from around the world.

Barbary Pirates and Scottish Lasses with Josanna Thompson

Most of us think pirates and we immediately go to yo-ho-ho and rum and all that. But the Barbary Pirates were no joke. Today’s interview is with Josanna Thompson, who gives us a gripping tale of Algerian pirates and sweet Scottish lassies.

So, Josanna, what’s your deal?

Hi!  I’m Josanna Thompson, and I’m the author of A Maiden’s Honor.  I’ve been weaving stories for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved history and learning about how people lived way back then. I’m also an avid traveler and was fortunate enough to explore many of these distant lands in my stories. When I’m not traveling, I live a quiet life with my husband in New England.

 

What’s the story behind A Maiden’s Honor?

It’s complicated to say the very least. What can I say, it’s not in me to write a simple tale. A Maiden’s Honor is no exception.  In fact, it’s two stories. The primary part follows the journey of Sarah Campbell. The other follows the journey of my villain, Naa’il Dhar. Their stories eventually intertwine.

Raised by her Scottish father and the natives of a remote island in the South Pacific, Sarah and her father embark on a perilous journey to Scotland. She knew that her life would change when she left her beloved island. Never did Sarah imagine that she would be sold into a harem. With her father murdered and everything that she had ever known gone, only Hassan Aziz, the most feared pirate on the Barbary Coast can save her. But is Hassan willing to jeopardize his secret mission and risk his life and the lives of his crew to shield this intoxicating maiden from slavery?

Naa’il is the Dey of Algiers, a man who has everything including, wealth, power, wives, slaves, concubines. Drawn to two beautiful American captives, Naa’il tests their loyalty to each other. Little does he know that his game will have devastating consequences… especially for him.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

One of my favorite scenes takes place between Sarah and the hero, Hassan Aziz. Sarah’s father had died early that morning. Hassan returns to his cabin and finds Sarah sitting beside the window looking reverently at her trunk filled with “treasures” from her life on her island. Hassan can tell she is sad, he sits beside her. She opens her trunk and pulls out four objects, a bamboo comb, a flat shell, a sharks tooth and a mat. Hassan gives into his curiosity and asks her about the purpose of these objects. Sarah proceeds to tell him about her life on her island while demonstrating the use of each one.

I love this scene because it’s such a sweet interlude between these two strangers. This is the beginning of their love affair.

 Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Maidens-Honor-Woman-Eden-Book-ebook/dp/B076FQ27S8

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JosannaThompsonAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17238374.Josanna_Thompson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theglobetrottingtiari/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/josannathompson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JosannaThompson

Look me up. I always enjoy chatting with readers.

Oh, I have a killer website. I built it like a DVD and packed it with lots of extras, including, a blog, interviews with characters, and articles about my research. I also give readers an opportunity to ask my characters questions. They are very chatty and would love to hear from you. (Click on the link below.)  Check back from time to time. I’m always adding to it.

My website:

www.josannathompson.com

 This is kind of a cool idea. Josanna has a feature on her site that says “Ask my character a question:” What would you ask her? I may steal this idea.

http://www.josannathompson.com/your-questions-for-the-characters

 Thanks for interviewing me, Wayne.  I had a great time answering your questions!

Subscribe to my 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 at 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 of all types from around the world.

 

2 Stiffs Writing Historical Fiction

One of my favorite things about being a writer is connecting with other writers, and one of my favorite literary humans lately is Jeffrey K Walker, author of “None of Us the Same” and “Truly are the Free”.

Two Stiffs Writing Hist Fic (Part the Second)

He’s taken it upon himself to share some of our correspondence in a running feature on his blog called “Two Stiffs Writing Historical Fiction.” If you’d like a peek inside the minds of two guys who are trying to figure out the whole “writing about the past” thing, take a  look.

Here’s this month’s edition

And the first conversation we had.

Beau Brummell by the Fashionable Erato

I know nothing about fashion, but both my wife and my mother ( and there’s nothing creepier than when they both say the same thing to you) referred to my attempts at dressing up as “very Beau Brummell.” I had no idea who that was, but now I’m smarter because of this week’s interview.

Erato, (yes it’s a pen name) has written about the ultimate 18th-century fashion plate in her new novel, The Cut of the Clothes.

What’s your story, Erato?

Erato writes under a pen name. She obviously doesn’t have my crying need for validation

So, Erato is my pen name — and no, it doesn’t mean I write erotica (what the hell, people? It’s not even the same key vowels, but people mistake it all the time for “Erotia” or something.) Editor’s Note: an overwhelming majority of people are idiots. Don’t let it get to you. In any case, I write historical fiction. So far all of my books are set in the Georgian/Regency era, which I am finding is a bit of a misfortune, as “Regency” has become a modern genre of its own that I don’t actually write; consequently people who like “Regency” stories don’t usually seem to like my work and other people who might actually like them don’t want to read them because they think they don’t like “Regency” stories. It just means they’re set in the late-18th/early-19th century in Great Britain, it doesn’t mean they’re about rakish noblemen having dubiously consensual sex with reluctant heroines, or that they’re Christian propaganda for clean living, or that they’re Jane Austen fanfiction where Darcy and Elizabeth have a secret baby the entire time of Pride and Prejudice.

Duly noted. It’s rough when genres constrict your subject matter. What’s the book about?

It tells the true story of Beau Brummell and the Prince Regent. It’s a story that’s been done a few times before, since it seems everyone agrees that was the most interesting part of Brummell’s life — when he was in London and at his peak. Brummell seems to possess such a natural charm, good looks, and a talent for matching his clothes together that he becomes an instant star once the Prince befriends him. My version is different from the other tellings for a couple reasons: first, it is the only one I know of that didn’t make up a fictional character to serve as a love interest for Brummell and then try to tell it as a love story. Secondly, it’s told from the Prince’s point of view, in my best attempt at historically accurate reproduction of the way he wrote.

I’m going to confess that fashion and talking about clothes bores me to tears, despite being strapped to the couch and forced to watch 13 seasons of Project Runway with the Duchesss. What is it about this story you find so fascinating?

I had heard the name Beau Brummell a bit, and when you mostly write Georgian/Regency fiction you know a little about him and his contributions to fashion from your research. I wrote kind of a knockoff version of him into the book None But Fools (as “Beau Bancroft”) but nothing very studied. While I was writing my upcoming book The Virgin and the Bull (it was written before Cut of the Clothes but only now getting published) I had needed to look up some fashion vocabulary term — I think the word I needed was the fall of a pair of breeches — and when I did so online, the page I found happened to also have a video of the opening scene of the BBC film Beau Brummell: This Charming Man. I watched the opening scene, which is not really anything more than James Purefoy as Brummell getting dressed and then walking down a hall, but on that basis, I thought, “My next book should be about Beau Brummell.” I deliberately did not watch the rest of that movie until after my book was done, and indeed our final takes on the story were quite different, but that was the inspiration.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?

There’s a joke, and I’m afraid if I explain it it’ll be ruined for like, the one person who will ever read it and actually get it without needing to look it up… ah well, they might not be amongst the same people who reads this blog, right? What are the odds? Prinny is sick in bed and is reading a book with a French title: Les Bijoux Indiscrets. I deliberately went out of my way to find the trashiest possible 18th century book for him to be reading. It’s a book by Denis Diderot of all people (co-creator of the first Encyclopedia.) It’s about a king with a magic ring that causes women’s vaginas to talk, and to declare their sexual histories. That’s as much of a plot as it’s really got. So, that’s what Prinny reads there.
Worth being said, the real-life Prinny had one hell of a pornography collection. If I remember correctly, when he died, it took three days of continuously burning fires to destroy it all.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

The Cut of the Clothes – Amazon.com:
Amazon UK:
Google Play: 

Erato’s Author Pages –

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2H3M6eD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15113073.Erato

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EratoWrites

Subscribe to my 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 at 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 of all types from around the world.

 

The Long-Distance Leader is Almost Here

Readers of this blog usually don’t care much about my day job, but I do. My latest book is “The Long-Distance Leader-Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.”  It is the culmination of years of work and research that I, and my co-author Kevin Eikenberry, are very proud of.

 

Hear Kevin talk about it in the publisher’s official video trailer.

 

Then you can order the darned thing. Publication date is officially June 5. If you like it, please leave a review and tell all your coworkers and peers. It’s available worldwide in paperback, Kindle and Audio book.

If you are interested in the topic, check out the website and blog of The Remote Leadership Institute.

My Week with Harry Anderson

Image result for Harry AndersonWhen you reach my age, the passing of people you’ve known becomes a part of life. In fact, Facebook is good for only two things: knowing your life turned out better than your ex’s and learning when people from your past die.

Most people know Harry Anderson from the sitcom Night Court, but I met him back in 1982, when he was excited because he was going to be a regular on a “new show that might last a season or two,” that went on to be Cheers.

I was working my first time ( in the US illegally, under the table, and underage) at the Comedy Underground in Seattle, Wa. Back in the day you usually had to share a “condo” with the other acts if you weren’t local. That meant poor Harry, the headliner, had to share an apartment with a young act he knew from San Francisco, and some weird ginger kid from Vancouver. That would be me.

In that week, not only did I discover what a kind, humble and hard-working act he was (for someone who was already a big star in the stand-up world and about to break out) but I learned some valuable lessons that stayed with me my entire professional life, in and out of show business.

  • Treat the staff like gold.  On Keith Tomasek’s “The Inadequate Life” podcast, I was asked why everyone remembers me as such a nice guy and so easy to work with.  (I’ll post the link when it airs, I promise) Looking back, I never really thought there was another way to be. But working with Harry, I remember he told me flat out, “Treat the staff like gold. They will make or break your week, and you want them to remember you.”  He did just that, and I never forgot that advice.
  • Old fashioned southern manners aren’t just a Southern thing. Harry treated everyone he met in the club as “sir” or “ma’am” until instructed otherwise (and he was always instructed otherwise- people loved him.) He also always told me to call waitresses “darlin’ ” –a habit it’s taken me years to break, but not all advice is evergreen.  He always read a person’s nametag and called them by name, something I do to this day and wrote it into the character of Byron de Prorok in The Count of the Sahara. The point was to be polite but not obsequious and people would treat you the same way- and boy did they.
  • Always work a hustle. Harry grew up on the streets of New Orleans, and his entire magic act was a take on the street hustlers and con men he knew. He never (to my knowledge) used his powers for evil, but I also saw fewer men work so hard. Most comics on the road do the promotion necessary, but you can still work a full schedule at a comedy club and have 20 hours a day to kill. Harry spent every day in Seattle visiting magic stores. He designed magic tricks, and he’d pop in to get the stores to buy his latest invention, or his newsletter, or just to know he was in town and drum up an audience.  I tagged along as he rose early every day with a printed list of every magic and joke shop in the area. I gawked and basked in reflected glory as he got treated like royalty everywhere magicians gathered, and was one of the most respected people in his craft. He’d been poor and had no intention of ever being that way again so he hustled his skinny butt off. He was a good role model in that regard.
  • It doesn’t hurt to be nice to the opening act. Harry was a pleasure to hang out with- and he didn’t have to be. He could have objected to being cooped up in an apartment with two young idiots, but he seemed to enjoy the big brother role (although there was a hysterical practical joke on the other comic I’ll remember to this day and take to my grave.) He treated us as peers. We’d write jokes (he actually did 2 of the jokes we wrote that week on Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks later and I bragged about it for years) and laugh. There may have been alcohol involved.
  • I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I stole the hat thing from him. At various times in my comedy career, I’ve worn suspenders and arm garters, totally inspired by Harry’s style. I always talk like a bit more of a hick than I really am, because you could sneak up on the suckers. I also noticed that his trademark hat made him instantly recognizable, and even years later people would talk about “the magician with the big hat” and I knew who they meant. Plus it was cool.

It was only a week. While we crossed paths once more after that and he was kind enough to sort of remember me, he made as big an impression on my comedy career and what came after as almost anyone from that time.

He passed today, and like so many people he probably has no idea of the impact he had on this kid he shared an apartment with and helped clean up the peppermint Schnapps puke. God love him.