Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion

Riding on the bus the other day I spied a young woman reading The Great Gatsby. Anyone who has followed my blogs and/or my career knows that F Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors and Gatsby is my all time favorite book, at least among the classics. And, of course, The Great Gatsby figures prominently in my new novel Elysian Dreams.
Not one to pass up the opportunity to promote Elysian Dreams, to say nothing about the chance to speak to a pretty woman, I approached the metro reader, business card in hand. Bolstered on a warm smile and soft hello, I proceeded to introduce myself and my pride and joy, Elysian Dreams. Unfortunately, our pleasant conversation was prematurely ended by my quickly approaching stop.
I never fail to be surprised at how easy it is to approach a stranger with a book in their hand...or for that matter a Nook or Kindle. I find most everyone extremely receptive and indeed eager to talk about and share their passion for reading.
We have all heard that reading is dead and literature is a thing of the pass. If my experiences riding the Seattle Metro is any indication, then reports of the demise of books have been greatly exaggerated... thank God.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ballard Tribune Interview With BJ Neblett

Ballard author publishes debut novel (updated)

Ballard author B.J. Neblett can finally hold on to the physical pages of his debut novel after releasing the electronic version months ago. On December 12, Brighton Publishing released Neblett's novel, Elysian Dreams, in paperback format, just in time for the holidays.
Neblett decribed his book as a real page turner with all the drama and excitement of the Prohibition era – gangsters, romance, adventure, and the key to it all... time travel.
Elysian Dreams weaves its journey through time from the 1920's through the 1980's, binding history professor Collin Crowly, college student Angelina and the slightly nerdy high school student Marsha together in a profound way.
Main character Crowly's mysterious family mansion Casa di Tempo becomes their magical portal to the past, eclipsing space and time as the trio desperately seek their rightful place in the world.
Elysian Dream is available in paperback and e-book from

Original article from June, 2011:
Ballard resident B.J. Neblett has written his debut novel, which was published as an e-book last week and will be released in print later this month.
"I have written many, many short stories and poems but this is my first book," said Neblett, a retired radio deejay.
Neblett said the book started off as a writing exercise and took him three and a half years to write.
"I wanted to see if I could write from a female point of view," he explained.
Taking place in Philadelphia from the prohibition era until the 1980s, Neblett's novel "Elysian Dreams" surrounds three main characters: a well-off popular college history teacher, Professor Collin Crowley; a restless and beautiful college student, Angelina; and a highly intelligent and slightly nerdy high school student, Marsha, who struggles with her own feelings of being a misplaced soul.
As the trio desperately seeks answers, their lives unexpectedly and repeatedly cross. It is Collin Crowly’s family legacy and his mysterious mansion, Casa di Tempo containing a hidden portal to the past, that sets the stage for a romantic adventure across both space and time.
"It's a romantic mystery with quite a bit of action," Neblett said. "I think it appeals to most everybody. Women won't find it excessively violent or chauvinistic and men won't find it too fluffy."
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Neblett said he takes inspiration from personal experiences.
"My mom's people were Italian and the gangster era always intrigued me," he said.
And while the book is fiction, Neblett said all the places, events and buildings are real.
"A lot of research went into this book. I'm a big history buff so I made sure all the dates and places were accurate," he said.
The e-book available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble has been received well so far with reader reviews giving the book five out of five stars and calling it a page turner.
"Great bedtime reading. Lots of interesting local historical detail," writes on reviewer.
"If you read any book this year, make it this one. I highly recommend this book, it captures your attention and keeps it page after page. Loved it!!" raves another.
Neblett said he hopes his book will serve as a springboard to more publishing opportunities and dedicated the book to his mother who inspired him to do what he wanted to do.
Neblett credits her for his career as popular radio DJ Billy James, which will be the topic of a book sometime in the future.
Additionally, Neblett revealed that he's writing a sequel to Elysian Dreams and he's currently working on a memoir about growing up in Philadelphia during the Kennedy era.
"My goal is just to get it out there and be read," Neblett said.
"[Elysian Dreams] is different from anything that's out there right now and if given half a chance, the public might actually like it."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Birth Of A Book: Elysian Dreams

            Just in time for Christmas, Elysian Dreams, my first novel, is now available in paperback. Brighton Publishing has done a great job putting the book together and with the lay out, I couldn’t be happier with the way the book looks. The E book has been very well received and I want to thank everyone who has been enjoying Elysian Dreams on their Kindle or Nook or other E book readers. Now, those of you like myself, who prefer the print versions of their favorite books can have their book and read it too!
            Now it’s your turn: Tell your friends, head to your local book store, order yourself a copy of Elysian Dreams, tell the owner/manager that they should stock the book, enjoy Elysian Dreams, drop us a comment either here at the blog site (your words will be available for all to read) or you can reach me at the e-mails below. And thanks!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Editing And Proofing

           Thanksgiving was quiet this year, actually a very good thing. The long awaited galley proofs of my novel Elysian Dreams were delivered on Wednesday. Here it is Sunday night and I am finally done with my part. It’s mind boggling the long and detailed process a manuscript will travel before it is ready for print. The version I received had already gone through sixteen different edit and proofing procedures. To the untrained or casual eye, nothing had really been changed. But, as they say, it’s all in the details.
            Spelling aside, it takes several pairs of trained eyes to catch every little grammar and punctuation nuance. A swapped synonym or relocated comma can completely change the meaning and strength of a sentence. And of course, the final say as to what is being said lies with the author. The gang at Brighton Publishing did a great job with the lay out, editing and proofing of Elysian Dreams. And yet, by the time the polished manuscript reached my hands there were still a few errors that had slipped through. Hopefully, by now we have caught them all.
            When I was teaching creative writing I gave my students some well worn and proven tricks to make the inherently formidable job of writing a bit easier. When it comes to revisions, I urge future novelists to read their copy out loud. Reading silently, the mind automatically scans and skips, filling in obvious words and phrases. Reading aloud forces pronunciation of every word, every pause, every breath, and every inflection. Spelling, usage and other errors literally jump off the page. And a well checked manuscript can benefit the author in several ways. The easier it is for an agent or publisher to read your copy, the more likely he or she will be to actually read it through. And, once you have sold your manuscript, the easier the editor’s job, the quicker your treasure will make it to print.
            Even in this day and age of spelling and grammar checkers and typing ahead and auto replacement and auto thesaurus, mistakes do happen. In the end, it is up to the author to see to it his or her words are exactly as they intended.
            Look for Elysian Dreams on the shelves of your local book store in about a week to ten days. If you don’t see it, ask for it by name. Thanks.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Elysian Dreams Follow Up

     In response to several inquires: Glad you enjoyed Elysian Dreams. Yes, there is a follow up on the way. Right now we are concentrating on getting Elysian Dreams out in print format. Seems there was some sort of delay at the publisher. Right now it looks like Elysian Dreams should hit the book shelves by Thanksgiving. And remember, if you don't see it, please ask for it...that will help in getting the retailers to stock it. Again, no date on a follow up right now but yes, Angela, Marsha, Collin and the rest will return!
PS Of course Elysian Dreams is still available in E book form from Amazon, Barns and Noble and other E book retailers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping The Flow

            Oops!  Last time I mentioned Antonio Manuel as one of my favorite authors. Seems I did Senor Manuel an injustice, as he is responsible for the term Fantastic Literature, not Incredible Literature as I noted. Just another example of the necessity for a good editor.
            In fact, I left that last sentence stand to make a point. It’s grammatically incorrect. Did you catch it?
            We as writers are responsible for the content of the story, not the mechanics. And that is how it should be. While we need to present our work in a logical, clear and understandable form, we need not get bogged down with spelling, usage and the like. That is the editor’s job. It is too easy, while writing the next great American novel, to get tangled up in the proper placement of a comma. Many novice writers make the mistake of trying to get it right and perfect the first time. That’s why we do rewrites. While there are no clear defined rules for writing, I have found a few simple tricks to keep the juices, and the words flowing.
            Writing for me is almost a stream of consciousness process. An idea will come to me; kick around in my mind for whatever length of time necessary, and then, like a woman suffering through her ninth month, it will have to come out. And for me, when it’s time, it’s time. I can’t stop to worry about spelling, usage or much of anything else. Even seemingly simple details like names and eye color can cause me to lose forever what might have been an important key element of the story. So what to do?
            As I write (and much of my process is writing, actual pen and paper writing) the thoughts and words and situations come amazingly fast. I often feel that I am not actually writing so much as transcribing what I am hearing in my mind. When it comes to details, if they are not forthcoming I leave a simple note and a blank line, and move on. It looks something like this: (eye color here). It is much simpler to go back and decide on the perfect element at a later time, than to risk interrupting the all important flow.
            Of course many writers opt to sketch or outline their work first, some even storyboarding first and/or preparing full bios for their characters. But then again, that’s the great thing about writing: there is no right or wrong way! Just write! And leave the editors to do their job.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Incredible Literature

            Often, when asked about my writing, the question comes up about genre. This is a tough question for me and becomes a real nuisance when it comes to publishers. Book editors like things handed to them in nice neat little packages: What’s your style; What’s your category; What’s your book about? Simple enough questions that editors like answered in one or two simple sentences. When you have spent three years of your life laboring over a manuscript, nothing comes in simple, neat little one or two line packages.
            Elysian Dreams is a work of fiction. But is it romantic fiction? Is it historical fiction? Does the element of time travel make it science fiction? Is it fantasy? The answer to all of these questions is no… and maybe.
            Pigeon holing anything into a specific category or genre or type limits your target audience, regardless of the media. How often do you head straight for a particular section in your favorite book or music store, completely ignoring the latest new releases or recommended lists? To place Elysian Dreams (or most any book for that matter) into a structured, formatted category would be a great disservice, both to author and reader alike. But…
            This being the real world, and editors being who they are, and the public being the public, we are stuck with the neat little categories we have boxed ourselves into. Thank havens for those who color outside the lines.
            Antonio Manuel is one of my favorite authors… and someone who never learned to color inside the lines. Refusing to be categorized, itemized, serialized or otherwise packaged, Manuel coined the term Incredible Literature to describe his writing style. What, you have never heard of Incredible Literature? Maybe not, but I know you have experienced the genre. Ever read HP Lovecraft? How about Rod Serling aka the Twilight Zone? Even O Henry and some Steven King fall into this most unusual format.
            To best describe Antonio Manuel’s Incredible Literature we need only to skip back to the 1980’s and a popular comedian whos routines make you go hum…  Not quite fantasy, not quite science fiction, not quite mystery, Manuel’s stories dance with the possible, flirt with the extraordinary and make the incredible seem downright likely. In other words, an Antonio Manuel story makes you think: can that happen? could that have happened? sure, why not? That’s Incredible Literature!
            I love writing short stories and have two compilations in the works for release in the near future. Most all are Incredible Literature. And, if pressed on the issue, I will place Elysian Dreams into this incredible genre. I’m still not a big fan of categorizing, but with Incredible Literature as least I’m in good company.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I Write

            Since Elysian Dreams was released in E book form on May 28 it’s been an exciting and frustrating four months. Last quarter sales, the first quarter (actually only one month) the book was available, sales were fairly good. My publisher Brighton Publishing was extremely pleased with the numbers. I guess I was expecting (hoping?) for more. But then again there was really no promotion as such, just some internet chatter and the launching of Elysian Dreams Facebook page. In any event I do want to thank everyone who has purchased the E book. We have gotten nothing but positive comments and response. And speaking of which, if you do (or have) purchased the E book, your response is essential to both myself and the publisher. You can post your personal review at Amazon or Barnes and Nobel or wherever you downloaded your copy.
            And so now, even as I sit and write this blog, I am awaiting the sales figures for July, August and September. Judging from the hits on Facebook and the E mail I have received I am sure the numbers won’t disappoint. Again, thanks. The print version should be here very soon.
            Enough sales pitch. Writing isn’t and shouldn’t be about $$$. There is a wise old saying: How do you become a writer? You write, plain and simple. A painter paints, a sculptor sculpts, a writer writes. Too often the lines between writer and author become a bit blurred. If you love to write, and you do write, then guess what? You’re a writer! It doesn’t matter if you are published or have an agent or if anybody besides yourself ever reads your words. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any differently, you are a writer.
            I think it might have been Steven King who, when asked why he writes replied, “Because not to is suicide.” Those words speak volumes. Did you ever get an idea into your head and it just kept nagging and nagging at you? That’s the same idea. Most writers (note: writers) as well as authors report that writing is as natural an act as breathing or eating. And we all know what happens when one stops breathing or eating.
            As I mentioned last time, I began writing at a very early age. It helped me to order my thoughts and sort things out. I too, got ideas and thoughts stuck into my head that just wouldn’t let go. That is until I put them down on paper, released them so to speak. And only when I had, could I then relax and sleep and function normally; until the next thought or idea came along. Of course I now recognize these ideas and thoughts for what they were and are: inspiration.
            So, how about it? Is there a thought or idea or something rattling around somewhere inside you that just won’t let go? Who knows, maybe there’s a writer inside of you trying to get out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How I Got Into Writing

            Ok, so I’m a writer, so I guess I’m suppose to know what to write here. Got no clue. Not like writing a novel or short story… no inspiration here. Jenna my publicist says write about writing, why I became a writer. Does anyone really become a writer? Seems to me, in my case anyway, it’s something that just kinda happened. What does come to mind is the first day of tenth grade, Creative Writing 101.
            Write what you know.
            Those cautionary words were emblazoned across the blackboard. They remained there throughout most of the semester. I read them over till they were burned onto the insides of my eyelids. It made sense to me.
            When you are a small, shy kid you learn a lot from your friends, the invisible ones. It’s remarkable how much wisdom and knowledge a peaceable green dragon, or a long, lumpy cat, or a talking Dodge can impart. I’m sure my friends, my real friends, carried a sort of wisdom of their own. But what nine year old stops to ask a buddy’s opinion on death or music or killer nuns during a frantic game of tag or a hot round of pepper? Who thinks of life’s mysteries when Willie Mays’ future hangs on the next flip of a baseball card?
            There were times, sleeping under the stars, with clover for a mattress and a blanket of dreams when my pals and I talked. We talked of important things: whose bike was faster; will Maris top Ruth; could Godzilla beat King Kong? But the real wisdom of my youth came from within; from the friends I contrived out of a fecund imagination. Friends who walked me to school on lonely December mornings; played with me during boring family visits; made me laugh on long thunderstruck nights.
            The wisdom my make believe buddies bestowed, factual or fantasy, formed a very large part of the child I was, the man I became, the stories I would eventually write. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I discovered a friend and ally in the muse, a muse who lunched on irony and danced with the fantastic.
            And I listened.
            And I wrote.
            I wrote in one form or another for what has seemed like all of my life. I wrote about things I knew; things I wanted to know about; things I pretended to know about. When I was seven, the launch of Sputnik launched an interest in space, planets, astronauts, the Mercury Seven, and all things not of this earth. I dreamt of traveling to Mars, exploring Titan, even meeting a shapely alien on Venus. My musings materialized on paper as my first short story: an affecting, confusing tale of a boy from Mars, a girl from Venus and feuding space gangs: a sort of galactic Romeo and Juliet.
            Escaping from a boring, sometimes brutal grade school I often ditched, spending hours wandering through junk yards. The serene, cemetery like atmosphere appealed to me. I forged an inexplicable bond with the forlorn vehicles. Their once proud chrome and sadly decaying bodies spoke in the dry, dusty air. Each told a story, a unique, intriguing tale to tell, some funny, some tragic. I listened and understood. And I wrote about what I heard, often to the bewilderment of my teachers. They seldom knew what to make of my emerging talents.
            It wasn’t long before the fairer sex caught my eye. The objects of my daydreams and fantasies found themselves as strong, highly visible characters in my tales. Girls were more interesting than boys and smelled a lot better. A hopeless romantic was born.
            Moving through junior and senior high I continued to write, expanding to include songs, music and poetry. Writing became an outlet for me, a way to order my thoughts and deal with life in general. On paper it all made sense, a sense that otherwise escaped me. I could handle the stress and pressure of being a ‘60’s teen. I loved the times in which I grew up. It was just that I found irony all around, an irony that eluded most of my peers and every adult I knew.
            And so I wrote.
            I was writing what I knew, what I saw, what I felt. An author was born… or hatched… or created… or whatever or wherever or however authors emerge.