Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

The naked truth

Guilt is a powerful emotion.

And long-lasting.

About twenty years ago, I did something that still haunts me.

Back then, I worked an evening shift -- 4 to 1 -- at the St. Petersburg Times. On this particular weekday, it was around noon, and since my wife worked a day shift and both my young daughters were in school, I was alone at the house.

Our washer and drier were in the garage. I had just gotten out of the shower and was starting to dress when I realized that I was out of clean underwear. But no problem. The previous evening, my wife had done a load of underwear, and it now was sitting in the drier, waiting to be folded. Since no one was around, I dried myself off and walked naked into the garage.

The bare cement felt cold on my feet. Halfway to the drier, I sensed movement in my peripheral vision. To my horror, a rat came charging out of nowhere. And then, to my even worse horror, it attempted to run up my leg.

If anyone at that moment had had a video camera and had filmed what occurred next, that person would be a millionaire a dozen times over. I did the Jim Melvin version of the Wattusi, hopping and squealing as the rat attempted -- with great deliberation -- to clamber up my bare leg. Finally, it gave up and skittered away, hiding itself amid my shovels and rakes. Somehow I managed to rush to the drier, grab the underwear, and then escape into the safety of my house. It might well have been the closest I've ever come to having a heart attack.

The next day, I was in the garage -- this time fully dressed -- and the rat charged out and again tried to climb up my leg. I hopped and skipped and escaped.

The day after that, I heard my wife squeal. This time she had been attacked.

It was time to draw the line. The rat had taken control of my garage, and I needed to get it back.

Being a good American, I bought rat poison. Lots of it. And put it in several places. Soon after, I discovered that one of the boxes had been "tampered" with.

The next day, just before my family was to sit at our dining room table for a meal of roasted chicken, potatoes, and salad, I discovered the rat trembling in the center of the garage, in almost the identical place of the original attack. He was dying.

Only ... he wasn't a rat. Now that I could get a close look at him, I realized that he was a gerbil. And quite a cute one at that. My young daughters were horrified. As was I. Later that evening, I buried him in our back yard.

Two days later, there was a knock at my door. A well-dressed dad and his young daughter were standing on my porch. The little girl spoke first. "We live in the house behind yours. My pet gerbil, Hermy, got out of his cage. Have you seen him?"

"Uh ... no."

They left.

To this day, I'm not sure what's worse. Killing the gerbil. Or lying to that little girl.

epic fantasy, virtual tour

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mystified at 50

It happened again. I'm 50 years old, and have a 24-year-old daughter. Though I'm not what you would describe as balding, the hair on the back of my head has thinned noticeably. And I've grown a beard that is at least 20 percent gray. Yet I was carded again today, this time at a Wal-Mart, while buying a six-pack of beer. Could anyone tell me what the heck is going on????

epic fantasy, virtual tour

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More radio

Here's another radio show, this one from thatradio.com.

epic fantasy, virtual tour

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Update on ordering books one, two, and three

For reasons I can't discern, Amazon has not yet ordered more copies of books one (The Pit) and two (Moon Goddess). Book one already sold out through its first stock, but more have not yet been ordered, which has created a waiting period that really seems to have hampered sales.

If any of you are waiting for this to be resolved before you place an order, you also can order books one and two directly from the Rain website (click here). And book three will be available there in just a couple of days. I'll put in another update when the Amazon situation is resolved.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

In other news, I was mentioned on a sfsite.com as a new arrival.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another talk with Michele

Please check out my recent radio interview on Michele Paivo's insightful show, Off the Mat.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Never enough sleep

Sleep is such an important part of our lives. So many of our body's dynamics depend on it. But I find that I can never seem to get enough of it. Because I'm so damn busy, I'm rarely able to get to bed at a decent time. I usually average about six hours of sleep, while my body craves more like eight. I've always thought that if days were 26 hours long instead of 24, I'd be in great shape.

Insomnia has never been my problem. I'm almost always asleep within five minutes of lying down and usually much quicker than that. But over the past 10 years, I found that I was sleeping less and less comfortably and that I could no longer remember my dreams. To make matters worse, I would wake up most mornings with back pain and stiff joints.

About six months ago, my wife and I gave up on our futon mattress and spent more than we should have on one of those space-age foam mattresses that "conform to the contours of your body." My wife was against buying it. She despises anything unnatural or made with "chemicals." But I put my foot down, arguing that the futon was literally killing me.

The first night I slept on the new mattress, I couldn't stop smiling. Never before had I slept so comfortably. Even my wife had to admit that it was fantastic. Since that night, it's only gotten better. I often find myself waking up in the same position that I fell asleep in, while before I would toss and turn all over the place. And I'm remembering my dreams again. I must be sleeping far more deeply.

It's not all good news, though. I still don't go to bed early enough. It's almost midnight right now as I'm typing this. And my wife and I have become so spoiled by the mattress, we don't sleep well anywhere else. Twice recently we've been to nice hotels, and both times the beds felt lumpy and awkward. Too bad our mattress, a super-king, is too damn big to carry around with us.

Well, I'm off to bed. Since tomorrow's Sunday, I should be able to squeeze in a full eight hours! Still, Sunday night is looming, followed by the much-dreaded Monday morning.

Is there any way we can pass some sort of resolution to lengthen days to 26 hours?

Friday, November 16, 2007

A big day for me

I finally got around to downloading some photos from my Oct. 27 talk and reading before 55 people at the Times Festival of Reading in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was a lot of fun and the audience response was sensational. Signing autographs for a long line of people buying copies of books one and two was a big thrill for me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Plusses and minuses

Though I have published many articles as a journalist in my lifetime, The Death Wizard Chronicles represents my debut as a novelist. Since (and actually long before) Book One came out in early September, I have been marketing the series like crazy.

Thus far, here's what seems to have worked well and not so well:

1: I attended a large book festival in Florida, had 55 people at my talk, and sold about 40 books. No world record, obviously, but I count that in the plus column.

2: I did an interview for the St. Petersburg Times (Florida's largest newspaper) that ran on the cover of its features section. A big plus.

3: I received a very positive review in the Tampa Tribune, another large Florida newspaper. Another big plus.

4: I did an internet podcast/interview with Mr. Media that has been linked to sites literally all over the world. I would have to think that at least several hundred people have listened to at least parts of the interview, so I count another in the big plus column.

5: I've done two radio interviews, after which my amazon sales seemed to pick up for a day or so ... so another plus.

6: I did one internet/video interview, and again amazon sales seemed to pick up temporarily. A plus.

7: I did six in-person book-signing appearances. Despite a large amount of advance publicity for each signing, these did not go particularly well. I never sold more than nine books at any appearance. About the only good news was that I spoke, face to face, with several hundred people all told, so perhaps some residual benefits will come from that. Still, at this point the bookstore appearances have to go in the negative column. If you're not a big name, it's difficult to attract attention.

8: I have had one great review and two Q/A's on two popular blogs, plus several mentions of my series on others. So, another plus.

Overall, the plusses far outweight the minuses. Again, I'll have to wait and see how much any of this will impact sales, not so much in the short run but in the long run. My fingers are crossed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Making a big splash

I don't play golf anymore. Since I moved from Florida to South Carolina four years ago, I've only played two times. I used to play once a week. I was never that good. In my heyday I struggled to break 90, and now I'd be lucky to break 105. But I love the game and miss it.

I didn't take up the game until I was in my late 20s when I was living in Dallas. My first real round of golf came on a large, difficult course that was a test for very good golfers, much less for myself. It was the middle of the summer, with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, and my foursome chose to walk and carry our bags. To make matters even worse, the course was very crowded.

The third hole was a long par 3. About 40 yards from the tee box, a narrow creek disected the fairway. The three guys I was playing with each hit nice shots onto the green, but I dribbled a terrible shot way off to the right and short of the creek. It was humiliating to have to walk over to the ball -- especially with another foursome already on the teebox behind me. To my amazement, I hit a good second shot over the creek that almost rolled onto the green. But now I was faced with a long walk along the creek to reach the bridge that crossed over it.

I looked at the creek. It was barely a channel, really, no more than 4 feet wide ... but deep. Could I jump it? I thought that I could, so I slung my bag over my shoulder, tested the side of the bank, and decided to jump. The bank collapsed. Head over heels, I tumbled into the water. All but the brim of my cap and the last 2 inches of my scalp were submerged. I was horrified. With two titanic steps, I heaved myself and my clubs out of the water. I did so with such speed, my body barely had time to get wet. Then, I walked over to the green, dripping with clay-ridden water.

The foursome on the teebox, waiting for its turn to hit, fell upon its backs and went into a fit of hysteria. I still remember seeing one of them lying on his back and kicking his legs into the air like a wounded cockroach. I spent the rest of the round first soaked and then dried like clay in a furnace. To this day, I am humiliated.

Still, I miss golf. Very much.

Do you blame me?

-- Jim

Friday, November 9, 2007

Another radio interview

I did another radio interview today, this one with Michele Paiva on her blogtalk radio show called Off The Mat. If you get a free moment, please check it our here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


This morning, I'm having breakfast in a Chick-fil-A in booming Seneca, S.C. Off to my left is a group of about 30 senior citizens playing Bingo. Man, they're having a blast! When somebody wins, there's huge excitement. I'm 50 now. Will I be that way when I'm 70? For me to get excited over Bingo, there has to be a little cash involved. Black Jack's more my thing, I guess, though I haven't been to a casino or gambled in any fashion in many years. I just don't have the luck for it.

Wait .. there's another winner! B-3 did the trick. Wooo-hooooo!

Maybe I'll ask if I can join in.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What does it all mean?

What does it mean to be confident? To sincerely believe that my work is strong? That it has a lot going on between the lines? That it ranks with the best that's out there?

Does it mean that I'm deluded? That I'm a conceited fool? That I'm naive?

Does it mean that people will love my work after my death -- but not before?

Does it mean that the publishing industry is heavily weighted against newcomers, despite their abilities?

Does it mean that I have to work harder and learn more and write better? That is what most successful novelists would say.

What does it all mean?

We shall see what we shall see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October was quite a month!

As you can see from some of my posts below, October was a busy month for me. I appeared at a major book festival, did six appearances at bookstores, appeared in about a dozen different newspaper venues (including one very positive review from a major newspaper), appeared on several different prominent blogs (including one very positive view from a respected freelancer/editor), and did one video and two audio interviews. Plus, I'm on the verge of several other newspaper reviews and will soon be embarking on an ambitious "virtual tour." All of this is good, of course. But the kind of success I'm striving for is still far from guaranteed. An unknown writer with a small or mid-sized publisher faces long odds and an uphill battle. Despite many victories, there also are depressing defeats.

For me, the best news is the reaction I've gotten from the people who have read my book or who have listened to me speak. At the festival, I got loads of applause, especially for my reading. And just about everyone who has read Book One has told me they love it, some quite passionately. It makes me believe that if I can spread the word enough, I've got a good chance.

My Amazon numbers have been steady if unspectacular, often dipping below 40,000 and rarely going above 250,000 (knock on my desktop). But profits for both the publisher and writer are minimal with Amazon, unless the sales come in large numbers. Whenever I'm asked, I encourage people who are interested in my books to order them directly from my publisher (click here) or from bookstores.

For anyone from the Tampa Bay area (my old haunting grounds), books one and two are available at the Barnes and Nobles in downtown St. Petersburg and Tyrone.

For anyone from the Clemson area (my new haunting grounds), books one and two are available at Books and Baskets in Pendleton, McClure's in Clemson, Cyrano's in Highlands, and the Open Book in Greenville.

Anyway ... to anyone who has supported me thus far by buying my books or by coming to see me in person, thanksssssssssssssssssssss!!! You can't imagine how much it means to me.

-- Jim


The Death Wizard Chronicles is a sexy, action-packed six-book epic fantasy series: Book One (Forged by Death), Book Two (Chained by Fear), Book Three (Eve of War), Book Four (World on Fire), Book Five (Sun God), Book Six (Death-Know).

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers -- or the faint of heart. But if you like graphic fantasy that is bursting with excitement yet still has a lot going on between the lines, I think you'll love my series.

In a groundbreaking paradox, the Death Wizard, a champion of good, derives his power from a source traditionally seen as negative -- death. His nemesis, an evil sorcerer, derives his power from the sun, the benevolent source of all life. Their struggle to control the fate of the planet Triken will take your breath away.

In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a "temporary suicide." Through intense concentration, he stops his heartbeat and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

The series also is a love triangle involving two desperate characters attempting to come together despite the machinations of an all-powerful psychopath with incestuous cravings.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millennium of turmoil, The DW Chronicles carries readers on a journey they will never forget.

Do you fear death? The Death Wizard does not. Find out why.

-- Please go to www.jim-melvin.com for more details.

About Me

My photo
Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.