Welcome Message

Welcome to the blog and site of Iowa Author Buzz Malone. I always enjoy hearing from readers. Please leave comments and send me emails to let me know what you think. Your opinions matter more than you might think. Your words inspire me more than you could ever know. To find out more about my writing and books, please click above on the book titles or email me at buzzdmalone@gmail.com

If you are looking for my Union Leader Blog, please go to http://theunionleader.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Timothy Hurley's Shortstack. A Book I Can Never Seem to Finish Reading

I was planning on writing a review when I finished reading this book, but it appears as though I may never be completely finished with it. As I travel around the country for work, Shortstack has been a constant companion for the past few months. It stays neatly tucked inside of my bag beside my laptop and I pull it out and read a short story at the airport, or before bed, or while waiting for a meal to be brought out at a restaurant. There, I open the thing up anywhere and read whatever short story emerges.

I must have, by now, read each one at least half a dozen times, but it doesn't seem to bother me. I still keep opening the thing and reading them over. While not usually a fan of short stories, I am a very big fan of Timothy Hurley. The stories he has assembled in this book are very much like the proverbial box of chocolates, as the reader never really does know what they are going to get. There are heart touching truth based tales about the author's world that remind me of Robert Fulghum with lessons from a life well lived. And there are whimsical, seemingly nonsensical tales that you have to read two or three times to find all of the little hidden gems of wit in.

Whatever story you open to though, you may be certain that it will be a good one, well written, well crafted, and well delivered. Shortstack has found a permanent place in my world, alongside a very limited number of books that I hold dear and reach to open, time and time again. That's why I had to finally write this review...because I'll never be completely finished reading this one.

Shortstack on Amazon 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Sky Behind Me

I just finished reading The Sky Behind Me by Byron Edgington.

At face value, it is the memoir of a man who spent a lifetime in the air as a helicopter pilot. It's nostalgic and endearing and touching and sentimental and contains some great stories. But forget about all that stuff. Forget about flying. Forget about Vietnam. Forget about saving lives in Iowa.

What is impossible to forget is the fact that Byron Edgington is a great writer. The sentences are concise and powerful and the period seems to slam shut on the words. I am reminded of how Hemingway mastered the short sentence and harnessed the power of thrift for a time.

Sentences become stories and there are stories within the stories, and all are drawn steadily downstream by a philosophical undercurrent that reminded me time and again of Richard Bach. So much so that I was not surprised to see the name mentioned toward the end of the book.

To me, this is less a memoir about flying, and more a genuine work of literary art to be appreciated by connoisseurs of the written word. No matter what Edgington decides to write his next book about, I'll be standing in line to buy a copy because with writers like this, there is always so much more to it than first meets the eye. I am an overnight fan. 

Author Byron Edgington

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Great Read From an Independent Author

My Five Star Review:
The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives tells an enchanting story. However, for this reader, the journey into the writing of Chaunce Stanton transcended the story itself. Mr. Stanton has created some incredible prose within this novel, worthy of standing alone as, if not poetry, then as moments of literary genius. As when reading classic works, I found myself reviewing sentences and paragraphs to savor them all the more, and even writing them down to better remember them and appreciate both style and structure. I'll not speak to the plot for fear of giving it away, except to say that layers of depth exist beyond this apparently simple tale. I would recommend this book to anyone who has genuine appreciation for the craft of the written word, and I look forward to reading future works from this author. 

What can I say about Chaunce Stanton the author? Almost nothing that he hasn't already said about himself. Stanton doesn't have a serious bone in is body. He is a prankster and a whacky jester without a court; a clown without (a) class! There isn't anything apparently serious about the man at all...and yet he has managed to create some very serious literary fiction in his latest work, The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives. 

Like any great work of literary fiction, I doubt that you'll ever see it on the shelves of the Mega Mart beside a Fifty Shades trilogy, and it is far too literary and complex to be appreciated by most of the instant gratification world we live in. BUT, it will always be among my favorite works and I will, in all seriousness, read anything that Stanton creates in the future. The story was good. The writing was phenomenal. It teeters at times, upon the edge of perfection that every writer aspires to.

For the purpose of full disclosure, and to those who might be thinking that I am only posting this because Chaunce Stanton is probably a friend of mine, I say this:

I am from Iowa. Chaunce Stanton is from Minnesota. We are sworn enemies and it is likely that we could inflict grave injury to one another in the future, engaged in some  snowball skirmish (we pack them with ice so they hurt more) between the states. 


Thanks for Reading, Everyone!


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Writer's Four Letter Word...W-O-R-K

Buzz at the end of a workday
I've received a bit of ridicule as of late from my author friends about my online absence. The fact is that I've been busy working (an apparently foreign concept to them). By the time I get home from my job, feed the animals, tend to the plants and feed my own yap, I'm usually pretty pooped. Hell, I haven't even had time to do any of the editing that I so love and enjoy.

Link to Writer's Community LAHK

My absence in the G+ writer's community, Literary Agents Hate Kittens, has even led to some speculation about what I might be up to by some folks who obviously have entirely too much time on their hands...

Like Timothy Hurley's post theorizing that I must've been an NSA spy all along, and was probably busy writing a new book about it. A book, that Doc Hurley was kind enough to create this original cover art for.
Timothy Hurley's Site

Or Chaunce Stanton's (way, way, way too much time on his hands) take on my whereabouts. However, the two left hands would explain the huge number of typos I find in my writing.
Chaunce Stanton's Site

But the truth is far less exciting than either of the above dim witted hypotheses. The truth is that I've just been working. And it's about to get much, much worse too, because in coming days I'll be leaving my grinding, mind numbing job...

...for an exciting, fast paced career. Sadly, that will mean even less blog posts than now. I know this won't sit well with my regular readers (sorry, mom!), but duty calls. And who knows...it might even possibly, just maybe, lead to the kind of monetary windfall that hires actual editors (we can only hope) so I won't ever have to re-read that new manuscript again and wonder about my comma, placement.

That doesn't mean I'll be losing myself to the new career entirely. I'll still be writing some new posts now and again here, and visiting the community in G+, and writing for all of those the wonderful nonpaying websites and e-zines. And there are some upcoming events I already have chiseled into my schedule...

The Iowa City Book Festival "is a three-day celebration of books, reading and writing. The festival includes readings, discussions, and demonstrations by various authors, illustrators and book making experts." But forget about all of the experts, because the aspiring stalker in you will be able to hunt me down there and purchase one of my books (I'll be the tall one with gorilla arms and two left hands, being encircled by world war I era fighter planes).

Anyhow, if everything goes as planned, then you can meet all three of us in person (Buzz, Chaunce, and Doc Hurley) at the Iowa City Book Festival. Least ways, I plan on being there no matter how unreliable the other two might be. And, again (and this time with a much bigger IF), each of us should have copies of our newest books in hand to sell, sign, and giveaway following countless hours of boredom without any sales.  If you're in the continental U.S. then we'll look forward to seeing you there. If you're penniless and have to hitchhike, we can always let you sleep on Doc Hurley's hotel room floor...but you should be aware... he bites. No really. A certified sleep biter. 

Doc Hurley is going to make a scheduled stop between the coasts for once and hock his book, Shortstack (if the pressure of finishing the thing doesn't crush him before then. Chaunce Stanton is planning on finally having words to go along with the impressive cover and cool marketing graphics that he apparently completed years before he ever even began to write the thing. 

And, of course, I'll be there as well, hopefully having finished editing THE GREATEST STORY EVER WRITTEN entitled, Losing Meadow Brook. Or at least, the greatest story ever written about four old men and a road trip to Cuba. Roads to Cuba? Hmmmm.

In the meantime, please keep writing folks! And thank you all so much for reading and making this little blog such a huge success.



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Independent Authors are Ruining Literature

Timothy Hurley, plotting to ruin the publishing industry.
"I wonder what I can do to piss Buzz off today?"
You'd think that a successful and retired doctor like my friend Timothy Hurley would be content to sit in his easy chair and write his hilarious, whacky short stories wouldn't you? Well, he's not. Instead, he seemingly spends the bulk of his time scanning the internet and sending me links to things that, by design, ruffle my feathers.

Doc Hurley's Site
Timothy Hurley's Amazon Page

"I'll get you, Timothy Hurley! You son of a..."
As it turns out, it wasn't the Heidi Loney article entitled "Why the Bad Wrap, Indies?" that got beneath my skin. But rather, it was a comment that was posted to it...and it appears to have been posted by another independent author...

"Well...I never! Of all the nerve of these indie authors!"
...out of context it reads like this...
"It’s rather like someone off the street, with no experience or education in the area, coming to your place of employment, for which you went to school to get a degree, and insisting that they do YOUR JOB–and worse, sometimes getting paid YOUR SALARY for it."

"I don't understand. What's "out of context" mean again?"

Yes, I totally took that out of context because she was referring to authors who expend a considerable amount of energy into honing their craft vs. the ones who don't. But I thought that it was a beautifully framed synopsis of every writer and agent and publisher and reviewer who abhors the independent author movement. In fact, I was inspired to write a comment of my own...

"This is going right up on the fridge! It's beautiful. Another Doc Hurley Original!"
And the beat goes on. Writing is an artistic expression of one’s self. Some artists choose to hone their skills and paint beautiful portraits of perfection. Others opt to experiment or toss globs of paint from fifty feet away onto a canvas whilst riding a tilt-o'-whirl. The value of either is debatable, subjective, and will always be up for interpretation by everyone who chooses to lend their critique.

"I'm writing and publishing this book - because I can!"
There are a lot of independent authors today that I would rather not read. There are a lot of books in bookstores that I would rather not read. However, I strongly encourage everyone and anyone who has a story in their heart, to write the thing. Print it. Self-publish it. Hone it to polished perfection or not. It’s your story. They’re your words. It’s your book. People will love it or hate it either way. Anyone who has read much classic literature in first edition form would find it difficult to argue that the number of errors and typos detracted from the ultimate importance of the work.
"In 1930, they called me a pig. Now I'm the feature piece in a museum collection."

I have come to view independent authors as the folk artists of the modern era. Folk art isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always refined. It’s an expression. To assign a ‘value’ to one expression above another based on education or training or industry acceptance is pretentious at best, and reinforces the need for alternative publishing mechanisms. Emerging forms of expression, or opportunities for the masses to engage in expression have never been embraced by the status quo or the intellectual elite from within their own fields. Much to their chagrin however, and beyond the grasp of their (the elite) understanding, some people like it.

"What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine. If I'm not getting enough then it must be your fault."
 If their expressions go on to get paid “your salary” for their work, then it is only because people enjoy and appreciate it. It isn’t “your salary” if they are being compensated for their writing. It never was. If your major concern as a traditionally published author is about “your salary” and the nuisance of lesser beings cutting into “your” market share, then perhaps you’d be better suited for Wall Street than for writing, because most of us, independent or otherwise, are content to keep writing regardless of the level of compensation. It is, after all, about the love of the thing, and anyone who loves the thing enough to write deserves to hold a book with their name on it.

"Thank God I didn't write a book while I was alive. It would have been awful. Every publisher in Philadelphia would've hated it."
Beyond leaving comments on the web, I do the unthinkable. When I speak to book clubs or groups or interested individuals, I ALWAYS encourage them to write AND publish their work. I tell them that is accessible and easy and virtually cost free. I tell them that somewhere, someday, someone will want to read what they have written, and someone will enjoy and appreciate it. I can't pass through a cemetery without imagining how many incredible and forgotten stories are buried beneath those chunks of granite. How many literary classics and autobiographies were lost due to the suppression of their own contemporary elite?

"Wow. This is full of typos and mistakes and it is still awesome!"
Even when people tell me they aren't very good writers I encourage them to do it. I ask them if they wouldn't enjoy reading something written by their grandparents or great-grandparents? "Of course," they answer, "who wouldn't?!" Naturally. So, like I said, somewhere, someday, someone at least, will definitely want to read your words. You have a story. Everyone does.

How to ruin the literary establishment with ten bucks or less, a new book coming soon by Buzz Malone?
And then, in the most horrible disrespect to the system and the industry and, dare I say, the respected craft itself, I tell them that from start to finish, they could be holding a paperback in their hands that they have written, for less than ten bucks. And if that isn't bad enough, I offer to help them in any way, free of charge.

"My crap is extraordinary due to my pedigree!"
You can't claim to love the written word while simultaneously discouraging people to write. Just like you can't assign values to human expressions. No one has that right (except for possibly Ebay). Like everything else, you can choose to love or hate something, or to read it or not to.

So many choices!
The industry (publishers, agents, editors, distributors, reviewers, etc.) is scrambling to figure out how to beat back the tsunami wave of independent authors. They despise the fact that anyone can publish a book these days without them all getting a cut of the profits. With no control of the number of books being produced, it's becoming more and more difficult for them to control what we read.

"We can write whatever crap we want to!"
They claim to be beside themselves with fret and worry about so much bad, "unprofessional" writing getting into the hands of readers. But really, of course, it's about control, and you guessed it... money. But like I said before, it's hard to imagine how you can claim to genuinely love literature and not also want to see a lot more of it, with more authors out there encouraging more people to read. For my part, I am excited about the future. So many future classics are being created right now by so many people who would've never even attempted it before.

"Mmmm. Isn't that delicious?"
The people finally have an open forum to create and produce, and readers have choices that go beyond what was being spoon fed to them at the Wal-Marts by New York. Successful writing makes people feel something. I invite everyone to join me in becoming a successful writer today. Write something. Publish something. Sell your books (or give them away) outside the Wal-Mart. It's guaranteed to piss somebody off.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Something About a Mule...and an Angel

Williamson, Iowa Main Street
Williamson, Iowa is one of the tiniest towns in Southern Iowa. In the 1930's it was a coal mining boom town. When the coal mines closed, they even moved most of the houses out of Williamson. It has since continued to shrink in size from several thousand inhabitants to less than 200 today.

They would've looked a lot like this, only dirtier, I'm a guessin'
Williamson wasn't the sort of place that most people would've ever visited because there wasn't much to see or do there. I probably wouldn't know much about it myself, except my Dad's childhood neighbor and lifelong best friend lived in the town at the end of a an old gravel road. We went there all the time and I called the man my uncle.

"Watch the hands, pal."

I don't remember it of course, but my uncle's wife had a sister who lived just up the road in Williamson. And that sister had a little baby girl who was born just four months after I was. The two mothers would see one another from time to time and they'd all compare the babies. One was small and beautiful and perfect and they named her Lorri. The other one had a giant head that was three sizes too big for his body, and he weighed ninety pounds at birth, and as if all that wasn't bad enough, they named the poor little bastard Buzz. 

Lorri, if she were alive in the Depression era and wore dresses as a child instead of her signature bibs (bibs, by the way, that being children of the 1970's and having particularly cruel parents, were probably plaid AND corduroy).
My uncle had a boy about my age too, and when we got a little older, we'd walk the three blocks to the thriving metropolis (a tiny grocery store at the time and a tavern) to buy some candy, or visit his grandparent's house on the other side of town (five blocks total). On our way, Lorri would stand out by the road and ask us where we were going. My "cousin" always told me to ignore her (his real cousin), but I'd watch her over my shoulder anyways. She wasn't allowed to leave the yard, I guess.

She still gets me to do stuff for her with this look.
When we didn't answer her, she'd get upset. Sometimes she'd skulk away...

And if I don't do it, then I get this look.
...And other times, she'd get mad and yell stuff at us, or chuck a rock our way, or throw a mud pie (when in season, of course). 

An adventurous spirit, it didn't take Lorri very long to discover that while being permanently grounded to her own yard alone, if she took her father's hunting mule with her, she was (inexplicably) allowed to go anywhere. Oddly enough, they must've reckoned that she wouldn't get into any trouble with that old mule in tow to protect her.

If it were up to Lorri, the mule would be INSIDE the house
After that, any time we'd go to Williamson, we could see her riding that mule. She rode that mule everywhere and her dad complained relentlessly about wearing out the mule's feet on the pavement because she loved to hear the sound of his hooves clickety clacking down the road. When she wasn't riding the mule, she was selling mule rides to other kids for a quarter a piece (or on credit if you couldn't raise the funds).

From that first time we walked by her house when we were all still very small, I've always turned my head to look at her again. Through the years, each and every time I saw her, she turned my head and took my breath away.

It must have looked a lot like these two, except I was seldom lucky enough to get this close. Until one day, a miracle happened and she simply stopped running from me.

Which brings us to today, forty years to the day after my angel was born (a few short months after I came into this world). If anything was ever meant to be, it was we two together, planting flowers and vegetables and caring for mules and horses on a little piece of ground just outside of a town that few people have ever heard of before called Williamson (she still loves the clickety clacking sound of their hooves).

And while she might have turned forty years old today, to a part of me, she will always be that same little girl, standing in the yard chucking rocks, or riding her mule down the only stretch of pavement in town.

And every day with her has been a blessing. The world is full of miracles when she is with me and she has reminded me that the greatest things in life are the simplest. From sunsets to hummingbirds and the awestruck surprise of watching something grow from the earth that you have planted together, every day with Lorri is full of miracles.

Looking back, I have come to believe that some angel had been watching me come into this world. She knew that I'd be a handful, and that I'd need some taking care of and guidance and watching over (sort of a special needs soul, if you will). It was too much of a chore to take care of me from way up there and from so far away, so she followed me here instead.

And I met up with her, my angel, in a tiny little town that nobody ever heard of before called Williamson. And she was, to me, the most amazing and beautiful angel that I had ever seen. And I can't wait to spend every day of the next forty years of our lives together, because with her, every day remains a miracle.

Happy 40th Birthday Lorri!



Friday, May 10, 2013

Small Miracles of a Writer's World

"WHEN I WROTE the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, without a razor blade."
Henry David Thoreau once said that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." When applied to private economies in the modern era and perceptions of failure and success, it holds equally as true today as when it was first written.

What on earth will the neighbors think?
The crushing weight of those perceptions of failure and success guide our lives. At times, it causes us to zig when we should have zagged. It is the crushing burden of shame and embarrassment that causes a woman to hide in her cubicle and quietly answer the calls from creditors, praying her co-workers won't hear.  Quiet Desperation.

They were gonna get it anyways...somehow.
Whether you're a couple earning $200k a year and wondering how you're going to make the boat payment, worried about what the other people on the lake will say when the repo guys show up, or a struggling single mother wondering how on earth you're going to put food on the table next week... the quiet desperation remains a truth for so many of us. Always, it seems, it is out there, waiting in good times and in bad, a crisis away from destroying our lives.

You will sit there until you stop wanting to be a writer!
With so much pressure to "succeed" and quiet desperation being the norm, it seems all the more abnormal when someone willingly and consciously decides to pursue a passion like writing or art, where monetary rewards are so rare as to seem virtually non-existent, or akin to having won the lottery.  

"He said he wants to be a writer!"
When you know you're a writer, you might even keep it bottled up inside, not telling anyone about it. Eventually, you have to "come out" of the writer's closet. When you do, there will be no shortage of people laughing at you. They're all struggling. Quiet desperation consumes their lives. They can't imagine what on earth would EVER cause someone to pursue such a foolish endeavor because in their world, time is money. Laziness? Stupidity? Insanity?

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Once you've made that leap of faith and followed your heart, it's extremely freeing. You begin to view the world differently, and concepts of failure and success begin to change. That doesn't mean however, that you don't land in a wet spot every now and again, or all the time...sometimes face first. But, when your perceptions change, tiny victories will seem like major miracles. Savor those. There aren't very many.

"This Buzz Malone fellow writes rubbish. I shall buy his new book so I can say it is rubbish as well, I think."
For me, it remains a miracle each and every time that someone reads one of my books. From Silence of Centerville, to my earlier, local historical novellas, it is such an incredible experience when people approach me on the street and talk about having read something I have written. What an amazing gift to receive!

"We've been looking for you, Mr. Malone."
Which brings me to yet another small miracle. Much to the chagrin of angry creditors and government agencies who'd like to garnish the garments right off my back... I have a grand total of $9.64 in my checking account. Just to be clear, there is no savings account.

Insert embarrassed remark from my mother here, saying, "oh, Buzz. Why did you have to tell them that? What will people think?"

Me: "Umm, I dunno. That I'm a broke writer."

Me on my way to town. Yes. I am that cute. Really...if that puppy were a 40 year old fat man.
Anyhow, I ran into town yesterday. I needed $30 pretty badly so I stopped by the little coffee shop where I sell my books to settle up. The owner disappeared into the backroom and came out with a check. "39," she said, handing me the envelope with the check inside of it. I celebrated all the way to the bank. $39! That's like, a whole extra twenty in my pocket! I'm rich. Rich I tell you!

When I got to the bank and signed the check, I almost fell over. It wasn't $39. It was for the sale of 39 books! I knew then that either mom started getting much larger social security checks than normal, or a fair amount of local people are still buying and reading my books. The woman at the store also told me that a number of folks keep asking when my next one is coming out and why it's taking so long (it's been two years. The locals still don't see a need to bother with editing and don't care how many times I use the word 'that').

"We'd be insane to loan you money, Mr. Malone. Insane!"
From a business perspective, my low pricing for locals and brilliant scheme to giveaway books to anyone who looks like they need one, has proven to be a dismal financial failure. But from the standpoint of an independent writer, people are routinely buying, and in some cases, even reading, my books, and there is no greater reward, and it remains nothing short of miraculous...each and every time it happens.

Thanks for reading!