Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Pub Day for THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

From Chris Bauer about publication of my new novel, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH. Publication day for Damian McNicholl's THE MOMENT OF TRUTH from Pegasus Books! A young Texas woman follows her dream of becoming a matador. Damian brings his gifted literary prose to the bullfighting rings of Mexico in the fifties. Women today continue their uphill battle in gaining acceptance in male-dominated sports, but subtract about sixty years and add a thousand pounds of four-legged, snorting Toro to the picture and you've got some crazy-good tension and suspense.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Interview fun

Leading up to publication by Pegasus Books on June 6th of THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, I just did a fabulous interview by telephone where the interviewer explored the background behind writing the novel, which thankfully she loved. She also went into depth about my Irish background including growing up as a Catholic in Northern Ireland and my career as an attorney, author and agent. Lasted nearly two hours. I'm mentally exhausted and happy. Very happy. More to come when it posts late June.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

LIKES and DISLIKES about publishing process

As the finish line is in sight for publication of THE MOMENT OF TRUTH by Pegasus Books on June 6th, I thought I'd share some of my 'loves' and 'dislikes' on the journey in hopes it will help others about to be published or wanting to get published and/or entertain those interested in the process. LOVES: Amazing high after your agent informs you a publisher wants to publish your book. Working with your agent on the contract. Meeting the people at your publisher over lunch to talk about the novel and exchanging ideas. Makes all the hours spent alone in your writing space worthwhile Working with my editor during the development of the novel. Seeing your novel’s jacket for the first time—that sure is a blood-rush moment—and the publisher actually listening and acting upon some of your suggestions to improve various drafts. (I must point out this was unusual and not all authors get such an experience as some publishers don’t do this.) Seeing the final typeset version of your manuscript on the computer and the colophon you suggested being used to indicate space breaks. Working with the publisher’s marketing people to discuss promotion ideas, etc. Great brain stimulation DISLIKES (and fears): Approaching peers for endorsements (blurbs) because I feel like a beggar and many decline or don’t bother to respond. (That’s not a complaint, just an observation.) There are many reasons why an author won’t blurb: too busy and have their own pressing deadlines; story doesn’t interest them; they get asked by hundreds of people; don’t want to blurb it for personal or professional reasons. Don’t take it personally or you’ll become bitter. Accept and move on. It’s part of the process. And celebrate when you get a great endorsement from a writer who gave his or her time to read your work and tendered the blurb. Make a commitment to do the same and be open to writers if you become well enough known and your opinion is sought. As authors nowadays have to get involved contacting influential book clubs and other important review sites to ask them to read your book or select it as one of their picks, etc—again, one feels like a beggar. View it as just another cog in the publishing machine. Often the response will be ‘no’ or there will be no response, which can disappoint and even hurt. That’s a normal emotion but don’t take it personally. Remember there are hundreds of books released every year and, while your book is your new baby, to them it is just another novel or memoir, etc. The terror when a pre-pub review has been published and you begin reading it. (You will also experience it on the book’s publication as, hopefully, you will get ink in newspapers and magazines, etc.) Whether it is a good or bad review, treat them the same and don’t take it personally. Try not to over celebrate if good and not get despondent or want to cut your wrists if it’s bad. Remember that reviews are subjective. Move on. I said, Move on. And if you’re really sensitive, don’t read reviews—good or bad. Same goes for Amazon reader reviews. And remember there will be trolls on the internet. Do not comment on Amazon or Goodreads. As oxygen gives life to the body, responses give life to trolls.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Narrowing life

Went shopping in New Orleans to help advise a senior friend buy a new computer and printer at Best Buy. He and his partner who celebrated his 92nd birthday have been having serious health problems including heart failure. Given he's not as sophisticated computer user, I suggested he buy a three-year contract for piece of mind. "I don't believe I have three years," he said. "A two year contract will do." He said it with such certainty and acceptance, I was incredibly moved. It made me think about the end of life amid the flippant buzz of commerce taking place in the store. The fact is he and his life partner of 62 years are down to two years or so of life. There is no more five or ten-year plan. A day will come when the sun rises and we are no longer on the planet breathing its air. We will no longer exist. Everything we have done begins to move into the dusty past. Our money and wealth gets distributed to offspring and friends whom we imagine will handle it with the care we did. It doesn't matter. Regardless of one's personal or religious beliefs, that should be enough to encourage us to live good and productive lives full of love and regard for one another.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Smart phones and addiction

Anybody watch 60 minutes last night. Thought-provoking segment from a former Google ethicist who left Google because he was unhappy with the way it and other social media companies like Facebook, Snapchat, etc are creating apps to create addictive behaviors in users. The Apps appeal to the lowest past of our brainstem where we feel anxiety, fear and other base emotions. It's geared at making users crave 'likes, etc' and they are even holding back on various User feedback and sending them in small bursts so the user gets an artificial high and keeps using the social media app, etc in an insatiable need for more and more. Research is showing that psychologically developed app programs to stimulate happiness and highs can create addition. Parents scoff at his warnings and compare it to them being nonstop on the phone in the 70s. The ethicist says it is NOT the same because at social media companies employ thousands of engineers working to stimulate the emotions that result in addiction. In the seventies, the phone companies did not employ engineers to target and monitor user responses, etc. When asked to comment, Apple, Google, Facebook, etc decline and refused to sanction Apps aimed at reducing one's appetite for artificial highs. The worse offender apparently is Snapchat aimed at young people and it's making them anxious, depressed and pressured. He says the industry needs to reform or there could be dire consequences psychologically for users in the longterm.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Big Thanks to Booklist

Rather delicious review of THE MOMENT OF TRUTH from the ever so important Booklist who service the libraries throughout the US. McNicholl’s moving novel, rich in emotion and written with style and precision (the bullfighting scenes have the crisp clarity of Hemingway), strikes a fine balance between love story and historical adventure. Though he sets the book in another place and time and evokes both vividly, McNicholl uses the sensibilities of his heroine to give the story a very modern-seeming immediacy. This pairs well with Malcolm Brooks’ Painted Horses.” —Booklist

Carole Blake and Open Doors Project

This is fantastic. Carole Blake was a UK literary agent whose FB page I loved reading because she was interesting, witty and could be quite upfront and scathing about people whom she thought foolish. She died suddenly last year. She was a secretary prior to becoming an agent and never forgot her past. Her agency has started a project to give people experience in publishing who would normally never get a chance to do so. Giving people a helping hand. Isn't that what life's about? Read here

Thursday, March 02, 2017

John Hemingway's Opinion

I know some of you wonder why my new historical novel deals with bullfighting because today, as opposed to the 1950s when the story takes place, it's seen as a cruel bloodsport and politically incorrect. I understand and respect these sentiments, but does that mean such an historical subject should not be examined today? Especially since the book is inspired by Patricia McCormick, America's first female bullfighter, although not based on her life. The work is so much more than a story about fighting the bulls. It's the story of mid-century feminism and how a young woman defies societal expectations and sets out against all odds to prove herself the equal of any man. As I had to do much, much research, I was terrified when the novel was sent to John Hemingway for his opinion. Given his name and familial connections to the world of the bulls, I was terrified he'd find my research woefully inadequate and decline to tender his view. I am thrilled he did not. Here is Mr. Hemingway's opinion: The Moment of Truth is the best book I've read on bullfighting in a long time. Damian McNicholl tells this story with consummate ease and compelling imagery. A book for aficionados and for those who want to feel what it's like to be a woman competing in the very masculine world of corrida." John Hemingway, writer, journalist and aficionado

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Oscars as Petri dish?

Despite the rather exciting Price Waterhouse Best Picture screwup, I found last night's event was a petri dish ripe for analysis of human behavior. It did not hold up well regards human behavior and empathy. When Jimmy Kimmel had the bus load of unsuspecting tourists enter the theater, I was astonished by the reactions and behavior. The majority brandished their cell phones and started making insta-movies as opposed to living their lives in the moment and enjoying an unprecedented opportunity to meet and greet movie stars whom they obviously adore and perhaps even dream of meeting as fellow human beings. Their one and only chance was given up to capturing the moment as digital bits to share on Facebook and Twitter, etc. I learned something last night. We have rapidly losing the ability to connect face-to-face. Technology is rendering us courser and we've sold our souls to the machines. We embrace the fake at the expense of the real. And as the great bard said, 'All the world's a stage.' A great big unrelenting stage.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Washington's Relentless Pursuit of his Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Just listened to a fascinating interview on NPR's Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane. Erica Armstrong Dunbar talked about her book, Never Caught:The Washington's Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. Though George Washington did change his mind about slavery and freed his slaves after his death, his wife did not. She owned more slaves than Washington and her attitude was quite different to her husband. She liked light-colored slaves to serve in her home as she deemed them more intelligent. Nor did she or Washington wish to deprive themselves of luxury during their lives by liberating their slaves. Ona Judge was a remarkable woman who ran away to freedom after learning she was to be 'gifted' to Martha's granddaughter. The interview made me think how superficially many of us think about slavery. Imagine spending your whole life spent as the property of another human being. Your whole life. Imagine this every day. Imagine the silent despair. How horrid. Washington was a brilliant man but in this issue he was wrong. One can't excuse him because of the times in which he lived. John and Abigail Adams found slavery abhorrent and spoke out. Washington signed the Fugitive Slave Act requiring Northern States to return runaway slaves to their masters.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Giveaway from Goodreads

For US readers, Goodreads is doing a giveaway of three galleys of my novel The Moment of Truth. So click on uppercase Goodreads and it'll take you over to GOODREADS enter.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A lovely review

Here's what Joan Schweighardt, author of THE ACCIDENTAL ART THIEF said about my new novel: Damian McNicholl, The Moment of Truth (Pegasus, 2017) Feminism was a seedling in the 1950s, and it might have shriveled and died altogether if so many women had not ventured outside the home during World War II to replace the men who’d gone off to fight. Postwar, most of these women were happy to return to domestic life, but there was no denying that they’d gained something out there doing “men’s jobs,” a kind of spunk their daughters would inherit, with or without any coaching. In Damian McNicholl’s new novel (due in June, available for preorder) Kathleen Boyd, a young art student in Texas, finds herself caught in the crosswinds of the seemingly tranquil 1950s. On the one hand, a traditional future is unfolding before her eyes; on the other, she finds she has an overwhelming desire to become a matador, fighting the bulls across the border in Mexico. This novel, based on true events, is beautifully rendered, as elegant and as exhilarating as the art of bullfighting itself.—JS Thank you Fivedirectionpress for the review and check out other great books.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I got a wonderful unexpected Valentine's Gift about my new novel. Here's what she said about it: Damian McNicholl’s stunning novel unflinchingly tracks the journey of following one’s dream and all the triumphs and setbacks that are a part of making that dream a reality –especially when the dreamer is a young woman determined to enter an all-male world. With a vibrant cast of characters and evocative prose, McNicholl brings the world of 1950s Mexico and the rarified circle of bullfighters to glorious life. By turns exhilarating and heartbreaking, The Moment of Truth is a story that goes in unexpected directions and is as memorable as it is unfailingly honest. --Sarah-Jane Stratford, bestselling author of Radio Girls I am absolutely thrilled.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Speaking truth to power

All artists are called to be vigilant in these unprecedented times. Azar Nafasi, from Iran but living now in the US and author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, delivers a blistering speech about the emerging Imperial Presidency at the AWP this week. And an Imperial Presidency is emerging with news that Jared Kushner is becoming a de facto Secretary of State and dealing with foreign governments directly on behalf of Trump. While it's good he's a Democrat, I can't condone this because he has not been appointed by the Congress and it is utterly against the traditions and laws of the US. You can read about it here.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Rise-Up Huddle

What a brilliant RISE-UP HUDDLE last night. And we were told they’re happening all over the US. We met at the local library and the meeting room was packed. 300+ people. The organizers of the march on the day after inauguration coudn’t believe it. All age groups and walks of life were in attendance, including parents and their kids who who were provided snacks and art items. All motivated to work to get back the country we thought we lived in prior to the election. We were informed the movement is neither Democrat or Republican, though I’ll bet it was mostly Democrats and Independents who vote Democrat in attendance. But it’s necessary to keep the door open to Republican folks because there will be many joining as the threat increases and they realize the government has been hijacked from their party. After introductions, a sign-in sheet was passed around where we provided contact details and marked the issues we were interested in—Human Rights (encompassing women, LGBT, and other minorities, etc), Environment, Arts, Government Watchdog, Health Care. From these will emerge committees that will be co-ordinated so that when action is required, everone in the group gets involved. An attack against any one interest is an attack against all us. We stand and rise together. After this, we were told to speak to two people beside us in the room (huddle) and talk about our issues and get to know one another. It was good old-fashioned face-to-face contact and brilliant. I chatted to two women, Debbie who’s Jewish and from a nearby town and Cathy who’s Irish American, a senior citizen and fiery. Debbie told us about the Jewish woman who’d been verbally attacked at Starbucks by a well-shod woman for wearing her Star of David and told she wasn’t welcome anymore. The woman’s American and reportedly still traumatized by the attack. (I’d written about this on a FB post shortly after it happened.) High school kids stepped to the podium and talked about what they’re going to do to get the country back. Three girls from Central Bucks East are holding a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood and its LGBTQ support group. One boy, a science student, is organizing a march in town in April to highlight the administration’s attack on science. It really made me think. There are great, mature kids who are smart and do more than listen to music on iPhones and talk monosyllabic. They’re informed. It’s too easy to say kids don’t care today. There are many who do. These four public school educated kids are a credit to Bucks County. No one must allow DeVos to pull apart excellent public schools like teh one’s in Bucks and impose her warped evangelical ideas. Next up, a young Muslim mother from town who has two teenage daughters introduced herself and described how she’s felt since the election. How some white residents on the street approach and tell her she’s not wanted and must go home. They do so in front of her bewildered daughters who are American born. And she made a point of stating she’s muslim (wears a hijab), American, supports LGBT and African Americans , wants to save the environment, etc. I was truly moved, so much so I went up after the meeting ended and shook her hand and chatted. Her enthusiasm and believe in America was infectious. After the meeting, many people walked around talking to people they didn’t know and one could overhear comments like, “It’s so great to talk to people who feel like me.” Bottom line, I hope everyone who believes in this country and the basic decency and kindness of Americans will get and stay involved in this hugely important movement. There can be no sitting this one out, straddling the fence because of fear or running off to live in Europe or Canada. It’s our responsibility to overcome the buds of an imperial Presidency.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman sees Constitutional Crisis in the offing.

Just listened to NPR's Here and Now where Yale Professor of Law (field of knowledge is Constitutional Law) Bruce Ackerman states we are headed toward a constitutional crisis due to Trump's disrespect for the other branches of government. Moreover, he stated that Trump's language attacking and trying to weaken the other branches of government and the press is the language of a demagogue. Only two weeks and three days into the administration and this si where we're going. I think something's going to give.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

NatGeo documentary Gender Revolution

I watched Katie Couric's two-hour documentary Gender Revolution on NatGeo last night. It was highly informative, discussing among other matters the difference between one's gender and sexuality which are often erroneously conflated. I came away understanding the issues a lot better. If everyone watched such programs, there wouldn't be blanket hysteria and ignorance about bathroom issues such as takes place in the heartland and bible-belt areas.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

About Muscle Marys

Taking a cue from the heroine of my new novel, I decided to lift some free weights today instead of cardio as I always do at the gym, albeit her gym amounted to a pair of pitted dumbbells supplied by her 'Maestro' in a 1950's testosterone soaked dive at a Mexican bullring and my Y is 'new millennium' sleek and shiny. Despite running an hour three times weekly on the elliptical, I was astonished by how weak my muscles felt. I really struggled to do what had been so easy a year ago. Tomorrow I'll be in pain. But one thing I did notice as I looked around the gym--usually I have my head stuck in my kindle on the elliptical catching up with query-reading. My middle-aged body is in damned good nick after I discounted the young and not so young Muscle Mary's walking round with their tattooed biceps and a third of the 30 and 40 somethings.

Monday, January 30, 2017

One Million Brits say 'no'

One million Britons have signed a petition to rescind Donald Trump's visit to the UK. That is extraordinary. Most likely that figure will grow exponentially. As it grows, the pressure on Theresa May and her government is going to grow and become unbearable. If it does go ahead, he'd better develop a thick skin because he's in for a taste of British dislike and that is loud and not pretty. I think within a year most of Europe will vote not to allow him entry and he may not be allowed. We are in unprecedented times.

Profile of Justice at Work

A former prosecutor become judge who's determined to administer true justice.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Listening-A dying art?

Since the election, I've made a decision to listen to a great cross-section of news shows and read different news sources. One TV show I'm now enjoying getting information from is Michael Smercornish The Michael Smerconish Program on CNN. He presents both sides and assumes his audience is intelligent. He said something very true this morning. He said we all need to listen to other opinions other than the ones we support. To only listen to those whose opinions are the same as ours is Pavlovian.