Thursday, March 31, 2011

What I never realized was just how fast things would change…

I’m sure I’ll use those very same words differently in a different context but, for now, I’m using them for the events of just the past few days.

It seems like the moment Sullivan Maxx signed me to represent my book, Climbing Maya, that was the moment I became a professional writer. It wasn’t when Myth of the Cubicle was produced last year or when I found out that Persecution Complex is being produced this year. It wasn’t when I sold Wormfood Island to Northern Frights Publishing, either, though it probably should have been.

I think things really changed with Climbing Maya because it just got too difficult to deny it any longer! And I was so used to denying it. Hell, I had been raised to deny it. I had been told from childhood that anything artistic should also have a “Plan B”. What happens when you tell someone to have a “Plan B” is that you spend so much time working on “Plan B” that you forget you’re supposed to identify yourself with PLAN A! (I discuss this further on the Ken La Salle blog, so let’s move on…)

While I’ve been spreading the news in my controlled kind of manner (“Look, I got an agent. Cool, huh?”), Vicky’s been spreading the news a bit differently (“Woo hoo! Money time! We’re rich, I tells ya! Riiiicccchhhhh!!!!”). I’ve been trying to caution her against getting her hopes too high.

All the same, though, things have changed. Rather than looking for a full-time job, I’m looking for something part-time, temporary. Who knows what kind of business the digital books will bring in once word on the other two gets out there? And the big desk Vicky just bought me, to replace the dinky desk I still use from 1986-ish, no longer feels like an unnecessary extravagance. I feel like I deserve it, which is a strange feeling for me.

I’m no longer the bum who can’t find a job. I’m the writer waiting for his check…

This is all going to take some getting used to.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vampire Society, now available for Kindle and iPad Kindle app...

Today I am happy to announce that my novel, Vampire Society, is now available for your Kindle (or iPad’s Kindle app) for just $5.95. You’ll find the pitch below and I hope you’ll find it soon on your e-reader. (Yes, iBooks and Nook and other formats will also soon be available.) I've included the link to Amazon here. If you know anyone with an iPad or Kindle, please share the news!

Three kids leaving high school are faced with a world they'd hoped never to encounter. "You think you got any chance once you get outta here? You're nothing but grist for the mill, that's what you are! They'll feed off ya! They'll suck out everything you got and leave you dry." With these words, their eyes open to the Vampire Society in which they live.

Vampires live only to feed. Driven by their urges and desires, they are the ultimate consumers. And the Vampire Society is one that puts the Vampire on a pedestal.

Abby Ayrnes, the daughter of migrant workers, grows up knowing the price the vampire society demands. On either side are the angel and devil of the vampire society. Nathan West's admiration and desire drives him to be selfless. But it's Arthur Silvada, taking whatever he wants, who Abby finds she loves.

Vampire Society is a guided tour through the social and political evolution that opened our century. It is a love story and an indictment against our culture, answering the most important question about love: Is real love possible in the Vampire Society?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The day I gave up and finally accepted my fate…

Yesterday came the culmination of over half a decade of work. More than that, it was just another step in the payoff of over 30 years of work.

Yesterday, I signed a contract with Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency for them to represent my philosophical memoir, Climbing Maya.

And the entire kingdom rejoiced!!!

… then, after a while, Vicky and I got down to some of the business of our new situation. With new books appearing in Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc. every week and Wormfood Island coming from Northern Frights Publishing this summer, with two theaters seriously considering producing my work this summer and now a literary agency – a good one – representing Climbing Maya… Vicky and I had to admit to ourselves that it looks like I’m going to be a professional writer.

Yes, you heard that right.

The day has come that I’ve been dreaming about most of my life!

… and we had to figure out how that was going to impact my job search. Basically, reality stinks, folks. We still need to pay the bills.

But this writing stuff takes a lot of time. We realized I wasn’t going to be able to manage it if I worked a full-time job. It was at that time that we revised our job search plan down to part-time… maybe.

After all, if my digital books sell even moderately well, the income might be enough so I can devote my time to my writing. If not, well, it’s something part-time for me.

The whole thing seems unreal, to tell you the truth. To think, someone said the words, “Your writing career means you won’t be able to work full-time.” It sounds like a joke, to tell you the truth.

Let’s hope it’s not. Okay?

Monday, March 28, 2011

BLUE FOOD and other menu items…

Today I am happy to announce that a collection of my short stories, titled BLUE FOOD and other menu items, is now available for your Kindle (or iPad’s Kindle app) for just $2.99. You’ll find the pitch below and I hope you’ll find it soon on your e-reader. (Yes, iBooks and Nook and other formats will also soon be available.) You'll find the link to Amazon in the list to your right or you can just navigate to it by clicking here!

The works of Ken La Salle range from the bizarre to the whimsical and even further beyond still. In Blue Food and other menu items, Ken La Salle treats you to a dozen tales, hilarious and deeply strange.

You’ll be introduced to Blue Food and find out why it never seemed to catch on in America.
You’ll meet Bigfoot’s Older Brother and find out just what it’s like to set Bigfoot up on a date.
You’ll be learn about how the dead make the best matchmakers, even if they can be a bit unconventional.
You’ll see for yourself just what the Problem With Swings is.
You’ll read about how saving earth might be just the thing for a little girl with Muscular Dystrophy.
You’ll be warned about Bobby’s Brother and his unusual habit.
You’ll know just how to stop an invading horde with the proper use of pizza.
You’ll delve into the mind of a madman whose madness is often served on a cone.
You’ll read from the lost book of Houston with a story about when Jesus met the Soothsayers.
You’ll encounter a strange married couple who would rather stay together if they can avoid killing each other.
You’ll witness a great new game show: What’s My Afterlife!
And you’ll finally find out the secret behind pheromones.

Blue Food and other menu items is a little taste of craziness to lighten the soul – and it’ll only lighten your wallet a tiny bit.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Final Countdown…

Yes, I have that stupid song in my head now… dammit.

Actually, this entry is about something very different. It looks like I am now within weeks of losing my unemployment benefits – they are bone dry – and Vicky and I have started counting down the remaining days.

I find myself in an odd position. Vicky has such a relaxed attitude about things, so positive things will work out, she makes it hard for me to freak out. At the same time, I am Ken. Freaking out is second nature. Let’s say I’m conflicted. Will I find a job in my chosen career? Will I have to work retail or fast food for anything I can get? I don’t know.

The strangest thing about all of this is the timing. We are just months away from the release of Wormfood Island (from Northern Frights Publishing). Other developments are on the way, too. I should start seeing an at least semi-regular income from my writing this year. Maybe that’s why Vicky is so relaxed, because she knows that things are happening even if I have to take a shitty job.

I know I’ve said this before but I wouldn’t trade in this time I’ve had for anything. As much as I hate not having a job – it would be nice to have money – my writing career has taken huge leaps in the last two years. I mean, it looks like it is actually starting, you know? My writing is getting better and I have learned a whole lot more about the business. Would this have happened if I was employed? Perhaps. But I can tell you with all certainty that there is no better inspiration than fear, at least for me. I’ve become incredibly prolific of late and have my eyes firmly affixed to the future.

I don’t know how this will all turn out but I do know that the next phase begins in just a few weeks. Keep your eyes on this space. Things will change.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Alive Theatre – Vicky…

Last night was the reading of Sometimes We Find Our Way at the Alive Theatre in Long Beach. For a full run-down on what I thought artistically, check out the Ken La Salle blog. In this space, however, I would like to talk about something (or, actually, someone) also essential: Vicky.

Vicky has always been a tremendous source of support. I couldn’t begin to tell you because it just extends in so many directions. She’s my proofreader, my cheerleader, and also very literally my financial backer. I couldn’t dream of someone more behind me in my artistic endeavors than Vicky.

But to give you some idea, let’s go to last night’s reading.

The workspace for Alive Theatre is located on 3rd Street in a little garage set way back off the street. It is not only difficult to find, it is also difficult to believe you’ve reached the right spot once you’re there. With this in mind, I did not wait inside with Vicky but waited outside on the cold street, where I could flag people down or greet them as they arrived.

Vicky, meanwhile, was greeting people inside, making them feel welcome, engaging them and helping pass the time while we awaited others. In this way, I began to think of Vicky as something like my first lady last night. She really was like my third arm, taking care of things when they slipped out of my grasp.

She also had a far better attitude about it than I did. When I asked her to guess how many people would show, she said a dozen in the audience alone. I guessed ten, counting the actors. It turned out we had an audience of 19, which was the best the theater had seen for all the plays they were considering!

Vicky saw to it that the actors had water if they needed it – I did. She also put together little gift bags for the two actresses working at my side. None of that would have happened if left up to me; I was too busy trying to make it work artistically, which is to say I was out to lunch.

I have often said how lucky I am to have Vicky in my life and working with me as a partner in my artistic endeavors. After a night like last night, I just wanted to share exactly what I mean by that.

Thanks, Vic.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

So, this is what happens…

As many of you know, I love Vicky.

Oh, I love her, love her, love her… but enough of that.

You’re probably wondering why I was up at 6am this fine, Saturday morning… well, I am.

Vicky set her alarm to go off at 6am and, sure enough, it did. And she hit the snooze bar and went back to sleep. I didn’t go back to sleep… but she did.

I lay awake, hoping to drop back off to sleep when the alarm went off again at 6:15am. She hit the snooze bar and went back to sleep.

This happens every morning.

I am a chronic early-riser thanks to my wife’s alarm clock. Too bad she isn’t as well. She’ll hit the snooze bar until 7:30am, sometimes 8am…

I can’t help but think this is somehow payback for something…

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The only reason unemployed people look for work…

I’ve got a lot going on these days with the readings and the writing (and I’m sure there’s bound to be some ‘rithmatic in there somewhere) but today I thought I’d focus on something that happened at a job interview I was at recently.

We were going over my resume and the woman said, “I see you’ve been doing some temp work? Some contract work? Trying to keep busy? To keep the skills in shape?”

Yes, that’s why I was working temp and contract jobs. To keep busy. Because I was so bored. It had nothing to do with paying my bills or having food to eat, you stupid bitch.

Of course, I smiled and nodded like they expect you to – because, at this point, I’ll endure any indignity if there’s a paycheck in it. But the idea that this woman’s worldview was so myopic as to think that unemployed people look for work simply out of boredom, for something to do, is so disturbing I just don’t know what to think.

Is this why stupid people so often think of the unemployed as lazy? Rather than hungry? We have plenty of incentives to work, believe me. We like the roof over our heads and would like to keep it there. Honest.

Oh… and the welfare mom down the street is not driving a BMW, either. (Just thought I’d get that out of the way while I was here…)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My child has allergies…

I was just thinking about something I’ve heard just about enough of: “My child has allergies.”

“Can you make sure there’s no dairy in that? My child has allergies.”

“I can’t get the one with almonds. My child has allergies.”

“Can you make sure there are no peanut parts, peanut scrapings, peanut essence – Can you make sure there was no peanut in the state where this was made? My child has allergies.”

When I was a child, none of this would have been tolerated. Children would have died by the thousands – and often did! “You eat what you’re given and that’s it. I don’t care how it makes you not be able to breath!”

Listen, my own mother wouldn’t get me glasses as a child because she wanted me to be tough. “I don’t care if you’re blind. There are starving children in Africa who would be happy to have the eyes you have.”

Now that I think of it, is that why we never hear about the starving children in Africa? Because all of the food children can’t eat because of allergies is going over there?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Weeks without Vicky…

Vicky wraps up her teaching gig this week. She’s been teaching for five weeks straight, every night after her day job. (Yes, I know I’m unemployed and a louse by default – let’s move on.) I’m sure she’s exhausted, no matter how much she loves it – but enough of her. I wanted to talk about me… you know, again.

Five and a half years after we were married and I never cease being surprised by it all. Let me say something here that I’ve been fairly public about and that Vicky and I both understand: Vicky was not the love of my life when we got married. When I married Vicky, I was happy to have found someone I could live with and work with – after my last marriage, I didn’t need another “love of my life”. They were just trouble.

Little did I realize that, with time, I find myself more in love with her than I ever thought possible. Nobody – and I mean nobody – holds a candle to her. She’s funny. She’s smart. And I find myself needing her, craving her. She has honestly become essential to my existence. Yes, I’ll admit it. She has become the love of my life, undeniably.

And did I mention she’s been away for five weeks?

It’s driving me crazy.

But I am buoyed by the knowledge of how well we work together, how nicely our partnership functions. There’s no doubt in my mind that Vicky does everything she does so that I can do everything I do. She makes my lifestyle possible – not just in the little ways but she literally makes it possible for me to be the person I am. I couldn’t pursue my writing as I do without her. Working on both plays and books, I know she’s got my back 100% and that gives me a wonderful sense of security.

So, while I miss her, I am not worried in any way. I know she’ll be back and our lives will settle into a new schedule until it changes again, as it always does. Our lives are constantly in motion, it seems, but we handle it all pretty well as a couple, as a team.

These weeks without Vicky have got me thinking about this and about how very lucky I’ve been. I couldn’t tell you if she’s been lucky at all but I know I have. And I can’t wait for this weekend to be over so I can tell her that to her face.

(NOTE: This is not to say that Vicky can’t be a complete bitch. She can and often is. If I didn’t say this, I know she’d read this blog entry thinking she was pretty bitchen. Okay, Vic. You’re bitchen. I’ll admit that. But behave yourself and don’t get too arrogant… Now, come over here and give me some sugar.)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Defending Everyone's Marriage Rights...

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA is support to “defend” marriage by making it illegal for many United States citizens from marrying. To be specific, it prevents gay people from marrying other gay people (unless they are a gay man and woman, which would be fine if unfathomable).

As a straight, married man, as a man who has all the rights DOMA specifically takes away from my gay brothers and sisters, I feel it about time I spoke out.

It seems to me that this restriction of rights is very familiar. The United States used to restrict the rights of a different group of Americans and it did it all very legally. Those, of course, we black Americans who were restricted from having equal rights to vote, drink from a water fountain, ride wherever they liked on a bus, and so many other things. Whites back then had the attitude of “I’ve got my rights. You’ll have to fend for yourself,” and those were the least malicious of them. This “I’ve got mine” attitude is not unique to Americans; we’re just really good at it.

And so, here we are doing it again, restricting the rights of a certain group of Americans under the thin veil of legality. This time, we’re doing it to gay Americans. Straight people might as well be saying, “It’s legal for me to marry. You’ll just have to fend for yourself.”

The fact that this has not been seen as a national disgrace is appalling. The fact that pro-gay rights people have not attacked this with the same fervor that they attacked Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is just wrong. (Especially when you consider that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell only increases a LGBT individual’s chances of dying in war, hardly a perk.) The support of equal marriage rights shouldn’t be seen as a gay/straight issue. My marriage rights are just as endangered when the rights of someone else are restricted.

Defense of Marriage? The only way marriage can ever be defended is when it is the right of all Americans. The so-called “political right” call it a “slippery slope” when all are afforded the same rights. They used a similar argument with regards to voting rights. But I say it’s a slippery slope when all Americans do not have equal rights. Who would they restrict next? The so-called “political right” talk about having to allow anyone to marry if they allow gays to marry and I say that argument has been absurd on the face of it since the beginning. It is indefensible and should never be allowed to stand. Allowing black Americans the right to vote did not turn into the disaster they said it would and neither will allowing all Americans equal marriage rights.

What all Americans have to realize is that the only way to defend your rights is to defend everyone’s rights. Otherwise, what’s the virtue of calling yourself American?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cycling without a bike…

This story begins, as so many do, last week.

I was out riding my Giant TCR2, having a really good morning ride. I was doing 16-18 mph pretty consistently and feeling pretty good when I realized something was catching on the pedal. For a while, I thought it was my foot catching on the bike frame – my feet are huge – but, looking down, I saw that wasn’t it.

For some reason, my left pedal and crank assembly was catching and my experience cycling told me that wasn’t good. I don’t have a lot of experience cycling but I do have enough to know about blowing out bottom brackets… mostly because I’ve blown out a couple of bottom brackets. You blow out your bottom bracket by riding your bike long after your bottom bracket starts to go, and it felt like my bottom bracket was starting to go.

I did the sensible thing and stopped. Sure enough, my left crank was getting wobbly. This time, instead of riding on it, I would do the smart thing and head back home. I went home and got my bike in the shop, hoping everything would be fine.

They were supposed to be finished with the bike on Tuesday, so I gave them a call yesterday to follow up since they hadn’t called me, yet. (Are all cycle shops horrible about calling when something is done? This is the second shop I’ve used regularly and they’re both like that!) Turned out, my bike wasn’t done… in fact, it wasn’t begun.

I hadn’t blown the bottom bracket this time. I had blown the entire crank assembly!

And this is where I beat myself up for being a lame-ass. (Not to mention a fat ass, which is the only way I can think that I broke that assembly!)

When I told Vicky, she reminded me of something I’d forgotten. I had put a couple thousand miles on my bike last year. Of course, things were going to break! This is what’s called “up-keep”! If it wasn’t for Vicky, I would probably still be beating myself up.

So, now the bike is getting back in shape for another year of cycling. In previous years, I didn’t start until later in April. This year, I’ve already begun. I’m shooting for 3,000 miles this year. I don’t know how close I’ll get but it’ll be fun trying. (Of course, it also depends on my work schedule… once I get a work schedule…) And I’ll keep going right away… once I get my bike back…

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

We’ve got a fun couple of months coming…

(You may see this all over the place – or wherever I can post it. It’s important.)

March marks the beginning of a busy few months for my artistic growth and only a short lead-in to what will be a busier summer, I’m sure. Now, I know I’m blessed with quite a few people in my life who are looking to support my endeavors so let me spell it all out here so we know where we’re at.

March 21st. Monday evening, March 21st at 8pm, Alive Theatre in Long Beach will be considering my play, Sometimes We Find Our Way, for their 2012 season. The way this works is they’ll be holding a reading before an audience. They’ll be doing this for each show they’re considering and my show will be read that night. The cast will include the wonderful Stephanie Schulz, the incomparable Sonja Berggren, and myself in an inexcusable act of ego. My guess is that the best crowd stands the best chance.

I’m hoping you can be there to help me. The reading will be located at what the theater calls "The Farm". I won’t lie; it’s more on a “theater annex”. It’s a little hard to find off the street and parking is kind of a bitch (let's hear it for Long Beach street parking). But the theater is encouraging writers to bring an audience and if I could get a full-length produced that would certainly help me out quite a bit.

April 22 – May 21. Theatre of NOTE will be producing my short play, Persecution Complex, as part of their “Just the Tip” late night showcase. Persecution Complex is an insane look at relationships and neurosis and mobsters, oddly enough.

Of course, I’d love if you could go… but, and this is important, if you feel as though you need to choose between the two shows, I’d rather you go see Sometimes We Find Our Way. That is a full-length show up for consideration for a full production and that’s where I need the support. Mind you, if you can go to both, I would just love that. Heck, I certainly plan to go to both. But if you need to choose, I just wanted to let you know which way I hope you choose.
I’m including bit of information below to help you out.

This is Alive Theatre’s web site. This is their calendar. Look me up on March 21.

This is a map to their location. Actually, it’s a street-view as well, to give you an idea what it looks like. (Don’t be scared. There’s a theater in there. I’ll probably be waiting outside until the show starts to wave you in.)

And here’s the web site for Theatre of NOTE.
Thanks to all my incredible supporters through this crazy time. You’re all the best.