It is with great joy, tremendous relief and a heart full of gratitude that I announce the release of my first book “Weirdo Simpatico: Little Stories for Short Attention Spans.”
What started as a simple game of wordplay with friends on Facebook evolved into a true and goofy labor of love. This collection of bite-sized narratives explores the peculiarities and nuances of the human experience and celebrates the weirdo spirit that lives and breathes in all of us. Every character−from Roxanne refusing to friend her grandfather on Facebook to Elaine swilling vodka in the dessert after the police raid on the bachelorette party−is navigating a challenge of some sort, either internal or external, while also squaring with the inherent quirks of our collective humanity. I am honored to share these sweet characters and their small worlds with you.
Three years ago, I engaged in a game with some friends on Facebook. Each would write a word on my page, and I would respond with a small story using that word as the springboard. A lot of people joined in, and the thread took on a life of its own. It was a lot of fun and challenged my writing chops in a new and unusual way. Little did I know I would revisit this exercise or that it would become the foundation for something much bigger.
Business blogger, best-selling author and podcaster James Altucher has been an important influence over the past few years. Altucher, a former hedge fund manager who rose from the ashes after losing everything (both professionally and personally), is a firm believer in grabbing success on your own terms. His “choose yourself” approach entails generating ideas on a daily basis, being selective about the types of people you surround yourself with and practicing gratitude for what you have. With self-deprecating style and ferocious smarts, he speaks candidly about his failures and is a uniquely credible inspiration for fledgling entrepreneurs. I consider him a mentor. He is all about bypassing the middleman whenever possible –something that is certainly a significant trend in the music industry today – and is a strong advocate for self-publishing. Altucher is the reason I decided to go for it with this project.
My initial motivation, at least relative to “Weirdo,” was to test the waters of CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing platform. I wanted to familiarize myself with the nuts and bolts of it and needed some kind of beta book to run through the process. I went back to the word game that had been so much fun before and, once again, asked my friends on Facebook for the single-word prompts that would ultimately inspire the stories in “Weirdo.”
Writing the stories was the easy part and only took me a few months. Navigating CreateSpace, however, turned into something of an ordeal, especially around the fussy formatting requirements. I plugged away at it myself for a few months. But as hard as I tried, I just didn’t have the requisite technical chops to format the book properly or the artistic skills to create an appealing design element. I’m smart enough to know when I’m in over my head and turned to a professional for help. After a false start with one designer, my brother Allen Bourne, who took the photos for the book, connected me with Marcella Carbrera, a Houston-based graphic artist. With patience, diligence and mad talent, Marcella tackled the formatting issues and created a beautiful design for the book, using Allen’s photos as the focal point. Marcella and Allen were crucial to the completion of this project. It would not have happened without their hard work and support, and I am deeply indebted to them both.
A handful of people have given me some pushback for working with Amazon. Going into this project, I explored numerous possibilities and gave a lot of thought as to how to go about publishing my book. Given the resources I had at the time, CreateSpace/Amazon was my best option for getting this done within a reasonable time frame. That said, it was certainly not a decision that I made frivolously. While I won’t go into all the factors that led me to this decision, I will say that it became clear to me pretty quickly that no matter which self-publishing platform I went with, my book would more than likely end up on Amazon anyway.
It is too soon to say if Create Space is a platform that I will use again. I have to see how the distribution piece flows, as well as my own marketing efforts. In 2009, I released my one and only CD to date, “As the Fates Decide.” It received a great review in “Jazz Times” and a little bit of local airplay on KPLU. I also have about 800 or so CD’s boxed up in my closet. While sales weren’t exactly astronomical – and I did not necessarily expect they would be−other great things came as a result of this CD, mainly my alignment with the Pony Boy record label, which has been rewarding on many levels. My experience with the CD has taught me to have a wide and open sensibility as to what defines success.
While it is true that “Weirdo” was initially conceived as the proverbial canary in the self-publishing coal mine, it slowly took on a substance and energy of its own. As I was writing, I started to fall in love with the stories and the characters therein. I consider myself to be a fearless and transparent writer. Still much to my surprise, the stories in “Weirdo” are a freakishly accurate representation of the kinds of things that are running through my mind at any given time. In presenting this collection to you, I am sharing much of myself, more than I could have imagined at the onset. The vulnerability is unexpected and tender.
“Weirdo Simpatico: Little Stories for Short Attention Spans” is available on Amazon. You can find it here. Of course, I hope you will purchase a copy of the book. But even more, I hope you enjoy it. If I’ve done my job, you will recognize something familiar within these pages and remember with certainty that the weirdo spirit is simpatico.