In Tim Baker’s first novel, Living The Dream, Kurt, a down and out plumber’s helper; Jimmy, a dishonest businessman, who is up to his ears in cheating and embezzlement; Vicky, a disheartened wife; and Danny, an easy going dive shop owner all have two things in common: they’re all having some very strange dreams and they all feel that somehow, their dreams will come true. Kurt’s dreams lead him on a very rough ride to the Florida coast to carry out a get rich quick scheme that is not even fully developed in his mind. Jimmy thinks that his dreams are telling him that the walls are closing in around him and it’s time to break away and start a new life. Vicky is dreaming of a handsome mystery man, who is everything her husband is not. Danny is dreaming of a mysterious woman, the girl of his dreams, so to speak, and he is following clues from his dreams to find her.
Their dreams do, in fact, come true, but not in the same ways as each one envisions, as they are all drawn together by circumstance, while trying to sort through the craziness of their individual dream worlds. When their lives unwittingly intermix, it is an ending for some of them and a new beginning for others, but one thing is certain. They never dreamed that it would be like this.
Readers will never be bored while reading this comical race to riches, where nothing is at it appears. No one is truly in control, although they all think that they are. It’s hard to tell the guys from the bad, at times, and you may be surprised who ends up winners in this truly entertaining tale, as they all search for riches and happiness.
You can find Living The Dream and other books by Tim Baker at Blindogg Books
“What’s wrong with kids today?”
This lament has been uttered by every generation since Adam and Eve discovered they were pregnant a second time.
So….what IS wrong with kids these days?
They feel as if they have no future. The last few extant generations simply don’t. Futures come in handy when you feel as though the world will be unrecognizable before you’ve grown up. As a child of The Mushroom Cloud I know what that feels like, that amputation of the future. It made me really angry. My friends and I were more likely to commit petty crimes and indulge in drugs. Without a future, why bother? Why work hard in school? Why cultivate disciplines, interests, social connections? The oceans are rising and will drown your block or your whole neighborhood. The coolest animals will be extinct. No elephants, no polar bears. What kind of future is that?
Then I discovered a TV show called “So You Think You Can Dance”. You can knock me over with what these kids are doing! Their bodies must be INCREDIBLY strong and flexible. These kids are doing the impossible! Has the human race mutated? Do we have extra joints, super-human muscle memory? Who ARE these people?
They’re just kids. Their secret is that they found a passion, something that interested them so much that they said “fuck it” to the absence of the future and decided to live for this thing called Dance. It was better than being a thug. Thugs are mean, WAY mean and being mean doesn’t feel very good. Not as good as practicing B-moves, Krumping, flapping, sapping, tapping, robot-twitching, water-waving, learning your body’s capabilities and stretching them further, further, further!
This is IT! Sometimes it’s called ART. Don’t be embarrassed by the word ART. It’s cool to do ART. It’s okay. Even if it’s gay it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares about gay any more. You can be gay, you can change from man to woman or woman to man, nobody cares! If you want to know where it is, where the cutting edge in creativity can be found these days you can see it on “So You Think You Can Dance”. The judges aren’t scary. They aren’t there to cut you down. They want to show you The Future. Word up, Bro. There IS a future. Nobody can stop it. It takes some work. Everything good takes work. Making a future is hard work. It’s not like it used to be, when the Future was going to happen no matter what. Now it takes a little faith and a lot of work, but it’s there: you… DO…Have…A…Future. Do you want it to kick you in the nuts or do you want to dance with it?
When has anyone given a shit about choreoraphy? Are you kidding? Corey-who? Shazam! Choreographers are the composers of Dance. They arrange the time-space-music continuum in which Dance exists. On the TV show they are not only given credit, they are like stars! Now I know the work of Tice Diorio, Mia Michaels, Sonya Tayeh, “Nappytab”, Stacey Tookey and Travis Wall. Choreographers come from the elder population of dancers. They still dance but they are the keepers of the flame, the mentors of the seventeen through twenty two year old dancers who are living the dreams.
I’m not sure there is any more difficult art form than what is now appearing as Dance. It’s not enough to specialize. You can’t be a ballroom dancer, a hip-hopper or a Broadway hoofer. One of the messages of So You Think You Can Dance is that you must be trained in ALL the dance styles. Choreographers wont’ hire you if you don’t know all the styles of dance. Choreographers are the Gate Keepers, the bosses, the ones who hire dancers. Get tight with the choreographers who work at SYTYCD and you will be employed for years to come. In time, you will become a choreographer.
The most amazing thing about the dance numbers on this show is their purity. We’re not seeing arrangements for pop superstars. We’re not seeing choreography for Taylor Swift or Michael Jackson (RIP). These dance routines are created for the television audience. For US! Sometimes magic happens on that stage. Those of you who watch the show know what I mean. In more than a decade this show has lifted the art of Dance so that each season is more amazing than the last. The mutations continue. Evolution is visible year to year. Dancers get more flexible, their muscle memories become more detailed, malleable, imprintable. This happens in front of our eyes. Sure, it’s a TV contest show aimed at a teenage demographic. That’s how things work. Consider the difference between the egregious karaoke of American Idol and the drama and high art of So You Think You Can Dance. Big difference, yeah?
Big big difference.
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.
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Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing (Part 2): Interview with Self-Published author, Tim BakerPosted: October 24, 2016
Today I want to talk a little about definitions, because people often independent publishing as an umbrella term to cover authors who are self-published, as well as those authors who are published through an independent publishing house. I’m guilty of this, too, as the title for this article series does not differentiate, although the series will be looking at all three options. From here on out, I will differentiate between self-published and independently published authors, and refer to smaller presses as independent presses vs, the larger publishing houses, which shall be referred to as traditional publishers.
In Part 1 of this series, I interviewed self-published author Jeff Bowles to get his thoughts on the publishing industry as an emerging author today. Today’s interview is with Tim Baker, the author of nine novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories, all self-published under his own brand, Blindogg Books. I’ve had the privilege of reviewing many of those books and can tell you he writes a well crafted story. His publishing credits include Living the Dream, Water Hazard, Backseat to Justice, No Good Deed, Unfinished Business, Eyewitness Blues, Pump It Up, Full Circle, Dying Days, with Armand Rosamillia, and Path of a Bullet. You can contact Tim Baker or find out more about his work by visiting his website at blindoggbooks.com.
Kaye: Would you share your own publishing story with us?
Tim: My love for reading came early in life when I discovered Treasure Island and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at the age of ten.
A high school journalism class and a creative writing course in college turned my love of reading into a love of writing. In 1988, I began writing a book called Full Circle, which combined my love of writing with my interest in Karma. A chain of events caused the unfinished, handwritten manuscript to be tucked into a box. During the ‘90s, my time was divided between raising my son, owning a home and building a career in engineering, leaving no time for writing. It remained untouched until February of 2015 when I dusted it off and completed it for release in November 2015.
By the time I moved to Florida in 2006, my dream of penning a novel was all but forgotten…until one night when a dream rekindled my passion for writing.
Then, in April 2007, I had a dream about two old friends and a submerged box of gold bars. The next day I found himself trying to figure out the story behind the dream. By the end of that day, the impetus of a story had formed and I had scribbled out two chapters in a spiral notebook.
One year later, my first novel, Living the Dream, was complete and the dam had burst — I soon followed up with my second novel Water Hazard.
Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Tim: The funny thing is that I never really wanted to be an author – at least not consciously.
Even though I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing…it wasn’t until after my first book was published that I realized I was an author. All of a sudden I was an author – which was fine, because by then I had come to the realization that I loved writing.
Kaye: What made you decide to self-publish?
Tim: It wasn’t until after I completed the manuscript for my first novel (Living the Dream) that I started thinking about having it published. After a year of research I had learned a great deal about the differences between traditional publishing and indie publishing, and I decided that indie suited me better – primarily because I had read dozens of accounts about the overwhelming odds of landing a traditional publishing contract. I was not thrilled with the prospect of putting the fate of my novel in the hands of somebody who could shoot it down for any reason at all. This just didn’t seem fair.
Kaye: How did Blindogg Books come about?
Tim: Blindogg Books came about because my research taught me that indie authors need a brand for marketing purposes. I also learned that there are at least 3 other published authors named Tim Baker…so I decided to go with something other than my name.
During the 90s I raised and socialized puppies to be guide dogs for the blind…eventually I picked up the nickname “blind dog” which was changed to blindogg for internet identity reasons. When I needed a name for my brand I thought Blindogg Books had a nice ring to it. (for more info on this go to my blog)
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent publishing?
Tim: I’ve had this conversation with many people and I like to sum it up this way;
Independent publishing is a “good news/bad news” situation. The good news is that anybody can publish a book – the bad news…anybody can publish a book. The vast majority of indie authors produce quality work, however the fate of their work depends on the book buying public, so when potential readers read one of the few indie works that just wasn’t ready for publication (for whatever reason) they tend to paint all indie authors with the broad brush of low quality. So even though it’s very easy to have your work published, it’s very difficult to convince readers who have had a bad experience that your work is worthy of their money.
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of traditional publishing?
Tim: Not having any experience in the traditional world I can only speculate. I have to think that having the power of a large publishing house behind you for promotion and advertising is a nice relief from self-promotion. I also think it would be nice to get a big advance for a book. On the down side, I wouldn’t want to work under a contract which dictates when I have to finish a book. I’ve also heard that those big advances are only good if you sell enough books to cover the amount advanced. Obviously we all think our work will sell – but if it doesn’t (for whatever reason) I’d hate to have to give money back!
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent publishing?
Tim: I’ve had this conversation with many people and I like to sum it up this way;
Independent publishing is a “good news/bad news” situation.
The good news is that anybody can publish a book – the bad news…anybody can publish a book.
The vast majority of indie authors produce quality work, however the fate of their work depends on the book buying public, so when potential readers read one of the few indie works that just wasn’t ready for publication (for whatever reason) they tend to paint all indie authors with the broad brush of low quality. So even though it’s very easy to have your work published, it’s very difficult to convince readers who have had a bad experience that your work is worthy of their money.
Kaye: How much work do you contract out? Book Covers? Editing? Etc…?
Tim: Everything!! I write it – then let others do the things I’m not qualified to do. This includes editing, formatting (for kindle and paperback) and cover design/layout. Many indie authors try to do these things themselves, but I would rather pay somebody to do it because I know they’ll do a much better job than I will and I won’t be wasting my time doing something that somebody else could do in half the time, leaving me more time for writing and marketing.
The most important one of the lot (in my opinion) is editing. Any money spent on a qualified editor is money well spent. Hiring your high school English teacher or a friend/relative who is “really good at English and reads a lot” will not give you a professional quality job.
Nobody knows more than me how difficult it is to fork out hundreds of dollars foran editor, but I want my books to be the best they can be.
Kaye: So, you’re saying self-published books that aren’t of good quality stigmatize the reputation of independently published books in general?
Tim: Yes. Readers, like all consumers, don’t want to waste money on sub-par products, so if they buy an indie book that is poorly written, edited or formatted they are likely to assume that this is the level of quality for all indie books.
Kaye: Do you think one of the major contributing factors to this stigma is authors who don’t want to spend money to have their books professionally edited? Or do you see other causes?
Tim: Absolutely. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. As I said above, many indie authors think editors are like dentists – a necessary evil. I think a qualified editor is more like a good tailor. You can buy a suit off the rack and it might look decent, but a suit that is professionally tailored will make you look outstanding – and people will notice the difference!
This is not to say there aren’t other causes.
People who write a book without trying to learn even the most basic “rules” lower the bar for all of us. I hate using the word rules, let’s say guidelines…whatever you want to call them – they are critical to producing a book that will make people want to read your next one. These days there is no excuse for not learning how to write a good book. There are a gazillion websites and blogs out there devoted to teaching people how to write – use them. Most of them are free.
But – the best way to learn how to write is to read. Learn from the good books as well as the bad…
Kaye: How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?
Tim: I don’t have an exact number, but my conservative estimate is that for every hour I spend writing – I spend three hours marketing. I tell people all the time – writing the book is the easy part…selling it is where the work starts.
Kaye: Would you recommend your chosen path to publication, to emerging writers? Why or why not?
Tim: I’m not sure how to answer that – mostly because my path wasn’t chosen as much as it was found. I had no idea what I was doing – so I did lots of research – the most valuable of which was learning from other writers. So for any emerging writers who may be reading this I can only say this…there is a ton of information at your fingertips. The internet and especially social media can help you find the path best suited for you. Get out there and tap into it. Ask questions, do your research and learn from those who went before you.
I want to thank Tim for sharing his thoughts on the publishing industry and his advice with us. Be sure to check out next weeks interview with self-published author, Arthur Rosch, on Writing to be Read.
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Tim Baker’s latest novel, Full Circle, is a story about how our choices affect others, sometimes others we don’t even know, in unexpected ways. What does one do when your boss thinks you owe him a favor and asks you to commit murder? Mark Sullivan is faced with the choice and what he does sets in motion surprising events, while his boss, Joe Moretti’s choices set other events in motion, involving other people, and all these paths cross in some very entertaining ways.
As in all of Baker’s books several seemingly unrelated characters weave their way through the intricate details of plot with delightfully entertaining antics. A recovering alcoholic, a single mother trying to make ends meet, a self-centered contractor, an over-protective father, and a homeless woman, who seem to have little in common, find their karmic paths crossing in unexpected ways, but it all comes together when they come Full Circle.
In Living the Dream, a plumber’s apprentice with a moral code ends up crossing paths with a crooked contractor who’s unfaithful to his wife, and the endearing residents of Flagler Beach. In No Good Deed, a homeless guy and a gangster’s girlfriend cross paths with the plumber’s apprentice, who has straightened out his life and is now a groundskeeper trying to live the straight and narrow, some big time mobsters and a two-bit con-man, along with our old friends from Flagler Beach and surrounding areas. It’s one of the things I admire about Baker’s works.
I think the difference with Full Circle may be that the karmic element is the theme of the story, and it feels like the characters are forced to fit the mold on this one. I must admit, I was a little disappointed by it. Tim Baker is a talented author, with the ability to bust out this kind of story with skill and finesse, but it feels off in this book. It’s nothing I can put my finger on, but it didn’t grab my attention from the starting line, like Baker’s other books have. As a result, I found it harder to invest myself in the story and care about the characters.
Don’t get me wrong. Full Circle is a good story, a delightful tale, actually. It will make you smile, and make you sit on the edge of your seat at times. It will draw chuckles in all the right places. Although the execution is a little off, it’s not enough to make me put the book down. I still wanted to keep reading to see what happens next. I give Full Circle three quills.
You can find Full Circle and other books by Tim Baker on his website, Blindogg Books.
No one is ever ready to die because we never know when our time is up. Some, who die of a terminal illness, may know that death is approaching and have time to put their affairs in order, but death strikes most unprepared and they leave this life with unfinished business hanging… well, unfinished. Unfinished Business by Tim Baker is a creative and original story that explores the possibilities how the universe may balance the scales and take care of those things that have been left unfinished by departed souls. This delightfully entertaining story will tickle your funny bone and keep you guessing.
When Meg Seabury loses her friend and mentor, Lita, she inherits an unexpected gift, although at times she wonders if it isn’t a curse. Suddenly, Meg is able to see the final thoughts of those who cross the threshold of the funeral home where she works, and she soon learns that it is up to her to finish what they didn’t have the chance to take care of. Her new abilities lead her on a strange roller-coaster ride to places she would never go and compels her to do things she would never do in her old “normal” life. Not all that’s left undone are positive events. Meg finds she doesn’t have a choice but to carry through, restoring the balance of the universe, even if it leads her into dangerous situations or could land her in jail.
Unfinished Business is now added to the list of novels by Tim Baker recommended by this reviewer, which also includes Water Hazard, No Good Deed, Pump It Up, Backseat to Justice and Living the Dream. All Tim’s books are available at www.blindoggbooks.com.
The Monster You Know
by Jeff Bowles
It goes without saying that the new Universal Studios reboot of the horror classic, The Invisible Man, offers a uniquely compelling movie experience for our hyper-political, hyper-aware post-#metoo era. The year 2020 is a very different time from 1933, the year Universal released its classic Claude Rains iteration. We understand the world in a startlingly different fashion, and complex psychology, trauma, abusive romantic relationships, and violence against women are all very much at play in the stories our culture has begun to tell.
Rest assured, though, The Invisible Man is not an overtly political movie. More like a chilling and subtly “woke” product of its times. Gone are all the old monster movie affectations—silly white mummy bandages covering a mysterious face, wired monocles and burning cigarettes floating in mid-air—replaced by psychological horror, emotional and physical torment, circa 2020 big-budget computer generated special effects, and a pretty nifty concept for a military-grade invisibility suit. Not to spoil too much, which really is a challenge with this movie, but the monster in this Universal monster picture is still very much a science fictional prospect. He’s also slightly reminiscent of a bad guy you might find in any average modern video game, which is how you know you’re in for one hell of a boss fight.
Elisabeth Moss, who is just as excellent here as she is on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, plays Cecelia Kass, the traumatized victim of a seemingly abusive relationship who is desperate to escape her wealthy tech developer husband. Cecelia gets free of his post-modern rich dude Dracula castle in the opening sequence of the film, only to learn a couple scenes later he’s ended his own life and left her his fortune. Which, you know, is really just a springboard for some invisible-man-ish fun and mayhem.
What kind of tech does her husband, Adrian, develop? Optics, of course, the kind that can turn someone… well, you know. I say Cecelia is the victim of a seemingly abusive relationship because while its clear Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) has done some truly terrible things to her, we’re never really sure what they were. It’s sort of a narrative issue, a lack of basic context, because as the action and suspense ratchet up, certain story beats become less formidable. Again, spoilers are easy to drop, but how did this guy get this way? He’s not just a monster. His exists solely to watch you realize your most intimate fears. The film insists on hints and allegations, relies too heavily on stereotypes, but only as it applies to Adrian and his brother, Tom (Michael Dorman), who may or may not suffer from some intense form of younger sibling Stockholm Syndrome.
Realistically, if this movie were called The Wolf Man or Frankenstein, I doubt I’d question how insidious the villain is, but we’re dealing with issues of domination, psycho-sexual violence, and truly, more emotional clarity is called for. Not to put too fine a point on it, but simply tossing around terms like narcissism and sociopathy doesn’t really help fill in a backstory. Lot’s of people are sociopathic and narcissistic, and not too many invent invisibility suits and murder-stalk their exes.
The good news for audiences, however, is that none of the above matters much, because The Invisible Man is a focused and frightfully suspenseful film, full of unexpected twists and a finale that is less cliché good guy, bad guy showdown than morally ambiguous coup d’état. At times, the movie is downright ingenious in its concoction of more and more elaborate and devilish scenarios. The supporting cast is excellent, and thankfully, exist as more than simple horror movie cannon fodder. The real unease and dread of The Invisible Man comes down to a basic relatable fear: if I tell them what’s really happening to me, they’ll call me crazy and put me away.
Which isn’t to say the movie readily offers up easy explanations for all it entails. As the credits roll, it becomes clear writer/director Leigh Whannell wants us thinking hard about what we’ve just seen. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot the answer to the penultimate question posed by the film within its first few tense opening moments, but some audiences may leave dissatisfied by the ambiguity of it all.
Ultimately, The Invisible Man is about desperation and bare-knuckled survival in the face of victim-hood and victimization, an unavoidable totem of an age in which the sins of very powerful, very sleezy men have been outed in spectacular public fashion. Truly, the film is an intimate and personal take on the classic Universal Pictures series of old. It both loves and understands the need to update its source material, and though the final product is uniquely contemporary, its essential nature remains the same. Imagine an enemy you can’t see, who’s watching you in all your most intimate and private moments, who’s obsessively calculating new ways to make your life a living hell. It’s still a great concept for a horror story, which H.G. Wells must’ve recognized when he published the original novel in 1897.
The most frightening monster is the one who knows you best. Abuse at the hands of a loved one is a horror unlike any other, and in real life, more and more, the world is waking up to the fact that this phantom, this particular invisible man, has plagued us since the very beginning. Ultimately, the conscious approach filmmaker Leigh Whannell and his excellent cast take toward the subject is timely and clear-eyed. This invisible man is a beast of a human being. He’s been in your home, your bed, and he will do whatever it takes to possess, consume, and destroy you. Now that’s scary. And not a single floating cigarette or mummy bandage in sight.
Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives The Invisible Man an 8 out of 10.
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