Welcome To Travels with Hermes
… where you will find resources and inspiration to help you navigate the worlds of humanity and the soul, leading to the best hidden experiences of the two. Hermes is the Greek god and personal guide to travelers, athletes and writers. 

Welcome! My name is Andrew Kloak and I will bring you dynamic communication that leads to insight and personal breakthroughs. I’m a Social Commentator and Novelist of the #1 Sports Book of 2016, Working the Glass: A Novel.

My novel was released in April 2016. It’s ready for you to purchase now on Amazon.com!

This is my blog Travels with Hermes! hermes2

    • As a social commentator (based in the San Francisco Bay Area and a native of Chicago), I can help you thrive and go deeper in exponentially changing world. I’m on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on local social media like Google+, Twitter and everything in between.
    • As a sports novelist, I bring you the #1 Sports Novel of 2016! I think you will enjoy Working the Glass: A Novel, a gritty odyssey of basketball and romance across the Czech Republic in 1993.
    • As a professional speaker and teacher– I can speak to your organization about writing, Silicon Valley and spirituality.

Andrew Kloak, Sports Novelist and Social commentator

Got questions? Peruse this blog to LEARN MORE, Sign up for this blog. I need your email to stay in touch and send you twice monthly updates as we get closer to the release date on my novel. Let’s hook up so you are on my email list and part of the Travels with Hermes community.

MY PHILOSOPHY
My philosophy is to advocate for you. I strive to be the #1 sports novelist of 2016 and one of the Top 10 Blogs for Self-Publishers 2016. I engage readers not only in the San Francisco Bay Area, the USA and Canada but across the world. Unlike many scribes, I empower writers and advocate for them as an expert coach. We’re all in this together!

HERMES MESSENGER AND GUIDE
Hermes the amazing! He’s the right guide for you and me. Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. The second youngest of the Olympian gods. Hermes is a God of athletes and invented fire. We’re going to need that fire!!! We have it. Our servers are all powered by LiteSpeed and solid-state drives (SSDs). LiteSpeed is 533% faster than Apache 2.4 with keep-alive connections and 167% faster with no keep-alive connections (SSDs are superior to regular HDDs) but don’t take my word for it. Try it out.

Soviet Worker

Dashed dreams, temporary seatbacks can’t stop you

Blood poured down my face.

I was smashed in the eyebrow by the elbow of an opposing player under the basket. I reckoned I was paying the price for my championships, wins and joy the game brought me.

I was up to four games per week in league play in Chicago and the Western Suburbs like Naperville.

My style of play became super aggressive and tenacious. I was the essential ingredient every team needed to be successful on the court: I played with heart and emotion.1294541_846685385382351_7297171292484329696_o

I was a 6’5” sparkplug. Rebounding and shutting down the inside like crazy.

Luckily, Edward Hospital was on the same grounds as the sports center. But this injury was too serious to play through.

I started to see the bright at the end of the tunnel. Unbearable bright light shined in my closed eyes.

The emergency department doctor from Edward Hospital stitched up my eyebrow.

I don’t remember if I cried through those eyelids or not. It was an emotional moment.

“I have to get out of this or I’ll be dead,” I said.

My teammates were there gathered around the table. They’d seen my best and worst under shining lights.  They joked and laughed with me as they stood around me. That felt strangely good.

I’ve always been happy for the people I’ve been with on this journey of basketball and writing.

But I knew it was over. It was time. Time to hang up my number, #33.12801178_10156623307725615_2036328532261479680_n

The year before I started taking fiction writing classes at the Writer’s Loft, Chicago’s best writing workshop. In that six week class, I wrote the first words of what would become Working the Glass: A Novel

In August 1999, my wife and I moved to California. I took more creative writing classes at Stanford Continuing Studies. It wasn’t until Julie Orringer, my teacher in an Advanced Fiction Writing Class at Stanford Continuing Studies, encouraged me to go deeper with the story.

Julie Orringer

Julie Orringer

Every time a thing ends, something more beautiful grows.

Granted I took a long time to write this novel. I found something that gave me a new start — a novel that has international intrigue, basketball and romance. Oh, yes, my special reader,  a love story that you will enjoy. If you are a woman or man, you Will be able to relate!

Like a good hallmark movie or sports film, Working the Glass will stir some long-buried memory: a relationship forgotten, a family member lost.

Something real.

Something that matters.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.https://www.amazon.com/Working-Glass-Andrew-M-Kloak/dp/0997027800

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Liberty

Swimming Through the Darkness into the Light

I heard an interview on NPR with an experienced long distance swimmer. This 60-year old woman said she swam from the Florida Keys to Cuba, across the English Channel from England to France, and from Catalina Island to California.novak-djokovic-best-0604

She started at 17 years old swimming from a rocky island to mainland California. 22 miles across the Gulf of Catalina. She walked out the rocky beach at Catalina with a friend in the midnight darkness.  The water got deeper and she was off.

Guided by the moonlight and tenacity.

She had no boat within arms reach to guide and protect her. Looking back at this, she said that was crazy.

This teenager and her teenage friend forged ahead mile after mile.

She said swimmers do better by starting such a swim by jumping in at night. The water is calmer in the hours before dawn. The tides are more forgiving.

But then the morning comes and the swells start to pound you. You need an inner compass and perserverance to cut through all that and stay on course.

Like her, it’s hard to get out of the comfort of my bed. It’s cold to emerge from the covers of sleep. Once you dive in, another set of covers envelops your body, the water. It surrounds you completely. Very soon, you don’t feel cold.

My writing practice was to write in the early morning hours from 4:30 to 6:00. The world outside is filled with darkness. The trees outside my window cast shadows from the moon light.

Her story resonated with me because it’s quite similar to the feelings and experience you encounter in writing a novel.  At least I did in laboring over 10 years to write my novel Working the Glass.

I literally started in the darkness and move into light. When the novel was complete and hit the bookstores in April, it was the culmination of a long swim.

For every scenario that carries darkness, there’s one that holds out the light. The light  and this novel is worth believing in.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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What Does It Take To Write A Novel?

Father, coach, lover, athlete, novelist, leader and writer.

I search as to what to call myself these days; I see that, above all, I’m a writer.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

 

Writing takes hard work and sacrifice. Yes, my book Working the Glass: A Novel needed that. That’s what it requires. All writers, no matter what their inclination, have to have that. But why would they sacrifice? What’s underneath that?  I say there has to be love in it. It’s a meaningful life. Happiness is a by-product of doing what you love.

True intentions are good to look at. Some do it for love of money. Others do it for love of the writing journey. Others do it to connect with readers. Others would love to transform the world.

But there also needs to be a conversation within as you navigate the mysterious, yet tangible on the archetypal writer’s journey.  It requires embracing the dual worlds of Viva Contemplativa and Viva Activa. When you honor both: your writing comes alive, soul-filled and possesses dynamic tension. Many teachers of the craft talk creating tension in your stories. But never mention it’s important to have dynamic tension in you, the creator of the words on the page.

Andrew Kloak

So we truly are a bridge to the worlds: integrating the opposites and bringing forth something new. The energy of creative genius is available and waiting for you.

You just have to surrender the clouds of negativity that prevent their revelation. We all have resistances to joy, love, expression and aliveness. The key is to overcome the obstacles. An inner state of peace brings forth ideas that solve problems on the page and in life.

Creative contribution comes from something deeper. Although I’m realistic about the business side of this.

Last year I attended a Stanford University Workshop called The Entrepreneurial Writer. We are all being transformed into entrepreneurial writers with greater risks but greater opportunities. This can be attributed to the technology revolution.stanford-banner

Our instructor Holly Brady said it’s easier bring your well written and edited manuscript to the marketplace yourself now. But it’s a costly process; you need to pay for editors and book cover designers yourself. Say that costs you $1,900. Then you would need to sell 903 eBooks to recoup your costs.

We have moved into a time where enormous changes have occurred in the world of publishing. Large publishers are now quite weak. The greatest opportunities seem to be opening up in self-publishing niche. It’s the greatest time in history to be a writer of quality well-written works across the genres.

Neal Pollack said this when he self-published his 2012 novel Jewball. I liked his basketball story. Here is what he said at the time.jewball

Why did you decide to publish this way?

The technology finally seemed to be in place to match my entrepreneurial ambition. Also, the traditional avenues to publication, while still there, seem to be narrowing. It’s much, much harder for an author, even an established one like me, to break through. I wasn’t going to get a big advance for this book. Who knows how much support a mainstream publisher would have given it? I might have gotten scheduled onto more sports-talk radio shows, but those appearances don’t always sell books.

It’s a risk, but at the end of the day, I started writing the book in earnest in February and now it’s October and the book is about to appear. If this were corporate publishing, we wouldn’t be seeing Jewball until next October, if not sometime in 2013.

 

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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Knight ceremony

I Was Going To Be Depressed Today But My Son Stopped By

I could write about novel writing and the craft of creating fiction, but real life matters. What I write about in Working the Glass: A Novel and my next one comes from my life.Parents with Book

Yes, real life, people, and events of my life make it into my novels.

I filter and refine it later and turn this stuff into fiction. 

A month ago my Mom, Therese broke her hip while visiting me in Mountain View, California.  After surgery at Stanford Hospital, she was transfered to a skilled nursing center here in my town.

In the beginning, I debated whether I should see her every day.

Early on, I asked her how she was doing that day?

She said I was going to be depressed today, but then I said No, I’m not going to, my son Andrew  is coming to visit me today.

That’s where I knew how important my presence was to her!

How can a son not respond to that? I was her lifeline here on the West Coast. Her sole support.  After she said that, I saw what I had to do. Meet her every day after work and get her home to Chicago.

Fortunately all these people on Facebook, my church- St. Joseph Mountain View, my work , finally my family across the country followed the story. My story about a son and mother. Thank you, thank you all.Author Photo 1

I saw her everyday in the evening for dinner. It was the least I could do for this lady that gave me so much. She always encouraged my writing, but since she lived in Chicago and I lived in California our time of catching up was compressed since I moved west 17 years ago

After she broke her hip, it brought us closer, we had really great conversations. It was like playing tennis. I would hit the ball over the net and she would fire it back. Back and forth. We could talk for hours. I lost track of time and treasured each conversation. Life is short and my Mom is 90 years old.

These conversations moved into memoir territory.

Then last weekend I escorted her the 2200 miles back to Chicago. There was no better person to do it. I was worried how it was all going to work out. She had to walk on and off the airplane. And sit up for the four hour flight. She prepared for it with her physical therapy person in the weeks before. But it was far from certain it was going to work.

But she did it. We did it together!

Then I did my first book reading in Chicago at Czech Plaza Restaurant. That was a day after getting mom home

This whole process with my mother and completing the novel forced me to change.

I had to open my heart and really use all my reserves of energy. I delivered my Mom back into the loving arms of my family in Chicago.

For the first time, I had to play a new role: be a parent to my parent. At least I thought that’s what I was doing. But my Mom is a tough lady and she aided me as much as I helped her.

It’s incumbent now that I continue the great connection we established. Mom and me.

I will!

But this also applies to all you great readers I met while there in Chicago. Let’s continue to stay in touch friends!

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A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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We Couldn’t Do It Without Our Mothers

My mother Therese Kloak came to visit me in the San Francisco Bay Area from Chicago. We pulled over in the car along Skyline Drive near Windy Hill were we could see the whole of Santa Clara Valley below.  I pulled out the book Do What You Love and the Money Will Come, written by Marsha Sintar. We read parts of it out loud in that car.Parents with Book

 I told her my destiny was that I was writer. She said you can do it, I believe in you. 

From up there, I had a vision and confidence I could do it. The whole world was in front of me.

Twenty five years later, after a roundabout trek in journalism, public relations, team work consulting, I completed my first novel Working the Glass: A Novel.

A week ago, my Irish mother broke her hip in the living room of my Mountain View, California home. The next day, she had hip replacement surgery at Stanford Medical Center.

On Saturday, I moved her to a skilled nursing center here in my town. There were a lot of decisions to make and I felt a lot of pressure. So much so that my oldest daughter wiped a tear from my cheek as I stopped to pause and reflect on all that happened in seven days. 1294541_846685385382351_7297171292484329696_o

She was supposed to fly back home to Chicago, but life had other plans. It’s been a tough, but eventful week.

My helping her isn’t an imposition; it’s an act of love. I’ve been by her bedside every day. Sure, I get tired and have to pace myself after coming to see her for all these consecutive days so far. I put my both hands over my face more than a few times this emotional week!

But here’s the thing: My mother has always encouraged not just me, but a lot of other people along the way. Besides my wife, having a mother like her is the luckiest gift I’ve ever received.

This remarkable 90-year old woman had eight children and I’m happy I’m one of them.

But she’s a gift to many besides, my large clan. Even now she’s taking care of other people’s babies. There’s Tracey the RN and Danny from Stanford Hospital. Marisol, Maripreet and Mario, the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) at her current healthcare center. And many others. She gets to know them all, laugh with them, and enjoy them!

As writer promoting my novel, I can learn a lot from my mom. We can all can!

While recovering from surgery at Stanford Hospital, my mother had constant newcomers coming in as her roommates. Most were too tired to say much from their orthopaedic surgeries.

Then one day, on the other side of the curtain, there was a woman who looked like my mother.  From behind the thin divide across the room, the cranky look-alike-alike said this: Why is that woman next to me? Get her out of here.

She swore constantly and complained about the bad care she was getting at the hospital.

After a day, she was transferred out and replaced by a new person.

Who knows of complainer lady’s future?

In contrast, my mother’s trajectory is very good because she always had a great attitude. Even after all this. Her doctors say because of her outlook and family support, she’ll thrive and successfully rehabilitate so she can head home.

I sure hope so. I’ll do everything I can to make that happen!

I wouldn’t be a novelist, writer of a blog like this, and human being I am today without this special person.

What will happen next is a mystery, but I can tell you this:

The world is a much better place with the Therese Kloaks in it!

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A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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Working the Glass: A Novel, the best sports novel of 2016

Love and Magic in Connecting with Readers

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. –CorinthiansAndrea and Marcel

I went to a wedding anniversary celebration of my friends and supporters Andrea and Marcel from the Slovak Republic recently. This famous wedding passage above was read.

My eyes watered upon hearing this beautiful passage that day here in Mountain View, California. It’s a reminder of the strength and fragility of all this. It sums up the greatness of the journey of their 10 years of marriage.

But also my journey as a writer.  It’s the right affirmation of the heart and mindset you need if you want to create anything enduring and rich as the protagonist of your own story as a writer.

Writing a novel takes all of the above. You have to apprentice yourself to the attributes of patience and kindness.

Patience to work hard and keep churning ahead every day.

Kindness to yourself. You have to be kind and praise your efforts. There’s joy in that.

My wife Teofila is as reluctant as Michelle Obama has been at times to be a public figure in helping her husband, Barrack.Sir Gawain

I’ve been married 21 years and sometimes it’s very tough. But there is one time now when my wife truly comes alive.

That’s when I’m meeting with readers of Working the Glass: A Novel.

She takes pictures, engages with fans with stories, and then after a while, when it keeps coming, she takes it all in with amazement. I can see it in her face.

They say things like they loved the story and stayed up late to read it. Others say they were sad to see it end and want me to write more.

Many readers are emboldened to meet you after reading the novel.

How times do you feel compelled to meet the author after reading their book? It’s a real honor to hear this! I love it.1271960_846685325382357_5973650051005791898_o

I shake hands, tell stories, answer their questions, sign books and take pictures. I lose myself in the process very much like the peak experience moments I find in writing. Or even further back, playing basketball!

To my wife, here is the manly hero using his guile and magic to slay the dragons. For a few hours, the world obeys and conspires in his magic. There’s greatness in this, she would say.

This is the great thing about being married to writer!

Love is patient, love is kind.

Don’t forget that.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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Increasing Face-to-Face Contact Stands Out As Antidote To Current Malaise

My novel was published a few months ago and that’s a great accomplishment for my fifth decade. 

But I realize more than ever, that I need to see your face.

I have been meeting with people face-to-face. I’m good at connecting and want to make it as real as possible.

But to scale up to make my novel a bestseller, you have to connect with people in the online space. Lots of them. That’s the game today. One friend said you have to make a connection to people that have little to no emotional connection to you.  He’s right.Nimue___Lady_Of_The_Lake_by_Raipun

But remember even in the online space, people are connecting emotionally with you, even, if it’s greatly obscured.

We think we’re more connected than ever.  But it’s nearly impossible. Everyone is seemingly accessible on social media, but like the medium itself, it’s a kind of hell today. You’re so close, but yet, more distant than ever.

It takes draconian effort today just to meet in person. A phone call is a start.

But I can’t even find your number anymore! 

Unlike the 1990s, when I had everyone’s name and phone number in a planner, it’s more difficult to track down friend’s phone numbers and emails.

My contact lists are in ruins.

And even if I have them, it’s harder to call for some reason.

Maybe here’s why:

Social media and prolonged online interaction promote a false sense of intimacy. We all thought seeing the achievements and pictures of your friends online was a social glue.  But this online voyeurism is no social glue at all.

It’s killing our character.

I took an online writing class at Stanford Continuing Studies a few years ago. I hated it.

Compared to the in-person classes I’ve taken, it felt empty. People were afraid to engage and be honest. I felt disengaged and disconnected in that online writing workshop.

I did much better when there were writers sitting along. We looked into each others eyes when we talked.  I would come home exhilarated and alive!Employees-chatting-1

Research by Paula Klemm and Thomas Hardie bears that out. They compared face-to-face, in-person groups with online cancer support groups. They found they were statistically similar except for one thing: the participants’ moods. Most (92 percent) of the participants in the electronic groups were depressed, while none of the participants in the in-person group were!

The more time we spend on the internet, the less time spent with friends, family and colleagues. We accure hours on our computers each day. Whatever the benefits, that’s mostly time spent alone.tx_2279373b

As Susan Pinker said in her book, the Village Effect, the “come-hither” aspect of electronic media has pulled the wool over our eyes, convincing us that different ways of making contact are the same as being there. Our electronic networks are expanding, but our social networks are staying the same and the people we feel close to has shrunk.

That’s significant.

Pinker goes on to say, given that the only person many Americans say they can trust is their spouse, it turns out that many of us are just one person away from being alone!

So it turns out being married or having close buddies you rarely ever see isn’t enough.

Being married to your computer doesn’t work either.

Go into a Starbucks in any town in America now and you’ll see half the people having a date with their computer.

Being in touch with your friends in the middle distance can breed contempt. And can generate complacency.

The cliché familiarly breeds contempt isn’t true.

Why? Because face-to-face contact, by far, creates a sense of oneness, satisfaction and fun. Amazingly, that close connection attracts the other to us even more. And vice versa.

It’s too late to throw out my tablet, iphone and computer.  But the truth is I just need to bring things back to the future.

The 1990s me started the novel had an overwhelming preference to face-to-face communication. That same desire is alive today! That’s how we’re wired.

Our ability to connect with anyone 24/7 with technology hasn’t led to an uptick in well-being. Has it made you better? Let me know.

By and large we’re lonelier and unhappier than we were in the decades before the internet age, according to a 2004 study of households in the United States and the U.K.

My present self that just turned 50 sees the need for the authentic and frequent face-to-face contact. I’m on the road to repairing and replacing face-to-face relationships I’ve lost. But trust me, it’s hard work even for a extroverted, positive guy like me!

I’m doing it for the sake of my well being, health and longevity.

I’m sorry, I’ve not been the best friend!

Let’s start small and connect. I’m calling it Operation Connection to You.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

 

 

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Outlier Writers Are Mainstream, the Key Is to Be Authentic

I’m rolling up my sleeves to create a Working the Glass website for the novel. Not having it was a rookie mistake! Hey, you learn in this publishing business. My Travels with Hermes is close to my heart, but mixes the message and can’t stand as the book’s primary vehicle.

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The outliers are mainstream now. People expect underdogs like me to make great gains. And I will. The channel is open right now and I’m going to cruise my ship right through it.  Even the tycoon Donald Trump has had his moment in the outlier spotlight but now that’s coming to an end. The fascination factor is starting to ebb on The Donald. People have had their fill and see there was nothing much there in their rearview mirrors.

Where does this great wave, put me as I embark on public life after writing a novel? I’ve certainly had many twists and turns and have a compelling bunch of plot points in my journey to write this over the last 17 years. That’s good for me as I launch a novel.  We’re on the verge of something today.  Working the Glass

What’s the measure of self worth? If you look at a society that’s addicted to finance and money, you’d think that was it. To a lot of people, that’s their sum contribution to life and the world. And definer of self.  But as the Chinese economic collapse demonstrated even last week, people who were extremely wealthy lost it over time. People lost everything in fact. The lesson here is fortune comes and goes. And it’s no place to put your grand hopes.

There has to be a better way. How do you be as a writer out in the world writer promoting yourself?  I read something recently that had a novel approach to this. How the World Sees You, written by Sally Hogshead.Author Photo 1

It’s good in that it shows you how you are seen by others. That’s your reputational self. It’s an important part of the quotient.

You do exercises and determine your type. I’m dynamic, inclusive and engaging. That’s pretty accurate.  Hogshead gives each type a name and mine is A People’s Champion. This doesn’t translate into the persona and figure you associate with being a writer. Not a writer posture. Rather it’s kind of like a being rock star figure and public phenomena than anything else. But it is who I am. It’s going to work great for me

But being my enthusiastic and lyrical self on the trail like some Irish poet or politician will only get me so far. It’s more complicated.  You have to fullness. People aren’t evil, it’s just we have hidden dimensions. Dark part has to be honored and balanced with the brightness. I’ve called it dynamic tension.

Just be your exuberant self and it will all work out. Just be your rockstar self and everything will open for you. For one thing, Hogshead book assumes everyone sees the world that way. People are different types and if you channel all this energy in one direction with others, a good number not your type will be dismissive, not out of evil so much as, they are threatened. Then you have cynics.

Moreover, your reputation encompasses just one side of who you are.  Hogshead forgets about a whole other side of how we operate in the world. That is: How do you perceive yourself to be? That’s just as important to consider as your reputation.  So the bifurcated way (external and internal) is more accurate to how we operate in the world.

This type is a great campaigner. Kind of like a Bobby Kennedy figure but this doesn’t translate into the persona you associate with being a writer. Not a writer posture. It’s more politician than anything else.

I’m Irish and Czech so let’s look at both sides of my heritage as examples. Patrick Pearce was an Irish poet who led the 1916 Easter Uprising in Irish. He was being his lyrical and enthusiastic self. And even got up on a chair and read poetry as the Uprising against the British was underway. He was lyrical and enthusiastic but no had groundedness. The Uprising was crushed in three days and he was executed.

More sensible was another writer from the other side of my heritage, the Czech writer Vaclav Havel. Like Pearce, Havel had a good understanding of what’s important in life.

Havel was equally philosophical and effusive. But grounded. You need that balance.  The architect of the Velvet Revolution in Prague in 1989 had better understanding of the forces he was dealing with in the desperate Communist authorities. He was victorious and eventually was elected President of the newly democratic Czechoslovakia.

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Working the Glass

How Is Your Debut Novel Doing Since Hitting the Market Two Months Ago?

People ask me all the time, how the novel is doing?Paris 2015 New Year's Day

Here is what I say. I think you can put a book out there like mine and it will become an instant New York Times bestseller.

But it’s not as easy as you think.

Selling your book takes a lot of work, much more than I thought, but I love doing it.

This novel has brought all these friends back in my life and wonderful strangers to me, too. Face-to-face connection. It’s been the most stunning outcome since releasing Working the Glass on April 7!

Many writers are introverts and really don’t want to get involved in promoting their novel. They just want to write. I can understand that. It’s fun to write, I really love that part, or I wouldn’t call myself a writer.

But the magic in this promoting the novel process is in connecting with others. I’ve found that.  I have to sell myself.

I was a salesman snob.

Like many people, I always looked down on the concept of “selling.” It seemed like something lower than me.

To some extent, selling appears manipulative. You have a product and you try to portray that it has more value than it actually does. So you need to manipulate people into buying it. This seems sad, as in the book “Death of a Salesman” sort of sad.

I was wrong. I always said, even before the novel came out. I can sell things I’m passionate about.1383_1050716588312562_5043507779212100650_n

When I believe in something like a story like Working the Glass: A Novel, I can sell it.

Not just because I took 17 years to write it. It’s because I put my heart in this and feel I told the story I always wanted to tell.

When I watch films like Goal: The Dream Begins, Hoosiers, Rudy, and A River Runs Through It on the big screen, I get inspired.

Those were written stories that came to life and became classics.

Look at the power of creation. Now I’m in the ranks of the creators of those stories. It’s great to be here!!

All I have been doing is selling. Selling stories, selling the promise of the novel, selling myself for jobs, selling myself.

I put engagement and people skills much higher than technical skills in this book tour stage. The most amazing thing I’ve learned is good content marketing – this blog- will help people solve problems. What’s the problem? People want friendship and face-to-face connection.

So in a sense, the novel has been a vehicle for this incredible return of meaningful connection. The novel has emboldened people to connect with me and I really love that part. They won’t take no for an answer.

People want shared experience. They want to be with me. The writer moving up in the world. We’re changing together.

My friend Michael Easley said it best. When someone spends 10 hours reading the novel, they feel like they know you. They want to talk to you. Michael and I did talk and meet for a beer after he read it. It’s the least I can do. He gave me great feedback on my marketing strategy. We reconnected.

Same with my 93 year old uncle Jack in Florida, he wrote me a letter saying I’d given him two days of joy as he spent more time in the world of superliga basketball, the Czech Republic and the head of Frank Savek, my main character.

My uncle loved the novel! He encouraged me and told me I was on the right track.  I’ll save that letter for the rest of my life.

Can I do more to get the word out there about the novel? Yes, hard cover sales have fallen back some in the last few weeks on Amazon. But E-book/Kindle sales have risen.

I’ve not gotten any media coverage yet. I call that earned media. You have to earn it. I’m rolling out a marketing plan now. I’ll be able to have book readings and bookstore events if I work hard at making those happen.

I have faith and optimism. Those are my strengths to be sure. But at its essence you have to connect with one reader at a time.

It starts with friendship. Nobody is going to buy from someone they hate. The buyer has to like you and want to be your friend. If you don’t have that, you will be publishing a worstseller. No writer wants that. 

People have to care about the character and care about you. The minute I stop caring for a character, it’s over.  

It also calls for being a trusted source. Whether you buy the novel or not I’m going to help you and give you ideas that will help you.

That’s what I want for you and I.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

 

 

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Paris 2015 New Year's Day

We Can Thrive Together, How This Novel Will Change Your Life and Friendships

I was questioned by the police and they asked for my ID. I gave them my Illinois Driver’s License. The officer said if you would have run we would have hunted you down.

A few minutes before I hit a woman from behind on my bike  along the lakefront where the path narrows near Diversey Street and Lake Michigan in Chicago. bicycle-700x300

I wasn’t going that fast and a woman drifted in my path. I was shocked at how she flew off from the impact of my front tire. She hit the pavement and began bleeding in the head.10454381_715910825183234_6146033870314769843_n

I stopped and laid my bicycle alongside her. I got a towel and stopped her bleeding and comforted her.

I told her I was sorry. She said it’s okay.

A woman who said she was a nurse was jogging by stopped and helped us.  In the back of my mind, I wanted to continue on my journey. I had places to go but I wasn’t leaving this woman.

That’s when the police came. They could see the whole scene. My bicycle laid down on the ground. The injured woman in her 50s, me and the nurse on the scene.

We started to draw a crowd. An ambulance came. I squeezed this woman’s hand and walked to the ambulance. Whereupon one of the two paramedics took her from me. He said to her come with us, we’re going to take good care of you.

Nothing ever came of that I moved to California a few months later.

Flash forward to a few days ago.

My daughter, now a teenager at 13, was telling me she hated me and I was a terrible father. She unleashed a torrent of upset. I was washing the dishes in the kitchen. She was telling me this from the living room, where she was doing her home work on her school-issued IPad.

I hate it when people talk to me from the other room. But hated it more than my daughter was saying this stuff to me. It hurt. She’s got power to hurt and heal. There’s now potency in her that I’d never seen before. I realized she’s growing up!magic begins

So I came into the living room and said I didn’t like that she said that. She said these things are true. I said nothing. But she looked into my eyes. My face told her I was hurt. Then she settled down and said Dad, I’m sorry.

Photo0204I said let’s sit down and talk face-to-face so I can understand why you are saying these things. You might be right about things and there might be some truth in this.

I know there’s power in talking to someone and looking into their eyes. Just listening. Seeing their humanity and letting them know you’ve heard them and care.

I said let’s talk. We can sit down on the sofa and can talk now.

She said no, I don’t want to talk to you.  I said okay and retreated.

I want her to know I care and moreover I’m going to slow down enough to listen. Eventually, we’ll talk and I’ve seen the transforming power of connecting by talking and listening.

I’m going to keep asking until she says yes.

Given that’s she’s a teenage, it may take a while, but I won’t stop.

I was listening to the John Tesh Radio Show while driving in the car last weekend. I really like this guy.KSII-JohnTesh300x200

Tesh said something great. He said having friends is three times more powerful than exercise. Moreover, research shows that those who develop friends live 15 years longer than loners. That’s plenty powerful right there.

Like you, I have places to go ahead, write that next novel but I’m going to take the time now.

I know that time and distance has passed with my daughter.

The same has passed with each of you, too. The most important thing for me is to connect with you.

We’re going to talk and see each other again.  I know it.

First buy my book Working the Glass: A Novel. I know you’ve been holding out like my daughter.

But like with her, I’m going to keep asking. Then we can go from there and we’re going to meet.

I want to hear your stories of all that you’ve done. I want to look into your eyes and build our friendship.

It’s not too late. Like with that woman I hit or with my daughter, I’ve laid my bike down and I’ll be with you.  I’m ready. Don’t resist getting a good story like the one I worked on all these years. Buy it now here.

The greatest thing that has happened since the novel has come out in early April is that all these people I’ve lost are coming back. It’s so much fun.

People are emboldened now to meet with me. All that’s lost can be regained. First start by getting this exciting novel, Working the Glass.

You’ll never be alone.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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