The Long Christmas

26th December 2015 by admin No Comments

In 2015, I attempted something sweet, and also quite stupid. Because of various scheduling difficulties, my Christmas season began on the last day of November. It was 26 straight days of the holiday season, and it was one I barely survived, much less enjoyed with yuletide glee. Here’s the day-by-day rundown on The Long Christmas.

Day 1: Picked up my daughter Pup today, packed the bags, and we head to Texas tomorrow for the holiday season to start. And thus begins…The Long Christmas.

Day 2: Went to bed at 2am in Sugartit, Kentucky. Set the alarm for 4:30am, so just enough time to lay there and fall asleep right around 4:27am. Four hours in airports and three on a plane (on “Crying Child Airlines”), five hours in a car and a half hour eating Dairy Queen tacos. Pup and I arrive in Beaumont, TX, for a plate of my dad’s famous stew and it is bedtime, amigos.

Day 3: A large present that was supposed to be delivered on Friday was actually sitting on the porch of my mom and dad’s house in a light drizzle when we arrived, so we had to/got to give them that one early. So it’s disappointing, but actually good news because we get to watch the games on their new TV for the rest of the week. Also? Whataburger.

Day 4: How was my holiday weekend? The drawstring on my lounge pants just exploded.

Good times with family, even if it doesn’t feel anything like Christmas outside. Which is fine, because we can celebrate with the best BBQ in the world. My blood is currently about 35% sauce. And I regret nothing.

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Day 5: I get depressed around the holidays sometimes. Today I watched a drunk guy get cuffed, arrested, and hauled off from a Gander Mountain. That seemed to help my mood a lot.

Day 6: Bad thing about having Christmas in Beaumont: Sore from working in the garden. Good thing about it: It sure beats shoveling snow. Even better thing? Fish and shrimp for Christmas dinner while we put up the tree. Deck ’em, y’all.

Day 7: Popped into HEB in a mad hurry for one item. Got into the 15-Item line behind a woman with a buggy full. Full. Top and bottom. And then to finish it off, she bought six different Christmas cards. Which all had to be rung up separately. The cashier told her what she owed, and then she remembered she had a dollar-off coupon, which she had to find through a long term deep-sea purse excursion worthy of Jacques Cousteau.

Final tally, seventy-five bucks and eight bags of groceries in the express lane.

To stay calm behind her, I was humming Christmas carols under my breath, but they all came out sounding like Motörhead.

Merry Christmas! I didn’t kill anyone today. At all.

Day 8: Long day spent running around finishing things up. We end the evening playing Uno (and the Kerr-family-tradition Screw-no, which is even more awesome.) A great ending to the Beaumont portion of our holiday. Here’s to life, my friends.

Day 9: Another long travel day, but well worth it. Kerr Christmas part one is over, and a great time was had by all. Wonderful seeing my mom and dad, without their love, I wouldn’t have made it. I would have been just a free-floating cloud of unhappy sarcasm. Love you guys. See you soon.

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Things I don’t want to see: My pilot getting on board with a bag of Wendy’s food. If something goes wrong on the plane, I don’t want the headlines to read “Flight Downed By Baconator.”

Day 10: A travel day finds us up at 530am Central Time to hustle out to DFW airport, and I wake up with Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me In Your Heart” stuck in my head. Which isn’t exactly the good kind of foreshadowing. Just for future reference, if anything bad happens to me today, I’ll be the one wearing my “The Flash” underwear.

Safe travels to all, especially us.

Day 11: Home again and back to work on the dozen projects I still have to finish before the holiday. Even better, I now have a sore throat, with a side order of low fever. Merry Christmas! Pa-rum-pah-pum-bleah.

Day 12: Movie Idea: “Sorry Actually.” It’s an ensemble rom-com where couples are forced to reexamine their relationships after one partner forces the other one to watch “Love Actually” every year on the pretense it’s a holiday movie.

“Sorry Actually,” coming to theaters next Christmas, starring everyone you’ve ever heard of.

I just got carded buying a bottle of wine. Apparently there’s been an outbreak in Kentucky of that Benjamin Button disease.

Day 13: This was a long, slow day of rest in hopes of getting over this sickness, made much better by several bowls of Lovely Wife Kimberly’s beef stew. And I may or may not have eaten a loaf of bread with it to sop up the bowls. At this point I’m only three weeks behind in shopping for Christmas, but that’s a problem to handle when I’m well. Or well-ish.

Day 14: Merry Christmas, chain-smoking pregnant woman outside of Target. You’re right, no one has ever done any research to show those two factors together indicate bad things. And thank you for reminding me that Kentucky is the Walmart of states.

Day 15: Just an awful day. Wretched. Couldn’t have gone worse if I had awoke to find the Elf on the Shelf cooking Meth in my Desk.

Day 16: The Christmas Blues have officially set in. I am neither holly not jolly, and merry is right out of the question. I’m in the kind of mood where if you start demanding your figgy putting and telling me you won’t go until you get some, I’ll probably slam a bowl upside your head.

Day 17: I’m not going to say Christmas time is frantic around our house, but I just realized all I ate for dinner last night were croutons.

Day 18: Finally some good news! I found out today that not only am I running second in the Presidential polls in Iowa, it now looks like I’m in line to start at quarterback for Texas A & M in the Music City Bowl.

Day 19: Just splurged and used some of my Christmas money to buy a new battery for my laptop, since I just found out my old battery lasts about as long as the flavor in gum. I went somewhere to write, and by the time I had it unpacked and booted up, it was already out and turned itself off. I like for my laptop batteries to last longer than my anger at them.

Day 20: Success! I finally found a Lego toy set honoring the most valuable member of the Dallas Cowboys organization this season.

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Day 21: I couldn’t get through Christmas without my friends and family, wherever you guys are. Merry Christmas to all of you who make it possible. Especially Chuck McKinley and Roseanna Bolla for the Lewis Grizzard book! Love Grizzard. He was right up there with Bombeck and Barry for me. Thank you guys so much.

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Day 22: It’s always good for my holiday spirit to remember I live somewhere people have to be reminded not to put their kids in a big enclosed playroom and then fire up a pack of Marlboros while they watch the little hellions run and climb and do other activities that cause rapid breathing.

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Day 23: It dawns on me I forgot to send out Christmas cards this year, so please print out my Facebook profile picture and put in an envelope, then open it, smile briefly, and throw it away. Thanks for all your help.

Day 24: It’s very true, especially at this time of year, that the smallest of joys can be the greatest of presents. We should all remember that.

Also the greatest of presents? Actual presents, which explains why that woman in Target trying to get to the video games was throwing elbows at me like Karl Malone in the paint. Thank you, ma’am. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like fresh upper-body bruises around the tree.

Day 25: This seems like a lot of people doing their Christmas shopping at the gift card section of Kroger on Christmas Eve.

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There are two kinds of people in the world, people who don’t understand how anyone could ever be depressed at Christmas, and the rest of the world who has experienced it, and struggles sometimes, even more so around the holidays.

If you’re one of those people, I love you. Because I am you. And for my friends and family, both live and on Facebook, you mean more to me than I can articulate sometimes. Thank you guys and gals for all you do, for the little moments and connections that even in brief passing, make a huge difference.

If I’ve made you laugh this year, or you’ve thrown me a “like” or retweeted something of mine, thank you for condoning my behavior. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Here’s to life.

Day 26: Christmas is finished in all fronts. Presents opened. Halls decked. Yuletide Gayed. Victory.

Q: What did you get for Christmas, Reid?
A: The Glengarry leads.

We’re done here. See you next year.

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The Rejection Chronicles: The Forgotten Pile-On

16th December 2015 by admin No Comments

Just in time for the holiday season to become totally crushing, I received a rejection email today from an agent I couldn’t even remember sending a pitch to. I had to go back and check my records, it was almost six months ago. It’s a long-delayed “nope,” or perhaps just an early Christmas present. Getting a rejection letter from an agent you don’t even remember sending a query to is like stepping on a mine from the Korean War.

What they said: Thank you for your submission to (Agency). We’re afraid your project isn’t quite right for our lists at this time, but we encourage you to continue editing and querying other agencies.

Thanks again, and best of luck in your search for representation.

What I heard: Thanks for taking the time to send us something, we’re going to respond with absolutely zero thought or effort. Your project doesn’t seem right for our lists. Whatever those are, you’re not right. Our list of authors we represent, list of books we sell, grocery list, list of people we’d loan money to, list of bipeds, nothing.

We encourage you to keep trying, because we find it funny as Hell.

— Reid Kerr sometimes feels like he only has business cards to win dinners from siding salesmen.



The Rejection Chronicles: Suddenly Indie Again

6th October 2015 by admin No Comments
The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape

The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape

Yesterday, I was an author.

Today, I am an indie author.

It’s a new chapter in my writing career, and one that comes as quite a surprise.

Last week, I got an email from Dave at Biting Dog Press, who published “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” (and also “Fresh Blood and Old Bones”) telling me they’re discontinuing their e-book department.

That means my book isn’t for sale anymore.

First off, I’d really like to thank Dave and everyone else who’s been a part of BDP. “Trailer Park Escape” never would have happened without Dave, who after reading my Shade story in “Fresh Blood and Old Bones” asked me if I had anything else with a “wise-cracking protagonist.” Luckily for both of us, that’s pretty much all I ever have.

Dave and BDP have been great to work with, I’ve really learned a lot over the past two years. There were some great writers under that banner, and some really good people, too. No regrets at all, and I wish them the best.

But for now, that leaves me without a publishing home for my first book. If you’ve got a copy of “Trailer Park Escape,” thank you very much for buying it, and hang on to it. It appears you now have a rare e-book, if such a thing actually exists. It’ll be back for sale soon (hopefully). I’m going to explore self-publishing, which is actually something I had in mind for a couple of projects anyway. This just moves up my timeline, I suppose.

It’s just a brief setback, but I’ll admit it’s certainly an odd feeling to be published on Sunday, and homeless on Monday. There’s a good bit of “starting over” to deal with, even though the book was for sale for almost two years.

So now while I’m working on my regular gigs, two more audiobooks, and rewrites for the new book (“Goodbye Joinerville,” a chick lit road trip), I’ve also got to do some investigating on independent publishing. I’m probably going to add a couple of things to it I originally trimmed up, and add another short story or two from Jennings County. Might as well make it a good value while I’m back in the old neighborhood.

For now, I appreciate everyone who has supported me in the last couple of years, whether it’s been through Amazon, my sports/humor columns with the Tyler Morning Telegraph and Project Shanks.com, or just “liking” and forwarding my stuff on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you so much for encouraging my behavior, and there’s more coming up soon, I promise.

And by the way, for more on what it’s like to be an aspiring writer, check out my new feature here on Reid About It.com, “The Rejection Chronicles.” It’s a little example of the kinds of things you have to do to stay sane in an industry geared around a lower acceptance rate than Ashley Madison.com.

— Reid Kerr is getting back to work, at a lot of things.



The Rejection Chronicles III: Yes and No

21st August 2015 by admin No Comments

One thing is starting to become clear to me, if the writing process was a book, it would be far too depressing to read. It is, by necessity, a culling process. “Culling” in this instance means “a series of punches to the taint designed to discourage everyone.”

Last night I took the new book, “Goodbye Joinerville,” to a Writers Group and read the first ten pages. It killed. I got great feedback, and I was really encouraged by how much they liked it. It was a really good experience, in a situation where that’s certainly not always the case.

GoldenGod01Today, I get up feeling great. I am a Golden God!

And then I get a rejection notice from an agent who had requested the book.

I am no longer a golden god. I am now worthless vermin fit only for extinction. Back to work I go.

Which is really what I should be doing, of course. A book isn’t finished until it’s on a shelf somewhere, and last night I noticed a couple of things I should fix up. Still, rejection is a killer. It’s always frustrating to realize you’re not automatically universally loved and adored, and you didn’t get a return email full of praise and twenty-dollar bills.

How do I deal with it? Sarcasm. Steve Earle. And another episode of the Rejection Chronicles. Here’s another rejection letter I’ve received in the past, and what I actually took it to mean.

EMAIL: Thank you for your query. (Agent) asked me to reply after he evaluated your submission. We’re afraid your project does not seem right for our list, but thank you for thinking of (Agent), and best of luck in your search for representation.

What they meant: Thank you for sending us this vile refuse. My boss read it and threw himself out of a window, so I’m replying to you in hopes you stop before you injure anyone else.

We’re afraid your project doesn’t seem right for humans. Thank you for thinking of us, please stop thinking of us. Or thinking in general. Best of luck in your search for representation, or meaning in life.

— Reid Kerr found that listening to “The Revolution Starts Now” as loud as possible helps with the healing process.



The Daily Life of a Freelance Writer: Mail Call

14th August 2015 by admin No Comments
Being a writer requires a mailbox that can take a punch.

Being a writer requires a mailbox that can take a punch.

Ah, the glamorous life of a free-lance writer. For those of you who’ve been seduced by our portrayal in movies and television, here’s a little daily routine I’ve grown accustomed to.

1) I sing a happy tune all the way to the mail box.
2) I open it, reach in, look around twice and make sure there’s no checks in it.
3) I mutter profanity as I stomp all the way back to my front door.

Repeat daily six days a week. Take Sundays off.

— Reid Kerr wishes he could pay his bills the same way, but the electric company is somewhat less than sympathetic.



Travel Book Sneak Peak

7th August 2015 by admin No Comments

Working on The Travel Book, tentatively titled “I Hate It Here: A Love Story.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach, but mostly because it gives me access to seafood. I’m a huge fan of any food that lets me add butter as a condiment.”

— Reid Kerr hopes you’ll join him on a sarcasm-filled tour of the country.



Autobio-Hazard

1st August 2015 by admin No Comments

I’m trying to write a short biography page for a prospective agent. It’s hard to boil it down to 250 words. I’ve had an easier time writing ransom notes, to be honest.

I’m trying to decide how many of the following phrases to include:

– Published Author
– Donkey Basketball Champion
– 220 Pounds of Twisted Steel and Sex Appeal
– Survivor of a Career in Radio and Television
– Tenaha Parade Broadcaster
– Goalie
– Airport art critic
– Founder, Sugartit Machete Club
– Former webmaster, DonkeyTaco.com
– Voice of Swap Shop, 1996-97
– Green vegetable-free, 1970-present

— Reid Kerr knows his resume is somewhat unbelievable, and not in the good way.



The Rejection Chronicles: Writing The Pine

20th July 2015 by admin No Comments

As a writer, I get a lot of calls and emails asking me how things are going, and what I’m doing. Most of these are from my friends and family asking just to make sure I’m still alive, or from my creditors, who are asking for the same reasons. On Monday I like to plan out the rest of my week, just in case there’s a mysterious disappearance. I figure it’ll be easier for the ID Network to tell my story if I go ahead and give them the background material.

My writing schedule for the week:

Monday: Signing books written by other people at the Cincinnati Barnes & Noble until they notice and kick me out.

Reid12Tuesday: Almost send out that thing I wrote, become crippled with doubt and start rewriting it again. Intend to leave house, never do.

Wednesday: Crying, drinking (various locations).

Thursday: Begin writing, get side-tracked, spend the entire day responding to negative online review by filing false Homeland Security reports.

Friday: Get on a roll writing, then get confused as to whether I should be using “affect” or “effect,” spend the next nine hours rewriting pages to eliminate that word, whichever one it was supposed to be in the first #$^%ing place.

Saturday: Resist urge to sucker-punch guy at get-together who finds out I’m a writer and feels compelled to tell me this story he always was going to write about a guy he knew back in high school who had a photographic memory and used it to memorize Hardy Boys books, and “Hey, what if that guy grew up to solve crimes as ‘the Hardly Boy?'” Sob. Drink. Flee.

Sunday: Put together list of projects for next week, including prospects, missed deadlines, vague ideas, and grocery store lists, which quickly turn into liquor store lists. Repeat if necessary.

— Reid Kerr is starting to answer the question “What do you do for a living?” by saying “I’m a pallbearer.”



The Rejection Chronicles II: Return Of The Suck

10th July 2015 by admin No Comments

The submission process continues for my new book, so I’m giving you an inside look at what happens inside my head when I read a rejection notice.

No.Email:  Hi Reid, Thank you for giving me a chance to consider your project. I’ve gone through your query and your sample pages and unfortunately I am going to have to pass on (title).  

Please remember that this is a highly subjective industry, and what doesn’t work for me is probably exactly what another agent may be looking for. I’m sorry I didn’t have better news for you but I wish you all the best with your search and hope you find the right agent soon.

All the best…

What they meant: Reid, thanks for letting me see this…whatever it was. I’m going to pass on this, as I’m still not sure what it was. All I know is, it broke my shredder. Remember, taste is subjective, so send this to someone with no taste. I wish I had better news for you, because quite frankly, I’m now scared of you. Best of luck to you, I have to hurry along now and alert the authorities.

All the best, only somewhere else…

— Reid Kerr isn’t going to take things too personally, but by God, he’s at least going to get some laughs out of them.



The Rejection Chronicles

8th July 2015 by admin No Comments

As I begin the submission process again for my new book, I understand that rejection is inevitable. It’s just part of the game, and as writers, we shouldn’t take it personally. We really shouldn’t, even though that’s certainly what we always want to do. It happens to everybody, I know. That said, it always seems like there’s a complete disconnect in what they tell me and what I actually hear.

Email: Reid, thank you for sharing your story with us.

We must decline. Hope it finds a good home soon.

What they meant: Reid, our auto-mailer requires us to enter a first name, Reid, so you feel as if you’re receiving personal rejection, hand-crafted just for Reid. We appreciate you sharing your story with us, Reid, but no. Nope nope no. Hope it finds a home soon, Reid, somewhere where we will never see it again. Perhaps you could have it printed on the inside of cereal boxes, or use the pages to drain fishgrease.

— Reid Kerr’s hobby is making things up.

 



Gig Bagged

8th July 2015 by admin No Comments

Writing gigs this week…12,000 words on high school football…finished. Final score, 1300 Coaching Cliches, 143 players with upside who are great athletes and real leaders, 63 bottles of water, 29 episodes of Gossip Girl watched in the background, and 1 bout with stomach flu. Just to make things more interesting, I also threw in a thousand words for Entertainment Guide Magazine on a band and two of my semi-patented sports humor columns for the Tyler (TX) newspaper.

Just waiting for the flu to fully recede so I’ll feel safe to go back to my normal daily workload of writing and drinking.

— Reid Kerr can’t wait until we’ve advanced to the point of e-vomiting.



Reid’s Writing Tips

2nd July 2015 by admin No Comments

While hanging out on Twitter today (at @ReidAboutIt, of course), I saw some other writer handing out some #WritingTips. I felt like the world should have the benefit of my vast lack of knowledge, and since my jeans were in the wash and I had time, I thought I’d hammer out a few of my rules for newbies.

These are 100% guaranteed to work, although please remember that guarantee is not legally backed up in any way, shape, or form.

  • Remember, backstory and context are important to establish for characters, so always start your book with a murder spree at a family reunion.
  • Try not to write things that make people wonder what’s on TV.
  • If you use social media solely to harass people to buy your book, you risk shunning, plus getting punched in the taint.
  • Non-paying gigs can really help you with exposure, which is what you’ll die of when you’re broke and living under a bridge.
  • If your intro sucks, feel free to use “I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.”
  • Literary agents generally prefer to find their own clients. But not in their backyards, holding a hatchet.
  • Getting a high Google ranking is important for sales, so play it safe and name your book’s romantic interest “Google.”
  • Sometimes it helps to get away from your work while editing, so don’t be afraid to bury it in the back yard for a few days while you go get drunk.
  • If you’re running short on a word count, drop a few dozen “very’s” in there. Editors very love that stuff.
  • You can learn a lot from negative reviews of your work, including which pills you can mix with alcohol and still live.
  • Asking social media followers to retweet things for you often is like asking them to pick you up at the airport. Every day.

— Reid Kerr would like to remind you his comedy novel, “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available for the low low price of $2.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.