BUZZ BERNARD IS A TERRIBLE WRITER

The first time I received a negative review of one of my novels I felt as if I’d been gut-punched.

I tiny wave of nausea surged through me.  That was over six years and five novels ago.  Since then, I’ve learned to roll with the punches.  Thumbs-down evaluations of my works, I’ve come to understand, are part of the business.  As the cliché goes, they come with the territory.

HIRING A PUBLICIST–A GOOD OR BAD IDEA?

Here’s a link to a guest blog I wrote for Southern Writers Magazine discussing the pros and cons of hiring a book publicist.

LIVING ON THE FAULT LINE

image.vam.synacor.com.edgesuiteI believe there are two different ways Cascadia, my newest novel, is being read.  It’s dependent, I think, upon where the readers live.

When I do a presentation on Cascadia in the Southeast, where I reside, I’ve discovered I need to do a little extra.  I have to set the stage for the drama, because most people outside the Pacific Northwest don’t understand the existential threat this thing featured in the novel, the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), poses.  They aren’t knowledgable about the acute danger that lurks in Washington and Oregon, as well as in southern British Columbia and northern California.

AN INDIAN VILLAGE, A BOOKSTORE, AND A SCENE FROM CASCADIA

ar12981428179091The opening scene in my newest novel, Cascadia, is set in a Clatsop Indian village on the Pacific Northwest coast over three hundred years ago.  Based on research, I placed the village on the present site of Seaside, Oregon.

I’m not entirely certain there was an Indian village there in 1700, the date of the scene, but I  do know there were several small Clatsop settlements in that area in 1805 when members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived.  Thus, I assumed there was likely one there a century before that.

CASCADIA—CHICK LIT?

Clipart-Cartoon-Design-13As an author, you’re a public figure.  Whether you like or not, your works—your books—become a free-fire zone for public opinion.

I don’t disagree with that.  People spend their hard-earned money to buy your products and thus have every right to express their thoughts about them.

Your books will be both acclaimed and denigrated.  It’s part of the business.  I don’t particularly like getting a thumbs down in a book review—and I don’t often—but it comes with the territory.  Readers have different expectations and standards.  I get it.

WHY I DIDN’T ADDRESS “COUNTING THE DEAD” IN CASCADIA

earthquake-damage-1CASCADIA isn’t totally a novel.  By that I mean it’s not completely fiction.  The event the novel is set against, a massive earthquake and huge tsunami in the Pacific Northwest, is something that’s really going to happen.

In my previous novels, EYEWALL, SUPERCELL and BLIZZARD, I depicted major weather events that, while certainly possible, are not highly probable.  In other words, I stretched, maybe to the ripping point, the envelope of meteorological likelihood.  (In case you’re wondering, SUPERCELL was likely the least “stretchy” of my tales.)

WHERE WILL YOU BE ON “C-DAY?”

imagesWhere will you be on “C-Day,” the day the Cascadia Subduction Zone blows a gasket?  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Maybe we’re all six feet under or blowing in the wind by then.

Or maybe not, not if Cascadia lets ‘er rip tomorrow or over the Fourth of July weekend, like in the novel, Cascadia.

So, where might you be?

 

Possibly, like a guy nicknamed Shack in Cascadia, you’re visiting the small Oregon coastal town of Manzanita and just sitting down to breakfast in The Big Wave Cafe.

YES, I KNOW THAT’S NOT WHAT A REAL TSUNAMI LOOKS LIKE

CASCADIA FRONT COVER 4_1When I got my first look at what is now the cover of Cascadia, my left-brain (logical, factual) persona took over.

 I fired off an email to my publisher: “NO, sorry.  The cover image looks great, but it’s much too Hollywood.  A real tsunami doesn’t look anything like that.”

Now most publishers, especially the majors, will merely drop a cover in an author’s lap and say, “That’s it.”  But in an unusual effort to accommodate their left-brained, pain-in-the-ass novelist, me, Bell Bridge Books ran through five more iterations of the cover.

How EYEWALL influenced CASCADIA

Eyewall-cvrOf the four novels I’ve had published so far, my first, Eyewall, remains by far the best seller.  That’s been a little difficult for me to come to grips with, since I don’t think the book necessarily reflects my best writing.  It’s not that it’s bad writing—or it would never have sold as many copies as it has—it’s just that I like to think I grow (get better) as a writer with each new effort.

THE FIRST ONE-STAR REVIEW OF CASCADIA

FullSizeRenderStormy, our five-year-old Shih Tzu, pads into my office and sits next to me where I’m working at my desk.

“Hey, Storms, what’s up?”

He doesn’t respond, just looks up at me with his big brown eyes the size of shooter marbles.  I notice he’s sporting a tie.

“What’s with the tie, dude?  Haven’t seen you in one of those before.”  I remember that Valentine’s Day is nearing.  “Lookin’ for love, maybe?”

“I’m neutered,” he growls.

“Right,” I say, and change the subject.  Quickly.  “So why the GQ look?”