Saturday, September 1, 2012

Summer's Over

Scott D Parker

[Sigh] it's Labor Day weekend, and, by anyone's definition, the summer is officially over. This past half decade or so, summer has become my favorite time of the year. Yes I love December not just for the Christmas season but it's also my birthday month, but these three sun–drenched summer months have become my nirvana.

As the summer began, I wrote a post about the books music and TV that I planned to enjoy. This is my unofficial recap of what I consumed.


The Chase by Clive Cussler––I finished this first Isaac Bell historical novel and thoroughly enjoyed it. If another certain adventurer hadn't pushed his way into my reading habits (see below), I would've read more about Mr. Bell. Rest assured: I will.

Redshirts by John Scalzi––I read this book in July and thoroughly enjoyed it. I plan to review it in depth this coming Wednesday but you need only know two things to explain why I loved this book: I laughed aloud more than once and I cried more than once. Come to think of it, nothing more needs to be said [but, of course, you know I will].

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini––Pretty decent book, picaresque in its own way. Definitely salved the wounds after reading on stranger tides.

The Adventures of Gabriel Hunt––Soon after finishing the Cussler book, I was scanning the books on my Nook. Hiding a few pages away amid all the samples was the 3rd book in the series, Hunt at World's End. Seeing as how I was still in an adventure-novel mood, I decided to pick up where I left off and finish the novel. Then I finished the 4th book. Then the 5th. and then the 6th. And yes, I still wanted more. But there isn't any more, but, perhaps, there will be in the future. Fantastic modern adventure series featuring a hero that, while he is larger-than-life, is still human enough to get bruised and beaten.

The Derek Storm novel by “Richard Castle”––This ebook novel was actually published as three separate novellas. They were released every couple months starting back in the spring. It is good, solid entertaining reading that doesn't require much brainpower other than to fly through a pretty fine story. Having the novel broken out into 3 novellas, however, proved to be a cool reading experience. If you are like me and read multiple things, having each novella be around 84 pages means that you can finish one of them and then slide to another book if you felt like it without the looming shadow that I still wasn't finished with the tale. In addition, the first novella had to really deliver the goods story-wise to ensure the reader bought the other two.  I have to admit, I really liked the presentation.

Plain speaking: an Oral biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller––if you go back and read my post from early June, I was planning––and still will––on reading the latest biography of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro. On my recent vacation, however, I brought along Miller's book. Reading the transcripts of Miller's interview with the former president really brought Truman to life, his wit, his wisdom, and his unique way of talking. His honesty rang through. Granted, he was a past president, but there's still a part of me that wishes that more politicians would talk like this. What made a vacation even sweeter was that I found Miller's oral biography of Lyndon Johnson. How's that for serendipity?


The Dark Knight Rises––Saw it. Loved it. A fitting and wonderful cap to Christopher Nolan's trilogy. I've already written about it, and you can read it here.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3––My boy loves these books and movies so, naturally, we went to see this movie opening weekend. While the first 2 movies focused on the main character's relationships with his best friend and his brother, this 3rd film focused on the relationship between him and his father. Needless to say, as a dad, I really enjoyed it. Simple entertainment yes, but still quite fun.


Read a lot, mostly Batman. I'm really digging my vintage titles.


On the Batman front, the thing that we surprised me this summer was the discovery of Kevin Smith's podcast devoted completely to the subject of Batman. It is called Fatman on Batman and I've written about it here.  To date, there are only 11 episodes, but I have listened to all of them more than once. I love them. It's so great to hear some one else and his guests take this subject seriously, even when they're having fun. A lot of emotional investment involved. If you love Batman, and don't mind a lot of profanity, I cannot recommend these podcast highly enough.


“Hell or Hallelujah” by KISS––This is pure modern, yet classic rock. They're not trying to reinvent the wheel, but these guys make the wheels spin oh so fine. Love this classic-sounding tune that would probably have found it's way onto 1976's Rock and Roll Over, and can't wait for the new record in October.

“Home” by Philip Phillips––On a completely different front, this lead single from the American Idol winner is solid. Full of emotional depth with the rolling the melodic line that you can leave you both tapping your toes and channeling Mumford and Sons. That NBC used this chart for the Olympics was even better.


Other than random movies or television episodes, my summer's TV watching can be boiled down to one word: Longmire. I've written about it in more depth in a previous post. The television program has done that which its author, Craig Johnson, probably hoped: it's led me to the books. Nine or so months until the next season, 9 or so books that I've never read, perfect.

The Writing Project

While I did not finish (yet!) what I wanted when I started in early June, I am making good progress, and sometimes, that makes all the difference.

So, how was y'all's summer? Had a good time? What are you looking forward to this fall?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Buy, Buy, Baby

By Russel D McLean

The big story this week has been about reviews and of course the fact that many people are paying for them. The idea has been treated with outrage by many authors, and some readers, but most people seem to be having an attitude of “so what? Doesn’t this happen all the time?”

And yes it seems that way. Advertising is nothing new. Neither is lying in the name of advertising. Do you really believe that Lenny Henry would actively choose to stay in a Premier Inn? The point isn’t whether he does or not, the point is that in the advertisement universe he would. Real adverts, proper adverts are clearly signposted as such. They carry disclaimers or they occur within a special advertising slot so that you know they are not “real” or an actual part of the program you are watching.

Product placement is a little thornier. Who can forget the crassness of I, ROBOT and its placement of Nike Shoes as sought after antiques in the future (worn, of course, by Will Smith’s Cooler-Than-Thou protagoist). But all the same these placements are clearly adverts and no one in their right mind would believe they were being told the truth about Will Smith being cooler than them because of his choice of footwear. After all it takes place in the realm of fiction, and as such is an accepted part of the illusion.

So why is everyone so up in arms about authors using “sockpuppet” accounts or buying up amounts of Amazon reviews that are generally positive in nature?

Because unlike advertising or fictional product placements, it is ultimately immoral and of course a cheat on the reader. Because these reviews purport to be from other readers and do not give any sign that they are paid for or designed to be biased. Even in local newspapers, when you see certain pieces about local business they are clearly labelled “advertising features”.

The cheat comes from the fact that readers then no longer know who to trust. Part of this is because they buy into the myth of the majority rule that has somehow slipped into our society. Reviewers - professional paid reviewers - may not always be right, but at least they offer up a sense of where they are coming from and where their preferences and biases lie. Take, for example, the Flick Filosopher, Mary Ann Johansen. I love her site. There are moments where she gets it plain wrong (her take on the Star Wars prequels or her all out all forgiving love for New Who at its worst) but generally I know where I stand with her opinion and get a sense of where we’ll agree or differ. And I know that she’s not going to change her opinion because a film company tells her to.

My girlfriend/partner/insert your preferred tag here reviews professionally for newspapers. I do not always agree with her reviews, but she is alway honest, considered and thoughtful. She would not give a good review because someone paid her, and while it will probably never come up because I think she’d turn down the gig for ethical reasons, she would even give me a poor review if she thought I deserved it. Which is as it should be.

In this world, our success or failure depends on units shifted as opposed to plaudits gained. It doesn’t matter whether people enjoy our work, it only matters how many of them buy it. Is this right? I don’t think so, not in the world of literature and entertainment, which is and should be a hugely personal thing. Cult books are cult for a reason: they appeal very strongly to a minority of individuals and tehre is nothing wrong with this. People’s opinions will always differ, so how can we write reviews and be free of accusations of bias?

For a start, reviews should not be bought. Yes, its only fair that publishers or authors try and build hype among reviewers and readers, but to deliberately and wholeheartedly mislead them is a no-no and should always be. If one has to pay for a good review, there is a chance that while one many shift a lot of copies, one may piss off a lot of readers. And its the long tail that matters, not the quick buck. Readers trust other readers. But if they cannot tell whether those other readers are genuine, then that trust evaporates. And as with critics, one tends to judge other readers opinions in line with one’s own, so it becomes disheartening to discover that you have found a fake, a shill, a deliberately worded puff piece that bears little or no relation to the product it persuaded you to buy.

Can one argue then that traditional reviews do this, too? Perhaps in a sense that not everyone agrees with the critics, but then at least you can trust where they are coming from even if you don’t agree. And anyway the job of a critic is not simply to deliver a thumbs up or thumbs down verdict, but to try and place a piece of fiction in a wider context, to talk about its aims and whether it succeeds. Sounds worthy? Maybe it is, but then our world is becoming more and more anti-intellectual, seeking to diminish talk and debate to simple black and white, yes and no answers. And this, I would argue, is wrong. Because we need to start re-engaging our brains, having proper debates without the aniomosity and self-defence that colours people’s opinions. By re-engaging with reviews and working to understand them rather than looking for the quick and easy answers, we can bring back a critical world that matters, that abhors and despises puff-pieces, that makes artists and authors work harder to win readers with their writing than with their paid-for reviews.

I want to work harder. I want to create something that engages, that provides more than escapism from the world. But as long as puff-pieces, paid for reviews and anti-debate sentiment exists, I’m not sure I or any other author will be able to.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest blog post: Time Passages

Guest post by Jim Winter

I hit on this a little bit on my own blog, but I think here is a good
place to expand upon it. Should a series character live on a calendar
or a floating timeline? There are pros and cons to either.

Philip Marlowe lives on a floating timeline. So does James Bond, Mike
Hammer, and, most notably, Spenser. I remember reading The Godwulf
Manuscript years ago. Parker firmly fixed him on the calendar. He was
37 and a Korean War vet. Now? He’s too old for Vietnam, probably just
right for the Gulf War and just young enough for the early days of
Afghanistan. That’s a loooong slide.

Granted, Robert Parker probably never imagined his character would
last as long as he has. Spenser has outlived him. But what does that
do to his credibility?

On the other hand, Sue Grafton fixed Kinsey Milhonne firmly on the
calendar and vowed never to write her past the 1990’s. When a letter
of the alphabet yields a book that takes place a few months after the
previous one, the story’s actual date is that many months after the
date of the last. Kinsey isn’t 27 in 1984, and six months later,
turning 28 in 1992.

Two writers who thrive on the calendar are Reed Farrel Coleman and
George Pelecanos. The times and, in GP’s case, the pop culture are
huge components of their storytelling. Reed Coleman’s Moe Prager is
very much a product of New York’s history over the past forty years.
Tell me his later stories would have been the same without 9/11 or his
early work relevant if it weren’t for New York City culture in the
late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  As for George Pelecanos, yes, even he
admits it’s an excuse to go back through his music collection, but
damn, doesn’t he nail the times he writes in? Some writers say their
city is a character as much as their protags and antagonists. In the
case of Coleman and Pelecanos, the times when their work takes place
is even more a character.

I’ve struggled with this as I’ve brought back Nick Kepler. When I
wrote the three novels that are either released or gathering
cyberdust, 2002-2004 was, essentially, the present, or at least the
recent past. Now?

I’m working on a story that takes place about four months after
Northcoast Shakedown. That makes it late 2002. I have to back project:
AOL instead of Facebook, cell phones did little more than make calls
and txt. Not many people had an iPod yet.

So what about it? Do series characters need to float in time? Or
should they stay on the calendar?

Jim Winter is the author of Second Hand Goods. He is currently working
on something so secret, he'd have to kill the head of the NSA if he
told you about it. Find him loitering at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sean Chercover talks about THE TRINITY GAME

By Steve Weddle

Of the 83 books I've read this past year, two thrillers stuck out as top-shelf books. One is Owen Laukkanen's THE PROFESSIONALS. The other is THE TRINITY GAME, by Sean Chercover.

Daniel Byrne is an investigator for the Vatican’s secretive Office of the Devil’s Advocate—the department that scrutinizes miracle claims. Over ten years and 721 cases, not one miracle he tested has proved true. But case #722 is different; Daniel’s estranged uncle, a crooked TV evangelist, has started speaking in tongues—and accurately predicting the future. Daniel knows Reverend Tim Trinity is a con man. Could Trinity also be something more?

The evangelist himself is baffled by his newfound power—and the violent reaction it provokes. After years of scams, he suddenly has the ability to predict everything from natural disasters to sports scores. Now the mob wants him dead for ruining their gambling business, and the Vatican wants him debunked as a false messiah. On the run from assassins, Trinity flees with Daniel’s help through the back roads of the Bible Belt to New Orleans, where Trinity plans to deliver a final prophecy so shattering his enemies will do anything to keep him silent.

Using the email machine at DSD, I did some Q&A with Mr. Chercover.

Steve Weddle: Daniel Byrne. The Office of the Devil’s Advocate. Tim Trinity. What part of this story did you start with and how did it develop?

Sean Chercover: It all started with Tim Trinity. It was the first time that a character popped into my brain fully formed. I didn't need to write character sketches or list attributes or do pretend interviews with the guy, he just came into my head as a complete person, and in that instant I knew everything about him - his hopes, fears, beliefs (or lack thereof) ... I knew he was a con artist, a TV evangelist, a prosperity preacher who came up on the tent revival circuit and was now a millionaire, I knew that speaking in tongues had always been part of his routine, but that the tongues were suddenly beyond his control, happening to him. And I knew that if you decoded the tongues, he was predicting the future with frightening accuracy.  Within seconds, I knew that his predictions of professional sporting events would cause the mob to want him dead, and that the Vatican's Office of the Devil's Advocate would send an investigator to debunk Trinity before the world could learn of his gift, and that there would be a personal backstory between the Trinity and the investigator. The rest developed over time.

SW: As readers, we’re a little ways into the book before the Las Vegas contingent makes an appearance. Of course, their involvement makes perfect sense, but I wondered whether you knew all along you wanted to involved them or whether it was something that came to you as you worked out the story.

Sean Chercover: I knew all along, but it was important to do a little world-building around the Vatican and Daniel Byrne and the larger shadowy groups who operate behind the scenes (the Foundation and the Council) and who are important to books #2 and 3, before I brought in the Vegas mob guys.  It's a complicated story with a lot of players in it, and I felt it necessary to hold the Vegas guys back until I set the other plates spinning.

SW: This thriller is quite a departure from the Ray Dudgeon/Chicago books, in terms of character, narrative, and scope. When you’re mostly known for the Dudgeon books, folks tend to see this novel as the aberration. Yet, you’ve written so many other stories. Considering the marketing and promotion aspect of things, how different is it to have this thriller out there? Are you replacing your trip to Bouchercon with a trip to ThrillerFest? Is it really that much different after all? 

Sean Chercover: I've never been particularly interested in parsing subgenres. I just love fiction. Good fiction. Mystery, thriller, espionage, sci-fi, dystopic zombie romance, whatever. If it's good, I love it. If it sucks, I don't. So yes, the Ray Dudgeon books are hardboiled PI mysteries (although technically you might argue that they have a thriller structure, since in BCBB you know the identity of the bad guys from the get-go and in TC fairly early, and the focus is more on what happens next than on what happened before) and THE TRINITY GAME is clearly a Thriller. A religious/conspiracy/espionage thriller with a dash of maybe-paranormal? I dunno. I'm just grateful that people seem to think it's a good book.

As for Bouchercon and Thrillerfest, I say; BOTH!

SW: Following on that theme, you have two mystery novels, this thriller, and many more stories out there. In your most fleeting-est writer moments, what’s the oddest story you’ve given even the slightest thought to writing? Dragons? Demons? A historical piece set in the eleventh-century?

Sean Chercover: Oh, the inside my head is not a safe place, and I'm reluctant to reveal the things I consider in my "most fleeting-est writer moments."  As for what I might actually inflict upon the world ... writing THE TRINITY GAME has been very liberating. It's not the least-strange story in the world, but I think I pulled it off, and I may continue to stretch out into the strange, when the urge strikes.

SW: THE TRINITY GAME seems a “Fully Realized” book, in terms of its world and characters. What sort of prequels or sequels or side stories have you considered?

Sean Chercover: First, thank you - that's very gratifying to hear.  I'm almost done the first sequel, THE DEVIL'S GAME, which will be out (I think) next summer. And there will be at least one more after that, which I've got character arcs for, but haven't worked out in detail. I've also got a few story threads that probably won't play out as novels, but exist in the same universe as TTG, and those may become short stories or novellas.

SW: In a recent interview, Sonya Chung asked this of James Salter, and I’d like to steal the question –How and when did you begin to recognize what kind of writer you are/aren’t?

Sean Chercover: I don't really think about what kind of writer I am or am not. I'd like to be the kind of writer who doesn't suck. But my focus is on the work, not on self-definition.

SW: Some writers, if they’re writing about a contemporary American novel, find they can’t read anything close to that while they’re in the project. They can only read fourteenth-century historical set in Mongolia. Or they only read reference books while they’re in a project. Do you find yourself limited in your reading while you’re writing?

Sean Chercover: Not anymore. While writing my first novel, I didn't read any PI fiction, or anything written in the first-person, or anything that was remotely hardboiled in tone. When I started writing my second, I narrowed the restriction to simply not reading anything written in the first-person.  But about halfway through the second book, I felt that my writing voice was sufficiently locked-in, and I dropped that restriction as well. Now I just read whatever the hell I want.

SW: Who is a writer most readers don’t know about, but should?

Sean Chercover: Russel D. McLean is a terrific writer, but not as widely known outside of Scotland as he should be. Check him out.

SW: You have a reputation of being an author who straddles the American/Canadian border. How has this impacted your writing, this Toronto-Chicago (and others) type of connection?

Sean Chercover: The impact was huge, not just on my writing but on who I am, how I see the world.  I'm a dual citizen, born to an American mother and Canadian father. Growing up, I spent the school year in Toronto and summers in small-town Georgia. Quite a culture shock. Also, my father was Jewish and my mother's background is Irish. To Jews, I was not a Jew because my mother wasn't, and to Gentiles, I wasn't a true Gentile because my dad was Jewish. In the eyes of both groups, I was Other. And I also got this, to a lesser degree, with the whole American/Canadian thing. It gave me an intense dislike for tribalism of all kinds, and it also made it more difficult for me to classify any individual as Other. And it gave me the feeling of being a bit of an outsider, no matter where I was. Which I think is valuable to a writer.

SW: You have an opportunity to travel back in time for an evening. I know you’d pick a Bob Dylan concert. Which one? Rolling Thunder? Something from a New York coffee shop in the early 60s? Royal Albert Hall?

Sean Chercover: I'd be tempted not to waste the opportunity on a concert when I could do something of real importance, like strangle Hitler in his sleep or roll Jimi Hendrix onto his stomach. But then, I can't predict what unintended consequences might result from my meddling ways ... maybe it would be better to just take in a show. If Dylan, I'd take Rolling Thunder. But I've seen Dylan a number of times (and likely will again) so I'd probably go to a concert by someone who died before I got to a concert.  Bob Marley. Or The Clash.

SW: THE TRINITY GAME has been out almost a month. How has it been received so far?

Sean Chercover: The reception has been incredible. We hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list in the first week of release, which was as thrilling as it was unexpected. But the biggest surprise has been the emails I've gotten from clergy - a Baptist pastor and two Anglican priests, all of them praising the "good theology" in the book and the way it addresses the struggle with faith. The fact that the book has gotten a thumbs-up from both hardcore atheists and men of the cloth tells me that I succeeded in my aim to approach religion honestly, from both sides. Of course, I've also gotten more than a few crazy emails condemning me to the fires of eternal hell, but I guess that's to be expected.

Get your copy here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Write Noir in 4 Simple Steps

Step One
In solitude, organize your writing area. If you don't write on computer, lay out two pens, just in case. A pad of lined paper is helpful.

Step Two
Set fire to the area. Let the room get good and scorched before you douse it. Smoldering embers in a few places are okay—there's nothing like the threat of combustion and smell of smoke to inspire a noirist.

Step Three
Sift through the ashes of your possessions and grab whatever material is still left to write on. If the computer and pens are destroyed, open a vein and write with your own blood on the sooty wall—blood and grime contribute mightily to noir. Anything you write at this stage will be brilliant because it contains the four five essential elements of the genre: loss, pain, desperation and truth about human nature. Let's not forget a glimpse of mortality.

Step Four
If—unlike lions of the genre such as James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson—you are unable to reduce your life to ashes for the sake of art, all is not lost. But you must find a way to reach this state mentally before picking up a writing instrument. Bring devastation and lost hope front-of-mind and feel them so sharply that they drive away everything but truth. Particularly destructive to the noir oeuvre are shreds of level-headedness, dignity and esteem. Reckless abandon is a bonus.

Follow these 4 simple steps and any writer, no matter how new to the genre, is assured of creating memorable noir. Go do it. May your words burn bright.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Yesterday a whole bunch of folks on the social medias were talking about this NYT article about paying for reviews.

There was a lot of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over this expose.

I wanted to try and find a way to remove this question from the realm of ethics and morality and place it more firmly in the realm of reality.  I asked the following question:

Devils advocate question for Snubnose Press authors (Keith Rawson, Eric Beetner, Nik Korpon, Les Edgerton, Patti Nase Abbott, R Thomas Brown, Noir Bar, Joe Clifford, Andrew Nette, and the others): If I (this is Brian) paid money for reviews and as a result your books were selling hundreds of thousands of copies would you care, and what would you do?

Non Snubnose authors please chime in too.

(I'm genuinely curious and not trying to be provocative.)

[Note: this is a direct quote. The authors that are named weren't singled out they were tagged.]

The conversation that followed was very interesting.  The immediate responses were how wrong the idea was.  Then a couple of hours later more authors really got into the meat of the question and it became more evident that the tone of the answers were changing.

At least one of the authors (and I've seen this sentiment expressed elsewhere) hoped this would finally encourage Amazon to change its algorithms.  You see what happens is that once a certain threshold is crossed and a book receives a certain amount of reviews then Amazon automatically increases its visibility which then causes more sales.

It's well established that for a few months there you could make your book free for five days on Amazon, build up free downloads, have your book rise in the rankings, and see a strong level of sales after the original price had been reinstated.  The success of the free period would have a greater impact on sales. 

Then something happened.  Amazon changed its algorithms and the gravy train was gone.  This was widely talked about in author circles. 

So the authors who once benefited from Amazon's algorithms now want them changed.

No no no Brian. Not the good algorithms. Just the bad one's. 

This reminds me of when Jonathan Franzen came out against e-books. The obvious question then became are his titles available as e-books and if so what does he do with his royalties?  They are of course available but Mr. Franzen didn't come out and say that he was so against e-books that he was donating all of his e-book royalties to charity (or whatever).  In other words he was posturing. 

But the system is filled with various types of gaming isn't it?

The end reader probably thinks that a book store is set up like a meritocracy and that the best books make it to the table tops and end caps.  They don't know anything about co-op dollars and how publisher pay money to put those books there in high traffic places that readers will see. 

Paying somebody to place a book before the public. 

Wait that reminds me of something.  Substitute the word "song" for "book" and you are describing payola.  Even though payola laws eventually made their way in to law something interesting happened, a music company can still engage in payola practices as long as they disclose it

Where do you think Dick Clark made his money? That's right, payola. I didn't see that in any of the obits. Entire fortunes and businesses have been built on dirty money and the years just make it all clean. How many people below a certain age know that the Kennedy fortune is based on bootlegging money?

Now, instead of payola, or co-op, dollars passing from one individual to another they pass from one corporation to another and they call it standard business practice. It's been formalized.  

The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds. -- Ace Rothstein

No business is entirely clean. As Andrew Nette said in the Facebook thread, it's all a matter of degrees. 

At no point does an author turn down a deal because their agent knows the editor. Does the end reader realize that all of a books blurbs were written by authors who share an agent or a publisher? 

I think that this debate is more nuanced then it appears at first blush. It's also a debate that I truly find fascinating.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do you think it’s difficult to take a vacation?

By: Joelle Charbonneau

I don’t know about you, but taking a vacation sounds like a great idea.  Time to read.  Time to relax.  Time to do all the things there just isn’t time to do while work is getting done.

And yet, I would argue that while people take vacations, it’s harder that it used to be to get away from all the things you need a break from.  While you might take time off from going into the office, the office is only a computer log-in away.  Or a phone call.  Or a text.  People know you have your cell phone handy so it doesn’t matter if you are at the beach or strolling along Downtown Disney.  The age of technology means that no one is ever able to leave the office at the office.

For us work at home types, I would argue that vacations are even harder to take.  Even on the days where I vow to take off there are e-mails from my agent or editor or publicists to answer, blog posts to write, and pages that have to get done by my deadline.  I find it hard to ignore the call of work because it can travel wherever I go.  E-mails and social media can be accessed on my phone.  My laptop can come anywhere that I travel and that deadline (no matter how far) always feels like it is just days away.

And it isn’t just work that we often need a vacation from.  It’s anything that causes stress.  For some that might be family.  For others it could be politics.  It used to be that the minute you got to the airport or arrived at your vacation destination you were free of all of the things you needed a break from. 

Unfortunately, airports are armed with televisions playing CNN 24/7.  Social media, phone calls and e-mail keep you updated on everything you might want to ignore.  Stress intrudes even when you need a break from it all.

And I don’t know about you, but I need a break!

So, as soon as my current deadlines are met, I am going to shut off my cell phone and internet for a day to take a respite from it all.  No news programs.  No radio updates.  If someone needs to talk to me they can call my landline.  (We still have one!)  I plan on reading books.  Spending time with my family.  Enjoying life without the plugged-in feeling technology gives us. 

And I’m wondering if I’m the only one that feels this way about technology.  Do you find it difficult to “get away” even when you are technically on vacation?  How do you deal with the every day demands that can intrude when you need a break?