Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Are My Kids Snorting?

My wife and my younger son suffer from allergies.  We all get them to some degree, but they are your above-average sufferers. (NOTE: They are also above average in many other wonderful ways, and I'm not just saying that for brownie points because my wife reads this blog.  Really.)

My wife has a sinus rinse bottle that you fill with a salt-water solution and squirt up your nose.  It all comes out your other nostril and looks totally disgusting, except when my wife does it, then it's kind of hot. (NOTE: Still just sticking to the facts here.  Not going after brownie points.  Love you dear!).

The other day, she offered the sinus rinse to my son.  He was reluctant.  He said he didn't like how it feels; but this was perplexing because he had not tried the sinus rinse before.  When my wife pressed him for more information, he revealed this gem:

"One time I put water up my nose in the bathtub."

It happens, I guess.  When my wife pressed him for more information, he revealed this gem:

"I was pretending to be an elephant."

Gotta love that boy and his extra-vivid imagination...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peek Behind the Cinder Clouds

As a follow-up to My Path to Publication, I'd like to direct your attention to Sue Quinn's blog once more for an interview that goes behind the scenes of THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS and explores the origins of my origins-of-Santa Claus story.

Sue also asked me some great questions about self-publishing, and I sure hope I gave good answers.  Click here to visit Sue's blog and read the interview.

SPECIAL BONUS: Read through the comments on the interview post and you'll find out the winner of the epic battle: Superman vs. Bugs Bunny.  Of course you realize, this means war!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Path to Publication- Part Two

Click here to read Part One.  Otherwise the leap right into Step 7 might be jarring.

Step 7: Right after my agent started presenting RUDY TOOT-TOOT to editors I lost my job.  I'm pretty sure the two events are not related, but who knows, I love a good conspiracy theory.

I took advantage of the two months between gainful employment opportunities to write the first draft of another book.  Thinking I might be best served continuing in the children’s book market, I chose an origins-of-Santa story I’d been contemplating for several years.

I wrote the first draft of THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS in about 6 weeks.  Then I reached out to a diverse group critique partners, including children’s book authors, YA authors, and authors of literary adult fiction.  I had a fifth-grader read my book, and I read the book aloud to a class of third-graders; the kids all liked it.  I incorporated the feedback from my critique partners (NOTE: a.k.a. "critters" in some writing circles) and revised the manuscript and emailed a copy to my agent.  I thought it was pretty good.  My submission was met with:


I called to follow up on the submissions for RUDY TOOT-TOOT.  My follow-up was met with:


For nearly six months I heard nothing from my agent, and I tried to reach out to her monthly.  I noticed on one call that she now had an intern.  I saw in Publisher’s Marketplace that she was selling books.  Just not mine.

Eventually she responded to an email and let me know that RUDY didn’t get any offers, but said she would read my new book.  She asked me to give her a month.  I did, and when I got back in touch with her, she had not read it.  She asked for another week.  I gave it to her.  She still did not read it.  It was one more week when we both realized that our author/agent relationship was not going to work and parted ways.  It was bittersweet, because as frustrating as the end was, her editorial guidance and feedback helped me to grow as a writer and storyteller.

But I do believe that things happen for a reason, and I'm not about to hold a grudge, because eventually... 

Step 8: I revised THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS again and again.  I applied everything I had learned and poured my heart and soul into the book.  The result is a very special story; I feel honored that The Muse picked my fingers to hammer it out, because I think it's a great read.  I guess that's a conceited thing to say on some levels, but what do you expect?  I'm asking people to spend their hard-earned money on the book and take hours from their busy lives to read should hope I think it's good.  

I considered querying and going the traditional publishing route, but I realized that to do that, my book would not be published until 2012 at the very earliest…more likely fall of 2013.  I decided that I did not want to wait that long.  The story is ready to be told.

But speed-to-market is not the only reason I decided to self-publish.  I’ve been watching the changes to the publishing market over the past several years.  I wouldn’t suggest everyone self-publish.  I don’t know if I’ll self publish my next book.  But for this book, I feel the time is right, and I’m comfortable with my decision.

THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS is available at in print and Kindle editions, and it also available for the Nook at


Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Review and a Book Give-Away

As an interlude between parts One and Two of "My Path to Publication" I'd like to draw your attention to Sue Quinn's blog and a wonderful review of THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS.

If you haven't ordered a copy, drop by Sue's blog and leave a comment today or tomorrow and you will have a chance to win a signed copy of the book.  Click here for more details, and thanks so much, Sue, for your kind words and support! 

Click here to read part one of My Path to Publication. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two, and visit Sue's blog again on Wednesday for an interview that will shed some additional light on the story behind THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS (and my plans for my next book...).

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Path to Publication- Part One

I published a book.  It’s a story-within-a-story (within a story) called THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS.  But despite all the things I’d like to share about the layered story-telling in my book, I have a different tale to tell you now: the story of how this book came to be.

Rather than go with traditional publishing, I chose to self-publish.  It’s not a decision I made lightly.  I did many things before I went down this path…

Step 1: I wrote a novel.  Now to be clear, I am not talking about THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS, I’m talking about the first novel I wrote, FATE’S GUARDIAN, a 120,000-word paranormal thriller.

Step 2: I queried and was rejected.  Eventually I earned a request for a partial from a popular agent. Unfortunately he didn't request the full manuscript.  But I gained something from the experience: great feedback and inspiration to keep trying.  

Step 3: The experience also forced me to swallow a bitter pill: I needed to re-write FATE’S GUARDIAN from scratch.  I started into that process, and was amazed at how much better my second attempt was.  I was learning, and practicing hard to get better at the craft.  I was a writing machine.  I even started writing a new book, a satire about the end of the world.  I woke up early to work on FATE’S GUARDIAN, and I worked on EARTH’S END in the evenings.

Step 4: I read news that a long-time children’s book editor had come on board with a reputable New York agency.  I dusted off a 500-word picture book manuscript I had written for my children years before, a silly little story about a boy named RUDY TOOT-TOOT.  Rudy was born on a bean farm, and he had a special talent.  Something someone who eats beans everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be expected to do.  He can fart.

The query and manuscript caught the agent’s attention.  She liked the premise, but thought there wasn’t enough to it.  It was worthy of something more; Rudy’s toots needed real plot consequences.  She advised I try to expand it and stay in touch.

Step 5: Several thousand words later I had a fledgling chapter book.  I queried again, and was offered representation…but with a caveat.  While I was on the right track, my story still felt like a small part of a larger work, and my agent asked if I could put more into it.

Mornings and evenings were dedicated to Rudy, and after 13,000 more words I thought I had it.  Rudy had moments of literary glory, moments of humor, and moments of learning.  What it didn’t have was cohesion.  I was trying to be too many things, and my agent told me as much.

Step 6: They say real writers re-write, and since I hope to be a real writer one day, that’s exactly what I did.  I followed my agent’s advice and my gut instinct and found the voice of the story, fixed character inconsistencies, removed an anti-climax and wrote a great ending.  I had it critiqued, and my readers thought it was ready.  My agent agreed, and RUDY TOOT-TOOT went on submission. 

Click here for Part Two: The Arrival of Cinder Clouds...


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The New 10 Commandments

NOTE: This is a piece of satire.  Mostly.   But regardless, it's bound to offend some people.  If you think you will be offended, please don't read this post.  You have been warned.  If you have a sense of humor and/or you are also a jaded cynic who is fed up with the way religion has been distorted by our political system, by all means, read on and share your thoughts.

I was reading political news this morning (a bad habit I am trying to quit), and I realized something: 

Everything I learned in church was wrong.

I always thought the golden rule was "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" but that's so two-thousand years ago. I started taking notes and doing research today and came up with a new list of 10 commandments that reflect the Biblical virtues extolled by our politicians, pundits, and vast strings of chain emails:

1.    Thou shalt not help the poor, for any reason, ever.  They are all worthless, lazy leaches, and f@#% them anyway.

2.    Thou shalt hate people from other countries and other religions, because f@#% them too.  No more of this "Good Samaritan" crap.

3.    Thou shalt not make any move to protect the birds, the flowers, or any other of God’s creations except your own damn self, because God will take care of them.  Also because f@#% them.

4.    Thou shalt hate all homosexuals, because fuc…wait a minute, no.  F@#% them definitely doesn't apply here.

5.    Thou shalt not have an abortion.  Not even if thou art assaulted, battered, raped, and impregnated by a schizophrenic psychopath.  The demon seed has a right to life.  But if that schizophrenic psychopath also knocks over a convenience store, fry his ass.    

6.    Thou shalt not pay any taxes, ever.  Especially if thou art a corporation.

7.    If thou prayest the loudest and in front of the most people, thou art the most holy, and therefore the best able to translate the scripture into modern legislature.

8.    Thou shalt be the richest motherf@#%er on the block with a pimped out ride and a million dollar crib, because that's what Jesus would do.

9.    Thou shalt read the Bible often, only paying attention to short phrases that can be bent to your ever-changing political whim while ignoring the larger context of the book in whole.

And last but certainly not least, the most bi-partisan of all commandments:

10.    Thou shalt lie thy ass off if it gets thou votes.

I'm so glad I have it figured out now.  I think I'll live a much better life by following these principals.  I hope they work just as well for you!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Piano Talk, Continued

More Piano Talk for this week!

When the piano teacher was explaining sharps and flats to my younger son, he used a flat tire as an example:

"...So a flat note is going down, like air going out of a tire.  Now what do you think sharp is?"

To which my budding young Beethoven replied: "Putting air back in the tire?"


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Queen of Wal-Mart

Yesterday Nathan Bransford announced a contest on his blog (NOTE: Attention spell-checker- "Bransford" is legitimate word, add it to your damn dictionary already).

The goal: Write a funny scene (in 350 words or less).

Never one to shy away from the opportunity to make people laugh so hard the milk they are drinking shoots out their noses, I channeled my inner fat lady and submitted this entry:

"The Queen of Wal-Mart"
By Rick Daley

It all started when they opened that new Wal-Mart at the corner of Renneck and Hylbly Street…you know the one, the Super Center.  I knew from the get-go it was going to ruin our community, and I was right.  You wouldn’t believe the class of people started turning up.  Rich folk from across the tracks.  Well, they was about to get out-classed by yours truly.  I am the Queen of Wal-Mart.

I saw her from the checkout line.  She was easy to spot ‘cause of her lack of fashion sense.  She didn’t wear nearly enough eye makeup and her hair was too short to pull back with a scrunchy.  Her clothes fit all loose…If I had hips that tiny I’d wear Spandex every day.  Course I do wear Spandex every day but that’s beside the point. 

She was in the produce section, her son standing next to her pulling on her skirt and pointing to the display of chips.  She kept pushing his hand away and picking out vegetables, which is just dumb because the chips were buy-one-get-one-free and vegetables just suck.

I snapped when she said “No” so loud even the people in line 18 heard her and then she dropped the carrots in the cart.  Not even proper carrots, so a kid can nibble on one like Bugs Bunny and then spit that nasty shit out.  She had baby carrots.  I hate those things and everything they stand for.

I marched over, footsteps thundering so hard they made the Muzak skip.  I grabbed that poor boy away from her, grabbed two bags of chips, and carried him back to the checkout line.

She followed me and kept looking back at her cart all protective-like, as if someone was actually gonna steal her vegetables.  Not in this Wal-Mart, sister. 

She got the manager, who took my side until she explained that it was actually her kid.  Apparently they got laws that let rich people abuse their kids, so I had to give him back.  But the best part?

They let me keep both bags of chips.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Scary New Kids' E-Book Hits The Web Today

I just bought a new e-book, written by my friend Anita Laydon Miller.  It's a middle-grade novel, and priced at just $0.99 how could I not add it to my Kindle library? (NOTE: Done.)
It's called "A Scary Good Book" and based on the description it looks like an entertaining thriller for younger readers:

Twelve-year-old Hannah Stone tells everyone she’s “okay,” but that’s a total lie. Two years ago her dad was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The detective in charge of the case never found the driver, but he somehow managed to get Hannah’s mom to fall in love with him. The jerk. And speaking of love, Hannah’s developed a major crush on Ollie Ortega—he’s her best friend and the only one she can talk to—a crush on Ollie is so not a good idea.

Also not a good idea? Searching for a missing person with no help from the police. But that’s exactly what Hannah does when she finds messages in library books—underlined words that point her in the direction of someone who needs her.

And, suddenly, Hannah’s even further from okay. She breaks into a library, gets caught in a kidnapper’s web, and is stalked by her dad’s killer, all in an effort to save a life…but can she save herself, too?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reviews for "The Man in the Cinder Clouds"

My book The Man in the Cinder Clouds is now available for the Nook at!  Nook and Kindle editions are only $4.99 and delivery is immediate.  Help spread the word!

Get it in print.
Get it on your Kindle.
Get it on your Nook.
Get it in your iWhatever (NOTE: this is really the Kindle version, you'll need the Kindle app on your iWhatever).

Here are the reviews it's received so far on Amazon and GoodReads.  Thanks to all for reading and supporting my book.  I think it's a special story and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to share it with people.

5 Stars, TRIFECTA! Adventure, humor, and something old made new again., July 25, 2011
"THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS is one of those middle grade books that the grown-ups get sucked into along with their kids. You think you bought if for your young reader but after you browse chapter one you just sort of... can't stop.

"For the kids: The story starts with an adventure gone dreadfully boring as a boy accompanies his dad on an expedition to the North Pole. He discovers that the exotic location can't overcome the drudgery of hanging out with scientists for a few weeks, even if Santa Claus is reputed to live somewhere nearby. The scientists make a discovery in the ice, though, that captures not only Jason's imagination but everyone else's. For one thing, not even the scientists can figure out why the book they've found appears to each person in his native language.

"If the book they've uncovered is what it seems, it tells the tale of how Santa Claus came to be the figure we all know today. The traditions and images we associate with Santa are all rooted in his first Christmas venture to find one example of goodness in humanity. He fulfills his own quest while helping a brother and sister who desperately need an ally.

"For the grown-ups: THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS is intricate, with two stories unfolding together as Jason discovers the history of Santa Claus and the children in the Santa story overcome their own hardship by taking care of each other. It's also funny, with humor and references the kids will get but doesn't rely on lowbrow jokes that an older reader would just find silly. The wit shines through in chapter one and the story carries you right through to the end.

"I'm going to recommend this one to my school librarian as well as my kid's teachers. Charming, satisfying, warm, and plain old fun to read."

5 Stars, loved it, August 2, 2011
"I have read and watched many santa claus stories and movies in my many years on earth, and by far this is the best christmas story I have ever heard. I agree with Debbie it needs to be a movie, Good work Rick I can't for many more books to by written by you."

5 Stars, Very good book, July 22, 2011
"I love this book. When you get to the end you don't want to leave the characters. The story is very well written and my only complaint is that it is over too soon! I would love to see this as a Christmas movie."

5 Stars, A bit biased, but who doesn't love Santa, July 30, 2011
"I know Rick interpersonally (i.e., from the web via his terrific blog)and he's by far one of the funniest people out there when it comes to kids' humor (and adult humor, for that matter). This book melds that humor with his typical charm into a tripled layered tale about doing the right thing (A Rick Daley joint) with a familiar protagonist (i.e., Santa Claus) in an inventive origin yarn. Definitely would recommend for the kid in all of us. "

5 Stars, The read, July 22, 2011
"I found this book well written in every way.
Organization, story line, imagination, all excellent!
Should be made into a movie!"

5 Stars, The Man in the Cinder Clouds, August 4, 2011
"what a great book. I enjoyed all of this story and you get so involved that you just can't lay the book down. I guess it just brought the kid in me out. This would make an excellent movie and would be especially great around the Christmas season. Keep up the good work Rick!!! Can't wait for the next book."

5 Stars, Great Read!!, August 3, 2011
"Christmas in July!! What a perfect time to release this book and to read it! I'm sure all ages will love it- It is an easy read, and a hard to put down book! Would make a great movie during the xmas holidays! Can't wait to read more from this author!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kindle Alert!

My book The Man in the Cinder Clouds is now available on Kindle!  It's only $4.99, if you've been waiting for the lower-priced eBook version, it's time to download...

Many thanks to all who have already bought a copy of the print version.  The personal feedback I've received has been great, and there are 6 awesome reviews on Amazon!  Check out what readers have said so far.

For those with iPads and similar devices, there's a Kindle app available for free (unless Apple has removed it...I have one on my iTouch from a year ago). 

For Nook users, hang tight...I'm working on a Barnes & Nobel upload, and hope to have a Nook version available in the near future.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Creative Problem Solving

The Problem: Six kids, one trampoline, and I want to drink my beer in peace.

The Solution: A kitchen timer, 5-minute intervals, and 2-kid limits.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Piano Talk

Our sons have piano lessons this evening, and the piano teacher said this:

"Play an F and A."

But they way I interpreted it, because I am immature and it is much more fun, is:

"Play an effin' A." (The common substitute for a full blown F-bomb (In case you didn't know)).  "No, not the C.  Play the effin' A."

Chuckles from the kitchen, and then an F and an A resonated through the house