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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Fear of No Excuses

This is a post I wrote on LinkedIn:

Let's face it, we all try to blame our troubles on someone or something else. The computer isn't working. FedEx, UPS, or the mail is running late. Traffic was terrible. The weather isn't cooperating. The roads are bad. The other department hasn't sent up the paperwork. And on and on.
I believe, though, that most of us secretly want to be able to blame someone or something else. It makes things easier for us in the short term, and allows us to avoid responsibility.
But, what if there were no excuses. The roads were fine, no traffic problems. everyone delivered on time, the computer is working fine. Now what? Now, there are no more excuses, no one else to blame. It's all up to you. You just have to do whatever your next action is. You have to file report, sign the document, make the decision. If you're right, it's great. Sometimes you get praise, but more than likely you get nothing. If you're wrong, you hear about it. Depending on how serious the problem is, you may be out of a job. Nevertheless, it's time to go forward. This is the part that scares people.
It can be scary to take responsibility for your own actions. I know I struggle with that. I have a replica of President Harry S Truman's sign on my desk: The buck stops here. I picked it up at the Truman presidential library in Independence, MO. It's a reminder to me that, no matter what happens, I need to take responsibility for what I do, or in some cases, what I don't do that I should do.
I will be the first to admit I'm not perfect at that, but I'm working on it. The fear of no excuses sometimes scares me. I remember that my greatest desire overcomes my greatest fear. My desire in some cases is simply to get this done and off my plate. So I take action, and prepare myself for the consequences. It actually takes away the fear, knowing that I have done all that I can do.
So if the fear of no excuses overwhelms you, just remember the sign: The buck stops here. Do what you can, and go forward.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Operation Mermaid Interview.

Some have been requesting interviews for their blogs. Here is an interview I did (with myself) for Pubslush. The first 4 questions are from Pubslush, the rest are my own. Feel free to use this in your blogs. If you have any other questions,... ask them here and I'll try to answer them. As for the publication date, that is yet TBD. My goal is sometime in 2015.

Interview with Joseph McGarry

What was your inspiration for the book?

I've always been fascinated by mermaids. It's just something about these creatures that live under the sea that has always fascinated me. I loved Disney's The Little Mermaid when it came out in 1989. Then I wondered, what if something happened and there were mermaids all over the world? How would the US Government handle it? That's where I came up with the idea.

Why did you write the book?

I just felt like I needed to get it down on paper, or computer as the case may be. During NaNoWriMo in November 2014, I finally made the decision to write it. I finished the first draft on November 30.

What do you plan to do with the funds you raise?

Some of it will be used yo pay for professional consulting services on the book. The rest would be used to publish copies for contributors and sales at bookstores and other shows, as well as t-shirts and other merchandise based on the book.

Why is the book written as a government report?

I wanted a sense of immediacy and intimacy with this story. Telling the story almost completely through dialogue helped me give that feeling. Also, it allowed me to more easily switch points of view.

Will there be other books in the series?

I'm planning on it. Future books would have a title, and then the tagline, "An Operation Mermaid novel." There might be sequels, and there might also be backstories, such as how Ted and Angela met, or the early days of Project Kraken. If the series were popular enough, I would be open to licensing the characters and situations to other writers, just like Star Trek and Star Wars do now. All that depends on this novel.

Do you have any more information about the book?

For more information, go to my Facebook page. (Copy the link into your browser's address page.

Who would you like to see play the main characters in the movie or TV version of this book?

I have some ideas on that, but it's way too early to discuss this. If this does become a movie or TV series, and I hope it does eventually, whoever plays the mermaid parts will have to be able to swim underwater just like a mermaid (think Darryl Hannah in Splash). It's a nice dream, but first things first.

Why did you pick 2026 for the date, and why San Diego for the location?

I picked 2026 because I wanted a date in the future, to avoid any comments like, "That never happened." I didn't want it too far in the future, because I wanted current (in 2015) readers to feel some connection to the technology and situations in the novel. As for San Diego, I wanted a city on the ocean. San Diego has a large Navy yard, so I felt it would be appropriate for a Homeland Security office to be there. Also, San Diego has the big Convention Center not too far from the ocean that is used for Comic-Con every year, so that made it the perfect setting for a large group of mermaids.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Orphan Train

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read a copy of this book as part of the Cambridge (MN) Public Library reading group. I borrowed a copy from them. Some of the views in this review came from our discussion of this book.

Orphan Train tells the story of Vivian, an orphan who rode on the orphan train from New York to Minnesota in 1929. The story describes in great detail the conditions on the train, as recalled by real orphan train riders. Kids were expected to behave at all times, and were to be clean and neat. The train would stop at various locations, and the children would be paraded out to be seen and possibly adopted by parents. Babies were picked first, then boys for their strong backs. Girls were picked last. Vivian was transferred to 3 different families. The book describes the conditions she lived and worked in. In 2011, Vivian meets Molly, a 17-year-old girl in foster care who needs to complete 50 hours of community service as a condition of her probation. Molly's service is to clean Vivian's attic. Along the way, they form an unlikely friendship.

Orphan Train is based on the real orphan train that ran from New York to the Midwest from 1854-1929. The goal was to get the kids out of New York and into a more positive environment. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. The book describes parents looking the kids over like pieces of meat. It reminded me of scenes from Roots, where the slave owners were looking over the new slaves before the auction. And in most cases, they were virtual slaves. The boys were expected to do the heavy lifting on the farm, which many of them had no idea how to do, and the girls were expected to stay home and help take care of the kids. They were supposed to go to school as part of the contract, but this was rarely enforced. If anything like sexual abuse happened, the placement agency didn't believe the kids, and said that if they didn't like it, they could always go back to New York.

The story bounces from 2011 in one chapter to the 1920s-40s in the next, as Vivian tells her story to Molly. This is similar to the format in the movie Titanic, where Rose went from present day (19970 to 1912 in successive scenes. It could be a bit jarring at times, and hard to keep track of. Fortunately, the author labels each chapter with the year and the place, so you don't get too lost. The copy I had contained extra pages with pictures from the actual orphan train riders. The program stopped in 1929, so most orphan train riders are well over 90 years old now, and probably will all be dead in a few years. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 16, 2015

Heaven is for Real--the true story

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and BackHeaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book! I saw the author in person last year. He autographed my copy. It's an amazing story. Some will probably doubt this, but I can't see how. How does a 4-year-old know about any of this? Todd (his dad) says that no one in Imperial, NE has ever said it wasn't true. This supposedly is going to be made into a movie, although I have no more details than that. He also has police protection wherever he goes, because some people want to attack him for this.

Update January 16, 2015.

In light of revelations about The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Colton Burpo, the boy in this story, has issued a statement standing by his story. Here is a link.

View all my reviews

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven--now admitted to being a work of fiction.

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life Beyond This WorldThe Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life Beyond This World by Kevin Malarkey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Original review written Dec 26, 2013.

Good book about another little boy's trip to heaven. I already had read Heaven is for Real, so I was looking for some comparisons. There are similarities between the two, but this book focuses more on what the parents were going through. There is some description of heaven, which is similar to the other book.

Update Jan 16, 2015.

Alex Malarkey, the little boy that was in the accident, admitted that he made the whole story up. Tyndale has announced that they will stop selling the book. Sad, really. Alex said he just did it for the attention. Because of this, I have lowered my rating from 4 stars to 2. It may be a good fictional story, but it needed to be labeled as such. Here is a link to the article.

View all my reviews

Operation Mermaid Thunderclap

New Thunderclap for Operation Mermaid. Check it out.

Operation Mermaid Thunderclap

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kim Finn pubslush campaign

A fellow author, Kim Finn, has a pubslush campaign. More details here:

Kim Finn pubslush campaign

Here is her author page on Facebook:

Kim Finn author page

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

National Readathon Day--January 24

This is just an announcement that National Readathon Day is January 24, Noon-4PM in your local time zone. More details are here.

National Readathon Day

I've also set up a donations page to help the National Book Foundation. If you would like to donate, or if you would like to join my Operation Mermaid team, here is the link:

Joseph McGarry/Operation Mermaid donation page.

For more information on the National Book Foundation, here is the link:

National Book Foundation

Hope you can make #timetoread on the 24th!

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year, New Look

Since it's the new year, and since I'm getting some more followers, I thought I would update the look of my blog. Let me know in the comments what you think. Reminder, it's still a work in progress.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Just moved. Reviews back up soon.

I just wanted everyone to know that I just started a new job with a CPA firm in Isanti, MN, about 3 hours north of my former employer in Winona, MN. I've spent the last few weeks packing and wrapping things up in Winona, so book reviewing has taken a back seat to all of that. Now that I'm (sort of) settled, I should be able to get back to my reviews. My apologies to anyone who's waiting for one to be posted.

In other book news, I'm editing the first draft of my 1st novel. More information here: Operation Mermaid . I hope to be published by the end of 2015.