We Strive for Excellence

1. In my prior post, I celebrated the best new music of 2023’s First Quarter, including a special nod for Buggy Jive‘s outstanding new single, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” Buggy had written the song about the thought processes behind submitting a song to NPR’s acclaimed Tiny Desk Concerts series, then he submitted same song to said contest, because of course he did. And, no surprise here, given how wildly crazy I’ve been about his work over the years, NPR has warmly embraced it through the ongoing review process of over 6,000 submissions, featuring it prominently in a pair of promotional videos. Here’s the most recent one of those, its first third scored to those sweet and mellifluous Buggy stylings:

The winner of this year’s contest will be announced on May 11. Which happens to be this brilliant soul-rock singer-songwriter’s birthday. I hope and think everything’s coming up Buggy in 2023. Wishing him all best in the weeks ahead (and beyond), and am thrilled to pieces to see his fine work getting this level of attention. He deserves it, for sure.

2. I’ve been communicating closely with, and remain most impressed by, the team at Unleash Creatives as we work to bring my forthcoming collection Ubulembu and Other Stories to market in late summer/early autumn 2023. Jen Knox, Chris Shanahan, and their Unleash Press colleagues are a vibrant and creative and fun bunch, right up my alley, and they place a high value on building community among the writers they represent and publish, which also does my heart good, as a networking fiend. As we move toward the final proof stage of the process, Ubulembu has begun appearing as a pre-order on the various and myriad online bookselling platforms, which is exciting. Even more exciting: Seeing the cover concept coming together, wow! The aesthetic is right up my alley, as those of you who used to receive my black Christmas cards every year may well imagine, and the imagery is deeply meaningful to the title story, even if you don’t know what you’re looking at before reading. Behold!

I’ll obviously provide additional information on ordering as we get closer to publication date, with thanks in advance to any and all of you who choose to acquire it. It is a thrill to know that these stories will be finally set before a wide audience this year, in some cases after they’ve been sitting on my computers for decades. Slow and steady and such, yeah?

3. Also on the writing front, Side by Side in Eternity: The Lives Behind Adjacent American Military Graves is trucking along nicely in its post-publication life cycle. I have a few signed copies left here at the homestead, so if you’re interested in one of those, hit me up, sooner rather than later. For my Naval Academy peeps: I’ll be doing a signing with my co-author, Jim McNeal, in Annapolis on May 17, the day of the annual Herndon Climb. Hope to see some of you there! There will also be a local event in Sedona in September, and we are exploring some other options to discuss and present our work in other in-person or online settings. We’re both happy to present the project if you’ve got any virtual or meat-space opportunities to suggest. If you’ve read Side by Side in Eternity and posted thoughts about it anywhere, do share those with us, please and thanks, as we are working to acquire and assemble blurbs and reviews. We are still hard at work on our next book, Crucibles: History’s Most Formidable Rites of Passage, for Agate Publishing, and it’s been a fascinating and enjoyable process thus far. We’ve already written about our 1982-83 Plebe Year experiences together at the Naval Academy, and also about the French Foreign Legion, the Dahomey Amazons, the Koa (warriors) of Hawai’i, and the Shaolin Monks. We have another 14 chapters coming in the year ahead, plus our analytical synthesis of centuries’ worth of elite society trials, ostensibly to frame what works, what doesn’t, what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s just mystifying and fantastic and fun. It’s a great project, if I say so myself, and Jim and I are very appreciative for Doug Siebold at Agate and Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media Group, who saw its potential and share our enthusiasm for the work. Thanks, guys!

4. I’ve mentioned before that I’m back on Facebook, ennhhh, as a necessary evil for various promotional activities in 2023 and beyond. Since I spend much of my free time these days hiking, I’ve been doing little “photo essay” reports of various routes there, which people seem to be enjoying. One thing that I’ve noticed with all of the photography I do hereabouts is that it’s really, really difficult to communicate a sense of the scale of the rock formations within which we live and play. I’m a reasonably strong and accomplished hiker, and there are a lot of places I go which are struggles, up close and personal, but which in pictures look, well, too easy, I guess. If pressed to name my favorite hike in this area, it’s a loop that I do up to a summit that I can see from our back porch. It’s a tough one, but totally worth it. I decided to do something of a step-by-step documentation of it the last time I was up there, and posted it as its own Flickr album to see if it did a better job of communicating the scale we experience here. If you click on the first picture and then scroll through the rest, I’ve captioned each one to explain what you’re looking at in each case. I’m not sure that it does a better job of showing the bigness and majesty that I feel being in it in real time, but you can click the summit photo below if you’re interested in seeing it and deciding yourself. If you come visit me, I’ll likely propose we do it together. So be prepared.

5. And finally, speaking of hiking: Marcia and I have just booked a 14-day trek through the Alps for August-September, leaving from Munich, crossing Austria, and ending up in Venice. Want to join us? You can do it here. It would be a blast to experience it with friends!

3 thoughts on “We Strive for Excellence

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, April 22 2023 – Chuck The Writer

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