Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt 302

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Poor Marianne, sweet lamb. Prim and proper, nails painted for summer, delicately shucking oysters between bites of a fried bologna sandwich, sips of Corona, pinches of lime, not even breaking a sweat despite the boiling heat. Polite nibbles, little pinky extended. The total Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

What sealed the deal was her proficiency with that shucking knife. I could not resist watching. My eyes went to her, bewitched, the way they lose themselves in the dancing skirts of late night flames along the darkest runs of the Money Trail.

Only this time they found Goodness where before they were lost in Evil.

What a pair we were that day at the ferry landing, opposites balanced on the fulcrum of time and place. Marianne, a daisy freshly plucked from the field, sweet and clean as an ad for Ivory soap, innocent as the Dawn Wells character Mary-Anne on the television series Gilligan’s Island. What a contrast to myself: hands dirty from the sailboat’s engine room, cargo shorts dirty from too little time ashore, faded surfing tee with one armpit torn out, cheap yellow sunglasses with blue lenses propped up on hair standing up from a dive—checking the zincs before departing to St Kitts then, from there, Swan Island off Honduras then, beyond Swan Island to places undetermined.

I was leaving. She had just arrived, having come over on the Calibogue Ferry, and was waiting for a ride to her rental, the friend running late, dead battery in the golf cart. If not for that, we’d never have met. I’d be island hopping, bopping around in jungles. Marianne might’ve wed a small town lawyer, a preacher perhaps. But, no, Daufuskie—known for neglected batteries leaving people stranded at all hours in the oddest places—facilitates a version of musical chairs wherein the most unlikely of matches are made. Although natives take it in stride, it made me uneasy. Where I had been, a thing like that could’ve ruined my health.

Anyway, there she was, poor Marianne, sweet lamb, waiting like bait. And there I was, tuned to her subtle nun-like vibe and clearly aware of hungry wolves circling, closing in.

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Buy it here.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Blue Rubber Pool: Excerpt 86

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I’ve never been much of a cat person, but didn’t mind Marianne’s hanging around. What a trip she was–one minute sprawled half dazed in a sun beam, the next fending off bad guys. All in a day’s work. Just like me.

The cat finished bathing and made a sound I interpreted as “bored.” She paced the bench on the lookout for danger, stopped, and sat, taking notice of something. She then made a sound I equated to “You might wanna come take a look at this.”

Squinting in the fading light, I saw it: a big, black blob chewing on my precious banana trees again, the little patch I put in to feel at home while still homeless and scouting builders. This beast was not just an intruder, it was a connoisseur, having chosen musa bashoos from the mountains of Japan, a house warming gift from Alaska. I thought it interesting that a cow eating a banana tree sounds like I do eating celery. I enjoyed watching the big dumb beasts while they stayed in the neighbor’s field, just loafing. It relaxed me. Especially after a hard day at work, shouting into the S-Phone at some guy speeding across the desert, or at some guy shouting back under heavy fire in the jungle. Cows took the edge off the fact that good help had become hard to find, nobody willing to go out delivering duffel bags anymore.

But a cow on the loose in my yard–Scooby snacking on my plants–screamed out for countermeasures. But which ones?

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Buy it on Amazon

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Book Publicity 102

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The good news is that my debut novel Blue Rubber Pool was published by a small traditional press versus self-publishing…

The bad news is that the Advanced Reader Copy was rough as hell and late going out for distribution to book reviewers on whom authors depend upon for the breath of life. That means not getting picked up by publishing industry trade magazines that independent book store owners read and base purchase decisions on. And not getting picked up in trade media where recommendations are made to persons that buy books for public library collections. Bummer. Big time bummer.

So…as soon as I could I identified a few special target reader groups, researched their media and then wrote news releases tailored to them. And then I followed up. As a result, I’m starting to see some traction geared to baby boomers, boating “cruisers” and music lovers.

 

 

A boomer’s first book … but not his first adventure

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still working on a book promotion plan (And should have had this going many months before my book was published. My thought is that books reviews are the most important thing. Second is publicity that might generate those reviews.

Your thoughts?

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Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Book Publicity 101

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I’m FINALLY starting to get book reviews for Blue Rubber Pool and thank GAWD none are bad. So far.

It’s not easy reading the signs. Will my debut novel fly or flop? Some say it’s the work of a genius (well, okay, they said they liked it. A lot). Others quit taking my calls. So I’m stuck in literary purgatory.

Writers sink or swim on on the up and down tides of reader response.

I’m drifting right now.

Somebody, PLEEZ, throw me a line. Like these people have. (Thanks.)

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt # 589

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ON THE MONEY TRAIL, THE BOUNDARIES AND RULES HAD WAY TOO MUCH WIGGLE ROOM
…WE WERE ONLY HUMAN.

What is guilt if not a hidden window to your soul? An over-tired or under-medicated reaction to whatever was stuck to the flypaper we call “memory.” Little things became large. Happy things became sad. Good things—evil. Monsters rode on your back, yes, like all the monkeys of the world. You felt them there but they ducked and dodged when you turned, suddenly, to catch them with your eyes. Weirdness begat more weirdness. Fiends procreated like rabbits. Very soon, they were everywhere. Hiding in the shadows. And then in the shadows of shadows.

The colonel, Alaska and the others—myself among them—knew those monsters well. There one minute. Gone the next. Rustling ’round where the tall grass begins. A shiny glint of something glimpsed off beyond your shoulder. A twig that snaps in the woods at night. The definition of the self-doubt that comes when God gets into your head, and you briefly let your guard down enough to wonder if there’s really a heaven and if hell could really be worse than what’s already all around you.

Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t a bunch of butchers, but, yes, we crossed some lines. Oh yes, we crossed them, and, worse, we helped others cross them too—empowered them, encouraged them, planting the seeds of double-cross. Still, we were only human. We wondered about ourselves, wondered about the boundaries and rules that always seemed to have way too much wiggle room. Of course we did. The colonel described it as a long and twisting ride in the most devilish of amusement parks.

“You can get off the ride when it stops sometimes. You can take a break, rest up, most any time you want. Problem is, you’re not allowed to leave the park.”

It’s a Hotel California sort of thing.

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Buy it here

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Book Review: The Drunkard’s Walk

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I came home from the used book store with a copy of The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives,  a New York Times bestseller by physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow. It’s about the role of randomness in everyday events, and the cognitive biases that lead people to misinterpret random events and stochastic processes. For me (no mathematics scholarships in my past), The Brain Pain began just reading the introduction. Nevertheless, it’s a great addition to your private library book collection. A book for the beach. A book for the boat.

I brought it home in plastic grocery store bag. It was crammed in there with GONZO: The Life Of Hunter S. Thompson, PALM BEACH BABYLON: Sins, Scam and Scandals, FAMOUS MUGS (Stars Behind Bars), Hemingway’s Key West, and Wines & Beers of Old New England. Think of it as a Dagwood Sandwich for evening reading sessions in the back porch hammock. Drunkard’s Walk being the meat.

Sometimes I’ll have 3 – 4 different books going at once. Not unlike switching back and forth between channels on the television. Eventually, Drunkard’s Walk will be completed. And when that happens, I’ll “spike” it football style and do a victory dance on the sun deck.

But more than likely Gonzo, Mugs, Key West and Wines & Beers will have long been filed away on shelves in the new conference room library and I’ll have moved on to a Philly Steak created from other books brought home in sacks.

For instance, Keith Richard’s book Life. Or Outward Leg by Tristan Jones. And The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres. All of them also recent finds from the used book store.

What about you? What’s in your hammock?

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #197

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TRUTH FLICKERED BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE LIKE A STROBE
MAKING IT HARD TO DISCERN THE DEAD FROM THE LIVING

It was a small, unpainted cinder block shack with a screwed up ’72 Cutlass parked a few feet away. On the stoop, a rusted red barbecue grill—charcoal, not propane—along with scraps of greasy foil, empty beer cans, and cigarette butts in and around a plastic bucket once containing drywall mud. What stood out—a crusher for aluminum cans mounted on the wall above the bucket. Pull the lever, crush the can, those hombres were into recycling.

Andy didn’t knock, just kicked the door open, a move he made look normal.

We followed him in—three ducks carrying bags, men on a mission, ZZ Top taking the stage as the fans went wild. That’s how it felt in those first exciting moments of my young and impressionable life. My mind-blowing threshold to the Money Trail.

One minute, you’re on a stolen boat peeling back a layer of messed up fiberglass, a first hard look at seriously bad luck. The next, you’re rocking bags of bullshit worth their weight in gold, king surfer dudes with raw attitude greater than any wave in the known history of Tamarindo.

The door flew open blasting the room with light—revealing five guys slouched over a small black shipping trunk—then closed so quickly I recall the moment as a flashing strobe. Blinding brightness. Blinding darkness.

Black plastic covered the windows, blocking out the intense sun. I was totally sightless in those first few seconds. Finally, I could see: five guys staring back, saying nothing, stacks of money on the small black trunk. Some loose bills, others counted and banded. A dirty Styro plate crusted with food stains and cigarette butts. Bottles of beer in various stages of stale. An olive green Uzi.

One of the guys leaned forward, took a pack of cigarettes off the trunk, tapped the pack against the top of his other hand, removed a smoke, and then lit it up.

“You’re late,” he said.

A few beats passed. Seemed like Andy should say something, do something. But he didn’t.

At this point I noticed the others were dead.

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Buy it on Amazon here

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Book Review: Chasing Che

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Patrick Symme’s Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey In Search Of The Guevara Legend brings a little more truth to light in separating the legend from the man. Too, the voice of the writer is both entertaining, thoughtful and likeable. In Chasing Che, Symmes attempts to replicate the adventure of Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries.

If you’ve read my novel Blue Rubber Pool, you know I’m fascinated by the Two Truths. One told by those admiring the Legend, and the other told by those that knew Che Guevara personally. What’s interesting is that both versions can be woven into complex fabric.

Che once said that “that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” Yet he also exulted “hatred as an element of the struggle” needed to make a person a “violent, selective and cold killing machine.”  If you joined his ranks but balked on the battle field, he’d put a bullet in your head without hesitation. With Che, it was his way or the highway.

Symmes illustrates the Two Truths by pointing out that pro-Che slogans such as “Be Like Che”—graffiti commonly found in  his travels re-tracing Che’s famous motorcycle ride—are to found concurrent with intense distaste for “Guevarista”-style guerrilla tactics.

The moral of the story:  Be Like Che by helping people. But without killing them to do so.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Hammock Man with Uzi

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I’ve come home injured to Pineapple Hill, my beach house in a cow pasture in Jonesville, South Carolina, several times and, always, boredom gets the better of me. I recently found a bunch of home movies made a few years ago at about the time I began writing Blue Rubber Pool. In this one, I’m in a hammock reading Pablo Neruda with an Uzi resting on my lap. Why? I’ve no idea whatsoever. (Especially about that Uzi.) Thanks for looking. And not judging…

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Was it live? Or was it Memorex?

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“My time in the pool that summer was a Big Chill meditation covering religion, politics, subversion, capitalism, marriage, Southern culture, angst and paranoia. When I finally got out of the water, I had this book, reflecting those and other issues, half written in my head. I wove it into a convoluted mystery to make it fun.”

BLUE RUBBER POOL

NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE and other booksellers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #252

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The companionway is open. The doors are swung open to rest against the cabin trunk like butterfly wings. We hold our camera angle close on the companionway itself, a dark gap like the entrance to a cave, while listening to Ray and the dishes and, now, two guys talking down below. The frame is suddenly filled: a blur, then a woman–buxom, blonde, late-forties–has walked into our shot. She stops on the dock and turns, calling back to one of the boats, speaking in German. That accent is the sexiest thing you’ve ever heard. Someone off camera replies, also in German but instead of soft and seductive it is male–guttural and growling–reminding you of Nazis in movies you’ve seen. You recall rumors of Hitler escaping to Argentina. Sightings of Der Fuhrer and his henchmen–or their offspring and ever loyal followers–still come out of South America from time to time. The woman exits the frame and continues down the dock, away from the other voice, heading to the laundry shack beside the small cabana.

Our shot, now free of the fraulein, is still frozen on the ketch as black smoke begins billowing out the companionway, becoming thicker and blacker as it does. Now a big ruckus: loud cursing, things clanking and thudding down below while the smoke still thickens.

One of the guys–yours truly, twenty some years ago–clamors out. He holds an iron skillet, using a tee shirt to protect his hand. The skillet, spitting flames, renders a Hiroshima mushroom cloud that reminds you of a skull and death. He tosses the whole deal overboard. This fine lad is the younger, handsomer, fitter, less cynical version of me. He is the Me that once wore a ponytail and Army fatigue pants cut off at the knees. He swears and flicks his hand in the air, trying to cool the burn. He sucks the wounded fingers then, right on cue, the second guy emerges with two cans of beer. Alaska is laughing his head off.

Younger me takes the can, pours beer on the burn, then drinks. Alaska taps his can against mine, still cracking up, then drinks.

“Wish you’d give up on that cooking-with-rum. You’ll burn us to the waterline.”

“Just trying to jazz things up. There’s only so many ways to eat beans and sardines.”

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Buy it on Amazon here

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #237

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Book Excerpts, Books & Writing

 

Squinting in the fading light, I saw it: a big, black blob chewing on my precious banana trees again, the little patch I put in to feel at home while still homeless and scouting builders. This beast was not just an intruder, it was a connoisseur, having chosen musa bashoos from the mountains of Japan, a house warming gift from Alaska. I thought it interesting that a cow eating a banana tree sounds like I do eating celery. I enjoyed watching the big dumb beasts while they stayed in the neighbor’s field, just loafing. It relaxed me. Especially after a hard day at work, shouting into the S-Phone at some guy speeding across the desert, or at some guy shouting back under heavy fire in the jungle. Cows took the edge off the fact that good help had become hard to find, nobody willing to go out delivering duffel bags anymore.

But a cow on the loose in my yard–Scooby snacking on my plants–screamed out for countermeasures. But which ones?

I dialed in the colonel. He answered right away.

“Well, what kind of cow is it?”

“Black. Built like a tank. A boy, I suspect, stocky and close to the ground. And short tempered. Not particularly glad to meet outsiders.” Beyond that, I was clueless to the ways of cattle–I was an alien who landed amongst farmers, just there for the farmer’s daughter.

“Just shoot the damn thing and be done,” he advised. That was always the colonel’s “go to” Plan A.

“I don’t want to kill it. Just want to save my bananas.”

“Call in an air strike,” he added, screwing with me now. The colonel thinks he’s funny.

“Too over-the-top. I need a ground-level solution, something low key that won’t unnerve the natives.”

“Do you still have that cattle prod I gave you?”

“The one with the broken amperage adjuster? Yeah. How’s that guy doing anyway?”

“Never mind that. You’re sure you still have it?”

“Of course I do. But I don’t need intel. I just want the cow to go away.”

“Use the cattle prod.”

“Seriously, Colonel, what’s a friggin’ cow going to tell me?” I was on a roll. Too much bourbon, I guess. The thought of interrogating a cow still cracks me up. Who’d want to torture a cow? What’s next, waterboarding chickens?

I heard Colonel John calmly light a stogie, take a long draw, then chase it down with bourbon of his own. I could see him in my mind, shaking his head the way he does.

“Listen to me, son. Two words: cattle and prod. Do the math.”

After that, he was gone. A mirage again on the Money Trail.

Weird, I hadn’t made that connection about the prod, always assumed it was meant as a brand name–like Rhino brand truck bed liners, implying the product stands up to a rhino.

You wouldn’t actually put that on a rhino.

Hmmmm. Cattle plus prod.

Well, I’ll be damned.

Always thought it meant “More than you’ll ever need for reluctant villagers because it’s strong enough for a cow!”

Silly me.

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Buy it on Amazon here

# # #
Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill