Leslie!!!

The last time that I saw Novelist Leslie A. Banks (she also wrote as Leslie Esdaile) was in April 2010. She had taken an AMTRAK train to Washington, DC to do a book signing at Union Station. Afterwards, she was my guest for lunch. She was my friend, writing mentor, and champion. For example, her belief in me prompted her to send a note to the editor-in-chief of Penguin Books that I was the next Stephen King. She also urged me to put aside writing horror and to start writing romance novels because of the great demand for new books.

Leslie was a tall lady who loved wearing high heels, and she had a larger than life personality. That explains how she was able to craft such colorful characters. She also had a booming laugh. After lots of catching up that was punctuated with bursts of giggling and guffaws, she sighed. Her countenance brightened. She exhibited an excitement for the writing business again after regaining the rights to many of her oldest books and re-publishing them as ebooks. The income was growing monthly at an exponential rate, and that was blowing her mind. That’s when she turned serious.

Leslie knew that my written goal was to get published by a major New York City publishing house. She implored me to drop that as my objective, at least initially. She urged me to forego the agent hunting ordeal and to take total control over my writing business by becoming an independent author-publisher.

I am sad that Leslie succumbed months later to one of the most insidious forms of cancer of which she wasn’t aware during our lunch. That said, she presented me with a tremendous gift. She gave me her example of what an independent author could expect in terms of cash flow, autonomy, and peace of mind. In future blogs, I’ll detail some of the advantages I am enjoying as an indie author-publisher.

Likewise, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes headaches of being a literary entrepreneur. Business licenses, hiring a team of professionals, distribution, etc. Nonetheless, I love being in charge of my direction.

The launch of my RINGS novel series is just weeks away. Once this monthly serial begins, it’s going to be a blast. I can’t wait for you to meet Travis Blackwell, his wife Siobhan, and their six year old twins, Sara and Little Travis. Travis enjoys fame and fortune and all that comes with being the most recognizable person in Washington, DC other than the president. Can his relationships with Siobhan, his Washington Cavalry football teammates, and the public survive?

I thank Leslie Banks for plucking me from the obscurity of Internet, coaching me, and advising me to launch my own business.

Blessings and love, Leslie!!!

Chip

Embracing passions and relationships.™

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Embracing passions and relationships.™

It’s all my late-mother’s fault.

She earned a degree in library science, and she plied her trade as a public school librarian for decades until she retired. As an elementary school librarian, she was a reading teacher. She always brought her work home. She had new books around the house from the time that I exited the womb. It’s her fault that I fell in love with spooky stories because she was reading Edgar Allan Poe to me on her lap before I could walk. THE LITTLE TRAIN THAT COULD by Watty Piper is the theme story for my life. HEIDI was one of my favorites back in second grade. At the start of every school year through high school, she presented me with a brand new dictionary. Yes, I am a word nerd, and I read dictionaries. I blame Annie Belle. I always called her by her name from the around first or second grade, and she never blinked.

She was simply my Annie Belle. Mother, confidant, friend, grandmother to my two children. She was the embodiment of love. I write romance novels.

As I finally…FINALLY…approach the launch date for my novel series RINGS, I can only wonder how much she would beam with pride if she could hold in her hands a copy. I am a grammar policeman because my school teacher father always screamed at me about my violations of subject-verb agreement, subjunctive mood, or word choice errors. He ruled language by wielding a big stick, so to speak. Annie Belle, on the other hand, made me fall in love with the texture of pages and the mellifluous timber of words strung together to paint images of distant places in my head.

RINGS is a monthly romance series that focuses on the lives of the players and personnel of the NFL Washington Cavalry franchise. It is less a football story than it is a tale of their hearts. Initially it centers around last year’s Most Valuable Player Travis Blackwell and how he and his wife Siobhan handle his rising celebrity.

God bless your immortal soul, Annie Belle! Thank you so much for the passion for words and stories. I dedicate the RINGS novel series to you.

Chip

Embracing passions and relationships.

Contemporary Women’s Fiction? Really?

Contemporary women’s fiction, huh?

“Is Chip being politically correct?” you ask. “Isn’t that a fancy-schmancy colloquialism for romance novels?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I write novels that have romance as a focus. I write novels that are designed first for the women’s market. I write fiction that I want men to read also.

Back in 1986, I was an Army officer for a combat arms unit. During a major exercise, I stopped at the post exchange in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I came out with Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October and Danielle Steele’s Message from Nam. Bedecked in my full combat gear, I was armed with some reading material to last the coming month in the field. I had a few minutes before returning to the throes of our maneuvers. I pulled out the camouflage book first. My driver immediately said, “You read Danielle Steele, sir?” I didn’t know Steele at the time. I purchased the book simply because of the cover, thinking it a war story. I got to the battalion’s tactical operation center for a staff meeting with the battalion commander. I pulled out the book before the meeting started, and several officers came by and snickered that I was reading Steele. Needless to say, being a manly man in an all-male combat unit, I quickly ditched Danielle Steele’s novel in the trash.

I had been judged by the cover of the book that I was reading.

Fast forward to the 2000s. I was writing paranormal thrillers. I had gotten the audience of several NYC publishing houses, including the editor-in-chief of one of the very largest. My works dealt with Biblical demons in the modern day and a sexy, female warrior who was born with special talents for hunting them. That editor-in-chief asked me to sex up the woman warrior in a new tale in a series for her. One evening after an evening of writing this new book, I was demon attacked on the drive home. I sought sanctuary on sacred ground instead of going home that night. The next day, the chief exorcist for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC urged me to give up writing in that genre.

My late writing mentor, Leslie A. Banks (L.A. Banks) screamed at me to write romance novels. She told me that 80% of novels are purchased by women, and 80% of those books are romance. Her logic was that I should consider entering a field where there was great demand instead of trying to break into a small niche that is dominated by the names Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, and others.

Romance novels? Me?

I first had to get over the notion of bare chested men with long hair and women with heaving bosoms on the covers of romance novels. I was still afflicted with the reaction of men soldiers to Danielle Steele. Hence, I read all of Nicholas Sparks’ novels. I read Richard Paul Evans’ books. They are men who have sold millions of copies of contemporary women’s fiction. Their stories delved into all types of life situations, and they all had romance themes running through them. And, their covers didn’t embarrass me when I read them in public.

As a result, I now write stories that Embracing passions and relationships.

Rings, due out in November 2014, centers around an NFL football player, his wife, and his teammates. Although football players and coaches are in the story, it is not a sports story. It’s all about passions and relationships.

Jesse & Alexandra, due out in early 2015, involves an Army paratrooper meeting his soul-mate on first sight at a wedding on the brink of the First Gulf War. Rather than attending the reception, they jump into her Porsche and drive across country. Then, his duty calls. Will their new relationship survive?

Am I a romance novelist?

Yes I am.

Do I write for women?

Yes I do.

Do I write for men, too?

Absolutely!!!

 

Chip

http://www.chiparmstrong.com

Embracing passions and relationships.

 

 

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/food-cocktails/news/a31564/wtf-is-this-insanity/?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1440_93458665

Whew!!! After a hiatus, I’m back to my blog. Hey! I had to write some books first.

The job of a novelist is never ending, especially if he is new to the business. During my time away from blogging, I’ve created my limited liability company, hired a part-time assistant, written another novel, launched http://www.chiparmstrong.com, assembled a publishing team, and changed the cover to the soon to be published book several times. Yeah, whew!!!

The easy part of this business is for me to sit all alone at a coffee shop with my iPod jamming while banging away at my laptop, creating compelling characters and imperiling them in crazy situations. That’s fun!

But writing is a business, and I’ve set some lofty goals.

It’s October 1st. I’ve decided to re-launch my blog today. I promise to put out new content at least twice a week. I shall write about the writing process. I want you to know all of the steps involved with being an author-publisher. I want to share my driving motivations for writing. I’ll tell you why I’ve decided to publish through my own company versus pursuing the traditional, legacy New York City publishing companies. I will post photos and stories about me so that you can get to know both the man and the author who writes this crazy drama. I write about my successes and failures along the way to my lofty goals.

And what does the attached pizza cake article have to do with my author-publishing business? Nothing except that I LOVE pizza! Now you know something very personal about Chip the author-publisher-blogger-saxophonist.

Embracing passions and relationships.

Chip

 

The New Chivalry Movement On Fox 11 Los Angeles

James Michael Sama rocks. Follow his blog!!!

JamesMSama.com

I wanted to publish this post as a thank you to everyone who reads it and has read and/or shared my articles in the past, as well as to share an exciting piece of news with you (no pun intended).

Because of all of your support, this website and its endeavors have been featured by another media source, Fox 11 Los Angeles. You can read the feature here.

Also a special thank you to producer Shelly Insheiwat for her efforts to make it happen!

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Grim Reaper’s Proximty

Grim Reaper’s Proximty

May 22, 2014 was a grand day in the Armstrong family. My son turned twenty-one years old. He is my first born child and only son. He made reservations for Baby Blues BBQ Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA. It is walking distance from Drexel University where he’s a third-year communications major. We were psyched. He had six of his buddies with huge appetites joining us for dinner. I knew not to leave home without my American Express card. 

My heart was full of pride and love because my young man is growing up to be a caring man with a great work ethic. I suffered the nearly five hour drive from Washington, DC to the City of Brotherly Love, double the normal drive time thanks to two traffic accidents, construction just north of Baltimore, sporadic rain, and Memorial Day traffic. I couldn’t wait to hug my young man. He’s exceeding my dreams.

And the dreams of his paternal grandmother, God rest her immortal soul. Soon after I graduated from West Point in the early ’80s, she began requesting grandchildren, even during periods when I wasn’t even dating. Eventually I married and divorced; nonetheless, both of my children became her very own. She spent more time with them than I did as a divorced father.

On the afternoon of my son’s birthday, my mobile phone rang. His handsome face popped up on the screen. I immediately joked that he was calling to inform me that the guest list for the restaurant was expanding yet again.

“Dad, I have bad news,” he replied.

“Uncle Charles died?” I guessed, holding my breath. He is my late-father’s nearly ninety year old surviving sibling. He’s a member of the Greatest Generation who fought as an Army enlisted man in World War II and as an Army lieutenant in Korea where he lost a leg in battle.

“They found Cousin Mike dead.”

Shock stunned me, rendering me utterly breathless.

My cousin and I grew up more like brothers than cousins. He attended a military boarding school through twelfth grade, and then I attended the nation’s largest military high school. He got accepted to West Point, choosing instead to attend Johns Hopkins University. He eventually graduated, attended medical school, and earned a commission as a medical doctor and Army officer. I became the second in the family to earn an appointment to West Point and upon graduation, was commissioned a combat arms officer in the US Army. He blazed the trail.

After the Army, he and I regularly played tennis. He was a very fit retired colonel who had not an ounce of fat on his body. When police found him dead apparently of natural causes in his home, he was fifty-six years and eleven months old, two years older than I am.

It was good fortune to be around so much youth at my son’s birthday dinner in Philly. All seven young men were college juniors at various universities. Their faces lit up with so much promise and life. They distracted me from the closeness of the Grim Reaper.

Tomorrow is never promised, but with the death of my closest relative (other than my two children), I felt mortality’s proximity. The wretched breath of the Grim Reaper burned against the back of my neck.

I arrived home in DC around 3am. With God as my witness before I closed my eyes to sleep, despite a shaken heart, I renewed my vow to live again. The choice to live is more than deciding to wake up in the mornings, grab a bowl of cereal, and slog through the day in mere existence. 

I choose to live on my terms. I seek joy in the smallest of chores because we only control our actions and our attitudes.

I am happy being alive!!!

That is my choice.

 

The Perfect Fast Food

The grilled cheese sandwich is sublimely perfect, no?

It can be prepared in a matter of minutes. Speed is of the essence in our microwave society. We want what we want right now. The grilled cheese isn’t like ordering a pizza because there’s no waiting for a delivery guy to fight through traffic to ring the doorbell.

What’s better than melted butter and gooey cheese on bread? And that question is what makes the grilled cheese so perfect. This sandwich platform is limited only by one’s imagination.

* How about grilling cheese on both the interior and the exterior of the bread?
* What about blending a variety of cheeses?
* Bacon!!! Need I say more?
* Add raw or caramelized onion.
* What about some herbs like basil or rosemary or oregano?
* A slice of tomato or canned, diced tomatoes.
* My daughter puts mayonnaise on her grilled cheese sandwiches. Arrrgh! The thought makes my mouth foam up.
* Or, leftover chicken or pot roast.
* More cheese!
* And on and on and on…

No matter the time of day, I enjoy grilled cheeses. For breakfast, for lunch, for snacks, for dinner, for the hell of it.

I have found that the grilled cheese helps me with to get my daily vegetables. I often go to the cabinet and grab a jar of spaghetti sauce and pour some into a bowl. I use the grilled cheese as a tomato sauce delivery system. That begs the question: Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Hmmm?

And, who has ever turned down a grilled cheese sandwich? Children? Never. The guys who come over to watch a ball game? No way! A date? What woman doesn’t like gruyere and/or brie with some capers and sun-dried tomatoes on sour dough bread? C’mon!!!

And the grilled cheese sandwich goes perfectly with every side dish from fries to any variety of soup to salads, and it pairs perfectly with milk, beer, wines, or Kool Aid.

Are you hungry right yet?

What’s the chance that you have some butter or olive oil in your kitchen? I’ll bet you have some bread and some cheese stashed away in the back of your refrigerator. Doesn’t your mouth automatically water when you think of taking that first bite? Imagine the strings of gooey goodness.

What’s stopping you? Go! Get that butter melting in the pan now.