New Book: Little Warrior Brother by Gabe Keith

One of the secret projects I’ve been involved with over the past year has been helping a good friend and a fellow writer complete his dream project. We’ve been through multiple drafts together, with me serving in an editorial capacity, providing what insight I can in order to help bring my friend’s military memoir to life. Today, I’m overjoyed to announce that Little Warrior Brother by Gabe Keith has finally been released to the public.

I still remember the first day Gabe told me about his project and about all of the ideas and things he wanted to talk about. It seemed like so long ago, and at the time, the project felt insurmountably huge! If you told me then that just over a year later, his book would be published and ready for readers, I wouldn’t have believed it. But Gabe’s dedication, determination, and enthusiasm energized him to work tirelessly, and before I knew it, drafts were already flooding my inbox.

Little Warrior Brother is nothing short of a passion project with high-minded ideals to convey the emotion, struggle, and drive of our armed servicemen and women all across the globe. It’s a book that strips itself of politics and lays the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq bare. Beautifully written, Little Warrior Brother will make you laugh, cry, and understand something outside of the civilian perspective.

You can find Little Warrior Brother in print and eBook at Amazon. Please consider liking and following Gabe Keith and his journey in bringing to life his military memoir from his time in Iraq on Facebook.


Little Warrior Brother by Gabe KeithSynopsis: Two young men fight two wars, decades apart – one in Iraq, his uncle in Vietnam. Following the nephew’s return, they visit their parallel stories, exploring the realities of war, the passing of childhood, and the soul of a soldier on the road to moving on.

 

Find out more about the author and his adventures in bringing this book to light at his personal website — GabeWKeith.com.

Failure is a Good Thing

In 2009, I graduated Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Film and Print & Broadcast Media. I was a media junkie and a media jack-of-all-trades. That summer, I knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel that blew everyone away.

Fast forward to 2011, and I self-published my first book. It was supposed to be an edgy, gritty, and existential coming-of-age story about some backwoods kid who spent most of his time consuming advertising. Some people told me that they genuinely enjoyed it, and others changed the topic when I asked them about it at social gatherings.

I was 23 at the time. After it released, I sat back and waited. For what? Ultimately, nothing. With my university degree in my belt, I spent a few years in a plateau. I was carrying around a piece of paper that said I had learned something, and in hindsight, I used it as an excuse to stop learning.

Continue reading

Conviction

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Whenever there are dirty dishes in the sink, I get that itch. You know the one. It’s that unsettling desire to clean and disperse the dishware. This itch translates to empty cups or bottles in the living room, to my own clothes strewn anywhere outside of the laundry basket. It applies to all manner of house, car and life chores. It feels good, too, satisfying that itch. It’s akin to being productive, to accomplishing something worthwhile.

But it’s not worthwhile. I just washed the damn dishes. Who cares? There will be another batch tomorrow and even more the day after. Completing a chore is not productivity. It’s just participating in another battle in a never-ending war on grease spots. Those good vibes that come with securing the sink perimeter are just an illusion to take me away from my real task: writing.

That’s the real battle. You want to be successful at this? You want this to someday be your bread and butter? You need to write every single day, and I haven’t been. I find chores to overcome. I socialize, watch TV, play video games even. When I sit down at the writing desk, I excuse myself to make sure the next issue of Literary Orphans is coming together smoothly.

Rest assured, we’ve got a great team over LO, so the magazine is fine. It just needs a little bit of maintenance every now and then, like sorting through Submittable, e-mailing authors and making sure the hackers haven’t plowed through LO’s defenses.

Hell, I infrequently update the home site, as you can probably tell. It’s been more like a dumping ground these past few months and less like a beacon of activity. I’d tell myself I’m working on it, but there’s also that realization that said comment is pacifying in nature.

A few weeks back, we had a problem with our freezer at casa de Waldyn. We had someone who knew appliances head over to fix our problem. It took him, Mike, a few hours, but he managed to solve our internal drainage issue. Afterward, Mike and I talked for a little bit — about society, people, politics. He was a pretty smart, thoughtful guy, but before he left, he brought the conversation back around to the reason he was over in the first place. That damn freezer. It was a difficult one, one of the trickier jobs he’s had, and he suspected we were delayed in getting it fixed.

Mike offered some life advice that seemed like a no-brainer statement at first. He said, “If you see a problem, it’s better to take care of it right away. Don’t sit on it. It’s only going to get worse.”

Those words stuck with me. They seemed so simple, but there was a broad application for them. As I thought about them more and more, I began to apply them to other areas of my life. Then it hit me. My writing was the problem. Every chance I got, I found a way to walk away from my writing. Dishes. Literary Orphans. A burnt-out lightbulb. Anything. And then I thought about how I’m not just writing for myself anymore, how I have a wife now and how we’re talking about building a family. It isn’t just me anymore; it isn’t just Batman in his Batcave. It’s us; it’s a greater Bat family.

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I’ve done some analyzing of my writing in the past week or so, and I’ve realized one important key: I’m way too easily distracted by the Internet. This is a common problem many writers struggle with, and to curb this penchant for prowling the web, I’ve gone back to writing everything out by hand, first. So far, I’ve already written out a draft of a short story and begun a new novel. In one week, I’ve conceptualized an interesting, fresh concept for a sci-fi book and written two chapters. These aren’t skeletal frameworks. These are honest-to-goodness, real, genuine chapters (they could probably use some major editing though).

The change seems to be working, but it’s on me, on us, on you, the readers, to understand the real problems we’re all succumbing to. The more we find loopholes of productivity to avoid writing, the greater our struggles will become and the less likely we’ll ever be able to Chuck Yeager that writing barrier. This is our exit window, and it’s closing ever-so-slowly as the days go by.

Let’s help each other stay committed. Tweet me, and I’ll tweet you. We can do this.
(Admittedly, that may be too damn peppy, but you get the gist.)

Star Wars, Updates & General News


I saw SPECTRE with my brother over the weekend, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Before the film, however, the new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens played. It was one of those rare moments in a theater where I was overwhelmed with emotion. When that slowed down version of Han and Leia’s theme hummed as the Millenium Falcon weaved through Imperial debris, I’ll admit, my eyes watered. I looked over at my brother, and I could see it in his eyes, too.

There we were, two grown men in a matinee showing of a James Bond film, succumbing to a flood of imagery reminiscent of another time, so very long ago.

I never thought I’d see the Millenium Falcon (or its crew) on the big screen again. After the original Star Wars trilogy ran in theaters for the last time in the mid 90’s, I thought that was it. No more. Finito. Finished. Adventures with my childhood heroes would be relegated to the whims of my imagination at home. I’d have to carry on the tales alone with my action figures or pretend when reading a piece of glorified fan fiction. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew and Billy Dee Williams were still around, but they had moved on to different things. Indefinitely.

But here they were again.

I know many people feel the same. The Internet is overflowing with reaction videos, blog posts and articles about this, and it all boils down to the same idea: our old friends are back.

They were a big part of our collective childhood. They were our heroes, teaching us the ways of the galaxy, the power of attitude and ability to reach out and overcome the impossible. These heroes were plucked from the richest well of imagination, and they were given to us to share visions of another way of experiencing the world around us. To put it simply, they brought us magic and the gift of perspective.


Chewie

 

I’ve been away for some time, learning the ropes of my new promotion as manager of my copy department (at the day job). I’m back now, bringing with me a wonderful discussion with the fine folks at Drunk Monkeys about Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I’m not a fan of the prequels, but I do my best to make amends, to find peace with this lackluster trilogy.

I have more in the pipeline, too. At the end of the month, a “writing tips” column will pop up at Drunk Monkeys. With any luck, some more short stories should start appearing on the Internet.