Monday, December 10, 2012


It's that time of the year for my annual Christmas observations, so here goes.

Using pine spray on a fake Christmas tree is fine at first, but after a few days, the tree takes on a high school gymnasium smell.

Call me weird but of all the different Christmas Carol movies, I like the Albert Finney musical Scrooge the best.

I believe Elf should fall into the classic Xmas movie category. My wife disagrees.

Decorating the Xmas tree, I go for moderation. My wife, on the other hand, throws everything she can find on the branches.

My grandson is still confused about how Santa manages to get down a gas fireplace. He is certain his gifts will be smaller because of this fact.

The local Xmas music radio station plays the same 50 songs over and over. Gotta listen to Sirius for some variety.

The best Xmas song from my youth, Do You Hear What I Hear - Bing Crosby. Second place - A'Soalin' - Peter, Paul, and Mary.

I watched It's A Wonderful Life again yesterday. Am I the only one who thinks Potterville is a more swinging place than Bedford Falls?

And speaking of It's A Wonderful Life, I've always been curious as to what happens to old man Potter. Seems to me that even if everything didn't go his way, he still got to keep the $8,000. Not a bad payday.

I found leftover Halloween candy on our Xmas tree this morning. I told you my wife puts everything on there.

I always wrap the first couple of presents really good. By the time I get to the end of them, the boxes are a sloppy mess.

Yesterday I spent more time riding around the mall parking lot looking for a parking space than I did in the stores.

We're not expecting any company this year but my wife still has the inside of our house looking like the North Pole.

The older I get the later I sleep in on Christmas morning. When I was a kid, I'd wake my parents before the sun came up. Now I struggle out of bed at the crack of 9 a.m.

Maybe it's a holdover from my youth but I still don't like clothes for Christmas.

My favorite Christmas gift of all time: The Schwinn bike I got when I was twelve.

My least favorite: A ten book Encyclopedia set, the same year.

Putting up all the outside lights seems like a huge effort for the month they're displayed. Yet when I attempt to keep them on a minute after January first, my wife has a fit.


Saturday, November 17, 2012


   Each morning I follow the same routine. Before I leave my bed, I try to recall my dreams while they are still lucid. My dreams have always been impatient creatures of the night, too elusive to pin down for more than a few seconds.
   You may ask why I bother with such a trivial undertaking. You might think (and would probably be correct in doing so) that dreams are unworthy of much concern. They are, after all, rather confusing and nonsensical imaginings of a brain reluctant to follow the body into shutdown mode. The mind still wants to play, even to the point of embarrassment and beyond. Why should we care what it does when we have no control of it? Let it have its fun and do not, by any means, place any credence in its bizarre ramblings.
   If you must know, the reason I attempt to recollect my dreams is that sometimes, though rarely I admit, my dreams allow me to do the impossible.
   In the last month alone, I have made wild escapes from zombie-like beings while defending a maze of tunnels on a world where this made perfect sense. For a short time, I became a resident in a house of candles, where the lack of electricity was never questioned. Instead the group of us (and I was young by the way) amused ourselves by hiding in the many dark nooks and crannies of the place, never wanting to be found but still fearing the dark. At another time, I was a soldier again, in the war fields of Vietnam, wondering how I arrived in the country once more after so many years away, and doubting that the luck of a reckless youth would follow an older man, wise enough to know the anger of bullets.
   More recently a theme has developed. My dreams are curious to discover how I would react to circumstances in my past, tweaked just enough to make the easy formidable and to make the safe dangerous. I must admit to not passing these tests with flying colors. If it has become a contest of sorts, a weird game with my sleepless brain acting as the rather sadistic host, then I admit defeat. I am much too old to compete against such a devious adversary.
   Perhaps I’m beginning to give the impression that the bad outweighs the good. It does not. My dream life often contains incidents worth remembering. Just three weeks ago I was, at some point during the night, in a sunlit field of almost unbearable beauty. I stood for the longest time soaking in the glory about me. I knew something miraculous would occur and it did. I soon felt myself rise above the windswept grass, not much, maybe a foot above the earth, but it was enough. I found that I was able to move be simply rotating my arms from front to back, as if I was pushing through water. It was so effortless I remember laughing, and so real I was sure could still air walk even when awake. And I tried. Oh yes, I tried, because if I did it once I could surely do it again.
   I have yet to revisit the field of my first walk on air, but I have air walked twice since, and accomplished other feats of amazement to boot.
  Each morning I lie in bed and try to remember my dreams. Often I shake my head in bewilderment, but sometimes I capture an elusive wisp of wonder before it returns to the night.

   On those mornings, I smile.    

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Time Machine

   It was late at night in the courtyard of a hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans when I took a trip back in time.
   It had been a long night reminiscing with army buddies during a reunion this past summer. We talked about our days and nights in Vietnam, and I added my recollections to the conversation. At some point, we began to discuss the music we listened to while in our olive drab captivity.
   In the army, in the 1960s, there were only three sources for music; the transistor radio, record albums, and reel to reel tapes. In Vietnam, armed forces radio was the only radio station available, and it wasn't much. The army's idea of rock and roll was The Association (they never got the drug references in 'Along Comes Mary') and Nancy Sinatra.
   In 1967, when I was in Vietnam, the music industry was exploding with creativity. Groups like the Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, and Moby Grape were rocking the bay area and The Beatles released 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' to an unsuspecting world. None of this music made it to our radios. The songs were much too subversive. Strangely, the army post exchanges at Long Binh stocked the albums, and other psychedelic classics, and soon we were grooving to 'Light My Fire' and 'A Day In The Life' on our PX bought record players.
   The more enterprising of us recorded their albums onto reel to reel tape decks, allowing hours of uninterrupted good vibes.That music provided the background for our lives back then. The music became an escape from the monotony of army discipline. It was our defiance. Our way of saying 'you have us for now, but in our hearts we'll always be civilians'.
   That summer night in New Orleans I let the songs take me back. It was so easy. I simply closed my eyes and listened and, sure enough, a few came to me. Reach Out (I'll Be There), Cherish, Summer In The City, Walk Away Renee - Boot Camp. Good Vibrations, You Keep Me Hanging On - A.I.T.  A Day In The Life, Summer Wine, Friday's Child, Windy, Light My Fire, Happy Together - Vietnam. Tuesday Afternoon, Green Tambourine, Pinball Wizard, In A Gadda-Da-Vida - Fort Monmouth.
   Music is my time machine. Certain songs take me back to the days of my youth, to a specific time and place. All I have to do is hear the song in my head and I'm off, repeating adventures, meeting friends I thought I'd never see again, and revisiting places I thought were gone forever.
   It's so easy to do, just close your eyes, climb aboard the song, and follow it home.
   I was alone. My friends had called it a night. It was one o'clock in the morning in the courtyard of a hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans and I went back in time.
   Some journeys end in an instant, others last a lifetime.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Break Time

Eight years ago, in 2004, I had a heart attack. I woke up in early on the Saturday morning before Labor Day and knew something was wrong. I didn't have any chest pains but my left arm hurt and I felt sick to my stomach (my wife Roni said I was sweating heavily also).
Roni drove me to the local hospital and, after a nitro pill, I felt much better. I wanted out but Roni and an insistent nurse persuaded me to stay. A good thing as it turned out. About two hours later I had a serious heart attack, a sharp chest pain, chest heaviness, the whole bit. I was told later by a doctor, I survived that one only because of an attached nitro-glycerin drip.
Two days later I had a stent in an artery instead of a blockage.Everyone said I should feel better, but I didn't. In fact, as the weeks passed, I felt progressively worse. Two months later I decided I should take another stress test. By this time I could barely make it up a flight of stairs.
As I suspected, the test did not go well. My cardiologist called me that same evening and advised me to seek   hospitalization. And so here I was again, a scant eight weeks after my first surgery, back in a hospital bed.
A second stent was put in another artery.
Three weeks later, while sitting in my cardiologist's office, he asked me if I was a religious man. I told him yes. I turned out that a major blood vessel leading to my heart had ruptured (probably aggravated during the first stent operation). It had collapsed over 90%. A 100% collapse, according to my doctor, would have almost certainly been fatal.
After that, I had a few years of feeling pretty good health-wise, but two years ago I began to tire easily  doing chores around the house, like cutting the grass. Things just didn't feel right.
Another stress test and another heart catherization. This time the worst possible news. I needed  heart bypass surgery. I'll spare you the gory details and just add that I would never again want to go through the trauma of the procedure or the long recovery.
I went in for my two year post-op stress test on Monday, July 16, 2012. Later that same day my cardiologist called me. Everything looked great. My arteries were strong with not even the smallest blockage. They were pumping blood like there was no tomorrow. So now I have my tomorrows and, at least for now, I feel blessed. There have been so many close shaves in my life, so many times when I should have died.
In my latest life I have become a writer of sorts. I'd like to think I'm good at it, but it makes little difference to me. I enjoy writing and will continue to do so for as long as I'm able.
This summer I took a break from writing to catch up on my reading and, of course, put a dent in my chores list. When the weather cools I'll begin to write again. I have the beginning and end to my new novel on paper.  Much like life, the adventure is always in the many pages between.               

Thursday, June 28, 2012


In case anyone is wondering why there has been a shortage of blogs from me lately, I have a simple two word answer; the summer.
Since I was a child I've never been able to say no to the summer sun. It beckoned me from my bed in my youth and it beckons me from my computer today. Simply put, I cannot bear to be indoors while a warm breeze blows outside my office window.
It was like that when I had a job and little choice but to stay indoors, as the summer passed me by, in a cubicle surrounded by people of an equally sour disposition.
Now, retired, I've become a child again, free of school, free of responsibility (well, maybe not that). I own the summer once more. I am free to walk park trails, or maybe ride my bike on them. I can hop in my car and roll down the windows and push through a July day on the road of my choice. Or maybe I will be content to laze about on my backyard deck and think of summers past.
As the years roll on faster and faster and the days in the sun get shorter, I find solace knowing each minute outside was a minute well spent. It's in those minutes that I'll live for the next three months. It took a great many years, but the summer belongs to me again and I won't let it go.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fair Is Fair

     I have found two excellent proofreaders and editors in my wife and her sister, Joan. Both think alike and pick up on many of the same grammatical errors. And here's the good thing. One always finds what the other one misses. Another good thing. They both offer excellent suggestions to tighten up the story timeline and the plot in general. They instinctively know story pacing. A third good thing. They work for free. Well, at least my sister-in-law does. My wife runs a tally on the hours she puts in looking through my pages. The time starts when she picks up her red pen and it ends when she sets it down. At some point I have to match the hours with house chores or other forms of physical labor
     She worked 14 hours on Swan Loch. I know this because she posted the hours on the refrigerator door. She then broke the hours down by chores and by the amount of time it would take to complete each one.
     Here is the way it looked:
     Weed the garden- 4 hours
     Paint the spare bedroom - 8 hours
     Stain the backyard deck - 6 hours
     Total - 14 hours
     My wife may be good at editing but her math skills aren't much. No sense in arguing about it. All in all, it's still a good deal. Thanks to her and her sister, Swan Loch will be available for sale within days.
     Now I must run. I need to get a jump on my editor's 'fair is fair' list. Lets see, paint the spare bedroom- 8 hours. Sounds like a plan.             

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Whenever I finish writing a book, I face a dilemma of sorts. Should I take a breather and wait two, three weeks, or longer, before I begin my next book, or should I just get right down to it and crank out another one. The second option is probably the best. It seems that the more books one has available for sale, the more money one is likely to make. But then the question becomes what to write?
The truth of the matter is, I have no idea as to the plot of my next book. I know I want the book to revolve around a character in my latest novel, Swan Loch. I want to place my character in a couple of bad situations and see if he can work his (or her) way out of them, but that's about it.
Of course, not knowing what happens until it does has never stopped me before. Before I wrote my last two novels, I knew how they began and how they ended , but that was it. Each time I had entered a race knowing a finish line was in the far distance but with no knowledge of the obstacles in between.
Most authors have a general idea of a story in their heads before the first page is typed. Some have the basic plot premise written down in outline form. The thrill for me is flying by the seat of my pants. I love to create scenarios as I write. And I enjoy bringing unexpected characters (both heroic and evil) into the mix. For me that is the difference between going on an adventure or typing out a homework assignment.
I imagine there will be times when I've pretty much figured out who will win and who will lose. Who will get the girl and who will go home empty handed. But right now, I'll take the thrill of the unknown.
Now where was I? Oh yeah. I think I'm going to take the first option and enjoy some time off, maybe a month or so, to catch up on my reading and work on my tan. As for my characters (and I'm talking to you Jake),  I'll say don't worry, I won't forget about you. I promise I will place you in a hair raising situation or two before the summer ends.
Please be patient and stay out of trouble until then.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keeping Up With My Chores

My wife, Roni, gets irritated when I write stories on my PC or laptop. What I mean when I say that is this; my wife feels strongly that there are much better ways for me to spend my time at home while she works. That's the catch, you see. She's working and I'm at home relaxing in front of the computer all day. In the meantime, important house chores are being neglected.
The yard is not mowed as often as it should. I am told weekly is the correct timeline. Clothes are not being washed (I believe three times a week is the prescribed schedule for this). And, I'm afraid I've also been negligent in the basic housecleaning assignments such as vacuuming, dusting, and maintaining a sterile bathroom.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a slob by any means. It's just that I feel I have more important ways to spend my time.
When I informed my wife of this fact, she immediately drew up a weekly house chore work schedule, scanned it, then ran off several copies on the computer. These copies were then placed throughout the house, in places she knew they would be seen. My computer monitor received one, as did my pillow (over and under). Whenever I thought I had found them all, another would pop up. Removing the offending paperwork was an exercise in futility. They would always be back in the same spot the next day.
I'll never understand how she accomplished this without help, but I must admit that her strategy worked. She wore me down. It took more effort to find and remove the lists than it would have to implement her demands.
She won, as she always has and always will. I now do my chores regularly as told. My wife is happy. The house is clean. The grass is mowed. Everything is right with the world.
My writing took a small hit, but I still find ample time for it. Occasionally I still find a list while going about my business. Each time I do, my wife assures me that it was paperwork I missed the first time around. As for me, I'm not so sure, but I can't be worried about that now. I have vacuuming to do.    

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Leaving Friends Behind

As I near completion of my latest novel, I find myself torn between relief and sadness. I'm not alone in saying that, while writing, one becomes attached to the characters he or she creates. When writing Sarah Of The Moon I constantly worried about the well being of Sarah, Alex, and Matt. Even Chick, with his stubborn ways, drew my sympathies from time to time. I wondered if, once I left them, they would find happiness in their lives, or fulfill their hopes and wishes.
Now, as Swan Loch draws to an end, I again feel concern for those left behind. One character will follow me into a few more books, but the others must find their way on their own.
Each novel begins with a journey into strange places with unfamiliar faces.The joy of writing is discovering characters as they are written, growing with them, and then testing their strengths and weaknesses in harsh and sometimes cruel ways. The hope is that they will survive their ordeals and emerge on the other side as better human beings.
We, as writers, have temporary custody of those who roam the pages of our books. They are in our care from the day of their creation until the day we say goodbye. It is our responsibility to look after them even as we place obstacles in their path.
And so ultimately it is sad to leave my friends behind. For the months we were together they were a part of me, a member of my family. It makes sad to say goodbye even as I move on to new friends and new adventures.
I would like to think they will have fond memories of me. I know I'll never forget them.    

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So Boring!

It's easy for us, as authors, to fall back on old habits. I'm referring to the discipline it requires to sit in front of a computer monitor and type words onto a keyboard for three or four hours a day. It begins after a while to feel too much like work. When that happens, it's break time.
Here's where the old habits come into play. I find myself getting restless at around the same time the characters in my book are getting bored with their lives, usually somewhere in the middle of the story.
This often occurred at work too. When I would get bored with what I was doing, I'd start looking for excuses to do something else.
Nowadays, when this happens, if the phone rings I pick it up. Something never done when I'm at a crucial juncture in my story. I might even find myself entertaining the ideas of telemarketers, asking them to go over that thing about a free iPad one more time. Or, if the phone remains silent, I might again browse the same internet sites I left mere minutes before, hoping for a new e-mail or a freshly posted movie review on Rotten Tomatoes.
Old habits are hard to break, even as you know the longer it takes to write the book, the longer it will take before publication.
Soon I will push through the center of my story and begin the rapid free-fall to its dramatic end. Until then I resign myself to the gods of the internet and to the fate of the telemarketers.
Hey, anybody interested in a free month at Planet Fitness?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Looking Back

Lately, as I grow older, I find myself reminiscing more about the past and the many adventures I had when I was young. Back then, when I was a teenager, the years seemed to stick to me like glue. The winters were long and filled with snow. The summers lasted forever, and I remember those days as always being sunny and warm and the nights filled with stars.
Each adventure became a stepping stone to the next one, knowing a greater thrill waited patiently behind each tree, and every dark shadow.
We were once the kings and queens of our separate universes and though our realms were small, they were ours and ours alone. Each day brought some new excitement our way. It might be something as simple as a vine on a tree, perfect for swinging out over rushing water of a stream, or the sheer joy of hearing Del Shannon sing Runaway on a small transistor radio.
I'd like to think that I left a part of me behind in those days. A part of me that still runs free through a summer wind on a cloudless day that might just last forever if I wish it to.
Maybe one day I'll go back. I'll take my wife with me for she once lived nearby, in the next kingdom over. She will smile and nod as I point out the landmarks of my youth and the stories attached to them. She has heard the stories before and will surely hear them again, but she'll let me talk for she knows their meaning to me.
And when I tell these tales of adventures long ago, the time seems to slow and I am once again young, in a summer that may never end.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Interview With Kimberly

I recently had the honor of being reviewed by Kimberly Shursen of the highly regarded Underground Book Reviews website concerning my novel Sarah Of The Moon. The review follows.

When I ask an author if he would like to do an interview, we usually communicate via e-mails. This is when I have the opportunity to get to know the person, not just the writer. When I located Mr. Mixter on Facebook I was able to observe pictures of his ‘real life’ storybook. As I introduce Mr. Mixter to the Underground, there are two words that come to mind: loyal and humble. Mr. Mixter is humble, yet knows he has something important to share, has a deep understanding for what is right for himself, but allows others the same privilege, and is totally dedicated to his wife, family and friends. Welcome Randy Mixter.

Kimberly: Will you tell us a bit about your background?

Mr Mixter: I have been writing since I was a teenager. I have had my poetry and other writings published locally. I have also written articles for a local paper and have won an award for creative writing. My first published book consisted of short stories about growing up in Baltimore City in the 1960s, titledThe Boys of Northwood. My second novel, Sarah Of The Moon, is a fictional love story, with a touch of mystery, that takes place in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love. I recently completed and published Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs of aMilitary Policeman in Vietnam.That book is based on the letters I wrote home to my wife during a 1967 tour of duty in Vietnam. My short story, Eternal, will be published this spring by Sleeping Cat Books in the book anthology, The Storm Is Coming.

Since my retirement from a security position with local government, I have been able to devote more time to my wife, five cats and, of course, my writing.

Kimberly: How did your novel Sarah Of The Moon happen to evolve? Was it inspired by a true story? There are a lot of factual details, so if your novel is not based on what you personally experienced, how did you do your research?

Mr. Mixter: Several years ago I wrote a prologue and a epilogue to a book I called Sarah Of The Moon. The handwritten papers went into a desk drawer. In the autumn of 2010 I was recovering from heart surgery. I had just published my first book, The Boys Of Northwood, and thought this to be the perfect time to revisit Sarah. I began to write without any plot outline. I knew the beginning and the ending, but that was all. Luckily as I developed my characters the story came to me, a chapter at a time. Many readers have asked me if I've ever been to San Francisco. I have not. During the 1967 summer of love, I was military policeman in Vietnam. I researched the time and the place, then allowed my imagination to fill in the blanks.

Kimberly: As I read your novel, the one thing that kept coming back to me was how uninformed people were about the “Hippy” movement. Yes, there were those who were a part of it because they were into drugs more than cause, however the premise of the movement was heartfelt. Do you feel the movement had an impact on the future? How?

Mr. Mixter: I have always been fascinated with the so-called 'Hippie' culture and the music that came from it. I believe that shows throughout the book. I wanted to write a story that focused on their lifestyle and would hopefully depict these free spirits as more than druggies. I personally feel the majority of those young people believed in the tenants of peace and love and were trying to change the world for the better. It was also important to me that my three main characters, Sarah, Alex, and Matt were drug free throughout most of the novel. Although drugs played a significant role in the culture, I wanted my main characters to be enlightened without the use of drugs. In my book, I separated the true hippie from his weekend counterpart. It's significant to note the difference between the two factions in that the first group wanted to make change and the second just wanted to get high.

I would like to think the peace protests of the 1970's, which in some ways helped to end the war in Vietnam, and the protests of today can be traced back to the hippies of the '60s, and, of course, the summer of love. I also believe the movement was instrumental in passing anti-racism laws in the late 1960s and 1970s and undoubtedly was responsible for generating an interest in environmental concerns such as clean air and water, organic farming, and recycling.

Kimberly: Sarah of the Moon was written with honesty and sweetness and all the things we feel when we fall in love for the first time. How did you find those feelings, that purity, that happened a while ago?

Mr. Mixter: First and foremost, I wanted Sarah Of The Moon to be a romantic novel. I initially chose the Haight-Ashbury summer of love setting because I wanted my heroine to be a free spirit. Sarah was a product of her time as was Alex. Although they were from different cultures they became bonded through the love they shared.

I must admit I incorporated the feelings I had for my wife then (and now) into the character of Alex. Our relationship had the same purity about it. She was the free spirit and I was the reckless soldier. Somehow, due to a lot of persuasion and perseverance, it worked. I was able to connect with her when I returned from Vietnam. My wife and I both feel that the war changed me for the better, or maybe we both just matured in that year I was away.

Kimberly: The main character in your book is Alex. Alex’s father served in World War II. Alex’s father not only insisted, but ordered his son to follow in his footsteps. Was this to show that during that time offspring respected our parents’ wishes? That, at that time, many of us didn’t question but did as we were told?

Mr. Mixter: Many of the parents in my age group served in World War II, my father included. Patriotism was in the air in those days as well as the notion of a solid family unit. My father died when I was young, but I think his sentiments would have been similar to Alex's father about the honor of serving your country. In that regard, times have certainly changed between then and now. My father's respect meant everything to me in my youth. Not surprisingly, that came through in my writings.

Kimberly: Hindsight, do you feel serving your country in Vietnam was a mistake?

Mr. Mixter: I spent the year of 1967 in Vietnam and boarded the plane to the war zone at exactly midnight on January 1st. I volunteered for duty in Vietnam. At the time my reasons for this were purely selfish. Nineteen year olds live for the moment and I wanted the 5 day leave between my MP training at Ft. Gordon, Georgia and Vietnam to see my girlfriend. Also, I didn't want to be away from her through the longer tours of duty in Germany and Korea.

Vietnam proved to be a valuable learning experience for me. I still communicate with some of the friends I made over there, and participate in bi-annual reunions. I have no doubts, looking back on it, that I would have done it again. Would I feel differently about it had I been injured or traumatized in some manner? Perhaps. However, I'm glad I went to Vietnam. I'm grateful for what I saw over there and the lessons I learned. I believe it made me a better man.

I should also note that the girl that I saw on leave before I left for war, and the girl I wrote to nearly every day during my year away, is now my wife.

Kimberly: Sarah has premonitions. Her parents were killed when she was very young, yet she still has an ongoing relationship with them and tell her what will happen in the future. They even tell her she will meet Alex. Is Sarah’s character based on someone you know?

Mr. Mixter: No. Sarah’s character just grew in my mind as the story went along. I didn't know why she danced on a hill, or of her parents. I had the blueprint for Sarah in my mind but, much like the flowers she loved, she blossomed on the pages. I sometimes feel like a proud father when I talk of her.

None of my characters throughout the novel were fleshed out until they went on the page. I based my hippie character, Chick, on a free spirit friend I once had of the same name. Matt, the Vietnam war hero, was a composite of several of my veteran friends from Vietnam. The cat, Jezebel, was based on a stray cat with the same appearance that my wife and I befriended while on vacation in San Antonio, Texas. All else, including Oswald the chicken, came to me as I wrote.

Kimberly: What is one thought you wanted to convey in Sarah Of The Moon?

Mr. Mixter: I attempted to make the point that we should be tolerant of cultures different from ours. Each of my three main characters came from different backgrounds and had different philosophies on life, yet they were willing to make compromises and adjust their way of thinking in order to fit in. Of course they took it a step farther and all three fell in love, but then again it was the summer of love.

Kimberly: Can you share with us a bit about getting your book published?

Mr. Mixter: I self-published Sarah Of The Moon with CreateSpace last year. I currently have sent out query letters to several agents and I am optimistically waiting for a response. I am happy that now, with the advent of print-on-demand and e-books, there are more opportunities for aspiring authors to present their books to the reading public.

Kimberly: Tell us about the next project you are working on.

Mr. Mixter: I am currently one-third through writing my latest novel, Swan Loch. Much like Sarah of the Moon, Swan Loch involves two people very much in love. Unlike Sarah, it takes place in today's world. Swan Loch is about love found, lost, then found again. There will be mystery, adventure, tragedy, romance, and a bit of science fiction. Once again, I have a beginning and an end and I'm filling in most of the blanks as I write. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Gratifying Review

It is something special when an influential website acknowledges your book.
This review of Sarah Of The Moon will be posted on the Underground Book Reviews website starting Monday February 27th.
I can only speak for myself, but, as an author, there is nothing better then when a reader enjoys and understands your book.
Thanks Kimberly!

Name: Sarah Of The Moon
Author: Randy Mixter
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 232

Summary: In the aftermath of the war with Afghanistan, we are taken back in time to the longest war in US history. It is a time when John Lennon’s Yesterday played in juke boxes and two fingers held up in a ‘V’ formation became the official peace sign. Author Randy Mixter paints a vivid picture of the Hippies in the summer of l967 San Francisco.
After graduating from high school, Alex Conley waits for his draft notice while working as a part-time reporter at the Baltimore Sunpapers. Alex’s father sermonizes that his son will, by God, serve his country like he did in World War II. He also needs little prompting to give his less than admirable opinion of the lazy, druggies who call themselves Hippies.
Against his father’s wishes, Alex accepts a temporary assignment in San Francisco to write a weekly column about the Hippies. Alex’s boss hooks him up with his nephew, Chick, who lives in the infamous Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Men, women and children occupy the small home, their sleeping quarters divided only by sheets draped from the ceiling.
When Alex meets Sarah, the beautiful girl who dresses in white and dances under the moonlight, he knows he has seen her in past dreams. As they begin to fall in love, Sarah tells Alex that her parents speak to her from beyond the grave and tells her of the future. And when Sarah encourages Alex to wear tennis shoes instead of sandals that become key to saving a child’s life, he becomes a believer. Alex’s columns give insight into the thoughts of those committed to world peace.
Alex and Sarah’s love affair is not the fickle flirtatious love of youth, but the kind of deep emotional love, laced with respect and acceptance, that lasts a lifetime.

Quote: “Someone said something to Sarah and she laughed. It was a beautiful sound. He knew then, in that moment, he had found a place where beauty truly existed. A place where a child of the moon danced on a summer hill in a sun washed breeze. A place where the laughter of a girl dressed in white and a windswept song not only shared the same moment, but also had the exact same sound. “

Opinion: Sarah Of The Moon is a beautiful, well-written story that offers much more than just a love story. It is also a fresh, insightful view as to the reasoning of those opposed to the Vietnam War. Randy Mixter gently peels back the layers of the emotional and psychological trauma surrounding the era. Mr. Mixter not only tells the story of those dedicated to saving their own generation, but of those committed to fighting for their country.
With over l9 years of US involvement in the War, and statistics stating that 58,148 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam, 61% younger than 21, even if opposed, the counter-movement is not difficult to understand.
Sarah Of The Moon is a heartfelt premise of those present day Baby Boomers once referred to in their youth as ‘Hippies.’

Recommendation: Mr. Mixter’s ability to communicate in a thought provoking way is a rare find. Not just a novel for Baby Boomer’s, but for anyone who would enjoy an ‘up close and personal’ novel about the hopes and dreams of youth.

Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ouch! That hurts!

Have you ever been rejected at one time or another in your life. If you said no, you need to get out more. Rejections, whether personal or professional, are a normal part of life.
The game plan should be to keep them to a minimum. Me, I guess I'm a masochist because not too long ago I e-mail over 40 queries to book agents about my book Sarah Of The Moon.
I thought the queries were well written and insightful but I knew I was in trouble when the first rejections hit my inbox within minutes of my mailings. That's right, I was receiving rejection letters on queries sent two minutes previously.
The funny part was that they were saying things like: We've read your query letter, and the attached first 3 chapters of your book, and found that your novel, though it has potential, is not what we're looking for at the present time.
Let's skip right to the obvious. They didn't read my book excerpt and they probably did not read my query. There's a good possibility the agent never even opened my e-mail.
Things didn't get any better after that. After the initial first wave, the rejections began to trickle in one or two at a time. The wording rarely changed. The agents were always apologetic but still the book was not in their best interests.
Here's the bottom line, and the reason I'm not doubting my writing ability and even my manhood, the agents, are far as I can tell never read any of my stuff.
There I said it. I firmly believe that 99% of unsolicited e-mail queries are never read, at least all the way through.
Self-published authors are not top priority with book agents who must be absolutely certain a book has best seller potential before they begin pushing it to publishers.
It's tough out there in the book business today and agents know it.
So if you are trying to beat the odds, and who isn't, then the best of luck to you. But make sure you have a thick skin and a large ego. Both will take a hit in the days that follow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Word Of Mouth

Okay, I'll admit it. I get frustrated from time to time when I'm writing books. The reason for my frustration is simple. I put a lot of time and energy into my writing and, so far, it has not resulted in significant sales. When I say significant I mean this: I expect all my books to be selling at a rapid clip. Does this make me different from every other author? No, it does not. Like everyone else, I want my creations to be loved as I love them. I want potential readers to look at my Amazon reviews and say, "Wow! That looks like a good book. I think I'll buy it."
The sad truth is that most readers don't necessarily buy a book based on reviews. They purchase books recommended by friends and relatives. This is called word of mouth and it is the best form of advertising.
Generating word of mouth is easy if you are a best selling author. New novels by these authors initially sell on name value. Then, if the book is a good read, word of mouth kicks in and does the rest.
Independent authors do not have the luxury of watching their latest book move on to the New York Times bestseller list within a week or two of its publication. Instead we as independents must get the word out on our own through marketing and promotion.
Then, after we have worn out our welcome on the internet and book signings (more on that later), we can sit back and wait for our readers to do the rest. Of course if they don't like the book, then all bets are off and your destiny as a pauper is secure.
If they like what they read and begin to spread the word through texts, the internet, and, oh yes, the spoken word, then maybe, just maybe, for some of us writing will become profitable. Until then it will continue to be, as it always has been, a lot of fun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What A Tease!

Authors like to use what are called teases to draw someone into their book. I am not above that bit of promotional tactic myself. Here is a tease from my romantic/mystery novel, Sarah Of The Moon.

When she turned to face him and their eyes met, his heart melted in his chest. His dream, and the brief sighting of her on the hill, had not prepared him for her delicate beauty.
She wore a dress of pure white. Thin straps held it to her shoulders. The dress continued to her ankles where it billowed out, but not enough to hide her bare feet.
Her long blonde hair, parted evenly across her brow, followed the curve of her shoulders, ending near her elbows. Centered atop her head was a tiara of colorful flowers, all in various stages of bloom.
Around her neck was a gold chain attached to a locket. A jeweled bracelet adorned each wrist, but her fingers were undecorated.
The sunlight filtering into the room from its only window favored her above the others, burnishing her pale skin in its glow.
She was smiling at him, and he could not look away. The girl next to her whispered something in her ear and Sarah’s blue eyes shimmered slightly, just enough to draw him to them. In this brief space of time, when a dream became real and the earth ceased its spin, he knew Chick was correct. This was a world of magic.

In that tease, my hero Alex first meets the mysterious Sarah. If you were drawn into the story, and perhaps now want to read more, then the tease worked. As an author, all you can do is throw out a few sentences or paragraphs here and there and hope that they bring enough interest to read more.
Anyhow, enough teasing, it's back to work to work on my new novel, Swan Loch. Oh, I guess one more tease for that book wouldn't hurt.

She arrived on the wind.

It’s September 15th, 2012, exactly two months after his wife’s murder. Sheriff Chris Hayward has made it his life’s quest to find her killer, but every lead has come to a dead end…until now.

A young girl has wandered into the town of Swan Loch, Maine. She seeks out one person, Emma Carson, a teacher at the local school. She claims the wind brought her there, and she has a message for Sheriff Hayward. Your wife is alive and I know where to find her.

Chris, Emma, and the girl with no name will now journey to a place where all mysteries will be solved, where one believed lost forever may again be found, and where evil has discovered the perfect hiding place. But they must hurry, because in seven days the killer will strike again.

Soliciting Book Reviews

Ask any independent author and they'll tell you they are always on the prowl for reviews for their books. No matter how many readers buy your book and enjoy it, it is always a chore to persuade them to review it on Amazon.

Some will if coaxed or bribed, but they are few and far between. Still that won't stop most authors, myself included, from humbling ourselves for a 4 or 5 star rating.

Unfortunately, the problem with soliciting reviews is you don't know who's going to come out of the woodwork. I just received a 2 star review from a reader on my book, The Boys Of Northwood. The reader's chief complaint was that my book did not include places and events he wanted to read about. That's right, he punished me for not writing the book he wanted to read. Now I have his petty 2 star review floating around and mingling with my legitimate 4 and 5 star reviews. Worst yet, much like plastic products, this review will stick around on my Amazon sales page for the next 100 or so years, terrorizing my great grandchildren as it did me. I say we band together to protest reviews of a non-constructive nature. Short of unionizing, there must be some way to accomplish that.

Now, because of that opinionated reader, I must secure 5 or 6 more excellent reviews to counter-balance that bad one.

A writer's work is never done.