Download it here!
My book Scab is a memoir of college and crisis. You can get the book for FREE today through Wednesday.
Here’s a few excerpts of reviews from my book’s Amazon page:
“Jackson’s style is crisp and clear. He has an uncanny talent for meshing pathos with humor in a way that is both deeply moving as well as just plain fun.”
“I love Brannon’s attitude about it all. As difficult as it was at times, his sense of humor, humility and outlook on life are uplifting.”
“By the end of this book, you will see the resilience of the human soul and psyche. No matter what depression may visit, a person springs back into life, even if unwilling at points, and goes on about his business. Brannon has done a tremendous job of conveying this concept, all with a candid, darkly humorous recollection.”
“Scab took me on an emotional roller coaster of emotions that I didn’t want to end.”
“I think anyone whose ever moved away from the safety of home to pursue a dream will find something to relate to here. I honestly couldn’t put it down.”
Click here to read the synopsis, check out the full reviews, and grab your copy of the book so you can go deep inside my head. You will laugh. You will cry. And by the end of the book, you will feel triumphant.
It’s almost here!
I’ve been on a Kindle kick recently, perusing the site for free/super cheap books. I often go to the Kindle free best sellers lists and download interesting titles. Even the paid titles are extremely cheap, usually under 2 bucks. There’s also a great website/app called Wattpad where you can read free books. The writing is of a significantly lesser quality but I’ve still found some decent stories there. And let’s not forget the public library. Great resource for free books. I’ve been enjoying adding to my Kindle collection because it’s part research and part I’m poor.
The poor part comes in because I’ve been more bummed than usual these past few months. My hours keep getting cut at my job-which is contributing to the poor part-and I’m going to have to find another one soon. But there’s no other work out there right now. And there hasn’t been for ages. I’ve been looking. And also being on a diet has annoyed me because I can’t stuff my face to squash my pain like I used to.
So with nothing else to calm my cravings or distract me from my decreasing paycheck, I’ve been checking out of life by reading these free/cheap books. I think it’s a good, healthy distraction.
Going back to the Kindle freebies, one of the trends I’ve noticed is many authors will put up a free book but will use it as a hook to get you to buy their other books. Many of the books are the first parts to a trilogy or series. Sometimes that can be a turn off for me because I’m often not looking to get that invested. And what if I do like the book? I’m going to have to pay for the others but I don’t have the money for that so I just won’t even read the first one.
I’m not saying it’s a bad strategy at all or that there is anything bad about it. I’m just not financially stable enough to buy a 12-part zombie apocalypse epic. Plus, there’s too many good free books out there.
And that’s the other problem. Because I’ve been amassing so many free books, I wonder how I’m ever going to get them read.
Lastly, a lot of authors have been following the erotica trend thanks to the Fifty Shades phenomenon. And I’m just not into that. So the best sellers have been saturated with book covers of shirtless men embracing petite women and that means the selection has been kind of slim lately. But I guess that’s good because it’ll give me a chance to catch up on all the other books I’ve collected over the months.
And as I read, I’m researching. I’ve read some self-published books that read as well as one I can find in a bookstore. I’ve also read some that are obviously the work of an amateur. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re good. Despite the flaws, most of them are still good stories. And I think that’s because most people who want to write a book can tell a decent story. Yeah, that’s a generalization and of course not everyone with a novel in their head will flawlessly transfer it to the page but I’d like to think people who have no business writing books generally won’t. I know I’m not an athlete and I certainly have no desire to try out for the NBA.
But the point is the majority of the books I’ve read have been mostly enjoyable. At the very least, I haven’t come across a book I haven’t been able to finish.
Each time I find a flaw or feel wonky about a portion of the story, I try to compare it to my own work, to ask myself if I’m making those same kinds of errors. And sometimes reading these books helps my confidence. I think I can write as well as some of these authors. And then I read others and it inspires me to write as well as they do. It pushes me to want to improve my work so I can match their quality.
On the other hand, sometimes I worry that some of these bad writer habits might slip into my work. What if I subconsciously let my writing slack because I feel I’m as good as they are. If this author can get great reviews with average writing, maybe I can too?
But there’s more to selling a book than the quality of writing. There’s the subject and how you market and a whole lot of good luck. Of course, excellent writing will always be the best way to sell a book. Marketing and topic trends always change but engaging writing is the most consistent form of advertising. And I need to remember that. I also need to remember that I want it to be good for myself. Even if no one else reads it, I’ll know I did my best and put what I believe to be a quality product out there. I hope that will be satisfaction enough. And if others can connect to it, that’ll be a bonus fuzzy feeling.
When I was a child, I came home from school and went straight to my room and did my homework. It just made sense to get it out of the way so I could watch Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers uninterrupted.
As I got older, the Internet took precedence over algebraic equations. There was just so many other interesting things to do and the fact that I hated math didn’t help my procrastination. When I was in a chat room or downloading music on Napster, I always told myself those word problems were waiting. It was like getting your teeth cleaned or taxes done, an activity you know is necessary but one you put off for as long as possible. It always stayed in the back of my mind and I always felt guilty for not getting it done right away but that didn’t stop me from waiting until the last minute.
When I graduated from college, I felt free from the burden of homework. I could get a job, put in my 8 hours and then go home and be lazy without the worry of another deadline weighing me down.
But that was before I decided to write a book.
I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower last weekend and it was great and it made me both happy and sad. I related to Charlie, the main character and an outcast of sorts. I could not relate to the Charlie who finally found a place he belonged. But good for him.
I just wondered if there was a story out there about a boy who never found his place. Where was the tale of the guy who sat at the lunch room table by himself? Where’s the book about the boy who reached the end and found nothing was resolved? Stories like that don’t exist because people don’t want a depressing ending. They need to have hope for the boy because they are the boy and if the boy doesn’t make a connection, they fear they won’t either and no one wants to consider that could be a reality for them.
So we set him up with some good friends and a crush and he gets kissed and holds hands under the stars and it’s book perfect. And we feel both happy and sad because we don’t have that but the boy is us and so if he finds it, so will we.
But some people know better.
In the movie (and book), Charlie writes letters to someone, chronicling a year in his life, but we are never told who he writes. And it made me want to write letters to anonymous people, too. What if I selected an address out of the phone book and wrote to this stranger, told him or her what was going on in my life? What if I sent several strangers these kinds of letters? What if I followed up every month or two? “Hi, it’s me again. This is what has happened since the last time I wrote you.” But I’d keep myself anonymous as well. A letter written from the heart and sent to one stranger from another.
Of course, it could be borderline creepy.
I think there’s something kind of romantic and beautiful about reaching out to a complete stranger, making an intimate connection, sharing personal struggles and triumphs through a filter of anonymity. I like the juxtaposition and the…well, borderline creepiness of it, to be honest. I just know if someone sent me a random anonymous letter that let me glimpse into their life, I’d be fascinated. Well, it was a good life with good writing, of course. I don’t need anyone sending me their school schedule or grocery list.
Oh, and I listened to the author/director commentary after I watched the movie and it was almost better than the movie. He delves deeper into the book and the movie and the characters and how he felt about making the movie and writing the book and all the feels he tried to capture and it was just nice and warm and beautiful and I recommend it.
Last night, I finished up the second edit of my book. Let me just say again how surprised I was at how much I could accomplish doing a little bit every day. I’ve made more progress in the past two months than I’ve made in the last 5 or 6. And that’s just because I kept going, didn’t take these week-long or month-long breaks.
Now, the plan is to work (every day) on rewriting the book, including all the changes. Then get a few people to read it just to tell me if it’s worth being a book and then, depending on how I feel about the possibility of the book being successful and if I can afford it, I might hire a professional editor. I’ll also need to buy an ISBN if I self-publish or if I decide to go the traditional route, I’ll start sending out query letters.
With this lucky 13th update, I think I’m going to stop writing about writing the book. I’ve written about it for approximately 4 years now and it’s gotten embarrassing. I’ve done all this smack talk about it and have built it up to be something grand like it will be this huge, life-changing project when really it’s just a collection of all my whiny OD entries. If you’ve read one of them, then you’ve already read my book.
I also ran across this quote by author Isaac Marion that I think is appropriate and good timing regarding my decision to stay mum from now on:
I think most people think of writing as a romantic dalliance that is fun to think about and impressive to talk about, but not a tangible reality that can actually be accomplished. Stop talking about it and do it. Don’t waste that coal of desire on idle chatter, passing it around the room for everyone to admire. It will go out. Keep it hidden inside where it can burn and drive you and don’t stop blowing on it until you’ve finished something.
Whew, he called me out on that one, didn’t he? I guess I have a lot more blowing to do. I just want to be done! And done I shall be, hopefully in the next two or three months.
Making progress every day. And I won’t stop until I have a book in my hands. Even if I have to self-publish. Even if everyone hates it. Because it’s my story and my therapy and I won’t feel totally healed until I’ve totally finished it.
Throughout the course of my book, I chronicle my encounters with hipsters, douchebags, bitches, sluts, tweakers, and kimono wearing opera singers. And I talked about how much they, and my classes, sucked. And to be fair, I talked about how much I sucked as well. You’d think after reading about that much sucking, the reader would come out a little more satisfied, eh?
I already had a suspicion I should reel back on the reaming of others but after going over the book again and again, all the constant complaining is unappetizing. So, I cut out a lot of the negativity in regards to other people and even myself. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of self-loathing (it wouldn’t be Bran’s book without one) but I have definitely scaled back on the bad attitude.
I’ve also cut out a lot of repetition. I used my blog as a reference while writing my book and the way I wrote my entries was I often gave a lot of back story and repeated information for new readers who had just come upon my blog, allowing them to catch up on the happenings before they dived into a new entry. But all that extra information doesn’t translate well to a book because it’s one reader, not a slew of people coming and going. Once I’ve established all the info to that one reader, there’s no need to rehash any of it. Taking all that excess background noise has helped lighten the book considerably. Or at least I hope. I look through all my pages and most of the text is crossed out. I’ve got at least 89 pages to cut so getting rid of the repetition and cutting out all nonessential information and some of the negativity will help me do that.
I know I keep on droning on about this stupid project and hardly seem like I’m making progress but since it’s my first book, I want it to be as good as it can be. Plus, I think all the time I’ve sat on it and waited and developed my writing skills has made the book stronger than it’s ever been. That’s not to say it’s even good at this point but it’s miles ahead of where it was a year ago so I don’t feel bad about not rushing it into publication.
I do want to have it published this year, though.
“This is a lesson in procrastination
I kill myself because I’m so frustrated
Every single second that I put it off
Means another lonely night I got to race the clock…”
-Brand New, Failure by Design
“How are you going to make an idol from the type of person you’re trying to avoid in real life? I’m afraid if America keeps letting people like that become the entertainers, pretty soon there’ll be no one left to work at Rite-Aid.”
–Natasha Leggero, Coke Money
Failure is isolating. I should take comfort in the fact that I am not the only twenty-something floundering in the world. I am not the only twenty-something with a degree floundering in the world. I am not the only twenty-something with a degree who no longer desires to use it who is floundering in the world. But it doesn’t make me feel better.
All I can think of are the ones in similar situations as me who have prospered. They had the same education and privileges and hardships as I did and yet they succeeded. I stumbled. That makes me feel like something must be wrong with me.
I struggle with the idea of fate and putting faith in fate. Am I destined to do what I love and, if so, should I take comfort in the fact that I will be where I belong eventually, even if things seem terrible at the moment? Or is fate just a bandage for the broken-hearted, something people tell themselves to get through the hurt of shattered expectations?
People say, “Yeah, things suck now but I’m meant for more. Everything will work out. I will live my dreams.” But, is that really the case?
One of the great hardships of life, and death, is acceptance. We have to accept a lot of failure, endure disappointment and oftentimes lower our standards just so we can get through the day.
But do we also have to accept that our dreams might never come true? Do we have to accept that fate isn’t real at all, that it’s just a nice notion? Do we have to accept that fate won’t always sync up with what we want? Why must we ache over something we can’t even control?
I always dreamed of being an artist and recently, a published author. But the insecurity and awareness of my limitations hold me back. I can practice and get better but will I ever be good enough to actually make a living doing what I love?
The truth of the matter is we all have dreams. A lot of people aspire to do great things but someone’s gotta flip the burgers and fold the shirts. What about their dreams? Are they where they wanna be or are they just biding their time until their big break? What if that break never comes? What if they wait in vain? What if they crack open and lose all hope?
What about them? What if I’m one of them?
We all stare stary-eyed at those one television who tell us to work hard, to be persistent, to keep practicing and we believe them because they did that and they “made” it. But we can’t base our judgment of ourselves on people like that because the dirty secret is talent isn’t as important as timing or connections or pure random luck. Sometimes talent has very little to do with success.
And that creates a disconnect between our talents and expectations. If we are so good, why aren’t we successful? Maybe we aren’t good after all or maybe we have the talent down but not the timing. Or maybe we don’t have the right connections. But how are we to ever know what keeps us from happiness and success and fulfillment?
People say to compromise. You might not make it to broadway but you can do local theater. You might not be in the bookstores but you can fill a spot on Amazon. You won’t fill a gallery with your art but you can fill a wall of a supportive friend’s house.
Is that good enough? Can we make it good enough?
I think it’s safe to say the majority of people out there have dreams but not everyone can follow them. But if we can’t follow them, why do we have them in the first place? What’s the point? What’s the lesson to be learned from craving a passion we can’t pursue?
I participated in National Novel Writing Month again this year. I did it back in 2010 and skipped 2011. I almost didn’t do it again this year because I have too many other book projects I should focus on but then I did it anyway and actually started on the 2nd.
The reason I participated in 2011, and one of the basic ideas behind National Novel Writing Month, is because I wanted to write a book. I had been working on my memoir for years and not making much progress and so having guidelines really helped me discipline myself. I had a goal and I managed to not only meet it but surpass it. It was a great feeling and once I knew I could actually write a book, I was satisfied. I think that’s why I didn’t do it the next year.
But this year, I decided to do it again. In one way, I wanted to see if the first book was just a fluke because I actually had no trouble writing it. Every day I sat down, the words flowed and it was a good feeling to know there was a story inside me. The other fun part was I had the flimsiest idea and yet I let the story tell itself and nothing ever felt forced or rushed. It just fell into place. I wanted to see if I could recapture that.
In some ways, I did. The idea for my first novel was a very basic idea that I had been floating around for maybe a year or two. My idea was that I would maybe write a short story based on the idea but I never went as far as to develop it into something. With this book, however, I had a good idea of how I wanted the story to go. I’ve had this concept in my head ever since 7th grade and so I’ve had many years to mull it over in my mind and kind of expand the story. It’s a dumb story but yet it’s one I’ve kept going back to and thinking about and so in a way, I feel I need to write it down and tell the story. Because of that, I thought it would be a good idea to use for National Novel Writing Month because neither the story or NaNoWriMo are too serious so they fit together.
The cool/weird/disheartening thing is the story isn’t finished. The story in this book is finished but the story itself will continue. I don’t know if I should wait until next November to write the next part or get started sooner. Well, I actually need to finish my memoir first and after that, then I can decide which project to tackle next.
It’s been a long month and I’m glad I did it but I’m also glad it’s over.