Monday, February 10, 2014

Review of "Interesting Times" by Paul Little of

Today I woke up and found a very kind review from Paul Little of Little Ebook Reviews waiting for me and it made my day.
I think it's common feeling, when you are just starting out to write, that you have know idea if your work isn't just absolute piffle. No matter how confident you feel when you start and how much fun you have or how hard you work, in the absence of feedback you doubt every line you manage to set down. I know I do.
From the other side, if you know somebody who is writing, very few people are comfortable being put into the position of critically reviewing a friend, acquaintance or relative's work, at least honestly. Everyone knows if you show your book to your mother, she'll love it and heap praise in giant muffin tins down upon your head, she's your mother and after the job of giving birth to you, the second most important thing she does is dispense unconditional love and acceptance. This includes immediate and heartfelt praise for anything you do.
Next, when you hand a friend a piece of work to critique, the only believable report you can receive is a very unflattering rejection of your work and who wants to hear that. If your friend says they liked it and it was wonderful, well, I mean, they're your friend and besides, what do they really know about fine writing? On the other hand, if your friend says your work was the worst kind of amateurish crapola and the characters lacked even a single dimension, then they're probably not really your friend at all, OR they're just jealous of your natural talent AND what do they know about fine writing anyway, again? Of course, I'm just joking here, or more accurately I'm letting you see the unvarnished petty self-indulgence that goes on in my head between 9 P.M. and 6 A.M. every day.
Do you see now? This is why we write, at least the first book, in complete isolation from criticism. It must be that way. After the first book, when your work has already been reviewed by strangers, then the opinion of friends and even family can be taken to mean something (at least as long as it's complimentary).
As I began saying, there was nice review of my book, Interesting Times posted on his website and on I don't believe that he owes me any money, he hasn't borrowed my lawn mower or jack-stands, and he's not taking pity on me, so I conclude he liked the book. I'm eternally grateful for this. I was running out of pleasant stories to tell myself about my ability to tell a story that wasn't just a well-used formula.
I'm going to post Mr. Little's words here partly because of the inherent self-serving nature of a blog, partly because it gives me a convenient place to go to read it when I'm feeling down, and partly because my mom and two of my sisters are in heaven and this is the only way they're going to see it (I'm sure they have google apps there).

My Ebook review: let us get straight to the point, this was a fascinating and fantastic reading experience. The author chose to tell this story through the eyes of Tom, in a delightful first person narrative. That is not to say that everything that is said is delightful, but the scene is already half set by the writing style of the socially challenged Tom.
Tom tells his story in sometimes graphic detail. This takes us on a journey through the psyche and quite regrettably the toiletry hurdles of Tom. The journey is an eventful one and it is a long one but somehow never feels like it. Tom tells his story in simple prose that at times feels juvenile and naïve which fits beautifully with the character.
One of my favourite films of recent years is “American Psycho” based upon Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name. “Interesting Times” comes with the same intensity and unexpected decline into the recesses of the mind where all bets are off and it is anyone’s guess where the journey will end.
Did I enjoy it?: Splendidly so! I was dragged into Tom’s story and almost thought I had it totally figured out, but actually not. The surprises kept up until the very end. A great reading experience.
Paul Little

Monday, February 3, 2014

Another excerpt from my next book, "Counting Coup on the Devil"

“Tom had a history of mental problems, not major psychoses or anything dangerous, more in the neurotic and major affective disorder ranges. Things like chronic depression, actually near catatonia at times, some mild manic episodes, panic disorder, lots of phobias including, a morbid fear of public restrooms, fear of public places, fear of conflict violence and aggression, performance anxieties like talking on the phone, speaking to sales people, bank tellers, policemen, doctors, nurses, the clergy. He had more normal fears as well like, spiders, snakes, fire, heights, depths, claustrophobia, stage fright, dogs, flying, germs and he had a history of night terrors and slept with the light on. He was, of course, quite staggeringly introverted and for good reason, he saw the world and just about everything in it as dangerous to him. He didn’t hold a grudge against the world for this; he just preferred to keep his distance from it.

Now the above paragraph might make you wonder how a person with all those things against him managed any kind of living at all, at least the way most people think about it. But for Tom, these were just things he had to deal with, each like a single infirmity, some small and some large, and even with all of them, he loved his life as much the most extroverted, gregarious, popular, and fearless person on the planet. Maybe even a little more so, because he felt the edges of the world much more acutely than those self-satisfied, complete people who free-climbed mountains and fought bulls. He really understood what it was to be a little human in a big universe. A universe that was unaware of the self-importance of all these little uniformly animated arrangements of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen atoms that for some unfathomable reason, thought they were the masters of everything. No, it could be said that Tom truly knew his place in the universe and it scared the ever-loving shit out of him, every day.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Excerpt from my next book "Counting Coup on the Devil"

"Only, we humans, when confronted with a terrible tragedy, sometimes feel the need to stop and focus on it with all our senses and imagination to grasp the details and total dimensions of the obscenity we see there. We try to connect and linger in the awful moment and feel what they felt, see what they saw and let the madness and desperation envelope us. Once there, we hold the violence and death tightly against us for as long as we dare, to immerse and surrender ourselves, like a pilgrim, and get a glimpse of what it means to have death come for us. We do this the way some animals roll on a carcass to hide their scent. We do it to hide from death, to try to fool death into passing us by. At best, we can only fool him for a while." 

Keep an eye out for my next book, "Counting Coup on the Devil"

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Excerpted from Interesting Times

"There’s the phone. Pick it up—911; just hit the numbers on the pad, and then sit and wait; the rest will take care of itself. You just answer questions and pray they have a patrol car in the area…or better yet—a swat team. Yeah, picture that; that’s what they’re going to need to save you from the… what? Go ahead and say it out loud—the Looney Tunes monster lurking outside in the bright summer sunlight. Oh yeah, they’re gonna need a swat team alright. I can almost taste the tear gas. Remember to speak to the 911 operator slowly and clearly; this will be released to the press for comic relief. It might even make Leno.
OK, a safely conservative view instead may be: They won’t take you seriously. Even I would worry if they did. Imagine if you heard about them responding seriously to such a call. I would write a letter to the Times editor complaining about waste in local government; wouldn’t you?"

If you like this excerpt from my book Interesting Times, please download a copy from Amazon or iTunes or B&N Nook. It's only $1.99.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Blowing my own drum.

January 3, 2014

Step 1. Write Book.
Step 2. Publish it.
Step 3. Let People Know it Exists.

So I've written and epublished a novel, now what?

I'm on step 3, I have to draw people's attention to the book. One thing I'm not is a salesman, and yet I have to do this. That's the only way to get people to try it. I know if I get some readers, some will like it, and they may tell their friends.
I've decided the way to do this is to write my way into people's attention, and the only way I feel comfortable doing that is be a blatant huckster, and maybe, with a little luck, I can make the rattling of the stick in the bucket entertaining.

I will start posting these attempts here. Let see how I do.

Advertisement Number 1.

Question: What's the first thing you do when you retire?
Answer: Whatever you want.

Now that I'm in the delightful limbo of semi-retirement, I carried through on my threat to write a novel. It's published as an EBook named "Interesting Times" and it costs $0.99 (USD). So far you can find it on Amazon for Kindle and iTunes, and Barnes & Noble Nook.
I invite you to follow the appropriate link and check it out. Read it, I dare you! Read it, and confirm what you always believed about me, either way! Read it because The Man doesn’t want you to! Read it, or you don’t have a hair on your ass (or you do, whichever bothers you more).
Now that I’ve got you worked up and hopping mad to prove me wrong about you; if you do happen to read it I'd love to hear your opinion, good or less good. If you enjoy it, please tell all your friends and family (if you dare) so that I can sell millions of copies and completely sever my bonds to the world of physical labor and begin my ascendancy to a new and better plane of existence (I’ll send postcards).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Welcome to Jack Vander Beek's Blog


Interesting Times Book Cover

My first novel has been published as an EBook. The title is "Interesting Times" and it's available now in Kindle format on Amazon, at the iTunes store and at Barnes & Noble for the Nook.

The Official Blurb goes like this:

Tom Verwarring is a timid and deeply flawed man who’s barely making it through life. He’s afraid of shopping and public restrooms and people; he’s afraid of the world.
Tom’s life is coming apart, meanwhile he struggles with a childhood full of loss, tragedy and secrets. But throughout everything, he tries to stay positive.
He needs help.
Then one day he starts seeing things and his life begins to change, and not necessarily in a good way.
But there’s good news; he's not alone anymore.


Eine kleine hintergrund (some background)

When I started this book I felt like the ultra-strong, smart and uber-competent leading characters had been over-represented in novels. It seemed like every book I picked up had a retired cage-fighter or genius martial arts champion at the helm. If the hero had any problems at all, they were things like they had too many fabulous, hollywood-looking babes after them, or they drove their Corvettes too fast at night. In short, the hero way cooler, way more skilled and way, way smarter than I ever could be. I decided to rebel, with a main character that not only wasn't better than me, but had more flaws and phobias than you would feel comfortable being around.

The protagonist, Tom Verwarring, is the opposite of most main characters you've met in books. He's not an ex-navy seal, secret agent, or genius. He's not strong or handsome, he's not even average. He's afraid of almost everything. His wife and kids left him, and while he hopes to put his family back together, he has no realistic ideas of what it would take to do that. He has a dead-end night job that allows him to hide from the world. Excitement is as far removed from his life as you could possibly imagine. Then one day coming out of the grocery store he sees something that may or may not be real and his life is never the same.

Throughout the story he revisits his childhood to recover memories, some good, some not, that explain his life today.

While I was working on publishing the book I had to decide on a genre for the book. I found this difficult as it doesn't fit neatly into standard category, I decided on "Psychological" but I was tempted to call it Dark Humor, which it certainly contains in a goodly amount.

I think it's important that throughout everything that happens to him, and everything he does; he tries to find the silver lining. Even in the most extreme situations, he somehow decides that things are happening for the best. I cringed as I wrote parts of this book and even felt guilty about some of the situations into which he placed, but somehow Tom managed to pick himself up again from each of those setbacks and regain a sense of hope.

Please let know what you think. Leave a comment here or email me at

Thanks and I hope you enjoy reading it.