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Updated: Jan 16, 2020

It’s a funny title for a blog post, right? How does this have any farting thing to do with creating a book? Sit tight and hang on. I’m always telling people to pay attention to the small things in life. Open your eyes, perk up your ears and don’t be afraid to have wild thoughts. My thoughts and dreams have always been my worst enemies and my best friends. They have led me down a path of creativity, time and time again. I follow them into the dark unknown and I wouldn’t change my journey for all the gold in the Dwarf-kingdom of Erebor. I’m such a nerd.

Fade out to a time long, long, ago in a land of strip joints, lady cougars, and gay bars. Picture if you will, a very young impressionable Ren. A young man who routinely enjoyed loud bars, cheap drinks and good friends. The gay bars in New Orleans on a Sunday are thumping with sin after a morning of forgiveness. It’s the best day to be in the city. The sun beams down on Ren’s small muscular frame, he smiles, and you can smell love, money and other French Quarter rotten stank in the air. Dear Reader, please don’t breathe heavy, trust me on this.

I was but a simple bartender with friends from all walks of life. Ms. Lita, a kind older lady across the street, would trade me pralines for a house rum punch. I liked her but not enough for top shelf. The older bar regulars knew my real name, but everyone else would call me by whatever name badge I wore that day. Yes, that is a real thing. Service industry people don’t always display their real names. My name has been Ben, Ken, Jack, Astor, Devin, Tayln, and Dog. Your momma could have named you Dog! Don’t judge a Southern woman’s choice of names for her children! I had many friends, but my closest friend at the time was Chris. He was hella fun and hella cute. You know, one of those hot as hell men who by just standing next to, makes you feel and look like a supermodel. I simultaneously wanted to punch him in his damn square jaw or orchestrate his sudden disappearance. I admit, he was cuter and more popular than me.

We saw the world through rose-colored glasses and thought we were the cherry on top of the cow turd. We got into trouble, watched drag shows and so much more. We created different back stories for people who caught our grazing eyes. I would start a dialogue of what I thought they were saying, not knowing a single word of the actual conversation. They were too far away to hear, so what did I care. It was so much fun to create a universe just by looking at a rando man’s mouth moving. This is where I noticed I had a certain gift for writing funny and entertaining conversations. What if I applied that to characters? What if Chris and I were these characters but cute cuddly animals. The birth of Snowball and Éclair evolved. They would be the inspiration of what would fuel the development of creating characters for the stage. Over the years, I have never forgotten about my first two dirty little fellas. Snowball was a pure white fluffy kitten with one brown foot. He smelled of Strawberry Hill and cussed like an elderly man in the morning. He was a rebel, a hellion and always got away with his deeds because he looked so damn cute. Éclair was a dirty tabby covered in mud, no fashion sense, and his favorite treat was a freshly killed rat. He spoke with a perfect southern vocabulary and a wicked sense of humor. Which one was I? Éclair of course. Chris was Snowball. The adventures we would go on are the stuff that legends are made of, but this is not about them, it’s about what they represent. I’m such an asshole. Teased you, didn’t I?

The point of this story is to pay attention to the little things in your life. If you have random thoughts about tiny animals on an adventure, don’t ignore them. You may be starting down a path that one day will lead you to a very fascinating outcome. Without noticing these little influences to push you in the right direction, then you may miss out on an experience that’s not to be missed. Take notice of the people, places and the general stuff around you. It’s important and precious. Who knows, maybe one day, you will write a book, or discover your very own little dirty version of Snowball and Éclair.

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Updated: Jan 16, 2020

Hello Readers! Welcome to the first Creating a Concierge unedited blog post. Please note, I did not have an editor check these posts There will be grammatical errors, wrong tenses, run on sentences and so much more. When you find one, and you will, then kudos to you. You win nothing but a southern smile, a head nod and a very cute side eye.

When you shop to buy a book, the first thing you see is the cover art, right? Unless an uncaring bookstore worker stocked said book ass end up or you by chance hear it screaming for your attention in a bargain basement bin. I hear random objects talk to me all the time so who am I to judge? The cover art should stand out. It should pop, pop, pop! It should yell out to you from across the room and say; “BUY ME! Damn it!” You pick up the little fella and smell the pages like a fine wine. Then you delicately finger the pages and flip it over to check out the backside. What a pretty backside it is too. Now buy it dinner. Did you giggle reading the description? Does it grab your attention? Is it relatable? You guide your eyes inside and check out the contents. You’re not being a plucky picky pervert but deciding if this will be your new conquest. After all, it’s one fella in a sea of little fellas that you may or may not be taking home that night. This is not a one-night stand but a commitment. You have invested in this relationship, at least until you pass it to the next person. Share your joy with others. A book given is a book remembered. But…keep in mind that none of this would have been possible without first discovering the book cover art.

The way I discovered my book cover art was through friendship, paint and several bottles of red wine. Drop what you’re doing, grab some friends and pick up a paint brush. A painting class is one of the most creative experiences you can ever sign up for. I went with my super cool boyfriend, Josh, his bestie and my evil female counterpart Danielle (aka June Bug) and our “two-snaps fabulous” friend, Kelz.

You arrive at a building that looks like a murder house, brave the parking lot and enter paradise. The paint smell is thick in the air, if the wine doesn’t make your head spin then the paint fumes will. The artist squirts three primary colors on your pallet and throws you a tattered paint brush that has seen better days. She begins her speech about how every artist is different, how everyone will see the picture provided in a different way, and if you listen to her, then you can create a masterpiece just like this one. I agree with the former. I call bullshit on the later. No way in hell. She is a trained artist and I’m a guy trying not to spill wine on my canvas. The first thing you do is ignore her and grab more colors. Don’t feel intimidated. You paid for this class, now make it your own. I’m vacationing in Los Angeles, but I don’t want to paint a Los Angeles background. I stick with what I know best, a southern background. I stand up, bravely walk past her dodging her pointer, grab a kaleidoscope of colors and mix the hell out of them. Boom! I admit that I followed her direction on the horizon. What’s that saying? A good artist borrows, but a great artist steals. She gave me the foundation and I built the crooked house.

Her passive aggressive suggestions roll off my back as the wine pours down my throat. This is my creation damn it and I’ll paint it the way I see it. Instead of mighty redwoods, I paint burgundy swamp trees, instead of a lady standing in a stream it will be a lady standing on a concrete walkway, instead of her holding an umbrella it will be the back of her head with a 50s hairstyle. Yes, she’s wearing a polka dotted dress. How many fashionable New Orleans ladies own a polka dotted dress? Every. Farting. One. Of. Them. I’m drunk. I’m painting happy little trees, gray clouds and giggling my butt off. Enough is enough. My hands are covered with paint, my face is wet from tears of laughter and Josh has personally kissed the artwork. My work here is done.

It would be months later when my publisher would ask me for ideas on the cover art for this book. In my most casual way I say, “I think I have an idea”. This little drunken painting would become my book cover art and the rest is history in the making. The birth of my book cover would not come from a fancy graphic design artist or from a digital source. It would come from a very excited doodler, a scary workshop, stolen paint, a vision of what could be, and many, many, bottles of red wine with friends. The most delightful surprises happen in the most unexpected ways.

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