Saturday, April 25, 2015

My JAMES 516 bookmarks are in!

After hearing Jennifer DeHart Sons (Through the Booking Glass Blog) speak about “swag” at the Houma Jambalaya Writers’ Conference, I researched some online places where I could have bookmarks made. After checking out a couple of them, I settled on Overnight Prints. I threw together a front and back image, uploaded it to their website, requested a thousand copies, paid $62, and then sat back and waited. Five days later, this came in the mail:

My JAMES 516 bookmarks are in!

If anyone is interested in how I made the bookmark, here goes:

I’m no artist, so I have to keep things simple--very simple. For the front of the bookmark, I wanted an obvious sniper logo, since my main character in JAMES 516 is a police sniper, so I dug up a picture of me from sniper training, where I was in a prone position at the range shooting my Accuracy International Model AE sniper rifle chambered in .308 caliber, and realized it would fit the 2 x 6 bookmark size well.

Me during sniper training a few years ago.

Using the “magic wand” tool on Photoshop, I highlighted my silhouette and then used the “fill layer” feature to turn my proned-out body solid white. I then applied the solid white image to a black background, added the cover art, which was done by Trace Edward Zaber, and added my website address. It was that simple.

The finished logo for the front of the bookmark

For the back of the bookmark, I included the title, byline, genre, publisher and ISBN.

The finished logo for the back of the backmark

There you have it . . . 1,000 2 x 6 bookmarks that were easy to make and only cost about $.06 each. As one might imagine, I’m now a big fan of Overnight Prints.

If you like it or dislike it and want to share your thoughts, feel free to do so. This is my first attempt and I’m hoping to get better as I go along . . . of course, I have to hand out 1,000 of these before I can work on another one. :-)

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), and HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016).
© 2015 BJ Bourg

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Favorite Title is "Dad"

As a parent, isn’t it the best feeling in the world to be able to put a smile on your child’s face? I believe in putting the needs and wants of my children above those of my own, as I’m sure most parents do. Loving a child means we’re going to be happy when they’re happy, sad when they’re sad, hurt when they hurt, and wish we could take on their pain when they’re sick or injured.

Well, I was very happy with Grace’s reaction when I texted her the screenshot of an order confirmation for Ronda Rousey’s upcoming book, MY FIGHT/YOUR FIGHT. She texted me one day saying we HAD to get the book. She mentioned it again later and it was the most excited I’ve ever seen her over a book. I casually brushed her off, because I wanted to surprise her by preordering the book. After ordering it without her knowing, I sent her a random text one day after school showing the order confirmation. She’ll only text in all caps when she’s super excited, and here’s her response to the screenshot:

I’ve been begging Grace for years to let me teach her to defend herself, but she was never interested. After watching some of Ronda Rousey’s fights, as well as some of the other female fighters in action, she has developed a strong interest in the sport. I’ve been working with her on developing her striking skills while my son, Brandon, has been working with her on her ground game. It makes my heart swell with pride to see how hard they both train to grow physically and mentally strong.

Grace and me in Gatlinburg, TN 2005

I love that my once “baby girl” is turning into a strong and independent young lady who can take care of herself. It’s bitter sweet to watch her grow up, because I know she’ll soon be joining her brother out in the college world and I’ll be seeing less of her, but I’m very proud of her and I will support her every endeavor, as I do with Brandon.

Grace and me in Kisatchie National Forest, 2015

Grace told me just this past weekend that she hates riding in the car with me when my country songs about dads and daughters come on, because it makes her sad thinking she’ll be going off on her own and leaving me behind. I had to assure her that I’ll be fine and, while I might feel a little sorry for myself, I’ll be very excited to watch her grow up and start a life of her own, just like I’m enjoying watching my son do the same.

Grace and Brandon 2014
 The hardest thing about raising kids? When they learn to fly. :-(

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), and HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016).
© 2015 BJ Bourg

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


THE SEVENTH TAKING, my latest mystery novel, is available on Amazon‬ in Kindle‬ format. While it can definitely appeal to adults, it is also appropriate for young readers--unlike JAMES 516, which is aimed at adult audiences--and it features a cast of teenage characters.

I got the idea for the story while visiting my favorite place on earth: the Great Smoky Mountains‬ National Forest. The Smokies are majestic and breathtaking to behold, but unbridled and wild. I've been there eight times over the years and each time I explore the area, I'm inspired by all the places I see and the things I do there. In my opinion, there's absolutely no better setting for a creepy mystery, and the Smokies inspired the creation of the Blue Summit Mountains, which is the fictitious setting for THE SEVENTH TAKING.

When I visited in June/July of 2012, I read about a man who had gone missing three months earlier. That reminded me of other missing person cases I had previously read about. As I explored the mountains on that 2012 trip, I couldn’t help but wonder what had become of those poor people. My imagination ran wild and, upon returning home from vacation, I began writing what later became THE SEVENTH TAKING, which is a mystery that follows Abraham Wilson on his quest to find his missing ex-girlfriend, who disappeared while vacationing with her family.

As I wrote THE SEVENTH TAKING, my heart went out to the many families who have lost loved ones without a trace in the mountains. I can't imagine the horror they endure each day their loved ones are not found, and I want them to know I empathize with them and pray for the safe return of those close to them who have disappeared.

May closure come!

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), and HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016).
© 2015 BJ Bourg

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Love Made Me Do It

I don’t like to run. Wait…let me rephrase that; I hate to run. I don’t do it. Never have. Sure, I’ve had to run when I played flag football and soccer (during my two-year stint at this Christian school), I had to run during the police academy, and I’ve done many sprinting drills with my rifle and equipment for sniper training, but I’ve avoided running most of my life like one would avoid swimming in brain-eating-amoeba-infested water.
You see, I’ve been training to fight nearly my entire life and I’ve always participated in fight-specific training. I’d rather spar ten rounds (each round involves 3 minutes of fighting with a short rest period—usually 30 seconds) than run for ten minutes. For me and my specific needs, running is a waste of time. I know it’s a great form of exercise and many people love to do it, but it’s not my thing.
When people ask me if I run or if I would like to go running, I usually answer one of two ways:
1. Sure, I’ll run…after him if he’s got a warrant.
2. I don’t need to practice running away…I plan to stand and fight.
2nd Pro Fight - I'm the bald guy in the red boxing trunks
I provided the latter answer to my wife, Amanda, not long after we first met and were discussing her love for running. She told me how she’d already run a half marathon and wanted to run a full before she kicked the bucket. She also told me she was registered for another half marathon that was only weeks away. When I asked her the distance on a half marathon, she told me it was 13.1 miles.

The farthest I'd ever run was about five miles, and 13.1 miles seemed an impossible task for someone like myself who hated to run. So, in my mind, I immediately ran through all the reasons why I couldn’t do the half marathon with Amanda—all the important things I just knew I had to do that day, like clip my fingernails or fold my socks.
As we continued talking, Amanda said she planned to walk it, because she hadn’t trained for it and she didn’t want to hurt herself. Being the gentleman I am—and realizing instantly I could walk that distance on any given day even through the mountains—I offered to walk it with her. She was elated. I couldn’t believe something as simple as walking beside her for a few hours would make her that happy, but there she was—giddy with excitement that I’d agreed to do something I hated just for her.
On “race” day, Amanda bounced out of bed way too early and dragged me out from under the sheets. We showed up at the Heart and Soles event in Houma, LA with our walking shoes strapped firmly in place and gathered at the starting line with the other folks who had nothing better to do that day. Someone finally popped a cap in the air and everyone started running like they were the ones being shot at. As for Amanda and me, we walked…for about a hundred yards. She turned to me with beautiful brown eyes that sparkled and she was bouncing up and down, nearly jumping out of her skin. “I’m so excited! I want to run,” she said (paraphrasing).
I was like, “Sure, let’s run.” I knew she hadn’t trained for it, so I figured, “How far could she go?”
13.1 miles and 2:57 later, Amanda and I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, having jogged our first half marathon together and my first ever. I can’t remember ever laughing that much in my life. The images of Amanda doubled over trying to run while she laughed hysterically (I’m just a funny guy, I guess) will forever be one of the fondest memories of our first months together. At 42, I did something I never—and I mean NEVER EVER—had the urge to do, but it was very cool and it’s something I would never have experienced had it not been for Amanda.
Amanda and me at Houma Heart & Soles 2013
Now, I must admit to enjoying a conversation I had with one of my friends after the event. He told me he hadn’t known I was into running and he described all the weeks of training he and his wife had undergone in preparation for that day (it sounded boring and time-consuming!). He then asked what I’d done to train for the half marathon and asked if I’d done any other races. Lying to make others feel better is not in my DNA, so I shrugged and said, “I’ve been eating chocolate brownies, drinking milk and watching TV.” (Of course, they weren’t just any old brownies—they were from Duet’s Bakery in Galliano, LA and they’re the best!)
This event definitely brought Amanda and me closer together and I proposed to her about six weeks later. As you can imagine, my jaw landed solidly on the floor in front of my boots when I applied for our marriage license and saw the license number—it was identical to the bib number from my very first racing event with Amanda. At that moment, I knew without a doubt I’d made the right decision.
My half marathon bib and our marriage license
Now, I’d love to be able to sit here and write that the half marathon changed my view of the sport and ignited within me a passion for running, but that would be a lie. I still hate to run, but I love Amanda more than I hate running and I happily attend race after race with her. If the event is more than ten minutes from the house, we leave the day before and make a romantic night-away out of it.
Flying over the finish line at the 2015 Rock and Roll Series 10K in New Orleans
Some of the racing events we’ve done since then include the 2014 Houma Heart and Soles 5K, a Moonjoggers virtual 5K (M’s Run: Klingons Against Cancer) , the Rock and Roll Series 10K and the Crescent City Classic. Although running is not my flavor, these events provide a great opportunity for Amanda and me to spend some quality time together and just “get away”, while also contributing to good causes. We’re not trying to set records—unless there’s a record for last place—but I think these events are a great way for couples, and even families, to visit with one another, enjoy the views, and get the old heart pumping.
Striking a pose at the 2015 Rock and Roll Series 10K in New Orleans
Take it easy one and all and thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Holy crap!!! Amanda just registered us for the 2016 Rock and Roll Marathon!
BJ Bourg