Clash of the Titans


Hello again, everyone, and welcome to a brisk autumn edition of the Mako Manifesto.  
Many of you read this blog because you know I’m a writer, and whether it’s to learn more about my work or the craft in general, you come here looking for indie-related content.  As a regular reader, though, you’re also well aware that I’m a total mark for college athletics, particularly where my beloved Florida State University (FSU) Seminoles are concerned.  Therefore, given the magnitude of this weekend’s “Clash of the ACC Titans” between third-ranked Clemson and fifth-ranked FSU, I’ve elected to bump the literary stuff to the end of this blog in favor of a good old-fashioned, armchair-QB sports rant.
… Drum roll please!!!
THE matchup
For all the historical flack given the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for its lack of legitimate football contenders (most times, rightfully so), the conference has rebounded nicely of late in the forms of FSU and Clemson, both having returned to national prominence with regular 10-win seasons and impressive victories over top-tier BCS opponents. 
This Saturday night, however, these two teams will meet in Death Valley, South Carolina for what will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the history of their budding rivalry.  At stake: a clear path to the ACC title, and quite possibly a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. 
Make no mistake about it, folks, both teams have a major point to prove with this game. 
For Clemson, it’s the chance to shed, once and for all, the “national pretender” status that’s haunted them for years, and avenge 2012’s loss to the Noles in Doak Campbell Stadium.
For FSU, meanwhile, a win here represents a major step toward reclaiming the “dynasty” mantle lost to them in the twilight years of the Bowden regime.
The individual storylines for this game are endless, though here are a few to consider:
          Clemson senior QB, Tajh Boyd vs. FSU redshirt freshman, Jameis Winston
          Clemson’s high-powered offense vs. a young, revamped FSU defense under first-year DC Jeremy Pruitt
          FSU’s running game vs. Clemson’s at-times shaky defensive front
FSU fans, we used to balk at the term “Game of the Century” because we heard it nearly every other week from 1990-2000.  Then came the infamous Jeff Bowden experiment on offense, and well… you know the rest.  Granted, much has happened since Fisher’s installment to right FSU’s misfortunes (our renewed status as perennial Top-5 recruiters, for starters) but this game still represents our best shot yet to show the world we’re back on top of the mountain. 
In other words, win this game and people will begin to take you seriously again.
Clemson fans, the same point applies to your program.  As it stands, you deserve major kudos for your successes to-date.  You and you alone rose above the mediocrity of this conference to assemble a top-flight football program capable of beating anyone in the nation, and you’re amassed wins over LSU, Georgia, Florida State among others are a testament to that.
Nevertheless, nobody forgets a 70-33 drubbing like the one you took from West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl, particularly when it happens on global TV.  Thus, a win Saturday night is every bit as vital to your legitimacy as FSU’s.
So… what’s my prediction, you ask?  
Listen, I firmly believe FSU has the talent and the coaching staff to win this game, to say nothing of their superstar QB in Winston, a kid on-pace to torch the record books before leaving Tallahassee.  Primetime top-five matchup or not, “Famous Jameis” will show no fear when he marches into that stadium — hostile crowd or not — and his team will do likewise for his leadership.  Couple that with FUS’s near-limitless pool of talent at the offensive skill positions, and yeah… this is definitely a winnable game for the Noles. 
On the other hand for Clemson, Boyd and Watkins are insanely good, as are most of the role-players around them, the vast majority of whom are seniors craving a national title in their final year of eligibility.   Factor in the clear home-field advantage of Death Valley plus FSU’s massive inexperience on defense, and — as much as my brothers and sisters in garnet may hate me for this — I’ve gotta take the Tigers in a barn burner.
So there you have it, Clemson fans.  I’m picking your team to beat mine.  Enjoy it, live it up, smoke it, do with it what you will.  Just know this… you had better beat us while you can.  Because starting next season… you won’t get that chance again for a very, VERY long time.
Red Sky Dawning update
Book two of the Mako Saga continues to unfold.  At present, I’m about 75% finished with the first draft, and I’m really excited about where the story has gone.  As I’ve said all along, RSD is, in many ways, a changing of the guard with regard to main characters.  True, everyone is back — Lee and Mac included — but this chapter of the saga really gave me the chance to flesh out some of the other characters and introduce some new ones (one of whom I’ve been dying to write since book one, but couldn’t fit into that part of the mythology). 
FYI, I also got to create my own form of MMA (Kachuro) which, as a dude, is just plain awesome!  J  
My hope is to have the piece ready to go to beta readers by the end of the year, with copyedits and proofing set for early spring followed by a summer 2014 release. 
Friends in indie places
As any author knows, one of the toughest aspects of the indie biz comes with balancing one’s time between writing books and promoting them.  Therefore, it’s always nice to find others who can help you with the latter, thus freeing you up for more time with the former.
Paul and the crew from Self Publisher’s Showcase (SPS)want to do just that.  
As implied by their name, SPS is a new service devoted to helping indie authors promote their work.  What sets them apart from their competitors, however, are their rates ($3 a month, respectively) and the expansiveness with which they do so (author profiles, interviews, book reviews, blogs, extensive social media coverage, easy-to-access sales links, etc.).
Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of paying for grass-roots marketing services like these.  Even still, that’s a lot of bang for a little buck, and if you’re like me (full time job with a family at home) you need all of the writing time you can get.  
SPS can help you facilitate that.
Alright folks, that’s gonna do it for now.  I’m off for an afternoon walk with my pooches then it’s back to the apartment for another round of laundry and RSD edits.
Everyone take care, have a great week, and remember… GO NOLES!!!
Cheers,
IJM
PS- I’m totally in the market for a good potato soup and or corn chowder recipe for the game this weekend.  If you’ve got one handy (especially if it involves a crock pot) hit me up with an email, tweet, or Facebook post.  Thanks!!!  J

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