Once we outgrew the snakes, the next toys we indulged in were sparklers. Sparklers were much more exciting than snakes. The sparkler was basically a piece of wire, about nine inches long; that included a fuel, usually charcoal or sulfur (the same as black powder); an oxidizer, potassium nitrate for example; a binder such as sugar or starch, which when coated on the wire and dried, allow the substances to remain; and finally, the best part, the aluminum, iron, steel, zinc, or magnesium dust that creates the beautiful, bright, shimmering sparks. The metal flakes heat up until they are incandescent and shine brightly. Once lit, the sparkler shot out colorful sparks at a ferocious rate. They were best played with after dark, so you achieved the full effect of the fire and color.
Each of us ran to Dad with sparkler in hand (Dad had the matches; he probably didn’t think it was safe for us to have our own matches), and he lit each of our sparklers. Whereas we then ran around the yard flailing our arms around in circles, writing our names in the air, and getting as close to each other’s faces as we thought we could get away with, squealing and giggling the entire time.
Once we became good at it, we graduated to a sparkler in each hand, and then maybe two in each hand (if you tried to hold too many at a time, the sparks burned your hand). Besides the obvious, in the wrong hands these little toys had the potential to be quite lethal, in an inconspicuous way.
You see, when the sparkler had burned itself out, we tended to throw the remaining wire on the ground and run back to Dad to get our sparkler refill. Unfortunately, the discarded wire was still extremely hot, and as I mentioned in an earlier chapter of the book, we always ran around barefoot, especially during the summertime. A hot sparkler on the bottom of the foot ensured that in addition to squealing and giggling, there was loud screeching and one-legged hopping around to liven up the evening.
Dad, with a look of incredulity, turned to Mom and said, “Honey, what are those kids doing, jumping around the yard and screeching like that?”
Mom, oblivious to the reality at hand, “I don’t know, dear, I guess they’re just having a good time.”
Purchase your copy of Little Heathens here.
Since Little Heathens was released on June 18th, I’ve had many people ask me how the book is doing. My answer has been, “I don’t know”. Well, I do know how many copies I’ve personally sold, but I don’t know how many have sold via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Tate Publishing, or other retail outlets. Due to the release date, I won’t see a statement of royalties from the publisher until after the third quarter, so I’m guessing maybe in mid-October.
I do know that since March I’ve been busy with marketing and continuing to spread the word via social media and word of mouth. Here is a link to a recent broadcast of an interview I did for Little Heathens on WCIU-TV’s morning show “You and Me This Morning”. This aired in the Chicago market on July 23rd. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmOgBYiffAw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUSX8WhMhwsTGe8MeC_R3sqg
Currently I’m scheduled for another book signing in Mantorville, MN on September 14th at the County Seat Coffeehouse. I’m also scheduled for an upcoming interview with the Mokena Messenger and have arranged events with the Manhattan and Tinley Park libraries as well as a tentative book signing at the Pickwick Society Tearoom in mid-October.
So, back to the question originally posed: How’s your book doing? I don’t know, and since I really didn’t know what to expect from the beginning, I guess it’s going pretty well. If the book does great, I can give God all the credit, and if it doesn’t, I keep writing. The follow-up to Little Heathens, “Always a Little Heathen” is about halfway complete with a year-end target date.
What I can say is that people have responded very positively to Little Heathens. It has a tendency to make people smile and even laugh. The humorous, lighthearted stories take them back to their childhood and the fond memories that are seldom revisited. A fan of Little Heathens recently told me that the book is a great escape for him after he’s had a particularly hard or stressful day at work. When I talk to people about the book and some of the tales within, it is fascinating to watch the energy level escalate and the buzz in the room increase as everyone starts to tell their version of similar stories in their lives.
I was at a men’s luncheon recently and the topic of Little Heathens came up and as I began to tell some of the stories, in this case my first bicycle and how Dad taught me to ride, the previously boring and muted luncheon turned into a loud and boisterous fun fest as each man recalled his first bike ride; similar stories all.
So far the journey with Little Heathens has been fun and rewarding and I look forward to what will happen next. I have dreams of great things for Little Heathens and only time will tell if my dreams will come true.
Today is the day that Little Heathens is available nationally. I’m not sure what to expect, but Tate Publishing is sure on the ball; I have an interview scheduled with WCIU-TV in Chicago for July 1st. I’m not sure when it will air, but I’m excited about the opportunity to share Little Heathens with a broader public. I love the book and am passionate about selling it to others. I love it because it’s a story about my family. A family full of love and laughter, adventure and wonderful times. I’ve received such inspiring feedback from those who have read it, and I feel like everyone who does read it takes something positive away from the experience.
It seems like a long time ago when I began writing the stories that would eventually become the book. I never intended to write a book; only wanting to record family history for posterity. Many were stories that my siblings and I would sit and tell in our adult days; teasing and laughing with each telling, those around us intrigued at what they were hearing. I thought the grandkids would get a kick out of reading about their grandpa and his siblings. I was between jobs a couple of years ago when I began compiling these memories from my youth, growing up in Los Angeles during my grade school years. After I had put a few stories together I began sending them out to co-workers. They were ebullient in their praise and suggested that I write a book.
For a few months I kept writing stories and sending them to my siblings for their approval and input. They too seemed to enjoy the tales and often said, “How do you remember all those stories?” I kept writing, almost as if my hand was being guided by someone else. You see, there is a theme of redemption running through my family’s history and it comes out in the stories. I believe that God is behind the writing of these tales as well as other writings I am working on. Check out my blog posts to see what I mean.
After about a year and a half of hearing how I should write a book, I finally thought of contacting a publisher, just to see what a person had to do to get a book published. I contacted Tate Publishing, the first publisher that came up in my search and whose faith statement on their webpage was one that aligned closely with my faith. They told me to send them three chapters and a foreword (I didn’t have a foreword and wasn’t done with the book). I wrote the foreword and picked out my favorite chapters and sent them via e-mail. After reading testimonials of other authors I wasn’t expecting a call, good or bad, for many weeks. They contacted me within twenty-four hours; they wanted to publish my book!
A couple of months later and the manuscript was done and then six months of back and forth editing and refining the text. I’ve read Little Heathens a dozen times and I still laugh at the stories. We, especially me, were funny kids. We did a lot of funny things as kids and I’m finding that we weren’t all that unusual. Everyone who sends me feedback on the book pulls something unique out of it that relates specifically to them. That is rewarding and each time I hear their feedback it makes me smile and laugh and takes me right back to the events; allowing me to relive them once again.
I remember the feedback that I received from my oldest son Ron. Ron is a musician in Chicago; a deep thinker, writer, musician, sound engineer, producer, poet and on top of all that he’s an avid fan of Stephen King. When he read the first chapter I sent him, he had a lot of insight to share, but the one thing he said, and a major contrast with his usual reading, was, “Dad, your stories are so wholesome!” Wholesome? Maybe we need a little more wholesome in today’s society. We have plenty of other things, but not a lot of wholesome.
I have dreams of Little Heathens doing well enough that the publisher asks me for another book (they won’t have to wait long as I’m about halfway through the sequel “Always a Little Heathen”), eventually writing full-time. In this, I have little control. I can only hope that those who read it share what they’ve experienced with others. For those interested in a signed copy, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who want to go the more traditional route, Little Heathens is available on Amazon and bookstore websites such as Barnes and Noble (type in Ron Bay, Jr. as an alternate search). You can also order directly from the publisher at:
There will be a video trailer accompanying the release, soon to be seen on cable television stations such as CNN and Lifetime. Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfqIkAg6TjY
If you would like to read a little bit from the book prior to making a decision, there are stories posted on my blog excerpted from the book here:
I’ve been asked numerous times as to when Little Heathens will be available in stores. I thought it a good time to share this link answering just that question:
In addition, here is the trailer that will run on national television ads:
For those of you who have purchased a copy from me; thank you. Your feedback has been great and encourages me to continue in my writing. For those still not sure, here are a couple of links to excerpts out of the book:
Only God knows the answer to that question and only time will tell. I am left to share my passion for Little Heathens with any and all who will listen via word of mouth and social media. Here are some observations from three who have read or are reading Little Heathens:
Wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your book, Little Heathens. Your stories bring back many of my own experiences as a child, including the witch’s house, $2 bills, bed-wetting, the “stop touching me!” battles…
Today I kind of wish I related more to innocent Kathy, but what fun it was being a little heathen!
For everyone who’s ever been told they should write about their childhood, you’ve set the standard with the ideal prototype. Thanks Ron! Can’t wait for Part II!-
Little Heathens is a well written, humorous book that brought me back to my childhood with my sister. When reading, I had to keep a box of Kleenex near to wipe the laughter tears from my eyes. It’s a book that will keep you laughing to the point where your sides and cheeks hurt. I am ready for the sequel to see what kind of mischief the Bay kids got into when they were in High School!
Thank you and have a great day!
Ron, where do I start? I am over half way through the book. As I read the journey through your childhood I feel that with each adventure I read there is something that reminds me of my childhood. I have laughed and went to places in my mind that I had forgotten about. All I have to say is Bravo for reminding us of a time when it was ok to be a little heathen, and when it was still ok to have fun and not be afraid of the society we live in.
If you would like to read a little of the book to get an idea of its content, here’s the trailer from the back of the book:
What do you get when you cross a mischievous six-year-old boy, a hatchet, a pet lizard and the oft-repeated question, “what happens to a lizard when it loses its tail?” Or, what is a mother to do when, as she exits the store with a basket full of groceries, she looks up to see her blue station wagon rolling across the parking lot with four little kids, screaming at the tops of their lungs, trapped inside? In Little Heathens, author Ron Bay, Jr. takes us on a journey of adventure, innocence, and discovery through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy. Join Ron as he prompts your memory to travel back to a time in your life when the most pressing question you had to answer upon awakening each day was, “how much fun am I going to have today?”
Here are three excerpts from the book for your consumption:
To order your copy of Little Heathens, e-mail me at email@example.com for a signed copy or at the publisher’s website here: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781625102034
Lastly, here’s the video trailer that will precede the book’s distribution in June:
If you love to read, laugh, smile, or just reminisce about a time of innocence and fun, then you may want to give Little Heathens a try.
In the classic comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Del Griffith and Neal Page are stranded in the Wichita airport with all flights to Chicago cancelled because of a blizzard. Rather than sleep in the airport, Del makes a call to the Braidwood Motel and lines up a cab to take them there. The cab driver, Doobie, instead of taking them straight to the motel, takes them on the scenic tour. When Neal gets frustrated with the amount of time the trip is taking he says, “Where the hell is the motel?”
Del says, “Doobie, is it much farther?”
“Not much,” Doobie replies.
“Why didn’t you take the interstate?” Dell inquires.
Doobie answers, “Your friend has never been here, so I figured he’d like to look around. There’s nothing on the interstate.”
Neal, under his breath, says to Del, “It’s the middle of the night.”
Del gives this understanding response, “I know, but he’s proud of his town. That’s a rare thing these days.”
When I was a teenager, I was infamous for trapping people in my car and “letting” them listen to my favorite tunes, at a volume which ensured they wouldn’t miss a single instrument, beat or lyric. Every new song it seems was my “favorite” and I wanted to make sure everyone else had a chance to hear it. I was convinced that they would like it as much as I did. Once in the car and moving down the street, they didn’t have much of a choice with the exposure, but even with my best intentions, not everyone had my taste in music.
Now that my first book has been published, like Doobie, I’m obviously proud of it and I want everyone else to enjoy it like I have. Unlike my teen years, I can’t lock you in my car and force you to read it. However, just like my “favorite” songs of old, I’m sure you will love the book. Why? What is it about Little Heathens that I think others will enjoy?
When the publisher suggested I think long and hard about my niche audience, I had a tough time segregating groups of people who might relate to the story. From the feedback I’ve received it seems to have nearly universal appeal. After all, we were all kids at one time and most of us enjoyed similar experiences growing up. A woman who grew up in Puerto Rico was laughing when she told me how the story of walking through the neighborhood on the top of the wall was just like she and her two brothers did when they were kids. Another lady related to the grocery store water hoses in the produce section. A man, fifteen years my junior related to the story of walking on flattened tin cans. A young lady, 24, loved the part about the “witch” house in the neighborhood and told me that she and her sister had one of those houses in their neighborhood. Those buying Little Heathens have ranged from 16 years of age to 93; the story seems to strike a chord with most people.
Little Heathens is the account of four little kids growing up during a time when the “hovering” parent didn’t exist. You played all day without supervision and you created most of your own fun. It’s a book that seems to be able to take people back to a time in their own lives that elicits fond memories as well as laughter and smiles along with them. One young lady, only half way through the book, told me that she couldn’t read the book at bedtime because it made her laugh so hard that her stomach hurt and she couldn’t go to sleep. Here are some other comments.
“It’s funny. I laughed at you playing in the dirt at the construction site and throwing dirt clods at cars, especially at the police car! Also, you having to break off your own stick when you got in trouble with your brother…”
“Ron, I haven’t laughed at something this hard that I’ve read in a really, really long time! (I too am in the first few chapters). Funny!”
“One guy at church, who is probably around 70, said he was enjoying it because it was bringing back similar memories from his childhood. He even mentioned the ornery stuff they did as kids, such as diving in Big Blue.”
“Honestly, I have to say that your book was the best book that I have read! I am looking forward to your sequel! My favorite section is with the “Witch” house! That reminded me of something that my sister and I use to do, and a little of the book The Mockingbird.”
Why Little Heathens? If you like to read, and you’re tired of the smut and cynicism in our culture today, and if you’re looking for a “feel good” story, you should try Little Heathens. I’m sure you will love it! (just like “Picasso’s Last Words”; great song!) If you would like to order a copy through me, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a signed copy for 10 percent off the list price. If you would rather order from the publisher, go to this link: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/notavailable.php
Here’s the trailer that will precede the national release in mid-June: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfqIkAg6TjY
If you aren’t convinced that you will like the book, here are three excerpts to consider:
The second order of Little Heathens has arrived. The initial sales and subsequent feedback from readers has been very encouraging. From the time I was a child, I’ve always loved to share things that I enjoy and love with others, and this book is no exception. For those of you who missed the first opportunity to order a copy, I am including three excerpts from the book to help you make a decision. The excerpts are here:
If you would like to place an order for Little Heathens through me, you can e-mail me at email@example.com and receive a 10% discount off the list price of $21.99 as well as receive a signed copy. If you are not comfortable ordering through me you can go to the publisher here:
Amazon is currently accepting pre-orders for the Kindle version which will be available on June 18th. For those who have already received their copy of Little Heathens, thank you and I look forward to your feedback.
To all who have enjoyed my writings and are interested in my book, I have an update to the original announcement concerning Little Heathens. The book is now available through the publishers website at this link:
I’ve included here the foreword from the book, which should give you a good idea of the book’s content.
Over the years I’ve had numerous conversations with friends and co-workers regarding our school days, childhood, our growing up times. Inevitably I would end up telling a story about my brother, sisters and myself and some of the predicaments in which we found ourselves. The reactions were varied; uncontrolled laughter, blank stares of disbelief and even the occasional walking away while shaking their head (after reading this book, you too may find some of these stories leading you to shake your head; I certainly do, and I was there).
Another phenomenon would occur whenever the four of us were together and we began reminiscing and reliving our adventures. On one such occasion we were at a restaurant following a major family event (in this case a funeral) and the entire family; nephews, nieces, aunts, and uncles were seated at a large table. The tenor within the restaurant was the normal buzz of people eating dinner and chatting, when all of a sudden we began telling our tales. The people at our table were soon cracking up with laughter as each tale was told. As the hilarity increased, so did the volume. Soon, those around were seen bending their ears to catch a little of the stories and they too would be seen smiling and chuckling to themselves (it may have been the stories, but could have been the spectacle that we’d become). All of these were common reactions to our family adventures.
Not all of those that I’ve spoken to over the years had fond memories of their childhood. I’ve never understood that feeling. I absolutely had a wonderful childhood, from the time I can remember, all the way through high school. Whether I was playing in the neighborhood or going to school, it all seemed like one grand adventure. For this reason and those listed above, I decided to share these stories with a broader audience. I find great joy in bringing the same to others.
This is a story of four little kids growing up together in an era when life was a little more innocent and kids entertained themselves, if they were going to be entertained. We were mischievous, ornery, fun loving, high energy kids; not unlike most other kids. As my wife would sit and listen to these stories being told she would often remark, “You guys were little heathens”; thus the title of this book.
Here are some excerpts from the book posted on this blog:
Thanks to all who have read and shared their enjoyment.
To all interested parties: I am currently accepting pre-orders for my book “Little Heathens”. For all who place their order through me I am offering a 10% discount off the list price of $21.99. In addition, by ordering directly from me, you will receive your copy approximately 90 days prior to the book being available in stores. You may have read some excerpts I’ve posted from the book on this blog including, “Let’s Get Kathy, She’ll Do It!”, “This Will Only Hurt For A Few Seconds”, and “Has Anybody Seen My Lizard?”. If you would like to place a pre-order, e-mail your name, address and preferred contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.