Here's another new review of my horror epic The Slab--for those of you still sitting on the fence. Brittany says, in part, "This is a must read for all horror/thriller lovers."
Here's another new review of my horror epic The Slab--for those of you still sitting on the fence. Brittany says, in part, "This is a must read for all horror/thriller lovers."
Politically, I mean.
It matters a lot in some ways. Popcorn, for instance. If you love popcorn, you've got to love Iowa. And hot air balloon afficianadoes have good reason to feel fondly about the place. Plus, it's home to one of the best working writers in the business, my old pal Max Allan Collins.
But this year's Republican caucuses? Virtually meaningless.
The nominee will be Willard M. Romney. It's how Republicans do things. The next guy in line always wins. Last time, that was McCain. This year, despite the much-hyped "power" of the increasingly marginalized Tea Party, it's Romney. The Republican establishment has lined up behind their guy, and he'll walk away with it. Think of the millions that could be saved if people accepted that now, instead of campaigning through state after state. Maybe some of that ad money will trickle down from TV station owners to the unemployed...
But that's part of the problem. It won't (though the hotel money, the restaurant money, etc., spent by campaigns and journalists will). The thing is, it hardly matters which of the Republican candidates wins, because their economic prescription is basically identical, across the board: Lower taxes for the rich, lower taxes for corporations.
Folks, trickle-down economics--"suppy side" if you want to sound all intellectual-like--has never worked in a complex, diverse economy. If kind of works in places like Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, where the entire economy is built around a single product, and middle-class wages are relatively high. But it's been tried in the U.S. since Reagan, and it has resulted in the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and middle class wages remaining flat (which means, since costs have not remained flat, being worse off than before).
A rising (economic) tide lifts all boats if it rises from the bottom. But you can't lift up the most expensive boats and expect the water to come with them.
The eventual nominee, Willard M., is as bad as the rest, and dishonest to boot. Here are his own words:
"In an Entitlement Society, government provides every citizen the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to innovate, pioneer or take risk. In an Opportunity Society, free people living under a limited government choose whether or not to pursue education, engage in hard work, and pursue the passion of their ideas and dreams. If they succeed, they merit the rewards they are able to enjoy.
Over the past three years, Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society."
Now, that's patently nonsense. What exactly has Barack Obama done to take money away from those who have earned it and give it to those who are just sitting around with their hands out? (Wall Street bailouts aside). What President Obama has been fighting for--against absolute resistance from elected Republicans--is a society where those who weren't born with the advantages that Mr. Romney was are allowed to get good educations, to have health care so that illness won't cripple them financially, and to have a chance to succeed. As Mr. Obama did in his own life, and as Mr. Romney did not do.
Of those two men, only one was born into entitlement. The other was raised by a poor mother and middle class grandparents, worked his tail off to get into good schools, worked his way up to president of the Harvard Law Review, then Senator, then President. Mr. Obama really is the story of American opportunity, of a kind of class mobility that is all but disappearing in our country. Mr. Romney, on the other hand, was born rich and remains rich. He didn't get there by his own efforts, and he has never in his life known what it is to struggle to put a meal on the table or a roof over his head.
So the question is, does Romney really believe that nonsense he spouts? Or is he lying about Obama's record in order to stir up anti-Obama hatred? Because that kind of dog-whistle talk, like Reagan's "welfare queen" nonsense, is racially tinged, extremist hate speech, meant to promote a "we are better than them" ideology. Which are you, Mitt, dishonest or clueless? And is either one a recommendation for the presidency?
It really doesn't matter which Republican is the nominee, because as I said, they all have basically the same economic message. That message misses the point. They want to cut the deficit, when at this moment, borrowing (for the federal government) is free, and we should do more of it. What the economy needs is MORE spending, not less. That will continue the 20+ months of private-sector job growth we've seen. Cutting spending too soon will bring that growth to a halt. In 2013, maybe 2014, we should be looking at the deficit--after the economy is humming again. For now, we need jobs, period. And the way to jobs is not trickle down (which, again, HAS NEVER WORKED), but spending. Which, by the way, works.
Mitt's the guy. He'll be the nominee. But it hardly matters (well, with the possible exception of Ron Paul, who might actually be certifiably insane), because they all have the same message. And they've all got it backward. They want to drag us back to the depths of 2008-2009, or maybe 1933-34. And we need to go forward, on the same steady, positive course we're on.
It's almost 2012! My first release for the new year will be a short story called "Black Train," in the anthology Westward Weird. "Black Train" just might be the creepiest, most terrifying story I've ever written (which, if I do say so myself, is going some).
Westward Weird is edited by the late, lamented Martin H. Greenberg, and the very much alive and kicking Kerrie Hughes, and includes stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Jay Lake, Seanan McGuire, Anton Strout, J. Steven York, and more. It'll be on sale in early February, from DAW.
And so you know what to look for, here's the completely awesome cover!
My weird holiday short story "Long Road Home" (read the post below for more details) was written to be read aloud, on radio. But I thought people might like to also read it with their eyes, so I've made it available as an e-book in a variety of formats, at a variety of online bookstores.
It's cheapest at DriveThruFiction, where it's only 59 cents, in PDF, Mobi, and EPub formats. At Amazon, it's only available for Kindle, of course, and it's 99 cents. At Smashwords, it's available in several formats, again at 99 cents. At this page you can see more info and links to all of the above.
Give it a try, and improve your holiday season and mine!
My short story "Long Road Home," written especially for Tucson's NPR radio station, KUAZ, is now online for people everywhere to hear. As I reported a few days ago, last Friday I went to the KUAZ studio on the University of Arizona campus and, with the help of two producers and a tech, recorded the short story. They added music and sound effects. The story has a holiday theme, though it's no Christmas feel-good story. It's about love, loss, and longing, all of which can be intensified by the holiday season.
You can listen to it, or download the MP3, here: http://radio.azpm.org/azspotlight/spotlight/2011/12/22/174-long-road-home/.
2011 was a good year for making new friends. Lots of travel, supplemented by a fair amount of time online, trying to get out there, to keep my name and Dark Vengeance in front of readers and book buyers, brought me into contact with bunches of new people.
One of my favorites is Red Tash, who is also an author, with a vested interest in keeping her name in front of the same sorts of people. We've played some blog-tag this fall (that's a new game I just now made up, but it sounds like fun). And now, I'm turning the floor over to her. Take it away, Red!
Hi. I'm Red Tash. I write dark fantasy and scary stories. Before that, I was (am?) a professional journalist and PR gal.
The thing is, being a new author in today's climate is pretty much a full-time job. If you're one of the lucky folks who received or treated him or herself to a new Kindle for Christmas, then you're probably already aware there are so many ebooks available to read for free or cheap, that you don't know where to start. (Incidentally, if you're looking for a starting place, I've got a series of blog posts that might help you pick, right here: http://LesleaTash.com/Fire I digress, already!)
As I was saying, I was/am a professional journalist, but being a new author on the scene is a remarkably time-consuming job. So time-consuming that I'm not sure if I'll have time to go back to covering news and features again, let alone ever write a column, like I used to. As Jeff touched on in his guest post, there's a lot of promotion to be done, even for someone such as himself with over forty titles to his name. In a virtual online bookstore growing exponentially every single day, I confess there is a frenzied stress among the herd, as each new author tries to differentiate himself from the crowd. They do so by cross-promoting at times, working together, and trying to surf the tide of attention and/or sales to leverage solo projects.
Frankly, right now I dread logging into Facebook, because of the “Buy my book!” posts. Ditto Twitter. Likewise Goodreads. I've even had an author hit me up while I was reading my email—he just popped up in Google Chat, and I kid you not, he asked me to buy his book! It's inescapable, brazen, and let's face it—tacky.
If you've read Jeff's post on my site or had a look-see at his website, you know he's accomplished. If you've read Jeff's guest blog on Konrath's site, you know he's honest and willing to talk straight about his journey in the publishing marketplace. Although Jeff has blazed a trail for himself in traditional publishing, he's also keeping a foot in the indie scene, for fantastic reasons that he lists in that post.
I'm going to take a page from Jeff's book here and be really straight with you—as much as I understand the indie scene, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to market my peculiar first book, myself (rather than let it gather dust in the desk drawer), I'm really getting kind of sick of the infancy of this movement. I know that's all it is—an early stage of a very big game—but, still, the amateur tactics of many indie authors are driving me nuts.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not confusing “indie” with “amateur,” nor am I saying “published” means “pro.” I have been in business for myself for several years, having run a successful business, while managing freelance gigs on the side. Some of those gigs were ongoing PR campaigns for clients as diverse as musicians, to household cleaning brands, to a roller derby team. Selling books may be a bit different than selling allergy alert wear, but building a brand and connecting with people who want to be associated with your brand is pretty much the same, no matter how you're making a living.
Universally, this is a thing creatives don't always “get.” I see authors squandering opportunities for fan-driven promotion, while still others alienate fans by spamming them non-stop. “Amateur” or “pro” status as a writer has nothing to do with whose hand is clicking the “publish” button, when it comes to promotion.
If you think selling anything, from writing, to yourself as a writer, to insurance, to a new roof, to a spit shine job on a passer-by's shoes, isn't about relationships, you are wrong, my friend. Very wrong. Selling is all about relationships, and it feels to me like the relationship side of the publishing business is in a wild state of chaos thanks to the new model.
In the absence of established etiquette for this new frontier, there's a saying I fall back on, repeatedly. It has served me greatly through the years: “It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.” If I could guarantee you that this is a multi-million dollar marketing formula, then the world would already be a nicer place, but the truth is, “nice” doesn't fit everyone's needs. However, it does fit mine. I remember nice people—people who are kind whether they have to be, or not.
That is why I remember Jeff Mariotte. He's rubbed shoulders with giants in our industry, and he never has an unkind word to say about anyone. He's neither pushy nor rude. Jeff maintains relationships with people like me to whom he doesn't owe him a thing, and he's quick with a kind word and a laugh. A man like Jeff can tell an industry leader on the man's own blog that he once thought him full of shit, call him a bastard, and not piss him off. That's a professional, my friends.
When you pick up a book by a professional writer, you may or may not like it, depending on an entire host of unforeseeable variables. A pro knows that a “not for me” doesn't equate to an insult. A pro knows that sales are one measure of success, but not the complete picture. A pro has goals, and if they don't get met, he or she evaluates and tries again, because a pro writer doesn't put junk out on the market for sale.
Jeff Mariotte is a professional—so am I. I think that's a big draw between the two of us. I hope you will peruse his latest work and share it with your friends. I know I am, and I shall. And if you're in the mood for something a little more likely to be described “instant cult classic,” I'd love for you to check out my book, as well. It is weird, but worth it, if weird is your kind of thing. Your feedback is quite welcome, always, on my blog or Facebook, or Twitter.
Jeff again. Red is right on target with these comments. Professionalism is about making money at whatever it is that one does, but it's also about attitude and approach. I try to approach my readers with respect and appreciation, in hopes of getting the same back. Obviously, Red does too. That's one reason you should buy This Brilliant Darkness today and read it tomorrow. Or today. Whichever. The other reason is that it's awesome.
Finally, here's an article that showed up in today's USA Today that touches on some of these issues. It's a feature on Michael Prescott, a thriller writer who is a friend of a friend and who has done very well with self-published e-books. I'm glad for him, as I am for any writer who breaks through and achieves a large readership. I hope Red and I both can report the same sort of success over the coming months.
Whether we do or not, though, won't affect what we bring to the work. The work--the stories, the paragraphs, the words, the characters--that's what counts. And, of course, the people who willingly fork over hard-earned cash to read our stuff. Thanks to you, dear readers. Always, thank you.
I was honored this morning to learn that my short story "Gold Shield Blues," which appeared in the anthology San DIego Noir, was chosen by mystery writer (and folk singer) Robert Lopresti as "The best mystery story I read this week." It's always great to be recognized by fellow authors, and to have one story plucked from such a fine anthology makes it doubly cool.
Here's Robert's review. Give it a read--and while you're there, check out some other stories he's enjoyed. Lots of good writing to be had!
There's much to be said about the war, and the expense in lives lost and broken, the expense in treasure, the expense in attention, the expense in international prestige and influence.
But I'll say it at a later date (and I'm sure others are saying it already).
All I'll say for now is, yes! Thank you, President Bush, for negotiating the timetable with the Iraqis, and thank you, President Obama, for making that timetable a reality. Thanks to the soldiers, and I hope you're all home for the hiolidays.
You job creators out there? Hire a veteran. Do it tomorrow. Thanks.
Sort of, anyway.
About a week ago, we noticed that our satellite internet--let's say leisurely paced, at best--had become downright slothful. Especially in the evenings, when I came home from work and could spend a few minutes online. But it was even slow during the daytimes. I ran speed tests and responsiveness tests and when I had some results collated, called HughesNet's tech support.
This can often be a frustrating experience.
That first phone call winds up someplace in India, where the tech support person on the other end takes you through a scripted set of procedures that--if you are at all tech savvy (not that I am, at least, not much), you have already tried. But try to deviate from the script, and everything gets fouled up.
Not this time, though. This time, I explained what was going on. He checked the satellite modem remotely, and determined immediately that the LAN port had gotten screwed up somehow. Possibly a power failure, he said, and in fact we did have one recently. He told me that even though our modem was no longer under warranty, he was sending another out, free of charge, and crediting us for 7 days of down time. He explained with great precision how to hook up the new modem and how to send back the old one.
That was Sunday. Today is Wednesday, and the new modem is here. I took it out of the box, looked at the directions--and the instructions on precisely how to hook it up were precisely the opposite of what I had been told on the phone (and written down, step by step, as he told me).
I decided to go with the printed material rather than the dictated directions. And lo and behold, it's up and working like a charm. Speed feels faster than ever.
So thanks, HughesNet. The old modem will be on its way back to you tomorrow.
And for the rest of you--if in the past couple of weeks I haven't hit your blog or wished you happy birthday on Facebook or responded to your Tweets, it's because the interwebs have been SOOOO slow lately. And now that it's not, I have to run in about three minutes. But this weekend (and in the weeks to come) I will be in touch. Or, like, stalking you online, or whatever. Just sayin'.
On Friday, I'll be at the Tucson NPR/AZ Public Media studios to record a brand-new short story called "Long Road Home." The tech wizards at the studios will be adding sound effects. The finished product will be aired on the Arizona Spotlight holiday show, Dec. 23/24. I'll post more detailed info when I have it, so locals can listen in. It'll also be available online, and I'll post links to that.
"Long Road Home" is a holiday-themed story, albeit a fairly dark, fantastical one. I will also try to get an e-version up online, either free or at very low cost, around the time of the broadcast, so people can give it a read if they care to. It was written expressly for the broadcast,
Thanks to AZ Public Media for inviting me to be part of this!