Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Somewhere in the Shadows" is now available!

The horror anthology "Somewhere in the Shadows," to which I contributed a story, is now available at Amazon. I had much fun writing the short story "Words," in which a writer is attacked by his own writing. Andrew Hudson was the maestro who put this thing together, and I commend him for all the time and effort he expended to get this thing out into the world. Neil Jackson did an amazing job on the cover art and Paul Dail wrote a great introduction. The finished product looks great, from the stories themselves to the formatting and the cover art, everything turned out well. This ebook exclusive contains stories from Andrez Bergen, Amber Keller, Dean Giles, Jonathon D. Allen, Marissa Farrar, Andrew Cyrus Hudson, Craig Jones, C.M. Humphries, and myself.



I submitted "Words" a few months ago, and was honored to find, when I received an early version of the anthology, that it had been chosen as "the closer." I've purchased a copy myself in support of the cause and will be reading it over the next few days. So go snag yourself one. It looks like a great read for horror fans. And thanks for your support.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Six Sunday - 11/4/2012 - From "Words"

Before I can react, a pair of the's jump forward and knock me to the ground. Pinned on my back, some H's and V's scurry over my face and clamp onto my lips, holding my mouth open. I twist my shoulders and manage to slither away from the words before they can shove anything down my throat. I smack my face to dislodge the vise-like upper-case letters from my mouth.
I scramble to my feet and start to run, intending to bash my way through the legions of inky soldiers, but two steps later some parentheses wobble into my path and trip me up with their curvy bodies. I fall onto a bed of exclamation points; their tips stab at me like sharpened pencils and their knobbly points bash into me like malevolent massage balls.

*******

Although the release date of the anthology this story will appear in, called "Somewhere the Shadows," has been delayed (something about the cover art, from what I understand), I assure you that it is coming any day now. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to head over to Six Sunday and check out the short, sweet posts from all the fine writers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reading, reading, reading...

In a usual year, I'd say I read about 40-50 novels. But in 2011 my reading dropped significantly, and I decided to get back into it and read like a fiend in 2012. Last November I created an account at GoodReads, and back in January I signed up to a challenge over at Goodreads to read 150 books this year.

What. The. Hell. Was. I. Thinking.

It's been tough to keep up with my goal because I have a two-year-old at home, I work an almost full-time day job, and I've more than a handful of stories bouncing around in my head. Excuses, excuses, right? But then again, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good read. And I am of the firm opinion that reading is studying my craft.

So far this year I've dropped 127 books (how many words? who knows?) into the dark, subconscial regions of my brain. Which means I've got 23 books left to go, with 60 days to get there. There are a handful of short stories in the READ tally, as Goodreads doesn't differentiate between full-length digital novels and standalone, short story ebooks (thank the web gods that be).

So I'm gonna give you the rundown on the best books I've read--so far--this year. The top 5. In my opinion, the best of the best. They fall in no particular order.

1. "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

I love DiscWorld. But I also love Terry Pratchett, no matter what he's writing. I buy this dude's books in hardcover, bro. And this is a goodie with a mind-bending twist on an ago-old premise that I'm somewhat amazed no one's thought of before. But I'm quite glad that Sir Pratchett (or Mr. Baxter, perhaps) did. I look forward to the sequels. The Long Earth is a tale of dwindling resources, parallel universes, and misguided love—and loss—on an airship, with a robot/supercomputer looking on.

2. "Pines" by Blake Crouch

J.A. Konrath introduced me to Blake Crouch. Not in person, but still. Konrath's blog was my first stop when I began looking into indie publishing. Then I read Draculas, an independently published book Konrath cajoled Crouch, F. Paul Wilson (more on him later), and Jeff Strand into co-authoring with him. From there it was onto Crouch's Andrew Z. Thomas series. And now . . . Pines is a page-clicker for the newborn digital age, an expertly crafted horror thriller with a sci-fi twist. A must-read for horror fans.

3. "The Dirty Parts of the Bible" by Sam Torode

A retelling of the Jewish tale of Tobias and Sarah set in 1930's America. Laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming, Dirty Parts has it all. Love, and fire, on a railcar speeding across the country. This book is one of the good ones, with a Forrest Gump kinda feel to it. Perhaps one of the all-time good ones.

4. "Black Wind" by F. Paul Wilson

Yay, it's historical fiction by horror/thriller/suspense/conspiracy author F. Paul Wilson, who is a doctor in his spare (wait...huh?) time. This is the other guy Konrath introduced me to. I've been reading the hell out of his Repairman Jack series over the last year or so (I'm currently reading the 12th of 15) and devouring just about everything else in his catalog that I can get my digital claws into. I think it's easier to get into authors like this if you own an e-reader. I honestly don't have room on my physical bookshelves for 15 paperbacks, even if R.J. is the best series I've read in years. (You should see the TBR shelf. The horror, oh, the horror. I mean, I've got Lincoln sitting there, and Of Human Bondage, both of which I doubt I'll ever get to.)

5. "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" by Catherynne M. Valente

This is a true fairy tale that kept me riveted to its pages. I believe a sequel just came out or is due out any day now. At some point, I will be purchasing it.

********

Yeah, you might like these books. But then again, you might hate them. No book is for everybody, as every new author finds out when the reviews start coming in.

I'm still not sure I'll be making my goal, as I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this month and November is going to be write, write, write. So if you know a good fantasy or horror short, let me know, as I may have to cheat a little bit more and read a number of shorties to reach the 150 book goal. Wish me luck! I may need it...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Six Sunday - 10/28/2012 - From "Words"

The words on the Kindle's screen are still pidgin, but now they're moving. Letters grab punctuation marks for partners and jump, spin, twirl, whirl across the screen to some unknown beat. Watching the frenetic movement makes me dizzy, and I have to look away before I puke all over myself.

When the nausea passes and I look back down at the Kindle, the words are still dancing. Then a capital W's three spidery legs arise from the undulating screen like periscopes from the sea and scrabble for purchase in reality. The tiny twenty-third letter of the English alphabet quivers when it pops into the world, as if the ink is in ecstasy to be free from its electronic prison, and then lifts off and sails into the air.

************

I'm going to ignore the fact that it's been over three months since my last blog post and plow right on ahead. So . . . I've got a short story in an upcoming horror anthology called "Somewhere in the Shadows," put together by Andrew Hudson, who I commend for the amount of time and effort he put into putting this thing together and getting it out there.

I really wanted to do a story about a haunted Kindle, and that was the inspiration for "Words." Although, as with most stories, by the final draft it ended up having a few unexpected twists I hadn't planned on at the start. Either way, check out the anthology. It also has stories from Jonathan Allen, Andrez Bergen, Marissa Farrar, Dean Giles, Craig Jones, C.M. Humphries, Amber Keller, and the man himself, Andrew Hudson.

It should be released any day now, so I'll let you know. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to head over to Six Sunday to check out the sweet, succinct posts from all the fine writers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Researching Bodhidharma

Writing a novel sometimes requires research. You want to get your facts straight, or they're all going to laugh at you.

As dramatic as that scene from Carrie may be, it's really not all that bad. Sometimes the answer is just a Google search away, but sometimes a writer must go a little deeper than that. For my first novel, "The Fountain of Eden," I researched mythology and delved into some classic fiction. For the next one, I'm researching the life and times of Bodhidharma, the times being 5th-6th century India and China.

I've learned many new things about Bodhidharma in recent days. There are many conflicting accounts of the life of this pivotal figure in the development of Zen Buddhism, as is to be expected with someone who lived (and . . . died? . . . well, that, like most things in life, is debatable) over 1500 years ago.

The oldest mention of Bodhidharma is in "The Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks," written in 645 by Daoxuan, a Chinese historian who modern day historians thank very much for all the useful writings he left behind. There are also a handful of later accounts, each putting their own little twist into the Bodhidharma legend.

What all this conflicting information means is that I can pick and choose what I want to use and drop the stuff that doesn't fit my story. I can shuffle dates as needed, and make some other stuff up and throw it into the novel because I like it and I think it's fucking cool. That's my prerogative as a writer of fiction.

But aside from Bodhidharma's life, I also want to get a good grip on the time period. How was it back in India in the late fifth century? What were people besides Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu up to in early sixth century China?

Well, I'm getting there. For now, I'm fascinated by his life.

I've been reading "Tracking Bodhidharma" by Andy Ferguson. Ferguson takes a modern-day jaunt along Bodhidharma's ancient path, beginning in Guangzhou in southern China, where Bodhidharma is said to have first set foot in the Far East. Weaving past and present into a brilliant narrative, Ferguson's storytelling is engrossing (especially to someone researching Bodhidharma), although it doesn't delve much Bodhidharma's early life, in India, which is where his story begins. Ferguson's book will leave you with a new impression of China and remind you that, no matter where they live, people are people, just trying to get by.

Next on the reading list are Heinrich Dumoulin's "History of Zen Buddhism" and Jeffrey L. Broughton's "The Bodhidharma Anthology."

As a side note and a shout-out to an excellent book, one of the most interesting and entertaining takes on the Bodhidharma legend I've read is the "Zen Katha" by Partap Sharma. It is a play, and Sharma does an excellent job of tossing just about every Bodhidharma legend he can into twenty-four scenes in two acts.

As for the upcoming novel, I've got a few chapters sketched out, a few scenes written up in my notebook, the first chapter pretty much done, chapters two and three worked up into skeletal form. But I'm-a-keep reading for a while, because I want to be fully immersed in Bodhidharma's world before I begin seriously typing down some prose.

So I'm curious about how other authors research. Do you have a go-to guy or gal you contact when you need some solid information? Or do you Google it and hope whatever shady website you pull the information from is legit? (Don't get me wrong, I love Wikipedia, which has become the "go-to" place for information online and really isn't all that bad, but I do keep in mind that just about anybody can toss their brains around over there. So I find multiple sources and verify! Sometimes this requires a trip to the library. Or at the very least checking the freaking links at the bottom of the Wikipedia page.)

Again, I will leave you with some sweet tunes. This one's an old, obscure Bob Dylan number redone by Old Crow Medicine Show.

The video is effing hilarious, no? Did you see those kids and the old men in the crowd there towards the end of the video? And I love the fact that these dudes, these musicians, these artists, are in the peep show, spotlight flickering, half-naked chicks all over the place, and what are they doing?

They're playing their music.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Untitled. Very Untitled.

So I'm gonna start using the blog as a sounding board. Throw ideas and thoughts out there, and such.

"Oh yeah? Is that a good idea, you think?"

I don't know. Don't really care. Let there be songs, to fill the air.

"Uh, what?"

Sorry, lost track of things for a second there. But see, also, at the same time I'm gonna keep all my, er, devoted readers updated on the progress of the new novel.

"Wow. Just . . . wow. Let me tell you, the excitement levels are ripping holes in the roof."

No, but it's interesting. Really. See, I'm writing an (or is it a? ah, screw it) historical fiction novel on Bodhidharma. But it's not gonna be your typical, boring, stodgy brand of historical—

"Didn't you already go into all that in a recent blog post where you used all sorts of unnecessary foul language? Where you were, uh, sort of talking to yourself, just without the quotation marks, which for some godsforsaken reason you've used this time, and which as far as I can tell is a desperately waving flag that whatever crazy mind disease you've contracted has crossed some effed-up line of no sane return?"

Yep to all of that, whatever it was you just said. And I think I've done the whole "talking to myself" thing before. But back to the novel, which is coming along nicely for being envisioned just a week ago. My notebook is filling with scribblings at a frightening rate. I've also got a couple thousand words typed down in a doc file called "Daruma," which is the Japanese version of Bodhidharma's name, and what Bodhidharma will be called throughout the story by those close to him. A nickname/not-nickname, if you will. Just because the modern Japanese language didn't exist at the time doesn't mean it doesn't work. This is fiction, people. You'll find out about the name early on in the novel.

"Wow. Sounds . . . exciting. How long's this thing gonna take you to finish?"

A while. Maybe a year to completion of the final draft. My wife and I have a nineteen-month old daughter, and I work at a day-job, so I write and research when I can, usually long after the sun's gone down while everyone else in the house is asleep. Plus, I'm addicted to reading fiction, and it cuts into my writing time.

"Excuses, excuses."

Good ones, too. Well, most of them, at least. Dad/husband is my number one job. But when I start reading a good story, I'm hooked. But no regrets. Whether it's contemporary or classic, fiction or non-fiction, each book read is a learning experience. In "Daruma," I'm thinking of including three or four "flashback" tales of the Buddha's most famous encounters with Mara. But I'm gonna do 'em in the fashion of Trickster tales, a la Coyote. Mara will be a pivotal figure in the novel, perhaps consuming more scenes than Bodhidharma himself. Mara's daughters will also play parts.

"Yeah, great to get to know you personally, you jackhole. And how you doing with the historical aspect of things?"

The what-what-what-now?

"You know, the research portion of this great big project you're working one?"

Oh. That. Yeah, I think my reading of non-fiction is going to skyrocket in coming weeks. I shudder at thought of the boring historical facts that will soon be filling my head, but I'm sure I'll learn something, which is always a good thing. But the book's not just about events that happened 1600 years ago, even if those events shaped the modern world. This is story. This is humor. This is myth. This is knowing/not-knowing. This is life.

"Knock it out, son. Just knock it out."

You're right. And in honor of the first encouraging words you've ever "said" to me, I'll leave you—me—us—everybody—with some sweet, mellow tunes . . .

Lyrics | Grateful Dead lyrics - Ripple lyrics



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bodhidharma Rules, Fuck Lady Luck

So I've been working on a new novel. I'm not sure where it came from. I was putzing around with a couple other projects—reworking my first, unpublished novel and writing a slow-in-coming horror short for an anthology due out in August—when this new story sunk its claws into my mind. I think it's something that's been lurking in there for a while now, a story my subconscious knew I couldn't hope to pull off so it wasn't worth bringing up.

Now I say, my subconscious don't know shit. And besides, it's too hung up on repressed memories (and sex, of course) to worry about what I'm writing. So the reworking of the first novel (which was tiresome) has been put on hold for a while, although the horror short will be ready on schedule.

The new project is a book on the life and times of Bodhidharma. That's right, the fifth century monk that few outside of Zen Buddhists and practitioners of kung-fu have heard of.

Wait . . . did you say fifth century?

Why, yes. Yes I did.

As in sixteen hundred years ago?

I'm a writer, not a fucking mathematician.

So it's . . . what? Historical fiction? You've never written anything like that before. How are you gonna pull it off? And what in the name of holy hallelujah do you know about fifth century India and China?

At this point, jack shit. Something about dynasties and rishis, but I'm not sure which one goes where. Indian dynasties? Chinese rishis? Eh, I'll figure it out later. As to pulling it off . . . the first chapter of the book is flowing out of me and onto the page faster than any first chapter ever has. All in all, it's going to be a lot of work, but I'm taking the good start as a good omen.

Cling to that, buddy. You cling to that.

Oh, I am. And since Bodhidharma lived so long ago that he is nowadays essentially a myth, I've got a lot of wiggle room. The challenge will be making him a believable human being. I'm going to do my best to make the novel as historically accurate as possible, and include every anecdote and legend about Bodhidharma known to man—although there is little that is really, truly known about him: a handful of scholars claim that he did not even exist. So I figure I can do whatever I like. (That's a good notion for a writer to have.) And I've got some great fucking ideas. Better than any I've had in the last couple of years. Maybe ever.

And what brought on this, ahem, sudden inspiration?

A combination of things—a convergence of conditions, Bodhidharma might say. Reading The Book of Mu. Reading Christopher Moore's most recent novel, Sacre Bleu, which takes place during the Impressionist era and features as characters the artists Van Gogh, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Monet, among others. If you've read Sacre Bleu or Lamb, you know that Moore does a great job of taking a time period—and the people who lived during that time period—and making it his own. I know I can't do it better than the master, but I can sure as hell give it my best. I've been obsessed with Bodhidharma, the enigmatic figure who brought Zen from India to China, for years now. And I've been reading on dharma for over a decade. Other than that . . . life. The universe. Everything. Nothing.

But who in their right, god-fearing mind would want to read a book about a Zen monk that takes place in the fifth century?

I don't rightly know. Buddhists? Kung-fu masters? Fans of historical fiction? Those who like good books with a twist of humor? I'm far from the marketing stage of this thing, so don't ask yourself stupid questions, self.

So what you got so far, you mighty writer, you?

Watch your tone, self, or I'll turn this blog post right around. The first chapter takes place in the palace of the southern Indian kingdom of Kanchi, at the birth of Bodhidharma, a prince who will one day receive the mind-seal of the Buddha and become the 28th patriarch of Indian Buddhism. It is told from the point of view of Mara, who attends as a cockroach (or is it a spider? haven't decided yet) clinging to a wall. The god of delusion reminisces upon his last encounter with the one called the Buddha, and the curse placed upon him by Siddhartha Gautama—or ol' Sid, as Mara calls him—that haunts him to this day, almost a millennium later, and brings him to the birthing room.

Yeah, for the most part it's a flashback scene (at least at this point)—and in the first chapter, no less—but it's got the Buddha in it, so just call it literary fiction and drop it, sticklers.

Maybe it's bad luck to talk about your novel before you've even really gotten started. But fuck it. What the hell's Lady Luck, that lazy slut, ever done for me? It's time to get to work, son.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Get a free copy of "Larvae" at Smashwords

After a long three months, my horror novelette Larvae is out of KDP Select. In honor of this momentous (eh . . . debatable) event, it will be free on Smashwords until May 25th. Just go to Smashwords, click "buy", and enter coupon code PG92J at checkout. Just be warned, the story is graphic—after reading it, my editor said she was going off to "never eat pasta again." So if a little gore disturbs you, please don't download it. Otherwise, enjoy!

And try not to throw up all over your e-reader.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Character Interview: Sitting Lotus

An interview with everybody's favorite Zen novice, Sitting Lotus, went live on World Literary Cafe today. So go check it out! Now, I say! ;)




Thursday, May 10, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (5): Nataraja

The Cosmic Dancer who dances Creation into and out of existence. "The Lord of the Dance." One of the many incarnations/aspects of the Hindu god Shiva.


Most famous story: The sages living in the southern forest regions of India had attained great powers through meditation and ritual, but had grown arrogant and no longer praised the gods. So Shiva appeared in the forest as an ithyphallic mendicant named Bhikshatana and wandered about their villages, begging. Bhikshatana's . . . excitement . . . caused many of the sages' wives and daughters to become enamored with him, so the sages decided to use their powers to destroy this out-of-line beggar. First they summoned a fierce tiger made of fire, whose pelt Bhikshatana made into a loincloth. Next they sent a horde of poisonous snakes, which Bhikshatana hung about himself as jewelery. Then came a mad dwarf, which Bhikshatana stomped upon. (The twisted thing underneath Nataraja's feet in the depiction above is this wild dwarf.) A third eye formed in the beggar's forehead, two extra arms grew out from his torso, fire blazed into life in his upper left hand—and Shiva-as-Nataraja danced the Ananda Tanvara, which caused the monks to realize exactly who he was and recognize the error of their worship-neglecting ways.

The first depictions of Shiva as the Lord of the Dance appear in bronzes crafted in 10th - 12th century India. Nataraja is nowadays more a symbol than anything else, although he is to this day revered in India and elsewhere. As Ananda Coomaraswamy says in his essay "The Dance of Siva," "Whatever the origins of Siva's dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of." To this day the Nataraja symbol be found in both Eastern and Western culture.

Powers and Abilities: Beyond comprehension. Not many mythological beings have the power of creation and destruction literally resting in the palm of their hand. Mythological beings gain their powers from ken, or "knowledge-of". The more well-known a mytho is in the great Mind of humankind, the more ken they have to utilize. Shiva-as-Nataraja may be to many just a symbol, but sometimes symbols have frightening power. Again, Coomaraswamy, "A great motif in religion or art, any great symbol, becomes all things to all men." As to whether or not Nataraja dancing the Samhara portion of his Ananda Tanvara could actually destroy the universe . . . well, we all know what happened in Eden last summer.

UPDATE - 5/9/12: This agent was on the scene for that scene, and that that ball of fire gripped in Nataraja's upper left hand is hot hot hot!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Zen in the Debacle of Grammar: "Honey, that dribbly mud-man is eying me!" "You mean, eyeing you, dear."

This is one of those words that, when you say it, everybody knows what you're talking about. But writing it down, well, that's another story. A boring story with a 50-question, write-in-the-answer quiz afterwards. I started making one up but could only think of one question: "Which do you like, eying or eyeing?"

From the deep, meticulous research I've been undertaking for the last ten minutes or so, as far as I can tell no one can agree on this one. Something or other about "eying" being old English, and just not looking right on the page. According to this random online spell-checker, "eying" is wrong. But the spell-checker here on Blogger and the one on OpenOffice flag "eyeing" as incorrect. (Of course, they also say that dribbly is not a word, when it is.) Oxford Dictionary and Merriam-Webster say that both "eying" and "eyeing" are correct.

It seems to be a matter of preference, and no matter which spelling you decide to go with, there will likely be someone who objects. If one offends your sensibilities, just use the other and move on with your life. Don't, I repeat, don't, waste your time writing blog posts about it. (Oops. Too late.) Just be consistent. Don't do what I did in this blog post's title. If you use "eying" at one point in your novel, don't flip-flop to "eyeing" the next time around.

Thoughts? Condemnations? Readers and writers, which do you prefer, "eying" or "eyeing"? And more importantly, do you think "dribbly" can be used legitimately or is just sort of silly-sounding?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Six Sunday - 4/29/2012 - From "The Fountain of Eden"


Team Myth walked up to the sipapuni, hidden deep within the sprawling natural wonder of Tranquil Forest. The morning rain had let up, and the sun now peeked through the clouds, portending yet another hot and humid August day. But this mattered not to Team Myth, for they would soon be out of this world. They stopped and stared at the effervescent spring, the entrance to the World Path.

"So what do we do?" asked Jack, eying the fizzling waterhole with skepticism. "Jump in and go for a swim?"


The scene above takes place just before Jack Whiskey and company descend to the ancient Greek Underworld to rescue a missing friend. Sipapuni, a Hopi Indian word that means "place of emergence", is what mythological beings call the Fountain of Youth.

"The Fountain of Eden" is just 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords until May 1st. And please don't forget to head over to Six Sunday to check out the short, sweet posts from all the great writers. Until next time . . . peace out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (4): Johnny Appleseed

Bringer of apples to the early American colonists. Born 1774, died 1845. One of the first heroes of American folklore. In life, a devout follower of the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.


Most famous story: His life-story, although there is a dispute as to what purpose the apple orchards he left in his wake served: to eat . . . or to drink?

Powers and Abilities: (1) His feet are said to be so callused that he can walk over hot coals without feeling it. (2) Brews some damn good beer. The Olde Eden Brewery's Appleseed Applejack is so . . . tasty . . . that it, er, defies description.

Appleseed is the protector and ever-vigilant sentry of the town of Eden and the Fountain of Youth, which acts as a gateway between Earth and the myriad Worlds of Myth. How he obtained his intimate connection with the Fountain, often called the sipapuni by mythological beings, remains a mystery. The most popular theory is that in his wandering during the early 19th century the man John Chapman somehow found the sipapuni and drained a measure of his own blood into the spring, his life-fluid merging with the Water of Life. If this is true, all mythos, at least when we manifest on Earth, have a little Appleseed coursing through us. But the mythical jury is still convened on that one.

UPDATE - 4/25/12: Sometimes men transform into myths; oftentimes legend trumps real life. Keep in mind that the mythical Johnny Appleseed—and not the man John Chapman—is the owner of the Olde Eden Brewery & Taphouse. As an avatar of drunkenness, it is rumored that Appleseed has absorbed all the gods of wine, the vine, alcohol, etc. in existence into himself. If this is true (which in this agent's opinion is highly unlikely—although, come to think of it, I haven't seen Dionysus in some time), he is perhaps the most powerful mythological being residing on Earth. Regardless, he is to be treated as highly dangerous. Agents of the MythCourt, DO NOT ENGAGE.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

End of April Sale!

Coinciding with the new blog series I've been running—the Twisted Myth files, which showcases the mythological characters from The Fountain of Eden: A Myth of Birth, Death, and Beer —for the remainder of the month of April the e-book will be discounted to 99 cents in the Kindle Store and at Barnes & Noble. So get yourself a copy while it's cheap! It's mythology, with a twist of hilariousness!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (3): Persephone

Iron Queen of the ancient Greek Underworld. Bride of Hades. Daughter of Zeus and Demeter.

Most famous story: Her abduction. Persephone, a young goddess of Olympus, was out picking flowers one day. Hades, who had been lusting after her for some time, lured her away from her friends with the intoxicating scent of a narcissus flower. The earth opened up, and the King of the Dead dragged his unwilling new bride down to his Underworld domain. Her mother, Demeter, goddess of the Earth, was so distraught that she refused to bring about the springtime, and a harsh winter descended on the planet. After a time Zeus intervened in the vicious quarrel and convinced Hades to release Persephone. But while in the Underworld she swallowed the seeds of a pomegranate offered her by Hades. If one eats the food of the dead, one is cursed to stay in the Underworld forever. However, a compromise was reached in order to appease Demeter and get the seasons back in order. For eight months of the year Persephone would be free to roam the planet, but during the colder months she would be forced to remain in the Underworld. Check Ovid's Metamophoses and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter for a more detailed report.

Powers and Abilities: As Persephone leaves Earth for the Underworld, winter sets over the land, and with her return she brings the spring. Therefore she is a goddess of both death and renewal, and she can both give life and take it with the brush of a finger. Any agents who attempt engagement should wear full body-armor, or an invisibility cloak, or douse themselves in enchanted invisible ink. Something, or you may end up back on your original World of Myth before you can say "narcissus".

UPDATE - 4/19/12: The Iron Queen has divorced Hades with the approval of the MythCourt. Hades has also agreed to release her from the Curse of Pomegranate so that she may remain on Earth full-time. For the past eight months she's been tending bar at the Olde Eden Brewery and Taphouse alongside new boyfriend Jack Whiskey. Agents of the MythCourt are closely monitoring their relationship.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (2): Bodhidharma

"The One who Came from the West". Brought Zen practice from India to China in the 6th century CE. Direct dharma descendant of the Buddha. 28th Patriarch of Indian Buddhism. 1st Patriarch of Chinese Ch├ín—which became Japanese Zen—Buddhism.

Most famous stories: (1) Encounter with Emperor Wu, where in response to the ruler's query as to the highest truth of Buddhism, he replies, "Vast emptiness, nothing holy."   This is the first koan in the Blue Cliff Record. (2) The origins of the tea plant: Sometime during his nine-year-long wall-gazing session, Bodhidharma found himself struggling to stay awake during meditation. So he proceeded to cut off his eyelids. Where the eyelids hit the ground, strange new plants began to grow: tea plants. Since then Buddhist practitioners have used tea to help them stay awake and maintain concentration during meditation. (3) Three years after his death, Bodhidharma was seen walking in the Himalayas by a government official named Song Yun. The old monk was barefoot, carrying a pole with a single sandal mounted atop it. This wild story roused enough interests in the monks of Shaolin Monastery that they found cause to break open and enter the tomb where Bodhidharma was interred. The monk's remains were not there; all that was left in the tomb was a single sandal.

Powers and abilities: Unclear, except that he relies on some obscure power he calls "mind" as opposed to the pool of human imagination called "ken" that mythological beings draw upon to work their magic. An expert at kung-fu, it is widely believed that he is the inventor of the ancient martial art, which evolved from an exercise regimen called "The Eighteen Hands of Lohan" he invented during his time at Shaolin Monastery in China in the 6th century CE. Though he appears quite elderly, he is said to move fast when the situation calls for it.

UPDATE 4/14/12: Nowadays, head monk at New Shaolin Monastery in Eden, Virginia. It is also unclear whether Bodhidharma is human or mythological; with historical figures it's sometimes difficult to tell. The stories that he has no legs (which atrophied and fell off during his nine-year wall-meditation session), that he is in essence a human torso floating about the streets of Eden, must be wrong. Multiple MythCourt agents have reported seeing skinny legs shuffling underneath his patchwork robes. Some of them, after blowing their cover in no recognizable way, have even reported taking kicks to the face from feet attached to these allegedly nonexistent legs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Wave" is now free on Amazon.com!

My short story "The Wave" went free on Amazon today. Finally. It's a fable—at 410 words, I'd feel bad charging for it—and I've been trying for months to get the price dropped.



A quick tip for indie authors trying to entice Amazon to play the price-match game. "The Wave" was priced at 99 cents under the 35% royalty plan for the past couple of months, and I reported the lower Smashwords price on its Amazon product page every couple of days. For weeks, nothing happened. But a week ago I changed tactics, switching to the 70% royalty plan and raising the price to $2.99. And lo and behold, a few days later the price is nada, zero, zilch, where it will (hopefully) stay forever. Something to do with the 70% royalty plan versus the 35%? I don't know. Either way, it worked. So check out "The Wave". It's free!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Twisted Myth Files (1): Whiskey Jack

Trickster god and culture hero of Algonquian mythology. Virtually unknown in modern times, but at one point this dude was famous. Variations on the name Whiskey Jack include Wisakedjak and Weesack-Kachak. Very similar to Manabozho of Anishinaabe mythology; in many tales the pair are interchangeable.

No need to throw Wisakecahk into the muddle. One, no one can pronounce it, and two, that guy had problems. Unknowingly eating your own scabs? Wowza.

Most famous stories: (1) "Earth-diver" Creation Myth where he creates the world after a great flood. (2) Wesakaychak and the Ducks, where the Trickster requests wings from a flock of ducks, who reluctantly grant his misguided wish. After a series of misadventures (similar to but of a lighter tone than the Greek myth of Icarus), Whiskey Jack decides to stay earthbound.

Powers and abilities: Mostly unknown, but he can expand things already created.

Whiskey Jack is a Trickster, and in some stories comes complete with all the usual foibles. But he is sometimes portrayed as more than his archetype: a "Trickster-Transformer".

An interesting fact about Whiskey Jack: the name is a corruption. Newly-arrived Europeans, upon early encounters with the native tribes of what is today the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, misheard a few things. And so "Wesakaychak" and its many lingual variations became "Whiskey Jack". Quick, English-speaker, say the names, one after the other, five times fast.

UPDATE - 4/9/12: There are no depictions of Whiskey Jack to be found with lackluster searches on Google, unless he's transformed into the bird he gifts his name to. The reports that he's been working as a colonial reenactor in Eden, Virginia, and had a role in the disturbance there last summer involving the Fountain of Youth and the Cosmic Dancer, have yet to be verified. Earthbound agents of the MythCourt are now closely monitoring his case.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Indie Author, Do Yourself a Favor and Buy a Kindle

In my opinion, it is essential for an indie author to own a Kindle. Even if someone else formats your ebooks, go out and buy a Kindle. Nobody's perfect, and that includes your formatter, no matter how good he or she may be. It's called human error, and it's a fact of life. Everybody's bound to miss that little something.

Plus, you're trying to sell ebooks, so you should own an e-reader. And you're a writer, and every writer starts out as a reader. So what's not to love about a Kindle, which you can fill with books you enjoy, pick up whenever the mood strikes you, and get lost in another world for a while?

My Kindle is essential in checking my own ebooks. After creating the mobi file I thought my last publication, Larvae, was good to go. Then I uploaded it to my Kindle before uploading it to Kindle Direct Publishing. While reading it over one last time I found a repeat of "has" and two typos that I missed when reviewing it in any other format. Just goes to show: look over your writing every which way possible. Check it on your computer, print it up and mark it with that little red pen, and then triple-check it on your e-reader before you click that button to publish.

I've downloaded many an ebook that has huge gaps between paragraphs, no indent at the beginning of paragraphs, missing line-breaks, all sorts of formatting goofs (mind you, it's not just indie books with this kind of stuff). I'm forgiving, and will give a book a read even if it does have errors, but these sorts of things annoy the heck out of some people, and I'll bet that many of these stop reading at the first sign of wonky formatting and never pick up the book again (that or delete the sample of your book they downloaded and never purchase anything you publish ever again). If you want your book to stand out among the thousands upon thousands of indie books out there, you must make it as professional as possible. This means with few to zero typos, and without formatting errors. Owning a Kindle will help you cut down on these gaffs.

If you don't want to spring the funds for a Kindle, at least download the Kindle reading app onto your Smartphone, tablet, or computer. To check your epub files, try out Adobe Digital Editions. Both are free.

And don't be dismayed if you find errors in your work, even after you've published. One of the great things about ebooks is they are easily altered. Dynamic. Love that word. Take the book down for a day, make your adjustments, and put it back up for sale. No harm, no foul. But you might want to let your readers know there's a new, improved version of the book out. Just my thirteen cents. Until next time . . . peace.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 3/11/2012 - From "Eye of the Dome"

After a moment the frigid fingers, strange juxtaposed against the heat now flowing through him, released his face.

He let out a deep breath, then cracked open his eyes and squinted to get a look at the miracle-worker hovering over him. The man's face portrayed assurance, pride, sternness. He wore a voluminous robe that wrapped around him, flowing and fluttering in swells and waves, so clean and bright white that it hurt to look at for more than a few seconds.

The man had three eyes, two in the right places and one in the middle of his forehead.

Right then the boy concluded that he was dead, dreaming, or hallucinating.

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Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to head over to Six Sunday and check the short, sweet posts from all the fine writers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parable, Fable . . . What's the Difference?

Hm, well . . . not so much and at the same time a heckuva lot?

I've been severely slacking on the blogging recently, so I thought I'd try and give it a jump-start with a simple post on parables and fables, which some (like this scatterbrained writer) may sometimes confuse because of all those 'able's hanging around the joint.

Now, the similarities. Both fables and parables are usually very short and to-the-point. Both teach a valuable (or worthless, I guess, depending who you ask) life-lesson. The characters in both serve a purpose, having no life beyond that purpose.

The one jarring difference between the two is that in fables, life and the power of speech is imbued into plants, animals, and/or inanimate objects, whereas in parables all the actors are human.

The most famous parables found in Western culture are in the New Testament of the Bible: The Prodigal Son, The Good Samaritan, The Ten Virgins, The Rich Man and Lazarus.

Worldwide, the most famous collection of fables is Aesop's Fables, a few of which come pre-loaded on the device when you purchase a Kindle or download the Kindle reading app. I think most folks read these in school and growing up, and they're just as fun and poignant now as they were back then. Read 'em again and reminisce on simpler times.

One of the most famous tales credited to Aesop is The Tortoise and the Hare, where the plodding tortoise beats out the hare in an impossible finish by staying the course in a steadfast, determined manner while the hare screws around, his overconfidence and arrogance leading to his downfall. Classic themes, those. It has been adapted in countless books, cartoons, movies. My personal favorite is the old Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny.

In Eastern culture. . . Jataka Tales, a vast collection filled with both parables and fables. The stories in the Jataka tell of the Buddha in his previous lives. Each gives a different lesson the Buddha learned on his long path to enlightenment, which he finally attained in his most-famous incarnation, Siddhartha Gautama, in India in the 5th century B.C.E. The guy did a little bit of everything in his past lives, from deer to nobleman to beggar to demigod. Just like with many traditional American Indian tales, you'll find variations of the same Jataka story across different Eastern cultures.

So there you have it. Parables and fables, fables and parables. Similar, but oh-so different. Anybody out there know any good ones? What's your favorite? Which one has stuck with you, in the back of your mind, through the years?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 3/4/2012 - From "Eye of the Dome"

A voice materialized through the torment: "Who are you?"

He opened his eyes and attempted to focus, but everything was blurry, unclear.

"You are injured. Close your eyes."

He obliged, and freezing cold fingers gripped his temples. A flash of purple light exploded across the darkened walls of his mind, and soothing tendrils of heat spread downwards from his head and warmed his aching limbs.

********

These six sentences are a continuation from last week's. More from the opening chapter of Eye of the Dome next week. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to head over to Six Sunday and check all the short, syrupy posts from all the fine writers.

Friday, March 2, 2012

KDP Select's Effect on a Reader who Writes

Yeah, sure, I'm a writer. But before that I was a reader, which I still am to this day. It's my hobby. It's my escape. It's my Water of Life. And I wanted to tell you what KDP Select has done for me as a lifelong lover of stories told through the written word.

Two months ago my Kindle Touch was nice and light, filled with stuff I'd bought with hard-earned cash and really, really wanted to read, even if I paid a mere dollar for it. These days it's a bloated, word-filled beast I drag around the house with me like an old wooden leg.

Don't get me wrong, I've read and enjoyed some of the free offerings I've picked up recently, and gone and purchased other stuff by that author (Ann Charles, notably, on the list below, who I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise, cozy mysteries not usually being my thing, but the book was fun and well-written). Those with one book . . . give me more! And I'll buy it next time (which is what people did a distant few months ago to get books). I will gladly pay for a book from an author I know will entertain me for a few hours. I don't think this recent glut of free has changed that attitude in many readers.

Below are the books I've downloaded onto my Kindle since January 1st. The books in boldface I purchased; the books with links I've read. I only download stuff that I'm pretty damn sure I'll like, even if it's free.


Optical Delusions in Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery Series)
Charles, AnnMarch 2, 2012
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Magic Makes You Strange (The Brontosaurus Pluto Society)
Mullette-Gillman, Noah K.March 1, 2012
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The Cat's Apprentice
Friday, Wednesday LeeFebruary 29, 2012
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Base Spirits
Barrett, RuthFebruary 29, 2012
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Clown in the Moonlight
Piccirilli, TomFebruary 29, 2012
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The End of Marking Time
West, CJFebruary 29, 2012
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Cigs, Bolan & Strange Men With Guns (Prequel) (Assassination Series)
Ramage, GayleFebruary 28, 2012
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Call Me!
Locke, John, Ripper, DaniFebruary 26, 2012
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Maybe (a Donovan Creed Novel)
Locke, JohnFebruary 26, 2012
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Eden
Rossi, PhilFebruary 26, 2012
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A Place Beyond The Map
Thews, SamuelFebruary 25, 2012
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The Awakened: Book One
Tesar, JasonFebruary 25, 2012
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Exiled (The Protector Book 1)
Merrick, M.R.February 25, 2012
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Chasing the Ghost (Black Ops)
Mayer, BobFebruary 25, 2012
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Bad Billy
Pudge, JimmyFebruary 22, 2012


Missing Pieces: Short Stories
Nicholson, ScottFebruary 22, 2012
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Ghoul Squad
Sellars, M. R.February 19, 2012
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Tuck, James RFebruary 19, 2012
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Loss, a novella of psychological horror
Krisch, GlenFebruary 19, 2012
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Brother's Keeper, a novella
Krisch, GlenFebruary 19, 2012
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Fall: The Last Testament of Lucifer Morningstar (The Fallen Trilogy: Book One)
Hay, David ScottFebruary 19, 2012
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Radix (The Radix Tetrad)
Attanasio, A. A.February 19, 2012
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The American Book of the Dead
Baum, HenryFebruary 19, 2012
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Tuck, James RFebruary 19, 2012
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Wet Linda: A Novel of Liquid Horror
Parducci, PaulFebruary 18, 2012
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The Congregation
Mitchell, AricFebruary 18, 2012
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Giants (Lost Civilizations: 1)
Heppner, VaughnFebruary 18, 2012
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The Dirty Parts of the Bible -- A Novel
Torode, SamFebruary 18, 2012
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Hosts (Repairman Jack Novels)
Wilson, F. PaulFebruary 18, 2012
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All the Rage
Wilson, F. PaulFebruary 18, 2012
Snowbound
Crouch, BlakeFebruary 18, 2012
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Abandon
Crouch, BlakeFebruary 18, 2012
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Here Be Monsters - An Anthology of Monster Tales
Murphy, M.T., Reinke, Sara, Anderson, Samantha, Drummond, India, Reine, S.M., Shipp, Jeremy C., Portillo, AnabelFebruary 17, 2012
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The Innocent (A Jack Marconi Thriller)
Zandri, VincentFebruary 15, 2012
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Telepath (Guardians of the Word)
Harrison, Jolea M.February 15, 2012
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Myth (Guardians of the Word)
Harrison, Jolea M.February 15, 2012
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Chosen (The Guardians of the Word)
Harrison, Jolea M.February 15, 2012
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Ackerman, HalFebruary 15, 2012
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Messages
Hileman, John MichaelFebruary 15, 2012
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One Blood
Amaru, QwantuFebruary 15, 2012
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The Emerald Cancer
Hulme, DavidFebruary 15, 2012
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The Impressionist: A Novella
Wheaton, MarkFebruary 13, 2012
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Sunday Billy Sunday: A Memoir
Wheaton, MarkFebruary 13, 2012
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Bones: The Complete Apocalypse Saga
Ascension
Wheaton, MarkFebruary 13, 2012
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Adversary
Wheaton, MarkFebruary 13, 2012
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Disembodied Spider Meat
Wheaton, MarkFebruary 13, 2012
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The 19 Dragons
Reine, SMFebruary 7, 2012
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Gavin, AndyFebruary 7, 2012
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Coffin Dodgers
Marshall, GaryFebruary 3, 2012
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Black Scars (Blood Skies, Book 2)
Montano, StevenFebruary 3, 2012
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Blood Skies (Book 1)
Montano, StevenFebruary 3, 2012
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Dance of the Winnebagos (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery Series)
Charles, AnnFebruary 2, 2012
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Honk Honk, My Darling: A Rex Koko, Private Clown Mystery
Garner, James FinnFebruary 2, 2012
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PAYDIRT
Levine, PaulFebruary 2, 2012
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Excelsior
Sirois, GeorgeFebruary 2, 2012
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Charles, AnnFebruary 2, 2012
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Smallworld: A Science Fiction Adventure Comedy
Green, DominicFebruary 2, 2012
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Gould, JonathanFebruary 1, 2012



The Model Universe And Other Stories
Bunn, ChristopherFebruary 1, 2012
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Maberry, JonathanFebruary 1, 2012
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They Had Goat Heads
Wilson, D. HarlanFebruary 1, 2012
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Cantrell, ChristianFebruary 1, 2012
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Cantrell, ChristianFebruary 1, 2012
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Cantrell, ChristianFebruary 1, 2012
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Cantrell, ChristianFebruary 1, 2012
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Cantrell, ChristianFebruary 1, 2012
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Railroad! Volume One:Rodger Dodger (a steampunk western)
Brown, ToniaFebruary 1, 2012
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The Epoch Index
Cantrell, ChristianFebruary 1, 2012
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DEAD(ish)
Kramer, NaomiFebruary 1, 2012
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The Jury Series (Four Complete Novels)
Goldberg, LeeFebruary 1, 2012
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Double Header (Two Complete Novels)
Goldberg, LeeFebruary 1, 2012
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The BlueLight Special
Black, J. CarsonFebruary 1, 2012
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Dark Horse
Black, J. CarsonFebruary 1, 2012
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Darkscope
Black, J. CarsonFebruary 1, 2012
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The Laura Cardinal Novels
Black, J. CarsonFebruary 1, 2012
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Black, J. CarsonFebruary 1, 2012
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Every Precious Thing (A Logan Harper Thriller)
Battles, BrettFebruary 1, 2012
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the Last Ride
McKown, RandyFebruary 1, 2012
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Containment
Cantrell, ChristianJanuary 31, 2012
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Faint of Heart
Strand, JeffJanuary 31, 2012
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The Black Witch (Curse of the Witch)
Rivers, MichealJanuary 31, 2012
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Battles, BrettJanuary 27, 2012
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Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird
Freeman, Jesse JamesJanuary 26, 2012
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Floaters - A Jack Daniels/Alex Chapa Mystery
Konrath, J.A., Henry PerezJanuary 24, 2012
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Kilborn, Jack, Peterson, Ann Voss, Konrath, J.A.January 18, 2012
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Anchihiiroo - Origin of an Antihero (Toonopolis Shorts, #1)
Rodden, JeremyJanuary 12, 2012
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A Dead God's Wrath
Webb, RustyJanuary 12, 2012
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Speed Dating with the Dead
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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Drummer Boy: A Supernatural Thriller (Sheriff Littlefield Series)
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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The Red Church
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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The Harvest
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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Ghost College (The Ghost Files #1)
Rain, J.R., Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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Zombie Bits
Nicholson, Scott, McKinney, Joe, Kilborn, Jack, Maberry, JonathanJanuary 11, 2012
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Cursed!
Nicholson, Scott, Rain, J.R.January 11, 2012
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Creative Spirit
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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As I Die Lying
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 11, 2012
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Head Cases
Nicholson, Scott, Meikle, William, Everson, JohnJanuary 11, 2012
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Catch Her in the Rye and Selected Short Stories, Volume 1
Hawkinson, WodkeJanuary 7, 2012
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The Touch
Wilson, F. PaulJanuary 6, 2012
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Reborn
Wilson, F. PaulJanuary 6, 2012
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Black Wind (The Secret History of the World)
Wilson, F. PaulJanuary 6, 2012
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Wilson, F. PaulJanuary 6, 2012
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Littlefield: Two Supernatural Thrillers
Nicholson, ScottJanuary 6, 2012
Prophets of the Ghost Ants (The Antasy Trilogy)
Carlton, Clark ThomasJanuary 3, 2012
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Simms, BobJanuary 1, 2012
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If my count is correct, that's 105 total downloads since January 1st.

22 paid, 83 free.

Of the 22 paid, I've so far read 7, just started on the 8th.

Of the 83 free, I've read 10—and 5 of those are short stories by the same author, Christian Cantrell, which I very much enjoyed and whose new offerings I will be purchasing from now on.

And the percentage winner is . . . the paid stuff, hands-down.

It used to be at least fairly easy to pick out what I'd be reading next. Now, I'm drowning in a sea of free. And I'm a bibliophile. I usually devour a novel in a day or three. Or four. Or seven. It all depends. But it might take me years to get to some of this stuff, especially since there are many authors, both established and indie, who if they come out with a new book I've gotta dash out as soon as payday hits and buy it and read it and funk everything else that's been sitting on the bookshelf, physical or digital, for however long.

I'm going to stop downloading free stuff for a while, unless I come across something really interesting, as I've got way too much to read, including other, paid-for books that've been lurking on my Kindle for months and three bookshelves at the house full of physical books. But I'll get to it all eventually. Just because you get something for free doesn't mean it's not quality. I love reading indies' e-books! NOTE: I actually won a free copy of Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird by Jesse James Freeman when I commented on a very cool blog post by the author, which is almost a shame because I would have purchased it as it looks like a very cool book.

So, indie author, will your book drown in the recent spew of free? Who the hell knows? Not this reader/writer. The sumbitch might've drowned regardless, sitting there with a bunch of other unread freebies on somebody's Kindle or simply not selling.

"But," you say, "if I hadn't signed up for the program my book wouldn't even have had a chance to make it onto that Kindle."

"Well," I reply, "maybe not today. But what about next week? Next month? Next year? Ebooks are forever. Just because a reader didn't discover you today doesn't mean they won't tomorrow." 

I think in the end it boils down to writing a good book, just like it did before the implementation of KDP Select. And having more than one book available can't hurt.

So is the program a smart move for you, indie author? Maybe. I do appreciate the "ninety-day" thing. I think far fewer people would have signed up if Amazon forced folks to sign a year-long contract. If after three months it's not working for you, unclick the automatic renewal check-box on your KDP dashboard and start selling your e-book through B&N, Smashwords, wherever again.

But does anyone else get the feeling that someone over at Amazon is laughing "Mwah-hah-hah-ha-ha!" like a mad scientist as we indie authors throw ourselves by the thousands with shit-eating grins onto the altar of KDP Select, agreeing to exclusively offer our book through them for ninety days?

Talk about the bleeding pot calling the overflowing kettle black, two of my three books are currently signed to KDP Select. The other one, The Wave, is a four-hundred word fable I wish I could just give away, forever and ever, on Amazon. It is free on Smashwords. Fountain's contract is up at the end of March, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do. The "promotion" days are oh-so tempting . . . and I'll leave it at that.

I guess we'll all just have to wait and see how this whole thing plays out. My advice to writers: shut up about it and keep writing. And readers, keep on reading, but every now and then purchase a book. Publishers, be you mighty or lowly, keep on publishing. World, keep on turning.

"Okay," you say, "but one last question. Is this a blog post or a Stevie Wonder song?"

Eh, either way. And now, I'm off to follow my own advice. A little late, you. Peace.