My Bookshelf

Monday, December 23, 2013

Secret Santa for MY Friends?

Well, my blogger followers are AWESOME!!! I've gotten more hits over the last week than I've had all year!

For that, I'll give you a Merry Xmas gift, the epiphany in my upcoming novel Nightcrawler (available at Amazon through Black Rose Writing in January).

Love you guys!!!


     Sabrina drove back out to Staten Island after dropping Rita off in front of the Force of God Christian Church, leaving her to explain everything to the Pastor. Undoubtedly the police would ask Rita what happened at the apartment. Her story was that the women had been threatened by Hijo and fled the premises before calling 911. They would be left with Bobby’s tale about a ninja coming into the house and tying Hijo to the radiator before writing graffiti on the refrigerator. 

     She went back to the apartment to change into a T-shirt and jeans after taking a quick shower and grabbing a bag of rabbit food. She took the ten-minute drive to the BCC campus and headed inside to look over some contracts and proposals. She rode the elevator to the second floor and was somewhat surprised to see Jon Aeppli’s office light on in the darkened suite.

     “Hey, Jon,” Sabrina leaned into the doorway. “I hope your wife isn’t blaming me for this.”

     “I really didn’t try and give her much of an explanation,” Jon’s pale blue eyes bored into hers. “That friend of yours really made an impact tonight, didn’t he?”

     “Who was that, Hoyt?” she asked weakly, slipping into the armchair in front of Jon’s desk.

     “I take it you haven’t seen the news or gotten on the Internet.”

     “Well, not really.”

     “That Nightcrawler friend of yours attacked a man in his own home with a chemical weapon a few hours ago,” Jon was nettled. “The man happened to be a distant relative of the Mayor’s partner. He’s got the Mayor out for blood. The NYPD has an all-points alert out for the Nightcrawler. Your guy was crazy enough to leave a handwritten note on the victim’s refrigerator.”

     “You mean the Mayor’s a sissy?” Sabrina was wide-eyed.

     “That’s really not the issue here,” Jon leaned over the desk towards her. “Besides, if you hadn’t spent so much time partying over the last couple of years instead of watching the news, you would’ve known that. At any rate, the Mayor’s partner says his nephew was gassed because he was a black man living with a white woman, and the assailant allegedly told him that when he attacked him. He even said the zero tolerance note was a warning to blacks who date white women.”

     “That lying dog!” she exploded. “He beat her so bad she was taken to the hospital the night before! It had nothing to do with race, it was a warning to guys who beat on women!”

     “Now how would you know that?” Jon said gently.

     At once the tension boiled over, and Sabrina cupped her forehead as she covered her eyes, weeping softly. Jon got up from his desk and walked around, patting her shoulder comfortingly.

     “It’s okay, kid,” he consoled her.

     “It happened so fast, he made me so mad, and he was acting like he was going to hit my friend Rita,” she sobbed as Jon handed her a handkerchief. “He was treating that little boy so mean, and I knew he had just put that poor girl in the hospital. I knew I should’ve never gone over there, but they didn’t have anyone else and the Pastor couldn’t go. I was just so upset.”

     “Bree, you’re not telling me you’re the Nightcrawler,” Jon said in disbelief.

     “I didn’t say that,” she sniffed halfheartedly.

     “For crying out loud,” Jon walked over to the plate glass window and stared out unseeingly at the river. “What on earth have you gotten yourself into?”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Santa Claws?

This one's just too good to be threw. I entered it in a 500-word short story contest at:

...but you probably want to see it anyway. Here goes...

No one knew where he came from or where he went at night. Everyone in the neighborhood just knew him as the smelliest bum who hit the local pub crawl. Rumor was he had served with the British Army, and he had a certain dignity to him with his upright posture and focused gaze. Only his long white hair and beard earned him the nickname of Santa Claus.
Things were still rough here in Belfast even in the 21st century, a decade and a half since the Good Friday Agreement had been signed. There were still the hardcore Proddies who would have one too many and run their mouths. There were an equal number of Caddies around who would force them to put up or shut up. Here at O’Beirne’s Pub on Lower Ormeau Road, I was the sheriff. I didn’t give a damn what was on anyone’s birth certificate. If you caused a scene, it’s my way or the highway.
It was thundering outside, not something a guy like myself who’s served in Iraq looks forward to. Making it worse was being here in Belfast. You don’t know whether it was a car bomb reminding you of a car bomb. I was getting ready to close down when Santa came in, always at the last minute. He had his left hand stuffed in his raggedy coat, probably from losing another fight. I could smell stale urine as soon as he closed the door behind him.
“Hey, I’m getting ready to close it down.”
“One beer and I’m outta here. Lemme dry off for a minute.”
I pulled him a Harp and set it down. He pulled his sticky change out of his pocket with his good hand and spilled it across the bar. I made a show of shaking my head as I sorted out the cost of the beer.
“I’m not foolin’,” I growled. “Finish this and we’re gone.”
“The peelers are all over the place down the block,” he advised me. “You better watch when you drive home.”
“Yeah, what do you think they’re up to now?”
“Same old crap. Some guy yapping away at another, running him down, calling him names. Happens every time.”
“I’ll tell, you, Santa, that’s no good reason to---“
“There you go. You know my name's Deroy,” he got belligerent. I wasn’t in the mood but I knew he didn’t like the nickname.
“All right, Dee-roy,” I stressed the last syllable. “Where’s the holiday spirit? People should be more forgiving, don’t you think?”
“They should be more giving,” he corrected me. “It’s not about receiving, it’s about giving. You should give people the respect they’re due.”
“Aww, gee,” I snorted. “Okay, let me offer my apology. Now what are you gonna give me this Christmas Eve?”
“Merry Christmas,” he pulled his hand out of his coat. It was black with blood, and he held a human heart that had a ghastly sheen in the dim light. “Ho, ho, ho.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let The Author Do The Grinding?

Well, I've got Nightcrawler on the threshold of the printing press and Both Sides Now scheduled for early winter. Only I'm starting to wonder exactly what these editors get paid for.

Nightcrawler, as we recall, is about the exploits of Sabrina Brooks, chemical manufacturing heiress turned vigilante. Black Rose Writing made up a kickass cover and we're just about ready to go. Only we've got a bunch of run-together sentences (e.g. "Who dat?""Who say who dat?") which the formatter failed to space. Now the editor is asking me to make a list for him to go in and correct. Send me the template and I'll do it, I say. No thanks, just send me the list, he replies. You gotta be frickin' kiddin' me!!! No, this is how it's gonna go down. Wish me a joyous Saturday afternoon.

Both Sides Now is a romantic comedy, the story of a Hans Mortier knockoff based on the mid-60's wrestling universe. ETreasures' wunderkind has tossed me a laundry list of nouns, pronouns, adjectives and suffixes that I need to pull out before we proceed, Uh, and exactly what is your job? This is almost unacceptable, but considering I had to go in and format the whole manuscript of The Standard for Tenth Street Press as well as my own Tiara, if you want it done right you got to do it yourself. As the saying goes, if I would've known this I would've picked my own cotton.

At any rate, I'm going to be spending far less time doing exchange reviews and sending out e-mail promos this weekend. As for those editors, anyone know who's hiring? Next to being President of the USA, it's got to be the cushiest job in America.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tiara - Ten Years After?

Why did the man throw the clock out the window? He wanted to see time fly. Remember that from grade school...?

Well, I didn't throw no damn clock out the window. It sure has flown, though. It's been ten years since my first novel, Tiara, was published. I was going to buy the rights back from Publish America and found out our ten-year deal expired. That made it a lot easier to put Tiara (10th Anniversary Edition) out on Create Space.

What changes can we expect? Well, the world's changed over the last ten years. There was 9/11, the Patriot Act, Osama Bin Laden geting whacked, among other things. Of course, it won't change a book about the Good Friday Agreement of 1998---all that much. There is a different world view, but not enough to change the omniscient narrative (all that much). There's still all the action, thrills and spills, exciting characters, snappy dialogue, and all that good stuff that makes a JRD novel. The book's a little longer than the original, which means there's more stuff going on. It's definitely one you won't want to miss.

You probably won't be comparing novels anytime soon. Since Publish America no longer has rights, the Amazon dealers are getting $40.00 (!!!) for the original. I'm letting it go for $3.00 as a holiday special, so---support your starving artist TODAY---

---before another ten years go by and some vulture gets forty bucks for this one.

Did you hear the one about why the guy threw the clock out the window?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! +++ Tiara 10th Anniversary - Labor of Love?

At the end of the ransom talks with Publish America over my rights reversal on Tiara, they informed me that my ten-year deal had expired, so I owed nothing. This worked perfectly as I had already begun the rewrite. I intend to self-publish the Tiara - 10th Anniversary Edition which will allow me to test the self-pub market as well as tweak up a work that was not edited as it deserved.

Tell the truth, it's hard to mess with perfection. I wasn't able to rewrite this per se : in it's pure form, it appears as a work of Shakespearean quality (just as I intended). It was perfectly concise, its 109 pages doing as much as I normally devote 140 to. What I did instead was follow the storylines along a different path. I wouldn't call this one of my postmodernist works but it is distinct from the original. You'll have to pick up a copy of both and see for yourself.

At any rate, I'm hard at work finishing this up, so look for Tiara - 10th Anniversary Edition at Amazon sometime in December. Which means I'll be working at it on Thanksgiving---oh, by the way---


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stxeamtown Available on Amazon!!!

Well, Torquere/Prizm just published Stxeamtown and it's out on Amazon as of November B-Day! Here's the blurb...

Stxeamtown is a futuristic novel set in a post-apocalyptic land in a society closely resembling that of its Yesterworld. As the citizens in its four major colonies try to recreate the Glory Days while ignoring their setbacks, they find themselves repeating the same mistakes of their past. The social and political animosity between the colonies creates both distrust and isolation. The clannishness reinforces prejudices that keep the people from finding unity and brotherhood. It is the love between a young couple from different sides of the Stream that eventually brings their people together in this classic steampunk fantasy.

Trip is the vice-president of a Team living in the Aboveground, a community of rooftop dwellers residing atop the factories of Steamtown South. He begins a romance with Lyrica, the sister of a Team Lead living in the Aboveground of North Steamtown across the Stream. After communicating in Morse for weeks on end, Trip takes the perilous trip across the Conveyor Line into North Steamtown where the couple is united at last. Trip’s presence is eventually discovered by members of Lyrica’s Team, and they are forced to flee together on the Conveyor back to the South Side. Once again they are detected, and the members of Trip’s set (*quartet) come to the couple’s rescue before they are ‘crossed out’ and banished to the Low Ground. The five adolescents escape to the streets of the South Side where none of them had set foot since they were small children. Together they assimilate into the industrial society where a new chapter in their lives begins.

Trip and his friends travel east to Border Town, also known as Bartertown, which sits on an island that connects both sides of the Stream. They make connections with the Traders, a Team that is looked down upon by Northerners and Southerners as ones who ‘take but do not make’. Trip and his friends begin to understand how those of the Aboveground go undetected, as the great chimneys of the cities cover the skies with an eternal cloud of steam. Yet their revelations are dismissed by the Traders as urban myths. They eventually convince the Traders to allow them to negotiate a deal with Allo Provera, one of the biggest textile industrialists in the Southland.

Trip impresses the wealthy Provera with his wisdom and understanding, and Allo begins teaching him the secrets of their society as well as the deeper mysteries of its politics. Trip is eventually hired as an Emissary of the Southland and is sent to the North Side to improve their business relationships. He brings his friends with him as his diplomatic entourage, but their past is uncovered and the secrets of the Aboveground brought to light. The Enforcers stage a full-scale invasion of the Aboveground, and only Provera’s intervention helps to avoid disaster for Trip and Lyrica’s ex-friends.

Set in a futuristic industrial world filled with mechanical wonders and moral contradiction, Stxeamtown is a satirical look at the modern world and its continuing struggle to maintain a balance between its achievements and its social standards. For young adults and speculative fiction buffs, Stxeamtown is a steampunk classic not to be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Assent Publishing Picks Up Transplant!

The excitement continued on Dead Man's Pond as Assent Publishing signed a deal on Transplant. They become Number Eight on the charts as I continue to set my course for the stars, so we hope they do better than Tenth Street Press. Actually, they include a  promotional seminar with the deal, so hopefully they'll be able to come up with some new ideas that'll help me get a piece of that big fat horror audience out there.

Speaking of which, I've been busting a gut to get La Momia (The Mummy) finished for Black Bed Sheet Books. That one's coming along fine though I've done enough research to make me feel as if I would know Torreon, Mexico like the back of my hand if I ever visit there. That's one of the more rewarding aspects of writing, though. If you're really trying to sell your story to your audience, the research is the next best thing to being there. 

I finally sent the last proofread of Stxeamtown back to the editor at  Torquere/Prizm, and hopefully they'll get it right this time. I've seen salt shakers, pepper shakers, but...comma shakers? SOMEBODY over there poured commas all over my manuscript (kinda like they did on Wolf Man at Damnation Books), and static cling does not get the suckers back out. I wish they'd send some of these assistant editors back for a refresher course in punctuation. When all's said and done, they may have their name on the credit pages, but I'm the poor bastard who has his name on the cover. You'd think they'd at least make it look like I know how to punctuate correctly.

Maybe if I die and come back, I'll be an editor. There's got to be better money in it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

KKK Day in KC MO - Frank Ancona's Day Off?

Frank Ancona’s KKK rally on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse promised to be the event of the second weekend of November 2013 in KC MO, especially with the Kansas City Chiefs having their NFL bye week. There had to be over 1,000 people in attendance, none of whom came out in support of the organizers. As one spinster said when I remarked only five neo-Nazis showed up for the home team, “Well, at least the kids came out.”     

Not to mention the fact that Ancona’s Traditionalist Ku Klux Klan pulled a no-show, leaving the National Socialist Movement to entertain a motley crowd consisting of blacks, thrash rockers and over-the-hill hippies. The no-shows were conspicuous by their absence: there was one man flying a Star of David (despite this performance being scheduled on the anniversary ofKristallnacht), no faeries (or at least self-advertised), a handful of Mexicans and no religious objectors (read Catholics). Most seemed to be there to show their sensitivity for civil rights, though the profanities that rained down seemed to show little concern for the rights of women or children in attendance. 

 I remember a thrash show way back when called ‘A Guy Playing Records', and this is what the Ancona Drive turned into. The Nazis (not one skinhead among them) played a record of the late Richard Butler, which was too loud and too boring to drown out with the catcalls. I left in the middle of it all, the protestors shouting and yelling intermittently to no avail. You could still hear the dead man’s half century-old message echoing past the cordon of bored policemen. Blah blah blah Jews, blah blah blah Jews. You would think Ancona would have sent one aspiring orator out to sharpen his claws on this particularly hard audience. Fact of the matter is, that job’s been vacant since Butler died. 

The Klan in America has become an anachronism. Ancona has become a parody of the last Great White Hope, Pastor Thom Robb of the Knights of the KKK. Robb stepped up to the plate after David Duke struck out, and has since been exposed by Frontline as running a hate-for-profit mail order Klan out of Harrison, Arkansas. Ancona’s outfit is a weak reflection of Robb’s, stirring up controversy in Missouri hick towns by stuffing Klan posters in people’s mailboxes. Joining his Klan just isn’t going to happen. Either you send your $30 as a patron, or send along an application and wait for a qualifying phone call that never comes. You might be an FBI agent, or a reporter, or an IRS agent---or some black guy giving his money away. Just ask Alfalfa from the Little Rascals: if Spanky don’t like you, you don’t get in.    

 The biggest problem facing these dinosaurs is that hate gives you ulcers, ask anyone who’s got them. Preserving the white race isn’t the most terrible cause on earth if it didn’t carry all that baggage. Promoting white Christian American causes isn’t going to ring the fire alarm either. Breathing fire on people for no reason whatsoever just doesn’t cut it, and any semi-literate flipping through the Bible picks up on that. Maybe they have grievances over illegal immigration, reverse discrimination, abortion and gay marriage, but knee-jerk racism is drowning out the voices of all those who speak against it. The five patsies who got abandoned on the courtroom steps by Ancona can tell you all about it. 

I got patted down, wasted my afternoon, and didn’t come away with anything but this hot topic to write about. People who are paying Ancona’s $35 dues should seriously consider the renewal fee.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making Me Scream?

Well, things are finally picking up again, and I can never remember to expect the unexpected. Assent Publishing is wanting to make a deal on Transplant. Not to mention that Transplant is the third story in the Tales To Astonish trilogy, which is being looked at by Curiosity Quills. It may make it the third of eight published works (Publish America notwithstanding) that is coming out in the horror genre. Didn't I say something about not wanting to be pigeonholed as a horror writer? Ain't that a shame, Turk. 

Speaking of Publish America, I just bought the rights to Tiara back from them. I'm planning to test the waters and self-publish through Create Space, but guess what? It's hard to mess with what was a perfectly concise work of literature. Although it's coming along fine, when I go back and try to tweak the 2003 version, I just can't see anything that needs rewriting. Readers are going to get a great new re-release, but---don't throw away the original. It's a keeper. 

My editor at Torquere/Prizm is just about ready to let Stxeamtown go to the printer. I sent her a note of admiration---she kicked the manuscript back at me twice, yet in retrospect I wish Netherworld Press had been as meticulous with The Fury. That was a truly humbling experience though, happily enough, I've been getting nothing but rave reviews back. Though Netherworld is giving me the same low profile as Tenth Street has, I'm going to keep pushing on my end and hope (beyond hope) that somehow it gets into the right hands.

These publishers sure seem to like my spooky stuff. C'mon, Hollywood, give a guy a break!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed: In Memoriam

What can you say about an icon who died?

I couldn't resist ripping off the opening line from Love Story, because Lou Reed's death marked the end of the affair for me. I fell in love with the guy (there's no other word for it) when I picked up Transformer after being stunned by Walk On The Wild Side in 1972. I started my rock band The Spoiler in 1974, and it damn near became a Reed tribute band until I gave Broadway Turk Superstar  his shot onstage when I came out of Lou's spell. After my days as a NYC punk rocker ended, Rock and Roll Animal was still one of my Top Ten faves as the greatest track-for-track guitar album of all time. Was it any wonder that when BT Superstar resurrected The Spoiler in KC MO in 2005, my entire guitar style was influenced by Lou's subway sound?

There's not a single survivor of the Punk Revolution of the 70's who doesn't list Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground as their greatest musical influence. Although Reed, co-founder John Cale and Sterling Morrison were all classically trained, they institutionalized minimalism in rock by churning out two and three-chord wonders that were some of the most memorable songs in the history of the genre. His lyrics were immortal, weaving stories about the gutters, alleys and shooting galleries of NYC (we're talking hypodermics), and glorifying homos back when they lived in fear of being tarred and feathered. Though a commercial failure, almost every major authority in rock includes their anthologies among the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time.  

In my estimation. Lou hit his peak with Rock and Roll Animal. Although appearing emaciated onstage from meth addiction, his performances along with his guitar team of Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner were the best of his career. It earned him the lifelong adulation of rock critic Lester Bangs, whose explosive interviews with Reed catapulted him into international notoriety. His experimental work in rock opera (Berlin) and noise music (Metal Machine Music) increased his legend throughout Europe. Commercial success finally came with Coney Island Baby, and his innovative rap style was unveiled in Street Hassle. He rode the waves of success into the Grunge Era of the 90's, where once again he was hailed by the grunge rockers as one of their greatest influences. He was still creating music into the 21st Century, having collaborated with Metallica on their album Lulu in 2011.  

Losing him at the ripe old age (well, maybe not so these days) of 71 gives us the satisfaction of knowing that he lived a fruitful and fulfilled life. I just hope he accepted Christ before he died. For sure, he outlived not only many of his contemporaries but a Who's Who list of worshippers who came after him (The Ramones, The Heartbreakers, Stiv Bators, to name a few). At this stage of my life, with my Spoiler career just about over, I can say that Papa Lou met me at the gate, gave me a guided tour and walked me to the door.

Farewell, Lou. There are few who matter who wouldn't admit you were one of the greatest of all time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Horror Too Horrible?

I just seem to be sailing from one uncharted course to another these days. This week, I've a contest deadline and a manuscript sample request guessed it, that good old horror genre. "I try to get out, and they pull me back in," Al Pacino would say in Godfather III. I also think of James Caan in Misery as a writer trying to break out of the romance genre, and Kathy Bates kidnaps him and breaks his ankle for it.

Bad Day Books' Rogue Writing Contest is offering a ton of promo vehicles to the winner. I've been in a mess of those types of offers with the Spoiler in Battle of the Bands scenarios. It's free exposure and impetus to finish up projects for beta testing, so what the heck. I'm submitting Transplant, which was originally part of my Tales To Astonish trilogy, but was so gruesome I pulled it out as the breakaway novel. The problem was, the storyline was so explosive that it left loose strings all over place in short story form. Tying them up will be the key to the final wrap in submitting the book, but even then it will be a Shakespearean challenge in keeping the separate tragedies befalling the protagonists from turning into a terminal case of maximalism. I'll have no problem reaching the 40,000-word minimum requirement, but don't want to be hitting 50k if I can help it.

What a coincidence that another publisher would want to see the first story of the Tales To Astonish trilogy. I hadn't even started on The Vortex yet, as I was concerned (as I was with my novel Wolfsangel) that I would be accused of writing Nazi apologetics. Actually, as I left port with this one, I realized that introducing Satanic possession as a factor in developing the Holocaust was a perfectly logical approach. I could have sent the completed  Transplant but it would have delayed work on The Vortex, which is coming along quite nicely now. The challenge now is finishing both works up by Halloween, and I think I'm right on course.

Living on Dead Man's Pond right now, being in a state of 'retirement' in devoting all my time to writing, is definitely a big plus here. Getting paid and staying alive after the 401k runs dry? We shall see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Connecting the Dots?

Well, the release of The Fury didn't come without the usual hassles. The first reviewer I sent this to shredded it in short order. He caught a handful of errata before reading through halfway, and I was on the verge of screaming "Fire!" at my publisher before I thought it over...and I realized there's solutions to everything fiction.

Being somewhat directionally challenged (you should see me in airports), it seemed my tenants on the upper floors of the fictional 1313 137th Street in East Harlem kept getting misplaced. First they were on the third floor, then they were on the second floor. Then they were back on the third floor. How in heck, wondered the reviewer, did this get past the editor?

Here's Turk's solution (just too bad I didn't include it in the expository narrative)...

Ever get in a situation in an unfamiliar building with dim lighting where it was imperative you had to get out as soon as possible? You had an idea that one of the entrances was open but found it locked, and had to go throught the hassle of finding one that you could go through. Imagine running into the same situation with the stairwells. If you ever worked in security, you may well know the feeling. Now, beyond that, suppose you were having trouble with the building map. Suppose you went to the second floor and found it was the third floor, or what they told you was on the third floor was located downstairs?

I think you could develop a panic attack in short order...or a creeping sense of paranoia.

Pick up a copy of The Fury and judge for yourself.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Fury on Amazon?

Well, The Fury just went live on Amazon today through Netherworld Books, and I am one happy camper. This'll be my second publication of Campaign 2013, and hopefully it'll do a lot better than The Standard. I'm hoping that the Halloween season might help this on its way, plus the fact this publisher may give it a more aggressive push since this is their exclusive genre. We'll wait and see.

This comes just as I finished off Raiders and sent it to a prospective publisher. This may have been the hardest book I've ever written. The publisher said they'd like to see it last week, and I've been averaging 5,000 words per day to make it happen. The challenge was NOT to write a sports tale or hockey novel. I was out to make a statement about violence in sports and the effect of entertainment on our lives. I guess we'll see if that floats any boats.

I'm also doing the final edits on Wolf Man, which I expect to be coming in around the holidays. It's a coincidence that I've got two out of seven of my books coming out in the horror genre, especially since I don't consider myself a horror novelist. I'm hoping they might piggyback each other, like, if you liked that one then you'll love this!

One thing's for sure, I'll be up to my neck in exchange reviews for the next few weeks trying to get some feedback online. I just have a feelig that someone will come along and want to see something I haven't finished yet. No business like publishing business, right?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Death of Chopper?

My ex-wife and I saw the premiere of Chopper in 2000, and we both thought it was one of the weirdest flicks we'd ever seen. Even so, I named my mixed breed Manx kitten after him shortly afterward. I bought the VHS tape after that and barely watched it, but I still own it thirteen years later. The flick was on cable last night and I saw it again after all this time. When I woke up this morning, I found out that Mark Read died of liver cancer today. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Chopper was one of the quirkiest, most homicidal criminals in the history of crime. Eric Bana's over-the-top portrayal made you feel as if you were watching a homicide waiting to happen at any given moment. It probably had to do with the fact that he routinely carried around three handguns and a low-caliber sawed-off shotgun. He was extremely paranoid and would kill in imagined self-defense at the drop of the hat. He killed a Australian Mob figure in prison, starting a vendetta between Chopper and the Mob that ended with a score of 19-0, according to Read. One reason that Chopper fared so well is that he turned police informant, which he perceived as a license to kill. He hunted down every criminal supposedly looking for him, and knocked off a couple of others for good measure. All his victims were Mob enforcers, dealers, pimps and other assorted crooks, which undoubtedly was a reason for his police connections to look the other way.  

When they finally put Read away, he embarked on a career as an author, having an anthology of memoirs published in a no-holds-barred series telling all about his life of crime. His books sold over a quarter-million copies, making him one of Australia's best-selling authors. A number of TV interviews were conducted in prison, and eventually they made the movie. Chopper died in Tasmania, safe from retaliation from the Aussie Mob.

It struck me as odd that Tenth Street Press, based in Australia, didn't notice the unintended similarity between Chopper and Jack Gawain (my anti-hero in The Standard). You'd think they'd work up the connection and try to drum up a little publicity. I'm sure that'd be far too much to ask. Money, after all, is not what writing about. You could've asked Chopper.

Farewell, Mark "Chopper" Read. You may not be missed, but certainly will not be forgotten.

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Promotion - Old Worries?

I kept wondering why Generations, scheduled for publication in September, never got released. I was caught off-guard when Carly McCracken announced that she had sold Alpha Wolf Publishing to Solstice Publishing recently. Not taken by surprise---nothing comes as a surprise on Dead Man's Pond.

Immediately I checked my query sheet and, again, was taken aback by the fact that I had Solstice listed as a horror publisher looking for monster stories. In fact, I was planning on hitting them up with Vampir and Momia (The Mummy) as soon as the MS'es were done. I would've sent Wolf Man along but that got snatched in record time (by Turk standards).  I was pretty sure they would've been a firm next step in my horror-writing career, but Generations? Hmmm.

It will just really suck if they renege on the contract at this point. Not only was I wanting to get my family saga out, but I was hoping McCracken would have been plugging this harder than The Standard is being sold. If Solstice kicks (and there won't be a damn thing I'll be able to do about it), I'll have to market Generations all over again. Not to mention my list of publishing deals dropping back down to six.

Since I scored my 401k cash-in, I figure I'll be able to survive on Dead Man's Pond until the middle of next year. That should be more than enough time to see if the promise will be fulfilled. Still, with one's life work hanging in the balance, setbacks like these knock you flat on your ass, and each time it's a little harder to get back up. Sometimes you wonder if that's the object of the game, to see how many times you can get back up. After a lifetime of taking bumps, you certainly hope it's not the case.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Am Benjamin's Button?

I just saw that depressing movie this morning. I can't remember if they picked up any Oscars out of all the nominations, but all those rich Hollywood moguls must have been laughing their asses off at how it punched all the wrong buttons on the have-nots in our society.

Benjamin is born with his geriatrics in reverse gear, born as a withered old man and eventually maturing into Brad Pitt. All of his relations in life flow accordingly, people going in the opposite direction of his personal evolution. Eventually the love of his life grows old and dies while he is experiencing the peaks of his self-awareness. Alternately, the world around him continues to repeat its own cycles as he stands by, unable to lend his experience to those dooming themselves to predictable failure.

Hell's bells, tell me about it. I'm sitting here experiencing an intellectual renaissance, expecting to reap the biggest harvests of my life (or die trying), and my contemporaries are dropping like flies. Guys my age don't go out at night, women my age may dislocate a hip joint by jogging a half mile, and most of the hockey players and wrestlers from my generation are in wheelchairs. I try and make connections on the field, and most people withdraw from me as a dangerous old man. I promised myself I would not become a computer nerd, a social invalid locked into the Internet environment. Well, shit, when I go outside, there's no place to go but right back here.

I felt the same way about "Interview With The Vampire" as I did with this flick. What'll happen in a hundred years (God forbid) with all this accumulated knowledge, trying to communicate with a generation as far removed intellectually from me as my cat? Will I keep writing for a society as remote from my traditions and values as a pig from Sunday?

I am Benjamin's Button.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Channeling Bangs?

So I did the retro thing after posting a review on Lester Bangs' "Psychotic Reaction" on Epinions and drank a bottle of cough syrup.

It gave me a terrible case of dysentery and has the world spinning on end. Mentally it's kinda like raft riding, I'm floating on a river of literature. I'm going from Reinaldo Arenas to Carl Jung to Ayn Rand to Paul De Man to some silly metaphysics bastard who's all about the same self-help positive thinking Joel Osteen Robert Carnegie whoever stuff that comes out of the same cereal box. I've decided 2014 is going to be my year, my ship will finally come in. My mind is expanding more rapidly than ever before (nah, it's not the cough syrup), but we'll see if my bank account catches up. It's kinda cool when you can just kick back and turn your humble abode into a think tank, get up at three in the morning and rush to the PC with this burning idea without worrying about suffering the tortures of the damned at Shithole in a couple of hours. I'm coming up with some of the most profound thoughts of my life right, hell no, it's not about Tussin CF.

Torquere/Prizm is still on my ass about Lyrica being a Stxeamtown wuss, so I turned her into an Ayn Rand objectivist superbitch overnight. I think that's how they're going to like her, but if they don't, well, I'm going to end up like the Sex Pistols at Virgin Records, getting kicked out before hitting a lick. My editing deadline is Monday and my editor's on holiday, so unless Super Lyrica can get this train back on track, there may not be a steampunk novel under the tree this Christmas.

On the other hand, Netherworld Press wrote to say that The Fury may be hitting the shelves by Halloween. I'm definitely thinking about going down to a local bookstore and see what the locals think about a hyena on the cover with a NYC backdrop. Maybe I'll knock off another bottle of cough syrup and get shot by the Independence police in front of the book store. Hm. Betcha book sales would go through the roof.

I was listening to Cuban salsa this morning because of Reinaldo Arenas, and now I'm on some blues influences of Led Zeppelin stuff (courtesy of Lester Bangs). The room is spinning and I'm having to go back and corrrect the spelling on every damn sentence. (You see? There's no three R's in 'correct'). Wrestling comes on in about an hour and it'll give me some ideas on how to pull a heel turn with one of my best characters, turning them into a dirtbag before I wake up tomorrow and realize I can't do that. John Reinhard Dizon's characters are all about integrity, redemption and saving the world, right?

Have another gulp of syrup and call me in the morning.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Watching the Inbox?

I haven't been on here for a few days, so I figured I'd check in. Unfortunately for you literary agents out there, I haven't put a gun in my mouth or swallowed one too many bottles of cough syrup, so you'll just have to wait (like I keep waiting for my ship to come in or sink on the horizon). In the meantime...

Nothing back from Tenth Street yet. Some new contact came out of the mist (like a new Station Chief in Zero Dark Thirty), asking me for a new signed contract for Destroyer with each page initialed. I wondered if that made the contract on The Standard null and void since that's not how that was done. The first guy, Jack, sounded like he didn't have a copy of it anyway. At any rate, I sent it all back, and that was the last I heard from them. It's starting to look like a Publish America non-paying gig at this point anyway, so no use crying over spilled ink.

I also got the 'first round edit' back to Netherworld for Wolf Man, and that was pretty interesting as I'd never gotten feedback from an editor before (or anyone else, for that matter). Outside of some minor tweaks, everything looked good to go except for the climax. The Wolf Man locks the bad guy in a safe where a chemical bomb just went off, and the editor thinks the hero's main squeeze and the undercover cop on the scene should have got wiped out by the fumes too. Hell, I can't do that, that's something Stephen King would have done. Maybe I'll let them get sick before someone finds a miracle cure. It's at the end of the story anyway, so again, no sense crying over spilled anthrax.  

This morning the editor from Torquere came back with the corrections on Stxeamtown, and this could get hairy. She described the heroine as a 'SUPER bland and very manic pixie dreamgirl', and though I can't belabor the point, I'm not sure how I'm going to fix all that. This is about a gang of kids who lived on a rooftop in a post-apocalyptic society, for gosh sakes. I don't know how I'm going to turn her into Bree Brooks from Nightcrawler, but...the editor's always right. I need to get this sorted out by Monday, and time's a-wastin'.

Like I told John Yodice as I put together our science project for our sixth grade class during lunch hour (due that afternoon), I work best under pressure. After all these decades, I haven't changed a bit.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Into The Meatgrinder?

Today I had to report to the Dole. I showed up early and brought a novel, then sat among the unwashed masses and waited my turn to justify filing for a timeout check despite only requesting one for the third time in nearly half a century. I wonder what happened to all the rest of the money they took from me? I guess it pays for Obamacare.

At any rate, my spirit began fluttering after the third hour of wait time. I've been free from Shithole for over a month, my heart forgot what it was like to be in captivity again. It swirled in my chest like a bird in a cage. I wished I had brought the Lisinopril. I watched every other poor soul called in to plead their case. I was the very last one, and I did not blame a lack of alphabetical order, or corporate discrimination, or Sluggo, or anything else that might have happened to yank my chain. For my troubles, I was told I would have to log onto Dolenet once a week and report from now on. Things have changed since the last time, a decade ago, when I was paid for just one week. I've nothing more to complain about.

A-Argus Publishing (can you believe the name???) wants to see The Break. I haven't worked on it for nearly two years, and just sent the synopsis out on a lark. I started finishing the last two chapters, and got through one before having to set it aside for the night. It's starting to feel like the end of my rock and roll career. It was taking far more out of my spirit than I ever remembered. Now the act of writing is starting to drain my psychic energy. Maybe it's because in this work of crime noir, everybody dies. You do your best to breathe life into these characters, give them personality, a certain panache, help them resolve their conflicts...then they get blown away. Perhaps I should start writing fairy tales.

I'm going to chalk it up to a bad day at Zombieland. I'll be insulated from the Obamanation, and I'll finish the final chapter of The Break. Then I'll get back to writing about beautiful, charismatic superwomen who are out to save the world.

Nightcrawler II, anyone?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hell at Argus?

Yesterday was a dead day on the contract hunt. Apparently my connections at Netherworld and Tenth Street are off for the weekend. I have only one hundred forty active leads left on my contact list, and most are not biting (nothing new). It is becoming more obvious that I need to contact publishers directly rather than waste time with agents. Yet again, that one agent puts most of my marketing chores behind me once and forever.

Marketing has been my new job since leaving Shithole. I spend the better part of the day sending queries, blogging (to spread my name and talent around), setting up blog interviews, exchanging reviews and working on new manuscripts. It seems as if God has finally given me the chance to do what I love doing in life. All I can hope is that the dole holds out.

I think of the six years of indentured servitude at Shithole and can only feel pity for those still trapped there. A large number are very happy there. Shithole is their life. They become competent at their job, they talk to people far more intelligent than their friends and family, they learn things way beyond the scope of their personal environment. The inhuman management-worker relationship, the mindless restrictions, the duplicitous business practices of the Shithole within the reminds me of the soulless work environment in Metropolis. I lived in a state of dissonance for all that time, and if it had not been for their accelerated procedures in crushing workers' spirits, I would still endure there today.

You come in daily and say "Good morning" or "How's it going" to the friendlies. There are also humanoids who do not speak, those who hold grudges, and those who snub. The humanoid is an aberration who will not offer the time of day in an elevator, yet when plugged into a headset, becomes the most knowledgeable cyborg in the unit. One just wonders what happens when the humanoid is disturbed after work, seated with a bowl of chips in front of a TV set.

Those who hold grudges are usually provoked as a result of confrontation, most likely over boorishness as a result of interoffice communication. The brute is stressed out over having to operate far above their mental capability, and lashes out against one and all as a result. To retaliate against the brute brings the grudge, which lasts forever. Snubbery is a practice condoned in the Shithole handbook. A humanoid who has far exceeded their station in life at Shithole is entitled to act better than anyone else. It goes without saying that, if you met them outside of Shithole, you would probably dodge them as dog poop on the sidewalk. Snubbery is their preemptive measure of revenge.

At Shithole, overly friendly contact with the opposite sex is seen as a violation of Federal law. The problem here is that, in Obama's New World Order, sexual misconduct may one day be classified an act similar to showing one's privates in public. This means that one day, one might have to register themselves alongside a child molester and a man caught relieving himself in a park...just for asking a co-worker for a date. I filed grievance against my supervisor, Sluggo, for such an allegation (complimenting another supervisor on her hairdo). My grievance was ignored.

Yet there was enormous sexual tension at Shithole. Over twenty percent of management are homosexuals, and they get their jobs by being so. Women get promoted by wearing revealing clothing to work. When I realized I was on management's 'hit list', I went out of my way to let certain women know I thought they were special. Of course, there was no way to nurture any fantasies. You have two fifteen-minute breaks, and an hour lunch. Your schedules are jumbled so no one ever gets coincidental timeouts. She runs downstairs for one blessed cigarette twice a day, and I go out for lunch to walk as far away from Shithole as I can, making sure I can make it back in the allotted time. 

All I can do is watch her walk by, wearing that dress that pleases her boss, imagining what it would be like to hold her in my arms...brushing her hair away from her face...gazing into her eyes and kissing her lips...but, every one in a while she looks over. She knows I like her, that I watch her pass by. I can't see her badge, after five years I don't know her name.  

"Hi," I smile amiably. "How's it going?"   

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rise of the Nightcrawler?

I signed a contract with Black Rose Publishing to have Nightcrawler published.

Here's my initial response when informed the manuscript was being considered for publishing:

Frankly, this is one of my favorite manuscripts and it has a lot to do with the major protagonist, Sabrina Brooks. Although she seems to have everything going for her as a beautiful and intelligent woman, a CEO of a competitive chemical company and a skilled martial artist, inside she often feels like a little girl lost. She looks out at the world with wide-eyed wonder, waking up from her dream world as a spoiled rich party girl and faced with the reality of her environment. It is her fervent wish to make everything right and find the happy ending, which is both her greatest strength and weakness.

I think the marketing angle will be the women's issues that the novel addresses. Despite all her assets, she is still seen as a girl incapable of filling her father's spot as corporate CEO, gets barred from sparring at the YMCA, and is even discredited by the terrorists as a girl who could not possibly be the Nightcrawler. Yet we see her championing the abused single mothers at the Church shelter, sacrificing time and effort to right the wrong wherever possible. She may well be a topic of discussion in women's literary circles in time to come.
And, of course, there's still The Fury, the final proofs for the cover on the way to the presses. I can't wait to see how horror fans will react to that one.
They say seven is God's perfect number, and Nightcrawler was Contract #7. Hopefully these deals will combine to make the dream come true at last.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Standard - Available in Paperback!

Getting my complimentary copy of The Standard from Tenth Street definitely made my week. It was a quality product (the written content notwithstanding), and I can definitely see this item having a future. There is a major difference between reading a book online (or on a Kindle) and actually having it in your hand. I was getting antsy up to this point, but now...phase two of the marketing game begins.

This came right after I did up the blurb for The Fury...

Bridgette Celine is a private Investigator hired by a Mafia boss to keep tabs on his daughter, recently lured into a East Harlem clairvoyants' society. Bridge soon learns that the Society is a front for a murderous crack gang. Their network is empowered by a phantasmal hyena leaving death and destruction in its wake. Bridge soon finds out that this is all part of a centuries-old prophecy that reaches back to her own family roots. She comes face-to-face with her own dark heritage in uncovering a plot that may establish a Satanic kingdom in 21st century New York City.
This one should be coming out through Netherworld Books shortly. Things looks they're finally beginning to roll, and I'm hard at work to see if I can get a couple more sold before the end of the year.

Looks like Dead Man's Pond may not be so dead just yet.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Digging the Ditch?

Well, I finally finished formatting Destroyer. It took a lot of fiddling and fumbling about, especially when the margin and spacing buttons don't do what your publisher tells you they're supposed to do. I eventually backspaced and deleted all the 'white spots' that are supposedly the editor's nightmare. It took the entire day, but hopefully readers will finally be able to obtain a Kindle version of the work after all these years.

I had a very interesting dialogue with a 'successful' Publish America author, who told me they not only paid his royalties but gave him a $50 advance. I checked him out on Amazon and was not overly impressed. I'm sure his novels were quality mysteries, wait a second...

My second novel, Cyclops, was a suspense/thriller about a KKK group being investigated over a string of ritual murders. There was nothing in the novel glorifying the Klan, but they were the protagonists nonetheless. Matter of fact, the African-American detective is so cool, he could be played by Denzel Washington. Nonetheless, I don't think that Ebony or the other clerks at PA's toll-free number were very happy with me on the author's list after that.

This is one book I'd like to ransom back from PA and turn over to Tenth Street. Since you get the first fifty pages free on Amazon Kindle, I'd love to hang that laundry on the line and see how PA can justify screwing one of their best up-and-comers without even kissing me first.

On The Dole?

Well, the Lord provided for his soldiers stationed on Dead Man's Pond yesterday. The Benefit finally came in, and the mortgage and the bills got paid in one shot. Plus I ended up with spending money. I have to report to the Dole to document my job search next week. I'm going to write down the queries I made, and give up some contract info to make it look like I'm making headway. If they say it's not a legitimate job search, then I'll have to send out some resumes to local schools. I would be the best English teacher in the entirety of the Independence School District, but it's never going to happen. They wouldn't take someone my age, no matter how great my genius or how many gym teachers' asses I could kick. It's a numbers game, especially during the Great Recession and under the socialist regime.

I turned in a second proof of The Fury last night. The publisher addressed the e-mail to Richard, and it was probably why they did not chew my ass for reporting over a dozen more typos and rewordings. Well, at least they're not making me format the damn thing like Tenth Street. I don't think we'll see Destroyer until 2014 at this rate. After re-reading The Fury again, I'm pretty sure if buyers can plod through the expository chapters, they'll find themselves amidst a horror classic. I'm starting to notice a trend in my books, but I just hate novels that don't substantiate the storyline. I used to get C's at University for writing essays that did not prove my thesis statement. Hard to teach an old scholar new tricks, then re-train them again.

I called one of the interviewers from David Vause's Internet talk show, and we had a lively chat about The Standard. They've got me scheduled for next week, I hope they have a decent audience. I haven't ran my mouth on the phone for over a month since leaving Shithole, but quickly became my garrulous old self. I'm getting so tired of people blowing their own horn that I can't stand myself for doing it. Problem is, there is no tomorrow. It's now or never on Dead Man's Pond, so, Turk, you better honk...and honk...and honk. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

No Beating the Heat?

Today it hit one hundred two degrees in Independence. There was absolutely nothing to do but read and watch football. It was too damn hot to even sit in front of the PC. Jigsaw the Cat and I laid around like snakes the entire day. Moy took advantage to go Web surfing all afternoon. My creative juices dried up like spit on the sidewalk.

The Kansas City Shits (or is that Chiefs?) played in Jacksonville, and gave the Jaguars an ass-kicking of 28-2. The losing team had not scored two points in a decade, according to the TV stats, and there had never been such a score in league history. Doubtless if they had played here in Arrowhead Stadium, it wouldn't have been the same. Their lazy asses would have curled up and died in this heat.

This town deserves far better. I haven't seen such fan fervor since I left San Antonio and their adored Spurs. People paint Shits logos on the roofs of their garages here. Two of the brethren went to Church in Shits jerseys this morning. The Shithole allowed us to wear Shits jerseys on Fridays during the NFL season (well, that kinda makes sense). And so it goes. They owe these poor lemmings at least one world title. I've been here ten years and it's gone from decent to atrocious throughout that time. Perhaps this year they'll reach the semifinals. We'll see. Super Bowl? DWI's will increase 500% on that day.

On Dead Man's Pond, I was sent a Cover Art inquiry by Prizm Books for the cover of Stxeamtown (that's Streamtown with a red paintbrushed X over the R), my steampunk novel. I was thinking along the lines of an R. Crumb cartoon, with his signature industrially polluted cityscapes. They were asking me if I was thinking of writing a sequel. I would write a sequel to anything I've published. After all, they say you can't get enough of a good thing. Might as well strike while the iron's hot, they wouldn't want to wait until they have to find me with a shovel and flashlight. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bubble, Bubble, Formatting Trouble

The most interesting thing that happened on Dead Man's Pond yesterday? I got rejected in two minutes flat by Counterpoint Press. That was probably about the time it took for him to steer his Hoveround to his crumb-covered keyboard. I'm sure this is some guy working out of his bedroom, so, not to worry. It's just that my query list of agents and publishers have gotten weeded down from four hundred to one hundred fifty and dropping. Hopefully there's a lot more I haven't come across yet.

Damnation Press asked me to resend Wolf Man, and I've got a feeling that I'll be running into that old formatting bugaboo again. Tenth Street Press is also asking me to put Destroyer through the wringer, so it looks like I'm going to be doing a lot more formatting than writing next week. I'm behind on my latest installment of The Test on Wattpad, and I've been sending out queries on Momia (The Mummy) without having written Chapter One yet. That's not counting the other five manuscripts I haven't finished yet. Such is life.

Moy threw me fifty bucks today, which should allow me to go to Church for the first time in a month and make the drop. If the Benefit doesn't show up this coming week, I'll be sweating blood. What was that thing that rap baboon Fifty Cents said, Get Rich or Die Trying? Wouldn't that be a convenient option.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Eleventh Hour?

       Well, Destroyer isn't going anywhere, or at least not indie.
       Tenth Street Press sent me a contract for the ill-fated script, and now we're running into the same formatting issues as with The Standard. Essentially I'm going to have to download the entire PDF proof onto MS Word, paragraph by paragraph, and space it out so someone somewhere can get it right. Grrr. An author's work is never done.

       What was that hallowed line, 'These were the best of times, these were the worst of times'? Supposedly The Standard isn't selling either, but since it's going paperback in the near future, sales may improve. And so it goes. My hopes are riding on Generations, but that's coming out around the same time The Standard goes paperback. And so it goes. As you can see, I just got done reading Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and I've got a new/old catchphrase. It beats watching my money supply go the way of food rations in a zombie movie.

      That's the best part of all this. With all this time on my hands, I'm working up seven manuscripts and reading about as many books. I told Moy I haven't read this much since my last grad course at University ten years ago. Now, at this late stage in my life, I'm learning the true value of reaading other authors. It's like watching the NHL after going back and playing ice hockey again. You get to compare little nuances to what you've been doing, and it helps you better understand why you do what you do. The downside is that it helps you remember why you stopped reading other people's work in the first place. And so it goes.

       I wouldn't have done well in prison, that's probably why God steered me clear of the yellow brick road. I would've hung myself or spent my life in solitary. That's what I'm doing now, but at least I'm under house arrest.

      On Dead Man's Road, signed with six different publishers and counting...and dying broke. Oh, that's seven if you count Publish America (Pirates Incorporated).

       And so it goes.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Return of the Destroyer?

Yesterday I was informed by Black Rose Writing that Nightcrawler was under consideration. The gist of the e-mail sounded promising, and I replied in part:

"This is very exciting news. Frankly, this is one of my favorite manuscripts and it has a lot to do with the major protagonist, Sabrina Brooks. Although she seems to have everything going for her as a beautiful and intelligent woman, a CEO of a competitive chemical company and a skilled martial artist, inside she often feels like a little girl lost. She looks out at the world with wide-eyed wonder, waking up from her dream world as a spoiled rich party girl and faced with the reality of her environment. It is her fervent wish to make everything right and find the happy ending, which is both her greatest strength and weakness." 

"I think the marketing angle will be the women's issues that the novel addresses. Despite all her assets, she is still seen as a girl incapable of filling her father's spot as corporate CEO, gets barred from sparring at the YMCA, and is even discredited by the terrorists as a girl who could not possibly be the Nightcrawler. Yet we see her championing the abused single mothers at the Church shelter, sacrificing time and effort to right the wrong wherever possible. She may well be a topic of discussion in women's literary circles in time to come."
Today I submitted Destroyer to CreateSpace for re-release. I bought the rights back from Publish America and was going to shop it around, then reconsidered. I haven't tried any self-publishing yet, so why not give it a whirl? It couldn't do any worse than before, and if it made a few books maybe I can ransom another book back from PA. Anyway, here's the blurb:
Richard Mc Cain is a retired Special Forces operative whose underground activities during the Tribulation Era of American history places him on the FBI’s Most Wanted list as the mysterious Destroyer. He is called upon by his ex-wife to rescue her sister from the tragedy of a “dirty bomb” terrorist strike in Mexico City. In doing so, he is forced to rely upon the Angel Train network of Christian activists spread across the country. The network, a major target of Homeland Security, absorbs the full force of the agency’s technological arsenal as no effort is spared to seek and destroy Mc Cain. In a series of supernatural events, Mc Cain realizes that there are even greater forces at play threatening his life and that of the beautiful Isabel. It seems that only a miracle can save him, and at last he finds the answer to the ultimate question: is God truly in control?
This should be very interesting. We'll see what happens.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The King of Sports Revisited?

Today I finalized the contract agreement to have Both Sides Now published. I made the deal with E-Treasures Publishing to have this work printed, something that's been on the back burner for over two decades. It was originally a paean to one of my childhood heroes, Hans "The Great" Mortier, but it eventually mushroomed from there. I expanded it into the social revolution of the Sixties as seen by the residents of Greenwich Village, then added the international controversy over the Berlin Wall during the Cold War for good measure. It's a lot more than a wrestling novel, and we'll be promoting it as a romantic comedy. Regardless of how it's packaged, this one has plenty of topics for discussion.

I was concerned about the stipulation that there had to be a certain number of E-books purchased before this goes to paperback. However, in my correspondence with the Company rep, it looks like this may be waived. I certainly hope so. Generation X'ers like myself, not to mention those who lived through the Sixties, aren't hardly going to be downloading anything onto Kindles that they are never going to buy. I'm running into that problem with The Standard, as one copy has yet to be printed. Internet geeks insist that E-publishing is the wave of the future, but you'll have lots of problems convincing brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries, institutions of learning, and more entities than I can name (not to mention old people in parks) that this is the case.

I believe this book will be a big favorite among wrestling fans and Sixties nostalgia buffs. Unfortunately, most of those types don't do Kindle. If this goes the way of The Standard, I'm greatly concerned that this will wind up dead in the water. I guess we'll see.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A New Day?

I missed Church again for the third week in a row. The main reason why I began going again over a year ago was to invest in the Lord's economy. Most people of Generation X have some sort of investment program to help them through their golden years. I've always known that giving the ten percent cut resulted in great blessings. Before I left Shithole, I had more than I could prudently spend. Now most of it is gone, and I have nothing to invest at this time so I don't go.

The Pastor will come looking for me, and I will tell him what happened. He prayed over me when Shithole began conspiring against me, and it took them eight months to get rid of me as a result. Now we will all just have to wait: the Pastor, Moy and I. They both believe that the Lord will deliver me eventually, and so shall I.

I continue this intellectual journey nonetheless. Right now I am reading James Joyce, Reinaldo Arenas, Ray Bradbury and Lester Bangs. I read a chapter at a time from each book, set it down and go to the next. My mind greedily absorbs ideas, concepts, information from each and tries to weave it all together in a chain. I read of how students in Joyce's Dublin commiserate in pubs away from the pouring rain, hundreds of miles and decades away from Arenas' Cuba, where that thunderstorm sweeps in and makes all things new, capable of extinguishing the bookburning flames in Bradbury's distant future, foreseen by Bangs as he predicted the demise of free thought and speech in the wake of 21st century conformity and Government repression. I synthesize it all and blend it into a new voice. It is not my voice, it is the voice of the prophets of the past. Only when they try to find a name for it, they will settle on mine.

E-Treasures is taking a hard look at Both Sides Now, and Leo Publishing is ruminating over The Triad. It is possible I will have seven publishers distributing my work: is not seven the perfect number in the Bible? And why not one? Well, a horror publisher will not touch an action/adventure novel, and one who is enthusiastic over a speculative fiction novel may not want to invest in a romantic comedy. This is why I cannot find an agent. One does not want to represent a writer whose work will eventually fall outside their area of expertise.

I suppose that is what you get from someone who reads Joyce, Arenas, Bradbury and Bangs in sequence, as if one provides a perfect segue to the next. What sense could one make of it, and who would want to try and understand its translation. Of what use could it be?

We shall see, won't we?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

End of Week #4 on Dead Man's Pond?

Today is the end of Week #4 on Dead Man's Pond. I told my companion, Moy, that it felt as if we had been transported to an uncharted island. It seems as if we are hundreds of miles away from the Plaza, from Westport, from the Shithole. We are in the middle of nowhere, in a place where time stands still, where only the summer heat and ennui are constant.

I wake up in the morning and write, I remain at the PC all day and write, I write before I go to bed. I take breaks to cuddle my cat, Jigsaw, or to retire to my bedroom to read or to take naps. Cable TV is my entertainment nexus, the Internet is my lifeline to society. This has become the most productive time in my writing career and the most stagnant interlude in my personal lifetime. Something may be right around the corner, but yet again, there may be nothing at all ahead of me. I may be heading for the greatest victory of my life, or I may well be headed for oblivion.

This morning I received an e-mail from Damnation Books with a JPG of the cover of Wolf Man attached. I was absolutely thrilled and wrote back to the company artist expressing my appreciation. She was just as glad. I'm still waiting to hear back from Netherworld Books, who got my approval of their marvelous cover for The Fury last week (or was that last month, or last year?). When is the launch date? It was the same question I asked my contact at Alpha Wolf Publishing about Generations. It's scheduled to be published next month, which starts tomorrow. Or is that September of next year? Or a September of the next decade?

Time stands still here on Dead Man's Pond...didn't I already say that? I forget when to eat, or when I should, which is a good thing. The food supplies seem to remain constant, as do the available funds. Only the calendar rolls on. Hours, minutes, seconds are meaningless. It seems as if a decade ago when three minutes before my next break, my lunch hour, or logoff time at the Shithole were like three milleniums. I look at the clock and remember that I used to have to go to sleep at 10 PM. Now I never have to go to sleep again...or one day I might just as well go to sleep and never wake up again. Would it really matter? I doubt it. I am a million miles away from everyone and everything.  

I haven't heard from Tenth Street Press. They made The Standard available online last month. Only it's an e-book, it doesn't exist in the real world. Did we make any money? I suppose not. If we did, and they decided not to pay, it would make no difference. Publish America said I did not make one dime after publishing five of my books. If I did not collect from them, I won't collect from Tenth Street. They are located in Australia, which is on the otehr side of the galaxy. Publish America is in Maryland, just on the other side of the solar system.

So, as you see, I'm writing the best work of my life, though I'm drifting further and further from reality. My reality has become my fantasies, but I can't even determine which of these are the most relevant. The Standard is to The Fury as Generations is to Wolf Man, which is as apples are to oranges. If someone asks what kind of novels I write, what could I say?

Who could ask? Who would ask? After all, I am a million miles away.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Santa Caligon Days Festival - Trail of Tears?

It was quite ironic that I entered this new phase of poverty just before the Labor Day weekend, with events taking place all over Kansas City. One of the biggest ones is the Santa Caligon Days Festival here in Independence. I've been to it twice over the past six years, mostly because I had the money to have left town on each holiday occasion. The last time I went to Des Moines, or at least I think that's where I was. It's hard to remember because nothing special happened besides the usual pub crawl.

The Festival is the one big score local merchants get to make outside of the Christmas holidays. They get charged exorbitant fees to set up their tents for three days and nights, putting up their stands on Friday morning and having to take them down Sunday afternoon. They don't even get Labor Day. As a result, they fleece the locals to get their money back. Having to walk ten blocks to get to the bank because the police have the festival area cordoned off, I saw prices of $2.50 for water and $8 for red beans and rice. As I watched couples and all their children braving the 100-degree weather today, it was hard not to have a sense of outrage. Imagine some poor soul having to fork over twenty dollars for eight half-liters of water for his parched family. That is without buying them a bite to eat or letting them go on one minute-long ride.

It's truly a vicious cycle, and those with kids can readily understand how hard it is to tell theirs how they can't afford to go when everyone else on the block is going. Sure, you can load them up with food before leaving the house, but what do you do when they start feeling the effects of the brutal temperature? You can load Mama up with enough bottled water to supply a Marine squad in Iraq, but the jarheads will tell you that it won't last forever. Maybe tourists from Iowa or Nebraska will think it worth their vacation money, but the blue-collar families on my block will have hell to pay.

Imagine if Lewis and Clark were able to travel through time and see how these price gougers are profiting on this celebration. If they saw how the point where the road through Independence Springs led all the way to Santa Fe, California and Oregon was being exploited by scalpers, they might well have left a warning sign: "Let the buyer beware!"    

On Dead Man's Pond?

I have finally taken the plunge.

After ending up on the losing end of a battle with the owners of the Shithole, I have embarked on a trip to Dead Man's Pond to begin the final leg of my life's journey. Like Thoreau, I bring with me only my writing and my basic necessities, waiting only for the Check to arrive. Whether it is the Benefit, the 401K cashout, or the phantasmal Royalty Check, it makes no difference. As long as it subsidizes this vision quest, it is my only concern.

It was almost as if God prepped me up for this final run. I spent the past several weeks driving around Kansas City, desperate to find kindred spirits among the cafes, bars and restaurants to no avail. I thought it ironic that I was carrying over a thousand dollars of disposable cash with me, and could not find a place worthy of spending more that ten dollars at a time. Now I am counting coins, watching the mailbox...and if I had another thousand dollars, there would be no place worth spending it.

The Internet is my window to the world, my only portal to cyberspace in communicating with those of like mind. I exchange posts on writer's websites, giving my opinions to others to do with as they like. I do exchange reviews with other authors, writing excellent reviews on works I would have never read, for the privilege of knowing that another person has read one of my books.

Writing is a lonely existence, much like long-distance running. The exhilaration of accomplishment is there, tinged by the regret that possibly no one will ever know of that private victory. It reminds me of my 500-pound squats in my basement, as sequoia trees I chopped down that no one ever heard fall in the forest. Yet, I continue to await the Publisher, the Royalty Check that will prove my worth and rescue me from Dead Man's Pond. Perhaps I await Godot, but...we shall see.