Tuesday, March 29, 2011
By "value", of course, they meant "price". The two are commonly confused, but even as far as price goes, there's a whole lot of frenzy about nothing. "Indie" authors (who are not and never can be "indie" as long as they're merely manufacturing product for the cornfed mass market industry) have almost no control over pricing. Pricing is what the big boys say it is - Amazon, in other words. You have two choices if you're "indie" and trying to sell. 99 cents or $2.99. All of the frenzy is about this pseudo-choice. You make 70% for the lower price and 35% for the higher. Do the math and you realize that if you can sell 3 copies at 99 cents you make the same as 2 copies at $2.99. It's nothing to tear your hair out over. Trial and error will serve you better than some 10 point formula, but don't go fooling yourself, "indie writers". You are a cog in the enterprise. You may think you're 'the talent'. They, on the other hand, are simply taking a share of your money and happy to do so. They store a file on their server!
I supposed I shouldn't be surprised at how serious these romance writers are about their business. They truly are cranking out produce. I'm sure they work very hard at it. I'm sure their customers are happy or not with the results. But value doesn't have to be about money, and usage is not meaning. Call it "price", please, not "value". You're confusing me. The price of gas is not the value of gas. The actual value is much higher. The actual value is "what would happen if it suddenly vanished". You don't miss your water till the well runs dry. We experienced the value of gas during the embargo in the 1970's. The price is whatever the market will bear. The price is what the big boys say it is at any given time. The price of gas is currently $4.29 at my neighborhood station. The value is I couldn't freaking get to work without it.
The price of ebooks for "indie" writers is basically 99 cents or $2.99. This isn't because people are feeling "entitled" (what a fricking Fox news talking point, that damn word's become), or because of the market being undermined by free ebooks, or because the quality of ebooks is roughly equivalent to shit, or because of typos, or because of earthquakes and tsunamis. No. The price of ebooks is what it is on Amazon.com. Amazon controls 70% of the market. You have a share like that, you set the price. It works for them. They're making money. They're undermining traditional publishers and bringing them down. They're satisfying their market. It's the price.
It isn't the value. The value of books - if they were to suddenly vanish - is another matter entirely, and depends on the book. We could easily do without 99% of all the books ever written. No one would ever miss them. I know I could survive without romance books, as readers of romance books happily survive without mine.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I read those two and liked them, but like this book more. Maybe because I prefer shorter books lately, short stories and short novels.
I liked this book a lot. Some of the characters really stand out, and the writing is striking at times. I've enjoyed this author's blasts of fine paragraphs before, but I find they fit well in these small packages, where they don't get lost in the larger narratives.
I was especially fond of the anonymous narrator of The Unified Three Year Project Trajectory, an executive type inspired by his faith in his own deeply felt vision who nonetheless manages to fail completely. Then there is the savagely sardonic French film critic Stephane Malade, who has a penchant for summing up his bitterness quite concisely.
If you like 'em short and sour, this is a book for you.
The title sold me on this freebie iBook. I liked the premise, too. The execution was...probably as good as a short read with lots of moving parts that never really come together is going to be. That being said, I admire authors who play with the prescribed formulas, even when it doesn't quite work. Oddly, the structure works well with the premise and is ideal for commuting readers who frequently get interrupted and shouldn't really lose themselves in a book. It also reads well on smaller mobile devices like iPods and smart phones.
The story, for all its moving parts, is simple. A man, living on the edge of poverty and given to eccentricity if not actual delusions and mental illness, puts something in a safety deposit box. Decades later, the something is still there, however, time is running out and the box must be opened in short order or it and everything in it becomes the property of the state.
We've all heard the stories of how seemingly impoverished people have managed to amass fortunes without anyone realizing it and leave those fortunes to sometimes unexpected heirs. Which is exactly what appears to be happening here. Enter the various players: the man's children, his ex-wives, the lazy police lieutenant, the sleazebag attorney and the freelance information broker. They all have a stake or at least an interest in what's in the box.
As this cast of characters endeavors to find the key to the box, they unwittingly uncover and hand over keys to both the man and themselves. The knowledge, however, isn't helpful. In fact, the more the reader learns, the more confusing the story gets. The good news is while you may see the solution coming, several plausible options present themselves, it's totally logical and still something of a surprise. The bad news is, a lot of questions remain unanswered.
So what if this isn't "the great American novel"? Not many even on the best-seller lists are. It's an enjoyable and entertaining read I can recommend for those who can only steal a few moments here and there to read.
Monday, March 21, 2011
In the title track, Old Man Joe runs a magazine stall in Penn Station and dreams of meeting a sexy teenage vampire.
In track two, A Crack Team of Eccentric Genius Misfits, a collection of recent Stanford Ph D's find themselves working as baristas in a Palo Alto Starbucks, deciphering clues to determine who ordered the no foam half caf soy whipped frappucino
In track three, Borrowed Soap, an ancient curse can only be lifted when the world's first bar of Ivory Soap is transported through time and space and used to shampoo a golden labradoodle.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Moxie Mezcal is a writer of guerrilla fiction - with a 10 point manifesto I agree with 100 percent. Writers have always been able to write what they want and give it away if they wanted to, only now it is so much easier! We have the internet and an infrastructure for global distribution of fiction, so we no longer have to make xerox copies and stand on street corners handing out novellas like discount furniture leaflets. Now we can write and publish through venues like Smashwords and Feedbooks and within minutes, some stranger halfway around the world has downloaded and begun to read our story.
Writers can make money this way if they want to, but there is typically a definite trade-off - if you distribute your book for free, you will likely get more readers. If you charge, you will get fewer. Some of us opt for free, not only to get more readers, but also to get the whole business of money, so to speak, out of the way. But enough about that.
I've read all of the "Moxie Mezcal" books displayed and linked-to below. I've put the author's name in quotes because "Moxie Mezcal" is a pseudonym. I have no idea what his or her name is, or whether he or she is actually a him or a her. I have my intuition about that, but I don't need to know. Great stories don't depend on the gender (or age or ethnicity or nationality or creed or color) of their teller, and Moxie Mezcal writes great stories.
I asked Moxie some questions by email and was happy to get a great response. I didn't want to ask all the usual questions ("where do you get your ideas?", "how many words per day do you force yourself to eek out?", etc ...). There's some more great stuff here on moxiemezcal.com as well.
My favorite of yours so far is 'Fake' (from 'Three'). What's your favorite of yours?
That's interesting, I really like Fake myself but it's not one of the more popular ones. It's more personal, in a weird way that I won't get into now. My favorite, though, is Concrete Underground, even if it's the obvious answer. Being my first full novel, I had the mindset that I can't know what the future will bring, I could get hit by a bus or a falling piano tomorrow, so if I'm gonna write a novel I'm going to make it count. I literally threw everything I could possibly want to say with my art into this one book, so now no matter what else happens in my life, at least I'll have written my one perfect little novel that's exactly how I want it to be. Even the ending, which has been the source of roughly 90-95% of the criticism of the book, was designed very deliberately and I"m very pleased with how it came out.
I work in the south bay in tech and I loved to hate your Dylan Maxwell techie billionaire a-hole, but my question is, do you have any particular locales you especially like to have in the back of your mind when writing? I thought I detected some Guadalupe Park and possibly Mission Peak in Concrete Underground, but I'm probably wrong about that, and curious. Also there were some scenes in Fake that reminded me of Bonny Doon.
You are absolutely right, and I do tend to work in a lot of landmarks from Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area into all my stories, but then I also do take certain liberties to fit the locations to suit the fiction. Basically the idea for the city in Concrete Underground was that it was San Jose's dark twin, like if you were walking through Cesar Chavez Plaza and slipped through a tear in the fabric of space-time and ended up in the alternate dimension where all film noir and pulp fiction take place, so that everything would be more exaggerated, sexier, more dangerous. So a lot of the landmarks in the book, such as the park, the river, the homeless encampment, even a lot of the buildings, are all exaggerated versions of things that do exist in and around San Jose. However, I did also take elements I've seen in other cities and work them in as well, such as the underground city which was based on Seattle.
Making Dylan Maxwell
Do you have any wild predictions you want to make about this whole ebook thing? (I kind of feel like I caught a little bit of a ride on a nice wave but don't expect that ride to last much longer, unless I can think of some sexy teenage vampires to write about.)
I think that's actually a smart direction to move in, there will always be a market for sexy teenage vampires, or really any other sexy teenage supernatural anything--werewolves, witches and wizards, elves, chimera, zombies. Well maybe not zombies, since it's kinda hard to be sexy and decomposing, but probably you can make it work. Actually, you already did a zombie book, right? So just do that again, but sexy-teenage-ize it.
Because what the e-book thing and the self-publishing thing have shown us is that what's commercial and marketable will still be what's commercial and marketable whether it's self-published or traditionally published. The people who are going to make money off self-publishing are those working in identifiable genres and telling stories that appeal to a broad audience. And I don't say this with any bitterness or resentment at all, I wish these people all the success and happiness in the world. I'd only caution those budding writers out there who are thinking about self-publishing their dark, quirky, experimental, non-genre, non-linear opuses, don't get discouraged when you're not racking up sexy-teenage-zombie-level sales figures.
But to your answer your original question, I'm always willing to make wild predictions, about any subject really.
First off, bricks and mortar bookstores are obviously dinosaurs slowly lumbering off the historical stage, and the e-book revolution has only accelerated their extinction. And I think that even though e-book sales will continue to grow, overall book sales will continue to decline, so it's really a question of taking a bigger slice out of a rapidly diminishing pie. This will become more pronounced once dedicated e-reader devices lose their novelty and people start abandoning them for iPads and G-Tabs and Xooms.
I think the death of physical bookstores, the fact that fewer people are reading fiction regularly for entertainment, and the fact that the added costs of physically printing and distributing books require a certain minimum sales volume to be sustainable, all add up to this: pretty soon we're going to see a shift to e-only release from major publishers at least on a trial basis for books with limited commercial appeal, and then after that inevitably the e-only book will become the rule rather than the exception. Basically, walk into any non-bookstore, like a supermarket or a Walmart or a Costco, and see the kinds of books they stock. In five years time, those will be the only books actually getting printed on tree pulp. There simply won't be shelf-space for anything else. That and possibly specialty books that could be sold in some other kind of store, ie you could probably still print how-to books about sewing and knitting and shit and sell them at fabric stores, that kind of thing, or the books they sell at Urban Outfitters.
Another wild prediction I'll make is that the $12.99 price point on e-books cannot and will not last. $9.99 probably is also too much. Even albums are going for $6.99-$7.99 on iTunes and Amazon. I see the market settling down comfortably with the $5 median e-book.
The bottom line to all this is that publishers smart enough to want to play the e-game correctly will be moderately successful at shifting diminishing print sales into increased e-book sales. The other publishers, the knuckle-draggers who think hardcover-only releases and $12.99 e-books are smart moves, will still see their print sales evaporate and will also lose what few potential customers they could've had to a combination of more forward-thinking competing publishers, other competing media like movies and web content, and of course pirated copies of their own over-priced works.
For fiction authors who are new or working outside of established genre conventions, all this means it's going to be increasingly difficult to get a book printed on paper by a traditional publisher, and doubly hard to actually earn a sustainable living this way. Experimental or fringe literature is going to live or die by electronic distribution, so if that's what you want to write, you might as well make your peace with that now. That means either self-publishing or signing on with a publisher who has a coherent and forward-thinking strategy for online marketing and distribution.
Forgive me for going on a bit of a rant. If you need to edit this down, the alternate answer can be: "No, I never make wild predictions about anything."
Sweet Dream, Silver Screen
Did you ever work in a bookstore?
No, although I was a page for the public library when I was a teenager. As a result of that job (and a certain obsessive-compulsive streak in my personality), whenever I do go into a bookstore now, I usually end up walking up and down the aisles making sure the books are arranged neatly on the shelves, which consequently makes people assume that I do work in the bookstore. But really I don't and never have.
Is there a book you've read that you wish you'd written?
Oh, so many. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be Samuel Delany's Dhalgren. Or Paul Auster's City of Glass. Or Philip K. Dick's VALIS.
As a fan I want to know, what's coming up?
Quite a bit actually. I have a few short pieces slated for release this year, mostly along the lines of the other "singles" I've done like Fake, Home Movie, and 1999. I think I'll probably end up packaging together an anthology when they're all ready. The ones that don't make it into the anthology are going to be part of a non-linear quasi-experimental project I'm working on called "Excerpts from a Book That Will Never Be Published".
I also have a novella that's should be completed by the end of the year that's a little bit sci-fi, a little bit murder mystery, and is intended be first in a series of inter-connected novellas with the same private detective character. Kinda like my version of Poirot, except she's this surly futuristic psychic lesbian with a drug habit. It's very different than a lot of what I've done before, but the readers who enjoyed picking apart the occult symbolism in Concrete Underground are gonna have their heads explode when they read this one.
Finally, I am flirting with the idea of follow-ups to Concrete Underground. I was really hesitant to do that because the novel isn't set up to be sequel- or franchise-friendly, but I was getting a lot of e-mails and comments suggesting I should return to those characters, and then I came up with an idea for a way to do it that would be satisfying without diminishing the original novel. So they really aren't going to be sequels, the approach will be more along the lines of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy or Robert Anton Wilson's Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Did you know:
1) More than 98 percent of convicted criminals are bread eaters !
2) Exactly half of all children who grow up in bread - eating households score in the bottom 50% on standardized IQ tests !
3) In the 19th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 55 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, scarlet fever, smallpox and influenza ravaged entire nations !
4) Statistics show that more than 75 % of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread !
5) Bread is made from a substance called "dough." Researchers have proven that as little as one pound of dough can choke a large animal like a horse. The average person eats more bread than that in one month !
6) Bread is known to be extremely addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water, actually begged for bread after just two days !
7) Bread is a "gateway" food item, which usually leads to such items as butter, jam, peanut butter and even ... bacon !
8) Bread has been proven to kill. Scientists have now uncovered alarming evidence that 100% of the people who eat bread will eventually die !
9) Unattended newborn babies can choke on bread !
10) Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 425 degrees Fahrenheit ! Don't laugh...that kind of heat can kill a full grown adult in less than five minutes.
11) 96 % of cancer victims eventually admit that they've eaten bread !
12) Sadly, 9 out of 10 bread eaters are unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
We use the word "hero" these days rather promiscuously, sometimes becoming a synonym for veteran. But these workers, essentially sacrificing their future lives to save millions of others, seem to me to fit the description in inspiring ways. In this darkness, their light flickers.
I was saying that it seems to me that historically, heroes are individuals who died to save others. They died! Not any more. In the modern world of entertainment-or-bust, heroes are people who risk dying but don't. Instead, they always save the world, get laid, make a lot of money, and live happily ever after.
Why have we come to treat heroism so lightly? It used to be rare, and rightly so. If only it were rarer. I would rather these brave Japanese men and women had no need whatsoever to be heroes. The biggest earthquake I've ever heard of, followed by the biggest tsunami I ever heard of, and then this nuclear power plant disaster. So sad for all of those people who never deserved this - especially the nuclear power plants. Not one of those should ever have been built anywhere on this planet.
I am really enjoying the variety in this authors work . This particular tale has a very original idea at its core that develops well throughout . An interesting and unusual story that is very stimulating and well worth investigating .
Review for Snap dragon Alley
Rating 3 out of 5
Snap Dragon Alley is a teenage fantasy about two kids that find a hidden street in their city. It is beautifully written; the writer describes the main characters very well and the story is engaging from the first page. However, it ends too quickly and with too many unresolved issues. There are many questions unanswered; a whole world to explore with many mysteries to uncover. The ending is simply too abrupt for my liking and I would encourage the writer to revisit and extend the story because it has the making of a very entertaining piece of teen fiction
Once again, the reader wanted more and counted this against the story. They are left unsatisfied, I suppose and in the heat of the moment the book is marked down like a failed lover.
I wonder if my isomorphism is correct - is this 3 stars the equivalent of a C? I do think it is, and here is why:
There is only one unresolved issue in Snapdragon Alley. It's clear to anyone that the billionaire does away with the old man, buys the land and develops the football stadium. Whatever was there on the property is now paved over and built upon. It is gone. That magic has been ploughed under. "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
What WAS there on that vacant lot? Something, obviously. Something not explained and perhaps not explainable. A mystery. People hate mysteries going unsolved with no hope of resolution in books or movies or TV shows. They really can't stand it. That is why the 3 stars. That is why the C.
We expect tidy endings, and properly paced endings and if we don't get them we don't like it. Of course, in the real world, this rarely happens. Most of us don't die in our sleep in our cozy beds at age 100. A lot of things happen in our lives, abruptly, unexpectedly, unfairly, without cause or proper explanation many times. I sometimes tell stories that reflect this reality and it bothers most readers. It is deliberate. In that light, these 3 stars are indicative of success.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
In the essay in question, fiction is said to have exhausted all of its possibilities, which seems to mean the different forms and gimmicks that had their heyday in the 20th century fads of modernism, post-modernism, cubism etc ..., but fiction is really just story-telling, and I seriously doubt that story-telling has gotten any "better" or "worse", in the aggregate, in its history of some tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. It seems silly to judge fiction by "books", and of books only those deemed to be "literature" by some self-annointed cabal of cultural moguls.
There will always be new and different ways of telling stories - fiction or non-fiction. And isn't that so-called non-fiction really just another form of story-telling? Is there someone who believes that "history" is not fiction by definition? As well as all the pseudo-sciences and even the sciences which all seem eventually to be proven wrong in may ways over time. String theory is not a story? The big bang is not mythology?
Still, I'm happy that non-fiction is "improving". That's all very good. Way to go, non-fiction. Keep trying and I'm sure you'll reach your potential in time. As for you, fiction, you'd better step up your game. To paraphrase the great Satchel Paige, don't look back, you novels, some non-fiction may be gaining on you.
As a story-teller, I do try to tell stories in different ways. I'd be too bored to repeat myself too much, so I rarely write even the same kind of book twice. I'm sure my experiments are contributing to the lag dragging down fiction in general, in particular my game of last year where I used the same set of characters in a zombie story (Zombie Nights), a science fiction saga (Death Ray Butterfly), and a coming-of-age bullying story (Raisinheart). I'm just trying to do my bit to exhaust whatever possibilities remain.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
not-so-anonymous "insider" review (by my wife)
You were completely immersed in daily playing with a young child when you wrote that book. The result was a collection of delightful and charmingly quirky stories. That's my completely unbiased (albeit insider) book review. :-)
Monday, March 07, 2011
Concrete Underground by Moxie Mezcal
A mad saga of the dark side of Silicon Valley, destined for the San Jose Fiction Hall of Fame
Password Incorrect by Nick Name
Wonderfully absurd 'geek fictions'
Mr Diddles, the Pit of Fire and the Karate Guys by Warren Peas
Great action in a vividly funny, wildly creative romp
Connor Stuart and the Sky Knights by Jim Maher
His Hemingway Man is even better but temporarily unavailable, it seems. This is a writer of great humor and a natural story teller
Broken Bulbs by Eddie Wright
A screamingly original tale of the tyranny of a muse
Gay Enough by German Alcala
brave poems of youth by a brave and brilliant young man
Tokyo Zero by Marc Horne
Unusual and engrossing tale of a stranger in a strange land who just happens to be a terrorist
Sunday, March 06, 2011
It would begin in Act Two Scene Three, where Thalia is in the cabin getting the phone installed. This conversation would be expanded to bring forward enough backstory from Act One to explain the situation. Then the rejection letter from the county, then the 'stone soup to party' steps - as each new community member arrives to contribute his or her part (bringing their best stories forward from Act One as well) ...
The set would only need a few pieces of scenery - paintings of the dilapidated cabin, the useless fishing hole, and the broken sign. As these pieces are worked on by the carpenter, plumber and painter, the pieces could be turned around to show the same scenes but improved. Also perhaps the puppet theater could be brought on, and the entire performance could lead into a puppet show ... some thoughts at least
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Restriction Inadequate O/S Privileges - Seite 145 - Wolfenstein ...
... review ebook quran for ipod ebook reader lightest ebook reader symbian s40 the bible and homosexuality pdf Death ray butterfly ebook booksamillion ebook ...
Friday, March 04, 2011
I thought this book started off well with unique characters with intriguing hobbies. The story of their uncle and what Mason told them seemed to set up the story for a climatic ending. The fact that the book's introduction talked about some 'price' to be paid had my expectations up.
I was sadly disappointed with the abrupt ending. Nothing seemed explained and the book immediately skips at the end to three very average - near depressing teenagers.
It seemed the only purpose of the book was to show us what we loose by growing up and forsaking any special fate we might be able to find. Though it was a little nice to see Argus still peering through soda tabs to see if something different lies just before him. You never know.
Thanks for the thoughtful review. There is a sequel (of sorts) called 'Freak City' which features Argus as a young man who does not really remember these earlier events, but who is nevertheless dragged back into a further intrigue involving Snapdragon Alley. I tend to think that poor old Mason Henry paid the price for the billionaire's greedy schemes, which was sad. I was interested in your comment that the book "shows what we lose by growing up". I had really no such intention, only to tell a specific story, a story with no clear or even possible explanation, as sometimes happens in this world. I have had such events in my life. I remember one time a very old gypsy fortune teller in South America read my palm, looked up at me startled, gave a little scream, and ran away. Several years later I was nearly murdered not three blocks away. So I tend to wonder about the invisible world around us, but make no claims or judgments. In any case, thanks again! I appreciate reviews with insight
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Macedonia of course belongs there in Argentina, inspired as it was by the life and work of Macedonio Fernandez. This totally made my day
Although it is set in Depression-era, Dust Bowl Kansas, there is none of the desperation those people must have felt at the time. Also, although it includes tales of the KKK, there is none of the menace. I think this is because we know, and the author knows, that "all that is behind us" and there's nothing to fear from either of those things anymore, and that's a shame. Those things should invoke fear and panic and anxiety.
Also, the "secret" of the father's childhood became painfully obvious to me on page 14 or so. My son doesn't know it yet and I won't tell him, but once the deepest darkest mystery is not, that kind of spoils it for you, with more than 300 pages left to go!
A third thing is that the book seems pale in comparison with another book it evokes in me - Wise Blood, by Flannery O'Connor. I'm reminded because of the attempted accents (which are inconsistent), and the occasional southerness of it (although set in Kansas, not Georgia, and they had apparently spent years in Chicago as well), but mostly because of the "diviner", Miss Sadie, who reminds me of the great whore in Wise Blood, but only, as I say, as a pale reflection.
Some of the interwoven tales - the boys at the carnival, working the con man - seem so obvious that I don't even know how someone makes themselves write it, but this is my problem. Once a story seems cliche or even revealed, I lose interest. Maybe that's why intricate, deceptive writers like Conrad and de Maupassant appeal to me. I can never be quite sure where they're going.
Still, reading it out loud, one line at a time to my son, is good fun. He is enjoying it and that's the main thing, and it's certainly more fun for me than most of the stuff he's liked recently (Rick Riordan and Artemis Fowl mainly). Still, my best read-aloud experience with him has been Lemony Snicket.