Posts Tagged ‘books’

An Open Challenge to JA Konrath

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

 

There’s no sense being coy about it; I think I can take him. 
For those who don’t know, Mr. J.A. Konrath is the author of thrillers such as Whiskey Sour, A Shot of Tequila, and his new release, Flee, which was co-written by the brilliant Ann Voss Peterson. 

He’s toured the nation, speaking at libraries and bookstores, conferences and conventions, and is one of the pioneers in electronic self-publishing, lending platform and legitimacy to the e-book revolution (even before it was cool). 

And this summer, if he accepts, I’m going to take him on.   

At the beginning of June, I challenge Mr. Konrath to make a post on his blog about our competition, and inform his readers that he and I are in a head to head sales duel.
Now, at first this may smell like a dirty ploy to increase sales, and it is. However, in a break from my traditionally rotten nature, I have something of an altruistic motive as well.  

Despite the scattered success stories of a few self-starters who hit the right chords at just the right times, we writers know that e-pubbing your manuscript without the explicit blessing of the Big Six irrelevants is likely a path to nowhere. Or rather, a path to single digit royalty statements and a muted, gray joy of knowing that six people read your book.

I’d like to show that’s not the case. I’d like to show that if you’re willing to put as much work into promotion as you did into writing, your horizons are vastly broader than the e-oblivion so many surrender themselves to out of a fear of hope.

Joe got where he is because he worked hard and had a good product to sell, not just because he was lucky. And because that work paid off, he’s now my target. I want to show that with a bit of help and a lot of work, even someone as “new” (to being published, anyway) and untested as me can compete with one of the greats, although perhaps for just a month.  

So, Joe, here are the particulars I suggest for the battle that I call “Beat Joe in June.” 

Time: June 1st, we both announce across the interweb (twitter, facebook, blog, etc.) that the duel is on. Whosoever gets the most sales for the month of June is declared the winner.

Weapon: 1 title of your choice. I’ve only got one at the moment, so I’ll obviously be going with that.

Stakes: (Apart from glory, of course) Should I win, you must write and eventually publish a short story called “Why Jonas is Great.” In the much more likely event of my downfall, I’ll write and publish a story called “The Day Chicago Joe Kicked My Ass.” 

Beneficiaries:(Apart from the competitors, the readers, and all self-pubbed or soon-to-be-so out there) Win or lose, I’d be willing to give 50% of my profits earned in June to Kickstarter programs and help keep the art cycle going.  You’ve already donated profits regularly to various causes; perhaps you’d be willing to match my 50% on the title you choose? 

And there it is, folks. Can a relative-unknown compete with a towering literary juggernaut? The challenge is made. Do you think he’ll show? Joe, if you’re out there, does this sound like something fun? You don’t strike me as the bashful type.After this, I fully intend to challenge Barry Eisler to a live Judo match at a writing conference. (Beware the  sankaku, my friend, even from a mere shodan)

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Stepping into the Void

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

The first book, “Ghosts of a Tired Universe,” went online today. 
Any amount of thanks and name-dropping I might do for all those who helped along the way would seem inadequate. As solitary and alienated as writers are, no book is created without a network of conspirators willing to spend their time and energy on someone else’s passion.

With this book, I wade out into the deeper waters I’ve been dreaming about since I discovered the audacity to hope. Whatever happens from here, I’m grateful for the hard roads and long hallways that taught victory through perseverance, and enlightement through mistake.

I invite you now to walk with me, dear readers, and together we’ll see just how far we can go.

The book is available through Smashwords.com, and can be read on almost any e-reader in the world. PDF format is there too, for those who don’t have an e-reader. Thanks again, and dare to do the improbable.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55434

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On Burning Books

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I don’t approve of burning books anymore than I approve of burning people. But, as Heinrich Heine pointed out so long ago (and as Christopher Hitchens reminds us) it seems that one inevitably follows the other.

A few weeks ago, that certain pastor in Florida made good on his promise to burn a copy of the Koran. The response from the Islamic world was what we’ve come to expect from the fundamentalist sects: outrage, murder, and madness.
The response from the western world, however, is what really troubles me.

Overwhelmingly, American journalists and media pundits have thrown the blame for these deaths and a perceived “increased risk to our troops” at the feet of this misguided pastor.
Now, think for a moment. What does this mean?

If you, for example, were to burn a copy of one of my books, would I have a right to shoot you? I wrote the bloody thing, after all. Would the news outlets and journalists of the world be chiming in saying, “Well, he did burn the man’s book, you know. It meant a lot to him.” Of course not.

And for you squeamish, un-evolved, compartmentalizing apologists out there who would point out that the pastor insulted the Muslim ‘religion,’ as though that made a difference, I have a question for you. Why does religion get a special pass? Why does one group of people have a unique right to be offended, and, as the aggrieved, then also have the right to raid and murder dozens who weren’t even involved?

If I were to burn the Mexican flag, (which I would never do) would any Mexican have the right to kill me? How about if I to take a blade to a stuffed elephant, could then republicans threaten my family? Ahh, but what if I were to burn a bible, and then get assaulted by a christian? I’ll bet some of you see that as different, somehow. This is the chasm in rational thought that I’m talking about.

If we attach faith to heinous behaviors, there comes a sort of queasy understanding from those that know their holy books are just as cruel, just as primitive, and just as steeped in myth and nonsense.

Free speech is a concept that has been shown to foster not just the most innovative and creative people, but societies as well. The right to express yourself and put forth your own ideas about even the biggest and most controversial topics is a human necessity. So long as I never threaten or harm anyone, I expect that the most horrendous passages in my books not be censored, not cause my life to be in danger, and certainly not cause the death of anyone.  (As they say, ‘my right to swing my fist ends at your nose’)

There’s a strange dichotomy in the air about some groups. Even otherwise freethinking, evolved human beings may rail against such medieval stupidity one moment, then  in the next, they’ll advocate the de facto observance of Islamic law by condemning those who don’t abide by it.

I, for one, am not bound by Sharia, and I will not be intimidated and frightened into blaming one stupid pastor for the murderous acts of thousands of misguided people acting under the shield of “religious faith.”

How dare anyone allow them that shield? How dare anyone give leeway for torture and public execution when that old con-job of “faith” is involved?

As an atheist, I find this offensive. As an artist, I find it unacceptable. As a human being, I find it a disgrace.

Where do you stand? Are you standing at all? Or, are you already bowing, perhaps?

Socrates was killed for “impiety,” and corrupting the youth with ideas. I won’t drink the hemlock, folks. I will turn pale, hemmorage and die in an empty cell writing blasphemies in my own blood before I allow anyone to tell me what I can or cannot express. I’d like to think you would too, but lately, I have to wonder.

Disclaimer: Yes, I am aware of and applaud “moderate Muslims” out there. Although your outrage over such overt acts of violence by your brothers in faith has always seemed strangely quiet, if not altogether absent. And yes, if it were any other group of any other kind that was trying to intimidate free speech out of our rights, I’d be just as fervent and combative.

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Book Bios- #1 Somewhere Dreaming (Now called Ghosts of a Tired Universe)

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

There was a forest that seemed to keep itself seeped in winter dark and perpetual silence. If you were to sit down in the gray and the wet and the wind, the ghosts would start to gather. 

They’d shake animal skulls at the edge of the clearing and send unseen stares that you feel on your back, but you’d always turn to see nothing. Nothing following, nothing hunting you, a nothing that never gets tired.

Always that silence sweeps into your eyes, ominous images of pine tree soldiers in perfect silhouette stillness. Or the weight of omnipresent light diffused into the same thin gruel for all of time- cracks in the heaving belly of dark. 

Eventually you’d adjust. Endure as permafrost, frail on the periphery of a terror that you’ve resigned to. No place to spend a life.

You know the place; you’ve all been there.  It takes itself a bit seriously, but with good reason; it’s no joke.

That’s where I started writing Somewhere Dreaming, a scream into the void, unwilling to accept the silent universe.

Book #2 bio coming soon. You might say it’s slightly lighter fare.

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