Catching Up on the Writering

So Kate Gosselin is “freaking out “ over her show being cancelled.

I really don’t care.  I just couldn’t come up with an intro.

Although, seriously?  She’s upset because her career has been derailed?  Watch the video.  It’s amazing how much she sounds like…well, like Kate Gosselin.  Woman’s nuttier than a can of almonds.

It’s been some time since life has allowed me the time and energy to focus on writing, as well as the myriad other projects I want to work on.  Now that I’ve left my post at The Corner Bookstore, I’m going to dive headlong into the wordy pool and see what comes of it.  The primary objective right now is to finish Book 1 in The Storyteller series, which is tentatively called The Heart of Darkness.  I should, all things being equal, complete that manuscript some time in October (preferably before I head to Richmond, Va for The James River Writers Confererence).

As I manage that daunting task, I mean to pick up the pieces of the abandoned Bookstore series of videos (newest one below) and continue building a platform with which to turn my bizzaro experiences as a bookseller into a television pilot.  Think Arrested Development meets The Office and you’ll get a decent idea. Something that allows for a good bit of insanity but is more character driven than built around the location. I hope to have a new video up every Wednesday.

Additionally, I’ll have a few posts to add to The Adventures of Ducky Thomas, including his long overdue story of traveling to New York City.  That post, for what it’s worth will be called The Massive Warship, and has an awful lot to do with his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The hope with Ducky is to translate his adventures into chapter books. I think the world needs stories about an adventurous duck. Ducky agrees.

Now that Flutter is out and selling, I will be returning again to the world of Timothy Webb and telling what may, or may not, be the final book in that series. I’m rather fond of Timothy and Natasha, so I may violate ever known rule of writing just to hang on to them. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, The Christ Corporation Series has a Facebook page. Like it. I’ll be posting updates there.

Finally, staring me in the face with the depth and deadness of a salivating zombie is a story that takes the traditional Zombie Apocalypse for rocking ride where it’s never been before. Not sure yet if I want to write the novel or the screenplay, but as I have information to offer, I’ll be tossing it up here on the blog.

…of which I will be visiting more often. Obviously, right?

So with nothing in my way but myself, all of these projects will be complete or underway within the next six months.  I’m piling it on and looking forward to what comes of it.

Oh, and in the near future I’ll be looking for you to determine what absolutely ridiculous show I show blog about on a regular basis. That one is wide open.  Anything from Springer to Gossip Girl, from The View to 90210. It’s not my call. It’s yours. I’m not sure who I hope to entertain more with that, but I’m quite positive it will be me.

That said, here’s the latest in The Bookstore series, called Potter is Hotter. Time to decide between Cullen and Potter. And pretty dresses.

Passing the Time

I don’t have anything to say.

Thus I will blog.

Actually, I was prepared to continue my onslaught on Jonathan Franzen, but due to the fact that he will be the Keynote speaker tomorrow night at the Decatur Book Festival, and because this blog is better than anything I could write today, I’ve decided it best to leave the pompous fart alone.

For today.

Instead, I will ramble unnecessarily.  Or necessarily, depending on whether or not you are me.  Which you are not.  I am.  Which means it’s necessary to me.  But this is–still for the moment–a democracy we live in, so here you go…your chance to have a say.

I mean, I’m still going to ramble.  That won’t change, but I really like polls.

I also like the Count

My forthcoming book, Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, takes place, partly, in Heaven, where a few of my characters get trapped in the realm of dreams, known as Level Five.  It’s a bit of a disturbing thought, being trapped in a rolling scroll of dreams you wish you’d never had.  It’s even worse when they aren’t your dreams, or if they’re dreams you’d rather certain someone else type people not see (especially the one about the Bunny Farm, that doesn’t have rabbits).  But dreams aren’t all bad.  They’re inane, true, but you’re hopefully not going to find fantasy baseball playing zombies in your basement any time soon, so in that respect, they can be quite enjoyable.  For example, I found this guy (my dear counting friend above), in one of the rooms, and decided he needed a home in Level Five.  So, in my rambling kind of way, here’s where Flutter takes us, for a scene.

“Seven, blah!”

Randall looked into the purplish complexion of the vampire, the weighty pull of its black pupils behind thin framed glasses, felt inevitability draw in around him, close upon him like a vise, and came to a decision about the moment.

He was not going to die in his underwear.

They weren’t even a good quality pair of underwear, like the boxers he so preferred, or even at worst, boxer-briefs.  No, these were the tidy whitey, please dear God don’t let there be urine stains in the front, shame shorts he had worn in his much younger years.  Back when his mother still dressed him.  Just before college, as he recalled.

So, why should he be in them now?

As if on command, the briefs were replaced by satin boxers, covered in repetition with the Superman insignia.  “Sweet,” he said.  He struck a heroic pose.

“Why are you in your underpants?” asked Samuel, from somewhere.

The vampire flinched at the sound of Samuel’s voice, and bore its fangs as if prepared to do battle with a beforehand unseen mist.  It sheltered its face in a black cape, uttered an over-dramatized count of blah’s, after which he cackled a less than fearsome laugh, and scampered off.

“I don’t know,” answered Randall absently, watching as the vampire reeled off in the opposite direction, bouncing along in a notably guided way.  “Am I on Sesame Street?  What the hell?  Was that the Count?”

“You’re more concerned with the legitimacy of a vampire puppet, and its relation to your location, than why you’re essentially nude?  And, I might add, broadcasting the level of your childish mind in the process.”

Randall shook his head from the sight of the bounding vampire, and shrugged.  “What?  Oh, the boxers.  Yeah, I was just in eighth grade again.  Same as always.”

It really just amounts to a cameo.  I think he’s underutilized, to be honest.  There wasn’t enough in the budget to offer him a real paycheck.  Just enough to buy him an abacus, and time in a room to count himself silly.

I have now gone from having nothing to say, to saying nothing, and even for a blog, that’s not acceptable.  So, um…The End.

Because I Need To

I’ve been pretty busy opening The Corner Bookstore (of which it seems necessary to note I do not own, but am managing), and it’s left the well of writing rather dry of time, and quite neglected.  I genuinely consider this to be one of the more difficult things to deal with, and have to acknowledge that there is little in life that makes me as happy as writing, no matter how nonsensical it may be at times.  But, I’m getting things ironed out with the store, and whittling down my schedule to a mere 55 hours a week, and will be back at it again soon.

Which is important, for more than the obvious reason.  The more pressing matter is that, despite what I might have believed in February, Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, is not yet finished.  It lacks, in fact, a third act.  A third act that was, until a few weeks ago, meant to be a third book in the Anointed series (which was never meant to be a series, but what the hell, right?).  Which would seem to be a bummer–and is–but isn’t as bad as it seems.  The truth is, Flutter will be a better book for it.  It will take you for a longer, and wilder, ride, leaving you just as breathless as dear Timothy will be by book’s end.

And, in a nice twist, and flagrant ode to one of my favorite writers–Douglas Adams–I can now refer to Flutter as: The Second, and final book, in the Anointed Trilogy.  Why not?  Makes me laugh, and as long as my publisher’s up for it, then so be it (Or, “and, so it is,” if you happen to be a Pretty Wild junkie like me…I mean, come on!  This isn’t real, right?).

The downside is that my October release is now somewhere in the front end of 2011.  So, yeah.  But it’ll be out there.  That’s what matters.

Anyhoo…I had too much coffee this morning, and…wait…no, there’s no such thing as too much coffee.  Strike that.  Ahem.  I had more coffee this morning than I typically have–by design in order to kickstart a Monday that followed a weekend of moving my stuff into storage by myself (what!?!?!)–and decided in a heightened state of euphoria, that what coffee lacks is an operatic ode to its importance in our daily lives.  Something on the Bugs Bunny scale.  You know what I mean.  This one:

Something epic.  Something tragic, yet redeeming in the end.  Something that seems to jump on a skateboard, and roll along at ludicrous speed (Ah…Spaceballs), before crashing in a coma-like burn as the caffeine wears off.

Something sort of like this:

(man holding a cup of coffee in the air)

Coffee!  You are so excellent!

I love to drink you in the morning,

afternoon, evening, and night!

And most any time in between!

(insert hoppy little musical interlude, as our man dances about with his cup of coffee, drinking it in large gulps)

I drink you with breakfast, I drink you with lunch,

I drink you with most anything that I can munch,

I drink you to think, I drink you to write,

I drink you despite you make me, um, not sleep at night!

You give me the shakes, you give me a buzz,

You are an addiction I can’t quit because,

I don’t remember what life was like living without

you, which isn’t a sad but is something I love!

Coffee you’re excellent!

You make my life livable!

Each time I drink you,

I feel so much better!

With each sip I’m happier!

With cream you’re just like dessert!

Coffee you’re excellent!

FTW, LMAO, LOL!

(our coffee drinker, in his exuberant celebratory state,

drops his coffee in a colossal crash)

Oh, coffee…

What have I done?

Your brilliance shines so bright

upon the floor!

NO!

Oh, noes, coffee!

You were once in my hands,

these deceitful, clumsy, claws.

Now you are lost,

and I don’t know for how long!

How long???

But, oh…hey!

Not to say that you weren’t a joy!

Still I regret your splaying on the floor!

But I just thought…just now in fact,

that perhaps I could, perhaps just now,

make some more instead!

YAY!

Coffee!

I will drink you again!

(the thunderous final note brings the house down)

Sure, it needs some work, but it’ll do for now.  And I need more coffee.

The Electronic Age Doesn’t Care if You Have Pages

The other day, I wrote a blog on the Mercury Retrograde Press site about the advent of technology, and what it means to the book buying world.  In a blatant display of laziness, and continued promotion of ME, I offer it here as well (though I highly recommend a trip to the MRP site!!!).

Here it be:

So, I’m a reader, just like you, and I’ve spent the better part of my life collecting books, selling them to used book stores when I have too many, and then investing the better part of the next few years desperately trying to buy them back.  I like being able to peruse my shelves, touch the spines, journey through the tactile memories of when I first read them.  I enjoy the feel of the page against my fingers, love the process of turning my way through another world (gently…do not bend!), and will never tire of falling asleep with the solid weight of a tome against my chest.

I cannot fathom a life without books.

But the Electronic Age can.  It can imagine a world in which paper is rendered irrelevant, and bookshelves are replete in unwatered plants, and pictures of loved ones, with nary a book to set them apart.  It can imagine a world in which an epic is downloaded, where heroes battle nemeses not across a page, but through the pixelated kaleidoscope of a computer screen.  It wants your books, and no amount of kicking and screaming will turn it away.

And you are kicking and screaming, aren’t you?

Just ask any book aficionado, and you will receive a diatribe against the Machine, unlike any this side of John Connor’s rebellion.  “No way,” they will say, just shy of screaming.  “The book will always exist.  People like to hold a book, to bend a book, to flip pages, and remove dust jackets!  This whole e-publishing thing is a fad, meant to placate the lazy, techno-geeks amongst us.  Just a fad, that’s all.”

Mhm.

To a degree, though, they are right; and to a greater degree they are drowning in a shallow pool of denial.  Motoko Rich of The New York Times recently wrote a splendid article about the rise of the e-book, in which he spends a very short amount of time extolling a very large amount of readable information, all of which is meant to help us understand the financial ramifications of the e-book vs. the traditional paper-bound.  It’s a fantastic read, and is quite the enlightening journey through the numbers involved.  And, in the end, it’s difficult to argue to point he makes.  The current economic downturn has everyone thinking cheap, lean, and efficient.  The publishing industry has been hammered over the past two years, and is reeling in one direction, or another, hungry for any means by which to gain a better foothold on the future.  The truth is–whether we like it or not–e-books are a more cost-effective process.

Here is the crux of his cost-based argument for e-books:

On a typical hardcover, the publisher sets a suggested retail price. Let’s say it is $26. The bookseller will generally pay the publisher $13. Out of that gross revenue, the publisher pays about $3.25 to print, store and ship the book, including unsold copies returned to the publisher by booksellers.

For cover design, typesetting and copy-editing, the publisher pays about 80 cents. Marketing costs average around $1 but may go higher or lower depending on the title. Most of these costs will deline on a per-unit basis as a book sells more copies.

Let’s not forget the author, who is generally paid a 15 percent royalty on the hardcover price, which on a $26 book works out to $3.90. For big best-selling authors — and even occasionally first-time writers whose publishers have taken a risk — the author’s advance may be so large that the author effectively gets a higher slice of the gross revenue. Publishers generally assume they will write off a portion of many authors’ advances because they are not earned back in sales.

Without accounting for such write-offs, the publisher is left with $4.05, out of which it must pay overhead for editors, cover art designers, office space and electricity before taking a profit.

Now let’s look at an e-book. Under the agreements with Apple, the publishers will set the consumer price and the retailer will act as an agent, earning a 30 percent commission on each sale. So on a $12.99 e-book, the publisher takes in $9.09. Out of that gross revenue, the publisher pays about 50 cents to convert the text to a digital file, typeset it in digital form and copy-edit it. Marketing is about 78 cents.

The author’s royalty — a subject of fierce debate between literary agents and publishing executives — is calculated among some of the large trade publishers as 25 percent of the gross revenue, while others are calculating it off the consumer price. So on a $12.99 e-book, the royalty could be anywhere from $2.27 to $3.25.

All that leaves the publisher with something ranging from $4.56 to $5.54, before paying overhead costs or writing off unearned advances.

But that’s not the only reason that we, as the book buying populace, need to come to understand, and even to a degree, appreciate the reality of electronic publishing.  Just look around you.  We live on the computer.  We’re on Facebook, or Twitter, playing computer games, writing, or reading documents for work, getting our news, watching videos on You Tube, or catching up on shows on Hulu.  We have the I-phone, blackberry, the I-Pad (that still hurts to say), and various other mobile devices that have essentially become mini-mobile-pc’s that dominate our days.  How many times have you gotten stuck playing that ridiculously awesome paper ball in the waste basket game?  Generations of children are being raised on this as a normal facet of society, and no amount of reminiscing about rotary phones will change what the future holds.  Computers–the Electronic Age–is here, and it stands to reason that books will follow.  Actually, books must follow.  If we want people to read, then we have to give in to the conveniences they so desperately seek, and allow that books won’t exist if publishers aren’t around to print them.

Me?  I still want to sprawl out on a lawn chair at the beach with a paperback.  I still want to stick my nose in a book, and smell the scent of paper.  And I still want my dream library, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, replete with as many cobwebs as they can build.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go flop on the bed, with my copy of The Magicians, and read until I fall asleep.