The One Piece Of Advice …

If I could travel back in time, let’s say six or seven years ago, I would go and create a time paradox by paying a visit to past me. Once the corporate-casual shitbird got done freaking out about coming face-to-face with his balding and significantly thinner future self, I would bitch slap him.

I would bitch slap him twice.

And while he was in the fetal position, I would bend over his shaking body and whisper:

“It’s only a first draft, numbnuts. No one gives a shit. Stop fucking around and finish it already.”

There’s a better chance than not past self would chalk up future self as an acid flashback and not listen because the little know-it-all son of a bitch didn’t listen to shit back then, especially not something generated by chemical residue.

Seriously, though, that’s the one piece of advice I wish I’d gotten and taken to heart:

Finish a first draft. Finish it and then start doing the real work.

But I think most writer folks have their wish list of things they wished they knew.


Quick weekend book recommendation: Cut You Down By Sam Wiebe 

Here’s the skinny from the publisher:

“Tabitha Sorenson is missing. The bright but unstable student disappeared in the aftermath of a scandal involving millions of dollars in college funds. Professor Dana Essex doesn’t think the missing money and the missing student are connected, but she hires Vancouver PI David Wakeland to find Tabitha, with whom she is in obsessed.

When Wakeland discovers Tabitha has in fact stolen the money and is hiding out with her lover and reports back to his client, Essex is crushed to learn that Tabitha is in love with someone else. The next morning, Tabitha has been murdered and Essex has disappeared.

Meanwhile, Wakeland has his own problems. His former girlfriend, police officer Sonia Drego, believes her partner is corrupt. With her job–and possibly her life–on the line, Wakeland may be her best hope of uncovering the conspiracy in the department before it brings her down.

Hounded by Tabitha’s friends, the police, the press, and his own troubled conscience, Wakeland tries desperately to find Essex and make sense of what happened. Could it all have been a ruse from the start, and is Wakeland just another in a long line of suckers?

While searching for Essex and investigating Sonia’s partner, Wakeland encounters criminals, anarchists, and crooked authority figures–all of them desperate people who will stop at nothing to guard their secrets.”

I’m normally not into PI fiction unless your name is Coleman, Lippman, or Bruen. But Wakeland’s a compelling character and the story’s great so far.

160 pages in and it’s a ton of fun.


Morning Soundtrack: Relatives In Descent By Protomartyr

Maybe It’s Time to Shit Can Facebook?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile: But why the fuck do I have a website?

Seriously, even though I get a fair amount of traffic even when I haven’t published on it for months. But it gets no where near the amount of traffic that my Facebook posts receive–as long as the post originates from Facebook.

If I post from the site, it’s hurried and I’m fairly certain maybe three people see it in the first (and, yes, I’ll be automatically posting this to FB) day.

It’s annoying as shit.

Normally, I wouldn’t repost anything from Splitsider (last I heard, they don’t pay their contributors), but I thought this interview with comedy writer, Matt Klinman was worth passing along.

The whole story is basically that Facebook gets so much traffic that they started convincing publishers to post things on Facebook. For a long time, that was fine. People posted things on Facebook, then you would click those links and go to their websites. But then, gradually, Facebook started exerting more and more control of what was being seen, to the point that they, not our website, essentially became the main publishers of everyone’s content. Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.

“The problem is that Facebook is our editor and our boss. They decide what is successful and what isn’t successful via seemingly meaningless metrics. They hide behind algorithms that they change constantly. And it seems to me that they are not favoring things that are high-quality — they are favoring things that are clickbait, things that are optimized for Facebook, low-quality things that appeal to the lowest common denominator and, honestly, just things at random.

“Facebook has created a centrally designed internet. It’s a lamer, shittier looking internet. It’s just not as cool as an internet that is a big, chaotic space filled with tons of independently operating websites who are able to make a living because they make something cool that people want to see.”

Here’s the whole interview, make sure to give it a read.

So, maybe it’s time to give Facebook a rest? Maybe it’s time we stop having a single website choose what we do or don’t see?

By the way, hat tip to Max Booth III for passing along the article.

Quote: Carl Sagan

 

It’s Wednesday, and like every Wednesday, I’m busy, so here’s a quote:

“When I’m high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.”

Click here to learn more about Carl Sagan

Morning Soundtrack Sun Ra

Why The End Of The World?

Serious question: What’s the deal with the apocalypse?

It’s not a question you hear every day, but I really want to know? Why are we so obsessed with the end of the world? It’s a question I’ve asked before ay LitReactor, but I haven’t cracked it yet.

Here’s a couple of questions I want to hear opinions on:

What is the Granddaddy of apocalypse novels?

What’s the Big Mama of apocalypse films?

And the BIG QUESTION:

Why is humanity and the arts obsessed with telling the story of mass extinction?

And as a bonus, what’s your favorite book and movie about the end of the world,

Please respond on social media, because that’s what it’s for.

Thanks for helping out.


Evening Soundtrack: Introduce Yourself By Gord Downie

Book Notes: The Cuban Club By Barry Gifford

Imagine if Hemingway was raised by a gangster, that sums up Barry Gifford’s Roy stories perfectly, all of which have been recently collected in The Cuban Club. It’s Nick Adams via Chicago. I love this gem from the second story, “Dingoes”

“There are evil spirits haunt this earth who beguile good men and women and render them useless.”

Gifford’s language is a punch to the face.

Click here to buy The Cuban Club


Morning Soundtrack: Mick Jenkins

How to Get Your Mind to Read

Shocker, most Americans aren’t readers. It’s been a problem for a very long time, and we can blame the digital age all we want, but the fact is basic reading skills have been on the decline for the past fifty years and it’s not going to change any time soon. If anything this New York Times article is at the very least optimistic that it knows how to get people to read more.

I have my doubts.
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/opinion/sunday/how-to-get-your-mind-to-read.html?referer=

Kickin’ Ass & Stayin’ Home

I submitted my first book of six early last night.

It was a good feeling.

I’ve turned in my fair share of books over the past few years, but most of those have been under different names, the all important paycheck. But there’s something really satisfying about sending out your own work and I’ll be doing it a lot more in the coming months.

When I say six books, this is how it breaks down:

Two short story collections (One of which went out last night).

A “collection” of four novellas. I have “collection” in quotation marks because I don’t know if I’ll try publishing  them as a single book, or  self-publish them individually and fool around with the medium a bit.

Novel #1 is the book I’m currently under contract for. Yeah, that’s getting my full attention at the moment because I like money and I’m having fun telling the story.

Novels #2 and #3 are the long stories I’ve been working on since I quit my old day job a few years ago. Novel #2 (Which is actually #1, but, you know, it’s on spec, so it’s #2 at the moment) was actually conceived in 2011, so it’s been brewing awhile.

On top of that (Yeah, I know, I can go fuck myself), I’ve got forty some odd poems out in the wind with another ten waiting to be typed up. Twelve unaffiliated short stories (A few of them are out as simultaneous submissions. BTW, don’t do that, but in the same breath, more than a few publishers can go and fuck themselves. I’ve had a bunch of these stories out for six months.), three waiting to be submitted (Time constraints because of market research. Subscribe to Duotrope, it’s worth the $50. But it can be a bit time consuming finding the right markets), four to be typed. Then there’s the two previous collections which I might or might not put back out into the world (Right now, it’s no).

Then there’s the columns for Gamut (of course, Gamut is no more)

The columns and reviews for LitReactor.

2017 has been a very busy year and a very good one.

I know this all sounds like bragging, I promise you, it’s not.

When I was a younger man, still working in a semi-professional cube farm, I promised myself if I ever had the chance to stay home and do nothing but write, I would take full advantage of it. I feel like I’m doing just that and I’m getting to raise and take care of my family, too. Ultimately, it’s a boring life, it’s the kind of life a writer needs.

I’m not bragging, at the moment, I’m proud of myself, that’s it, and it’s me, the baby, the dogs, and the cat here to celebrate, so you’re getting a sappy blog post out of me.

And succeed or fail, I can at least say that I went for it.

Morning Soundtrack: This Here Is Bobby Timmons.

The Demise Of Gamut

Here’s a sad piece of news, Gamut Magazine will be shuttering after 2017. Here’s what Richard Thomas had to say:

“Unfortunately I have some bad news—there will not be a year two of Gamut. I was going to post a long essay on my blog but basically it boils down to this—we didn’t have enough support, interest, or subscriptions. We needed to double our base, and only got about 30% (about 200 in total). And I take full responsibility for all of this—this is MY failure. While the Kickstarter was a resounding success, most everything else we tried did not work out well—advertising, our referral program, editing services, the film series, etc. The Day of Reckoning classes and the Gamut retreat both DID go well, but it wasn’t enough. Of the 805 backers, about 600 had subscriptions, some 200 never even logging in, about 300 stopping by in the past six months. So even if all 600 renewed, it wouldn’t be enough. If we published your work, I want to say thank you—that’s ONE THING, that I’m definitely proud of, the quality of work we published this year. Amazing stories, poetry, essays, and artwork. Special thank you to my staff—especially Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Dino Parenti, Casey Frechette, Heather Foster (couldn’t have done it without you), but also thanks to Bob Crum, Whittney Jones, Hillary Raque Dodge, Fred Venturini, Kya Aliana Shore, Mackenzie Cox, Lori Michelle, and my columnists, Max Booth III, Diddle Knabb, and Keith Rawson. And of course, special recognition must go to Luke Spooner for all of his fantastic illustrations, which really helped to define us. To everyone that supported this project, thank you. It was a wonderful year. I’ve spent the last six years working on Dark House Press and Gamut, and it’s time I got back to my own writing. I’ll end with this last thought—if you see a new (or small) publication, and you want it to last, spend some money. I don’t subscribe to every publication out there, not even every magazine I want to BE IN, but over the years I have bought copies of just about every genre publication out there, tons of small press books, and many literary journals. Best of luck out there, everyone. Keep dreaming big. We have to take our shots, have to swing for the fences. Onward and upward.”

Long story short, babies, it’s a pain in the ass to operate a lit journal. I will say I’m incredibly proud of the work I did with Gamut, and I hope it’s regular readers enjoyed the magazine and all of the great stories, poems, and essays it published.

Is Getting On Disability The New American Dream?

Throughout 2017, the Washington Post has been running a monthly series on Americans living off of Disability InsuranceThe series has been sobering to read and I honestly believe close to 50% of the American population will be living in some form assistance due to a combination of  lack of jobs, environmental disaster, and illness.

The latest article focuses on people dying while waiting to be approved for disability. Fair warning, the article is at times graphic and is unflinching in its portrayal of poverty in America. As hard as it is to face, it’s time for us to start taking a hard look at the issues of the poor. Because, let’s face it, most of us are a major illness or a job loss away from living in poverty.

http://wapo.st/2zVyIUW