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The path to book sales shouldn’t be paved with white smiles and checkerboard slacks. When dealing with a product that has neither life-sustaining value nor infomercial superfluence, sales might best be treated as a byproduct of a well-manicured relationship. One between author and audience, as well as among the audience members themselves. Book groups exist. George Foreman Grill groups do not.

Which is why world of mouth is a valuable route to book sales. People talking and sharing opinions, with no explicit intention of selling a product = a perfect, mutually respectful form of consumerism.

Word of mouth has adopted a kindred form online, though isn’t really “of mouth” in this mutated guise. Fan lists such as Amazon’s Listmania! help connect like-minded readers, which would logically seem to drive sales (though no hard sales data exists that I could find; although online customer reviews seem to have a “casual” effect on book sales).… Read the rest

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Another fine yarn from ye olde Caleb J Ross takes valuable web space away from more needy charities. This one, an excerpt from my unpublished novel, Stranger Will, is called Formaldehyde and appears at the never disappointing Red Fez.

Formaldehyde is a bastardized version of the opening chapter of Stranger Will, very much pulled apart and reassembled into something with its own horrible intentions. This is all to say that if you don’t like this story, then you may still love Stranger Will. However, if you do love this story then I take back what I said above; this story is exactly like the rest of the novel.… Read the rest

banner_gdThe new issue of UK’s Gold Dust Magazine is available for sale. Also as a free .PDF download. Acquire by any means necessary.

gd14Featuring fiction by Alan Kelly, Jim Meirose, Robert Edward Sullivan, Robert Dando, the always impressive Christopher J. Dwyer, the always disappointing Caleb J Ross, THE Richard Thomas, V Ulea, Sam Szanto, and the get-your-autographs-now-because-he-will-be-dead-(and-famous)-someday Nik Korpon. Also, crammed inside is an interview with China Miéville.

I’m so damn happy to share page space with names like these.

And now for the self-petting portion of the post. Author’s notes:

I’ve long been interested in the artist’s (in this case, writer’s) lack of control once a piece has its frame and audience (in this case, its binding and reader). The audience truly has more control over a work of art, writing, whatever, than the creator. A jury of our peers, sort of thing. Authorial intent is important for the sanity of the artist, but intent often doesn’t matter to the audience, sadly.… Read the rest

banner_fathersonIssue Five of the Colored Chalk zine looms. Kidding. It’s here.

coloredchalk_issue5coverI don’t want to blow too many minds here, but this issue has some fantastic writing by some fantastic writers (and one shitty writer named Caleb Ross).

Do we have Peter Schwartz? Yep. Richard Thomas? Certainly. Alex Martin? Definitely. Michael Morey? Let me check…yes. Stephen Graham Jones? Come again? Stephen Graham Jones! Absolutely! Colin McKay Miller? Si. Edward J Rathke? Right. Jason Heim? Affirmative. Charles King? Beautifully. Nik Korpon? In all his glory.

Don’t forget, Colored Chalk can be viewed online, but it can also be printed and stapled for local distribution. Perfect for coffee shops and nursing homes.

Issue Five theme: Sins of the Father:

The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son a thousand times. Of all the false echoes and random bits and pieces of broken verse and mangled axioms that were sunk into my head long ago by an Episcopal Sunday school teacher, this one was far and away the most ominous.

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An Abebooks bookseller is trying to get a quarter of a million dollars for a collection of signed Barack Obama books. To put this into perspective, a signed copy of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s first book goes for 20K. L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought goes for $8.07 (but to be fair, this converts to 1 Bajillion Quagnars).

This begs a few questions: 1) what’s the point of a signed book, 2) what makes a signed book more desirable than an unsigned book, and 3) what’s so great about this particular signature?

I am a signed book nerd, and even I don’t know the answer to the first question. So, instead of waxing eloquent I’ll instead jump to question two. The short answer: an implied communion with the author.

Personally inscribed copy of Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son. I'll let you sniff it for a quarter.
Personally inscribed copy of Jesus Son by Denis Johnson. I'll let you sniff it for a quarter.

While the internet has changed this relationship considerably, there is still a sense of proximity with a signed book that an unsigned book just doesn’t provide.… Read the rest

The second annual issue of The Literary House Review has just been released. Why should you care? My story, “The Camp,” appears within. That’s why. Never mind that the publication contains 232 pages of genre and non-genre, commercial and literary fiction, along with poems enough to erect a mansion – albeit one inconveniently susceptible to moisture (guess what paper, you make a better art medium than a wall!). Never mind that The Review is available to buy here or here and is archived at New York Public Library, Rockefeller Library at Brown University, RI, and at the University of Wisconsin Madison Library (those are monocle-level smart houses, people). Buy it for “The Camp.”

Now for the author notes:

As so many stories begin, “The Camp” was a self-inflicted dare. The concept of “The Camp” is seeded in a desire to explore the horrid through a lens subjectively aimed toward beauty. I told myself that I should write about the hidden beauty in something ugly.… Read the rest

I’ve been clicking over to 3:AM Magazine for quite a while now. I can’t remember where I first heard about it (probably from Dogmatika, where I hear about most every great thing in the underground lit scene), so I can’t place praise with full accuracy. However, I can pass on the good word. And what better way to do so than via the news of my own story, “Snake Girl at Scab,” getting some page space.

Some author notes on the story:

During my first visit to Portland, Oregon (USA), some locals took us to an event called First Thursdays, a neighborhood art gallery orgy (artgy, if you will) with booths, food, music, and lives to be changed. Most cities have these types of events, but due to a strange encounter involving an emotionless girl carrying a snake, this artgy impacted more than normal.

The snake girl depicted in this story is accurately described, with absolutely no fiction license taken.… Read the rest

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