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Marketing a book in an increasingly visually driven society is a tough role. Not to mention the ever decreasing number of people who actually read (books that is, not this stupid blog). According to statistics from sources that sound legit* 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year [2002]. I’m hoping this figure can be taken literally to mean that these families did not physically purchase the book as a single group, with each member holding an edge of the book and simultaneously placing it on the bookstore counter. I would have never thought any family to do such a thing, so really the 20% of families who do is pretty eye opening. Unfortunately, the literal interpretation is a ridiculous dream. The truth is, most people simply do not read books.

But don’t fret my fellow 20%-ers. Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment banker** says that each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.… Read the rest

Until today I’ve thought to keep this page about my writing – the physical, textual, words and paper aspect of my writing. Today, however, I feel compelled to stray, if only slightly, into the meta aspects of myAnywhere I Lay My Head by Scarlett Johansson writing – the ambient noise and inspiration surrounding my work. Today’s theme, Tom Waits, the core inspiration for my current novel-in-progress, “Hoist That Rag” (I’ll look into the legal issues with such blatant inspiration once I secure a publisher).

Scarlett Johansson, of film and my dreams fame, yesterday released Anywhere I Lay My Head, an album of Tom Waits covers, give the lone original “Song For Jo.” Before I rant, let me put my love of Tom Waits into context: I have more Tom Waits CDs, posters, and inspired literature than I have love notes to my wife (most of the love letters I write go to Tom Waits; sorry Jenn). Waits is the single greatest recording artist in history, without argument.… Read the rest

Loading the Stone by Harley ElliottLike the subject matter in this, Harley Elliott’s twelfth book and first collection of non-fiction, there exists below the surface, universal binds and shared histories from which the impetus of progression can be said to reside.

The non-fiction moniker given to this collection belies the engaging, story-telling mode Elliott uses. Set against the backdrop of the Kansas prairie, Loading the Stone reads more like a story of a familial love of history used to explore the bonds threading father and son relationships than the listing of facts and dates that might be implied by the subject matter and genre. Perhaps, however, my assumptions of genre are just one example of the misunderstandings that Elliot explores. For example, the use of the word ‘Indian’:

The word had no relationship to the people [Christopher Columbus] encountered or the land they inhabited, or to the many generations preceding them, hunters of the big, antique bison and the mammoth.

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Issue OneI’ve been a member of an online writing critique group for a few years, out of which I’ve not only gained a growing understand of craft, but perhaps more importantly, I’ve developed close associations with some fantastic writers. Each year around November we return for another year of ego-brutalizing kinship, which leaves us deflated and disoriented, but not without a mutual understanding that every single moment spent suffering is a moment we’re allowed to nurture precious scar tissue.

But even with the necessary humility we gain, there comes a time when a writer wants to experience the role of an editor. Who are those eyes able to tell the reading public what constitutes publishable fiction? Why them? Out of this curiosity came the Colored Chalk zine.

For each bi-monthly(ish) issue a single editor will nurture the zine from theme to content selection to layout and design. This approach promises to produce material both diverse and representative of the overall sensibilities of the close-knit writing group as a whole.… Read the rest

6 Sick HipstersRayo Casablanca’s debut novel, 6 Sick Hipsters is now officially out and available for order.

Rayo was nice enough to send me an ARC of his novel a few months back, which I reviewed for Dogmatika, here.

Casablanca is truly a great writer and all around great guy. He can probably dance, too, which makes me even more jealous. Get his novel.

From the review:

“6 Sick Hipsters carries the rogue camaraderie of Joey Goebel’s The Anomalies—punk attitude and hipster lifestyles included—along with a less passive social critique found in Coupland’s Generation X. Fans of slick conspiracies and vinyl records rejoice.”

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UPDATE: The contest has ended.

My short story, “A Trench is No Place for God,” is now live at Nefarious Muse. And not just live, but live as part of the 2008 Nefarious Muse Short Fiction Competition. Please, go to their great fiction site, read the entries, and vote for the best. Of course, I am hoping your vote goes to my story. In case you vote otherwise, realize that I know where you live; thank you IP Address and Google maps.

Nefarious Muse Fiction Competition Click on the icon to the left to go straight to the comp homepage. Voting is open until March 14th, so don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to help me win a prize.

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UPDATE AGAIN: The semi-finalist pages have been taken down. The final 10 will be announced on March 3rd.

UPDATE: I received notice that my excerpt of Torch has survived another round of cuts, this time down to 100. The next round, down to 10, happens in early March.

A few months ago I submitted a 5,000 word excerpt from my novel Torch, on a whim, to the Breakthrough Novel contest. I’ve been exposed to contests like these before, both in the form of warnings and depressing tales of stomped egos; never in the form of optimistic encouragement. Bookseller-sponsored writing contests have a certain stigma, not unwarranted, I’m sure.

But, here’s hoping those warnings are just the foul remnants of those taken by less legitimate contests. I received notice today that Torch has survived the initial dwindling of 5,000 to less than 900.

I’m happy. Despite the humility and caution that I should display, I instead embrace a smile.… Read the rest