Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kinder Words Have Never Been Spoken

MILK-BLOOD continues to be a best-selling chemical dependency book on Amazon, and is now on a .99 Cent Kindle Count Down deal.  It is being featured on the top Kindle site, Free Kindle Books and Tips, today. Check it out here and find out why one recent reviewer gave it 5 stars and wrote:  "Where does the author get these ideas? How can anybody have this kind of imagination without being mentally insane themselves?"

Kinder words have never been spoken.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fare You Well, Fare You Well, I Love You More Than Words Can Tell

The Grateful Dead have announced three huge farewell shows in Chicago this July. Chicago is just a four hour drive so this is a must-see.  There is nothing like a Grateful Dead show, except maybe a rocking Baptist service. Really, the two are so much alike. The power in the air and spiritual fusion of thousands leaves a lasting mark.

So, I tried to get in touch with an old friend from college to see if he was going. It's been 20 years since we spoke.  He took me to my first Grateful Dead show which did, indeed, steal my face right off of my head. At least a dozen Dead shows would follow. As much as drugs kill, they do have the power to connect, and I felt a creative connection. He was the spark in a group of friends. A true mystic.I remember how many times I heard "St Stephen" blasting from his dorm room, and the first chords always evoke his memory.  He was a fan of Kerouac, of writing, of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. At his brothers house every year in Ann Arbor we had the so memorable "Zep Fests" where a group would listen to every single Led Zep album from beginning to end. Usually on the same day of Hash Bash.

I wrote him but did not hear back, tried to contact with his family, but was unsuccessful.  

So I googled his name and added obituary and his home state. There it was. 2012. Deceased. 2 years ago. Survived by wife and child. I have no idea how or why, but I was shocked and hurt and saddened because God Damn it He's Gone. I could confirm this not only by the family member names in the obituary, but by the words used to describe him. "He possessed the warmth of an angel, a wealth of knowledge, a romantic dreamer. A brilliant artist, literary genius and sonneteer." 

He and I have both lead some crazy ass lives in our times, and while I have no idea how or why he died, either of us could have died long ago. But in this madness I felt an indescribable connection that words would fail. I'll be a lesser person without him, but there is no doubt his spirit will be alive. In Chicago, in July, he will be there.


Fare you well, Robert. 

You were indeed the Voodoo Child. If I don't meet you anymore in this world, I'll meet you in the next one, and don't be late.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Joy of Audiobooks on ACX.com

MILK-BLOOD received some incredible reviews over the last few days, but in keeping with the insidious nature of reviews, I have a confession: Neither of these reviewers even read the book. Instead, both listened to it through Audible.com. Here's what they had to say.

"Full of intense, fully conceptualized characters. A story line that gives me goosebumps. Reality horror at its finest."

"A gripping mix of the horror show that is drug addiction and otherworldly horror that feels so natural your skin may crawl. It’s descriptive and gut- wrenching  This story is intense and bothered me on a level that most horror can’t reach."
Words like these make my blood boil until my heart explodes like a sixth grader's volcano project. None of this would be possible without making an audiobook. I know some writers who don't want to be bothered with audiobooks. Well... Do it. Do it. Get on ACX and make it happen.
Audio-books sell by themselves. They really do. They sell much better than paperbacks and pay more per unit sold. They are better for the environment, and they are a shit load of fun. Having your book read aloud by a narrator brings it to life for both you as author as well as for the reader. It adds dimension and substance.  Readers who would never touch an audiobook can still listen to a sample with one click on your amazon page. 
 There is no reason not to have an audio book version of your book.  If you have learned how to navigate KDP on amazon, you can do ACX.  Even if you have been traditionally published, your publisher may not own audio rights. (This happened with On the Lips of Children.) I have always gone with royalty share, where the narrator and author split royalties. This means making less but less investment and less risk. 
Here are some tips based on my experience, some of which will only make sense after you have started:
*When you load up your book on your acx page, make sure to search by the Kindle's ASIN and load up the digital version rather than the paperback. The kindle version probably has a better amazon rank than the paperback and is more attractive to narrators this way. Since it is narrators you are seeking, your pitch should be an explanation to them on why your book will sell. 
*Email ACX and ask for a 'narrator stipend', which is basically an extra fee per hour given to narrators to attract them. On the Lips of Children received a stipend, and thus I was able to hire narrator Bob Dunsworth who does Bud Light commercials and Transformer voices. With or without a stipend, there are plenty great narrators waiting to be hired, and I am happy with the narrators for all three of my audiobooks.
 
*When loading up samples for narrators to audition for the job, make sure to include a passage with dialogue. You want to get an idea of how much voice inflection narrators use when reading dialogue, for this varies. After you agree to a deal and they present the final version for your review, make sure you do listen to the entire book before approving for sale. There was some minor technical errors in both of mine (chapter number issues). 
*Lastly, after the audiobook goes live, ACX gives out free voucher downloads to both author and narrator. Dish these out generously and with joy.
 Interested in a free audio version of MILK-BLOOD? Below are codes for a free download of MILK-BLOOD on audio. Instructions on how to redeem also provided.
  1. 4N8ZJ3RUWW2WN
  2. 4UTWW29N8SRJH
  3. 56CUH6Q3HUPR8
  4. 5D38U5K4BPZP6
    1. Go to my book's page on Audible.com: http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Milk-Blood-Audiobook/B00NJ0BDWW/   Add the audiobook to your cart.
    2. Create a new Audible.com account or log in.
    3. Enter the promo code and click "Redeem" on the cart page.
    4. To change the price from full price to $0.00, click the box next to "1 Credit" and click the "update" button to apply the credit to your purchase.
    5. Complete checkout, and start listening to the free copy of the book.

Monday, January 12, 2015

SIX MONTHS OF BLOG POSTS ARE DEAD, AND I AM TO BLAME. ARGGGHH.

I just tried to delete 3 blogs posts from draft, and ended up deleting six months worth of blog posts. Six months worth. Last undeleted post happens to be from my sobriety date in June of 2014.  I looked to blogger for how to uncover deleted posts, and you can't. Best you can do is look for the cached versions of the deleted posts, and copy and paste and re-enter.

Part of me is tempted to grab a plastic baggy, scoop up this whole blog in one hand, and toss the stinky mess in the trash like a pile of Dog Crap

I think it is time to change the focus anyways. Running isn't happening, and it feels just odd to have it as part of the title. I am doing all that I can to get back to it, and have not quit. Will not quit, but I am not even close.

Other things I still love to write and ramble apart will have to take its place. Media reviews, book reviews (including reviews of my own) and random thoughts about staying sober and chasing the dragon without being able to run. This will be part of my new world order.

Six months worth of blog posts burns me up. It really does. If someone knows how I can transfer all my stinky dog poop into wordpress while keeping my domain name, please give me a shout.







Friday, January 2, 2015

DARK AND DAMAGED GOODS: BEST OF 2014

The obligatory summary.

MILK-BLOOD was released in 2014, and received some incredible reviews. The book is unique, challenging, (I like to think) and this is reflected in 41 Five Star Reviews ("OMG, what did I just read!") to 7 One Star Reviews ("Awful. Triple Thumbs Down").  It was consistently a best-selling Drug Dependency book on Amazon. After it got some attention from a Horror Writers Association recommended reading list, I was inspired to join the HWA.

Looking back at the books I have read, and it's also been a dark year of reading.

Here are a few of my favorite reads from 2014:

*We Are All Completely Fine

A therapy group commences, and the participants share one common issue: all of them were involved in some sort of monstrous trauma, or been a part of the 'monster' world that exists parallel to ours.

I loved this book. The kind of book you read where the author wrote it just for you. The group dynamics were so spot on, and the author referencing "Yalom", who is the guru for therapy group dynamics and progression, showed that he did his homework. What worked so well for me is that, from my experience working in mental health, the unique affliction felt by the participants of the group are so true to how people feel in therapy: the sense of oddness, that nobody can relate to them because of their oddness, the initial mistrust, ways that trust is gained through self-disclosure and confrontation and identifying ourselves in others. Also, how the group dynamics start to bleed into interactions outside of the group, and behavior gets 'practiced' and then reported back to others. Some PHD student somewhere should use this book for a thesis.

*Corrosion

Yeah it came out in 2013, but, I read it in 2014, and the author's 2014 follow up novel, Factory Town, was close enough in tone to be a sequel. I loved them both, and this author is now on my auto-buy list.

Corrosion was unforgettable and a bit mesmerizing with a unique narration that hit its mark with me. I couldn’t help but think of what effort this must have taken to write. There is a message in here that spoke to me about how the presumed back story of a character can completely change your perspective. In the field of mental health therapy, there is a technique known as “Narrative Therapy”, where one changes the narrative of their own personal history in order to rewrite themselves and give themselves a new identity. Well, this takes that to new dark depths.



*The End of the World Running Club

Another book that seems to be written specifically for me.

I don’t really do running clubs. I run as I dream—alone. But if I did join a club, it would certainly be to run through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with some new found mates, trying to reach my family before they shipped off forever. Any club that helps a runner make a friend of the pain and sets their beast free is right on. This is part of the scenario in this novel. It is a wonderful, harrowing, epic, witty, and emotional story of the apocalypse and one man’s attempt to be the father he wanted to be after the world ends. I almost cried at the end of this book. Well, I did cry, but nobody saw. If a tear falls in the forest…. 

*The End in All Beginnings "What Becomes God"


A collection of Novellas, really, and everyone will have their own favorite, mine is the first piece called "What Becomes God" about a terminally ill boy and his friend. It highlights Taffs ability to tend to his characters and write about the universal human experiences with the macabre as the backdrop. 

Horror works best when the fantastic, the macabre, the twisted, (you name it) is used to bring forth the most basic of human emotions and relationships and throw a spotlight on it through speculation. That is what I found inside all of these novellas. Writing about things that splatter only impresses me if I care about the character.  These stories don't splatter, they slowly creep into your heart, and they are smart and rewarding. The situations the humans find themselves in are familiar: childhood friendships, family ties, lost loves, and the things that are important and hold us together (or tear us apart). The writing itself is the kind that makes me marvel at the writer's talent. The plot twists and depth of characters kept me reading.

There are a few hundred books that I am sure would be up here if I had more time, but they are set for 2015.

GARDEN OF FIENDS: TALES OF ADDICTION HORROR - NOW AVAILABLE

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror IS ALIVE!! $4.99 for Kindle $12.99 for paperback  (buy the paperback, and you can get t...