Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Here's The Map

I've always been fond of this couplet of dialogue from the Coen Brothers film No Country for Old Men; Has such Blakean truth ever been expressed so elegantly in postmodern film?
Llewelyn: "I'm just lookin' for what's comin'."
Woman at motel: "Yeah, but no one ever sees that."

But be that as it may, motel lady, I'm going to jot down here a tentative schedule of where this ship is sailing, and what we plan to do when we reach that far shore:

December 24 - Theoretically The Moleskin Checklist will be released on Crispness Eve. It's a dark and grim detective-noir tale of a washed-up private investigator named Jack who starts receiving body parts in the mail from blackmailers. His mischievous lowlife friend Sappy, who lives his life like he's in the movies, urges him to play this Big Lebowski-esque situation out to the cinematic hilt. But they soon quickly learn that real life is nothing like the movies. If gore, bad language, and gutter-tone characters aren't for you, skip this one.

January - Sometime early in 2013, the JSH Book Club will formally take shape with a website and an advertising campaign. It's still all being worked out by my friends at Wakeling & Harbour but the book club will offer a monthly selection to club members, including early releases of forthcoming works and special items for members only. And all at a cheaper price than you'd pay for the print editions individually, of course.

April - April will see the simultaneous release of The Bartender and an as-yet-untitled science fiction opus that will take 'em out a whole new door. The Bartender is another noir-ish affair, about a man who sees his duties as a bartender to be a noble pursuit comparable to the Knights Templar or the Cathars, serving a higher calling to serve mankind spiritually as well as serving them beer. But his ethics are put to the test when he finds himself overhearing something he shouldn't from one of his inebriated customers. It will include copious illustrations from J. Todd Dockery. More details on the science fiction novel will follow as it progresses.

Summer - By summer, Wakeling & Harbour will begin publishing hardcover books independently of Amazon's CreateSpace platform. Whether this will be all new works or hardcover reissues of the previous books is currently unknown. Another work in progress - a prequel to the events depicted in The Devil and Daniel Boone - will be published in hardcover by Wakeling & Harbour sometime in 2013.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

D&DB Promo Tour Dates

Here's the beginnings of a rudimentary list of book tour dates promoting The Devil & Daniel Boone.

Tour dates vary from simply making an appearance at a venue at a table, signing autographs and handing out coupons for the Kindle edition of the book (plus surprise gifts) to actual readings and speaking engagements. Most appearances are of the former type, and occur in the afternoon - but are unscheduled and essentially on a "the event starts whenever I show up" basis. Sometimes impromptu appearances are added on the way back from any given event and are added to the list retroactively for archivism's sake. Need more specific info? E-mail me or keep an eye on my Twitter.

Here's where the schedule of appearances stands right now. Bookmark this blog post, because its content is going to be continually updated as new info is added:

August 29:
Champagne & Fancy Cakes Club meeting, Louisville, KY

September 7:
First Friday Trolley Hop, Louisville, KY

September 10
Hertz-Starks Building, Louisville, KY 2:00pm
Fourth Street Live, Louisville, KY 2:45pm

September 21:
Barnes & Noble, Middlesboro, KY 1:30pm
Tennessee Welcome Center, Jellico, TN
Berea College, Berea, KY
Hastings, Richmond, KY

October 1:
City Market, Indianapolis, IN, 12:30pm
Edinburgh Premium Outlets, Edinburgh, IN 3:00pm

October 5:
CrossWinds Golf Course, Bowling Green, KY
(Various locations) Cave City, KY

October 16:
Village Mall, Danville, IL

November 7:
Casino Aztar, Evansville, IN

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fancy Cakes!

Recently, it was my supreme honor to address the members of the Champagne and Fancy Cakes Club, a Louisville book club that made The Devil and Daniel Boone their reading selection for the month of August.

The assembled lovers of literature had not only read the book, but actually had an arsenal of questions to ask me about the characters and their motivations and the mysteries and their meaning. Some of their theories and opinions about what might really be going on in the novel gave me pause for thought and put new ideas in my own head, so it truly was a fascinating exchange with some wonderful people.

For many of the inquiries about backstory, though, I had to pull out the cop-out excuse and say, "you'll just have to wait until the sequel." Though the producers of LOST and The X-Files promised their fans that all the answers to all the mysteries would be revealed at the end, I make no such claims myself!

(To my delight, they plied me with my current favorite beer, Bell's Two-Hearted Ale. Clearly someone did their homework.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The JSH Book Club

It was one year ago today that I closed down most of my blogs in order to focus on more important things, like propping up the bar at Havana Rumba. No wait, I mean writing, yeah, writing.

And now, 365 celestial rotations later, I've launched the first in a neverending flood of weird crappy little paperback books written in the spirit of the all-time greats of pulp fiction who poured their idiosyncratic souls into typewriters long before me.

That book is called The Devil and Daniel Boone, and I beseech the reader to buy it now and get in on the ground floor, for the JSH Book Club will be announced here in the months to come, offering the hungry consumer of American lout-literature a new tome in the snail (or electronic) mail each and every month. Too much pork for just one fork!! And if you're already a proud owner of The Devil and Daniel Boone, you'll get a discount, see?

As my good gal Agent Scully once said, "DON'T THINK! Just pick up that phone and MAKE IT HAPPEN!!"

The proliferation of tawdry e-books hastily slapped together has been decried by many, including me, and it's damn unfortunate since the zeit I'm tryin' to cling to is that of the old-timey old-school hacks of yesteryear who churned out entire novels in a day or two for the purpose of being serialized in one of thousands of crudely-crafted "pulp magazines" printed ineptly on the world's crummiest paper and never intended to be saved, collected, or even thought of again once the next week's issue hit the stands. (In other words, that Sexton Blake feeling.) There were typographical mistakes galore, and drastic printer's errors that would have caused a more "professional" outfit to scrap the entire run and start over. I speak for those dead trees and their primitive 19th-20th century foibles, which is a whole 'nother sort of shoddiness than the cheesy "indie e-books" of today.

Having said that, my new series of stupid books will be available as e-books soon. And at a suitably soupy low, low, death-dealing price. Whatever. There you go, Kindle-gardeners, don't say I never did nothin' for ya. But just remember - the printed ones are the real ones and if you bought the e-version simulacra, you played yourself. (But give me your money anyway.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fair Warning

Since I seem to differ with the average citizen about what constitutes great literature, I think it's only fair to get ahead of my upcoming novel The Devil and Daniel Boone and remind potential readers that my primary literary influences are probably sources you either don't know or don't wanna know.

Charles Bukowski. Buk wrote with the engaging laser-beam simplicity of Elmore Leonard, and pulled no punches with language, subject matter, and attitude. But whereas Leonard actually followed conventional ideas about story arc, plotting, and character development, Buk often wrote entire novels where, in alcoholic Seinfeldian fashion, nothing ever really happened. And I adore that. (On the other hand, he was a total downer, which I strive not to be.)

Jack Kerouac's "Visions of Cody". The only Kerouac novel I really have any use for anymore (okay, "Desolation Angels" is pretty good too) is the one that most of his hippiefied fans would prefer to forget: it's a huge doorstop of a politically-incorrect stream-of-consciousness tome that tells no story, yet tells ten thousand anecdotes in the process of telling no story. You don't even need to read it linearly - like the Bible, you can just open it anywhere and dive in to its random rambling prose. It's all about texture, that feel, that indefinable "it."

Douglas Adams. Say what? Yeah. I think he's one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. If you disagree, my own writing is probably not for you. Adams systematically tossed out into the dustbin most of the established rules for so-called "good writing", and yet spawned a multi-book best-seller empire that branched out into radio, TV and movies. His characters stand around chit-chatting, then a way-too-clever narrator bloviates densely for pages on side tangents, then the characters chit-chat some more. Then something explodes. Or maybe it doesn't. End of story. It was never about plot, but all about the chit-chat. I love it.

Franklin W. Dixon. I know, I know, he's not a real person, but man, that just makes it 673% awesomer. And when I say Dixon's name, I mean to include all imaginary authors who penned children's novels by the pound rather than the word. Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins, I eat it all. This also includes all the glorious pulp fiction authors of the first half of the 20th century, plus peculiar Big Little Books, idiosyncratic Gold Key Comics and half-baked radio dramas.

William S. Burroughs. Though WSB was a rather loathesome person in life, devoting most of it to pursuits such as drugs, sexual perversion, and wallowing in self-pity, I have a fondness for his very early ("Junky", "Queer") and very late ("The Place of Dead Roads") works. All that lazy surrealist cut-up stuff in the middle that pretentious professors pretend is precious ("Naked Lunch", "Soft Machine", "Wild Boys"), well, not so much. Kerouac did stream-of-consciousness better, and for that matter, so did James Joyce. Furthermore, many of WSB's best moments were actually influenced by/borrowed from greater men than himself - but that bothers me not. I borrow from his borrowings, and so goes this thing of ours.

Harry Stephen Keeler. This is where we really separate the grumps from the mugwumps. Keeler is fetishized in certain circles as being "the Ed Wood of literature" - namely that he's "soooo bad, he's good." Well, in the first place, Jack, ED WOOD was the Ed Wood of literature - he wrote novels himself, you know - and in the second place, I do not subscribe to the concept of "camp" or "kitsch". I find Keeler to be a flat-out genius, and wholly worthy of legitimate praise - not the "this guy is terrible but he's hilarious! hahaha!" sort. Again, you have been warned.

Thomas DeQuincey. Sometimes, just for kicks, I assume the beingness of DeQuincey, and I derive great satisfaction from it. Your mileage may vary. Don't say I didn't tell you so.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Twitter FAQ

It seems downright wankatory to spend so many words writing about something that denotes brevity as much as Twitter does, but I think it's time. In no particular order, here's some stuff you should know:

Social Media. I am philosophically opposed to "social media" (and not even really a fan of the Internet itself anymore) for reasons already elaborated elsewhere. Because of this, some tweeps can't resist the perceived irony of pointing out that I'm on Twitter. However, I view Twitter as microblogging - no different than this blog you are reading now - not "social media". 99.9% of my friends are not on Twitter and, God bless 'em, have no desire to be. Like a radio tower, I'm just broadcasting in mostly one-way communication, and whether you tune in to that transmission or not is entirely up to you. Though I do enjoy the occasional banter with strangers and fans on there, I prefer serious real-world friendships/alliances to idle digital chumminess, and if we've never shared a meal or a drink together, we aren't really friends. But that's easily remedied, which brings me to...

Eating. Whenever I tweet that I'm eating or drinking somewhere, you're always welcome to join in. If it was an occasion where company was unwanted, I wouldn't be tweeting my location in the first place :)

Following. In general, I don't follow anyone who doesn't follow me, and I don't follow anyone who I consider, at my whims, unnecessarily negative, spammy, or incoherent. I don't feel obligated to follow anyone, truth be told, and have often toyed with being one of those people who follows no one. (If you notice that some tweeps seem to have immunity to my rules, well, yes, there are some lucky souls who I consider to be above the chessboard, "of both lands and both seas".)

Manual of Style. I publicly thank anyone who follows me, regardless. I don't bother to take the time to assess whether they're bots or what. And #FF (Follow Friday) is generally the only time I do mass shoutouts. I tend to do manual RTs more than the traditional kind, especially if I think it's important enough that I need to circumvent anyone who's disabled seeing my RTs. If that bugs you, the unfollow button's right over there. You'll eat what we're cookin'.

I'm interested in everything. Unlike a lot of tweeps who seemingly exist only to talk about one narrow topic, there's very little out there in the human experience that doesn't get scrutinized by my all-seeing eye. Thus, some have expressed bewilderment and even irritation that I sometimes tweet, in rapid succession, about all manner of subjects under the sun that interest me, from quantum physics to winemaking. I have all sorts of acquaintances from all walks of life. Tea partiers. Nudists. Ministers. Stockbrokers. Drag queens. NASA scientists. Parrot-heads. People from Ohio.

Politics. Because I am highly critical of Obama, tweeps tend to automatically assume I'm a Republican. I am not. In fact, I worked for the Obama campaign in the 2008 election, although politically I don't fit into either the liberal or conservative boxes. I have bigger fish to fry than mere terrestrial politicking. But in the next election, I will probably vote for anyone but Obama - a 9-year-old boy from Montreal, a flatulent basset hound, a potted plant, or even Mitt Romney. (Yes, I consider the line Obama has crossed to be that ethically unforgivable.)

Twitter is not my personal diary. It may seem like it sometimes, but it isn't. The vast majority of what goes on in my day-to-day life isn't even mentioned on Twitter.

Smartphones. I'm apparently the last man standing in the solar system who has no interest in smartphones. Half my tweets come from a laptop running mobile.twitter.com (which I vastly prefer to the unwieldy and over-coded "New Twitter") and the other half are sent as text messages via a conventional old-school cellphone. I bring all this up to remind you that unlike most of your other tweeps, I often am not looking at Twitter even as I'm posting to it.

It's all crap anyway. Twitter, like most Internet amusements, is trivial junk. Have some fun with it. Muck around with it. Poke it and see what it does for you. Don't take it seriously. I don't. (Despite having just written this lengthy FAQ about it!)