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Sep 14, 2016

Identity - a #HoldOnToTheLight Blog Post

Author's note: The following story is from the viewpoint of Sally Sunset, as part of the Tome of Bill series. You can read more of Sally's story in Sunset Strip (A Tale From The Tome of Bill). It takes place prior to the events of Half A Prayer (The Tome of Bill 6) and contains spoilers for Sunset Strip.

It's part of the special #HoldOnToTheLight blog event (see the bottom of this post for details).



Some days I'm really not sure of who I am, what I should be doing, or how I should act. I don't let the others see it. It wouldn't be befitting a person of my so-called station. Weakness is not tolerated among our kind. Even a momentary crack in our veneer can leave us vulnerable to the predators who are constantly watching.

As for friends to confide in, those are few and far between. Even those few I trust ... I simply can't open up to. It isn't wise to confide in another vampire, not when the elders can force us to bare our very souls with but a few whispered words of compulsion.

A part of me isn't bothered by that - the person I became after years of servitude and abuse at the hands of Night Razor. No, she's too hard for that. She has a shell that is nearly impenetrable, a rough callous formed over her very soul from decades living in a world where life is cheap and remorse isn't tolerated.

The truth of the matter is, I hate who I've become, but at the same time I admire her strength. It's so unlike how I used to be, practically a different life. A foolish young girl named Lucinda Marie Carlsbad once used to lose herself in books and dream of a life in which she'd be respected, in which she'd stand as an equal to any man, and would rise to the top by virtue of hard work and her abilities.

Her father put an end to that, constantly berating her, reminding her of her place as a woman. She should dress pretty, learn to cook, do all the things that could land her a good husband. Only then would she have any worth, and only as an extension of whatever man decided to have her. There were never any fists or hands in those days. No, those came later ... after that little girl died and was reborn, but the shell she ... I ... would later wrap myself in had its beginnings in those days from the scars the constant browbeating left behind.

One could argue those words were the cause of what came next: running away, finding employment in a place that valued only my body, and then meeting the monster who would forever change my life. Little Lucinda died at his hands, but it wasn't an easy death. No. She lingered for years, holding on, refusing to give in, but dying a little bit at a time until she was no more.

Where my father's voice cut me on the inside, Night Razor's fists did their part on the outside and soon I began to think that perhaps my father was right - I had only found my true worth at the hands of the man who would have me. It just so happened that man was an immortal monster with hands so bloody they could never come clean.

That's when Sally was born. All of those years, all of those scars, they added up over time. Little did Night Razor know, though, but the woman he molded in his own image as as if from clay would take his lessons to heart and become his downfall.

I thought then and there that I had achieved parity with my life. My scars were still present - they always would be - but they were buried deep, almost forgotten. And now my tormentor was dead and I had everything I could ever ask for.

I was wrong.

The kindness of one man, someone who dared to be my friend despite everything I did and said to him, began to awaken little Lucinda again. It turns out she wasn't as dead as I had thought. That shell I had built around her hadn't been a tomb after all, merely a cocoon for her to sleep until it was time to awaken. Sally, however, is still the driving part of me and I'm not sure I want her to leave. She's strong, sure in herself, allowing herself to bend, but never breaking.

But, where Sally is cynical, Lucinda sees hope. For the first time in decades, she can envision a future that isn't littered with bodies, where the slightest disobedience is not met with cruel punishment, and where my fate is her own.

Perhaps one day soon it will be time for these two disparate ladies to meet in the recesses of my mind and have a good long chat. Perhaps they can discuss the future and whether they can coexist together: strength and hope, existing as one being.

It might be too much to ask for, but I'm willing to try.



About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to The Hold On To The Light Facebook Group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/

Aug 31, 2016

Rating the Rides - 2016 summer edition

So this past week I took the family down to Virginia for a little R&R. It had been a while since we got away for a few days. Besides, all work and no play make Rick less a dull boy and more a freaking nutcase.

Sanity is my middle name
Yeah yeah, I know the drill ... back to writing, author monkey!

Don't worry. I'm hard at work finishing up The Last Coven (The Tome of Bill 8). For now, though, I thought I'd take a little mental break from all the death and destruction to talk about the thrill rides at the two parks we visited - Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion.

I remember hair ... *sniff*
In between bouts of utter despair at being totally ignored as a walking / talking Bill The Vampire advertisement - all while my wife got tons of compliments about her new hair color - I spent most of my time strapped into chairs and being dropped down steep hills ... on purpose! It wasn't my first visit to either park, but it was my first chance to ride many of the rides there.

So that said, here's my mini-review of some of the rides we sampled.

Let us talk about things that go high and move fast...

Busch Gardens:

Verbolten - 5 stars - Not a super coaster like many of the others, but nevertheless probably the most fun coaster at either park. Part of it is the surprise. The ride is partially indoors, and a good deal of the rest is obscured from view from vantage points around the park. Thus I got on this having no idea what to expect.  I was expecting a kiddie coaster and instead found myself being hurtled forward via linear induction into pitch blackness and a lot of fun. I won't spoil it, but there is an awesome "Holy shit!' moment in the middle of the ride that caught me totally unaware.

FUUUUUUUCK!!!
Griffin - 5 stars - The best, and by that I mean scariest, super coaster of the two parks. The main attraction is a 200 foot tall 90 degree hill that you hang suspended over for several seconds before your first drop. For someone like me who has a fear of heights, this was more than enough for me to rediscover religion as well as plenty of profane names for all the various deities. 

Alpengeist - 4 stars - A taller version of the suspended hanging coasters you can find at a lot of parks. Still fun, and definitely freaky watching nothing but ground below you from that high.

Apollo's Chariot - 3 1/2 stars - A pretty basic steel coaster.  Lots of hills and quite fast. Not sure whether to dock it a point or add one, but the seat harnesses didn't fully tighten against my youngest son's somewhat thin frame. And of course this was the one ride he felt the need to put his hands in the air for during every hill. My rational mind knew he was safe, but it still freaked the fuck out of us. 

Tempesto - 4 1/2 stars - an awesome linear induction coaster that allows for both forward and backward motion. Tons of air time and inversions.  Only loses 1/2 a star because the nature of the ride allows just one car to be in operation at a time, causing load times to be a bit long.

Loch Ness Monster - 2 stars - Not the first time I've ridden this. Was easily a 4, maybe 5, star coaster when I was a kid, but nowadays feels kind of tame comparatively. Still a fun ride, but showing its age.  Also, the cars are uncomfortable as all hell. Still, not a bad ride to ease kids into the fun of inverted coasters.

Curse of Darkastle - 4 stars - Not a roller coaster, but a 3d ride, similar to the ones found down at Universal Studios. Not quite as good as the ones there, but still a fun ride and well done.

And then we visited ... Kings Dominion

Backlot Stunt Coaster - 2 stars - The linear induction acceleration doesn't make up for the fact that it's pretty much a kiddie coaster disguised as a big-boy coaster.  Also the seats were apparently designed by someone who truly hates their fellow man. It is a horrible ride? No. But not something I'd wait in line for.

Flight of Fear - 5 stars - Holy shit! This one rivals Verbolten as most fun coaster. On the outside, it looks like some shitty 4D experience, like that lame test flight thing that used to bore people at Six Flags Great Adventure. Inside, though, it is living proof that an indoor ride doesn't have to mean a crappy coaster with a prefab metal housing built around it (again, looking at you Great Adventure).  Fairly uncomfortable seats, but an intense ride made even more freaky by 1) being in the dark and 2) multiple inversions with only leg straps holding you in.

Volcano - 5 Stars - Just plain fun.  2 linear induction acceleration points, including one straight up and out of the volcano's mouth.  Wasn't sure what to expect, but it was all smiles from the moment the car started moving.

Waiter, check please
Intimidator305 - 4 1/2 stars - A huge 300 foot drop from a non-linear induction coaster.  The ride up the hill is fairly quick, but took more than enough time for me to consider all of my life's bad choices. Pulls enough g-forces on the way down that I was seeing dark spots at the corners of my vision.  Only 1 hill, though (but what a hill!). The rest is all twists and turns. Still, a pretty awesome ride.

Anaconda - 3 stars - Been on it before. Pretty standard metal looping coaster these days.  Lots of time upside down, all of it over some pretty skeevy looking water. One of the older coasters in Kings Dominion, but still worth a ride.

Dominator - 3 stars - A fun floorless coaster, but there are rides similar to it at Great Adventure and Dorney Park, so a bit of a "been there, done that" quality to it.

Grizzly - 3 stars - an older wooden coaster, but a good one. Lots of airtime spent out of your seat.

Rebel Yell - 2 1/2 stars - also a decent older coaster, but a really rough ride. If you're a full-sized adult, prepare to have the crap kicked out of you.

Richochet - 2 stars - A slightly larger version of the Wild Mouse. My youngest liked it.

Avalanche - 3 stars - not a super thrilling ride, but I always liked those old bobsled type coasters. Not too many parks still have them, so a nice piece of nostalgia. Almost wanted to dock it a point for the stupid kids waiting in front of us, but it wasn't the ride's fault the depth of their end of the gene pool was a bit lacking.

Fun and other assorted weirdness
All in all, I can't complain about any of it. We did more coasters in 2 days that I usually do in 2 years. I think we were all tired as all hell after it was done, but it was a lot fun, and that's exactly what I go to theme parks for. 

Until the next coaster quest...

Jul 13, 2016

Mock Me If You Will...

Dork
You might think by the title of this post that there's a big but coming after it.  Well there isn't (aside from my ass maybe ... I really need to put some more miles on the exercise bike).  It stands as it is.  No caveats. Feel free to mock my ethnicity, my geeky tendencies, my hairline ... all of it.  If what you say is clever, I'll laugh. If what you say isn't, I'll most likely mock you back for your lack of being able to string a coherent joke together. I can take it and if you can too then it's all good as far as I'm concerned.

But there are those who would call both of us wrong in doing so.  They'd call us bullies, haters, etc.  For how dare we put down another human being?  How dare we not care about their feelings?  How dare we make ourselves chuckle at the expense of another?

Hell, you can see a good example of this out there right now on just about any social media feed.  Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware of Pokemon Go.  I hear it's a pretty hot game right now.  Well, first came the game. Then came the memes poking some fun at the game. And now, as anyone living in this day and age could probably predict, comes the shaming of those memes.  How dare you make fun of someone having some harmless fun?  If you do, I've lost all respect for you.  Blah blah blah.

Fuck that, I say.

Eat a sammich!
I've said it before and I'll reiterate it here again. It's all about intent as far as I'm concerned. If your intent is to harm another. If you do it day after day. If you are focused on making another person or group's life as miserable as can be.  All of these things are bullying and/or potential hate crimes.  Yet there seems to be a movement out there that says anything negative - whether it be a shared meme, a stupid twitter post, a joke shared in the school yard - is just as bad.  Bullshit I say.

Now, that's not to say that a singular instances can't make you a horrible person. I've already covered this and what a dick it takes to do such a thing.  But once again, I'd argue the intent is definitely there

There's another side of mockery, though, one those who are overly sensitive don't want to admit exists - and it's entirely harmless outside of perhaps being annoying.  Why, because that's all it's trying to be.  It's just trying to make a joke or make people (including themselves) laugh.  There might be a bit of doucheyness behind it, but there's no ill intent otherwise.

That's actually one of the most common complaints about my Tome of Bill series. People have said the main character is (insert your favorite ist, istic, or phobic here), whether it be homophobic, racist, misogynistic whatever. I'd argue you're inside the head of a character who's a flawed human being just like the rest of us, and with that comes every good thought he has, but it also means you're privy to every petty, juvenile, or uninformed thought as well. And I purposely write him that way because I think it's simple human nature to have thoughts like these. That all of us have someone(s) we secretly fear, mock, don't understand, or feel superior about.  What counts, though, is how we act or don't act upon those thoughts. Actions speak louder than words.  And thoughts are just that ... words in our head.

We give too much power to those words sometimes.  There are times when we should let those words into our soul, but there are far more times when we should just shrug them off and get on with our day.

Goddamned Pikaphiles should be locked up
And that's what I'm getting at. I'll be the first to admit that mine is a sarcastic household. I praise my kids when they do something awesome, but I'm just as quick to joke when they do something stupid. No special snowflakes under my roof, thank you. The thing is, the same holds true in the reverse. There is no punishment for hitting back with a good zinger.  Everyone who dishes it out should be able to take it and I'm no exception.

That's where I think most of this backlash comes from. As I said above, none of us are perfect. We all have not-so-nice thoughts from time to time. The difference being that some want to have their not-nice thoughts about others, but don't want others to have those same thoughts about them or their beliefs. There aren't many guarantees in life, but I'd be willing to put my money down on at least one sure bet - ANYONE who has ever said "How dare you mock XYZ?" thinks they're the exception to the rule and has some group or person that in their mind they think is A-okay to mock away at.

There's a great deal of hypocrisy there, whether or not people want to admit it.

Of course there's the big problem of who draws the line on these things. That's subjective.  Hell, even I've already drawn my personal lines in the sand with my link to a prior blog post. I'm not immune to a bit of hypocrisy myself in saying it's okay to do this, but not that. There's no easy answer to that one, but as I said I believe intent plays a big part in things like this. 

All I know is that there are some who want us to live in a world where we watch what we say for fear of what others might think.  Me, I'd sooner take the good with the bad and live in a world where we don't let the words of others have so much power over us. 

May 21, 2016

Ready for a dose of Modern Magic?

Are you ready for a walk on the wild side? Are you daring enough to enter a place where the shadows are long, things go bump in the night, and the hour of the wolf never ends?

Introducing:
MODERN MAGIC (Twelve Tales of Urban Fantasy)

Get ready for 12 complete works by the masters of dark urban fantasy. Featuring some of the best and the brightest of the genre - NY Times Best-Sellers, USA Today Best-Sellers, Bram Stoker Award Winners, Nominees, and Amazon Best-Sellers!

BEST YET, You don’t have to sell your soul to get this deal. 

It can be yours for ONLY $1.99! 

Available for pre-order now ONLY ON AMAZON

But, much like a vampire racing back to its coffin in the hours before dawn, it won't be here for long.  Grab it today before it crawls back into the crypt from whence it came.

This anthology of ass-kickery includes:

THE TENTACLE AFFAIRE A Slip Traveler Novel by award-winning and RT Recommended bestselling author Jeanne Adams – He doesn’t believe in aliens. She doesn’t believe in magic. They’re both wrong.

DAYS GONE BAD (Vesik, Book 1) by Eric Asher – An urban fantasy about a necromancer and his vampire sister. And chimichangas.

THE NIMBLE MAN by New York Times bestselling author and Stoker Award winner Christopher Golden & NY Times bestselling editor Thomas E. Sniegoski, the first book of The Menagerie series. They are beings of myth and legend. They possess powers beyond imagining. They are our only hope.

BILL THE VAMPIRE (The Tome of Bill, part 1) by Amazon Top 100 author Rick Gualtieri – Bill Ryder was a dateless geek, but then he met a girl to die for. So he did.

HARD DAY’S KNIGHT – by award-winning author John G. Hartness – A pair of comic book nerds get turned into vampires, and now they have to save the world. The world is so screwed.

SOUTHERN BOUND (Max Porter, Book 1) by Top 100 Kindle author Stuart Jaffe – When Max Porter discovers his office is haunted by the ghost of a 1940s detective, he does the smartest thing possible — starts a detective agency.

TAINTED (The Blood Lily Chronicles Book 1) by New York Times bestselling author Julie Kenner –The first installment of the Blood Lily Chronicles, an urban fantasy romance which introduces readers to Lily Carlyle, a tough-talking bad girl who’s been chosen to save the world, and Deacon Camphire, the darkly sensual man whose words seduce her, but whose actions suggest he’s hiding secrets of his own.

THE SOUL CAGES: A Minister Knight Novel by Nicole Givens Kurtz -Sarah risks everything to save her soul and be reincarnated back into flesh. Now, the real adventure begins…

TRIFLES AND FOLLY (Deadly Curiosities Adventures) by #1 Kindle Top 100 bestselling author Gail Z. Martin – A Charleston, SC antique store is the cover for a coalition of mortals and immortals who have sworn their lives and magic to saving the world from supernatural threats and cursed relics.

NOBODY GETS THE GIRL by 2016 Piedmont Laureate and award-winning author James Maxey — The fate of the free world is at stake as the superhuman battles escalate, wiping entire cities from the map, threatening the survival of all mankind. Who can save us from the looming apocalypse? Nobody!

TOUCH A DARK WOLF (Shadowmen Book 1) by USA Today bestselling author Jennifer St. Giles –Poisoned by evil, Jared fights to save Erin before the murderous darkness in him claims them both .

CELLAR by Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Karen E. Taylor – If Laura Wagner’s inner demons don’t get her, the real ones just might…

RESERVE YOUR COPY TODAY!

May 1, 2016

It's a Kindle Countdown to Extinction!

The Tome of Bill Series

THERE ARE REASONS WE FEAR THE NIGHT. HE'S NOT ONE OF THEM.

Bill Ryder was a dateless geek, but then he met a girl to die for. So he did. Unfortunately for him, that was just the beginning of his troubles...

Through May 7th all of the individual books in the bestselling Tome of Bill urban fantasy series (including side stories) will be on sale for Kindle for ONLY $.99 apiece.

Need convincing? READ A FREE SAMPLE OF BILL THE VAMPIRE

Still catching up? Been waiting for an excuse to dive in? Have some friends you've been pestering to try it? Well now's the time!

Vampire might be around forever, but this sale won't be!

This sale includes (in series order):
BILL THE VAMPIRE
SCARY DEAD THINGS
THE MOURNING WOODS
HOLIER THAN THOU
SUNSET STRIP
GODDAMNED FREAKY MONSTERS
HALF A PRAYER
THE WICKED DEAD

SHINING FURY

What are you waiting for? This blog post is over. Go on ... get moving.

Apr 15, 2016

Mark your calendars. Shining Fury is coming.

SHINING FURY (a Tome of Bill Series Companion) is coming April 29!

I am pleased to share both the cover and the teaser from this, the second companion piece in The Tome of Bill series.

Taking place concurrently with The Wicked Dead, Shining Fury follows Sheila O'Connell - the prophesied last defender of humanity.

Icons, legendary warriors empowered by pure faith and driven by their unerring belief in their own invincibility. For centuries they have stood against the undead as shining beacons of light against the coming darkness.

Sounds good on paper, but don't believe the hype.



At first glance, most see just a shy girl from New York, but to the denizens of the night – vampires, witches, and their ilk – I am a nightmare given flesh, born to raze their kind from this very Earth. I am the Icon, the Shining One, the last defender of humanity against the oncoming tide of darkness.

They say my coming was foretold, that prophecies speak of a beacon of hope who will light the way during the end days. It is said I am destined to vanquish the last of the Magi, and face the Night Spawn in the final battle for the fate of mankind.

If only things could be so easy.

Despite all my power, I am afraid. And if I can’t conquer my fear, face my demons, and overcome the feelings I have for a man I must destroy, then I shall be utterly consumed … and the world will know endless suffering for my failure.



"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Meg turned to Bernadette. "Revelations?"

"Book of Daniel 12:2."

"Whatever. I'm thinking it's safe to say these guys are in that latter group."

"At least now we know why the streets are so empty," I added, counting at least a dozen of the creatures advancing upon us. They looked like zombies. Bill and Ed had mentioned them to me, but according to them, although real life zombies looked like their fictional counterparts, the vampire hierarchy used them for mundane clerical work of all things. I'd been both amused and insulted to learn the undead equivalent of my old job was entrusted to walking corpses.

The things advancing on us, however, didn't seem to have much interest in paperwork. Their eyes shone red and feral in the gleam of the flashlights as they doubled their pace toward us.

"Brothers," Bernadette called out, "this is the first of the unholy blight we have come here to face. Trust in your training, but most of all, trust in your faith."

I decided to add a bit of practicality. "Swords only," I barked then lowered my voice to address Bernadette. "Let's take them quietly if we can."

"Sound advice," she remarked, drawing her dagger, but stepping back to let the younger, more fit warriors step up,

"We'll hold back, too, unless you need us," Meg said.

I nodded then turned to face the oncoming threat – not quite a horde, but still potentially dangerous. I felt something in my mind tighten, my focus turning to the enemy at hand and, insanely enough, an anticipation of the conflict to come began to suffuse my being.

I drew my own weapon. A part of me was tempted to command the Templar to hold back, that this enemy was easily dealt with on my own. It was a struggle to not heed its call, but I managed to push it down.

To appease that part, I instead let my power fly free. Not all of it. Lighting up the dark street like the Fourth of July could be just as counterintuitive to a stealthy approach as a firefight. However, I let enough out to cover myself in its soft white protective glow, the blade practically singing in my hand as I did so.

I stepped forward with enough Templar to equal the enemy in front of us.

"Take out their heads," Kelly called out from behind. I glanced over my shoulder at her and she added. "I watch a lot of TV. You have no idea how many people screw that up."

Affording her a small smile, I turned away and stepped forward. I held back the battle cry on my lips, instead opting to let swift and savage action do my talking for me.

Though I wanted – almost needed – to launch myself into the center of the fray, I forced myself to hold my position relative to the Templar, opting to engage the zombie on the rightmost edge of their loose-knit grouping.

The pathetic creature only had one complete arm, her ... its other ended in a ragged stump several inches below its shoulder. It hardly seemed a fair fight.

Had I tried anything like this a year ago I, more than likely, would have tripped and stabbed myself. Now, though, I moved with a fluid grace … employing precise steps as if I'd been training my entire life. I side-stepped the creature and kicked its legs out from under it.

It fell forward, not even trying to break its fall with its one good arm. It landed face-first, eliciting a grunt that sounded less one of pain and more air simply forced out of its rotting body.

With no hesitation, I lifted my sword and brought it down in an arc. The human skull is thick and well protected, but my weapon was aglow with the fires of faith magic. I bisected her ... its skull just above the jawline, my weapon sending up sparks as it passed through the creature's head and met asphalt.

Its body shuddered once and became still. Somewhere deep inside of me, I felt a pang of regret. Whoever it had once been, there was little doubt it hadn't asked for this fate. Though I didn't share the Templar's beliefs, I said a small silent prayer nevertheless, hoping that this tormented soul was now at rest, before turning to see how the rest were doing.

It was a similar situation for the most part. The other Templar had heeded the warning and been both quick and decisive. It looked like this battle was over before it had even begun. I let out a breath and my power dissipated from around me.

"If all the legions of the damned are like this, then surely we won't fail."

I glanced to find Vincent a few feet away, having likewise dispatched his foe.

"Don't get cocky," I warned. "Believe me, this is just the appetizer."

A cry from further down the line caught my attention. One of the Templar had stabbed his foe through the midsection, rather than aim for its head. The zombie was now pushing forward, undeterred that it was impaling itself, intent on reaching its target.

"Damn it," I muttered, not caring if I offended anyone's bookish sensibilities.

I waved off the rest still back with Bernadette. Things could get messy with too many cooks in the kitchen. The situation was well in hand. There was no point adding to the existing chaos.

Unfortunately, chaos had other ideas. I took a single step when something entwined around my ankle. Before I could compensate, I stumbled and fell. Great! Some Blessed One I was. Couldn't even walk without my feet getting all tangled in the underbrush.

Except there wasn't any underbrush. We'd been standing in the middle of the street.

"Blessed One, watch out!"

I felt more than saw what was happening. A hand had grabbed my ankle. I know because it grabbed me again, higher up on my leg, exerting pressure as if dragging along the body it was attached to.

This was confirmed a moment later when the beheaded bodies of the undead in front of me likewise stumbled back to life, attacking their would-be vanquishers, most of whom had dropped their guard.

As the not-quite dispatched zombie crawled atop me, I realized that what should have been an easy fight had just gotten a lot more complicated.



SHINING FURY - Coming April 29th to all major ebook platforms.

Mar 21, 2016

Traditional Publishing equals Poverty, but at least I'm not a slovenly Self Publisher

The Guardian published a rather click-baity editorial recently by one Ros Barber entitled For Me, Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. Now, I don't know Ms. Barber from a hole in the wall. A quick Amazon search of her name, however, appears to show she's the author of at least four books ... three of which have covers which seem to have been puked out by a designer not quite qualified to advertise on fiverr. However, let's not start this article off on a judgmental note, now, shall we?

Nah, there'll be plenty of time for that.

I feel sorry for any literate cockroaches
Judging by her article in The Guardian one gets the sense Ms. Barber fancies herself something of a professional.  Mind you, a professional who claims to be making chump change at her chosen profession. That's not so surprising because, as I've mentioned here before, publishing is a really difficult business to make ends meet with.  I don't have a problem with this.  What I take issue with is her stance that making so little as to be forced to eat one's own books for nutrition is still a superior option to Self Publishing.

To back up her lofty position, she lists out seven rather ridiculous reasons why she'd rather sell her children to a work house than dirty her fingers in the muck of us filthy self-publishers.  Let's take a look at them:

You have to forget writing for a living
Her theory here is that if one self-publishes one will have to spend the vast majority of their time marketing and hawking their wares on street corners. That leaves pretty much zero time to actually write those books we seek to sell like snake oil in back alleys. Here's the thing, you CAN spend all of your time marketing. Just like one CAN spend all of their time watching TV, downloading porn, or writing smarmy articles for The Guardian.  But that doesn't mean you have to.  A savvy business owner will be able to find the right mix between promoting their new / existing books and working on their next. Social media, paid advertising, interacting with readers. All of this can be done with a fraction of one's day. I have over a dozen books available, which I've put out over five years while working full time and raising a family ... and some might even call me slow compared to some of the true dynamos in this industry. Amazingly enough, I have managed to do this without giving up either eating or sleeping. Go figure.

Self-publishing can make you behave like a fool
Yep, so can alcohol, drugs, excessive gambling, and convincing oneself of one's own misguided superiority. The author seems to think that self-publishing and being a shit-bag spam-monkey go hand in hand.  And here I must concede it does look like that sometimes.  Go onto twitter and you can literally drown in a sea of BUY MY BOOK tweets.  However, what the author fails to mention is the inverse correlation of spammers and spammers who are successful authors.  Seriously.  The vast majority of successful self publishers I know don't do this.  A few do, but even in their cases they know that to be successful at marketing means standing out from the crowd. Also, if Ms. Barber is aware of how annoying this is, one might conclude that she wouldn't do this herself.  Or perhaps she thinks of self-publishing much like a zombie virus outbreak. One slowly loses their humanity and is forced to wander the internet, eternally moaning for sales in lieu of brains.

Gatekeepers are saving you from your own ego
I will be the first to admit there's a lot of truly terrible self-published material out there.  However, a lot doesn't equal all. Also, are not the best gatekeepers ultimately the end readers themselves?  Now, I, for one, have said all along that if my books were judged harshly by the public then I'd take my ball and go home, happy in the knowledge that I tried. Sure, there are plenty of egomaniacal assholes out there who will be happy to tell you that their books don't sell because readers are too stupid to understand them, but I'd counter one might find that same ego behind the screen of a traditionally published writer who might, for instance, be inclined to write an article about how superior their way is to self publishing, all while complaining about how they've had to sew up their childrens' potato sacks for the third time that week.

Good writers become good because they undertake an apprenticeship. Serving your apprenticeship is important
Probably the one gem in this whole turd pile.  No question, practice makes perfect.  However, that doesn't mean someone can't hit one out of the park on their first or second try.  Even so, there is no denying the difference between a first book and a fifth for many in this industry.

You can forget Hay festival and the Booker
I don't even know what the fuck these are, but maybe that's because A) I'm self published and B) write ... gasp ... genre fiction instead of literary fiction.  Oh well, I have little chance of scoring an invitation to the local yacht club either.  Doesn't mean the fish I catch are any less fresh.

Wait ... Booker? Wasn't that a show on Fox with Richard Grieco? You mean I can't meet him now!?  Kindly excuse me while I go and burn my hard drive.

Tonight we eat like kings ... self published kings!
You risk looking like an amateur
I was about to agree with this one, but then I read it again and saw the big takeaway from this seems to be "Traditional publishers pay for this stuff so you don't have to" Well, no shit.  There's some valid points in here, littered among the vitriol.  I mean, sure, you CAN look like an amateur by having lousy editing and crappy covers (*cough* pot calling the kettle black *cough*), but once again, as a so-called professional, you'd think this would be a pitfall the author of this article could easily avoid. I mean, I run the risk of looking like a pervert every day, but I mitigate that by being smart enough to wear pants when I step outside ... at least most of the time.

70% of nothing is nothing
Well, damn, if that isn't a bombshell.  You know what, 7, 17, or 25% (or whatever is the traditional % these days) of nothing is still nothing as well.  That's some right smart math there.  Here's the thing, there are NO GUARANTEES in this industry period.  For every Stephen King, there will be thousands of people who sell nothing and it happens on both sides of the publishing coin.  Anyone jumping into this business for the sole purpose of getting rich is probably a deluded idiot at best.  However, if the author of this article is to be believed, she's already living in poverty with her writing. Thus, I'm not sure of the superior attitude to be gained on this point.  Congratulations, you're poor, just like so many other authors with a dream. At least you can use your contract as a blanket in the cardboard box you call a home.

I'm not saying self-publishing is the right road for everyone, but articles like these are laughable at best. Self-publishing isn't a drug, a boogeyman, or a mental condition. It's simply another path in this crazy industry.  And, as with all paths, one should consider what is right for them in an objective manner and not with mindless speculation as to how short of a time it is between when one hits the publish button in KDP and when one is digging up their dead grandmother to scream "BUY MY BOOK!" into her ashen face.