I’m ready for my mid-shot, Mr. Director!

I was interviewed on video earlier this week by Second Generation Press publisher Chris Trudeau for the upcoming epublication of my novel The New Sense . There I was, minding my own business, sitting in front of a bookshelf in my living room with an artfully placed plant behind my left ear, when BAM! there was a camera in my face and a microphone wire up my shirt. I suppose in this day and age we should be only too aware of how often these drive-by interviews can occur, but when you’re being peppered with questions like Bonnie and Clyde going down in a hail of bullets, you don’t have time to think.

A photo of a man claiming to be Obama. But is he?
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Luckily, I’d done all my thinking in advance, so I was able to swat away the questions with ease. In fact, Chris’s main task was to get me to stop talking. The thing is, talking about yourself is boring (unless you live in New Jersey, from what I understand) but being asked to talk about something you spent countless hours writing is like asking a new parent to say a few words about their precious little one.

Here’s the thing I had the most difficulty being concise about: this fall will be an interesting time to have The New Sense published, as it is US election time. The novel takes place in 2002 as the Iraq war was brewing, and the main character Sara had to go through a similar process as the American and British public in trying to figure out what information she could trust. George W. Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s (the key claim that justified sending in the troops) was, we soon learned, a manufactured story. Barack Obama is still suffering from a similarly manufactured story, that he was not really born in the US. We have been shown a birth certificate, like Sara, and must use our judgment to discern whether it is fake or real.

Notice that I use the term “manufactured story” rather than “lie”. This relates to The New Sense’s main theme: epistemology, the study of knowledge and its limitations. Talking about “truth” and “lies” is a blunt instrument when it comes to many aspects of life. With fiction and other forms of art, the subject takes on a whole other level of meaning. But this isn’t the place to get all philosophical, so I’ll just say that the reason The New Sense exists is so that Sara can try to figure out what she can depend on and whether the information she has can be trusted to help her find the father of her unborn child.

As for me, the question is, was I really interviewed this week? Maybe you’ll find out soon…

Who doesn’t love a coupon?

I’ve published a coupon! No, wait, I’ve published a book! But the coupon was easier and might get more readers.

This is the official ass-backwards announcement of my first epublishing effort: a short story collection entitled Life is Good. And I’m offering a FREE copy to readers of my blog in exchange for… a review. Especially an honest review. If I want a dishonest review, I’ll ask a lawyer, because we all know you can’t trust them.

Here’s the catch: the coupon is only good until August 30, after which the book will revert to its exorbitant price of… 99 cents! The good news is that the eight stories in the collection clock in at just over 21,000 well-chosen words, so whether you use the coupon or splurge a buck of your hard-earned cash you’ll be guaranteed the equivalent of test-driving a Porsche, Maserati, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, Jaguar and Volvo, all in the same day. (I’m not telling you which story is the Volvo. Or which model Volvo it is.)

If none of that makes sense because you don’t know anything about cars, think of Life is Good as spending a day having sex with Marion Cotillard, Beyoncé… oh, never mind.

To read more about Life is Good, visit the book’s Smashwords page at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/219236. Then order Life is Good in whichever eBook format you want and apply the following coupon code at checkout: JV28E (not case-sensitive). Remember, the coupon only works until August 3oth!

Enjoy, and remember: readers like reviews. Even short ones!

Should I become a time-traveler?

…or, if I’m considering travel to Canada or the UK, a time-traveller? But let’s not quibblle about an L here or there; now that I see how easy epublishing can be I’m seriously exploring the possibility of revisiting certain works that I wrote years ago.

Snax cover

The cover I designed for Snax back in 2000.

Take my first novel, Snax. It’s a sci-fi satire set just a few years in the future which has by now become anachronistic in several ways.  It was written at the dawn of modern history before the internet became ubiquitous and smartphones were but a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, yet it remains entertaining and, hopefully, thought-provoking.

Should Snax see the light of day (or at least the light of a flatscreen monitor), flawed though it is? This begs another question: if I start publishing my old stuff willy-nilly, might I run the risk of diluting my “brand”? I’m genuinely curious about this. If I release works that are either less mature than my current output or are in a different idiom (humor, for example), will readers have less respect for “John the author” than if I stick to material that is aligned with my recent work?

I’ll give you a specific example: I spent two-and-a-half years publishing a blog called Good Things From Spam that featured a daily genuine spam email subject line accompanied by my humorous commentary on it. The site is still out there on the internet, gathering pixel dust. At the time (from 2003-2005) many people told me it was funny. This encouraged me to keep writing it. Eventually however I tired of trawling through my spam folder each morning and trying to think up witty stuff to say. Good Things From Spam became an obligation with little upside.

That’s when I realized I’d gathered enough material for a book. so I put together a package and submitted to several print publishers that specialized in novelty books. (For anyone who’s wondering, novelty books are basically the kind you put in your bathroom to read when you’re… you know… producing your very own spam). I divided the book into themed sections and had an illustrator create some cartoon-y pictures as examples of what the entire book could look like. But there were no takers and I moved on to other things.

That brings me to today and the following question: Should I resurrect Good Things From Spam as an eBook? The ePub formatting would take a wee bit of time, but I suspect there would be an audience for it. This is the beauty of epublishing  for a limited investment of time there’s an opportunity to find an audience and make some money.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, so I’m open to suggestions. Isn’t that what blogs are for anyway? An opportunity to interact with others who are interested in the same subject. Come on, folks – give me some input!