Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Incredibly Exciting Announcement: George R. R. Martin to Give Away Ten Copies of New Book!

Thriller Guy: I’d like to announce that George R.R. Martin has finished the latest book in the Game of Thrones series, and he has promised ten free copies to the readers of this blog!

Allen Appel: Wait a minute. You can’t say that.

TG: Why not? You said you wanted me to make an incredibly exciting announcement.

AA: But it’s not true.

TG: So? Call the Internet police.

AA: (silence)

TG: Have them put me in Internet jail.

AA: (Silence. Then quietly.) I have an announcement to make. I have finished writing the sixth book in my Pastmaster series, The Test of Time, and it is now available on Amazon. Amazon, with their incredibly annoying autocorrect, has labeled the book as part of the "Postmaster" series.

TG: Wow. That was really exciting. This is the reason you’re not as famous as George R. R. Martin; you’re too low key. Besides, your name is too short.

AA: At least I’m not as fat as Martin.

TG: That’s absolutely true, Thriller Boy, but there’s still time. OK, I’m done here. You asked me to make a thrilling announcement, and I did, but it somehow doesn’t fit your vaunted Standards of Decency.

TG (continues): (Cue sound of footsteps receding. TG shouts from distance.) Spoiler alert! John Snow dies! (Maniacal laughter. Door slams.)

AA: The only reason I put up with him is because it’s his blog.

A year and a half ago I initiated a Kickstarter project asking prospective donors if anyone was interested in coughing up a few bucks to have me write a new entry in my long running (thirty years) series featuring my time traveler hero, Alex Balfour. I saw this as an experiment in my continuing effort to figure out the publishing industry in the early 21st century, which, as readers of this blog know by now, is in the crapper, at least to hear them tell it. If the project was successful, or if it was unsuccessful, I would report in to TG’s blog readers and someone out there might actually benefit from my experience.

I settled on $5,000.00 as the amount of money I would ask to fund the project. That’s around the sum that most not-famous authors get for advances these days, which is way down from what it was ten or more years ago. I never planned for it to be money to live on, but just the right amount to keep me on track and working when things got hard -- and in novel writing things always get hard at one point or another. Anything less and I might quit, and anything more was being greedy.

I used part of the money to pay for a stint at my beloved art colony, VCCA, in the mountains of Virginia, which was invaluable to my powering through and finishing the book, and I used part of it to print out the hard copies I’ve been sending out for the last few weeks. Donors: if you haven’t received yours yet, I’m still working on the list. The rest of the money is in the bank, and if any of my donors or folks who buy the book don’t like it, let me know and I’ll send you your money back. (Del, you deserve a refund.)

At this point, my trusty agent has the book and is shopping it around, but that sort of publishing was never the real goal for the project. Nice if I get it, not surprising if I don’t.

Although I didn’t want to do this yet, Amazon has the paperback for sale at $12.95, so anyone who can’t wait for it to come out as a Kindle can rush over there and order a copy.  Eventually it will be up as a Kindle, but I wanted to see what the publishing possibilities were first and get hard copies to my donors before moving it along as an independently published book. All sales are welcome, of course.

Again, thank you to all who have supported this book and the series. Newcomers should feel free to jump in with The Test of Time, but are encouraged to read the entire series. If you’re waiting for George to finish GoT, it’s a good way to while away the lonely hours.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Good Hair, Good Poetry, Good Title

Thriller guy is about to head out on some adventure. I saw him dusting off his desert boots and muttering something about ISIS, which might give a clue to where he’s heading. Really, he’s getting too old for this sort of thing. I blame the government for giving him weapons.

Continuing our last entry about finding a good title for your novel, and the difficulties therein, I’d like to point out how much I’ve always admired W. B. Yeats’s hair and…

Thriller Guy. What the hell? I leave you alone with the blog for one day and you’re going on about some poet’s hair?

A.A. Oh, TG, I thought you’d left already.

T.G. My flight leaves in two hours. Hair? You’re supposed to be talking about titles. What the hell is this blog coming to? For God’s sake, stick to the plan. Do I have to hire someone to come in and keep an eye on you every time I go out of town?

A.A. No. Sorry.

T.G. Jesus. And don’t forget to feed the cat.

A.A. Ahem. So I was reading an interesting article by Nick Tabor in the Paris Review the other day about Yeats’s poem, The Second Coming, and how it been the source of (possibly) more book titles than any other poem. This linked up nicely with my last entry about how when I need a title I pull down my many volumes of world poetry and start looking for something that resonates. Let me give you Yeats’s poem and you’ll see what I mean.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Pretty amazing, huh? You can’t read more than a line or two before stumbling over a famous book title. Slouching Toward Bethlehem; The Widening Gyre; Things Fall Apart; The Center Cannot Hold; A Blood-Dimmed Tide The Second Coming; Spiritus Mundi; What Rough Beast are just a few of the many variations of titles that have been mined from this one poem. So if you’re having trouble coming up with a title, just…

(Sound of door closing)

A.A. (Shouting) “So long, TG, see you in a couple of weeks! Have a good trip!”

(Silence) OK, let’s get back to W. B. Yeats’s hair. Really, has any author ever had such a good-looking head of hair? If you have any personal author favorites, haircutwise, send them along in the comments. But try to get them here in the next couple of weeks, before TG gets back from his trip. Here are some other pictures of Yeats and his fabulous hair.

Hold the presses! Here's Rupert Brooke, another poet with fabulous hair.

Man, I hope TG doesn't see this post when he gets back.