December 1, 2016, 9:09 am
Why having me as a dad might suck: I just told Axl, my oldest son, "they could totally get Goldilocks for first-degree burglary, petit larceny, unlawful entry and larceny from a house. She's going to prison."
To which Axl answered, "mm hmm."
November 28, 2016, 9:21 pm
I'm a writer. I've been a writer my whole life. I'm not a literary agent, and I never will be. So I really got a crash course in how not to go about letting someone publish your book with Minister of Justice.
After sending out numerous query letters, I received offers from several small publishers. But not until after I had already accepted an offer from Moonshine Cove Publishing LLC. And they could teach a clinic in why it's important for writers to thoroughly research publishers—at least when you're going at it without an agent.
I have an agent for my nonfiction work, but I've only ever written the one nonfiction book. And I have no desire to write any more nonfiction books. It was a special circumstance.
So with Minister of Justice, I represented myself, and to borrow an adage from the legal profession, anyone who represents himself has a fool for a client.
I would have been better off publishing the book myself, and that's a damn shame, because it's a good book. The first thing they did was introduce errors into the manuscript during the editing process. Not one, not two, but a LOT of errors. And they went through the manuscript with find-and-replace and took out every instance of the word "had," because they felt it made the manuscript too passive.
Then, I got an email from the publisher: did I have any artwork I wanted to use as the cover? Strange, I thought, because the publisher for Deadly Vows never asked me such a question; they came up with a title and cover for the book (a title I hated, by the way), and I was never asked whether I agreed with it, much less whether I could provide a cover. So I came up with the cover that now adorns Minister of Justice, and I sent it to them. Nope, they said. We won't pay for the photos on the cover. So I paid for the photos using a stock photo company I already did business with.
If you're not seeing the red flags, just wait.
The publisher then sent me an email asking if I could find any authors to write "blurbs" for the cover, endorsing the book. Me. They wanted me to do that. So I did.
Then, just before the book came out, they sent me a packet of scanned magazine articles about how to market a book. And that, I shit you not, was the whole of their marketing plan for the book. They sent out no review copies to any reviewers (you can send a pdf of the manuscript if you want, they told me). They didn't even pay for a print run, I found out later. Instead, they created the book as a print-on-demand product, meaning as soon as they got an order for the book, they would print one up and ship it out. Bookstores don't stock books like that, because they're typically more expensive than books that have print runs, and they also usually don't have a return policy. I found out later, which should be the theme of this post.
So here is the sum of what Moonshine Cove did to publish Minister of Justice:
- fuck up the manuscript with editing errors
- get an ISBN number
- send pdf files to a print-on-demand printer
Yep. That's all. They literally did nothing I couldn't do myself.
So yesterday, I sent them an email asking if I could have my publishing rights back on the book, which they clearly don't have an interest in promoting. There was no clause in the contract to allow me to get my rights back, but I thought I'd try.
They responded by saying they never relinquish publishing rights, but if I could find a publisher who wanted the book badly enough, they'd be happy to negotiate a price with them.
So they did nothing—except for the bits they did to screw things up—but now they will hold the book hostage if I ever want to take it back from them. Which effectively has killed my plans for a sequel to Minister of Justice, because there's no way in hell I will let them near another book of mine, and what good is a sequel if people who read it have to wait weeks to get the first book from a print-on-demand piece of shit that muddied up the manuscript with their bumbling?
If you're a writer trying to live in the brave new agentless world, do yourself a favor: do some research. Booksellers don't like print on demand. If you want your book to sell, people need to know it exists, and that takes a marketing budget. If you, like me, don't want to use a vanity press where you pay to publish your own book (hint: don't ever do that), then you need to find a press with a marketing plan, budget and history, because Barnes and Noble won't just stock your book simply because it exists. They are consumers, too, and the publisher has to convince them that it's in their interests to stock your book.
Whatever you do, don't use Moonshine Cove. In my opinion, they're one step from a vanity press, but it's a lateral step, because they actually bring enough negatives to the table to offset the positive that they don't require authors to pay them to publish the book.
Ugh. File this under lesson learned.
In positive notes, however, the publisher for Robby the R-Word, Promontory Press in Canada, has proven to be everything Moonshine Cove wasn't. I'm very happy with them so far.
November 28, 2016, 8:20 pm
I usually put pictures first in these posts, but I want to give the following picture a caveat: I'm not rich or even faux rich, and I'm not a snob. I got a really good deal.
We bought a house way out in the country. Like, way out in the country. We used to live in the country, but still close enough to town that it didn't really matter when my truck got 9 miles per gallon. Sure, it was expensive to fill that monstrosity up, but I only had to do it once a week, maybe twice if I drove a lot.
But the new place is far enough in the country that I ended up spending 200 dollars a week on fuel for the truck. That clearly wouldn't work as a long-term arrangement. For the mathematically disinclined, that's 800 dollars a month, or 1,000 dollars in months that have five weeks. That's a lot of gasoline. So it became apparent that I needed a fuel-efficient car. In the summer, spring and early fall months, I can ride my motorcycle back and forth, but when it's cold or rainy, I need something enclosed.
After a ton of research, two makes and models of fuel-efficient cars that also met my criteria of safety and longevity (I'm going to be putting a lot of miles on it) made themselves apparent, and this one won:
I bought it used, with some miles already on it, and immediately I fell in love. This is one of the smaller cars Mercedes makes, and it has the fuel efficiency to back that up: it gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway, where most of my driving is done. That's approaching Prius-level efficiency. That means I'm spending closer to 30 dollars per week instead of 200.
OK. I'm done justifying myself. I love the car. LOVE it. It's got all the gadgets and whizzydos I love, and it drives like a sports car, because it's so low to the ground.
And therein lies the problem.
After I had owned the car for two days, my wife, the babies and I were driving on a highway to our house at night when a Labrador-sized raccoon jumped out from the side of the road in front of the car. Like, it happened so quickly I had no sooner seen the raccoon than it was under the car, making a horrendous noise.
Sure enough, seconds later, a light came on in the instrument panel: "Check coolant levels."
Shit. I knew what that meant. The little fuzzy jerk had opened up a leak somewhere, most likely in the radiator. A second later, the temperature gauge started a steady climb to overheating, so I pulled over at the conveniently close exit, parked it at a closed convenience store and wrote a note begging the store's owner to not tow my car.
The next morning, when I went back, it became clear that the raccoon's head had ripped open the bottom of the radiator, so the car was effectively disabled. It would still run, but with no coolant, it would rapidly overheat and do permanent damage, so a friend of mine who owns a towing company towed the car to my house, where it now sits in the garage, awaiting a new radiator.
But the raccoon bothers me. I don't like running things over, even when they don't damage my vehicle. But this raccoon very likely could be one my wife painstakingly nursed to health—she is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and at any given time, you might find a deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, rabbits and whatever other kind of wildlife comes our way at our house. She nurses them back to health and then releases them into the wild, some near the area where that raccoon and my radiator met their sudden and bitter ends.
So it was doubly—triply—sad; not only had my car likely killed one of her rehab raccoons, the raccoon had caused *mumble mumble* dollars of damage to my new car, and in our second meeting (the first being when he was rehabbed), the raccoon had met its untimely demise, rehabbed for nothing. The car is insured, obviously, but making a claim after having it insured for two whole days would look suspicious, and the damage is very close to what the deductible would be, so I'm just biting the bullet and paying for the repairs.
Pro tip: Since I didn't borrow money to buy the car, I got only liability, uninsured motorist and some other miscellaneous coverages on the car. Which apparently did not include roadside assistance, which my truck and Jeep policies have. Always check your policy before you're standing outside in freezing cold next to a closed convenience store, trying to arrange for a tow truck and ride home for you, the spouse and two small, sleeping children.
So, at least until the radiator arrives tomorrow, I'm back to driving my massive truck, missing the sports car-like handling of my new car, hoping nothing dives under my truck unexpectedly along the way.
And my wife will keep rehabilitating sick animals, even if they later repay us by messing something else up.
*Addendum: ordering car parts online sucks. There's a web site called CarParts.com that owns numerous car parts sites all operating under different names. I purchased a radiator from them, then they told me it wouldn't even ship until Wednesday, potentially arriving sometime next week, which I found unacceptable, because that would mean another 200-dollar week in gas. So I called a local radiator shop who could get the radiator on Tuesday, and then I called CarParts.com to cancel my order from them. The order, they assured me, was canceled, sorry we couldn't serve you and all that. Then, two hours later, I got an email saying my order had just shipped. So I called them to complain and they said, "Oh, the order was already shipped when you called to cancel," which wasn't true, because they had actually checked the warehouse and said the order couldn't possibly ship until Wednesday. Long story short, now I'm going to get a second radiator delivered to my house, which I will then be forced to return before they refund my money. Don't use them. Buy local.
November 25, 2016, 1:01 am
I can't lie to my kids, but I understand if you do.
Since today is the first official day of the "christmas season," I get it. Santa Claus is coming to town and all that shit.
My brother, Troy, told me when I was 3 that Santa Claus wasn't real.
And I thank him for it.
I really, truly do not understand the whole custom of lying to your children, telling them some mystical fairy is watching them, giving them presents if they're good boys and girls. I'm not being funny, I'm not making a joke, I'm not trying to be outrageous. I do not, in any circumstance, understand it.
Let's say, for sake of argument, that you believe in the God of the Bible and Jesus, the savior. (Or "saviour", depending on how you want to think the devil is influencing your bible). How will you, in five years, when your kids stop believing in Santa, explain how you were lying about Santa, but not about Jesus?
But more importantly, why would you lie to them about anything in the first place?
If my kids ask about where babies come from, I'll tell them. If they ask about why the sky is blue, I will tell them. If they ask about something I don't know the answer to, I'll research that answer and tell them that.
Why on earth would any parent willingly lie to their children and tell them anything but the truth? Daddy doesn't know the answer to that question, but he'll find out for you. What's wrong with that?
What purpose does Santa serve? Just to convince kids that their parents have been liars all their lives?
My five year old started asking me about Santa and I said, "Santa doesn't exist. Mommy and Daddy buy you all your presents." So sue me. The fact is, Santa doesn't exist. Mommy and Daddy do buy all his presents. Under what fucked-up version of reality do parents think it "gives them a childhood" by lying to children and convincing them some creepy elf who watches their every move and rewards good behavior while punishing bad behavior is worthy of attention at all?
Good behavior is its own reward. Why not teach children that? Why attach a penalty from some creepy, all-knowing imp who watches everything they do and gives them presents based on their performance? Isn't that just teaching them that financial and material gains are rewards for virtue, rather than the reality, which is financial and material gains are random and assigned based on privilege and position? That's the truth. Why not tell your children the truth?
My son, five, cried for about 36 seconds after I told him Santa doesn't exist and Mommy and Daddy bought all his presents. And then he shrugged and moved on.
November 22, 2016, 9:09 am
Think about that for a second. Almost two million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than did for Donald Trump.
TWO MILLION PEOPLE.
I'll rephrase that so it is as clear as possible: Donald Trump LOST the popular election by a whopping TWO MILLION votes.
And yet he will be the next president because he won in a landslide in the Electoral College.
If you don't see what's wrong with that picture, you're just being partisan. If the situation was reversed — if Clinton had won the electoral college but had lost the popular vote by two million votes — I would be concerned about the electoral college, and Donald Trump, like he did when Barack Obama won re-election in 2012, would likely tweet about how unfair the electoral college is.
This system needs to be changed.
On an aside, I look at that map and every blue place I see, I think, "there's a friendly place to stop over while fleeing the red parts." Looks like all the major population centers went for Clinton, both on the coasts and down the Mississippi River and on the southern border and surrounding the Great Lakes.
The Post article goes on to analyze the election by economy, meaning it looked at which counties in the US generate the biggest parts of the economy, and then looked at how they voted. It's absolutely stunning:
The places in America that create the American economy, the people who make the money, ALL voted for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump.
That is a stunning statistic, made more stark by the realization that Trump was representing the capitalism party.
November 21, 2016, 12:00 am
Promontory Press has begun the media campaign to get Robby the R-Word into the hands of booksellers everywhere. I've had this ad for two weeks, and I've been dying to publish it here, but I couldn't do it until it was published in Publishers Weekly. That happened today.
Obviously, this isn't a consumer-facing ad, meaning it's not intended to get you to go to a store and buy the book; instead, it's intended to entice bookstores to put the book on their shelves, which is why it's being published in a trade publication.
I could not be happier with the way Promontory Press is handling Robby the R-Word. For a small press, they're pulling out all the stops, and I'm very grateful to them for doing it.
November 20, 2016, 5:17 pm
Try this fun game. Every time you hear the phrase "Islamic terrorist" in reference to government policy or actions, mentally substitute "Jews."
Boom. Welcome to 1930s Germany.
November 19, 2016, 7:19 pm
So my wife is banned from Facebook for seven days. The reason? She posted a picture of our incoming First Lady.
That's right. Facebook took one look at the picture of our incoming First Lady and said, "nope, not appropriate!" and banned my wife.
Now, granted, the first lady was naked in the picture, but that's kind of my point. See, my wife was posting the picture on a Facebook post that asked, "Do you think Melania Trump will bring class back to the white house" or something like that. Here it is:
After I posted "class-less" (I use my wife's Facebook account because I don't have one of my own), my wife then posted the aforementioned photo as evidence of Melania's class.
And Facebook shit itself, banning her mere minutes later.
I think I'm safe in saying that never before in the history of the United States has the public had to be careful about where it publishes photos of the first lady for fear of being accused of publishing pornography. I imagine if we published some of the president's statements, we could also be accused of publishing pornography, because never before has a president been so ... classy.
This is the America you voted for, I'm ashamed to say. And now (and I'm stealing this joke from somewhere I can't remember), Trump is like the dog who caught the car. He's scrambling as we speak to find "Government for Dummies" so he can figure out what it is the president actually does. I mean, other than spend trillions of dollars deporting our entire workforce and then building a wall to make sure they can't come back and do all the shit natural-born Americans don't want to do.
Maybe we should build a wall between here and wherever the hell Melania Trump is from, and then Facebook wouldn't have to worry about whether someone is posting photos that show the first lady's nipples and butthole.
Also, Glenn Beck is now saying he was wrong about President Obama and that Michelle Obama's speech has turned him into a better man.
I'm telling you, fire and brimstone are coming. And I can't wait to eat some fried pig wings.
November 16, 2016, 10:22 pm
What do you do when your show is out of ideas and the incredibly dumb premise behind it starts appearing as whisper-thin as it is? You get Supergirl drunk on alien alcohol that "would kill a human."
Combine that with a ham-handed attempt at a coming-out story for her earth sister, and the entire thing just feels, ironically, like one of those Kirk Cameron movies that he made after he became all religious, where every problem has two people who know exactly how to elucidate how they're feeling, where people know exactly what to say to solve the problem.
Coming out stories are a big deal, maybe too big a deal for a dumb show like Supergirl. Maybe not, who knows. What I do know is it was handled poorly in this episode, and that's a shame, because there was a chance for real emotion, real storytelling.
Turns out, without Calista Flockhart, Supergirl is just bad. And the Flash. It's dumb, too. I mean, they took the show's greatest assets (Cisco Ramon and Harry) and completely flushed them, replacing them with shallower versions, then to cover up the stupidity, they created a timeline issue where some bad guy is turning people back into villains from an alternate timeline and —
Nevermind. I can't believe I'm writing any of this. For one and a half seasons, Flash was actually good. And for one season, so was Supergirl. Now, they're both kind of horrible, which makes me sad, because I've bought season passes for both of them, which means I'll be compelled to watch them.
With both, it's the writing that's bad. The cast hasn't changed (except for Calista Flockhart). The writing is completely without nuance. And I think that's the death knell for a show — at least in my book. I won't be buying season four of the Flash, or season three of Supergirl. Which is a shame, because I love escapist stuff. Please, please, please bring iZombie back!
November 14, 2016, 11:23 pm
I just watched the first episode of Dream Corp LLC on Adult Swim, and after seeing The Eric Andre Show, I have to say, Adult Swim has it dialed in.
My news sites are geared toward people who have about five minutes to waste on the Internet before their bosses catch them goofing off, so I'm not sure why I didn't realize this before, but eleven-minute shows are the future of television.
During the first episode of Dream Corp, I got all the entertainment I would likely get during a 60-minute episode of some network comedy, and none of the filler bullshit they throw in to make sure I watch all the commercials they have to sell to pay for the programming.
It features the guy who played the uncle on Napoleon Dynamite (I'm too lazy to look up his name) as a quack doctor who runs a clinic specializing in observing clients' dreams to help them diagnose problems in their lives. The clinic is dingy, dirty, dark and clearly askew of the law, employing a clueless intern, a sexually repressed assistant, an anesthesiologist who uses chloroform to knock people out—and wonky technology that includes two USB ports built into the doctor's clearly bacteria-infected hands.
And that's just the setup. The punchline is eleven minutes of pure revulsion/hilarity that clearly spewed forth from a mind not suited to genteel society. In other words, perfect.
I'm not sure how Adult Swim is doing it, but this is, without a doubt, the future of television.
November 14, 2016, 9:21 pm
Election malaise has me doing nothing but droning on and on about the damn election, and frankly, I'm sick of it.
I can't stand that it has come to this, everyone obsessing about the tiniest details of what might or might not happen in the upcoming administration, whether Trump will live in the White House or Trump Tower, whether white supremacy will be legitimized now that Trump and his advisers are loading up on white power.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
So instead, I'm just going to blurt out weird facts.
For instance, did you know that signals travel through your brain at around three meters per second? Three meters is about nine feet. That means if you fall from a short enough distance, you'll hit the ground before you realize you were falling.
Also, did you know that the word "quaint" actually comes from an old English word for "vagina" that sounds suspiciously close to "quaint" and can make you tell someone C U Next Tuesday?
Or did you know that all life is powered through millions of teeny tiny little explosions all over your body, where blood carries oxygen and fuel to the cells of your body, which then promptly turns them into an explosion and harvests the energy? Absolutely fact. It's where body heat comes from.
Or, staying with the subject of the human body, did you know that being in a state of ketosis (as commonly happens on low-carb diets) actually produces acetone in the body, a flammable substance suspected in cases of spontaneous combustion?
Maybe you didn't know that the myth we only use 10 percent of our brains is completely false. We use 100 percent of our brains, just not all at the same time. So if you're hoping for a pill to come along and unlock that part of your brain that can figure out how to pick locks or play the market, sorry, you're just going to be stuck with the same old lump you have always had.
Possibly, you didn't realize "orbit" is another word for "falling." For instance, the earth is actually hurtling toward the sun, but by the time we get to where we were hurtling toward, the sun has moved away, pulling us to its new location by gravity, where it will be gone again by the time we get there. Satellites in space around the earth are actually doing their damnedest to slam into the planet, but we keep running away before they can get here.
Or that human brains don't work nearly as fast as the world does, so our consciousnesses cleverly edit out some stuff so we can process what it thinks is important. You are skipping large chunks of your life, but you'll never miss them, because the brain doesn't bother recording them.
There. Have a good day, and hopefully, your brain will edit out the next four years.