When I was a teenager I worked picking up litter in a drive-in movie following my gigs as a musician. It reminded me that I also worked there as a security guard on the nights when I didn’t have a gig.
On my first night on the job, me and the other security guards got a call on our walkie-talkies to go to the front as there has been an incident. In most drive-ins there is a playground under the screen and after the movie was over and the cars were leaving, one plowed through its chain link fence.
Now here’s a little back story. The manager was a big (and I mean BIG) Missourian with an authentic cowboy hat, cowboy boots and authentic cowboy balls. When we all reached the site of the crash, the manager (I’ll call him Big Dave) was talking to the Driver of the vehicle. I saw there were three others in the car, a man in the passenger’s seat and two women in the back.
After making sure everyone was okay, Big Dave explained to the Driver that for insurance purposes, he had 2 choices, he could sign a release stating that he and his passengers were unhurt or the drive-in would have an ambulance come and take them to the hospital. He also explained that this would be paid for by the drive-in.
The Driver refused both options. So Big Dave explained that if he didn’t agree to either he would have to call the police and file an accident report.
I should point out that everyone in the car was pretty drunk and Big Dave was trying to give them a break. Make the problem go away. This was the Bronx in the 1970’s and nobody in their right mind wanted to stir things up.
Apparently the Driver wasn’t in his right mind because he unleashed a tirade of curses and threats at Big Dave which ended with him telling Big Dave that he and his friends were leaving and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
The Driver was apparently mistaken because that’s when Big Dave reached into the car with one arm and yanked the Driver out through the opened window. Seeing this, the guy in the passenger seat takes the car keys, jumps out the door, runs to the back and opens the trunk.
Okay, more back story. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my fellow security guard, a southern gentleman named Billy was a Viet-Nam vet. He was missing his left hand and his jaw had been constructed from one of his ribs, as he had been severely wounded when his unit was ambushed by the Viet Cong. Billy, I soon learned, was not a man to be messed with.
So here’s what happened. The Passenger opens the truck, leans in and reaches for a shotgun.
I see the metal glistening in the moonlight, there is another gun in a holster packed beside it.
I was stunned. We didn’t receive any training to deal with this. Was I supposed to jump the guy and wrestle the gun from him? Run away? Duck and cover? What? I didn’t know how to react.
But Billy did. And looking back I think he prevented a bad situation from getting a lot worse.
With a shrug Billy pulled a snub-nose .38 from inside his blue jean jacket and pressed it against the back of The Passenger’s head. What followed was the sound of the gun being cocked. With an expression of the utmost sincerity Billy said in a slow southern drawl, “Yo’ lay a hand on that shotgun, son, and yo’ brains is gonna be all over it.”
I am going to assume The Passenger picked up on the sincerity of Billy’s tone because he immediately raised his hands and stepped back. After Billy brought him to Big Dave at gunpoint, I bravely stepped forward and closed the trunk.
I was sent in to call the police, (which I also did very bravely) and it turned out the car was stolen and in addition to the guns there were also drugs.
Billy and I went on to become work buddies and we had several other adventures together. One led to a full scale riot and the other had me on the roof of the concession stand trying to convince some nut high on PCP to drop the knife and to please get off the roof because the customers were complaining that he was blocking the picture.
But that’s a tale for another day.
Monday, December 30, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
We were chosen on be featured on Booksy!
Looks like Christmas came a little early for me. Was just informed that Booksy.com featured my novel Revolution in America on their site and to all their customers.
It has 10 five star reviews, is the first of a very popular series and is FREE Christmas Eve and Christmas day only! So if you haven't downloaded your copy yet you should before the free promotion expires.
Here's the link:
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Resistance is futile-The Borg.
If you don’t know who the Borg are you need to hang around more Nerds. But the point is this. Being a writer I find myself in the presence of avid readers who, for some reason, radically embrace the physical book and refuse to become assimilated by the electronic reader (kindle, Nook, iPad).
I suppose it’s because physical books reminds them of a simpler time when things weren’t so hectic. A time when they could curl up with a good book on a rainy weekend and live among the characters on the printed page.
I get it. I really do.
Back when my daughters were young, my ex would take them out on Sundays for a girl’s day out. As for me I’d crank up the fireplace, make some hot tea, pick up a Subway sandwich and spend the day with Stephen King, John Grisham, Andrew Klaven, J.K Rowling, Dean Koontz and many others.
But then the computer technology started progressing in leaps and bounds and EVERYTHING picked up speed.
Stephen King wrote a book called The Long Walk. In it the characters compete in a race for the ultimate prize of getting the life they’ve always wanted, BUT, should they start falling behind they get three warnings.
Then they get shot.
Nowadays it seems we are all involved in The Long Walk. More work for less pay, less benefits, less time off.
So I certainly understand why many avid readers adamantly refuse to embrace the Kindle revolution.
But understanding doesn’t mean I agree. Just the opposite. I think everyone should have a Kindle (or Nook iPad etc.) Why? because they give you the opportunity to discover great new authors and great new books that never would have seen the light of day without electronic readers. Traditional publishers, due to rising costs, have become VERY conservative regarding the books they publish. Mid-list authors, who once made a comfortable living with their novels, are routinely dropped in favor of the flavor of the month (books about Duck Dynasty, Kardashian etc.) and ghost written books by celebrities who regale us with their courageous tale of how they overcame drug addiction, serial adultery or drunken domestic abuse.
Perhaps they wouldn’t have had to be so courageous had they not gotten involved with that shit in the first place.
Or children’s books by such mother figures as Madonna & Sarah Ferguson.
I understand that the industry is just trying to stay afloat. But they are not catering to the needs of the fiction book reader. If you go to a book store like Barnes and Noble you’ll see that the fiction section is becoming smaller with each passing year and is only featuring the already established big names.
Another point I should mention is that if you purchase a physical book, you’re likely cutting into the authors royalties. For example: My physical novel Frostie the Deadman sells for 12.99. Of that I get a one dollar royalty per sale. On the Kindle version which sells for $3.99 I receive a royalty of $2.93 per sale.
So useing the POWER OF MATH, you will note that by purchasing a kindle version you'll save $9.00 and the author gets almost 2 dollars more per sale. So you benefit and the author benefits. Only the traditional publisher doesn’t benefit but they’re doing just fine with their Duck Dynasty and Kardashian books so you needn’t worry.
With Christmas only a few days away I would like you to consider purchasing a kindle for the avid reader in your family.
Here’s the Amazon link:
Now that you’ve decided to purchase a kindle (or have already) you’ll want to download a great book to get the party started. And fortunately, the first book of the very popular series Revolution in America is a FREE download on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So mark your calendars or note on your electronic device so you don’t miss it.
Here’s the link:
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Although it is true that I’m no longer a spring chicken I’m not quite over the hill.
Or am I?
I ask this because of this recent trend of women supposedly wanting to be choked while having sex. Is this some new odd fad? Or something from 50 Shades of Gray, perhaps? I don’t get it.
Admittedly there have been times where I wished for a James Bond ejector seat while riding in my car with some women, but choking?
Look, when a beautiful woman is generous enough to permit me the pleasure of playing with her naughty bits, I’m not going to repay her by wrapping my hands around her throat! Make her breakfast, sure! Buy her flowers, you bet! Nearly kill her by strangulation? Are you out of your freaking mind!?
Now this is not to say I haven’t had my share of adventurous sex. And yes, there have been those special times when I have, in fact, used the whole chicken, the Venus butterfly and the Seinfeld ‘swirl’.
A place for everything and everything in its place, that’s’ my motto. And I will admit strangulation does have its place in a relationship and most definitely in marriage. I remember back when I was married and coming home after a hard day’s work only to have the Missus stalk and attack me like Cato would Inspector Cleuseau. There we were, crashing through windows, tumbling down stairs, throwing various objects at each other’s heads, setting beds on fire, dropping toasters into tubs, severing brake lines…
But asphyxiation? Pump the brakes, Jockamo.
Correct me if I’m wrong but in all the movies I’ve seen where the woman gets strangled, I’ve yet to see one where she’s smiling and getting into it. Usually they’re flailing around, desperately trying to escape.
You know. Like when they’re out on a date with me.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. It’s called autoerotic-asphyxiation. Supposedly David Carradine thought it would be a good idea to go into a closet, fashion a noose, place it around his neck, drop his pants, then step off a small stool and see if he could masturbate to sexual climax before choking to death.
Talk about your coming and going!
Saturday, December 14, 2013
There is a Monty Python skit that goes something like this:
At door: Knock, knock.
Woman: “Who’s there?”
Man: “Yes, Madam. I am a burglar. Please let me in so I may nick your valuables.”
Woman: “I don’t know. You sound like an encyclopedia salesman.”
Man: “I assure you, Madam. I’ve only come to tie you up and steal your jewelry.”
Woman (hesitates) “Are you sure you’re not an encyclopedia salesman?”
Man: “Madam, my only intentions are to rob you, nothing more.”
Woman: “Well, okay then, as long as you’re not an encyclopedia salesman.”
She opens door and a man enters.
Man (looking around): You have a very nice place here. However, no home is truly complete without a full set of encyclopedias.”
Woman: “Oh, damn!”
I love that bit!
Hate when it happens in real life.
I bristle when someone pretends to be one thing and when you invite them in; they turn out to be something completely different. For example: If you see a man walking down the street wearing robes, a big metal cross and a hat that looks like someone split a canoe in half and placed it on his head, you assume that he is either the pope or some other high level church guy.
If you see a man wearing a black suit, white shirt and a tiny round hat along with a beard and curly fry sideburns, you can assume that person is Jewish.
If you see a guy wearing either a turban, or a pill box hat and carrying a prayer rug, odds are he’s Muslim.
If two guys come to your house, well-groomed, wearing a white shirt and tie and carrying copies of The Watchtower. You can safely assume you are going to hide and pretend you are not home.
My point is you can see what they’re selling by their clothes. If we find ourselves in a conversation, I’m not offended when he goes into his sales pitch. That’s his job and I knew beforehand by his attire what I was in for. No harm, no foul.
But what really pisses me off is buying tickets for some entertainment venue and having to listen to some smug, self-righteous sonavabitch start in on how anyone who believes in God is an idiot and starts rattling off chapter and verse of the atheist’s creed.
Bill Maher, Paula Poundstone and Penn Gillette, I didn’t pay my hard earned money to listen to twenty minutes of you proselytizing Atheism. Imagine how pissed off you’d be if you forked over a week’s pay to see the Rolling Stones only to have them play gospel hymns and other religiously related material.
This is not to say I have anything against atheists. I do not. I have atheist friends and we get along just fine. But if as atheists you decide to preach your views to the masses, at least create some bizarre outfit, so when we see you coming, we can run like hell.
It’s only fair.
Why? Well although I am a devoutly religious, none of my friends know it. This is because you don’t convince people of your religion’s value by running your mouth to every poor soul you have backed into a conversational corner. You convince them of your religion’s validity by living a life that people admire and wish to emulate.
And in keeping with one of my religion’s tenets, ‘Don’t point out another’s shortcomings without first addressing you own,” I must therefore point out that I am a hypocrite. I know this because a dear friend of mine, a pagan, routinely visits the elderly, the sick, runs errands for them, reads to them and spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas working at a soup kitchen doling out food to the hungry
Apparently she is a lot better at my religion than I am. I spend the holidays stuffing my face and watching football. Maybe I need to rethink my own beliefs.
Therefore should you see me dressed in glittering robes, wearing a propeller hat, barreling down the street on a pogo stick, holding up a book and shouting to all who will listen that I have ‘found the true way!”
Run like hell!
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Ever get stuck listening to someone who drones on and on about stuff you couldn’t care less about? Or someone who, when you ask a simple question, stares at you for a few seconds as if you asked them to explain the theory of relativity before finally answering? Or when you tell a really funny joke and after delivering the punch line they look at you as if you had had just wrapped up a lecture on ‘The Joys of Accounting?”
These people are bores. And you don’t want to become one. Become boring enough and people will raise their index fingers to form a cross as you approach, fake heart attacks when in your presence and purposefully step in front of moving vehicles just to avoid talking to you.
But how can you tell if you’re a bore?
Well if people are reacting like the above upon seeing you, well… that might be a clue. On the other hand you might be boring and not even know it.
“How so?” you ask.
Well, you might be a real hoot at parties, dazzle the babes with witty repartee, amaze your friends with your sports knowledge, but be treated like a pariah on facebook and the internet.
This is the part when people usually turn to me and say; “Uncle Zack…how… how did you know?” and become all teary-eyed.
There. There. I’m here to help.
You see, not only am I a hoot at parties, a professional babe dazzler and an expert on all things sports, I am also popular as all hell on facebook and the internet. Did you know my blog receives thousands of hits on a daily basis?
“Zoot alors!” you might exclaim if you were from 19th century France, but you’re not so let’s press on.
Here’s what you need to know. Over the years you have extensively engaged in conversations, learned what worked and what didn’t. Over time you fine-tuned your skills and have become a welcome addition at social gatherings.
But on facebook and the other sites on the internet you don’t get to use those skills, instead, you must rely on your ability to write entertaining or informative material and frankly, just how much experience do you have doing that?
Likely not very much, right?
The question here is why doesn’t your conversational skills translate to the printed page?
The answer is when in conversation, the person you’re talking with provides facial or bodily indications of their amount of interest. If they yawn or slap themselves to keep listening, you should probably start wrapping it up. However, if they are calling other people over and saying things like “Hey, you gotta hear this,” well then, buddy, you’re on a roll.
But while writing you have no such indicators so you’ll need a completely different skill set. But the most important skill is knowing when to wrap it up so the reader will be left wanting more and
Thursday, December 5, 2013
When I read biographies of famous creative people I’m often amazed at the difficulty they had achieving fame and notoriety, especially when they were so obviously talented and their work so superior.
If, like me, you are incredibly talented you’re probably wondering, with all the poorly written novels out there, why hasn’t your work of unmitigated genius been discovered and thrust into the limelight for all to purchase and enjoy.
Here’s why. It’s a very tight market. The print industry is dying and its employees are scurrying for the lifeboats. The few who have retained their jobs are not going to take any risks with a new and unproven author. Why? Because if they push to publish your book and it goes nowhere, they are going to get called out on the carpet to explain why.
And frankly, they’d better have a damn good answer. They’ll need to explain to their superiors why they thought the book would sell, why the cover would catch the public’s eye, why it would fit in with the current popular genre and why they believed you had enough personal appeal and charisma to sell several hundred thousand copies right out of the gate.
Do you have oodles of charm and charisma?
In fact, like me you’re probably only an amazingly talented and skilled novelist.
Unfortunately nowadays that ain’t enough. Not when Madonna’s notoriety can land her a very lucrative contract to write children’s books. But then, one shouldn’t be surprised when you consider how child friendly her act is.
And it’s not like she’s isn’t already a best-selling author. Remember her book ‘SEX’ and how she won over the illuminati by parading around nude? And it’s not like I wouldn’t do the same thing for fame and fortune unfortunately whenever I parade around nude men gag and women sandpaper their eyeballs.
But take heart. Many amazingly talented people like us had their work routinely rejected only to go on and stun the world. For example:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, until Bloomsbury a small London publisher, only accepted it because the eight-year old daughter of the CEO begged him to.
Harry-freakin-Potter?! Hundreds of millions of copies sold throughout the world yet no one in Britain’s renowned publishing circles saw any merit in JR Rowling’s masterpiece? And the only reason this literary genius was published at all was because a child wrangled her father into doing something he didn’t want to?
Here are some other timeless works that were considered worthless.
The world-wide best seller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was turned down 121 times.
Margret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times before getting published.
C.S. Lewis received 800 rejection notices before selling a single piece of his work.
134 rejections for Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen before they found a publisher for Chicken Soup for the Soul
The BEATLES were turned down by every recording label in Britain before the last one, EMI begrudgingly signed them and assigned George Martin, who was producing comedy albums at the time, to record them.
So apparently ABSOLUTELY NO ONE IN THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS HAS ANY IDEA OF WHO OR WHAT WILL SELL.
It’s simply a crapshoot and either you catch a break or you don’t. However I will recommend one thing. If you are lucky enough to catch that one break, make damn sure you have your skills honed to their sharpest and more importantly, find a damn good editor. One who will drive your mercilessly and force you to create your best work.
When JK Rowling’s final Potter novel was released I was stunned when I saw the critics lining up to tear it apart. Here was an artist who had brought so much entertainment to so many people yet, the only thing the book reviewers wanted was to find some flaw in the book to exploit and criticize.
Anyway, good luck to my fellow authors out there. And remember, in order to compete in today’s book marketplace you’re going to have to do something that will draw attention to yourself like Madonna does.
Well, if that’s what you got to do, then that’s what you got to do. As for me, I got my camera ready.
You’ve been warned!
As always if you enjoy my blog you can read a FREE sample of my books by clicking on the covers on the slideshow above. Or join in the fun, invite a friend or leave a comment below.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I own a publishing company so you would think I know everything about it.
And for the most part you’d be right. Except for one thing
And that, my friend is uploading a book to Kindle.
IT…IS… A… NIGHTMARE!
It literally took me months before I managed to acquire the skills to do it correctly. And although I do know how to do it correctly, I often have to go back and make several corrections because I am human and therefore make errors when I’m uploading a novel containing several hundred pages, over 50 chapters and various font types throughout.
I know there are several websites whose members are quite skilled at uploading but they too are human and as such prone to making mistakes. Frankly it’s near impossible to avoid when you have to run the manuscript through the Microsoft Paragraph Tool, then the mobipocket converter, then the HTML rebuilder, then redirect to publications and then pray as you click the upload tab.
You breathe a sigh of relief when the SUCCESS tab appears
But FEW DAYS LATER your heart sinks when you GET YOUR FIRST REVIEW and see that the novel you spent over a year working on got only one star and the entire review is about how the book is incomprehensible because of the format errors.
In panic you click the kindle preview and notice that your title isn’t centered, the jump cuts aren’t spaced and the special font you used has been converted to Times New Roman. As you read further you notice that your chapters aren’t separated and there are huge spaces between words and some pages have only one word on them
And so you go back in to stop the hemorrhaging but it’s too late. Several other one star reviews come in with the same comments.
Book, DEAD. Sales, DEAD. Career as a novelist, DEAD.
There are two ways to prevent this from happening. The first is to click this link:
This company has an exclusive software program where you simply copy and paste your manuscript into their software template and it produces a perfectly formatted manuscript every time!
No worries, No errors. No problems! Perfect every time!
And it comes with a 60 Day no-questions-asked money back guarantee!
The second is to download “How to Write, Publish and Market Your Novel into a Bestseller” in e book or audiobook form. Inside it is a step-by-step informational guide on how to correctly upload to Kindle that has been used successfully hundreds of times. Here’s the Link:
Either one will get you safely through the process and put your book on Kindle in its proper form.
Word to the wise:
If you’ve spent years learning to write, perfecting your craft and fashioning a novel that you believe can become a best seller, for heaven’s sake don’t ‘wing it’ when it comes to uploading or trust it to a friend who says he/she has a “pretty good idea” on how to do it!
You wouldn’t trust your health with someone who’s not a doctor, or your money with someone who’s not a licensed investor, so don’t trust your literary future to a non-professional. Go with either the software program:
Or the step-by-step book tutorial http://amzn.to/1anekEm
I look forward to seeing you on the best seller list.