I’d like to formally announce the launch of my new publishing company:

Gargoyle Business Card-01

Gargoyle Publications is a publication house that is open to submissions for just about anything. Do you write? Do you want to have your own publication? Do you want me to pay for it? The way it works is first you need to have an idea, people have lots of those, then you have to do the work. Write it. If you can write it once, then you can write it again. For anything to be any good, it requires revision. So to be published by Gargoyle you have to be willing to go through a editorial process with me. I’m not an invasive editor. I respect whatever it is that you want to do. I’m interested in what you have to express. So my editorial process is more about helping you get the best results possible for the piece that you’d like to write.  We’ll refine your work, conceptualize the design and layout for the publication as well as any original art elements that could/should/would be included. Then at the behest of the designer I have on retainer, the book is designed, printed and officially published. If you can write a novel, I’ll pony up for serious design and print quality. If you have a few shorter pieces then the formatting will probably be closer to a ‘zine. The physical design as well as the typesetting of a publication must be in synchronicity with the contents of the book itself for it to succeed as a piece of art as a whole. This is what I do. I write and publish books. I’d like to extend my experience and encouragement to the general creative community.

That’s why, through Gargoyle, I’m also hosting this thing Called: Genre Lab. It’s a writer’s workshop where I prescribe a genre every two weeks (like Steampunk or Boxing story or Detective story) and if you want to come you have to write a piece that’s between 500-1000 words and show up on the day and share it. Then we talk about the process of creation, the genre itself, our thoughts, motivations and inspirations concerning the piece. Then afterwards if participants like I post the stories on Gargoyle’s website so that the progress of the workshop and it’s participants can be shared. Inevitably I’m sure I’ll publish anthology collections of these labs.

So if you know of anyone

There’s just a brief update on what I’ve been up to. Also you may have noticed that my website has changed a bit. I’m now giving away every major novel I’ve ever written for FREE. They’re PDFs. Take them. Share them.

Big shout out to Rob from Suna Studios for helping me get Gargoyle off the ground.

 

Advertisements

A Time for Giving.

syrian-refugee-crisis
I am a very lucky person. I’m a white, heterosexual male and I live in Canada. I have a comprehensive fundamental education. I have been vaccinated against disease and have been served by health care professionals my entire life. While I do not come from a wealthy background but I have never experienced abject poverty. I am very aware of how good I have it. How I, so far in my life, have not had to overcome any obstacles that were not taken on by choice nor have I faced persecution or prejudicial judgement. It is because of my advantages that I take the rights of other people very seriously. As a little boy I was aware that I was growing up in an environment of freedom and safety. It is because of this that I felt a strong affinity for treating other people with empathy and compassion. As an adult I try to understand how other people feel and why they feel that way. I try to give people room to be who they are, reserving my judgements for their actions not their base level descriptors. I believe in attempting to preserve the rights, freedoms and safety of all people who want nothing more than to pursue a life of decency and prosperity for them and theirs.

When I was in elementary school Remembrance Day was a very important day. The Cadet honour guard. RCMP troopers. The Veterans. Flanders Field’s and speeches that despite their dry tone instilled in me a great deal of respect for the people who had died so I could sit in this cushy little assembly. It was that respect that kept me from complaining about how hard or cold the gymnasium floor was. By the time I was in grade three I was already writing pieces for Remembrance Day to express my respects. Having always had an overactive imagination it was impossible for me to not envision the scores of men and women who fell beneath the wheel of war. As I recited whatever words I’d put together I’d always be brought to tears. A little boy standing in front of his whole school, crying because he couldn’t fathom the amount of death that had occurred so that he might be given the opportunity to pursue anything he wanted. The brutality and transgressions of war were branded onto my brain. I’d read about the World Wars and I did my best to understand why those historical events had happened. I had reverence for the legitimacy of the allied missions. Their goal was to stop the crazed eugenics driven Nazi war machine and prevent the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of  innocent people who were being persecuted for both their race and religion. It made sense to fight that fight. The idyllic childhood bubble of belief where all the righteous calls to arms, bloodshed and fates of those lost souls maintained a necessary haunting visage in my mind. This bubble was soon to burst.

In 1999 I was in 5th grade and my teacher made the dubious decision to explain to the class that NATO was bombing Kosovo in an attempt to stop the continued genocide of non-serbians by a an extreme nationalist movement orchestrated by a man named Slobodan Milosevic. I was livid. I was unconsolable. I was disillusioned. What were all the deaths of all those people in World War 1 & 2 for if the mass murder of people was still occurring? I was overcome with a horrible grief and anger for a world that had casually looked on time and time again, as I was soon to find out, while fanatics driven by madness or twisted motivations, murdered people in cold blood. Murdering people over beliefs or racial disparity, it was incomprehensible to me that such a thing was still occurring at the turn of the century. I was ravenous. I had to know why. I explored the depths of WW2 history, learning just how many Russians lost their lives and of the vicious treatment of the Chinese at the hands of the Japanese and in turn the sickening aftermath of nuclear explosions in Japan. The  Korean War followed, then Vietnam, the Gulf War, not to mention the hundreds of other conflicts involving violent regimes and shadow ops running rampant across the world. None of this includes the First Nations genocides of our continent’s history, the blood and bones of the indigenous all but ignored except by those that still stand proud and carry on the standard of culture and the memory of all those murdered for the white imperialism we enjoy today. As a child my perception of the righteous narratives of WW2 fractured around me. With the distance of half a century, the twentieth century agenda of The United States of America look far more like war mongering than righteous liberation, proliferation and self preservation. I came to understand, over time, that our entire North American way of life is built on the narratives that were sold to the world at the end of WW2. History has always been written by the victor.

September 11 2001, I’m in eighth grade. I got to school without having heard the news. My family didn’t watch TV in the mornings and although it may have been on CBC radio at the time I don’t think my mother was eager to point out what had happened as global conflict obviously troubled me. It strikes me as strange now that on that day in September the events in New York City were never discussed with us by our teachers. It wasn’t addressed or talked about it until weeks later when the status quo of the situation had been prescribed to the adults by the media theorists. It was then left to a pack of unqualified small town kids to make up their own minds about what had happened based on the poor information they had on hand. I learned a lot of new phrases to negatively describe people from the middle east that day. I learned that a lot of kids dad’s didn’t care what the difference between a Pakistani, an Afgahni or a Hindu was- so long as he was dead. I was told by one kid that it was going to be martial law and gleefully from another that we’re all going to war. As time went on the enemy of Osama Bin Laden was made clear to us, and we were given a face to hate with all our childish hearts. By this time I had begun to loudly wonder why those guys in the Taliban hated us so. No one seemed to be able to tell me much at the time so I had to figure it out for myself by reading up on the history of the area. By the time it was 2003 and I was watching Colin Powell give his presentation on WMD’s in Iraq to the UN Security Council, I had done enough fundamental research to make up my own perceptions as to what was going on in the middle east.

I’m not here to give you the whole history lesson but just to sum it up for you there’s this:

In order to retain dominance and control of arabian oil the USA trained, funded and provided weapons to radical militias, assisting them in  destabilizing their current governments so that when the dust settled the USA could install their own dictator for life, wielding the newly acquired nation and it’s economy like an extension of its own infrastructure yet without any responsibility to, or respect for, the people living in that country. These conflicts led to cities being bombed out of existence and many civilians dying or being marginalized by the de-stability of violence and military occupation. These uneducated & displaced men and their sons became the the radicals we have now.

The USA supported multiple coup d’etats, provided weapons, equipment and training that resulted in the deaths of so many innocent people. Then, after the current regime was toppled, rather than hand over control of the government to the militias they’d funded, men who believed they were freedom fighters, the USA installed a puppet dictator and continued to exploit these people. When the puppet dictator decides they aren’t going to be a puppet anymore, the process begins again. If you continue to kill and subjugate people, they will hate you and they will do whatever they feel is necessary to stop you. The people of the middle east have been engineered into a piece of spooky propaganda to in turn make them cannon fodder for The Military Industrial complex. A fine machine for continued economic growth and international dominance, so long as you have someone to kill. Once you understand this narrative, and understand that it has been happening for decades, the actions of radical violent extremist groups are not justified, but they are explainable. It is understandable that a group of marginalized uneducated people under such duress would turn to violence and a extremist ideologies.

As a Canadian I’m conflicted. My country is not fuelled by a vicious multi-billion dollar military industrial complex, though it is irrefutable that Canada is a cog in this mechanism. We enjoy the same indulgences and freedoms as our American counterparts, often lumping ourselves in with them when it’s convenient and disassociating ourselves when it’s not longer stylish. Our constant insistence that we are friendly and polite to a fault is obnoxious and untrue. A creeping shiver runs up my spine when I hear declarations that we live in the greatest country on earth. That brand of oversimplified nationalism is easy to swallow and fast to grow, distending our gut reactions to other cultures. We do not have a society where violence and social disorder is open and obvious, we have one where it is a tainted slick in the bloodstream of our culture. Nice normal folks would rather not discuss this: violence, racism, drug distribution, mental health, organized crime- but discuss it we must for it is time to change the narratives about who we perceive our villains to be as well as re-defining what it means to be a Canadian at this place in time. The Core of what I am saying is that the power of love and empathy must win out over the tested and time worn maxims of judgement, hate and proliferation of war. Make no mistake there will be fights and there will be deaths. I lost my delicate illusions about such things before left grade school, but I don’t believe that killing people and fighting over resources or ideologies will lead to any resolves but the inspiration for more killing. The only way to end the fight is palm up, arms open.

image

Syrian refugees are not our enemies. They are human beings fleeing persecution at the hands of a radical extremist fundamentalists who are misinterpreting and misrepresenting a religion who’s words are just as valid and complicated as any other.  These men women and children are people that want to enjoy the same fundamental rights that we take for granted every single day. I enjoy running water on demand and have the luxury of choosing what type of food I get to eat and when I get to eat it. How many refugees are celiacs do you think? I don’t have to worry about whether or not my family is going to be burned alive or marched up to the top of a mountain to be executed. These Human Beings need to cared for, they need all our love and our ability to extend ourselves to them. We owe them that much for having enjoyed so much for so long after our profitable violent conquests and resulting system of economic oppression. This is a time when we have the crucial opportunity to change the narrative about how the Muslim world feels about the West and how we perceive a people who need our help. To meet this challenge of human decency is to show those that need are help that we the people, not our government or our special institutions, are there for them, regardless of what their political or religious affiliations are, we can help.

I have never been a religious person, but I respect people’s pursuit of whatever faith they desire. I have experienced a range of non-religious belief structures from militant teenage atheist to daydreaming psychedelic agnostic and onto hard science based literalist. I’ve learned our beliefs sculpt the reality that we choose to inhabit. I believe we’re free to pursue whatever structure of belief we’d like, so long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights, freedoms and safety of other people. To pass judgment on another’s faith without due diligence of education and experience is an ignorant action and not a basis for a judgement of an entire group of people. Despite the fact that I am not religious I have taken the task of educating myself as to the fundamentals of many other people’s religions. I don’t intend to share in these faiths, but it is important to me to know how other people believe, so that I’m not confounded and scared by our differences.

What does it mean to Canadian? What is our culture? I don’t believe that we can be reduced to some apologizing, beaver tailed, Tim Hortons gargling, hockey watching, logger beardin’, maple syrup swilling caricature. Fuck that.  If we’re looking at histories of our continent and if we believe in hereditary ownership, I can stake no claim to being a original Canadian for my anglo saxon blood didn’t originate here, but this is where we must change the narrative of our own identities. Do the random origins of our bloodlines define us, or is it to what we choose to pay our allegiances? I may be caucasian, but don’t call me white. White is a entitled state of mind that can be found in any race or culture where a form of purity is a prescribed ideal and self designated sense superiority is present. I am not white. I am human being, a citizen planet Earth, and who I choose to be now matters so much more than where my blood comes from. Our identities are defined by those we stand beside, not those we would have stand behind us. Who we care for should say more about us than who we hate. We must open the conversation with each other and demand a change in how we relate to other nations and cultures. We must disclose and accept the truth about our own bloody history, and the people we’ve exploited. Before the healing can begin we must close that wound. Our nation needs to stand in awareness for what has occurred and thankfulness that we might have the opportunity to move past this and become a stronger Canada which is united by more than political agendas, religions, blood lines, economic ideologies and grudges. Are any of those platforms worth standing on to represent who we are as people? Following the acknowledgment of the trespasses of our ancestors there may come forgiveness, for it is not until we are all in honesty together, the healing can begin and all those who would stand on guard for thee may become Canadian. This is my home. I love this country. I love the freedom I enjoy, and that’s why I think being a Canadian means using your freedom to contribute to a greater good, in whatever way you can, regardless of your race, religion or rites. I want to share Canada with anyone who would use their freedom for to generate goodness and charity.

In my life I have done a lot of thoughtless taking. Without ever thinking or thanking, I have been receiving the blessings of freedom and opportunity for which many men and women so bravely died. I recognize the many who die every day in the pursuit of my freedom. It would be disrespectful of this freedom and the advantages that I have been provided with to turn my back on a people in need such as these Syrian refugees and indeed the needy the world over. For what is our freedom and strength of organized society for if not to aid and lift up those in need? The time for taking without recognition is over. Out of respect and with apologies I feel we need to extend ourselves to these people who have already endured so much, just so they may have a chance at survival and a life for their families free of persecution and fear.

The time for politicizing is done. Our leaders and representatives may do an awful lot of the talking, but as Canadian citizens it will be up to us to do the walking. Screenings and safety precautions will happen, but I feel the greatest security we can achieve is by showing muslims of the world that we do not see them as an enemy. Instead of a dismissive stare and an unfounded resentment they should be met with open arms and taught the joy of what it means to be in Canada. We the people who love our nation so and are proud of it at every turn are tasked with extending ourselves and caring like the individuals of righteous merit we believe ourselves to be. This challenge accepted the greater collective society called humanity may benefit. We the people must change the way our society thinks and feels about each other, it is not something that can be politically mandated. We must share to the extent that we are able and come to each other in assurance that what we are doing is right and disagreement when our actions are false. Now is the time to give of yourself.

There are those that would call my stance an issue of naiveté or bleeding heart liberalism. I would call it a grounded stance on the fundamental human right to life. I would call it a defiant and revolutionary act to state that loving the sick and wounded with all our hearts is a far greater goal than isolating ourselves from the rest of the world and living shrouded in fear and hate. I would declare that any people’s religion, history and cultural differences mean little to me in the face of saving their lives.

pray_for_syrian_refugees_

Much talk has been done about the cost of war and the justified killing that will be required to end the conflicts with our enemies. Not enough talk has been made addressing the profits of investing our faith in each other and refocusing on the purpose of our supposed efforts in countries that we hold no ownership of- to save lives and protect a persecuted people. To halt terror requires courage, vigilance. We must not falter in our resolve to assess our options and do the right thing. In the coming century we are all going to need to be able to access the breadth of our own thoughts, prayers and emotions. If we are to achieve peace, we’re all going to have to be able to express ourselves on a spectrum that doesn’t include violence. We must teach this way of caring to the world over so that no longer will mass graves be filled and hidden while children are stolen from their parents in the night. No more shall those in need of help be turned away and those who cannot help themselves abandoned. Sick people can be identified and we can care for them so long as we have the resolve to care the most when it is the most difficult to do so. Our planet must come together in a recognition that war will never unite us, only the collected extension of our compassion and empathy for the plight of others may do that. It is our turn to play Atlas and shoulder the burdened hearts of those who have endured so much more than we can ever understand, only so we may all eventually carry the collective weight of mankind together. If talking about these emotions and understanding the feelings of others makes you more uncomfortable than talking about the required murder of thousands of people, you need to get some help and stop believing your opinions have positive contribution to our so called civilized society. I believe that historic moments of trial such as these are what give us the opportunity to better ourselves through the noble support of our fellow man, without regard for race, religion or any of our painful histories. No matter now, who won and who lost.

This piece is not just about Syrian refugees. This is about making the world a better place with the simple act of caring. Extending yourself enough to feel and understand who someone is and where they come from is never a waste of your time. This is about choosing to reject the tenants of exclusionary and selfish self satisfying faiths or sharp logics which are hard to swallow. This is about learning how to feel deeper, on purpose and with control. This is about recognizing those that have transgressed, becoming evil, and looking into their fractured minds to feel their pain so that we might help them. This is about recognizing the fundamental rights of everyone on this planet. This is a time for giving, for we are able to. If I could I would give everyone on the planet the same freedom and safety I enjoy I would, but it’s not just up to me. It’s up to all of us. Now, in December, in this time of giving, please consider giving of yourself to those who need it most for not all of us are so lucky.

 

Long Form

Printing Press
In 1855 if someone wanted to express themselves to an audience larger than the people in the room they needed to be lucky enough to not only be able to read but to write as well. To express the same sentiment to multiple people a person would write the same thing over and over, by hand. They did this unless they had access to a Printer. Printers had access to and the knowledge of how to use a printing press. Pages were printed by setting individual letter blocks, for every single word, into a slab and then running it through machines like the one above, printing the pages on paper with ink.  In 1855 the machine above cost $2,600. If you adjust for inflation that’s about $65,000.

Today in 2015 if we want to express ourselves it’s as simple as letting our fingers do the talking. The Internet; Facebook, Twitter, Blogging services, Instagram, Snapchat, and many more social media based forms of expression have come to dominate how we distribute our thoughts and ideas. What all of these new forms have over traditional print media is that they are fast. We do not need to pause, or hesitate if we have a thought that we feel needs expressing. An individual with a smart phone and a data plan can upload a consistent stream of self expression into the world 24 hours a day. In many ways this is very valuable as it gives people the means to express and contextualize themselves, report details of live breaking situations, and develop insight obtained through the sustained provision, and monitoring of, data. However, I feel that by thoughtlessly embracing this world of instant information exchange we’re sacrificing the overall quality of the art/information/conversation that we’re producing because less consideration is being put into refinement of quality in what we are expressing  and more importance is being placed in on the need to constantly have something to believe and express lest you become a decontextualized person.

Writing, in craft, is a constant process of revision and the pursuit of quality. It is with a heavy heart & head a writer may say good enoughIt is with amateur excitement to say with conviction it’s greatIt is in the pursuits professionalism and high quality to say “I can make (say, think, sing, dance, draw, film, program, edit, cook, paint) it better.

I write novels. It takes me roughly a year per novel. When I write I’m using a time consuming and self motivated process to develop a concise pieces of work that effectively says exactly what I want to say and will hopefully stand the test of time. Writing a novel gives me the ability to take the time to combine many complex ideas into a story that becomes the vehicle for these ideas. Fiction reduces the complexity of these ideas and their qualities into identifiable forms (characters, settings, actions) and metaphors so that they can be discussed and understood in a way that is palatable to a mind that is not mine. I only needed to close my eyes and imagine my story to see it, but to express it in a way that makes sense and is entertaining to the public is the work of an author. When I write I take the time to understand what it is I’m trying to say and then I allow, even demand of myself, that I take the time to refine my language and delivery. That is, if I believe in what I’m doing and saying.

Stories and ideas are plentiful, but not every story is mine or yours to tell and I can only distribute my passion for quality into so many creative projects. When I do choose a story or project that I feel very strongly about, I incubate the idea in my head for months before I ever put pen to page. Through the process of writing a book I explore ideas that have my fancy while also discovering many ideas and tropes which I would not have encountered otherwise. I don’t always know exactly what my final product will look like when I start, but by the time I’m finished the first draft of any long form project I have a very solid foundation and scaffolding from which to build upon.

Here is my process. This is how I write a book. Maybe there is insight here. Maybe this methodology won’t work for you, or you’ll disagree with me, but at the end of the day it’s gotten the work done for me. It’s all about doing the work.

Prep
I read a lot of books and watch/listen to smarter people than I talk about whatever it is that I’m going to tackle. I don’t over-think it and I don’t generally try to cram all of my research into the story. I just have an understanding with everything that I write that someone else has been here before, I should know what they did. While doing my research  set pieces, characters, ideas and emotional resonance begin to build in my imagination. Once the tank is full of creative energy and I have enough dots of plotting put into an outline of sorts, I can begin.

Draft #1:  I just turn on the fire-hose and let it go. Whatever the idea I have is, big or small, I write like my life depends on it never looking back until I’m too far in to turn around. If I get to a part and get stuck because I don’t know what to do, I skip over it and move on to something else that I know is going to happen. I don’t consider spelling or grammar, I just go until I get to the end.

Draft #2: I go through and fix all the garbage easy pickings mistakes. I fill in any gaping plot holes. I go to those spots that I skipped over and take some serious time to think about what those missing scenes can be. Leaving a few blank spaces can make it easier on yourself if you need to change parts of your story in subsequent drafts. This second draft is all about having a complete, if clumsy, story.

Draft #3: I make BIG changes. Do I need to change a character? What once was a super-nerd computer hacker is now a black-ops mercenary. I could make this change and since the story is still in such a rough form it shouldn’t be too hard to modify this character’s presence and influence throughout. This is an important place where you can make sure that there’s not a series of dangling questions remaining at the conclusion. Now is the time to solve errors with your large moving parts.

Draft #4: I do a full read through and cut the fat, streamlining continuity. I obliterate entire paragraphs. Sometimes chapters. I judiciously approach the work and consider what the story has that it doesn’t need and what it needs that it doesn’t have. I keep the continuity straight and establish an accurate timeline so that there is a consistency to the world I’m creating.

Draft #5:  I heavily proof read. I clean up as many lingering mistakes as possible. Obvious mistakes like spelling and grammar. This is a good time to start transferring your document into a typesetting program, that way you can design the interiors of your book as we’re working on subsequent drafts.

Draft #6:  I print the book, cheaply bound with a spiral binding or something similar. Then I read through and make pen edits in the printed book. I take notes and keep everything organized. Once finished with this read through I go back to the master copy and make all the changes that I’d noted throughout the printed version.

Draft #7: I find my Editor. I give the Editor the book. I talk to them a lot before the edit. When they’re done, we go through and think about everything they thought and felt about the book. Toughen your skin. I consider everything they’ve said. A good Editor makes suggestions not demands. It’s my book. I’m fair and yield to them in many of their concerns, but I also stick to my guns if I feel strong enough about the points.

Draft #8: I Go through the book with the Editor’s notes and focus on the language. How the book feels and reads. I read it out loud. It helps with the comprehension of what I’ve written. I try to economize my word count and simplify my execution.

Draft #9: I Repeat process of Draft #7

Draft #10: I Repeat the process of Draft #8

Draft #11: I Read my book. I try to enjoy it. I think on it. I print another cheap copy and do another pen edit.

Draft #12:  I let two other non-editor people read it. I get their feedback and consider it. I read it again. I go through with a fine tooth comb. I make changes and finalize the typesetting process for print.

Draft #13: I have a professional model of the book made. I inspect it and pass it on to my editor and at least 2 other people for more revision. I find mistakes (there are almost always things you will perceive as mistakes) and I change them.

Draft #14: I print one more professional model and then read that. If there are no mistakes then I am ready for a full print run. If there are mistakes, I change them and repeat the inspection process. This is when you may find yourself appropriately saying good enough.

This is a lot of work to tell one story. I do it because I believe in my stories and I want to present them in the best possible way. I hope that this intensive process of refinement and investment of time is what makes the difference between something which is not just worth reading but worth remembering.

We’ve all been on Facebook or Reddit or some other branch of social media and experienced a post that feels like it demands our immediate response. Whether it’s an ignorant statement about a complex issue and you’d like to retort with your two cents or a totally wrong dissection of some pop culture bullshit. When I’m confronted with such internet traffic I can find myself diving into the keyboard to construct my own pithy comment or glad handed retort. I stop when I realize that I’ve written a paragraph and a half just to rebut some asshole’s ignorant opinion or contributed my opinions to the official thread about vital importance of Boba Fett in the new Star Wars films. At times like these I’ll wipe the words from the screen and get on with my life. Because my contribution to these conversations is irrelevant and ultimately a waste of energy.   Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy communities of discussion online and contribute my fair share to discussions about superhero movie crap with friends, but I don’t believe that my opinions about this stuff really matters.

To post on Facebook or Twitter we ignite our touch-screens and begin to type in a way that is closer related to conversation than true writing. Because we’re typing, many of us assuming that we are writing. While the medium may be text, do many of us stop to consider the impact and functionality of the written language when we’re banging out status updates and drunken posts? Reactionary social media communiques are to writing as amateur improv is to the Bard. Besides people considerate enough to check for spelling mistakes and any heinous grammatical errors, our data-sphere is filled with individuals presenting unsolicited uninformed & unedited opinion, hearsay and biased presentations of reality. Following this shotgun mode of expression there are those who would endlessly adorn their media feeds with the articles of others, nodding along as if sharing an article can inflate their perceived intelligence by association. Nodding the head does not row the boat. To read and understand an idea is not to craft and develop thoughts. To have an opinion does not an expert make.

Pardon this assault on our new national pastime of internet discourse. I only hope that people could take time to consider how they utilize their easily possessed and often cheapened freedom of expression.  Consider if what you have to say is really worth saying? If it is, I challenge you to take your time and have some deeper consideration about the information you’re contributing to these conversations. We need everyone to be properly exercising their right to free speech even if it comes to a head with argumentative conceptual clashes. We also need people to be exercising their right to freedom of thought for these clashes to be productive. It is when meetings of  opposing minds clash that vital discourse may happen if the conversation doesn’t devolve to an argument without compromise.

Stopping to consider what we have to say, and if it needs saying, is a rightful pause that should be consulted if one is to exercise their freedom of speech. We could all stand a moment in consideration and allow ourselves several drafts of our opinions and beliefs before we go about expressing them with such emphatic and unrelenting convictions.

Lazlo

Lazlo_show_poster

My new book Lazlo: The Hunter is a response to evil and insanity in the world that most of us cannot comprehend. When the radical group Boko Haram kidnapped 300 Nigerian School girls in the Spring of 2014 I was overwhelmed with a sense of futility and hopelessness for the state of humanity. I have no quarrel with Islam for I recognize the Boko Haram to be villains and outliers of the Muslim world, but the act itself and the media circus, ear marked with hashtags and celebrities weighing in, that followed shook me to the core. It made me angry. It made afraid. Because I am essentially helpless in stopping the overwhelming insanity of fanatics such as these. My entire life I’ve struggled with acknowledging and understanding the reality of modern real world atrocities like Serbian genocide, the proliferation of conflict diamonds, and the existence and use of child soldiers, just to name a few. So I created someone who, at least within my imagination, could do something about it. I created Lazlo.

When Superman first appeared in 1933 he fought the corrupt business men and criminals who exploited the working classes. When Batman showed up in 1939, before launching into a world of colourful characters, he packed heat and delivered lethal street vengeance to the criminals and underworld who had taken his parents from him, before being toned down. Now both of these characters, potent and righteous though they are, are properties. They can no longer represent our beliefs for a better future, because their ideals are so firmly rooted in the past, their proliferation relying on their marketability. They represent the old guard. They are co-modifications of myth that make sense from a 20th century viewpoint, but we live in a much more complicated world and our myths need new forms more properly attenuated to our own times. The super-heroes we know have limitations to what they can do and accomplish because the boundaries of their world’s are defined. Lazlo has no limitations. He is a character to take on the villains and impossibilities of a new century.

I believe in  creating accessible thoughtful entertainment. One might not typically associate novels with non-stop action and adventure but that’s the type of stories I see in my head and I try to execute them with tact and taste. I’m hoping that people can pick up Lazlo: The Hunter and get pulled in by the clean accessible writing and bare-knuckled action. My big inspirations for the writing styles used in the book come from the golden age pulp characters like The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Avenger, Zorro, The Spider and the film Yojimbo.

I couldn’t be happier to be releasing this book alongside all of the original art from it. Krunal Patel, Katie So, and Sean Karemaker did an amazing job and I can’t thank them enough. The Lazlo gallery show will also be featuring the work of Ben Duncan and Jaron Rockwell, who I’m also very grateful to.

Please come out and join us. There is a limited amount of first edition books available and they’re sure to go fast, but we will have chapbook style printings available as well. If you want to come talk to me and you don’t know me, by all means come on up and say hi. I’ll be game to talk about just about anything.
Hope to see you there!

This is Not what Democracy looks like.

IMG_1913
I’m here to talk to you today about the  event Commercial Drive Street Party 2.

First I’m going to talk about the Commercial Drive Street Party that happened on May 1, 2015. This is how the group of organizers describe what happened (as taken from their Facebook page advertising an event on August 21, 2015)  “Attendees listened to speakers, heard local bands, and enjoyed hundreds of free hot dogs and drinks at a BBQ potluck. When night fell, thousands took to the streets and danced until the early hours of the morning.” As idyllic as Norman Rockwell at Woodstock. Rough estimate from the City was that 5,000 people attended that party, although the organizer’s briefing suggests it was, ridiculously, closer to “10,000″ . Less than 100 Police we present. 3 people were arrested. There was a lot of chanting “fuck the police”. Someone was stabbed. Commercial Drive and Grandview Park became a garbage dump. All in the name of what? Well that time it was supposedly International Workers Day.

The Commercial Drive Street Party identify as being- “…..organized by individuals who take issue with the fact that the Vancouver Police Department and the City of Vancouver don’t allow people to host public events without granted permission.”

Take a second and consider how stupid that statement is. Vancouver is the biggest city in Western Canada. It is a port city with no coast guard. It also has, still, one of the most entrenched red light districts in North America. It is a beast of a machine to operate and manage. If everyone was just allowed to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, it would be madness. The policies about use of public space are there for a reason. I’m not saying that all laws and by-laws are correct, far from it. Many need to be declared defunct or amended for our modern City and society. However attending and throwing a party like this one only reinforces the perceived need for those constraints. When you declare yourself free through a right to expression that is shallow and has few meaningful values, you are reinforcing the governing body’s doubts concerning society being ready for the ownership and responsibility of our environment . The radically selfish philosophies fuelling this party have nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with causing a rift between the people and the governing body. An event like this smacks of radical politics vulgarly cloaked in a stolen hotel bath robe bearing a the sequinned word freedom.

Once more from the event’s Facebook page: “Thousands of dollars are required to secure a permit for any public event in this city, and applicants are routinely waitlisted for years on end—if not downright denied.”

Let me put it straight for you: We are not entitled to do whatever the fuck we want. If we don’t have the money or are not organized enough to secure a proper permit from the City, then we are unable to host an event. Events cost the City money in sanitation, policing, traffic control, first aid. Of course the organizers of the Commercial Drive Street party have thought of this. On their go-fund-me page they’re looking for $200 total for food, first aid misc, even though they’re expecting thousands of people to show up to this event. That’s a lot of hot dogs. Don’t worry these faceless organizers have it covered. Give me a break. This is where people live, it’s not a music festival street party. Commercial Drive does multiple car free days that are sanctioned and contained and those are still a lot of work and hassle for the City. These organizers are inviting a whole world of people that have no allegiance to, or guaranteed respect for, this community to essentially get lit up and be unaccountable. The organizer’s half handed calls for responsibility and cleanup are meaningless.  If you’re looking to cause pointless dissent then I guess this is the night for you. But If you truly wish to provoke change in the world, there are better ways that don’t involve disrespect and arrogance. The pervading concept of no fun city that lingers around conversations in Vancouver is nothing but an invented theme used for endless justifications by the collegiate of the professionally disenfranchised claiming that we as a society are being oppressed. Give me another break. Hop a cargo plane to Darfur if you want to see what oppression is. We live in Vancouver, in Canada. All the freedom we can eat and we’re pissed that they’re telling us there’s a limit to how many spring rolls we can take a time. We’re jealous of the trending revolutions and the dramatic hardships of other cultures, pouting at our lack of chaotic upheaval. We’re so hard done by, even though our current overlords still take care of the health-care and ensure some degree of security.

People sure hate the Police. From a global standpoint they’re not looking good. Villainous even. But we live in Vancouver. We don’t live in Oakland or Baltimore or Detroit or Chicago or New York. We have problems. We have racial disparity and healing to be done, but not like in the USA.  Does any Police department have a perfect record? Are the laws that govern our society perfect? Is the process that executes these actions truly just? No. No. No. Do you want to engage with murderers, addicts, domestic disputes, child abusers and rapists? Do you have what it takes to stare into the harsh mug of reality on a daily basis? I bet you don’t. Police are individuals, and potentially flawed, just like everyone else. You hate the Police fine. If you don’t like how they go about business, then  it is crucial that you engage on a meaningful level instead of in debased and inflated political gratuity. Get your ass to a Vancouver Police Board meeting or a City Council meeting and make your voice appropriately heard. This party is a petulant and divisive tactic. Our democracy is on on the table right now, and instead of truly breathing life back into it with any air of discourse, this party pours another jager shot chased with sedative down it’s throat, all in the name of some supposed and entitled freedom that we haven’t discovered yet. This is not what democracy looks like. This is not how you get youth to vote. This is how you create atmosphere of confusion and mob rule based on chanting empty headed slogans.

From their Facebook page again.“While we don’t supply alcohol or encourage public consumption of it, we also don’t support policing the activities of others.”

So, basically, do whatever you want. Again, come to our neighbourhood and do whatever you want because we’re all breaking the law anyway and they can’t possibly arrest all of us. That’s a great tactic if you’re fighting for something. What’s this fighting for? Showing up to this is not just fighting for your right to party. This is a statement about what you actually value. If freedom and our civil rights matter to you? Express that in a way that has nothing to do with self-indulgence and YOLO culture. If you only live once then make the most of it and try not to be a shallow self indulgent prick who shirks responsibility while exercising rights and freedoms you have no respect for. Own up and recognize who you are and what you’re actually going to stand for in your one life. The betterment of society need not be born from the fire and brimstone of revolution. It only requires an expression of willingness to betterment that has deeper values than: Lets Party!

This is from the Commercial Drive Street Party on May 1, 2015

What do you see here? I see chaos. I see a lot of expression of anger and frustration. I see fear. I see what a world reduced to entitlement and demands looks like. What you see in this video is a world that needs the Police it decries. Because ultimately the people in it are not rallying for anything that makes sense. They might have individual agendas. There might be special interest groups amongst them. But they’re not connected through any tether stronger than this vapid exercise of freedom to assembly. They’re just lashing out at authority, and to what end? If you want to support the wounded souls of the United States and stand up for what’s just by supporting Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights and First Nations at home then good on you, but your good intentions do not give you a license to trample through other people’s lives and communities. I believe in fighting the power and stoping the man, but I don’t believe reducing myself to becoming to a mob hedonists who’s rule is dictated by some faceless person telling me they’re going to give me the most freedom. You’re already free anyway, so start acting like it. You can do anything you want if you have the willpower to focus and dedicate your efforts. If you can transform your frustrations and demons into a productive energy you can help the world. If you just want to watch it burn, then I have no respect for you and you deserve none of the freedoms you enjoy on demand.

There are good people in this City who are making arts and culture happen. They rent spaces and venues. They buy permits. They go through process. They bend the rules. They support each other and bring new people into the fold. They reveal their identities. They’re making it happen for themselves so they can make it happen for other people. They’re being inventive and progressive about how they’re able to use what’s available to them here in Vancouver. It might be more leg work. It might cost them some money to host these events, but that’s the price you have to pay if you want to throw a big fucking party for the entire City. True progressives and forward thinkers don’t make shameless power plays to swing public perception. They know that the collective unconscious is a big boat, hard to turn in any direction.

Don’t go to this party. Don’t support it. Don’t support mindless dissent. If you want to party, there are places for that. If you want to make a difference, there are better places for that. If you want to embrace nihilism and pursue anarchy and chaos then get your ass to the arctic circle where you can enjoy all the freedom you want you selfish twit. I’m so done with false claims of unity and oneness that are exploiting our desires for connection and community, and you should be too.

Noir Talk

killing_ver3

I recently read David Mamet’s most excellent book Bambi vs Godzillaa treatise on all things film, and inside he made reference to Kubrick’s The Killing as being the finest noir movie he’d ever seen. Mamet talked a lot about structure and themes and one of his own personal driving ethos in storytelling, wants and desires. What someone wants, what they’re willing to do to get it, and what they’ll do if they don’t get what they want. I’m just going to break down a bunch of the reasons why I, as perhaps guided by Mamet, think that the Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956) stands above other films in the genre of Noir.

The story:
Johnny just got out of prison and is setting up to knock over a race track so he can take care his gal Fay, who says she can’t live without him anymore. Johnny is setting up the score at a racetrack with crooked cop Randy Kennan and nervous wreck George Peatty. George lives in fear of the law and the infidelities of his wife Sherry, who is shacking up with pretty boy Val Cannon. So it goes that Sherry hears of the score from George and relays the information to Val. Sherry and Val intend to steal the score from Johnny, George and Officer Kennan. Alongside two other hired toughs the men pull off the score, shooting a racehorse to set off a series of events that allow Johnny to steal 2 million dollars. George & Officer Kennan escape ahead of Johnny and return to their hideaway where Val appears, a gunfight ensues, everyone dies except George. Johnny, on his way to the hideout see’s George leaving, clearly distressed. Johnny turns around, picks up Fay, and goes to the airport. George goes home and shoots Sherry before dying himself. At the airport Johnny is told that he cannot carry on his overly large suitcase, which filled with the moola. Rushed Johnny says fine, to check the bag. On the tarmac walking towards the plan, Johnny and Fay watch, dumbfounded as Johnny’s suitcase tumbles from atop the baggage cart, bursting open and spilling two million dollars into the winds of the airport. The Police are on their way for Johnny. Fay tells him to run and he responds with “What’s the point?” before being arrested.

Got that?

First off, why is this more noir than other things? One reason is that the story is of futility and failing. No one gets what they want in this film. From George seeking the love of his wife to the simple minded Fay just hoping Johnny will take her away. We see all of these people’s wants and desires. We see that they’re clearly motivated enough to do bad things to get what they want. We see what happens to each of them as their world and personal narratives begin to fall apart, no one getting what they want. As noir has evolved and adapted and it has been sought more for it’s black and whites, it’s tough guys and dames, the lingo of the times and the desire for a beloved visual aesthetic. However I feel that the nature of the story must be as the name would suggest, black. There should be a malevolence present that has nothing to do with cigarette smoke and tough talk. The nature of the story must be one that skirts the edges of decency, always in peril of going over and in many cases toppling poetically into the abyss. I don’t necessarily feel that a noir must always end in utter darkness, but I see no reason to give any indicators to the contrary.

Now to the aesthetic. The Killing was two films before Spartacus, Kubrick’s first turn at major commercial success, and it uses it’s black and white with great effect. With the equipment of it’s era and shooting on film Kubrick makes better use of lighting in this film than perhaps any I’ve ever seen. This is the textbook of film lighting. The shadows and the light are in contused struggle for the frame. Shadow framing light and vice versa. The lighting is so effective that it provides the best form of exposition in the film, priming you for every scene and directing your eyes through the fundamental details of the story.  There is the ever present hyper controlled Kubrick quality to the film although here we see in a burgeoning state.

The Killing is perfect story title. It tells you all you’ll need to know. Indeed there are multiple deaths in the film but we as an audience are looking for a specific death, and when it turns out to be a racehorse the title almost becomes irrelevant. The red herring. The obvious giveaway that we’re all staring in the face up until it’s occurrence. The movie posters for the Killing declared it the next great film in the tradition of Scarface 1932 and Little Ceaser 1931. These films all have the same basic resting point, crime does not pay, yet The Killing is the only film where characters, though dastardly in their own right, are not all bad with a capital B. Unlike the gleeful descent into thievery and crime portrayed in the other films The Killing characters are victims of their own crushing afflictions of human frailty. The characters in The Killing are looking for a way out, then they’ll be good they promise.

Good noir, in my humble opinion, is simple in execution and complex in the ideas presented in resolution. Noir structure is cut back. It’s stripped of any sentiment or good intentions. It’s the sound of gunmetal. The reduction of people to their baser instincts, struggling with themselves and failing to endure towards vigilance. Noir has no true heroes, the closest being Bogart in the Maltese Falcon if only due to the repute of the man’s romance. There is no complication in the damages of fictional people when you bring all their scars to the front, exposing exactly who they are and what they do. Noir is made up of eternal morality plays where instead of completing a journey of discovery and betterment, the players succumb to their own weaknesses. It is in that failure of self that the complications arise, for while we’ve viewed the entire story in black and white the concepts of the resolutions are very grey indeed.

“What’s the point?”

Build the Jump

Back in 2002 a little film, starring Vin Diese, called xXx was released and I loved it. I went to see it with some older cousins and it had just about everything I liked. Smart ass hero. Stunts. Explosions. Babes. Bad Guys. Gadgets. I was 14 in 2002. I convinced my friends to go see it with me, pumping the tires on the movie all week long. After we finally saw it and got out of the theatre I asked what they thought of it and, with no restraint, they told me they thought it was a piece of shit. When I asked why they cited all sorts of reasons why the stunts and XTREME sports that Xander Cage pulls off over the course of the film are not just ridiculous but impossible.

“Remember the part where he jumped the huge fence on the motorcycle!” I pointed out.

“Yeah but where the fuck did the jump come from?”, other 14 year old.

He was right. There had been no jump, there’d just been an explosion and then the titular xXx launching over a fifteen foot high fence on a dirt bike with no explanation as to how he managed to get the bike into the air. Nor how he’d escaped an avalanche on a snowboard while his pursuers, on snowmobile, had perished. In both cases all that was required was the presentation of the smallest most seemingly obvious details. Show a makeshift bike jump. Debris stops or traps snowmobiles. To do either of these could have solved a gaping logic hole, at least in the mind of a 14 year old.

I write action adventure books, stories, comics, and I try to understand the logistics of my action. When I write fist fights, I make sure that the logistics of physical combat make sense, even if the acts themselves are nigh impossible. I can have  character X fight 6 people at the same time, and win, but if this character X punches an assailant in on his left hand side with a right hook, he can’t simultaneously be kicking someone on his right with his left foot. It just wouldn’t work. When I write car chase sequences I factor in road conditions, car models and physics, if only to toy with it all later on. If I want to demonstrate that character X’s car is a drift car, then surely a minor bit of research into the physics and mechanics of drift racing is in order. Educating yourself on the logistics of whatever action you’re presenting is a must. Before you can show the jump, you must build it, even if it’s out of a bunch of lumber and aluminum roofing propped up against a hay-truck.

How you choose to present your action matters. In a lot of my work my main characters are presenting the action of the moment through their own eyes, which has an advantage of allowing blank spots and moments of confusion. A first person narrative of intense action is subject to character X’s interpretation and in that there are things that an individual can miss or lose track of. Personally I use first person narrative to convey more intimate and immediate action. Action isn’t limited to explosions and such. Two characters having the right conversation can provide more action and intensity than a hundred aircraft carriers exploding. When writing omnipresent narrative of action I tend to fetishize over the details that couldn’t have otherwise been presented from a first person narrative. When writing action this way time doesn’t matter. We’re free to freeze time all together and focus on the specific make and model of a villain’s handgun and it’s full metal jacket armour piercing bullets, or the fineries of the Bugatti sports car that’s flipping because it was shot with a rocket. We can even turn our attention on an aspect of the scene which is removed from the action itself like a homeless man eating a banana across the street, drawing contrast.

I don’t know how other writers think of their action sequences but for me it’s about having extensively thought out and deeply choreographed sequences. I may think on an action set piece for months before ever putting pen to paper. A simple example- A bar fight: I must know who all the fighters are, how they fight, what their reactions are, why the fight started, what weapons are available, are there any environmental hazards. Once I take these things into consideration I can follow my characters through their actions. If you’re writing action sequences like these then consider this: how character X does their action says as much about that character as any other part of them. If character X throws someone off a bar stool kicks them in the throat without hesitation, that says they’re vicious. If they use Brazilian ju-jitsu to incapacitate some assailants, well where did they learn it, how good are they, what does that look like compared to just throwing punches. If you can create a diverse palette of styles, characters and environments then you’ve provided yourself with the tools to create design action where the process of the action itself is the entertainment, not just the explosion at the end.

in xXx we know that Xander Cage is an extreme sports nut daredevil, so it’s not a stretch to think he can jump that 15 foot high fence on a dirt-bike. But as good as he is, if Xander’s environment isn’t developed enough to provide him with a jump, he’s going to either just keep riding in circles or suffer an illogical launching through space. No matter what your action is build the conceits required for it to happen into your story and world. Aiming higher and farther is what writing action is all about, but to be able to get over the fence you’re going to need more than just the dirt-bike. You’re going to need to build the jump.

Self Publishing

EAC-The-Editors-Weekly-blog-Editors-and-Self-Publishing-Authors-Shipton

Why self publishing? Simply, there was no other option.

When it came to my book series The Bartender I knew that I was  writing a three book series that was a genre hopping adventure to bring pulp themes and ideas into a modern context. I knew that the concept was too broad to pitch effectively. I wasn’t going to get offered a book deal, and I knew that the few Canadian literary agencies weren’t going to be eager to represent a young unknown. I knew I liked my idea enough to see it realized though. So I started writing.

How can you tell if you’re meant to write? You’ll write. Whether you have a publisher or an outlet. You’ll just do it. I started writing the first Bartender book on paper. I didn’t have a computer at the time. My computer had tanked out and wasn’t reliable. So I started with 300 page notebook and some uni-ball fine point pens and by the time I’d written 200 pages a friend had stepped up and given me an old macbook.

To be accurate I technically started publishing when I did a ‘zine called Stay Positive which ran for a year and had 7 issues. Over the course of that process I learned much about the do’s and don’ts of putting together a publication. I mish-mashed content and flailed about using whatever media I already had or could get my hands on. It was a stressful and expensive but educating process. I learned how to interact with other artists and manage expectations of myself and others. I failed at patience and got caught up in my own egotistical attachment to the project. Fundamentally I was overly ambitious with Stay Positive and by the end of it had to take a step back from writing and publishing to think hard about what I was doing.

I realized that if you’re going to write something for publication, you better have your shit together. A typo may be just a typo but once you’ve published 300 copies of something and realize that there are typos throughout, you’ll feel a shame deep in your guts. The high of writing and the desire to share a story can be so strong that many of us storytellers don’t want to stop and edit. Editing is the required refinement process. Most books I write go through about 6 drafts before I even hand it off to an editor. To me any draft after the first involves reading what you’ve wrote, making notes about what needs to be changed, going through and changing/enhancing/adding/cutting parts from your piece and then repeating the process. It is time consuming to do properly. The rewards for having a piece engineered to say exactly what you want to say in the clearest possible way, is that people will understand what you’re trying to tell them. Whether it’s an explosive car chase scene or the subtle accentuations of a woman’s facial structure, being succinct is important. To me a editor is there to catch everything you missed, and to provide a objective and constructive opinion on the work. Personally, I need editors to catch my grammatical atrocities and to provide commentary on the structure and design of my work. I, as with many other creators, have a very clear image in my head of the story I’m trying to tell. It’s the job of editing and editors to make that story/message as clear and engaging as possible.

Design of a book is important. People judge books by covers. Get over it and design fucking awesome covers. Hire artists. Pay them as well as you possibly can. Include them in conversations about the work. Make them part of the project. A artist may not read your whole book, or even care that much, but if you can get them interested in what they’re doing, their work will be much stronger. I feel that too many book covers talk down to people, expressing that the content bound within is exclusively for those with the education and intellect to understand the lofty thoughts being expressed. I try and make my book covers colourful accessible and fun, because that’s the work I try to do. Typesetting is fundamental to creating a good book. The subtle nature of fonts and the intricate way that we perceive text on the page can have a tremendous outcome on how people interpret our work. The design of the text should match the vibe of the content. I’ve been writing crime fiction and find that a masculine serif font such as Crimson, for the Bartender, works very well for my story. However when I’m writing about punk music I would probably defer to the ever so slightly jangled and rough Baskerville. Just for an example.

Register an ISBN. It’s so easy. You must have it.

Printing. Find what works for you. For The Bartender I used Lightening Source, a reliable company that sets you up with the ability to distribute books on amazon and small run printing presses across North America. The book has a matte finish cover and is done on a high quality cream coloured paper. It’s not cheap. This is large scale distribution. It’s a mass market paperback. It’s what that series is supposed to be. Something you throw in your luggage or keep on the back of the toilette. My new book Lazlo: The Hunter, I’m using a small run print studio in Chinatown, Vancouver. I’m keeping the runs short and the quality of the materials rough. It’s meant to be a collectable. Something small. Something not standardized like The Bartender. I can change the covers on Lazlo any time I want. I can re-formatt it for more illustrations. It’s a transmutable piece of work that doesn’t need a set defined form. But it’s not my flagship title. If you’re creating something that you want to say YOU then find a way to make it indelible. Mass market is required for credibility and wide scale distribution. Small runs give artistic mobility and more freedom financially.

Distribution. As a self publisher, most book stores look at me like I’m peddling 200lbs anvils. I’ve found it frustrating that small scale book markets aren’t, to generalize, strongly supportive of independent authors. I understand that much of what is self published is total garbage where it’s creators haven’t taken the due diligence to make their work a properly edited and designed product. Yet when approaching bookstores with my, IMHO, more polished work, there is a restrained pain in the clerk or owner. Most stores will begrudgingly carry your book but don’t expect their employees to read or try and sell your work. In this I feel that the publishing and book selling industry needs to be a less secular cool kids club for intellectuals and become an inclusive environment that isn’t governed by gatekeepers and standardized tastemakers. Basically, if you’re a self publisher get ready to pound the pavement and find avenues for your work. This leads us too…..

Marketing. Social media is obnoxious but important. Learn the language. Learn how to be effective on twitter. How to use hashtags properly. Remember that using Facebook as a means of advertising will only work so long before all your friends and family are sick of your shit. Marketing is the part that I find the most challenging. As an independent I represent myself. To go out and market a book that you yourself wrote is a very very very very hard process. A standard way people interpret this is “what a self important douche”. This is why it’s critical to have representatives, agents, anyone who can tell people about your book who is not you. No one likes a braggart and writing a book, to many people, has a stigma of being a haughty intellectual with no time for plebeians. I don’t feel that way, but then again I’m trying to create compelling entertainment for people, rather than weighty narratives and portraits of the deepest incalculable human conditions. When I have this category figured out, I’ll let you know. Marketing is one word to sum up the phrase “Time is Money”. Your time is valuable. As a passionate creator, the last thing you want to do is spend your time promoting yourself. If you’re like me, you’d rather be working on your projects. But it’s a necessary evil. Hopefully you, and I, can find someone to be our guardian devil.

There’s obviously stuff I’ve missed but this is a good place to start.

Welcome.

This is my first blog post in about five years I’m pretty sure. I stopped doing it because I needed some time to focus and work on some projects that needed to be incubated for a long time before I was ready to show them off.

When I was younger I just wanted to wham slam pieces together and post them so that that maybe someone else would give me some praise or encouragement. Writing, I’ve learned, is not a path of steady praise and encouragement. Even if you’re succeeding you’re probably having to push yourself so hard that you’re always terrified of failing your own high minded expectations and glorious purpose. If you’re not putting yourself under an insane amount of scrutiny you may want to re-think your aspirations of turning text into $$$$. After I wrote my way through enough poorly written stories and criticisms from people who’s opinions I’d weathered, I turned inward and started working on a project that I just had to get out.

It started with me on the beach writing the first 1/3 of the 3rd book in the entire series by hand. I didn’t know it was part of the third book at the time. I was just trying to tell what I thought was a very straightforward neon-crime-noir story and very soon I was caught up in an adventure that’s taken up the past 4 years of my life. What had started as a very easy going story of good guy vs. bad guy  story soon metamorphosed into a sprawling pulp genre hopping epic. The simplistic moralities I had been toying with soon grew to accommodate the big boy ideas I was playing with. Whether I’ve handled them well or not remains to be seen I guess. I  hope that I’ve at least written entertaining stories well enough to provoke people to be culturally self aware in a way they’re not. The Bartender is a slowly realized project meant to be devoured with haste and enjoyment.

Please download and read my first book from the downloads page on my website.
Anyway, nice to meet you.