Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jumping Ship and Diving In

I might be making a big mistake. Well, not a big one; more of a medium-sized one. Ok, not even medium. It's really just a symbolic thing. No real effect on my life, my writing, my job, my family. The only thing that will even see the difference after my mistake is my Google Reader Inbox.

I unsubscribed to the blogs of literary agents. I'll let you pick your jaws back up off the ground. Take your time, you don't want to put those back in the wrong way.

Okay, welcome back. **Tangent Alert!** Oh by the way, did you know that the Google Chrome instant spell check reads "ok" as incorrect and wants you to make it "okay"? Don't know why I find that weird and cool at the same time, but I do. I'm weird and cool like that.

Anyway, I just unsubscribed to nearly every literary agent blog on my Google Reader list. The only ones I kept were those almost exclusively devoted to young adult and middle grade books because that's what I'm putting out right now. And I almost unsubscribed to those as well. Why would I do such a drastic (and ultimately unimportant and unspectacular) thing? Because I don't think these people know or want to know where publishing is going.

Ever seen the movie The Perfect Storm? Remember the secondary story about the sail boat on its way to the Bahamas with the two women and the older guy (side note, one of the ladies was played by Cherry Jones and the old guy was played by Bob Gunton; Jones would be the female president on '24' with Bob Gunton playing her Chief of Staff... I find that neat; I know, I'm a dork)? Well, the two ladies recognize that it might be a good idea to turn the boat around and head for safety. I think their first indicator was the gigantic waves crashing over the boat and the wind whipping up to over three digits. But the old guy keeps saying that they are fine, that the boat can withstand anything, and that they just need to ride it out. It'll go away. He doesn't really grasp what's going on until he's neck-deep in the Atlantic with the Coast Guard hovering overhead.

The people in the publishing industry that don't think their way of doing things is going down with that sail boat are the old guy. I'm not going to be the ladies who just accept his insane protestations until they nearly get killed. Let me make this clear; I do NOT think that books are going away, or that the publishing industry is going belly-up. I think the smart people in the industry will find a way to adapt. But right now, that ain't happening. They are still saying that the boat is strong, that the wind will die out and that the waves are not really that tall.

So, they are off my Google Reader. I am not going to be taking advice from people who don't understand the currents and the weather patterns. They don't get it. I think I do. Turn your boat and ride the wave to safety. Or in this case, to the self-publishing harbor. Am I wrong? Don't know yet. But I'm willing to bet my first few books on what I see on the horizon. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Go And Do Likewise

I am one of the converted, and apparently, being one of those entails converting others. No, I'm not talking about some religious thing. Rather, I'm talking about self-publishing. Since I took the plunge, and people found out about it through this blog, my Facebook, my Twitter, or just from old fashion word of mouth, they seem to think I am equal parts guide, motivational speaker, sage and the literary equivalent of a tight-rope walker the person has to wish luck to as I take each dramatic step.

Look, I'm no different than anyone else. Unlike Christopher Walken in that famous SNL skit, I don't make gold records. I don't write best-sellers... yet. I do have some talent for crafting pretty interesting and entertaining tales. But that doesn't mean I have the answers.

I let five or six writer friends know that I was self-publishing, showed them the cover for my book which comes out in May (Rick Frost & the Alaskan Adventure, soon to be available on your local e-reader, tell your friends!), and they now come to me with all their questions. And I am happy to send them to the ones with the really good answers. See, I love the following quote and live by it: "The true mark of genius is knowing what you do not know." I think Aristotle said that one. Or Socrates. Or not. Oh well, if no one steps up to claim it, then I am. There, I said it. I don't have all the answers. But I am happy to send people to the folks who do. Here they are:

Joe Konrath is the pied piper. We all know that. And if you don't, then I've just told you. Amanda Hocking and her success is the goal we all hope to attain. John Locke is not only the name of the coolest character on "Lost," he is also the self-proclaimed (and if sales are any indicator, its a title he's earned) Best Ninety-Nine-Cent Writer on the Planet. And Barry Eisler is our Martin Luther, and his turning down of a half-a-million dollar advance on his next book to self-publish is the nailing of the 99 Theses on the door of the publishing world. These are the people you should read, get to know and ask things of. I'm simply following their collective lead.

But, I'm here if you need me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We Are Family

Ever seen those sitcom episodes where the characters in the ensemble get into the same business or hobby and then spend 25 of the next 30 minutes arguing, fighting and competing with each other? Usually leads to increasing laughs and stupidity. Good for humor, but bad for the overall goal the two of them are trying to achieve. At least it was on "Friends."

Writers in the same genre is just like that. Except there's no script and no 30-minute time frame. And no laughs. Mostly, there's a lot of cursing, throwing things and people getting their feelings hurt. Why do we do that? Why do we hurt the ones who could help us the most, our fellow writers? Shouldn't we be trying to make money and entertain readers together? Can't we call just get along? And yes, I knew I'd turn into Rodney King in this blog, sorry about that.

My friend Carolyn has a tremendous blog post today about writers, and how we should support each other. You can get it here.

I'd like to add two thing to her awesome 13 suggestions: if you get famous and rich off of writing, remember where you came from. That means don't pull a John Grisham and say "I'm not doing book signings even at the places that helped me on my way up to the tippy-top of the writing ladder, because, well I don't need to; I'm that damn good." Remember who got ya there, baby. And second, if someone doesn't offer help or doesn't have time to do so, don't automatically assume they are too big for their britches and need to be knocked off their pedestal. Keep everything in perspective, as Carolyn said.

Anyway, give her blog a look. It's a good one!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Be In The Book

Ever wanted to see your name in print? Ever wanted to show your friends a book and give them the "nah!" look? Now you can!

If you want to be a character in one of my upcoming books, either in the Rick Frost series, or in my thrillers written under my pen name Scott Chase, let me know! I'd love to help you give someone that "nah!" look. I'll select one lucky person to appear in an upcoming book. That person will also receive a free copy (in whatever format they prefer, be it Kindle, Nook, or epub) of the book in which they appear.

Leave a comment or email me at

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Judge All You Want

Don't judge a book by its cover. Never has more false advice been given. Ebook readers absolutely judge a book by its cover. If you have a dumb, cheap or just plain ugly looking cover, you won't sell. It's a proven fact.

For most authors, seeing your name on the cover of a book that you conceived, you created, you wrote, you slaved over, you edited, you cursed at, you loved, you hated, and finally you sent into the world to entertain the masses is what its all about. That's the moment when you realize that "holy crap, I'm doing it!" And for me, that moment is now. Here is the cover for my first book, which will be out in May of this year. Ladies and gentleman, I give you RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE:

If you like the cover and want your ebook to look just as good, please contact the guy who does magic, I'm serious. He is amazing. His name is Matt Elliott. His email address is

Matt is a joy to work with and as you can see, is incredibly talented. Highly recommend him to anyone.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review - A Cold Kiss by John Rector

Sometimes, the old stuff is just better. It works; it's reliable. For instance, I don't care how good the new True Grit or Star Trek reboots are, they aren't as comfortable or nice as the originals. Sure, Jeff Bridges and the little girl got nominated for Oscars. And the new Captain Kirk is actually a heartthrob as opposed to William Shatner who was loved by women only in his own mind. But the originals were just better. Period. The new stuff is good, very good in some cases. But it's still new and will never be the originals.

John Rector's tremendous debut novel The Cold Kiss (which really isn't a debut because The Grove was self-published on Kindle before it was en vogue to do so and now out in print on Amazonencore) relies on a lot of original, old ideas and plot twists, but he uses them in good ways and builds this foundation on the best type of ground there is to create a tremendous story. There's the couple running from their pasts, the money they find, the dead guy who... well, you get the point. I don't want to ruin it for you. Let's just say there's a lot of thriller and suspense hallmarks in the novel. And they all work.

The foundation I spoke out that Rector builds this novel on is the best one he could have possibly chosen. Remember the Biblical story about the guy who built on sand and the guy who built on rock? Rector constructs The Cold Kiss on the most solid form of rock a writer can use: damn good writing. I'll give you a for instance from the end of Chapter 3. Nate and his fiancée Sara have just decided to pick up a sketchy looking hitchhiker and Nate is unsure about it:

Sara shushed me.
"Kiss me," she said.
"I'm being serious."
"So am I," she said. "Kiss me, for good luck."
I frowned. "That doesn't work."
"Of course it does," she said. "It always works. Now kiss me."
I stared at her for a moment longer, then bent and pressed my lips against hers.
It was a good kiss.
But it didn't work.
See how that happened? It's the end of the chapter, you already know you're reading a suspense/thriller, so you're expecting chills and, to quote a review of the novel, "something bad to happen." But by ending the chapter with that sense of foreboding, Rector has sucked you in for one more chapter. And pretty soon, you're spending another hour wrapped up in Nate and Sara's misadventures. The book is full of instances like this both at the beginning, middle and end of darn near every chapter.

Some reviewers pointed out that the ending is a little too convenient, or that it doesn't tie things up well. I don't think so at all. It works for the story, and it works for modern entertainment. Um, I'm sorry, not everything in life is wrapped up in a nice little bow. Our literature and television and movies should reflect real life, so sometimes you have to (GASP!) think a little bit and be creative. The writer doesn't have to do all the work. Sometimes you have to do some as well. And that's a good thing.

Bravo to John Rector for a great read. It's pure escapism, pure fun and as I pointed out before, built on a foundation of outstanding writing. I highly recommend it.

Rector's newest book, Already Gone, comes out in October.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Writer Writes

"A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. Always be closing."
- Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross

The monologue at the beginning of that terrific film is so awesome, so potent and so perfectly done by Alec Baldwin that salesmen who are new to the art of the sale are shown it as motivation for their new careers. On top of being inspiring, in that "it's halftime and your team is getting beat by a team they should be blowing out of the building and your coach is trying to half-scare/half-shame you into playing like you should have been all along" kind of way, it is also equal parts insulting, profane and funny. I like watching it; makes me want to write. And that's only slightly because of David Mamet's unreal screenplay and dialog.

Every writer should have a paraphrase of Blake's quote on their computer desk or where ever they decide to create new stories every day: "A-B-W. A-Always, B-Be, W-Writing. Always be writing." A writer is supposed to write. If you don't think about writing when you wake up, when you should be working, when you're dealing with a waiter, when you're having a drink at a bar, and at night when you dream, then perhaps it's time to find a new hobby or creative venture. Writers write, period.

I haven't written anything other than detention slips at the school where I work since my father passed away February 3rd. I've edited the heck out of stuff; I've read the book I'm self-publishing in May/June to my wife; I've watched documentaries on Netflix instant to see if I can spark a new story idea (speaking of which, how did I survive before my TV was capable of wireless internet access?). To quote Will in Shakespeare in Love, "Nothing comes." I can't hold a thought in my head longer than twenty minutes. I can't even read for longer than a half hour. Some people have said I haven't dealt with what happened. But how do I do that?

By writing, of course. That's how writers deal with anything. We write about it. When my son was born, I started a Daddy blog. It was funny, it was scary and it was exciting. Mainly because that's what I was dealing with at the time. Now, my own Dad is gone. What do I feel? Anger. Sadness. Loneliness. Guilt. Depression. Pessimism.

Is there hope in any part of me? It's not so much hope as it is a dogged determination to keep walking. There isn't a "light at the end of the tunnel" so much as my own little engine that just keeps chugging, keeps pulling. Not because there is a town waiting for toys and fruits and animals and a cheery little clown over the next hill. But because that's what I do. I keep going. I move. I type. I create.

Writers write. And its time for me to get back at it.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Terrible, Fond War

Remember how much the Empire and the Rebel Alliance hated each other? Going out of their way to track each other down and have epic space battles that always somehow hinged on whether one little robot could open a door in time? Remember when WWF and WCW was literally a Monday night war? How they used to risk losing viewers and fans just to do a stupid (and probably a little inappropriate) sketch that made fun of the other company?

Yeah, that's the self-publishing clique vs. the old-fashioned agency-model crowd. It's gotten bloody, and we haven't even gotten to the worst part of it yet.

People like Joe Konrath are calling all evil to themselves by encouraging all new and mid-list authors to self-publish via Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. Then you have agents like this one who are shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) that ebook sales are so high. A little late to that party, methinks. Both sides have drawn the lines in the sand, and to paraphrase a former president, have said that "you are either with us or with the other people who are WRONG!"

I did a lot of research before making a decision. Tried to see the tea leaves, the clouds on the horizon and even look at the different battle plans drawn up by each side. They aren't secret, you know. Just look at Joe's blog, or read the blogs of different publishing houses. They have outlined how they think things will go. At this point, authors can't just write; now we have to be a modern-day Nostradamus, stroking our beards and writing our futures in every click of the mouse.

I read an article recently that said book sales are up 17%. Then I read a different report that said book sales are down 15%. The first article takes into account ebooks from Big 6 publishers. The second article doesn't account for any ebooks. Both articles are less-than honest, and more like the party-lines of the different political factions in this country. But then again, this whole debate - sorry, war - has become more political than anything. Neither side is right or left; they are old or new.

The bottom line of my decision was one of goals. Would I like to be the next John Grisham, Michael Connelly? What about the next Anthony Horowitz or Rick Riordan, since I'm writing adventure books for boys? The answer to those questions are yes and yes. But they are not the things that have to happen. I want people to read what I write, to enjoy it, to escape for however long it takes to finish each book, then go back to their lives with a smile on their faces. I want to be able to make some money off of my writing; not necessarily pay for a house in cash or own an Aston Martin (although a James Bond car like that would be cool). I want writing to be my second job for now. Which means it needs to actually pay me money sooner rather than years down the road.

I've decided to self-publish my adventure novel for boys entitled RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE. It will be out in May or June. I have another Rick Frost novel that will be released by October. I've chosen sides. Every army needs to have a general; I'm following Joe.

For now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet Rick Frost

It was supposed to be an adventure in the wilds of Alaska, a test of manhood for all the boys signed up on the school trip. But the whole prepackaged thing was nothing more than a long hike through some pretty trees. That is until Rick Frost and his friend Ben Nakni see a plane about to crash into the forest. A real adventure has just found them.

The only survivors of the crash are Robert Blair and his daughter Alexis, who just happens to be the hottest teen actress in Hollywood. She was on her way to make a movie in the Katmai National Forest when the unthinkable happened. Rick and Ben pull Robert and Alexis out of the wreckage just as a team of assassins arrive to finish the job.

The crash was no accident. Someone wants Alexis Blair dead and that puts Rick Frost in the cross hairs. He wanted an adventure; he got a wild ride through the unforgiving wilderness of America's last frontier.

America, meet the newest action hero to arrive on the literary scene: Rick Frost!