Why I Do Not Hate The Kindle, Despite the Fact That I Do Not Own One, and Most Probably Never Will, Unless The Earth is Conquered by Hideous Lizard Aliens and Our Alien Overlords Decree That We Must All Use Kindles, Which Would be Insane

The other afternoon I wandered downstairs onto the first floor of the Somers Manse for the first time in weeks. I avoid the first floor because the front door is located there and past experience has taught me that the front door is the gateway through which the outside world torments me. Neighbors always want to speak with me about vague “behavior” issues, their children always want to taunt me with childish insults and name – calling, and authorities of all kinds are always delivering subpoenas or demanding admittance to ask me questions – all very tedious.

So, despite the fact that it inspires the local kids to more and more creative names for me, I tend to stay upstairs, where I have everything I need: My tatter bathrobe, my Converse Chucks, bottles of Rye in the desk drawers (for sustenance), and plumbing facilities. Whenever I am lured downstairs I always seem to get into trouble.

This time, however, I found to my delight my first royalty statements for The Electric Church. Discovering that several thousand people you don’t know personally have opted to spend money on your book is always cause for celebration, and the next 24 hours are a bit of a blur.

When I woke up, I took another glance at the statement and discovered that a good number of folks had bought TEC electronically. I don’t know for sure that all – or any – of these were Kindle sales, but I assume at least some of them must have been. This remains a tiny, tiny portion of my sales, but you hear a lot about the Kindle. Personally, I’d rather have bamboo shoots slid under my toenails than read a book on the kindle, but then I am also the Last Man on Earth to Not Own a Personal Cell Phone, so I’m obviously an idiot. When the Kindle first emerged I thought it would die a quick, smothered death, but it hangs on, doesn’t it. not exactly taking the world by storm, but still. . .there.

I’ll probably never own one, or anything similar. I just like books too much. While my sad devotion to an ancient technology is. . .well, sad, it doesn’t bother me much. I enjoy gloating over my stacks and stacks of cheap paperbacks too much. Carrying around all the same books in one brick-like digital reader just depresses me. Plus, I worry about DRM issues and not actually owning anything. It’s bad enough that I had to replace all my old Iron Maiden cassettes with CDs, if I have to buy old 1980s Del Rey fantasy books all over again just to satisfy my OCD tendencies, I will cry. And I don’t doubt at all that 10 years from now the kindle will be a convenient paperweight and we’ll all have to re-buy all of our books on the Apple iBook or some such bullshit.

Still, I don’t hate the kindle. No, really. The rosy glow of book geek joy that emanates from folks when they’ve just bought one means that at least people are excited about reading, and as an author I can’t look down on that, now can I? If it gets people to read more, than I’m all for it. Just like that dreadful Harry Potter.

Oh well. No one is paying any attention to a rummy skiffy writer like me, and thank goodness. If people were paying attention to  me, we’d likely be going through some sort of worldwide economic crisis. . .oh dear.


Living in the Future

First, a side note: As I struggle to learn one stinking solo from AC/DC’s oeuvre and eat a big dish of Fail every day*, I note with glee that the band has a new album due out soon. This Glee is despite the fact that their last album felt like a drunk AC/DC tribute band had been hired at the last minute to mumble through some craptastic tracks, and despite the fact that you’ll only be able to buy the album at fucking Wal Mart or from their web site, for god’s sake.

The reason for the glee is that I actually like the first single, Rock n Roll Train.  Which is surprising, as it’s a dumb song based on a repetitive riff and a loosey group chorus. But then, I just described every single AC/DC song ever, except this one has what the best AC/DC stuff had: Rhythm you can cut glass with and surprisingly complex guitar interactions between the Young brothers. In other words, it’s one of those songs that gets deeper and chunkier every time you listen to it, until suddenly in the year 2019 you wake up with the burning compulsion to learn how to play it.

Anyway, I mention this because there’s a month to go before I can buy the first AC/DC album I’ve bought since 1995’s disappointing Ballbreaker. Thus, you know, the future.

I’m also living in the future, I realize, because while you folks have not yet read Avery Cates #3, I am starting the difficult imagineering of Avery Cates #4. Yet I must pretend, in public, that Avery Cates #3 does not exist, in order to avoid the wrath of my Corporate Masters, who, I assume, have some sort of teh awesoma marketing plan. Or not. I can totally see them handing me a sandwich board on which someone has scrawled BUY ETERNAL PRISON OR WE KILL THIS MAN’S CATS and a bullhorn and being told to get to it.

But, see, I know everything. I know the plot, the twists, the ancillary characters, and where I’m taking them into #4, and here you are waaayyyy behind the curb. It’s like I was standing in the room, eating a sandwich, when the Large Hadron Collidor was switched on and immediately launched into a time loop where I am approximately 9 months in the future, taunting you. Although if that were true I’d already have bought AC/DC’s new album, wouldn’t I?


*I have what scientists call Big Dumb Hands.


email woes

Just a note: I had a slight mailbox meltdown today, so if you sent an email to mreditor@innerswine.com within the last 24 hours or so and haven’t gotten a response, send it again in about an hour. Thanks!



When the Music’s Over

SO, the book’s done.

INTERIOR: Jeff’s office. A simple wooden desk laden with pornographic magazines and old copies of Who’s Who in Baseball, some filing cabinets, a futon, a hollow-body electric guitar, four cats, and a computer.

Enter JEFF. He is wearing a soiled-looking bathrobe. His hair stands up as if superglued. He is carrying an unlabeled bottle of brown liquid. He sits down at his desk and stares blearily at the computer screen. Slowly he nods off, chin sinking to his chest. Just as the bottle slips from his slackened fingers, three uniformed Helper Monkeys appear, gather up the bottle, make sure Jeff is still breathing, and scamper off, chattering.

In other words, I always find the transition from working like mad on a novel to being done with the novel to be a tough one.  I go from constantly working on a familiar and well-known piece, something I know so well I can jump to tiny details in the manuscript automatically without having to search for them, to having no big project at all.

For a few days I’ll contemplate my next step: Hire mercenaries and try to take over a small, unstable South-American country? See if I can finally gain that 150 lbs I’ve been dreaming of? Start writing that vampire-romance where pure, agape-type love cures vampirism? Begin my campaign to make public pantslessness acceptable to society?

Or, most likely: Sit around getting drunk and hate myself for wasting time? Yup. Let’s go with that.

I hate wasting time, but after a major project it takes me a few days to retread the tires and get started on something else, so for a few days all I do is waste time. So I sit around drinking cocktails and thinking, damn, I ought to be writing something. This way lies madness, of course. And cocktails.

In the mean time, in an attempt to make this dull period not completely useless, I am trying to learn the guitar solo from AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long. ANGUS YOUNG WHY DO YOU MOCK ME SO! The man must have freakish hands. Freakish.


Book Geek

Almost forgot to mention: I was flatteringly asked to participate in an Author Panel over at Book Geeks. How in the world I’m considered relevant enough to be included is anyone’s guess, but I really enjoyed the discussion topic, really like the general concept (much better than your typical static interview), and really like how it turned out, but content-wise and aesthetically. Check it out!



Rittenhouse Rye

I’ve been drinking a lot of Scotch lately, but you know what? Good old Rittenhouse Rye, I was reminded just tonight, is a damn fine whiskey.


KGB Yesterday

Last night at The KGB Bar just proved my old saying: All book readings should be held in taverns.

A grand time was had by all. I think both Jim Kelly and I rocked the house with our chosen pieces; I read something a little funny for a change, and Jim read two creepy horror-tinged tales, and read them really, really well.

Books were signed, free drinks consumed, and I met a lot of really cool people. The always interesting Frank Marcopolos said hey, and Inner Swine Security Chief Ken West popped in to collect his usual blackmail payment, but stayed to have a drink and listen politely. Our amazing agent and editor also came by to cheer me on, or possibly to make sure I didn’t do anything embarrassing, always a challenging job.

As soon as i have some pictures I’ll post or link to a few. Thanks to everyone who came by, and hopefully we’ll do it again very soon!

UPDATE: A neat write-up is located here, along with (thankfully) blurry photos! There are clearer photos you can find on Google if you dare, but I am. . .not attractive in them. Thanks to Jay at Bookratination for coming, and for the write-up!


That Whiff of Desperation

Forgive me for a moment while I discuss singer/songwriter/poet-of-the-damned Jewel.

I know, I know: You don’t paid enough to read this shit. Bear with me.

Jewel comes to mind partly because The Duchess, my formidable wife, forced me to watch the execrable Nashville Star this summer. What can I say? The Wife is powerful and scary and likes crappy TV. She even admits it’s crappy, in weaker moments, and does not care. Jewel was one of the judges on this show, and has a country-western album out this year. That’s right, country-western. Why? Because she’s flailing. Jessica Simpson is flailing too, and is also coming out with a CW album.

Jewel began her career as a folky/hippy type, with loose, acoustic folk songs. She stuck to that for a while, but her album sales dropped with each new release, so a few years ago she tried her hand at slinky pop songs like Intuition (a song I actually liked, and damn your eyes if you think that makes me lame). When this failed to launch her back into the pop stratosphere, she cast about for something else, and hit on country music. Why not? It has to sell better than her last platter.

Simpson’s in a similar pickle: Falling album sales, falling label interest–she’s got to find a gimmick to get her back, and she’s hoping the same people who bought so many Carrie Underwood CDs will buy hers too. They’re flailing. They have no artistic point of view, nothing sincere inside them. They’re just trying to chase trends to sell CDs.

Nothing wrong with that, though its 99% chance of failure ought to be intimidating. Most artists who flail like this just end up looking foolish.

One thing I understand about this is that flailing is hard to avoid sometimes, because success – on any level – is addicting. Once you’ve had some level of success, it’s difficult to sink back down to a lower level. If you’ve had a platinum album and been the darling of the media, it’s tough, five years later, to be a modest-selling small-timer. The temptation, when you smell the looming dead-rat stench of failure, to just flail about for anything that looks like it might save you from obscurity is pretty strong. I know, because I’ve imagined it myself.

Certainly it’s not like I’m at some lofty perch in the literary world. Most people don’t know anything about my writing. But I’ve done better than I had any right to really expect, considering my work ethic and general lack of common sense, and if I allow myself to start imagining going from being a published author with new books on the horizon to Jeff Somers, local hooligan who once had a few books, well, the temptation to look into the literary equivalent of Country Music is strong.

And it’s easy to imagine. My bookshelves are stuffed with SF/F books I bought in the 1980s while a tender youth. We’re talking trilogies, series of books published over the course of several years. And many of the authors on my shelves are now, as far as I can tell, nowhere to be seen. Take a fellow named Dennis McCarty, who wrote a series of books about a place called Thlassa Mey back in the 80s and 90s – five book in total (my memories of these books is poor, which doesn’t mean anything – my memory of everything is poor). Nowadays I can’t find anything about him at all via Google. Granted, that doesn’t mean anything beyond his lack of online presence, but if he was still publishing he’d be somewhere online, I think–if nowhere else, on Amazon. Apparently he published 5 fantasy books and then promptly disappeared, and he’s not the only example.

Of course, some folks may have died. Or found new careers. Or gone on to write the sorts of things I don’t pay attention to – who knows? But most likely, of course, is that their last books didn’t sell well, their publisher passed on their next idea, and that was That.

That’s the fate that makes you reach for your cowboy hat and boots. Resisting that urge to crap out and try to do something that matches up with the newest trends, whatever they are, or maybe try to write a – gasp! – children’s book, is difficult. At least until the next book contract comes through.

In the mean time, let’s take comfort in the lyrical wisdom of Jewel Kilcher:

Follow your heart
Your intuition
It will lead you in the right direction
Let go of your mind
Your Intuition
It’s easy to find
Just follow your heart baby


Nota Bene

A few days ago I realized that the contact form plugin I was using here was. . .well, to borrow a term from Diamat, buggered. You could fill it out and click “submit” and by and large nothing would happen. So, if you signed up for the occasional update from me (including the rare but possible drunk-emailing of random insults and poetry) and haven’t heard a peep in a while, you might want to sign up again. For example, I sent an update email out yesterday. If you signed up and didn’t get it, your signup submission went into the Dustbin of the Cosmos, and you should sign up again using our shiny new form, which actually works. I think.