“Dollhouse” and The Problem with U.S.-Style TV

By | August 6, 2014 | 4 Comments

DollhouseIf you fear spoilers on 5-year old TV shows, boy are you in the wrong place.

About five years late to the party, I started watching Dollhouse on Netflix recently out of curiosity. I remember the show, vaguely, from it’s run on broadcast TV, recalled the slight buzz about the unaired season 1 finale, so I tuned in. I often watch stuff out of morbid curiosity: Canceled shows, films with record low Tomatometer rankings, that sort of thing.

Dollhouse, for those who don’t share my morbid curiosity about failed pop culture, is a Joss Whedon show developed around the concept of “imprinting” personalities on people. The titular “dolls” are volunteers (mostly) who sign a 5-year contract, have their own personalities removed, and spend their time being imprinted with whatever the clients need them to be. Sometimes it’s a security expert. Sometimes a secret agent. Usually, the show implies very heavily, it’s a sex toy.

The show starts off a little rough with some really, really bad stories involving reasons to get Eliza Dushku into skimpy outfits. Slowly, the over-arching story arc asserts itself: The “doll” technology is getting out of hand, and that unaired final episode of season 1 makes it very clear: The “doll” technology is going to end the world as we know it.

Dollhouse as it ended up – 26 episodes – is a hot mess. But there’s a really, really great story in there that would have worked incredibly well in a British-style short-run of maybe 10-12 episodes.

The American Model  = Doom

To be fair, you can almost see (and Whedon has said as much) how Dollhouse got sold: Eliza Dushku in hot outfits, engaged in a new Charlie’s Angel-esque adventure every week, but with a Sci-Fi glamour about it. The first few episodes are pretty much this, and they’re awful. Whedon actually started to say publicly that people should stick around for episode 6 of the first season because that’s where he thought he began to assert the type of show he really wanted to make – and it shows.

A lot of Dollhouse is this awful filler, with the “dolls” instantly transformed into spies, backup dancers, fancy prostitutes, and other fairly dull ideas. The true joy of this series is in the back story and the arc, which details how the technology became mobile and broadcastable – meaning you could “imprint” someone over the phone, essentially – and how that basically allowed the rich and powerful to live forever by snatching other bodies, and how that basically led to the total breakdown of society and the end of civilization.

That story is pretty damn good.

The other aspects of the show that work are where the basic premise of imprinting someone is explored in more interesting ways. When a Doll is imprinted with a recently murdered woman who then investigates her own murder. When a major character on the show is revealed to have been a Doll who wasn’t aware of her status – who thought she was real, and her reaction to this knowledge is explored.

But mainly, it’s the end-of-the-world stuff that grabbed me. Cut away about 50% of the episodes, and you’d have a pretty tight British-style show that told an interesting Sci-Fi story. And you’d still have plenty of opportunities to put Dushku into miniskirts and have her shake her ass a little.

That’s the problem with American-style TV: The goal is always infinite episodes, or at least 100 episodes and syndication. This automatically lends itself to padding, filler, and awful plot decisions. In fact, I’d say that the fact that Dollhouse was pretty much always in danger of being cancelled at any time is likely why so much of it actually works – because Whedon was forced to always be thinking hard about getting his story goals accomplished. I can picture him madly typing away in some smoke-filled office, trying desperately to get to a denouement before FOX canceled his ass.

Is Dollhouse great TV? Not really. But it might have been, if they weren’t shooting for infinite episodes. Now that we’re moving into an era when a show like Dollhouse, with its traditionally puny 26 episodes – along with popular British fare like Sherlock, Luther, and The Fall – can be successful on Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu, maybe we’ll see more experimentation this way, and more shows modeled on a shorter run, with less filler. And that would be awesome.

 

American Wedding Confidential: Will The Real Best Man Please Stand Up?

By | August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
Out Now. BUY IT.

Out Now. BUY IT.

Celebrating the publication of my darkly humorous novella The Ruiner (out now from Damnation Books at Amazon and B&N), I thought I’d repost this essay I once wrote for the zine.

In which I learn the explosive force of love.

About year ago this Thursday my old friend Emil got married and asked me to be his best man. Emil’s a good friend of The Inner Swine Inner Circle (TISIC) in general, and there was some resentment, jealousy, and harsh words concerning my elevation to Best Man status. There were also isolated incidents of violence. Eventually, Emil managed to cool tempers and remind the rest of TISIC that they were, above all else, contractually obligated to me in perpetuity. After that impassioned speech the members of TISIC retreated to their various abodes to scan the fine print of their contracts, only to return in much more manageable moods.

The Best Man has a lot of duties in the modern wedding. Whereas in the good old days he was merely a responsible member of the groom’s clan who vouched for the groom’s sanity, financial solvency, and lack of venereal diseases, these days the Best Man has lots to do: organize a bachelor party (I’m told it was a humdinger; personally I don’t remember much after that fifth body shot off of Lola the Stripper’s washboard stomach), deliver the viciously hungover groom to the actual wedding the next day (Emil still had his Emergency Room ID bracelet on), manage not to vomit during the ceremony, and then, finally, and most importantly, make a speech at the reception.

The Best Man’s Speech is supposed to accomplish a few minor but cherished conventions: it’s supposed to compliment the groom, his choice of bride, and form a verbal bridge between the carefree days of the groom’s prior friendships and the more complex but equally rewarding years of mature friendship to come. In other words, the Best Man’s job is to reassure the groom’s buddies that they will indeed see him from time to time despite the nag he’s chaining himself to, and to reassure the groom that his buddies will always be there to say mean things about his wife in private if he needs them to.

I worked very hard on my speech in the ambulance, riding with Emil to the ER after the bachelor party had taken a dramatic turn. The transcript which follows is taken from the wedding video, and more accurately reflects what was actually said than the scrawled speech written on cocktail napkins in the ambulance. I think I accomplished the goals of the Best Man’s Speech admirably:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family, I’ve known Emil for sixteen years. When we met back in prison we didn’t like each other very much; he always wanted to pitch and I never let him. Being cellmates gave us time to get to know each other and by the time our parole hearing came up I was proud to stand next to him, hold his hand, and testify that we had each found Jesus and would dedicate our lives to upholding the laws of the land if we were released.

“In short, I’ve known Emil long and well. And in many ways, most of which I don’t wish to discuss here.
Over the years Emil and I have gone through a great many things and we’ve always supported each other: when my dog Skippy died, Emil was there to help me through it, tenderly digging a grave for poor Skippy and getting me drunk later that night before we traced the plate number of the car that hit Skippy and set it on fire, in revenge.

“When I became addicted to Internet Porn a few years ago, alienating my friends and family, losing my job, ending up at one point getting busted for public lewdness in The @ Café in New York City, Emil was the one who came to my apartment one July evening, knocked me cold and kidnapped me. Emil kept me in a cold, dark basement for six months, deprogramming me. To this day whenever I see a computer keyboard I shake and vomit helplessly. While this has caused me difficulty and unpopularity at work, it saved me: if not for Emil and the vicious torture he put me through in that basement, I would be in some asylum somewhere, trying to log onto from a pay phone.

“Emil has always been there for me, and I am pleased to be here for him today, the day he marries Petra.

“In the four and a half days I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Petra, I’ve realized that Emil’s life was but an empty and meaningless melange of sex, drugs, and progressive jazz music. In less than a week, she has become not only a dear friend of mine, but a dear friend of all the members of The Inner Swine Inner Circle, The Inner Swine being the magazine I publish which I really think you all ought to read and purchase subscriptions, because you see that large black guy in the back standing with several dozen men in fatigues? That’s Ken [REDACTED] and he’s going to be waiting for you after the reception, and all I can say is that he’s much nicer to people who have subscriptions than to anyone else, and I can also say that I have less and less influence over him every day.

“What? All right, all right, Emil, Jesus, calm the fuck down, okay?

“Anyway, as I was saying, Petra has not only redeemed Emil from his obvious descent into damnation and syphilitic degeneration, but she has entered and improved the lives of all of us. She’s a rare and delicate flower of womanhood, she’s a compassionate and beautiful creature who’s….energy and….emotion….and….and….ladies and gentlemen, I love her. Petra, I love you.

“I cannot stand here and pretend that everything is okay, while I am dying inside! Petra, I’ve been dying inside all these past few days! Ever since Tuesday night I’ve been tortured by my love for you, while you marry this troll, this monster, this syphilitic mistake masquerading as a man! Oh, the stories I could tell you! Emil, the whoremonger! Emil the petty thief! The man he killed in Mexico! The drugs he dealt to little kids while on work release! The Kiddie Porn! Oh, Petra, you’re making a mistake!

“Ladies and gentlemen, keep that madman away from me! Excuse me….pardon me….Ken! Help! Ladies and gentlemen, I beseech you! Petra! Petra!”

(At this point the audio becomes garbled as many voices intrude and the action on-screen gets a little hectic. Occasionally you can here me shouting “Not the face!” but I don’t think technically that’s part of the speech. At this point I felt the explosive power of love, and it certainly beat the shit out of me)

I often wonder what became of Emil and Petra. I suspect he still communicates with other members of TISIC, but none of the bastards will admit it, and the court order prevents me from finding out for myself. If anyone has heard of Emil and Petra’s whereabouts, please contact me. There’s money in it for you.

WDC14: Achievement Unlocked

By | August 4, 2014 | 4 Comments
Me Smart.

Me Smart.

SO, I was a speaker and panelist at the Writer’s Digest Conference over the weekend, which was a blast. I went in assuming what I always assume: That no one knows who I am and the entire experience would be one of richer, better-selling authors pelting me with refuse and chanting hurtful things until I finally broke down into tears, at which point someone would film me blubbering, post it to YouTube, and it would get 5,000,000 views within moments.

That’s what I always assume.

But, it went well! First, I was on a panel with fellow authors Joe Nelms, Julia Fierro, Kristopher Jansma, Sean Ellis, and Kelly Braffet where we discussed our experiences getting published and getting agents, which I think was eye-opening and educational for all involved and where I managed to avoid doing something embarrassing by using the Pro Tip of keeping my hands in my lap the whole time so as to avoid knocking things over and accidentally picking my nose.

I'm the psycho-killer looking one in the middle.

I’m the psycho-killer looking one in the middle.

(more…)

Prank to Work It In

By | July 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

I handed my license over to the pretty young receptionist with a flirtatious but mild grin, despite my guess that she could be my granddaughter.

“My HDPT number is—”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hemming,” she interrupted perkily, “but we have a new policy. I’m afraid you must submit to a Pin Test. We no longer accept HDPT as proof of coverage.” She smiled prettily, eyes twinkling.

I frowned. “I’ve always used my HDPT number. I’ve been a patient here for six years.”

She smiled again, nodding. But I could see her grin grow just slightly brittle. “I know, sir, and all the doctors apologize. But we experienced some security concerns recently, and for the time being we are forced to employ stringent security. We do apologize for the inconvenience.”

I considered. I knew I seemed like a typical whining rich asshole, and she—being at best a Class II or IIA employee—probably hated me. But I disliked DNA traces. The government had enough information on me as it was, and I paid plenty to keep it that way. As far as I knew their last update on me was seventeen years old—but that would change in seconds if I submitted to a Pin Test.

Then again, I had a rattle in my chest that made me nervous.

“Oh, all right. Sorry to be a bother. I know you’re just doing your job.” I held out my hand.

She softened a little. “You’re no bother, at all, really. Some of our patients are real horrors, you know.”

She said this in a mock-conspiratorial tone that made me think she didn’t hate me after all. “That makes me feel better. Maybe you’d care to tell me some stories? Over dinner, perhaps?”

Not pausing in her swabbing and pricking one finger, she glanced up at me. “I’m not supposed to be overly friendly with the patients.”

“I see.” I didn’t want to push things, it was so easy to be misinterpreted when your credit rating outclassed everyone in the room. “Well,” I winced as she quite professionally drew blood from one finger, “I’ll consider that my loss.”

She smiled again as she inserted the samples into her desk workstation. It chimed pleasantly almost immediately. “Very well, Mr.—” she glanced at the screen unnecessarily “—Hemming, you can go right in.”

I nodded and turned for the door.

“Oh, Mr. Hemming?”

I paused and turned back to her.

“Happy birthday! One hundred thirty; that’s impressive!” There was nothing nice in her eyes.

I glanced around the room in a reflexive shame reaction. “Thank you.” I managed, hating her. I hesitated, watching her cheerful smile slowly turn quizzical. “Do you know who I am? Why I get to be here?”

Her smile was carefully plastic. “No,” she admitted.

Nor, I could see, did she care. I turned back to the entrance, hating her. just as she was undoubtedly hating me, for still being alive.

(more…)

Categories: Free Short Stories

Plotting “We Are Not Good People”

By | July 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

webWANGPThis coming Saturday (8/2) I’ll be standing in a room giving a presentation on plotting novels (pantsing Vs. plotting) at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference (details here and you should totally sign up). I just informed my harried agent that I will be wearing a clown costume and plan to communicate via honking a horn and making sad faces, and she seemed to support me.

Why am I qualified to teach people how to plot a novel? Likely I am not. But someone has to give these presentations, or else middling successful novelists like myself would have nothing to do. You don’t want me wandering the streets, unmoored.

I’ve occasionally posted essays about plotting novels here to both promote my new career as the Novel Whisperer (I plan to stop writing them and spend all my time charging people huge sums of money to coach them in their own creative endeavors) as well as the novels themselves. Because, you know, I offer these books for sale as a way of avoiding real work. And you are part of my secret plan.

Next up in the plot analysis? My upcoming novel We Are Not Good People, publishing in October (a free prequel, Fixer, is available for free download right now!).

Plotting WANGP

Yes, the acronym for this novel is WANGP and that pleases me to no end.

Plotting this novel was an exercise in pure, joyous Pantsing. As with most of my novels, I started off with an initial image — an old apartment that had been sealed up decades before and left undisturbed, based on a true story I heard about a place on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that had been closed up for the season in the 1940s and then abandoned, the bills paid, the doors locked. I imagined rustling around in there, then saw a dead girl in a tub, and then saw two grifters who used small spells to help their scams. I had no idea what the story was going to be. I just started writing.

I often — but not always — write this way, just pouring on words. I got a little stuck after a few chapters, which also happens a lot: Once I’m done establishing a universe and characters, I sometimes stall wondering what exactly they will do. Then I read a book by someone else, and there was a sequence I enjoyed so much I decided on the spot to steal it, and worked a variation of it into the work in progress, and that got everything going.

Pantsing, for me, generally means imagining my characters as real people and wondering what they would reasonably do in reaction to each other and plot events outside their direct control. The answers are usually very obvious once I start thinking about it. Meanwhile, pantsing leaves me free to steal any ideas I come across, repurposing them into my story – which makes telling one a lot of fun, and very exciting, as I’m not sure where it’s all heading myself.

Does any of this make sense? Probably not. Anyone who tells you the act of creation should make sense is lying.

Sliders: Blood & Splendor, 18 Years Gone

By | July 24, 2014 | 2 Comments
It's real. And it's SPECTACULAR.

It’s real. And it’s SPECTACULAR.

SO, where were you in 1996? I was living in Jersey City, and a few years away from publishing my first novel. My friend and former room-mate Jeof Vita was also in Jersey City, working at Acclaim Comics. It was a primitive time, offering dial-up Internet connections and no such thing as Netflix or HBO GO, and you had to take the science fiction TV series that you got. What we got was Sliders, a show about alternate earth’s and the madcap group of misfits who got trapped into ‘sliding’ between them and having adventures as they struggled to find Earth Prime.

Acclaim Comics had the comic license for the series and was publishing “lost episode” comics, which were supposedly scripts from the show that were too ambitious or expensive to produce. They came up one short, so Jeof suggested we gin up a concept and sell it. And we did! So we wrote the script for what became Sliders: Blood & Splendor which published in January 1997. I got $1600 for it. I spent it all almost immediately on liquor and colourful outfits.

The other day I was thinking about this experience and I imagined an alternate world where Jeof and I became famous because of this comic book. An alternate world where I didn’t have to spend the next decades dancing in clubs for sweaty dollar bills, where Jeof didn’t have to scratch out a living as a rodeo clown. A world that saw our genius and celebrated Blood & Splendor as the work of genius it … well, wasn’t, but could have been if Jeof and I had spent more than a few hours writing it in-between playing video games and ordering take out.

So, I did what anyone would have: I made a documentary about an alternate earth where Sliders: Blood and Splendor was a sort of pop cultural event on par with Thriller. And I got a bunch of people to help me with it, including Jeof Vita himself. And it is hilarious. And you should watch it immediately.

Categories: BAM!, Videos

Mrs. Muse: My Wife Thinks She is a Rich Vein of Material

By | July 21, 2014 | 1 Comments

This article originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 15, Issue 3/4, Winter 2009.

My Main Reference Material

My Main Reference Material

“You should write about this.”

I hear this phrase pretty often, usually when I am complaining about something The Duchess is making me do, like watching terrible reality television or following her from store to store in an endless shopping mall. My hell, I am convinced, will be an infinite shopping mall filled with women’s clothing stores. I used to think my hell would involve dried up beer taps and indoor league football, but now I am older and wiser and the ways of the universe are clearer to me.

At first, early in our relationship, she only used The Line when she truly believed that what she was putting me through was Inner Swine material—like most people, she thought at first that being mentioned in my zine would be kind of cool. Everyone gets quickly disabused of that notion, trust me, and it wasn’t long before she demanded her name be obscured in all issues so no one might Google her and discover her secret shame: That she is married to: Me.

Nowadays, The Line has a new function for The Duchess: She uses it as a way to justify any activity, no matter how torturous I find it. No matter how horrified I am at the turn my life has taken, I am assured that it’s all right because I can write an article about it.

The Marathon Man

Now, my wife is a fascinating, intelligent, feisty girl who is endlessly entertaining, and if I did not live in abject fear of being punished by her (she is stronger, faster, and in better shape than I ever will be; she runs marathons and works out and eats healthy—I drink gallons of booze and the last time my heart rate went up I was watching a baseball game and almost had a stroke) her antics and adventures would make admirable material for this zine.

This is a compliment. The more interesting you are, the more likely you will eventually be in this zine, albeit sometimes obscured.

Since this zine is primarily about me, I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what this says about my healthy and possibly delusional self-image.

However, this is getting out of hand when she starts justifying just about any mistreatment of her husband with the assurance that someday I will be able to use it as material for this zine. I make shit up for this zine; I don’t need material. I can walk to the grocery store, buy a loaf of bread and walk home, and make that entire experience into an article for this zine. Actually, I don’t even have to leave the house; I can just sit on the couch and stare at a wall and six months later there’s an article in this zine called Staring at the Wall: I Am Old and Dulled by Liquor which will be just six pages of me insulting myself in clever ways. See how this works? No actual experiences needed. It’s like Sir Laurence Olivier said to Dustin Hoffman on the set of The Marathon Man when Hoffman showed up to film a torture scene looking like hell because he’d stayed up 48 hours straight in order to be suitably exhausted for the scene: “My dear boy, have you tried acting?”

WAYS THE DUCHESS USES “THE LINE” TO JUSTIFY CRUELTY

1. Bad Television. I’ve complained before about the quality of the television programming The Duchess enjoys. I don’t mind sharing a little TV time now and then, and the fact that she favors shows I don’t much care for is just the way things are—she doesn’t like most of my choices, so it’s fair. But there are some shows that are just so terrible, so awesome in their terribleness, that I try to wriggle out of my husbandly duties to watch them.
And then she hits me with The Line, suggesting that I should watch Two and a Half Men and then write about how horrible it is. And it is. Horrible. It is.

2. Shopping. I’ve already defined my new vision of hell for you. Believe me, I get to live it every now and then, and my wife actually apologizes to me whenever she lures me into a store these days. Then, after apologizing, she suggests that my many sufferings at her hands in the retail world would be perfect fodder for an Inner Swine article. Do you see what I’m up against? I’ve taken to carrying a flask with me everywhere just in case it turns out we’re not going to the local Beerfest as promised, but instead to a sample sale.

3. Travel. My childish aversion to exploring the world is famed, and I’m sure some folks feel badly for The Duchess in that she has to beg and plead to get me to leave the comfort of my own house. Whenever I find myself in some godforsaken part of the world, going rapidly broke and—adding insult to injury—usually being led into some sort of foreign mall in order to purchase shoes, The Line is invariably tossed out as an impromptu justification for my treatment.

You can see, I’m sure, why it is that I drink. When any kind of horrifying shit can be justified as comedy material, you’re doomed.

Of course, The Duchess only wields this power in order to educate and improve me—and, actually, since I am now using all of these experiences to create content for this zine, I suppose, in the end, she’d been right all along.

Categories: Bullshit, The Inner Swine

We Are Not Good People Giveaway & Trailers

By | July 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

I’ve been informed that my publisher will be giving away copies of We Are Not Good People at Comic Con in San Diego next week – stop by Booth #1128 and ask about it.

They’ll also be running some of my trailers for the book on video screens at the booth:

Trailer #1:

trailer #2:

Trailer #3:

Hopefully they can turn the volume so loud people will come, zombie-like, to the booth to see what all the cool fuss is about.

#gettheblood: The Scar Under My Eye

By | July 16, 2014 | 2 Comments
I almost went half blind. WHO DO I SUE?

I almost went half blind. WHO DO I SUE?

SO, when I was little, I wanted a dirtbike. A black Huffy dirtbike, to be precise. My family was sort of amazingly typical middle class, I think: We had a house and a car and me and my brother wanted for nothing, but luxuries like brand-new bikes for your birthday required immense, D-Day levels of financial planning.

I got my dirtbike. For three days I pedaled up and down the block on training wheels, and on the fourth day two kids came by. One knocked me off the bike, and the other pedaled that fucking thing away so fast I was momentarily too shocked by this defiance of the laws of physics to make a scene.

Then, of course, I made a scene. But because of the aforementioned D-Day levels of planning, there was no way in hell that I was getting a replacement bike. My parents made that very clear to me as i sat there weeping openly. There would be no other shiny black Huffy dirtbike. I may be imagining this, but I think my Mother threw her arms open and shouted WELCOME TO JERSEY CITY, MOTHERFUCKER!

My parents weren’t heartless, though. They began working back channels, and a few weeks later secured a used Schwinn Ten Speed for me. It was kind of beat up and always felt like it was about to fall apart, but fuck it, it was a bike. When I was kid, a bike was like a car to an adult. You had to have one. So I learned to ride that bike and I rode it around and after a while I forgot about that Huffy. Except, obviously, I didn’t. I hope that kid got hit by a car two blocks away and got part of that dirtbike shoved up his ass.

ANYWAY, a few years on I took that Ten Speed to college with me. During the summer between my Junior and Senior years, I worked at a Student Center on another campus. I had a choice of taking the slow bus, walking about 2 miles, or riding my bike. Despite the fact that riding my bike required me to ride a thin-wheeled Ten Speed off road a bit, I chose to ride the bike. You can see where this is going: One day, while riding down a wooded path, the chain popped and I went flying. I landed more or less on my face, crushing my glasses, which stabbed into my face just below my eye, and I still have a divot there to this day.

I was a bit in shock, but I calmly got up, put the chain back on, and rode the rest of the way to work. I must have looked pretty bad because upon arrival everyone freaked out and for a few moments I was smothered with attention as first aid kits were broken out and I was assured I could just sit and relax for as long as I needed. Then, I just went back to work. It wasn’t until later that I contemplated how close I’d come to literally poking my eye out. In all the times my Mother had admonished me that things would poke my eyes out, my own glasses had never been on the list.

####

Twenty years later, give or take, I write a novel where people are covered in scars because they’re constantly bleeding themselves to fuel magic spells, which require fresh blood to work. We Are not Good People is out in October, and the prequel Fixer is available as a free eBbook right now. Check ‘em out, and then send me your own scar stories – the bloodier the better, so e can #gettheblood.

Announcing the Mystery Box Giveaway

By | July 14, 2014 | 3 Comments

Kids, you may not know this, but as a published author it sometimes seems like you’re paid in free copies of your own books (sometimes literally: I received 1/3rd of my advance for my first novel Lifers literally as a bunch of free books). Then, sometimes, a publisher goes out of business or lets a book go out of print and then offers to sell you your own book stock for some ridiculous price, like a quarter a book, and so you buy approximately 500,000 of them because you can’t sleep at night thinking of your precious books being mulched.

End result? I have a lot of books that I wrote sitting around here. So, let’s give some away, want to? Here’s how it will work:

EVERY WEDNESDAY for the time being, I will send out a Tweet that says “Book Giveaway” (just those two words). The FIRST person to respond to that tweet will win a Mystery Box of books. It’s that simple. I’ll DM you for your address, and in a few days you get a Mystery Box of books.

What’s in the mystery box? IT IS A MYSTERY. It could be one book or five, and lord knows what the books will actually be. All that you can know is that they are all by me, and I’ll sign them, and there might be bookmarks and such included. I cannot even guarantee they will be in English, as I have a surprising number of German-language Avery Cates books lying around.

But you can’t choose which books to get and therefore you may be bitterly disappointed when you receive your Mystery Box and be moved to come to New Jersey and burn my house down. Which is fine, as it would be free publicity as I am filmed in front of my burning house holding five cats with tears streaming down my face. I believe that would be a recipe for INSTANT PITY BOOK SALES, so have at it.

That’s it. The Mystery Book Tweet could happen at any time between the hours of 8AM and 6PM EST on Wednesdays, until I announce the end of this thing I am doing. Good luck!

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