Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Books Books Books

Shortstack is not the only book being sold on Amazon right now. But one you should have, paperback or eBook. Here are some you might like to read from authors I know and call friend. Click on a title to jump to the Amazon book page for more thorough information.
Also the easiest to find and read

There's also the newly released Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives by St. Paul Author Chaunce Stanton, the historical fiction fantasy about the world's greatest magician.
Just launched at Black Dog Cafe, I gave it 5*

And Silence of Centerville by Iowa author Buzz Malone, about  a deaf child, Frankie, growing up in 1950s Midwest America. Moving, courageous, triumphant. Compared by the author to a Hemingway novel. 5*
Wait for the next edition due out any minute.

I am currently reading the paperback edition of The Sky Behind Me by Ohio author Byron Edgington. Great memoir of a helicopter pilot's 40 years of flying in Vietnam, corporate America and tourist Hawaii. 
Bailey Prize Winner

My UK friend and author Phil Simpkin has The Borough Boys series about 1850s police work in Leicester, England. Great historical fiction. I'm reading number one. Number two is also out, and number three is due out this year or next.
No. 1 in the series.

Then there's author Todd Grundle's wacko book under the pen name of Giovanni Russano, The House that Smelled Like Urine. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my Kindle.
On my list.

Another book on my Kindle, not yet read: Death, the Devil and the Goldfish by funny author Andrew Buckley.
A reviewer compares the author to famous people even I know.

Playwright Damian Trasler has taken the plunge into short stories (yay, short stories) and has a number on Amazon eBooks, individually for $0.99, great for reading over coffee. Here's one.
Put it on your Kindle for less than the cost of the coffee.

A historical fiction eBook I just bought for my Kindle that looks very intriguing and has good reviews, by Texas author Steven D. Malone, about frontier violence in Texas during the Civil War.
I can't wait to get into this.

Yet another book on my Kindle awaiting takeoff, A Thistle in the Mist by author Megan Denby, about a mysterious murder in Scotland, deception, and a courageous woman.
Murder, mystery, deception.

Southern California author Eve Gaal has released Penniless Hearty, about a woman's adventure in Hawaii, where she is mistaken for the goddess Pele. Yes, it's on my list.
Hawaii, mistaken identity, danger

A book by author and software developer Thomas A. Knight, Legacy, a fantasy about danger and fate on the Island of Arda.
Book 2 of a series.

Many of these authors are members of a Google Plus community for writers, authors, and other shut-ins. If you are on Google Plus, check out Literary Agents Hate Kittens (Hey, I don't write the titles. Buzz Malone is the owner.). It's a wacky, funny, supportive, no-stuffy-rules, international group. You might like it.

Thanks for reading. Hasta la vista, muchacas y muchachos.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Things You Can Do with a Shortstack

Okay, you bought your Shortstack and now your'e saying, "But Timothy, after I finish reading it and telling all my friends about it, what else can I do with it?"

And that's why we're here. To help. Ignore all those household hints columns. Here's what you do.

You can have a Shortstack for breakfast.
Good with maple syrup and coffee

If it's past 3 p.m. in New York and therefore too late for breakfast, try a Shortstack sandwich for lunch.
Hold the mayo.

Late night dinner? Sure.
Goes well with cabernet sauvignon.

Table wobbles at dinner. Not a problem
You might need two.

Like some toast with that breakfast? Of course.
Try it with strawberry jam.

Running low in the Necessary?
No need for a trip to the pharmacy.

You could just chill with it...
next to the ice cubes...

Or recycle it...
Paper, not plastic

There's always the old "put it on a bookshelf."
File it next to Mark Twain, please.

Or even read it again.
Open it first.

There you have it.

Except all those things are difficult with the eBook.
You could use it to frighten the children.

Now for the quiz. What do these three books have in common?
Books that should be in everyone's library.

It's not that the authors all liked cats.

Nope. It's not that the authors were drunk when they wrote the books.

No, not because the words all came from a dictionary.

Well, what do you think? Post your guess in the comments. If you know for certain, put a little star at the end of your answer, like this *.

Thanks for reading. Next time?

Writers' Income: A New Paradigm

The New York Times Magazine recently published an article, "What's An Hour of Your Time Worth."
Writer getting paid by the hour

It seems billing by the hour took off in the 1950s when the ranks of lawyers swelled with returning GIs and their income fell relative to doctors and dentists.So they switched to billable hours and the rest is history.
Lawyers deciding to bill by the hour

Blue-collar workers and most middle class jobs are already paid by the hour.
Writers have never in history been able to make a living at writing. Poe tried it and was not successful.
Poe trying to make a living

Others who have tried it met the same fate.
Many writers who later became financially successful (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain, and many modern stars) were supported early on by a significant other's or family's money.
Hemingway writing, trying to afford clothes and a desk

I myself am supported by my wife's employment, although last month's writing income ($10 from Amazon) was more than the previous month ($0 from Amazon). (I am a retired physician and even I have a hard time mustering up sympathy for my "struggling" writing career.)
Me as a struggling writer if I wore a tie and fedora while writing--and wrote on a typewriter--and chewed pencils. Not me at all.

But while sitting in my favorite Sunday morning seat (hint: It's not the couch or a pew, and we don't talk about it in polite society.) with the NYT Mag I flashed on a brilliant new financial paradigm for writers: take a lesson from the lawyers and bill by the hour.
New York Times Magazine. I haven't published there either.

Writers should keep a log of their billable hours spent writing. You can bill for the hours spent pondering plot, rough-drafting, and definitely during revising and editing. You should not bill for the time you waste going to the refrigerator, walking around the block to "clear you head," or sitting on a bar stool praying for plot inspiration.
Me praying for plot if I were African-American and had a beard

In this way each writer will have an established hierarchy of value—just like New York lawyers are more expensive than New Jersey lawyers, who are more expensive than Cleveland lawyers. Stephen King (who also had a bio in the same week's NYT Magazine) will receive perhaps $1000 per hour. J.K.R. likewise will be a top biller. Dan Brown and E.L.J. might be asked to give money back. Mystery and Science Fiction writers might bill $500. Humor writers could try to get $300. Romance writers will undoubtedly bill as much as $12 per hour (okay, Romance writers, let me have it) and I will inflate my billing to 7 cents per hour.
Me calculating wage increase if I had less hair and horn-rimmed glasses

In this manner when a writer puts his/her book on sale with Amazon, Amazon will pay the writer the full value of the book based on hours billed. If Amazon balks at the up-front payments, I have a new scheme. We writers put our book on Amazon at the fully billed cost to reader. If you billed 175 hours at $100 per hour, the first buyer will pay you $17,500 plus shipping minus Amazon’s share. We will, of course, provide a 90 day money back guarantee, just like refrigerator manufacturers. The second person to purchase the book will pay the first purchaser half, or $8,750. Now there are two motivated readers who will want to make sure other readers buy the book. Each time someone does, they will pay the previous purchaser half of his/her equity in the book, bringing the investment cost down for each generation of reader, each individual now highly motivated to promote our books until the cost of reading it is negligible.
I don't know what this has to do with my scheme, but it's a pretty picture.

I see this as a win-win, everybody's happy as a dog with a new bone plan. The writer gets his/her $17,500 (minus Amazon’s cut) and each reader, if hard working, will have read a book for perhaps a dollar at the end of the book's life. The book then returns to the author who can put it up for sale again and start all over.
I'm running this business plan by the SEC and Justice Department now.
It could be a divided vote.

I'm asking inmates at the Lunatic Assylum to vet the details also.
TLA vetting my proposal

Personally, I see no conflicts with current law, and expect to be watching the old bank account burgeon. My wife will be happy that she doesn't have to share her paycheck once I become a successful writer. We may get an apartment with 50 more square feet and move out of the 400 square feet we have now.
My wife in our apartment, if I were married to a different woman and we lived in a cardboard box

Please tell all your friends about my plan. If they want to read my book, Shortstack, after that, tell them it's a free country—but not a free book.
Not priced at $17,500

Thanks for reading. See you again?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

For Everything Else, There's People

Shortstack arrives at my building in Brooklyn

My order of 50 copies of Shortstack arrived today.

The doorman emailed me (yes we're a modern building) that the package had arrived. I went down to get it (we may be modern but I ain't J.K. Rowling, and they don't bring packages up).
Going down to get my package

The doorman is named George. I've gotten to know him a little since he started a couple of
months ago. He's from Greneda, speaks sophisticated English with an accent, black, is a little past middle age. Always nicely dressed, coat, tie, prim and proper as a doorman. Today when I went to get the package, I told him it was my new book. He showed me the book he was reading at his desk: a non-fiction work about the role of China in modern economics and world power. World history and politics is his favorite genre. When he found out I was an author and had a book, he asked where he could get it and how much.
Not a non-fiction treatise on Chinese-American economic relations

I told him it was $6 plus shipping at Amazon but I was selling them for $5. He said he wanted a signed copy and whipped out a $5 bill. I waved the bill off. It felt so good to know he was willing to pay his hard-earned cash to read my writing, I could not take his money. (Don't worry, this feeling will be gone by the time you buy one.) I took the box upstairs and went back down with a copy for him. He was like a kid at Christmas.
Santa brought me a book?

Shortstack: $6 plus shipping at Amazon. Look on his face as I handed him the book: priceless.

For all your purchases on Amazon there's Mastercard. For everything else, there's people.

Thanks for reading. See you again?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Huffington Post Misses the Point

Ms. Huffington posting
The Huffington Post posted a number of interesting facts. But they failed to draw any logical conclusions about them. I have contemplated each of these realities and provided the obvious responses on behalf of the Huffington Post. If they employed me to write for them, they wouldn’t have to cast about for answers.
Me thinking up conclusions

When awake, the human brain produces enough electricity to power a small lightbulb.
Which is why I cannot think clearly with the lights turned on.

According to astronauts, space smells like seared steak, hot metal and welding fumes.
In other words, it’s one big backyard barbecue out there.

A snail can sleep for 3 years.
Big deal. I haven’t been fully awake for seventeen.

All the stars, galaxies, and black holes in the universe only comprise about 5% of the mass of the universe. As crazy as it sounds, the other 95% is unaccounted for. Scientists decided to label this mystery material “dark matter” and to this day they are still not sure where or what it is.
And you wonder why I have such a hard time understanding String Theory?

There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. That's enough to wrap around the world 2 1/2 times.
Right, but if you tried to drive a car on them, some idiot would pull out in front of you.

A pig's orgasm lasts for 30 minutes.
That’s funny enough without a conclusion.

Squirrels forget where about 50% of the nuts they’ve hidden are.
Which means the squirrels are finding more of their sh*t than I am.

Without its lining of mucus your stomach would digest itself.
Maybe so but then it would probably want an after dinner mint and a glass of port.

Current estimates suggest that there are up to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and up to 50 billion planets. If even 1% of those are in their systems Goldilocks zone, then there are 500 million planets in our galaxy alone capable of supporting life.
Hell, New Jersey can’t support life. How do they expect a planet way out in space to?

Some animals have the ability to freeze solid during winter, thaw in the spring and remain perfectly healthy.
Not surprising. Neanderthals can do that too. Just without the “remain perfectly healthy” part.

You could remove a large part of your internal organs and survive. The human body may appear fragile but it’s possible to survive even with the removal of the stomach, the spleen, 75 percent of the liver, 80 percent of the intestines, one kidney, one lung, and virtually every organ from the pelvic and groin area.
Some humans have been living just fine with 90% of their brain not working.

There are at least 10 billion trillion stars in the universe.
I’m sure that would make Carl Sagan very happy.

During pregnancy if the mother suffers organ damage, the baby in the womb sends stem cells to repair the damaged organ.
The baby could be arrested in several states for doing that.

Thank you for reading. Maybe go check out Ms. Huffington's Post too, to keep her happy.
See you next time?