Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Of mountains and molehills

I'm bad at math. Very bad. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I can make 2 plus 2 equal 5. Thus the reason I went into music. My senior year in high school I took business math. I had failed algebra 2 the year before and had no desire to repeat it. The business math teacher, whom shall remain nameless, was to put it politely, mad as an outhouse rat. I could go on about her for hours, but I'll refrain. However, one thing that she told us is relevant. She informed us that our music was about nothing but sex and drugs. Remember this was 1999, hits on the radio station included songs about dead rappers, the sorrow of abortions, suicide, and hiding from drunken fathers under the kitchen table. Still, anyone who has heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers couldn't argue with her too much. Still, I was young and liked to argue. My rejoinder? Purple Haze. Clearly about the effects of acid. This brings us to today's topic. The ingrained need of people to rail against current cultural phenomena.

Lets start with music. People hate Stefani Germanotta. If you aren't aware, that is Lady Gaga's real name. Now, I'm going to be honest. I hate pop music. Passionately. I also am aware that her music is blatantly about sex. She doesn't make much of an effort to hide it. I mean come on, "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick"? Still, lets be honest, people have sung about sex since Adam and Eve first took a trip down lovers lane. There is a famous Irish folk song called Seven Drunken Nights. It's about a husband who comes home drunk every night of the week to find his wife sleeping around on him. He's just too drunk to see through her excuses. Anyone heard the song Yummy Yummy Yummy I Got love in my Tummy? Yeah, it's about oral sex. never gonna be able to listen to it again the same way are you? Oh, did you know that the syllable aah is the most common syllable found at the beginning of alphabets the world over? Yes there is more than one alphabet. Wanna know why it is first so often? It's the sound most people make after having sex or eating a seven course meal. Food and sex. They are ingrained in the human psyche. Deeply ingrained.

Lets move on to books. That damn Harry Potter and Twilight! Okay, I hate Stephanie Meyer as much as the next guy and I agree with Stephen King. He referred to her as the worst writer in America. I couldn't agree more. Still, this is not the first book about vampires. Hell, Dracula wasn't the first book about vampires. Oh, and it was about sex too, you just couldn't talk about sex in Victorian England. Before that was Carmilla which was about, gasp, a lesbian vampire. For 200 years people have used vampires as a way to talk about sex. Again, as humans, we're fascinated with sex. Go figure.

Lets go back to Mr. Potter. Lets set the plot. A young man, raised by his aunt and uncle, learns that he has immense magical powers and must learn to use them to bring down an equally powerful tyrant. Wait, did you think I was talking about Harry Potter? Nope, I was talking about Star Wars. The force isn't the same as magic Stewart! To which I reply, sure. But ok, lets talk about stories that involve magic. Lord of the Rings. Chronicles of Narnia. The Dark is Rising. The Prydain Chronicles. A thousand folk tales the world over. But, C.S. Lewis was a christian. Yep. Guess what, J.K. Rowling is Presbyterian. Yeah, those pesky Potter stories have to be of the devil. A decade ago it was Goosebumps. Is anyone still campaigning against that. When my wife was young she loved the Goosebumps series. Her parents were told by other parents that she would go to hell for reading them. Luckily they ignored the zealous advice and encouraged her to read them. Today she is an avid reader because of it. Any educator will tell you that the love of reading is one of the foundations of learning. The same love that Harry Potter and twilight encourage in students who otherwise wouldn't crack a book.

TV is full of nothing but sex and violence! There is that S word again. I'm gonna leave that alone.I'm actually going to agree that tv is very violent. But if we took the NFL off the air it might get less violent. That's another soapbox though. Wanna know why violence is so prevalent? Because we are a violent species. Ever since Cain hit Able with a rock we have been perfecting violence to an art form.In all of recorded history there have only been 286 years of peace. That doesn't mean 286 consecutive years, that means a month here, a year there, and so on. We like hurting each other, civilization and religion just curb our enthusiasm as best they can. Again, this is the topic of another soap box. Let's step back and look at the things our parents and grandparents opposed. Playing cards. Yep, poker cards are anti christian. If you listen to the right preacher. Did you know tarot cards didn't start out as occult objects? Nope. They were just a different type of playing card at first. Gin Rummy anybody? The Smurfs were an insidious plot to encourage communism. Sure. So were the Beatles. Although, to be fair they did spend time in communist Germany with German art students. Obviously they were communists. The founders of the ACLU were though. each and everyone. One of them is even buried in red square. yeah, wrap your head around that.

So, lets sum this up. Ask yourself this. When is the last time you complained about poker cards, Smurfs, Barney, Telly Tubbies, Goosebumps, The Hobbit, Star Wars, or any of the things we've discussed in this blog? Never? Me too. Because they aren't worth it. Time has mostly forgotten them. Just like in time we'll forget that we thought Potter and Twilight were of the devil. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

May Sales Report

I've been meaning to post this blog for several days. Ladies and Gentleman I present the sales from my first month as a published author. I have a confession, I actually have two titles available. The other one is entitled Drift. Drift is two short stories I put together and put up as an experiment. I wanted to see how the sales of Offerings would affect it. Both are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Drift is also available on Diesel thanks to Smashword. I'm still waiting for Offerings to be included in Smashwords premium channel which will allow it to be shipped to iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, and hopefully soon be made into an app. Below I have broken down the sales by title and site.

On Smashwords I sold all of three books. Two copies of Offerings and one of Drift.
On Barnes and Noble I sold a whopping four books. Three of Offerings and one of Drift.

 On Amazon I sold twenty nine books. Twenty three copies of Offerings and six of Drift.

All totaled we sold thirty six books. Twenty eight copies of Offerings and eight copies of Drift.

Along the way we've garnered six reviews. One four star review on Smashwords and five on Amazon. The ones on Amazon break down to three 5 stars, one 4 star, and one 1 star. That one hurt my feelings, but oh well. Maybe they'll like the next one better. The highest rating we got to was 12,399. That's not to shabby for a novella by a brand new author. So far in June sales have been disappointing. As in none. Oh well, hopefully they'll pick up soon. I've sent it to several book reviewers and I'm waiting to hear back from them. Also, one nice young english teacher asked if she could use it with her freshman English class next year. I of course said yes.

So, what are my next plans? I have a new story that I'm about 4,000 words into and a piece of flash fiction that needs some editing. I'm considering releasing it as a freebie as a sample to see if i can lure new readers in. Who is interested in a free story? I'd like to put them all together later this year as a compilation both as an eBook and in print. I know several people have asked when and where they can get Offerings in print. I looked into it, but to not lose money on it I would have to price it at 7.99 or up and I can't justify charging that for a novella.

I have an idea and a partial outline for a novel that's sitting on the back burner for now. After I've finished the short stories that are floating around in my head I intend to work hard on it. I've got a few thousand words down already and I'm ready to get back to it.

That's all for now. Thank you to everyone who has bought the book. I also really appreciate everyone who has reviewed it. If any of my nook readers want to review it on B and N I would greatly appreciate it. Some reviews on Goodreads would go along way as well. A huge thanks goes to Hannah, my beautiful fiance. Your support, ideasm and ability to tell me when things have gotten off track mean the world to me. In fifteen days I get to call her my wife.