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How NOT To Go Insane By Degrees

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
She was warned.  But this indie writer couldn't keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

She was warned. But this indie writer couldn’t keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

No, no, no, this is not alluding to Glenn Reynold’s study of the education bubble.  What I’m talking about here are the various crazy making pitfalls that haunt the indie writer.

Mind you, it wasn’t all that easy to be a traditionally published author either.  This is Sarah, and I was traditionally published for over ten years before I first dipped toe into indie waters with a publishing company I control (Goldport Press) and the innards and numbers of which I could see moment to moment.

As … ah… interesting as my first publication experience was, I’m sure I must have driven my editor crazier than any other writer had driven her before.  I wanted to know moment to moment what they were doing to promote the book – turned out nothing, but she couldn’t tell me that, I guess – and also how the book was doing.  I don’t think she could tell me the latter if she wanted. Statements the traditional way involve some arcane sampling, a lot of relying on Nielsen’s, and, in the more scrupulously run places, a counting of what came in for which book. (In the big houses none of this is very accurate because the practices date back to the early century “estimated printruns” accounting.)

Anyway, they wouldn’t have any numbers for a good six months, maybe longer, and to ask for them must have driven the editor insane.

Fortunately in indie, at least with a company you control, or an editor who will put up with you asking often enough, there’s a lot of data coming in from the very first minute.

I discovered the fascination of checking my numbers when I first put up one of my backlist short stories. This is a short story whose rights had reverted to me, and I decided to see if it would sell – I forget what it was, but I THINK it was The Play and The Thing.

Anyway, I put it up, and started checking. Considering it made me $12 that first month, you may guess how slowly that ticker moved.  But I had to check and itemize the milestones.  “Ooh, ooh, first sale in England.”

Then I put up a lot more stories and there were still times of driving myself insane: for instance, when I had a freebie running, I kept checking to see how many I’d given away, and if it was budging the others at all.

It did make the other sales go up (I do put links to similar stories at the back of the book, mind.) Two years ago, from November through Jan. I was making $400 a month and kept checking to see it go up.

Then came the summer-of-sales-death, last year. Nothing moved. I mean, my income dipped down under $100 for a month.  And for a while there I thought it was going to be $12. I swear all the sales came in the last week.

Still, largely, I had it under control.  I made myself check only once a week.  Even then it was enough to worry me.  Take the month ONLY No Will but His sold until the twentieth.  I was wondering what the heck was wrong.

BUT as I say, I kept it under control.

Until this month, when I put out Witchfinder, my first indie novel.  And then the checking every hour or so started.

It’s been okay – with minor hiccups – save for… after the fifteenth.  Honestly, if I weren’t also selling used books via Amazon (mostly the kids’ old textbooks but also some specialized research I bought years ago and will never touch again) I’d think there was something wrong with my books.  But no.  The sales on the used books dipped even lower than the ebook ones, and I had my first day (in two weeks, granted) of no sales, yesterday.

My husband says this is known of every businessman for the two weeks after taxes.  Who knew?

So – in the interest of saving you from going as crazy as I am, here are some rules for indie mind-space management.

1-      Yes, you could suddenly sell 100 copies in the next ten minutes.  But there’s nothing you can do to make them do so, and if you sell them or not, the result is the same without you watching the numbers.  Try to limit yourself to say early morning and late at night.

2-      Stop trying to interpret patterns in your sales.  That’s like reading tea leaves but less coherent.  Why is it that as I was doing a big push on Witchfinder, I suddenly started selling my little how-to booklet May You Write Interesting Books all across the outlets?  Who knows?  Maybe people read Witchfinder and it was wonderful and they want books on how to do that?  OTOH maybe a writers group with 40 people, somewhere in Kansas (or online and all over the country) discovered the booklet.  This stuff happens.  At any rate, I can’t influence it.

3-      Why does the first book in a series sell very well, the next sells okay, and the third one sells not at all.  Death of A Musketeer is a good seller every month; The Musketeer’s Seamstress sells pretty well; The Musketeer’s Apprentice sells not at all.  This puzzle is made more complex by the fact that the fourth book, The Musketeer’s Inheritance, is selling like crazy.  Yes, The Musketeer’s Apprentice has a bad review (for the Berkley version.  There was some… interesting editing).  But surely people who trust me with the other books would give it a chance?  Or did I go nuts and have a spelling mistake on the cover?  (It wouldn’t be the first time.)  If it does, I can’t see it, so maybe it is the fact that online selling, because of the huge market place involved (all the world) slips the bonds of logic to an extent.  It partakes the mechanics of a sand pile.  There might be a reason that grain moved and not that other, but the calculations would be infinitely complex.  As for knowing how to start an avalanche of sales; if anyone knew how, the big companies would be doing it.  So, stop checking the numbers and go write.

4-      You are human.  I keep telling people this in hopes they’ll make me believe it. There will be mistakes.  Some typos will escape you.  For instance, I know there are five typos in Witchfinder because I’ve got that many lists with at least one valid typo.  The others (curiously, usually five, also) were only things people thought were typos.  (Guys, the subjunctive is not a typo.  Main publishing houses decided to eliminate it in copyediting about ten years ago because “it’s old fashioned.”  That’s like saying the possessive is old-fashioned.  It reads strange to you because you haven’t seen it, but this ex-English-teacher (ESL) begs you to look it up and reacquaint yourself with it.)  That many typos – and more – escape the big publishers.  Take a deep breath and stop cowering.  My worst snafu was when my glasses weren’t working and I missed a row of “ghost” text, (the title, misspelled and upside down) on my cover of Something Worse Hereafter.  (And yes, that cover is a crime against humanity or at least humanity’s eyes.  I’m redoing the old ones as I have time. It was all cutting edge at the time!) Oh, that was fun.  Also, no one said anything until a fan asked me what that meant.)  You know what, I survived it.  You are human, not a machine, and your errors are probably not worse than things big publishing houses have done.

5-      Not to say you should put stuff out and never look again.  One of the best things about indies is that we can be flexible and fast, like the English ships against the Armada.  Lacking formidable size, we have adaptability.  Keep your ear to the ground.  Form connections.  Learn if your cover style is out of date, or if your pricing has fallen out of sinc with trends.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to goose sales.  But don’t change your cover every day or your price every week.  Take a deep breath.  Set yourself a time, like every three months, and do it then.

6-      Write the next book.  Even if you are the best salesperson in the world, the best way to sell a book is to write the next one.  That way you have many more chances one of them will take off, and when it does, you might start an unstoppable avalanche of sales.  At least there will be a chance.  So, shut up and go write!


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Voyageur’s Cap
By Cedar Sanderson

Duty brought Lia to the backwater planet. Honor bound her to fulfill the promise she made to Daz before his death to see his daughter, Serene, safely away and enrolled at the Academy. Neither expected their trip to be interrupted by distress signals, abandoned ships and space pirates. A novella of a galaxy returned to the explorers after civilization has collapsed, again.


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Trophy Target
By Allen Mitchum

tro·phy ['trō-fē] tar·get [ˈtär-gət] – A uniquely high value individual captured and used by an enemy as leverage for political, military or other strategic purposes

Deep in the jungle of French Guiana, a once anonymous soldier of the French Foreign Legion mysteriously disappears. Days later, word reaches his younger brother, Prince Erik Rohde, second in line to the Danish throne. Doubting the government’s capabilities and questioning the Prime Minister’s sincerity, Erik turns to the world’s top mercenary, Fadi Khaldun, to rescue his brother.

Fadi Khaldun is a former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past. In his new life as a hired gun, clients contract Fadi to rescue hostages, avenge the deaths of loved ones and destroy terrorist and organized crime rings in the deadliest conflict zones on the planet. Now he embarks on his most high profile and dangerous job yet to rescue the crown prince of Denmark. From the jungles of South America to the mountains of South East Asia, Fadi meticulously hunts the prince’s kidnappers while enemies at the highest level of government conspire against him.


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BLED WHITE
By Barbara Morgenroth

Bled white by corrupt politicians, the country has bottomed out.

Each day is an effort to survive with the meager remnants of what’s left.

When Sophie Cook is found dazed after a brutal assault by local thugs, she is considered an outsider in the town she must now call home. Only with the help of Wolf Harndon, can she get by.

Life is hard, almost impossible. In Wolf, Sophie sees compassion. In Sophie, Wolf sees a future he didn’t believe existed.

Peace is a fantasy as long as the Russells continue their raids. Wolf is tasked with stopping them. That’s when the war begins and the losses start.

Wolf and Sophie have no idea that even with nothing, there is still so much to lose.

Can they survive?

Can their love survive?


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Predatory Kill: A Legal Thriller
By Kenneth Eade

A compelling legal novel by the best selling author of “An Involuntary Spy”. Brent Marks had paid his dues as a lawyer, having taken his share of divorces and drunk driving cases over his 20 year career, but had finally reached a place in his life where he could take on cases of social importance. What he least expected was for April Marsh’s predatory lending case against the big banks for wrongful foreclosure on her parent’s home to turn into a murder investigation. April’s mother was murdered. Her father was beaten within an inch of his life, and she believes their predatory lender is to blame. Are banks really that above the law?


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.

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Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

Pilot Episode, Scarecrow & Mrs. King (1983)

I dig spy movies. TV shows, too. Most kids growing up in the last decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall have fond memories of their first TV heroine being Jem or She-Ra. Mine was Amanda King. At 8 years old I wanted to partner up with an ultra-cool spy like Scarecrow (code named as a member of the Oz Network - as in Wizard of) and take down the Evil Empire in our midst. So, of course, when my editor Dave Swindle approached me with the opportunity to partner up with KGB defector Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa for a little intelligence gathering, how could I refuse?

Pacepa’s latest book, Disinformation reads like a Russian epic. The chronicle of facts detailing the Soviet disinformation campaign that disarmed American intellectual, political and academic circles over the course of the 20th century should be a must-read in any conservative’s common core. Having relied on it heavily for my PJ Lifestyle series on the Intellectual Love Affair with Marxism, I finished the book wanting to understand exactly where America is at on the road to socialism, and if the facts fit, why so many conservative outlets hesitated to give Pacepa’s book the time of day. So, I began my interview with 15 questions; a few weeks later Pacepa sent me a 12 page reply to the first question on the list. Tolstoy would’ve been proud. ”I’m out of touch with this generation… you speak their language,” he commented rather poetically. He also gave me an assignment: to decode his knowledge into what the Dude would call “the parlance of our times.”

Like Jay Carney, I have an affinity for the Soviet spectrum. Unlike Jay Carney, the goal of my interest is to avoid becoming a citizen of the next socialist empire to tear apart the globe. So, in the interest of achieving that goal, I seek out primary sources who can give me real information on the warning signs that appear within a culture whose political and popular leadership are driving them dangerously close to the brink of socialism with the goal of autocracy in mind.

The prophet said, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” God has designed a path; we choose to walk down it and eventually realize what we’ve been preparing for all along. My path began in front of a TV and wound up here, in front of a screen that connects millions today with seemingly ancient truths. I invite you now to walk this yellow brick road with me as we study Pacepa’s seeds of truth and, perhaps, get a chance to plant a few of our own so that we can all find the rest we so desperately need.

Editor’s Note: “Part 1: The Mask of Marxism” is scheduled for Monday at 8:00 PST.

wizardofozoff

So, which one is Jack Bauer?

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Is Self-Esteem a Social Construct Or the Soul’s Self-Awareness?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

Superboy

I worried about my son’s inability to read. He seemed far behind other second-graders. When I brought my concerns to his teacher, she brushed my fears aside. ”He is the highest in his reading group.” With her assurance, sprinkled with condescension that hinted education is best left to professionals, my parental instincts were put aside. After all, what parent argues with a teacher who insists a mother should be proud of her child’s hard work and dedication?

Imagine my surprise when at the end of the year, the decision was made to hold the boy back and repeat the grade. The reason? You guessed it–reading. When I pushed-back, reminding Mrs. Professionaleducator of her own words of assurance, she added one small detail previously left out. He was indeed at the top of his reading group–the lowest group in the class.

When he reached the top, she did not advance him to the next level for fear of hurting his self-esteem. He would no longer be the top dog. He would be at the bottom in the new group–with better readers. He would have to struggle to climb back to the top. For this reason alone, the preservation of the boy’s self-esteem, that he was not pushed to the next reading level.

He was reading somewhere around the 1.3 grade level at the end of the second grade. His prized self-esteem, was artificially inflated–something that was quickly and properly adjusted with the news he would not be advancing to the third grade with his friends.

For years, I chalked this experience up to the fact that his teacher just didn’t know my son. If she had, she would have known that putting him at the bottom would have challenged him to climb to the top. His competitive spirit and almost untamable drive would have propelled him over each obstacle put in front of him. Instead, she gave him a dunce cap and told him it was a crown, and rewarded him with a false sense of accomplishment as a foot-rest.

This week’s reading of Ernest Becker’s Birth and Death of Meaning reminded me of that first encounter with an esteem-puffer disguised as an educator. Becker made me rethink how self-esteem is actually built.

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5 Secrets For Thriving In A World When Everything Happens NOW

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Chris Yogerst

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in two parts in September and October of 2013  as “Beating Present Shock: 5 Secrets To Survive 21st Century Technology Overdose“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. 

PresentShockcover

Do you understand how media works? If not, it might control you. Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff’s last book, Program or Be Programmed, took on this question about media and our comprehension of it. Without a working knowledge of how information systems work, Rushkoff argues, we run the risk of being easily duped. This is a common problem and one that is easily battled with a drive towards media literacy, something I teach my students about in undergraduate mass communication courses. The battle does not end here, however, because even if we have a strong grasp of media systems we are not immune to yet another pitfall.

Present Shock.

Just about everyone has come across it, even if you don’t quite know what it is. That feeling you get when you sense there is never enough time and obligations are coming at you from every direction… that’s a piece of it. The good thing is we can fight back and Rushkoff has the tools we need to take control of our lives. In his latest book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, Rushkoff addresses the problem with our “always-on” digital universe. Without a doubt, technology can lead to intellectual and psychological illness, usually in terms of addiction that can ultimately become destructive to every aspect of our life.

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Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

screamingatcomputer

David Swindle has entered the ongoing  discussion on altruism, religion and politics here at PJLifestyle. In doing so, he’s issued a number of great questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks. Jumping back in, I’d like to address them one by one, beginning with:

Walter, Susan, Lisa, and anyone else who’d like to join the discussion: am I going too far when I say that for a good number of people “Conservatism” is a form of idolatry?

No. I’ve had a hard, sad reminder of that through some of the commentary I’ve received on a number of articles in the past few weeks. There are some wonderful, insightful people out there who I’d love to have dinner with some day. And then there’s the passionate base who has time to issue verbose rants: Contradict popular line and you can “F-off”. You know this segment of the population; they are the reason stereotypes exist. But, they also prove the point that there are people out there who worship Conservatism above all else. Ironically, they’re as abusively passionate as those “liberals” they are taught to hate.

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The World Turned Upside Down

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Surrender_of_Lord_Cornwallis

Sarah here. One thing for sure is that the publishing industry (following the footsteps of the music industry, the newspaper industry, and all the lemmings who went before it) would rather die sure of its convictions than change.

They will keep insisting that the old model was right, the new model is wrong, and dang it, people will soon realize and come back to them crying… or something.

My friend Amanda Green posted about this at Mad Genius Club this week. Yet another consultant telling the publishing industry what they want to hear: that ebooks are underpriced at…. what they’re selling for, that people should want to pay more for the “convenience”, that it’s just a rental of a service, and of course if you want it in more than one device, you should pay again.

Really, how many times have we heard this? It started with the traditionals manfully declaring that no, ebooks would never take a significant chunk out of paper sales.  They were a specialty, a fad, a curiosity.  No one really wanted to read on the computer screen (this while the kindle was becoming popular.)  Then we were treated to the spectacle of senior VPs in New York Publishing talking about how much they gave their authors in terms of support, of covers, of editing. Well, that is only going to sound good if you don’t know any mid-list authors who talk.  And even then, the reading public doesn’t care.  Once indie upped its game a little, it competed handily with the bottom of the publisher “support.” And customers bought indie.

Now we’re back to “we really should be able to charge a lot more” and the new twist of “ebooks are so much more convenient.”  (Apparently they got that we’re not lugging our CTR monitors to the bathtub to read there. Who knew?)

From Amanda Green’s article:

Now we have someone who calls himself a pricing consultant telling everyone that e-books aren’t a product but a service. Yep, those publishers and their bean counters are doing dances of glee. Someone finally understands!

“Ebooks should be more expensive than they are, more than print books — a lot more,” said Luby, adding that ebooks are relatively cheap because publishers and retailers don’t properly explain their benefits, namely, convenience.

And now those same publishers and bean counters are singing as they dance. Hallelujah! Someone is finally saying what we’ve said all along.We should be able to charge the reader more for something that costs us less, much less, because it is convenient for the reader.

The astounding thing is that they prefer to do this, to actually looking at other industries that have faced catastrophic change, and which went down the merry path to h*ll by holding on to their old model and paying high-priced consultants to tell them to keep jumping, everything was fine.

My friend and co-blogger Dave Freer has some ideas on how the Publishing Industry could restructure. His ideas are good and he gives them for free, but they won’t listen.  They want to be told everything will go on as it has been, and that their model is viable.

I imagine King George was told that the rebellion in the colonies was a passing fad too.

This is how the world turns upside down.  The old model can’t and won’t adapt, and the new model becomes the only model.

Other industries caught in catastrophic change should take note.  And even those of our governing elites who think that applying an early twentieth century model will work, (and at that one that never worked anywhere) should take note.  The world is changing.  Technology is changing.  If you don’t think of new ways of doing things, the world will change OVER you.

Like King George, they should realize that new places, real or virtual, create a new spirit and the old cudgel won’t bring the desired results. But they won’t….

They’ll go to sleep, telling themselves pretty fairytales.  And while they sleep, we’ll build the future.


Charlie here. This is late again because I’ve spent the whole week dealing with issues caused by the Heartbleed bug. No, that’s not an emo band. I’ll have more about the bug up, but let me just say, I’m usually the guy telling you “Oh, it’s not that serious.” Well, this one’s pretty bad. Check every website you use often, and as soon as they are confirmed to have updated, change your passwords. In particular, if you use Amazon — and I’m guessing you do, since these links aren’t much use otherwise — you should change your password.

Go do it now. I’ll wait.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.


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Witchfinder
By Sarah A Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


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The Unexpecteds
By Kathryn Judson

Out west in Northam, 11-year-old Shayna Miller finds that living underground to escape government persecution is only one problem among many. For instance, her dad never keeps his family in one community very long. It’s almost like he’s running from something horrible in Subterra. But what?

Other books in this series are The Smolder, and The Birdwatcher.


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Why We Raise Belgian Horses
By Kathryn Judson

When famine threatens a small fishing village in 19th-century Norway, 17-year-old Lars and his 5-year-old brother, Torvald, are sent to America to live with their Uncle Anders in the Dakota Territory. When Lars buys his first horse, he accidentally buys a horse that’s widely considered a joke. But that ‘crazy’ horse is about to prove his detractors wrong. Historical fiction. Roughly 78,000 words.


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In the Shadow of Death: Reflections on a Chronic Illness
By Cyn Bagley

When Cyn Bagley became ill in 2002, she thought that it was a case of conjunctivitis and would go away in a week. From eye problems to kidney failure, she tells the story of her diagnosis and treatment. The reflection also contains essays like “half-naked in the doctor’s office,” and “Tales from the Bed.” Even though she deals with a suppressed immune system daily, she has learned that survival is not only physical health, but mental toughness.


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The Reprisal
By Allen Mitchum

The Reprisal chronicles a revenge mission of the world’s deadliest mercenary Fadi Khaldun. A former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past, Fadi sets out to destroy an Iraqi kidnapping ring that brutally killed his client’s son. His relentless and lethal pursuit of the killers through the streets of Baghdad and rural Iraq leads him head on into a startling international criminal conspiracy.

The Reprisal is the first installment in the new Lethal Solutions Short Story Series featuring missions of Fadi Khaldun. The first thirteen chapters of Mitchum’s new full length action thriller Trophy Target also featuring Fadik Khaldun is included as a bonus at the end of The Reprisal.

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Men Should Read Lisa De Pasquale’s Sexy Memoir

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

I just finished Lisa De Pasquale's memoir and I am blown away by her courage and talent. A must-read that says so much about the problems in American religious, political, and popular culture. More blogging coming soon on it now that I'm finished... #god #relationships

Beginning a series on Lisa De Pasquale's memoir, hinting at some of the tough truths she has hidden inside it... #religion #relationships #menandwomen #god #Conservatism #Righteousness #Breitbart

Do not be fooled by the innocent cover and former Conservative Political Action Coordinator (CPAC) coordinator Lisa De Pasquale’s friendly public persona. Her debut book is actually a time bomb waiting to explode. Hidden within an accessible, page-turner narrative running through the ups and downs of her Washington D.C. dating life are actually some eye-popping revelations and very substantive critiques of a culture in crisis.

Parts of Finding Mr. Righteous reminded me of the Anthony Weiner scandals — older ideological leader uses position of authority, admiration of younger women, and his cell phone to fulfill his teenage boy-level sexual urges. But this is the Right side of the aisle where politics and faith mingle more freely and stories like this one in the Daily Mail this week also came to mind as a parallel:  Florida megachurch pastor resigns over accusations. Time and again the charismatic, powerful men preach purity from the pulpit while satisfying their inner pagan in private.

Here’s a passage from page 159 in which “Ryan the Preacher” pulls a Carlos Danger move on Lisa, soliciting her for phone sex:

One of the more eye-popping passages from Lisa De Pasquale's memoir #FindingMrRighteous. A Christian preacher who publicly praises modesty in women in private seeks dominating phone sex fantasies with vulnerable women who look up to him as a moral leader. Page 159. Controversial stuff coming...

“I also want to give you some orders”?

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The Brains of Brawn

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

AmericanBody

If you’re a skeptical gym rat — someone who likes to stay fit, but raises an eyebrow at flash-in-the-pan fitness trends — your curiosity will be piqued by a new book on the history of fitness and exercise in America.

Making the American Body: The Remarkable Saga of the Men and Women Whose Feats, Feuds, and Passions Shaped Fitness History by Jonathan Black is a fascinating whirlwind tour through fitness history, starting with a brief review of ancient Greece and the first Olympics before fast-forwarding to the Chicago World’s Fair.

I went into this book expecting to learn many damning things about gurus who offer false promises of health and pleasure with one hand while taking all your money with the other. What surprised and encouraged me, as I read, was that many fitness pioneers seemed genuinely interested in making people healthier, and helping them to feel more confident and empowered. Mixed with that impulse was, of course, the desire to sell something to those people, and pressure to achieve body image goals — for the bulk of fitness trends, that meant simply fitting into fashionable clothes, but for some of the larger than life (literally) it meant sculpting a body that would make a Greek god quake in his sandals.

The most rewarding strands of the book told the stories of the great bodybuilding pioneers — men (and a few women) who took big muscle out of the circus ring and onto the beach. The personalities that created the American bodybuilding scene were as epic as the muscles they grew. The feuds between lifters, posers, dopers, and hopers is as thrilling as the rush of endorphins after a heavy lift (at least, I think so, remembering that one time I tried it).

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‘It Was Star Wars That Taught Me to Love Science, Fantasy, Music, and Capitalism Simultaneously’

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The previous eight can be read in this collection here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Todd Seavey has written for various libertarian and libertarian-leaning venues including the American Council on Science and Health, Reason, John Stossel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, New York Press, and more. He has also written Justice League comic books for DC Comics, hosts a series of political bar gatherings in New York City, and blogs at ToddSeavey.com. He studied philosophy at Brown University. He is Liberty Island’s comics editor and writer of the punk time travel short story “No Future”  – when not writing, ghostwriting, or TV-producing libertarian non-fiction things.

Seavey, Todd

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

It was Star Wars that taught me to love science, fantasy, music, and capitalism simultaneously. All else is a footnote to Star Wars

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I’m an anarcho-capitalist, that is, a libertarian consistent enough to want all governments completely abolished, from welfare to police to regulators to the military — and replaced by the simple, decentralized, private enforcement of property rights. Any other political position is manifestly insane.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Libertarian writers including David Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and Robert Nozick were big influences, but also skeptical, pro-science writers such as James “the Amazing” Randi.  Together, they made it much easier to imagine life without government and without religion or other supernatural/irrational beliefs.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I grew up in New England, which has a nice history of mellow yet revolutionary sentiment. I now live in Manhattan, which is not mellow.

5. What are your writing goals?

If through non-fiction, comedy, or fiction in various media I can help make people more comfortable thinking they don’t need these systems of collective control, I’ve helped make the world a better place. As a good utilitarian, I just want everyone to be happy.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

I can be found at:

http://www.libertyislandmag.com/creator/ToddSeavey/home.html

http://ToddSeavey.com

http://Twitter.com/ToddSeavey

http://Facebook.com/ToddSeavey

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYxVSpZ_GvBeVMWPcNT32Nw

7.What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I’ve hosted debates in New York City for years that have brought together some rather opinionated and eccentric characters, but it is always my hope that the larger goal of learning from each other will overcome the short-term philosophical or personal scuffles, just as the cantina at Mos Eisley continues to operate despite fights among the clientele.

An Excerpt from Todd Seavey’s “No Future”

DATA LOG, Octobriana-768F android.

“The President must die, John. You have to kill him for me. That’s how history is supposed to unfold.”
Simulating voice of: Jodie Foster, actress (reference: Taxi Driver).

Processing.

Viewing: Subject: John Hinckley.

Processing.

Time: March 1, 1981.

Processing.

Subject Hinckley speaks:

“Then we can be together? A few months ago, when I tried to visit you at Yale, you stopped answering my phone calls. I thought it was hopeless and that we could never be together.”

Reference: September 17, 1980: visit by Subject Hinckley to template-human’s educational institution. Feign recollection.

“John, I was very busy. I had just started the school year. It was unfair of me to ignore you.”

Processing.

Ensure Subject Hinckley does not deviate from familiar historical pattern. Affirm desirability of Ronald Reagan’s death, as recorded on March 30, 1981.

“The only thing I need to convince me that you’re serious about your love for me is the one last deed.”

Processing.

Eye contact, firm pressure on right arm. “You are meant to shoot the President. Our future depends on it.”

Accessing internal history files: March 30, 1981.

ABC News television broadcast. Glimpse of bloodied body of Target: Ronald Wilson Reagan. Two newspaper cameramen stumble backwards and Subject Hinckley is wrestled to the ground. White House Press Secretary James Brady lies nearby. A head wound, but he will recover. His role in the events of later years is not significant.
Newscaster Frank Reynolds speaking: “After some earlier confusion, we now have more details nailed down on today’s incident outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. President Ronald Reagan is dead. He was shot and killed by a gunman–possibly mentally unbalanced, we do not yet know–named John Warnock Hinckley, Jr. The nation has not yet had time to mourn, and already the speculation begins about how this could affect the economy, negotiations with the Soviet Union, and countless other political factors. Once again: confirmed now, the President of the United States is dead.”

Processing.

Subject Hinckley must not deviate from historical role. Approximate warm smile. Subject Hinckley appears happy. The hooligans must be prevented from interfering with him.

*

EXCERPT from interview with lead singer of the Russian band Divisigoths, from Spinningmagazine, Oct. 2016:

SPINNING: Is it safe to assume your new album is called More because it will be a lot like your previous album, Timelines?

JIMMY SALVO (singer/bassist): No, album is called More because album marks 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s stupid book Utopia.

SPINNING: Ah. Is it safe, then, to guess that this will be another big “political concept album,” like Timelines, which described an alternate history in which Ronald Reagan died early in his presidency and the Soviet Union took over the world? Isn’t doing these big art rock projects risky for a punk-influenced band? I think it was Dave Whitney from the band the Elizabeth Tailors who once warned, “Eight-minute songs about gnomes are just wrong.”

JIMMY SALVO: Timelines was not “concept album”! Always we are saying this. Was truest pieces of what band was feeling back in 2012, when we go through some, hey, you know, really weird shit, man.

SPINNING: And by “really weird shit” you mean time travel? [laughs] Ah, so…Divisigoths are “real” time travelers sort of the way, shall we say, the band Gwar is a bunch of “real” monsters from outer space, is that fair to say?

JIMMY SALVO: Gwar is just joke for children! Divisigoths traveled through time!

*

ELECTRONIC MEMO to Vladimir Putin, Minister of Internal Affairs, Global Soviet Alliance, London Office, Dec. 22, 2012 (from Physics Institute Director Gurevich):

It is with deepest regret that my office confirms the earlier report of an unforeseen complication at the Chernogolovka facility.

Despite my earlier objections, test subjects chosen for our initial time travel experiments were all young convicts, supposedly eager to redeem themselves in the eyes of the state by volunteering to participate. One of them was prone to the wearing of counter-revolutionary stilyagi and punk clothing and, prior to his time under the careful supervision of the Institute, was in a rock n’ roll band known as the Divisigoths, calling himself “Jimmy Salvo” in an obvious attempt to suggest American aesthetic sympathies.

We believe that yesterday he broke into the facility and activated the time travel device without authorization, entering the past with three of his former bandmates. We also suspect we know his temporal destination. Salvo, according to former associates, had lately become fixated on the conspiracy theory hypothesis that if Ronald Reagan, the last American president, had not been assassinated on March 30, 1981, the Soviet Global Alliance might never have triumphed and forged a single world democratic republic.

I realize how speculative and abnormal all of this must sound–and I refer you to the enclosed diagrams in which I attempt a graphic explanation of how our present experiences might be only short-term, lingering residue of a version of history that has already been erased.

Though our current perceptions–my eyes on the words of this memo, my fingers on this keyboard–would seem to suggest that reality as we know it endures, I humbly suggest we discuss countermeasures immediately.

Loyally,

Dr. Aleksandr Viktorovich Gurevich

Director, Physics Institute

Chernogolovka

Read the rest at Liberty Island…

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How to Go Galt: 5 Controversial Tips For Enjoying America’s Coming Collapse

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in March of 2013 as “5 Controversial Ways to Enjoy the Decline of America“  It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Is America in decline?

I’ve been hearing the United States compared to the Roman Empire since around the 1970s, and I’m sure those apocalyptic sentiments were being expressed long before I was born.

However, it’s difficult to read and watch all the depressing stuff posted here on PJ Media and elsewhere and not conclude that, this time, it’s on.

America’s going Gibbon.

Some books propose possible ways to avert this catastrophe.

Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy the Decline isn’t one of them.

As his subtitle suggests, this book is about “accepting and living with the death of the United States.”

It’s full of counterintuitive, amusing, and sometimes infuriating advice:

What country should I move to?

What should I pack in a bug-out bag?

Why don’t black people go to national parks?

This book features something to offend everyone.

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If You Read Only One Book About the Middle East This Year, It Should Be Caroline Glick’s

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by David P. Goldman

glick_israeli_solution_cover_4-2-14-1

By any standard, the Palestinian problem involves the strangest criteria in modern history.

To begin with, refugees are defined as individuals who have been forced to leave their land of origin. A new definition of refugee status, though, was invented exclusively for Palestinian Arabs, who count as refugees their descendants to the nth generation.

All the world’s refugees are the responsibility of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, except for the Palestinians, who have their own refugee agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. Among all the population exchanges of the 20th century — Greeks for Turks after World War I, Hindus for Moslems after the separation of India and Pakistan after World War II, Serbs for Croats after the breakup of Yugoslavia during the 1980s — the Palestinians alone remain frozen in time, a living fossil of long-decided conflicts.

Some 700,000 Jews were expelled from Muslim countries where they had lived in many cases more than a thousand years before the advent of Islam, and most of them were absorbed into the new State of Israel with a territory the size of New Jersey; 700,000 or so Arabs left Israel’s Jewish sector during the 1948 War of Independence, most at the behest of their leaders, but few were absorbed by the vast Muslim lands surrounding Israel.

Instead, the so-called refugees were gathered in camps (now for the most part towns with a living standard much higher than that of the adjacent Arab countries thanks to foreign aid) and kept as a human battering ram against Israel, whose existence the Muslim countries cannot easily accept.

Some 10 million Germans who had lived for generations in what is now Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic were driven out at the end of World War II (more than half a million died in the great displacement).

Imagine that Germany had kept these 10 million people in camps for 70 years and that their descendants now numbered 40 million — and that Germany demanded on pain of war restitution of everything from the Sudetenland to Kaliningrad (the former Konigsberg). That is a fair analogy to the Palestinian position.

It is a scam, a hoax, a put-on, a Grand Guignol theatrical with 5 million extras. Because polite opinion bows to the sensibilities of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims, it is treated in all seriousness.

As a matter of full disclosure, I want to put my personal view on record: The mainstream view amounts to a repulsive and depraved exercise in hypocrisy that merits the harshest punishment that a just God might devise.

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8 Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Writers on the Cutting Edge

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
shutterstock_115485880

Where to go to load up on exciting fiction…

Editor’s Note: This is the second collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. (See this first here.) Each weekend we’ll expand this compilation to include the authors featured during the week. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

4. Ray Zacek: The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

5. Keith Korman: ‘I Have No Friends: I Make My Mind My Friend.

6. Abbey Clarke: A Demon’s Heart: Can Evil Incarnate Ever Find Salvation?

7. Jamie Wilson: A Gen-X Gandalf Mom Casting Thomas Sowell Spells

8. Clay Waters: ‘You Obviously Feel This Ocean Mythos Deep In Your DNA…’

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Witchfinder: How to Use Your Blog to Write a Novel

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
It's the day before the launch and I'm biting my nails.

It’s the day before the launch and I’m biting my nails.

Hi this is Sarah. The ever excellent Kristine Kathryn Rusch did a post this Tuesday about the element of surprise. She says – and I believe her – that it’s an excellent way to catch reader’s attention and to get sales you might otherwise not have gotten.

I think she is right, but the surprise I gave to those who follow my group writing blog at Mad Genius Club this week was quite unintentional.

You see, I’m releasing my very first indie novel on Saturday the 5th. No, I’m not leaving Baen, and I hope they’re not firing me any year soon. This novel is not quite a Baen novel and it was also part of an experiment: I wrote it over a year and a half, a chapter a week on my blog.

When it started, I’ll confess that all I wanted to do was avoid having to think up a topic for posts on Friday, since it’s my cleaning day and I usually wake up groggy and grouchy at the prospect of dealing with cat boxes. A chapter in a continuing saga is often easier than thinking up something to astound the world every single day of the week. (Okay, I didn’t say it did astound the world. Only that this is what I aim for.)

So I started writing it, and I promised those who contributed $6 to the novel fund that I would send them the ebook format of their choice for the final collated product. That’s how it started. Next thing I knew I’d made what used to be a standard advance for a beginner in my field – five thousand dollars. (Now it’s three thousand dollars. Good thing that inflation is going backwards for us writers!)

This put it on a different footing than “blog filler.” I decided I would revise it – once it was all done – and give it a professional level cover, professional level editing (after all, it had “paid” for this) and release it as well as I could.

Turns out there were many detours on the way. For instance, three of the artists sort of disappeared, and the fourth delivered a cover that wasn’t quite right for the book. So I had to figure out another cover, which involved a bit of improvisation. My editor used a program that didn’t speak to my program, so before I could access his edits, I panicked and sent it to two other editors. Then I got the flu just before I started the final work on the book.

Even now, things aren’t quite as planned. I planned a paper/ebook release at the same time, but the book is about 50% larger than anything I’ve previously typeset, and requires different margins and gutter. At the moment I’m fighting it. When I set the book for release tomorrow, I will – if I can – set up the paperback for pre-order. Unless I can’t figure out how, in which case, rest assured it will be coming out in about two weeks.

Anyway – my post at Mad Genius Club betrayed my nervousness at the whole process… And it shocked my readers who are indie-published themselves. One asked me if I got this nervous when a traditional book is published. Another asked why, after 23 (I think, I haven’t counted lately) novels, I’d be getting nervous about THIS one.

Well – because it’s indie.

The good thing about indie is that it’s all my responsibility. By which I mean, I don’t have to stand by helplessly while someone else overlooks something obvious or neglects some clear step on the way to the launch, as happened with, say, the third one of my musketeer mysteries. (The cover of the third was too similar to the first, so you know… since they came out three months apart, people got confused.) You don’t have to worry that your book will be given an awful cover. You certainly don’t have to worry that the blurb put on it will be completely insane.

… on the other hand…

The bad thing about indie is that it’s all my responsibility. In the past, while bringing out my backlist or short stories, I’ve found I’m a long way from infallible.

Because the indie publishing is a part time job and usually undertaken at night or on weekends after a full week of writing, strange things happen. I’ve had covers go up with a “ghost” of the title – misspelled at that – showing on the bottom. (I was overdue on my glasses prescription and missed it until a reader asked me what it meant.) I’ve had books go up that had appalling mistakes, because I uploaded the wrong file. I’ve had books go up and fail to sell a single copy.

(These were, fortunately, so far, short stories.)

I’m going to try very hard not to do this with Witchfinder. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time I invent a completely new mistake to make. In fact, you could say that’s pretty much my pattern.

I could put Witchfinder up and find out I put up the wrong file. Or the wrong cover. Or that I forgot the copyright notice. Or that I set copyright in 2114. (Laugh. I did that with one of the reprints.)

Or I could put it up and – despite the fact that the first readers and early subscribers are raving about it – I could discover that everyone else hates it.

I used to think it was bad enough to submit my book to the editor and get it rejected. What if I put the book up, now, and the whole world rejects it? Even worse – what if not a single copy sells?

Wish me luck. I’ll be in the corner, biting my nails.

[Good luck! --C]


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


cover

Astronomical Odds
Edited by Juliana Rew

A new collection of science fiction stories with a mathematical twist.


cover

Pandora’s Memories
By AUTHOR

December 1943. Adolf Hitler is dead. Queen Elizabeth II reigns on the Commonwealth throne while a usurper sympathetic to the Nazis inhabits Buckingham Palace. Having turned aside the Soviet Union’s initial assault into the Greater Reich, the Wehrmacht is now stymied at the gates of Moscow. With the Red Air Force bloodied, the Kremlin under steady blows from the Luftwaffe, and Joseph Stalin comatose, the desperate Soviet Triumvirate turns to the United States in a plea for aid against the mutual Nazi foe. Indifferently equipped, the young men of the American Air Expeditionary Force (AAEF) are thrown into action in order to keep the Soviet Union in the war.

December 1965. Tabitha Cobb, a Masters student at Berkley University, sets out to learn the truth about the AAEF and the scars it left on its survivors. Attempting to earn a scholarship, Tabitha quickly learns that sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.

“Pandora’s Memories” is an alternate history short story that is the first in the Usurper’s War series.


cover

Stolen Lives
By G.K. Masterson

Who are you, really? Who would you be if your memories, your identity, and your life were taken away from you, leaving you a bare, blank slate?

Matt Tyler no longer remembers who he was. His life prior to waking up at the Farm might well have never been lived. Was he married? Did he have children? And what of these strange dreams he has? Gwen Marshall no longer recalls her life but she knows that something is missing. She struggles to regain her memories and her identity, determined to fight her way free of the haze — even if it kills her. Together, Matt and Gwen make their way through this strange, new world, following their dreams and the vague hints that offer tantalizing glimpses of who they were and who they might become…


cover

Dragontamer’s Daughters, Part 1: Pearl
By Kenton Kilgore

It is the unforgiving high desert of an alternate Old West, where the native people defend their lands with dragons very different from the fire-breathing monsters of our legends. Where sisters Isabella and Alijandra scratch out a meager life with their exiled parents.

Into their lives comes a small, injured dragon from far away. While caring for it, the girls discover its strange and terrifying powers—and learn that the hunt for their father, an outlawed former dragontamer, has intensified. At the same time, the dragon grows more and more compelled to complete the mysterious journey that brought her to these lonely lands.


cover

Dragontamer’s Daughters, Part 2: Stormcaller
By Kenton Kilgore

The story of the dragontamer’s daughters continues. After finding and tending a small, injured dragon, sisters Isabella and Alijandra try to keep “Pearl,” as they call her, a secret. But others find out, and want Pearl—and her powers—for their own purposes.

Soon, the girls will be forced to contend with the native people on whose lands they live. With the ambitious governor whose soldiers hunt their father. With a man who has no name but wields immense, eerie powers. With Pearl’s yearning to fulfill her journey. And with their own dreams and wishes for a life they once lived—and might live again.


cover

Perchance to Dream
By Cyn Bagley

Kat Igardson is a visionary, a psychic, and a protector, but doesn’t gain her hereditary powers until the death of her Grandma. Daisy Amulda, a black witch, is stripped of her power by her father. These two unlikely women become allies to fight an evil that corrupts and taints Earth and its innocents.

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Confessions of a Failed Slut

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

confessions2

I (finally) have two new books coming out this year.

The first is a short-and-not-so-sweet Kindle edition that was commissioned by Thought Catalog.

Confessions of a Failed Slut expands on themes I’ve explored at Another Conservative Web Site, where I accidentally — almost by default — found myself working the “sex” beat.

Which is odd because I’m the least likely “sex writer” around.

I’m 50, I’m married and — as I admit in the book, “my ‘number’ (as the kids call it these days) is so low that in certain Australian provinces I would still be considered a virgin.”

I write as a one-time Catholic school girl who never managed to shake off that early formation entirely — thank goodness.

The book looks back at the old timey kings of porn like Hefner and Guccione, and the whole toxic “do your own thing” ethos of my formative years, the 1970s.

Fast forward to today, and I try to make sense of “dinosaur erotica, slut shaming and robot hookers of the near future.”

I invite you to check it out — there’s already a review at Amazon! — and incidentally, you don’t need a Kindle to read Confessions of a Failed Slut; you can just download a free Kindle reading app from Amazon and read it on your computer or smart phone.

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You’ll Never Guess What This Post is Ranting About

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

Is anybody else as fed up as I am by the trend of ultra-vague headlines and subheads on online articles? Upworthy made the format extremely popular; nearly all of their headlines or subheads are some variation on:

…will make you laugh, then cry

You’ll never believe #7!

What happened next will blow your mind

They didn’t exactly invent the idea of teasing the audience into reading more, but they definitely put their own unique stamp on the form and optimized it for social media sharing. Vague, but personal, headlines and subject lines were also popularized by the 2012 Obama campaign, which had unprecedented success rates with its email campaigns. The marketing world was slavering to learn what the Obama campaign did to generate such fantastic open rates, and part of the answer came down to their short, personal subject lines: “Hey,” “Check this out,” etc; the kind of subject line you’d write in an email to a friend.

Now nearly every marketing email that fills my inbox (and spam box) has a subject line like “Hey,” “Thought you’d like this,” or “For you.” Meanwhile, my Facebook feed is choked with articles whose meta-descriptions (the short block of text that appears below the headline) range from terse to nearly non-existent: “This will blow your mind,” “I couldn’t stop laughing at #4,” or  a simple “Heartbreaking.” And the more I see this, the less I click. Obviously the technique still works (or I wouldn’t still be seeing it everywhere) but it makes me wonder how long this trend will keep up before over-saturation renders it completely useless.

I used to click vague headlines like that because I wanted to find out what the article was about. Now I don’t click, because I’m tired of winding up on articles I have relatively little interest in. A good headline should tease the contents of an article, leaving something up to the reader’s imagination, to tantalize him into continuing reading. But a good headline should also give enough information to let the reader know what to expect — am I about to click through to a foreign policy expose or a video about baby pandas?

Writing an excellent headline like the one described above takes a lot of hard work and skill. It’s admittedly a skill I’m still working on — as my editor could tell you, after my numerous pleas for help. It’s especially difficult to write one for your own piece, which is why, within magazine, newspaper, and blog staffs, many times one person will wind up writing the headline for another person’s story. Vaguelining is a clever, and effective, trick, but maybe part of the reason I resent it so much is because it’s so easy. Anyone can write a vagueline. Maybe I just hope it goes out of style so I won’t feel so alone in the crowd of writers who struggle to craft good headlines.

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How the American Library Association Created a New Porn Craze

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Megan Fox

While researching how public libraries became a popular spot for weirdos to go and watch porn (especially child porn) on free, untraceable WiFi, I discovered something truly hideous. There is an entire community out there who film themselves masturbating in libraries (usually while watching porn on publicly funded WiFi) and then upload these videos to [...]

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The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Ray Zacek is a retired fed, now a tax consultant authorized to practice before the IRS. He has also pursued, with indefatigable and stubborn persistence, an avocation as a writer which he now seeks to convert to a vocation, defined as that endeavor which brings in money and status. Born in Chicago, he has lived in California (back when cars had fins and tiny bungalows were reasonably priced), Colorado, North Carolina and Seattle, Washington, residing in Tampa, Florida since 1983. He has written short stories, novels, novellas, tweets, irate letters to the editor, precious bon mots, and plays, both long and short. His full-length play, Desperados, was produced by Stageworks at Gorilla Theater in 2004. He is currently at work on another play, The Devil Takes Care of His Own, about the notorious Tampa bootlegger and gambler Charlie Wall; and a darkly comic horror novel about a lethal north Florida Elvis cult, Don’t Be Cruel.

Zacek,-Ray

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Shakespeare, the secular saint, of course. And I continue to read Dante, in both Italian and the Hollander translation. Swift and the English Augustans; I received a lasting indoctrination in that literature in a class at Northern Illinois University taught by a renegade Irish monk named Shesgreen; he was a leftist, which I abjure, but he gave me perpetual safe passage through the excesses of Romanticism and for that I am grateful. American writers: Hemingway (The Killers, In Another Country and Che Ti Dice La Patria rank among my favorite short stories), David Mamet, Cormac McCarthy, Donald Barthelme, Dashiell Hammett. Poe, of course. And Melville: every few years I reread Bartleby (Billy Budd and Benito Cereno too). I grew up, in the Chicago suburbs, watching Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which may account for my predilection for the macabre, odd, droll and dark. As for movies, I never got over seeing Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil during formative years.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

If I had to pin myself ideologically, let it be classical liberal (the trifecta: limited government, individual liberty, free markets).  I accept neither political party; political parties are highly oxygenated, rube goldbergian constructions by which politicians maintain themselves in power and manage the fractious coalitions that have, like carnival or revival crowds, flocked under the tent. Honest men in politics, it is said, are like virgins in a whorehouse; if they go there at all, they do not last long. Having worked 30 years for the federal government, for one of its most onerous agencies, the IRS (today even more onerous, thank you, Lois!), and now collecting its pension, I’d be a fool and hypocrite to be anti-government and anti-taxation. I believe in light regulation and lower taxes (I grew up in a frugal middle class household, immigrant grandparents from the Old Country, who firmly believed you ought to keep your money), and that government functions, and maintains the trust of its citizens, when it operates within limits, preferably constitutional, pitchforks and torches being too labor intensive.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Confessional: I was a Standard Liberal, brain dead and reflexively voting Democrat until Y2K. Then, late in life, I reassessed. I read Camille Paglia, an independent and outspoken liberal, thus shattering complacency. I started reading David Horowitz (I have an autographed copy of Radical Son) and listening to Rush Limbaugh. I will make no reference to Damascus or Pauline conversion, which would be pretentious as hell, but at that point in my life there was no turning back. I started reading Hayek, Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, and David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

Nativity: Chicago, Little Company of Mary Hospital, Evergreen Park, Illinois. Grew up in Palos Hills on the outer edge of Cook County, at the time, way out there the busses didn’t run. That area of SW Cook County was, in legend, where you went when you were taken for a ride during the Capone era; bodies turned up there.  I have lived in, or have strong ties to and often visited, Texas, Arizona, California, Seattle, Denver, and North Carolina, living in Florida since 1983.

5. What are your writing goals?

Two hundred fifty to five hundred words a day, often simply exercises or tangents that I organize as Fragments; if a particular Fragment starts to cohere over time, it may graduate to a Work in Progress and a Work in Progress, after indefatigable effort, is sometimes Finished. Currently, I am at work on a darkly comic/horror novel, Don’t Be Cruel, about a north Florida Elvis cult, as well as short stories: one about a man covered with tats (of course, being a horror story, they are not tats), another a noir story about Jimmy from Algiers, a Louisiana hit man in love in Texas.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

Other than FB, Twitter and an amazon page I have no real presence on line.  Website TBD.

7. Hobbies?

Mi piacciono tutte cose italiano: especially, Beretta pistols (owning an M9 and a 3032 Tomcat); Nardini grappa, cedro ormandorla; and Monica Bellucci. The history of Rome, republican and empire, retains my interest, as it did the Founders. And I’ve always been crazy about Westerns and film noir.

An Excerpt from “Chrysalis” by Ray Zacek… 

Welcome to Leclerc USA, thought Coffman as he cruised down a potholed stretch of highway called Memorial Boulevard. Some of the potholes were real craters.

Leclerc County, its county seat the mid-sized city of the same name, was one of the poorest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the southeast United States. This had been abundantly evident to Coffman as he had driven from the airport past the abandoned storefronts, several of them burned out; derelict shopping malls and cheap by-the-month, by-the-week, by-the-hour motels. Pawnshops proliferated. Many of the billboard signs on the highway were blank or shredded, others peppered with holes that looked like small-arms fire.

I go where they send me, thought Coffman. Even here to Somalia on the Mississippi.

“This is highly irregular,” said Dr. Ahmad Jones after Coffman parked the flex-fuel Ford Fueron SUV outside the county morgue and got out.

The county’s Medical Examiner wore a charcoal gray wool suit and a tie despite the heat and humidity. Coffman thanked the ME for taking time to meet on such short notice, this banal and perfunctory statement being more or less obligatory, and offered him the folding plastic case that displayed Coffman’s federally issued ID.

“Is there a problem with my credentials?” Coffman asked, knowing there wasn’t. His credentials were in perfect form: impressive-looking, innocuous, and completely deceptive, a screen meant to conceal his actual function from petty local satraps like Doctor Ahmad Jones.

Don’t alarm the public was the basic tenet of the job. Don’t alarm the public, and get in and out quickly. And Coffman, who lived in a high-rise condo between D.C. and Baltimore, wanted to get out of Leclerc as soon as humanly possible.

“No, Mr. Coffman, there is no problem with your credentials,” Jones said, handing them back. The ME was agitated.

“Something else?”

“This investigation, I must say, is highly irregular. I want to go on record as saying.”

“Duly noted.”

“And you can’t park there. That’s a handicapped space.”

In the vast parking area, simmering in the heat, there were only three vehicles: the rental that Coffman had picked up at the airport; a late-model white Lexus in the space reserved for the ME; and a real piece of shit, a pond scum-green Buick with primer-gray fenders and a cracked windshield, its muffler hanging by a wire, in staff parking.

“Are you kidding me?”

Jones made a squeezed-lemon face. “No, Mr. Coffman, I am not a jocular man.”

“Jocular?”

“I do not indulge in humor or badinage.”

“I’m not moving the car,” said Coffman. He was a stocky, muscular man and he put on his no-nonsense, hard-as-concrete face. The ME was older and smaller–bantamweight.

“Hmph,” said Jones, frowning and peering at Coffman through red horn-rimmed glasses. “Very well then.”

Coffman gestured toward the building. “Shall we go in?”

The complex was housed in leased premises where a now-defunct computer superstore formerly operated. It was a snowfall white, cube-shaped edifice, modernist and bland, with a bright orange trim.

“One moment,” said Jones, “while I speak to my wife.” He strode to the Lexus and said a few hushed words to the young woman in a hijab sitting behind the wheel. Her face was the color of cocoa, her features soft and compliant. She nodded, started the Lexus, dropped it in gear and backed up, zigzagged, and pulled out. Doctor Jones watched her drive away. Then he strode back toward Coffman. “Let us proceed. This way, Mr. Coffman.”

Read the Rest at Liberty Island

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Give Me Back My Spaceships and Dinosaurs

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt

kansas

Lately I’ve been going through books I’ve been lugging around for 30 years and putting some of them up for sale. Part of this is because we plan to move as soon as possible to a place that’s easier for me to manage and clean while running a fully-time job in writing (and indie publishing.)

Part of it is that I’m allergic to household dust, and paper books are paper magnets.

Notwithstanding which, you couldn’t have pried my books out of my hands save for the Kindle paperwhite, which makes it easy and fun to read books in a format other than paper.

Anyway, I’m digging through a 30 year accumulation of books, some of which I’ve read multiple times, and some I might have read once, twenty three years ago, while on bed-rest with my first pregnancy – a time when I got so desperate for entertainment I sent my husband to the local library/remaindered sales with the largest suitcases we owned and told him ”Just fill it to the top.”

Then there are books I don’t remember having bought at any time and no one in the house admits to having bought. No, not that kind of book. Though one of the sets is a complete series of engineering manuals, and it had a similar effect on my younger son as those other books you were thinking of. He has absconded with them into his bedroom and I expect we’ll see him again when he’s digested the contents and not a minute before.

And then there are other books which, presumably, I bought, but have completely forgotten.

One of these: The Shores of Kansas by Robert Chilson made me stop. The cover shows a man battling two dinosaurs and it says “the mind-boggling epic adventure of a time-traveler torn between two nightmare worlds.”

I have no memory of having read – or bought – this book. And perhaps it is really bad. Don’t care. It’s going to be my bedtime read tonight.

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3 Politically Incorrect Fantasy Writers You Don’t Want to Miss

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the first collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Each weekend we’ll expand this collection to include the authors featured during the week. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

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I Read Dead People

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
It came from the bookstore, and it wants your sales!

It came from the bookstore, and it wants your sales!

They’re dead. And they outsell you.

This is Sarah. Lately I’ve been culling my used books. That is, the books on my shelves that I need to get rid of if we ever (let alone this year, which we’d like to, though I’ll admit is not looking likely) are to move.

Several things have changed, since the last time I’ve done this 21 years ago when moving from Columbia, South Carolina, to Colorado.  First of all my son, who had to be put in a playpen to keep him from running around while I sorted books and teething on the Agatha Christies is now 22 and is helping me enter stuff for sale on Amazon.  Second, we’re getting rid of way more books, proportionally.  (In total too, since it’s a 21 year accumulation instead of seven.)

We’re getting rid of almost everything except my research books (I can’t do research on the kindle.  It simply won’t work.) signed books by friends, books which aren’t available in e-format (Brother Cadfael, at least last I checked) and books which I’m likely to re-read at least once a year (so, all of Heinlein.)

I’m picking up every book and going “justify your existence to me, in this format.”  Because… in 21 years the world has changed and the ability to read on the kindle paper white means I don’t have to have bookcases in every room and the attic and basement filled with boxes. I can carry my reading needs with me wherever I go. Even the research books are getting culled. I’m now fairly sure I will never write anything set during the Russian revolution, for instance. I just don’t like the period enough.

Anyway, so as we’re culling these books and putting them up on Amazon, my son first noticed something: some of the old writers still fetch a good price, even though you’d think the world would be flooded with their books: Agatha Christie, Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke.

Then I started noticing other patterns. It’s gotten to the point if a book has a gorgeous cover and obviously got lots of publisher push, I know the hard cover, used, five years later, will be selling for one cent. OTOH you come across these books that look like they were thrown together with a clip art cover by an illiterate intern, and the paperback goes for $70 a copy.

The latter was a sign of how out of touch with what customers really wanted publishing got to be in the last few decades.  They printed some books way too tight, thereby making their copies precious, while they pushed books that really had no market.

On the other hand, if you look at how the greats of the past and how they’re selling, it proves that there is a deep market just waiting to happen.

It is a sobering notion that I’m being outsold — massively outsold as my indie sales this month were painful — by a bunch of dead people.  But it is also an incentive to try harder.

The good thing about indie is that all your sales depend on you. That’s the bad thing too of course.  but over all, I’m glad of it.  My own failures is something I can deal with. Other people’s are out of my control.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


cover

Cat’s Paw
By Robert A Hoyt

The Mountain at The End Of The World upon which a bird sharpens its beak is down to where one more beak-wipe will eliminate it, and thus bring about the end of the universe. The only ones who can save us are… a bunch of stray cats.


Pager
By Gerry Garibaldi

Does romance have a future? It’s the year 2165, and one man thinks so… As a pager, Peter Mandrin’s job is to track things down – criminals, shipments, missing transports, anything that turns a profit – and he’s just sacked the catch of a lifetime, infamous embezzler Roger Finlay. As a reward Mandrin wins Finlay’s vintage 1960’s four bedroom, ranch-style house, complete with sports court and old-fashioned swimming pool, on the most expensive planet in the universe, Earth. From low-life pager, he’s hit the sweet, sweet big-time. In Pager two hundred years have passed and a hostile, canyon-like divide has developed between men and women. Marriage is an arcane word, mutual suspicion abounds, and Wallys (artificial life) fill in the emotional void. Up to now, it’s just been Peter and his insouciant, sexy Wally, Debris, the replicant woman of his dreams. That is, until he meets the real woman who lives next door, the mysterious Wendy Roseland. In Wendy, Peter discovers that the human touch and passions it arouses are greater than anything he imagined. Unlike Debris, it’s Wendy imperfections that beguile him the most. In her arms, he suddenly feels the ticking clock of his own mortality — and it frightens him. He wants to be with her forever. When Wendy suddenly flees the planet, Peter does what he does best: tracks down the truth behind her disappearance.


cover

Hubris:The Azdhagi Reborn
By Alma T.C. Boykin

What price empire?

A genetics research team promised they could make the Azdhagi endothermic, larger, and perhaps telepathic. All they needed was permission to modify two little genes. But remaking the species triggered a crisis no one could have imagined, when genetic modification collided with greed and a touch of madness. As a generation of juniors begins dying, long-simmering disputes within the Azdhag Pack boil into near civil war. King Emperor Seetoh needs all his strength to hold the Empire together. Can Lords Tarkeela and Kirlin set aside their fight long enough to help reunify the Pack?

When disaster strikes, OutClan and PackLord must hunt together or the Azdhagi will perish.

A novel, set 400 years before A Cat Among Dragons.


Sufficient Ransom: A Novel
By Sylvia Sarno

Ever wonder what it feels like to have it all—family, career, health, money—and not be happy? Ann Olson takes her life for granted until her young son, Travis, disappears from the backyard one evening. Searching for her son, Ann throws caution to the wind. Soon, she finds herself enmeshed in the seedy world of Mexican drug dealers who operate just across the border in Tijuana. Does Ann, an atheist, embrace Christianity despite her husband warning that her pastor friend is more interested in converting her than in finding Travis? Does she make it out of the drug tunnel alive, or is her rashness her downfall? And is Travis’s disappearance related to that of other recently missing children in San Diego? A story of a mother’s love, courage in the face of evil, and her unexpected journey of self-discovery along the way.


cover

The Musketeer’s Apprentice
By Sarah A. Hoyt (writing as Sarah D’Almeida)

It’s August in Paris 1625 and Porthos, once a dancing and fencing master, has taken as apprentice a young nobleman, whom he’s teaching to fence and ride. When the young man dies, poisoned, the stories of his ancestry and domicile unravel into layer after layer of deception and blackmail, involving Porthos’s relatives and his own past.

Can Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D’Artagnan dodge the Cardinal’s guards while finding the real murderer? Who was Guillaume Jaucourt, and who could have killed him? And why?

It’s one for all and all for one with the swashbuckling sleuths, in a race against time and their own misgivings.

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Get Fit or Die

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg
via

Pudgy Stockton (via)

Do we work out for health or beauty? Yes.

I’m in the middle of reading Making the American Body: The Remarkable Saga of the Men and Women Whose Feats, Feuds, and Passions Shaped Fitness History by Jonathan Black. (Full review to come.)

So far, it’s enormously entertaining and enlightening, and I’m recommending it to friends already. Interestingly, it focuses more on the clash of personalities (and marketing styles) than on the fitness methods themselves. But what stood out to me is how so many marketing campaigns for fitness regimes, dating all the way back to the nineteenth century, played on fear and shame. Apparently every era of American society has teetered on a crisis of emasculation and/or unhealthiness. And that crisis also happens to necessitate buying lots of new equipment, accessories, and specialty food, so we can fit into the clothes that exalt the body type that the fitness trend tells us we must have.

Another thing that stood out to me was the changing shape of the “ideal” woman. One of my favorite stories from the book so far (and a welcome note of positive, encouraging marketing) was that of Pudgy Stockton. Pudgy’s nickname originated in her chunky teen years, but she shed the pounds and gained a very different reputation on Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach. A smiling, playful fitness icon, Pudgy is credited with demonstrating to women of her generation that females can lift weights without losing their femininity — and that lifting can even enhance their womanly curves. It was refreshing to see a female fitness icon who didn’t look like she could fit through the eye of a needle — but was still healthy, attractive, and feminine.

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Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Mike Baron is the creator of Nexus (with artist Steve Rude) and Badger two of the longest lasting independent superhero comics. Nexus, about a cosmic avenger 500 years in the future, appears monthly in Dark Horse Presents. There are twelve hardbound volumes from Dark Horse. Badger, about a multiple personality, one of whom is an animal rights champion, will appear in 2014 from a resurgent First Comics. Baron has written The Punisher, Flash, Deadman and Star Wars among many other titles. He also writes novels. You can find them on Amazon.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Uncle Scrooge, John D. MacDonald, Philip Jose Farmer.  You cannot imagine the impact LAWRENCE OF ARABIA had on me when I first saw it at age fourteen. Today I admire and try to emulate, at least in so far as moral fiction, David Mamet and Andrew Klavan. My mind is a fever swamp of monster movies, comic books and rock and roll.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Conservative with libertarian leanings.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Cicero, Epictetus, David Mamet, Thomas Sowell, Ayn Rand.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I am from the leftist sinkhole Madison, Wisconsin.  I live in Colorado.

5.  What are your writing goals?

“You make ‘em laugh a little bit, you make ‘em cry a little bit, you scare the hell out of them and that’s entertainment!”

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

https://www.facebook.com/michael.a.baron.7

www.bloodyredbaron.net

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

You now, it’s best I not discuss those.

Check out Mike Baron’s On the Trail of the Loathsome Swine

They got some big wild hogs in Beauchamp County. The one that ‘et my sister weighed 998 pounds. Lord strike me if I’m lyin’. Rose Marie weighed 95. She was twelve when that hog ‘et her. She was out behind the shed planting violets when that hog charged out the brush like a runaway truck and snapped her neck and dragged her off.

Ma and Pa had gone to Morrisonville for seed and victuals, and my older brothers Ned and Ethan were helping Uncle Lamar shingle his barn. I was in the kitchen oiling my catcher’s mitt when I heard Rose Marie yip once and then what sounded like a roto-rooter. It was a bad sound filled with pops and rips. I ran back behind the shed just in time to see that hog drag little Rose Marie into the brush.

I stood there shakin’ and cryin’ for awhile. Then I went in the house and called everyone I could think of. I called Ma and Pa. I called Uncle Lamar. I called Sheriff Dougherty. They all come back at the same time and the sheriff come with lights flashin’. Ned and Ethan drove their 150s. Uncle Lamar drove his Jeep. Ma and Pa were in the Magnum. There was a lot of dust. Everybody was screaming and crying.

“This is a public safety issue,” Sheriff said. “I’m going to round up some good ol’ boys and find thet hog and string it up.”

Pa sidled up to Sheriff and poured quiet strength down on him. “We’ll take care of this killer hog, Simon. We got thet right.”

Those boys played gin rummy with each other every Saturday for the past twenty years. Sheriff looked away first. “I reckon that’s your right, Joe Lee. But you’d better hop right on it before thet hog decides to eat somebody else’s little girl.”

Lamar pulled his thirty-ought-six from the cab rack and fed it some cartridges. Ned and Ethan ran up to the house and came back with an SKS and an AK-47. Pa got his Smith & Wesson .357. And I got my Desert Eagle .50. My grandpa Jeb Lee got me thet gun for my fourteenth birthday and I could think of no more fitting use for it than killing the hog thet ‘et my sister. …

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4 Classic Novels Perfect For Your Spring Reading List

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg
YouTube Preview Image

Spring is coming, and after a long, hard winter, I think that qualifies for a celebratory Spring Reading List. You know what summer reads are — beach books, thrillers, all the genre books you love to relax into. And winter reads are the kinds of books you curl up with, under a blanket next to a fire — deeper, darker books that take you away on the cold howling wind. So what’s a spring read? A book about awakening, a delicate but powerful book, a book full of the magic of transformation, tinged with slight sadness. Here are my four spring reads for this year:

4) A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

A moving romance and wry social commentary, A Room with a View takes place in the spring and summer, in Edwardian-era Italy and England. This book begs to be read by an open window.

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2 Facts About the Film Industry That Should Blow Your Mind

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

2 Facts About the Film Industry That Should Blow Your Mind. Via The #Hollywood Economist by Edward Jay Epstein #history #movies #books #ideas

  1. The Hollywood Economist
  2. America 3.0
  3. Hollywood Cartoons
  4. Intellectuals

In my grandparents’ generation about 80% of the country took in the same form of entertainment each week. Today, given the increase in more advanced entertainment options, it’s down to 10%.

Related, the Wall Street Journal on our level of television watching today:

Americans watched TV for two hours and 50 minutes a day, a second-straight increase from two hours and 44 minutes in 2010.

The ability to first influence and then seize control of a culture is predicated on being the first and then the best to master a new technology. In battles both of politics and in military conflicts the victory usually goes to the side with superior firepower that both understands the weapons they have and then has the will to use them.

So what’s next?

She snoozes so contently #maura #siberianhusky Loyal #dog

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