Monday, September 16, 2013

FIND, READ, LOVE and THE FUSSY LIBRARIAN: two new Promotional Tools for Indie Writers

Two new startup websites aim to help promote indie authors by allowing writers to promote their work to each sites’ users.
Find, Read, Love is basically a blog that uses Wordpress functionality to promote books in a variety of genres. When new books are listed, the site automatically updates its Facebook and Twitter feeds to announce the additions, and all of the new additions are created manually after the site administrator vets them. The genre pages show the covers of the books which display a blurb when the curser hovers over. Users can then click through for more information before finally clicking through to Amazon to make a purchase.
The Fussy Librarian is a website designed to alert readers via email when a new entry fitting their pre-described genre and other preferences is added to the database. Readers sign up, list their preferred media (including audiobooks,) which genres they fancy, preferred language, and whether or not they want titles with excessive violence or sexual content in their recommendations. Titles are then submitted by authors, vetted, and the emails go out.
FRL allows authors to include up to three reviews their books have received, while TFL requires that a book have ten reviews. FRL is free and intends to remain free by generating revenue through Amazon’s affiliate program. TFL, on the other hand, is free while still in beta, but eventually intends to charge writers to be included. FRL is limited to books available on the Kindle only, while TFL accepts Kindle and Nook as well as books listed with Apple and Smashwords, but will not accept books over $5.99 in price. Both FRL and TFL offer a variety of fiction genres to select from, but TFL also offers a few non-fiction genres as well. As best I can determine, neither site is available for markets outside of the US.
Ironically, while TFL is the site that intends to charge writers and is the one professionally designed by somebody called Global Reach Web Development; the free site, FRL, is much slicker and professional looking in terms of site design and usability.

Both sites are geared to indie pubbed writers, though TFL will accept trad pubbed titles down the line. I can’t really recommend one over the other as far as value to the writer or end user goes, although clearly Find, Read, Love is more accessible and immediate as it does not rely on readers accessing their emails.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Last Night at the Monarch Motel by Mark Valenti

Martin Van Dyke is a man with a plan – literally. Ever since his one and only girlfriend dumped him for his lack of ambition and prospects, Martin has carried a laminated sheet of paper in his breast pocket which outlines for him a course of action which he hopes will carry him through to the top of the guest relations industry ladder. Filled with Stewart Smally-esque platitudes and work-a-day advice, the plan is the one thing in Martin’s miserable life that gives him hope of a better tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the slack-spined Martin continues working the night desk at the fleabag Monarch Motel, just outside of Sparks, Nevada. His boss, Mr. Finley, is a demanding and lazy loner who has no faith in Martin’s abilities. Yet, Martin must find a way to impress Finley if he ever hopes to advance as his plan dictates. It is with this reality constantly in the fore that Martin is forced to deal with the worst night of his life. There’s been a robbery at the nearby Nugget Casino, and every character who arrives at the motel that night is suspicious and in a variety of ways, ultimately more than a little dangerous.

Last Night at the Monarch Motel by Mark Valenti is a farce in the vein of Get Shorty, Seven Psychopaths and The Ice Harvest. As black comedy, LNatMM is strongest toward the end. As straight up farce, it works all the way through, from its Joe Vs the Volcanoe-style opening chapters to its Repo Man-like conclusion. Some of the scenes had me literally laughing out loud.
The book almost reads as a film treatment in many ways. One scene in particular, involving a corpse dangling just out of sight of a local police officer as it slowly shifts under force of gravity while Martin watches nervously, is hilarious mostly due to the visuals it paints. Yet those visuals are so easily imagined because they feel familiar, as though I’ve seen Rowan Atkinson play that scene already.

The characters are all cartoonish by design. Some, such as the pot smoking homeless family and the secretive guest who demands privacy, are more believable; while others such as the overly amorous gun moll and the wandering religious cult are a little too stereo-typically obvious. However, all of the characters contribute a necessary story driving utility, and each brings a laugh or two.
The book can be found at Amazon and Tower Books, and Mark Valenti can be found at his blog.

While Martin mentally maximized his predicament, the man took a slow walk around the office. He finally stopped, struck a match against the wooden front desk and lit a filterless cigarette. He stared at Martin and blew smoke rings, making his Adam’s apple bob obscenely.
     “You scared?” he asked Martin.
     Martin, guessing at the answer least likely to get him killed, said, “Uhh…no?”
     The man leaped forward and poked the gun in Martin’s neck. “Why not?” he said. “I got a gun on you.”
     “I meant yes! Yes, I am afraid of you,” Martin said, changing course.
     “What are you saying?” asked the man. “You think I’m dangerous?”
     Martin stopped, considering his words carefully. “I think you’re…serious,” he said.
     Apparently this was the correct answer. The man moved away slightly.
     “Goddamn right I’m serious,” he said. He began pacing back and forth in the office in front of Martin. Finally, the man leaned against the front counter, his elbows propping him up.
     “So. Nothing much to do here at night?” he asked Martin.
     “I read sometimes,” Martin said, hoping to lead the conversation in a friendly direction. He tilted his head toward a paperback book on the counter. The man picked it up.
    “Self-Esteem for Dummies?” he asked, reading the cover. Then, sneering at Martin he said, “What are you - one of them new age scumbags?”


Monday, September 2, 2013

Confessions of the Cuckold is LIVE

Today is the release date for Confessions of the Cuckold, a revenge noir short on Amazon Kindle, but for some reason, Amazon is not posting updated "Look Inside" functionality at the moment. With that in mind, the following is a brief excerpt from Confessions of the Cuckold by J. David Core:

Chapter One

“You know the prophet Mohammad married his wife when she was six years old, and they consummated when she was nine.” The guy in my backseat was a real gold mine. Not only was I going to receive a boatload of money for bringing his sorry butt in, but I got the pleasure of listening to him justify his crimes for the whole trip in. 
“Do I look like a Muslim to you?” I asked. “Take my word for it, I’m not; so anything Mohammad may or may not have done has no bearing on what you did, sicko.”
          “I’m just sayin’,” he continued, “not every society has the same standards. In the US in Appalachia, it was not uncommon for girls in their early teens to be taken as brides.”
          “You didn’t marry anyone,” I pointed out.
“I might have,” he said, “if society would allow it.”
“So you’re blaming society for what you did?”
“Well, yeah, think about it. From the time that we’re old enough to understand that girls are different from boys, we’re conditioned to find young girls to be sexually attractive. We’re told that it’s okay to think the little girl in the next desk is pretty. Then by the time we’re sexually mature enough to appreciate them, we’re told that it’s wrong to find them attractive now. How does any of that make sense?”
“It makes sense because when the time comes that you are sexually mature enough to appreciate them, the ones you were finding pretty at the time are also sexually mature enough. Back then not only were you sexually immature, but so were they. And so are the ones who are that age now.”
“That’s not true,” he said. “Girls mature faster than boys.”
“Not that much faster,” I said. “You’re thirty-seven. She said she was — what — eleven?”
“Jerry Lee Lewis was in his twenties when he married his thirteen-year-old cousin.”
“Once again, you didn’t marry anyone, and Jerry Lee Lewis was kicked out of England when they learned of it.”
“But nobody from his hometown thought anything of it.”
“Right, that’s true. Nobody in Louisiana in the ‘50s thought anything of it. Unfortunately for you, this isn’t Louisiana and it’s not 1957.” He was quiet for a minute, so I thought the conversation was over. It wasn’t.
“I almost made it to Louisiana.”
“You made it to Georgia,” I said, “and now you’re going back to Pennsylvania to face charges. Besides, it wouldn’t matter if you had made it to Louisiana. I’d still have found you, and you’d still be in my backseat headed for justice.”
“Justice? How is it justice? She was willing.”
“She was an undercover cop.”
“But I didn’t know that. It’s not like I jumped her from the bushes. We had been talking online. We had a relationship. She told me she wanted to.”
“She told you she was eleven. That means you thought she was eleven, and an eleven-year-old cannot give legal consent.”
“Mohammad had consensual sex with Aisha when she was nine.”
“Is that the only example you can give?”
“The first recorded age of consent statute was twelve years old in England.”
“When was that?”
“I don’t know. Around 800 years ago.”
“So even 800 years ago they thought eleven was too young.”
“In Colonial Virginia, families often married off their nine-year-olds.”
“To other nine-year-olds,” I said, having no idea whether that was true.
“I’m just saying it’s arbitrary. When I was eighteen it would have been just as illegal for me to have sex with my sixteen-year-old girlfriend. But if some guy knocked her up at seventeen and if she had a daughter, that girl would be eighteen today, and I could legally have sex with her — no problem.”
“Yes, because eighteen is sexually mature and over the age of consent.”
“It’s arbitrary.”
“It’s not strictly arbitrary. It’s based on societal norms and psychiatric studies.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s not arbitrary. There are statistical exceptions in all studies. Some girls aren’t sexually mature until they are in their twenties, but nobody calls Hugh Hefner a pedophile do they?”
“Yes,” I said. “Some people do.”
“But society doesn’t.”
“Maybe they should,” I said.
“You realize you just contradicted yourself?”
“No, I didn’t.” I wasn’t really so sure.
“Yes, you did. A minute ago you said there would be nothing wrong with me having sex with an eighteen-year-old because she’d be sexually mature. Now you’re saying Hef should be considered a pedophile for having sex with eighteen-year-old girls if they aren’t as mature as the average eighteen-year-old.”
“That’s not what I said.”
“Yes it is,” he insisted. “Now you’re just trying to justify it and avoid the cognitive dissonance. Why? Because you know it’s all arbitrary.”
“Well,” I said, “arbitrary or not, it was illegal and you knew it was illegal.”
“You never heard of civil disobedience?”
“So you’re saying it’s a civil rights issue?”
“I am who I am. I prefer what I prefer. I can’t help it. Nature or nurture, it’s what I am. So I try to find ladies …”
“Girls,” I corrected him.
“Girls,” he agreed.
“Children,” I interjected.
“Females,” he hissed, “whose tastes line up with mine. In another place and time, nobody would have thought twice about it. The taboo is cultural, not natural. I did nothing wrong.”
“You broke the law.”
“So did Gandhi. So did Rosa Parks.”
“So you are saying it’s about civil rights?”
“Of course it’s about civil rights.”
“Then why don’t you join NAMBLA?”
“Those guys are creepy. Don’t associate me with them.”
“How are you different?”
“I’m not a fag. They like boys. I like girls.”
“You argue that you’re being discriminated against; so do they. You’re arguing that in different cultures what you like is accepted; so do they. You’re arguing that it can be consensual; so do they.”
He leaned forward, and I could feel his hot breath on my neck. “But I’m not a fag.”
“Why are we having this discussion anyway?” I asked. “What do you hope to accomplish here? You don’t have to convince me that you’re innocent of any wrongdoing. And you’ll never convince a judge or a jury. The only ones you have to convince are yourself and your god.”
“I don’t like anyone thinking I did something wrong,” he said. “We’ve got a long night of driving ahead of us. I just wanted you to understand my position.”
“I’m not convinced,” I said. “Lots of people have sat in that seat and tried to make me see things their way. None has ever succeeded.”
“Have any ever come close?”
I considered the question. “Yeah,” I said finally. “A guy named Eric almost had me sold once.”
“What made his pitch so special?”
“Just his sincerity,” I said.
“Well, what did he say exactly?”

Chapter Two

When I first met Eric Dadjov he was thin and his eyes, set back in his skull, were rimmed in dark rings. His hair was overgrown and unkempt. His pants were dirty and his hands shook. If I hadn’t known why he was being taken into custody, I might have assumed it was drug related. As it was, he had simply missed a court date on a charge of vandalism.
I walked up on the porch and knocked on the door. Eric said, “Hello,” when he saw me with none of the usual suspicion that normally greeted my presence.
“Eric Dadjov?”
“Yes,” he said.
“I’ll need you to come with me. You missed your court date, and I’ve been contracted to make sure you appear before the judge this afternoon.” I turned so that he could see the weapon I had holstered on my hip.
“Are you going to handcuff me?”
“Should I?”
“You may as well. That way my humiliation will be just about complete.”
We drove in relative silence for the first several blocks. It was not until we had left his neighborhood that he began loosening up. “I know you probably don’t care, but I didn’t skip court because I was trying to run.”
“That’s pretty obvious,” I said. “I assume you were just too embarrassed to go in. That happens a lot.”
“It just bothers me that I am going to have to make restitutions to that asshole.”
“You smashed his car window, right?”
“Then why shouldn’t you have to make restitutions?”
“Because I have no legal recourse to demand the restitutions he owes me.”
“Sure you do. I mean if he destroyed something of yours …”
“He destroyed everything of mine.” Eric said as tears filled his sunken eyes. “He destroyed my life. He broke my future, so I broke his windshield. I shouldn’t have to pay for that.”
“This is beginning to sound like a domestic …”
“That’s exactly what it is. Let me ask you something, if somebody stole your wife, wouldn’t you feel justified in smashing his car window?”
“I’d probably feel justified in smashing his knees, but the law …”
“Of course the law; I understand that. But if I’m justified in smashing his window, shouldn’t he just man up and pay for it?”

Available now for the Kindle and Nook.