You can’t make this stuff up.
You can’t make this stuff up.
I’m diving into the audiobook world, and it is a bit of a thrill ride. As those of you who have read Bad Way Out know, it’s a different beast when it comes to genre. As a British reviewer put it, the best way to describe it is as an Appalachian crime noir. I just love how the Brits make everything sound so important.
I’m doing the audiobook through Amazon’s ACX, and right now, I’m in the audition phase. I am in a very odd position because as I’m listening to these grizzled male Southern accents, I’m trying to decide if they’d sound sexy reading some of the more salacious passages, or at the very least, not silly. It’s new territory for me. Once I peg the one with the best sound, I’ll most likely ask them to read a sexually charged passage just to cover my bases. I’ll probably get a female’s opinion before I say yep or nah. I have to say, a couple of the readings have made me smile because they hit the mark dead center as far as conveying the tone of the narrator. I’m going to have a hard decision to make.
I’ll post periodic updates on the audiobook’s progress, and at the end of the journey, I’ll give you my take on ACX. So far, I’m liking it.
Paula Deen should not have gone on the Today show and tried to clean up the mess that has become her brand… errr, I mean life. Here’s the thing, after her interview with Matt Lauer, I am of the opinion she is most likely a racist. I say most likely because I can’t truly know her heart, but her message and body language in that interview suggested strongly that her reason for being there wasn’t to apologize, but to salvage her reputation and heat up her base, those staunch Paula Deen supporters that would love her even if they found out her secret ingredient in her barbeque sauce is puppy tears. She turned into a Southern preacher in the Today show studios by making overt biblical references and reaching out and gently touchng Lauer during her most ardent pleas for forgiveness. She has sinned. She is wounded. She loves all creatures… blah, blah, blah. We don’t call that acting in the south. We call it laying it on thick. She’s a Southern belle. That’s what they’re taught to do.
The real problem, however, started when she tried to justify her behavior. People don’t want to hear it happened a long time ago. People don’t want to hear that it’s not a Paula Deen issue, but a much larger societal issue. People don’t want to hear that you were raised to be a good person. It all feels like your climbing up a rope that’s not tied to anything. She didn’t want us to see that she recognized that she was wrong. She wanted us to see that she’s being crucified for behaving like everyone else. It is the classic “I’m sorry I’m human” non-apology apology. The only thing worse is the “I’m sorry I was misunderstood” non-apology apology.
So if you’re a brand like Paula Deen, how should you apologize for your offensive behavior? Let me ask you something. Do you remember when Woody Allen apologized for having an affair with the young girl he helped raise with Mia Farrow? No? That’s because he didn’t. He barely even talked about it. He went on 60 Minutes and basically said, “I did it. Now what?” Sure he acknowledged it wasn’t the ideal situation, but he owned up to it without any caveats. The closest he came to justifying his behavior was saying, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
I’m not defending Mr. Allen. Hell, he didn’t defend himself so I’m certainly not going to do it for him. The point is the scandal came and went without even putting a dent in his career. He’s not the cash machine that Paula Deen is, but his career was just as “in the balance” as hers is now. Woody Allen recognized what Paula Deen fails to recognize. He doesn’t owe the public an apology or an explanation. He probably should call Mia and the rest of his family someday and offer up a heartfelt, “Please forgive me,” but as far as the rest of us, it’s none of our business.
Does racism exist? Yep. Is that Paula Deens fault? Nope. Should she apologize for making racist remarks? Not to me or anyone else not personally effected by her behavior. From this point forward, Paula Deen should go to the Woody Allen playbook, and just do what she does, cook.
I was busy curing cancer, moving mountains and doing one-armed pushups last week, so I was unable to lament the passing of the brilliant actor James Gandolfini. He did an unparalleled job portraying mob boss Tony Soprano, the anti-hero you hated yourself for liking. Gandolfini played the role perfectly.
He was so good that as a writer when I’m trying to create the quintessential bad guy, Tony Sorpano’s droopy-eyed glare pops up in my head. Make no mistake about it; Tony Soprano was a bad guy. Just because he was the lead doesn’t mean he was good. That there is a debate whether or not Tony was bad or good is a testament to Gandolfini’s talent.
We writers are sometimes asked to come up with the dream cast for the movie versions of our books. I truly don’t write with the thought that this will be a movie someday, so it’s hard to answer, but without question, before June 19, 2013, I would have picked James Gandolfini to play the role of Milo, the drug kingpin tough guy in Bad Way out.
RIP, James Gandolfini. Say hello to Big Pussy for me.
Much has been said about the word ‘cracker’ since it’s become a prominent word in the Trayvon Martin case. Now racial issues are not my milieu. I’ve got problems with everyone regardless of race. Most of us are basically idiots that display momentary flashes of staggering mediocrity. Not because we’re made that way. Humanities idiocy is by choice, but that’s a rant for a different day.
Back to ‘cracker’.
Is it a racist term? Technically, I guess it is, but it is the most pathetic racist term on the market today. I’ve been called a ‘cracker’ before, and I’ve got to be honest, it put a smile on my face. It’s a silly racial slur. Even if the intent behind the word is malicious, it’s just not that insulting. It’s more or less a happy- sounding word. Your voice even goes up a register or two when you say it. You might as well be calling someone a turtle. Why? Because calling someone a turtle is just as hurtful as calling someone a ‘cracker’.
We have words in the English language that are horribly offensive slights to every race except for… well, ‘crackers’. We need to level the playing field. We need a slur that riles white America. It’s only fair. I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I think I’ve come up with the perfect word. This word is so insulting it is guaranteed to send any white guy into a fit of uncontrollable rage. They will foam at the mouth, spit up bile, and feel the agony of true disrespect.
Before I post the word here, I’d like to suggest that all white people stop reading. I don’t want to ruin your day. This word packs a punch. It’s beyond insulting. It’s a word that will utterly ruin you. STOP READING NOW.
Okay, now that the white people are gone, here’s the word. This word will cripple the soul of anyone who shops for SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. The word? ‘Bieber’. You want to tell a white person you have no respect for them and you think they’re worthless, call them a ‘bieber’ and see what happens.
It’s so horrible I will henceforth refer to it as the ‘B-word’. You know a word is bad when you just refer to it by its first initial, which brings up another reason why ‘cracker’ doesn’t work as a racial slur. We already have a horribly insulting ‘C-word’. You can’t have two ‘C-words’ meant to destroy people because it causes a universal paradox that jeopardizes the very fabric of the shitty way human beings treat each other. Yes, there’s another ‘B-word’, but that word has lost its bite because it can be used as a verb. Once a word becomes a verb it becomes too versatile to be an insult. And besides, the ‘C-word’ has supplanted that ‘B-word’ as the premier sexist term on the planet.
I’m C. Hoyt Caldwell, and I’m a cracker… oh, man that’s just silly.
From the legendary George Carlin
Far be it for me to criticize fellow authors. By most accounts, I am a rookie in this game, and I probably shouldn’t be making trouble for folks of my ilk trying to make a buck or two in the publishing world, but I have to ask, what’s with all these authors claiming to be bestsellers?
I won’t name names, but I’ve come across a few blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, top secret NSA files… oops, I mean public bios of authors claiming to be bestsellers. These authors don’t identify the lists where they’ve reached such lofty heights, so it’s impossible to verify their claims, and I find that… suspicious.
I have a sense that some authors are claiming bestseller status based on a momentary appearance in the top ten of a sub-category of a sub-category of a category on Amazon. In other words, they haven’t reached the tops of any mainstream or new-stream media list. Can you really claim to be a bestseller if you sell a handful of books in an hour, a feat that can temporarily catapult you into the top ten of a narrowly defined sub-sub-sub category?
Am I being too old school? Is this just the new publishing world in which we live? I know it is much more fragmented than it once was, but I’m wondering if there’s a point where we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we’ve gone too far. It seems to me that we run the risk of diminishing the quality of books as a whole by using the term “Bestseller” so recklessly.
Here is my pledge. My book is not a bestseller in any form or fashion, and I won’t claim it is until it either appears on a list somewhere in the media (old or new), or it remains in the top ten of a sales list in a main category for at least a week. And, WHEN that happens, I’ll provide the name of said list, category, and/or media outlet. This is my part to save the term “Bestseller” so it will actually mean something to the consumer.
Well, it’s official. I love the British. Technically, I love one reviewer in the UK, but I’m giving the whole country the benefit of the doubt at the moment. Why? Why does any self-absorbed artist love someone? That someone compliments the artist’s work effusively. In this case, I’m the artist, and Bad Way Out is the art, and M.Dowden is the much beloved reviewer. And true to my tacky roots, I’m posting what M had to say.
Could this book start off a craze of what can only be called Appalachian crime noir? Meet E. R. Percy, mountain man and the brewer of the best moonshine you will ever sip. Life has always been hard for the mountain folk, but illegal stills and their product is nothing compared to the drugs trade. When E. R. first refuses to work in the drugs business he is at first threatened, but this escalates to a feud. Throw in a mysterious mountain of a man that suddenly appears in his brewing shed and you find there is a lot of comedy to what would otherwise be a bloody and dark tale.
Fun to read and hard to put down this is a great tale of hillbillies and their culture versus the modern drug lord. The characters come to life in all their glorious eccentricities, from a man mad seventeen year old girl to the corrupt reverend. Unfortunately this book will probably get overlooked, which is a shame, as it is such a great read and should appeal to a lot of people.
There are a few typos in this, but nothing that should really detract from or disrupt your reading experience. Certainly original, this is full of violence and humour, and certainly a thing that Quentin Taratino would love to get his hands on.
My first official sale of Bad Way Out came from the UK, so it’s kind of a good luck charm for me. Thank you M. Dowden. May you be forever bountiful with fish and chips (that’s all I know about the UK, sorry.)
I’m wondering what the view is on pricing for Kindle books. I’ve read many a success story of 99 cent books leading to copious amounts of sales and buzz, but I’m wondering if it could have a negative effect on sales in most cases. Will readers take a 99 cent book seriously? I know when I go to a physical bookstore, the last place I look is in the bargain bin because I assume those books are so cheap they must suck. I’m currently offering Bad Way Out for 99 cents, but it feels too cheap. It’s not about profit. It’s about perception. Am I wrong to feel that way?
BTW – I changed the cover yet again. I figured the IPPY award gave me an opportunity to class it up a little. What do you think?
Bad Way Out got its first one-star review today on Amazon, and I’m still alive. It just wasn’t this particular reader’s type of book, and given her review history (yes, I checked it out), I suspect she decided to read it based on my cover. I get the idea she assumed it was erotica romance. It ain’t that. As a test, I’m reverting back to my original cover to see if it effects sales. Speaking of sales, they are way, way, way down. Between the Kindle lending program and sales, I received payment on just 15 units so far this month. As you can see, playing around with the cover isn’t going to make a big difference in sales numbers.
To the reviewer who gave me the one-star review, read long and prosper.