update: we’ve moved, you know?

FYI – we’ve all been having a really great time over at Periscope Depth for a little over four months now. All those cool people came over and they brought their friends. So you should update your RSS feeds or Facebook likes or what-not.

Go there now. We’re no longer updating this blog. IT IS DEPRECATED.


new home

This blog has moved to its own server. Point your links at Periscope Depth or suffer in ignorance of my pablum.

there I go; turn the page

A week ago I was at Fraley’s birthday dinner at the Burren, right up the block, and another attendee mentioned his attempts to sell a book. I had just given Fraley a copy of Joel’s book, Your Religion is False (hilarious, I assure you), and used it as a conversation piece: how Joel had gone to LightningSource for print-on-demand publishing; how he’d marketed to other humorous/secular blogs; how he’d used his own blog as a point of audience contact, etc. Since the other attendee was trying to sell a non-fiction book with a narrow niche in its own right, I suggested he might try a similar path. He took copious notes.

This conversation, along with some recent reading I’ve been doing (more on that in a later post), got me thinking about publishing again. Self-published non-fiction is easier to market than self-published fiction. Non-fiction audiences congregate in easy niches (rock climbers, quilting enthusiasts, frequent travelers, etc): just find the popular blogs and offer them review copies. But fiction crosses broader channels. It doesn’t help that the fiction niches which are easiest to identify – sexy vampire novels, historical romance, conspiracy theories turned into prose – are also flooded with crap. Compare the Fiction and Non-Fiction sections of your average bookstore: one market is saturated, the other isn’t.

Those hurdles aside, the following things are still true: it has never been easier for a writer to publish and market his own work than it is today, and breaking into the traditional publishing market is really hard. An editor (or an agent who sells to editors) might turn down a manuscript for any number of reasons: it doesn’t fit their current publishing schedule; they think the market has no taste for the subject matter; they can’t afford to give the book the push it would need to be profitable; the book’s just garbage. Of those, self-publishing can help bridge the first three hurdles and is no good on the fourth. Part of the reason I’m going to Muse and the Marketplace this weekend is in the wild, unreasonable hope that an agent or editor, having read the first twenty pages of Eminence, will decide yes, this is saleable and we want to buy it. This will render all my speculation about self-publishing moot, for a time. But a larger reason is also just for feedback: just to hear if pros think the manuscript is any good at all. If it is, there’s that fourth obstacle overcome.

broke down on the brazos

Original content forthcoming, I promise. To tide you over, consider this most excellent blog, Concurrent Sentences, writing about how the war on marijuana drastically expands police powers:

So marijuana has become a law enforcement go-to for probable cause. It is the result of an officers completely subjective sense of smell. It is often supported by marijuana found during the subsequent search. If marijuana is not found but other contraband is, the contraband is unlikely to be suppressed because the probable cause for the search would still be subject to the officers “good-faith” belief there was marijuana contraband present. And in my (very limited) experience I have found the alleged odor of marijauana to be a common and reoccurring basis for probable cause and not found in the search. I have read lots of police reports that go something like these scenarios:

1) Officer smells marijuana, searches, finds a gun.
2) Officer smells marijuana, searches, finds some stolen property.
3) Officer smells marijuana, searches, finds some prescription drugs.
4) Officer smells marijuana, detains suspect and runs ID, and suspect has a protection order in place that they are violating in some minor, technical way.
5) Officer smells marijuana, detains suspect and runs ID, reveals an existing warrant.

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, then how about this entertaining AV Club interview of Danny Trejo?

I would just go with the extras and the director would see me. I was always Inmate No. 1, and I always had one line like, “Kill ’em all.” [Laughs.] It was like, “I can do this.” I remember a director handed me a shotgun and he said, “Kick in this door and take control.” There was a poker game going inside, and the director said there would be a couple of stunt people inside. He said to improvise. So I kick in the door, somebody jumps up, I bash them with the shotgun, and I ask this guy, “Oh, you wanna die, huh?” This lady starts screaming, and I put this gun right in her face. So the director yells, “Cut! Cut! God, Danny, where did you study?” I said, “Let me see. Von’s. Safeway. Thrifty Mart.” [Laughs.] So all this stuff I was doing, I just knew. You’ve got to remember, I was Inmate No. 1 for the first five years of my career. So shit, I know how to be an inmate.

That should tide you over.

the white asshole’s burden

New post up on Overthinking It today, in what’ll hopefully be the first post in a series overthinking Treme: The White Asshole’s Burden:

Since these are problems that affect black people, even if they’re not “black problems,” the temptation must have been strong to create a Great White Hero who would swoop in and save the situation. But Simon, Overmyer and Mills ducked that temptation. The black residents of Baltimore and New Orleans rise or fall based on what they can pull together. And the White Men who show up to help are not noble. They’re comically ignoble.

Also, if you live in the Boston area and you have yet to see my incredible cast perform Discount Shakespeare: “As You Like It” in Forty-Five Minutes, tonight is your last chance ever. Tickets still available; get them at the ImprovBoston box office or go to the website.


Shorter Will Wilkinson:

If it’s about pluralism, it’s about pluralism. It’s as simple as that. It ain’t about that at all. It’s easy to sum it up if you’re just talking about pluralism. We’re sitting here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we’re talking about pluralism. I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about pluralism, not justice, not liberal justice, not justice, but we’re talking about pluralism. Not the justice that Rawls and Nozick went out there and died for and wrote every book like it’s their last but we’re talking about pluralism. How silly is that?

in your eyes; the light, the heat

In the morning: my sinuses squeak open like a rusty gate. They literally emit a pitched squeal, like someone deflating a mostly-full inner tube by sitting on it. My eyes are Ping Pong balls trapped under a couch for six months and just now retrieved. My throat scratches. Nothing I do between April 2nd and May 31st will prevent me from waking up feeling like this.

I stumble for the kitchen cabinet and take my daily dose of generic allergy medication (free of pseudoephedrine). I bought this while drunk at the CVS around the corner a few months back. It’s a year’s supply: works for 24 hours, supposedly, and contains 365 little white pills. Given my typical schedule of suffering, this should last me for at least five years. Unless I upgrade from “buying allergy meds while drunk” to “consuming them while drunk” and drop twenty in a panic. Is it even possible to OD on allergy meds – not counting the ones that make you drowsy? Picture two uniforms, a plainclothes and an EMT standing over my corpse. “His body couldn’t handle having sinuses that clear. Wheel him out, boys.”

Living in the densely urban but unpredictably cold American Northeast, my allergy season runs somewhere between April and May. I can count on the odd cold snap to startle trees into silence, but once it gets warm there’s nothing I can do but suffer. I have stylish new glasses to ease my contact lenses, and I’ll soon have a decent vacuum to keep the apartment pollen-free. But until Memorial Day passes I just stagger through the morning and go to bed before midnight.

It could be worse.