Monthly Archives: June 2014

If I Sold This Stuff, I’d Make a Fortune

Have you ever wondered who reads what and how much of it they read? finalsaleWell, if you have a moment I just happen to have a few figures tucked away in my belly button… Here we go. Did you know that nearly 17% of readers choose thrillers, while about the same number prefer a good science-fiction novel? Romance accounts for 18% and mysteries top out over 30%.

What we have here are plain and simple percentages. Never had much use for them myself, but then again, they’re a fact of life and oh, what a fact they are.

You’ll find percentages in everything from political poles to nautical charts, school blackboards and hot dog carts.

I guess if I had a pet peeve, it would be percentages and commercials.

First, let’s determine exactly what a peeve is and whether or not it would make a desirable pet.

I imagine one as a nasty little fuzz ball that growls and attempts to remove a chunk of your flesh at any point in time it deems convenient.

Now that we’ve hashed out the worthiness of the pet peeve pet we can get down to business… I’m having difficulty remembering… That’s right, “the consumer commercial.”

Do you ever get tired of…

“Today only we’re marking 30% off of each and every suit, but that’s not all. Buy one shirt for the regular price of $74 .99 and get 10% off the next five purchased.”

Or, “We’re having our New Year’s, Valentines, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day sale, August 1st this year. Save 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% and up to 90% one day only. On August 2nd we’ll celebrate M.L.K. day, Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, Yom Kippur, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Toddler’s Day (just in case such a day is enacted, I wouldn’t want to offend anyone) and Groundhog Day, where we’ll increase prices 20% to 90% depending upon the item.”

And who could forget? “This Saturday at C K Hacks: 20% off all pocket books, 30% off all shoes, 40% off all Clump-Skunker skirts and tops and 10% off, your choice of any item for a grand total of 100% off. Remember, that’s one day only at C K Hacks, under the overpass at Knuckles Road and South Posey Drive. zip code, 11ty12”

And my favorite:

“Only at the Eyeball Barn, purchase Lasix surgery for one eye and get 50% off the second eye. We guarantee our work for 795 blinks (that’s for each eye, an unprecedented warranty in the eye surgery game) extended warranties available.”

I guess after all is said and done, the American consumer is going to purchase whatever it wants whenever it wants, regardless of all the retail hype. We’re a savvy bunch in that respect.

Which reminds me, I’ve only completed 40% of my first set of rewrites on my latest book. I best get busy before I’m looking at 0% sales. Of course, if I slash the price in half, I’ll probably sell twice the number of books that I would, had I left the price intact.

So, in essence, I’m reaping twice the benefits with only half of the work. And, what really makes this a sweet deal is the bottom line. 0% sales equals 0% sales. Cut that in half and you have 0% sales less half. What does all this mean? I’m ready for next April 15th, nine months in advance, because the paperwork is done.

Why I didn’t think of this earlier…

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Hmm…Good Friends, They’re All Edible

I have a reoccurring character that just happens to be an animal. alligatorNot the type of animal you would normally think of, if you were thinking of animals. This particular critter is roughly the size of a wolverine. It has two unusual characteristics.

Number one: Its yellow eyes curve from the front around to the side of its head.

Number two: It talks.

Animals bring about a wealth of emotions. These emotions are different for each individual, just as finger prints.

Allow me to tell you of some of my early experiences with our four-footed friends.

I’ve always had a special place in my being for animals of the reptilian variety. My first exposure to these scaly creatures came in the form of an alligator named Wilbur. In actually Wilbur was probably a caiman, but when it comes to a twelve-inch long mouth with needles for teeth, does it really matter?

When my buddy Wilbur joined the household, he wasn’t exactly the warmest of pets a seven-year old could possess, but then again in my circle of friends I had reached a pentacle that could not be topped.

Wilbur’s living arrangements consisted of a white plastic tub covered in rat wire to prevent escape. Wilbur would float in his custom accommodations happily munching on raw hamburger.

When the lacerations on our hands had healed sufficiently, we could pull Wilbur out of his cage and the bloodletting play time would begin.

One day we walked into the bathroom and Wilbur didn’t look quite right. Instead of his jovial self, he was acting as though he had ingested LSD.

Shortly after the drug like episode, Wilbur left our family for good. I found out later that the constant turning on and off of the light, fried poor little Wilbur‘s pea size brain. He never had a chance. With a hole in my heart and numerous holes in my fingers I set about planning his funeral.

I made a cross, a piece of wood with his name carved into it and a shoe box wrapped in a plastic parachute. I dug a hole in preparation to accept the body of my lost friend. I erected a cross and head stone. With a tear in my eye I personally selected the mourners (my sister) for the ceremony.

The funeral procession consisted of myself and one reluctant mourner. We marched to the grave site, where I solemnly placed the shoe box. Covering the hole with dirt I began my eulogy.

“Wilbur was a good alligator.” It was then I sensed (due to barely audible giggles) one of the people in attendance were not as sad as I thought they should be.

In order to help put her in the mood, my fist found the large target, that was her back, and then, we all properly grieved for our deceased pet.

I don’t want you to think that I was a demon child growing up. I had my share of dogs and the like (what most people would deem normal pets) up until just a few years ago when our last dog died.

I have my wife and kids for companionship and don’t want to fuss with anything that can’t feed or water itself.

I still consider myself an animal lover, but of the type that slide on to grills, into ovens and swim in gravy.

I think of my good friend, Wilbur the alligator, from time to time. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who’s tooth is doing the biting)  I have acquired a taste for blackened alligator tail.

Hmm, I wonder why that is?

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The End

When it comes to ending your novel do you know how it will conclude before you begin?CONSUMER-PROTECTION-LAW Is it because you have carefully outlined the book from start to finish?

Perhaps you outline sections of the book so that the ending will not be apparent until you’ve begun the last section?

Or maybe you fly by the seat of your pants, not knowing what will happen from the time you start until the time you end? (This one works best for me)

On a side note: Why did novels, back in the day, actually end with, “the end?” Did the reader not know they had reached the end of the book when they ran out of words?

All this talk about ending brings several thoughts to mind; the first being–things end.

The second being; if you wait long enough, everything ends.

Now, this is going to seem like an extremely odd segue into today’s topic, but that’s only because it is. And, if you view the topic in the context that everything has an ending, then this entire post will make perfect sense…I think.

Why do commercials portray us as inept and then become our best friends by the time the commercial ends? (Notice how I unexpectedly slid “end” into that sentence)

Case in point:

Watch someone slice a tomato before they purchase the advertised knife. Tomato guts splatter everywhere. Once the manufacturer of said knife convinces you that the purchase of this miracle product will cure all your slicing ills, you will be able to saw through anything (cinder blocks, engine blocks, etc.) and still slice tomatoes so thin, they only have one side.

Example number two:

What does America have an obsession with? Answer: Weight loss. We can shake it away, we can purchase pre-packaged food to eliminate our flab or we can ingest various supplements that guarantee results. Unfortunately, some supplements can cause heart attacks, liver and kidney problems–all in the name of weight loss. Then again, we can slide in a DVD and exercise like a maniac on crack.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that your average American consumer is not as stupid as they would like to think we thought that they thought we thought they thought we were…Once again, I think.

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Oh, the Horror of it All

I’ve had several people, one in particular (who happens to be a very close friend) suggest that I write a children’s book. The first words out of my wife’s mouth were:children's book

“Are you sure you want him to write this book?”

You see, I normally stick to action, adventure and fantasy. Now when I say fantasy, I’m not referring to dragons, wizards, damsels-in-distress and the like. It’s more on the order of unimaginable creatures, ripping body parts from other unimaginable creatures… Oh, and human beings running around complicating the story.

I also write Christian fiction, where demons rip the body parts from other demons (but in a nice way) and once again human beings throwing themselves into the mix. I guess you could label my work as one big dysfunctional family with an affinity for body parts.

I mentioned the word family a moment ago and ask that you humor me as I change the subject for one moment.

Before family could move from my brain, down my neck, split to the right and left, traveling through each arm, into my hands and fingertips, which tapped the keys, ultimately displaying the word on the monitor…deep breath… It was being pushed by a phrase, down my neural pathways, just waiting to make its appearance.

Drumroll please… Introducing:

Friend of the family!

A bit lackluster you say? Possibly, but what exactly is a friend of the family?

It could be that guy, you know, the one that shows up at all the larger family functions. He’s Gertrude’s forth cousin, twice removed from the milkman’s, half-brother’s, step-grandfather’s, childhood friend.

Yeah, everybody knows him. He’s a friend of the family.

And then there’s Cora. She was someone’s, daughter’s best friend… I think it was Daisy, Brenda and Earl’s child.

Cora and Daisy were inseparable, from kindergarten through high school. After graduation, Cora married, had two kids and moved to Los Angeles. No one knows what her husband does for a living, but he makes megabucks doing it.

As for Daisy, the only place she moves from is the couch to begin her shift at the Piggly Wiggly, but she still shows up at Cora’s family get-togethers although she has moved into the ranks of friend of the family.
Remember Percy? He used to be a friend of the family, only he became a little too friendly and it’ll be at least 15 years, with good behavior, before he can carry the title again.

But then there’s buddy. He and your father, fought side-by-side in the Army. Buddy is what you would call, a real friend of the family. He’s always around to help when needed and a family get-together isn’t a family get-together without Buddy and his family.

Fortunately, there are a lot more Buddies than Daisies and Percys in most families.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge upon a whimsical thought that just popped into my brain.

Now we shall continue what you all have been waiting for… My first children’s book!

Think… Think… Think… I’ve got it. A book loaded with animals (Yeah, kids love animals), and they’ll all be cute little zombie animals. That way they can rip off body parts and it won’t matter.

Baby’s first horror book… And I even have a title… Check this out… “Fred, Fred, and his Band of the Dead.”

Yeah that’s it……

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Liar, Liar Pants…Never Mind, It’s Gonna Take a Batallion to Put These Britches Out!

One of my characters did something abhorrent liar liarduring a pivotal point in my latest work this week. I was so appalled that I nearly hit delete.
But then, I thought, this is something we all do from time to time and after all, I did play a small role in his despicable decision.

“Just what did he do?” you ask.

He told a lie! What is unclear during this act of indiscretion is:

Was the truth bent to the breaking point or did it snap like so much dry kindling?

Is it possible, that this lie was of the white variety, manufactured in the heat of the moment to cover some small offense better left unsaid?

Or, could this have been a deep, dark, malevolent falsehood, woven with malice of forethought, aimed at bringing an unknowing party to the brink of utter destruction?

Perhaps an innocent fib, perpetrated with the best of intentions to protect someone from unwarranted ridicule?

We’re taught at an early age that honesty is the best policy; that we should always tell the truth and never lie, but is this an adage that even as we speak is developing chinks in its armor?

I submit to you a plausible story that could blow this age old statute totally out of the water. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Grandma was walking home from work. Grandpa, now retired and little confused, had requested she stop by the lumberyard and pick up a couple of chickens to tune their piano. Knowing full well that he was actually asking for a lottery ticket, she kissed his bald head and left for work that morning. She walked the high steel at the new three hundred story skyscraper downtown.

The door activated a bell when grandma entered the convenience store.

“Hello, grandma,” guy number one behind the counter said.

“Hello, guy number one behind the counter,” grandma said. “How are you today?”

“I’m fine, thank you,” guy number one behind the counter said. “What can I do for you?”

“Oh, I’m just here to buy grandpa a lottery ticket.”

“Chickens tuning the piano again?” guy number one behind the counter asked.

“Yep,” grandma said, “she gets out of tune real easy nowadays.”

“Hello, grandma,” guy number two carrying two chickens in a burlap sack said.
“Hello, guy number two carrying two chickens in a burlap sack,” grandma said. “How are you today?”

“Fair to middling, I guess,” guy number two carrying two chickens in a burlap sack said. “Here’s your chickens, grandma, I hope you get that piano tuned.”

Grandma waved because she didn’t want to say, “Goodbye, guy number one behind the counter and goodbye, guy number two carrying two chickens in a burlap sack.”

Guy number one behind the counter and guy number two carrying two chickens in a burlap sack also waved because they didn’t want to say, “Grandma.”

When grandma arrived home, grandpa asked, “Did you remember my lottery tickets?”

“Sure did,” grandma said. “That’s what we had for dinner.”

“And a mighty fine dinner it was,” grandpa said. He removed his shoes and climbed on top of the refrigerator. “You know that piano’s going to need tuning soon.”

Grandma smiled, “I’ll pick up a lottery ticket tomorrow.”

Grandpa returned the gesture, “Okay, good night.”

Grandma made herself comfortable under the kitchen sink. “Good night.”

Now can you see the point I’ve been trying to make when it comes to lying? Good, I thought you would when I laid it out clear and simple for you.

One more thing:

There is one hard and fast rule that has no exceptions, ever!

When the little lady asks,

Does this fill in the blank make my butt look big?

Nuff said.

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