As many of you know, in 2011 I self-published a couple of stories, just to see what would happen. I did it strictly eBook, because eBooks cost nothing except time to produce, and reading books on electronic devices is becoming more and more ubiquitous every year. Soon we’ll all have eBooks, and “real” books will be to publishing what vinyl is to recorded music.
Anyway, “what happened” was a I sold a respectable amount of copies - enough to encourage me to do it again, and enough to encourage a small publishing company, Hallowed Waste Press, to throw in with me. About six months later we published another, slightly larger set of stories, and over time that small collection sold about as well as the first.
Sometime last fall, I found out about a document-sharing web site called Scribd.com. And yeah, Scribd has been around a couple of years and for someone who’s supposedly as aware of places like Scribd as I am, I was a total idiot for not looking at them earlier. They came to my attention because I was looking for a good place to put teasers up for my upcoming novel, and maybe for my existing stories as well. The guys over at Hallowed Waste said they were going to use the site to tease a story from a new writer they’d just contracted with, and suggested it to me.
I figured why not, and on December 13th put up a free copy of one of my self-published stories, ‘The Littlest Goblin’. I tweeted that I’d done so, put a link up on Facebook, and then went and enjoyed my holidays.
When I came back a few days after Christmas, I discovered that ‘The Littlest Goblin’ had almost 15,000 reads! Curious as to the impact 15,000 free reads on Scribd had on my performance at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I immediately went over to my reports pages there and saw that indeed, my stories had picked up steam again.
I mean, think about it: the typical literary magazine in America has an average circulation of 1000 to 5000 readers. A “no name” writer like me MIGHT get paid anything from contributor’s copies (effectively, nada) to MAYBE $200 for a story, and that story will be seen by 1000 to 5000 people. ‘The Littlest Goblin’ has already made me around $50 by itself, AND has now supposedly been seen by 15,000 people (actually, though new reads have fallen off, as of today I’m up to 17,000).
To follow up that momentum, I posted another story, ‘The Thrall of Fate’, my homage to Edgar Allan Poe. Over the last month, though ‘Thrall’ didn’t hit as hard as ‘Goblin’, it’s still garnered 2700 reads, which is still formidable, considering the comparative exposure short stories get.
And to follow up THAT momentum (and maybe cash in, because it’s possible), I took both collections that I had previously published and whose sales momentum on Amazon and other sites had slacked, added another previously published story called ‘Galahad’s Message’, and posted all six stories as one collection in Scribd.com’s store. Sales of that larger collection have already begun to trickle in, and the number of people sampling it is already pretty impressive.
Ultimately, what I’m trying to say with this post is that I think Scribd.com is an awesome tool for hard-working writers who are willing to take a few risks. The chance of exposure is there if you have something attractive enough to get noticed (which it appears with ‘The Littlest Goblin” I did). I’m not saying it’s the end all and be all, but it looks pretty good from where I’m sitting.
I’m also saying that 17,000 people can’t be wrong: there’s probably something worthwhile on Scribd.com written by a certain writer we’re all familiar with that MIGHT, just MAYBE, be worth looking into.
I have another post right here. In fact, I have two. In fact, I have THREE.
But right now, they’re waiting on important components:
One piece has a bunch of photographs accompanying it, and those photographs require a whole lotta touch-ups. The piece is basically a diatribe in defense of my need for validation. Yeah, I need validation sometimes - don’t we all - but in the last couple of years it seems like I’m not getting anymore the level I desire. Then I look around me and… well, you’ll see. Once I get the photos all cropped and sized and color-treated as best I can, you’ll see.
For another piece, I need an audio bit from my good friend Barbara. I’ve had the next two sections of A War Between States finished for a couple of months now, but sometimes - like now - getting all the voice actor parts recorded for the podcast takes Herculian effort. I’m down to just Barbara on the latest installment, and I’ll have that done the DAY she doesn’t forget to come by after work and record for me.
Another piece requires me to finish my friend Eric Sasson’s short story collection, titled Margins of Tolerance. I have ONE MORE story to read, and then I’ll give it a review. Eric (and anybody else who’s reading this right now), I assure you that I love your stories. One or two hit so hard I cried. No shit.
But you’ll have to wait for my review of Eric’s book. You’ll have to wait a little while for all these upcoming posts, because components are missing and this week I have jury duty! But they’re coming, along with…
1) a possible piece on why recent episodes of How To Train Your Dragon are allegories for the war against science and alternative energy in the United States.
2) a review of my friend Collin Kelley’s short story collection, Kiss Shot.
3) a teaser about my upcoming novel, The Survivor of San Guillermo.
4) a shout out to the folks over at Hallowed Waste Press, who graciously opted to attach their name to my second set of short stories.
5) a possible diatribe about the 2012 election, depending on who wins and how he does it.
These are pending, but I felt like I had to come up with something for you right now. Right this minute. This teaser, this bookmark if you will, was the best I could come up with for now. It didn’t make sense to use my energy on concocting anything else, given all the stuff I already have planned.
Look for the rest later this week and/or month.
Jay Magidson has dwelled in the art world for years, dealing with the artists and the buyers of some of the finest contemporary art in the United States. From his own gallery in downtown Aspen, CO, to his current position at Ann Korologos’s gallery in Basalt, Jay has had a long and successful career using his skilled eyes and vast knowledge of art. He seems to have a strong notion as to what works and what doesn’t in the visual realm.
Jay also happens to be a writer, and in everything I’ve read by him, I get a distinct sense of Jay’s visual sensibilities and acumen. His writing is among the most vivid and visually STUNNING of all of my peers. And in his current collection of short fiction, Colors, he hits SEVERAL monumental pinnacles in portraying scenes and scenery like no one else I know.
Does it always work? Well, no. But does it work enough to make Colors a worthwhile read? Absolutely.
Thematically, Colors varies. One of Jay’s favorite settings is in the dystopian future, but his vision of the days ahead is not singular. Using different versions of the future as a backdrop, Jay posits a variety of questions about man and man’s place in the universe: In one story, life in the future boils down to a day-by-day routine that everyone follows unquestioningly. There is no room for creativity, deviance from what is expected, or even the consciousness that one is an individual. In another story, the world is in ruins, in the dark, and we get a view of the post-apocalytic moral afflictions of one of the men who plunged it there.
There are other themes in other settings - in just a few pages, Jay makes comment on the problem of evil, the existence of free will, the nature of fear, and the consequences of selfishness. There’s nothing new here, but Jay’s approach is made fresh by his eye for effect and his uncanny ability to convey space, color, and detail.
The weakest part of Colors comes with the vignettes Jay uses to try to pull the stories into one cohesive piece. I think he’d have been better off simply leaving each story as a stand-alone, and let us inhabit them as ourselves and in our own way, rather than implying that the vignette character of Paul is there somehow, inhabiting each story’s respective protagonist in turn. Paul’s story, though vividly told - starting off strange, then moving into creepy, then veering off into terrible and surreal - actually lacks an urgency which is desperately needs. It also acts a succinct resolution. I’d be okay with no resolution were Paul’s story simply one of the many presented in Colors, but its position as GLUE makes me expect more from it.
Take Paul’s story away, though, and you have a series of tales that start off rather quiet, then build to a crescendo. And the thing which makes this volume successful, to me, is the visual power of every single scene. Even the Paul scenes are interesting in a visual sense. Jay Magidson convincingly conveys the vast and the claustrophobic, the euphoric and the melancholy, the intricate and the mundane, and he does it so that you can SEE it. Somewhere in his mind, Jay has seen it all - and he can describe it for you perfectly.
Time. Space. Eternity. All in color.
Okey-dokey. Another year gone by and nothing much has changed here at my web site. Hits and visitors have leveled off a bit, but are still rising ever-so-slightly. I still try to post at least once a week or more, on topics ranging from beer to politics to religion to philosophy to games to literature. A War Between States is still trickling in. Etc.
The things that have changed for me this year have been things APART from this site, so although they affect what kind of thing I do here somewhat, they haven’t impacted The Little Corner of the Universe’s purpose - which is to give you periodic pieces of my mind, where I try to impress you with my wit and wisdom. Where I try to be funny and cerebral at the same time (doesn’t always compute, since the scat humor I sometimes digress into can hardly be called cerebral). Where I try to convince you that I’m pretty much correct pretty much all the time.
If you’re new here, thanks for coming to the site’s third birthday "party." If you’re an old friend, thanks AGAIN for helping me stay afloat and encouraged. Thank you thank you thank you.
And keep coming back.
Now, I’d sell myself short if I didn’t point out the ONE thing that’s changed here - and that’s my side navigation over there ->
You’ll see there a link to the two collections of short stories I had published last year. One set I self-published, after a bunch of soul-searching whether it was the right thing to do (I maintain that it was). The other set got published by Hallowed Waste, a small, newly established "press" run by a friend of mine who took an interest in me and a couple of other folks, and was willing to back us. Those stories represent an endeavor that I’d like to see be as successful as this site has been. Or more so.
So, while you’re here, I now encourage you to do TWO things. Take a little while to look around The Little Corner - check out some of my past rants and raves. AND, take a minute to go to whichever point of sale floats your boat, and then fork over the .99 cents it takes (I know, right? Only .99 cents!) to get your hands on my stories.
I think that, after you do, you’ll become a regular. I aim to please.
I haven’t heard the latest statistics regarding this holiday season’s Kindle, iPad, and Nook sales, but I’d be willing to bet that the number of people who own such a device increased last week, perhaps exponentially. I know for a fact that my family is one iPad to the plus: Eli’s digging Angry Birds on the “big screen.”
OK. So, did YOU get a Kindle or an iPad or a Nook? Or even one of the more generic or esoteric e-readers available? Cool. That’s a nice one.
Now that you have that awesome device, may I suggest that you purchase and download some short stories by an up-and-coming writer who’s busting his chops and trying to make inroads via electronic-only publishing? Looking at my site this week, I realized that I had been being demure about selling my new stories (and my old ones, too). I hadn’t yet posted a single post with ALL of the point of sale links for the stories, nor had I said “HEY!!! BUY THEM!!!”
You should, though. I’ve been told they’re pretty good.
Last time, when I self-published some stories, you only got 8000 words. Sure, they were only .99 cents, but still. This time, a small press has picked me up, and as an added bonus for you, this time around you get 20,000 words for the same low price.
Did I mention that you might enjoy them? In fact, if you do buy them and enjoy them, I’d LOVE for you to go to the site where you bought them and write a review of them. And if you’re a press or a zine or somebody in publishing, and you like what you see, well, hey - you know where to find me.
Now, here’s where you can find my latest works of fiction:
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
iTunes/Apple (iPad, iPod)
Smashwords (RTF, Plain Text, HTML)
A very scary Halloween was the target with the latest bunch of stories by yours truly, and it happened. Allow me to present three stories that I hope will send a chill down your spine and make your hairs stand on end. As of right now, the Kindle and Smashwords versions are available. Links to the points of sale for both versions are below. If you want, just click away and you’ll be off to Amazon.com or Smashwords.com, where you can buy the bundle for a mere .99 cents.
Last time around I only gave you two stories, at roughly 8000 words total. This time around, when you buy you get THREE stories, clocking in at closer to 20,000 words. That’s almost a novella, and it’s still just .99 cents.
Although all three stories are technically horror, they’re all very different in tone and style. They have a few things in common besides their genre: each focuses at least in some degree on the relationship between two male “buddies”, each features precocious children (not unlike tiny Emys from The Littlest Goblin), and all of them have open-ended finales which ask you, the reader, to fill in the blanks using your imagination and the clues I’ve provided.
The first story is called The One That Got Away. It opens in my favorite bar, The East Point Corner Tavern, where Evan Craddock is drinking himself silly AGAIN, accompanied by his good friend Stan. Evan’s a divorcé with a four-year-old daughter and a whole shitload of baggage. His little girl’s at his mom’s so that he can go out drinking, and he’s making the most of it. He’s about to enjoy his next drink, when Stan grabs him by the arm and points out this gorgeous woman who’s just walked into the bar. Coincidentally, Evan knows the woman - she’s a long lost love from his college days - and she’s actually in the bar to find him. But her intentions are less than… altruistic.
According to history, Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809. But WAS he? In my retelling of history, called The Thrall of Fate, Poe is actually born in 2009, knowing already the ultimate fate of the famous writer who died in a gutter in 1849. A series of events sends Poe backwards in time, where he assumes the role of his namesake - although he’s determined not to suffer the same fate that the original Poe did.
In Killing The Messenger, someone’s trying to tell 10-year-old Chuck Ballantine something. But what’s the message? And why Chuck? And what’s the mysterious force which keeps intercepting the messengers over and over again? There are scenes and some heavy-handed allegory in Messenger which I’m sure will piss some people off. And you know what? I’m fine with that.
So there you go. Hopefully, I’ve intrigued you, and NOW you’re going to click on the links below, run off, and buy them.
Thanks and Happy Halloween!
“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
For the uninitiated, that’s a quote from the beginning of Night of the Living Dead. But I’m not talking about zombies coming to get you, or coming to get Barbara either. I’m gonna let Robert Kirkman and Max Brooks bring the zombies to the masses for the time being.
What’s coming from me to get you is three scary stories, soon to be available on your closest haunted Kindle, Nook, iPad, or computer. They have a few things in common - like the simple fact that they’re all horror stories - but otherwise they’re all very different. I announced them a few weeks ago, in the hopes that the finished products would be available by Halloween, and, well, I’m on track. Unless something unexpected like a zombie holocaust occurs between now and then, I’ll be able to tell you next Monday to go get them.
Just as with The Giant/The Littlest Goblin package I got published last May, they’re only .99 cents and only available as an eBook. This time, though, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck: there’s THREE stories, and they’re generally longer than the first two.
Without revealing too much, here’s a little bit about each of the new stories.
The One That Got Away is a bit of horror/comedy - something along the lines of Stephen King’s first Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt. I got the idea several years ago when I heard that a girl I’d hooked up with a couple of times in college had died really young from some rare and vicious cancer. I know, I know - that’s not funny - and neither is the ultimate ending of the story. But as I wrote the initial scenes (which coincidentally take place in my favorite bar The East Point Corner Tavern), I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. The main character, Evan, and his best bud, Stan… well, they’re a couple of idiots. You gotta love them, but it’s hard not to chuckle at their alcohol-fueled antics.
I’ve mentioned The Thrall of Fate before. It’s an ode I wrote in 2009 to commemorate the birthday of one of my literary heroes - Edgar Allan Poe. Poe himself is the main character of the story - but he’s a very different Edgar Allan than the one who died in a gutter in 1849 of some strange and terrifying malady. I had to take some liberty with the details of Poe’s early life, so consider this an alternate history piece, with a twist and a finale I sincerely hope Poe himself would approve of.
I wrote Killing The Messenger with the sole intention of creating a monster from an unexpected source. And I don’t mean like the shit monster Kevin Smith created in Dogma or the meat monster from David Wong’s John Dies at The End.
You know, though, as I think about it, Messenger actually has TWO antagonists - one the monster I created, and the other, an amorphous, mysterious other. This other entity is responsible for doing what the title suggests, over an over again. But the visceral effect of my “monster” may be the thing you’re more likely to take away from the story. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Anyway, Killing The Messenger was also partially inspired by the lyrics to a strange song by a musician named Jude, who had a few small hits back in the 90s. On his album No One Is Really Beautiful, there’s this song called ‘George’, and the beginning goes like this:
“George died in the fifth grade/no one ever knew why
He was out selling lemonade/on the Fourth of July, and he died
Sister Claire said that he was/an angel on Earth/She stood there and she told us
She had clearly rehearsed/Every verse/Of the lies that tie you down”
That’s it. I’ll leave you with that. That ought to keep you until Monday, I think.
On Monday, they’re coming to get you.
I told you this would happen.
OK. I told some of you. Others of you might have guessed based on discussions you’ve had with me regarding how the sales on my original two stories were doing: they haven’t made me a millionaire (and indeed, that is not my goal), but they’ve been encouraging enough for me to do it again. That is, to have MORE stories published on eBook and eReader formats, so that I can share even more of my work with even more people.
To that end, consider this the first formal announcement regarding THREE MORE forthcoming stories.
Now, here’s a bit of irony: I don’t consider myself a genre writer. I don’t set out when I write to write a horror story or a science fiction story or a fantasy story. I don’t say to myself, “Will - you should right a story about a school of wizards or a story about sparkly vampires.” I usually set out with some point I want to make, some germ of an idea - a bit of morality, a bit of commentary about life, death, and the human condition. Sometimes, I find those ideas easier to express in a particular genre. More often, that’s actually not the case, and one day maybe you’ll see more of my non-genre work.
Still, as I look over my stories lately - the one’s I want to see published, to share with people right now, I’m drawn to the genre pieces. And so it is that, once again, I’ll be sharing genre pieces with you.
Last time, I gave you a fantasy piece and a science fiction piece. This time, I’ll be giving you three horror stories.
Now, although they’re all from one genre, these stories are all very different. One’s funny, one’s deeply literary, and one’s well… strange. As the publication date draws nearer, I’ll give you more details. For now, I’ll just tease you with the picture of Edgar Allan Poe up above, and let you know that he’s a main character in one of the stories. I wrote that story a couple of years ago to sort of celebrate Poe’s 200th birthday. It’s taken a couple of years to get it published.
I’m told by initial readers that the story is kick ass. Here’s hoping that you’ll like it, too.
“There are three things you can buy for a dollar: a lottery ticket, a taco, and these stories. Two of the three are a sure bet, but only one of those two won’t leave stains on your pants.”
That’s what one reviewer said about ‘The Giant’ and ‘The Littlest Goblin’, the two short stories I currently have available on Kindle, Nook, iPad, and just about every other e-reader you can imagine. Despite such “ringing” praise, the reviewer only gave me 4 out of 5 stars. You see, he had some quibbles with the stories: with ‘The Littlest Goblin’, he demanded that I write more, to flesh out the tiny fantasy world I created as back story for my (I believe) otherwise straightforward morality tale.
With ‘The Giant’ he claims I blasphemed against God.
And maybe he’s right on both counts. Even before the reviewer and a couple of other friends of mine asked for more stories of little Emys and her Goblin friends, I’d outlined another story set in the same world, with Emys once again challenged, this time by a rival modeled after U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner. (Guess who wins and who’s the dick.) Emys had already interested me as a continuing protagonist, so I’m okay with the reviewer’s quibble with that story. There will be more Emys some day.
I’m also okay with his quibble regarding ’The Giant’, mostly because of the other thing he said in the review: he said that I made him think.
As I read it - as well as the other reviews of the stories - and as I’ve also sat and spoken with my friends who’d bought and read them, I’ve become really, really happy with the amount of thought everyone is giving to the stories’ meanings, their themes, and their messages. Sure, I want to sell a lot of downloads, mostly to make up the expense of having them thoroughly edited. But I want more than that.
I realize now that what I want - what I really, truly want - is to get into people’s hearts and minds and make them either think, weep, laugh, or… demand my head on a stake. I want to entertain them as well as challenge them, to inspire them as well as give them a few hours of distraction. I see the reviews and I talk about the stories with people who’ve read them and I realize that, in a small, simple, humble-were-it-possible-for-me-to-be-humble way, I’ve done just that.
These stories are by no means masterpieces. They’re short, simple, and unassuming. And yet I’ve affected a small portion of the world with them, ever so slightly. It is both encouraging and awe-inspiring to think that I could do that. It is also frustrating to know that I have not been allowed to do it on this scale ever before.
In the near future, I intend to publish another, larger set of short stories, for .99 cents just like these, and I’m also looking into publishing a novel. I want to broaden the satisfying experience these stories have given me, and I think that’s by far the best way to do it.
If you’re interested in trying these simple stories on for size, check them out at the following places.
Sorry I haven’t been here for a few days. Last week I had my buddy Michael Buccheri in town, and he kept me busy with drinking and gaming, and then this weekend I was at the Atlanta Gamefest. I’m back now, and I bring good tidings. At least I think these are good tidings.
Those stories I published last month - remember those? Well, for a while they’ve been available at Amazon.com and at Smashwords.com. But now I’m happy to say that they’re available at a few more places now, including the following:
So far they’re not showing up in the Sony Reader store or at Kobo, but I’m gonna assume they’ll be there within a few days.
I’ve sold quite a few copies already - enough to be encouraged to do this again in the future. Also, the reviews have been generally favorable. Nah. Screw that. The reviews have been AWESOME. If I didn’t sell a single copy more of these stories (and I find that unlikely), I’d still feel like they’ve been a great success. I’ve basically accomplished something that I’ve always wanted: I put a little piece of myself out into the world, and people have taken it and enjoyed it and remarked on it. Most of us who are compelled to create - be it art or movies or music or stories - we want nothing more than to share our creations with the world, and I’m doing that now.
Thanks to everyone who’s discovered my work. I look forward to sharing more with you down the road.