Free for How Long Now?

October 27, 2015:

So, last week I released my latest e-book, The Computer Nerd, with a modest price tag of $.99. I had set this price thinking it was a great idea. Er, no. Not only was I selling poorly on those first two days (how poorly will be covered in another blog sometime in November), with the few “sales” I was making mostly credited to free coupons I had given to a select group of people, but I had gotten a severe reduction in my normal first-day page views compared to other day-one titles (again, specifics coming in November). I was beginning to think my chances at this self-publishing game was drying up before I’d ever hit my stride. Ouch.

So, I said “screw it,” and last Wednesday night (just under 48 hours after release), I decided to make it free…temporarily.

“Sales” over the next few days spiked in a tremendous way. Let’s just say my readership value multiplied by about 2500% from that move. The Computer Nerd, as of this writing, is now ranked #51,299 at Barnes and Noble, which is not impressive to the big picture, but a personal best, and I know it’s due to my making it free…temporarily.

(As a side note, John Grisham’s The Rogue Lawyer, which I hyped in my blog post from October 19th, is ranked at #5. I’d like to think my hyping of his book has led to its impressive rank, though I’m willing to bet his name brand has had some hand in it. At any rate, it’s obvious that book readers everywhere took my advice and chose to read his book over mine, not due to quality of the read but due, again, to the name recognition. Given the average review it’s getting, that might’ve been a bad call.

Just kidding, of course. I’m not delusional. He doesn’t need my promotional help. I’m assuming.)

Anyway, I had planned on tacking the price back onto The Computer Nerd tonight, with an increase from $.99 to $2.99. But, my 2015 goal is to gain readership, not income, so I’m keeping the price free as long as the momentum continues. Once it dries up, then I’ll put the price tag back on.

What does this mean to you, the reader? It means you should snag your copy at any of the available retailers now, while it’s free without a coupon, and then tell everyone you know to get their copies so that the momentum can continue and the price can stay free. So, how long it stays free will depend on popularity. That means its freedom depends on you!

Shallow, maybe. But regardless of what the price may communicate, I care about my books, and I want people to read them because I think they do speak to people in ways that maybe they can relate. So get yours today. And read it, too, while you’re at it. It’s good. Personal opinion, of course, and you’re welcome to tell me differently if you disagree. It’s a detail I’d probably need to know. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

The official page has links to the stores that carry it. If you don’t have anything to read it on, you can read it on your computer. Smashwords has an online reader, and Adobe Editions and Kindle both have PC-friendly apps you can download and install to read .EPUBs and .MOBIs respectively. Kobo also has a nice reader available, if you’re interested in purchasing books from them. They actually have my favorite of the reading apps. But stick to what you love.

If you get your copy, please be kind and leave a review, either at the store you bought it from, or at Goodreads. Thanks. And feel free to comment on it here, or on the official page if you want to discuss it.

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The Epic Battle Between Man and His Hair

October 23, 2015:

And now we come to the “Back to the Future” Day Week celebration’s main event:

Working Cover for
Working Cover for “My First Mullet”

In the year 2000, I began My First Mullet, a series of poems about man’s epic struggle with his hair, the nefarious mullet that somehow becomes part of him, a four-part skirmish in which he attempts to vanquish his foe through the shear might of…well, a pair of shears. In the year 2011, I came back to finish the chronicle of the man who is now at full-scale war against his trashy shaggy nemesis, where the battle is no longer personal, but a clear struggle between good and evil. And even though I wrote well past the eight poems that told of the war to chronicle the “collateral damage” caused by the event, I wanted to celebrate Back to the Future Day with the installments that tell of the direct conflict.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you My First Mullet, parts 1-8, in their complete, unaltered forms. Enjoy and comment at the end.

My First Mullet—The Prologue

.

I thought it was a nice day to start again,

Since the past dished rough times on my head,

Blowing fierce wind all through my hair,

Tangling long locks in front of my eyes,

Blinding me to the truth that hid on my scalp;

Revelation that a jungle weeded out from within me.

.

I discovered the hard facts when my reflection vanished,

Which resulted from losing sight of my mirror,

Blocked by the curtain hanging and tangling before me,

Leaving maybe glimmers of the image I looked for,

But screaming that I was wasting my time trying,

Therefore awakening the need for some chopping.

.

I took a trip to the upscale downtown shear shop,

Where guys in white coats snipped and cut people’s heads,

Trimming former shrubs into sculpted bushes of art,

Applying buzzers against the narrow lawns near naked ears,

Dropping dead strings and body mulch to the floor,

Leaving a new kind of carpet for the scissors people to sweep.

.

I was called to sit in the chair of reconstruction,

Where the Sultan of Shears held his tool against my neck,

Asking what kind of transformation I expected that day,

Which I suggested just cut and go and maybe surprise me,

So the metal edges of the chop device began before my eyes,

Clearing out the obstruction that blinded and annoyed me.

.

I twiddled my thumbs underneath a plastic sheet,

Waiting for the job to be done without complication,

But something occurred to me in the middle of my surgery,

That I liked the length of my back and desired to keep it,

So I asked the hair doctor to leave my reverse side alone,

Just to sculpt me so that I could have vision before I left.

.

I left the building when the project became success,

Proud that my vision returned and my hair maintained control,

But my joy had depleted after going home to watch TV,

To see one of the trash talk shows coming on air with high volume,

Revealing its guests in all their bickering glory,

Each wearing the same haircut I knew I just received.

.

I looked in the mirror to discover my folly,

Shaping what should have been a normal style of trim,

Into something that was disproportional and found on truckers,

Which would’ve been okay if I drove diesel behemoths,

But I didn’t so I could not handle the barber’s new creation,

So I decided to find some scissors and remove my first mullet.

.

My First Mullet—The Transition

.

I never used to care about hair,

It was always something that was just there.

.

But when I knew it was getting long,

Ignoring it would’ve just been wrong.

.

I decided I would get it chopped,

Down at the local barber shop.

.

But when I felt the trim completing,

I could feel my dear dignity depleting.

.

I thought short was the way to go,

Since that’s the only style I know.

.

But scissors stopped above my brow,

Leaving the back of my head to grow.

.

Now my hair flows a funny way,

Stuck to the top with back blowing away.

.

It’s like a raccoon cap glued to my head,

Without the stripes or fur to shed.

.

It also makes my neck feel hot,

Especially since I sweat a lot.

.

But I’m disappointed about this no matter what,

Because I wish I never got my first mullet.

.

It forces on me an achy-breaky heart,

Tempting me to rip it savagely apart.

.

Now that I have scissors in hand,

I’m slashing the back to fit my demand.

.

I may not care a whole lot about hair,

But I know when people start to stare.

.

My First Mullet—The Aftershock

.

Why do you torment me,

Hair among hair?

You flop short of my forehead,

But flow like a cape down my back.

Waves twist around my neck,

As you are careful not to touch my eyes.

Now I know what it feels like,

To be an eighties rock star.

.

I did not expect your arrival,

Hair among hair.

Barbers informed me of a new style,

Insisting it would be cool.

Then they cut me in places,

Leaving others alone.

I demanded scissors at each angle,

But they lost their tip instead.

.

My heart is now sunken,

Hair among hair.

I wanted total hair shortness,

But must deal with shortcoming.

I used to find enjoyment,

In the way the wind touched you.

But now you’re so uneven,

And people just want to make fun.

.

You may be my first mullet,

But with these shears I must make you

My last.

.

My First MulletThe Apocalypse

.

A pile of you lies on my floor,

As I hold shear victory in my hand.

My blades scoff at your weakness,

Taunting back the curses you spat—

Curses aimed at the top of my head,

Insults you hurled from the back of my neck.

.

You thought you could hurt me,

With your devastating look of lunacy.

But your attack failed by my hand,

So now you must suffer your fate—

To be swept up and thrown away,

Like careers of musicians who once wore you.

.

You lost my respect at the barber’s chair,

But there was nothing I could do.

You convinced the stylist you were cool,

Secretly crossing your fingers and laughing—

Those strands that tangled behind my neck,

Which I could never see without angled reflection.

.

You may have won that first victory,

When the stylist ignored my plea to cut.

But the scissors in my hand says never again,

Your decimation proven by my face in a mirror—

Which reflects back a short uniform hair helmet,

Completely free of extra mullet residue.

.

Except…

.

Somehow I can see you trying to attack again,

Creeping your way down the back of my neck,

Without coming anywhere close to my eyes,

Making me wish that you would blind me.

.

My First Mullet—The Immaculate Collection

.

Ten years ago the mullet died.

Clipped from the source of life it fed upon,

Fallen to the linoleum earth,

Swept away,

Bagged and shipped to the landfill of time.

.

Fifteen years ago it abandoned style.

Gone was its fame, dying was its fate,

Missed by none, duped by some,

It lost its grace,

Heading for the wasteland of time.

.

Twenty years ago it tempted fate.

Born on the head of a Lethal Weapon,

Dancing on the head of rock star generals,

In the breeze it swayed,

Riding on the glories of time.

.

But then…

.

Caught in time’s spiraling vortex,

The mullet spun out of control,

Clawing its way to the present,

Fighting to survive its apocalyptic fate,

Vying to conquer the world again.

.

Mullet explosion!

.

Today it experienced rebirth,

Gaining new fame online.

From business in the front, to parties in the back,

The mullet returns from the grave.

Immaculately, it rises.

.

My First Mullet—Shear Brutality

.

They rise up, seeking hair.

The blades of justice,

The blades unfair.

They seek the scent

Of misshapen style;

They search for trashiness;

They invade without guile.

.

Modernization under cover

A quiet closet eighties lover,

It was a rock-born sympathizer,

A trailer park’s lucky clover;

Jeopardy, it shrieks at scissoric threat

The blades had cast from the net,

And the fear makes it sweat;

It hides, but cannot run.

.

Madness comes, chaos ensues;

The blades of shears come flying.

.

The hairnet breaks, the mullet quakes;

A hairpiece has fear of dying.

.

Tragedy falls from the gown to the floor,

A sink washes life out the door.

.

Lament the mullet at the hands of fate,

Shear brutality forces a cleaned-up slate.

.

My First Mullet—Failure of a Stylist

.

Eyes peer at me through the mirror,

While a smile feigns delight,

Her expression becomes a twinkling,

As her clippers say goodnight.

.

My stylist bounces from the chair,

To the victor go the spoils.

Does she think I want to pay for this?

She hardly even toiled.

.

“What were you thinking?” I begin to say,

Out loud in a lucid daydream;

Of course she doesn’t hear the question,

For she’s focused on her styling cream.

.

I attempt to ask another question:

“Could you take a little more off the back?”

As she squirts the cloying foam in hand,

She grimaces; do I lack tact?

.

“Oh come now,” she says with a cackle,

“The girls are gonna love it,

You’ll be the talk of this crazy town,

No woman can resist a mullet.”

.

A fear begins to grip me,

For I’ve been in this place before.

Is my stylist just an idiot,

Or does she have an agenda something more?

.

“I’d really like a shorter cut,”

But my words fall on deaf ears.

Before she gives me my chance to object,

She puts away her shears.

.

“That’ll be thirty bucks,” she says with joy,

“But here’s a kiss for luck,”

Of course she can hardly control her lips,

For her laughter becomes untucked.

.

She must know she won’t see a tip from me;

Only madmen reward a fool,

But as her fingers remove my tainted gown,

I realize I must remain cool.

.

There’s one more chance to counter, I realize,

Last one before we hit the sink,

Once the shampoo dampens what remains of me,

My heart will be in the drink.

.

As she swiftly wheels my chair around,

And beckons me forward off my seat,

My heels stamp the stark linoleum floor,

And my body whirls from my feet.

.

Once again I’m facing the cold, clear mirror,

Eyes locking gaze with reflective eyes,

Her hardened expression dares my action,

But my hand ignores her cries.

.

I reach for the dormant and silent clippers,

Taking matters into my own hands.

But then my distracted head jerks backward;

She’s taken my mullet into her own hands.

.

“Revenge,” she whispers into my buzzing ears,

“Sickly sweet, my handsome dear,

Never distrust a stylist’s rightful eye,

If you want to know no fear.”

.

I shudder to think what she’s thinking about,

And then it dawns on me.

I once questioned her on that “cool” bowl cut,

And challenged her integrity.

.

Idiot maybe, but not a fool;

She had me in her hair-stained grip.

Once again I screamed that she was right;

Then she forced me to give that tip.

.

My First Mullet—My Second Mullet Rises

.

“What’s that thumping sound, little boy?

The beating of your fearing heart?

Did you reverse your hillbilly beard this morning?

Your back hair grow upward into your brain?”

.

I’m not listening to you, mullet;

You do not exist.

.

“Why are you running so quickly, little boy?

Did your barber fill your heart with dread?

You think your feet won’t trip over those locks of yours,

Do you think you can escape my grip?”

.

I’m not listening to you, mullet;

You do not exist.

.

“Come, come, little boy, come listen to my tale,

You hear my voice calling, do you not?

Pounding like the thunder on an oval racetrack,

Or the roar of victory over roadkill done shot.”

.

I’m not listening to you, mullet;

You do not exist.

.

“A wizard who lives in a trailer park, little boy,

That wizard gave me my super power today.

With a flick of your barber’s muddled brain,

Your history will now wash, rinse, and repeat.”

.

Go away, you wretched mullet;

You will not exist.

.

“Now, now, little boy, can you hear the pounding of your fearing heart?

I can hear it stammering deep within you,

Deep inside your chest, stammering,
Like poisoned lice wanting to escape.”

.

Go away, vile mullet;

You shall not exist.

.

“Run, run, little boy,

Feel my touch on the back of your neck.”

.

Get behind me, disgusting mullet—

.

“I am behind you, little boy!”

.

I refuse to see you, evil mullet;

You shall no longer exist!

.

“Who do you think you’re fighting, little boy?

Jheri curl? The Kid N’ Play flat top?

I will not die to your shears, little boy,

One roach yields a thousand.”

.

Be gone, stinking mullet;

Back to the trailer from where you came!

.

“Why are falling to your knees, little boy?

Can’t you take a hairy joke?

Are the people that laugh around you

Filled with a sense of humor beyond your scope?”

.

I’m not listening to you, mullet!

You do not exist!

.

“Why do you scream at me, little boy?

Have you gotten rid of me yet?”

.

So help me, mullet, I’ll cut you!

I’ll cut you where you grow!

.

“Such violence, little boy.

Did your stylist teach you how to scream?”

.

I’ll suck you up in a Flowbee, mullet!

Into a void, you go!

.

“Little boy, little boy, you think you’re a man?

Little boy, little girl, cut me if you can!”

.

You’ll lie scattered on the floor, greasy mullet!

Under foot you’ll be tramped!

.

“I’ll wrap around your neck, little scamp!

I’ll make sure you never forget!

Your first mullet may have gone down the gutter,

But your second will permeate your head.”

.

Not if I shave you, outdated mullet.

Eat DHT for breakfast.

.

“You would not dare, little boy.

No man would choose such fate!”

.

You do not rule me, stinking mullet!

My fate is what I make!

.

“You would waste me, little boy?

A part of you as you’re part of me?

Would you waste me, little boy?

The way your barber wasted your dignity?”

.

I will not listen to you, mullet;

You are not of me!

.

“I am your mullet, little boy,

I am your second mullet, come to stay.”

.

You are an abomination, mutant hairdo,

A stain on history’s stylistic fame.

.

“I am your mullet, little boy!

I am your second mullet, come to stay!”

.

I do not want you, horrible mutant!

Rid me of your tacky mane!

.

“I am your mullet, little boy!

Your Uncle Mullet, come to stay.”

.

I choose baldness over mullet,

You evil, wretched, carpet brain—

.

“You’ll have both, little boy,

Both will be your fate.

Your first bald mullet,

Is what you’ll get today.”

.

Lightning’s about to strike, lying mullet,

Your strands will be fried in place.

I will not bow to you, sick mullet,

I’ll burn you where you stay.

.

“We could dance this dance all day, little boy,

Stuff the night as you wish.

But tomorrow’s a brand new day, I’ll say,

And you’ll think it’s a nice day to start again.”

.

–Jeremy Bursey

Lethal Hairdo

October 23, 2015:

Continuing with a Back to the Future theme, in a loose kind of way now, it’s time we turn to one of the greatest action movies to come out of the 1980’s, Lethal Weapon, and more importantly, to its greatest legacy left on pop culture, the mullet.

Ah, yes, the mullet, the greatest hairstyle to hit a generation since the Moe Howard bowl cut, which I guess was just a revision to the old Caesar cut, which was likely the revision to an alpaca’s hair–I’m no hair historian, so I don’t know. From the mullet we have learned a great many thing:

  • Bad guys tremble at the sight of a mullet.
  • Ladies melt at the sight of a mullet.
  • Mel Gibson was at his best in a mullet.
  • The Lethal Weapon series died with the movie that did not give us a mullet.
  • Bonus Fact: George Clooney and John Stamos gained fame under a mullet. (Not really Lethal Weapon related, but still an accurate observation born from the eighties.)

As you can see, the mullet was important to our culture and to the longevity of Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson, and maybe the eighties?

Let us never forget the power it had on 1980’s cinema and the stars that had graced our screens.

Long live the mullet!

Want more mullet drama? Come back at 9:00 to read about the epic battle between man and his hair, told in poetry.

The Pros and Cons of Riding a Hoverboard

October 22, 2015

“Back to the Future” Day Week continues with an essay about the one thing we were all looking forward to having in 2015, but never got, thanks to ambitious predictions matched with poor sensibilities that led to our shattered hopes and unshattered bones.

Marty McFly was an expert skateboarder in his day. He could “skitch” (skate-hitch) like the best of them. But the one thing that kept him grounded in 1985 was the set of wheels under his board. By the time he got to 2015, he was stuck with these crazy pink magnetic boards that hovered off the ground. They still rode the same, at least for him, but they posed new thrills and dangers for him.

Robert Zemeckis, the director of Back to the Future, says in an old video that hoverboards “have been around for years, but…” and then talks about parent groups, toy companies, and stuff you can hear about in the Honest Trailer for Back to the Future, which was just released yesterday. Apparently, they haven’t “been around for years,” and perhaps haven’t actually been around at all, but it might be interesting to speculate what the world could be like if we did have hoverboards. So, here are the pros and cons of moving around on your own hoverboard.

Pros:

  • You can be cooler than those losers who ride around on “wheels.”
  • Hoverboards are flatter, and thus easier to stuff in a locker or backpack than a traditional skateboard.
  • They still function well as a food tray.
  • If you need to repel a magnet, just aim your hoverboard’s underside at it.
  • Futuristic designs look more relevant on a hoverboard than a traditional skateboard.
  • You can “skitch” easier on the back of flying car.*
  • You can hop curbs a bit easier.

Cons:

  • A lack of friction equals more spectacular wipeouts (technically a pro for “Epic Fail” videos on Youtube).
  • Hoverboards use magnets in place of wheels and probably don’t work on most surfaces.
  • They’re made of thicker plastic, and are less reliable for using as a crowbar than the skinnier skateboards of the 1980s.
  • If you run into a wall, they can break free from your feet and never return (see “friction” con).
  • It’s still impossible to take a date out on a hoverboard.
  • Your dog will probably prove to be a better skater than you if you put him on and send him off.
  • Having a hoverboard means we can no longer say, “It’s 2015! Where’s my hoverboard?” which is just as important to pop culture as the hoverboard itself.

And there you have it. Can you think of any pros and cons to having your own hoverboard? If so, list them in the comments. Would be fun to develop an epic list for something we may never get.

Come back tomorrow. We’ll be discussing mullets.

*We still need flying cars.

Don’t You Forget About Me

October 22, 2015

Even though “Back to the Future” Day was yesterday, the celebration continues with a look back at my favorite movie of all time.

In the year 1985, the same year that Marty McFly first adventured with the DeLorean into another time, a movie was released that would change the landscape for take-charge teenagers forever. Well, two movies, if you count Back to the Future. That first movie, The Breakfast Club, changed my life.

But that’s vague, so let’s paint a backstory here.

In February 1985, the month that The Breakfast Club was released, I was still just a kid, not even in the double-digits yet. High school was still many years away. And, most importantly, it was an R-rated movie, and my parents were too responsible to let me, their young child, see something with such language at the time of its release. So, I didn’t see it in 1985. Or, really, any time particularly close to 1985.

In kid’s terms, “particularly close” might mean a few weeks, or at the most, a few months. In kid’s terms, two years is a lifetime, and I’m pretty sure it had taken me a lifetime to finally get the opportunity to see it. But sure enough, sometime in the mid-late ’80s, a local independent station, which later became a FOX affiliate, started airing the edited-for-television version (Bender’s spirited curse becomes a spirited support for a university when “F**k you!” becomes “Fam U!” for example), and now, finally, I got a chance to see it.

I was blown away. And I don’t know why, exactly. As a nine- or ten-year-old, I had no reason to find power in the story of five teenagers who were way older than me and went through things I was still years off from experiencing myself. But I did. Maybe I was moved with anticipation. Maybe I thought all high schools were like Shermer High, and maybe I thought all teenagers were like the archetypes presented in the movie. Realistically, I was grabbed hard by the throat by the awesome soundtrack–I mean, that opening on black title cards and a montage of static empty high school scenes, so simple yet so thematic. But at my core, I think I was moved more by the dynamics of these people, the friction between styles, ideologies, and backgrounds, even with the one common thing they all share is universal: our parents help shape who we are. For a ten-year-old, that’s quite a lesson to learn.

On the one hand, I think it did probably have some bearing into helping me understand the person I’ve become, based on the instruction my parents had offered me. Both had vastly different levels of style, personality, and responsibility when it came to raising me. Mom was always very economical, responsible, intent to raise me to respect others, follow the rules, and so on. Dad was basically carefree and pretty blasé about most things, and more or less the dead opposite of my mom. In some sense, they were like a two-person Breakfast Club, two completely different archetypes trying to reach the same goal: not to accidentally wreck my life or kill me. I’m still alive and functional, so…I guess they succeeded.

But that’s not all I got out of the movie.

The characters in The Breakfast Club have a three-dimensional arc we can all learn from, even though the substance in their arcs may seem shallow at times–Ally Sheedy’s character, for example, grows from being a weirdo to being a pretty weirdo. But they still exhibit change in the nine hours they’re forced to sit together in a high school library. For most of us, change takes longer, but the fact that we can change is well-documented in this brilliant John Hughes movie.

And speaking of John Hughes, this is the movie that made me a fan of his work.

I’ve probably seen this movie 40 times or more by now. I don’t recall if I had done this on my first viewing, but at some point I had recorded a VHS copy of the edited-for-television version, watched it at least ten times in the three or four years following, bought the soundtrack on cassette, noticed a theme I hadn’t heard in the movie, rented the real movie (on VHS) when I was finally a teenager, was surprised to see that the edited-for-television version had cut a few scenes (including the joint sequence, which featured the theme in the soundtrack I hadn’t heard in the movie previously), eventually bought it on VHS when I was old enough to carry a job, bought it on DVD years after that (as part of a triple pack with Sixteen Candles and Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and I even had the opportunity to see it in theaters last year when Cinemark put The Breakfast Club in its Classics Series lineup for that season. And let me tell you, it’s amazing what we miss on the small screen that’s so much more defined on the big screen. I feel like seeing it in the theater brought me full circle. And even if I never watch it again, I feel as though I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth, and life’s worth, out of it.

I could keep going, but that’s the point. There’s so much to get out of this 97-minute movie that its impossible to cover it all in a single blog and still keep it short. So, rather than dive into character studies, cinematic tricks, relevant themes, and so on, I’d rather open this topic up for discussion.

Have you seen The Breakfast Club? What was your favorite part? I still get a kick out of Allison throwing the salami slice at the statue and watching it stick to the amorphous head. Just funny stuff.

Thanks for joining me on this nostalgia trip. Come back in an hour for my essay about hoverboards.

A Goodreads “Favorites” Review: About a Boy

October 21, 2015

In honor of Back to the Future Day, I wanted to post a couple of “blast from the past” reviews for two of my favorite books, Syrup and About a Boy. Now, these are technically new reviews, so I’m not actually blasting the past here, but I have reviewed both before on my Visual Bookshelf, so I am kind of going back in time. That site’s gone, of course, and with it, all of my old reviews. I doubt I’ll review most of the books featured there twice, but these two books are certainly worth revisiting, so with that, I’d like to share my thoughts.

I’m continuing my “blast from the past” review series, or more accurately, my “favorites” series with a review of my second favorite book of all time, About a Boy by Nick Hornby. Although less revolutionary to me than Syrup, it still speaks to me as a man, as a role model, if I were one, and as a person who appreciates time. It reminds me that anyone can become a better person, and it inspires me to respect anyone and everyone. It, well, it’s a novel, and meant to be enjoyed as one. It doesn’t have to speak to anything.

But it does have to be read. Here’s my review of it on Goodreads:

About a Boy Review

What’s next? It’s a surprise. But when you walk away, don’t you forget about me.

A Goodreads “Favorites” Review: Syrup

October 21, 2015

In honor of Back to the Future Day, I wanted to post a couple of “blast from the past” reviews for two of my favorite books, Syrup and About a Boy. Now, these are technically new reviews, so I’m not actually blasting the past here, but I have reviewed both before on my Visual Bookshelf, so I am kind of going back in time. That site’s gone, of course, and with it, all of my old reviews. I doubt I’ll review most of the books featured there twice, but these two books are certainly worth revisiting, so with that, I’d like to share my thoughts.

I’m beginning with my all-time favorite novel, Syrup by Max Barry. It’s a story I continue to think about to this day, and one that still subliminally influences my own writing. It’s brilliantly conceived, expertly crafted, and hilariously received. If that’s not enough, then consider this: It makes me proud to be a writer.

Read my Goodreads review for it here:

Syrup Review

Come back in an hour to read my review of my second favorite book.

Celebrating Back to the Future Day

October 21, 2015

So, we finally caught up to Marty McFly’s fictional future. Hurray! That means we get to complain about all of the cool things we were promised but never given. It also means that, tomorrow, we will be officially hurtling into the unknown true future, a place of possibility but great uncertainty, a place where technology could overrun humanity or humanity could overrun technology, a place where Marty McFly is no longer our compass but a passenger on the DeLorean ride to the…future, but a place that might, just might, have hoverboards and self-lacing Nikes. Just might.

That’s all assuming Marty McFly doesn’t hang around until the following day–it’s been so long since I’ve seen Back to the Future, Part 2.

At any rate, I wanted to join the bandwagon of celebrating our merging of real life with movie fiction by calling up some pop culture history this week. So, over the course of the next few days, I want to present new reviews, essays, and other fun things to loosely tie into Back to the Future Day and all that it implies.

Come back tonight, starting at 8pm EST, for the official launch of Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm‘s Back to the Future Day celebration. I’m not offering anything revolutionary here, but I am offering some fun blasts from the past. So, check back often this week, as I’m planning to post something new and loosely relevant each night, and in some cases, like tonight, multiple relevant things.

Here’s the tentative calendar:

Tonight at 8pm: A Goodreads review of my favorite book of all time.

Tonight at 9pm: A Goodreads review of my second favorite book of all time.

Tomorrow at 8pm: A review of my favorite movie of all time (from the year of the first Back to the Future).

Tomorrow at 9pm: An essay about hoverboards.

Friday at 8pm: A celebration of the 80’s best and most infamous hairstyle.

Friday at 9pm: A continuation of the infamous hair celebration, in the form of my infamous poetry.

Saturday and/or Sunday (time uncertain): TBA. Check back here for an update.

Hope you come back to see what’s cookin’.

“The Computer Nerd” Release Day

October 20, 2015

Official Ad Flier for
Official Ad Flier for “The Computer Nerd”

Well, the day is finally here. Have you picked up your copy of The Computer Nerd yet? If not, you can find it at the online retailers presented in the links on its official page. It’s just 99 cents, a bargain for all the punch it packs!

If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think. If you start a discussion about it somewhere, link me to it. I’m curious to know how the general public receives it.

I’ve posted quite a bit about this story already, so I’ll keep this entry brief. Just wanted to say thanks to all of you reading this who have shown support by picking up your copy. If you like what you’ve read, then feel free to take a look at some of the other things I’ve written, which you can find on the side bar to the right. Most of them are shorter and freer, so they’re a no-risk investment.

In early November, I’ll begin the postmortem report on The Computer Nerd, its sales potential and reality, and how it stacks up against the concerns I posted about yesterday. Why would you want to know about that? Well, if you’re an aspiring author who wants to give indie publishing a try, then you might like a heads up on what the sales reality for what you’re producing could look like. We all need a reality check sometimes. I will also talk more about the books that are next on my release schedule if you’re interested in what’s coming soon.

Thanks for the readership, folks. Start opening up those discussions.

A Note to Potential Reviewers:

If you’d like a free copy of The Computer Nerd to review for your blog or website, feel free to send me a request by e-mail, listed on my contact page, with the subject line “Requesting Book for Review,” or some iteration. In the body, specify that you want a copy of The Computer Nerd for review and send me a link to your blog or website so that I know where to look for it. I’d also appreciate a follow-up e-mail when the review goes live so I can link it here. Please note that all free copies must be redeemed at Smashwords.

And thanks for your interest.

Regarding the Price:

I had intended to keep it priced at $.99, but after giving it some thought, and seeing how little readers seem to be interested in a cheap book (versus a free one?) so far, I think it makes more sense to charge a standard price for a worthwhile book. So, on October 27, 2015, the price will go up to $2.99. I think this is more fitting for its size and quality anyway.

However, for those who read this blog, I’ll keep a $.99 coupon handy for you (which I’ll list on The Computer Nerd‘s book page) until the end of the year.

Again, this wasn’t my original intention, but I think it makes the most sense from a business standpoint, especially now that I can see how little of a sales difference $.99 makes (spoiler alert!).

Changing Gears:

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be posting some new book reviews and other interesting things in honor of Back to the Future Day, so I hope you’ll come back for the fun.

–Jeremy

“The Computer Nerd” One More Day until Release

October 19, 2015

The Computer Nerd Cover Image
The Computer Nerd Cover Image

So, with tomorrow marking the release of my first attempt at selling a book I’ve written (no longer just the freebies on an ambiguous marketplace where anything and everything shares space), I must admit that the uncertainties of success are mounting. Will it succeed? Will it fail? Will anyone even notice?

The scary thing about putting my work on the Internet for all to see is that some people might actually check it out, and those same people will undoubtedly have an opinion. Whether that opinion is positive or negative can greatly influence the future the work has with the rest of its audience. The more people who praise it (or, realistically, if the first person to comment is one who praises it), the better chance it has at winning respect and additional readers, maybe even fans. If the majority, or even the first to comment, shows a tendency toward dislike, then the question is begged if the story, and its author, has a chance to find a more successful audience elsewhere. It’s a nerve-racking thing to think about.

This doesn’t make me as nervous when I send out freebies, like the six books that are already available (check the right sidebar for those titles). The only risk in reading a free story is that you can’t get those ten seconds back (the ones you invested to find out you’re not a fan of this thing you just downloaded). It’s a bit more of a nail-biter when people actually shell out their hard earned dollars for your work.

I suppose when the traditional publishers take control of a work and the overall feedback is negative, or nonexistent, it has a greater effect on the author since that publisher may be hesitant to take on the next book. In the indie world, the next book stands on its own. Same goes with positive feedback. The more that people like a book, the better chance it has to gain a momentum in respect, in criticism, and ultimately in sales, and the more the traditional publisher will like the author. On that same note, the indie author who puts out his second book is unlikely to see an effect carry over from his first, as his next book cleans the slate, and the traditional publishers can’t prevent it from getting into readers’ hands.

Yet, a good book is a good book, and a good author will more than likely have some momentum going into his second book, if the people reading him know that he’s good.

I think the meteoric rise of a book like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline sets a strong example of the benefits of momentum. Great book, strong premise, competent writer, decent publicity, movie tie-in: no doubt the author would have a free pass for his second book. To me, as a fan of the first book, I think Cline has earned his free pass because his second book, Armada, while entertaining and worth a read, doesn’t quite hit the same marks. And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to. It’s good enough that Cline’s third book will come out with strong legs, most likely. And that’s just it. The momentum keeps going. I daresay the momentum stays fierce because Ready Player One was such a force out the gate that Cline could probably peddle his success on that book for several titles to come, even though Armada does hold its own to a lesser extent.

On a similar note, I keep thinking M. Knight Shyamalan has had three hits after The Sixth Sense before Lady in the Water crashed at the theaters. Each one was a little worse than the one before (well, I’d actually argue that Unbreakable was his best movie, but that’s me), but he still carried The Sixth Sense‘s momentum for a little while. Of course, the movies he’s done since Lady in the Water are proof that every artist must give each work his all and not trust his momentum to last forever. At some point, the talent must come back. Fortunately, it seems his newest film, The Visit, has pulled him back into form (I haven’t seen it myself, but the reviewers say he’s gone back to his old ways, which is good). Point is, now that I’m heading into a tangent if I don’t reel it in here, each work stands on its own, but momentum certainly helps.

I don’t know if I’ll gain any momentum once The Computer Nerd goes live tomorrow. The benefit of the presale is that all sales to Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo made before tomorrow will get counted tomorrow, and the book can rank higher on the sales charts than if I had not opened it up to presale. But, I’m also choosing to release on a Tuesday, which is the greatest competition day (admittedly the reason why I chose to release on the 20th and not the 23rd–I mean, why not see how I stack against the big bosses?). A scan on Amazon shows I’m going up against John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer. Am I going to outsell John Grisham? Not a frickin’ chance. Not even close. But, I am releasing a 99-cent book tomorrow that runs the equivalent of a little over 300 pages in a paperback. He’s releasing his 352-page book for $17.37 on Amazon ($14.99 on Kindle). In fairness, he probably has an editor telling him where all the story fat is located. I’m basically fending for myself here. But I think I held my own as a worthy author for this one.

Bottom line is that The Computer Nerd is worth every bit its price, as I’m sure Rogue Lawyer is worth every bit of its price. (As an avid collector of John Grisham hardcovers, I’ll no doubt be picking up my copy one of these days.)

Yes, I’m well aware that I just promoted John Grisham’s book for the same day that mine is coming out to the e-book market. Whatever. There’s a reason he’s popular. Again, mine is an eighth of the price and almost the same volume of story. (I can’t comment on quality because I haven’t read Rogue Lawyer. I’m sure it’s good. I believe mine is also good, though I welcome your judgment if you’re reading this.) In the great scale of weights and measures, buying The Computer Nerd on or before October 20, 2015 (basically today or tomorrow), still makes sense.

Speaking of promoting other people’s books, I’m happy to say that Larry Brooks’s Story Fix is out now, and for anyone who’s read Story Engineering or Story Physics, you’ll know that Larry Brooks is a gift to writers, and if you haven’t read his books, which you can find at the Writer’s Digest Shop, you totally should, if you’re the least bit serious about writing stories. I’ve picked up my copy this past Saturday, and even though I’m releasing The Computer Nerd tomorrow, I’ll certainly be looking forward to releasing a revised version in the near future should I learn about anything I’ve broken and didn’t bother to fix. The nice thing about publishing e-books myself is that I can do such things as that. Obviously, if I release a major update to the story (and I don’t foresee that happening because I have edited the crap out of this thing already), I’ll post about it. Once you buy it, you’re supposed to have access to all successive versions.

But again, I don’t foresee that being necessary. I’ll more than likely need Brooks’s advice for the one I’m currently updating, The Evil Clone of Michael K., which I hope to release in December (on a Friday or Saturday).

So, on that note, buy John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer tomorrow. But, if you have a leftover dollar to spare (or your regional equivalent), give The Computer Nerd a try. You can sample the first six chapters, beginning with this post, and find out more about the book on its official page. The e-book, which is approximately 80,000 words, or the equivalent of about 300 pages (in paperback), can be bought at Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and starting tomorrow, you can also buy it at Smashwords.

If you get a chance to read it, please comment here, or leave a review on your purchased store’s website, or at The Computer Nerd page on Goodreads.

Thanks. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this story. If you start a discussion on it anywhere (for better or for worse; my skin is thick), please link it to the comments below. I’d love to see what people are saying about it.