Moxie Mezcal's Blog

September 17, 2011


There are three reasons you should donate to Eddie Wright's Tyranny of the Muse project on Kickstarter:
Comic books are awesome.
Tyranny of the Muse is the comic adaptation of Eddie's amazing novel, Broken Bulbs , with art by Jesse Balmer. If you don't know why this is a big deal, check out my interview with Eddie from last year.
Kickstarter is a way for independent artists and creators to find alternative funding sources without having to get on their knees for corporations. What's not to like about that?
If you're not sure how Kickstarter works, a project sets a specific goal and deadline ($4500 by October 18, in this case). Backers pledge to donate, and if it can garner enough pledges to meet their goal by the deadline, then the project gets funded. If not, then no money changes hands. As an incentive, backers are offered perks like autographed copies and other exclusive goodies. You can even set up payment through your Amazon account for added convenience.

Links:
Tyranny of the Muse at Kickstarter
tyrannyofthemuse.com (with sample art and scripts)

Broken Bulbs is available as a free ebook at:
Amazon
Smashwords

And here's an excerpt from my interview with Eddie Wright:

MM: One of the things that struck me right away about the novel was your style. You have a very compelling rhythm to your writing, short staccato bursts, repetitive phrases, repetitive sounds. Is that something you do consciously, or do you prefer to let it flow in a stream-of-consciousness style? Do you edit much, or is the final version pretty close to how you initially put it down on paper?

EW: It starts as stream-of-consciousness. Puke really. I puke it out then I sort through the puke and shape. "Puke castles" I suppose. I try to figure things out after they're out. The rhythm is there from the start. I want everything to sound good out loud. As soon as I write anything I read it aloud to ensure that it flows and feels right and rhythmic. The editing is very important in trying to understand what I've written. I usually start with an idea, a place to land, and then I run there at full speed, then I look back and see if I can figure out how I got there and what it all means. I don't ponder specific sentences or descriptions. I try to capture a feeling. I cut-and-paste and shift things and delete. If a word messes with the flow, it's gone, or changed, or whatever. I want things to be readable and more importantly, re-readable. I like things can be read quickly and absorbed. That's always the goal.
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Published on September 17, 2011 00:04 • 115 views

August 13, 2011





I am honored to have a piece appearing in the newly-released charity anthology Kizuna: Fiction for Japan , which benefits orphans affected by the earthquakes and tsunami that hit Japan earlier this year.

Helmed by indie sci-fi author Brent Millis, aka Made in DNA, Kizuna collects flash fiction contributed by 75 authors from 11 different countries, including Japan, Italy, Spain, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, France, America, the UK, Australia and Canada. The pieces represent a range of genres--horror, humor, science fiction, fantasy, absurdist, bizarro, and historical fiction--and are not specifically about the disaster. Most are new works exclusive to the anthology.

The ebook is available now from the Amazon Kindle Store for $9.99 (£7.00 UK) with 100% of the author royalties going to Smile Kids Japan to help orphans in the disaster-devastated areas of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima. Please buy a copy and also help spread the word about this book.

Buy for Kindle USA >>

Buy for Kindle UK >>

Even if you don't have a Kindle or don't like using the Kindle app for your smartphone or computer, the good news is that the ebook is DRM free, which means it's easy to convert to ePub or your format of choice through programs like Calibre.

A paperback copy will also be available soon. For more information, visit the official site: http://tsunamianthologyinfo.tumblr.com/


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Published on August 13, 2011 11:17 • 61 views

June 12, 2011

Writing in a new voice is hard,
 but we must try.
I'm excited to announce that I've joined up with Zizek Press, joining a literary dream team that includes Marc Horne, Stavrogin (aka Oli Johns), Lenox Parker, and Lucia Adams.

If you're not familiar with their work, please do consider checking them out. If you're a fan of my writing, I'm sure you'll find something to love among the Zizek Press stable. And that's not just hollow praise; I'm not a joiner by nature, so the fact that I signed on is a testament to how much I respect these authors, who truly are among my own personal favorites to read.

And if you have read some of these works, please do consider leaving a positive review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. It's hard for emerging independent authors to get attention, and customer reviews really are one of our best tools for leveling the playing field.

Here's a rundown of our current line-up.


Marc Horne

Tokyo Zero

Available at: Amazon US | Amazon UK

One man goes to Tokyo to end the world. It goes fairly well.

As a Japanese cult gets ready to stage a massive attack, they are forced to recruit a secretive young bio-chemist from the West. They hide out on the fringes of Tokyo, taking care of the daily business of preparing for the apocalypse, until the foreigner's secret past starts to come to light and threaten their future dreams.

Automatic Assassin (Coming Soon)

As usual Xolo got the mail and went to a man-made planet to kill someone.

Unfortunately there were these kids and he got sentimental and soon he had a bomb in his head that was falling in love with him and he had to go back down the old genocide hole to Earth and find out who was the king there and why he was irritating important people with space yachts.

"Like Dune written by Douglas Adams and proofread by Hunter S Thomson." (Hypothetical reviewer)


Lenox Parker

Back(stabbed) in Brooklyn

Available at: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Hollywood legend Howard Kessler is washed up after a series of sordid, drunken mistakes, and returns to his Brooklyn roots after decades of success. What he finds is not the nostalgia he expected, but a group of hardened guys with grudges to match. The gang all finally meet up at a dive in Chinatown, but instead of a warm reunion the deep resentments of the past turn into exploitation and deceit.



Lucia Adam
Vein Fire (Coming Soon)
When thirteen year old Matt took a cinder block to his playmate Hannah's legs, he never knew things would end like they did. Years later, after he is released from a secure psychiatric facility, he is sadistically drawn to Hannah again but finds himself trying to protect her from the other disturbed individuals that gather around her.
Vein Fire gives a startling portrait of a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.


Stavrogin

Charcoal

Available at: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Hong Kong, present day: A man teaches children, has sex with a seventeen year old girl, and thinks himself into a dark, dark hole.

Only the recent suicide of a Korean model can pull him out.

"It's David Lynch in a hotel room with the brain of Camus guarded by Kubrick and analysed via satellite TV by Pedro Almodovar." – Robert Patrick, 'T-1000′ from 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day.'

Hollywood on the edge of forever
Available at: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Why is Tom Cruise wandering around the deserted basement of a movie studio? What is Christian Slater doing in the sewers with a fake shotgun? Why is Nick Nolte killing Russians? What is this movie called 'Statham's Brain'?

And the big one…Did Jack Nicholson really survive 'The Shining'?

'Hollywood on the edge of forever'. An uncountable number of satirical stories, whipping a vaguely familiar Hollywood to within an inch of its life.'


Even More Zizek

In addition to the books, Zizek Press also runs a blog at zizekpress.com featuring quality absurdist satire about celebrities and pop culture, contributed by the five of us plus the elusive Zasulich. Recent posts have included an interview with the cast of The Hangover 2 in which Zach Galifianakis eats a couch, Lars Von Trier texting Kirsten Dunst at the Cannes Film Festival, Ryan Reynolds' poetic ode to the Green Lantern, and a behind the scenes peek into the green-screened mind of George Lucas.

We're also on Twitter as @zizekpress and have a Tumblr at zizekpress.tumblr.com.

Oh, and we have celebrity endorsements, too.
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Published on June 12, 2011 13:08 • 59 views

March 21, 2011

Thanks to Tom Lichtenberg of Pigeon Weather Productions for picking me as the first interview for his new In the Lighthouse feature. The interview's highlights include:
I make several irresponsibly uninformed wild predictions about the future of publishing
I give a few teaser tidbits about upcoming projects
Tom says some nice things about me then makes a couple amusing remarks about the ambiguity of my identity and gender
Read it all at http://nblo.gs/fDX93
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Published on March 21, 2011 13:31 • 70 views

March 13, 2011

Today marked the 1-year anniversary of the release my debut novel, CONCRETE UNDERGROUND .  In the past year, I've been amazed, overwhelmed and humbled by the response the book has received.  Seriously, when I started writing it, I really had no intention of releasing it, I was writing simply for my own personal edification.  And even when I decided to take the plunge and self-publish it, I thought that I'd be lucky to get 100 people to read the damn thing and just one of them to actually like it.

So I'm gonna do something a little unorthodox here.  Because there seems to be an unwritten stigma attached to authors sharing download/sales info.  On the one hand, I do understand how it can seem like crass boasting.  But at the same time, I really do want to illustrate just what's possible and reasonable to expect for a self-published author working outside the confines of established genres, specialty markets, and, frankly, accepted notions of serious literature and good taste.

Also, I don't give a shit if you do think I actually am just crassly boasting, since I really and truly am completely shameless.

Because the point is that anyone can do this shit.  As I've said before, e-publishing really does have the potential to be like punk rock, zines, street art, and DIY culture.  Except instead of a roll of quarters for the self-serve copy machine or a busted up second-hand guitar, all you need is a fucking internet connection.  Stop worrying about bullshit like professionalism and dust jacket blurbs and in-store readings and just fucking create already.   Be crazy, be experimental, be audacious, be insufferably obnoxious and irresponsibly contrarian.  Just write what's in your fucking heart and have the conviction to let it loose upon the world.

So anyways, here are the download figures for Concrete Underground in its first year of publication through the highest-performing channels where it's available:

Feedbooks: 10,877
The grand-daddy of distribution channels for self-published authors, three of my six release have topped 10,000 downloads in their first year here, and I'm only an average performer there.  And informally, I'd say that seven or eight out of every ten e-mails I get from readers say they discovered my books via Feedbooks on the Aldiko Android app.

Amazon: 7,744
The only place where my book actually costs money, since they have a $0.99 minimum price.  However, the vast majority of my "sales" occurred when Amazon made the book free as a weeklong promotion.  I've also benefited from decent reviews, averaging 4 stars on 10 reviews.

Manybooks: 3,996

Another site where I benefited from weeklong promotion as a "featured book" on the site's homepage, as well as earning an average 5 star rating on 5 reviews.

Smashwords: 2,768
Through Smashwords, my book was also made available at the Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel, and Kobo stores.  Though they don't break down the download stats by distribution channels, unscientifically it looks like B&N got the most action, where it's garnered 12 review for an average rating of 3 stars and has a sales rank of about 2.700.  For the sake of comparison, that is actually higher than Auster's New York Trilogy, Zafon's Shadow of the Wind, Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, Roth's Nemesis, and Lehane's Shutter Island, but way lower than Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Lost Symbol.

Total: 25,385
Based on my cursory research (yes, I actually did research for this post, don't expect this to be a recurring theme though), the print run for an initial hardcover or trade paperback release for a midlist author is in the realm of 10 to 40k.  The number of units actually sold is like 70%, so that means 7 to 28k.  Meaning that if I'd actually managed to con some poor hapless fish of a publisher into releasing my book "for real", it most likely would not have resulted in any more eyeballs on my words.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. This was a self-published e-book that was has never been available in paper form in bookstores.

2. I had no previous print publication history, including in any kind of literary magazine or anthology, meaning no prior name recognition.

3. There was no capital investment into the book.  All the distribution channels listed above are available for free to anyone who has an internet connection.  I didn't pay for any reviews or advertisements.

4. I have no real specialized skills or connections to speak of, no particular marketing savvy, no MFA in Creative Writing (no degree whatsoever actually).  I'm not any smarter or more talented than any other dummy running around out in the world, I have no appreciation for the rigors of grammatical doctrine, and my overall grasp on the English language is tenuous at best, despite it being the only language I speak fluently.

So truly, anyone can do this shit.

Now, the counter-argument is that free downloads are not the same as paid book sales.  Apart from the obvious lack of money in the author's pocket, the free download also lacks a certain legitimacy that even a $0.99 sale would have.  And it's true, the above download figures would be significantly lower if they'd come with a price tag.  I'm OK with that, I'm more concerned with eyes on the page than coins in the bank.  And as for legitimacy, let's be honest, how much of a concern could it possibly be for someone writing under the pen name "Moxie Mezcal", really?  Guerrilla fiction does not need to be validated.

To wrap up, though, the question that faces new authors looking at self-publishing boils down to two things: access and priorities.  Access, because remember that we're talking (in my case at least) about a book that should have next to zero commercial appeal and marketability according to standard barometers.  So as the publishing industry in general and the market for midlist authors in particular continues to shrink, self publishing is going to be the only option available to a lot of writers of experimental or fringe literature.  Which leads to priorities. Meaning, would you rather make a little bit of money and have a little bit of people read your book, or make no money but have a lot of people read your book and just enjoy the ride for the ability to connect with other human beings, the creation of art for art's sake, and the sheer fucking madness of it all?
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Published on March 13, 2011 23:08 • 161 views

March 6, 2011


Read an eBook Week is an annual event to promote e-books.  This year is particularly special because it marks the 40th anniversary of the first e-book, a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was the first document in what would become Project Gutenberg.

Of course, one of the most exciting things to come out of the e-book revolution is the new opportunities for distribution it allows independent and self-published authors.  So while you could read another formulaic mainstream McBook this week, why not pick up one of these exciting new works by some of my favorite indie writers instead?

View the full list at Amazon.com.  Many of these books are available in paid and free editions.  Please consider paying if you can afford it to show your support, and if you can't, you can still show love by writing a review.

Broken Bulbs by Eddie Wright
A compelling meditation about the intersection of art and addiction and the way that both are essentially born of our need to feel like our life has meaning.  It's gritty, it's ugly, it's brazenly experimental in both form and style, it's allegorical, it's satirical, it's as darkly engrossing as staring at someone's disfiguring wounds, and yet it also manages to be profoundly cathartic.
$2.99 @ Amazon
Free @ Feedbooks
You set the price @ Smashwords

The American Book of the Dead by Henry Baum
A writer works on a novel about a religious zealot who gets elected POTUS as part of a conspiracy to immanentize the eschaton, only to realize that his story is coming true. Apocalyptic lit in the tradition of Wilson & Shea's Illuminatus!, TABOTD explores the double-edged roles that religious faith and warfare play in the human drama.
$0.99 @ Amazon
Free @ Feedbooks
You set the price @ Smashwords

This Unhappy Planet by Marc Horne
This Unhappy Planet is a satirical dramedy about two guys who hatch a scheme to open a chain of spiritual fitness clubs, hoping to get rich quick off of bored yoga moms and affluent New Age seekers.  The characters are imbued with such depth and shading, they are rendered so completely believable, that you can't help but empathize with them even while laughing at their foibles.
$0.99 @ Amazon
Free @ Feedbooks
$2.99 @ Smashwords

The Man Who Painted Agnieszka's Shoes by Dan Holloway
Like all of Dan Holloway's work, this novel is unflinchingly experimental and evocative.  A father unable to get over his missing daughter gets drawn into an obsessive subculture built around a beautiful celebrity whose death became a YouTube phenomenon.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$0.99 @ Smashwords

(life:) razorblades included by Dan Holloway
An essential primer on the work of Dan Holloway, this generation's answer to the beats.  Simultaneously visceral and transcendent, these stories celebrate the richness of all life's experiences, especially the ones that leave scars.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$0.99 @ Smashwords

The Dead Beat by Cody James
A story about self-sabotaging meth addicts that manages to be at once painfully honest, defiantly hopeful, and laugh-out-loud funny.  Its characters include a suicidal hypochondriac, a hopeless Polyanna with a venereal disease, a guy who pokes holes in his condoms so he'll impregnate the girl he's stalking, and the passive-aggressive narrator they all look to for a salvation he can never deliver.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$2.99 @ Smashwords (50% off for Read an eBook Week, Promo Code: RAE50)

Charcoal by Oli Johns
Possibly the most twisted, audacious, and brilliant book you'll read all year, Charcoal tells the story of an angry young intellectual obsessively researching the best way to kill himself.  But when he learns of the suicide of a beautiful model, he slips through a magical realist tear in fictional space-time to go back in a misguided attempt at salvation-by-proxy.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$2.99 @ Smashwords (50% off for Read an eBook Week, Promo Code: RAE50)

Back(stabbed) In Brooklyn by Lenox Parker
Brutally funny, this story about an aging actor spurned by Hollywood who tries reconnect with his roots in Brooklyn is irresistibly beguiling with an acerbic edge that makes that cuts through the sentimental lies and bs we tell ourselves after the dust settles.
$2.99 @ Amazon
Free @ Feedbooks
Free @ Smashwords

Why They Cried by Jim Hanas
Jim Hanas is the master of the slow burn.  These short works appear unassuming at first, then swell with a skilled balance of humor and humanity to a powerful resonance.  They are simple stories, elegantly told, that stay with you long after you've put them down.
$7.96 @ Amazon

Loisaida by Marion Stein
A nonlinear, multi-perspectival tale of murder set amidst the backdrop of the Tompkins Square Park riot in New York's Lower East Side during the late '80s.  A lyrical ode to life lived outside the mainstream.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$0.99 @ Smashwords

The Death Trip by Marion Stein
The Death Trip is a controversial new end-of-life medical treatment that promises a chemically-induced spiritual catharsis.  Mixing politics, philosophy, and science fiction, this novella manages to weave together questions of euthanasia, assisted suicide, drug counter-culture, and corporatized medicine into a compelling narrative without feeling preachy or heavy-handed.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$0.99 @ Smashwords (FREE for Read an eBook Week, Promo Code: RE100)

Trapdoor by Vixen Phillips
At times reading this tale of star-crossed lovers can feel like gorging yourself on dark chocolate truffles, it's intensely sensual and undeniably indulgent, yet still made the bitter by the knowledge that it can't lead anywhere pretty.  If beautiful tormented boys are your thing, this book could become your next guilty pleasure.
$2.99 @ Amazon
$2.99 @ Smashwords (50% off for Read an eBook Week, Promo Code: RAE50)

Snapdragon Alley by Tom Lichtenberg
A supernatural urban mystery about a vacant lot, a phantom bus route, and a trio of curious youths unfolds with a relentless pace that makes it impossible to put down.
$0.99 @ Amazon
Free @ Feedbooks
Free @ Smashwords

Freak City by Tom Lichtenberg
The sequel to Snapdragon Alley that stands as an engrossing mystery in its own right.  A strange parcel appears containing a number of seemingly-random objects that turn out to be pieces of a puzzle that draw a young man out of his shell and into an uncanny supernatural conspiracy.
$0.99 @ Amazon
Free @ Feedbooks
Free @ Smashwords

Password Incorrect by Nick Name
I love how these stories show an understanding of the nuanced relationship between human beings and technology, which is often belied by the absurdity of the humor. Technology is presented not as a boogey-man, but rather as the tools human beings create to fill real needs.  The problem, of course, arises from humans' preternatural abilities to epically eff up even the best intentions.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$0.99 @ Smashwords (FREE for Read an eBook Week, Promo Code: RE100)

Failure Confirmed by Nick Name
The second volume from Polish tech-absurdist Nick Name, bite-sized fiction for people too smart and snarky for their own good.
$0.99 @ Amazon
$0.99 @ Smashwords (FREE for Read an eBook Week, Promo Code: RE100)

The Butcher Shop by Neil Austin
An old-fashioned whodunnit set in the underground party scene.  Hard-nosed hipster Claire St. Claire has to track down her estranged boyfriend's murderer to clear her own name.  It's a familiar story adeptly told with a sense of sheer anarchic bliss, the literary equivalent of drunken karaoke, utterly irresistible.
$1.99 @ Amazon
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Published on March 06, 2011 23:49 • 61 views

January 30, 2011

So here's what I've been doing with my time lately...

MoxieMezcal.com | Redesign

I gave my home page a face lift. It was time, the old look was getting a little tired. I tried to keep the design clean and simple this time around. If you haven't been by in a while, check it out and let me know what you think.

m.MoxieMezcal.com | Moxie Mobile

While I was at it, I also revamped my mobile site, powered by the good people at Mofuse. The mobile site includes phone-friendly versions of this blog, info and downloads for my e-books, and the guerrilla fiction manifesto.

Tumblr

Some of you may have already noticed, but I recently started up a Tumblr site. Tumblr's an interesting beast, not something you'd put as much thought into as a full blog post, but something a little more prominent and substantial than a tweet. In a way the format is liberating, inviting more of a stream-of-consciousness style of posting, at least to me. At first I had planned to do a post a day, and while that hasn't always worked out, I am gonna keep up a pretty regular frequency. It won't replace my regular blog, I'll still continue to post the major stuff here like the author interviews. Anyway, if you have some time to kill, have a look around moxiemezcal.tumblr.com.

Mailing List

I'm also starting an e-mail list, powered by Mail Chimp, as a way to keep in touch with readers and offer some goodies to show my appreciation to all of you who have been so supportive of my work. Don't worry, your inbox isn't going to blow up with crazy amounts of spam from me, I think the updates will go out quarterly or bimonthly at most.

SUBSCRIBE :: MOXIE'S PROPAGANDA
And to kick it all off, everyone who subscribes by February 14th will get a special Valentine's gift from me, an advance copy of my next e-book single, No. 1 . The story won't be publicly available until the release of the Girls With Guns Anthology, so the advance single is a mailing list exclusive.
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Published on January 30, 2011 20:14 • 55 views

November 21, 2010


Last week Letitia Coyne at Ergofiction interviewed me for their Café Monday feature.  It was a lot of fun, and she had some really great questions about the writing process, finding characters' voices, and connecting with readers.  She also managed to coax me into gushing with a troubling lack of abandon about various tidbits of autobiographical trivia, mental illness, punk rock posturing, corporate wealth, gender identity, and similar bits of nonsense.

Here's an excerpt:
I never write characters that are straight analogs of people I know in real life, because frankly real life is boring to me. But I do often base certain traits on things I've observed in real people, so one character may be an amalgamation of several people, a friend, an ex, a random encounter, or pieces of myself. Even then, I'll usually exaggerate those traits and tendencies to make the character more archetypal. I think that fiction should be larger than life, sexier, more dangerous, more entertaining… or else what's the point?
Read the full interview here.

Ergofiction is a webzine helmed by Jan Oda designed to help webfiction readers to connect with each other, discuss their favorites, and discover new obsessions.

Letitia Coyne is a blogger and author.  Her novels are available for free online and as PDF downloads via her blog

Other Sides is an anthology of independent experimental webfiction compiled and released by Ergofiction.  It's available as a free ePub & PDF download, or for purchase in multiple formats if you want to show some love with currency.
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Published on November 21, 2010 09:42 • 74 views

October 20, 2010

There's something psychologically revealing about the way a writer approaches a sex scene that gives a more immediate peek into their head than straight dialogue or prose. And that's really the joy of reading Robert James Russell's Sex Scene , an anthology of thirteen shorts from independent authors of various backgrounds, nationalities, religions, and orientations.  It's extremely satisfying as a reader to play armchair psychoanalyst while noting the divergent styles and comfort levels in handling the subject matter.

There's very little here that is identifiable as porn or even  "erotica" (which I think is a euphemism for high brow porn, presumably distinguished by the fact that you jerk off to it with your pinky held up like you're at a tea party).  Only a handful of them manage to successfully quicken the heart rate, while many have a clinical or academic feel, almost reminiscent of junior high sex ed.  Some dance around the actual sex as long as possible or try to skirt by with little graphic detail, while others take the plunge with such brashness that they almost border on being disingenuous.  Some choose to decontextualize the sex, providing little or no framing story, while others take great pains to dress up their contributions with a lot of plot and/or literary conceit, like they felt the need to justify or vindicate the inclusion of explicit content.

None of this is meant to in any way denigrate the participating writers, many of whom are among my personal favorites.  In fact, I have a deep respect for everyone who contributed, born of the fact that a Catholic upbringing and an adolescence wracked by extreme gender identity issues have left me largely terrified of sex and sexuality.  I tend not to have the guts to write sex scenes, and when I do I make them as ugly or mortifying as possible.

Which may be why my two favorites are the stories by Dan Holloway and Sarah Melville.  Dan's story, God bless him, is frankly, well... terrifying.  And I hesitate to give you any more details because you really should read it cold and experience the gut-punch for yourself.  And then Sarah's piece is on the opposite end of the spectrum, managing to be so poetic and whimsical and sincere that it almost makes you forget you're reading a sex scene at all.

Sex Scene is available through Lulu:
Free PDF Download
Paperback ($6.50)

For more about editor/ring-master Robert James Russell visit robertjamesrussell.com or @robhollywood on Twitter.

Cover art by John Vestevich


Also, check out the trailer by Sarah Melville:

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Published on October 20, 2010 06:12 • 175 views

September 28, 2010

Forgive Lenox Parker if she hasn't seemed herself lately. One of the most dynamic, outspoken, and enthusiastic indie authors emerging onto the scene, she had just launched her first book, steadily developed an online following, and plugged away tirelessly lining up readings and getting her book into stores. Then real life intervened and she found herself forced to start over from square one with a new name, a new book, and a new website.  Luckily, she still writes with the same passion, humor, and keen insight, as seen in her new novel, Back(stabbed) in Brooklyn .

The novel follows Howard Kessler, an over-the-hill actor  known for playing the streetwise tough guy.  Having fallen from favor with the superficial Hollywood scene, he decides to go back home to Brooklyn and track down his old childhood gang.  Part of the appeal comes from the fish-out-of-water story as the Hollywood icon tries to adapt to his friends' lives of domestic strife, waning health, and broken dreams.  But it's just as much a character study, as each of the men grapple with their own troubled pasts and Howard's stab at self-discovery dredges up some motives that might not be as Norman Rockwell squeaky-clean as he'd like to believe.

MM: First off, I just want to say I'm so happy that you're releasing Back(stabbed) in Brooklyn. I fucking loved the draft I read late last year, back when it had that other title. Without giving too much away, obviously, have you changed anything drastically since then, or has it mostly been edits and fine-tuning?

LP: Thanks, I'm happy I'm releasing it, too. I really love this story. I changed a couple of the perspectives, which was tough and I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but I decided to put the pen down and just leave it. I tightened the language, too. Going through it word by word, chapter by chapter, I was able to see words that were skipped, double the's, things like that which are a dead giveaway for a book that hasn't been edited professionally.

MM: Talk about the decision to serialize it on your blog how you're approaching the print & e-book release?

LP: Serializing it on the blog so far has netted me about zero degrees of interest, except for a few stragglers. I think it's my failure to publicize it consistently so people can't wait two weeks in between chapters. I don't blame them. I'm doing the "soft" release. I did a blog post a couple of months ago about a book release and what it means and I tried to downplay my own expectations. I had so much excitement about my last book release that when it happened, it was like, eh, fizz out, blah. So I'm not doing a full-blown release. I have a whole philosophy about that. We as writers get all hepped up about our book releases, which is of course justified since writing them took up like a year of our lives. So a reader flips through it in a weekend and moves on to the next thing! I have to get over myself, as a writer, and just pump out the fiction as it comes to me, because readers devour stuff so much now that we can't look upon all our work as pedestal-warranted studies of brilliance. We are producing a commodity. I know that sounds harsh.

MM: Has the promotion of the new novel been impacted by your recent exile/identity crisis/bullshit HR nightmare?

LP: Thankfully not so much. However, before my exile I had garnered a couple thousand "followers" on Twitter and now that's shot to shit. So my "platform" has shrunk. I'm starting afresh. And it's easier to market a novel than a nonfiction humorous memoir anyway, so I expect I'll get more traction on this one anyway. It's sad that I really only had four months to promote my last book before the Gulag treatment happened, but I can't dwell on it. I'm still paranoid though. That's why my web presence isn't where it should be, because I won't log on anywhere on my work computer and I'm paranoid about my keystrokes. (Me = over the top, I know)

MM: How has life as a pseudonym been treating you? Do you find the anonymity liberating, or is it strange not to be able to write as yourself?

LP: I've gotten used to it. It's been nearly four months and I'm Lenox. I'm cool with that. It's a ridiculous name and that was the purpose, to bring attention to the fact that this is not my name. It was weird, I did an author event as my old self a few weeks ago and I couldn't promote Back(stabbed) In Brooklyn at all and it was frustrating because I had a few press interviews, but I had to keep it sealed. At first I was really depressed. But now I'm alright with it.

MM: What about your last book, the book that dare not speak its name... are you still promoting that as well?

LP: Nope. I did my last author event and that's that. It's not dead, though. It can't be, it's my life. I do still have expectations that I'll be able to get that book made into a film too, but that may go along with my general delusions.

MM: One of the things I've admired about you is that while you're fiercely independent, you're also totally uninhibited when it comes to promoting your work. You make it clear you are going after as big an audience as possible, and made clear to use your writing as a springboard to film and other media. Do you think that with the current growth in self-publishing/e-publishing, we're primed for indie authors to start breaking into the mainstream?

LP: I have hopes that the line between mainstream and independent will continue to be blurred when it comes to the publication of written work. Hollywood could give two shits about how a book was published, as long as it can be packaged and marketed the way they like to do things. I love movies. I fucking love movies more than people. I am a wannabe filmmaker. Every word I write I am simultaneously envisioning it as a movie. But as with mainstream publishing, I can't get behind formulaically produced films and I prefer experimental our non-conventional works.

Constitutionally I can't write commercial mainstream stuff. Just can't. I couldn't write a vampire romance novel to save my life. So will I ever see my work on screen? I will have to produce it myself, most likely.

So the short answer to your question is, really excellent independent authors are independent for a reason--they are unconventional. Only snippets of unconventional art are processed and molded into mainstream entertainment. It's how we feed the beast. We will always feed the beast, but we will never be the beast.

MM: What's next for you? More shorts, or are you working on anything big? And really, what I'm trying to get at is: will I ever get to read a full Maggie & May novel?

LP: Maggie & May is next! I'll do a little more research for that and go over to 47th and 9th Ave to the specific bar I'm modeling the story on. So I'm like Woody Allen, I'll release my book next month and start a new project. Ok I'm not really like Woody Allen but still, I'll do the fall project thing every year. After Maggie & May is probably going to be Jean-Baptiste is a Brilliant Liar. I love that character and wrote a few pieces on Year Zero I think, and on my blog. Probably the first one was my old name, but I have to re-release it somewhere.

Lenox Parker blogs at Eat My Book and tweets as @LenoxParker . 
Back(stabbed) in Brooklyn is available as a free e-book at Feedbooks and Smashwords .
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Published on September 28, 2010 21:37 • 60 views