Steven S. Drachman's Blog

December 17, 2014

On January 1, I predicted that 2014 would be a pretty bad year - it was just in the air. There was almost a movie sense of foreboding when I walked out into that terrible underpopulated overcast Brooklyn gloom. There were a lot of real warning signs too, in America and around the world.

A lot of people didn’t take me seriously or thought I was joking. I gave a Q1 report that seemed to be proving me right, then a Q2 report that seemed to be proving me right, and by Q3, this year was too traumatic for me even to think about. 2014 was so bad, I really almost can’t remember how to spell the word “good.”

I believe that my prediction has been proven correct.

On the world news front, 2014 was one of the worst for death and destruction without a world war - really wretched terror and death, globe-wide. Do I need to list it? From Gaza, to Isil, to Egypt to Ukraine … A massive epidemic that shut down Africa; so many people dying now in Africa. Really, how much do people in Africa have to go through?

The world economy remains bad, worse elsewhere but still bad. Global warming is proving a reality that we’re doing nothing about because of rich America oligarchs. More species went extinct this year. For some reason, U.S. politicians think this is funny. (“Oh, the poor golden toad,” they laugh after a caviar lunch with the Koch brothers. “Ha ha ha. Liberals care so much about the golden toad. Ha ha ha.”)

The U.S. saw more gridlock, a slow economic recovery with the superwealthy widening the gap with everyone else, racial violence, an increase in school shootings. Obamacare remains under attack and could be gone soon … In entertainment news, I’ll never get over Bill Cosby, and almost everyone else whose name I still know died in just awful ways. And any year in which Lou Reed is still dead is a sad year. (Knowing that my childhood hero, Bill Cosby, systematically drugged and raped women over the course of decades makes 2014 seem like a Vonnegut satire, not like real life at all.)

Listen, it’s not my imagination - this really was a horrible year. I know you could take examples pro and con from any year, but it would be pretty hard to make a case for this being a good one. I mean, we had some bad years before - 1918 comes to mind, and I probably would not have wanted to be around in 1351. But this year is like 1918 and 1351 combined. Can you think of something really good about this year?. Ummm …. the Oscars were better?

People I know, other late-40ish men who have been out of work longer than they should, have had to listen to Paul Ryan lecture them on their dependency because after a lifetime of taxes they thought the government might help us. Instead it cut unemployment benefits.

What will it take for 2015 to be “good?” U.S politics is shot, but I’ll accept a Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, weak growth with no major economic collapse, no more police killing unarmed black people minding their own business (not a single one, not one) and a 25% drop in school and other public gun massacres. (Can we manage a 25% drop?) Internationally, all we can hope for is that the really extravagant level of outrageous killing declines somewhat. I don’t know what we can ask for in public health in Africa - maybe just a certain level of people-giving-a-damn?

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone -
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Published on December 17, 2014 17:21 • 18 views • Tags: 2014, new-year

October 7, 2014

It's always tough when the initial whoop-de-doo over a book dies down, it's no longer appearing someplace every day (and so my Google searches are boring) and I realize I've got to get around to writing the next one! Home sick all day and didn't write a word.

I'm going to wrap the whole Watt O'Hugh story up in Book 3 rather than the previously promised (threatened?) 5 books. You know, I got a little sidetracked this summer writing a book about world peace (not kidding - buy it if you're interested in such things) and I'm not getting any younger! Book 3 will be entitled, "Watt O'Hugh: And Then I Died ...." (The man's in his 90s, I hope that doesn't come as a shock or a spoiler! But I can tell you, I've got some surprises up my sleeves.)

In other news, as you may know, Chickadee Prince Books is about to publish its first non-Drachman book, a YA sci-fi trilogy that's already won amazingly great pre-publication reviews. (It's much better than my books, I can tell you that with envy.) More on that very soon, this week I hope.
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Published on October 07, 2014 14:54 • 8 views

September 28, 2014

I wanted to let you all know that I have a new ebook single entitled Enough Already: A Framework For Permanent Peace in a New Palestine and Israel.

The title is pretty much self explanatory. The publication coincides with my TedX Talk last week on the same subject. The talk will be available on the web in about three weeks, but the book is available now, for only 99 cents.

I'd love to hear what you think.
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Published on September 28, 2014 09:57 • 26 views • Tags: israel, middle-east, palestine, peace, war

September 14, 2014

Thanks to everyone who has reviewed my books on Goodreads!

If I could ask you also to post your reviews on Amazon, it would be a great help to me in reaching even more readers and keeping the momentum going.

You can find it here.

Thanks very much for your help -
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Published on September 14, 2014 08:20 • 16 views • Tags: ghosts-of-watt-o-hugh, indie-books

September 5, 2014

The Story so Far:

Chelsea Cain wrote a couple of FaceBook posts at one in the morning, telling her fans not to send her stupid questions, and she used the eff word.

As for me, my readers can send me any questions they want. I am happy to be your personal client service representative. Get in touch any time. Her posts were rude, and she got a lot of blowback.

So today, she deletes her prior, extremely mildly testy posts because her publisher asked her to and because they do not have time to deal with all the hysteria she "apparently whipped up," but then she repeats everything all again in attempting to justify her prior extremely mildly testy post and clarifies that she doesn't "apologize for a single word of my earlier posts," which she had to delete so that her publisher would not have to deal with all the hysteria. New hysteria predictably ensues! The poor woman has a gun aimed at her own foot - someone stop her before she shoots again! (Once again, as someone who from time to time may have sent an email I later regretted, I have a great deal of sympathy for her, but a time comes when you just have to get off the computer, drink some warm milk, maybe go on a long hike and calm down.) As someone who in the past every once in a while lost his temper, I have a lot of sympathy (empathy?) for people who occasionally act like assholes. (And by "the past," I include yesterday and the day before.) I'm going to buy her most recent book (the one that didn't make the Times best-seller list in spite of great reviews and lots of early enthusiasm, which is what set off all these tantrums) just because I feel sorry for her. So maybe this whole "being a jerk" thing is working for her.

But more broadly, it's a disturbing development when we want our novelists to be "nice." If Frederick Exley, William Styron, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and John Cheever were alive today, I would expect their FaceBook pages to be filled with lots of 1 in the morning drunken rants and profanity much worse than the very mild umbridge expressed by the likes of Chelsea Cain at 1 in the morning (possibly drunk, because she has admitted in earlier posts that she drinks). Why? Because they were a pretty rotten bunch who wrote great books when they weren't passed out in their own vomit. Frederick Exley, for example, wrote A Fan's Notes, a great book about what a jerk he was, when drunk AND sober. I love the book but would not want to be his FaceBook friend. There are plenty of people who communicate badly with other people and have this or that psychological issue, whether inborn or acquired, who just simply cannot help it and don't understand what they are doing wrong and who therefore shouldn't get jobs as receptionists or restaurant greeters (or generally work with other people at all), and if they are lucky enough to become novelists, we should let them spend all day in their pajamas wrestling with their demons, and we should still enjoy their books, if their books are good, and, unless they are friends or family or loved ones, we shouldn't bother them while they are wrestling with their demons, or we should expect a rude response from time to time if we choose to try to befriend them over the internet. The idea of boycotting an author's books because she's not very nice all the time, or because she lost her temper once at 1 in the morning, is a pretty remarkable idea. To be clear, I am in favor of people being nice to everyone else all the time, but the fact is that a lot of novelists aren't nice to everyone else all the time, and not reading their books if their books are good hurts no one but the person not reading their books.

That said, I AM nice to my readers all the time. And I love to hear from you. And I will never curse you out.
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Published on September 05, 2014 09:44 • 596 views • Tags: chelsea-cain

June 19, 2014

I am honored that the very prominent website, SF Signal, has published the first chapter of Watt O'Hugh Underground.

Please do take a look if you haven't read it yet or you're on the fence - plenty of punching and shooting and time roaming, all in one chapter.
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Published on June 19, 2014 12:40 • 16 views • Tags: time-travel, western-science-fiction, westerns

June 15, 2014

Dear Readers,

"Forces of Geek" have exclusively published the prologue to my new book, Watt O'Hugh Underground, so you can give it a try. If you like it, buy it. If you don't like it, then, hell, it's only the damn prologue. Buy it anyway.

No shooting or punching in the prologue; a little wistful romance, wistful time roaming, and wistful scenes of New York back in the 1860s. (Painstakingly and wistfully researched.)

I guess what I am saying is that the book starts ouit on a wistful note, but, I promise, Chapter 1 has lots of shooting and punching.

Love from,
your old pal, Drax
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Published on June 15, 2014 14:23 • 79 views • Tags: free, historical-fantasy, watt-o-hugh, western

May 25, 2014

I'm very honored to note that the Watt O'Hugh reissue hit #39 on Amazon's list of bestelling historical fantasy novels, which, yes, means that both the reissue and Book 2 are available for sale, so you can help keep it on the bestseller list if you so choose.

Ask for them in your local bookstore or library, or order them on Amazon or BN.com. The publication celebration was also a happy success, with a big turnout and nearly 50 copies sold. Here's a photo from the event.

For my publication week, I wrote a few guest blogs on some great websites. I talked about the “Big Idea” of my book on John Scalzi’s Whatever website, I explained why I have to believe in dragons on Suvudu (which my daughter kindly illustrated), and I imagined an interview from 1936 with Watt O’Hugh for the New York Herald-Tribune on theNo More Grumpy Bookseller site. I hope you enjoy them.
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Published on May 25, 2014 09:15 • 17 views • Tags: dragons, historical-fantasy, science-fiction, watt-o-hugh, westerns

May 15, 2014

Friends -

Please remember to join me this coming Wednesday, May 21, at 7 pm, for the publication celebration and reading of the second Watt O'Hugh book, and the reissue of the first. It will be at the Community Bookstore, on 7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Hop on the F train and come join me.

A few happy reviews have come out pre-publication:

"Watt O'Hugh will stay with you long after you've turned the last page of Steven Drachman's joyful, hilarious and smart tale. Much like the dizzy feeling I have when I get off the spinning teacup ride at an amusement park, my head happily spun through time and place. Drachman, or maybe it was Watt O'Hugh, made me an instant fan."

– Nicolle Wallace (NY Times Best-Selling Author of Eighteen Acres, and ABC-TV analyst)


“An exciting and tumultuous tale … Watt evades fantastical monsters with the same self-reported aplomb he uses to confront demonic gunfighters, rob trains, and comfort distressed maidens (both living and otherwise). Four stars out of five!” — Clarion Reviews

“What’s unique about it is the blend of Western stuff with supernatural stuff. It blends so easily with a long-lost love subplot. Both books are quick-reading, page-turning pulpy adventures.” – Science Fiction Revolution

“By the end of the second novel, we have a revenge plot, a Chinese version of Hell, a quest, more historical personages, and some derring do. … These are both intriguing and entertaining novels … Not the kind of thing you find too often, and that in itself can be a virtue.” – Critical Mass

“Looking for something a little more…weird? … for more weirdness, check out the over-the-top pulpishness of Steven S. Drachman’s dime-store duology.” — John DeNardo, SF Signal

“[Q]uite poetic! …. The time travelling almost takes on ‘Doctor Who’ proportions. He meets up with Chinese from 2000 years ago and gets involved in complicated plots which could affect everything and everyone. Despite being up against lots of violence and villains, Lucy … is his main preoccupation, his oasis in the desert of time. When all is said and done, this book is a jolly good romp, pleasant to read and very entertaining. It’s being released with the second book in the series and there will probably be more in the future. … It’s a well-written book which certainly deserves some attention!” — SF CrowsNest

“Drachman’s exuberant novel is chock-full of fantastical elements; in addition to Watt’s time-roaming ability and spectral allies (often called “deadlings”), there are demons, oracles, dragons and assorted monstrosities…. Watt shines!” – Kirkus Reviews (on Watt O’Hugh Underground)
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Published on May 15, 2014 20:02 • 29 views

April 20, 2014

I woke up this morning and I was 49 years old, entering my 50th year. So this person who lives in my home with me (who I'm not allowed to mention on Facebook) said "Are you freaked out about this?" So I wasn't really till she mentioned it. I like the 49 part ok but not the 50 part, but I'm still younger than Jackie Chan and always will be, and he's the spirit of youth, so I will be ever-young, thanks to Jackie Chan. But yet, I feel so wise.

Here's something that is perplexing me, and it didn't really start to bother me till last night at about 10 minutes before midnight, and I'm wondering if any of you are smart enough to figure this out. It involves statistics. (Andrew Evans?)

In 1830, in the South Bavarian Hamlet of Emmendingen, my great great grandfather Ephraim Weil, who was a moderately successful 20-year-old cattle trader, was trying to decide whether to marry Bessie Sonneborn or Barucha Heilbron. (Ephraim later had a synagogue named after him - Congregation Zichron Ephraim, which still exists in Manhattan.) He let his horse decide, and his horse chose Barucha. Had his horse chosen Bessie, I would not have been born. OK, 50-50 odds there, pretty good. Anyway, his son Jonas came to America and became a butcher, then a fantastically wealthy real estate developer, but he squandered - er, nobly gave away - all his money for good works. His son-in-law, a rabbi named Bernard Drachman (who was once accused by Arthur Conan Doyle of being a wizard), traveled back to Germany in 1882, where he fell madly in love with a woman named Jeanette Shemayah, "a true Oriental beauty of the finest type," with "skin of alabaster whiteness" and a "softly melodious [voice] like the gentle rippling of a fountain." But he was too timid to propose marriage and to bring her back to America. She was last heard from in 1941, when she was deported to Poland. Had he proposed, I would not have been born. 50-50 again. But beautiful Jeanette's life would have been spared.

Meanwhile, my goyishe great-great-great-great-great (maybe a few more) grandfather was born David Betts or Petts between 1780 and 1790 in the lace-making hamlet of Honiton in Devonshire, from whence he fled to the New World, a wanted fugitive, and finally remade himself before the War of 1812 as William Frederick Slocum, the captain of a merchant vessel, where he met and married Rachel James. Had he not been accused of committing whatever crime he was accused of committing, I would never have been born. Many years later, my mother fell in love with a nice young man, who went off to war and was shot dead. Had he not been killed, I would never have been born. But other children would have been, the children of the brave soldier. Finally, even when she met and fell in love with a Jew from Brooklyn and collapsed with him in a drunken, passionate stupor in the dumpster behind McSweeney’s that crazy night in 1964 (ok, I made up the part about the dumpster), and even assuming that a child would result from the interlude, the odds were at least 100 million to 1 that the child would turn out to be me. (Because - I looked this up - each ejaculation contains between 100 million and 400 million sperm. Sorry to be graphic.)

So considering all this, the odds against any one of us being born has to be trillions and trillions to one. Really impossible odds. Like winning the lottery once a week for your whole life. Has anyone tried to crack the numbers? My point here (and I do have one) is that I'm just not that lucky. I'm kind of lucky. But mostly unlucky. So isn't it just possible that there's something more to this whole existence thing? Anyway: I HOPE SO.

Happy birthday today to me, Charlie Chaplin, and Hitler.
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Published on April 20, 2014 05:51 • 10 views