Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Curiosity is the Lust of the Mind

So sayeth the wise Thomas Hobbes, indeed--curiosity is the lust of the mind. And could it be curiosity, a penchant for the hostile, sardonic remarks, that draws readers to the books with the bad reviews--and even boosts sales?

I read an article entitled Bad Reviews Can Boost Sales. Heres Why by Jonah Berger, which refers to a study that found for unknown authors one star reviews can actually boost sales. I guess human beings are curious by nature. I was reminded of my failed project that received an entire blog entry (read it here) and the remarks were scathing, so much so that I found it humorous, laugh aloud funny. I guess the idea that this critic would go to such great length to disparage my work was both jarring and impressive.

So, according to the study, Blue Jackson should be selling like hotcakes. I mean, this one blog entry is equal to about ten one star reviews. Truth be told, if I sold even one I'd be thrilled. Okay, so the language is deep southern slang, and I guess I should have paid attention to my sister's gasp when I told her I published it, realized that most people don't want to read more than a paragraph of dat and dem. Nevertheless, I'm still committed as an artist and lover of authenticity. It had so many possibilities, so much potential; maybe it was the blog? Or, maybe it was just plain unreadable. At any rate, I've accepted defeat. I'm rewriting it in easier to read language, regular old Queen's English with a sprinkling of slang. I decided it will be a thriller trilogy too. I already have part II (in my head).

Even though I'm knee-deep in an unexpected short story that's growing possibly into a novella, and my two other novellas, left undone, I couldn't bear to look at Blue Jackson anymore, climbing steadily upwards to the 900k range so I took her down and am making it a priority to get her fixed up with a new look and improved readability.

Updates to follow.

Monday, January 21, 2013


And then there was the pain, the gut wrenching pain, the punches in his groin and one on his cheek, the taste of blood. Shortly after, he was in a new school with Father O’Rourke, leaning in close to him, so close he could smell the coffee on his breath, “I want you to tell me immediately if anyone bothers you. You are too damn smart for this nonsense. I will take care of it.” Leonard felt a rage surging up inside him; up to this point he had been holding his last piece of toast, in hopes that he might finish it. But now it was cold; he threw his napkin onto the plate to signify his disgust. It was all a guy like Leonard Whitman could do.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Last Stand - RED BAND Trailer

One of Arnold's last lines is "I'm home." And his fans will concur--he is back in the movies where he belongs. We lost him to politics for awhile, and now he can entertain us once again. The Last Stand is great--action, characters, script...lots of fun with interesting story, build up of suspense, comedic edge. It's all there. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Slow Death of Habeas Corpus CHP 2 EXCERPT

Ten years since Esther. The bedroom, moonlit, casting an ominous blue pall over her face. “What have we done?”  I said it. My words were like salve. She calmed.

“I love you, Jesus, I love you.”  Ellie behind me, her nakedness, warm breath, soft fingertips up and down my arm. Elise stirred, whimpered in the bassinet in the corner of the room.

“Sh. I love you, too, Eliot. We love each other. That’s all. How could that be a crime? Please, tell me. I think you want to leave me. I think you’re tired of me. I don’t know anymore. I can’t even trust anyone, not even my husband.”

“You don’t get it. You don’t get it do you? What we just did? We made love the way we were supposed to in a normal world. But, Ellie, in case you haven't noticed, we don’t live in a normal world. They can see us right now.”

I was manic, gesturing wildly: “We can’t see them. But they’re in the corner and outside the window and on the ceiling and in the fucking walls! Believe me. They are here and they just saw us. Yes, they saw me on top of you. They saw our naked bodies!  They saw it all! So now they’re going to seize you and our baby. I don’t know where. I won’t know when.”

I was sobbing now. The truth was unimaginable for her, for me. It stuck like sharp pins in my chest. But I had to confront it. She stared at me, blankly. Her eyes were black dots like a child’s doll, round and devoid of expression, programmed. Her complexion was ghostly, ashen, her aura a flimsy veil of misty coral—morose, displaced.

“You’re lying All of this is just a ploy. You don’t want me anymore. Just say it damn you. Just tell me the truth for once. Don’t do this to me, Eliot. Don’t do this to your baby. It makes no sense, no sense at all. You’re a viper—a monster, to do this to your wife and baby.”

She didn’t get it. She never would get it until she was seized and her baby was taken away. And then it would be too late. She lived in a perpetual dream zone. A place inaccessible to me. I couldn't reach her. Maybe they were tainting the food or water supply. Maybe we were all being poisoned.

“Ellie it is a crime. You know it. I know it. In our world, our passion is a crime.”

A siren sounded outside. Ellie froze. The air became stitled, unbreathable.

Beware of Purchased or Fake Amazon Reviews

Reviews for the indie author are essential. Yet, they are not always easy to get--the honest way, I mean to say.

In every profession, you'll get some bad apples, those who refuse bo play by the rules. Follow this link and you will see a clear example of why Amazon needs to crack down more on fake reviews.

Too many authors are buying reviews, 5 star reviews, or finding deceitful ways to get them (check out NY Times Best Selling novelist Jodi Picoult's FB post). The readers lose faith and it is unfair  to the many authors (like myself) who work hard at drumming up a readership for my work. 

The Forgotten World of Pad and Pencil

"You don't need anything but a pad and a pencil," according to Ray Bradbury. Oh, Lord... the old wise ones who easily bore the dickens out of a younger Google generation brought up on fast paced, give it to me quick, get-to-the-point kind of discussions.

Well, this one is worth a like, a tweet, a post, a listen. Bradbury has that good old fashioned wit; he is part of an old world, a vanishing world, a pre-digital era. Bradbury promotes resourcefulness, simplicity. Make no mistake, he is far from simple and encourages complexity, minus the technology. His method is cheap, simple, and readily available--it's called the book.

In 2013 ,and for the past decade or more, we are breeding nonbook readers. The hard cover book is at risk for becoming archaic, a relic in its time. Well, maybe that's a tad hyperbolic. But as Bradbury insists, we need to be mindful of resourcefulness. Undeniably, we are tech-dependent, and frequently glued to a screen, knee deep in technology, networking, sloshing through the mire of social media, increasing followers with a tweet, liking pages, subscribing, promoting this and that. I can have 20K followers on my twitter account, 30k, 90k ... but what does it all mean? Critics will argue that  it is an isolating, impersonal connecting of sorts--the ruin of us. I don't know if I agree, entirely. But admit that a phone conversation, or a lunch date, or a hug, or face to face conversation is always much better than a like on my FB page.

(Warning: Grossly self-indulgent, self-promotion coming up)

In my latest wip, which is a dystopian novel, I explore the repercussions of a section of the population that is stripped of all technology, forced backwards in time. They are powerless, easily controlled by DEF (Digital Enforcement Faction); in this dystopian world, freedoms are removed, and even book reading is prohibited. Needless to say, it is not a nice place to live if you happen to reside in the mid-west or eastern sections of what was once the U.S.

Maybe I'm biased. I always espoused to the notion that you are what you read. Now, I'm wiser, realize that there other ways of knowing. Still, I agree with Bradbury that books teach us everything we need to know, empower us, encourage us to consider other viewpoints, realities, and fantastical musings. It is no wonder that in a dystopian world books are removed.

I know that schools promote good old fashioned instruction, and it's not working. I know the copier is the greatest asset in any school. It is always overused and always breaking down. The paper wasted in our schools is astronomical. Yet, most students abhor paper and pencil, worksheet packets, heavy text books. They are part of a digital age; one might say they enter the classroom digitally programmed to learn in a new way. Why make 200 copies when you can use an LCD and project the same information on the screen? Or give the students the URL and they can find it themselves and read online? For assessment of learning, have students respond in a blog.

The classroom is lagging behind. That's the reality. So, we either get with the program and allow for more self-study, more integration of technology, or we stand to keep losing ground. Students are saavy, know they can Google what they want to know. So, why not allow it?  Ray Bradbury, a critic of current formal schooling, is on board with self-study; he suggests the library is your schooling. You can learn anything you want in a book. You can find your match. As he states "We are all looking for someone like ourselves...Jesus, God, if I were to go to a deserted island tomorrow what books would I bring?...the Bible of course and the essays of George Bernard Shaw."

I'm going to try to get my hands on those Shaw essays. They must be something if Bradbury liked them so much. I'll Google and more than likely come up with numerous hits. I don't know if Bradbury would approve or not. But he said it himself "Whatever works."

thx for the read. follow me on twitter bethbrown555.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Aaron Swartz keynote - "How we stopped SOPA"

Aaron Swartz fought, vehemently, for the freedom of information, and our constitutional rights and he was threatened for two years with years of imprisonment and a million dollar fine. Although we've lost this bright star, we need to continue his fight against the abuses of Government and an overreaching power.

The Government's Boorish Bullying of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz, innovator, MIT student, contributor to the creation of RSS and at the helm of SOPA, twenty-five, brilliant-minded, hounded for hacking scholarly papers from the MIT database. US Attorney Carmen Diaz decided to pursue the case, going after the lad with a venomous desire to prosecute him for unlawful hacking with 13 felonies, including prison time and a million dollar fine. A genius mind is often fragile, as was the case with Aaron. Perhaps he couldn't stand the notion of prison time, or the continued expense of lawyer fees, and he took his life. Check out more here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quentin Tarantino Epic Response Refusing to Kowtow

That Tarantino has fire-- love it just like his two adversarial players--Christopher Waltz and Leonardo DeCaprio-- in his latest movie Django Unchained; Tarantino portrays an era expertly enough with a stroke of artistic flair and opens up a long overdue debate regarding slavery, which he claims is the holocaust of the antebellum era. But, yes, it's in Tarantino style--embellished blood baths etc., I admit myself to a few moments of cover the eyes and ears. But, all in all, it beats Chainsaw Massacre hands down; the script, characters, music, setting, dark aspects of slavery are profound and brilliantly executed. A must see.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Slow Death of Habeas Corpus: A Dystopian Novella Excerpt CHP 1

EXCERPT FROM CHP 1 A Dystopian Novella


“Read to me.” Moonie—glimmering green eyes, pudgy cheeks, blush ripened lips, desirous, the naiveté of youth in her expression, a brief blossom; and, even now, a hint of weathering, if the light hits just right, a frown forming, a settling into a pallid dullness from defeat, a weathered soul. We are side by side,, legs outstretched and entangled, on the side of the Scribe 2-A Work Building on Luxembourg Avenue, shrouded by a tall row of arborvitaes.She hands me a small white book, 8 x 5 or so, a short collection from an anonymous author, the image on the front is faded along with the title. The only visible letters are the initials, CNB.

“Where did you get this?”

“Rummaging…junk yard.”

You should stay away from the junk yards. You might get bit by a stray dog or cat. And if DEF finds out you have a book, they could shoot you on the spot. You know that right?”

“What are they going to do to me? I can’t even read for God’s sakes.”

“I’ll teach you. Let me teach you, Moonie. You’re too smart to be illiterate.”

“No fucking way. I can read enough to get by. I can’t read this abstract stuff.”

She looks down, fanning the pages, her expression dour, defeated, so unlike Moonie, the Moonie I know with the spirit of a hundred wild mustangs. “Just read, okay?” She lays back, puts her hands behind her head.

“Sweet, sweet fall, fall of birds & other animals, tonight, no liberty, no pass to the combat zone or drunk at McSorley’s or a wide open highway:  I have had all that, even a cowboy hat from Cheyenne & Roaming with a friend, looking for elk & ex-Nazis, even warm June smell of blue flowers moist as grass or little tits of the black widow spider:  only Herodotus to read and the sniffles, banging out these dead or live rhythms…”

“Jesus this guy was brilliant, huh?”

“I’m not done.”

“No more poetry. I want to know about reality, you, what happened in the East.”

“Like what?”

“Like are you East people really all inbreeds with so much massive cell destruction that you’re defects and dangerous to society? Because that’s what they are saying about you in the West.”

“Oh, Lord. You know far too much. I’ll have to kill you.” I grab her; my jaw clamps her neck. I growl. She laughs. I love when Moonie laughs. I love Moonie more than myself.

“But seriously—tell me. I want to know.”

“Know what?”

“What the fuck happened after Esther.”

“Fix your star first and then—

“And then what?” She grabs the inside of my leg and squeezes. I feel it-- a sharp pang of desire.

“Well, we can do that instead, I suppose—“

“Oh, no you don’t. I want to know. So, talk first and then maybe we can have some fun.”

“Star fixed?”

“Yes, Holy Jesus, just get on with it.”

“Just check it for me.  Remember last week, what happened?”

“Oh, you mean that son of a bitch Digital Enforcement Fuck who told us we couldn’t take a walk in the afternoon hours?”

“He heard us, Moonie. Thank God that DEF officer didn’t hear enough, but you need to make sure the points are okay.”

“This baby will protect us—at least 10 feet or so.” She pats her chest.

“But it needs to be on right.”

 Moonie moves her fingers up to her mantle, pinned on the inside of her shirt. “Yup, she’s good. Now talk!”

I felt her elbow jab my side. “Okay, silence whippersnapper. I don’t know what you want me to say. I mean, poetry is one thing. The other—well, it’s hard to talk about it.”

“Forgive me Mr. sentimental baby, but I think I’m entitled to know. So you’re going to have to tell me or I’ll bite your arm off.”  She holds my arm against her mouth and opens wide. I pull it away and laugh. I crave her like sun or water.

“Okay, okay. First of all, we didn’t expect it. Or if we did--if we did— no one said it. I imagine the scientists knew and the government officials knew. Someone knew. But your average Joe, like me or you, we didn’t know that the big one was brewing, one that would flatten us, change our whole lifestyle permanently.

“How do you know they didn’t do it?

“Do what?”

“Change the weather systems? Lots of people say it was DEF that did it.”

I watch her pluck the grass now, blade by blade—long blades, unusually firm and thick at the roots. The new weather created hardy, plush grass.

“Are you planning on eating that?”

“You’re avoiding me.”

“Hm? Well, yes—sure. Anything is possible with DEF.  That was a suspicion for some time.”

“So what the heck were you guys doing then? How come all you brilliant people, all you artists and poets and scientists, couldn’t stop them?”

Because, my sweet Moonie, before, it hit we were slovenly, insatiable freaks; we had knowledge at our fingertips; we became lazy, inept, slobs, weak; we filled up with as much as we could get, fast, while the storms ate into our budgets left trillion dollar deficits. But still no one could have predicted Esther. And it was at our most pitiful moment, after she hit, that we lost everything,

“Freaky shit. I was outside playing hopscotch when she hit. You ever hear of hopscotch?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Venice is Sinking and Updates

Updates are in order. I recently published Venice is Sinking: A Trio of Short Stories. Odd, somewhat, these stories begged for completion. I can’t explain. It is what it is. I was compelled to write and complete these three thematically connected stories. Collection is hitting top 100 in Best Selling category for short fiction and literary fiction, globally--—big category I’m pleased. The more visibility, the better the chances I will increase my readership. So, now they are done, published. Now, I can devote my full time to the bigger works—The Slow Death of Habeas Corpus and the sequel to The Sins of Dom. The former is almost complete. Yet, I’m not sure where I’m headed. It will be a novella, I know that much. It's taking some interesting twists. Moonie for one. She is an added character--youthful, curious, smart but illiterate, living in the tunnels, she represents youth in a dystopian society. She mysteriously vanishes and then reappears in the West--Sections 1-3, DEF's home base.

I am anxious to return to The Sins of Dom sequel. I did have agent wanting to see sequel, after it was written. But so much time has passed—big agent. I should be working diligently on this…why I’m not? I don’t know. I like the feel of being in charge, regardless of the indie bias. It is what it is.

I republished Blogging to the dead and it is available in both print and kindle.

If you made it this far, thx.

Annointing up in Sleet Magazine and other

New publication here Sleet Magazine    And cute pic of Jack, the greatest showman And excerpt... Ro was a good boy, Josi felt.  She n...