Sunday, August 21, 2011

Avoid This Book

Ill advised as it may be, I Google myself. Particularly after the release of a new book. I wait a month or two to give readers time to digest it, and then I Google the title to see what they thought. There are always mixed reviews. I expect that because I am not a perfect writer, though I am trying with all that I am to be that perfect writer. I have my good moments and my bad ones. I shoot for the moon with every novel and so sometimes it results in glorious errors, spectacular abominations.

I love my artistic failures as much as my triumphs and, for the most part, my readers do to. Because they get what I am trying to do. They respect that I am not just playing it safe and imitating my own work over and over again. They see the labor pains, the growing pains, and they appreciate that it was all done for them. They dig the fact that I am trying to push my own boundaries, trying to make each book something different than anything they can read from any other author. They appreciate that they have read something unique and unusual even if it was not entirely perfect and they see the progress and want to come along for the ride so they can say, "I knew him when..." They keep reading because they know that every so often I nail that shit. I knock it right tha fuck out of the ballpark!

So, I accept and respect critical reviews, even the most harsh and seemingly mean-spirited ones. What bothers me is when the reviews come down to, "There was just so much sex." Not, "He used the same word ten times to describe the villain". Not, "His female characters acted like idiots, the Asian characters were stereotypes, the women all had huge breast and the men all had enormous penises and he can't put a comma in the right place to save his life!" I can accept those criticisms. What I hate are criticisms like "There was too much sex and gore for my liking." Did you read the name on the cover? What did you think you were buying?

I like reviews, even bad ones. I learn from them. Critics are my literary professors and not just the professional critics. I read the reviews of my work on Amazon, Goodreads, and even Library Thing. I read the reviews on blogs and messageboards and take it all seriously. If I screw something up in one book and a fan calls me on it, even if he is the only one with that objection, if it is legitimate, I make sure to correct it in the next book. By rereleasing books through Deadite Books, I am even able to correct mistakes from the original printing when it is rereleased. I don't go on messageboards and argue with readers about how they are wrong to dislike my book and I am some unheralded, unrecognized literary genius. I write for them. So when they speak, I listen. I want to give my fans the best product, the best reading experience, something that speaks to them and elevates them ,something transcendental and I want them to love me. There. I said it. I want my readers to love me. But what do I do when readers hate everything about what I do? What can I say but, "Stop buying my fucking books if you don't like what I write!"

As a writer, I hate saying that. I want people to read what I write. But there comes a point where I have to ask why someone keeps reading my work if they don't like it. Is there some masochism involved? If you don't like sex and gore and perversity then don't pick up a Wrath James White book. If you don't want to hear criticisms about race and religion and society, don't read my shit. If you want an optimistic portrayal of the human condition, seriously, DO NOT PICK UP MY BOOK. So, here is a list of upcoming titles that those with more delicate sensibilities should selectively avoid.

LIKE PORNO FOR PSYCHOS. Coming in September from Deadite Books. (The title should tell you all you need to know.)

PURE HATE. Coming in September from Ambrotos Press. (Sadistic serial killer murders a man's entire family. You won't like this one either.)

SACRIFICE. Coming in September from Sinister Grin Press. (Sex, lesbianism, voodoo, animal attacks. Probably not your thing.)

SKINZZ. coming this winter from Thunderstorm Books. (Racist skinheads burn a woman alive, beat a girl into a coma, stab a man dressed like Michael Jackson, and commit all manner of other atrocities. Lots of street fights, loud music and profanity. Yeah, you should probably skip this one too.)

I may have one for you though...

THE REAPER. Coming this winter from Bloodletting Books. (A UAV pilot with post traumatic stress disorder struggles to adapt to daily life after watching US soldiers die, Afghan soldiers blown to smithereens, men, women and children caught in the crossfire. Actually, some of the war scenes are pretty brutal. Maybe avoid this one too. Just to be on the safe side.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Appreciating Daddy



The "workaholic father" who spends so much time and effort chasing the next paycheck that he ignores his family and misses important moments in their lives is an old cliche'. It is easy to say that a father should prioritize his family above his job. This is easy to say, but often harder to do.

If we're talking about a family that is financially comfortable with a father who is desperate to make them wealthy and sacrificing quality time with his children in the bargain, then I think we can arguably say that his priorities are askew. I say "arguably", because if his quest for wealth is successful, he might have more leisure time with his family as a result and they all might have better lives. But what about if the family is barely scraping by? What if the choice is between spending quality time with the family and paying the rent, keeping food on the table, keeping the lights on?

It is easy to call a man a workaholic because he's busting his hump 12 to 16 hours a day in one job or another. For me, this means going from day job to writing job to personal training job and back. But when all these jobs are keeping the family afloat, that's not a workaholic, that's a man doing what's necessary to protect and provide for his family. That is, first and foremost, the reason for the existence of the male species.

We get little credit for this. As Chris Rock said in one of his stand-up routines, no one ever thanks dad for the heat or the lights or the roof over their heads. Mom gets the thanks for taking the kids to McDonalds. Ignored is the fact that there would be no McDonalds if dad was not out there busting his ass. Mom gets the credit for buying the kids new toys. Ignored is the fact that dad's sweat paid for those toys. Of course, most fathers would rather they had the leisure time to spend with their families. The reality is (particularly in today's economic climate) that if mom is staying home with the kids (another luxury in today's climate) someone has to fill the bank account.

Now let's look at the alternative. There are some fathers who spend lots of time with their kids because they are unemployed or grossly under employed and have no ambition or motivation to do anything about it. Their kids sometimes go without quality food or clothes or shoes. The utilities occasionally get shut off. Their mother cries over stacks of bills and wonders why her husband does little or nothing to fix it. For many of us, those are the two choices. Deadbeat or workaholic. There is no middle ground. We are struggling to get to that middle ground, working our asses off to get to a place where we are comfortable. Not wealthy. We just want to get to a place where we know all the bills will get paid on time,the refrigerator is full, the car has gas, and the kids have clothes and shoes, there's some emergency money set aside in case the car needs repairs or the kids need braces, and maybe a little extra for vacations and nights out on the town with the wife. If that makes us workaholics then we are so by necessity and we should be damn proud of the fact that we are willing to sacrifice sleep, fun, and time with the families we love, to give them better lives.

It is, in my opinion, the mother's job to explain to the children why dad has to work so much, to make them appreciate the sacrifices he has to make to give them decent lives, especially if she is a stay-at-home mother. It is her job to ensure that they are grateful rather than resentful if dad has to work a holiday just as much as it is the father's job to make sure that the time he does have with his family is maximized with as much love as he can fill it with.

If you are out there working long hours, putting in overtime whenever you can get it, working two or three jobs, all to keep your family fed and clothed, then you are a real man, a real father, and you deserve all respect and praise. Of course, you should not lose sight of your family's need for love and affection. You should not lose sight of your role as your children's educator and role model. You should not lose sight of you wife's need for romance and emotional support and adult communication. But that can be hard when you're exhausted after a long hard day. That should be understood as well. It is hard being a father and balancing all of this. It's even harder with the country in economic freefall. All we ask is for a little appreciation... and the big piece of chicken.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Sacrifice


My newest novel is coming in September from Sinister Grin Press and it's going to be a doozy!

“Las Vegas Homicide Detective, John Malloy, hates the weird cases, the difficult ones, the kind that make the cover of tabloids, the kind that make or break careers. He’s had enough weird cases to last him a lifetime. So, when a man is murdered in Green Valley, eaten alive by his own dog along with half the pets in the neighborhood, he knows this is going to be a bad one. The next day, an elementary school teacher is beaten to death by his students while being stung by thousands of bees. Then an ex-football player/heavyweight prizefighter is reduced to blood and bones by a swarm of insects, rats, dogs, cats and angry children. All over town, little girls are going missing and turning up starved, dehydrated and nearly catatonic. Somehow, it’s all connected and it’s up to Malloy and his partner, Detective Mohammed Rafik, to figure out how, and how all these deaths and disappearances are connected to a mysterious voodoo priestess named Delilah with the power to take away all of your hatred … all of your fear … all of your pain.”

I started Sacrifice six or seven years ago before attending the Borderlands bootcamp. It was based on a dream I had in which a little girl knocked on my door and when I opened it she touched me and said "Tag. You're it." Then followed that with "They're coming. You'd better run." She turned and began to walk away. I called to her and asked her who was coming. She stopped and turned back with a grave expression on her face, the look of someone abouttoattend a funeral, and answered "Everyone. Everything." Then she walked off into the night.

The dream freaked me out, so I knew I had to do something with it. The result was Sacrifice a novel about how far someone would go to experience a life without fear or anger or hatred. I really think you are going to like this one. It's scheduled to be released this September at KillerCon 2011 in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Life and Times

I need to apologize to anyone who sent me a manuscript to read this year in hopes of getting a blurb and to let you know now that I just don't have time to get to it. I have been buried in my own writing all year and am just barely getting to the point where I can see some glimmer of daylight. Why? Because my writing has been paying the bills. Often, it has been the only thing paying the bills. Were it not for my novels and novellas and training clients at the gym, the lights would have gone out many times. So, that's why I haven't gotten to your manuscript. I'm sorry and I wish I could say it was going to get better, but I'm booked solid through the first quarter of next year when I will finally have time to finish Prey Drive, the sequel to Succulent Prey.

I have been writing my big, sexy, ebon ass off this year. So far this year, I have completed a collaborative novella, Son of A Bitch co-written with Andre Duza, a short novel titled SKINZZ, A full-length novel, Pure Hate and another short novel, Sacrifice, and am now going to work on a collaborative novel with J.F. Gonzalez titled The Killings. Two jobs have come and gone. My income was reduced to nothing and then, just today, good news, I just got back the job I had when I lived in Vegas working with the company I worked for, for ten years. It is very, very good news.

What that means for me is that I won't have to kill myself like I've been doing the past two years, trying to keep food on the table. I can start saving to buy a house again and my family might just have a decent Christmas. What that means to you is that I'll be less surly and disagreeable and maybe, just maybe, I'll actually have time to read a few manuscripts.