Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breaking Borders

I know everyone even vaguely connected to the publishing industry has been commenting on losing Borders, but I feel like I have to say something as well. My initial reaction is, like many of you, that this is undeniably shitty news. I've always loved going into Borders, smelling the coffee, having a warm drink in the winter and perusing the shelves. I've had plenty of great (and not so great) signings at my local stores and they've always been very accommodating. I love seeing the books on the shelves, the whole sensory experience. Having some of these places taken away before was tough. Having ALL of them disappear now is brutal!

There have been rumblings about this happening for a while now. I'm no economist and have no clue how this crap works. I seldom have enough money to get through my own meager existence, so why would I make it my business to know how millions or billions of dollars flow back and forth? As a consumer, though, there's been this lazy sort of "we'll always be here" attitude with big book stores and publishers alike. Both just seem to do the minimum amount of work and know the people will come back because where the hell else would they go? It was the same attitude with video stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. I know not all of these places stank and I know good people work(ed) there. I was one of them! I'm talking big picture here and those video rental places had bad prices, shitty customer care, policies that screwed customers and any number of little things that companies put into action when they know they've got ya. Then along comes Netflix. They nailed it and stuck it to the video stores. If the stores can't compete, they need to step up or step aside. That's the cruelty of Capitalism. Now, we've recently seen how Netflix decided to tighten the screws to their customers because they got us. Their time will come unless they treat the customers right.

Borders never treated me badly. Like I said, I love the places. As an industry, though, it's easy to see how they're getting it handed to them by ebooks and smaller presses. More and more, I'm seeing quality books on my Kindle that are written with love and would NEVER have made it past a bored NY editor's desk simply because it's not like something else that's selling like hotcakes. As a reader, I crave uniqueness and that's been tough to find lately. As a writer, I want to write unique things and believe me, it's an uphill climb. I'm definitely not the only one in this camp and when I see ebooks about giant crab monsters, superheroes, or something other than the four or five flavors of the month on shelves, I smile. So many of these books are written with love by authors who just want to have fun at work again. That benefits the readers too! Big stores are still looking for something that's LIKE something else. This lazy attitude was shown nicely a year or two ago when I went to a store (yes, it was Borders) and there was a shelf with the newest Sookie Stackhouse book on it. It said, "If you like Charlaine Harris...TRY THESE". Know what was on it? MORE Charlaine Harris!!! I've got nothing against Miss Harris or her books. This just shows the limited scope of an industry that should be about imagination and creativity.

I go to conventions and hear debates on which vampires aren't realistic enough or about conservation of mass in shapeshifters. This just makes me sad. It makes me wonder what future there is for writers when we can't even play with mythological beings. Then I see a fresh crop of ebooks put out there by authors who just want to write what they love or see turns in genre like steampunk and I smile again. There is freshness to be had, but it's been awfully hard to find in bigger stores.

Of course I also know that plenty of ebooks are crap. At least they're trying, though. There's money to be made and I'm sure the big publishers will step up to find a way to exploit it more than they are now. Plenty of others have said it and I agree: this isn't a bad thing. The publishing / professional editing process weeds out a lot of garbage. It's made me a better writer. Now if only they'd allow writers to flex their creative muscle a bit more. There's nothing wrong with writing pulp-style books, even if they're not big sellers. Good ideas don't happen because the ad execs in New York get a bug up their ass to drive zombies or whatever else into the ground for a while. If someone who loves their sub-genre wants to write about zombies or whatever else the big topic may be and they have a cool idea, LET THEM DO IT!!!! With the old system, they would have to wait for lightning to strike to get the book published and then MORE lightning to strike for a big store to actually put some work into selling them. Now, with ebooks, we're all on more equal ground.

I'm giving it a go as we speak. There are ideas that have been kicking around in the back of my head that I haven't been able to sell because of the market or an editor having a bad day or projected sales figures or whatever else. Now, I get to write the damn thing, put it out there and see if it'll fly. The ebook market is MILES ahead of where self published books used to be even a few years ago and authors in my same boat feel like we've got a real shot. Maybe my ideas never went anywhere because they suck. Maybe nobody wants to read them after all. There's one way to find out. At least they'll be out there giving it a go.
I'm a writer. I want to write.

Times are changing. If it was up to me, Borders would still be in business. It's not. I've taken my share of hits over the last couple of years as well and we all need to roll with the punches. I think ebooks are a roll in the right direction. Don't forget, this is America. If a business tries hard enough and adapts, it will be back.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bloody Summer

This has been a very patriotic few days. That's par for the course considering the holiday and all, but my last July 4th was a lot less...well...just a lot less. Back then, I spent my holiday weekend working on a manuscript, listening for the occasional pops outside my apartment, poking my nose out to see some distant flashes and then going back to work. This year, I did the whole cookout / fireworks combo and it was a lot of fun! I also indulged in my usual Independence Day movie treat which was...you guessed it...Independence Day!! That film may be flawed in some pretty serious ways, but it's still a lot of fun. Definitely one of the ultimate mindless summer blockbusters. Love it.

I also recently watched Sucker Punch. This one had me intrigued the moment I saw previews with dragons fighting biplanes and demon Samurais weilding chain guns. At the very least, it was a prime piece of eye candy (and I mean beyond the young girls dressed in every fantasy piece of clothing from schoolgirl to warrior woman). VERY cool on Blu Ray. As far as more recent flicks, I'm anxiously awaiting Captian America and Cowboys & Aliens. After that, it's hibernation time again.

Been playing Portal 2 and even dug up a game from a few years ago called Dark Void. The latter has an Indiana Jones meets Rocketeer vibe. I'm liking it, despite the noticable lack of Jennifer Connelly in that amazing white dress. Hubba hubba!! I can still remember the day young Marcus was in a movie theater and "sat up to take notice" of that scene. Too much info? Oh well. Dark Void is cool so far and definitely enjoyable. Portal 2 is simply brilliant, however. Just about every other line of dialogue has me laughing and the game simply rocks. But...no Jennifer Connelly. What the hell is wrong with games these days??

I'm working on my installment of the Dead Man series of ebooks. After that, I'll be dipping my toe further into the ebook pond by writing an original to be released independantly. That should be a fun experiment! I get to just have an idea, write it up and put it out there to see if it flies. Lots of writers are jumping on this train and for good reason. It's very appealing to be able to get something out there without jumping through all the usual hoops. Could be an amazing venture. However it turns out, it should be exciting! I'm working with a few other writers to put together a central website hub for all of our works to be displayed. Something should be coming to fruition within the next few months, so I'll keep you posted. Hopefully, you guys will like what you read!

I'm off to donate blood now. Haven't done this for some time, mainly due to all the tattoos I've been getting. I should probably eat something and have something to drink first. Either that, or I can go in empty and enjoy that delightful swirly feeling of near-unconsciousness followed by total unconsciousness. Ok...maybe I'll have a sandwich.

This is what happens without editors

I'm Marcus Pelegrimas, author of the SKINNERS series. Here you'll find various ramblings about movies, video games, TV, and...oh yeah...those books I write. If there's anything you'd like to discuss, just let me know. I try to update whenever the mood strikes me, so feel free to leave comments. There may be some occasional foul language, but anyone who's too easily offended probably doesn't read my stuff anyway.

Free Stuff

Here's how it goes. As usual, I've got my truckload of promo covers from EOS Books. I'll be going to some conventions, so I hope to see you there and I'll gladly sign your books. If you can't make it to a con, just email me your name, address and any inscription so I can send you a signed cover.

BONUS ---> If you would be so kind as to write up a review for any or all Skinners books and publish it on a site like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or any other major review site, I can send you something extra. I made up some bookmarks (which I'll sign) and I've even put together some Shimmy's VIP passes (which I'll also sign). Can't guarantee the passes will get you into a real strip club, but I think they look pretty cool. Send me a link to your review along with your name, address and inscription, and I'll get these out to you as well.