The Digital Marketing Team at Macmillan clear up the mystery behind publishing a book today!

This is a follow up to my post, How Books Were Made Before Magic Digital Fairies Existed! The folks at Macmillan Publishing created a video of their own on how the process works today. You can file this under “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” This was posted on January 12, 2009, well after the publishing industry went under a bit of an upheaval. It’s good to see that the good people at Macmillan have such a great sense of humor. What’s the sense of doing something if you’re not having fun? By watching this video, you will discover a little known fact about writers. We do supplement our income by blogging. I can tell you that I have literally made dollars from this blog. And by “literally” I mean figuratively. And by “made” I mean spent.

BTW – Macmillan did write every third word of this blog post so I am not completely responsible for its content.

BTW2 – I lied when I claimed Macmillan wrote every third word of this blog. I have to go now. I’m off to make my World of Warcraft avatar.

And the winner of the Kindle2 is….

The entries have been counted, sorted, filed, and dumped into a space age tumbling machine to mix them up all professional like, and we have a winner. To find out who the lucky so and so is all you have to do is watch the video below. Thanks to everyone who participated. We had close to 1100 views for the video on Youtube, and that’s pretty darn good when you consider that the only places I pimped the contest was here, Twitter, Facebook, and once on Scalzi’s site. Yay, web 2.0!

BTW – I will be using the paper again, so for those of you who are concerned that a truckload of trees gave their lives for a silly little contest, rest easy because they actually gave their lives for silly little first (and second and third) drafts of my books.

How Books Were Made Before Magic Digital Fairies Existed!

Making a book today is not easy.  It takes a lot of time, people, fancy-schmancy machines, one or two magic digital fairies, ink, and glue to make a book.  There will be a day when all we will need is the magic digital fairies, but that day is at least a week away, maybe two. 

But back in the day when magic digital fairies were just plain old magic analog fairies, it used to take even more time, people, and fancy-schmancy machines to make a book.  The use of ink and glue probably was much less because it was so friggin’ hard to make a book, they made fewer of them.  The video below was created in 1947.  It illustrates just how ridiculously complicated it used to be to make a book.  You think it’s hard to get a publishing deal today?  Imagine how impossible it was back then.  So on that day when you finally do get that publishing deal you’ve been longing for, thank the magic digital fairies for tearing down the technical barriers that may have prevented you from getting a deal in the past. Magic digital fairies rule!


Do not call me ma’am!

I am not, nor have I ever been a woman!

I am not, nor have I ever been a woman!

I am not a woman.  This picture taken of me during my enormous beardy phase I think illustrates that point beautifully.  I feel it necessary to proclaim my manhood with great verve because throughout my adult life I have been “Ma’am’d” dozens upon dozens of times.  Ma’am’d as in people, complete strangers, from all walks of life call me ma’am. This awkward phenomenon is usually restricted to conversations that occur over electronic devices.  For example, a telemarketer may call and ask me if I’m the lady of the house.  I then have to convince said telemarketer that not only am I not the lady of the house, I am indeed a man.  I’ve actually had to argue with telemarketers before over the nature of my… gender.  The other times this happens is at fast food drive through windows.  I pull up to the two-way communicator, place my order, and listen helplessly as the fast food worker says, “Please pull forward, ma’am.” 

Here’s the thing, I do not have a particularly feminine voice.  In fact, I haven’t a single feminine quality to my voice whatsoever.  Yet, I am constantly ma’am’d!   Listen to this recording I put together for my book, and tell me if I sound like a woman.   

I bring this up because I was ma’am’d in person this past weekend.  A guy had his back to me, and I asked him if he was in line for the movie.  Without turning, he said “No, ma’am!” My wife was blown away.  During our 13 years together, I have told her about my ma’aming problem, but she thought I was exaggerating.  This weekend she witnessed it first hand, and she was flabbergasted.  It is a maddening problem.  If this is a huge prank the rest of the world has decided to play on me, I give up.  Please stop calling me ma’am.  I am not a woman!

Secretary of College Football, Orin Hatch

From Obama to Orin, the college football playoff system has been passed!

From Obama to Orin, the college football playoff system cause has been passed!

Yippee! As frequent visitors to this blog my recall (and I know both of you), I cast my vote for Obama based on one very important issue. He was in favor of a playoff system in college football. Stupid? Yes, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Granted, he’s had more important things to deal with since he got in office, but I am happy to announce that Senator Orin Hatch has taken up the mantle, and is heading a congressional committee that will be looking into the current BCS system. I am so happy I could cry. My vote was not wasted. Obama put it on the table, and Hatch crossed party lines to help slay the current unfulfilling system in college football. Good on you, Orin. Many of you will scoff and say there are more pressing matters to deal with right now, but I humbly disagree for completely selfish reasons. I want at college football playoff system!

Lost Days – Post 5

This is the 5th installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. The final version of the book will most likely look a bit different than what you read here, but I thought you might like to see a work in progress. Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here.

I couldn’t sleep thinking about the mall, and Joyner.  We’d gone to school together since we were in second grade.  He had never talked to me before.  I wondered what was so different at the mall today.  Why did he talk to me?  Was this some kind of Carrie thing?  Was he making fun of the awkward girl?  Being nice to me to my face and then betting his friends that he can get me to… do things with him?  Had to be what was going on.  Why else would he talk to me?

I stared at the ceiling.  A chill blew in from the window.  Grover liked it opened just a crack.  Something about the noise outside made him sleep better.  Anything that stopped him from whining was just fine by me.  He was snoozing away on the other side of the room without a care in the world.  He’d all ready forgotten that he had a crazy uncle living in our grandparents’ FROG. 

I heard a banging noise outside and sat up with a jolt.  Murmuring voices drifted along the cool breeze.  I quietly swung my legs over the edge of the bed and tiptoed to the window.  Uncle Crew was inserting a key to the door of the FROG to lock it.  Another man, big, scraggly beard, long hair under a black White Sox cap, was at the bottom of the stairs whispering loudly.  I couldn’t make out what he was saying.  Uncle Crew pulled the key out of the lock and shoved it in his pocket.  He admonished the man for being too loud.  He picked up a backpack and looped it over his right shoulder and bound down the stairs like he was in a hurry.  The man turned as Uncle Crew passed him and I could see his face.  He looked like your average run of the mill friend of a crazy man.  He peered up at the window and I fell to floor like I’d been shot.

Grover stirred and looked out from his covers.  “What’s going on?” he asked in a groggy voice.

“Nothing,” I said.

He looked at me with one eye shut.  “You fall out of bed?”

“Yeah,” I said backing away from the window on all fours. 

“Now what are you doing?”

“None of your business.  Go back to sleep.”

I didn’t have to tell him twice.  He closed his eye and fell asleep almost as quickly as he’d woken up. 

I stood and took a cautious step toward the window.  I lifted my chin and strained to see what was going on without being seen.  They were gone.  I thought about running to my grandparents’ room and telling them Uncle Crew had left, but I wasn’t sure if had broken any rule.  He was a grown man after all.  Besides the fact that he’s a raving lunatic, he should be able to come and go as he pleases, I guess. 

I laid back down in my bed and tried to stop thinking about Uncle Crew and his puffed-up Charles Manson looking friend, and Joyner and any other square peg that didn’t fit in my round life so I could fall asleep.  My mind ran through the visuals of the day, and then I started to drift into a light and restless sleep.    

Shopping Cart Crimes!

Proof of Shopping Cart Crimes!

Proof of Shopping Cart Crimes!



At the risk of getting all grumpy old man on you, put the shopping carts in the designated shopping cart return area, people.  A bevy of badness can occur when you brazenly and rudely just leave your shopping cart in the middle of a grocery or department store parking lot. For one thing, it’s a ding waiting to happen, and for another, you’re preventing other people from being able to park in prime parking spots. And lastly, but probably equally as important, you force someone like me to pull out my cell phone in a fit of righteous indignation, snap a picture and blog about the unbelievably inconsiderate nature of mankind.  Really, is it too much to ask? You’ll be restoring my faith in humanity while making this blog less grouchy.    


Okay, feeling better now.  Thank you!  


Where do you get your story ideas? I finally have an answer.

The xylophone playing ghost!

The xylophone playing ghost!

When a person in a social situation discovers you are a writer of fiction, they inevitably ask, “Where do you get your story ideas?” I never have a great answer because a lot times the story just comes out of nowhere. There’s no real event or marker that you can identify as the place where the germ of the story first appeared. In fact, I will often just sit down and play with first lines. When I create one that intrigues me, I’ll build a story from there.

Last night I came up with an idea for a story that I can actually tie to a certain event. In fact, I can explain the origins of the story more clearly than the origins of the actual event. Here’s what happened. At approximately 1:00 A.M I woke up from a light sleep. I never achieved that deep nirvana like sleep, and I was frustrated by my lack of sleeping skills. I turned to try and find the ultimate position that would lull me into a deep, inviting sleep. And then it happened. I heard a noise coming from the living room kitchen area that sounded like a xylophone. Three chime like sounds, each a different pitch, followed by what sounded like my dog growling. I sat up in bed, and freaked out a little to discover that my dog was in bed, slightly trembling and huddled against me. She had never left the bed. I stared into the darkness wondering what caused the chimes and if it wasn’t my dog growling, what exactly was it? My wife was sound asleep. I didn’t wake her because I didn’t want to worry her. I quietly climbed off the bed and stood in the doorway of the bedroom. The thought ran through my head, “Do you really want to know?” I stuck my head into the hallway and stared through the gloomy darkness toward the living room. The computer and TV were both off. The cats were lazily stretched out in their usual spots. They were not concerned, and unless they grew opposable thumbs and taken lessons, they had not been playing the xylophone. Every horror movie I had seen had taught me one thing, traversing through the dark investigating noises meant you were a goner, so I shut the door to the bedroom and locked it with no clue what had just happened. The only thing I was immediately sure of was that I had an idea for a story.

Was what happened to me paranormal in nature? No. While I have no explanation what did happen, I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation. I’m more excited that with its bizarreness it brought with it a spark of inspiration for a story. Thank you weird chime noises and invisible growling animal. I’m sure I will sleep like a baby tonight. And finally, I have an answer to the question every writer dreads.

Bragging About My Unexceptional Life

I’m a fan of Twitter, but I love this video making fun of it.  It is a completely weird phenomenon, and I don’t pretend to understand it.  I talk to people all the time who don’t understand why anyone would “Tweet,” or even use the word “Tweet” as an adult, and sometimes I do feel like I’m shouting down a dark empty hole.  Why do I do it?  Hell, if I know, but I’ll keep doing it. 

More on Being a Bad Guy in 2009

In January I announced that I’m going to be bad this year thanks to Jeremy Robison. Jeremy is the author of the upcoming book, Pulse, the first in his Chess Team series (Publisher: Thomas Dunne). He’s named his evil geneticist Richard Ridley (Richard is my real life name. R.W. is my author’s name). I am immensely excited to read me as disgustingly bad, and ruthless. It saves me from having to actually be bad in real life to find out what it’s like. So really you all should be thanking Jeremy. Now I don’t have to experiment with cloning and creating pig zombies out of cadaver blood and a ham sandwich. Carnage would have ensued, and ham sandwich sales would go way down causing an even worse economic crisis. So really, Jeremy averted a major crisis. Pulse is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Here’s the just released trailer for the book:

Note:  As far as I know, there are no pig zombies in Jeremy’s book!