Matt Damon Rides the Bus with Oz

Manicure: $20.00. Bus Fare: $2.00. Choice of reading material: Priceless

Matt Damon steps off the bus with some reading material, The Land of the Dead.  The bus driver made him get off when he cried like a baby when he read the sad part that I can’t tell you about because it’s a major spoiler. (Can you say run on sentence?)

I can tell you that as I was photoshopping this image… I mean examining this image I noticed that Matt does get manicures.

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I think Europe said it best…

Come hell or high water I am uploading the files this week!  Book Four of the Oz Chronicle is here… well, it’s here at my house.  I’m making my last rewrites tomorrow, and should have all the pieces in place to start turning the publishing wheels that will make ti available to all of you who have waited so patiently.  It is here.

Now, I’ll let the band Europe express this moment in a song.

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Current Word Count Meter for (Land of) The Dead; Book 4 of the Oz Chronicles

Originally, I had a targeted word count of 65,000 words, but I amended it to 60,000 shortly after.  Turns out, I should have stuck with the original estimate.  On pace to pass 65,000 words today and complete the book.

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“The Oz Chronicles” Might Be Going Away.

I don't think we're in the Oz Chronicles anymore, Toto.


So, I read a story this morning that has me seriously considering making a major change to my Oz Chronicle series of young adult novels.  I may be dropping the “Oz Chronicles” from the title. Warner Brothers Studios has a planned series of films in development based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz Chronicle series.  The Wizard of Oz, based on the first of fourteen books in Baum’s series, is one of the most popular films in cinematic history.  It seems that Warner Brothers is trying fill the void that will be left by the lack of future Harry Potter films.

While my “Oz Chronicles” has been compared to Baum’s “Oz Chronicles,” my books are not based on the legendary author’s books.  I have never read any of Baum’s books.  I watched the movie every Thanksgiving for probably 12 years, so I’m sure I was influenced by the story.  After all, my story is about a young boy named Oz who finds himself in a fantastical, horrifying land filled with monsters and warriors.  Obviously, I picked something up from all those years of watching the Wizard of Oz.  Now, my Oz books are much darker, and there are no ruby slippers, but still, I can’t deny the similarities.

So, where does that leave me?  I’m left with two choices.

1.) Keeping the name and fight to differentiate my books from what I’m sure will be a much-hyped big studio film.

2.) Changing the name and starting from scratch with the marketing campaign.

It seems that Warner Brothers is having problems with the licensing issues surrounding the “Wizard of Oz.”  If they use any element from that film – the ruby slippers for example – they have to pay MGM licensing fees, and since the books themselves are in the public domain Warner Brothers may not be able to stop anyone with a computer from designing t-shirts and capitalizing on the popularity of the film.  Hell, for all I know, Warner Brothers may come after me to change the title of my series.  But as I understand it, you can’t copyright a title, only the content.  Who knows?

Here’s an idea.  Hey, Warner Brother’s Execs, buy the rights to my Oz Chronicles and you’re in the clear!  Everybody’s happy.  You can contact my agent here: Let’s Make Big Monies!

There is never a dull moment trying to make it in publishing.  I should have been an Optometrist.

If you’re interested, you can read the story about the “Oz” films here:  ‘Oz’ Could be Next Big Film Franchise

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Bad Review Monday (Reprint)

One bad review don't spoil the whole bunch, now!



(Originally posted on June 5, 2008) I  just popped on over to Amazon and noticed I got a new review for The Pure. I was excited to see that it is a one star review. I haven’t gotten one yet, and I wondered how I would react. I’m actually very encouraged by the review. The review didn’t just “not like” The Pure. She hated it. She was offended by it. She wants to burn my books because they so corrupted her children. I have never felt more honored. Some uncorrected pre-publication editions made it out into the public bins, so I was afraid of seeing some negative reviews in regards to that, but this is actually a cool negative review. I’ve struck a nerve! Here’s the review:

Terrible………My teen boys love to read so I am always looking for a good series. I typed in teen fiction and this series popped so I bought all of them. After they were almost done with the series, I asked them what it was about. By the time their description was over I felt like I wanted to throw up. What had I subjected them to? I couldn’t believe the gore details they described. Sure that I had not subjected my Sons to this type of disgusting reading, I had them read aloud. I made them stop and took the books away. I cannot believe that these were in the teen section. Gross, Gore, Evil, Blood, Guts……….I’m so full of regret that I had ever bought these. The series should not be listed anywhere near teens. In fact, it should be labelled with a parental advisory. I think I’ll burn the books. I will use much more discretion with my selections from now on!

In case you’re wondering, the Oz Chronicles is about the power of forgiveness. There is a lot of gore and blood and guts and good old fashion creepy crap. I wrote what I like, and what I feel is engaging. This mother apparently did not agree with my storytelling technique. She has the right to raise her children as she sees fit and in the spirit of the message of the book, I won’t hold her opinion against her.

But I have to tell you, when someone wants to burn your book because of the nature of the content… well, you couldn’t ask for better publicity. I hope she spreads the word.

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Book Four of the Oz Chronicles – The Land of the Dead – A Candid Look at the Publishing Industry

Book Four is coming.  I promise!

Book Four is coming. I promise!

Ok, I have been fielding questions now for about a year concerning Book Four of the Oz Chronicles Series.  First, I want you to know that I really appreciate your interest.  It means a lot to me that you care enough to keep needling me about the release of the next book in the series.  Second, I appreciate your tolerance for my cryptic answers.  I haven’t felt comfortable enough to tell you what’s really going on behind the scenes because it doesn’t just involve me.  It involves my agent and about a half dozen major publishing companies.  I have spent a lot of time responding to comments and suggestions from the big boys just to show them that I’m willing to play by their rules.  Don’t worry, I’ve pushed back on major plot points that I thought were essential, but I’ve also given ground on things that were more aesthetic in nature.  So far, I’ve gotten pats on the back for my flexibility, turnaround time, and skill at applying suggested edits.  What I haven’t received is a book deal.

Breaking down the doors of the mainstream publishing industry is the hardest thing I’ve ever done from a professional standpoint.   I’ve heard that getting a book deal is akin to winning the lottery, but I think it’s much easier to win the lottery.  Getting a book deal is as hard as winning the lottery, discovering a cure for cancer, and having your Youtube video go viral all on the same day.   I am in the fortunate position of having an agent who is my advocate in this process.  She’s been terrific, and I now know why they are necessary.

I have been at this for a long, long time.  I am one of those writers that has five manuscripts and 12 screenplays sitting in a drawer somewhere.  They’ve been viewed by an elite group of people, and by elite, I mean people who were willing to read something written by an unknown bum like me.   I’m not counting the three Oz Chronicles books in this count.  They’re not sitting in a drawer.  Thanks to the POD and ebook world, they have been read by literally thousands of people.   In fact, I have been perfectly content with offering my books through these low-cost, high-tech vehicles.  From what I’ve learned about the industry, I’ve made enough money and then some to cover the typical advance for a first time author.  I’ve done it with a marketing budget that hasn’t exceeded $1,500 since I first self-published in 2005.  I have what the mainstream publishing industry calls a working platform to get the word out about my books.  Essentially that means I’m an active blogger, Facebooker, and Tweeter.  In short, if you’re reading this, you’re a part of my platform.  Please, don’t feel used.  This is less a marketing tool for me than it is a release.  Call it my place to vent and make a fool of myself.  The marketing part is just a byproduct at that venting.

I have been asked repeatedly if I’m doing so well with POD and ebook publishing, why even try to get a traditional deal.  It’s a valid question.  I have a few answers:

  • There is no question the mainstream publishing industry can offer me a level of prestige that the self-publishing world cannot.  To be totally crass, this means more money coming in.  My platform will broaden, and other doors will open for me.   I consider my writing my career.  What I do to earn a living, supports my writing.  A mainstream deal means I am one step closer to my writing also being how I earn my living.
  • I have always seen the Oz Chronicles as a multi-media project.  It is not just a series of books.  It is a video game, a graphic novel, a series of films, action figures, maybe even an online role playing community.  A mainstream publishing company could give me access to all these different avenues for the Oz Chronicles.   I can publish a book on my own, but I can’t produce a video game on my own.  I’m not that smart or financially fluid.
  • I have to finish this thing.  I started this “publishing (or selling a script) as a goal” journey 20 plus years ago.  I have been rejected time and time again.  I have been told I am so close over and over again.  I have been ridiculed on a few occasions (very few).  I’ve even been called evil for my writing.  It may seem petty and pigheaded, but signing that dotted line will justify every turn I’ve taken and every word I’ve written.  It’s not like I’m dodging bullets to get published.  I’m just fielding a lot of no’s.

    What does all this have to do with Book Four of the Oz Chronicles?  Everything I’ve written in this post to this point has been one big excuse for why I haven’t published Book Four yet.  I’ve let it languish in limbo while the major publishers weighed in on Books One – Three.  I’ve placated my writer’s soul by writing another book in the meantime (which I’m planning to publish soon), but I’m not willing to wait anymore.  Book Four is officially on deck.  I’ve had a hard time getting back into it, but I had a breakthrough the other night that gave me the direction I needed.  I’m actually excited about getting it done.  Always a good sign.  I also realized that I have five other books I want to complete, and I have forbidden myself to get back to them until I’ve finished Book Four.  I will keep you updated on word count as I go.  Right now, I’m at 7,500 words.  My goal is 65,000.  So, you can see I have miles to go before I sleep, but the outline is done, and I’m ready to turn this march into a sprint.

    Thanks for your patience and if you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help.  There is.  Spread the word!

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    I’m not smoking crack!

    Story not a product of smoking crack!

    Story not a product of smoking crack!

    I just saw a review for Délon City on Amazon that made me giggle (like a man!), and also made me feel kind of bad because I haven’t been diligent enough in marketing Books 2 & 3 of the Oz Chronicles.  Yes, they are out, and yes I’m working on Book 4.  I don’t want to give a deadline right now because, for various reasons in the past, I’ve had to change my plans and push it back, but this I pledge to you, I’m kicking it into high gear.

    Here’s the review on Amazon that I amused me:

    Awesome SEQUEL and SERIES!, July 16, 2009

    By J. DAVID (USA) – See all my reviews

    All I can say is, get this whole series right away if you want to experience an amazing dark fantasy. I loved The Takers, but Delon City really ups the ante and goes even further with Oz Griffin into the depths of madness as he tries to fight one horrible race of conquering creatures after another for control of the world…it shouldn’t happen to a 14 year old, but Oz is ever up to the task, becoming the leader he never would have imagined himself to be.

    Ridley is either a master storyteller or smoking some serious crack…maybe both, but man what a story!! Get it now!

    While title of master storyteller is something that I can’t in good conscience claim, I can assure you with great confidence, I’m not smoking crack, serious or otherwise.

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    Stephenie Meyer and Stephen King actually agree on something!

    Stephen King, a vocal critic of Stephenie Meyer, has actually found common ground with the woman who didn’t write a series of vampire books (C’mon, those were not vampires. Vampires can’t go out in the sun. They have fangs. They can’t get near garlic… I digress) The two mega-author-gazillionaires agree that Catching Fire (the Hunger Games sequel) by Suzanne Collins is an excellent book. I was actually at BEA where Collins was doing a signing and giving out free Advanced Reader Copies (ARC), but I couldn’t make it to the signing. I could have thrown my blogger weight around with the publisher, but they would have laughed at me. They may have even held me down and given me a red belly. Who needs that? I’m sure I can find a copy somewhere. I smart. I can do things…Anyway, the book trailer has been released, and it is cool!

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    My New Year’s Resolutions for 2009

    This I vow! I will not work on a film with $igourney in 2009!

    This I vow! I will not work on a film with $igourney in 2009!

    So, I meant to make resolutions for the new year, but I kept putting it off-finding better things to do like sitting and staring, and even the occasional standing and staring, but I figured I better get around to it before it’s 2010. So, here they are in all their fullfillable & unfulfillable glory.

    Number 1 – As of January 1, 2009, I will no longer procrastinate.

    Number 2 – I will not use the word “number,” in front of an actual number because it is redundant and unnecessary. I’m clearly wasting a lot of digital space.

    Number 3 – I will not watch one second of the “Bride Wars.”

    Number 4 – Between February and August, I will watch less football.

    Number 5 – I will stop chewing gum. The gum cartel in this country has far too much power, and I will no longer be a party to their destructive influence over today’s youth.

    Number 6 – When an uppercase “S” is called for I will use the dollar sign instead ($). I will not limit this practice to just my writings. Whenever an uppercase “S” in everyday speech is called for I will also use the $.

    Number 7 – I will not star in a major motion picture opposite $igourney Weaver.

    Number 8 – I will lobby congress to include the letter ‘r’ in the word colonel. The invisible ‘r’ is just ridiculous, or should I say idiculous.

    Number 9 – I will wear more hats. I don’t mean over the course of the year. I mean wear more hats at the same time. The one hat rule is so prejudicial and wrong that I can’t even begin to tell you how angry it makes me feel when I have to leave all my other hats at home.

    Number 10 – I will do everything in my power to include 11 items in every list I make.