Saturday, November 22, 2014

My mad accountant, and my holiday fiction blowout sale!

As the American holiday of Thanksgiving approaches next Thursday, the holiday season is upon us!

In celebration of the holidays, I'm offering 33 days of incredible deals on my six book-length works of fiction.

I can only afford to keep prices this low through December 25th, though.


Moreover, I have a problem… 



My accountant, Herman


My accountant, a straight-laced taskmaster named Herman, is not happy

Since Herman found out about my plans to do this, he has been sending me nasty emails, and calling me incessantly. 

Herman emailed me: 

"Ed, you are absolutely crazy. You're supposed to be making money here. But you're just giving stuff away!"

Herman is probably right. But I don't care. 



Your friendly proprietor, who loves to celebrate the holidays!


I wrote him back: 

"Herman, this one time when I'm not going to worry about money! I appreciate the loyal readers of this blog. I've got to do something to celebrate the end of the year and the holidays, and to show my gratitude to them for their readership throughout the year!"



So here are the details of my holiday fiction blowout sale. 

And no, Herman still isn't happy.

But like I said, I don't care. It's that time of year, after all.


Only $0.99:

Our House

Buy it from Amazon

Get Our House on Kindle for only $0.99 

Read the first ten chapters online



Some dream homes are deadly…Appearances can be deceiving.

On the surface, 34-year-old Jennifer Huber seems to have it all: a handsome, loving husband, a six-year-old son whom they both adore. A respectable job.

Jennifer and her husband have just purchased their first house: The neo-Tudor house at 1120 Dunham drive appears to be their “dream home”.

But everything is not what it seems: The previous owner of the house has an unusual—and ultimately violent—attachment to the house. After the Hubers move in, sinister things begin to happen: Dead animals appear in closets, strange figures disturb the Hubers’ sleep in the middle of the night.

There is more to the house at 1120 Dunham Drive than meets the eye: As Jennifer uncovers the secrets behind the home’s history, she finds herself drawn into a web of lies, violence, and sexual betrayal.

All the while, Jennifer struggles to contain a secret of her own—and to combat an act of blackmail that could destroy her marriage.

Our House is a riveting thrill ride through the dark undercurrents that might lie beneath the placid surface of a suburb near you.


The Maze

Buy it from Amazon

Get The Maze on Kindle for only $0.99


THREE ORDINARY PEOPLE STEP INTO THE WORLD OF THE MAZE, WHERE DEATH WAITS BEHIND EVERY DOORWAY…

Amanda Kearns is a hard-driving executive with a broken heart. Her male subordinates think she is a “machine”; they have no idea of the real, hidden Amanda.

Hugh Jackson is a software salesman with a defective heart—a condition that will kill him in a matter of months or years.

Evan Daley is a young college graduate adrift in a career for which he is ill-suited; he struggles with the scars of a barren, loveless childhood.

Amanda, Hugh, and Evan were expecting another routine day on the job at the Lakeview Towers office complex just outside Columbus, Ohio. But this massive structure hides a secret—a hidden passageway that plunges the unwary into a labyrinthine network of endless, twisting hallways: the Maze.

Trapped inside the Maze, Amanda, Hugh, and Evan must battle their way through perilous corridors filled with half-man, half-wolf beasts called “manwolves”, killer robots, and demonic wraiths known as “watchers”.

But they face their greatest challenge in the snowy, earth-like wilderness on the other side of the Maze. Here a group of ragtag rebels and settlers struggle against a tyrannical demigod known as the Director. The Director is determined to enslave or annihilate everyone within his reach, using a combination of worldly and unworldly weapons.

Amanda, Hugh, and Evan each find love and momentary comfort on the other side of the Maze. But they cannot escape the ultimate battle with the Director. The three Ohioans find themselves forced to choose—between the draw of love and loyalty, and the instinct for self-preservation.

A riveting emotional tale wrapped within a fantasy adventure, THE MAZE is sure to appeal to adult readers who fondly recall childhood “parallel universe” stories like “Through the Looking Glass” and “The Chronicles of Narnia”.



Termination Man

Buy it from Amazon:



The novel that takes an unflinching look at the dark underside of the 21stcentury workplace.”


CRAIG WALKER is a hotshot young MBA with his own consulting firm. He’s handsome, rich, and in demand. His Fortune 500 clients—the most powerful men and women in industry—call him “The Termination Man.”

Craig Walker is no ordinary management consultant. He’s a spook, a workplace spy. Assuming false identities, Craig works undercover, building the evidence that will allow his corporate clients to terminate unwanted employees without legal repercussions. His targets are the troublemakers, the agitators, the employees whom management believes are no longer “good fits” for their hyper-competitive organizations. 

Craig Walker believes that he serves the cause of economic efficiency, and in a way, the greater good. Most of his targets don’t like their jobs anyway. In a free market, “a firing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person. Sometimes an employee needs to leave a bad a situation.”

SHAWN MYERS is a manager at TP Automotive, a global giant in the automotive industry. Shawn struggles to control his lust and rage, and to escape a hideous past that might catch up with him at any moment. His forbidden desire for a girl young enough to be his daughter threatens to drive him over the edge.

When TP Automotive hires the Termination Man to remove two innocent employees from its payroll, Craig Walker is forced to reexamine his notions of justice and morality. But these questions are soon overwhelmed by the dangers that he faces from the TP Automotive management team. After Shawn Myers commits a heinous act in Craig’s presence, the Termination Man discovers that his new clients will resort to any means in order to protect one of their own.


Only $1.99


Hay Moon and Other Stories: Sixteen Modern Tales of Horror and Suspense


Buy it from Amazon:




During the Great Depression, a young boy confronts zombies… 

- In the present day, a software salesperson discovers that he can commune with the dead at airports.
- A business trip is cut short when three corporate colleagues stray into a den of vampires near a major interstate.
- A Russian gangster makes a killing in America---murdering romantic rivals for hire.

These are just a few of the bizarre scenarios you will encounter in the pages of Hay Moon and Other Stories


Sixteen modern tales of horror and suspense…

***Hay Moon***

In the summer of 1932, the undead invaded a corner of rural Ohio. Nearly eight decades later, one man still lives with the nightmares, and a horrible promise left unfulfilled.


***Giants in the Trees***

Jim knew that his older coworker, Paul Taulbee, had a checkered past. But he was unprepared for the horror he discovered on the night he gave Paul a ride home from the office. (Get the $0.99 short at Amazon.com)


***The Vampires of Wallachia***

Three corporate employees on a business trip stop at the wrong place for a late-night dinner: a restaurant in central Ohio that hides a terrifying secret.(Get the $0.99 short at Amazon.com)


***Bitter Hearts***

Have you been wronged in love? An Internet company promises to make things right for you---for a price.


***Gate Time***

Traveling software salesman Josh Gardner had never been afraid of airports---until he discovered that some of his fellow travelers were not what they appeared to be. (Get the $0.99 short at Amazon.com)


***By the River***

The old man who lived on the houseboat warned people about the shadows lurking beneath the waters of the Ohio River. But some failed to heed his warnings.


***The Girl She Used to Be***

Thirty years ago Allison disappeared on the night that her college boyfriend was planning to give her an engagement ring. Now Allison is back--- but she’s not the girl she used to be.


***The Caliphate***

When a terrorist organization stages a bloody takeover of a Canadian city, two friends are forced to confront their innermost demons---and each other.(Get the $0.99 short at Amazon.com)


***The Wasp***

Leo had always been afraid of wasps---especially wasps that learn to assume human form.


***The Red Devil***

A security guard at a car dealership learns that death lurks in the nocturnal hours in a city torn by gang warfare.


***The Robots of Jericho***

Pete Greer suspected that the industrial robots purchased by his company were more than mere machines. Alone in a West Virginia factory with them over an extended summer weekend, the robots threaten his sanity---and his life.



***Last Dance with Emma***

University of Minnesota graduate students Eric and Randy travel back in time for hedonistic purposes. But when they visit New Year’s Eve 1978, Randy unexpectedly falls in love. Determined to secure an impossible future with a doomed young woman named Emma, Randy battles his friend, and the cruelty of a random universe. (Get the $0.99 short at Amazon.com)

***Gaia Cried Out***

When Kara Teller met Nicholas Naretti in the student union of her university, she believed that she had found the ideal man. But there is something horribly wrong with Nicholas’s friends…And Kara reluctantly discovers that Nicholas harbors sinister intentions of his own. 


***Citizens***

Robert and Susan Craig discover that the politics of the twenty-second century in America can be deadly. A leisurely time travel voyage lands them in a cell in the bloodiest days of the French Revolution. Condemned to the guillotine by the Jacobins’ Committee of Public Safety, they suspect the hand of the rising American demagogue, Senator Barry Olsen.


***Whatever****

Corporate middle manager Greg Hensley simultaneously desires and loathes his new subordinate, Jessica Tanner. A bit of research into Jessica’s past reveals that Jessica may be dangerous. But Jessica is not the only one who is hiding evil secrets.


***The Dreams of Lord Satu***

Rapid GeoWorks salesperson Marc Jonas was ordered to visit the remote planet of Kelphi. His boss, Larry Dozier, told him to do whatever was necessary to make the sale. But Kelphi is a world where psychic spiderlike creatures occasionally devour the planet’s human population. The Kelphiaristocrat known as Lord Satu wants Marc’s mind, and possibly his body as well. (Get the $0.99 short story at Amazon.com)



Only $2.99

My 5-star supernatural thriller:







Eleven Miles of Night
Jason Kelley is a young, struggling filmmaker looking for his first big break. When the semi-famous cable television ghost hunter Simon Rose approaches him about a freelance project, Jason is understandably thrilled.

He isn’t fazed by the fact that his assignment is a walk down the Shaman’s Highway, an eleven-mile stretch of rural Ohio roadway that is reputed to be haunted by malevolent spirits, hellhounds, and demonic forces. Jason is an agnostic in regard to the supernatural.



He isn’t prepared for the reality that awaits him on his walk through eleven miles of night—nor the more human violence and heartbreak that he will face along the way.



Blood Flats


Buy it from Amazon






Meth, murder, and the mafia—a vast tapestry of a southern gothic crime novel with a Dickensian cast of characters.”

***Lee McCabe is home from Iraq, but home has changed.***

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and recently discharged U.S. marine Lee McCabe never imagined the dangers awaiting him in Hawkins County, Kentucky. While Lee has been in the Middle East, a network of violent methamphetamine traffickers have established a foothold in the county, corrupting, intimidating, or murdering anyone who stands in their way.

***Charged with murder and marked for death***

Lee quickly discovers that his neighbor, Tim Fitzsimmons is a meth dealer. When Fitzsimmons and his girlfriend are killed in a drug-related hit, Lee attempts to intervene. The law and the community blame Lee for the murder. The meth traffickers target Lee for death, knowing him to be a witness to the crime.

***Enemies motivated by passion, greed, and desperation ***

Sheriff Steven Phelps has his own personal reasons for hating Lee: Twenty-five years ago, Lee’s now deceased mother had a youthful affair with the sheriff. The sheriff planned to marry her--until she jilted him to be with the man who became Lee’s father. Phelps is torn by his duty to justice, and his obsession with the doomed love of his adolescence.

Lester Finn is a classics-quoting, self-aggrandizing local hoodlum and meth dealer. He is caught between the law and the Chicago-based mafia, which wants a greater share of the southern methamphetamine trade. From his bar, the Boar’s Head, Lester controls a sordid regional enterprise that consists of gambling, drug trafficking, and prostitution. Lester is torn by his grudging respect for Lee---and his need to see the ex-marine dead.

Paulie Sarzo is a Chicago mobster, a rising star in the Coscollino crime family. He despises Kentucky, Lee McCabe, and most of all, Lester Finn. But Paulie has an important mission to accomplish in Hawkins County: If he fails to eliminate Lee, he risks the ultimate punishment for failure in la cosa nostra.

***A journey toward death or redemption***

Dawn Hardin is a former golden girl, honor student, and premed whose life has fallen into a downward spiral of meth addiction and prostitution. Dawn had a tumultuous relationship with Lee before he went to Iraq. Now she tries to help him wage war against the mafia, even as she struggles with her own inner demons, and a family that wants to deny her existence.

The Hunter is a mysterious figure who compels Lee to go on the offensive against the forces pursuing him. But will the Hunter offer any concrete assistance, or only advice?

Brett St. Croix is a journalist who offers to tell Lee’s version of events. But Lee suspects that St. Croix has a contrary, private agenda of his own.

Ben Chamberlain lost his wife to a meth-related murder. Will he assist Lee; or will Ben’s desire for revenge destroy them both?

***A battle in Blood Flats***

Pursued from all directions, Lee embarks on a cross-country journey toward the town of Blood Flats. There he faces a showdown---in which he must pit his wits and determination against the ruthlessness and superior resources of his enemies on both sides of the law.


Majoring in liberal arts (mailbag)

From my YouTube channel: A viewer is very interested in the liberal arts (English literature, history, etc.), but knows that his career prospects will be limited with a four-year degree in one of these fields:


Friday, November 21, 2014

Digital technology and the employee monitoring arms race


Digital technology has created a sort of arms race in the workplace between employee shirkers and corporate monitors.

If you were working in an office job during the late 1990s, you can probably still recall that first rush of freedom you felt when presented with your first workplace Internet connection (especially if your computer was positioned at an angle where the boss could not easily view it.)

And in the early days of the Internet, all of the momentum seemed to be on the side of the shirkers. It took corporate managers and IT departments a number of years to learn to effectively monitor and control employee Internet access.

From roughly 1997 until 2003 or so, a Wild West mentality prevailed where workplace Internet access was concerned. It wasn't uncommon to see a cubicle dweller spending half the day catching up on email, shopping online, and Web surfing for miscellaneous information on everything from dog grooming to glass-blowing techniques during the Italian Renaissance.

No more. Employers began by monitoring employee Internet usage. (No one knows for sure how many office workers are monitored. At the time of this writing, the number is estimated to exceed 27 million.)    

But that was just the beginning. The daily and hourly movements of outside salespersons (a notoriously shirking lot even before the Internet came along) are now routinely monitored with smartphone apps that track them via GPS.

Human nature being what it is, such developments were probably inevitable. They have nevertheless made corporate employment more rigid, less human, and more fraught with accusations and suspicions.

Whether or not such extensive monitoring actually raises productivity is debatable.

The monitoring probably does discourage some of the most fragrant shirkers (who are bad employees to begin with). But it probably demotivates ambitious employees who resent being treated like children. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ken Takakura, 83, RIP

I remember his performance in the 1989 movie Black Rain with Michael Douglas.




Obama and the immigration shell game

"Felons, not families" will be deported, per the president's speech.



Well, it's good to know that Obama isn't going to roll out the red carpet for hit men from MS-13 and the Sinaloa cartel. I suppose that much can be regarded as progress. (This is Obama we're talking about, after all.)

I, for one, don't think we should deport anyone who has failed to break any US laws--including immigration laws. Anyone who is here legally gets to stay. 

Do we have a deal?


As they say, "whatever": the Lammily doll

As I've noted here before, so-called "body image" is the latest battlefront in the war of political correctness (given that all the low-hanging fruit of race, gender, and niche sexual demographics have been pretty much staked out.)

So now we have a "Barbie doll with cellulite"--what some sly capitalistic wag refers to as an "anti-Barbie doll"


The Lammily doll isn't obese, but rather "pleasingly plump" (though I'm sure an even more "average", obese anti-anti-Barbie doll is in the works somewhere).

They've been kvetching about Barbie dolls for years, and the rest of us have more important things to worry about--so have at it, I say.

I'm sure the next big thing in children's toys will be a GI Joe with a spare tire (an "average guy", no less) who is confused about his gender identification. 

All this makes me grateful that my childhood took place in the less enlightened years of the 1970s and 1980s, when kids' toys could just be kids' toys.

   

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A book format for every purpose

The analysis one finds on Forbes is more concise and organized than what one finds on most literary sites.



The basic storyline here won't surprise anyone who keeps up on such things: Ebooks aren't going to put print books out of print anytime soon. 

This is the latest iteration on mainstream media's fascination with ebooks. 

Back in 2000, ebooks were huge. Then everyone discovered that it wasn't much fun to read a 400-page novel on a desktop computer screen. The real takeoff for ebooks would have to wait for the introduction of a cheap, portable reading device. 

Then Amazon came out with the Kindle in late 2007. Suddenly ebooks were huge again. Printers would be going out of business any day! 

Now the media is cautiously pessimistic on ebooks again, because their market performance hasn't lived up to the original hype.

As organized and visual as the Forbes information is, it doesn't give the more important explanation: Some books (those with lots of graphics, maps, and tables) were never well suited for the ebook format. Nor are doorstop-sized nonfiction titles. 

Ebooks are best for fiction, and concise nonfiction works that don't rely much on visuals. 

That doesn't mean that ebooks are "failing" or even "fizzling". It simply means that ebooks, like print books, have their ideal range of application. And that range doesn't include every book-related need.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This should be interesting...

A woman has accused Bill Cosby of committing sexual assault…in 1969.



To put 1969 in perspective: I was in diapers, Richard Nixon was in the White House, and America was at war--not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in Vietnam.

I'm not saying that Joan Tarshis's allegations aren't true. I'm not saying that they are. 

What I am saying is that if someone had legitimately wronged me, I wouldn't wait the equivalent of two generations to go public with my story. 

Bill Cosby has been a public figure since at least the 1970s (I remember him as the host of the cartoon show Fat Albert during my youth.) I'm sure that there would have been plenty of journalists eager for such a scoop, even then; and Ms. Tarshis seems more than capable of handling and representing herself. 

So draw your own conclusions: What we have here is a he-said-she-said case that literally dates back to the Woodstock era. How in the world can anyone be expected to make a fair and objective judgment about this case, now that so much time has been allowed to pass?

At Harvard, Asians are the new Jews

In the 1920s and 1930s, Ivy League schools regularly restricted Jewish admissions to a maximum "quota". 

The reasons were twofold: a.) Jewish students (on average) were better prepared academically than their non-Jewish counterparts, and b.) University officials, who were either passively or actively anti-Semitic, feared their influence.

Today it is Asian students who are better prepared than the average American teen or twentysomething. They have accomplished this despite being the sons and daughters of immigrants, and coping with challenges involving language barriers and culture shocks.

So how does the Ivy League establishment reward them? By showing race-based preferences for students who are not as well prepared--who, quite frankly--have not worked as hard. 

Anyone who has ever been involved in a corporate "diversity" program knows that "diversity" really means two things: African-American or Hispanic. Asians, Appalachian whites, and others need not apply.

Asian-Americans are to be lauded for their outstanding academic achievements. It is disheartening (but not surprising) to see Harvard University reward them with discrimination rather than the opportunities they have earned. 


Common Core and the China Syndrome

There are all sorts of things wrong with Common Core and the idea of centralized education. 

Well, in theory, there shouldn't be. In the U.S., however, the education system has been taken over by leftwing ideologues and education majors. 

The first group is dedicated to a revisionist, apologetic view of American history and Western civilization. The second group believes that teaching children content is an inherently flawed methodology. (Instead, children should spend their time at school in endlessly fun, enriching activities from which they will "learn how to learn".)

Nevertheless, the basic idea of teaching content and testing students' knowledge and skills in objectively measurable ways is a concept to which we need to return. 

Among some in the new-wave educational establishment, a return to a more traditional system of pedagogy means nothing short of the Sinicization of American education. The false comparison is here drawn by Yong Zhao, a Chinese-American academic at the University of Oregon.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Why is the Japanese economy in recession?

CNN reports today that the Japanese economy has slipped back into recession.

“Gross domestic product shrank by an annualized 1.6% in the three months ended September, Japan's Cabinet Office said Monday. The result was much worse than the 2.2% expansion expected by economists.”

CNN also reports that the problem is that Japan doesn't have enough working women.

A feminist meme—embraced by the Western press and the Japanese government alike—is that Japan’s economy would rebound if only it could usher more women into its corporate and industrial workplaces.

I’m all for women having career opportunities—both in Japan as well as in the United States. However, it is a fallacy to attribute Japan’s economic woes to a shortage of women in its corporate offices.

History contradicts this entire thesis. There are actually far more women working in corporate positions in Japan today than there were twenty-five years ago, when the Japanese economy was booming. Since taking office, Prime Minister Abe has made the promotion of female career opportunities a centerpiece of his economic policy. Over the past several years, 82,000 Japanese women have been added to the workforce on Abe’s watch.

This might be a good idea for a variety of reasons, but it is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on Japan’s economic prospects.

Japan’s problem is not a shortage of career women—but a shortage of children. This has been the Japanese economy’s Achilles’ heel for years now. Japan’s working age population peaked a decade ago, and has since been falling. The Japanese economy is aging fast—not because Japanese women aren’t going to work, but because the Japanese aren’t having enough children to replace their retirees.

Even more troubling is the impact that a falling birthrate has on Japan’s national debt. In thirty or forty years, there will be fewer Japanese working to pay off the debts that the government is presently incurring.

It is fine—perhaps appropriate, in some situations—to criticize the sexist or chauvinistic aspects of Japanese society and corporate life.

It would be wrong, however, to over-interpret them. The Japanese economy was far more vibrant in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. It was also far more sexist then, as that term is conventionally defined and understood.

The difference is that there were millions more Japanese babies being born to Japanese women in past decades.


Japan might indeed benefit from more career women, but what it really needs is more mothers.