Saturday, November 30, 2013

The idea behind the novel "Termination Man"

Several of you have asked me recently where the idea for the novel Termination Man came from. 

This is a topic that I address at some length in the novel's afterward section. 

So without further ado, the "Afterward" of Termination Man.









Afterward 

Not everyone is interested in the experiences and insights that form the basis of a novel. (Hint: You can feel free to skip this part if you want to; my feelings won’t be hurt.) However, as a reader, I have always found that this sort of background information interests me; I therefore assume that it might be of interest to others as well. So here goes.
One axiom of novel writing is that autobiography makes for poor fiction; and Termination Man is in no way autobiographical. However, autobiography can usefully inform fiction. Prior to writing this novel, I spent the better part of twenty years working in various salaried positions within the automotive industry. My first “real” (i.e., post-college) job was in the purchasing department of an automotive components company that shares many superficial similarities with UP&S. The history, management, (and yes, conflicts) of that workplace were very different from the ones that appear in this novel. However, many details—like tedious inventory reports, blue-collar workers who call you College Boy, and high-pressure monthly meetings—come directly from my own experiences and observations.
For many years I had wanted to write a novel about that first job; but I lacked a central theme or conflict that could bring it to life. My own work experience was instructive, in minor ways; but I had no narrative that could begin to approach something like Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker. In real life, the average day in the automotive industry is about as exciting as a trip to the dentist—and often about as painful.
Nor did I want to write yet another book decrying the Soul-Crushing Force of the Toxic Workplace. Everyone knows that corporate environments can be characterized by arbitrary bosses, backstabbing coworkers, and scheming management factions. I didn’t see these subjects as “novel worthy,” in and of themselves.
Then one day I read a book that gave me the missing link that I needed. In an effort to improve my own abilities at corporate politicking (an endeavor that was never my strong suit, I’ll readily admit) I purchased a copy of Cynthia Shapiro’s book, Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know—and What to Do About Them.
As the name implies, Shapiro’s book is a politically incorrect, no-holds-barred manual of the cold realities that exist in many (if not most) workplaces. For example, Shapiro points out that “there is no right to free speech in the workplace,” and “age discrimination exists.” Over the years, I had read many “career advice” books; but most of them struck me as far too Pollyannaish regarding the factors that drive some people up the corporate ladder, and push others down. Shapiro, I could tell, was giving readers the straight truth—and some of that truth wasn’t pretty.
While Corporate Confidential was fascinating reading throughout, not all of its content was necessarily news to me. By the time I read this book, I was already well into my forties; and I was already aware that conformity is just as important as excellence if you want to land a corner office at the Fortune 500. For me, the real revelation was a practice that Shapiro refers to as “managing out.” This is a practice whereby companies use subtle (and not so subtle) means to deliberately and methodically speed the departures of employees who have fallen from grace. In essence, the companies convince unwanted employees that quitting is “in their best interest.”
At the time, I worked for one of the large automakers; and I recognized many HR practices in my own workplace that could fairly be called tactics of “managing out.” Suffice it to say that I had one of those “ah-hah” moments that you’ve heard about. My ah-hah moment led to a series of what-if questions; and these questions eventually led to this novel.
While the “managing out” that Shapiro describes generally stays within legal and ethical lines, what if some employers were willing to step outside those lines? And what if a consulting firm specialized in managing out employees, using a variety of undercover operations and entrapment? What if such a consulting firm was also willing to skirt the law, dangling sex, drugs, and easy money in front of its clients’ human targets?
Once I had this key idea, the main elements of the plot came together fairly quickly. I threw in (with substantial embellishments, of course) a few other misdeeds and scandals that I had witnessed during my years on the job. For example, what you’ve heard about nepotism in the Fortune 500 boardroom isn’t fiction. Shawn Myers’s undeserved boost up the corporate ladder of TP Automotive is loosely based on an actual case of blatant father-son nepotism that I saw at another point in my career (though neither the father nor the son were anything like their fictional counterparts). I must also report that embezzlement schemes like the one carried out by Nick King and Michael O’Rourke are not uncommon. Sad but true.
This is how a fundamentally dull day job becomes the plot for a novel that contains corporate conspiracies, illicit sex, and violence. I hope that you, Dear Reader, have enjoyed this altered journey through my resume. And remember: You should think twice before you divulge too many personal details to that new coworker who shows up one day in the adjacent cubicle. He (or she) might be more than meets the eye.





Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mini-book review: "The Son" by Philipp Meyer

I recently finished Philipp Meyer's latest novel--a literary Western entitled The Son.. Below is the Amazon.com promotional blurb/review, which includes a reasonable synopsis:


“In 1859, Eli McCullough, the 13-year-old son of Texas pioneers, is captured in a brutal Comanche raid on his family's homestead. First taken as a slave along with his less intrepid brother, Eli assimilates himself into Comanche culture, learning their arts of riding, hunting, and total warfare.  
When the tribe succumbs to waves of disease and settlers, Eli's only option is a return to Texas, where his acquired thirsts for freedom and self-determination set a course for his family's inexorable rise through the industries of cattle and oil. 
The Son is Philipp Meyer's epic tale of more than 150 years of money, family, and power, told through the memories of three unforgettable narrators: Eli, now 100 and known simply as "the Colonel"; Eli's son Peter, called "the great disappointment" for his failure to meet the family’s vision of itself; and Eli's great-granddaughter Jeanne Anne, who struggles to maintain the McCullough empire in the economic frontier of modern Texas. 
The book is long but never dull—Meyer's gift (and obsession) for historical detail and vernacular is revelatory, and the distinct voices of his fully fleshed-and-blooded characters drive the story. 
And let there be blood: some readers will flinch at Meyer's blunt (and often mesmerizing) portrayal of violence in mid-19th century Texas, but it’s never gratuitous. His first novel, 2009's American Rust, drew praise for its stark and original characterization of post-industrial America, but Meyer has outdone himself with The Son, as ambitious a book as any you’ll read this year--or any year. Early reviewers call it a masterpiece, and while it's easy to dismiss so many raves as hyperbole, The Son is an extraordinary achievement. - John Foro”
My review:

I basically agree with the sentiments of the Amazon.com reviewer. The Son is a fine novel, a multilayered work that far surpasses Meyer's earlier American Rust both in scope and quality.  

It has been said that all books are influenced by other books, and I believe that was the case here, at least to a certain degree. While reading The Son, I definitely detected shades of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, and Larry McMurtry's main literary Westerns, Lonesome Dove and Comanche Moon

That having been said, The Son avoids the mind-numbing perversity and excessive violence of Blood Meridian. Philipp Meyer has written a novel for a wide audience. (The same couldn't be said of Cormac McCarthy's efforts in Blood Meridian.)

I'd have to give The Son a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Below are some of the book's strong points and weak points, as I saw them.



Strong points:

Historical accuracy: Meyer did an excellent job of learning about Comanche culture and integrating that into the story. 

As chance would have it, I recently finished reading a nonfiction book about the Comanches, Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne. 

Based on my reading of Gwynne's book, Meyer seems to have nailed all of the important details about the Comanches in The Son. This gives The Son a level of authenticity that makes the story even more believable.


A fast-moving plot: For a fairly long book, this is a tale that doesn't slow down in too many places (more on this shortly). I read The Son while I was in the middle of reading several other books. I found myself setting those books aside so I could finish The Son.

There is lots of conflict--both internal and external. That almost always makes for a fast-moving story.

Complex, dynamic characters: Eli McCullough, his son Peter, and his great-granddaughter Jeanne Anne are real people with humanlike mixtures of flaws and virtue. The three main characters are very different types; and obviously one of them is a woman. 



Weak points: 

Somewhat bleak: The larger theme of this book is the taming of the American West. Philipp Meyer seems to be attempting to say something profound about this part of American history, and I'm not sure that he has entirely succeeded. 

While Eli McCullough has built an empire (first of cattle, later of oil) out of the wilderness, neither he nor his descendants seem to take much pleasure from it. 

The Son is a novel that Ayn Rand (author of Atlas Shrugged) would hate. It depicts the march of American capitalism as almost completely negative. While Meyer is honest about the brutality of Comanche culture, one gets the feeling that he romanticizes it somewhat--perhaps more than an objective student of history should. 

One of the elements that makes a great novel is redemption. I'm not sure that I found anything genuinely redemptive in the journeys of Eli, Peter, or Jeanne Anne. The book ends on a very pessimistic note.


Nonlinear narrative: The Son alternates between the stories of Eli, Peter, and Jeanne Anne, which are of course interconnected. The book also jumps around temporally. One chapter is set in the 1850s, the next in the 1930s, etc.

From a technical perspective, Meyer smoothly manages the transitions between the separate story lines; and a reasonably attentive reader should not be confused by the overall flow of the narrative. 

However, the story line of Eli is far more interesting than the story lines of either Peter or Jeanne Anne. (Several Amazon.com reader-reviewers also made this observation.) While I wouldn't necessarily describe the Peter and Jeanne Anne chapters as "boring", I did find myself saying, "Great--another Eli chapter!" when I came to those.

The Eli chapters were reliably filled with gunfights and the always interesting forays into Comanche culture. The Peter and Jeanne Anne chapters sometimes dwelled a bit too much on comparatively mundane romantic affairs, etc.


*       *       *
This isn't a perfect book; but it is still a very good one. I especially recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Larry McMurty's novels, or the family sagas of either James Michener or John Jakes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Latin, the Catholic Church, and Western Civilization

A reader inquires:


"Dear Ed: You're a Roman Catholic. What do you think of the movement to restore the Latin (Tridentine mass) in the Catholic Church?"

For those of you who aren't Roman Catholic (or aren't familiar with Roman Catholicism): The so-called "Latin mass" used to be the standard mass for Roman Catholics throughout the world. 

But the 1960s--which changed so much of Western Civilization for the worse--also altered the Catholic Church for the worse. The Second Vatican Council (commonly called "Vatican II") was actually a series of councils held throughout the 1960s. 

The overall effect of the Vatican II was to "modernize" the Catholic Church. One of these changes was the jettisoning of Latin, the language that the Church had used for 2,000 years. 

However, Latin has gradually crept back into the Catholic Church. When I attended Catholic schools (1974-1986), no Latin was taught. By the mid-1990s, however, the same Catholic high school that I attended was once again teaching Latin. Interestingly enough, non-Catholic schools and home-schoolers rediscovered Latin around the same time.

There is also a movement to restore the Catholic Latin mass. However, a genuine Latin mass is still the exception rather than the rule. In my hometown of Cincinnati, there are perhaps two or three Catholic Churches who celebrate the Tridentine mass.

I am in favor of the rediscovery of Latin--and not just for Catholics. 

Latin is, first and foremost, the universal language of the Catholic Church, and its exclusion in the 1960s was ill-considered, in my opinion. (But again, so much went wrong in the 1960s.)

Latin is the language of civilization. It is was the language of the Roman Empire, and was for years the academic language of Christendom. Latin is the basis of--or a major contributor to--most Western European languages.

It is Latin--and not English--that is the natural, organic lingua franca of Western Civilization.

The world that spoke Latin was a better world, on the whole; and the return of Latin is perhaps a harbinger of Western Civilization rediscovering its roots.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The $1.59 fall blowout sale continues...for a limited time


For a limited amount of time, the prices of the following book-length works will be available on Amazon Kindle for an extra-special-low price: $1.59




Description: 

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.





A long forgotten double murder of two young women in Ohio. A struggling corporation in turmoil. Two powerful men, two bitter rivals, each one hiding his own secrets. One driven by lust and rage, the other driven by a conflicted sense of right and wrong.


***TERMINATION MAN***

“The novel that takes an unflinching look at the dark underside of the 21st century 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.







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

Available for the first time on Amazon Kindle.

***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.





- 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 that you will find in the pages of Hay Moon and Other Stories…

Sixteen modern tales of horror and suspense. 270+ pages in print.

***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.

***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.

***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.

***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.

***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.

***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 may not be the only one who is hiding evil secrets.

***The Dreams of Lord Satu***

Rapid GeoWorks salesperson Marc Jonas is ordered to visit the remote planet of Kelphi, where his customer is a spiderlike alien that preys on human flesh.

Writers and the globalized Twitter/YouTube

One of you recently asked for my opinion regarding Twitter and YouTube as self-promotional platforms for writers. 

I'll write a longer post about this topic in the future. But here are two important aspects to consider: the globalization of these services, and the percentages of non-English-speaking users on both sites.

Consider the following:

  • 75% of all Twitter users come from outside the U.S.
  • 70% of all YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.
To be sure, some of these users/viewers are from other English-speaking countries. 

I tend to find, though, (especially on YouTube), that the audience is increasingly international and non-English-speaking (or quasi-English-speaking). I have 1,200+ subscribers on YouTube. Over half of them are from non-English-speaking corners of the world.

This is a factor to consider if your primary reason for being on social media is the marketing of your books. Certain kinds of content (like fiction, for example) are extremely difficult to sell to readers whose primary language is not English.

On Blogger, by contrast, 90%+ of my traffic comes from the USA, Canada, or the UK.

I think that the language barrier is the reason behind this difference. If you have a minimal grasp of English, you can still utilize YouTube or Twitter. However, an advanced reading level is required to read a blog.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Real men read

Stephen King on the topic of "manfiction":

"If you catch publishing types in a ''don't quote me'' mood, they'll tell you the male audience for fiction is disappearing. Agents and editors are constantly on the lookout for the next hot female writer, and why not? At the end of August, 7 of the 10 New York Times hardcover fiction bestsellers were by women, and that doesn't even include Stephenie Meyer's mega-selling Breaking Dawn (which the Times considers kid lit, thus not meriting a place on the adult list). 

But, to misquote Mark Twain, reports of the male reader's death have been greatly exaggerated. Women have chick lit; guys have what my son Joe (as in Joe Hill) calls ''manfiction.'' And publishers sell it by the ton. Here's a concept so simple it's easy to miss: What men want from an Elmore Leonard novel is exactly what women want from a Nora Roberts novel — escape and entertainment." 
Some readers will of course object to the very idea that there is "men's fiction" and "women's fiction". Oh, the sexism of it all! 

We all know, though, that very few men read Danielle Steel, and very few women read Clive Cussler. (However, it is probably accurate to say that Cussler has more female readers than Steel has male readers--women being more avid readers in general.)

Just because these categories exist, though, doesn't mean that every fictional work has to be shunted into a "gender-specific" category, and labeled either a "boy book" or a "girl book".

The vast majority of fiction has cross-gender appeal. And while manfiction and chicklit both have their places, the best books can be enjoyed equally by either sex.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can authors save independent booksellers?

The Indies First movement will attempt to find out.

I appreciate what the authors are trying to do here; but the independent booksellers' business model is fundamentally threatened because they can't match the pricing and selection of Amazon. Staffing a small corner bookshop with a gaggle of mid-list authors for a day isn't going to change those underlying factors. 

My fear is that this is more of a feel-good gesture than anything. Perhaps I'll be proven wrong. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stephen King's Joyland, and the ideologies of ebooks




I'm currently reading Stephen King's Joyland, which the author wrote for the Hard Case Crime series. I bought Joyland several months ago; and I am just now getting around to reading it. 

Some of you might be put off by the Hard Case Crime packaging, but you shouldn't be: Although the book was written for a themed series, it has the feel of a typical Stephen King novel so far. 

Joyland, you might recall, stirred a controversy when it was released earlier this year. 

This was unusual, because King's novels are seldom controversial in themselves. Stephen King-related controversies are ordinarily confined to the author's occasional forays into leftwing moonbattery. A few years ago, Stephen King suggested that the U.S. military is filled with illiterates. When the U.S. Army responded with data disproving King's assertions, King--who was an antiwar student protestor during the Vietnam era--ended up looking like an uninformed jackass. But I digress.

Joyland was controversial not because of its content or message, but because of its lack of a particular format option: Stephen King decided against an ebook version of the novel, citing his support of traditional book retailing:


"Mr. King, an e-book pioneer, held on to the novel's digital rights in hopes of spurring his fans to buy the print edition in bookstores. He said it is unclear when he will make the coming-of-age tale available digitally.  
"I have no plans for a digital version," Mr. King said. "Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one."  
Mr. King's decision to support traditional book retailing comes at a time when many bookstores are struggling to compete with online retailers that sharply discount physical books and services that sell low-cost e-books. 
"Joyland," set in a North Carolina amusement park in 1973, will hit stores June 4. It is unclear whether any other high-profile writers will follow Mr. King's example. 
Paul Ingram, the buyer for the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, said he's hoping they will. He lamented that browsing for books in stores has given way to people purchasing from computers and mobile devices. "I'd just as soon not have people buy their books while typing a thank-you note," Mr. Ingram said. He said his store's traffic has "fallen off some" in recent years due in part to "the ease of getting books other places."

The above quoted article mentions that King had actually been something of an ebook pioneer back in 2000, when he released "The Plant" and "Riding the Bullet" as downloadable ebooks.

King's decision has brought the inevitable detractors, as well as a scanned, pirated ebook version of Joyland

So what's the underlying problem here? The problem is that ebooks, like practically everything else, have become ideological. 

On one side is a faction with a sentimental, Luddite commitment to the "independent bookseller"--a business model that was initially doomed not by the Internet or ebooks, but by the superstores of Barnes and Noble and Borders in the early 1990s. 

All this grieving about the disintermediation of the retail book sector is very selective. I don't recall an outpouring of high-profile celebrity concern when travel agents declined by 45% due to websites like Expedia.com and Priceline.com. But somehow, the demise of the corner bookstore-cum-coffee shop represents a great economic and social injustice. The idea of people buying environmentally friendly ebooks from Amazon rather than overpriced, undiscounted physical copies really annoys Stephen King and other traditionalists

At the opposite extreme, there are those who believe that the possession of a Kindle entitles them to free (or almost free) copies of any book in print, simply because they've "gone digital". 

I can't tell you how many times I've noticed a string of 1-star reader reviews of a given book on Amazon.com, only to notice that the negative reviews were reactions not to the book--but to the price of the Kindle version

I would suspect that the parties who pirated King's Joyland were of a similar ideological persuasion. They wanted to demonstrate that King's apostasy would not be permitted: Joyland would go digital, because ebooks and the Internet are oh-so-special, elevated above the domain of mundane concerns like law, property rights, and respect for an author's individual wishes.

My reaction is: "a pox on both your houses": The ebook is a format, not an ideology. Its mere existence does not confer special rights on anyone.

Independent bookstores with obsolete and economically unviable business models do not deserve to be "protected" from ebooks. Nor do I, as a reader, deserve a price break from Simon and Schuster simply because I own a Kindle. Nor am I entitled to an ebook version from a author/publisher who doesn't want to release one.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall fiction blowout sale: $1.59--limited time

For a limited amount of time, the prices of the following book-length works will be available on Amazon Kindle for an extra-special-low price: $1.59. Get 'em while they're cheap!



Description: 


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.





A long forgotten double murder of two young women in Ohio. A struggling corporation in turmoil. Two powerful men, two bitter rivals, each one hiding his own secrets. One driven by lust and rage, the other driven by a conflicted sense of right and wrong.


***TERMINATION MAN***

“The novel that takes an unflinching look at the dark underside of the 21st century 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.







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

Available for the first time on Amazon Kindle.

***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.





- 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 that you will find in the pages of Hay Moon and Other Stories…

Sixteen modern tales of horror and suspense. 270+ pages in print.

***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.

***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.

***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.

***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.

***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.

***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 may not be the only one who is hiding evil secrets.

***The Dreams of Lord Satu***

Rapid GeoWorks salesperson Marc Jonas is ordered to visit the remote planet of Kelphi, where his customer is a spiderlike alien that preys on human flesh.