Through Thom Tinted Lenses

February 19, 2013

UNDER THE DOME: THE BOOK & THE SERIES by Thom Reese

CBS has announced Under the Dome, a new television series based on the Stephen King book of the same title. I’m very excited – and a little worried – about this one. At roughly eleven hundred pages, and with a hefty cast of characters, the book offers enough source material to fuel at least three televised seasons, perhaps more if CBS holds to the thirteen episode season utilized in season one. But, before I get into the series, let’s take a quick look at the book itself.

THE BOOK: I’ll be blunt; this novel is easily one of King’s best. Not an easy task thirty odd years into a career. As a writer, and as an avid reader, I find it fascinating that at nearly eleven hundred pages Under the Dome never slows down, never becomes dull, there’s no filler or long sections of description devoid of plot or tension. This is all forward momentum. Every page belongs in the book. True, that is not always the case with King. He’s been known to meander in the midst of a tale. Not here. And despite any minor missteps along his lengthy career, Stephen King is one of the most talented writers of this generation. He would have succeeded no matter what his chosen genre.

THE PLOT: A small town in Maine – Who knew?! – is suddenly and completely isolated from the outside world by an invisible dome. Nothing can get in or out, not even aircraft from above. Bombs explode upon impacting the dome, cars crash into it, the townspeople are trapped. What follows can best be described as Lord of the Flies meets The Stand. Lord of the Flies because we now have an isolated microcosm of society where all of the old rules quickly fall away and anarchy rises. The Stand, because, well, it has that epic King feel. That apocalyptic flavor, those unforgettable and well fleshed out characters. And, as with most of King’s work, it’s the characters that bring the story to realization. King is a master at breathing life into his cast, making them more than just plot devices, but allowing them to breathe, to love, to hurt, to hope. He brings us, the readers, into their souls and then sends us away screaming as the characters encounter horrors beyond any known in the natural world.

THE TELEVISION SERIES: This is an ambitious project. Originally slated for cable network, Showtime, CBS snatched it up as their own. (CBS owns Showtime.) Word is that with the success of cable dramas such as The Walking Dead and Homeland, CBS wanted to get in the game of outside-of-the-box programming. Stephen King is involved as an executive producer, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment is at the helm. Brian K. Vaughn (Lost) will also serve as an executive producer.  Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is slated to direct the first episode. It seems a solid cast is being collected, no household names, but familiar faces with solid track records. (Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) as “Big Jim” Rennie, Mike Vogel (Cloverfield) as Dale Barbara, Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle) as Angie McCain)

The show will launch June 24 on CBS with a thirteen episode season but CBS has already committed to additional seasons – expect a cliffhanger ending in episode thirteen. This is a great opportunity for CBS which is known primarily for crime dramas. My only hope is that the network will give the creative team the latitude needed to make this the spectacular series that it can be. How do they do that? Here are a few thoughts:

Stick to the Book: Yes. I understand that in different mediums there are different rules. Ideas that work on the printed page don’t always translate well on the screen. That said, take a page from the Game of Thrones playbook. The HBO series Game of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire book series. The cast is huge, the scope enormous. Everything that happens in the books can in no way be put to screen. Budgetary and practical matters simply make it impossible. That said, Game of Thrones stays true to the source material. Season one was very close to the book, season two a little less so, but, and this is important, it stayed true to the spirit of the books. Some minor changes were made, some characters combined, some plot threads deleted, some added. But in the end, it all came together to tell essentially the same story. There were no major deviations, nothing that would make a diehard fan fret or curse. Under the Dome has fantastic source material, and, far fewer challenges than Game of Thrones which films on three different continents and has a cast as large as some graduating classes. There’s no reason to stray too far.

Do not make it episodic: Broadcast networks have a long history of episodic television. At its core this is fine. This is the structure on which TV was built. It’s what we’ve all known since childhood. Though there might be some longstanding story arches, each episode tells a complete story, with a clear ending right before the credits role. This model has been broken by shows such as Breaking Bad, Homeland, Dexter, The Walking Dead. In these, each episode is more akin to a chapter in a greater work. It allows for much more depth both in plotting and characterization, and is the direction in which quality television is headed. Under the Dome is based on a novel.  It has a wonderful weave of subplots and rich characters. In this, the producers have been handed a gift. I hope they treat it as such.

Keep the seasons short: Broadcast networks usually order about twenty-six episodes per season while cable networks cut that in half. Most of the best dramas on television have twelve or thirteen episode seasons. Stick with what works. I believe the shorter season allows for more attention to be given to each episode. The overall burden is less, the schedule a bit more forgiving. Season one will have only thirteen episodes, my vote is that they stay with this formula.

Keep Stephen King involved: It’s his original work. It’s his original vision. He’s one of the bestselling authors of our time. Keep him close, follow his lead.

As for me, I’ll be watching on June 24. Hopeful, but cautious. This series has great potential. I sincerely hope it attains this.

What’s happening with Thom?

A quick update on my recent activities: I’m writing furiously on my third Huntington novel, tentatively titled, A SAVAGE DISTANCE. It picks up soon after the events of CHASING KELVIN and will be released later this year.

My primary publisher, Speaking Volumes, has announced the release of two CD sets of my audio dramas, one within the next few weeks and the other this summer. These are full-cast, fully produced, modern-day audio dramas with sound effects, original music, and contemporary themes. I wrote and directed each while my talented wife, Kathy, wrote and performed the scores for each episode as well as engineered the project. We co-produced. The first CD set will contain six stand-alone stories, the second will be Marc Huntington Adventures. (The stand-alone stories are found in short story format in my book, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. The Huntington dramas are streamlined versions of  DEAD MAN’S FIRE and CHASING KELVIN.) These are a lot of fun, I’m very proud of them, and I think you’ll enjoy them. (Okay, yes, I am a bit biased, but I stand by my statement none-the-less!)

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes and two  CD collections of these are set for release in 2012. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Purchase Thom Reese novels at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=thom+reese&sprefix=thom+reese%2Caps%2C464

CHECK OUT THE NEW AUDIO DRAMA RELEASES AT:  http://speakingvolumes.us/detail.asp?pid=837

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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December 11, 2012

THE WALKING DEAD PHENOMENON: What broadcast networks Can Learn from Cable Dramas by Thom Reese

Filed under: entertainment,horror,media,television — Thom Reese @ 9:52 am
Tags: , ,

Most of you know me as an author and a book lover. Which I am. But, at the heart of this is the fact that I’m a lover of stories. I love fiction. I love tales. Drama, whether grounded in worlds real or imagined enthrall me. All this to say that in addition to books, I love stories told on the screen as well. And as such, I’m very excited about some changes in the television landscape.

I love it when something defies all conventions and expectations. Four years ago when I first learned that The Walking Dead – a comic book series about zombies – was to be launched by AMC as a weekly series, I was excited that something this far outside of the box would make it onto the schedule. Everything went against conventional wisdom. Genre television shows as a rule tend to struggle. There have been exceptions through the years. Star Trek the Next Generation was a huge success, though the original Star Trek series struggled through its entire run and was cancelled after three seasons. Dark Shadows was a hit back in the sixties, but it wasn’t until recently with True Blood that another horror television show has truly succeeded. And True Blood’s numbers, while good, are not earth-shattering.

Enter The Walking Dead. A weekly zombie gore-fest based on a comic book series. It’s not just a hit. It’s a phenomenon. The Walking Dead has done something that no cable television show has ever done before. Not The Sopranos. Not Dexter, Breaking Bad, none of them. The Walking Dead is beating its broadcast competition. There’s a common misconception that, as a rule, cable television is beating broadcast television. After all, cable has most of the cool, trendy shows, the water cooler shows that everyone talks about the next day at work. But, in reality, cable numbers are usually well below broadcast numbers. A cable hit such as Dexter or Homeland might land two million viewers where a broadcast episode of NCIS reaches 12-14 million. Part of this stems from the simple fact that nearly every household in the country has access to broadcast TV while only about 70% of households get cable or satellite.

All the more amazing, that The Walking Dead can now boast 15.2 million viewers.

Look at that number again: 15.2 million.

The Walking Dead has done what no other show has done before by becoming the first ever cable television show to beat every other show in the prime 18-49 age demographic.

A zombie show.

Based on a comic book series.

Why?

I believe the answer is quite simple. It’s a quality show.

As are many other cable dramas. The most talked about dramas on television are all aired on cable networks: Breaking Bad, Homeland, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy.

What do these shows all have in common?

Many people will jump to the obvious differences between broadcast and cable. On cable television there can be more violence. Profanity is allowed as is nudity. But while these things may appeal to many viewers, in truth, they’re only icing. Very few people return to a show week after week just so they can hear profanity, or catch a glimpse of a breast, or see blood and gore. People don’t watch The Walking Dead because of the gore. In fact, many people watch it in spite of the gore. Viewers don’t tune in to Dexter to see dismemberment, or to game of Thrones simply to see the occasional breast.

They come back because these are quality dramas.

So, what’s different about these shows? What separates them from their broadcast counterparts?

First, let’s look at the broadcast drama paradigm. With only a handful of exceptions, broadcast dramas fall into three categories: crime, medical, and legal. Most series are episodic in nature. As in, the story is introduced and brought to conclusion all in the space of a single episode. There might be some lingering plot arcs that carry through a season, but the primary plot line of each episode is closed in forty-two minutes of actual story.

Not so in these quality cable dramas. There is no set paradigm.  These hits are not traditional in nature. These are not variations on CSI or Law and Order. The Mentalist would never be considered by Showtime or HBO. HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin’s amazing book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is a fantasy series – and quite possibly the best series currently on television. Dexter and Breaking Bad both have criminals as their lead characters. Homeland is about terrorism. Mad Men about  an advertising agency.  Sons of Anarchy about bikers.

At common among these programs: Well-developed characters, complex plotting that spreads a single story arc over an entire season or more, and quality acting and production. Game of Thrones is shot on three different continents using real castles and scenery. It looks more like a movie than it does a television show. The Walking Dead has makeup and effects every bit as good as those seen in many horror films. The characters in these shows live and breathe. We, the viewers, want to know what happens to them, how and if they’ll survive.

This brings me back to The Walking Dead. It really isn’t a show about zombies. It’s a show about people. Zombies are the backdrop. It could have just as easily been a post nuclear war setting, an alien invasion, Nazis – anything. The show is about the people. The characters ring true. The viewers come back each week to see if their favorite character survives. And yes, in these quality dramas, central characters can die. It’s not like the broadcast model where everything essentially remains static throughout an entire season with only the season finale to eliminate characters for the next season – the elimination usually having more to do with contract issues than with anything truly plot related. The people in these shows, whether human, alien, hero or villain, are well developed. Characters die or change drastically as a result of events. The scripts are strong, allowing characters to grow and change.

The broadcast networks need to look seriously at the cable drama world. I’m sure there’s quite a bit of head scratching going on in network conference rooms right now. How could a cable zombie show beat us? We’re the major leagues. Who are these upstarts and who do they think they are? But what they need to realize is that now that the viewing public has been exposed to high quality stories in a televised format, they won’t be satisfied with the standard fare. My prediction is that we’ll soon see other cable shows beating their broadcast counterparts. And as this becomes more common, the big four will be forced to adapt. And as they adapt, we’ll see a higher caliber of drama coming to the broadcast airwaves. I look forward to it.

A side note: CBS has announced that it will be producing a television series based on Stephen King’s novel, Under the Dome. Showtime was originally slated to carry the project but CBS snatched it up. (CBS owns Showtime.) My understanding is that the move was made in response to the success of shows such as The Walking Dead. Maybe they’re starting to get the hint. My only hope is that they do the series justice. I loved the book and feel much more comfortable with it in the hands of Showtime than CBS. I hope CBS proves my concern to be unnecessary.

 

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Purchase Thom Reese novels at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=thom+reese&sprefix=thom+reese%2Caps%2C464

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

July 30, 2012

CAN BFF’S CHANGE THE WORLD? BY THOM REESE

I don’t expect wide-ranging moral change to sweep the world in my lifetime. I, for instance, don’t expect to see the end of war while I still walk the earth. There are still enough small-minded leaders that believe international disputes should be settled the same way they are in the schoolyard – with the biggest muscles and by the meanest bullies – for that to happen. The same with racism. Even this month, a Mississippi congregation refused to allow a couple to marry in their church because they were African American. In my mind that’s criminal, immoral, bigoted, and infuriating. The church should lose its tax exempt status, the pastor should be fired, the denomination brought to task. Plop these idiots in a Tardis and deposit them in the 1700s where they belong. Unacceptable!

As well, there’s still child abuse, drug addiction, political stupidity, dictators, nuclear threats, religious oppression, and any number of social and political ills.

As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, these elements still exist in our “sophisticated” and “advanced” society.

I suppose we’re not quite as advanced as we’d like to believe.

That said, the only way any of these things can be changed is if we collectively seek change.

And not only seek it, but expect it, demand it. Let’s not get starry-eyed, and please, don’t reserve a hall for the victory celebration. It will take years, likely generation, to overcome most of these ills. But as the world grows smaller due to near-continuous technological leaps, so can time condense.

And thus change can accelerate.

Just as a trip across the Atlantic now takes hours instead of weeks (as it did just over a century ago), so can ideas spread and take root much quicker than ever before. We, as a society, are in constant communication with one another through texting, the internet, and even old school technology such as television and movies. (Yes, television is now old school.) I have Facebook “friends” on nearly every continent. My ideas and concerns can be discussed by people around the globe within seconds of my posting a blog.

And I’m a person of no significant influence.

Think of the power for social and moral progress if like minded people make a commitment for change.

What would happen if we actively spoke out, each in our own forums, each in our own voices, against the issues that concern us, and – possibly even more importantly – in favor of those things we see as bettering society? True, different people have differing beliefs. What one person sees as a problem another might see as a solution. Just look at the current political landscape for daily examples. But there are things that the vast majority of us can agree upon, and yet the problems still exist.

My point is this: Just as a small independent film such as Paranormal Activity became a sensation based almost exclusively on grassroots, internet-based, word-of-mouth promotion, so can the societal issues that concern us be addressed by those same means. In the past, the power to change rested in elected officials and media professionals, people on the national and international stage. But now, through social networking and ever-increasing technological opportunities, we, the everyday Joes and Janes, have the opportunity to speak out and make a difference. We can have a voice equal to or greater than those in the seats of power.

We just have to be willing to use it.

If you’re passionate about something, post blogs, share news stories and thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, create Facebook groups of like-minded people. Combine with the rest of us to diminish the absurdity that still surrounds us.

We have the engine for change. We just need to use it for more than “poking” and “friending.”

 

AND NOW…

I’M VERY PROUD AND EXCITED ABOUT MY NEW THRILLER, CHASING KELVIN And would love for you all to give it a read.

Marc and Dana Huntington are back in an adventure that that will forever change their lives and rock them to the very core.

Government officials assassinated all about the globe. Seemingly unconnected terrorist attacks shake four continents. Former Delta Force commander Marc (Hunt) Huntington and his wife, ex British intelligence officer Dana, are thrust into the fray when they uncover a terrorist plot onboard a speeding train – a plot that might originate at the highest levels of U.S. government. Savagely attacked, Dana is caught in a web of conspiracy as an unwilling pawn. Hunt races against time to find the elusive cure to a deadly militarized bacterium before tens of thousands perish. What is the connection to the dozens of comatose forms secreted away in a concealed Swiss retreat? Is there a link to the Huntington’s bizarre find in the Amazon Jungle some months before? Will Dana escape nearly certain death?

Filled with breathtaking suspense and nonstop danger, this is a thriller you won’t put down until you’ve turned the final shocking page.

Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Kelvin-ebook/dp/B008FRA2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341060846&sr=1-1&keywords=chasing+kelvin

Thom Reese is the author of CHASING KELVIN, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published for download by Speaking Volumes. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Check out the first Huntington adventure, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335623524&sr=1-1

LEARN THE SECRET of a strange race known as THE EMPTY at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342274358&sr=1-1&keywords=the+empty+by+thom+reese

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

December 10, 2011

Thom Interviews Author Claire Applewhite

IN THIS POST:

Thom’s Happening – Announcements, Specials, etc.

Thom Interviews Author Claire Applewhite

 

Thom’s Happening – Announcements, Specials, etc.

Before we jump into our feature interview with author Claire Applewhite, I’ll take a moment to bring you up to speed on some happenings. DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first in my Marc Huntington adventure series was released this fall. It follows recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington as the track a missing scientist through the Amazon. Lots of action and twists.

I’m nearly done writing the second in the series, CHASING KELVIN, and this should be out spring of 2012.

My next novel, THE EMPTY, is due out within the month. I’m very excited about this one. Here’s the back cover synopsis:

The reyaqc, a people who have no inherent characteristics of their own, but survive by infusing genetic information from humans and animals alike, often leaving the donors hollow, vacant shells. They’ve been with us for centuries. Many live in isolated communities on the fringes of society. Others walk the cities of the world, unable to reveal their true natures for risk of discovery. Donald Baker is a reyaqc and he fears for his people. For with the rising human population and technological advances, the reyaqc can no longer live undetected. His life-long desire is to bring his race into the mainstream of society. But now a lone rogue terrorizing the city of Las Vegas threatens to expose the reyaqc prematurely. As the death toll rises, Donald must battle not only the rogue, but his own savage nature.

And, for the holiday season, the eBook versions of my books, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS are on sale for only $4.99. http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-ebook/dp/B005L4I8TK/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1323524905&sr=8-13

For autographed copies of the print version, contact me a thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for ordering and pricing information.

 

And now, an  Interview with author Claire Applewhite

Claire Applewhite, the author of The Wrong Side of Memphis, Moonlight Becomes You So (2009), Crazy For You (2010), St. Louis Hustle, Candy Cadillac (2011) is a graduate of St. Louis University, (AB, Communications, MBA), Mercantile Leadership Program for Women. A participant in the Writers Institute at Washington University, and freelance writer—Healthy Cells magazine, House of Style magazine : Www.HouseOfStyleSTL.coM, reporter for Patch.com. For more on Claire, visit her website: www.Claireapplewhite.com

Other distinctions include:

Immediate Past President,MissouriWriters Guild

Board member of Midwest Chapter, Mystery Writers of America. Member andSt. LouisMetropolitan Press Club

Active member of St. Louis Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, Ozark Writers League and Active Status member, Mystery Writers of America.

Claire, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Why don’t you start by telling us about your most recent release? Candy Cadillac is the third in the ‘nam Noir series, featuringVietnam vets Elvin Suggs and Di Redding. Set insouth St. Louis, it presents an intriguing time in the late 1980’s when car bombings and organized crime were active concerns.

What is your writing routine? I generally write in the early morning, the earlier the better, and go for around four or five hours. Sometimes, it’s 4:30 am, and sometimes it’s as late as six o’clock a.m., but the point is, I get it done first, before anything else has a chance to insinuate itself into the time designated for writing.  Then, I stop, preferably in the middle of a chapter or scene, so that when I return, I will readily recognize the conflict and carry on from the stopping point. I don’t look at it again that day, because I believe a writer has to allow some time to pass to better judge the quality of the writing and to recharge psychologically after spending emotional energy on characters.

Do you begin with plot or characters? I begin with plot because I believe the plot will tell you what kind of characters live in the story. For example, the story of Cinderella dictates the cast of characters, and even the setting.                                                                                                           

Tell us about the characters in Candy Cadillac. The characters in Candy Cadillac are the series characters from the ‘nam Noir series. Elvin Suggs and Di Redding, along with Cobra, the sniper, areVietnam vets turned St. Louis PI. Their creepy next door neighbors, the omnipresent black limo, the physician without a license to practice atCityHospital, Barbara Lacey, a mysterious blonde, and three women who assume her identity after her death, complete the cast.

What are you currently writing? The fourth in the series, Tennessee Plates, and a stand alone novel about a real life case that occurred at St. LouisCityHospital.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers? Consider that writing is a lifetime vocation. It’s not about money, or fame, or even bestseller lists. If you’re not growing and changing on some level with each book/screenplay/piece you write, or if you’re expecting a lot of money in a very short time period, writing may disappointment you.   As soon as you have polished a piece of your writing, start to send it out for consideration. Even if it is rejected, read the critiques. And then, rewrite and resend. Don’t let anything that isn’t your absolute best leave your desk. Ever.

What type of story do you most like to write? Why? I like to write a story in which a major transformation has occurred in the life or lives of the main characters. This could be a major disillusionment, a discovery of the truth, or a love that saves.  I write fiction because anything is possible. For me it is about creating a world where things may happen in a haphazard way, BUT in the end, order and justice prevail.

What do you read? I like to read a story in which I learn something I didn’t know (it could be anything), and where the writer does something extraordinary with ordinary characters or circumstances.

How did you get your start in writing? I’ve always written, from the time I was seven. But, it wasn’t until 1999 that I decided to get serious about getting published. My first book was published in 2009.

How did you land your first book contract? Actually, I submitted a short story to an anthology at the request of a friend, and after it was accepted, I decided to send a novel that I had been writing and revising for almost seven years. I had not sent it to anyone for fear of rejection. That initial success gave me the courage to submit the novel that became The Wrong Side of Memphis.                                                                                                                  

With the rise in eBook popularity, the publishing industry is in a state of change. What do you see as positives and negatives in this reformation? I have heard that the advantage of ebooks is that they do not have a shelf life, compared to print books. In other words, an ebook might enter the market later in the book’s sales cycle, but it never leaves the shelf, virtually speaking. After six months, physical books are removed from shelves and returned. An ebook can be downloaded in thirty seconds. That said, there is something about holding an actual book in your hands, or buying a book that is personally signed by the author and/or given as a gift on a special occasion. Also, books can be handed down from generation to generation. As with most things, there are tradeoffs.

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

October 18, 2011

Award Winning Author Joe R. Lansdale Discusses the Future of Publishing

In This Post:

Thom’s happenings – Announcements etc.

Award Winning Author Joe R. Lansdale Discusses the Future of Publishing

 

Thom’s Happenings: Before we move on to the Joe Lansdale interview, I have just a couple of quick announcements. We’ll be having a BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for my new thriller, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, October 22 3-6 pm at Avatar Comics 881 S. Rainbow, Las Vegas NV 89145 (702)795-8700. If you’re in the Las Vegas area, please stop by and say hi. Also, in the spirit of Halloween, my publisher has put my supernatural thriller, THE DEMON BAQASH (Kindle & Nook versions), on sale for only 99 cents! This offer is for October only so time is running short. http://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Baqash-ebook/dp/B004J4X3NO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1318952553&sr=1-1

I’ll be doing additional book signings for DEAD MAN’S FIRE throughout the next few months and my sci-fi/horror thriller, THE EMPTY, is due for release before Christmas. Check back here for updates and specials.

And now, an interview with Joe R. Lansdale.

 

Award Winning Author Joe R. Lansdale Discusses the Future of Publishing

With more than thirty books to his credit, Lansdale has been called “an immense talent” by Booklist; “a born storyteller” by Robert Bloch; and The New York Times Book Review declares he has “a folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace.” He’s won umpty-ump awards, including sixteen Bram Stoker Awards, the Grand Master Award from the World Horror Convention, a British Fantasy Award, the American Mystery Award, the Horror Critics Award, the Grinzane Cavour Prize for Literature, the “Shot in the Dark” International Crime Writer’s Award, the Golden Lion Award, the Booklist Editor’s Award, the Critic’s Choice Award, and a New York Times Notable Book Award. He’s got the most decorated mantle in all of Nacogdoches!

Lansdale lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his wife, Karen, writer and editor.

Joe, thank you very much for taking time for this interview. Let’s start with the proliferation of eBooks. With the eBook revolution, what do you see as the future of publishing? What will it look like five years from now?

I think e books are the new paperback, and it will impact the industry, but I think print books will survive, if as a more luxury item, which is too bad. But the e books are the revolution that paperbacks were in early days.

How will your approach to the business end of writing change based on the shifting publishing paradigm?

Some of that is still in motion. I’ll have a better idea of my business model, once I know more about how it shakes out. Right now I have some of my backlist on ebooks both from established publishers and pure ebook publishers. If I make more from established publishers, even though they pay a smaller return, then I have to say they still have the machine. If I do not, I have to feel differently about that.

How has your writing process evolved since you were first published?

I am more confident. I work less pages, and have for many years now, and just try and show up every day, or at least five days a week, though I have also learned to take vacations and holidays and occasionally just take a day off. I learned that a while back as well, and it works well for me. I usually write mornings, three to five  pages a day, but now and again I write afternoons or evenings if I’ve fallen behind, or something new and interesting pops up.

In the current publishing climate, there’s a sharp rise in self-published material. What do you see as the pros and cons of this?

More bad stuff gets published is the con. The pro is some good stuff that didn’t fit the marketing strategy of the established publishers gets a chance.

In regard to self published material, do you believe there is a need for some sort of gatekeeper to help minimize the proliferation of poorly written material or do you see this heightened freedom as an opportunity for talented writers to showcase their material?

It helps if there are editors who choose for quality. They can be wrong, and often are, but it makes a writer work harder to write well. The con to that is the gate keepers are running an established show and are only looking for certain types of material. I know, however, that I’m a better writer for having to fight the system to do what I want, but to do it better.

What, if any, parallels do you see between the changes occurring today’s publishing industry and those of the music industry a decade ago?

A number of similarities. It’s still, like music, shaking out, trying to find its sea legs. I think it will, and more of it will be on line. I do think one of the great things is that short story collections will have a better chance than before, and of course the good thing is you’re cutting out a lot of the middle man. But a number of writers I know who thought they were going to rush out and make a fortune with ebooks, eliminating agents, editors, publishers, etc., haven’t found that to be true. Some have, but they are so far the exception that  proves the rule. However, as ebook publishing changes, so will the rules. Another good thing about ebooks is you can arrange for monthly responses to your sales if you like, which can provide a more steady income.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Put your ass in a chair and write, and when you’re not writing, read, and when you’re not doing those two things live life.

What project(s) are you working on now?

A young adult novel for Delacorte titled FENDER LIZARDS. I have a new Young Adult out now titled ALL THE EARTH THROWN TO THE SKY.

What do you like to read?

All manner of things. I don’t put a limit on it. I just let my enthusiasm and excitement guide me.

Are there any new authors that excite you?

Plenty. But I’m going to pass on naming them right now, because there are so many and I fear I might leave someone out. On another day I might be braver, but just got back from Italy and I’m brain numb, or more numb than usual.

 

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CHECK OUT DEAD MAN’S FIRE AT: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318952956&sr=1-1

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

October 7, 2011

AN INTERVIEW WITH BRAM STOKER NOMINATED AUTHOR JEREMY C. SHIPP

 

IN THIS POST:

October Special

Thom Interviews Jeremy C. Shipp

A Review of Jeremy’s Bram Stoker Award nominated novel, CURSED

Thom’s Happening – Announcements etc.

 

OCTOBER SPECIAL: THE DEMON BAQASH, by Thom Reese, eBook edition on sale for only 99 Cents!! Limited time only!! Check it out! http://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Baqash-ebook/dp/B004J4X3NO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1317901493&sr=1-2

 

An Interview with Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Withersin, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. He lives there with his wife, Lisa, a couple of pygmy tigers, and a legion of yard gnomes. The gnomes like him. The clowns living in his attic–not so much.

I’ve never met Jeremy face-to-face, but have had an online friendship with him for the past two or three years. He’s a talented writer with a quick wit, quirky sense of reality, and a good heart. If you haven’t read his work you’re missing a treat. A big thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to do this interview!

 

Jeremy, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Why don’t you start by telling me about your current projects?

My newest books ALWAYS REMEMBER TO TIP YOUR NINJA and ABERRATIONS were recently published. I’m currently editing a horror/fantasy anthology called ATTIC TOYS. Some other projects in the works include CLOWNS VS. GNOMES and ATTIC CLOWNS.

What is your writing routine?

I try to write at least a little bit every day. I usually write at my desk, surrounded by weird figures and toys. I don’t do outlines, although I do keep a notebook filled with notes.

At one point you were working on a screenplay for CURSED. Is that something you’re still pursuing and if so, where are you in the process?

Cursed the Movie is a project near and dear to my heart, and it’s definitely something I’m pursuing. I’m currently talking with some directors. We’ll see what happens.

I loved the flavor of CURSED. Very unique and quirky. How did that particular feel come about? What was your thought process?

Thank you! When writing a story or a novel, I like to make the narrative style reflect the psyche of the point of view character. And so, Cursed is quirky, because the main character is a strange human being. He thinks and dreams and experiences the world in lists.

You’re prolific in terms of short stories. When can we expect your next novel?

I’m currently working on a couple novels and a novella. All of these should be released in 2012.

Ok, what’s with the yard gnomes and attic clowns?

I wish I knew! The Attic Clowns appeared in my attic a few years ago (I think they oozed out of an old mirror that I purchased at a yard sale), and they won’t leave. The yard gnomes live in my yard, which I seems appropriate somehow. The gnomic shamans help me out whenever the Attic Clowns transform me into a rubber chicken.

You seem very adept at marketing yourself. What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Write a blog, host giveaways, stay active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, etc. But my best advice would be not to send a lot of time on these sites promoting your work. Spend most of your time entertaining people.

As well as writing your own work, you teach creative writing courses. Tell me about that.

I love helping writers, especially new writers, and so the Fiction Writing Bootcamp (http://jeremycshipp.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/jeremy-c-shipps-fiction-writing-bootcamp/) is very satisfying for me. In the course, I help authors to hone their craft and polish their work for publication.

What type of story do you most like to write? Why?

I love writing stories with some speculative element. I think this is because I enjoy creating new myths, new creatures, new realities. And of course, I like writing stories about characters that I feel a deep connection with. I always need to care about my characters, because otherwise, the story wouldn’t be worth writing.

What do you read?

A little of everything. Literary fiction, historical fiction, horror, fantasy, graphic novels. Some of my favorite writers include: Arundhati Roy, Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami, Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Amy Tan, Lois Lowry.

How did you get your start in writing? How did you land your first book contract?

I wrote my first novel when I was 13, but I always enjoyed storytelling. As a kid, I would often tell stories to my brothers and cousins. Their favorites were my Barbie horror stories. In high school, my creative writing teacher encouraged me to start sending out my stories to publishers, and so I sold my first short story when I was 18. Then, in my 20s, I shopped around my novel Vacation, and it ended up with Raw Dog Screaming Press.

For more on Jeremy, check out these links:

http://www.jeremycshipp.com

http://www.twitter.com/jeremycshipp

http://www.amazon.com/Always-Remember-Your-Ninja-ebook/dp/B005MTB7VU/

http://www.amazon.com/Aberrations-ebook/dp/B005ITNKC8/

 

Thom’s review of CURSED:

Book Review – Cursed by Jeremy Shipp: This book is bold. A finalist for the 2009 Bram Stoker award, Cursed defies convention. It’s at once sparse, thought provoking, creepy, ridiculous, and compelling. The protagonist, Nick, is a compulsive list writer, and thus Shipp populates the prose with lists. It seems an odd choice at first, but works as an effective device in drawing the reader into Nick’s bizarre and, yes, cursed world. Each of the primary characters has a unique depth and quirkiness specific to that individual. I particularly liked the character of Cicely and her seemingly endless substitutions for the word water. Snowman blood or Yeti tears anyone? Very clever. The supernatural aspects of the book build gradually, drawing the reader in page-by-page. Soon I was wondering just what was happening to these people. Were they truly cursed? Were they simply insane? And what was the deal with this strange antagonist, Pete? Is he just some random guy, the devil, God? Very well crafted. This is one of those rare and precious books that ended far too soon. I will read it again.

 

Thom’s Happening – Announcements and specials

The last few weeks have been very busy. My latest novel, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, was RELEASED Sept 2nd. http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315921547&sr=8-1

I unveiled DEAD MAN’S FIRE at KillerCon Las Vegas, signing books and meeting readers. Had a great time with fellow authors, Jonathan Maberry, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Gabrielle Faust, Ray Garton and many others.

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for DEAD MAN’S FIRE October 22 3-6 pm at Avatar Comics 881 S. Rainbow, Las Vegas NV 89145 (702)795-8700

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

September 22, 2011

EXCERPTS FROM THOM’S UNDER-A-BRIDGE DICTIONARY

Alcohol abuse: Self induced flu symptoms. Because for some people there’s just never enough vomit.

Alternate reality:  a phenomenon experienced by any male forced by the female of the species to visit a shopping mall. Also see purgatory.

Ambiguous: something which is more or less, kind of , in a way, sort of, rather not quite entirely clear in any comprehensible fashion… sort of. See also politician

Autobiography: It’s all about MEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Cardiac arrest: a common condition often experienced upon learning the nature of an offspring’s  unsupervised activities. See also Gun Laws

Civilized: A culture which settles disputes by slaying opponents with sophisticated weaponry such as missiles and bombs as opposed to more barbaric tools like spears and swords.

College: A costly institution where hundreds of adolescents who have previously lived under the direct guidance of their parents are brought together with minimal supervision and expected to conduct themselves as mature individuals. See also Alcohol poisoning.

Depression: a mental state which often follows unrealistic expectations and/or the realization that, “Wow, this really sucks.”

Domesticated:  a creature which, contrary to its natural instincts, has been tamed and/or trained in order to exist in a civilized environment. See also husband

Fiction: That special place where truth may be expressed freely, in most cases without fear of reprisal.

Fiscal responsibility: a mythological state in which those charged with the distribution of funds have a workable plan and maybe even a clue.

Foreign Aid: Stealing money from hardworking Americans and depositing it in the coffers of unscrupulous foreign leaders.

Funeral: An event in which one’s enemies proclaim a person’s attributes as one’s family squabbles over his/her possessions.

Good old days: A time period idealized despite its many flaws, injustices, and insufficiencies. See also selective memory and/or delusion

Justice: Just as much as the cost of a good lawyer.

Man: A person inherently incapable of fathoming the desires, motivations, or actions of women.

Opponent: Someone put in one’s life as a growth opportunity. See also, spouse

Tampon: an embarrassing purchase made by a male in an effort to prove undying love for a spouse. Often accompanied by a cashier’s sentiment, “Oh, man, I’m sorry.”

Tobacco: A substance unique in that it is a legal product which, according to the CDC, is responsible for over 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. each year. See also Soulless Washington lobbyists.

NEW RELEASE!!!

DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first novel in my Marc Huntington series HAS BEEN RELEASED in both print and eBook formats. Check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315921547&sr=8-1

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Amazon Rainforest.

A paleontological expedition, every scientist murdered or missing.

A vast cavern peopled with comatose bodies from all over the world.

A human skull, fossilized, with ancient writing carved on its interior.

A young scientist, missing, and at the heart of it all.

Recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures.  Now they are thrust into chaos and intrigue as they search for a missing paleontologist, the son of Marc’s former Delta Force commander. Arriving at the expedition site deep within the Amazon Rainforest they find the jungle ablaze and dozens of bodies littering the area. Soon they learn that a fossilized skull is at the heart of the deadly mystery. Multiple factions seek the skull. Local superstition surrounds the relic, Deadly attacks, explosions, cave ins, a chamber filled with peculiar, unnaturally preserved bodies: every discovery leads to another mystery and the Huntingtons must locate the missing scientist and uncover the secret of the Amazon skull or dozens more will die.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

September 20, 2011

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS REVIEW by Thom Reese

 George R. R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE saga continues with the much-anticipated fifth in the series, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. For those not familiar with the series, these are the books on which HBO’s Emmy award winning television series, GAME OF THRONES, is based. (The first book in the series is titled, A GAME OF THRONES.)

The first thing about this book: If you have not read the previous four books, please do not try to start reading with this one. Not only will you be entirely lost, but you will miss the fantastic story lines and characters that fill the earlier volumes. Martin’s series is peopled with what I consider to be some of the best characters in modern literature. These are multidimensional personalities with genuine emotions. The villains are not evil through and through, and no hero is without blemish. This, along with the fact that Martin is utterly vicious to his characters, leaving the reader with the feeling that no one is safe within these pages, makes these volumes a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the fantasy genre.

That said, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is not flawless. Even for the initiated the first two hundred pages can be quite confusing. Martin doesn’t give us any reminders as to where any of these characters left off in previous volumes. Many of the most loved characters were not in book four, A FEAST FOR CROWS, and so their plot threads date all the way back to A STORM OF SWORDS, released in 2000. My memory just isn’t that good. I would have enjoyed the story much more if there had either been a recap prior to the beginning of the story, or at least some explanatory dialogue to help refresh the reader’s mind. Even after completing the book, I’m still not sure what Tyrion’s goal was at the onset of the story.

All this to say that once I got into the flow of the story I couldn’t pull myself away from it. Martin is masterful when it comes to interweaving plot lines, deceptions, betrayals, lost loves, and fantastic action and suspense. Much of the focus for nearly all of the characters falls on Daenerys Targaryen, the would-be queen of the seven kingdoms who is now the “Mother of Dragons.” Everyone either wants to manipulate, use, or defeat the young woman with a will of fire. And though she is the focal point for so many, she is unaware of the scheming and infighting across the sea to the lands which she may one day rule.

Reader beware, there are some significant shocks in the second half of this tomb, and they are very well worth the wait. If you’ve read the previous four volumes, your wait will be well rewarded. If you’ve never read this series, I encourage you to get started with  A GAME OF THRONES and. You won’t regret it.

NEW RELEASE!!!

DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first novel in my Marc Huntington series HAS BEEN RELEASED in both print and eBook formats. Check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315921547&sr=8-1

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Amazon Rainforest.

A paleontological expedition, every scientist murdered or missing.

A vast cavern peopled with comatose bodies from all over the world.

A human skull, fossilized, with ancient writing carved on its interior.

A young scientist, missing, and at the heart of it all.

Recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures.  Now they are thrust into chaos and intrigue as they search for a missing paleontologist, the son of Marc’s former Delta Force commander. Arriving at the expedition site deep within the Amazon Rainforest they find the jungle ablaze and dozens of bodies littering the area. Soon they learn that a fossilized skull is at the heart of the deadly mystery. Multiple factions seek the skull. Local superstition surrounds the relic, Deadly attacks, explosions, cave ins, a chamber filled with peculiar, unnaturally preserved bodies: every discovery leads to another mystery and the Huntingtons must locate the missing scientist and uncover the secret of the Amazon skull or dozens more will die.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

August 9, 2011

A SEEDY DIVE AND DISQUIETING FLIGHT by Thom Reese

I’ve just returned from the Chicago area after attending a family reunion for my wife’s clan. (It truly is a clan both in size and spirit.) I won’t talk about the event itself – I’ll keep their secrets if they’ll keep mine – but there were a couple of travel-related events that I find quite entertaining or at least a little  intriguing.

Let’s start with the motel:

Arriving at Midway Airport late into the wee hours of the morning, our rental car would not be available till eight o’clock AM. As such, my wife had used an online travel site to book us into a nearby motel, the idea being that without our rental we would be required to take a taxi both to and from our lodgings. We wanted something close so that we could simply zip back to the airport, get our car, and be off to fun and frivolity.

Something we should have considered: Midway is not in the best of neighborhoods.

The cabbie dropped us off, gazed at me, my wife, my teenage daughter, and warned us not to wander the streets – day or night. He then sped off, wide eyed and trembling. Upon entering the – shall we use the term motel? – we were confronted with our first clue as to the nature of the establishment, a sign declaring, “ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS AFTER 5 MINUTES IN THE ROOM.”

We would soon learn why such a sign was required.

The desk clerk, a young woman, offered us a knowing smile and welcomed us. My wife joked about the sign. The woman simply shrugged. There was no elevator and so we lugged our luggage up one flight of stairs and turned left at the top. We were immediately assaulted with several odors, including, but not limited to: mildew, dead animal, and marijuana.

Now, at this point one might wonder why we didn’t flee. Was it a sense of adventure, a death wish, perhaps a dash of insanity? No. It was simply a combination of exhaustion and circumstance. It was after two AM. To leave, we would need to call a cab, find another – hopefully better and thus further distant from the airport – motel, and likely spend another hour or so in our present semi-conscience state. And so, with bleary eyes and sleep-deprived brains, we decided, “How bad can it be?” and continued down the hallway.

Locating our room, we found the door slightly ajar. Not open. It was locked. But it could slide a good inch or so forward or back. I pushed on it, jiggled it, gave it a thump or two. Yes, it was locked. Someone couldn’t break in without quite an effort or at least an average set of muscles.

The odor was stronger in the room. We’re quite certain that some rodent or another had met its end within the walls. The curtains, which covered the entire back wall, were attached with only four hooks, causing them to droop and billow. Everything had a sticky not-quite-clean quality about it. There were only two towels. One had what appeared to be a small bloodstain on it. We were fairly certain that, no, this was not The Four Seasons.

But, the decision had been made. We weren’t cowards. Or, at least, we were too exhausted to behave in any cowardly and/or rational manner. We were staying. That was that.

Feeling uncomfortable about the quality of the door lock, we piled our luggage in front of the door, and then, not liking the disposition of the sheets, all three of us slept atop the bedcovers, covering the pillows with clothing as to not have direct contact with the fabric. None of us so much as took off our socks.

Nor did we sleep, but rather laid awake for those few hours, alert to every sound, wondering when the door would be pushed open by some evil motel goblin in search of our money, our socks, and maybe even our lives.

A few hours later, as I descended the stairs, I overheard the two desk clerks chatting. One said to the other, “So, did that white family stay?”

Two days later we realized that the place had double charged us for the room.

Nice.

Fast forward four days to the return flight.

My flight was delayed due to weather. I sat in the terminal alone as my wife and daughter were staying in the Midwest for a few more days than I. No one in the terminal was in a good mood. There were sighs and complaints, a few curses. It was a redeye flight that was now over an hour past our stated departure time.

When finally we boarded, I took my seat relatively close to the front of the plane, pulled out the book I’m currently reading (George R. R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS), and settled in. A few minutes later, just when I was thinking that we might actually be nearing departure, two police officers boarded the craft, marching down the aisle toward the back of the plane. From my vantage, I really couldn’t see what was going on, but there was obviously some rather pointed dialogue, a bit of shuffling, and more than a dollop of commotion. Soon a middle-aged woman, obviously not in the best of moods, was led up the way and through the hatch.

Okay. Interesting. But, assuming the drama was at an end, I went back to my reading. But only for a minute. Now, three EMTs marched through the hatch and down the way. Again, I couldn’t see what was going on, but there was significant commotion, quite a bit of dialogue on walky-talkies, a couple of trips off the plane by medical personnel to fetch equipment, and a general hubbub.

This all went on for about fifteen minutes. Now, mind you, never once was there any announcement official or otherwise from the crew. We passengers were left to our own fertile imaginings to fill in the missing pieces: Was this a terrorist plot foiled? Had the person ejected from the craft been a stowaway? If so, how had she made it past security? Was someone dying back there? And, I think most prominent in everyone’s mind, was an alien abduction somehow involved?

Finally, two passengers were led – on foot, not on stretchers – from the plane. Two minutes later a perky young flight attendant announced that, “It seems some seats have opened up and so we’ll be boarding some standbys.”

No mention was ever made as to what had occurred, but I’m sticking with my initial theory of a failed alien abduction.

ON THE HORIZON:

Just a couple of quick notes on what’s coming up. DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first novel in my Marc Huntington series, is due out later this month from Speaking Volumes. Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Amazon Rainforest.

A paleontological expedition, every scientist murdered or missing.

A vast cavern peopled with comatose bodies from all over the world.

A human skull, fossilized, with ancient writing carved on its interior.

A young scientist, missing, and at the heart of it all.

Recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures.  Now they are thrust into chaos and intrigue as they search for a missing paleontologist, the son of Marc’s former Delta Force commander. Arriving at the expedition site deep within the Amazon Rainforest they find the jungle ablaze and dozens of bodies littering the area. Soon they learn that a fossilized skull is at the heart of the deadly mystery. Multiple factions seek the skull. Local superstition surrounds the relic, Deadly attacks, explosions, cave ins, a chamber filled with peculiar, unnaturally preserved bodies: every discovery leads to another mystery and the Huntingtons must locate the missing scientist and uncover the secret of the Amazon skull or dozens more will die.

CHECK OUT MY CURRENT NOVEL, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

July 21, 2011

BORDERS IS GONE: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BOOK INDUSTRY? by Thom Reese

It’s official. After a long struggle, bankruptcy protection, and restructuring, Borders has announced that they are closing all 399 of their remaining stores. The problem: the industry changed and Borders failed to change along with it. We are living in a time of fast-paced transformation. Never in our history have so many advances come so rapidly. Where the 20th century brought dramatic change over the course of decades, the 21st reconstitutes almost yearly. Think about it. Five years ago how many of us had ever sent a text message? The first smart phone (the iPhone) was introduced only four years ago. Now, nearly every phone on the market has “smart” capabilities. Even three years ago, Blockbuster was the king of the video rentals hill. Now, between Redbox and Netflicks they’re about as dated as a T Rex in a speakeasy. And eBooks. Three years ago electronic books were barely a blip on the radar with sales of about $30 million. Now they outsell print copies in most segments (sometimes by a ratio as high as 5 to 1) with estimated 2011 sales topping $300 million. Add to this the fact that even most print books are purchased online and one must wonder do any traditional brick and mortar booksellers stand a chance.

The answer: yes. I believe they do.

The complication: dramatic changes must be made – and soon.

In such a rapidly-changing environment every business must be willing to reinvent itself over and over in order to remain viable. With more and more commerce flooding to the internet, brick and mortar outlets must find ways to keep customers coming back. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to sit at ones computer in gym shorts and a T-shirt while ordering merchandise than it is to get dressed, hop in the car, fight traffic, go into a retail outlet, and then stand in line to make a purchase.

That said, shopping malls still exist. When almost anything can be bought online, why are malls still flooded with shoppers?

Because many people still enjoy the act of shopping.

Now, take the mall concept and apply it to the bookseller. I, for one, love perusing the bookshelves at a book store. It’s a great way to find new authors that I otherwise might have missed. I’ve not yet found a way to match this experience online. There’s also a sense of community in a bookstore. It’s fun to be amongst other book enthusiasts, to discuss books read and favorite authors. But, these things alone will not keep customers coming back. So, what can booksellers, both national chains and independent locations, do to keep customers coming back during this digital age? There are no easy answers, no guarantees, but here are my personal thoughts on the subject:

LOOK AT WHAT’S COME BEFORE: Both the music and home video industries have already gone through the same changes. Nearly all music and video content is now available online. Tower Records is a fossil, Hollywood video extinct, with Blockbuster teetering. And yet people still buy CDs, DVDs, and Blue Ray. There are still plenty of people who like to hold a product, to own it, to look at the cover. Booklovers love the smell of books and the feel of them. They like a full bookshelf in their homes. I know many people who will buy an e-copy of a book and then, if they really love it, buy a print copy just to have or to share with fellow book enthusiasts. Today’s booksellers should gain hope from these other markets and look to the survivors of the music and video revolutions for clues. What did the survivors do that kept them afloat? Do booksellers need the equivalent of Redbox or Netflix? What could booksellers learn from these industries that would help to keep them in the game?

LOOK FORWARD NOT BACK: Any industry wanting to be competitive in the 21st century needs to keep an eye on developing technology not with fear but with the mindset of utilizing the advancements to bolster their sales. The book industry has done this by making eBook readers available on iPads and smart phones, by bringing the prices down on eBook readers. But technology continues to move forward. A large segment of video content is streamed right now from sites like Netflicks and Hulu. Could books be streamed? Is there a market for that? What new technologies are on the horizon? How can these be embraced and utilized at the bookseller level? Could booksellers, large or small, develop apps that would allow loyal customers to purchase books directly from their phones? I’m not talking Amazon here. I’m talking Joe’s Book and Lube. One of the great things about new technology is that it often levels the playing field. The small independent bookseller has access to the same technology as Barnes & Noble. Recognizing emerging trends and technology and utilizing these first could give both small retailers and publishers an advantage. Think of an app that targets a loyal customers interests. Local bookstores could alert customers of upcoming releases or specials that fit their past purchase patterns and allow them to buy electronic or print copies FROM THE LOCAL STORE directly from this app. I’m sure there are dozens of such ideas floating around out there.

Now, the question could be posed, “Isn’t this putting more business online rather than bolstering brick and mortar booksellers?” Quite possibly, yes. But, one needs to think big, not small. In today’s environment even a ma and pop bookshop needs to have a national or even international mindset. Allow me to site an example from another industry: Pawnshops. Yes, pawnshops, about as far removed from the book industry as any retail establishment might be. But I think there’s something to learn from them. One normally thinks of a pawnshop as a relatively isolated storefront. Customers come in to pawn, sell, or purchase items. Let’s look at the purchasing customers as they’re our parallel. Time was when all goods sold through a pawnshop were purchased on site. Customers came in, perused the shop, and either bought something or left. Now, most successful pawnbrokers not only offer their merchandise in house but online as well. They sell on their own websites, on eBay, Craig’s list, etc. They’ve embraced current trends and enhanced their profitability. Booksellers have these same opportunities.

HOW ELSE CAN TRADITIONAL BOOKSELLERS INCORPORATE NEW TRENDS? Selling eBook readers and offering download stations are a great start, but don’t go quite far enough. Electronic readers and eBooks can be purchased online. The customer needs a reason to make the effort to come to the store. Price is an obvious factor. If book stores offered eBooks and readers at discounted rates below those offered online, this could draw customers. But prices can always be undercut and Amazon’s discounts make them difficult to beat. Major chains might be able to purchase the rights to eBooks not available anywhere else and even independent stores might offer a catalog of niche offerings (both print and electronic) that are rare or difficult to find. Chain booksellers or coalitions of independent booksellers might be able to enter into exclusivity agreements with smaller publishing houses, gaining exclusive rights to certain titles and/or authors.

MIX THE OLD WITH THE NEW: Many people still love the feel and smell of a print book. They like having something tangible to hold and to own. Retail outlets can offer this while still catering to the eBook trend. How about a package deal? Buy the print copy and get the eBook for free (or at a drastically reduced rate).

EMPHASIZE THE EXPERIENCE: Online buying is quick and easy, but there is no ambiance, no atmosphere. Traditional bookstores have the opportunity to offer the customer much more than can a website. Helpful booksellers can guide shoppers to new authors they might enjoy. Reading areas and coffee shops within stores are still popular and can be emphasized all the more. Author signings and readings offer an additional dynamic and even if authors aren’t often available onsite, carrying autographed copies in stock is a great selling point. People like holding a book that the author held in his/her own hands.

DON’T ROLL OVER AND PLAY DEAD: Change can be scary. The future is vague. Things look much different out there. But, with such times come new opportunities. And those who look forward, who embrace new ideas and technologies will be the ones to prosper. Future bookstores may not look the same as they did in the past, but I really don’t believe they don’t need to go the way of the dinosaur either.

 

Thom Reese is the author of THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

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