Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Neat Things Store!

Loved To Death
1681 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

I told my co-workers at the bookstore I'm moving across the bridge to live back in the city and one of them mentioned this! 

Loved to Death is a store that resonates the feel of stepping into a H.P. Lovecraft novel. They have an amazing array of all things macabre. Display cases house antique jewelry, medical instruments, taxidermied heads, animals, deformed skeletons and many more neat things.

Antique Early 1900's Renu Life Violet Ray Ozone Device
In other words: What they used to use torture you before you die.
I'm very excited to be back into the city. It's hard not to feel inspired there as it has interesting happenings and caloborative stores like this scattered all over. In the city of freaks and weirdos it's impossible not to bump into this stuff. 

I thrive on it. It's why I chose the Bay Area as my landing point. I grew up a navy brat and lived all over. But here, there's just no place like it. I don't see myself changing San Francisco as a character and a setting in my stories any time soon.

Searchers for horror haunt strange, far places. -H.P. Lovecraft

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Self publishing is getting easier and it's the best and worst thing to happen to writers.

Working as a bookseller at an independent bookstore you notice even the slightest change in trends. At the click of a button writers are able to make their work available to stores worldwide. It's so easy new authors are putting work out that isn't polished like an unvarnished piece of fine crafted furniture being put on the show room floor. I'm on my third published edition of my debut mystery novel so I speak from experience.

If your book sounds good employees at these stores will read you, and if they like it, sell you. It's the best part of the ever changing publishing industry for writers. It's also the worst. There are no excuses anymore! 

"I can't find an agent!"

"My genre isn't hot anymore!"

"No one will publish me!"

These excuses are no longer valid. It is the best and worst thing to happen to writers. No excuses. Your manuscript isn't published? Sure you eventually want to go the traditional route, but the excuse that no one will touch you if you're a self published author is no longer true. Big name authors who debuted as self-published are now hybrid authors (meaning both traditional and independent). 

No excuses. It's wonderful and it sucks. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tales of San Francisco Cacophony Society

As detailed above we had a reading/book signing March 15th for Tales of San Francisco Cacophony Society.

Ever heard of the San Francisco Cacophony Society? They're the ones who started Burning Man and Santa Con. They apologized profusely for Santa Con and parts of Burning Man. 

Chuck Palahniuk used his experiences with them as a model for Project Mayhem in his book Fight Club. He also wrote the introduction for their book. Winston Smith, an artist who has also worked with Dead Kennedys was there. The other artist couldn't make it because he was in jail.

One woman in the audience asked if there was a point to the collective madness detailed in the book. If you have to ask what the point was to pie wars and getting drunk and blowing shit up then you exist on a different paradigm and will never know the answer. 
The definition of cacophony provided by randomly gathered network of individuals united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society through subversion, pranks, art and fringe happenings. 

The fact that local artists I've heard of and met in collaboration with other things are highlighted in this book and the brain child of Project Mayhem was based on the society is reason enough for me to own a copy. If you have to ask why that's interesting you'll never know.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group. Am I dark enough?

It's time for another post to Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. As one of his writing space ninja warriors I think I should be feeling a lot cooler than I have been.

My current favorite show is HBO's True Detective and damn if it doesn't embody the noir genre. The dynamic way they juxtapose Woody Harrelson's character to Matthew McConaughey's creates some tasty tension. The story line is Shakespearean. It makes my Rebecca Ashley Mystery Series seem full of unicorns and rainbows. 

True Detective makes me ask myself, "Am I dark enough?"

I promote my work as contemporary noir. My branding - modern outlaw, ancient mystery. I'm worried my work is laughably tame. My knee jerk reaction is to add in a rape scene, a murder suicide and four more drug addicts to the second book in my series Chosen. 

I know it's gratuitous and not cohesive with the story. 

HBO's True Detective is a bad influence. It's so bad it's good.

To check out more of The Insecure Writer's Support Group Click Here!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why you write.

I've had writers come in to the bookstore depressed and upset that they're not achieving their definition of success. As an independent bookstore in the Bay Area we sell self published and traditionally published authors of our buyers choosing. 

When the self published ones come in they're directed to me. I'm not the only published author/ book seller in our store but I'm by far the newest and the only one just getting their first whisper heard in this noisy industry. All my e-books are still uncorrected proofs. I haven't zipped and unzipped the file to switch to the edited version. The third edition of Twist is the only completed version and is the one that will be available in stores. It's a process.

As a bookseller you see patterns. For most novelists it takes their fourth or fifth book for an audience to find them. When I hand out free hard copies of Twist and one person comes back to me saying they either liked or didn't like my book I am deeply honored that they took the time to read my work. Ecstatic if they say they enjoyed it. 

The entire art industry is a rough and tumble place. So why do you write?

I write because I have to get all these ideas I have crowded in my head out and apply them to something or I'll go insane, and drive other's insane with my ranting about random facts and storytelling. 

The novelists who write for fame and fortune are delusional. 

"But look at Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking and Allie Brosch," they'll insist.

"And every year someone wins the lotto. The statistics are pretty similar," I'll reply and I can see it in their eyes. They don't want to believe me and secretly think I'm jealous of their genius. They want to labor under the dream of exotic cars and investing in real estate. You can't argue with crazy.

I've dedicated my entire life to books because it's my happy place. I do what feels good. The people I work with write and create art because they genuinely can't imagine doing anything else.

My co-worker friend Keri created this great blog and didn't even put a follower button. I broke in a put one on for her. Didn't even have a button! You know why? Because she honestly doesn't give a shit.

I didn't even know she had a blog and it looks better than mine because I'm not a trained visual artist. Check her out Keri Contrary's Blog.

Keri Contrary (Keri Schroeder)
Artist, Bookbinder, Grad Student, Book Seller, Gallery Coordinator

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oakland Swap Meet thumbs down. Oakland Art Scene thumbs up!

I had to work this Saturday but not until four. Deciding to make the most of the day my truck operator designated me navigator as we headed off to explore something new. The Oakland Swap Meet.

I designated my outdated iPhone assistant navigator. Together we failed. My operator and I ended up at a carpet and flooring store which my companion wanted to check out. Once inside we were greeted, then shadowed by a very sweet, overly enthusiastic older sales woman. 

After drifting through wall to wall cheap carpet and vinyl flooring we were told we could get a free leopard and or zebra print hallway runner. After declining the sales woman handed me a basket of clothes pins and sadly walked away.

After zero convincing from my companion I set the basket down and we headed out of the building. The older woman waved at us sadly. The fact that she couldn't even give the store's runners away is not indicative of future sales. 

After a bit of a hassle navigating, and witnessing a Honda get t-boned by a Subaru (come on, you're from the same country) we get to the Swap Meet. 

Girl Scouts were selling last call Girl Scout Cookies. Residence were selling twenty to thirty dollar parking spaces. Once inside we were hit with the musk of dust and the faintest soupcon of dead skin cells. 

The most interesting to me was the book section which my companion immediately grabbed my elbow shaking their head as I attempted to head toward.

"Nu, uh. That's your quicksand. If you enter I'll never see you again."

They were right.

After marching asses to elbows with other swap meet goers loudly belly aching about price, cost and haggling over firm fixes we leave.

I'm bummed. Then, down the road just a tad I spot a shimmer on a purple building which turned out to be this!

Located: 829 27th Ave., Oakland, CA 94601

Located inside were a number of wonderful spaces. I was informed by the proprietor the evening of March 14th is when all the artist will be in attendance of a new exhibition and to come back then. It's a great use of space to represent talent. If you're in the neighborhood I recommend you swing by. 

A couple, after exiting Jingletown's courtyard, opted to buy a pricey sculpture. It's wonderful to see a talented hard working artist get paid their dues.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"$20 for a new student I.D. because she attached a penis."

My co-worker is currently in graduate school at my alma mater Mills College. She had some interesting news to tell me. First, you need to know that Mills College is a private four year liberal arts school and is the only woman only under graduate school on the west coast. Men can only participate in the graduate programs at Mills.

My friend was standing in line behind a young man currently enrolled in a graduate program. The young man was irate that he had to pay twenty dollars for a new I.D. because his identity had slightly changed. He had gone to Mills for undergrad for shit's sake!

He couldn't have been here for undergrad, thought my friend, men aren't allowed.

If you get married, change your social or state of residency you have to pay twenty bucks for a new I.D.

The man explained refusing to budge on the issue that he wasn't about to pay extra for his added bulge.

Turns out this little change in gender was costing the young man twenty bucks. Maybe he thought his added appendage just wasn't big enough to cause that big a deal. Twenty bucks is twenty bucks.

I find the issue interesting.