Night of the Living Dead – Part 4

The continuing saga of flesh eating zombies!  Happy Halloween!

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Freaky Search Friday – October 30, 2009 Edition

Jeff George was Jay Cutler before Jay Cutler was Jay Cuter!

This week’s Freaky Search Friday is decidedly less freaky than previous weeks.  There were a lot of shirtless male celebrity searches, and for some reason people want to see Donna Reed and Ed Asner nude.  And apparently identifying animal poop is really a popular activity because it hit the list this week again.  I decided to sprinkle in a few repeat searches that aren’t freaky, but they come up week after week.  I’ll do my best to give these poor souls some answers to their very pressing questions.

10. win a laptop facebook 2009 november – Admittedly, I’m only including this one because it allows me to promote my drawing for a free laptop.  Join the Lost Days Facebook group to learn more!

9. walken ridley – Not freaky.  It just gave me an idea what to name my first child (should I ever have one), Walken Zombie Ridley.  It works for a boy or a girl.  Why Zombie?  Do you have to ask?

8. greatest meltdown ever – I’ve learned two things from this blog.  People want to see as much famous people’s skin as they can, and People love to watch other people suffer.  The greatest thing that could ever happen to society is if a naked celebrity freaks out.  That would be interwebs gold.

7. when are you supposed to take pictures – I find the best time to take pictures is when I have a camera.  I’ve tried it without one, and I was really disappointed in the results… Unless you’re talking about stealing a picture.  In that case, I’d wait until no one’s looking.

6. fantasy clown dresses – Could there possibly be such a thing as a fantasy clown dress?  In what twisted mind would a clown dress be a fantasy?   I think I’d rather see Ed Asner nude.

5. time travel cases – This exact wording comes up over and over again.  Let me clear this up for those of you who are searching for time travel cases.  There are none!  Time travel is impossible.  I am 100% sure about this because if time travel was possible it would have happened already.   Try to follow me on this one.  Logic dictates that once the time travel barrier is broken, time no longer is a barrier to the ability to travel through time, so time travel will always have existed at that point and every point in time.

4 . jay cutler record – Sucks!  This search appears probably about half a dozen times a week.  Jay Cutler has good skills, but he is not a good quarterback.    Unless he checks his ego at the door, he will never be a winner in the NFL.  He has the worst attitude in the NFL since Jeff George.

3. jeff goldblum shirtless jurassic park – This week’s shirtless celebrity is the king of charmingly awkward acting.  Everyone knows that the Jurassic period had the best shirtless celebrities.

2. top 5 world of warcraft meltdowns – I’ve never seen a game cause such Agmas Nefesh.  Meltdowns have become synonymous with World of Warcraft!  I’ve never played, but I feel like I’m suffering from secondary World of Warcraft meltdowns.  I think they should be required to include a warning label with this game.

And the number 1 freakiest search term used to find my blog is:

1. jerry seinfeld nude – This week’s nude celebrity is the king of observational humor.   “You ever notice when you’re famous people want to see you nude for some reason?  What is wrong with these people?” (Kind of a mixture of Andy Rooney and Jerry Seinfeld.  My impressions even suck in writing.)

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Things to do today: 1.) Take out the trash. 2.) Pick up dry cleaning. 3.) Fix the publishing industry

a pile of books

Is the publishing industry in a mess?

In recent weeks, the interwebs has been burning up with articles and blog posts about the demise of the traditional publishing industry.   I’m not sure what sparked the current crop of death notices, but I find it fascinating that so many people now find it newsworthy.   The truth is the publishing industry hasn’t been very proficient at selling books for decades now.    To give you an example of this, according to bookstatistics.com, “Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Penguin Putnam wrote off at least $100 million in unearned advances in 1996.”  And from the same website, “Harper-Collins lost more than $250 million in a single year just on returns.” (This is actually pulled from a March/April 2002 New York Times article).

Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional publishers.  They can design the hell out of books, and the editing is as close to flawless as you can get in most traditionally published books.  They even have an eye for talent (keep in mind; they’ve repeatedly turned me down).   Granted, they do make a lot of bonehead moves, like signing, Jay Leno, Johnnie Cochran, Dick Morris, etc to book deals with advances so large they couldn’t possibly earn them back in sales.  Statistically, traditional publishers only earn back the advances on 30% of the titles they publish.  There is a Hail Mary pass mentality in traditional publishing.  Meaning, they publish every book with the mentality that they only have one chance to score and win.  If the Hail Mary fails, they move onto the next book.  If the Hail Mary succeeds, they celebrate and get the book ready for the next phase of the marketing strategy.  They invest in books that succeed.  They do not invest in books to help them succeed.

In my humble opinion, in order for traditional publishing companies to survive in a time when it is increasingly easier for authors to get books to market without them, they are going to have to make the following changes:

1. Abandon mainstream media advertising now.  Stop spending money on print, television, and radio.  It costs too much money, and gets little to no results.  I don’t care who the author is.

2 Do not sign one more author who has never had a book on the market.  Whether the author has been previously traditionally published or self-published, the experience and devotion they bring to the table will far outweigh the current risk you take on writers who just have a manuscript.  Let’s face it; you don’t do a very good job of developing talent.  You can spot it.  You just don’t know what to do with it once you have it.  A publishing deal for a first time author really amounts to nothing more than on the job training that they can put to good use for their second book.  It’s not a great business practice for you.

3. Hire all the editors back you’ve laid off lately.  They are your greatest asset.  Letting them go is kind of like an army deciding to give their soldiers guns without bullets in order to save money.

4. Stop printing large quantities of books.  Forty percent of all books never sell.  That’s a lot of money wasted, not to mention a lot of trees sacrificed for nothing.  Here’s an idea, try cutting initial production by 40% and then shift the titles to a print-on-demand rotation.

5. End the returns program.  The publishing industry adopted a strategy of taking books back from retailers no matter what during the depression in order to survive miserable economic times.  The problem is they never ended the program.  Retailers can send books back for a full refund or credit.  It’s a policy that costs the publisher more than the cost of the book; man hours, storage, and management of the returns program all cost real dollars.  In addition, it costs retailers money to send books back.  No one wins in this scenario.

6.  Stop trying to create news with outrageous deals.  When you sign an author to a seven figure deal, you make a big deal out of it by drowning the media in press releases.  And it is news for about a week.  The problem is it takes you 18 months to get the book to market.   The size of the advance is no longer news.  The marketing value of the big paycheck is gone.

7. Decrease the size of advances on the top end, and stop paying your authors a measly 7.5% to 15% royalty.  Give your authors “benchmark” royalty contracts.  That’s right, reward them based on performance.  Start them off at a 20% royalty for the first 10,000 books.  From there, bump them up to 25% for the next 10,000 and so forth and so on until the author earns 50%.  Instead of the big advance, give them a large post market bonus.  When they sell 1 million books, give them a newsworthy 6 or 7 figure payment against future sales.  Send out your press-releases, get your coverage and sell more books immediately.

8. Your authors should be at the forefront of the marketing efforts for their books, but they should not be the only one marketing their books.  Using my plan, you’ve cut your production by 40% so that means you can cut the number of people on your sales team.  I’ve also cut your advertising budget by totally eliminating mainstream media advertising.  Shift some of these people and resources to create a web 2.0 branding team.  Instead of begging (and paying) for space in brick & mortar stores, their job will be to manage volunteer sales forces (what used to be called fan clubs).  Their sole job will be to ignite word of mouth campaigns through blogging, social media and online video.  They will help the author create and maintain their brand.

9. Don’t just publish books.  Produce films based on your books.  Manage a speaker’s bureau for your authors.  Develop video games based on your books. Create workshops and seminars for your authors.  Become a packaging company.  Negotiate various rights as needed with authors.

10. Make books available for sale quicker.  There is no reason it should take 18 months for a book to make it to market.  You can get it done in 6 months at the latest in most cases.

11.  For books that don’t have time sensitive material, there is no reason to give up on them so quickly.  Be in it for the long haul.  Let the accumulative effect of branding take hold.   Look at books as a long term investments.

12. Publish fewer books for the brick and mortar market.  Physical stores are having a tough time with the inventory they have now.  They don’t need more books.  Reserve the brick and mortar sales channel for those authors who have proven themselves online.  Go ahead and make this a benchmark, too.  If they sell 30,000 books, open up the brick & mortar channel to them.

13. Train your authors in marketing, public speaking, online video production, the market place, their genre, etc.  Help them help you.  Distance learning is a wonderful thing.  Use it to get your author’s up to speed.

There is plenty more that could be done and should be done, but this is the kind of thing that will take baby steps.  Work on these 13 things, and get back to me.

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Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

nannowrimo

Your ticket to literary insomnia.

No, NaNoWriMo is not a newer, deadlier strain of the Swine flu.  It is, in fact, National Novel Writing Month.  And while I won’t officially be participating this year, I am going to use it as an excuse to crank out the final pages of The Land of the Dead.  You see, NaNoWriMo is not just a month, it’s an event.  The goal for participants is to start a book on November 1, and finish the first draft of the book by November 30.  It sounds insane, but believe it or not, it is very doable.  I pulled this from NaNoWriMo’s website:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2008, we had over 120,000 participants. More than 20,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, get your keyboards ready.  Brew up a few hundred cups of coffee.  Have your dictionary and thesaurus nearby.  The writing, she is on!

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My Shirtless Author Photo

Thinking about doing my next author photo bare-chested!  If I’ve learned anything from this blog, it’s that people like shirtless stuff.  The question is what is more important to me, my dignity or my desire to give you male nipplage?  Ahhhh… morale dilemmas.

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Lost Days Laptop Drawing Contest Rules and Information

lost-days-4b-web

Read a book! Win a laptop computer!

Here are the official rules for the drawing for the laptop computer I will be giving away.  The book, Lost Days, will be available for sale on Amazon by the second week of November, but no purchase is necessary because the answer to the question can be found right here on this blog.

1. You must be a member of the Lost Days Facebook group in order to be eligible to enter the contest.

2. Lost Days Facebook group members must provide the correct answer to the qualifying question to be officially entered in the drawing.

3. There are no limits to the number of times Lost Days Facebook group members can attempt to correctly answer the qualifying question.

4. Spread the word bonus – If you provide the correct answer to the qualifying question, you can earn extra entries for each member that joins the Lost Days Facebook group based on your referral.

5. You must provide the correct answer to the qualifying question by December 29.

6. A video of the drawing will be posted on the Lost Days Facebook group on January 2.

7. The answer to the qualifying question can be found in both the Lost Days book and on the author’s blog under the Lost Days category page.  The link to the category page is as follows: http://rwridley.wordpress.com/category/lost-days-book/ .  While no purchase is necessary, the book will be available on Amazon by November 9.

8. PLEASE DO NOT post the answer to the qualifying question on Facebook or any other public forum, including, but not limited to blogs, messageboards, other social media sites, etc.  And don’t send out a mass email to friends and family with the answer.  They always make their way back to me, and it makes things very awkward.

9. Send the answer to lostdays@rwridley.com with the subject line “I know the answer.”  The subject line is very important because it helps me streamline the process, so please remember to use it.

10.  The qualifying question is… Wait, not yet!  I will post a video with the question on the Lost Days Facebook group page very, very soon!

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Jackson Goddard is happy because they reduced the price of his book!

Jackson Goddard at his happiest!

Jackson Goddard at his happiest!

The mountain man from Manning Mountain is throwing a party today because the price for his book,The  Prophet of Cradle County, dropped from $12.99 to $7.99.  He came out of his cave long enough to do a little celebratory dance,  and then promptly went back inside to finish his list of similarities between The Prophet of Cradle County and The Shack.

Now only $7.99!

Now only $7.99!

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Lost Days (Win a laptop!)– Post 35

 

It's coming!

It's coming!

This is the 35th installment of my new book, Lost Days.  The Advance Reader Copies have been printed and are on their way to me.  I’ve giving some free copies out to the folks who have joined the Lost Days Facebook group.  They’re also the only ones eligible to enter a drawing for a free laptop computer.  Join the group today and get in on the fun!

 

 

Uncle Crew wasn’t home.  I changed into a pair of sweats and a Chicago Cubs t-shirt shortly after my mom chewed me out for borrowing her boots without asking.  I was so shaken by the funeral that I wrapped my arms around her and begged for her forgiveness.  She agreed after looking at me like she’d just found out I had a brain tumor. 

I decided to crawl in bed and sleep for the rest of my life.  The covers had barely settled over me when Grover and Owen walked in.  I yelped in surprise.

“Owen’s here,” Grover said.

“I can see that, dink,” I said sitting up.

Owen, still dressed in his suit, examined me wide-eyed.  The way I reacted when he walked in, he must have thought he caught me in the nude. 

“You okay?” Owen asked.

“Hold on,” I said.  “Get out of here, Grover.”

“No,” he said.  “It’s my room.”

“It’s my room,” I said.  “I just let you sleep here.”

“Says who?”

“Get out!”

He folded his arms over his chest and grimaced.  I was never going to get him to leave.  “Okay, you can stay, but it just means that I have every right to beat the living crap out of you if you repeat one word of what we say.”

He put on a stoic face and nodded.

I returned my attention to Owen.  “I’m fine.  Pissed off, but fine.”

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“Wait for Uncle Crew to get home and talk to him.” I noticed my laptop on the night stand, and suddenly remembered what it contained.  “The pictures,” I said opening it and turning it on.

“Pictures?” Owen said sitting on the bed.

I looked at Grover.  “Last chance to leave because I promise you, I will give you the beating of your life.”

“I won’t say nothing,” he said.

I clicked on the image viewer and opened the album of pictures from Elizabeth Starling’s camera.  I handed the laptop to Owen without telling him where they came from.  He started to click through the images.  He turned to me when he got to the picture of Ginger Starling.

“Is this…?” was all he could bring himself to say.

I nodded.

“Where did you…?”

“Uncle Crew,” I said.

Grover looked at us dumbfounded.  “Stop talking in code.”  He walked over and sat next to Owen.  “Who’s the girl?”

We didn’t answer.  Owen continued to click through the pictures.  He didn’t make any comments.  He got to the last one and started scanning through them again.  At one point he pursed his lips together, and I could tell he was going back and forth between a series of pictures.  He turned to me with a furrowed brow.  “There are some pictures missing.”

“What?” I said darting forward and looking over his shoulder. 

“You see this file name?” He asked as he pointed to the upper left hand side of the screen.

“Yeah,” I said.

“It’s IMG00012,” he said.

“So.”

“Yeah, so,” Grover said.

Owen clicked to the next image.  “This one is IMG00026.”

“So,” Grover said again.

“It should be IMG00013,” I said in a haze.

“Right,” Owen said.  “It’s the default naming protocol. Images have sequential numbers.”

“Sesquent-what?” Grover asked.

“In order,” I said.  “The images should be numbered in the order in which they were taken.  It jumps from 12 to 26.”

“Which means someone deleted 14 images,” Owen said.

“Oh,” Grover said yawning.  “Guess they were bad pictures.”  He stood.  “I’m leaving because, for top secret stuff I’m not supposed to tell anyone, it’s pretty boring.”  He stomped out of the room.

“Image number 12 is a picture of your uncle,” Owen said.  “Picture number 26 is of that other guy.”

“J-Rob,” I said.

“Which means 13-25 were probably of them, too.”

I turned and sat back-to-back with Owen, pressing my feet against the wall.  “Uncle Crew deleted them.”

“Looks like.”  I could sense him turn his head toward me.  “You okay?”

“That’s the second time you’ve asked me that since you got here.”

I heard a car pulling into the driveway.  I jumped up and nearly knocked Owen to the floor.  I darted out of the bedroom and headed down the hallway to a window overlooking the front yard.  Owen wasn’t far behind.  It was a police car.  Owen’s cousin was helping Uncle Crew out of the backseat.

“What’s going on?” I asked Owen.

He looked at me dumbfounded and simply shrugged. 

I ran down the hall and bounded down the stairs.  I was on the front porch so fast I wasn’t even sure how I got there.  I looked to my left and Owen was standing right beside me.  He hopped off the porch and made a beeline for his cousin.  Uncle Crew made brief eye contact with me and then quickly dropped his head.  He stomped awkwardly down the driveway toward his FROG.

I heard the door to police cruiser shut, and turned to see Owen climbing back up the porch steps.  “Well?” I begged.

Owen looked at me sheepishly.  “My cousin brought your uncle in for questioning.  There was a call to 911 the night Mrs. Starling… died.  The server crashed and they thought they lost it so nobody heard it until this morning when some IT guy was able to recover the call from one of the corrupt hard drives.”

“I don’t understand.  Are you saying someone called 911 about Mrs. Starling the night she was killed?”

“Yes.  The best they can determine the caller used Mrs. Starling’s cell phone to make the call.  My cousin said the second he heard the voice he knew who it was.”

“Uncle Crew.”

Owen nodded.  “Apparently, he wouldn’t talk, and they didn’t have enough to hold him.”

I leaned back against the porch railing and folded my arms over my chest.  “They think he killed her,” I said to no one in particular.

Owen rested on the railing next to me.  “Do you blame them?  I thought you were leaning that way, too.”

“I was… this is all my fault.  I should never have said anything to anyone.”  I grabbed Owen’s arm and squeezed.  “You can’t tell anyone about the pictures.”

“Okay, but honestly, Hayley, it’s not looking too good.  The three guys last night, the camera, the missing pictures, your uncle is mixed up in something. And, even if he didn’t kill Elizabeth Starling, it’s pretty clear he’s involved in some way.  You’re going to have to tell someone sooner or later… someone besides me.”

I didn’t say a word.  I knew he was right.  I didn’t want him to be, but there was no sense denying it.  Uncle Crew was hiding something.  I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.  I felt an obligation to Ginger Starling to find out what he was hiding because I was pretty sure it would lead to the truth of what really happened to her mother.

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Night of the Living Dead Part 3

I hope your Saturday is as awesome as mine.  Can you feel the creep of Halloween upon us?  No.  C’mon, you need to get into the grove.  Here watch this week’s installment of George Romero’s classic film, Night of the Living Dead.  That should help you get your creep on!

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Freaky Search Friday – October 23, 2009 Edition

This blog has gone hamster!

This blog has gone hamster!

It’s freaky-deaky time.  This is where I get to highlight all the freaks who find my blog by typing kooky and insane search terms into their favorite search engine.  I’m not hating.  I’m just sharing the love and awesomeness of the freaks.   If this is your first time here, you may want to catch up on past posts because there are definitely some disturbing trends.

10. Shirtless Male Celebrity Searches (I’m bunching them together this week): zak bagans, ted kennedy, ryan buell, michael vick, rw, jerry Seinfeld, ed asner, brad sciullo – The list is growing every week, and I don’t know who RW is but I’m assuming (and hoping) that it’s not me.  Because 1. I’m not a celebrity and 2. I haven’t been shirtless since ’99, in real life or photos.

9. short man with tattoos – Bizarrely specific? Yes!  But you’ve got to admire the person who googled this.  They know what they want.

8. is jeff goldblum attractive? – If you have to ask… maybe the next freaky search Friday entry will help you answer your question.

7.ladies love jeff Goldblum – I have it on good authority that Jeff Goldblum actually is the person who googled this.

6. jeff goldblum awkward – Apparently ladies love awkward.  Again, I have it on good authority that this too was Mr. Goldblum.  Looks like he has a self-esteem problem.

5. did michael jackson fear prince – Let’s face it Prince is an imposing figure.  The make-up, the high heel shoes, the lace, the come hither stare… Wait, what was I talking about?

4. hamster 80s term – I was around in the 80s.  We called hamsters, hamsters.  In all fairness, they are probably referring to this 80’s dating video.

3. nude male celebrities – Apparently shirtless just won’t do for some people.

2. donna reed nude – Again?  Why?  I must know.

And the number 1 freakiest search term used to find my blog is:

1. Ed Asner nude – You remember that scene in I Am Legend where Will Smith sees the Fred mannequin on the street, and he gets out of his SUV and screams in a panicked voice, “No!  No!”  That’s exactly how I felt when I first saw Ed Asner nude in the list of search terms used to find my blog.  Now, I’m just numb… cold and numb… and frightened.

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