Friday, December 21, 2018

Dylan Thomas, detectives, and a depressing dentist: my 2018 reading list

One of my favorite posts from last year (and let's face it, I probably read this blog as much as anyone else, just shuffling back through to keep track of what I wrote about X months ago) was my year-end racap of what I read in 2017. I was actually surprised when I wrote that up how few books I'd made it through. This year's list will nearly double it, though we did have a few shorties in 2018, so apples/oranges, etc.

This list is in roughly chronological order of when I read each book, but neither you nor I know how precise that is. I can remember the last one I read and the one before that, and maybe the one before that, and then things go fuzzy.

A Man with One of Those Faces, by Caimh McDonnell. This is an Irish detective/adventure/humor that I stumbled across last year and added to my Christmas list. Got it and read it soon after the holidays. Loved it. Then found Caimh McDonnell had several other books, which will appear later in this list, all featuring the same characters. 

Adventures in the Skin Trade; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog; Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas. Three short books, all received for Christmas in 2017. Along with the Welsh music and football, came an interest in the culture generally, and Dylan Thomas has to be a jumping off point for that. The first two books were mostly short stories, some of which were humorous, some quite religious, others just generally freaky, bordering on some kind of mythological horror (or horrifying mythology). I can't say I loved them all. I did enjoy Under Milk Wood, though I had the sense I only ever picked up on about 35-40 percent of the actual meaning of things. It's one I'll have to revisit sometime, though the proper way to absorb it would be to hear the original radio play.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Merry Christmas from me to you

My uncle from Connecticut came to visit last month, staying for a week at my dad's house. He's a reader, and having not brought enough reading material to last him the week, he borrowed a couple of books from my dad. My books. My first two, to be specific, The Greatest Show on Dirt and Nine Bucks a Pound.

I spent six years from start to finish on each of them, with some overlap when I put the first aside to attempt to find a publisher. Poured everything I had into them, and then moved on. I read The Greatest Show on Dirt a couple of years ago, just to refresh my memory on what I had written. It will always have a special place in my writer's heart, having been my first, but reading back through it confirmed to me that it's not my best, even though it has sold better than all of my others.

No, my best book, in my opinion, is Nine Bucks a Pound. Though four years after its release, I seemed to have forgotten most of the nitty gritty details and could only answer my uncle's questions to the best my fuzzy memory would allow. Which was made the worse by the humdinger of a cold settling into my head the night I saw him. Later that week, when I finished the book I had been reading, I decided it was time to dust Nine Bucks off and give it another go.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Book Designer awards gold star to cover of First World Problems

The Book Designer unveiled its October 2018 e-book Cover Design Awards today, and you'll never guess who garnered an honorable mention gold star. Okay, maybe you will if I give you a big enough hint: It was the author's second such honorable mention in a row.

Ringing any bells? Okay, it was me. Well, I didn't design the cover, so credit goes to Ebook Launch, the company that designed both honored covers (as well as the next one, so maybe there will be another gold star coming next year). But it was my concept. And I'm the one who had to go back and forth, saying, no, not quite, change the lettering, change his face, change the color, etc.

We got there in the end.

Joel Friedlander, who runs the Book Designer site, made this comment about the cover for The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo: "Charming and well integrated, the hand lettering helps to create a unique look." He makes comments on most of the entries, saying what worked and what didn't. Some of them are quite entertaining (read: brutal) when he's not in love with a particular cover. For example, "Terminally boring. Why would anyone care?" Ouch. That would smart a bit.

Amazingly, each month a handful of authors will submit covers they designed themselves. As if they haven't learned over the years to hire this job out from all the previous critical comments.

It's hard enough catching readers' eyes with a professionally designed cover. Why anyone would go the DIY route is beyond me. I'm sure glad I didn't. I'm happy with the covers of all four of my books. The first two were done by a graphic designer I worked with at Baseball America. Considering she didn't specialize in book design, I thought she did a great job with them. I particularly love the bobblehead on the cover of Nine Bucks a Pound, which was created by another designer and then used as the focal point of the book cover.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Help me help you help me

Did you know it's just six (6) weeks until Christmas? Yeah, sneaks up on you fast, doesn't it? It's easy to keep track of the holidays where I work, because it neatly coincides with layoff season. For the past 10 years, November has been the month to keep your head down. I've seen them come, I've seen them go, and somehow I always survived.

Until today.

Yep. My number came up today. Seventeen and a half frickin' years, and I got called into the 9:00 meeting with HR. It wasn't a surprise, necessarily. Well, the part where they're closing our entire office (400+ people) was kind of a stunner. But there have been enough warning signs that I saw this coming. I've seen it coming for several years now. And after all the gallows humor and hallway chatter ... it still kind of hurts.

Even though it may be for the best in the end.

Funny how life imitates art. Or maybe art imitates life imitating art. I started a blog to make the marketing of The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo a little more fun. It's Jason's blog, but shhhhhhhhhh, I write it. Last week Jason got laid off. I had to use my imagination a little to picture how it would all go down for him. I don't have to imagine it any more. I lived it this morning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Jason Van Otterloo is ready for the world

Good morning, World!

Today is the big day. Yes, it's National Bologna Day. Yay. (Disclaimer: I can't eat bologna or baloney any more. I maxed out as a kid.)

It's also Release Day for The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo. Yay! Yes, it's here at last. I know you may not have been counting down like I have been, but we can all enjoy it now just the same. And to properly enjoy it, you might find it handy to actually own a copy of the book. And to that end, here are a few useful links:

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JDPQ154

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-first-world-problems-of-jason-van-otterloo-james-bailey/1129736330?ean=2940161919613

Everything else (Apple, Kobo, more): https://www.books2read.com/b/3L0X7w

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Casting a wide net--again

Stop me if I've said this before, but I'm done with selling ebooks exclusively on Amazon. I've gone back and forth on this in the past, but the benefits of being Kindle-only have really dried up over the past year. By mid-November, I should have all four of my novels available on all channels.

As of today, my third novel, Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed, is no longer Amazon-only. If you do Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc., you can now get it in whatever format you like. Here are a few links:

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sorry-i-wasnt-what-you-needed-james-bailey/1122021881?ean=2940156934812

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1439860272

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sorry-i-wasn-t-what-you-needed-1

My new book, The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo, releases on all platforms tomorrow. And my first two books will be made available around November 14. (Their "exclusive" period ends November 13.)

Friday, October 19, 2018

YA fans, meet Jason Van Otterloo

Do you like reading YA? Do you enjoy humor? Are you on a budget? Man, have I got a deal for you.

I'm taking my first step into the YA segment with The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo. It's like starting over as far as marketing is concerned. So I'm trying something new this time around. I'm giving away copies. FREE! All I ask in return is a little help spreading the word. If you enjoy the book, tell a friend. Post a review. Share a link on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media you use. And if you happen to be in a book club that reads YA, I'll spot you a copy for everyone in the group. (All you have to do is talk them into picking it, which judging by some of the book clubs I've encountered must mean you have a lot of political sway.)

I can see you there thinking, what is this book even about. Well, here's the official "blurb":

Jason Van Otterloo has been waiting for his parents to grow up for nearly 16 years. It doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. While his dad loses his paycheck to the neighborhood poker sharks and his mom cruises the happy hour scene, Jason haunts Seattle's coffee joints and indie cinemas with his best friend and fellow intellectual Drew. The tragicomic accounts of his ill-matched odd jobs, summer fling, and the mysterious and exotic new neighbor lady are detailed in emails to Drew and others. This will be one summer Jason will never forget—try as he might. (Ages 14 and up.)

Imagine a cross between Nick Hornby's Slam and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (please tell me I'm not the only one who has read and loved both of those) and you'll be on the right track. If that sounds like something you'd be up for, drop me a line, either by email (jamesbailey@rochester.rr.com) or on Twitter, and I'll shoot you a link that will let you download the entire book in your preferred ereader format from Book Funnel (no membership required, though you may need to install their app).

Simple, right? Well, what are you waiting for? Let's do this.