17 December 2012 by Published in: Jet, Writing 19 comments

Ho ho ho, I say.

Okay, perhaps I don’t say it out loud, sober, but in my head I do. The point is that it’s Xmas, and that means I’m going to take a break from writing. Not voluntarily, and no, it had nothing to do with a restraining order or anyone in my neighborhood disappearing. Don’t go all McAfee on me. No, it has more to do with eye fatigue and needing to get out and about after 18 solid months of sitting around, writing for 12 hours a day. Sometimes more. That may be good for one’s writing career, but it ain’t so good for one’s physiology, so I’m forcing myself to take a month or so off.

Which brings me to reading. I’m now able to catch up on my backlog, which is embarrassingly large. I’m reading Lawrence Block’s new one (which I’m enjoying no end) and then RS Guthrie’s soon-to-be-released follow up to Blood Land, appropriately titled Money Land. After that, I will be plowing through the roughly 60 books I’ve been sent or downloaded or been asked to read. Chances are slim I’ll get to them all. Probably more like a few dozen, but for me, that’s progress.

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NEWS: New book review by Tia Bach for sensational hit action/adventure thriller JET is a must read!

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One of the things that I find consistently amazing as I read is how great the kindle is. Wow. I mean, I’m used to reading on a computer screen, and it sort of sucks after a while. But the kindle just rocks. What a great innovation by a company that continues to lead the pack in ebook technology, in my opinion – Amazon knew what it was doing, and still does.

That being the case, what does the future hold for readers? Will the iPad upset Amazon’s ruling the roost with the kindle? Will Amazon have to come out with an iPad killer to keep growing? Or will the kindle drop to $49.95 soon? I hope both. The more ereaders in peoples’ hands, the better, not just from my own grubby self-interested standpoint as an author, but also as a world citizen. A literate population is one for which I have more hope than an illiterate one. If the kindle, or iPad, or whatever, can turn the tide of rising functional illiteracy that’s been the legacy of the TV culture, then I’m all for it.

I believe that TV dumbs you down, and one of the things I’m thankful for as a child is that I didn’t ever get into TV – mostly because I was locked in a basement, chained to the wall, but that’s another story. My point is that reading gave me the means to educate myself (ultimately on the corrosive effects of some household chemicals on chain links, to my considerable relief) and learn to reason, rather than staring dully at entertainment presented to me with no thinking required.

And of course, it also means that readers will grow in numbers, which hopefully will translate into a more discerning audience, which as it is exposed to more advanced sorts of reading material, will begin to appreciate books that aren’t written at a second grade level – which is where I come in. Hopefully. All hopefully.

Instead of going off on a mean-spirited rant about the current state of the market, and what the biggest selling novels being some of the most puerile crap I’ve ever read says about us as a civilization, I think I’ll just wish everyone happy holidays, and suggest with a nod and a wink that nothing says Merry Christmas like some Russell Blake books, unless you’re planning on showing up with a bottle of tequila wearing nothing but a Santa hat and some mistletoe. And I’m willing to forgo the mistletoe, to be truthful. Never mind. This is getting off track again.

I think my point is that as both readers and authors, these are the best of times. Readers now have a universe of reasonably-priced material to choose from, and authors have the ability to price their offerings to reach the maximum possible readership while retaining a decent profit. That’s sort of a first during my lifetime. I say we all enjoy it and hope it continues. Because we’ve seen the alternative, and it kind of sucks – high-priced novels of marginal quality by only a handful of names, with virtually no interest within the publishing industry of finding and nurturing new talents – the Ludlums and Cusslers and Forsyths of tomorrow – and with the vast majority of the profit sticking to the middlemen instead of the author.

Amazon changed all that, for which I think we, as authors and readers, owe a lot. For what it’s worth, I buy all my ebooks via Amazon for that reason, as well as because I haven’t gotten the hang of how to get Smashwords to send stuff to my kindle in a click.

So what is the takeaway from all this? Have a happy, happy holiday season, avoid clowns as they’re all alcoholic pedophile cannibals, and buy my crap so you can sneer at your acquaintances when they ask you what you’re reading, and you can smugly respond, “Russell Blake! Oh, you haven’t heard of him? Hmm. I suppose you don’t get much chance to keep current on things, do you?” I imagine a hint of arrogance as you say it, the mistletoe shaking ever so subtly, keeping silent time to the swinging of the Santa hat’s jolly faux-snowball as you sashay to my front porch with the bottle of Cuervo.

Hey. It’s my fantasy. Just let me have that, okay? Don’t be a hater. It’s Christmas, after all.

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Comments

  1. Tue 18th Dec 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Aww come on Russell, not all TV makes a person dumber!

    I love the art of storytelling. No matter the form. When I was a teenager, I suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea. During my teenage years, I, literally, couldn’t read. Not because of illiteracy, but because I couldn’t make it through a single page without falling asleep. I turned to movie and TV’s to get my story fix.

    I’m not going to contest that shows such as “Here comes Honey Boo-Boo”, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, or “Jersey Shore” make you dumber, but some television shows are well crafted.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 18th Dec 2012 at 2:34 pm

      There are exceptions to every rule. But I’m pretty sure that America’s Got Talent or That 70′s Show isn’t raising any IQ points. Just saying.

      Reply
      • Ash Ronin  –  Tue 18th Dec 2012 at 3:38 pm

        Haha, I agree, that’s why I mentioned the three shows I did, but when you think about it, it’s really not that different in literature. There are plenty of books that aren’t going to raise your IQ points either.

        Reply
  2. Tue 18th Dec 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Ha, so it was you rattling those damned chains was it. I could hardly hear the scream of my guest in the cellar with all the racket you made. Very difficult to sleep through too. You should be quite ashamed of yourself.

    I hope you enjoy the month off, I’m sure you’ll find it refreshing. No doubt your mind will keep throwing ideas at you though. I’m sure you’re right about the price of Kindles coming down with the advent of competition. It can only make things better.
    Have a great Christmas. I promise not to spoil your year by arriving with a Santa Hat and some mistletoe.
    Perhaps I’ll try a little Russell Blake instead.

    Reply
  3. Wed 19th Dec 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Just my luck to discover your blog just as you’re stepping out to take a month-off breather! (I’m a newbie who’s recently uploaded her humour book “Beaver Bluff” on Amazon via KDP, and I spotted one of your interesting posts on Kindle Forum, and thought to check out your blog.) I like your humour and I’ll check out your books. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 19th Dec 2012 at 8:21 pm

      If you’re a humor author, check out “How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated)” – arguably the funniest book ever written by a man named Russell Blake within the last 18 months. If nothing else, it’s sweeping non-success should serve as a cautionary tale for those considering genre jumping…

      Reply
  4. Scott Matthews
    Wed 19th Dec 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Merry Christmas Russell.

    Reply
  5. Robert Jones
    Wed 19th Dec 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Have a merry Christmas, Russell…just don’t drive your Kindle after too much tequila. And on that note, I know I’ll be getting one or two Amazon gift cards from people before the season is over. I’m sure a Russell Blake or two will find a home in my Kindle before all is said and done.

    Take care!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 19th Dec 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks, Robert. And you have a merry one as well. Appreciate the support. As always.

      Reply
  6. yoon
    Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 12:33 am

    Isn’t reading bad for eye fatigue? Shouldn’t you like, just stare at the wall?
    Merry Christmas!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 1:02 am

      Fair point. I’ve been trying to, er, not read so much. But then I find myself reading. It’s very circular. At least I can sort of feel my feet again now. But the tingling in my hands hasn’t diminished much. I’m thinking I’ll start drinking again. No reason to stop now. Not that I ever did. But hypothetically speaking, if I had, I would rethink it. Never mind.

      Reply
      • yoon  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 12:41 pm

        I knew you were lying. You’re going to be a blind man, you know. And your world will be pale. And when you cry, there ain’t going to be a sadder tale.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 2:06 pm

          Alliterative, I’ll grant you that.

          Reply
          • yoon  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 3:56 pm

            No comprendo alliteration. Pero me gusta esa canción. Qué hora es!!!!

          • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 7:03 pm

            I didn’t register the veiled Deep Purple reference on first go round. My bad. You take this round, but it’s not over yet. Bwahahahaha.

          • yoon  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 11:02 pm

            Quite understandable that you didn’t get that at first considering your age and all. It’s a long long time ago like when you were in your twenties or something…

  7. The Dude Abides
    Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Happy Christmas Russell.

    Yesterday I saw an interesting data point that people that use e readers read far more books than people who just read dead tree books. I agree the advent of the Kindle is good for you and us lowly readers. Good luck in the new year.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Dec 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Gracias. And to you as well. God knows I could probably use a break. But now to stay on schedule I need to write and release 5 books next year, not 4. And if I get inspired, that will turn into 6. Which doesn’t sound all that different from last year. Only two novels less. Phooey.

      Reply

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