A reader of my blog and FB page asked me the other day why I say the markets are all rigged, and a lie.
I began explaining, and thought some might find interesting how the markets actually work. So here’s a quick summary, which will then lead into a disturbing set of conclusions about the geo-political environment (which is longer due to the ground covered). But first, markets.
Take gold, silver, copper, platinum, wheat, coffee, oil, etc.
Commodities. Real items in the real world. Ostensibly with easily determined values based on supply, and demand.
The idea of commodities exchanges was twofold: to give producers a place to sell their goods in a central location, and to enable them to hedge their future production and lock in a price for it so they eliminated their risk of price fluctuations (and to enable purchasers of raw materials to buy in advance and lock in their supply). Supply and demand in this case is supposed to establish the price of the commodity. All good. The producer issues a contract good for, say, 100 ounces of gold, or 100 bushels of wheat, or whatever, and come time that the contract expires, is expected to deliver the product.
But that’s not how the modern commodities markets work. Instead, you have investment banks, speculators, and market makers, all of whom create a price for the asset based purely on the number of contracts they print up, knowing that 99 out of 100 contracts won’t be asked to deliver anything – speculators play the differences in the prices of the options contracts over time, and never want delivery, choosing instead to close out the contract or let it expire without exercising it.
Anyone see the immediate moral hazard here? Now, JP Morgan can write options contracts for 100 times more gold than is available in the entire world and those contracts will have the effect on the price of the commodity the same as though production increased 100 fold. Because you’ve increased apparent supply by 100. Or 1000. Or a million.
Markets work on a basic principle: that they are honest (that price discovery is a true reflection of supply and demand), and can’t be rigged. That’s not the case with the U.S. commodities markets. Price is purely a function of how many pieces of paper a bank wants to print, knowing it won’t ever deliver anything, which radically distorts the supply/demand outlook, and hence the price. And worse yet, if the bank is called upon to deliver the commodity by a buyer who really actually wanted the commodity and not cash, it can simply say, sorry, don’t have it, here’s the cash equivalent – the price of the contract, which as we just saw, is completely artificially controlled based on pieces of paper, not the actual supply and demand of the asset.
Same thing happens with stocks. In naked short selling, unscrupulous players sell IOUs for stock they then don’t deliver (because they don’t have it, can’t get it, and never intended to deliver it), but those IOUs are treated as legitimate supply by the system, again, badly skewing the supply/demand curve. Say company A issues 10 shares of stock. Theoretically the price of the stock would be whatever someone is willing to pay for 10 shares. If eleven people each want one, then the tenth person has to be offered sufficient money so they are inclined to sell. Supply, demand. But what the system does is sells the eleventh person an IOU it treats exactly like the real thing, and never tells the person they didn’t get a share, they got an IOU. What happens to supply and demand at that point? The price likely stays the same, because a synthetic share has been created out of thin air by the system. Or maybe even goes down, if the seller of the IOU has a reason to offer the price lower than the real shares trade at, thereby bringing all prices down to the new, artificially manipulated price. That, in a nutshell, is how unscrupulous manipulators crater the price of stocks, making fortunes on the price decline – they flood the market with IOUs, which badly distorts supply, causing their bets on a price decline to become big money makers (it’s far easier to get folks in a theater to panic by screaming fire than to get them to buy, so this is how the real money’s made on Wall Street).
Now multiply that by millions of shares and you start to see the problem in the markets. Of course, the regulators and the media claimed that never happened, and then grudgingly agreed it could but didn’t happen often, and then during the financial crisis had to pass laws barring the practice for ONLY the financial stocks (who were the groups doing it in the first place) because it was crashing the financial system. Of course, the baddies simply ignored the law and kept doing it, because they knew the regulators were toothless and they could get away with it. But that’s a whole nother story.
So next time you see all the articles in the media about why oil is X price or gold is that price, citing supply, demand, shortages, gluts, trends, understand that’s pure bullshit that simply ignores the effect of paper oil or paper gold on the price of the physical assets. Until the market gets so out of whack that the producers refuse to sell their commodity for the price listed on the exchanges, that price, which is established by these paper contracts and not physical supply and demand at all, is treated as the legit price – it’s a confidence game, and only falls apart when confidence in the price’s veracity is in doubt.
At those times, the physical disconnects from the paper price. In the gold market, for instance, in China and India and Malaysia, there is often a premium paid over the paper price, because there’s simply nobody willing to sell for the paper price. That’s an example of the market breaking down – the buyers and sellers concede there’s no real basis for the artificial paper price, and so add on cash until someone’s willing to sell. We’ve seen that increasingly of late, and it’s a sign that the legitimacy of the paper exchanges is no longer assumed by actual buyers and sellers of the physical commodity. Of course that’s rarely reported by the media, which is concerned with ensuring that the status quo is maintained, and that the majority of rubes, er, I mean, investors, believe the published prices.
But back to commodities and stocks. The ability to game the supply curve with paper instead of legitimate supply is why the markets are complete BS. The owners of the exchanges are the same big banks that distort the prices with paper prices, and they’ve created rules that allow them to do so with impunity. The game works until enough folks discover they can’t actually get the asset they bought at the price they paid for it, and then the legitimacy of the exchange collapses. In the silver market, there were six to eight week waits for silver coins at a time when the price was especially low. Now, in a working market, increased demand would drive prices up. But in the commodity markets it worked the other way – low prices bought out hordes of buyers, but supply simply didn’t exist, so they had to start handing out IOUs for the metal, delivery to occur at some point in the future. Sound odd?
Now you understand why I say they’re all bent.
Let’s look at oil prices, since those are in the news. I believe that the U.S. government, aided by their allies, the Saudis, are deliberately using low oil to punish the Russians for blocking U.S. attempts to go to war in Syria, predicated on a lie (last year’s sarin gas falsehoods propagated by the western media as truth, and later exposed as false). The U.S. really wants to go to war in Syria, in spite of the claims it doesn’t, because Syria is key to oil flow to Russia, and if the U.S. controls it, they own the Russians. Russia obviously doesn’t want them to do what they did in Libya, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, which is destabilize the region and create complete anarchy. So Russia blocked the U.S. war machine, the sarin gas reports were discovered to be as false as WMDs in Iraq were, and the U.S. looked like a bunch of liars trying to start yet another undeclared war in the Middle East.
I believe that the U.S. decided to retaliate against the Russians by doing two things: Sponsoring and supporting a conflagration in the Ukraine, wherein the democratically elected government was overthrown by a pro-U.S. de facto dictatorship, plunging Russia into a war on its border (note the media doesn’t discuss the hundreds of U.S. mercenaries on the ground in Ukraine hired by the puppet Ukraine government or the fact that most Ukrainians don’t honor the puppet government as being legit), and placing some calls to Goldman and JP Morgan and the Saudis and telling them to turn on the Xerox machine and drive the price of oil to $40. Because at that price, Russia’s currency falls apart.
Which would be the completely illegal and immoral manipulation of commodity markets to achieve political agendas of unbridled aggression.
Lest anyone believe that can’t happen, of course it can. Just as the NY Fed can steal Germany’s gold, sell it into the market to keep the price low, and then when Germany demands 10% of it back, be unable to return it. It supposedly can’t happen, and yet does, all the time. When banks and governments decide they are above the law, and aren’t accountable for fraud, theft, murder, etc. etc. anything goes, and that’s the world we live in.
For another bit of cheer you’ll never hear in the mainstream media, witness a recent DOJ push called Operation Chokepoint, which is where the administration bypasses Congress and the Judicial system, and effectively attempts to shut down a whole host of industries it simply doesn’t like, exactly as it tried to use the IRS to punish enemies of the administration. Coin dealers, gun dealers, fireworks dealers, payday loan places, pawn shops, all are targeted as being of heightened risk for money laundering, and the word went out to their banks that they shouldn’t really be supplying them accounts for that reason. So all of a sudden legitimate, law-abiding enterprises are finding themselves out of business without access to the banking system, and without any hearing or due process, their demise decided by un-elected bureaucrats – illegally, I might add. This is still going on, in spite of a bogus Wiki article saying it’s over. It’s not over. That is disinformation designed to mislead. In other words, a lie to cover up an illegal witch hunt the government knows it has to legitimate authority to conduct. Now, why would the government want to do away with shops where you can buy gold and silver, or guns and ammunition, or get an advance on your paycheck outside of the banking system? Hmm. A couple of troubling notions come to mind. Mainly, it’s an attack on alternatives to the dollar, and the second amendment, and alternatives to the mainstream banking cartel, that it knows would be shot down if attempted legally.
Google it. I have a friend who’s business almost went under because of it. That isn’t supposed to happen. And yet it does, every day. Because the U.S. government is increasingly behaving like a totalitarian state, and not like the constitutional republic it supposedly is. Witness that it is going back into Iraq for the third time, even though it says it wants nothing to do with the place after destabilizing it (when Hussein announced he wanted to get off OPEC and start trading oil for gold) and inserting a pro-west puppet government (sound familiar?) the population refuses to honor as legit, it’s going into Libya for the second time (same thing – doesn’t want anything to do with it after sponsoring an uprising when Qaddafi proposed trading oil in gold instead of the dollar), wants to go into Syria and is asking for war powers to do so.
Which brings me to ISIS – the new boogieman. Isn’t it funny that ISIS, instead of unifying the Muslim world, is basically destabilizing it, with Muslim battling Muslim. And isn’t it odd that it really came to power (it was basically a zero before then) immediately after the U.S. got bitch slapped by Russia about Syria? Of course, the first place it went to ground was…Syria. Demanding U.S. response. If you look at a map of places it’s now “entrenched,” it’s basically a map of every resource rich area of the Middle East. And of course, the U.S. must root it out wherever it is. Which means endless U.S. wars and presence in the Middle East’s most oil rich or strategically important places.
ISIS, as far as I could tell, was about 100 guys with a camera crew instructed to carry out horrific executions in the most inflammatory manner possible. And which just so happened to align 100% with the U.S.’ desire to invade or destabilize a host of Middle Eastern countries that were either proposing trading using a gold back dinar instead of the U.S. dollar for oil, or are strategically important to China and Russia’s oil flow from Africa.
Believe what you like, I just find it awfully interesting that the new boogieman pops up when the public is no longer buying fake WMDs or spurious sarin gassing of civilians. But now we have a whole new reason to crank up the war machine – because the ISIS threat never sleeps and will get us if we don’t reluctantly invade all the countries that have anything worth taking!
Sorry. I’m just a tad cynical these days. Seen a little too much. Know a little too much. My take is that the military/industrial complex sees that the U.S./anglo alliance is slowly losing most of the world, with the BRICS nations now settling their trades without using the dollar, and with increasing oil producing nations unwilling to trade in dollars, and with China and Russia leading the charge away from the dollar, and has decided to do a series of false flag-based land grabs of strategic locations while it thinks it can still summon support.
Geo-politically, though, it’s backfiring, because Europe is seeing that it’s not in their best interests to support sanctions against one of its largest trading partners (Russia), and because most of the world outside of the sway of the U.S. media doesn’t for a second believe that ISIS is anything but a CIA-funded group designed to stoke the flames of outrage and give the U.S. an excuse to go to endless war in the Middle East, at least per a lot of the folks I talk to around the world.
The problem is that everything is basically a lie, designed to advance the agendas of those who want more power and more money at your expense. The markets reflect that truth – they lie early and often. We know the U.S. manipulates the stock market – it has a “plunge protection team” to do precisely that. Again, Google it. So in a world where nothing is actually the truth, the only sensible response is to be skeptical of everything – but that’s considered treasonous by a certain faction in the U.S., which have mistaken being patriotic for being unquestioning about the actions of its government, or the absurd official explanations it floats.
I don’t get it. I mean, I do, but I fail to understand how thinking people can buy fairy tales as though they’re truth. Usually, as is the case with the markets, by choosing to remain ignorant of how things actually work. Because ignorance is comforting, until a big boot steps on you, at which point I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I’ve found there are two basic types of people: those who want to understand reality as it actually exists in their limited time on the planet, and believe reason trumps all, and those who are anxiously awaiting the release of a new iPhone because it’ll be like totally even more bitchin’ and shit.
As a final bit of fun, today, the Baltic Dry Index, a measurement of supply and demand for container ships (higher and stronger means the better the economy is, due to increased commerce) put in yet another new historical low, lower than at any point in 30 years, signaling a worsening of the world economy even as Yahoo trumpets conditions improving!
Now back to writing. Have to finish up JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, and then outline my next one!
Fight tyranny. Stand up for truth, puppies, and Grandma’s apple pie.
Buy. My. Crap.
I’m trying an experiment. No, not six months in a Turkish prison. Although after a certain age…
Rather, it’s specially priced bundles of my first six JET novels. To save the cheapskates a few bucks and make it twice as easy to enjoy our favorite ass-kicking female super spy in delicious bite-sized chunks!
For this laughably low price, you receive twenty to thirty hours of entertainment in each installment, and don’t damage your lungs or liver or contract an embarrassing or potentially fatal disease. It’s the bargain of the century! It’s the perfect companion – one that won’t file restraining orders or expect half the house and car!
So what are you waiting for? Act now!!!
Not to oversell it or anything…
Click on the covers for the Amazon links. Also available on Smashwords and wherever ebooks are sold.
After being badgered for months by impatient readers who don’t seem to appreciate that I’m working my little digits to nubs in order to keep them entertained, I’m delighted to announce that the second installment in the JET – Ops Files novels, is available on pre-order. JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert will release March 30, assuming no comet smites the earth and that my tequila supply stays steady, which is where you buying my crap comes into play.
The novel chronicles Maya’s operational life in the Mossad, and pits her against Muslim madmen intent on misbehaving, this time with a dirty bomb. Before anyone gets all up in my face about the madmen being Muslim, I’d direct you to the countless reports of terrorist atrocities in the West, and ask you on a percentage basis to rank the number attributable to Muslim extremists, vs., say, Buddhists, or Zoroastrians, or Amish. In that answer lies the reason that they tend to pop up in popular fiction as bad guys.
But this isn’t about geo-political commentary. It’s about ass-kicking female Mossad operatives whose bodies are lethal weapons and who aren’t shy about spraying lead like a murderous Rainbird. Which is what Maya, AKA Jet, is all about. Probably wasn’t breast fed sufficiently as a baby or something, but that’s not the point. What matters is that she’s a teenage leather-clad killing machine with heart.
Some have asked that I share more about my daily process than the casual references to writing with which I pepper my blog, and have demanded that I delve into the actual operations of a publishing juggernaut the likes of which are unique in the annals of self-publishing history.
In doing so, I thought I’d clear up some misconceptions. Namely that I lounge about in board shorts, swigging margaritas, tapping out an occasional paragraph between bouts of snorting coke off strippers’ bottoms and dodging the Federales. Would that it were so. A tremendous amount of work goes into this, so I’ll describe a typical day so you can be the judge.
First thing this morning there was a board meeting that seemed to go on forever.
Then there was a concept development session.
Followed by plotting.
I broke for lunch, but it was a working lunch, during which I interviewed virtual assistants.
Then I spent several hours at a PR event discussing my work and upcoming releases.
Then, back to the grindstone until dinner.
As you can see, my existence is not an endless series of debauched adventures and aimless slacking. I stay to a rigid schedule, albeit one that has suitable flexibility to accommodate my creative bursts, and I put in the hours required to achieve my goals. Anyone who believes that being a bestselling author involves jotting down a few pages of meanderings between bouts of problem drinking and being chased by inebriated women off the cruise ships has a distorted view of what I do.
I hope I’ve been able to clear things up once and for all.
Now go buy my crap. Drinks ain’t free in these joints.
Today marks the release of a novella I wrote in Steven Konkoly’s The Perseid Collapse Kindle World – the first such effort I’ve produced. It’s a dystopian romp that chronicles a sliver of time after an EMP wipes out North America’s communications – concurrent with a massive hurricane hitting the locale where my protagonist lives.
The goal was to create a non-stop action romp set in a world that’s the day after the end of the world as we know it. I think it turned out well, but readers will ultimately decide. The title is Deadly Calm, for the deceptive calm that settles in after a major natural disaster like a hurricane.
It wasn’t hard to write it, having just survived Hurricane Odile’s flattening of Los Cabos, and my hope is that the descriptions in the book have a ring of authenticity – they should, as most of it’s drawn from my real-life experience.
This is my first prepper-themed dystopian effort. It likely won’t be my last. Writing in a world where the rules don’t apply, where nothing is as it should be due to the dislocation caused by the end of the world event, affords a certain freedom I enjoyed. We’ll see what else spews forth from my printer, but for now, give Deadly Calm a whirl and see what you think.
Special thanks to Steve for making it so easy to jump into that world. Here’s to hoping it catches some lift and sparks imaginations, or at least sells enough to buy some serious rounds of drinks for all concerned. Whatever the case, I think the story is an engaging one, and could see it running farther. One never knows.
For some fun images of my neighborhood after the hurricane, see below.
I just learned that my work is available in 666 libraries in the U.S.
Proving as clearly as anything that Mr. Satan is everywhere.
That’s kind of neat, though, I guess. I mean, now I don’t feel like a complete unknown outside some of the more questionable watering holes in the lesser Mexican area.
Another thing that makes me feel I’m making progress in this writing thing is that my second co-authored novel with the legendary Clive Cussler is now up for pre-order: The Solomon Curse. Releases in September.
The last one hit the #2 position on the NY Times list its second week out. Not a terrible showing. Seems to have sold a few copies, too, so all good. And my novella in Steven Konkoly’s The Perseid Collapse Kindle world, Deadly Calm, will go live on Feb. 3rd, which will no doubt put me over the top. For those who enjoy my balls to the wall action romps, it’s a good example of how I roll. It turned out well, and I believe it’s a worthwhile entrant into the whole Kindle world thing. Worth checking out.
What does it all mean? Beats me. I’m still writing every day, putting in more than full time hours, clocking 4-6 miles on the treadmill desk, which is the bomb, and a must-have for full time desk monkeys. There was another study published the other day that says sitting kills. So it’s not just a matter of trying to cram in exercise when you don’t have the time – it’s a matter of life and death. I’m completely happy with mine, and will get another in a heartbeat whenever this one burns out.
Beyond that, what the hell happened to January? I mean, it was just here, and now it’s gone. Seems like that’s happening a lot lately – time gets away from me, and soon it’s another year under the belt and deeper in debt.
Things in my neck of the woods are returning to normal now post-Hurricane Odile, although crime in La Paz is off the hook since the storm – they’ve been averaging a shooting per day there as two factions of the same cartel battle it out for the meth trade in the barrios. It’s a hundred miles from me, so I’m not that worried, although that’s only a couple hours drive, so too damn close for comfort. Given a population of 350K or so in La Paz, at 350 intentional homicides per year, which is about one a day, the ratio per 100K population would be…100. To put that into perspective, the ratio in the U.S. is about 5, and that includes trouble spots like DC, Detroit, etc. etc. Same in Argentina. Chile, actually lower, more like 4. Canada, even lower. Mainland Mexico, about 20-something. 100 is insanely dangerous. As in, worse than anywhere else in Mexico, dangerous.
The year before, the ratio for Southern Baja was about a 2 or so. My, the times they are a changing. Of course, those being gunned down are the ones that need killing – drug dealers. But it’s just a matter of time until there’s collateral damage. It’s a bad situation, and one the local media has studiously ignored, I believe because the government doesn’t want to scare away the tourists. But I also believe that if they don’t get that shit under control stat, it’s going to be common knowledge, and then buh bye tourist dollars – most Americans won’t differentiate between La Paz and Los Cabos when reading travel advisories for Baja, even though it’s like not visiting La Jolla in San Diego because the drive-byes in South Central LA are off the hook. To Gringos, it’s all kind of one and the same – Baja California Sur. And if it’s killing fields “there” the tourists won’t come. The irony being that the Cabo and San Jose del Cabo areas are about as safe as ever.
That’s all I’ve got. I’m working my fingers to nubs so that my readership can remain entertained, and won’t have to start dating other authors to get titillation. I’ve got the following scheduled now with my editor for 2015: JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, for late March (just went on pre-order yesterday, I believe, with a temp cover that will be replaced next week). An Assassin novel for May. JET #9 for June. Another JET – Ops Files end of Sept or October. And JET #10 for Xmas. And possibly BLACK #5 for Sept – remains to be seen how inspired I feel. Oh, and also possibly the first installment in a new series in Sept. – one I think will be frigging huge – an action adventure yarn that’s part treasure hunt, part conspiracy yarn, with some of the most memorable characters I’ve yet created.
So there will be plenty more opportunities for crap buying in 2015 – a veritable plethora of crap. But do check out Deadly Calm when it goes live on Tuesday. It’s dirt cheap, reads really well, is my first shot at dystopian/prepper fiction, and is a fun romp that floors the throttle from the first chapter. Remains to be seen whether the bloodthirsty cannibal pandas make it past the final edits. I hope they keep them in. We’ll see.
I recognize that this is an extremely charged subject, but I’m never one to back away from controversy, and I’m not about to start now. So if you can’t handle the truth, stop reading now, because this is going to ruffle a lot of feathers.
I woke up today, read the news, and realized I must have been living in a cave for the last few years. And I’m not talking one of those comfortable, government-provided caves, either. I’m talking stone, moss, lichen, the real thing. I guess I’m the last one on the planet to have heard about the latest threat to freedom from the dark forces of tyranny: Muslin extremists.
Apparently these bastards aren’t content with their preferences, their lifestyle, their beliefs. They want everyone else to defer to their dogma and kowtow to their tastes. They refuse to integrate into Western society, preferring to live apart, while harshly judging anyone who doesn’t share similar views – and in extreme cases, acting out with appalling violence.
You can see where this goes. Pretty soon our women are being raped, our country is in tatters, our entire way of life goes into the crapper. Cats dance with dogs, the sun bleeds poison, we’re all speaking French or something, and the only available programming is reality TV featuring celebrity chefs.
Look. I’m open minded. If you prefer your garments to be made from coarsely spun cotton, I have no problem with that. Live and let live, I say. Some favor synthetics, some blends, some wool, some muslin.
But to take and pervert a belief that one fabric is superior to all others, and that you alone know the unique truth, as though from God’s lips to your ear? It’s an abomination, and we can all see…
…Oh… Muslin. Right. Got it.
Never mind. Damned spell check. Carry on. Nothing to see here.
Don’t you have some crap to buy or something?
It was about the end of January, 2011, when I first started seriously contemplating self-publishing.
It took another five months to get my ass in gear, set up the infrastructure to do so (find a cover artist, create a website, interview editors, create a Facebook and Twitter presence, decide what to even write about as my preferred genre), and then produce the first book, which I released in early June – Fatal Exchange, which still reads well, I think, if a bit grittier than my later work.
My, how the landscape has changed since those heady times. Gone are the stories of overnight sensation authors and two million dollar deals, of coming out of nowhere and being discovered at the drugstore, only to have one’s name in lights days later.
Gone too are the easy money promotional aids Amazon seemingly handed out like Viagra at a porn shoot, that could make virtually any book a 10K seller after a free run.
It’s a different world now. A tougher, more challenging world. Many of those who were giddy with success four years ago aren’t doing much anymore – they got accustomed to the crack hit of Select and its resultant high, and never moved beyond it, only to watch their work fade into obscurity once the promotional visibility dried up.
Indie authors now have to contend with services like Kindle Unlimited, with traditional publishers pricing down in the weeds, with a glut of content and a dearth of effective promotional tools. The brave new world we face is one whose promise of endless bounty has been replaced by sobering reality: selling books is frigging hard even in the best of times, and these are no longer the best of times for indies.
My solution is to continue doing what I’ve been doing for 42 months: coming up with what I think are compelling story ideas, and writing them, aiming for a release every couple of months, if not more often, so I’m not forgotten by the time the next one comes down the chute.
It would be super-duper awesome to have one of my series picked up for a movie, be handed F-you money for the privilege, and then sell gazillions of copies when my creation makes it to the big screen.
That happens about once a year. With Hugh Howey. Now with Blake Crouch. Good for them. I wish for nothing more than to be them, only richer and thinner. But that’s a wish, not a plan. And for the other million or so folks toiling away at this, pushing publish every eighth of a second (I totally made that up, but it could be right), it’s not likely.
I have no answers. My purpose in writing this blog is to articulate my approach, offer my thoughts and moody deliberations, and of course, berate my tasteless critics, who can all die whilst suffering horribly. My approach has worked for a number of other authors who are enjoying more success than ever before. It does not mean it’s a surefire winner for everyone, or for most. It simply is one way that seems to work for those who really apply themselves and follow all the guidance in my “How To Sell Loads Of Books” blog (not only a few of the points they like, while ignoring the rest).
This year I have a more relaxed publication schedule. I’ll put out a new JET – Ops Files novel in March, a new Assassin in May, a new JET in June. Second half of the year is a bit murkier. Perhaps a BLACK. Probably one more Ops Files, with another JET for Xmas. Somewhere in there I also have a modern treasure hunt series of which I’ve written the first installment and plan on writing more of, as well as two plot ideas for conspiracy novels tentatively outlined, likely also in a new series – and the conspiracies are stunners. And should that not keep me busy, I have the sequel to Fatal Exchange outlined and wating, and a dystopian trilogy I’m sort of toying with.
In other words, there aren’t enough hours. But the days have significance, are enjoyable, and there seems to be a point to waking up every morning. I’m delighted that I’m earning my keep writing, and hope to continue doing so for some time to come. But resting on my laurels ain’t how I roll, so got to keep mining the writing vein or it might peter out, leaving me with only tequila, meaningless flings with tipsy tourist women off the cruise ships, dancing in a sequin man thong as featured soloist in the Jalapeno Heat all male burlesque review, and dodging creditors and exes as the primary way of frittering away the time.
I think we can all agree that writing is preferable, although don’t you dare judge me. Until you’ve walked a mile in my thong you don’t know what it’s like, and I’m not just talking about cheap synthetics chafing delicate skin.
So buy my crap so the world’s spared that final indignity. If not for me, do it for U.S./Mexican relations. The Mexican people really don’t deserve any further stains on their reputation.
That’s all I have. Except for the idea that my fine work makes a wonderful gift for birthdays, funerals, circumcisions, V-day, or really any occasion where you want to appear to give a rat’s ass. So buy early and often.
Early into my career I decided that I was going to write a lot. As in, seemingly impossible amounts, as my differentiator.
The reason I decided on that strategy, which many novelists believe is one that can only produce dross, is that when I looked at past generations of writers whom I admired as being particularly skilled, most of them came out of journalism. Why is that important?
Because journalists are always writing. That’s what they do. Before television taught entire generations to stare mindlessly at a screen, people read, and that required a lot of written content creation. Enter journalists, who produced much of it.
Writers in the old day became proficient at writing because they wrote a tremendous amount. They got lots of practice. And practicing, they improved.
I’ve been averaging about a novel every five weeks since I started self-publishing 37 months ago. Other authors look at me with the imbedded assumption that what I create can’t possibly be good – the quality has to suffer by virtue of the quantity and my publishing speed.
Which simply ignores how many famous authors of the past got that way. They became good by flexing their writing muscle a lot, constantly, for years.
Somewhere along the way the popular wisdom changed. The speed with which a publishing house could comfortably schedule a print run and a promotional push, which happened to be about once a year per author, defined the accepted speed with which a novel, and I mean a good novel, could be created. Any faster was crazy talk.
Which is pure bullshit, and an extraordinarily limiting belief.
If you want to get good at something, do a lot of it. Seems simple to me. Want to get good at writing? Write a lot. There. I’ve given you the keys to the kingdom. Use them wisely.
While I’m ranting, another thing that bugs me about our culture is that so few people read. I blame the media, of course. Specifically, TV and video games, and to a lesser extent, the web. Why? Because reading, especially reading deep or complicated or well-written material, requires that the reader be skilled at reading, just as it requires the author be skilled at writing. Reading stuff like David Foster Wallace or Pynchon or even Burke or Chuck P require the reader exert effort, because the material’s dense, or just more complex than simple sentences composed of monosyllables. TV and the like require no effort – they’re spectator sports, whereas reading engages the mind and requires intellectual commitment.
If you want to become a decent writer, you have to be a decent reader. That’s the first step in the journey.
And, beating the dead horse, you have to write. No substitute for that in developing respect for and facility with language, and honing a skill you can’t learn any other way.
That doesn’t mean you have to publish everything you write. I didn’t publish the first decade of my scribblings. But I wrote. Constantly.
Talent only takes you a little ways. It’s effort that takes you the rest of the distance.
So for authors who sneer at fast production speed, I’d offer two thoughts: Just because you can’t produce something of quality in X time, doesn’t mean it’s impossible – it just means you don’t think you can. And, of course, your mind will convince you that your deep seated belief is reality, and it will become yours. So believe you can’t, you’re right.
And a final observation: my average novel takes me between 150-200 hours for first draft. If you work 12-15 hour days and don’t screw around, you can quickly see that what might take someone who only has a productive hour or two per day will take a lot less time for someone willing and capable of working marathon hours. Now, I could divide those hours up and spread them across several months, but it wouldn’t make the draft any better. Same with second draft, which generally takes about 100 hours. I could make the whole process of creating a book take six months to a year, but the quality wouldn’t be any different, assuming I’m competent for sustained bursts. So the notion that the quickly produced novel is lacking somehow is actually based more on the limited ability to imagine serious application, than it is reality. Same number of hours. Just condensed into far fewer days. Or put another way, hyper-efficient use of time.
I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a business where there’s so much poor advice or lousy, limiting thinking than the writing business, nor so much misinformation. Good and commercially successful novels have been created in short time-frames for as long as there have been writers. Consider A Clockwork Orange, or The Running Man, or Mickey Spilane’s I, The Jury, A Study In Scarlet, Farenheit 451, Casino Royale, and on and on and on. To claim or believe that it can’t be done is akin to stubborn insistence that the earth is flat. Believe it at your peril – it’s your career, not mine.
Now back to work for me. Got another 5K words to write before I sleep…
I’ve watched the latest craze of crowdfunding virtually everything from cosmetic surgery to book publishing, and in light of the acceptance of the practice by some of my fellow authors, have started my own crowdfunding effort.
Because I need me a motherf#cking jet.
But who’s got the money to buy one? Not I.
Instead, I want others who presumably work hard for their cash, or don’t (it’s okay if pops was rich – I don’t hate you for being the lucky sperm as long as you toss some cheddar my way), to fund my platinum level travel experience. Because, like so many authors who haven’t gotten around to saving the money to fund the creation of their book but want it now if not sooner, I’m kind of impatient and don’t want to wait.
I know, I know, you’re thinking moral hazard, but that’s so oh-fourteen. Tut tut, I say, it’s a new era, one in which I shouldn’t be expected to scrimp and save and do without in order to chase my dream. Not if I can convince you to pay for it for me.
So here’s the deal. I’ll send everyone who contributes to ensuring that I wing my way around the world in high style, custom digital photographs of myself swigging mimosas with supermodels aboard my new Falcon or Hawker or Gulfstream, or if I have to slum for shorter hops, a Lear 35. I’ll also throw in five minutes of personalized phone consultation with someone purporting to be me, who might have a slightly Indian accent but whom I assure you is actually me.
I only need a few million bucks to do this, and I just know you wouldn’t want me to continue to have to fly commercial, exposing myself to dangers like Ebola, the flu, and boredom as fellow travelers recount tedious stories about their forgettable lives.
If it’s acceptable to crowdfund my production of a book I intend to sell for profit (or as I think of it, my lottery ticket), it’s got to be acceptable for my jet needs, right?
Worst case, if I don’t raise sufficient funds to buy something really bitchin, my next crowdfund will be for a year’s worth of jet charter, and I’ll just have to reconcile myself to the humiliation of having to share the butter soft leather of my preferred conveyance with paunchy hedge fund managers & investment bankers. I presume they sterilize the seats between flights, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine.
For those of you reading between the lines, thinking this might be a sly dig at those who have their hands out for you to subsidize their dream so they can enjoy immediate gratification with zero sacrifice or risk, well, I say don’t be hatahs.
I love everyone equally. I mean, I love those who contribute serious loot to my effort way more than those that don’t, but as kind of a general statement, it’s roughly equal.
Now ante up. And as always…buy my crap.