Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (or Ten Minutes)

5 Stars
So a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m wanting to toy with the look and functionality of this site. I spent time I should’ve been reading/writing and have a rough draft completed. Before I spend a few more hours launching it, I’d like a few eyeballs to take a look, give me some feedback. I know all too well that I’d let something simple slip by* or an eyesore. I’m hoping to get 10 +/- volunteers (in addition to the handful of people I volunteered).

* Actually, while doing this, I found a major problem with this current theme—Tuesday night will likely involve too much time fixing it (never you mind the fact that no one’s said anything about it for years, I know it’s there).

If you’re willing Drop me a quick line—make sure to include an email address (which I’ll forget about right after using). In return for any feedback, you’ll be eligible to receive 5% of all the profits I make from this thing in 2019 (which means you may end up owing me $5).

Thanks!

And now, a bonus video, because I can’t get this performance out of my head after I typed that Post Title.

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Saturday Miscellany — 7/27/19

Unexpected fatigue and dadding kept me from being as productive this week as I’d thought I would be six days ago — I spent an entire day without touching my laptop! Practically un-heard of.

Still, I managed to find a few odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry — Literary characters being pulled from their books into our world, sounds like a great idea. Until someone starts pulling the villains out for their own ends. Killer concept. Read what my pal over at Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub had to say about it
  • The Last Astronaut by David Wellington — in a future where humanity has given up on space exploration, something unknown shows up in our solar system so the last person trained to go into space is called into action. Interesting concept, seeming great execution. See what Char’s Horror Corner had to say.
  • The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan — second week in a row for a fantasy title that makes me think about diving into the world some more.
  • Jade War by Fonda Lee — I liked Jade City (just not as much as the collective reading community did), an am intrigued by the second volume in the trilogy. Looking forward to seeing what people say about it.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to brian2010, TooFullToWrite and fionac13 for following the blog this week.

Saturday Miscellany — 7/20/19

Here’s a facepalm moment, I thought I posted this before I closed my browser this afternoon. But…well, what are ya gonna do? Better later than never, eh?

Here are the odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt — one of the stronger non-Christmas-related installments in years. A fast, fun mystery. As I said using more words
  • The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter — for reasons beyond my ken, I’ve become resistant to jumping into a new Epic Fantasy series, but this Game of Thrones meets Gladiator, drawing on African traditions adventure just might make me give it a go. Looks great, and my feeds have been glowing about it.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to penninkreviews, Diana and miscellanypages for following the blog this week.

Indie Crime Fiction: A Niche of One’s Own

Douglas Adams once wrote (in a detective novel, btw, so it’s fitting), “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” That describes this post—I had a pretty clear idea what I was going to say when I started this—but that’s not where I ended up rambling about. Still, I think this’ll work.

Since Jo Perry recruited me to take part in this celebration of Indie Crime Fiction, I’ve been wondering what I can say about the topic as a whole. What is it about Indie Crime Fiction that defines it, what separates it from “mainstream” Crime Fiction (I’m not entirely comfortable with that term — but it’s easier to say than “Crime Fiction Published by one of ‘The Big Five'”). I don’t mean to pit the two against each other—and I don’t think they should be. It’s not a Zero Sum Game—the better Indie Crime is written, sells, and is read the better “Mainstream” Crime Fiction will be written, sell, and be read.

So what is it about Indie Crime Fiction that makes it something to focus on—even celebrate? Like other forms of entertainment media—the last decade+ (largely since the advent of the Kindle) has seen an explosion in the number of options the consumer has. We have hundreds of TV channels—and dozens of streaming options ; we have a music industry so segmented by genre and interest it’s impossible to imagine a star on the level of those produced in the 60’s-80’s. Novels have seen the same explosion—there are just so many options, so many choices, that no one can possibly get to read all of the options that appeal to them—truth be told, no one can know the market enough to know what’s out there that might appeal to them.

What Independent Publishers—and self-publishers—can do that the Big 5 can’t do, is appeal to a niche audience. They don’t need a mega-seller to take care of the budget (and pay for mid-list—and lower—authors to get established and build an audience). I don’t know—and don’t want to know—the economics involved and just what they have to sell to make a profit, but it’s not as much as Hachette or Simon & Schuster, that’s for sure. But a niche audience tends to be very devoted and likely to proselytize.

Yes, there’s not the marketing push behind them that some get from the “mainstream” (but even most of their authors have to do their own), and they have to rely on word of mouth—but word of mouth can be very effective. And in our heavily-curated social media world, word of mouth can be very effective—there’s a good chance that someone you follow shares some of your tastes/perspectives/interest (that’s why you follow them, right?). So something they talk about is likely in your—or adjacent to your niche. And niches abound in Indie Crime.

A small sample off the top of my head—which is just the tip of the very large iceberg—there’s a niche for novels about*:

*This is off the top of my head, so details might be a bit off, the links are to my own posts, but you can find links to the author/publisher in them

And I could go on (and wish I had the time to)—and those are just niches that I’ve found—and I know there are more out there that would appeal to me as much (if not more) than some of those. Atypical protagonists, sometimes atypical crimes/cases, told in bold—sometimes unconventional—voices and styles. This is what appeals to me about Indie Crime Fiction. Sure, mainstream publishing does come up with things that are atypical—e.g., a 34-year old woman in Botswana moving to the city and starting a detective agency, a pre-teen girl in post-war Britain who keep stumbling over dead bodies, a dog narrating PI novels, a modern inner-city Holmes, a pre-WWI lady deputy sheriff turning New Jersey law enforcement upside down—and I’m glad they put those things out! But by and large you find the “quirky” (for lack of a better term) in Indie Crime Fiction.

A plethora of voices—and it drives me crazy to know I can’t sample all that I want to, and that I won’t even know all that I don’t get to sample—telling a panoply of stories. This is what Indie Crime Fiction is about, what draws me to it, and won’t let me go for the foreseeable future.

Saturday Miscellany — 7/13/19

A small (but interesting!) list of odds and ends, a killer bunch of new releases, a nice podcast interview and some new friends. Short intro, good week. Enjoy the post!

The odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episodesyou might want to give a listen to:

  • Episode 674 | Abbi Waxman Returns — Hank Garner talks to one of my new favorite authors, Abbi Waxman about her new book.

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon is probably the strongest list in months:

  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty — The hype for this is huge. And seems desereved. For the 2.7% of you that haven’t heard about this, here’s the synopsis: “You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.” This is either gonna be fantastic or a waste of time. My money’s on the former.
  • The Shameless by Ace Atkins — how can this be the ninth Quinn Colson novel already? The stakes have never been higher than they are in this book, sure to be a winner.
  • And for an entry with no guns, kidnapping or killings, here’s: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman — a charming tribute to books and readers — I gushed over this one last week.
  • Null Set by SL Huang — the second installment in this series isn’t quite as good as the first, but it develops a lot of what was hinted at while setting up bigger things for the future. I dig this character and even “not quite as good” is still a good book, my fuller thoughts are here.
  • Ash Kickers by Sean Grigsby — I was blown away by last year’s Smoke Eaters‘ tale of firefighters vs. dragons. And now you add in a Pheonix for the sequel? Come on. . . how do you say no?

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Shana Gorian, Caroline Vincent, Tales of alenshy and The Unseen Library for following the blog this week.

WWW Wednesday, 10-July-2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words — and shown to me by Aurore-Anne-Chehoke at Diary-of-a-black-city-girl. I had fun with this last week, thought I’d try again.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Easy enough, right?

What are you currently reading?

I’m still working my way through Craig Ferguson’s Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations, and am about 50% done with Gravity by Maggie Lynch.

What did you recently finish reading?

Earlier today I finished the return of Chet and Bernie in Heart of Barkness by Spencer Quinn and I polished off The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin, Andrea Emmes.

What do you think you’ll read next?

My next audiobook is The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner, and tomorrow I should also be starting The Queen Con by Meghan Scott Molin.

Hit me with your Three W’s in the comments!

Saturday Miscellany — 7/6/19

It seems like half of the things I found for this post this week were links I already posted this year. I guess everyone was having a holiday week. Maybe there’s not a lot, but I like what I did see.

Here are the odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Ink To Ashes by Russell Day — technically, one of last week’s new releases — but I somehow missed the news. Doc Slidesmith (possibly my favorite new character of 2019) and Yakky are back for more Miss Marple-y action (if Miss Marple was a voodoo-practicing, motorcycle riding, tattoo artist with a PhD).
  • Heart of Barkness by Spencer Quinn — It’s been four long years since the last Chet & Bernie novel, I’m so looking forward to this new one. Don’t know what it’s about yet — don’t care.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to karishmarele Aurore-Anne-Chehoke, Sovely Matters and chapterinmylife for following the blog this week.