I’VE COME OUT (PT.1)

I’ve Come Out will be a two-part post. This week I’m somewhat uncomfortably placing every purchase link for each of my books on this page rather than leaving them on their own specific website locations (where they will remain). I’m also listing all the personal appearances that thus far have been scheduled. As of this writing I’ve yet to receive the Box Set links.

I say “somewhat uncomfortably” because frankly, I have a difficult time self-promoting. In fact, for part 2 (next Monday) I’ll write about that and the myriad of feelings I have about the re-birth of my older novels and, of course, my new one.

I’ve placed the links in the order the Matt Jacob Novels were written. For those of you who might want to purchase any or all, here are all the places where you can. Just click on the highlighted links. Thanks.

 

Be sure to check out this link for exciting news about STILL AMONG THE LIVING!

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eBooks

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

 

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eBooks

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

 

 

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eBooks

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

 

 

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eBooks & Trade Paperback

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

 

 

APPEARANCES

April 10, 2015 — PAPERCUTS J.P. BOOKSTORE, 5 Green St. Jamaica Plain, Ma. (7 P.M.)

April 15, 2015 — BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH, 279 Harvard St, Brookline, Ma. (7 P.M.)

April 24-25 — NEWBURYPORT LITERARY FESTIVAL, (Venues and times to be announced.)

                                 

SOME FINE LINES

Since my books have all been published this month as eBooks and the latest as both an eBook and trade paperback, I’ve been in author mode. As a result I found myself reading their first chapters. Then I thought it might be fun to find some great lines (most are first sentences but not all) that weren’t mine and present them here. As I said in the notice for this column I’d love people to add their own favorites in the comment section. Remember, Umberto Eco once said, “The list is the origin of culture.”

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

“Unlike the typical bluesy earthy folksy denim-overalls noble-in-the-face-of-cracker-racism aw shucks Pulitzer-Prize-winning protagonist mojo magic black man, I am not the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son.” - Paul Beatty, The White Boy Shuffle

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” – Samuel Beckett, Murphy

“I don’t hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I don’t. I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it!” – William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” - Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.” – Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” – Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, The Inferno

“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” - George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.” – James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

“Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

“The night of my mother’s funeral, Linda Dawson cried on my shoulder, put her tongue in my mouth and asked me to find her husband.” – Declan Hughes, The Wrong Kind of Blood

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.” – Truman CapoteIn Cold Blood

“You wouldn’t think we’d have to leave Chicago to see a dead body.” - Richard Peck, A Long Way from Chicago

“It was a fine cry—loud and long—but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.” – Toni Morrison, Sula

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson, Neuromancer

“The story so far: In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” – L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between

“True! – nervous – very, very nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

“Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.” – Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” – James JoyceUlysses

“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

BRING ‘EM HOME

For a significant portion of our nation’s history the United States’ populace was largely non-interventionist and isolationist, usually needing to be convinced through yellow journalism and intense propaganda to support a war. Our people were loath to enter World War One and, after its conclusion, we reverted back to an isolationist foreign policy. Because of major opposition within the country, the U.S. never signed the Treaty of Versailles or joined The League of Nations.

Our reluctance to intervene in other countries continued throughout the 23 years between the world wars. Then it took time, trickery (the Lend-Lease Program) and Pearl Harbor to convince Americans to support the Allies. Actually, there are some historians and documents that suggest our government had foreknowledge of the Japanese attack, but kept that secret so Roosevelt could use the attack to elicit public support for the war.

Well, those days are over and it’s time to ask why non-intervention and isolationism have been off the table since the end of World War Two. Instead we have stationed troops throughout the entire world on what has become essentially a permanent basis. Whether there is reason or not.

Worse, it seems our government hasn’t met a war it didn’t embrace. Can somebody please explain what Granada’s threat was to our national security? And while it’s true that Vietnam caused large scale protest, as did the two wars in Iraq, our government has kept the pedal to the metal, continuing to engage our forces anywhere and everywhere possible.

Even when war hurts our national security by destabilizing an entire region and radicalizing foreign hatred of our country, we march on. And we’re getting ready to do it again, using ISIS as our reason. Doesn’t it always start with “advisers” but no “boots on the ground?” Dime bags to hundred dollar bills, there will be boots on the ground.

And when there’s no war in which to engage, no matter, we simply stay on. Currently, the United States has military personnel deployed in about 150 countries which covers 75% of the world’s nations. (For a series of charts that attempts to pinpoint where our troops are specifically placed you can glance here. And while these charts are taken from Wikipedia, attached are some pretty solid references.)

And I don’t believe, though I’m not certain, the above covers our Special Operations Forces who are stationed in over 105 countries.

But other numbers are equally staggering.

ChartThe result: Defense spending accounts for about 20 percent of all U.S. federal spending.

Call me crazy but I see all this as completely insane. Especially if we actually want to protect ourselves. Conservatives are concerned with our national debt and see that as a major threat to our way of life. Despite all of NSA’s intrusions into our civil liberties, airport “security” is an ongoing joke, and virtually all of our internal terrorism is locally grown Nazi-like White Supremacists with but a few exceptions. Or look at our decaying infrastructure. Hell, cities don’t have enough money to shovel snow. Think some of that military money might help with any of these problems?

It might even be nice to have bullet trains, a middle class, and regain our desire to eradicate poverty and racism. Instead we station about 38,491 soldiers in Germany alone.

Now, I understand that embassies and consulates need protection. The world is a dangerous place and certain strategically placed military bases are necessary. But do we really need, or ought to have, 117,951 military facilities in foreign countries?

I don’t think so. I think we need to bring all our troops back home save for those deployed with the specific purpose of guarding embassies and consulates. Even there I would look carefully at each and every one of them in order to reduce the present number.

It’s not like we’ve really helped anyone with our warmongering since World War Two. (Ok, I *might* consider Korea. Though again, we’re talking about having engaged in a war on the other side of the world without any real threat to our national security.) We certainly didn’t rescue Southeast Asia. And the havoc we’ve wreaked in the Mideast is almost beyond comprehension. Why not let people in their own parts of the world decide for themselves how they want to live and who owns what. Only they’re not Americans so what do they know? But I can say, without fear of contradiction, that our military spending and wars have padded the pockets of the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about. And it doesn’t do too bad for the arms trade and multi-national corporations either. War means money and other peoples’ resources.

What about the rest of us? Start with the troops who we’ve put in danger war after war. Agent Orange, missing limbs, PTSD, and at least twenty-two veteran suicides a day. And frankly, I believe the number is higher depending upon the sources you believe.

Can anyone think of any benefit they’ve received from either the wars or the massive number of troops and bases abroad? I know the argument that if we don’t fight terrorism “over there” we’ll be in danger here. If it’s true, why won’t the government prove it? Show us the facts that substantiate the claim. We can handle the truth. To top it off, it doesn’t look like we’re doing too well “over there” either. Every day I open the newspaper and read about large numbers of people who were blown up, murdered, or kidnapped. And often at our hand, as we add to the totals with bombs, drones, and infantry and call it “collateral” damage. Our belligerent policies have brought death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children throughout the world.

Now, I understand that bringing ‘em home has absolutely no chance of happening. Nonetheless, it’s time to call for what we know to be right and to hell with just what’s possible. What we’re doing now is not only unsustainable and morally bankrupt, it threatens the very soul of our country.

3 penny

Post Script: I want to thank Kent Ballard who, during the past six months, graced this page with humor, intelligence, and wit. Although he’ll pinch-hit for me on occasion, I’m going to really miss reading him every other week. Thank you, Kent. Zach

An Unconventional Winter

by Kent Ballard

Don’t ask me anything about global warming. I don’t understand the science behind that idea. It’s logical that nine zillion cars and power plants could have an effect on the earth’s temperature, like most scientists say. What I don’t get is equally credited climatologists pointing out that one good volcanic eruption, like, say, Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in ’91 can, in four days, put out an equivalent amount of every nasty gas into the atmosphere that humans have for six hundred years. Is this our fault or not? If it is, we need to change our habits. If it’s not, we can do nothing about it.

Me, I don’t know. We’re gonna get what we’re gonna get.

They say the earth is slowly getting warmer. The fine print at the bottom of some of these articles also states we’ve been getting warmer for three hundred years, ever since the end of “the little ice age” around the time of the Renaissance. That was before the Industrial Revolution and the age of coal power. Me, I don’t know. I can’t remember back that far.

But I do know that last winter was supremely nasty here in the Midwest, as well as other parts of the world, and this winter hasn’t been any better. Last night we were to get three more inches of snow. We got seven. Poor Boston has been buried by snow since Miley Cyrus went nuts. The last time I checked Zach’s town was getting an unwanted renovation by the glaciers crushing it. People are waging guerrilla war against their neighbors for stealing shoveled-out parking places. The city fathers are worrying where to pile all that snow they do manage to scrape up off the streets. I’d suggest driving it out and dumping it on the Atlantic Ocean, since it’s frozen too, but they never listen to me. Or maybe they’re scared of forming real glaciers that would then move inland. The rest of the country has had a good laugh at the mayor of Boston pleading with citizens not to leap off three and four story buildings into snow piles. That sounds perfectly sane to me when your doors and windows are buried up to the second floor. How else are they supposed to get around? At least they’re not as crazy as New York, which declared a blizzard was coming (it didn’t) and ordered all citizens to stay off the subways—and still left them all running, empty–throughout the “snow emergency.” Great city management there, de Blasio. The Algonquian Indians had their act together better than that.

I left the city life in 1998 and moved as far into the hinterlands as possible. It’s great out here. But winter brings a different set of problems. One of the best pickup trucks I ever owned was a two-wheel drive Ford F-150. Good styling, great interior and options, 5.0 liter high-performance engine that would pass anything except for a gas station. It helped me move here. The next winter it was gone, replaced by a 4×4 pickup. The winter after that, our Chevy was replaced by a Jeep. Places to put accumulated snow are not a problem for a county that never runs plows save for the state highways, and I’m miles from any of them.

We’re too far out for luxuries like city water and gas. We burn propane from a 500 gallon tank for our gas heater and pump our own water from a 184 foot deep well. My electricity literally comes through the forest, not down the road and along our driveway. This is all fine and good until storms or icy, sagging tree branches snap the power line. No electricity, no power to the water pump. No power to the electronic ignition for the gas furnace, or power to run the blower. It can become pretty quaint here in the wink of an eye.

Many of my friends have told me flatly they would not live where I live because the nearest burg that passes for a town (a dozen or so miles away) does not deliver Chinese or pizza out this far. I point out that even if they did, the tip would cost far more than the food. And a pox on anyone who would order food delivery in this weather anyway. The poor college kids or men and women working two and three jobs to make ends meet shouldn’t have to risk their necks to save you a trip to a restaurant that’s only four blocks away. Shame on the people who do that.

So what do we do when the 21st Century vanishes at the speed of light? We side-step and go back to the 19th. Sitting next to my gas furnace is a whole-house wood burning furnace. There’s also a wood stove in the basement and a fireplace in the living room. We’ve got deep cycle batteries—always charged—and DC to AC inverters. Those run the computers and a few lights. I’m putting in solar chargers this summer. We’ve a lovely collection of kerosene lamps. That giant wood furnace runs hot enough that we need to open the windows if I stuff too much wood into it, and my Coleman camp stove has cooked many a meal while sitting on the electric range. We store a ridiculous amount of water in the basement in rinsed-out two liter pop bottles, all treated and sealed and far from any sunlight. In short, it’s pretty much business as usual, except when I pour a mug of water and place it in the microwave to make a cup of tea. I won’t admit the number of times I’ve done that over the years.

Same weather, but different places and different problems. As I look outside today, I swear it’s absolutely beautiful. A professional photographer would have a field day here. I live in a picture postcard. But I also know my wood is running low, and sooner or later I’ll have to don more outerwear than a space station astronaut, grab the chain saw, fire up that 4×4 truck, and go cut more firewood. Yup, we’re out of propane. We called over a week ago, but this winter has the drivers for the Podunk Gas Company running their tails off. We didn’t call in time. But fret not. It’s 74 degrees inside, thanks to cast iron, expensive chain saws, and the fact that I live in the middle of hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel. All I have to do is go get it. And hey, we’ve still got electricity…at least for now. Piece of cake.

Animals get weird after a long, deep snow. It’s a little-known fact in modern times, but during the westward migration more than one wagon train was snowed in and starved to death. When rescuers finally hiked in with provisions, they found that long after the humans had frozen to death the horses and dogs were still alive. It’s damned near impossible to freeze either one, unless it’s a chihuahua or a poodle. And both of them would be eaten by the coyotes around here anyway. I pick my dogs for cold-weather hardiness and size and I have four of them. Why so many? The coyotes would eat one. Maybe two. But they won’t attack four. I’ve found coyote stool in my yard and driveway. It’s interesting in the summer to sit out at night and listen to them howl, but when food disappears they take on a much darker character. The deer have been browsing the bark off small trees. Squirrels and raccoons have been making do as best they can, including stealing dog food off the porch when the dogs are out somewhere in the forest with me.

I took this job as guest columnist six months ago this week. Then, it was fall and we were all still relaxing in more balmy temperatures. Zach had recently had shoulder surgery and I offered to stand in every other week to help his wing heal. We talked about it becoming permanent, or at least as permanent as anything else on the Internet, but I’m really not much of a columnist so this will be my last entry. When we started, Zach suggested “around 1000 words” for a column. I think the shortest I ever turned in was 1200 or so, the longest over 3000. It takes me nearly 400 words just to say “hello” sometimes. Not all that professional, folks.

But it’s had it’s bright spots too. Four different times now I’ve talked to publishers over the phone who informed me they were adding extra pages to their magazines to print my articles in their entirety, not one word edited out. That’s simply unheard of. Publishers don’t do that. ‘Cept they did, four times for me. I guess it takes me a few words to get warmed up. Or get around to the point, depending on your view. I admit it. I’m long-winded.

But I hope you got a little information or maybe a smile or two from all the hair-pulling I’ve done here not to write major feature articles in a small blog column. If Zach ever gets stuck on the MTA or breaks his hand jumping out a three story window onto a two story building, I might drop in again someday. But for now, it’s back to my excessive verbiage in longer feature articles. Zach’s healed up well enough to take over fully now, and I thank him for this opportunity and thank you for putting up with me.

And now…I gotta go cut more firewood.

PREPARING TO RELAUNCH

by

Zachary Klein

Those of you who read this column already know that Polis Books is publishing the original three Matt Jacob novels as e-books, individually and as a set, then my new one, TIES THAT BLIND, both as an e-book and paperback. What most people are less aware of is the preparation it takes to create a successful relaunch/launch, for both the publisher and me.

If you’ve been to this site before you’ve probably noticed some significant changes with more to come. First and foremost are all the new covers for each book. Soon there will be links to where they can be bought. And while I cherish Michael Paul Smith’s cover designs that I used when on my own, I also appreciate the care and concern that Jason Pinter, founder and publisher of Polis took to create each of the new ones.

One striking difference from now and my experience at traditional publishing houses was Jason’s desire to include me in the cover design process. A whale of a change from when I’d see the covers of my books only after they were published. That’s just how it worked. Instead, Jason sent me multiple mock-ups of each book’s cover. Not only was I given a choice of the different pictures, but also the opportunity to mix, match and discuss the results with him.

For those who never worked with legacy publishers, that sort of care and connection was (I can’t speak for the present) non-existent. To say I’ve been pleased to have embraced this new world of publishing would be a huge understatement.

But where the rubber really met the road was in working with Polis Books after I submitted TIES THAT BLIND. Again, I was used to editorial demands to change the novels’ main character. “How can anyone drive having taken a 5mg valium pill?” Or, “It’s time to place Matt into a 12-step program.” Or, “Change the ethnicity of a character in NO SAVING GRACE.” How about being told that a murder needn’t happen in the first forty pages, then getting thumped when I didn’t have a murder in the first 40 pages? And these were only a few. Each submission was the beginning of a fight. An ugly fight I came to despise.

So you can imagine my pleasure when I received well thought out comments from Jason. Comments that made sense and helped make Ties a better book. This was the first time I didn’t have to argue about Matt’s personality, a book’s interpersonal relationships, or engage in “comma wars.” He also appreciated that this novel doesn’t adhere to the traditional detective fiction framework. It’s been something that I was edging closer and closer to from STILL AMONG THE LIVING to TWO WAY TOLL, and finally NO SAVING GRACE. In fact, this is a wave that’s been happening with other detective fiction authors and one that fits with my work. As I’ve mentioned in other columns, I think detective fiction and jazz are related. Some musicians have broken through the boundaries of their time and redefined their contemporary music. They feel as if they can experiment with the form, create innovations and variations, but it’s all jazz nonetheless. I can’t claim I’ve done that with TIES—but I can say it’s an honest attempt to place all the characters’ relationships at the forefront and let them define and drive the drama.

Truth is, if it wasn’t for this new age in publishing I probably would never have written this book. Writing is difficult and this is a novel that occurs at much later point in time than the first three. Truth also is that I’m grateful in many ways. The book allowed me to maintain continuity, but also move beyond where Matt had been before. It forced me to look at the aging process in terms of Matt’s personhood, lifestyle, and listen to his older voice. And I’m extraordinarily happy that I did because it stretched my abilities. Something that I still enjoy.

There are a lot of people to thank for their support and encouragement along the way. Kent Ballard for covering the fort on alternate Monday columns while I finished my revisions. Sue for her encouragement, and Sherri Frank for holding my feet to the fire and providing insightful comments all the way through. It ain’t easy reading the same book twenty times or more to get it right. And getting it right feels harder than it had been—I don’t know whether that’s because I’m smarter now or just older. But whatever happens with TIES, I’m truly pleased that Polis Books helped make the book the best it could be. And, although it can stand on its own two feet, I really hope people take the time to read the first three e-books. It’s always richer to know how a character grows and changes. I think it’ll add to the enjoyment of this one.

The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties. ~ W. Somerset Maugham