Short Updates

—I ran a two- book giveaway on Goodreads of my short novel Desperados and, as always, it was a smashing success. 458 people entered the contest. I know I’m not pulling a million people or even a thousand like the big guys pull but hey, not too shabby for a guy no one’s ever heard of right? The books are on the way to the winners. And yes I’m well aware that people love free shit, everybody does, including me. But like I always say: a giant leap begins with baby steps. Painful baby steps but baby steps nonetheless.

—I decided to re-edit BLACK PILLS & RED BULLETS, one of the first books I ever wrote and published. Why? Because, since then, and in a lot of ways; I’ve grown a lot as a writer, plus I’ve had a few complains about it, meanly that some of the stories didn’t make much sense. The thing that was very eye-opening to me is that it was edited for publication by a professional editor. And they didn’t catch any of these nonsensicalities. When I re-edited it myself a bunch of weeks back, I did see where some folks would feel lost and confused by what was on the page, so I went to work and got it right and tight. I still can’t believe I paid so much moolah to an editor who obviously didn’t care about the piece. What can I say? Those are some of the perils of being a self-published writer. At the end of the day though, that’s all on me, I was the one who went and hit that “publish” button. So, if per-chance, you bought that book I want to thank you from the bottom of my lovely black heart, and offer my sincerest apologies. Since it has been updated I’m sure you will not be disappointed with this new edition, if it’s still in your Kindle give it a second read and let me know what you think. If you haven’t purchase a copy, you can still do so as it is available for ALL e-readers, and it’s still at the same price that it was before of only $0.99.

—If you enjoy short fiction I got a blogitty in which I’ll upload the occasional short story and, or flash fiction (it was getting a little too crowded here). Head on over to: BULLET BITES BACK and give it a whirl…

Hey, thanks for the visit. Go get your read on playa.

Too-doo-loo

Work for Us. Work for Free!

Nobody likes working for free, nobody should. It amazes me how many asshats want writers to work for free in this day and age. When I go to the supermarket I’m expected to pay cold hard cash or with a valid credit card; not with ‘exposure’ same goes for when the landlord comes knocking on my door expecting cold hard cash. I suspect he will not respond kindly if I was to tell him that my being a dweller in his building will bring him great ‘exposure’.

When you’re starting out in this writerly business you’ll do anything to get your work out there, you’ll bend over backwards and forward. I’m here to tell you that you need to reel that shit in real quick, because there’s a bunch of unscrupulous douchebags just waiting for a hungry author like you so they can pounce on and take advantage of—do not fall for this giant bucket of bullshit.

If anyone tells you that when you’re starting out, you need to ‘pay to play’ just tell them that they can eat a giant turd sandwich, with a side- order of fuck you. Writing is a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work, it takes time and effort, but mainly; it’s a lot of fucking work okay? My time, your time is important and it should be respected. This tirade comes to you courtesy of websites that claim to be hip and ‘in the know’ when it comes to cool writers, cool topics and connections while expecting writers to work for free for ‘exposure.’

To those sites. To those people I say: see this? Its call a middle finger.

My 2 Cents.

Q & A

Late last month, gentleman scholar, and all-around good guy Colman Keane was kind enough to shoot a few questions my way for his site Col’s Criminal Library. I’ve taken the liberty of copy/pasting  said interview onto this site because, sometimes, I’m lazy like that. If you’d rather read the original, just click HERE.

A hearty thank you to Mr. Colman Keane for the lovely Q & A. Enjoy!

I’ll assume the writing isn’t full time, so what’s the day job?

You assume correctly. I moonlight as a condom tester. Kidding, I work for a company that does horseracing data. Not as exciting as a rubber tester, but it pays the bills.

Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the uber-cool Verge Le Noir moniker isn’t something your parents came up with – is your real identity a well-guarded secret? Why not publish your books under your real name?

No my parents are not that cool—at all. I’m just a cat who’s scared of his own writing so he hides under a too-cool-for-school nom de guerre in order to appease the God’s of writerly things. My name is not a well-guarded secret, I’m not in the witness protection program or anything as exciting as that, matter of fact, my writer bio has just been updated on Amazon where I use my real name, (and new mug shot) I will however, still use my pen name because is way cooler than my real name which is Virgilio Feldman. Try fitting that on a small book cover.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Honest to the Gods of Beer? Doing this Q & A. And having people read the stuff I write.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have one; I slip the writing whenever I can. I’m lucky I get to write at all. I typically try to cram as much writing as possible on my days off. Sorry ladies…

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

I’ve only done it in my short novel Desperados sparingly—and it’s mostly overly exaggerated anecdotes from an acquaintance here and there, or family members, but for the most part I don’t do it.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I like to let the characters take me wherever they want to go, so I make it up as I go along. Most smart writers swear by plotting, I see it as painting yourself into a corner and that doesn’t jive with moi. Maybe I will try it someday.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Nothing’s off limits I hate censorship.

Desperados features the journey of a young immigrant coming to America from the south, any parallels with your own life or are you a home-grown American citizen?

Good question. I was lucky enough to migrate legally to the U. S. from Honduras about thirty years ago. I did mined a few things about my life for Desperados, lets’ see: I’m from the same Islands that the character Lester talks about, I was once duped by a cousin into becoming a bracero in the State of Georgia for about two months in hell, we lived in trailers in the middle of nowhere making shit money, on the weekends we would shop at a Piggy Wiggly. A manager of a restaurant I used to work at did the orange juice bit to a waitress once. The character of Leonide or Leo is based on a good friend of mine who hails from the Ivory Coast by way of France but that’s where the similarities end. These are the few things I can think of from the top of my head; the rest is pure imagination and research.

I believe you’ve self-published all your work to date, is that a conscious move? Have you tried the “traditional” route via an existing publisher?

A conscious move indeed, I don’t know anyone in the publishing business, and I won’t know how to approach anyone on that side of things, besides they only seem to be interested in bestselling authors and celebrities. They want an established brand. So yeah I’m self- published all the way. For every one of my books though, I hire a professional editor, a book formatter and make my own book covers. I just don’t see what a traditional publisher can do for a guy like me. I honestly don’t see it. For prestige? Piss-off. The world doesn’t need another ‘tastemaker’ or ‘bouncer’ at the exclusive writers club. My humble opinion and it can change, but for now I’m happy as a clam in salt water doing things this way.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

In a scale of one to ten, I would have to say One Hundred. A Hunter Thompson quote comes to mind, he said: “It’s like trying to wrestle a T-bone steak from a hammerhead shark.” Similar to that or thereabout.  Although a lot of it is my fault, I’m a lousy salesman, I don’t know much about promotion, pushing product etcetera, etcetera. I’m still learning, for the most part I just concentrate on writing an entertaining story.

Your works so far are Desperados – a novel, Killing Crows – a long short story, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets – two short story collections. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?

Tricky question, like: who is your favorite child? The red-headed bastard is my favorite! In this case they’re all my favorite red-headed bastards. In all honesty; the last one I wrote—Desperados—is my favorite because is the closest I’ve come to cannibalizing parts of my life in order to write a good story. It’s a bit personal I suppose. I must say though; Shell Casings seems to be people’s favorite, even my editor liked it a lot.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

I’m juggling a couple of projects, but the one that seems to be ahead its call Two Iguanas Lounge and it features a couple of the characters from the short story: Lizards Lounge (a short story you can find in the book: Black Pills & Red Bullets) In Two Iguanas Lounge, I’ll introduce a private detective by the name of Troy Declan Molloy and a Lieutenant by the name of Samira Andrade, these two team up in order to take down a serial killer who’s terrorizing a small Arizona town. It’s going a bit slow. We’ll see how it turns up, in the meantime; I’ll be uploading to my website, some short- stories, and my ramblings as usual.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Bedding all the women who find the broke-ass writer irresistible. Kidding, the best thing about writing is coming up with bat-shit crazy scenarios in which your characters can play and then having people read it. It’s magical. Writing is a lot of fun, you can’t beat that.

The worst?

Meeting women who don’t fall for the broke-ass writer. Kidding, (somewhat). The worse is trying to get the story to the right audience. That’s brutal.

What are the last five books you have read?

  1. Lee Child’s Night School
  2. Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  3. Re-read Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch—brilliant book.
  4. You by Caroline Kepnes—well plotted, well written.
  5. The Sellout by Paul Beatty—quite possibly one of my favorite books from 2016

Who do you read and enjoy?

Love Elmore Leonard, Christa Faust is phenomenal, Charles Bukowski always kills it, Junot Diaz inspires, Stephen Hunter knows his shit, Dennis Lehane thrills and so does Michael Connelly. I really wish Diablo Cody would write another book, because whenever I need a chuckle I grab my copy of her book Candy Girl, and I swear; whatever pages you land on in that book, you’ll sure to find a giggle or two.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias— mind-blowingly good.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Falling in love from a plane without a parachute. A. k. a.  Reading, hanging out in dive bars or watching Netflix.

In a couple of years’ time…

Hopefully I’ll have a few more books; therefore I’ll—hopefully—have a few more readers.

 

The Fine Art of Pitching.

pixabayIt has been said that pitching is the cornerstone for all marketing; if that’s the case, then yours truly really sucks at it.

Yeah it’s going to be one of those rants.

But wait—if you’re writer—stick around and I’ll tell you where you can place a FREE ad, for your free book or short story, a place where you’ll get a bunch of download and  hopefully readers. Okay back to bitching, I mean; pitching. Here’s the pitch (blurb/synopsis) for my FREE short story Killing Crows.

Newly minted family man Bobby Herrera got pinched for robbing a bodega. Now he’s looking at twenty years. His new cellmate, Clayton Stanton Jr., is a dark and violent man. A killer with a big secret—a secret that can set Bobby free or get him killed.

Its chess not checkers at Federal Correctional Institution Ray Brook in Upstate New York.

Admittedly, I’m biased, because I wrote the damn thing. Naturally, as the writer, I don’t see anything wrong with it. The blurb gives the names of the main protagonists and the gist of the story—without giving away the whole enchilada. Reddit is a great place for a lot of cool stuff, I really like the place. Their self-publish sub-reddit helped me a lot when I was starting out in this journey, and to help writers promote their writing; they’ve added a few places where a writer can advertise their books and shorts stories for FREE, without coming across as a spambot douche.

Those sub-reddits are:

/r/freeebooks   /r/kindlefreebies  /r/efreebies   /r/wroteabook   /r/bookdownloads.

So I added my FREE short story Killing Crows to all of those sub-reddits. But apparently my pitch sucked because pretty soon I had some messages that told me so. Here’s the abridge version of some of them:

*Drop back five yards and punt, kiddo.

*Hmm… I’m gonna pass. There’s a grammatical error in the last line.

*Your blurb is very short, doesn’t hook me, and contains at least one grammatical mistake. That’s enough to turn me away.

*I was intrigued by the title, but the cover and blurb didn’t grab me.  

I’m no grammar Nazi, but I understand where these folks are coming from, who wants a miserable reading experience right?  Despite of all that was said above; I stand by my story, It’s a solid piece of work, a testament to that is this AMAZON REVIEW I don’t see the mistakes or problems with that blurb and neither did the TWO editors whom I paid to helped me edit and prof-read it—I’m stumped, that being said, as of this writing, the story has been downloaded by 54 people, and counting, so hopefully they’ll like the story and leave an honest review—that’s all I can hope for.

Look, in no way am I comparing myself to the great Hemingway (I write pulpy crime fiction for fucks sake) but I wonder; if he was a writer today, how on earth would he find the time to go fishing in the Florida Keys, take in a genuine Spanish bullfight, smoke hand- rolled cigars in Cuba, and write great books about his adventures, if he had Tweets to send, Facebook to update, write rants to post on his blog, pin pins on Pinterest, do whatever it is that folks do on Instagram, buy Google ads, buy Twitter ads, figure out how to buy Facebook ads, make print books, find a way to get a mailing list going—somehow, and beg people to read his book on Goodreads, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook., etc.  If Papa Hemingway was a self-publishing author today, he would probably blow his brains out…Oh wait, bad example.

Terrible, jet-black humor aside, this promo thing has proven to be quite the challenge. At times it feels like a tremendous waste of time, but hey, that seems to be the new normal for us self-publishers these days, good thing I enjoy writing a cool and solid page turner, otherwise I won’t be doing this.

‘Till next Time Buckaroos.

Pimping Books—Part Due.

pimp-hatCaptain’s log; star date Sunday, August 07, 2016. I’ve entered the labyrinthine world of buying ads by clicking on Twitter ads, used a ‘Twitter web card’ I was prompted to make, and bought an ad for $2.00 a day, with the objective to run it for one week, on a budget of $10 a week. I’m still not sure if it went through, I thought Twitter was going to be easier that Google, maybe it is, regardless I’m still scratching my head over that one.

Captain’s log supplemental; star date Monday, August 08, 2016. Re-entered the labyrinthine world of buying ads by opening a Google AdWords account, which turned out to be easy. If you have a Google account already, you can use that one, which is what I did. Writing the ad, on the other hand, was limiting because they have an established amount of words you can type to write the ad, concise is the name of the game here. Once again, I started with $2.00 a day, which—if I understand this correctly—Google will charge only if a person clicks on the ad, I wanted to add a budget limit to this, but I couldn’t find how. We’ll see how it goes.

Captain’s log; star date Wednesday, August 10, 2016. After much digging, prodding and clicking on stuff, I finally managed to find the ads panel on Facebook. This social platform has been a navigational pain in the neck for me over the years, and they keep changing it, I’m guessing is because I have a ‘fan page’ and not a ‘personal page’? Anyway, got my credit card ready to put some of my hard-earned greenbacks into Mr. Zuckerberg’s pocket (Not like he needs any more) and skipped through a lot of instructional stuff (You’ll need a whole day to read it all) clicked-off the ABP, and I hit the create ad button. Then, that annoying circling loading signal from hell came on, waited, waited some more.  Logged out, logged in again, and the wheelie from hell keeps spinning and spinning on the ads manager page. I had to get ready for work, will probably try again some other time (that’s a big old maybe)—ugh.

Update: As of this posting, Google Ad Words has accepted my add, is up and running, so far I’ve had 17 clicks with a cost of $0.27 cents a click, which brings my total cost for today to $4.53 with zero sales. Although, this is a very interesting and exciting way for gathering interest for my book(s) this has proven to be a lot of work, work that requires time and patience, plus moolah. Truth be told; I’d rather be writing my next book.

Gotta keep, keeping on though.

Later!

Pimping Books.

pimp-hatA book pimp is essentially what a writer has to become in this day and age. Reductive? Heck, downright insulting, but it’s true. I love the freedom that self-publishing provides, I do this mainly because I love to write an entertaining good story, I don’t do it for fame, nor do I want fame, I don’t do it for money or poontang—God knows I get none of the above by doing this, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m essentially running a business, a business that’s bleeding money because I suck at pimping books.

Granted, I haven’t been in the game for long, but I’m starting to see why many a self-published writer drops the towel and quits the game. Writing the book is half the battle, promoting the thing, now there’s a skill no one tells you about—I don’t have it, because I never been a salesman, let alone a ‘self-promoter.’ I feel icky pushing what I write onto people’s faces, it can get frustrating, depressing and some would say ‘undignified.’

Blowjobs for reviews is no way to go through life (unless that’s your thing, in which case; carry on).

Why all the bellyaching you ask when all I have to do is pursue a deal with a ‘reputable’  gate keeper, eh…I mean; publisher? Lots of reasons, mainly I don’t think they’ll like what I write, I’m not a ‘literary’ guy, I write what entertains me and hopefully, is what will entertain the few folks who are kind enough to read my stuff. Publishers have the annoying tendency to tell writers what they should or should not write. They take more than they give; they hardly do any promotion, which is what a writer needs the most. The list goes on…and on.

I wish I had the promotional budget of the Coca-Cola Company to promote my books, because I run on a tight budget, I’m not rich (even though I spend most of my time at my job, hmm) So by the time I’m finished paying the editor/s, book formatter, securing a copyright, and buying images for the book cover. I’m left with zero budget for promotion, which sends the book into oblivion. I repeat: I never been a salesman, nor do I have the desire to become one, but it looks like I have to become that which I hate the most; a shameless fucking salesman. (No offence to those of you who are. A tip of the hat to you, that shit ain’t easy).

Hand jobs for a five star review on Amazon… sir? Madam? Gimp? Anybody…?

Truthfully, I’d rather be writing my next book. That being said, and after deciding to forgo a visit to the dentist (yet again)fingers cross, this upcoming Monday I’ll dip my toes into the murky waters of buying ads. So far I’ve learned that Twitter seems to be the easiest, Facebook on the other hand seems daunting, I hardly understand that platform as it is, hence the reason why I’m hardly on there—aside from the occasional post. I don’t even know how to join Facebook groups, or ‘like’ other people’s postings on it. Google AdWords seems to be the toughest, but hey, we’ll see how it goes.

How is this for my very first sales pitch? ‘Drop your knickers we got a book to sell!’ I hate myself already, stay tune for partie deux.

Great, now I want a Coke, and so do you. See what I mean?

Nose To The Grindstone

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Image Credit: OpenClipart-vectors/pixabay.com

BAM! Just like that 41,017 words so far. Desperados is the name of my new project, it started out as a short story ooh, about two or three years ago. I always felt that I had a lot more to say about the fictional character in the form of Honduran migrant Julio Roman—they’ll be outlaws a-plenty.

The story begins with a tattered Julio inside of a stash house in Arizona, where he ended up after being handed- over to a couple of sadistic lunatics who work for a cartel. Along his ride into the U. S. he meets a plethora of sociopaths and all sorts of other colorful characters, all reaching for a piece of the American (dream) pie. It’s going to be a thrill ride to read because it’s been a thrill ride to write. The research has been interesting, and enlightening. Needless to say I’ve learn a lot and hopefully so will the reader.

I don’t write every day—I really, really wish I did (what writer doesn’t right?), but life has a way of getting in the way, of yanking me out of my half-life as a writer.  I must admit though that starting this blog has helped a bunch, because it’s forcing me write more. Speaking of which (get ready to be happy) I’m going to start a new segment slash page call True Crime, in which I’ll dribble my condense take on a particular real life criminal, crime or criminals. I’ll try to anchor the segments on characters, I’ll try to keep things light by peppering the pieces with my world famous witty repartee (can’t guaranteed success on that one simply because we’ll be talking about some real shit and I don’t wish to come across as trivializing matters.) I’m compiling some stories at the moment so— keep an eye out for it.

Desperados will be my first novel. The idea came to me while reminiscing about what happened to me- oh, I’ll say a good twenty- odd years ago, when I got bamboozled by a cousin of mine into working crop fields in the state of Georgia (long-ass, boring story, only good thing about it was the lovely Georgia peach I met down there. Hey Nicole! Holla for a dolla) I ended up a bracero picking onions, cucumbers and tobacco leaves. I remember those leaves being toxic as fuck, those things were a nightmare, plus you had to ‘be on the lookout for rattlesnakes.’ While a field the size of a football stadium waited to be picked, at temperatures reaching 95 degrees (this at 9 in the morning). Fun times.

Anyway imagine that, my first novel. I’m nervous as fuck about it. But I’m also thrilled at the prospect. I still have a long way to go, 41,071 words are only the first draft and I’m hoping to hit the 50,000+ words mark, or somewhere around that neighborhood (making it a short novel) I’ll post updates on here whenever possible, but as far as I’m concern it’s in the bag baby. It’s been a tough process but I’m loving it. I just hope folks dig it. As a writer is the only thing you can hope for.

Okay that’s it. Pen to paper, nose to the grindstone. Smell ya later!