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Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Fifteen: The Writer’s Obligation?

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, Mateys!

So, I had a great email exchange with a reader this week. It was one of those exchanges that helped me explain a little about my process. I have been granted permission to post the exchange, so I will. Then I’ll talk a little more about what it all means to me. I hope you all join in the discussion in the comments section. Keep it real and civil. No haters, yo!

From reader:

“I finished reading your book Z Burbia. I enjoyed it and the humor in it. Bought your second book. I hope you will be open minded when I say using insults in your book such as “fat fuck”, “fat cow” continue to bring a perception that fat people are lazy, ugly, and worth less than others who are not fat. Just to put it out front, yes I am myself overweight. The cause doesn’t matter. Fat people are fighting a perception battle that impacts their lives and families. This perception negatively effects their relationships, jobs and how society treats them as a whole. You,  I’m sure wouldn’t use derogatory wording with ethnic groups or physically or mentally disabled but people feel free to insult fat people for the sole crime of being over weight. I hope you understand my intent and that this isn’t a personal assault on you or your character. As an author you have the ability to shape our society. Thank you for taking the time to read this email. May you have success in all of your endeavors.
Sincerely, REDACTED”

My response:

“Thank you for reaching out and for this thoughtful email.

As a man that has yo-yo’ed my entire life, I personally get where you are coming from 100%. At my largest I was 265 (I’m 6 feet). I have a body type where I have to pay attention to what I eat or it goes straight to my gut. I get it, trust me. However, I am not my characters. In other novels I have characters that actually do put down ethnic/cultural groups and mentally disabled folk by calling them “nigger”, “spic”, “wetback”, “redneck”, “retard” and “faggot”. Yet I would never, ever use those words myself and would probably smack the shit out of someone that said them in my presence. But, as an author, I let my characters say what they say. They are “people” and people are flawed. I can’t have every character be perfect and golden or they wouldn’t be real. I hope you understand. And, let’s face it, my novels have murder, rape, cannibalism, religious cults, totalitarian regimes, serial killers, and some seriously disturbing imagery. I’m never going for huggy-feely with my words.

With that said, I don’t want you to feel like I’m blowing you off because I’m not. I write YA and middle grade novels also (soon to be released by Permuted Platinum) and those novels do not have any of that in there. Well, one does, but as a learning lesson and the offender is chastised brutally by his peers. For kids, I set an example, for adults I let them handle life on their own. My wife and I are very aware of what we say to our children so they grow up with healthy ideas on body image. Where I shape society, and the future, is with my kids and how I act in real life.


Again, thank you for the email and please know that I am very aware of the impact every single word I use can have. Sometimes, I go for the negative impact because that’s where I want the gut punch to hit. And because I like to face my own personal demons head on!

Thank you for reading!”

 

The reader’s response to my response was very nice and we ended it on a great note.

I think some authors would get upset about this type of email. If it was a different subject, I may have also. But like I said in my response, I totally understand the weight thing. I get it. Took me a long time to come to turns with my own body image issues.

Yet…

I don’t think authors should ever try to shape society with their writing. I just don’t. I think that compromises the work. Try too hard and it all sounds false.

But this is coming from a writer that currently specializes in pulp horror/scifi/adventure/thrillers. I’m here to entertain, not educate.

Ah, but if I offend, have I failed as an entertainer? That’s a question to ponder. If part of my audience doesn’t like something I’ve written because it hurts them on a personal level then am I doing my job?

Yes. Because you can’t please everyone all the time. It goes back to last week’s post. Read Rule 4 and 5. You’ll see what I’m getting at. As a writer, I have to know that some readers will not like my work, for whatever their reasons are. Dem’s da breaks.

One last thing I want to share is a quote from the reader’s response to my response. Here it goes: “I also thank you for changing how I will be reacting to fat remarks in books in the future.”

As readers, people have the power to change how they perceive novels and entertainment. Instead of getting all up in arms because their specific hangups/pet peeves/worries/phobias/fears/sacred cows have been mentioned/defamed/killed/cooked on the grill with a delicious vinegar based BBQ sauce, people should use these types of situations to start a dialogue and open discussions with others that don’t feel the same way.

That is how we change society, by taking our experiences and sharing them with others. If we are honest with ourselves then it is easier to be honest with others. And let’s face it folks, we could use a lot more honesty in this world, don’t ya think?

So sound off! Do you think authors have an obligation to reflect positive change in their novels? How about if the novel is more about the negatives of society and not the positives? Where does an author draw the line between appropriate and not appropriate?

If you have been reading my series of posts then you know I am not a fan of rules being imposed on writers. Or on anyone, for that matter. Not that I’m an anarchist, but, well…

Come on, folks! Tell me what gets to you. Tell me what you think writers are obligated to do. Or not.

Discuss!

Cheers!

 

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

Friday Night Drabble Party!

And here we are again, my friends. Another week coming to a close, another Drabble ready to Party. The circle of life, bitches. The circle of life…

IT’S FRIDAY!

Time to get our drabble on!

First, though, gotta plug the new stuff!

Anti1 Antibiotics.
They have failed.
All that’s left are the Strains- bacteria so strong they have brought the world to its knees.
But humanity has fought on, carving out pockets of civilization in a wasteland known as the Sicklands, creating the super high-tech Clean Nation cities.
And from the cities GenSOF has been born- Genetic Special Forces Operations. An elite military branch of the government that enlists men and women with specific genetic anomalies that allow them to be hosts to bacteria that even the Strains cannot defeat. Under the watchful eye of Control, GenSOF protects the Clean Nation cities from the ever encroaching Strains and the diseased inhabitants of the Sicklands.
But now Control has other plans for GenSOF, and possibly the Clean Nation cities themselves, and it is up to the operators of GenSOF Zebra Squad, and their cloned Canine Units known as bug hounds, to find out what those plans are.
Or die trying.

Click that pic and go get ya some AntiBio action! And!

DeadTeamAlpha-EcoverIn the post-apocalyptic, zombie infested wasteland, there is one beacon of safety in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains: The Stronghold.
For decades, the inhabitants have fortified and defended the Stronghold from zombie hordes, building their society and culture on military precision.
And chosen from the best of the best is Denver Team Alpha. DTA is the elite strike force used to rescue survivors and refugees that have made it to the hellish wasteland of Denver below. But because of the unbelievable risks, and high mortality rate, DTA has come to stand for something else: Dead Team Alpha.
Now DTA will be put to the test as something far worse than zombies comes at them out of the wasteland.

Click that pic and go get ya some Dead Team Alpha action! And!

Don’t feel like reading? Then have a listen to some audiobooks! Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell just came out! Rock on!

Yep, I recycled some of the same announcements as last Friday. That’s how I roll, yo. Gotta keep up the Lazy Writer appearance. Don’t want anyone to think I work for a living.

Speaking of work, I’ll be incommunicado the next few days because I have a deadline to meet and my latest novel, Mega 2: Baja Blood, started slow. It’ll all come together, I’m sure, just going to be some long days and stressful nights. Huzzah!

Now, to the drabble!

Enjoy!

***

Foreign Object
By
Jake Bible

“He has some foreign object in his throat!” the doctor yelled. “Forceps! Now!”

“I’m sorry, doctor, but we have to call Security,” the nurse replied.

“What are you talking about?” the doctor said. “This man is choking!”

“Yes, but all foreigners, even objects, must be reported to Security for investigation and processing,” the nurse replied.

The doctor stared at her. “Are you joking?”

“No, doctor,” the nurse replied. “We have to alert Security.” Then she cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. “Unless you’re part of the Resistance. Are you, doctor?”

“Uh…no,” the doctor said. “I, uh, will call Security.”

***

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Damn foreign objects! They took our jobs!

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Fourteen: Fight The Fear!

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, mateys!

Do you smell that on the wind? Do you? It’s the smell of FEAR!

And a particular kind of fear- Writer Fear! Muwahahahahahahaha!

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The social networks be drenched in it. Every insecure writer out there just puking their neuroses into every post they make. Then the other writers hop on and perpetuate the fear, keepin’ it rollin’. Soon they are all whipped into a frenzy of fear and if anyone even dares to add something positive or, God forbid!, question the fear, then lookout! Here comes the lynch mob!

So let me spell this out in simple terms: knock it the fuck off.

Sure, writers, as with all artists, can be an insecure lot, filled with neurosis, psychosis, and coffee halitosis. I’m not arguing that. What I have a problem with is the writers that jump onto the fear bandwagon and add fuel to that lame fire. Those guys all want others to be as afraid as they are. Don’t buy into it, man. Walk away. Below I have a list (not comprehensive in any way) of ten fears I see writers vomiting into their Facebook posts daily. Have a read.

To the examples and metaphors!

1. The Self-Publishing Fear Train- I know I’ll catch a lot of flak for this, but in my opinion, the self-publishing movement is fueled by fear, not by independence. I honestly believe the majority of writers that decide to self-publish are not doing it for the artistic freedom or for the chance at riches. I believe they are doing it out of fear that they will miss out on said riches. That’s the number one argument I see shouted by self-pubbers when anyone presents their case that they want to go a more traditional route- “Why lose out on all that money? Why give away 75% of your royalties?”.

It’s a stupid argument based on absolutely nothing. If this argument is why you are self-publishing then you are doing it wrong. A fear of the possible? Are you shitting me? Sure, maybe you’ll be in the .1% of self-pubbers that hits pay dirt, but more than likely you’ll be selling three books a month. Why? Because there are a million others out there like you all trying to be seen/heard/smelled. You think you can rise above that pile? Maybe. But, I’m thinking maybe not.

If you’d rather not put in all the immense amount of work it takes to self-publish a quality product then don’t. Get your ass out there and submit to agents and publishers. Don’t be afraid of losing money that hasn’t even been made yet. Get some experience in the industry then self-publish once you know the ropes. Or don’t. Stick with publishers if that’s your gig. Trust me, you aren’t losing a dime if you do.

2. Rejection- Ignore it and move on. Everyone gets rejected. We’ve all heard the stories of famous manuscripts rejected ten, twenty, thirty, fifty times. Just keep going. Rejection is part of the process. If you fear rejection then you fear the process itself and should probably not be a writer. Which brings me to…

3. Reviews- Ignore those too. Sure, read them if you want, but ignore them once you are done. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writing is not a community endeavor. So someone didn’t like your novel. Whoopty shit. Who cares? Not everyone is going to like what you write. That’s why there are fifty bajillion genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres.

And get this, people that leave reviews have an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with you or the work. Say what? Yep. Think of the last time you wrote a review of something or left feedback or sent an email to a manufacturer or whatever. Was your agenda to leave an honest review or give honest feedback in the hopes it would make the world better? No. You left that review, filled out that comment card, sent that email because you wanted someone to listen to you. Sure, you may have had a shitty dinner or really hated that book, but you could have just sucked it up and walked away. Yet, you didn’t. For good or bad, you wanted someone to listen at that moment.

Now, I’m not saying reviews are bad. Not saying that at all. I’m saying, as a writer, there is no need to fear them. They aren’t about you. They’re about the reviewer. Let them say what they want and move on. Don’t worry about whether or not the 1-star review will kill sales. It won’t. Personally, I am suspicious of books without any bad reviews. But that’s me.

4. The Rules- Whatever the rules are. They change week to week. And who makes these rules? Fuck if I know. So I ignore them. Don’t tell me when, where, and what I can post. Don’t tell me how to act on my Facebook page or not to market the shit out of my latest novel. Don’t tell me I’m supposed to act this way, like this shit, hate this other shit, write in first person subjective narrative BLECH FUCKETY FUCK FUCK.

Do not tell me what to do or how to act or how to write or anything. And if anyone tells you what to do or how to write or how to act then just walk away. Don’t even engage. Just. Walk. Away. Rules are for rule followers. You’re a writer, which is a type of artist, and artists don’t follow rules . That’s kinda the whole thing about being an artist. You get to fuck the rules.

“But, but, but…”

Shut up. Just shut up. Rules are shit. Ignore them. I don’t even subscribe to the “learn the rules so you can break them” mantra. Why learn a bad habit? Waste of time and energy. Just fucking write. Just act. Just do. Just whatever the fuck you want. It’ll all sort itself out in the end.

5. Content- This sorta goes hand in hand with reviews and with The Rules. If anyone tells you that “X” novels must/must not contain “Y” then punch them in the dick/taint/anus. If that were true then we’d still be reading Greek literature. Writing changes and writing styles evolve. Why? Because someone has the guts to ignore everything they have ever been told about “content”. Don’t use the F-word more than three times? Fuck that fuckety fuck shit, fucker. Don’t write in first person past-tense? “Fuck that,” I said. No sex in YA? Really? Yeah, because teenagers don’t fuck. Right…

You get what I’m saying? It’s your story, your novel. You get to put whatever the hell you want to in it. Writing is not a community endeavor! Say it with me! WRITING IS NOT A COMMUNITY ENDEAVOR!

6. Not Being Worthy- This goes out to all the newbie writers. It’s all good, mans and womans. You don’t have to say “aspiring” every time you introduce yourself. We’re all aspiring to something. Don’t worry about being a rookie. Just don’t worry. Are you writing? Then you are a writer. Have you gotten paid for any of your writing? Then you are a professional writer. You may not have experience, but own that, don’t fear it. Ask questions. Learn. Don’t be afraid, the veterans won’t bite. Not the good ones, at least. All writers have gone through what you newbies have gone through. We survived, and you’ll be surprised to find out, we are happy to help you survive too. Ask any question you want. As long as it isn’t fear-based. That gets annoying. ;)

7. Marketing/Promoting- So many writers are afraid they aren’t doing enough to market their work. If you are thinking about marketing for more than five minutes a day then you are doing it wrong. Why? Because you aren’t writing when you are thinking of marketing! There is a saying that the best way to market a novel is by writing the next one. Since I am writing a novel a month right now, I have to agree. Just keep writing. Get your work out there. Build up a backlist. The only way books become successful is by word of mouth anyway, so unless you plan on talking with EVERYONE then you are wasting your time.

With that said, yes I market and promote my work, but only when it is convenient and within my comfort zone. And doesn’t get in the way of the writing of my next novel. I post to Twitter and Facebook. I don’t post in Goodreads or hang out in forums. I don’t hunt down reviewers or bloggers. Not my thing. And guess what? My novels still sell. Don’t waste time worrying about something you don’t want to do.

Just write.

8. Getting Screwed- Guess what? At some point in your writing career you will get royally screwed over. It’s going to happen. Just deal with it. But don’t let the fear of getting screwed paralyze you. Don’t pass up an opportunity because you have been handed a contract that has the potential to screw you over.

I’m not saying sign a bad contract. Don’t do that. Consult with a professional before signing anything, of course. No, what I am saying is that if the contract wants rights to your novel for six years, don’t walk away because you only want to give four years. Sure, try to negotiate, but don’t make something like that a deal breaker. Read the contract thoroughly, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get all anal retentive over every little detail. You’re a writer, so sign that bitch and move on so you can write.

If the publisher does screw you then tell the world and go about your way. If you have done what you were supposed to, which is consult a professional before signing, then the screwing you get will be minor. Not the end of the world.

9. Failure- Yeah, let that go. Either write or don’t. Is it possible you could fail? Yes. Is it possible you could be wildly successful? Yes. Where do you want to put your energy? I know where mine is going.

10. Not Measuring Up- One of the worst things a writer can do is to compare him/herself to other writers. Sure, you may not be freakin’ Tolstoy, but do you really want to be? Tolstoy had problems. Do you want to be Hemingway? One final shotgun incident may change your mind. Patterson? King? Koontz? Asimov? Rowling? WHY? If you want to be a writer other than the writer you are then I might suggest you only write fan fic. You are your own writer with your own process.

I write a 75k word novel a month. Is that something to live up to? I don’t know, I don’t care. It’s how I work. If that isn’t how you work then don’t feel bad about that. You aren’t me. And I’m not King. Not really an issue for me, that not being King thing. He’s got the King market cornered. Won’t be another like him. And there won’t be another like you.

To sum up: Kick fear in the ass. It’s stupid. You don’t need it. It’s not productive. And has zero basis in reality. Ignore the naysayers. Taint punch the critics. Don’t get caught up in the fear that people insist on throwing at you. Just write your ass off.

Or not.

It’s your call. And only your call. So, unless you fear yourself, which I can’t do anything about, then you have absolutely nothing to fear! FUCK THAT FEAR SHIT, YO!

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Drabble Party!

“I have a Friday we can use!”

“I have a Drabble right here!”

“Let’s put on a Party!”

That’s usually what happens at 6:59 eastern time. The Party is so spontaneous like that.

Speaking of spontaneous (not really), did you know I have a couple of new releases out? So before we get to the drabble, how’s about you check this out, yo?

 

Anti1 Antibiotics.
They have failed.
All that’s left are the Strains- bacteria so strong they have brought the world to its knees.
But humanity has fought on, carving out pockets of civilization in a wasteland known as the Sicklands, creating the super high-tech Clean Nation cities.
And from the cities GenSOF has been born- Genetic Special Forces Operations. An elite military branch of the government that enlists men and women with specific genetic anomalies that allow them to be hosts to bacteria that even the Strains cannot defeat. Under the watchful eye of Control, GenSOF protects the Clean Nation cities from the ever encroaching Strains and the diseased inhabitants of the Sicklands.
But now Control has other plans for GenSOF, and possibly the Clean Nation cities themselves, and it is up to the operators of GenSOF Zebra Squad, and their cloned Canine Units known as bug hounds, to find out what those plans are.
Or die trying.

Click that pic and go get ya some AntiBio action!

Don’t feel like reading? Then have a listen to some audiobooks! Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell just came out! Rock on!

Okay, okay, I know, you want a drabble.

Enjoy!

***

Please Everyone
By
Jake Bible

 

“He’s not happy,” she says.

“Who isn’t happy?” I reply.

“That guy. He’s pissed.”

“Why?”

“You didn’t meet his expectations.” She shrugs. “That lady is angry too. What did you say?”

“Nothing. I was busy with the one guy. What is she mad about?”

“You didn’t say anything? No wonder she’s mad. That one likes to be treated as if she’s the only one person that matters.”

“Well, I can’t please everyone!”

She shrugs again. “Better try. Here come the pitchforks and torches.”

“Ha ha.”

“Uh, no, they really have pitchforks and torches. Should have tried harder.”

“But…but…ah, forget it…”

***

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Sigh…

New Releases!

I am very pleased to announce a couple of new releases!

First, allow me to introduce you to AntiBio. This novel is my return to military scifi. Now, a lot of my novels have military themes, elements, badass Teams ready to rip some bad guys apart, but this is the first one that isn’t a horror novel, but a straight up, high-tech, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, military  science fiction novel.

Phew. That’s quite a mouthful.

If you liked my Apex Trilogy then you will love AntiBio! And here’s why:

Anti1 Antibiotics.
They have failed.
All that’s left are the Strains- bacteria so strong they have brought the world to its knees.
But humanity has fought on, carving out pockets of civilization in a wasteland known as the Sicklands, creating the super high-tech Clean Nation cities.
And from the cities GenSOF has been born- Genetic Special Forces Operations. An elite military branch of the government that enlists men and women with specific genetic anomalies that allow them to be hosts to bacteria that even the Strains cannot defeat. Under the watchful eye of Control, GenSOF protects the Clean Nation cities from the ever encroaching Strains and the diseased inhabitants of the Sicklands.
But now Control has other plans for GenSOF, and possibly the Clean Nation cities themselves, and it is up to the operators of GenSOF Zebra Squad, and their cloned Canine Units known as bug hounds, to find out what those plans are.
Or die trying.

How ya like them apples? AntiBio is a crazy mix of Blade Runner and Damnation Alley. You’re gonna dig it!

The next new release is the audiobook for Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell! It is currently available on Audible.com, but will also be on Amazon and iTunes shortly. Stay tuned for those announcements!

Oh, what’s that? You want to know what’s coming next from me? Okey doke!

May: Mega 2 (Severed Press) and Little Dead Man (Permuted Press)

June: Kaiju Winter (Severed Press)

July: The Apex Trilogy audiobooks

And so much more! I’ll announce the rest of 2014 as soon as my schedule is nailed down.

So go and spread the word about AntiBio and Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell!

Cheers!

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