Brooklyn launch resounding success!

When I kicked off my Freedom City event around seven o’clock on Saturday, February 10th, I knew exactly five people among the thirty or so attendees. As I stood up to introduce myself, I had no idea what to expect.

Were these people actually there to hear my reading, or had they just stumbled into Little King for a drink on a rainy night? Was that guy with the American flag on his hat a Trump supporter? Was I going to be heckled or booed?

I took a deep breath and read the prologue’s first line:

Despite the odium and widespread condemnation of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America, he passed with all the fanfare of a fart in a mesh sack.

The crowd cheered. I knew immediately I was in good company. I finished the prologue to another ovation and then read brief passages for each of the book’s four main characters. At the end, strangers asked a ton of great questions and then lined up to buy books. I was awestruck by their enthusiasm and felt foolish for ever doubting my reception in Williamsburg.

Two adorable French exchange students bought copies of Freedom City—they said to practice their English. One couple asked me to sign their copy with a quote from the Disney film Mulan, a jab at a ridiculous op-ed Mike Pence wrote about the movie being evidence as to why women shouldn’t be allowed in the military. The quote had something to with dishonor. It was brilliant.

Even the man in the American flag hat turned out to be a progressive visiting from Seattle, where he said that satirical “anti-Trump erotica” is currently all the rage there these days. It mostly includes jokes about “small penises,” he explained. Who knew?

Anyway, my point is that I fucking love New York. I had a great time, and the event exceeded even my most optimistic expectations. Thank you so much to Little King for hosting and to Zero Gravity Brewery for helping out the cause. Thank you also to the people who made my Brooklyn launch so memorable. It was a night I’ll never forget.

I have more fun events in the works through the spring and summer, so stay tuned!

 

 

Vermont brewery supports Freedom City Brooklyn launch

It’s an open secret that I dream of retiring from my investigations business and moving to Vermont. I’ve got it all worked out. My study will look out on a beautiful mountain. I’ll keep an annual pass to Jay Peak. I’ll raise a dairy cow—nothing too big, just a Miniature Jersey—who I’ll name Maud.

Also, one of the four main characters from Freedom City is a supplanted Vermonter who was a tad sheltered growing up and who is now trying to reconcile the relative sanity of her home state with the rest of America. This passage explains it best:

Mentally, she had come to terms with her self-destructiveness and had begun to understand its origins. Reared in Vermont’s pristine, blue bubble, she understood the world as governed by reasonable and fundamentally good people, despite ideological differences. When she had witnessed evidence of America’s fundamental rottenness and stupidity on TV (case in point: Duck Dynasty), she assumed, like many Americans, that it was solely for entertainment purposes. Such idiocy must be a Hollywood fantasy, intended solely to induce laughter and ridicule. Such vapidity must be satire, created to help “real Americans” appreciate the values that actually matter: compassion, empathy, and love.

Her cousin’s malevolent smile put a crack in her simulacrum: some Americans, even ones who had theretofore been dear to her, were in fact rotten. But the twelve-year-old Clare had glossed over this lesson and stitched her bubble back together with counseling and Band-Aids. Through high school, college, and law school she met plenty of people who did bad things, but never did she write them off as “bad people”; they were merely people whose situations caused them to make bad choices. Then, nearly a third of the population voted for Donald J. Trump—a demonstrable crook, racist, sociopath—and it was no longer possible for her to ignore the world’s evil. Her worldview imploded under the crushing force of America’s profound sickness.

So, given my long-distance love affair with the Green Mountain State, it’s fitting that a Vermont company, Zero Gravity Brewery, has generously offered up some of their delicious beer in support of my Brooklyn launch. Come to Little King at 6 p.m. this Saturday, February 10th and get a $5 can, which you can enjoy during the reading.

Supplies are limited though, so arrive early! See you there!

 

Where to buy books to maximize your favorite author’s advantage

A few people have asked me recently, “Where is the best place to purchase your book?” In other words, having already decided to buy the book, where will I (the author) derive the most benefit? The average reader might assume a sale is a sale, but there are actually several factors that influence a sale’s relative value to an author. Three factors jump to mind: royalties, reviews, and social conscience.

The easiest response to this question is that retailers, like Amazon and iBooks, must charge something for their platforms—so buying directly from the publisher, whenever possible, maximizes profit to the author. Strictly from the standpoint of royalties, this is your best bet, since it cuts out the middleman. For me, that would mean buying Freedom City directly from Lulu. But if buying a book directly from the publisher isn’t an option—and if you’re still only concerned about maximizing royalties to the author—then my suggestion would be to go with a platform other than Amazon, because they generally take a larger share of the pie from authors than other retailers.

However, another factor is that Amazon has a near monopoly on book sales in the United States, so reviews on that platform matter a whole lot to authors in terms of future sales. We’re dependent on our loyal readers to buy books from Amazon and to write glowing, verified reviews there, so that prospective readers in the future will know our books don’t suck. This is particularly important in the months following a book’s release. For Freedom City, released just last month, my current strategy has been to steer people to Amazon and to implore them to write a review afterward.

But wait—how could a progressive author in good conscience direct sales to Amazon? As the author of a book that flat-out ridicules companies like Yuengling and Coors for supporting Trump, it’s difficult to reconcile the fact that I’m promoting a company that funds racist propaganda though its advertisements on Breitbart. Once my book sells 10,000 copies I can take a firmer stand, but until then I have no choice, because to spurn Amazon is to commit author suicide. For now, when people ask where to buy my book I just add the asterisks—*maybe consider another retailer that isn’t evil.

To summarize, how to best help authors is complicated. It depends on what an author cares about most, and this likely depends on how long the book has been out. For me, the answer is

  • Today, buy the book from Amazon and write me a review.
  • Once I have 100 reviews, buy the book from Lulu or from a local bookstore like Upshur Street Books.
  • Once I sell 100,000 copies, buy the book from anywhere other than Amazon, assuming by then they’re still advertising on Brietbart.

However you buy my book—or any book—thanks for being a conscientious book consumer and supporting an indie author. For a complete list of where to purchase Freedom City, check out my website.

Thanks for reading!

 

Next up, Brooklyn!

Thank you all who came to my inaugural book launch in D.C. at Slash Run on January 19th! The crowd included some faces familiar to me, as well as many people who dropped in just to learn more about the book. It’s clear that Freedom City is on its way to becoming “a thing”—which is of course what I hoped for! I was extremely honored by the turnout and the excitement.

I started by reading the Prologue, which is set at the unveiling of Donald Trump’s mausoleum, followed by a short passage about each of the four main characters. I then gave away a couple of books, answered some questions, and introduced The Fuss, a ska band from D.C. It was without exception a great night!

My next event will be in New York—specifically, in Williamsburg—at Little King, which is located at 749 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11211. It will start at 6 p.m. on February 10th. I previously wrote about the Brooklyn launch here, and there is a Facebook page for the event here.

If the Slash Run event was any indicator, the Brooklyn launch at Little King should be a straight-up blast. I hope to see you there!

Thank you, Petworth!

I grew up with my mom in a small town in Northern California, then spent my formative years in New Orleans. I liked these places, but I’ve never felt more connected and loved than in Petworth, my neighborhood in Washington, D.C. I’ll never forget that when I first moved here back in 2008 a neighbor left cookies at our door—cookies!

With my book launch coming up this Friday night, I wanted to take a moment to thank my community for all their support, which has been tantamount to more delicious cookies. In the weeks leading up to the launch, which is scheduled to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, several local people and businesses have very graciously given me a hand.

Namely:

  • Upshur Street Books, the cutest damn bookstore in D.C., has carried my title for almost two weeks now. It is now the only place in the city where you can get a copy, unless you order it online. This will likely change soon, but I strongly encourage everyone in the city to buy it there—or to buy any book there. It’s a great bookstore. You’ll dig it.
  • Slash Run, where I’ve seen many of my favorite bands, agreed to host my launch and cede the stage to me on a Friday night. It’s somewhat untraditional to host a book launch at a bar/restaurant—bookstores are the standard choice—but Freedom City is an untraditional book. Also, Slash Run exudes energy, which I love, plus it has a big space, which I aim to fill with subversive bookworm-types.
  • The Fuss, a fantastic local ska band, is performing their new album at my launch. I used to be neighbors with Andi, the lead singer, and when her band was practicing I’d walk my dog by her place just to be in their aura. They also have a new album coming out called “Ourselves,” reportedly with a song called “Tear it down.” I haven’t heard the song—nobody has, because the album hasn’t been released yet—but its title suggests it may become the Freedom City anthem.
  • Lastly, Petworth News wrote a great article inviting locals to, “Come ridicule the Trump kakistocracy in a fiction book release party at Slash Run!” I’ve bumped elbows with Drew, the chief writer at Petworth News, although I don’t personally know him. I want to know him though, as his writing is one of the primary ways I’ve learned new stuff about my neighborhood over the years. Besides, he just looks like a super nice guy.

As this adventure is just beginning for me, I’m sure there will be others to thank in due course—and also many cookies to give back to the community. For now, I just wanted to say I’m very appreciative of the folks who’ve helped me out so far. It means a lot to me.

Thank you, Petworth! I’m looking forward to seeing you at my launch on January 19th!

 

Brooklyn launch at Little King!

My inaugural launch, scheduled to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, is still a week away—but today I’m excited to announce the details of my next event in New York City!

The Brooklyn launch for Freedom City will be at 7 p.m. on February 10th, 2018, at Little King, a wondrous enclave of delicious drinks, phenomenal food, and intimate conversations, hidden in plain sight on Metropolitan Avenue just off the Graham Avenue L stop. Their address is 749 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11211. Listen for the subversive buzz. We’ll be just behind the gold doors.

There is a Facebook page for the event here.

On a related note, although purely a coincidence, I’m doubly glad to be celebrating my Brooklyn launch at Little King because it finally gives me something to do with this painting I made (above). It’s the first draft of a caricature of Beach Sands, a character from Freedom City, done in gouache, watercolor, oil, and ink. I’m a writer—not an artist—but I enjoy doodling in my free time. The “playing card” theme will be recognizable to people who’ve read the book. It’s not the best work I’ve ever done, but I’m marginally pleased with it. I plan to eventually paint another King of Hearts where Beach looks younger, plus a different card for the book’s three other main characters.

These amatuer art projects may take me some time though. It’s difficult to paint when I’m simultaneously planning events for Freedom City in Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, Portland (Maine), San Francisco, and Seattle—plus writing my next book!

Anyway, I hope to see you soon in New York!

 

Freedom City now available at Upshur Street Books!

With its knowledgeable staff and a great selection of books given the cozy space, if there’s a cuter damn bookstore in D.C. I don’t know it.

Freedom City has enjoyed brisk online sales even though its official launch at Slash Run is still two weeks away and it will be February before it’s listed on Amazon, which is where something like 67 percent of books in the United Stated are sold. But if you’re local and prefer the tactile benefits of picking up a book before you buy it, you can now get it at Upshur Street Books. You would be supporting an indie business and a local author, plus rubbing shoulders with some of the most interesting people in Petworth.

Supplies are limited, so consider messaging them at @UpshurStBooks before you go to make sure they still have copies. Of course, if you enjoy my book (and you will!), please help spread the love!