#AtoZChallenge: Discount!

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You know how I’ve  been saying I have something special for today? Well, here it is.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) is discounted to $0.99 for a limited time! So if you’ve enjoyed your visits so far to the inside of my head, or would like Aunty Ida in yours (not 100% advisable, but it’s your brain) pick up a copy at the special discounted price.

Happy reading! Probably!

Edit: It’s 99p in the UK as well. No coffee yet today, real or otherwise!

 

 

Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’: A Cultural Crystal Ball

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Author’s note: This piece first appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo Contributor’s Network.

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is celebrated for its condemnation of censorship and groupthink, but Bradbury — a writer who has always been categorized as “science-fiction” over the tonier synonym “speculative fiction” — deserves recognition for that book’s eerie prescience of culture. What he foresaw, from six decades out, is remarkable.

Though Bradbury copyrighted “Fahrenheit 451” in 1953, as described by The Big Read, it was adapted first from a short story called “Bright Phoenix” published in 1947, and then “The Fireman,” which was published in 1950. While increasing numbers of households would get televisions in that decade, at the beginning of the ’50s TVs were new. Yet not only did he foresee them in every household, he foresaw them taking over households: huge, wall-sized televisions. Bradbury imagined ear buds with his seashell radios long before the concept existed. And, in the dreaded Hound, he saw a future of robotics far out of line with the technology of the time.

But those details are prescience of technology, which, though still a neat trick, is not quite as stunning as understanding the evolution of culture if left to its natural course. With a beauty of language also often not given the credit it is due, Bradbury says: “With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” (Del Rey 50th Anniversary Edition, pg. 58).

Bradbury writes of the condensation of thought from book to digest to blurb in a way strangely predictive of Twitter, where all ideas must fit within the constraints of 140 characters. He sees the rise of advertising so incessant it’s nearly ritualistic, and long before the advent of reality TV, he predicted shows that were little more than life itself, with home participants easily joining.

He even wrote about the future of attempts to erase any signs of age, of having lived a life, of a world lacking depth and texture, with his description that sounds predictive of Botox long before people decided injections of neurotoxins were preferable to wrinkles: “So do you see now why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.” (pg. 83).

And then there is that beauty of language that comes from its clarity, from each word in a sentence chosen for both its overt and subtle meanings while still seeing the far-off future from quite a distance. At a time when newspapers were in nearly every home, he said “I remember them dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them.” (emphasis in original; pg. 89)

There are classics that are classics through some sense of tradition, and then there are books that become classics because what they tell us about ourselves is unchanging, unencumbered by movement of culture in the world around us. “Fahrenheit 451” is about so much more than censorship. With amazing insight from more than half-a-century away, it is about the willing relinquishment of critical thinking.

 

Let’s Get our Comedy On! It’s Comedy Book Week!

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It’s Comedy Book Week, the brainchild of author Ana Spoke! Who doesn’t love a funny book? (If you love a funny book, I’ve got several right at the bottom of this post, and yes, that was a hard plug. I’m only about 5/8ths sorry).

So this Friday, I will be participating in a Q&A on Facebook. Uh-huh, that Facebook, the one I eschew like…someone eschews something s/he really doesn’t like. My brain’s got a case of the Mondays.

Bonus, if you come hang out for the Q&A, you might actually get to see my face. My face face. The front of my head.

There will even be an Aunty Ida giveaway, so if you haven’t read her yet, you could get a chance for free!

Let’s get funny!

(I just made that up. Yes? No? You don’t think the coffee is working for me?)

And check out Ana’s book! Her protagonist’s first name looks very familiar…VERY. FAMILIAR. Personally, I think it’s an excellent choice. Oh, and as of this writing, it’s FREE!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

S is for SALE!

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I’m winding up, because here’s the pitch! (I KNOW. A sports reference. What a day!)

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Buy me! I’m 99 cents! I’ll only mess with your head a little!

So Aunty Ida is on sale today! For a limited time, you too can have the hands of Aunty Ida waaayy up in your brain for just $0.99!* I swear that’s much more appealing than it sounds!

Here’s the deal. Margaret is a sitting judge who has a little…uh…incident while hearing a trial. Well, that trial happened to be televised. Enter Aunty Ida, who promises to help Margaret fix her problems. And she has the mind-altering machines to do it.

Margaret knows she doesn’t have any problems. She was set up, and she’s going to prove it.

*(Replacement brains and/or replacement brain parts not included).

So if you’ve been curious about this strange figure I keep talking about as though she is real (and she’s sure you can’t prove that she’s not) now’s a good time to check her out. Just, you know, be careful. She’s got a lot of ideas and she’s not afraid to use them.

***

Aunty Ida is my most insistent character, the one who probably has to exist in another dimension, finding a way to communicate with me here. Her band of compatriots also feel pretty real, at least to some universe. And I wrote earlier of Margaret’s truculence while writing this book.

For the writers, who is your character like Aunty Ida? The one who demands attention or pushes the story?

And the readers, which fictional characters feel to you like they must live somewhere in one galaxy or another?

Big news! Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) is $0.99 for a limited time!

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, “Me Inside Me Presents: Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28. Click here for tickets.

Check out my other full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

 

H Time With Her Cousin, Much Removed

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cozy final coverI wasn’t going to do this. I swear, I wasn’t going to, but then somehow fellow A-to-Z Challenge blogger John Davis Frain came across last year’s H post, and it’s Saturday, and I have stuff to do, and the sun is shining for the first time in nearly a week, and I guess what I’m saying here is please enjoy my recycled post. It’s just good for the environment.

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Sorry folks. It had to be done. I know, I know, it’s all kinds of self-promotion-y, but sometimes you just have to do a little horn tooting, break out the old soapbox and wave your carnival cane. A carnival cane is a thing, right?

Anyway, with H we are talking about my cozy mystery, Her Cousin, Much Removedwhich is available for Kindle, and free to read with Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

What’s that you say, hypothetical reader? I seem to be doing the bulk of the talking? Point taken. Now please let me get on with flogging my wares.

Venetia Shipman only wanted her platter back, the one she lent her sorta cousin, Delenda. But now Delenda’s been murdered, and that’s only the beginning of Venetia’s problems. Yep, Delenda was up to some not-so-great stuff, and Venetia’s the one who’s paying for it.

See? Was that so terrible? What’s that, hypothetical reader? You can’t wait to read Her Cousin, Much Removed? It sounds like a fun, mysterious romp with twists, humor and, of course, platters? Oh, stop, hypothetical reader. You flatter me.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

For F It’s Free!

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Self-promotion alert. Self-promotion alert. Warning. Self-promotion ahead. Delicious, fantastic self-promotion.

Still with me?

Cool.

So I said “free” in the headline, didn’t I? And free it is! If you’ve been enjoying my oddball sense of humor with the A to Z challenge, you can get more of it, conveniently packaged into bite-sized flash-fiction chunks in my my short story collection Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. Here it is:

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It’s a quick read of fun, humorous weirdness. Kinda like me. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Got Book Suggestions? I Want ‘Em

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I have a confession to make, one of which I am not entirely proud. Everyone ready? Promise not to think less of me?

I haven’t read a book in a while. A long, long while. Though I find reading is so much easier between my Kindle and the Kindle app for my phone, squeezing in a few minutes here and a few minutes there, lately I just haven’t. Aside from some fluffy celebrity memoirs (oh, Miranda Hart, you are one of the funniest humans ever to human), I just haven’t lost myself in a book for some time.

Well, that’s going to change.

In the not-too-distant future, I’m going to be taking a trip, and I am going to actually have time to read. Time. To sit and just read. Anything.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to slip away to another world, one that feels so solid, even though it’s fictional that it seems like, on some level, it must exist somewhere. To meet people who take you into their lives, who take you along with them on their adventures and have the generosity to bear the the full brunt of the consequences.

So much fun.

The only thing is that I have no idea what to get. I like fun reads, I’m not looking for very heavy, and I’m definitely not looking for the Toni Morrison brand of beautiful writing that reaches into your chest and pricks at your heart, one cut at a time until you are scarred for life (yes, I’m talking about the masterpiece that is Beloved).

So keeping that in mind, any suggestions? I’d like to have books I can get electronically. Must-reads, funny reads, weird reads, let me know what belongs on my list. Thanks, there’s a whole universe of new books out there.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!