Yearly Tumbrel Update

I realized, at some point today, that i haven't updated the ol' reliable Tumbrel in almost a year. I try to do this as often as I remember. The ironic thing is that I started this website as an excuse to write more. A little over a year ago, I started writing a s—load. 2000 words a day, to be exact. Too bad that among those words and phrases, scattered amongst those many different places, none of those symbols or sobriquets ever stumbled onto the Tumbrel. Ironic, yes, but also a massive waste of money seeing as how Typepad takes it out of my shorts if I write something on this or not.

First things first: The fictions. There are two other manuscripts done, so there. The first is a lousy manuscript that I am currently trying to fix, with the patient help of my girlfriend. It's been a depressing last couple of weeks, reading that manuscript with a feeling of revulsion that my fingers could hammer out something so weak. The manuscript will be fixed, but it's been a slow going slog filled with distractions I would rather forget. Hell, I think DRT is a stronger book than Citizens and that thing was capital "A" awful when I first started editing it. The second manuscript is pretty fine. As far as releasing the two new fictions, I don't know. I would like to send those to actual publishers, as I don't think I have the patience or the strength to do two new self pubs this year. Besides, I think it hurt my overall sales releasing two books within weeks of each other. I released two books last year and many of you haven't read those two yet so I think you will have to be satiated by those. If you are a publisher or a literary agent whom is interested in representing me, please check out the contact section of this here website. You will be likely 

DRT is gonna get a massive promotional push tomorrow. Perhaps it's happening by the time you read this. It's going to be free on Amazon for the next 48 hours, if you are reading this on Saturday you are S-O-L. If you are reading this when the book is free, have at it. I need them thar rankings to get big if I want to sell some books in the coming weeks. I need to come up with a health insurance payment this month and I'm going to have to dig deep as it is. Trust me, I don't like begging like this. Maybe someday I might not have to. 

I'm 34 years old, hopefully wiser than I was when I started this website. Made a lot of mistakes. I continue to make a lot of mistakes. Trying every day to make things a little less shaky. Maybe, now that I've had a certain degree of fun writing this, I will devote more time to Tumbrel related posts in the following year. Not just throw stuff on here when I randomly think about it. It gets some decent hits every day, for some reason, I really should use this platform more often. I'm not making that promise. I seem to always find a way to break it so I'm not going to start now.

I'm tired of how the site looks tho. I'm going to start changing it as soon as I hit send.  

So I guess I’m doing some book reviews – Gone Girl

So I guess I'm reviewing books now. Why not? I've developed odd coping skills over the years, so I suppose this is the latest. I'm gonna write about books for a few days until i start getting tired of it.

 This post is about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; a book of amazing power, wit and creativity wrapped in the skin of a drippy chick thriller exercise. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.

When I review books, in a rule that I made up seconds ago because I felt like it, I'm not going to discuss the plot. When I hear a book is good, I do whatever I can to avoid plot descriptions because I don't care about the plot. It doesn't matter. Plot is merely the guts of a book, the piecemeal thing that moves the pages along.

A word on that. The plot of a book means very little in the back and forth details.  The writer only has control over the page in front of him or her. It's their job to throw the reader a bone as often as possible. If you ever feel like you're reading, eyes sweeping over symbols on a page, the writer needs to pick it up. I always hate when authors talk about "the boring part" because there shouldn't be any boring parts. Boring parts are a waste of the reader's time, and writers should have more empathy for the people they've invited into the parlor to hear a story.

As far as Gone Girl, there aren't any boring parts. Its a polyphonic novel, told from the perspective of a couple whose marriage has become a downward spiral. Flynn dynamically plays with point of view, both characters speak directly to you and both take advantage of the literary concept of the "unreliable narrator" made popular by Faulkner and others. As far as contemporary fiction, you don't see genuine innovation like this often.

I just realized that I'm reviewing books and I've never ever written about any of the books in my top five! Now I just realized that no one cares.

Glenn Beck wants to create his own utopian city.

 

 

I swear to God, this would be the greatest subject for a book. Oh wait, it kind of was already. I swear I'm not making this up.

Right-wing television host Glenn Beck last week revealed a personal goal that he hopes to achieve: building his very own self-sustaining community that he will name “Independence, USA”.

On “The Glenn Beck Program” last week, the television host said his free market community will ideally produce its own food and entertainment content and live in a city completely cut off from the rest of the world. Beck described his imaginary community as having its own homes, baseball fields, a theme park, small businesses, news, information and technology, and education system.

A great subject for a book, right? Oh wait, it WAS the subject of a VIDEO GAME. Would you kindly watch this video? (Deal with the ubiquitous "kid playing the goddamn game before the video starts)

Killer Whales free themselves from Arctic Ice.

Apparently they have been reading Ayn Rand in the Orca community. 

 

via ABC News:

The killer whales trapped under ice near a remote Quebec village reached safety today after the floes shifted on Hudson Bay, according to the mayor's office in Inukjuak.

Water opened up around the area where the orcas had been coming up for air and the winds seemed to have shifted overnight, creating a passageway to the open water six miles away.

"Two men were sent to check on the whales around 8 a.m., and they found that a passage of water had been created, all of the way to the open sea," Johnny Williams, the town manager, told ABCNews.com. "The wind from the north shifted yesterday.

 

Social Security and Medicare cuts are class warfare.

The fiscal cliff wasn't solved. These clowns actually made it worse. Now congress is moving closer to cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, in order to avoid a default on the nation's debt. I think that both left and right are concerned about the size of the national bill, but only House Republicans want to

_graphics-golden-coins-preview-by-dragonart
sell the nation's poor and elderly down the river. 

There are plenty of good arguments for trimming the programs, because people are living longer. Medical science, while it has gotten more expensive, has done a lot to increase the number of poeple collecting benefits in the next couple of years. This fight has been going on for dozens of years now and there is no reason to think its ever going to stop. 

Can't anyone see that this is just the same class warfare garbage? House Republicans seem intent on turning this country into a Kafka nightmare, but in place of the government there are a few corporations in charge of everything. Health care premiums continue to get more expensive, so we should cut Medicare. There are going to be more seniors, so lets let them twist and die in the wind.

What's the strategy there? Maybe with more seniors on the street they can huddle together for comfort?

Republicans constantly wag their fingers at people engaged in class warfare, but they are the kings of it.

—-

Eric Thomas is the author of Fall of the Citizens. Available on Amazon, iTunes and Nook.  

7 Cliffs That are Scarier than the Fiscal Cliff

When the cable news orgy that was the 2012 election finished, the collected media rubbed their still sticky hands together and looked for the next story to inflate with hyperbole. The Fiscal Cliff turned out to be exactly what they were looking for, giving them a chance to beat the drum of fear until the next pretty white girl disappears with a suave stranger whom SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE TRUSTED.

Briefly, the Fiscal Cliff is a legislative apparatus that congress invented last year to weasel out of the debt ceiling debate. Apparently our government shops for policy solutions in the ACME catalog, as on January 1st the country’s economy might manage one more blink at the camera for a beat before falling into apocalypse.

As much as the media tries to scare the shit out the public remember they have an agenda. Scaring you is the most effective method they have to keep you glued to the nearest infotainment box. Watching a single episode of (insert cable news show desperate for ratings here) can leave you curled up in the fetal position on your living room floor for hours. It’s enough to make you blow the dust off the Mayan apocalypse safety plan you felt silly filing away only a few weeks ago.

It’s never in the media's best interest to provide context, so bear in mind that the Fiscal Cliff is a theoretical threat that can be moved by swift legislation at any given moment. It’s hard for me to fear anything that can be wiped away by a gang of 12 Senators with cottage cheese ass who threaten filibusters on everything, including their own bills. It’s like my dad always says, “If Ezra Klein is explaining it to you, it’s not fucking dangerous.”

Besides, “Fiscal Cliff” sounds like a clever hook for a lousy accountant in BFE.

ACTUAL Cliffs, on the other hand, are scary as shit. Just standing on the side of a cliff is enough to give you a heart attack, and if the wind blows you will drop to your knees and pray that the cliff doesn't steal your SOUL. There are also people named Cliff and they're often far creepier than anything congress could ever come up with, especially if the Cliff you know has a mustache. Remember, the Fiscal Cliff is theoretical. Your neighbor Cliff is real and probably staring at you right now through the window in your bathroom.

So for a little context, here are 7 “cliffs” that are more dangerous than the fiscal cliff.

7. Cliff Carmichael – The Thinker

WHO? This Marvel comic book villain, described as a “Cyber Punk Maniac,” can read your thoughts with his “Thinking Cap.” He was plucked from his normal life as an inmate at an insane asylum and subjected to

Clifford_Carmichael_01

This guy gets to keep his hair and this is what he does with it.

psychological experiments. As it goes with all well-intentioned mind-fucking torture, the experiments backfired and the scientists involved inadvertently created a potent super villain. Oh scientists, won't you ever learn?

WHAT MAKES HIM SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: With his “Thinking Cap,” the Thinker can read your thoughts. Thinking about screwing over your best friend? He knows. Lying to clients about “this incredible investment that you’d be an idiot not to get into” to get a higher commission? He knows! Can’t wait to get home and jerk off to granny porn because it fits your feverish fetish for meticulously placed doilies? He wishes he didn’t, but yes, he knows! I don't care if the economy crashes and I wind up eating dog food under an overpass, NO ONE needs to know that Carly Rae Jepson plays on an infinite loop in my head.

 

 

 

6. Tarpein Rock

WHAT? This is a well-known spot in Ancient Rome, mentioned by Plutarch. A nice enough view today, speckled with houses and ancient ruins, it is one of the oldest known landmarks that was used by the Roman Empire.

WHY IT’S SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: Because the Romans used to throw condemned prisoners off

Tarpeian_Rock

Don't look down

this fucking thing. Congressman and Senators have been quoted saying they are comfortable going “over the cliff.” Bet your ass they wouldn't be too cozy if failing to balance the budget meant a couple of legionnaires show up on Capitol Hill to throw them of the side of a fucking mountain. This execution method was deemed a fate worse than death, which is saying a lot for a society where there were rules of etiquette for strangling people. A flight off Tarpein Rock however was generally reserved for only the most egregious of criminals: traitors, larcenous slaves, and perjurers. Yes, you read that right, tell a fib and you get launched off a mountain.

5.     Cliff Vandercave

WHO? This ambitious executive vice president of Slate & Co. spends the majority of his time in The Flintstones move plotting to swindle the company and abscond with absurd amounts of cash to somewhere presumably rock related. He also builds a machine that renders all the quarry workers obsolete in order to

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Never showed his toes on Twin Peaks. Just saying.

increase Slate profits.
 
WHY HE’S SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: This guy is a Wall Street wet dream. It seems like it would be hard to find lower wage workers than cave men (they work for ROCKS for fuck's sake!) but this guy manages to do it. He screws over the blue collar (loin collar?) employees, cooks the books, and bends Halle Berry over a rock. The sick bastard even made Fred fire Barney. The Fiscal Cliff may cause mass uncertainty but we at least need to spare Barney Rubble the shame of being a busboy!

 

 

 

4.     Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson

WHAT?  This four minute instrumental song was released by the guitar virtuoso on his 1990 album “Ah Via Musicom”. Much of the song is performed by using highly skilled techniques such as hybrid picking and other

Eric_Johnson-ad1cf4bc9b96db1574bc57baa2f8b59a

Picture found under the dictionary entry for "douchebag"

highly boring pieces of compositional information reserved for the hipster elite who think we give a fuck.

WHY IT’S SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: If you get trapped in a house with a guitar nerd, may God have mercy on your soul. You will attempt to join the conversation, maybe share with him (or her, wait,  nevermind, it’s always a him) some music that you enjoy but it won’t happen. This asshole is the expert and “you just need to sit back and listen to the song and make sure you pay attention because you GOTTA HEAR THIS PART! LISTEN! LISTEN, THIS IS THE PART! You weren't listening were you? Hold on, let’s rewind it because you gotta hear this part, it’s the best part on the album. There is one moment on Stevie Ray Vaughn's Soul to Soul that tops it and we’ll listen to that after we finish with this album but the comparison makes sense because Eric Johnson was such a fan he named a song SRV on his Venus Isle album…” If you find yourself in this conversation, just walk out. It’s either walk out or the conversation ends with violence and police. With guitar nerds, politeness is your enemy.

3.     The Movie Cliffhanger

WHAT? Released in 1993, when action movies were all formulatic re-treads of Die Hard, this is Die Hard mountain-style. It features Sly Stallone in all his mush-mouthed, gotta be on shitloads of HGH glory. I can't

Cliffhanger-1

If he lets go, Expendables never happens.

trash the movie too much, because despite being recycled garbage, it’s got John Mother-Fucking Lithgow in it. I don’t care how awful Stallone is, I would watch John Lithgow read a phonebook.

WHY IT’S SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: The fights take place while hanging in the air around mountains. The opening sequence where Stallone drops the woman (and a teddy bear that she somehow considered necessary survival equipment for a mountain climbing expedition) still gives me nightmares. The bad guys do the whole “stealing a plane midair” thing way before Bane did, and again, fucking Lithgow. If you are afraid of heights, this movie might just be your version of “The Ring”.
 
 

 

 

2.     Cliff Claven

 

Cliff1

That reminds me of a story

WHO? Cliff Claven is the mild mannered postal worker who hangs out in a bar called Cheers in Boston. He has a mustache, a friendly disposition, and also appears to be armed with reams of useless information which he is looking to share with you. He appears to be the kind of person who, if you make the mistake of sitting next to him, will enlighten you with trivia until you fantasize about immolating yourself in a dramatic fashion in the same vein as Thích Quảng Đức.

WHY HE’S SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: You bet your ass he’s scarier. Not to be stereotypical but he is a raging alcoholic postman. Lump that in with the fact that he has remained mild mannered despite the near constant insults from Carla, Rebecca and Norm, and you have a ticking time bomb of rage…and trivia. A Cliff Claven rampage would most likely include not only blood and fury but also lesser known facts regarding the 25 most violent bar fights in Massachusetts history. The only way to avoid an incident is to listen to what he has to say. You're dead either way.

 

1.     The cliff from the Lion King.

WHAT? The cliff that overlooks the hyena infested gorge in the Lion King. It serves as the spot for both

Lk_screengrab_788

Claus Von Bülow v Darth Vader … WHO YA GOT?

major plot points in the story.

WHY IT’S SCARIER THAN THE FISCAL CLIFF: It doesn't matter if you are the King of the pride lands. Get near this cliff and your ass is savannah grass. Both Scar and Mufasa wind up squeezed out of hyena colons, and why? Because Pride Rock is the scariest cliff ever imagined. You can be the baddest motherfucker on four legs with the voice of Darth Vader and you are still no match for the cliff. Even after Scar becomes king, he still manages to find himself right there on its precipice. Somehow this particular rock makes you forget its power. People may lose their mortgages, health insurance, and their very ability to earn enough money to avoid cannibalism in the next couple of weeks but does the Fiscal Cliff have two king pelts on it? The Lion King cliff wins.

 

 

The-lion-king-30

Lions perform Cirque De Soleil

 

Salvation through editing.

My new book, DRT, is coming out this week (hopefully Wednesday). I thought I would write a little bit about the writing process.           

 

Orson
Welles once said editing isn’t just one aspect of cinema; it’s the aspect of
cinema. I would argue the same is true about writing fiction. Writing a blog
about editing is akin to writing a blog about eating your peas, but I submit to
you that the drafting process, even though it’s tedious, is what separates good
writing from bad. Most people don’t make it through their first draft. I’m sure
that since you’ve written a book, you bump into countless hundreds who are
‘thinking about’ doing the same. Most people don’t make it past the first
draft. The act of writing itself is lonely business. We often do it when our
spouse or whoever is in bed. Maybe you write in the morning if you work nights,
maybe at night if you work mornings. Whatever your method, you are probably
doing it in a room with nothing to comfort you but a blank screen and a
blinking cursor. Your motivation to turn that into a page full of ideas is what
separates you from people who simply ‘think about’ it.

            When you
finish the first draft, it’s a near religious experience only available to
those who walk the mile. You want to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and
achieve certain states of undress because you are filled with the kind of
accomplishment that most people only dream about. Through the smoke drink and
nakedness, there is a shouting voice that we all know well: “I never ever ever
ever want to see that story ever again.”

            It’s
normal. You have spent months swinging a sledgehammer at a story, building the
railroad by inches. If you’re like me, you probably got lost in the middle,
which created sleepless nights and punched walls. When you finally find your
way out, and make it to the end, you have a feeling of relief usually reserved
for liberated Parisians in 1944. You want to throw your work at a copy editor
and have he or she can figure it out. Cross the letters that need crossing and
dot the letters that require a dot, make it sound like English and lets get
this baby into a .mobi file. Call the cover designer.

            I am
arguing that you should sit on it a while. You never know what’s going to
happen. There are plenty of authors who get trapped in this process, writing
and revising the guts out of a project until it is stripped of protein and
seems like a shell of its former shadow. I have done that to some of my work.
In my first book, “Fall of the Citizens,” I rewrote one scene so many times
that I felt it lost the emotion of the first draft. In every other case, my
rewrites were always better. In fact, most of the book was written five months
after I finished the first draft. I’m pretty sure that only the last chapter,
the strongest in the book by a mile, is the only thing that survived from the
first draft.

            In my
latest book, DRT, the editing saved it. I wrote the story in between drafts of “Fall
of the Citizens,” giving myself something to do so that I could leave Citizens
alone in my closet for a while. The story I wrote was just a simple A to B to C
story, about a lonely traffic reporter in Washington DC that is haunted by the
ghost of a terrible car crash. After I edited and published Citizens, I went
back to DRT, and found a very flawed story waiting for me. The world that Greg
Harris lives in was far too limited, and most of the story happened inside his
head. This made for a very boring reading experience. I would have chucked it,
but I loved where the story went. The journey is worth the destination, so I
needed a boost.

            So I took a
couple of extra weeks, and added a ton of different things. I shifted the story
from a third person omnipotent narrator to a first person story, and added tons
of touches to fill out Greg’s world. In the process, I had a lot of fun. I
could stick whatever I wanted in there, because the opaqueness of Greg’s
existence meant the possibilities were endless. I also, in the process, added a
lot of instances of foreshadowing that made the story resonate. Now, instead of
putting out a sub-par ghost story, I have what I think is a really fun book.
The only reason that book is as good as it is now, is the editing.

            Now, it
helps that I have a good editor. She and I work closely, and she makes me
defend nearly every aspect of the story. She is honest with me when I am boring
her to death, with DRT she came right out and said, “I have no idea why I
care.” Harsh, but it works. She hates it when she spends two hours editing
something and I go back and rewrite it, but she understands that I am going to
make it better.

            Much ink is
spilled about grammatical mistakes by self-published authors. I was accused of
editing mistakes in “Citizens” when the reviewer didn’t understand the words I
was using. I kept getting cited for using the word “hove,” a nautical term
which is the past tense for “heave.” People thought I meant, “shoved.” The
words written about the grammatical challenges of self-published authors
creates a lot of navel gazing among us, and we wind up forgetting about the
editing that actually affects the flow and tone of the story. It’s the editing
that only the author themselves can do, because you are adding scenes into a
story that you have already completed. You’ve finished your story, and now you
can add light touches to it. Make it interesting. Hide little pieces of
symbolism that only you know about.  Remember: the coolest trick you have in your
bag is that you know how it ends.

            If the 1000
words you write today suck, don’t throw them out. You can fix them later. If
you are good enough to write one draft of one book, you’re good enough to fix
that paragraph that doesn’t work later. We have to set deadlines for ourselves
because we all need that motivation, but don’t forget the editing. Spend at
least a couple of weeks daydreaming after you finish your first draft. Keep
notes on said daydreaming.

            If you like
your story, make it better! Take a little extra time to flesh out that world
you created. Your characters and readers will thank you in the end. 

Fall of the Citizens announcement!!

My book is going Kindle exclusive next week. If you are an iTunes (iPad or iPhone) or Nook owner, you are going to want to buy the book this week, before it gets pulled. 

Amazon offers a KDP service that helps indie authors, and I am going to take advantage of it. Still trying to afford that computer, and my sales have been BRUTAL in September. 

Make sure you get it this week. Its still just $3.99, and it will be January before you can pick it up through those retailers. 

 

Fall of the Citizens Cover