Sunday, 3 November 2019

Returning to the Past.


The other night I was walking to the local fireworks display and I heard a man's voice behind me, stating something to the effect of "There goes our local celebrity author.".

I didn't know what to do. I had not written anything in months,had not posted anything on my author page in months as Facebook kept reminding me. And while I was curious as to who it was, I was unsure if I should turn around. Were they being cynical? Sarcastic? Or simply an attempt at good-natured community relations?

I felt apprehensive, and conflicted. I felt ashamed about my abandonment of my literary dream. Days previous, my daughter had asked what I would do if money was not an object after I explained the finer details of how my credit card debt works against me buying a new truck to replace our current one that is, but for lack of better words, gradually expiring. I successfully evaded the question.

Yet, I do still want to be known as a celebrity author. I do want people to come up to me and say 'Hey, I enjoyed your book.' leaving me red-faced and proud while trying to scope out the nearest exit strategy as they say 'would you mind signing my copy?'

"Hey, celebrity author..."

But I'm a long way from that. I've stalled out on self-marketing, put my chips into getting an education so I can have a piece of paper that officially agrees that I am good at something I have been doing for years, therefore giving me more earning power. That is how this world works.

And then I got a little push from, of all things, a book on letters. Specifically, the letters of Kurt Vonnegut, a man I admire and who transcended literary genres. I found out it took nearly a decade from the publication of his first novel to his second, as life and bills got in the way.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) he was also able to start his career in the last great days of short story publishing - his first story earned him $750 (The Barnstable Effect) in 1950. It was roughly 15,000 words. It was bought by a magazine named Collier's.

$750 for 15,000 words! In today's dollars that would be equal to nearly $8000 US dollars!

Such was the value of written stories in those days.

With that financial success, and a few others under his belt, he felt confident enough to quit his desk job at G.E, and concentrate on the writing of his first full novel, Player Piano. His next novel, Sirens of Titan, wasn't published until 1959.

Because Television came along.

In the following years, as magazines went out of business, the value of a Kurt Vonnegut story, as well as all others, dropped to $100-$200, depending on length, as the publishing world imploded, shrinking as the Golden Age of Television decimated the value of the written word as visual content became the opium of the masses.

It took seven years for him to return to where he thought he was going to be after Player Piano, making excuses, mental confusion and exhaustion trying to provide for his growing household in any way he could. His dream took a back seat to his reality.

And here I am, bemoaning somebody at least knew I am an author and expressed it out loud, either cynically or respectfully.

I should have turned around and said 'Thank you for reminding me.'

I should have immediately returned to believing that one day I will become more than a local neighbourhood celebrity author.

I didn't that night but I am here now, for the first time in months, writing about myself and my works so thank you, stranger, for the push.

So here is a link to my last book, Karmageddon. It is a collection of short stories based around a nuclear Armageddon created by the events in Enter a Fistful of Marijuana. It was entered into the Stephen Leacock Awards for Canadian humour but didn't make the cut. I'd be lying if I said that didn't hurt a little. It is funny and sad and makes a commentary on our priorities when disaster strikes.

It is available on Lulu.com, a Canadian version of Amazon so if you want to shop national, here is where you can start.

They even provided me this fancy link to my book:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Enter a Fistful of Marijuana, the basis of Karmageddon and based very loosely on Kentucky Fried Movie's A Fistful of Yen, can be found here.

Stoner, Unincorporated, my attempt at an existential love story of sorts, can be found here.

These books, along with my novellas are all available electronically here.

One day I may eat my humble pie and convert all my works to Kindle, to join the masses such as myself on Amazon. I will continue to submit and be rejected, one by one, by big and little publishing houses that continue to raise the bar in terms of acceptance.

And I understand. For their investments are gambles and the more name recognition, the lesser the gamble. Anyone can google me and they can also review me by what my readers say. It might help, it might not. If you have read anything of mine, please add your thoughts to Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords etc.

I chose Smashwords, Createspace and Lulu because I wanted to promote choice and patriotism: Lulu being Canadian, Smashwords and Createspace not being Amazon. Createspace has since been bought by Amazon and converted my works to Kindle as well. That is the way the world works.

Every sale either makes a difference or prolongs the inevitable.

Thank you for reading, in all manners of the word.

Jay Royston







Friday, 23 August 2019

short story start 2076 circa 2013

In 2074;

In what could be considered the greatest tragedy or the greatest victory for the human race depending on one's pragmatic views 3 nuclear bombs were detonated, destroying Jerusalem (death toll; in the millions), Vatican City (388 dead) and the Cayman Islands, which created a mass economic murder as corporations, banks throughout the world lost the 'paper trail' of assets that were sequestered there.

There was much bible thumping and Quran throwing however with each side indicting the other for the mass genocide neither could put up a strong case as to the organization responsible.

Most blamed the United States, except for the United States who blamed secular terrorist organizations in 48 different countries who all had links to Al Quaeda which was interesting as the last known Al Quada member had died of natural causes[1] in 2049.

It was the grandparents, long spurned as expendable and over-nostalgic that tried to remind people of the collective internet-based group Anonymous. But their postings were drowned out in reruns of the latest editions of 'So You Think You Are A Thinker' and 'Extreme Bat Fights' on the wall screens of most nation's homes and public supermarkets.

Anonymous was prepared for the backlash. The years of planning, the conspiracy theories started decades ago, the revenue from their shares in duct-tape was more than adequate to fund the operation. 

Yet even they weren't prepared for the general apathy that most of civilization displayed after the discovery that the holy trinity of religions was annihilated to nothing more than radioactive decay. There was a short burst of general disorder and chaos throughout most nations that again, thanks to the proliferation of corporate news agencies was summarily censored and (word to describe mass flaunting) in different parts of the world so that while Californians were aware of the mass killings of French tourists by sharks off the coast of Normandy they were blissfully unaware that over 19 million fellow Californians had disappeared from government data banks.

Everyone knew someone who had been killed, yet nobody knew anybody who made the news, barring a quick one-line throwaway story placed between the search for the Holy Land Destroyers and another cute story about a dog and a cat who were best pals.

So this is where the story begins, at the end of religion.




[1] he fell to his death after he was headbutted off of a rocky crag in Afghanistan by a unruly mountain goat.

Kurt Vonnegut rules

Kurt Vonnegut

Eight rules for writing fiction:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
-- Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1999), 9-10.
Kurt Vonnegut: How to Write with Style

Big BOoTY List #15 - Monstrous Regiment

#15
Image result for monstrous regiment

Needing to slip back into something a little more comfortable, I went for my go-to; Terry Pratchett.
Monstrous Regiment is the story of a country ravaged by war, and the last troop of soldiers to be recruited to head to the front. It has all the stereotypes; the headstrong tougher than nails sergeant, the weaselly, never-seen-action, lieutenant. The troll, the vampire, the Igor, you know, usual Pratchett.

The main protagonist is a bar-girl and shades of Mulan, pretends to be a man to join the army. The ragtag group of Missfits head towards the front lines where a certain Commander Vimes is waiting to welcome them and hopefully bring some peace to the area. Commander Vimes and his Night Watch feature very little in the book, which is a shame because we all could use a little Nobby.

Big BOoTY List #14 Galagapos

#14 Galagapos

Image result for galapagos vonnegut

I went for a third book of KV's, something I had yet to read. This one is a bit strange in narrative style, and reading his bibliography, it came out about 5 years before Hocus Pocus, which is similar in style but better executed.

Another 'end of the world' type thing, written 1 million years in the future, looking back at the moments that lead to an evolved human race, which through subtle clues are some type of seal/people. The narrator of the story is a ghost, the son of Kilgore Trout, whom most Vonnegut fans will be familiar with. I would have preferred to know that earlier in the story, which is why maybe that comes as a bit of a spoiler alert but whatever... the book was written in 1985.