To Swear Or Not To Swear

My first book, Along the Splintered Path, was released at the beginning of 2012 by Dark Continents Publishing. Up to that point I had never been more excited in my writing ‘career’, as it is. A lot of work went into the collection. Two stories were completely rewritten while one of them was a brand new piece.

At the time of its release I was in a phase of my writing process where I sought to make my stories sound authentic. In order to do that I would have to make all of the dialogue sound as real and believable and accurate as possible, as if someone would actually say the words I had the characters saying. Not that I didn’t already have realistic sounding dialogue, but I generally steered away from swear words. Having characters using foul language equaled authenticity. Or so I told myself.

The book was released and I was immensely proud of it. It received a few good reviews and it sold right out of the gate. I couldn’t have been happier, especially with it being a first book (even if it was a collection).

Then something happened, something that made me less proud of what I had accomplished.

Someone I knew wanted to read the book. This someone didn’t care much for bad language. Suddenly I was uncomfortable with the book, with letting someone read it. Suddenly I wished I had not put so much ‘authentic language’ in it.

Let’s stop here for a second. Not too long ago (well, maybe long enough ago that it was before Along the Splintered Path came out) I wrote a blog about using strong language in writing. I argued for the language, stating quite simply that some words don’t have the same oomph as others.

I view swear words as emphasis words. When someone says a swear word you notice it, you hear it. Immediately you understand the impact of the word in the context of the sentence. Almost always, even in joking around, the swear word stands out. Let me give you an example:

Damn it! As opposed to, Dang it!

You just read those two statements. Admit it, you said the first one more emphatically. Even if you only said the words in your mind, chances are the first one was stronger than the second one.

Here’s the thing, not all words can be replaced with other words. It’s like medicine. Not all medicines have a generic equivalent. If they did we would all buy the knock-off brand and save us a bit of money. Swear words are the name brand words and their softer, not as offending equivalents are the generic versions. The problem is, though the generic medicines work as good as their name brand counterparts, the generic equivalent of a swear word doesn’t have the same impact.

Again, let’s use ‘damn’ as our name brand word. What are its generic equivalents? Dang. Darn. Dagnabbit. Say them. Go ahead. Say them. I’ll wait. Make sure and say all four of them.

Let’s take a look at it now.

Dagnabbit just sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? It sounds like something Ned Flanders from The Simpsons would say. Many of you just cringed. That’s okay. I did, too.

Darn and Dang, well they’re okay. But they’re not the same as, oh, I don’t know: Damn.

Admit it. When you read that last ‘damn’ just now you felt the emphasis of it, didn’t you?

This was my argument for using swear words in writing.

Let’s go back to what I was saying before. I used a lot of swear words in Along the Splintered Path. Honestly, the dialogue sounded more authentic with them. But there is a problem with this. I don’t use many swear words in real life. I’m not comfortable hearing many of them come out of my mouth. I don’t want my kids to hear me say them. I don’t use them at work because they sound unprofessional. I don’t use them in general discussions because, quite honestly, they are not needed. I can’t say I don’t use them when I’m mad, but even then it is usually only one of four words, none of which starts with a F or a G plus a D. When I hear other people talking and every other word that comes out of their mouth is a swear word I walk away or I turn the channel if I am watching television or I turn off the movie or I stop reading the book. It’s not that I’m a prude, I just don’t think swearing is all that necessary.

If I don’t use swear words in life, why would I use them in my books?

Back to the person I knew who wanted to read the book. I was embarrassed to tell her, ‘I’m not sure you’ll like it. There’s a lot of language in it.’

‘But you wrote it,’ she said.

‘Yes,’ I responded and went on to explain that I wanted the characters to be as realistic as possible and that meant they had to swear because, you know, that’s what people do and I really wanted the characters to be real and…

‘But you don’t swear,’ she responded.

Guess what? She was right. Not all people swear. Not all people care to hear others swearing. Not all people care to read stories where swearing is prevalent throughout.

And I don’t swear a lot.

Here’s the point to all of this, and it doesn’t just pertain to swearing. If you do something that you would be embarrassed to tell someone or to have someone see/read/hear it, maybe you shouldn’t do it. If doing that thing makes you uncomfortable when someone ask you about it, then maybe you shouldn’t do it. Or maybe you shouldn’t have done it.

And then there’s the fact that I had to explain why I had written all the swear words in the first place. If you have to explain your actions, chances are they are actions you should not have taken.

I learned this lesson from that friend. And it embarrassed me. I couldn’t, in good conscious, say, ‘you’ll love this book, but you’re going to have to overlook all the cussing.’ I told the person the truth. ‘You may not like the book.’ And it hurt to say that. I knew the person wouldn’t buy the book, and if they did, they probably would have looked at me differently afterward, maybe even shook their head in disgust at how man F-Bombs I dropped between the front and back cover.

Some of you may say, ‘so what? That person can get over it.’ Yeah, maybe so, but to me, it would be like one of my parents or my wife being disappointed in me. They might get over it, but it would always be in the back of my mind that they had been disappointed in me for something I did.

There’s also this thing called a first impression. This was my first book. Sure, I made a good first impression on a few folks, but what of the ones who may have liked the story, but didn’t care much for all the language? Here’s the thing: I want readers of all ages, male and female. I’m not naïve enough to think I can win over everyone, but I would rather not push away those readers who would otherwise like my work.

Some of you think I’m being ridiculous or over sensitive or maybe even over thinking this. I assure you, I am not.

I went back and reread Along the Splintered Path not too long ago. I cringed with each swear word. Then I took the swear words out and rearranged the sentences and do you know what happened? The stories were just as good without the foul language and the dialogue was just as realistic.

When I rewrote Cory’s Way, my first novel, I specifically targeted swear words to cut. I rewrote sentences in order to take those words out. I even rewrote one entire chapter just so I could take out one word. Are there a couple words in there that are strong? Yeah, but nothing like before I edited it and no actual swear words. I even took out a paragraph that I thought I went overboard with. And guess what? I believe in Cory’s Way, one hundred percent. I believe it’s a great book, one that has very little language in it. I am so confident in this story that I have given books to people with the understanding that: ‘You don’t have to pay me now. Read the book. If you like it, then you give me the money for it. If you don’t, you give me the book back.’ All of them have paid me for the book. Anyone thirteen years of age or older can read Cory’s Way, and they will like it. And I am not ashamed to let anyone read it. As writers, we should never be ashamed to let people read our work. If we are, well, maybe we shouldn’t be writing it.

Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another…

The Goings On ‘Round Here

Faithful Readers,

I’ve been a busy boy, folks.

Since my last post, The Ever Changing Momentum, back in June—yeah, that long ago—a lot has happened.

Let me see if I can recite this as short and as concise as possible.

I finished up the edits on Cory’s Way, my novel. It now sits in the hands of the proofreader. Troy Rider, the artist who provided the cover art for Southern Bones, is currently working on the image for Cory’s Way. I’ve seen the framework for it. Yes, I’m excited. The talented Paula Ray wrote the introduction and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s getting closer to being complete.

Okay, before you ask who is publishing Cory’s Way, let me go ahead and say, I am.

What?

You idiot. You’re not serious are you?

Yes. Yes, I’m serious.

I see it like this: No one cares about my writing the way I do. No one. I probably take longer to put these things out than a publisher would. I go over my work multiple times and even then I go over it again. I’m extremely hard on myself. Not that a publisher wouldn’t be—they probably would—but I know what I want to do.

I know a publisher has more resources. And I bet a few of you are thinking I’m taking the easy way out. Ummm…no. Doing this by myself is far from easy. I’ve had a book put out through a publisher (Along the Splintered Path). It was much easier to do it that way. I’ve also put out a book on my own. It took me almost a year to put out Southern Bones once I started working on it.

A year? Yes, a year.

That’s nothing. I’ve been working on Cory’s Way since 2008. It’s been a long journey.

I hope you all will pick up a copy when it’s released. I think it’s a good book, but then again, I was the story’s first reader (as Stephen King puts it) and I so enjoyed it.

Before Cory’s Way sees the light of day, my novella, The Forgetful Man’s Disease, will come out. It’s the story of Homer Grigsby, a man who outlived all of his friends and his wife; a man the ghosts of his past like to pay a visit to on occasion when the hard wiring in his brain begins to short out. And sometimes the ghosts know more than the living do.

Then there is The Brown Bag Stories.

What is that, you ask?

Why, it’s none other than a booklet I created to give away to people and coffee shops and libraries and anywhere else that will allow me to place them in their venues. Each booklet contains one short story, some of them previously published, while others have never been published. The booklets are really, really expensive.

How expensive?

They are absolutely FREE. That’s right. They are all of zero dollars and zero cents. I don’t know how anyone can afford them.

If you want a copy of the latest edition (or even the back issues) leave me a comment in the comments section or e-mail me at ajbrown36@bellsouth.net and I’ll get your home address and send them out to you. And, yes, the shipping is FREE.

Here’s the deal. Like Cory’s Way and The Forgetful Man’s Disease and Southern Bones, I’m doing the work. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. It’s sometimes a headache. I do the formatting. I have the copies made and I do the folding and stapling as well. It’s not easy. It may be cliché, but it’s a labor of love, from me to you, Faithful Readers.

Last, but not least, I’m working on two novels right now. One of them is still untitled. The other is a piece titled, I’m Still Standing, it may be the most brutal and difficult thing I have ever written. In the end, it just may be the most satisfying story when all is said and done.

So, since the last post, the momentum has picked up. I’m excited. I hope you are, as well.

Before I go, I want to leave you with a touch of humor. I tell a lot of stories here about The Boy. He is a staple for comedy, being funny and not even realizing it. This time I want to tell you about something that happened recently at Target, and The Boy was not the star of the show this time. Yes, he was involved, but his sister stole the show.

We were in line to check out. In order, it was The Wife, The Girl, The Boy and The Me. The kids had their own money and were paying for their stuff. The Boy tried to cut in front of The Girl, the way kids would do.

The Girl: I was in front of you.
The Boy: No, you weren’t.
The Me: Yes, she was. Get back behind her.
The Boy: (Pokes his lip out and gets behind The Girl. He then pokes me in the stomach.)
The Me: Stop.
The Boy: (Giggles and pokes me in the stomach. Hey, this isn’t Facebook and I don’t like being poked)
The Me: Stop.
The Boy: (Giggles again and pokes me in the stomach, yet again.)
The Me: I’m going to thump you in the nose if you don’t stop.
The Boy: That won’t hurt.
The Me: Yes it will. It will make your nose bleed.
The Boy: So. I broke your nose…twice.
[SIDE NOTE: Yes, he broke my nose twice while we were playing. Long story.]
The Me: By accident.
The Girl: Yeah, that’s what you tell your friends.
The Family: LAUGHTER

Yes, she got the sarcastic gene.

Until we meet again, my friends…

The Zombie Run, Writing and Enthusiasm

Today, The Wife, The Boy, The Girl, and I went to the Columbia Zombie Run at the Columbia River Park. At first we were a little disappointed. There was no one running and there were no zombies chasing. We walked…and walked…and walked. Still no people running from the walking dead. We saw some folks dressed as zombies, but they were just strolling along. This was supposed to be a zombie run. I wanted to see the dead chasing the living, maybe even to the point of the zombies running like they did in Zombieland.

Well, we didn’t really get to see much of that in the three or so hours we were there. However, they did have a zombie makeover booth, and The Girl was zombiefied:

DSC_0472

The Girl made a pretty cool looking zombie. They could have done a little more to make her appear more realistic, but The Boy was having nothing to do with the peeling skin and dripping blood.

While we walked the route, hoping to see the dead roaming about, one of the zombies walked up and gave me a knuckle bump. Yeah, a knuckle bump. Then she and the two Zs they were with posed for a picture:

DSC_0440

This dude scared the crap out of The Boy:

DSC_0464

The best thing about this event was the zombies and the women doing the makeup. They were awesome and extremely nice. They explained all the makeup they were using and even gave The Girl all sorts of options as to how gruesome she wanted to be.

Oh, and there was a little girl there dressed up as a zombie Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. All in all, it was a day right up my alley.

On the way out we passed the vendor booth for Scratch N Spin, a local music/comic shop. There were plenty of Walking Dead books and memorabilia there. I stopped and the lady womanning the booth gave me a free copy of The Walking Dead comic, which was cool in and of itself. But then we started talking about comics and the local music scene. She mentioned Scratch N Spin and did her promotional thing, which is what she was supposed to do, right?

Here’s the thing about these little festival-type events: Sometimes you meet some neat folks, and sometimes those neat folks point you in a direction or offer some advice that makes you say, ‘I never thought of that.’ This lady, her name was Becka, mentioned her brother, Eric, the owner of Scratch N Spin, at one time had a small press. Though he was no longer in the business of publishing books, she said I should talk to him.

So I did.

The Wife and I went to Scratch N Spin and to meet him. Turns out Becka had mentioned us to him before we got there.

Eric and I had a discussion, and he gave me a few ideas, all of them things I can do that won’t break the bank. Things I never thought of. I left the Scratch N Spin with a renewed enthusiasm for this business we call writing. It is something that has been missing for a long, long while.

I’ve made notes tonight, based on the conversation we had. You see, Eric explained to me a fundamental truth: you have to really work your way up in your region before you can work your way up anywhere else. He said it’s like being in a band. Little known bands tend to tour their local bars, pubs, festivals and other venues they can find. They create a circuit, and for the most part, they play within that circuit, developing fans and a following. Then, as the following grows, they expand to other regions, basically building their name, their brand. It’s a lot of work, but consistency is the key. Being consistent in where they play and making sure they play well for the crowds that show up for their concerts/gigs.

Writers, bands, artists want to be recognized, and not just locally. We get stars in our eyes when we think that someone across the world might see, read or hear our work. Sometimes we forget to take care of our own backyard. We want the entire world before building credibility. And there, my friends, is another key to it all: credibility.

Think about your favorite author or band or television/movie star. Why do you like them? They entertained you in some way or other and they became credible in your mind. They earned that credibility and they earned your time, money and love. More than likely, though, it didn’t happen overnight. It took some time, some consistency.

It’s time to earn some credibility.

###

Okay, I’ve said before that I don’t like asking folks to sell my books for me. Still, I’m not going to do that. But if you’ve read one of my two books, would you mind leaving a review on Amazon? It would help me and I would greatly—did I say GREATLY?—appreciate it.

###

Words from my latest WIP:

They pulled onto the exit ramp and Cole brought the car to a stop at the sign. He turned right onto the two-lane road. There wasn’t much to see for about a mile. Just trees and grass and litter on the ground. Then they came to the store. It, like the road they traveled, wasn’t much to see. A white building with a white door. The parking lot was dirt and gravel, and the building itself was butted up against the trees. There was a beat-up gray Bondo bucket of a truck sitting out front.

In the reflection of the glass, Sheila could see Cole smiling. His eyes dazzled the way they used to back when… She shook her head and looked away.

Cole pulled up to the side of the store, bypassing the front. He parked, turned the engine off and started to get out. The door was open and one foot on the ground before he looked back to her. “You coming?”

This time she didn’t let her reflection do the looking. She turned to him, frowned and gave a quick shake of her head. “No.”

Cole swallowed hard, nodded, and then shrugged. He closed the door behind him, not gently, but with a hard slam. Sheila’s shoulders jumped. She watched as he walked away, his head down, not held high like it used to. In that moment, Sheila’s heart cracked a little.

###

I leave you now with the word of the day. It is from my son: Deliciosity. It means delicious. As in, “This pizza is so deliciosity.”

Yes, my son makes up words the way Mike Tyson does.

Thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends…

No Need To Say Thank You? Bah…

Occasionally, I get asked to play manager at work. Yeah, I know. Who would trust me to tell others what to do? On these occasions I usually get a lot of help from my coworkers. Most of the time they listen to me. I appreciate that. And I let them know.

I think it’s important to tell my coworkers ‘thank you’ when they do something I ask them to do, and then again after they have completed the task. I want them to know how much I appreciate their cooperation. It’s important.

Earlier this week one of the workers said to me, ‘Hey man, you don’t have to thank me for doing my job.’

He wasn’t being mean. He was just stating it is his job, it is what he gets paid to do, so no need to show my appreciation.

While I respect my coworker, I disagree.

Sure, I don’t have to say thank you, but it is always good to hear, always good to know that someone appreciates something you’ve done. Thank you can go a long way to getting help in the future. It shows respect and it gains respect as well.

Thank you is something that so many folks have forgotten how to say. It’s something we should say more often.

That doesn’t just go for work, though. That goes for at home and out in public when someone holds a door for you. It also goes for writers. We do appreciate when you, the readers, purchase our books, or tell us about whether or not you like our work or not, or when you spread the word to others, or leave reviews for us.

So, I say this to you readers: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Without you, well, who would we write for? Sure, we say we write for ourselves, and there is some truth to that, but in reality, we write to be read. If no one is reading, well, there is no need to write.

So, thank you.

For anyone who has read my series, Dredging Up Memories, thank you.

For anyone who has read Along the Splintered Path, thank you.

For anyone who has read Southern Bones, thank you.

And for those who will read any of my work in the future, thank you.

Some may say there is no need to show appreciation. I disagree. I truly appreciate those readers who have read my work, and those writers and friends and family who have supported me over the years.

To all of you, Thank YOU.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Relevancy

Do you ever play the numbers game? If you’re a writer, then the answer to that is probably yes. I don’t do it often, but I have done it.

Let’s throw out some numbers (as of this writing):

• Southern Bones Amazon rank for Kindle e-books: 489,115 in paid sales.
• Southern Bones Amazon rank for paperback books: 3,164,534 in paid sales.
• Reviews of Southern Bones on Amazon: 3
• Along the Splintered Path Amazon rank for Kindle e-books: 536,637 in paid sales.
• Along the Splintered Path Amazon rank for paperback books: 3,401,363 in paid sales.
• Reviews of Along the Splintered Path on Amazon: 21
• 10,962 views of my blog since June of 2011 (The math for that is 10,962 divided by 29, for a total of 378 views a month).

I noticed when checking the numbers at Amazon, which I do probably once a week, usually on Monday, that there is a question right below the ranking. It is: Did we miss any relevant features for this product? Tell us what we missed.

Yes, Amazon, there is something missing, but not necessarily from the product, but from and for the writer of those books. The thing? Well, Amazon, you said it in the fifth word of that question: Relevant.

The thing missing is relevance. Of what relevance are my books and myself to the reading population? Clearly, I’m not Stephen King, so the relevance is, oh I don’t know, maybe not the size of a mountain like his is. But is it bigger than the tip of a needle?

I am not one of those folks who trumpet out my numbers on Facebook, and, as far as I can recall, this is the first time I have ever disclosed my numbers on how my books or blog are doing. To me, the numbers shouldn’t be important. But they are. They are as important as the covers to the books are.

What? You think I’m crazy? Well, so do a lot of folks, but that has never deterred me from writing or really most things (though it is fair to say I have mellowed over the years).

This is what I believe:

Book covers are important. But reviews and ranking are as important, if not more so.

Why do I say this? It’s simple, really:

How many folks have gone to the book store and picked up a book, then put it back because of the cover? I think most people are guilty of it. It happens.

Now, how many people have decided not to download a book based on the thumbnail size cover on Amazon or Nook or wherever? Probably not as many as with the print books, but some have probably done this.

How many of you out there have decided to purchase or not purchase an e-book based on their Amazon ranking? Come on, it’s okay. You can raise your hand. No one will know. It’s not like I have a camera secretly embedded into the blog that will show me how many folks raise their hands.

Okay, how many of you have decided to purchase or not purchase an e-book based on how many reviews they have received? Oh, those hands should go up a lot quicker now.

Here’s the thing about relevancy: it is the reader who makes a writer or a book relevant. Sure, we can market the books in various places to try and catch the attention of readers, but ultimately, it is not in the writer’s hands to determine how well a book does on the market.

Don’t get me wrong. The writer has to do his/her share of the work. The writer has to write the story, and they had best make it a good story, too. The writer has to put themselves out there and then market their work. The writer has to be willing to take criticism and learn how to be gracious. Even with all that, the readers decided the relevancy of writers.

How do you know if you are relevant, though? Well, a growth in book sales for one. A growth in reviews. A lower number on your Amazon ranking, meaning lower (100 as opposed to 1250) is better in this case.

But we can scrap all of that if we want to. The best way to know you’re relevant is when a reader tells you something good about your work. Or when someone who admires you lets you know. Relevancy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Do I want to sell my books? Of course. Would I like to make money at this business? You bet. Do I want people to enjoy my stories and take them with them long after they are done reading? More than most anything. Do I want to be relevant in this business? That would be nice, but more importantly, I want to be relevant to the reader–to you–and if I can do that, then I have done my job.

***

One thing I stopped doing at Type AJ Negative is talking about my kids. I feel that is a huge mistake. My kids are so much a part of me and have inspired so many of my stories (two of them are in the collection, Southern Bones).

So, today I will end with a short story about my children.

I took my son and his friend who is a girl (no, not a girl who is a friend–I made the mistake of saying that before) skating for school skate night last Thursday. He is normally a very good skater for an eight-year-old, but on this night, there were girls there and they were all around him. He, like most boys, showed off and looked silly for doing so.

In the process he managed to bruise his knees and one hand pretty good. After dropping off the friend who is a girl and taking him home, he took a shower. Then he came into my bedroom where my wife and I were talking.

“Can one of you give me a massage?”

“What needs massaging?” I asked.

“My legs. My feet. My back. My arms. My butt.”

“Not me,” I said quickly.

“You’re on your own when it comes to massaging your butt,” The Wife said.

The Boy frowned. “Okay.”

“Hop on the bed,” The Wife then says. “I’ll massage your legs for you.”

The Boy is very ticklish and his laughter could be heard all over the house. Then he got quiet and lay back on the bed. The Wife had reached a spot on his foot that apparently hurt.

The Boy, after several seconds of this foot rub sighs, and then says, “I feel so aliiiiiiiive.”

With that, I bid you farewell, until we meet again, my friends.

It’s My Job, Not Yours

I remember as a child getting comic books from a little book store out on Edmund Highway toward the small town of South Congaree (if one could call it that at the time). My dad would take my brother and I to this book store on a lazy Saturday afternoon and we would peruse boxes and boxes of comics at the back of the store, while Dad perused shelves and shelves of books at the front of it. For some reason I keep thinking that we went on Sundays, but I’m not totally sure of that. None-the-less, Larry and I were comic book junkies. He was all superheroes and I was all Dracula and Frankenstein and Conan the Barbarian.

We would get these books, take them home and spend all afternoon reading them. I often read mine several times in the course of the week. Rarely did we miss an opportunity to go get comics. It’s one of those memories I cherish from my childhood. We would take the comics back (or most of them, anyway) and get a store credit. Mrs. Laura and Mr. Al were great about making sure we were able to get new comics when we came in. Dad was, too.

Let me stop here for a second.

We would take the comics back and get a store credit.

Keep that in mind for later.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, so these little trips that my dad would make with us were like birthday or Christmas moments to us. I knew that they were special and that Dad was doing something kind and generous because he loved his boys and he wanted us to enjoy one of his great passions: reading. Store credit was important. Larry and I would look at the piece of paper Mrs. Laura filled out with a dollar amount, and then we would choose our comics based on that number. It was the ultimate in getting the most for your money.

Back then we got books any way we could: going to the book store on Edmund Highway, yard sales and flea markets. Occasionally a book would be given to us.

I was an avid reader as a kid, but very slow about it. I’m still very slow in reading today, but not because it takes me a while to comprehend, but because I take in each sentence, each paragraph, and I picture the story as it unfolds.

Fast Forward a little now.

I’m much older and Mrs. Laura and Mr. Al are gone, as is the bookstore we frequented so often as children. I don’t read comics like I used to. Instead I read other books, mostly novels and short story collections.

I am also a writer. I’m not a mid-lister or even a low-lister. I’m just a writer who wants to see my work published and who wants to see my stories in the hands of readers. If that means my stories need to be e-pubbed, then I’ll go with that. If that means they need to be in print format, I’ll go with that. If that means both, then so be it. My goal is to entertain readers, to find that happy medium of writing enjoyment and fulfillment, as well as giving readers something they want to read and something they will remember.

The publishing world is constantly changing. Thirty years ago, e-books were an unfathomable concept. Today, print books seem almost prehistoric. Thirty years ago, there were no e-zines or websites where you could submit short stories or novellas or even novels. There were physical addresses, not e-mails, and you had to print your manuscript out, put it in a big envelope or box and mail it out to agents, editors and publishers. It was a lot harder to get noticed back then.

Today, getting published is easier. You can do it all yourself with the e-pub world (and the print world for that matter). Many call it vanity or self publishing. I lean toward the self publishing term, because that is really what it is. We can call it Indie, meaning Independent publishing. I’m good with that as well.

With Indie or self publishing, or even traditional publishing, it comes down to one thing for the writer: how much are you willing to work at it. Writing is work. Writing is hard work. Don’t be fooled by some of the success stories out there:

I’ve never written anything before and this just popped in my head so I wrote it and now I’m a bagillionaire and am loved by the masses.

There are very few folks that can just sit down, pen a story and have it do phenomenally well, and that’s going the traditional route. It’s tougher going the Indie road, which is narrow and crowded with every other Indie writer out there. People shove and push and elbow their way along the streets of Storyville, peddling their wares on Facebook Avenue, Twitter Street, Pinterest Boulevard, Tumbler Road, Goodreads Circle, Blog Trail and a whole host of other places.

Readers have a ton of choices these days. The Big Six no longer really control the business. Sure, they still have a huge stake in it, but readers can go to Amazon or Smashwords or Pubit and a few other sources and browse items and titles until they find what they are looking for.

I’ve said these last 900 words or so in order to address something that is going on out there right now, and sadly, I am guilty of it.

Reading is not what it used to be. There are other things that are fighting for the consumers’ attention (especially children). Video games and the internet and television are easy distractions, and for children, probably a little more entertaining than when I grew up and books and an imagination were all you needed to escape the world for a while. Attention spans are shorter.

Reading needs to continue to be entertaining and not work. Which brings me to one of the trends of Indie publishing and traditionally published authors as well: making readers work.

Recently, one of the writers over at Book Riot wrote an article about what readers owe authors: Readers Don’t Owe Authors #%*!. I’ve read it, followed the links to other articles, and to be honest, I’m kind of sad right now. No, not with what the writer states, but because she is right.

As a writer, I want readers to read and enjoy my books. I would also like it if they told their friends about it (especially if they liked it), but they don’t have to. There is no obligation that they should have to ‘like’ my author page on Facebook or Amazon or Goodreads. There is no obligation for them to post a book review and give me however many stars they want to. There is no obligation for them to write poignant blogs based on their experience of reading my book: OMG, you need to pick this book up!

As writers, we ask so much of our readers. We ask them to choose and purchase our book among the millions of others out there. Many of us are unknown, making the risk of getting something substandard a lot higher (at least in the minds of the readers). We ask them to stick with a story long enough to get into it and then ask them to suspend disbelief that, yes, vampires do sparkle when sprayed with Unicorn dust and women can look at men through their lashes. We ask readers to trust us, to trust that we will not cheat them in the end and have them walk away from the experience of reading our books with a good taste in their mouths. We ask them to believe that our words are worth the price tag we put on them.

Let me say this: It is my job as the writer to engage you, the reader, and to hold your attention all the way until the end of the story (or collections). It is my job to give you something you will want to talk about, that you will want to share with others.

Understand something fellow writers, we do not pay the every day, average reader to read our books. Sure, we may pay professional review services to read and review the book and share their thoughts with the world, but we don’t say, ‘hey, Reader, here’s a hundred bucks. Read my book and tell everyone about it.’

At least, I don’t. I can’t afford to, even if I wanted to.

Readers read because they want to. Readers read for enjoyment. They don’t read with the idea of leaving book reviews, and posting all over social media sites and blogging about it. Readers read because they enjoy the experience. Readers are not our personal marketing department.

As a writer, I admit that there are times I have failed to market my books as well as I should. Whose fault is that? Mine. It’s not the readers’. If I want my work to sell more, I have to market my books better. Sure, if a reader wants to help by spreading the word or leaving a review or however they choose to help, then I will be more than happy to let them. If that’s what they want to do, then go for it. But, it’s not my place to tell them that I need help promoting my book and if they liked my book, then, by George, tell the world.

It takes time to promote our books, and not many of us like to do it. So, why ask our readers to do it for us?

Writing is work. It’s hard work. Marketing is work. It’s much harder work. That is my job.

So, with all that said, I would like to apologize for my part in the whole, ‘let’s get the readers to help market my work’ scenario. It’s not your job. It’s my job. If I don’t do it well enough, then my books don’t sell. I won’t say don’t help writers you like, but I won’t say, if you don’t buy my book and tell the world about it, then you are hurting us writers. That’s BS in it’s truest since.

A reader’s job is to read. That’s it. And even then, it’s not their job, but their desire, what they enjoy doing.

I go back to the comic books I read as a kid. I go back to all the writers out there who had to make it in the business without social media or the Internet or e-books and self-publishing. Sure, word of mouth helps, but I’m certain Stephen King didn’t say, ‘will you please help me sell my books to your friends by liking it and reviewing it and whatever else you can do would be awesome.’ I can’t imagine having the time to write reviews or post on social media about all the books/comics I read growing up.

I’m not going to tell any reader not to help, because, as a writer, I appreciate when someone does like my work and when someone does think enough of it to tell others or leave a review for it. That’s the general principal behind most marketing, to sell a product so good that people will just want to buy it and then tell their friends about it and use that word of mouth to help sell things. By all means, spread the word. But I’m not going to ask you to do any of the work. That’s my job, and that’s the job of every other writer out there. And I’m certainly not going to tell you, the readers, that if you don’t purchase my work, then you aren’t supporting me. Again, BS in a pure form.

There are those websites that say things like, 20 Ways You Can Help Your Favorite Writer or Support a Writer, Buy A Book. Whatever. There is one way that you can help your favorite writer, and it’s the only one that counts. Read their work. My books haven’t sold particularly well, but I know that those who have bought them have, for the most part, read them, and enjoyed them.

I want readers to pick up one of my books and enjoy them. I don’t want them to feel like if they read my books then they have to write a review or like the Amazon page or blog about it. If they want to, go for it, but I don’t want them to feel obligated to do so—that takes the enjoyment out of reading, and we should never want to take that from them.

Readers don’t owe us a thing, but we owe them. Yes, we do. We owe them a big thank you for taking the time (and money in many cases) to read our work. Thank you to anyone who has picked up either Along the Splintered Path or Southern Bones.

The only thing I am going to ask of the readers is, please, don’t steal my work (or anyone else’s). Other than that, if you see my book at the library or a yard sale or the flea market, pick it up for that quarter or fifty cents. If someone gives you my book, just say thank you and don’t worry about whether or not I could have made money off of you purchasing the book. Readers read and that’s what I want them to do with my work. Anything else they want to do with my books after they’ve read them is really up to them. That includes going to an old bookstore on a stretch of road where a middle-aged couple sales used books and credits the kids when they return books. Maybe one of those kids will see my book and want to buy it, and maybe they would like it and decide to keep it instead of turning it back in for a store credit and a comic book.

Until we meet again my friends…

About That First Person Perspective…

My newest work in progress is a story told in the first person perspective. I know I don’t need to tell most folks what the first person perspective is, but some may not know, so: the first person point of view is told using ‘I’ or ‘We’ and is, essentially, the narrator telling the story and being an integral part of it (my definition, not Websters).

I enjoy first person stories, but so many other folks, including editors, do not. Why is that? Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe the use of ‘I’ is used a bit too much in these stories. I know there have been many pieces that I have read where ‘I’, and not the story itself, became the complete focal point. Yes, in first person the story is about the ‘I’ or the ‘We’, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus. If it is more about the narrator and less about what the narrator is saying, or the story he/she is telling, then the ‘I’ becomes redundant and annoying.

It’s hard to write a first person piece and not use/over use the ‘I’. But with practice, you can make that ‘I’ less about the narrator and more about the story. When I first wrote the story, The Woodshed it was all about the narrator, all about his plight with the monster that was his father. That’s not a terrible thing—the story was about a young man, Kyle, who couldn’t escape his past—but the way I told it made the ‘I’ the focal point and not the story. Every other sentence was me, me, me, me. The story was lost on the narrator.

I rewrote The Woodshed numerous times before coming up with the version published in 2012 in the short story collection, Along the Splintered Path. (Yeah, a little bit of shameless self-promotion there.)

After the rewrite, the story sounded much better. Take a look:

We lived in the back woods of the North Carolina Mountains. Our property extended as far as the eyes could see and our legs could carry us. Trees surrounded us in every direction and there was a pond down the hill and around the bend. It was pretty country for those who lived there. If you were a stranger it was just as dangerous as it was beautiful. Father made sure that anyone and everyone knew the land was ours, running off trespassers with his shotgun, warning them to “stay off my land,” and “if I see yah again I’ll bury yah where I shoot yah.”

Those were the lucky ones.

Once I was under the porch burying my penny jar when a stranger pulled his jeep alongside the house. He got out and started up the steps. Before he could reach the door Father greeted him with his old shotgun, the one he called Babe.

You can tell right away that the story is first person, but you can also see the narrator is moving the piece along, and not hung up on himself. Sure, he mentions ‘us’ and ‘our’ and begins to tell about this one incident, buy you immediately know they live out in the country and that, during that one incident, he is under the porch and a stranger has just pulled up in a jeep. You get a sense of direction.

Writing first person is nothing more than telling someone about something that happened to you. A first date. A speeding ticket. Applying for a job. However, you can’t just make it about YOU. In first person, you have to also make it about the reader.

It’s easy to tell a story when standing by the water cooler or talking on the phone to someone who knows you. There are details that are not needed in those cases. However, when writing a story and telling it to complete strangers, you have to do it a little differently. I call it the “Picture This Mentality.” Just because you can see it in your head, doesn’t mean the reader can. You have to help them picture it.

This goes back to the old school way of writing. Back before the advances in technology brought us cars and planes and television and the internet (oh my!) writers delved into the details of stories. If you lived in America, there was a good chance you had no clue what Africa looked like or what England was like. There was a good chance, unless you were a soldier, that you had no clue what being in the trenches in a war was like. So the writers of that time gave the readers great details in order for them to picture the story.

Writing in a manner that gives the readers a good image (yet not an overdone image) helps the readers fall into a story, helps them get to know the narrator a little more without that person talking explicitly about themselves.

Whenever I go into the PTM, I state simply: ‘Picture this, if you will.’ From there I set up the scene and then go into the story. It allows me to describe to the reader in enough detail (again, without drowning them in descriptions) the scenery and what is going on so the story can come more alive. It also helps me to take the focus off of the ‘I’.

Still, a lot of folks don’t like these types of stories. Though I took a guess with the last bit of rambling, I have another thought on it. Bear with me for just another minute.

In my newest work in progress, my main character is an older black male who is from the south and who spent eight years in prison back in the seventies. He’s not a dumb guy, and he keeps to himself for the most part. He speaks in a dialect that is not heavy southern, but is dialect, none-the-less. His grammar is not perfect—far from it—but I wanted to make him as realistic as possible, so he talks the way he talks.

I can hear all the editors out there cringing now.

Let’s back up a step: I’m a notoriously slow reader. I like to picture what is happening and I like to get into the characters’ heads. I like to see it from their eyes, feel it through their skin, hear it with their ears, smell it with their noses, and taste it with their tongues. If they are hurting, I want to be in there with them and feel that pain. So, when I read, I am slow about it, because I really dive into the water, so to speak.

When I read a first person story, within the first couple of pages, I try to get into character, much like an actor. I try to put myself in the narrator’s shoes and the voice in my head reading the story to me, becomes someone else’s (like an audio book, I guess). It is the voice of the character trying to assert itself in the telling of the story. By doing that, I become part of the story and it makes those first person pieces so much more enjoyable.

Do readers do that? Do editors do that? Am I the only person who does that and does it make me some kind of weirdo?

If you have never tried to form an image and a way of being for a character in a first person story, then give it a try, especially if you don’t like that type of narration. It may help you come to enjoy it. Maybe not. But it never hurts to give it a shot, right?

Before anyone writes me nasty comments (and please feel free to if you wish to have a conversation on the subject), allow me to say that this is me speculating on possible reasons why many folks don’t like this perspective. This is not something researched and I didn’t do any surveys. These are just my thoughts on the subject. ‘Nothing more,’ sayeth the Sparrow.

I’ve always enjoyed writing in the first person perspective. If something in this blog helps you come to enjoy reading that point of view, then that’s awesome. If not, well, that’s okay as well. At any rate, I have a story that needs to be worked on and it’s time to get into character.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

Star date, 1/1/2013, zero one zero four in the morning. The New Year is upon us and I aim to make it better than the one that just past.

I’m sorry, 2012, but you did not live up to my expectations. I mean, seriously. Having me take a pay cut and struggle significantly to make ends meet just to keep my job was a really crappy thing for you to do. I mean, really you didn’t start things off all that well when you picked up the baton that 2011 dropped and said, ‘hey, have pneumonia until February.’

I should have known then that you were going to kick my butt.

My writing took a beating. My mental and physical state of being took a beating. My confidence, yeah, that took a good old-fashioned blanket party throw down. It took a while to get that back.

Though you did see fit to let me get two short story collections out there, one of them through Dark Continents Publishing and the other one put out by me, the sales have been underwhelming, even with the good reviews they have both received. You would think, Dear 2012, that with reviews that state things like:

“AJ Brown’s debut novella presents three short stories of moralistic caution, human failings, and dark, unrelenting horror. He has a fresh, unique voice that brings the characters to life with a skill and experience that makes this a real page turner all the way to its deliciously macabre ending.”
–Starburst Magazine

And:

Along the Splintered Path has a more laid back pace but with plenty of meat on the bones, characters you actually care about and is steered with a confident hand. I can see big things for AJ Brown.
–Daniel Russell

And:

This book was a surprise, well written and a touch of Stephen King. Each story was quite different, and all were intriguing and at times disturbing.
–IamOneill

…that the books would have sold more, but for some reason the publishing gods have not seen fit to allow this.

Still, not all was terrible, though you seemed to temper little victories with equal or greater defeats.

Guess what, 2012? It’s time to move on out the way and let the New Year 2013 in the door. It’s not like you have much choice in the matter, is it? You can’t turn back time. Just ask Cher.

I have plans for this year. Goals, I say. Goals. Do you hear me, 2012?

So go ahead. Shuffle on out the door and don’t let it hit yah where your Momma split yah.

Now that he’s gone, Dear 2013, my name is A.J. I am your friend, and hopefully, you will be mine. You and I could do some wonderful things this year. Like maybe me getting back onto a regular writing schedule—a daily one like I used to have. I sure do miss those thousand words a day that the years 2006-2010 allowed me to have.

And what about submissions and publications? Your predecessor, 2012, just didn’t seem to have it in the cards for me to do much of either. You may not know this since you’re still new here, but way back in 2009 I submitted 155 stories, and 45 of them went on to get published. No, I’m not looking to submit that many stories this year, but how about a third of that total? Are you down with that?

It’s still early, my new friend, but I want you to know that you have the power to make this as good a year as you want it to be. So I’m going to head to bed in a few minutes and dream sweet dreams of the future and what you have in store for my family and I.

Just in case, Dear 2013, you want to take a look at my two collections and maybe help push them in the right direction, here are the links. I hope you enjoy them, and don’t worry, even if you don’t own a kindle, you can get them both in print.

Southern Bones

Along the Splintered Path

And hey, if you wouldn’t mind, spread the word, leave a review, maybe drop me a line and let me know if you enjoyed the books.

As I bade 2012 farewell, I gave a thanks to the readers out there on Facebook:

“I’m going to end 2012 with a thank you to everyone who picked up one of my two short story collections throughout this year. Also, a big thank you to anyone who reviewed either of the books as well. I hope you enjoyed them, and here’s to 2013.”

The ‘likes’ were cool, but the lone comment to the post made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, kind of like the Grinch when he discovered that Christmas didn’t come in boxes, packages and bags.

Thanks for writing them!

To everyone out there, you are welcome. And to Lindsey Beth Goddard, thank you for making my day with that comment.

I am going to head off to bed. I am finally tired enough to hopefully sleep more than a handful of hours. Before I go, I would like to leave you with my new favorite song, Mumford and Sons’ I Will Wait.

Have a wonderful New Year, and until we meet again, my friends…

It’s Not Bragging, Kiddo

The one thing I hate about writing is promoting. It’s true. I hate promoting myself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it feels too much like bragging. I’m not one to brag. Never have been.

You’ve heard the saying, It’s not bragging if you can back it up, kid.

Okay, the kid part isn’t in there, but that’s how I hear it in my head, maybe with a bit of Humphrey Bogart behind it.

It seems to me, and I could be wrong, but a great many people who brag are either very confident in themselves and their abilities or full of some smelly stuff. Maybe it’s half and half.

When I was a kid, I heard a story about Pistol Pete Maravich. For those of you who don’t know who Pistol Pete was, he was one of the greatest scorers in the history of college basketball (he scored 3667 points in his college career, averaging 44.2 points a game). He went on to play in the pros, though his career was cut short, thanks to those little things called injuries. Interesting enough, most people don’t remember Maravich for his scoring, but for his creative passes. He is, essentially, one of the pioneers of the passing guards that we know today, but I’m not going to go into that here.

At any rate, the story goes that Wilt Chamberlain asked Maravich how high he could shoot the basketball. Maravich asked, “How high can you reach?”

Chamberlain then showed him how high he could reach while jumping.

Maravich (most likely with a slight smile on his face) said, “I can shoot one inch above that.”

Arrogance? No, I think not. Maravich was confident in his abilities. Maybe he was bragging a little? But he sure could back it up, kid

Bragging and confidence seem to go together. They are like birds of a feather. They are like peas in a pod. They are like any other cheesy cliché I wish to throw out there.

Confidence and ability can take you far, but it can only take you so far if you aren’t willing to take a few risks and put yourself out there, put your abilities out there. This is where I struggle: putting myself out there.

It just feels like bragging.

But maybe that’s what I need to do. Brag a little. Show some confidence.

Okay. Here goes.

Henceforth, some bragging will occur.

You have been warned.

There’s no turning back once I get started.

Here we go.

Are you ready for this?

I’m stalling, right?

Yeah, I thought so.

No more stalling.

Read the following words and believe them.

I am a good writer. I am a very good writer. No, I am not your typical fast paced all action all the time type of writer, but most of my stories are really good (especially the ones over the last two or so years).

If you don’t believe me, then read one of my collections. Consider it a challenge to the naysayers. Yes, I said naysayers.

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life with very few people who believed in me or my abilities. I’ve constantly had to prove myself, and in many respects, that is why I don’t particularly care to socialize outside of work and the few friends I have. Let me tell you, when it comes to writing, I’ve worked and worked and worked and with each story, my abilities get better. It’s just a fact that I have seen over the years.

I had one editor tell me to quit writing, that I would never be good at it. Umm… dear Mr. Editor Dude, you were wrong, and from what I hear, you went out of business, probably because of the way you treated the writers that made your magazine.

(Oh, sorry. A little bit of soapbox standing for a minute there).

I work hard at writing and I stay true to myself. I enjoy creating characters and scenery and situations for my characters to be in. I also love letting those characters decide how the stories will end and how long they will be.

I’ll tell you one thing you won’t find with my stories: all action and no development. I hate those types of stories and I refuse to write them. Does that mean some of my stories are a little wordy? Absolutely. As Stephen King once said about his work, “sometimes my stories become elephantine.” I’m okay with that. Thankfully, my stories only become little elephants, not 1500 page mammoths. The thing to remember is they are good. Good, I say.

I may be a nobody at the bottom of the totem pole right now, but I won’t be forever. There will come a day when things will break the right way for my writing career and I will take off.

It’s not bragging, kid. Not if you can back it up.

Let me let you in on a little secret. Just in case you haven’t heard: I’m a good writer. Read it again. I’m a good writer. And you will like my work.

That’s not bragging. That’s confidence. It’s not arrogance. It’s learning to believe in myself, in my abilities. It is something I have struggled my entire life with: the confidence to believe in myself.

You tell me: Is it bragging? Is it confidence?

One other thing I need to do is get back to blogging regularly, a couple of times a week. It is the one thing I need to take the time to do. I know I’ve been neglectful of Type AJ Negative at times, and for that, I apologize. But stick with me. I have some things I am working on that you may find interesting (you’re darn right you’ll find it interesting, and don’t you forget it).

If, by chance, I have piqued your interest in one of my two collections (or both of them), here are links to them. Along the Splintered Path came out in January and was released by Dark Continents Publishing. Southern Bones was released in October and was put out by CMB Publishing. Don’t bother looking the name up—it’s my own label.

Here’s a little game for you: What does the CMB stand for? No, a certain wife of mine cannot play.

The links follow, but for now, be safe, keep reading and until we meet again, my friends…

Southern Bones E-Book

Southern Bones Print Version

Along the Splintered Path Print Version

Along the Splintered Path E-book

The Coffin Hop and Other Notes

Good evening Interweb People…

You know, every time I write something like that I think of Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam.

I know that was totally off subject, but it’s what came to mind, and if you’ve been a follower of Type AJ Negative for any length of time, then you know I generally just write what I think. But wait, we haven’t really gotten to the subject yet, have we?

Of course not, A.J.

The last seven days of Halloween—oops, I mean October—is upon us and that means my favorite month of the year will be ending in one week. You can’t see it, but I am making a really horrid sad face right now. Just use your imagination: A grown man sitting at a desk, his hair unkempt, wire rimmed glasses perched on his nose. He wears an Eric Cartman t-shirt that says, Respect My Authority. Oh, and Cartman is dressed as a cop. Well, what do you know, he is also wearing his Eric Cartman pajama bottoms and—Holy Cow, he matches! The world is coming to an end! There was a frown there. Really, there was, but the whole matching Cartman shirt and bottoms just totally made him laugh.

Picture that instead.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Seriously.

Stop laughing.

Stop laughing.

STOP LAUGHING!

Whew. Okay. Now that you have finished… Hey, you! Yeah, you in the back with the hat on backwards and the soul patch. I’m right here. I can hear you.

Ahem. Now, where was I? That’s right, about to explain what I am going to attempt over the next week. I say attempt because things have been a little crazy the last few months and I haven’t been able to update the blog as often as I would have liked.

There is this thing called The Coffin Hop that begins on the 24th, which is tomorrow. What is the Coffin Hop, you ask? Well, it’s a promotional of sorts. To quote the website:

COFFIN HOP is the annual Horror Author event, geared towards gaining exposure for indie horror and genre authors, and increasing interaction with fans and readers. Conceived in 2011 by authors Axel Howerton and Julie Jansen, COFFIN HOP was initially intended to be a small answer to the proliferation of author blog hops for Romance, Erotica and other genres while noticing a dearth of well-organized, high profile events for horror writers.

The first annual COFFIN HOP bloomed to over 100 authors and brought in thousands of readers and fans over the week leading up to Halloween. Every one of those 100 authors held contests, gave away e-books, paperbacks, prize packages, autographed copies, toys, personalized writings, videos, themed jewelery, movie posters… the list goes on and on and on.

You can find more details at the website, here.

Essentially, this is for both the writers and the readers. It helps the readers find indie authors who they may have never found otherwise. And it is a chance for those same indie authors to get a little extra exposure and to communicate with the readers.

Let me say this: It’s not easy to gain readers. Not in the world today where the options are plenty and the market is saturated with everything you can think of. It is hard to find consistent readers—and it is even harder to keep them coming back. One bad or controversial story and you could lose readers quicker than you gained them.

This year there are over 100 writers participating, many of which will have give aways. I’m hoping to do one as well with my new collection, Southern Bones. If I am able to do a give away, then it will appear in this space tomorrow.

Well, maybe not in exactly this space, since it is being used at the moment, but in the next blog. I know, I probably didn’t need to clarify that, but some of my family—no, not you, or you, but… yeah, you—would make some wise crack about which space is being used.

At any rate, do you want to find some new writers to read? Check out The Coffin Hop. Click on the various links and go hopping. Leave comments and likes. Enter the give aways and competitions. Contact the writers and let them know you appreciate the hard work that goes into being an author. Yes, it is work—very, very hard work.

While I have you here, let me do some shameless self-promoting:

As mentioned above, my new short story collection, Southern Bones, is now out on Amazon. Follow the link. Pick up a copy. Like the book, if you will, and don’t forget to review it. Reviews are important.

Also, you can now pick up a copy of Along the Splintered Path in print.

For those who have already picked up a copy of either/both of the books, I thank you. For those who have reviewed the books, I thank you as well.

Before I go, have you ever wanted an autograph from one of your favorite writers? Well, now you might be able to get one, albeit a digital one. Go to Kindlegraph and browse the over 4500 titles. You may find some of your favorite authors there, including me. This is a neat idea. Though it is not a real signature, per say, it is a digital one and that is almost as good. There is a place that you can view all of your autographs. How cool is that? So click on over to Kindlegraph and see if you can find some of your favorite writers and send them a request for an autograph. It really made my day when I received a couple of requests the other day.

However, if you want a real one of mine, you have to contact me either through Type AJ Negative or Facebook.

For now, I leave you all to read, to sleep, to enjoy the evening, morning, afternoon wherever you may be. So, until we meet again, my friends…