Blog Like No One Is Reading

February 23, 2015

Blogs can serve many functions besides just selling products. Mine never sold any products, anyway, so I need to find another reason to justify wasting my time on one. At first blogging seemed like it might be a temporary thing. Something we all did, like citizen’s band radio, then moved on to the next trend, but now that some of my blogs are nearly ten years old, and the platforms they exist on seem stable and semi-permanent, I’ve really started using blogs in different ways.

The first way I use my blog is as an external memory source. Like an external hard drive. I make notes to myself about movies I enjoyed watching, events I want to remember in the future, ideas I want to explore further etc. In the past I wouldn’t have done this because I didn’t trust any of these platforms to be there in the future. When My Space blogs went belly up it really crushed me because I had been unwise enough to use it as my primary blog. I had no other online presence. But it taught me a valuable lesson. Aside from using a blog as an “internet presence,” I had to make a place primarily designed for me. Like a study or a den or, and I hate this word, mancave. If not one other person ever entered my study I’d be fine with that, because it’s a room built for me.

Now, that might be a terrible way to look at a blog if you’re trying to sell something, or reach a mass audience, which I am, but it’s no longer my primary goal.

Another thing I use blogs for is to create a space where I create a fanpage for one particular movie or pet issue I know I care way more about than anyone else on the planet. An example is the blog I curate about the movie Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, or even more frighteningly, about a single character in the movie The Monster Club, Raven Shadmock. I don’t want to waste everyone’s time trying to convince them they should read these blogs, but I know there are a few hardcore fans who do. For instance, I was on Ebay recently tracking down a piece of marketing memorabilia for the movie The Monster Club, and the seller had actually read my blog about the very item he was selling. Unfortunately, I was outbid on the item, which kind of stunk because it was signed by Vincent Price, but the search goes on.

Point? Oh, you can use your blog for a lot of different purposes these days. One doesn’t always have to be doing the hard sell. I think most of us by now run our own business, and with that business comes new responsibilities and stresses we couldn’t imagine when we went to school for something else. Promotion and sales might be the worst. It’s good to have some sort of diversion from all these tasks. Really, there’s no wrong way to use your blog, as long as you make it your own.

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This Should Have Been a Better Day

February 17, 2015

Boxes and boxes of the latest Zombie Logic Press book The Zen of Beard Trimming were dropped off by UPS today. Here’s a picture of boxes of books. Then the writer of our last book, Iced Cream, was on NPR this morning. As a publisher, sounds like a pretty good day, huh? So, why am I here still at the downtown office at 8:30 p.m. lonely and depressed, feeling like I’m wasting my time and my family’s. There’s a line in The Natural where Richard Farnsworth’s character says about the coach, “He gave his heart and soul to the game, only to have it trampled on.” I feel beaten up tonight. The proportion of work I’ve invested to the amount of payoff is ridiculous. Not even justifiable.

Boxes

I’m looking at this picture of these books and instead of rejoicing and congratulating myself on sheparding in another very worthwhile project, I’m wondering where the hell I’m going to put most of them. Nonetheless, like a junkie, I still look forward to the next few book projects we already have lined up. I can’t go to any event here in Rockford without someone approaching me and pitching a book. Which is great, because Rockford is a place with its share of misery, and I’d like to think the two books a year I’ve been doing, and hope to continue doing, give voice to some of that misery. But the fact is even the local media and Buy Local/Chamber of Commerce/Arts Council types do almost nothing to help anyone promote their product outside, even inside the confines of the city. They talk a big game about hope and accentuating the positive, but if your positive isn’t something they don’t profit from, and none of their buddies profit from, they don’t have much interest in it. So, I continue to make products NPR and others find unique and original and worthwhile, but no one in Rockford will say anything about.

Anyway, I’m sure some of you hear me knocking. Publishing is a rough trade. Always has been. This could have and should have been a more joyous day for me. The work is good. The pay sucks. Thanks for letting me complain. Check out our product line at Zombie Logic.

Zombie Logic Press Book Selected For NPR’s Winter Reading Series

January 26, 2015

I was really happy this week when I discovered one of the books I edited at Zombie Logic Press, Iced Cream, by Jesus Abraham Correa VII, was selected for NPR’s Winter Book Series.

It sorta sucked I had to find out by doing a random Google search for my own press, but nonetheless I did find out. The 2015 WNIJ Winter Book Series, which begins Monday, Feb. 2, features authors from throughout northern Illinois. At 6:50 and 8:50 a.m. each Monday in February, Dan Klefstad speaks with an author about his or her book as well as his or her motivation and inspirations and invites the authors to read selections of their published pieces.

Iced Cream was the first time I had published another person’s book, and the first in our Rock River Valley Literary Series. Our second book, The Zen of Beard Trimming, by C.J. Campbell, will be out in February. It gives me deep satisfaction to discover new voices right here in Rockford, Illinois, and expose them to a national audience. It would be nice to get more help locally, but I wasn’t expecting it, and recognition isn’t really what I’m in this for. I love my hometown, and think the literary community here is very brave and noble, and want to do all I can to give them a voice.

Iced Cream was published at a great expense, because it contains nine original works of art as well as short stories and poems, and I insisted on doing it sparing no expense. I’m proud that NPR has chosen it for their series, and hope it’s only the first in a long line of quality books that help spur a resurgence of Downtown Rockford and the entire community.

A Book All Young Christian Evangelicals Should Read

January 9, 2015

C.J. Campbell is a first time author with cerebral palsy. I mention the cerebral palsy because it is one of the factors that made his first book, The Zen of Beard trimming, such a team effort. For seven years he has documented his journey, at first to finish pastoral school and find a flock of his own, then as that dream became increasingly complicated, just to find a place in the world where he could have some peace. Seven years of journeys landed him in some very improbable, often heartbreaking, but always fascinating scenarios. Because he cannot rely on his own hands to write his own story, many different hands were used to dictate his story over the years. The true definition of the word “manuscript.” The work of many hands.

He doesn’t want me to hype the fact that he is in a wheelchair, or has a disability, or has suffered some terrible luck, and downright neglect, from people who should have been there to have his back. He has been manipulated and exploited (in my opinion) by evangelical Christian groups on more than one occasion to provide a spectacle for their traveling shows. All of that is chronicled in his book. He never gets bitter about it. As a reader, you might. I did.

he really doesn’t want me to mention the way he was treated by these church groups in any of my promotional materials. He just wants to have his story heard. Perhaps he has given up on his original dream of being a pastor to his own congregation. Maybe he is not as idealistic about his faith as he was when he started his journey. His book will come out in February.

The Zen of Beard Trimming

The Zen of Beard Trimming

Jason Russell, of Invisible Children, wrote the forward. In my opinion the book is very similar to Voltaire’s Candide. Except in reverse. C.J. set out with his faith in tact, encountered every type of zany misfortune you can imagine, and returned home with his faith in tact, but wiser. I want you to support this book. I’m not a Christian publisher, and in many ways this is not just a Christian story. It’s the story of a kid in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy setting out in the world to find the place the god he believes in intended for him. He persists. Things get worse. he presses on.

It’s a look inside a world few of us will ever be part of, even Christians. The traveling evangelical show. He writes about one of the most successful and emulated troupes, based here in Rockford. I think young Christians about to set out into the world would get a lot out of this book. Because faith is not a magic cloak you put on and everything suddenly turns out ok. Sometimes things still go horribly wrong. As they did for C.J. That’s when your faith is tested. As a non-believer, I still have the utmost respect about how C.J. handled those setbacks. I want you to read his story. Please help us in our final week by buying an advance copy of The Zen of Beard Trimming, and spreading the word.

C.J. Campbell

C.J. Campbell

I’ll be honest and admit I’m not a Christian, and this is probably not the kind of book my Zombie Logic Press normally publishes. But I am from Rockford, Illinois, a city devastated by blight, unemployment, violence, and misery. We are consistently told by the national media how awful we are. But that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to make the city a better place. I believe in the written word, and I believe there are very talented writers living in Rockford. C.J. Campbell is one of them. Our paths might have never crossed, but he took a position as head storyteller at Conveyor,a place where people tell their stories in different mediums. My creative partner, Jenny, was mesmerized by his story, and told me I should put his story into print. I told her if she believed in the story this much she could be project editor. She agreed, I think not understanding what a project editor does. (Everything). However, I couldn’t resist, and I was the first person to read the manuscript. It was a mess. It had been written over seven years on notepads, in journals, and then dictated to over ten different people before it was committed to a computer file. Aside from that, I loved it. It’s a very brave and funny story. He never loses his ability to laugh at things most of us would find devastating. What I’m saying is I want you to ignore the fact that I am not a traditional Christian publisher, and give this story a chance.

The Rock River Valley Literary Series To Publish C.J. Campbell’s The Zen of Beard Trimming

December 22, 2014

The current book I’m working on at Zombie Logic Press is about 180 degrees different from the last book, Iced Cream.

Here’s the press release that appeared in Brussels Daily News 

C.J. has Cerebral Palsy, and when I first got the manuscript, it was a mess. It was a manuscript in the true sense of the word, in that it was the work of many hands. The author has difficulty typing or writing with a pen, so over seven years the book was dictated to whoever was willing to help.

And that’s how The Zen of Beard Trimming came to me as editor and publisher of Zombie Logic Press. To be honest, if C.J. weren’t from Rockford, the book might not have been something I would have published, but I’ve made a commitment to publish two books a year by Rockford writers in my Rock River Valley Literary series, and this is the second.

Like a modern-day Candide, writer C.J. Campbell started his journey to achieve peace in the bosom of a safe environment with a well-meaning adviser to guide him, and like Candide, he journeyed out into a world where everything went wrong, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in excruciatingly heartbreaking ways, but always in entertaining ways. Seven years of his travels are painstakingly detailed in his memoir The Zen of Beard Trimming. Punk rock meets leaving Christian Evangelism meets Scandanavian models meets a mismatched cast of unlikely characters and scenarios in a fearless, brutally honest chronicling of the time-honored search for (meaning, love, peace, an apartment, food, and a damn microphone that works).

I hope you’ll check out C.J.’s video at Kickstarter at the very least. I’m proud of this book.

Jonas Gray Ruined My Day

November 17, 2014

When I started playing fantasy football seven seasons ago one thing seemed apparent to me: if the New England Patriots gave the majority of the running back work to any one running back, that running back would be a fantasy monster. So, I drafted Lawrence Maroney. And I patiently waited for the seven other running backs on the roster to go away. But they didn’t go away. Not even Fred Taylor, who was 78 years old at the time. He stayed. For all I know he’s still on the roster, or at the complex somewhere sleeping on a cot in a back room biding his time. Then I drafted Benjarvus Green Ellis, and I waited. For the nine other running backs on the roster to go away. But they didn’t go away. Then I drafted Stephen Ridley, and waited for the head coach to recognize he was a bell cow running back. But between Ridley fumbling on every third handoff, and Belichick’s nuttiness, I never really knew when I would get 15 carries and a touchdown or two from Ridley, or if he would be pulled before halftime because of a fumble.

After six years I gave up. Because one thing had become clear to me: Bill Belichick is fucking with fantasy football players. He doesn’t like them, and he wants them to be miserable. Don’t get into a land war in Asia, and don’t trust a Patriot running back.

My new rule was to stay away from New England.

Last night I had a 53 point lead after Aaron Rodgers did his usual against the Eagles, and I started to relax, because I was playing against two scrubs: Jonas Gray and Coby Fleener. 53 points against Jonas Gray and Coby Fleener. I think I knew I was going to lose even before Gray scored the first touchdown. Because what I had envisioned was becoming true. A running back on this team has always been capable of scoring nearly fifty fantasy football points almost every week for a decade now. It’s never happened. But last night it did happen.

38 carries. 199 yards. 4 touchdowns. You could say who knew, but I think everyone knew.

So, this Jonas Gray, he must be some sort of ultra-talented superman, right?

No. He’s a plodder. Although I know whatever I say here, the opposite will happen, because Belichick makes people look like fools, and in the process often shoots himself in the foot trying to be overly clever, but Gray is no great shakes. In fact, I’d have to guess giving him the ball 38 times was more a show of disrespect to him and his possible future with the team than a demonstration of faith. You don’t gibe a running back you value the football 38 times when you have a game well in hand. You give a stock part you find completely expendable the ball 38 times and tell him to go wreck his body.

I sat there a little stunned, but nothing that was happening surprised me. I wasn’t even capable of working up any anger towards Jonas Gray. Like I said, he may be off the roster next season. I won’t even try to add him on any fantasy rosters this week. Still not dumb enough to fall into that trap. He just as easily could give me back that win in another league by not playing this week. Coby Fleener kicked in the fatal points.

53 points against Jonas Gray and Coby Fleener. Not enough.

Welcome to fantasy football.

At Least I Don’t Take Xarelto

November 15, 2014

I bumped into the car ahead of me earlier this afternoon. I’m not going to tell Jenny. No one was hurt. The older lady got out of her car, and neither car was damaged. I asked her if she was hurt and apologized. She said “It happens,” and went back to her car and drove off.

But it doesn’t happen. I’ve been in seven accidents now in my life: only one when I was driving, and none my fault. It doesn’t happen. I was stopped behind her, and we were both waiting to merge right, and I could have sworn she pulled out, so I looked left and hit the gas. But she was still there.

The worst part of this whole experience is my heart rate never went up. I never snapped out of the foggy daze I seem to be in since my surgery. Not even upon impact. I anticipated she had pulled out because there was enough time for both of us to go, with room to spare, but I never confirmed she had gone.

Late last I saw this commercial for a class-action lawsuit against Xarelto, which I do not take because I have artificial heart valves, but I do take a similar blood thinner. Strokes, fatal bleeding in the stomach and brain etc. Yesterday I had my INR checked, and it was withing a normal range, but are they telling me the truth about this medication? They insist it is safe for my liver and other organs, and are straight-forward in informing me that bleeding or stroke are possible side-effects. The alternative was my aorta exploding, so who am I to have any sort of bitterness that I now live with an elevated risk of bleeding?

I can’t help feeling that I’m not entirely the same person. I’m older. But something else has changed. I don’t make the mistake I made today. I can’t. What else have I lost?

If You Had To Write In Your Own Blood, Would You?

September 24, 2014

Or you could just be happy for something small like feeling in your pocket and discovering your keys are there after you hear the door to the building lock behind you.

I’ve had a strange day. In my thoughts, at least. I have to be honest and admit I curate about a dozen blogs. Mostly because I like to write about various things like horror movies, poetry, fantasy football, politics, culture etc. I even have a blog about news stories in my hometown. I want to put some links to some of the various works I do here in case you’d like to take a look at it. Not sure why you’d be interested in Rockford, Illinois, other than the fact that it’s considered the 3rd fattest, dumbest, most violent, miserable city in America, and that where I sit and write this among the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. None of that really crossed my mind when I took the garbage out. Dummies Dummies

About 2,500 people read what I wrote today. Some bloggists might look at that number and scoff, others might think it’s a high number. The fact of that matter is the majority of those reads were a blog about piss. The rest were mostly about fantasy football.

Now if I were to write about something close my heart, like poetry, 27 people might show up on any particular day, but if I wrote some schlock about Elvira, Mistress of the Dark‘s boobs, I’d have steady traffic for months.

If I pretended to be an attractive woman writing erotica, I might get several thousand people to look at my writing on Amazon, but if I wrote a decent, heartfelt book about rhinos, crickets.

Trying to figure out what an audience wants in this life is fruitless, and it’s not something I’ve ever spent much time doing. What I do instead is I just write what I want, post it at one of my niche blogs, then go tinker with my fantasy football team.

I had a thought just before i took the garbage out that I wondered how many people would still write if they had to do it in their own blood. Not sure I would anymore. There was a time I would have.

Here’s some things me and my creative partner have made that you can buy.

Mermaids

Poetry

McDonald’s Strike Brings Out Ugly Side In Many Americans

September 6, 2014

One of the takeaways I’m getting from yesterday’s McDonald’s strike is that there are a lot of Americans who seem overly proud of having “worked” their way into the upper lower and lower middle class. I think they are also vastly overestimating how impressive their two or four year college degrees are, considering I rate them to be the equivalent of an 8th grade education forty years ago. Go ahead, though, and strut like peacocks because you make just enough money to never own the note on a house or a car. My opinion is you’re kind of revolting, low class, crass, and every bit not worthy of the self-elevated opinions you have about yourselves.

The Dirty Tricks Squad Fantasy Football Team 2014

September 5, 2014
Last year Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning threw an NFL record seven touchdowns to start the fantasy football season. He was playing against me in all my leagues that night.

Last year Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning threw an NFL record seven touchdowns to start the fantasy football season. He was playing against me in all my leagues that night.

The Dirty Tricks Squad fantasy football team was much more fortunate this year. Hardly anybody except Marshawn Lynch and Randall Cobb did anything in tonight’s Packer/Seahawks game. I had invested a very high pick in Aaron Rodgers, but knew before the game he was in for a hard night. At least no one three seven touchdown passes against us. During the game I noticed people were adding Josh Gordon in a lot of leagues, and I knew something was afoot, but I really just wanted to watch the end of the game and think about it later. Turns out a report had surfaced that the NFL was considering revising their drug suspension rules and might relax some suspensions, including Gordon’s. I thought to myself, don’t these whackos even take time off from looking at the waiver wires to beat off during the season? Anyway, once all that dust had settled, Gordon was still available in a couple of leagues, but I passed. I had picked up Miles Austin earlier in the week, and am hopeful he can recapture some of the value he has had in the past. I remember the night the announcer gleefully proclaimed “Miles Austin, you are a star.” 

No matter what at least The Dirty tricks Squad fantasy football team didn’t lose in the first game of the season. That might not happen until Sunday.