Posts Tagged ‘books’

I Ended Up With Books

May 3, 2015

Every May our neighborhood has a collective garage sale. Wait a minute, that makes us sound like Socialists, and i doubt there are many Socialists in our neighborhood besides me. Our entire neighborhood has separate collective garage sales, and thousands of people show up. Maybe five to ten thousand. So, at six in the morning Jenny and I were schlepping two years of junk that we had collected out into the driveway to offer to our fellow citizens, who start showing up around 7 for the 9 o’clock start. They descended on our tables of junk before we could even eat the donuts we had picked out for breakfast. And they didn’t stop coming until nearly five this evening.

We sold nearly everything we put out.

Except books.

Nobody bought a single Zombie Logic Press book. A sign indicating these were books by local authors produced right here in good old Rockford made no difference. Like dogs who know there’s a bitter pill hidden inside a cheeseburger they din’t know exactly what was in those books, they just knew they wanted anything else.

I’m years and years beyond even being bitter or sad about that. I sat there on the porch with my best buddy drinking CC and water, then Jack and Tab Cola, then Jack and water and watching Jenny collect money hand over fist for a bunch of garbage we couldn’t have been any happier to get out of our basement.

I did manage to make a couple of sweeps of the neighborhood looking for vinyl records, VHS tapes, and whatever other interesting items I could find, but I ended up with the same thing I always end up with… books.

I scored both a hard and softcover copy of Gore Vidal’s Burr from an older gentleman who explained his wife insisted something had to go. We discussed the book for a while, then I moved on. I later acquired a volume of Rod McKuen’s poetry, a collection of H.G. Wells’ stories, and a slim copy of Gide’s The Immoralist. Only two of the 100 or so sales even had any vinyl records, but I did manage to score this gem…

Saturday Night Live

It wasn’t as exciting as last year’s haul, which included a Smith Corona Sterling typewriter, about twenty VHS horror tapes, and a signed Mercury mission photograph of Alan Shepard, but all in all the good company and bread we made had a palliative effect. I have no idea what we’ll sell next year, if anything, but I can predict one thing for certain: I’ll end up with books.

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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.

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.

Barnes and Noble’s Dirty Trick On Book Lovers

February 3, 2013

Barnes and Noble recently announced they will be eliminating one third of their stores within the next ten years. Considering that Barnes and Noble is largely responsible for driving all other national competitors out of business, this seems like a peculiar failure of capitalism. There’s still Amazon if you want to buy whatever books they decide to stock. And it’s likely an independent bookstore of two will open in communities where demand is high enough. But it’s a sad circumstance to wake up in a nation without bookstores. 

The death of the book has been predicted for a decade now. I see people reading “books” on their electronic devices, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to do that. The very smell of a book being opened excites my brain. It’s been said elsewhere a thousand times a thousand ways. Books are on the ropes, but I doubt anyone will ever deliver a knockout punch to the printed word. It’s just to damn vital and sexy. Try this: take four or five books you have face down or spine turned towards you and place that book face out in a prominent place in your daily activity. I guarantee you that book will begin to emanate an aura of well-being and wisdom. 

I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed Barnes and Noble as a retailer. When they added Starbucks in their stores it was just a fun place to go. We have one here in Rockford and we go on occasion. What I don’t do there is buy books. If I want books I buy them on Ebay, Abe Books, or Amazon. So, i don’t really believe closing Barnes and Noble stores will diminish the amount of books people or read at all, it’s largely just a symbolic manifestation of the trend away from books.

Books will endure.