Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why 50 Cent knows more about promotion than you do.

I know a lot of people who spend a lot of time thinking about how to promote their work.  Most are writers.  And we suck at it (except for the ones who are brilliant at it but can't write for shit - yeah, I said it).  I recently got into an online discussion with some writers about hip hop.  Talk about a waste of time.  Let's waste some more.  

Let me pontificate a bit. I don't think that there is any question that Eminem is the biggest thing to happen to MAINSTREAM hip hop in quite some time. And I understand that the roots of hip hop go back farther than most people think (Afrika Bambaataa is often cited, but you can find the stirrings farther back).  I got into "good" hip hop in the late nineties - just so you know.  Anyway, it is interesting. When I was a kid, Vanilla Ice was the biggest joke in the world, and the idea that there would ever be a successful white rapper was ridiculous. Time passes.  Along comes Mr. Mathers. 

You could argue that he's fallen off his game a little, but he is truly a genius - there's no doubting that. When I was a teacher and working with high school kids (black and latino for the most part), they universally agreed that Eminem was the best rapper of all time. And I tend to agree, if we restrict ourselves to the mainstream. But, like with any kind of music, you have to look to independent, underground artists to find real innovation and creativity. Not that Eminem isn't creative, but he doesn't have as much leeway as someone who is making music without any expectations placed on them.  He has a big ass corporation depending on him to make them money.

The diversification of hip hop has been interesting to watch. There are rappers of all colors from all countries. And you don't have to look as far to find truly brilliant lyricists (I was a big Tribe and Nas fan back in the day, still am). But now you've got Aesop Rock. Del. Those guys are insanely good. Detron 3030 might be my 'desert island' album.  These guys are smart as shit.  Dead Prez did the best song about 'Animal Farm' ever...Orwell would have been proud. I used to read the book with my students when I was teaching English and then we'd listen to the song: 
Check it out. It's pretty amazing.  And if you don't see the connection to what we're talking about...look again.

If you want to know what's going on in the underground now, keep your eyes on these guys (not that there aren't many others, but these guys are on it...and I happen to know NASTYFACE which makes me one of few.  He operates anonymously...and will be appearing on this blog soon.):

Which brings up a connection I have made many times with punk rock and indie publishing. The PR revolution was all about DIY and taking back the means to production, distribution, etc. It was about community.  It was about looking at the conventions of the time and saying 'fuck it'.  Let's strip it down.  Rap/Hip Hop came on the heels of this with two turntables and a mic, and then they took it to the next level by MASTERING self promotion. You want to know how to promote your novel?  Look at the guys selling mix tapes out of the back of their cars. They are on the grind 24/7 and it works. It is all a question of how much time you are willing to devote to it. Eminem gambled everything because he knew he had what it took.  And he did.  I don't care for 50 cent, but he went from selling mix tapes to selling companies. Something to think about.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Day of the Dead"

Today, I am pleased to bring you a bit of short fiction by Salvatore Buttaci.  Check out more of his work-->  Click Here!
I held her in my arms, mi hermana, broken and bloody, her life slipping away. My young sister Renata who loved all God’s creation, raped and beaten. Abandoned here for dead.
“Renata, no me dejes!” Don’t leave me!
She locked her dark eyes into mine in a stare I feared gazed through me and touched that final veil.
“Who did this to you, mi querida?
Bubbles of blood popped from black swollen lips.  “Pañuelo,” she gasped. Handkerchief.
Quickly I withdrew from my back pocket a white handkerchief, shook it like a flag, then gently patted Renata’s lips. She moved her head away.
“No, no.”  A faint whisper. “pañuelo negro.” Black handkerchief.
Then my sister’s head lolled towards her left shoulder where a last breath breezed against my trembling hand.
A black handkerchief…Words of delirium?  A misunderstood whisper?
Not until five months later, on the eve of La Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day, did it come to me. At the grave of Renata, corazon de mi vida, heart of my life, I spoke aloud my prayers and my promise of venganza, sweet revenge.
At once, I saw in the muddled mind of my sorrow Renata’s unvoiced screams and the man with the black handkerchief now approaching her grave, a bouquet of carnations in his hand.
I threw all to the wind! My very soul into the pits of Hell! Dagger in hand, a family heirloom of honor, I struck down the dishonorable. Repeatedly I plunged the avenging steel into the heart of the demon Don Carlos, hurling him in a splashing aura of blood into the ranks of los muertos.
“Renata,” I whispered over her grave, “Descanse en el reposo ahora.”  Rest in peace.
And the law would never have found out if it weren’t for the fingerprints of my gloveless hand on the dagger jutting from the demon’s chest.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award...

K.S. Brooks, writer and human being extraordinaire, was awesome enough pass this award along to me.  You should check out her awesome blog - HER AWESOME BLOG - for all kinds of good stuff.  It is truly an honor for me to win this chain, award...and I would like to dedicate it to Mr. Pish.  A lovable pooch owned by none other than K.S. Brooks.  And by dedicate, I mean, he can, like, feel good about it, but it's mine.  All mine.

So, as with any good award, there are rules.

1. Thank K.S. Brooks and link her blog, which I have done.
2. Share seven things about myself.
3. Pass the award on to 5 deserving bloggers.

Seven things, huh?  About me...and they have to be witty cause all the other bloggers got all witty and shit.  Great.

1. In college, I majored in Creative Writing and wrote a sonnet about pigeons eating vomit off my windowsill after I drunkenly puked out the window.  It was surprisingly well received.

2. I don't like sleeping in socks.  But lately I have been doing it.  Mid-life crisis?

3. My favorite kinds of music are old country and hip hop.  Take that stereotypes.

4. I once met Adam West.  I said, 'Nice to meet you, Batman'.  He said, 'You too, Boy Wonder'.  I was young.  It was the dopeness.

5. I don't own a TV.  I have no idea what is going on in the world.  And I don't really care to know.

6. Is there a cash prize with this award?  I mean, I like club sandwiches on an unhealthy level.  Like, if club sandwiches were people, I would be in jail.

7. I used to smoke cigarettes and hated all the judgmental non-smokers.  Swore I would never become one.  Guess what?  Keep your cigarette away from my daughter.  

(Bonus) - I can never, ever spell judgmental right (just did it wrong in a different way), and I judge myself for this.

So, thank you, K.S. Brooks.  I encourage you all to check out her blog for wit, good writing, and an attractive simple format (it's not one of those seizure causing blogs).

And now I will recommend five other bloggers you should really give a gander to (I don't know...they like geese):

Rosanne Dingli
Richard Godwin
Morgen Bailey - (Yes, I know K.S. nominated her, too.  She deserves two nominations.)
Mary Chase
Tom Kepler

Thanks again to K.S. Brooks for the words with which she graces this here internet.  Check out her blog and the blogs of the fine writers above.  Thank you one and all.  I must now go to a Christmas party and pretend that being surrounded by drunk people is an activity I enjoy.  And it was, before I quit drinking.  See 'judgmental (ha, spelled it right FTW) non-smoker' above.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Promotion in a fiverr world...

Thanks to the magic elves that make the internet run, it is now possible for pretty much anyone with half a brain (Joe Café) to publish a novel, make a movie, start a blog about their parrot, etc.  This is both good and bad. It is good because a lot of talented people are getting a shot they wouldn’t normally get. It is bad because a lot of untalented people are getting that same shot. Or I guess I shouldn’t say bad. Everyone deserves their chance, but it does present an interesting dilemma. Promotion. How can you make your novel, song, dance number, etc. stand out from the quagmire? It’s a good question. I congratulate myself for it. 
I talk to a lot of people about self-promotion, and what I usually say is something along the lines of…well, you promote your work the same way you would promote yourself. Be decent and kind to people. Think about how you can help the community you want to be a part of. Find people who are creating things you believe in and push their work.  No one likes a hard sell. It is far more effective to let people get to know you and your work on their terms. Less off-putting. Blah, blah, blah.
And then there is For those unfamiliar, fiverr is a website where you can get anyone to do just about anything for $5, of which they keep four. I decided to do an experiment. Actually several. I’m not rolling in dollar bills (I quit stripping), but at five bucks a pop, you can afford to experiment a little. So, I did. Some of it you see here. I did a search for most popular services…who would have thought you could send some random woman your web address and it would be written on her cleavage and emailed back to you in less than five minutes?  I am here to tell you it can be done.  Go to fiverr and search ‘tayl0rwhat’. You, too, can have your name emblazoned on breasts bigger than mine.
The coolest thing I did on fiverr was to have a drummer play with my website on his drum and then have some guy plug my book. I have no idea who the people are. But it turned out awesome (search: Naiyyer). I am not sure if it sold any books or got any people to my website, but I like to think it did.

Promotion is a tricky thing. I wrote a book that I believe is pretty good. It’s no East of Eden, but it is getting good reviews on Amazon (except for one guy who apparently liked it, but ONLY if it cost 99 cents)…which brings up another point about the quagmire. It used to be a book cost more than a sandwich.  Now, you charge more than ONE DOLLAR for your book and some nozzle is going to claim he didn’t get his money’s worth. Creative work is being devalued. On my website,, there are enough short stories for a few collections. Some of them have been published before. Two of them got ‘positive rejections’ from the New Yorker. And they are all there for free along with essays and music and a lot of work that I put a lot of time into.
I’m not complaining (much). The ability to get your work out there... Kindle. Print on demand. Blogs.  The ability to do all that for free (without an agent) is huge. I have heard it argued, and tend to agree, that as a few years pass, the wheat will begin to separate from the chaff, but until then, it’s a big world out there. There are great, amazing self-published novels that you can buy for the price of a cup of coffee. And there are pieces of trash that you will pay the same price for. There are lots of ways to get your work noticed. Word of mouth is pretty powerful. But boobs never hurt anyone either.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Right now I'm gonna pass the mic...

Today, I get someone else to do the hard work for me again.  I asked L.A. Tripp to write this because he digs music and I am super interested in the way music and writing inter-relate.  As a musician, I have always found it interesting that writing is one of the things I can't do while listening to music.  Well, I can.  But I don't.  But many people I know do. Anyway, enough about me.  Read on.  Meanwhile, I'm gonna sip this coffee and try to get all these supermodels to leave me the hell alone...

Music, Mind over matter, and Me...

I've been asked several times how music affects me and my stories. Well, let me explain.

Music is a natural part of me. I grew up with it. I listened to it with my parents. I listen to it while I drive. I listen to it when I go out and dance to it. It only makes sense that I'd use it while I write, as well.

Here's my process.

I sit at my desk, settle in with my computer for a cozy little work session. But, before I get too cozy, I pull up my music on my phone, pop the earplugs in that we call headphones, and select some music. What happens when the notes start traveling from the phone, through the wire, into the earplugs, and resting in my ears? Well . . . they don't rest. Each note buries themselves into every fiber of me. I feel the beat, the symbols, the guitars, the voice. It reverberates through me. That symbol could tell me a character needs to get killed off. That bass line may tell me a tragedy is on it's way. The soulful voice may steer me toward a love connection forming. As these notes filter through my body, my fingers travel across the keys and write what is plotting in my head.

The end result is the story that you laugh, cry, and cringe at.

Hope you enjoy my works, and keep in mind the journey going on in me while you journey through the story.

L.A Tripp is a writer and an all around nice guy.  Check out his work and support a writer that truly supports the arts and his fellow scribes.   CLICK HERE