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Kick Off the New Year with a Pair of Good Reads

Didn’t get what you wanted for the holidays? How about a book? Or two? Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say about Zendoscopy:

In this memoirlike novel, a self-described nerd fond of ham radio and the accordion comes of age in the 1950s and ’60s. This second book by Wolf (Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, 2004) is not exactly a memoir. These loosely connected anecdotes follow Wolf’s narrator, Sherman Alt, through childhood and adolescence in Southern California before he attends medical school in New York City. Readers will easily identify with the trials and tribulations recounted here, from bullies and hideous acne to ballroom dance lessons, a momentous game of spin the bottle and fraternity high jinks. Most notably, readers witness Sherman’s protracted quest to lose his virginity; when he finally achieves his goal, he gets more than he bargained for. While the themes presented here may seem ordinary, the details are vivid and memorable, with amusing descriptions of his romantic, social and medical misadventures. After a long night of white wine and cheese fondue during his travels abroad in Europe, Sherman notes that he proceeded to “barf until my testicles were left dangling from my nostrils.” However, this book isn’t all fun and games, as a more pensive undercurrent runs through the collection. Sherman experiences the early loss of a childhood companion, a strained relationship with his father and the feeling of alienation caused by his avowed atheism, components that are nicely tied together in the final chapter. The prologue and the epilogue, full of tongue-in-cheek wordplay and parenthetical asides and written explicitly in Wolf’s voice, represent perhaps the least effective portions of the text. Wolf maybe felt the need to contextualize his tales by invoking the big picture and pondering theories of the universe’s origin; readers might appreciate the effort and the content but not necessarily the result or style. A respectable batch of entertaining anecdotes, mostly bawdy and occasionally moving, mixed with moments of human connection and philosophical musing.

    And are you fed up to your eyeballs with the environmental arrogance of today’s Republicans? Do you wish that, somehow, you could bypass this period of earth’s degradation by traveling into a pristine future? Then how about checking out “Spacebraid” in Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe?

Either book would make a good read and (in hard copy) look good on your bookshelf. So, get the new year off to a good start with a couple of good books. Both are available in hard copy or on Kindle.

Reader Thanks and End of Year Thoughts

As nears it’s first anniversary, I am struck by how wide its readership has become. The blog is now being read in 45 countries, a fact I find quite surprising considering its left-of-center, highly secular orientation and eclectic approach to subject matter. That some of my readers live in places such as China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia and other countries not exactly known for their openness and/or access to liberal ideas has been eye-opening and extremely gratifying for me. So to all of you, thanks, and I hope you’ll keep reading as, in mid-January, the blog will be entering its second year of life.

Another event is also approaching. Late January will see the one year mark since publication of Zendoscopy. I was rather abruptly reminded of this when I received notice from my publisher in the form of a bill. Yes, a bill. Two, in fact. Apparently, I’m being charged for keeping the book on the publisher’s active list. One bill was for the hard copy and the other for Kindle.

Now, none of this makes much sense to me. First of all, the hard copy (trade paperback, actually), is set up for print on demand. This means that they have no actual stock and, therefore, no cost for storage of inventory. They get an order; they print and take their cut of the buyer’s payment. In other words, my book exists only as a file on a computer. So why should it cost $60 per year to keep it in their “active” catalog? Beats me, but I’m stuck paying it.

That leaves the question of the Kindle edition, which is even more puzzling. The Kindle edition resides on as a computer-based file. All the publisher gets is a cut from the sales. And yet, they’re charging $10 to keep it on their “active” list. As the guy on Saturday Night Live says, “What’s up with that?”

FYI, I paid both bills.

There’s a good lesson in this, and I’ve certainly learned it. My next book, which I’m currently trying to bleed out into my word processor, will be e-published by me and not by a publisher on my behalf. I did with Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, and it has worked out well. I will consider working with a publisher for hard copy, although I may handle that on my own, too, since the benefits of dealing with an on-demand publisher seem to be marginal at best. Perhaps the greatest advantage of working with the publisher of Zendoscopy was expert cover design, but that’s about it, since most of what the publisher offers in terms of marketing services can be done myself at half the cost.

Things have been so busy here that I haven’t had time to set up a Festivus pole. Maybe next year…Still, although we don’t have much seasonal change here in southern California, we do have subtle weather variations. And we’ve had a bit of a let-up in our long drought, with quite a bit of rain in the last week or two. This morning, we even had some lightning and thunder. Good weather for staying indoors and writing. So, as this blog entry comes to a close, it’s back to working on my next novel, subject to be announced…eventually.

‘Tis the Season…Again

Well, it’s that season again. You know which one: the one that’s always a bit awkward for us nonbelievers.

Actually, I really have no problem with Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and whatever other holidays that annually more or less coincide with the big Christian one. But here are some of the things that do bug me:

  • People who say they’re offended by being wished Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Hell, how am I supposed to know what someone’s religion is? “Happy Holidays” seem sort of the polite way to say that I don’t know what you believe, but want you to have a good time whatever it may be.
  • Christmas wreaths on the front of cars. Jeez, do they look stupid.
  • All those automobile commercials with Santa running around, ogling the latest models (of cars, silly).
  • And while on the subject of Santa, I think he’s creepy. Here’s a guy kids are told to believe in, who spies on them all year long, knows they’re every move, and holds the threat of no toys over them if he dislikes what they’ve been doing. Sounds like the NSA to me, except that the NSA is real.
  • Trying to make Chanukah into Jewish Christmas. OK, I understand why this happened. Jewish kids need a holiday to create parity with their Christian friends. Only Chanukah doesn’t do that. It mostly comes off as cheap competition. And it doesn’t make kids feel an awful lot better hearing one cheesy Chanukah song amidst the crush of Christmas carols at the school’s annual “holiday” pageant. Arrrgh.
  • Holiday music. Jeez, it’s frustrating to hear nothing but The Little Drummer Boy rump-a-pum—pumming on every station on the dial, in every shopping center, doctor’s office, and bank.
  • Santa hats. (See auto wreaths, above).
  • Selling, selling, selling. Christmas is no longer a religious holiday. It’s a marketing event. But then, no one really knows when (if?) Jesus was born, so I guess it doesn’t really matter, after all.

I’m not Afro-American. I’m Euro-American. But, honestly, I think Kwanzaa may just be the best of the categorical holidays. Its values are stated in clear principles that are humanistic and sensible, and it hasn’t been commercialized to the extent of Christmas and Chanukah. Even better, everyone knows it’s made up, so it’s not tied up with any obligatory religious mumbo-jumbo. Maulana (Ron) Karenga was truly onto something when he invented it, and though he took some flak when he did it back in the 1960s, time has shown that he really knew what he was doing, and it was good.

Finally, fortunately, there’s Festivus, the holiday for the rest-of-us. Secular and fun, it’s for everyone who squirms in December. So for those of you who dread being wished a Merry Christmas by the Salvation Army Bell Ringer outside your local supermarket, break out your Festivus poles, let the feats of strength begin, and start your once a year airing of grievances.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

We’re Baaack!

After a one week break, is back. We hope all of our readers who celebrate Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday. We certainly did. Among other things, we noted a distinct uptick in sales of Zendoscopy, always a welcome finding. It’s also been tremendously gratifying to see the steadily increasing number of visitors to the blog, which seems to have persisted despite our taking the Thanksgiving week off.

And while we’re on the subject of upticks, I’d also like to acknowledge the increasing reach of We’re now read in 45 countries around the world. Of particular note is that we’re being read in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, countries that would not necessarily be expected to have readers checking into a blog with an openly secular orientation.


In this season of crass commercialism, the ads keep rolling in. My computer is being deluged with unwanted ads from vendors, many of whom are sending multiple ads each day. And the television ads are out in full force, especially the automobile ads. Folks who say they disapprove of all this holiday shilling seem to forget their reservations and flock to the supposed bargains proffered from every direction. What’s really remarkable about this is the simple fact that the majority of deals aren’t all that great. Things get much better after the holidays, but people don’t want to wait and don’t give a hoot over the fact that so many people who have to work on Thanksgiving are truly angry and resentful over it. Particularly obnoxious and cynical is this year’s backing up of “Black Friday” into “Gray Thursday”. I’m sure RadioShack employees just loved going to work at 8 AM on Thanksgiving morning, getting four hours off in the afternoon “to be with their families”, and then having to report back to work at 5 PM. And all this for a company that’s been showing losses for ten straight quarters. Wonder how much business they did on Thanksgiving…

Got a spam e-mail from a local retailer announcing that their “Cyber Monday” was underway “today”. That was last Sunday. Then, on Monday, they announced “Cyber Monday” was being extended. Go figure.


It came out last weekend that the current change in weather patterns has not altered deniers’ disbelief in human-accelerated climate change. Apparently, people are sticking to their desired, erroneous beliefs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and without regard for what current trends portend for generations to come. If the 1960’s are sometimes thought of as the peak period of “me generation” behavior, one only needs to look at what’s going on now to realize that human selfishness and willful ignorance have progressed far beyond what anyone saw back in the days of turn on, tune in, and drop out. Besides, at least in the ’60s the behavior was understandable in the light of disillusionment over the Vietnam War and assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcolm X.

Much of my book, Zendoscopy, is set during the 1960’s, but it doesn’t address the “me” stuff or, in fact, the politics of the time. It’s about those of us who came of age awkwardly in a world of rapidly changing realities and were, in some ways, seeking an out from a figurative parallel universe. On a personal level, maybe one day I’ll write about the aroma of marijuana that permeated my college days, although it’d have to be from the outside since I was pretty much an observer rather than a participant. When it came to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I seemed back then to hit on only one of them: rock and roll. That, however, is another story for another time.

I’ve mentioned it previously in the blog and on my Facebook page, but here is a reminder to mark your calendar for the 25th of January, when I’ll be doing a reading from Zendoscopy and signing copies at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena. If you’ve already bought the book, bring it to the store and I’ll sign it anyway. Should be a lot of fun.

Stand Tall, Mr. President!

As I write this, President Obama has just announced his executive order that will finally (!) if only temporarily address a major component of the overall immigration issue that Congress has been unable to deal with ever since the House of Representatives refused to act after the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration bill many months ago. Predictably, those same Republicans are now up in arms, accusing the President of usurping power, of behaving like an “emperor” or a “king”. He’s been charged with sinking any hope of collaboration and compromise with the newly Republican-dominated Congress, and there have even been rumblings of impeachment due to his alleged disregard of the Constitution.

The Republican outrage is, IMHO, hypocritical bullshit.

Republicans have only themselves to blame for this. Their intransigence, their open defiance of the President, their opposition to everything and anything he says or does have brought this on. To risk a bit of a mixed metaphor, Republicans have led government full speed into an absolute standstill. It’s been a charge back to the 19th century, when the robber barons almost succeeded in ruling the roost.

Today’s Republican Party can only exist through preservation of an overtly stratified society with maintenance of a permanent underclass. How else to explain their anti-immigration, voter suppressive, don’t tax the rich, holier than thou, in your bedroom behavior that’s become the party’s angry white mantra? The truly amazing thing is that so many who stand to be hurt so severely by current Republican doctrine…vote Republican. Why would any woman, any person of color, anyone who cares about the environment, vote Republican? It simply defies logic.

And so, I say hang tough, Mr. President. Show ’em you’ve got the cojones to spit in the eye of industrial, big business crooks and the politicians they’re paying off. Which is not to forget, however, that some of these slimy beasts are Democrats, too. It’s just that, in general, they’ve been less obvious than their Republican brethren. Why, for example, aren’t they supporting their President more actively? Payoffs? Fear of the right wing? Dare I venture racism as a possible cause for them as well as for the Republicans? After all, Obama’s record isn’t nearly as bad as some are saying it is. In fact, although I disagree mightily with a few things he’s done, I have to acknowledge his efforts to end two wars, his success at slow but steady economic recovery, his saving the auto industry, and his bringing affordable health care to many who until now haven’t been able to get it. Anyone who says this is nothing is simply being willfully ignorant, which is worse than being truly ignorant, albeit perhaps not by much. To wit: Louie Gohmert.

Okay, that’s it for this week’s rant. For those who follow this blog in countries outside the U.S. (and there are several of you) I must tell you that the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving is next week. In order to have some time with family, will, for the first time since going online last January, be taking a week off. We’ll be back in two weeks, though, so plan on checking back on 5 December for the next posting.

Good News for Zendoscopy

   Good news for Zendoscopy. As regular readers know, Zendoscopy is my second book. It was published earlier this year and, although reviews and feedback have been encouraging, sales have been modest. Of course, walk into any bookstore or look at any bookseller online, and you’ll see that there’s a glut of books vying for your attention. That’s why personal marketing is critical for the self-published author.

OK, so what’s “personal marketing”? It’s doing book signings, readings, book club appearances, and setting up for sales at flea markets and weekend farmers’ markets. In this area, I admit to have lagged a bit, largely because of a heavy travel schedule that had me away for much of July, early August, most of September, and early October. Home now, I’m ramping up marketing for Zendoscopy.

I recently placed copies of Zendoscopy on consignment at Pasadena’s largest and best known non-chain bookseller: Vroman’s. They now have me scheduled to do a book signing and a reading from the book on Sunday, January 25th at 4 PM. More information will follow closer to the event, but if you can be there, please come. I’d love to meet you and sign a copy of Zendoscopy for you.

What’s Zendoscopy about? Well, for starters, it’s not really a book about Zen, at least in any formal way. It’s a collection of stories about growing up in the 1950’s and ’60’s in Southern California. Together, all of the stories add up to the lead character’s coming of age, with all that that implies. Some of the stories are very funny, some are quite serious, and others are, well, tragicomic. Here are a few of the story titles:

·         Effie Mae and the Bubble-Up Bottle of Fate

·         Brother Parthenia and the Fido Treasure Hunt

·         Lust, Terror, and the Praying Mantis of the Holy Grail

If you find that these pique your curiosity, pick up a copy or, even better, come to the book signing in January. It promises to be a lot of fun.

The Midterms

This blog is mostly oriented toward writing in its many aspects but, as regular readers know, I occasionally wander from issues surrounding writing and publishing to take on other topics, usually of a liberal and/or freethinking perspective. This entry is one of those.

This week, we finally concluded the midterm election season. I, for one, am absolutely sick of the avalanche of campaign mail that assaulted our mailbox. Not only was it voluminous, mostly going directly into the trash, but the individual mailings became larger and larger in format. How many trees gave their all just to end up in my recycling bin without more than a cursory glance? Worse, the distortions of truth, outright lies, and thinly veiled prejudices in many of the pieces of mail we received were, to say the least, both cynical and terribly disheartening. The only thing some of those mailers did for me was to convince me ever more firmly not to vote for the candidates touted on them. As for the television ads, the less said, the better. Well, except for the disgusting ad by the Republican candidate for governor in California, who somehow thought it was in good taste to show a drowning child, improperly analogizing it to the incumbent governor’s alleged disregard for education and children’s welfare.

Moving on…I simply do not understand how so many people can vote for candidates of a party (guess which one) whose stated positions run so counter to those people’s best interests. Opposition to women’s rights, including equal pay for equal work and abortion rights, stated opposition to “big government” unless that government and its courts adopt particularly undemocratic policies that include voter suppression and unlimited campaign spending, opposition to immigration reform, thinly veiled bigotry and overt religious zealotry, and opposition to universal health care. There are more, but why go on?

“Be afraid of ignorant people in large groups,” says the bumper sticker, and never was it truer than now. To those words of wisdom, I’d only add, “…and keep those folks out of our bedrooms and, most of all, keep them unarmed.” A sheep-like public following the ignorant and cynical politicians of the right is a freaking dangerous mob, and it scares the hell out of me. Unless you’re planning to join an American Taliban, it should scare the hell out of you, too.

Some Folks Shouldn’t (publish, that is)

Since beginning this blog last January (my, how time flies!) I’ve written several pieces that have included encouragement for would-be writers. The urge to express oneself can be strong, and I’m a great supporter of those who wish to do so through the printed word. Hey, it’s often highly preferable to uncontrolled oration. Nevertheless, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that some folks just shouldn’t seek to publish what they’ve written.

I don’t mean that folks are writing stuff that shouldn’t be aired. After all, dirty laundry, bigotry, stupidity and wacked out nonsense may all benefit from the sanitizing influence of the sun. No, what I’m referring to here is simply very bad writing. Even worse than your standard it was a dark and stormy night sort of drivel. Oh, I have no objection to writing this sort of stuff. Nor would I actually legislate against its publication. I just think people who cannot recognize how bad their writing is should be cautioned by those who know better not to put it out for public consumption.

Most years, I try to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a huge and wonderful event initially held on the campus of UCLA but, in more recent times, held at cross town rival USC. The event includes displays by established mainstream publishing houses as well as a plethora of smaller publishers of independent (read: self-published) works, the “indies”.

I’ve taken advantage of indie publishing for my two books out of necessity. I learned many years ago of the “Catch-22” ensnaring new writers without industry connections: you can’t get an agent if you haven’t been published, and you can’t be published (by a mainstream publisher) if you don’t have an agent. This reality forced me into the indie universe, where I’ve paid handsomely to have my literary offspring delivered.

My first book, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, was published by Xlibris, an indie outfit that would publish anything for a price. My second book, Zendoscopy, was published by Inkwater Press, a company that is more selective about what it will take on, but still charges substantially for publication.

When Inkwater agreed to publish Zendoscopy, I knew from feedback that they’d read the book and liked it. How did I know? Because I got specific feedback from them about it. In the case of Xlibris and Spacebraid, however, I simply paid and it got published. No feedback. No advice. No real support of any kind. It’s companies like Xlibris that allow incompetent writers to get themselves into print.

So, back to the L.A. Times Festival of Books. At this year’s event, I stopped at one indie booth where an author was doing a promotional giveaway of a limited number of his latest (second) book, a science fiction thriller. Being a sci-fi fan and, for obvious reasons, identifying with an indie author, I gratefully accepted his offer of a hardback copy. It had a striking jacket with a blurb that made it sound pretty cool. Moreover, the author’s bio on the jacket’s back flap suggested that the author was an experienced writer in the entertainment industry. The book was nicely bound and the paper quality seemed good. All in all, I thought it might be a satisfying read: good story, nice package. I’d never heard of the publisher, but there are so many of them that this really didn’t matter to me. Besides, as I said, the book was free. When I got home, I put the book on a shelf and forgot about it until last week, when I noticed it sitting there and decided to give it a go.

A book has to be really terrible for me not to finish it. In the case of this particular work, I couldn’t make it past the second chapter. To say that the writing was bad would severely understate the matter. Both in terms of style and grammar, the book was (is) a disaster.

Beginning with the first paragraph, I immediately came upon an apostrophe error. Worse, the entire paragraph read like a bad Hemingway parody. Reading on, I found sentence after sentence stuffed with an overabundance of similes and adjectives. There were overboard descriptions of people revealing far too much too early. At first I wondered, how could this dreck ever have made it into print? Then, quickly, I knew: the author’s ego, no honest feedback before submitting it to the publisher, and a publisher that would accept anything for a fee. The almost inevitable result was a total embarrassment that never should have made it off the hard drive.

So, what’s the lesson, here? I think it’s that everyone who wants to write should write, but not everything that gets written is worthy of publication. Before spending a thousand or more (and it will almost certainly be more) dollars with an indie publisher, plus marketing costs, one really needs to have his/her work proofread, edited and critiqued. Serious readers are not going to want to pay good money only to find bad writing and grammatical errors, no matter how enticing the plot.

Finally, you’ll note that I haven’t identified the author, title, or publisher of the book I used in my example. Nor have I quoted any of the awful stuff I encountered in the first chapter and a half. Why? Because I have nothing against the writer and no desire to embarrass him. Besides, there’s not much chance of anyone other than family and few friends buying the book. I suspect that his giveaway copies are just about the only ones that have made it into circulation, and that few more ever will. It’s a shame really. I know he worked hard to write it, and I’m sure he had great hopes of massive sales. It’s just that someone should have been honest with him before the book ever saw the light of day. That someone should have told him that needed both a good editor and, even more, the services of a good English teacher.

Marketing for the Self-Published Author

The point of this piece is not that self-publishing is a vain and fruitless endeavor. Well, okay, maybe a little (?) vain, but not necessarily fruitless. It’s just that I’ve learned over time how difficult it can be to remain optimistic about sales of one’s opus magnum.

To wit: my two books. Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe was originally published in 2004. A collection of science fiction and fantasy stories, it seemed to me at the time to have pretty good prospects for respectable if not spectacular sales. In fact, I was greatly encouraged when my son-in-law got on a cross country flight and noted that the person seated next to him was reading the book. In spite of this bit of anecdotal evidence and a couple of nice reviews, sales have languished. We’ll get to why in a moment.

My second book, Zendoscopy, was published earlier this year. Sales have been better than with Spacebraid, but still not enough to be considered much of a showing. More puzzling is that feedback on the book has been excellent, including a very nice Kirkus review and the book being a monthly selection for at least one book club.

So, what gives?

The answer, in a word, is probably “marketing”. If I’ve learned anything since Spacebraid was published, it’s that writing and publishing the book account for only half of the job. The other, and by far more expensive, half is marketing. And those of us who self publish find marketing the real stumbling block to significant sales.

There exists a wide variety of marketing possibilities open to the self-published writer: book giveaways (e.g., on Goodreads), book signings, consignment placement in bookstores, book festivals, paid ads, blogs such as this one, YouTube videos, and more. Nearly all either are expensive or, even if not, simply don’t seem to reach a large enough audience unless one is willing to invest a not so small fortune to get the word out.

Let’s look at a couple of the options: book signings and consignment placement. My first attempt to get a book signing was with an independent bookstore in a shopping center minutes from my home. This particular store was in financial trouble and word had it that they might have to close. I spoke with the store’s manager and offered to do a signing in which I’d bring in a supply of books and sell them in turnkey manner for them, donating 40% of what I took in to the store. Despite my offer, which would have cost the store nothing, the manager insisted on 60%. I walked.

My second experience with a signing was much more successful and satisfying. Another local store was holding a signing event open to a limited number of local authors. I applied early enough to make the list. To prepare for the event, I had a couple of self-supporting posters made from jpeg files of my book covers and spread the word via this blog, Facebook, and by direct contact with friends and acquaintances. At the signing, I sold several books and came away reasonably happy.

At about the same time as the second signing, a friend who belongs to a book club read Zendoscopy and liked it enough to make it a monthly selection for her book club. She invited me to appear at the club for a “meet the author” event which went well, and I sold several copies of the book as well as a couple of copies of Spacebraid.

Since then, sales of both books have hit the skids. Neither the publisher of Spacebraid, nor that of Zendoscopy, has done any promotion of the book, although for some hefty fees, they would assist me but not do any marketing on their own. Based upon my early experiences with the publisher of Spacebraid, my impression is that any efforts by publishing houses for self-published authors are of marginal, if any, benefit, and much of what they will do for a price can be done by the author, alone.

These experiences have given me some perspective on how to go about self-publishing one’s writing. If/when my third book is ready to market, I will likely forego the use of a publisher and go directly to e-book format, where self-published works seem to have the best chance for significant sales. It will also make it much easier for me to manage pricing, as I won’t have to go through the publisher every time I want to do a giveaway or price promotion.

The other thing I’ve concluded is that shorter pieces submitted for publication may be beneficial in getting one’s name “out there”. This past summer, I had an essay published in the literary publication of Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honor society. The piece elicited a remarkable number of responses from people who will shortly receive a distribution e-mail from me mentioning my two books. This may or may not produce sales but, as they say, nothing ventured…

For many of us who self-publish, we are not doing it with the expectation of making a living at it but because we simply love writing. This means that we’re under less pressure than otherwise might be the case. In my particular situation, I can afford to promote my books in careful steps, evaluating the costs and benefits as I go rather than marketing in shotgun and very expensive fashion. In the meantime, I can work on shorter pieces for magazine submission or later inclusion in a short story collection. Will there be a sequel to Zendoscopy? Time will tell…

A Dilemma

For those who’ve wondered why my postings have been spotty over the past few weeks, I can now say that it’s because my wife and I were traveling in Japan and China. Although I’ve never suffered from jet lag with prior trips, including several to Europe and one to New Zealand, the return trip from Hong Kong last Friday really left me feeling dysphoric and exhausted.

I had planned to do some writing during the trip, but our itinerary was heavily scheduled, and I had no energy to do anything but climb into bed at night. Ergo, no writing of any consequence. I did manage to get two brief blog entries written, but due to unreliable internet connections in China, one wasn’t posted until just after getting home.

As we are now well into the fall season with summer travel over (we were on the road for most of July, too), I am gearing up for a renewed marketing push for Zendoscopy. In addition, I’m kicking around several ideas for my next book and, in the process, confronting a bit of a dilemma.

The problem isn’t writer’s block. Rather, it’s indecision. My first book, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, was a collection of science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories. Zendoscopy is written as a series of connected stories rooted in the realities of growing up in the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s. The dilemma, then, is that of which path to follow for book 3. I very much enjoy writing in both genres, but to maximize my chances of name recognition and sales success, I need to pursue one or the other type of writing. There are very few Stephen Kings in the world, writers who are able to cross genres with great success. Making my decision more difficult is the simple fact that, although sales of my books have been modest, the feedback and reviews for each have been good.

As I wallow in indecision, I’ve written the opening of a sequel to Zendoscopy as well as a few short sci-fi/horror/fantasy pieces. I don’t know how this will ultimately resolve, but readers of this blog will be the first to find out — right after I do.

This week’s annoyance: None! I’m just glad to be home.