Hangin’ With Old Lew Episode 30: “Alleged Pullout Game”

I made my return to the Hangin’ With Old Lew podcast this week! I am on episode 30, “Alleged Pullout Game”

In this episode we talked a bunch about the audiobook version of Atmospheres. We also talked about the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, growing up in Elkhart, Indiana, Shawn Kemp, Fast and the Furious, Ludacris as a multi-dimensional time rapper, alternate John Conner, so real vs. surreal, and why Marvel movies suck.

There’s also one of the segments from the Atmospheres audio book — about a five-minute chunk — in there for your listening pleasure. You can hear that an actual pro recorded it, and not my stupid voice with a PlayStation headset or whatever.

Check it out here:

iTunes; http://buff.ly/2pqwqrT

Google Play: http://buff.ly/2qjX4Qw

DO IT

 

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The Atmospheres audio book is now available

I’m proud to announce the audio book for Atmospheres is now available!

This is huge. You really need to go listen to a sample of the book.  It was narrated by Rob Shamblin at Bay Drive Sound Studios, and they did a totally pro job – it sounds incredible, and the acting and pace of Rob’s reading is incredible.

The book itself is a total gonzo drive into the absurd. I’m very proud of the print book, but the audio version takes on a completely new dimension. It’s really something to listen to it, and the nonlinear structure of the book lends itself well to audio. And it’s unabridged, so it’s just shy of six hours long, which is a great value.

So here’s the deal: you can get it in one of three ways: Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.  Here’s some explanation of all three:

  • Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Atmospheres-Audiobook/B00OD60TPS – You can buy a copy of the book outright from Audible for the list price of $19.95. Or, you can sign up for an Audible account and get the book for free.  Audible gives you a 30-day free trial, and then it’s $14.95 a month. Members get two free audio books a month, plus 30% off additional purchases.  This is a hell of a deal, and I’d recommend it if you regularly listen to audio books.  Just make sure the first book you download is mine!
  • Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Atmospheres/dp/B00OI2HAJU Audible is owned by Amazon now, so tomato tomatoh.  The key difference is that it’s currently $17.46. And when you leave a review (you are going to do that, right?) it shows up along with all of your other Amazon reviews.  I think you need to download some kind of Audible app to get the audio from Amazon – I don’t know what their procedure is this week for audio purchases.
  • iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/atmospheres-unabridged/id929829736 If you are locked into Apple’s ecosystem, this is the way to go. It’s currently priced at $17.95 too, so you save two bucks there. And if you like having all of your stuff in iTunes and don’t want to download another program and want it all from Apple’s cloud, this is the way to go.  I just bought a copy from here to see how it went, and it’s just as seamless as buying anything else.

You can listen to a short preview on any of the above sites.  Apple’s preview is shorter, but a different part of the book.

Here is the big favor part: I do not have any free download codes or other way to easily schlep copies of this book to potential reviewers.  So I really, really need help getting reviews of the book, and getting the word out to people. Please forward this on, repost it, tell others, and review the book if you can. It would be greatly appreciated!

Also, if you’re still interested in reviewing the paper book (or ebook) drop me a line at jkonrath at rumored dot com and I’ll hook you up.  I really, really need some honest Amazon reviews, so get in touch if you can help.

I am really glad this project turned out as good as it did.  I hope you get a chance to check it out!

 

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Some great Atmospheres reviews

I always forget to look at Goodreads reviews. I think part if it is they make them so damn hard to find. And I don’t think they have as much of a result on book sales as actual Amazon reviews, which is bad because they’re the same damn company now, and GR reviews are usually much better written.

Anyway, Atmospheres has been slowly seeing some good reviews over on Goodreads. I know I should be pushing the newer book, but Atmospheres is one of my favorites, and it’s much more “me.”  And the audio book is coming soon.

A couple of recent ones worth sharing.  I really like this one:

Kon·ra·thi·an adjective \ˈkän-rath-ēən\

: a sentence or phrase used, in caustic hyperbole, to describe the complete meaninglessness of American culture and its icons

Another good one from the always spot-on Arthur Graham:

By removing the tracks of linear narrative and allowing the totality of his twisted visions to coalesce into a more appropriate form, Konrath does not merely dump a clusterfuck of unrelated awfulness into a book, just because he’s too lazy to glue it all together in an orderly fashion, or just because he’s more interested in pissing off the average reader (although he may be up to a bit of the latter). Rather, by eschewing the traditional tracks in favor of more train, what paradoxically emerges are the tracks of a form reinforced by its own chaotic content, and let me tell you: Konrath’s train is in a perpetual state of wreck.

The author could be viewed as a depressive nihilist if he didn’t obviously believe in what he’s doing and enjoy doing it, even if half of what he does is more like a hopelessly insane nightmare than anything a normal person would want to read. He crosses the line and then he crosses it again a few more times, and the end result is usually nothing short of genius and hilarity.

What did you think?  If you got the book, I’d love to see your review.  And if you didn’t get it yet, you should go take care of that, pronto.

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Atmospheres, alternate covers

I have a new book.  It is called Atmospheres. I posted about it the other day.

I hate coming up with covers for books. And when one says “make a book cover” that really means two things: coming up with the concept, and executing it. 99% of the “we make book covers” places on the web can do the second part, and honestly, I can do the second part. I’ve been photoshopping people’s heads into enema bondage porn screenshots for a long time; it’s not that hard to lay out a cover, once you know what you need.

And that’s the part that sucks: coming up with an actual design, an idea. If I wrote stupid murder mystery books and knew it was Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the revolver, I’d throw “revolver” into a stock photo site, pay the five bucks, pick some pretty colors, and done. But I write abstract books that can’t be summed up in an icon like that.  (I know, “maybe you should write murder mysteries.”  But seriously, fuck that.)  My dream would be to have an agent or publisher or majordomo of some sort who I trusted, who would take the manuscript, come up with a cool title, execute on the cover, and sell the damn thing.  But all of those are my job. And I’m finding that even if I pay someone to do part of that, I can’t really get what I want.

Case in point: this time, I went to fiverr and found a design firm to do the cover.  They were in Bosnia, so it was cheap, and they did a good job if my book was a Tom Clancy techno-thriller.  (To be fair, this was a rush job, and they didn’t see the actual book.)  Anyway, here’s what they came up with:

Like I said, it looks okay, but doesn’t really fit.

So, off to do my own thing.  I started pulling pictures out of Aperture and throwing them into CreateSpace’s cover creator. First up, a metal grate, snapped on the Lower East Side about a decade ago, with a little manipulation:

That was okay. It looks like a Penguin reissue of an old Paul Auster book, maybe. Next, I tried with some plane wreckage I snapped in Alaska:

That’s okay, but doesn’t entirely do it. I gave the fake hipster urban decay thing a try with a picture from inside an abandoned train station:

That looked a little too much like a city college’s poetry anthology. Meh.

I was going through pictures from Hawaii, looking for some Eraserhead-esque industrial waste. The first thing that came to mind was the sugar cane factory in Maui:

I fucked around with that a while, and eventually lost the smokestacks, keeping only the clouds.  Smash that to black and white, grain it up a bit, and here’s the mockup of what eventually happened:

Another thing that changed, after the fact: I originally intended to use the new matte cover finish that CreateSpace offers. I ordered a proof, then proofed digitally and took the book live, ordering another copy from the Amazon page. That book arrived before the proof did, and there were a few things I didn’t like. First, the trim was weird; when I sat it next to a copy of Thunderbird, it was maybe an eighth inch shorter. I have a whole shelf of POD books that are nine inches tall, and they do not vary by an micron in their height, but this one did, radically. Also the cover was slightly crooked, with part of the front image on the spine. And the cover stock itself felt “wavy” and cheap, like a photocopy on thick paper.

So, I changed it to a glossy cover. Hopefully the varnish makes it a little more durable. I wasn’t sure about the trim size thing, and then the proof came in the mail, and it was the right height, with the right spine. So, maybe the first one was just someone asleep at the wheel.  Either way, if you were one of the few people that ordered immediately on launch day, you have a rare collector’s item.  Put it in mylar and maybe it’ll be worth a lot someday.  You’d get a better ROI if more people bought the other book, so do me a favor and tell all your friends.

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So I published a new book

Okay, it’s done.

It is in print and on the kindle.

It is called Atmospheres.  It’s 242 pages. It’s hard to describe.

About a year ago, I started writing this experiment, which was a collection of almost ambient scenes, brief snippets of no story, just outbursts of emotion or scene. I wanted to eventually link them together in some way, but it became more important to simply generate the pieces each day. When I worked on finishing Thunderbird and doing all of the steps of publishing it, I needed to continue writing something, and that’s where the beginning of Atmospheres started.

I’ve always had a minor obsession with Jim Jarmusch, and I often listen to the soundtrack to Broken Flowers when I’m writing.  One of the songs on there is an edited clip of the Sleep song “Dopesmoker.” I’d been vaguely familiar with them from a million years ago when I used to write about death metal, but wasn’t fully aware of that particular album. I’d read an interview with Jarmusch where he talked about being preoccupied with that album, so I got a copy, and then I became locked into it.

If you haven’t heard it, the album is one song, a 63-minute stoner metal song that’s essentially one heavy riff played over and over, talking about a caravan of weed-priests crossing the desert to Jerusalem with their magical hashish. The lyrics are corny, but the song itself is an hour of pure hypnotic sludge, and puts you in a trance mode. And while I did not imbibe in the titular substance discussed in the song, I made it part of my process. I’d sit down every day, put the song on repeat, and completely lose myself in it, writing about whatever escaped from my subconscious thought onto the page.

Within a few months, this brought out an incredible pile of 500 word chunks, some perfect stories, some absolute junk.  But it amazingly brought out some common threads through the manuscript when I pushed them all together.  There’s a scene in the Naked Lunch movie where Ginsberg and Kerouac (or facsimiles thereof) go to Interzone to visit Bill, and  find an apartment filled with scattered random notes (and heroin), and that’s what the book read like before I started editing.

This is by far the most challenging read of any of my books.  It has a story arc in three acts, but it doesn’t have a conventional plot, which will throw a lot of people.  But it contains a lot of brutally honest writing that cuts deep, and it was a lot of fun to write. If I had to compare it to anything I’ve done, it’s a lot like Rumored to Exist in ways, but I think the pieces are darker with a lot more thickness to them.

This is my tenth book, which is a strange milestone to reach.  And every time I finish one of these, I fall into a deep depression and a brief panic, first as I wade through all of the production steps of releasing one of these things, and then as I try to start the next project.  And I have no idea how to sell this book or what’s next, so I’m not prepared for this. But, I need to keep working, so I will.

Anyway, check out the book, and let me know what you think. If you have any wise ideas on helping me to get the word out, or if you’d be kind enough to forward on this post, that would be awesome too. Thanks for everyone who helped me to get this thing done, especially John Sheppard, who did a ton of editing and reading for me along the way.

Okay, on to #11.

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