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writing about not writing

I uploaded a “preview” of Dealer Wins to lulu today. If you go here, you can download it for free. I say “preview” because on lulu, you are supposed to upload a PDF of a chapter or whatever as a preview, and then people can buy the full PDF as an ebook. Well, the full PDF of the book in press-ready format is 23 megs. I made a crunched-up PDF that’s only about a meg and a half, and made that the preview. So the preview is the whole book, although the photos are all lossy-compressed and dithered and a bit blotchy. They aren’t bad, though. Anyway, click that link and download the preview if you want to look at it without buying it. But you should buy it, of course.

I still haven’t been writing much of anything, other than writing about not writing. I’m at the start of a cold and I tried to avoid eating any sugar all day except for a Coke or two, and now I have a tremendous headache. Yesterday on the train coming home, I tried to think of things besides writing that I really wanted to do to keep busy, things I wanted to research. One was that I wish I could find a lot more information on making my apartment more liveable. Like, on one hand, it would be cool to do more things to make the place soundproof, or put down some nice rugs or different art or whatever, to make it a better environment. Or I always think I should throw out this desk and get something that is really ergo-oriented that would make it more productive to write. And I wish I could find things to make an apartment more efficient, as far as storage or whatever. But most of the sites I find are Pottery Barn sort of bullshit. I’m not interested in buying more things to have more things; I would, however, buy better solutions that would replace things and make the space more usable.

The other thing is I want to plan out my travel schedule for next year much better. I would really like to go back to Hawaii again, but I’d also like to do a lot of other things. Like, I’d love to go to Tucson and visit the Pima Air Museum. It’s across the street from Davis-Monthan AFB, better known as “the boneyard”, or the big place in the desert where old planes go to rest and eventually die. Some new planes go there for temporary storage; older stuff sits in formation, with crew chiefs occasionally scavenging parts to keep other jets current. And some planes are destroyed, which sucks, as I’d really like to buy an old B-52, either for my own personal use, or just to convert into a house out at my place in Colorado. Anyway, that might be an interesting long weekend, and I’d like to think of a few more of those and line it all up in advance.

Blah, this headache is killing me. I think I may nuke it from orbit with some Tylenol PM and go blotto.

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Dealer Wins

I am happy to announce that I have finished my fourth book, which is called Dealer Wins: Misadventures in the New Las Vegas. (Click that link to go to my pitifully underdone web page for the book, which I am trying to finish as I overindulge in fun-size 3 Musketeers bars.)

The book is a collection of my travel stories about Las Vegas, plus a handful of new essays about various Vegas-related stuff. It also has a ton of black and white photos that I took. The stories and photos are the same as those on my travel site, but I heavily edited the stories. This isn’t a guidebook, or a tell-all “I worked as a stripper” or “and then we buried the prostitute in the desert” sort of book. It’s just me and my observations on the place, and hopefully you will find it funny and interesting.

It is currently available from lulu.com. Their price for the book is $9.99 plus shipping, and it’s 150 pages perfect-bound, with a nice color cover that I designed myself, using my own photos. I think it’s the best cover design of all of my books. I do have an ISBN (1-4116-1460-7) and it is listed in Books in Print and distributed by Ingram, which means it will be listed in all of the online stores (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Wal-Mart, etc.) But it won’t start to show up for 6-8 weeks, and the bad news is that the MSRP of the book is actually $12.99, so you pay more for the same thing. I know a lot of people are well-rooted to Amazon, because I am too, but you can buy this for three bucks less and get it months earlier.

And while you’re there, you can also get the new edition of Summer Rain, or pick up one of John Sheppard’s books. I am going to order a couple dozen, so if you want to buy one in person, I will sell them for ten bucks. I also, for the first time, am offering review copies to anyone who will post (on the web, at some googleable site) a review and/or some linkage back to me. So contact me about that.

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Dealer Wins

I finished and submitted Dealer Wins, the Las Vegas book, last week. I’m waiting for a proof to approve, and apparently the USPS tried to deliver it yesterday to my office, but since nobody was there, they got a slip. Or maybe they didn’t, I’m trusting the USPS web site on this one. Anyway, I might or might not get to actually see it tomorrow. I’m pretty happy with how it looks in the PDF, and the pricing turned out about as good as I could have hoped. It will be available on the publisher’s site right away, and be on Amazon et al in like 6-8 weeks, or whatever. It’s kindof stupid because it will actually be $3 cheaper to order from the publisher, and I make like 40 cents more and it’s faster, but I’m guessing most people will wait until it is on Amazon.

This, like other books I have done, doesn’t really feel done at the end. It seems like finishing a book is a qualitative thing, and it’s more a matter of “I’ve looked at this 937 times and I’m sick of it” rather than “it’s end-to-end complete”. I mean, it’s not like building a brick wall where you can just say, “it’s this tall and this long and this thick and the cement is dry – it’s done.” When I send a book out, I always feel like there’s something missing, something I didn’t do with it. And usually, by the time I actually look at the finished product weeks or months later, I like it. So we’ll see.

I have no idea what I am doing next. I have a book of short stories about Bloomington that I want to finish, but I hate them all and I absolutely can’t motivate myself to work on that. I would like to write another book in the vein of Rumored to Exist, but I don’t even know where to start. I actually had a good start on one, and I guess the notes are okay, but it was a false start and I really need to think of something new.

I haven’t done much else this weekend. I did go to Best Buy with the intention of blowing several hundred dollars on CDs. I ran the gauntlet, going from A to Z twice, picking out everything I wanted, and I think I only ended up with like five things, and two of those were remasters of Queensryche albums that were very low on the “buy someday, but in no hurry” list. I mean, I even got a George Lynch solo album, I was grasping at straws so much. I don’t know if I was just in a bad mood (which I was) or if Best Buy has no good music anymore (they don’t – but at least they are cheaper than Virgin) or if I simply don’t know what I want in music anymore. I still want to push to get the music collection above a thousand at some point. It’s roughly 75 away, and it’s getting there, but won’t happen by the end of the year or anything.

I’m bored. I’m tempted to go into Manhattan and shop for books or something, but I have a pile of books taller than me to read, and I should think more about this whole writing thing.

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cover-text.txt

I have a blank emacs buffer open for the filename “cover-text.txt” that will become the back cover of Dealer Wins, the Vegas book. I can’t think of what to write. I’ll drink about nine more Cokes and then use whatever appears.

My temporary crown came off this morning when I was flossing, and fell behind the toilet. You’d think that, even with 97 minutes of rinsing with hot water and Listerine, I’d have serious germophobic fears about putting it back in my mouth, but I guess the sheer panic of popping the thing out and the anticipation of a metric fuckload of pain overrode all other senses. The pain didn’t happen, though. And it looks really weird with the thing off; there isn’t just a metal post, but rather what looks like a little, rounded-off tooth under it. I bought some Fixodent at the drug store and all is well. I also got a waterpic, which I might or might not use regularly. Maybe I will just fill it with Coke and use it to drink a steady stream while I’m sitting at the computer.

I am listening to The Fight Club Score by the Dust Brothers for the first time, and I really, really like it. I realize I’m like four years behind the curve, but this has to be the coolest background music ever. I don’t know anything about techno or the Dust Brothers or anything else, but I have a feeling this CD will be on during a lot of the writing of the next book.

I have decided that after this Vegas book goes out the door, I will seriously get on Zombie Fever, the tentative title of the next book. It will be, in a stylistic sense, a sequel to Rumored to Exist, and it will share some of the secondary characters, but it will be a new, start-to-finish fiction piece. I probably have about 20,000 words of notes and snippets, but I need to take a big step back and think through the whole thing again before I get started.

As far as media consumption, I finished reading John Sheppard’s Home is Where You Hang Yourself last night. It’s a pretty tight little book; at 136 pages, it seems like it’s a lot longer. Some of the short stories continue loose threads from his other books, but for many of them, he created new characters a lot different than the punk cast he’s used before. The stories aren’t all the beginning-middle-end typical MFA creative writing workshop format, and tend to spend more time building up characters rather than pushing people through the movements. I like that, at least that it makes you think a lot more about the people rather than the events. Anyway, it’s only $7.75 on Lulu, so check it out.

I also got through 3 of the 4 discs of the Star Wars trilogy. I haven’t watched Jedi yet, but I might do that this afternoon, just to see if Lucas admits that the Ewoks were simply a bad idea. He probably won’t. He’s given little time in the commentaries to mention the obvious about the special edition additions or the stormtrooper hitting his head or anything else. This is outweighed by him spending a ton of time talking about stuff I had no idea about. If you even vaguely like the original trilogy, you should immediately lay down the $42 on Amazon to get a copy of these. I know, everyone thinks there will be some big 6-movie set coming out later, but it’s worth it to buy this now, especially at the cheap price. I have mixed feelings that I spent $100 on the super-ultra boxed edition of the original films on VHS, but at least I can go back and see Greedo shoot first if I really want to.

Okay, I better get to those Ewoks. I was thinking of going into Manhattan and spending some cash, since the tooth debacle ended up being cheaper than I thought, but I have such a huge pile of DVDs to watch and work to do on this back cover, I guess I will stay here for a bit.