It’s been far too long since I contributed some thoughts to this blog. Most of the reason has been due to my final push to get this new novel completed. It’s been two years in the making: One year of intense study and refresher of the subject matter at hand and another year to knit it all together with the right sci-fi elements to build a universe that I can now pen short stories on for the rest of my life. In other words, this was so exhausting, I may not do another novel. I may resort to shorter pieces for the future. But who knows what I’ll do after a year of promotion, touring and perhaps getting the bug again.
The second reason I haven’t contributed has been the complete disgust with politics as of late. I penned a piece related to this here. Seems everyone is yelling over everyone else. No one is listening. So when things get heated and toxic, there’s no point in continuing. So I took a break and spent time on fiction. It’s been time better spent. But didn’t leave entirely. If you follow me on Twitter, I’m not above ranting from time to time.
Another concern is what exactly are we going to talk about? I’ve worked my thoughts into this blog for over five years now on just about every political subject I care to comment on. Over the past couple of months, whenever I picked up a pen to do some commentary, I found myself writing what had already been written.
North Korea? Check.
Government spying and intrusion? Check.
Unchecked Executive Power? Check.
And lots of other subjects with their own checks.
So it seems when tweeting or facebooking or otherwise, the quickest way to engage in any of these topics has been to re-refer people to prior pieces. In other words, is there any reason to reinvent the wheel? Thoughts like this had me considering for a time whether or not it was time to seal this blog, preserve it and just keep pushing out pieces like, I told you so years ago, now do you wanna consider it? Don’t we liberty-loving people still refer to the words of the Founding Fathers? To me, aside from a few details, their opinions on the big topics still remain relevant and accurate.
So returning to some political writing has been a bit tough finding something new to talk about. So let’s just chat for now, mmk?
First observation: Anyone who voted for Trump thinking the wild card was better than the awfulness of Hillary Clinton should at least by now realize that wasn’t the best idea. While I was hoping the gamble would pay off, I’m afraid that we’ve gotten the worst. I’d be okay with the goofy early morning tweets from the golden throne if only small government policies were moving along but that hasn’t happened. We still have Obamacare which has been the number one issue for Republicans on every campaign trail since it was passed. And yet, here we sit with it firmly intact. In fact, nothing significant has happened to reduce the size of government other than not filling some government jobs and positions. There’s a tax bill the Senate and House are working on that’s supposed to reduce taxes but no one has really read the whole thing. So we’re not sure if it does or doesn’t or its complete impact. But even if it does cut taxes, there’s nothing that’s cutting spending. So something’s gotta give. Will we just be moving money around? Small government comes mainly by reducing spending. And then the surplus can be returned to the people.
So instead of a smaller government, what we’re left with is a narcissist, cult of personality president who has made it a mission to discredit mainstream media, to keep his supporters thinking there’s a conspiracy to ruin his presidency when the truth is, he’s ruined it himself. The lies this guy talks are incredible. It’s pathological. And to think, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld were options in 2016.
Second observation as of late, the downfall of two darling politicians should be an eye opener. Al Franken and John Conyers are done for on accusations of sexual misconduct. Only Franken has admitted wrong doing in a few of the cases but regardless, these two loves in the Democratic Party should give pause the next time a politician campaigns on some moral high ground. The GOP isn’t free of this. Roy Moore lost the US Senate race in Alabama possibly due to a number of women coming forward to report he sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. And president Trump himself has his list of accusers too. And before him was Bill Clinton and before him, a bit farther back, was JFK. And much further back, was Thomas Jefferson getting busy with Sally Hemings. Granted, he did so after his wife passed away. But it was quite scandalous at the time. And who was the first to make the claim Jefferson fathered Hemings’ children? A journalist named James T. Callender. And while Jefferson never commented on it his family called it “fake news”.
The take away from these sex scandals is that no one should be looking to politicians to set morality. One of the worst periods of American History was the decision to prohibit alcohol on moral grounds. That gave us Al Capone and gangster gun fights in the streets over turf and bathtub gin that killed. The experiment was so bad, it started in 1920 and finally repealed in 1933. And we still haven’t learned that lesson when it comes to marijuana or other drugs. Time to end the War on Drugs.
Back in March of this year, 2017, already disillusioned with the new presidential administration, long overdue tired of soap-boxing the slogan that Government Doesn’t Work, I wrote a piece. The point was that no government is going to get your life going like you can get it going for yourself. And now I’d like to add that no government is going to institute the moral grounds you wish to stand on. Instead of concentrating on electing the right person, perhaps it is best to start spending more time doing the following things:
Getting around the right people that want to assist you in your goals.
Minimizing time with people not in line with maximizing your goals.
At least paying attention to those who are not like you so you can learn something different even if you don’t agree with it and, it also gives you the opportunity to change your mind if the facts warrant it.
In other words, give yourself the job of running your life. Don’t spend so much time trying to elect the right people. Don’t spend so much time trying to get others to conform to your way of life and as long as no one is hurting another person, it’s live and let live. That’s it. It’s so simple.
I’ll always be grateful for Harry Browne. If it were not for his 1996 libertarian presidential campaign and a chance two-minute CNN interview I caught a couple weeks before the election that year, I might not be making commentary on politics like I do now. Harry Browne was the first person talking politics that I could relate to. He didn’t champion the right form of government to get what you want. He championed getting government out of the way so you could pursue what you want. But he didn’t stop there. He wrote an entire book giving you help on pursuing what you want in spite of negative friends, family, co-workers and government. That book is the book everyone should read regardless of political persuasion.
And that’s the path I think I’ll take from here on out. Instead of essays on what’s nuttzo about Trump or whoever comes after, instead of essays on each bill being bounced around in Congress, let’s talk about getting what we want despite the obstacles. Let’s talk about cutting chords from even the dearest of family members if it’s clear they’re only holding you back. Let’s talk about changing jobs if you’re not making the money you want or not satisfied with how you spend your day.
Let me start with an example:
As noted above, I stepped away from essays in politics for a bit and turned toward something that was much more satisfying. I finished my second novel, CHASING DISCLOSURE. It’s on a topic I’ve waded through since I was eighteen-years-old. UFOs and the Ancient Astronaut Theory. If you’ve seen any of the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, then you know the topic. But I must be the bearer of bad news, there’s simply no proof UFOs are extra-terrestrial or ultra-terrestrial craft and no proof ancient peoples were visited by ancient aliens. It’s so much fun to speculate but the evidence offered to date does not pass scientifically. So until something is offered that does, the realm of fiction is the only place these ideas and concepts can live. Because quite frankly, seventy-years since Kenneth Arnold described his sighting as if saucers skipping over water (which is where the term flying saucer took off for public consumption) we know no more now than the 1940s. So when it came time for me to comment on my years of reading, listening to presentations, and talking to the UFO community, I figured the best way to contribute to the subject was through a mix of fiction and real cases. And now I’m planning on four or five stops in the next year to promote it and discuss with the UFO community.
Now writing a book is the easy part. I mean, you will pull your hair out. You will hate yourself. You will wonder why you got involved. If you care about your project you’ll ponder and dwell on every comma, get upset when using their when you meant there. But if you wanna finish it, understand this: The first you thing you gotta do is crap out the turd (I think Tom Spanbauer said that but I can’t confirm). This means get your words out of your head and on to the paper. Don’t get it right, get it out. Once on the paper, you can then form it, mold it, make that shitty ashtray from elementary school. Then edit it again until you’re happy with it. And once you do that, that is where the fun stops.
Writing is a lonely activity. You do it alone. But after you put your stamp of DONE on your manuscript, that’s where other people come in. Now for CHASING DISCLOSURE, I knew my audience would be people in the UFO community. So that’s who I turned to first for beta readers and advice. This is where my point #1 comes in: Getting around the right people that want to assist you in your goals.
I wanted to write the best UFO, Ancient Astronaut book I was capable of. So I needed the right people to bounce it off of. Since I already have contacts in this field (I’ve been at it for decades), I simply let a select few read it and if they liked it, I knew I had something. Also, since they’re in the same field, the UFO community, they’ll know if I got a fact or two wrong. The good news is, it passed to my satisfaction that I felt confident enough to move on to the second step. (When I finished my first novel, THREE CONDOMS FOR SARAH, I shopped it to the BDSM community. I don’t live in that community but if I did my homework proper and got it right, those in the community would like it. Good news. They did.)
Now on to point #2: Minimizing time with people not in line with maximizing your goals.
I didn’t shop either of my novels to people who wouldn’t be interested. Those I know that only read westerns are not my audience. But after the beta-readers, the next step is actual publication. And lessons learned from my first novel carried over to CHASING DISCLOSURE and I chose to self-publish right out of the gate. I have no beef with traditional publishers except two things which I don’t fault them for. It’s just the way things are but it’s also why I chose to self-publish.
First, publishers don’t pick up only the best. They pick up whatever they think will sell. THREE CONDOMS FOR SARAH (3CFS) is such a niche theme my only option seemed to be a small publisher that couldn’t offer me anything more than me going it alone. So I did and I get all the royalties. But with CHASING DISCLOSURE, there’s a wide market for sci-fi. And, as the popularity of Ancient Aliens and two renewals of the X-files long after the series finale attest, a great interest in UFOs and the like remains high. But I chose again to self-publish. I didn’t send the manuscript to one publisher.
CHASING DISCLOSURE is already selling better in one week what 3CFS hasn’t been able to do despite being on the market for two years now. Hurray!
I chose to self-publish because of the second beef I have with traditional publishers which, again, is not a fault of their own. It’s just the way the business goes. It’s that even after accepting a manuscript, it can be years before it sees the light of day. Additionally, you lose some of your own creativity, having to give way on some edits and cover design and so forth. I had this idea from start to finish for both books and I wanted to keep it that way. And when it came to CHASING DISCLOSURE, this has been my idea and baby since I started underlining passages in my library in the early 1990s.
On self-publishing, I considered fellow artists. Aren’t all painters self-published? They paint their pieces in solitude and then find a way to distribute them. How about musicians? Members of a band write and play together and through the wonders of modern technology, they can record right out of their garages. At that point, they just need a means of distribution. And when it comes to writing, aren’t you right this very moment reading a piece that was self-published? WordPress is simply our choice for distribution. Any and all artists create in solitude and then need a way to distribute their work. Ten years ago, this was difficult. Today, it’s easy.
What all artists need is a means of distribution.
Dirty secret of publishing: If you’re not already a well-known name, you have to do most of your marketing anyhow.
Another dirty secret of publishing: Most books don’t sell. Most records end up in the ninety-nine-cent bin (remember those?). Most paintings remain in the care of the painter.
NONE of this is the fault of publishers. It’s just the way the business works. Is it a dinosaur? Maybe.
At any rate, I DO have outlets with traditional publishers as I’ve had my work featured in Skeptical Inquirer, Skeptic magazine, Free Inquiry and American Atheist magazine. But when it came to my novels, I chose to self-publish for the reasons listed above. And I’ve been happy with it to date.
And now, to point #3: At least paying attention to those who are not like you so you can learn something different even if you don’t agree with it and, it also gives you the opportunity to change your mind if the facts warrant it.
I keep my ear to the book market on all fronts, self-publishing outlets and traditional publishers. I look at what’s moving and why. I pick up traditionally published books in bookstores and read the first few pages to see what hooked them. I read the first few pages of the top twenty self-published work featured online to see why that’s hot too. Note: Check out the Amazon top twenty in the Alien/First Contact and Alien/Invasion categories (which is where Amazon categorized CHASING DISCLOSURE). Almost all self-published. So I’m in good company.
All of this is to demonstrate the three points I listed above. I didn’t try by force to get anyone to help me. I didn’t try to muscle my way in by demanding a traditional publisher pick me up. I didn’t try to pass any laws. And I didn’t spend four years of my life, racking up about forty-thousand-dollars in debt to get a degree in writing and literature to do it. Oh please don’t think you’re going to be a better writer by taking that route. You may get some leads on distribution. But you’re not going to be a better writer.
So its things like this I’d like to spend more time on here at Freedom Cocktail. How can we apply this to something like Healthcare? How about farming? How about opening a business? Maybe my friend and partner here at Freedom Cocktail, Alan J. Sanders, can pen such a piece since he owns his own. Instead of concentrating on trying to get government or someone else to give us what we want, what can we do to make it happen for ourselves?
Places like Smashwords and CreateSpace along with blogging sites like WordPress have opened up the doors for everyone to become an author. YouTube has made many musical careers, and short film too. Email killed the US Postal letter and has been nearly replaced by Facebook, Twitter and social media for non-business communications. What killer idea is about to spawn that will do the same to change the market and replace…(name your most important government program)?