Books

The New Book

Yes, I missed my deadline.

Originally, my latest novel was supposed to come out by Inauguration Day.

Well, that didn’t quite happen, due to formatting issues, real life getting in the way, and precious writing time eaten up ranting about the shit show that has become the Trump Administration.

However, I’m pleased to announce that my newest magnum opus is finally available.

 

Part reflection of our times, part freewheeling weirdness, and part inevitable novel from a guy who loves horror movies — it’s Zombie President.

 

What’s it about?

Here’s the back cover copy:

 

A defeated presidential candidate comes back from the dead to take the White House by force — and to win the country’s heart in the process.

Samuel Tilden never won the presidency when he was alive, but now that he’s a rampaging ghoul, the American people are enthralled with the power and tenacity of his undead army. Fawning media coverage ensures that the zombies’ bloody march to Washington D.C. goes unchecked. Meanwhile, an ambitious television reporter, a small-town sheriff, and scientist with a dark secret join forces with a trio of backbiting teenagers to fight for their country.

Zombie President is a black comedy about the twisted conflux of politics, journalism, and American culture… and getting the kind of leaders that we deserve.

 

As you can tell, it would have been perfect to release the book on Inauguration Day.

But two months later… well, it’s still pretty ideal.

So if you like my posts, or like metaphorically heavy horror-comedies, or just like stories where the undead devour the brains of the living, pick up a copy of Zombie President today.

Then head over to Amazon and tell everybody what you think of it.

Thanks.


Listen Up

So I had my first author reading, and I think it went well.

I read excerpts from my novel Barrio Imbroglio, which as you know, is burning up the best-seller lists in 148 nations and causing rioting in the streets of cities whose bookstores have run out of copies.

And just in case you didn’t know that, you can always get it on Amazon.

In any case, everyone who showed up at the reading seemed to have a good time, and my only negative feedback was “Next time, speak slower.”

Yes, as a Latino, I speak rapidly. So that’s something to build on for my next author event, which is in the planning stages. I’ll keep all of you posted on that.

The only odd moment of my first reading was when my hosts wheeled out a cake that had been decorated with the book cover and my author photo (because, hey, why not?). A few people seemed overly enthusiastic to handle the knife and slice into the image of me. And several clamored for the right to devour the eyes.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into that.

Regardless, here is a shot of the piece that displayed my eyeball in frosting.

eyeball cake

 

Yes, I may have the cover of my next novel here.


Zombie President

So I’m trying something different for my next novel. Instead of releasing the whole book months from now, I will serialize the story online as I write it. Each week I will post a new chapter, for you to read for free. If you like the story, spread the news to your friends, and maybe buy a copy of the book when it’s done. The chapters will all be short and easy to read online.

The novel is called Zombie President, and it’s about a defeated presidential candidate who comes back from the dead to take the White House by force and to win the country’s heart. Yes, it’s a bit crazy, but ultimately, the book is a black comedy about getting the kind of leaders that we deserve (especially relevant this year).

 

zombie_president_full_web

You can read the first chapter here, with new chapters coming every week:

Let me point out that my approach to this novel is positively Dickensian (he serialized his novels in newspapers). And that’s good enough for me.

By the way, here is a sample line from Zombie President:

“You know, I really hated my parents. But seeing my dad’s head get eaten by a zombie is a bit extreme.”

So whether you’re intrigued or repulsed, check it out. Thanks.

 


Gutenberg Rocks

So at long last, I can announce that my novel, Barrio Imbroglio, is available in old-fashioned, hold-it-in-your-hands, flip-the-pages glorious paperback.

onemroe

The book is a dark-comedy mystery about a reluctant detective named Abraxas Hernandez. It’s been available as an e-book for while (in places like here and here).

But now you can snag a copy in paperback form (just click here).

 

Having the novel exist as a physical book means that, should you run into me on the street, you can thrust the novel into my hands and demand that I autograph it, including the phrase, “To my biggest fan and greatest influence.”

Yes, you can’t do that on a Kindle.

 


Toward Complete World Domination

My new novel has been out for about three months now, and it continues to provoke people to run shouting though the streets about its greatness.

Walk on a roof edge

OK, maybe that isn’t happening everywhere, but I assure you that I exaggerate only very slightly.

In any case, I must inform you that my novel, Barrio Imbroglio, is now available on Smashwords (you can snag a copy here). Also, the book will soon appear on Barnes & Noble’s site, as well as iTunes.

So clearly, you are out of excuses not to buy it. And don’t forget to join my email list so that I can let you know when the inevitable sequel comes out.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the book.


A Big Old Tangent

For the homophobic, Confederate-flag-waving guy who hates Obamacare, it’s been a tough week.

Im-with-stupid-confederate-flag

I’ll have more to say about these whiplash changes that are gripping America, and I’ll try my best to avoid gloating.

But that’s in the future. For right now, let me indulge in a little self-promotion.

First, there is my initial interview as a novelist. I’ve been interviewed before for my blogging and article writing, but this was the first one where I got to say the phrase “my book.” Anyway, here it is:

Second, there is the interview I did for my old friends at Being Latino. It too was about my novel Barrio Imbroglio. You can find that here:

And lastly, there is the interview I did for the Kindle Chronicles. This one is a podcast, so you can hear my voice and everything. Crazy! That one is here:

I’ll be talking more about my book soon. But in the meantime, I’ll be busy sending out rsvps to all the gay weddings I’ve been invited to.

It’s gonna be a fun time.


Another Option

It was not my intention to create a trilogy about the Latino publishing scene, but that is what has happened. My previous two articles were about big publishing’s snub of Hispanic authors and the rise of small presses. And now I will complete the triumvirate by detailing the virtues and flaws of self-publishing e-books.

But for this analysis, I needed an insider’s perspective. So I sat down for coffee with Pedro Huerta, Amazon’s Director of Kindle Content for Latin America.

[Full disclosure #1: I have recently self-published a novel on Amazon.]

[Full disclosure #2: I don’t drink coffee. I actually had tea.]

Huerta is excited about Amazon’s second annual Indie Literary Prize for Spanish-language authors. The contest, which runs from July 1 to August 31, is open to any writers who upload their Spanish-language e-books to Amazon’s KDP platform. From the presumably hundreds of entries, five finalists will be named. The winner will be published in print by La Esfera de los Libros, and his/her book will be translated into English and published in digital, print, and audio formats by AmazonCrossing.

“Authors can submit a 10-page poem or a 500-page novel,” says Huerta. “We’re open to all genres, and it’s a great opportunity for new writers to get discovered.”

Of course, it’s fair to ask if winning the contest will really help Spanish-language authors further their careers. After all, self-publishing is a crowded, frenzied mob scene where high-quality books struggle to stand out from the waves of semi-illiterate, self-righteous and just plain insane manifestos that wannabe authors hurl at readers.

No, it’s not pretty.

Mosh-Pit-70-Percent.001-001

Now add in the fact that we’re talking about Spanish-language e-books, which have an even smaller audience in America than English-language printed works do.

However, Huerta is undeterred. He says that self-publishing is the democratization of literature, where even the most outlandish writers can find an eager audience. And he says that if anything, this approach is more relevant for people who prefer to read in Spanish.

“Even in the best bookstores in America, the Spanish-language section is limited,” Huerta says. “What we’re doing is bringing the greatest bookstores in Mexico City, in Barcelona, to everyone in America.”

But will Americans be buying? Well, as we all know, the Hispanic population in America is increasing. And bilingualism, once an exotic and politically suspicious activity, is on the rise as well. Thus, it stands to reason that the audience for Spanish-language books is also getting larger.

Furthermore, Latinos are more likely to use mobile electronic devices than the general population. Because Hispanics are so plugged in, it’s pretty easy to imagine Latino readers devouring e-books on their Kindles, Nooks, and laptops.

Amazon is aware of these intersecting cultural trends, and the company doesn’t want to be left behind.

“Latinos love to read,” Huerta says. “And we want them to read. Whether it is a traditional book or on a Kindle, we want reading to be a daily part of everyone’s life.”

So will winning Amazon’s contest set a Spanish-language author on the path to becoming a household name, a sort of Latino version of Dan Brown or Stephen King? Huerta says that’s a possibility, but he adds that this is not really the point.

“There are Latino authors who want to be the next John Grisham, and that’s great,” Huerta says. “But the goal is increased visibility for all good writers. It’s not just about winning the contest. It’s about encouraging authors to get their work out there, and helping readers discover them.”

Huerta imagines a future where authors take wild, experimental chances because no one can prevent them from publishing online. He says that many writers will create books that are aimed at an audience of a few hundred, or even just at their immediate loved ones. And he points out that another advantage of e-books is that they never go out of print.

“What are the stories to be told?” Huerta asks. “Let’s capture all of them, online, and keep them forever.”


More to the Story

Recently, I wrote about the dismal publishing scene for Latino authors. Well, I was remiss in at least one aspect. I implied that Hispanic writers are limited only to pitching the big New York publishing houses or jumping into the self-publishing quagmire. There is another option.

 

Namely, it is the world of small presses. Now, in the past, the phrase “small press” invoked images of ink-stained loners cranking out bizarre manifestos. Well, you’ll be glad to know those guys have moved on to troll internet comment pages across the web.

troller

The small presses that exist today are often professionally run, highly principled organizations that focus on marginalized or experimental writers. And when it comes to Latino authors, we may be entering a golden age.

I’m talking about presses like Arte Publico, Floricanto, and Editorial Trance, all of which have been doing great work for years. And there is also Aignos Publishing, co-founded by Jonathan Marcantoni and Zachary Oliver.

 

Marcantoni says that Aignos, and other small presses that have a similar focus, look for writers who push boundaries and challenge readers to question their worldviews. Authors who embrace their distinct cultures — something Latino writers are well-known for doing — may find a home at Aignos or a similar small press.

“A small press gives authors the legitimacy of being affiliated with a company, one that is taken seriously by media and festivals and awards, in a way writers never get as self-published authors,” Marcantoni says. “Well-established small presses have marketing plans and publicists, plus the distribution channels are on par with what large presses use.”

Indeed, I can speak to this issue, as my own self-published novel, Barrio Imbroglio, is selling somewhere between hot cakes and lukewarm waffles.

It would certainly help to have an established marketing team behind me (my current marketing team consists of me and my cats).

Marcantoni says that when it comes to small presses, “the Latino author gets the best of both worlds: world-class distribution, a company backing their efforts, and creative freedom.”

That combo often leads to great books. For example, Aignos recently published Nuno, by Carlos Aleman. The novel is a lyrical love story set in pre-Castro Cuba and the aftermath of the revolution. Marcantoni says that Nuno doesn’t fit into mainstream expectations of Latino literature. As such, it lines up with Aignos’ mission of pushing writers to develop their views and skills instead of pressuring them to make the bestseller lists.

“No one should be a writer to be famous,” Marcantoni says. “It should come from a desire to express yourself and touch the lives of others.

So will we see more Hispanic authors telling their unique stories via small presses, touching the lives of more and more readers? Well, there’s ample reason to be optimistic about such a future.

“The Latino community can stand out as one of artists seeking to raise the bar of what storytelling can be,” Marcantoni says. “And there are publishers out there who will support you.”


Maybe He Had It Coming

So if I haven’t mentioned it lately, I’ve published a mystery novel featuring a Latino detective.

Although there are plenty of book series with Hispanic sleuths, none of them have really broken through to the mainstream (so you gotta love my odds of being the first).

In any case, I read a lot of mystery novels, the better to study and learn about the genre.

detective-150

Recently, I was reading a bestseller from a few years ago, by an author I don’t want to mention, because I might, you know, need a blurb someday. The detective in the book is white, of course, and oh so very angsty and tortured.

About halfway through the novel, the detective is doing something shady and illegal, but as is often the case with flawed anti-heroes, it is in the service of uncovering a sinister truth, so as readers, we let it slide.

However, in the process of committing this ethically dubious act, the hero is stopped by a Latino (the first one to appear in the book). So what happens?

Well, our main character insults and threatens the Hispanic guy, demanding that he get the hell out of the way. Then threats are made to call immigration and get him deported. When this fails to dissuade the Latino character — who, it is important to remember, is actually trying to do the right, legal thing — the hero pistol-whips him.

I’m not kidding. The sole Hispanic in the book… trying to be good and pure… gets degraded and physically assaulted by the white hero.

It’s not hard to read the subtext in this one.

I’ll also mention that in the next chapter, the hero narrates how that illegal action saved the life of a pretty white girl and how this proves the detective isn’t such a bad person after all.

No mention of the Latino who got his meddling ass pistol-whipped.

 


  • Barrio Imbroglio (An Abraxas Hernandez Mystery Book 1)
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