My Debut Month Recap-A Whole Mess of Gratitude

Mock Up Three

Once upon a time, there was a crazy kid with a crazy dream. A dream to write a book about a one-liner quipping, fast-car-driving, katana-wielding, cowboy-hat-wearing, rockabilly vampire hunter. If that isn’t a crazy dream, I don’t know what is.

And then that crazy kid, he went and wrote that book.

And then he had another crazy dream. He dreamed that someday somebody other than his two best friends might read it.

He thought for a while about traditional publishing. He made some inquiries. It went like this:

Author: I have this book…

Publisher: Does it have an orphaned child wizard?

Author: No, but it…

Publisher: Is there a female teenage protagonist, forced to fight to the death for entertainment in a future dystopia?

Author: Not exactly.

Publisher: Are there dragons?

Author: No. But there are vampires.

Publisher: Okay, now we’re talking! Are they broody, sparkly, harmless good vampires that romance teenage girls?

Author: No. They just kill people.

Publisher: Get the hell out of my office.

Okay, my lawyer wants me to mention that this conversation only took place in my imagination, but it was extremely vivid.

So, after that, the crazy kid looked into online self-publishing, the craziest dream of all.

So, he found a crazy little website called Reedsy.com where he found an editor and a cover designer, and spent a kind of a crazy frightening amount of money getting this crazy manuscript polished up. Then he spent more crazy amounts of money on formatting and advertising, and he released his crazy rockabilly vampire hunter novel out into the world.

And to his utter shock and amazement, it didn’t do half bad.

Plot twist. I’m that crazy writer. The Devil’s Mouth has been out on the Kindle store for a little more than a month. I’ve sold significantly more copies than I have sympathetic friends and relatives, and I’m actually getting mostly good reviews. People seem to enjoy the book, and it’s the most rewarding, encouraging, validating thing I can possibly imagine.

I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

rawI would like to extend a big giant heartfelt thank you to everyone involved.

First and foremost, my readers. I know that buying a book on the kindle store from an unknown author is a risk, to say the least. So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking a chance on me. I cannot thank you enough. I am so completely serious that I am literally tearing up as I write this. And a double thank you for those of you who went to the trouble to leave a review. Self published authors live and die by those reviews, so I cannot express my gratitude enough. Even those of you who left meh reviews, I truly appreciate the feedback, and again, I appreciate you taking the chance on me. Except that one guy who left a one-star review. You obviously didn’t even read the book, and you can eat a bag of dicks.

Thank you to the reviewers who also took a chance on my book. Invested Ivana, Patrick Dorn, Derek Edgington, Barb Taub, Jess Haines, Bob Williams, and anyone else who I forgot, or whose review escaped my notice. Those early, positive reviews from professional readers and writers who had no vested interest in sparing my feelings meant more to me than you’ll ever know. Thanks.

Thank yous go next to my friends and family, you know who you are. All those of you who read my early drafts and gave me feedback, or listened to me as I talked out some plot issue or another, or just refrained from rolling your eyes when I mentioned the book I was writing, thank you. Thank you. You guys, you are the wind beneath my wings.

Next up, thank you to the professionals who helped me make the book everything it could be.

J. Caleb Design, you saw my vision, and you brought it to life. Thanks for putting up with my nit picking, and thank you for that awesome cover. Everyone loves it. Except that guy that left the one star review, but fuck him.

Angela Brown, thank you for cleaning up my atrocious grammar, hammering the dents out of my story, and bringing my manuscript up to a professional standard. I’m sure it was a Augean task, but you got it done with style. I’m afraid I added in a few more typos after you got done with it, but I want everyone to know that those were all my fault, so blame me, and not this wonderful editor.

Polgarus Studios, You guys just rock. Thank you for making my book look like a book. If anyone reading this is considering self publishing, talk to these guys. They’ll format your ebook better and faster than you could do it yourself. It’s a bargain. It’s worth it. Believe me.

Reedsy.com Thank you for your website, which allowed me to browse dozens and dozens of vetted industry professionals, and receive quotes from those same professionals. Without you guys I’d still be browsing fiverr and craigslist for an editor. There’s no getting around the fact that real professionals cost real money, but reedsy.com absolutely made the whole process easier and far less risky for both parties.

Again, thank you everyone. I’m aglow. This is the beginning of an amazing adventure.

-Matt Kincade

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I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging. Would a free book make up for it?

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I am a creature of habit. When those habits get disrupted, things go off course very quickly. I stop blogging for a few days and it’s all over. And don’t even talk to me about Duolingo.

So, yes, I’ve been neglecting my blog, and I’m sorry. In my defense, I’ve been busy trying to push my novel on anybody who can read English.

Would a free book make up for it? Because The Devil’s Mouth is free all this weekend. But if you like it, you have to send me cookies.

Download The Devil’s Mouth for free through 6/19/2016

The Adventures of Matt Kincade, Child Pirate Werewolf Hunter

As you probably know, I recently published a book on the kindle store about a vampire hunter. What you probably didn’t know is that it’s autobiographical. Well, semi-autobiographical. Well, maybe not autobiographical exactly. But inspired by real life events. Sort of. I mean, did I have a handgun or a katana? No. But, being in the fourth grade, I really wanted one. Did I slay supernatural creatures of the night? No. Well… sort of. But young Matt Kincade’s prey wasn’t a vampire.

It was a werewolf.

It all started on a warm Saturday in late October, the day of the elementary school Halloween carnival. On that day, every year, the blacktop playground of the school was transformed into a carnival midway, littered with pumpkins and hay bales and scarecrows, orange and black crepe-paper bunting, rows of games and attractions, food and drinks and entertainment.

What I mostly remember about the Halloween carnival was being hot. As the days got shorter and the nights crew crisp and cool, as the trees turned to orange and yellow and the scent of woods-stove smoke drifted in the air, naturally thoughts would turn to wintertime, to sweaters and hot chocolate. And then, every damned year, there’d be a last minute heatwave in late October, and the halloween carnival would be a bunch of little kids crammed into elaborate, semi-functional, sweat-soaked costumes, wandering around on heat-shimmering asphalt and bordering on heatstroke.

Aside from that, the carnival was actually a lot of fun. After buying a fistful of tickets, kids could wander around and play games of skill to win prizes, knocking over milk bottle pyramids with baseballs, throwing darts at balloons, or lobbing ping-pong balls into mason jars in order to win short-lived goldfish in plastic bags, goldfish that the children would then bring to their unenthusiastic parents. There’s a whole other story behind my goldfish acquisition, and I’ll get to that some other time. But the prizes are important here.

See, little fourth-grader me, dressed up like a pirate, was wandering around with a bag of loot. Pirate loot. It was just a plastic bag filled with all the stupid little crap I’d won playing the carnival games. Hard candy. A rubber snake. One of those little plastic whistles shaped like a bird that you fill with water. A few novelty pencil erasers. The kind of junk you order from Oriental Trading Company when you need prizes for an elementary school carnival. But a significant amount of stuff. Hard and heavy, you might say. This factors in later.

So anyway, the main event of the Halloween Carnival was the haunted house. The rest of the year, it was the school library. But, thanks to the efforts of an army of volunteers and a few hundred yards of black plastic sheet, every year it was transformed into a labyrinth of macabre horror, just scary enough to terrify a young, sensitive child like myself. But this year, I decided, I was going to be a man. I was going to go through the haunted house. By myself. No parents holding my hand. So I paid my fistful of tickets and went inside.

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Sweet jiminy-crapballs, a werewolf.

Spooky music. Rattling chains. The screams of the damned. It was all there as our tour guide, dressed as a green-skinned witch with a hooked nose, beckoned us with one finger into her chamber of horrors. I and the rest of my tour group (a bunch of other terrified elementary school kids) huddled close as we shuffled around the corner.

Oh no! There was a mad scientist! Eyeballs in jars! A serial killer! Guts made out of spaghetti! Horror piled upon horror!

In retrospect, this was an amateur production, but as a nine year old it seemed pretty real and it absolutely scared the piss out of me.

Which is why I plead self-defense.

Following behind my tour group, we rounded one more corner. And the lights went out. In the utter darkness for a span of heartbeats, my imagination ran wild.

Then the strobe light kicked on. And there, advancing in slow-motion through the smoke-machine fog, was a god-damned fucking werewolf.

Flash. There he was. Flash. Closer now. Flash. Bloody red fangs. Flash. Claws outstretched. Flash. Even closer. Flash. Reaching for me.

My survival instincts kicked in.

Honestly, even today I’m pretty proud of my reaction. You know those crisis moments where your body just takes over, and you do things without conscious thought? It’s like your brain just shoves you out of the driver’s seat and gets it done. Like, for example, when a boat falls off of a trailer on the freeway in front of you. (Again, a story for another time.)

So. As this terrible, slavering werewolf advanced, illuminated by strobe-light bursts, I sprang into action.

The bag of candy in my hand. The heavy bag full of plastic toys and hard candy. I swung it.

But oh, I didn’t just swing it. I swung it. I swung the bag forward, upwards in a circle, then pulled it sideways over my head, building up a terrific head of steam, yanking it around  in a hard, flat arc, all in the stuttering slow motion of the strobe light.

Right into the side of that werewolf’s face.

It was a sublime hit. I couldn’t possibly have done it better. Through the handle of the plastic bag, I felt it connect. I heard the hard, solid Thwok as plastic struck werewolf flesh. Stunned, the werewolf stumbled sideways a few steps. It shook its head.

Then the creature spoke to me: “You little shit!”

The werewolf tore off his mask, revealing a very angry high-school drama student with a red mark on his cheek.

High-schoolers were scarier than werewolves.

He grabbed my by the arm and dragged me away, down into the bowels of the haunted house. Which, oddly enough, looked like the periodicals section of the school library. He hauled me in front of the grown-up in charge and said, “This little asshole hit me in the face with a bag of candy!”

“What did you do that for?” asked the grownup.

“I was scared,” I answered.

I think I saw her suppress a smile. “What’s your name?”

I made up a name. Ralphie or something.

“Are your parents here?”

“No,” I said. In reality, my mom worked for the school and was volunteering in another section of the carnival.

“How did you get here?” she asked. I said I’d walked, which was plausible in this particular tiny foothill town. She asked me where I lived, and I lied an address.

Finally, realizing she had nothing on me, my interrogator said, “Okay, get out of here. You’re banned from the haunted house.” Fine by me, lady. I scuttled away, into the light and the late October heat.

Did that encounter whet my appetite for supernatural justice, planting the seeds that would lead me, years later, to write a story about a cowboy vampire hunter? yeah… probably not. But it’s good to know that if I’m ever attacked by a werewolf, and I happen to have a bag of candy in my hand, I know exactly what to do.

 

 

So Idris Elba is The Gunslinger

Warning: Those of you who have never read or heard of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, in any of its several forms, will likely have no idea what I’m talking about.

gunslingerSo Idris Elba is the Gunslinger. It’s official. The cameras are rolling. After years and years of false starts, rejected scripts, departing directors, and Hollywood production hell, it’s happening. I’m…cautiously optimistic. Hollywood has broken my heart too many times for me to work up anything approaching outright enthusiasm, but I’m hopeful. But it took me a little while to come around to that. Let me explain.

I have to admit, Idris Elba, at first glance, is an odd choice. Let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat, shall we? Idris Elba is an excellent actor. He’s a bad-ass. I have no doubt he can carry the role of Roland of Gilead, and truly make it come alive. The thought of him spouting some of Roland’s lines in his low, gravelly voice gives me shivers.

But he’s black, and Roland is white. Let me say right upfront, that doesn’t matter. Does it? I don’t think so, but it took me a couple of weeks to make up my mind. Let’s discuss.

There are some movies where the casting is almost supernaturally good. The Lord of the Rings, for example. It felt like the casting director just peeled my brain open and scooped the characters out onto the screen. It was eerily perfect. Not so Idris Elba. In fact, Elba is jarringly different than what Roland of Gilead looks like in my brain. That’s a fact, for me, and for millions of Dark Tower fans. It’s disingenuous and deeply unfair to call Dark Tower fans racist if they’re having a problem with it. After thirty years of the main character of the series looking one way, in the novel’s descriptions, in Michael Whelan’s wonderful cover art and illustrations, in the dozens of graphic novels, now, without warning, Roland is someone completely different. There is nothing wrong with anybody having a knee-jerk reaction to that.

What if they remade Blade with a white guy? What if they remade Kill Bill with a man? What if they remade Ghostbusters with a bunch of women…oh, wait. Ugh, nevermind.

Destruction_of_Despayre-TEABut anyway, it gets to the heart of the question, how much ownership do fans have over the fantasy worlds they love? We’ve seen, most of all with Star Wars, that owners of an intellectual property are free to make sweeping, unilateral changes to their respective universes, and the fans don’t have a say. I mean, thirty years worth of Star Wars extended universe canon was obliterated with the stroke of a pen. Millions of voices crying out in agony, and then silenced…  And I understand why they did it, I do. But it’s a blow when you have such emotional investment in something, and then someone comes and nukes it. It’s rather like renting a home. You get comfortable there, you think you have some say over what happens to it, then one day you find out that you really don’t at all. It can sting.

But it’s not just that, there are story issues as well. Perhaps the most obvious issue with Elba’s casting is that it indicates significant plot revisions. Detta Walker, The racist, wheelchair-bound black woman who features prominently in most of the books, just ain’t going to work if Roland is also black.

But the more I think about it,  the more I realize that the Detta you see in the books would never make it to the big screen anyway. Let’s be real. A crazy, violent, racist black woman, spouting vile epithets while she tries to kill the protagonist by virtue of his skin color? This was a character created by Stephen King 30 years ago, likely at the height of his substance abuse problems. The world has come a long way since then. I don’t care who is playing the Gunslinger, if you think the original Detta Walker would make it into a major motion picture in 2016, you’re crazy. You’d likely be hard-pressed to find a self-respecting black woman who’d even agree to play the part.

the-dark-tower-coverDetta’s character is an ugly, hurtful stereotype that needs to die. I mean, let’s play the switcheroo game here for a second. What if (due to the casting of Idris Elba as Roland) they made Detta Walker into an ignorant white-trash wheelchair bound racist with Aryan Nation tattoos, screaming “n*gger” at Roland? Her character, of course, still wouldn’t fly. Mark my words: No matter who plays Roland, that entire subplot and character arc is going to be severely revised or axed altogether. And that’s not a bad thing. So, get used to it. And if Detta’s character doesn’t have that particular arc, then Roland’s race truly doesn’t matter to the story. Gilead seems to be a pretty progressive place, after all.

So, the only thing left to worry about is whether the movie is going to suck. Like I said earlier, I’ve been burned too many times to get my hopes up. But I think I can safely say that if this movie does suck, it’s not going to be because of Idris Elba, and certainly not because of the color of his skin.

 

 

The Joy of Being Done

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” -Leonardo da Vinci

Those of you who’ve been following my blog, or those of you who got here by following the link in my ebook, will know that I’ve recently published a book that I’ve been working on for quite a while. It’s called The Devil’s Mouthand it’s on the the Kindle store.

Having begun this post with a quote about art, I have to stipulate that I think it’s a stretch to call a book about a katana-wielding rockabilly cowboy vampire hunter “art.” But the sentiment still applies. Is anybody ever really finished with anything creative? Or do you just get sick of it, or run out of time? If Leonardo da Vinci were here today and he took a look at the Mona Lisa, he’d probably have to go get his paint brushes and touch up her eyebrows or something. Fun fact, da Vinci worked on the Mona Lisa for over ten years. Because it’s never perfect. And if (like me) you’re working on your own schedule, the only deadlines you have are the ones you impose on yourself. So it’s almost impossible to draw a line and say that something is done. But eventually you have to.

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It started with a few doodles…

And damn does it feel good when you finally do.

It’s been a long road. From a rough outline, a crazy idea and a few scribbles in a notebook, to a finished, polished final product, something I can look at and say, “I did that.”

After reams of paper, printer cartridges, notebooks, pens, drafts and drafts and drafts, revisions, proofreading, beta reads, feedback, revisions. . . it’s done. It’s done.

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…and now it’s a by-God actual book. How crazy is that?

While it’s incredibly validating to see the finished product, to hold your book in your hand and see people enjoying it, a large part of the satisfaction is just having the damned thing finished. To know that the product has shipped. The bird has flown. I can’t change it now it I wanted to, thank God. Even though I can’t read a sentence of it without wanting to shuffle words around, I can’t anymore. It’s out of my hands. It’s done.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the process, or I wouldn’t be doing it. I love creating. I love watching these characters developing, seemingly of their own accord, the plot twists that surprise even me. I love the lightbulb moment while I’m washing dishes or taking a shower. I love getting dialed into an editing trance and realizing that it got dark while I wasn’t paying attention.

For me, there’s always a part of my brain chewing on stories. I’ve probably got five or six going now. They come and go as they please, plot elements bouncing around in my head like bingo balls, searching for the right configuration, waiting for the tumblers to line up. They were there even before I started writing. Hell, that’s probably why I started writing. Because the only way to get rid of them is to write them down and finish them.

Still, The Devil’s Mouth has taken up the majority of my imagination RAM for quite a while. There’s a peculiar feeling of lostness, like my brain doesn’t quite know what to do now. My imagination is like that old guy in The Shawshank Redemption who got out of prison and didn’t know what the hell to do with himself.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. But it’s a strange feeling all the same. It’s done.

Welp, time to get to work on the next one.

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Another Great Review!

Check out this great review from author Patrick Dorn!

Matt Kincade’s breakout novel doesn’t just kick butt in the action scenes—all writers in this genre had better know their way around describing exciting murder and mayhem—the story goes DEEP and BROAD in creating a believable world where society’s outcasts and outlaws have formed a community to defend the world from equally established criminal organizations of fanged, undead predators.

I’ve gotta say, after living for quite some time with this bizarre fantasy world churning around in my brain, it feels pretty darned good to get it out in the world and have normal people not think that I’m completely insane. Thanks for the great review, Patrick! Check out out Patrick’s website, and of course pick up a copy of The Devil’s Mouth!

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The Devil’s Mouth by Matt Kincade

Thank you Invested Ivana for this wonderful review of THE DEVIL’S MOUTH!

One Book Two

Cowboy hat, Hawaiian shirt, Japanese katana, 50s’s music and Americana. They all combine to make one kick-ass vampire hunter!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00021]Title:  The Devil’s Mouth
Author:  Matt Kincade
Series: Alex Rains Vampire Hunter Book 01
Publish Date:  May 17th, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionThe only things Alex Rains cares about are rock ’n’ roll, classic cars, and killing vampires—that is, until he meets Carmen, a tough-as-nails cop who’s hot on the trail of her missing little sister.

When the two join forces, they leave a trail of corpses across the desert as they race against the clock, hunting an ancient evil that’s preyed on the migrants of the American…

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