The Blurbs-Blurbs For Books That Don’t (and Shouldn’t) Exist

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Writing a book description is nerve-wracking. You’ve only got three or four sentences to convince someone to read your book. First, it needs a hook. Then it needs to be an accurate description, but not give too much away. It has to go into detail, but still leave something to the imagination. It has to introduce the reader to the characters and the world and the story, but still not be too long. And the punctuation? You can get away with a missed quotation mark on page two hundred of your self-published work, but on the blurb? That’s gotta be perfect. Stressful.

So, like always, my brain responds to stressful situations with humor.

Me: Okay brain, we’ve got to get serious here and figure this out.

Brain: Haha what if the book was about like a zombie apocalypse but with ducks. A duckpocalypse.

Me: Shut up, brain. That’s a terrible idea.

Brain: No, but seriously. Duckpocalypse.

And so without further comment, a few blurbs I thought of while trying to think of a blurb.

***

One man. One canoe. One creek…of shit.

And no paddles.

1845. William Fudge was a warrior. A poet. A gentleman. A family man. Until the tragic accident that changed everything. Now, a broken loner, he accepts a job that only he is qualified for. To journey, alone, up the wild and dangerous Shit River, into Deep Shit territory, all the way to Shit Creek. His mission is to map the Deep Shit territory for the fledgling United States Government, to find the source of the Shit River, and the mythical city of Porcelaina.

It was all going great until he lost his paddles. Now William Fudge is up to his neck in shit, fighting against the current, and trying to figure all this shit out.

Book one of the Up Shit Creek series, Up Shit Creek: Without a Paddle.

Available wherever shit is sold.

***

He’s a badass vampire hunter. A lover. A fighter. He’s also a talking golden retriever.

She’s just a cute, quirky girl, living life to the fullest, trying to learn how to love again while she tries to make her artisanal cupcake shop a success.

After a series of dog-gone implausible events brings them together, they team up to hunt for the vampires that took his puppies and gave her cupcake shop a terrible Yelp review. Together, they’re going to teach those vampires that their bite…is worse than their bark.

Woof at the Devil is available on the Kindle store, and soon to be a major motion picture starring Jennifer Anniston and Rob Scheider.

***

London, 1585.

Up-and-coming playwright William Shakespeare has just written a work that will live on in history. But when rival playwright Richard Greene steals the only copy of Richard III, Shakespeare pulls out all the stops to get his play back…and get his payback.

The race is on as Richard begins production with his stolen play, and Shakespeare fights his way through London’s literary scene with his rapier wit, and also an actual rapier. Even though it’s the renaissance, the Bard is about to get medieval.

Together with a ragtag gang of misfit actors, William Shakespeare is about to prove that the pen is mightier than the sword. Except he still has a sword, because a pen is only mightier in a figurative sense, and he’s going to murder all of his enemies in an extremely literal sense, in which case a sword is still far mightier than a pen.

Coming this summer: Bard Hard.

***

Melanie Strudel is just a normal girl, except for one extraordinary power: She can understand the language of birds.

She can’t talk to them, but she can understand them.

This superpower doesn’t change her life in any meaningful way, because birds don’t say anything worth listening to. As it turns out, they mostly just complain about the weather, talk shit about each other, and discuss the things they ate.

Melanie goes on living a perfectly normal life, except that birds annoy the crap out of her, because they’re a bunch of boring, loudmouthed, gossipy little shits.

Pick up The Language of Birds, wherever boring, uneventful books are sold.

***

#URDEAD

Until she found that hashtag, Rebecca Doodler was just another social media queen, instagramming duckface selfies and food pics to her hundreds of thousands of followers, spitting out pithy 140 character witticisms, basking in her odd quasi-fame.

But then the message showed up. “retweet this in thirty seconds or you will die in one week. #URDEAD”

She thought it was just a joke. Until her followers started dropping like MySpace users.

Now, Rebecca has to use every ounce of her social media prowess, racing from the fetid swamps of facebook to the ghettos of instagram, to the ghost city of MySpace, fighting against time as she tracks down the source of the mysterious hashtag. If she doesn’t figure this out soon, she won’t have any followers left. And then who’ll like her bikini selfies?

Coming when you least expect it: #DeathByTwitter.

 

The Perks of Being a Bookworm

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I was generally a pretty good kid. Generally. Mostly, because almost every time I’d try doing something bad, the universe would rain down massive, fiery karmic retaliation upon me. In other words, I’d get caught. But one time I got away with it, because I was a giant nerd.

For the most part, I just read a lot. Hard to get in much trouble when you’ve got your head buried in a book. Lunches, recesses, classtimes, on the bus, I’d be reading. I’d sit in the back of class, pretending to be paying attention or doing schoolwork, all the while with a book on my lap. Most of my teachers, bless their hearts, pretended like they didn’t notice. I thought I was pretty sneaky at the time, but in retrospect I think they were just glad somebody was reading. So, I had a well-deserved reputation as something of a bookworm.

But every once in a while, I’d get a crazy idea in my head. I’d sow my oats. I’d really cut loose and do something wild.

Like flipping the bird to a road construction worker.

Party animal, right? Of course, this was in the second grade, when living dangerously meant sneaking your vegetables off your plate and feeding them to the dog.

But anyway, I was riding the school bus home, one fine day, and we passed by a group of county workers in reflective vests and hard hats, doing some road maintenance. My friend (whose name I forget, but let’s call him John) and I thought, for second-grader reasons, that it would be the coolest thing in the world if we flipped off these grown-ass men who were out doing their jobs. But, criminal masterminds that we were, we would hide our faces by crouching down below the level of the bus window, and hold our hands above our heads, middle fingers raised, like some kind of obscene puppeteers.

And so we did. The bus approached the road construction. We scrunched down in our seats and raised our little hands aloft, flipping the unicorn at these poor unsuspecting schlubs who were just out doing their jobs, who hadn’t done anything to warrant being disrespected by two nerdy eight year olds at three fifteen on a Tuesday afternoon.

We waved our digitorum impudens around, giggling all the while, until the bus moved past. A clean getaway. The perfect crime. We were so cool.

I should have known, there’s no such thing as a perfect crime. There we were, sitting on those smelly green vinyl bus seats, when a white county truck pulled up behind the bus, flashing its yellow light bar. My friend and I exchanged panicked looks.

The bus screeched to a stop. The hydraulic bus door honked open. And then, clomp, clomp, clomp, a great big angry grownup in a hard hat climbed up the bus steps and stared coolly up and down the aisles of the school bus.

To the bus driver, he said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but we were just working by the side of the road, and when you drove by, some kids on this bus flipped us off.”

I took a deep breath and reminded myself: we’d taken precautions for just this sort of situations. We’d scrunched down. We were criminal masterminds. Nothing to worry about.

“Whoever did it was scrunched down in their seats,” said the road worker, “so I couldn’t see their faces. But I saw the top of one head, and it looked just…like…him.”

A great big meaty calloused old grownup finger pointed directly at me.

My sphincter clenched tighter than a submarine door. I broke out into a flop sweat. I trembled. I gazed back at that finger like I was staring down the barrel of a loaded shotgun.

I should point out that at this point in my life I had what could kindly be described as a flattop. I thought it made me look like Val Kilmer in Top Gun. In retrospect, I looked more like a bucktoothed hedgehog. In any case, it was a pretty distinctive haircut. Certainly nobody else on the bus had the same cut. It was just the sort of thing that would make the top three inches of someone’s head immediately identifiable.

The moment stretched out forever. I’m busted, I thought, boned, hosed. The jig is up. I’m going up the river. I hear if you just confess they’ll be lenient. I can cop a plea. Maybe I can turn in my accomplice for a reduced sentence. I wonder what prison food tastes like.

And then the bus driver let out an incredulous laugh. “Matt?” she said, “You’ve got to be mistaken. It couldn’t have been Matt. He just sits there and reads all day.”

“Not Matt,” said Heather, the girl across the aisle from me, “he’s a bookworm.”

“He just has his face buried in a book all day.” added David, sitting next to Heather.

“All that dork does is read,” called out Travis, from the back of the bus.

The entire bus rose to my defense, declaring that I was such a nerdy little bookworm that there’s no way I could have ever committed the crime of which I’d been accused.

I just sat there and tried to look angelic.

His confidence shaken, the road worker looked around at the other faces on the bus. “Well…” he said, “then I’m not sure.” He’d lost his momentum. He looked up and down the aisles one more time, mumbled something about respect, and then left the bus.

And I got away scott-free. What’s the moral of the story? I don’t know, maybe: Don’t flip off total strangers. Or maybe, the moral is that you don’t know what kind of black and twisted criminal heart beats within the chest of a nerdy goody two-shoes bookworm. Or maybe it’s that if you’re going to be guilty, it’s a good idea to look innocent.

 

 

 

“How I Got a Book Contract and Achieved Success in Traditional Publishing” By Bestselling Author D.B.B.M. LeConnard

Exclusively on Matt Kincade’s blog, D.B.B.M. LeConnard, bestselling author of the Dragon Elf Foundling Wizard Prince series, shares his harrowing story of persistence and overcoming adversity to become a successful traditionally published author in today’s challenging literary landscape.  

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Bestselling author D.B.B.M. LeConnard

Greetings, dear readers. Matt Kincade, the author of this little blog thing, has asked me to relate to you, his followers, the tale of my path to publishing success.

Let me begin by saying that saying that this is not an easy road. The path to literary greatness and adoration is not for everyone. You must be totally, completely committed to your goal. In addition, like me, you must be an utter genius and a literary savant. If ever you’ve struggled to find the right word, if ever you’ve written something and not immediately known that it was the best writing you’ve ever done, that anyone has ever done, you are not ready. This is not the path for you.

Luckily, being the inherent literary genius that I am, It was the path for me. I, of course, knew how to write before I knew how to talk. The whole of the Dragon Elf Foundling Wizard Prince series sprang, fully formed, from my brilliant imagination when I was seven years old. By the time I was eight, I had Book One: Foundling Wizard Prince Awakens to His Fantastic Destiny, finished, and was working on book two.

Of course, nobody wants to publish the work of an eight year old, even one as amazingly gifted as myself. And so I had a long wait, biding my time and doing my best to interact with the slower children in school, while unsuccessfully sending my manuscripts off to agents and publishers. I began attending every writer’s and publisher’s convention I could find, discovering my peers and my competitors, and intricately plotting their deaths.

At the age of nineteen, following a year in the mountains of Tibet—learning the ancient Shavukinasa Walakali meditation technique known only to a few monks high in the Himalayas—I returned to the United States and moved to New York City, determined to at last break into the writing industry.

I submitted my manuscripts. I was rejected. And I submitted. And was rejected. It was a low point in my life. There I was, alone in a studio apartment with my genius and my typewriter. (Yes I know most normal people use computers, but I am not a normal person. I am an Author, and only that firm analogue input, the indescribably feeling of my finger depressing a mechanical lever, pushing an ink-slicked stamp to leave an indelible mark on high-quality bond typing paper, can truly capture my artistic inspiration.)

I took drifts and piles of rejection slips and built things with them. A couch. A desk. A friend. But I was never deterred. Never once did I question the purity of my purpose, of my destiny. As the Foundling Wizard Prince was destined to become the king of the Dragon Elves, so too was I destined to become a bestselling YA fantasy author.

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LeConnard never gave up on his Dragon Elf Wizard Prince dreams.

Still, I submitted. Still, I was rejected. In my free time, I stalked and murdered my competitors. I obtained work as a waiter at restaurants and cafes frequented by professionals in the publishing industry. (merely to further my literary goals, I assure you. I wouldn’t presume to debase myself by working such jobs merely for money, merely to pay the rent on my shoebox apartment.) I learned their names. I flattered and cajoled, making them the objects of my considerable charm. I casually mentioned my books. I “accidentally” left manuscripts at their tables. I offered sexual favors. All to no avail.

And so I devised a plan. Prior to a publisher’s conference, I infiltrated the hotel by pretending to be a bellhop. I was able to obtain a copy of the conference itinerary. Particularly of interest to me was a private luncheon, at which executives from all of the big five publishers would be in attendance.

On the day of the conference, clad all in black, with a ski mask over my face, I leaped from an adjacent rooftop to the roof of the Marriott Hotel, then rappelled down the side to a service entrance. I stripped off my black clothes, revealing a housekeeping uniform underneath.

I made my way, undetected, into the hotel. The conference was in full swing. My peers and competitors, those I hadn’t murdered or otherwise ruined, were milling around the conference floor, unaware that I was about to soar right over their heads to limitless literary success.

Because I couldn’t decide which of my brilliant plans I wanted to use, I then karate-chopped a UPS deliveryman in the neck and stole his uniform, dressing in his brown shirt and shorts, leaving him unconscious in a laundry cart.

I approached the conference room, casually nodding to the the security guards as I passed, a brown cardboard package in my arms.

I knocked on the door. They opened. “Delivery for Robert Dibbler,” I said.

They let me in.

At that point I slammed the door shut and jammed it with a chair. Either I’d get that contract or they’d all burn with me.

I stripped off the UPS uniform. underneath, I wore a handmade costume, depicting Ka’reth Muldgwanado, the Foundling Dragon Prince protagonist of my works. “Chalago Kal!” I screamed, which is the traditional greeting of the Dragon Elves. I set off a smoke bomb and shot roman candles from my sleeves, in imitation of Dragon Elf magick, and flung copies of my manuscript about the room, one of them striking the president of Simon and Schuster squarely in the face.

At the same time, I read aloud the prologue to my first book, Foundling Wizard Prince Awakens to His Fantastic Destiny, knowing that the might of my prose would win them over. Of course they said, “Please don’t hurt us, oh God it’s happening again,” but what they meant was, “I am transported to a faraway land by this Author’s sheer brilliance. Thank all the Gods he had enough gumption and moxie to find his way to us, and may those same Gods forgive us for leaving his manuscripts unread on the slush pile.”

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Purchase the DEFWP Chronicles, anywhere anything is sold.

Then, just as hotel security broke down the door, Margaret Robineaux, Vice President of Hachette Books, said, “Wait a second, LeConnard? Are you Ralph LeConnard’s kid?”

Turns out my dad went to college with Margaret Robineaux. So we had lunch the next day, and she signed me on for a seven-book contract, with a nice six-figure advance. Six months later, Foundling Wizard Prince Awakens to His Fantastic Destiny was on the front table of every Barnes and Noble in the country.

In conclusion, though the path to traditional publishing success is not an easy one, you too can do it, provided you are brilliant, naturally gifted, psychotically obsessed, willing to pave a road to victory with the broken bodies of your enemies, and have connections.

Happy writing, and Kipple Pagillo! (which is Dragon Elvish for “Good luck.”)

 

Six Word Stories Redux

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Round two…Fight!

***

“Give me liberty, or give…aaaargh!”

***

“Hold on!”
“I can’t! I love—”

***

“Mr. Goldstein? Come with us, please.”

***

His bulletproof vest couldn’t stop love.

***

“This must be a nightmare.” Nope.

***

“I had to. Don’t hate me.”

***

Dreams of dying hadn’t prepared him.

***

She smelled the wine. “Nice try.”

Microfiction-Cold Comfort

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The president faced the cameras. “My fellow Americans. We’ve all heard the rumors. Let me assure you, they are completely false. We are in no danger whatsoever. NASA has assured me that the asteroid will miss the earth by a wide margin. Everything is fine. I repeat, there’s nothing to worry about.”

The cameras shut off. The president loosened his necktie and poured himself a glass of scotch. He raised his drink to the room. “Not long now. It’s been a pleasure knowing you all. God help us.”

He emptied the glass in one swig, grimaced, and poured another.

Welcome to My Happy Place

How to seduce Matt Kincade: It’s not that complicated. Bring me some Indian take-out food and watch a Wes Anderson movie with me. I’m yours. Or, I suppose you could show up at my luxury hotel suite in Paris.

Kidding aside, Indian food and Wes Anderson is my happy place. I can’t quite explain it, but an order of chicken korma and watching The Life Aquatic or Moonlight Kingdom will break me out of the deepest of funks.

So I just thought I’d share this perfect little vignette from one of my favorite movies of all time, The Darjeeling Limited. I can only hope it makes you as happy as it makes me.

This is mildly NSFW, so don’t watch it if you’re offended by Natalie Portman’s butt.

My secret teenage shame

I hung out with the gothic kids in high school. Black tee-shirts. Doc Martens. Heavy metal. Righteous alienation. We were angry, depressed, rebellious. We hated everyone. We scowled.

Music was loud and angry. Nirvana. Smashing Pumpkins. Type O Negative. Marilyn Manson. White Zombie. Deftones. Rammstein. Metallica. We wore our teenage disaffection on our sleeves.

You know how it is. You fall in with a group of kids. The consensus determines what’s cool and what isn’t. You quietly conform. You listen to what your friends listen to. You like what they like. You wear what they wear. If you have disagreements, you keep them to yourself.

Which is why I never told my friends that after a long day of scowling at the mall, loitering at hot topic, demonstrating our nonconformity by making a giant fucking mess at our table at Carl’s Jr, I’d go home, slip on my headphones…and rock out to Bruce Springsteen.

Yeah, that Bruce Springsteen. Like many artists, something weird happened to him in the eighties, but if you’ve never listened to his earlier albums like “Born To Run” or “Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey” do yourself a favor.

It was the cover to “Born to Run” that sold me. I found it, originally, in a stack of LPs that my older brother got for free someplace, hidden between the Sabbaths and the Zeppelins. I don’t know why by brother even had them, since this was well past the record player era. I suppose the men in my family never could pass up free. Anyway, something about that pose, that guitar, that leather jacket. It called to me. I pulled out that warped old record and put it on my parents dusty record player.

And then I heard it. The piano, the harmonica. And Bruce’s inimitable voice.

The screen door slams
Mary’s dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again

Poetry.

How could I explain to them, my tragically cool friends, how Springsteen spoke to my teenage angst, to this unformed yearning in my heart, better than Nirvana or Manson ever could?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a place in my heart for the Deftones and Tool and Nine inch Nails. But at some point I got tired of being so angry and depressed all the time. Nine inch Nails was just wrist-slitting music, but in Springsteen there was hope. There was this pull, this desire to go and find something better, to just get up and go.

When I got my first car, I loaded up and went on my first solo road trip, blasting Springsteen and singing along to every word…and then I crashed and had to call my parents to come rescue me. Thunder Road, indeed. But that secret teenage shame is a whole other story.

Bonus Springsteen:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hate engines-a rant

Warning: The following is a bitter, rambling, disjointed rant. I really can’t suggest that you read it.

I hate engines. I hate ’em. They’re loud, obnoxious, cantankerous, smelly, foul, smoke belching little assholes. They eat fossilized hydrocarbons and they spit out greenhouse gasses and carcinogenic particulate matter. They’re literally killing us. I look forward to the near future, when we’ve switched over to electric cars, and the thought of a gasoline powered car is looked at with mild disgust and horror. How did people ever live like that? our children will say, as they step out of their self-driving electric car to go to the museum of motor vehicles, where they’ll probably stand inside some kind of special pollution chamber in order to smell what the early twenty-first century smelled like.

All of this occurred to me as I was trying to drink a cup of coffee and read a book (a trashy paperback) at a table outside a coffee shop. A shop that was right next to a minor side street. There I was, trying to settle into my book, when a diesel truck drove by, brrrrruuuuuummmmmmmm….. kachunk! clank! kch-bruuuuuuuuummmmmm…. spitting out a great, filthy cloud of black smoke as it went. I looked around, as this cancer cloud wafted over me, and saw that I was apparently the only one bothered by this. We’ve become so used to this that we don’t even notice how awful it is.

And then, a Tesla drove by. Absolutely silent. Zero emissions. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that this is the future. Soon, the internal combustion engine will be a barbaric relic of the past, and we’ll wonder how we ever put up with it.

Another thing I hate about engines: They break. They break a lot. It’s amazing they don’t break more often. It’s basically a little bomb going off six times per second inside of a little tube, and the explosion lifts a piston that powers your car. That, in and of itself, is pretty simple. But then everything else about an engine, probably two thirds of the mechanisms in the engine compartment, are simply designed to prevent the engine from ripping itself apart, which is what it really wants to do.

It’s a giant, insanely complicated Rube-Goldberg contraption to manage the craziness going on, from the split-second choreography of valves and cams that prevent the cylinder from turning into a pipe-bomb, to the coolant system constantly shunting away excess heat to prevent the whole mess from melting down, to the lubrication system that keeps it all from fusing solid…and then it’s all strapped to a big tank full of the explosive liquid it needs in order to live…well, you get the point. The point is, I hate engines.

Now let’s compare this insanely complicated contraption (an amazing feat of engineering, don’t get me wrong) to an electric motor. Even the most simple gas engine is a miniaturized version of the above-mentioned shit-show. A chainsaw, for example. It’s a bitch to start. It needs coaxing and tweaking and constant maintenance. It’s loud and cranky and smelly. It breaks down a lot. And then let’s look at, say, an electric blender. When was the last time you had to change the oil on your blender, or adjust the valve clearance or change your spark plug wires? How many moving parts does a blender motor have? One. There’s a stator (it’s static) and a rotor. (it rotates.) That’s about it. I’ve had the same blender for ten years.  I bought it at a thrift shop, and it’s never given me any trouble at all.

This is really what excites me most about the prospect of an electric car. I mean, sure, saving the planet is cool. Paying a fraction of what gas costs to charge your battery is pretty sweet. But I’m mostly excited about cars that are simpler, quieter, and cleaner. Granted, a Tesla is a bit more complicated than a blender, but still.

With an electric engine you don’t need a coolant system. You don’t need a lubrication system. You don’t need a transmission or an exhaust system or a catalytic converter or a muffler. You don’t need to rattle the fillings out of somebody’s damned head with your engine braking and choke them with your fumes while they’re trying to enjoy a nice goddamned cup of coffee al fresco. An electric car, more or less, is just a big battery hooked to a big electric motor. Just a bunch of electrons silently shuffling around.

Of course, what would excite me even more is not needing a car at all. I love the freedom, I do. It’s great being able to go wherever, whenever, in my private motor-driven coach. It’s the god-damned American Dream. But I hate, I bitterly resent the fact that I need one.

In most places in America, it’s almost impossible to live without a car. And that sucks. Cars are ridiculously expensive. The maintenance is a pain in the ass. Insurance is a drag. They’re dangerous. They get stolen. They crash. They break at the worst possible time. And yet, living as I do in a country designed for cars, with pedestrians as a distant afterthought, in most places they are an absolute necessity of life. They’re such an absolute given, that most people never even consider that there might be a better way. I swear to god, it’s like we’re all in abusive relationships with our cars.

Growing up in a rural area, (where it was a thirty minute drive to the nearest grocery store) I’ve always had a bit of a city-phobia. It hasn’t been until very recently that I’ve spent enough time in a real city to appreciate the advantages (besides the advantage of actually having something to do). Being able to walk places. Available, affordable public transportation. Sidewalks. Taxi cabs. The possibility of being able to do without a car entirely.

Someday, that will be the case everywhere in America. Someday we’ll have actual public transportation. Someday we’ll stop designing new cities like cars are the primary residents. Someday our passenger rail system won’t be an overpriced joke. Someday we’ll be able to use our smartphones to summon a self-driving Uber to take us where we want to go. Someday there will be no reason to spend six months pay on a giant, overcomplicated money-pit of a contraption just so we can haul our groceries home.

But until then, oops, I’m about due for a new set of tires.