We’re down to the last two days of nominating Drawing Down the Moon through the Kindle Scout program. If you’re the kind of person who likes to do things at the last minute… the last minute is here!
If you’re sitting on the fence about nominating Drawing Down the Moon for the Kindle Scout program, here’s a video of yours truly reading an excerpt from Chapter 6 – a bit I call the Doughnut Shop Scene. You can also read the first 5,000 words of the novel at the link above.
Enjoy! And don’t forget, there are just a few more days remaining to recommend Drawing Down the Moon. So Click, Vote, and Share!
CANTON, OH – To help raise awareness of Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15) and National Police Week (May 12-16), author Joe Clifford Faust is giving away copies of his dark-humored police novel, The Mushroom Shift through the Amazon Kindle and Goodreads.com. Between May 12th and 16th, Amazon Kindle owners may download a free copy directly through their device or order it through the Amazon.com website. In addition, 10 autographed copies of the trade paperback version of the book will be given away through Goodreads.com. A Goodreads account is required to sign up for the drawing.
“This novel is based on things I saw during 4 1/2 years of working as a Sheriff’s dispatcher,” Faust said. “I saw quite a bit during my time there, from the hilarious to the utterly terrifying, including the loss of officers. Nothing I can do can make up for the sacrifice these men make, but I hope that this effort makes people more aware of the importance of May 15th.”
The Mushroom Shift tells the story of Clarence Raymond Monmouth, a deputy in a small town in Wyoming, who is finishing his third year on the despised Mushroom Shift – midnight to eight a.m. – in the final weeks of 1985. As the year draws to a close, Monmouth comes to realize that the county’s aging Sheriff will soon be succeeded by the political enemy who marooned him on that shift. Survival mode kicks in and he begins to consider his options, interrupted by his crumbling marriage, his drinking, and the never-ending parade of drunk drivers, family fights and perverts that make up small town police work.
The novel is a snapshot of a different world that is not that far in the past, in a time before political correctness. Its theme of men struggling to hang on to their jobs is universal.
Joe Clifford Faust was born in North Dakota, raised in Alberta and Wyoming, went to college in Oklahoma, and now lives in Ohio. He has been married for more than thirty years, has two adult children, and has worked at a local advertising agency since 1997. Besides The Mushroom Shift, he is also reissuing his critically acclaimed science fiction novels under his own imprint, Thief Media.
Faust may be contacted at thiefmedia at gmail dot com for interviews and guest blog posts, and is available to speak to writer’s groups or other organizations live or via Skype.
Sometime in 1989, Kurt Busiek, who had up until recently been my agent, called me from his new position at Marvel Comics. They were planning on taking another crack at a Science Fiction comic book, and they were going to put two twists on the genre. First, it was going to be written by real, professional, established Science Fiction writers. Second, it was going to be a shared universe – where all of the writers got to basically play in the same sandbox.
And he wanted me to write the opening story for the series.
Why me?“Because you’re extraordinarily good at near futures,” he told me. And the near future is where Open Space, as the comic would come to be known, began.
By that point in my career I had published A Death of Honor and The Company Man, both of which posited rather gloomy near futures and skated near the thin ice that could plunge one into cyberpunk (although I never considered them that, many readers did – after I thought about it, I suppose they were pre-cyberpunk in a way).
So over the ensuing years, you might wonder how some of my near-future predictions came out, seeing as how we just passed the 25th anniversary of the publication of Honor. Answer is, there were some things here and there in both books that kind of hit near some marks if you stretched it a bit.
But nothing like what has been happening in the past few months with the Pembroke Hall novels.
It all started in December, when an article appeared in Forbes online, accompanied by a couple of remarkable videos. The title was “Nanotechnology May Lead To The End Of Laundry“, and I’m certain that a lot of people thought it was gosh-wow — except for the people who had read Ferman’s Devils and/or Boddekker’s Demons during the fifteen minutes they were in print.
One of the conceits in those novels was a laundry soap that used nanotechnology to not just ultra-clean clothing, but actually repaired it as well. It seems that by the time the author was writing those novels in the mid-1990s, he had seen a lot of preachifying about how nanotech was going to save the world by disassembling toxic chemicals at the molecular level and save lives by repairing heart valves without surgery, and so on. He realized these things were noble indeed, but that somebody was going to figure out how to make big bucks with the technology by making it do something mundane. And here we are:
Now I had a friend who really needed a new heart valve a couple of years ago, and when local hospitals gave him the kiss off because he was self-insured, he went to India to have the retread work done. And I was left wondering, where was his nano-laced pill that would take care of that? Hmmm, seems the nano folks got to the making a buck part of the program before nobility could rear its head.
But I digress.
Back to the point. That was pretty strange, to see something like that happen, nearly a dozen years after the book came out. But then something else caught my eye yesterday – a story from the London Telegraph saying that Paul McCartney’s son James is mulling over putting a band together with the sons of the other Beatles. Hey, I can’t make this stuff up.Except that I did. It was kind of a running joke in the Pembroke Hall novels, a band constantly referred to as “The SOB’s” – and then you find out halfway through that it stands for “Sons of Beatles”, and that the band is made up of… yeah, you got it.
Was I trying to wishfully think when I wrote that into the novel? No. I was making fun of our popular culture. It was, after all, the beginning of an era when artists began keeping their moribund careers alive by releasing sequels to hit albums of the past (the latest? Ian Anderson’s Thick as a Brick 2. Seriously.). Maybe in retrospect I shouldn’t have done it. Pop culture is just too easy of a target. I don’t know.
Whether Beatles 2.0 comes off or not remains to be seen, but these things have made for a weird couple of months for me. Before you go calling me Nostradamus or anything like that, remember that there’s lots of other stuff in those two novels that hasn’t happened, like thugs becoming media stars. Everyone knows that commercial actors aren’t thugs. Those are all found in the NFL and NBA.
Seriously again, I don’t know what to make of this. They say things happen in threes, so maybe I will ignore this trend until one more thing like this pops up – when and if. So I guess I’ll try not to be too unnerved until the other other shoe drops.
Meantime, if you want to catch up on this tale, I’m scheduled to have the Author’s Intended Version of Ferman’s Devils – ready for release just over a year from now. Maybe sooner if I can get those pesky Angel’s Luck books out of the way. If you want to check them out sooner, check the used section of Amazon or on eBay.
And for you few who read the book, here’s something that may keep you up at night: According to my calculations, Boddekker is now an eight year-old.
The Mushroom Shift, the police novel I wrote way back when during the mists of 1985, is officially available for you to read. You can get the Amazon Kindle version here, or for those of you who still love the feel, smell, and tactile experience of a real paper book, you can get the trade paperback version from Amazon here or from me through Amazon here.
(A Trade Paper version of A Death of Honor is also available here, but is not yet available on Amazon for some reason. Call it delay by dinosaur?)
The Kindle version went online in the middle of December, but I wanted to wait to make the official announcement until the paper version was available. Of course, if you’d liked my Facebook Fan Page, then you already knew about all of this stuff weeks ago.
If you’re interested in the book, make sure you read the propaganda I wrote about it before buying it. The book is not at all politically correct (but since when are cops PC?) and is rather profane (but since when do cops talk like choirboys?). If you decide to take the plunge, I think you’ll be rewarded with a novel that contains some of my best writing – not bad since it was only the second novel I wrote (I have a theory on why it turned out that way, but that’s a topic for a future post).
There you have it. The chronicle of Clarence Raymond Monmouth, Badlands County Sheriff’s Department, ready to come to your home and entertain you in whatever format you choose.
So buy early and often. And remember… I get paid whether you read the book or not!
Where to come down on the idea of cussin’ in one’s books? I’ve gotten away from it for the most part, mostly because I’m a Christian and try hard not to use it myself. But I’ve also sat through enough TV versions of films where the language is softened, and for the most part the writing works without it (except for the moment in Heartbreak Ridge where Clint Eastwood refers to a compromised operation as a “cluster flop”).
If the profanity is taken out and not given a ridiculous substitute, most writing functions surprisingly well. I’ve gotten along without it nicely for a couple of novels now, although in Drawing Down the Moon I resorted to some comparatively minor epithets during a couple of moments when the emotional tension was ratcheted up so high that it seemed the scene couldn’t exist without the kind of expression that exists when you call someone a son-of-a-bitch.
One thing I don’t think most writers consider when using profanity is how it is perceived by the reader. Folks, most readers ain’t looking at it the way that a lot of us do. For example, John Grisham has been praised for years for “not using profanity” – but he does. The thing is, he uses it ever-so-sparingly.
This tells me that in minuscule amounts profanity becomes overlooked as part of the story and doesn’t even enter the reader’s consciousness. There’s not enough to alert the reader’s radar, so it flies under it naturally.
Unlike when I went to see Dog Day Afternoon once upon a time a long time ago. A bunch of us from college went, and one girl who was unenlightened about “cinema” (as opposed to “movies”) became bored with the plot early on and began to count out loud the number of F Bombs dropped by Al Pacino. And you know what? Thinking back on it, it was distracting. Not the girl’s count, but the fact that there were so many that it demanded counting. How else do you account for people tallying the number of F words in films like The Big Lebowski, or pretty much any movie in which Joe Pesci or Robert DeNiro are allowed to do some ad-libbing? It’s like there’s a saturation point for this particular epithet, and once you pass a certain number of uses, it pushes the meter from “Useful” to “Tolerable” to “Offensive” and into “Self Parody.”
Oddly enough, this didn’t seem to happen in The Commitments, but then the word wasn’t flowing exclusively from the mouth of one particular character – it same from everyone, as if it was a part of the street argot. And it worked that way.
My take is to use profanity infrequently and only when emphasis is needed somewhere. I’m not so sure I buy into the whole “it’s part of the character” thing anymore because it has become so over-used (see below for an exception).
While there was profanity in A Death of Honor, there were only two F-bombs – one in a confrontation with a jackbooted version of that universe’s police, and an expression of disgust and dismay near the book’s end. My editor called me up to talk about this since Del Rey wasn’t known for that kind of language, but what’s interesting is that she was concerned with the second instance of the word – almost as if the first hadn’t existed. I guessed that was a sign that it felt natural in the first application, and seemed gratuitous in the second – although I would have traded the first to keep the second, which is where I really felt it belonged.
Interestingly enough, there was almost no profanity in Honor – at least not in the traditional sense. When I initially wrote the first chapter, one of the things I postulated was that language would change in the future, so I used a different, odd word as a profane expression. However, since Honor was only the second novel I’d written, I lost my courage to see that part of the book through and used common contemporary cussin’ instead. But I kept the idea in the back of my mind… and when the time came to write Ferman’s Devils I had a lot more confidence… and that’s why the characters there say “ranking” all the ranking time. It’s up to readers to figure out why it’s a cussword (and no, I don’t give any clues – but it was accepted).
Incidentally, “ranking” is almost the only cussword in Ferman. There are two others, used only once each – “bastard” and “ass”. The only reason I used them is because I heard them used in actual TV commercials while I was writing the book, and put them into the advertising universe to make a point.
For the most part I think profanity is a spice where you err on the side of less is more. That said, there are exceptions. Right now I’m in the process of coding my unpublished police novel for the Kindle. It’s based on what I observed when I worked as a Sheriff’s Dispatcher, back during the Ice Age. It’s thick with creative profanity because that’s what I heard. Some time after I wrote it, in a moment of idealism I decided to rewrite it without the profanity. But when I started doing that it just wasn’t the same book. Taking the profanity out ruined the whole tone of things. So I decided to leave it in.
Ultimately, it’s the decision of each individual writer to make. Just keep in mind that your readers are more involved with the story than you think, and if you’re gratuitous with the language, it may push the aforementioned Profane-O-Meter into Self Parody faster than you think.
And be cautious when I finally release The Mushroom Shift for the Kindle. The language really is terrible, and some folks don’t ranking like that.
After thirty years of my wife insisting, I am now reading Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel. And it’s a wondrous thing. For a first novel, Auel created a rich world based on sound (at the time) scientific speculation, bent the rules within acceptable parameters, expertly manipulated plot twists and turns for maximum effect, and created a modern classic that can be read as a great adventure or as something much deeper (I could make a great argument for its being the ultimate feminist novel). It’s a Great American Novel.
I only have a few minor quibbles with what she’s done with the book. I’m wondering if the dialogue is a little too rich for being sign language. She ends one chapter too many with antagonist Broud plotting to get even with heroine Ayla (as my wife puts it, it’s almost like he’s twirling a mustache while he thinks these things). And Auel uses exclamation points in action scenes on occasion.
My policy on exclamation points is that I never use them in narrative:
The cars collided.
– not –
The cars collided!
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, when you put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, it adds an enormous amount of emphasis on what is being said. It had better be darn important if you’re going to do it!
Second, when you put an exclamation point at the end of narrative, it feels final. Like there’s nothing else that needs to be said beyond that point. You’ve made the ultimate statement on the subject!
Back to our car accident description above. If I dared to write The cars collided! I would not follow it up with anything else. The emphasis would all be right there in one sentence, which, like haiku, had better say exactly what you wanted to say on the subject since you punctuated it thusly.
However, without the exclamation point, I would go on, perhaps turning the accident into a ballet of broken glass and bending metal:
The cars collided. The grille of her car went first, shattering, blowing back against the wall of the radiator, which bent and burst, hemorrhaging sticky green fluid across the asphalt road. The hood crumpled up, bending into a tent as it was pushed up over the engine. Then the windshield webbed and gave way into thousands of jagged pieces, spraying in on her as momentum carried the car forward. By this point the airbag on the steering wheel was just a memory, having caught her head as it whipped forward, collapsing as the seat belt caught her and threw her back.
Now go back and imagine that with an exclamation point after the first sentence. It breaks breaks up the rhythm of the words, too much of a full stop to allow anything else to proceed.
I should note here that if you’re writing a novel for young readers, all bets are off. Exclamation points in narrative bring a different tone and add a sense of excitement to the proceedings. That’s probably why, when I see exclamation points in narrative, it comes across as having a juvenile feel.
On the other hand, I have no problem using them in dialogue – just not all the time. Again, it has to do with the rhythm of the words. There are times when I might want to write:
“Get out of my house,” screamed Kate.
and there might be times when I want to express it this way:
“Get out of my house!”
To me, either is acceptable. It just depends on how you want the dialogue to flow.
So my advice is don’t use exclamation points too often!
You can get it for the Amazon Kindle, and if you don’t have one, you can read it on a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Windows Phone 7 with Amazon’s free Kindle Application.
And it’s only $0.99, for a limited time.*
And remember: You folks are my 401(k)!
* That is, until Desperate Measures is released.