Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sacre Bleu, by Christopher Moore

The heart of Sacre Bleu is mystery. It starts with Vincent van Gogh's mysterious death--always believed to be suicide--and Moore uses this as a jumping off point for what might be the real mystery of the novel: what inspires painters to paint? Why do they sacrifice so much for their art? What is their inspiration, their muse? The lead character is a young baker and aspiring painter named Lucien, who along with his friend, the painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, set out to find out what really happened to van Gogh. What they encounter along the way is a strange figure known only as The Colorman, who somehow controls artists with his special blue paint, known as Sacre Bleu, and a woman, Juliette--the love of Lucien's life--who may be the biggest mystery of all.

I've been a fan of Christopher Moore since the beginning. There's is an everyday man quality about his books, they don't take themselves too seriously, and you can tell Moore had fun writing them (well, he makes himself laugh, I bet. The actual writing is hard work). Moore's humor--his silliness--comes across to the reader. No matter what the subject, his fans can always count on his silly humor to break through, especially in the character's banter. Lucien and Toulouse-Lautrec are fabulous characters together, especially the bawdy, womanizing (harlotizing?), party animal Toulouse-Lautrec. Moore also does a great job of bringing the secondary historical characters/painters to life. (A neat addition to the novel is the inclusion of the actual works of art being discussed by the characters [of course the captions are funny lines of dialogue from the novel], which brings the reader further into the world of 1890s Paris art.)

The thing I admire about Moore is, though he's found a niche for himself with his comic/horror/supernatural novels, he hasn't locked himself into one particular realm. He could have stuck to writing funny vampire novels and been successful at that. Instead, he challenges himself to tackle other subjects--sacred subjects at that—like Shakespeare, religion, and now art, specifically the Impressionists of late 19th Century France. This might be Moore's most mature work yet. Yes, there is still his trademark fantastical element present, and his wacky humor. But the writing, the depth of the characters, and Moore's obvious appreciation of the art (and the heart and soul that went into creating the paintings) shines through.

4 stars

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Humpty Dumpty story free today 2/18/12

My short story After the Fall is now available for the Kindle for FREE. Today, Saturday, Feb. 18th. Grab it while you can! It was originally published by Kinglake Publishing in their 2010 anthology, Ten Modern Stories of 2010 (ISBN13: 9781907690051).

What is Humpty Dumpty up to these days? I'll tell you, that egg is living a hard life, his former existence shattered beyond repair. Where did it all go wrong? he wonders as he drinks in his favorite pub. Well, it all went wrong when he climbed atop that damned wall, of course!

This edition contains an author's note on what inspired me to write the story.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Warning To Authors Who Have Used iUniverse

I published a paperback novel with iUniverse in 2007, then made a Kindle version myself in 2009. Last year, someone from iUniverse contacted me and asked if I wanted them to create a Kindle version of my book. I told them "No," as I had already done it. So I was surprised today when I came across an iUniverse-created Kindle version on Amazon for sale for $3.99. (I have my version listed for 99¢.)

I logged onto my iUniverse account to unpublish their version. I couldn't. Now I was pissed. The point of self-publishing is to give the author control over his or her work. iUniverse took that control away from me. They made a Kindle version after I told them not to, and set a price that I would not have agreed upon. So, you're probably thinking, what's the big deal. You're still getting royalties, right? Well, yes.

But what if I had set a higher price on my version, and iUniverse basically undercut me? (Or even the same price for that matter. Amazon offers a higher royalty rate.) Not to mention, they took the manuscript from the paperback version of the book published 4 1/2 years ago. What if I had revised it since then? Even if it was just to fix some typos?

So I called the customer service number and after complaining to the woman who answered, she said I should email customer service. This is what I sent. No response yet.
To whom it may concern,

Please IMMEDIATELY unpublish the Kindle ebook version of my novel, Into the Sunset (9780595894406). Kindle #B006WPZK9S $3.99. I was contacted by iUniverse a year or so ago, and specifically said DO NOT make a Kindle version since I already did. So I was shocked to discover today that iUniverse went ahead anyway and made a Kindle version. Why? I said no. PLEASE DELETE IMMEDIATELY.

And another thing that I am furious about: There is no way for me to delete this book myself when I log into my iUniverse account. This is outrageous. Why are you taking control out of the hands of the authors? If this book is not deleted in the next 24 hours, I will also pull the paper version from your company and publish it with Amazon's Createspace.

I will also blog about this and alert other authors on as many writers sites as I can. This is outrageous and you will continue to lose business with practices like this.

Donald Capone

UPDATE: I called back when I didn't receive a response to my email. I was transferred to a woman in production who immediately put in a request to Amazon that the book be removed. She said it would take a couple of days for Amazon to update their site. I checked this morning (Feb. 3) and the iUniverse Kindle version of my book has been deleted.