Once again, ladies and gentleman and ships at sea, you may address me as prize-winning author Thomas Burchfield. (Yes, that does play a sweet melody, doesn’t it?) This is because Dragon’s Ark has won its third award for 2012: runner up (second place) for Best Horror Novel at the Halloween Book Festival.
If you’re a stranger here, you may curious to learn that, despite the accolades, it’s been a hard year, more the worst of times than the best.
I underwent minor, successful surgery in March. Then, in July, a mysterious malady infused me from marrow to nerve endings, an anemia whose true source remains unknown, and which still shimmers along the edges. It held my attention into the fall, shrinking my horizons while my editing business shrank to nothing. But for my wife, Elizabeth, I’d be taking up residence on various sidewalks.
With her, I am indeed Blessed. Further, from behind the shadows that surround me, there have been other bright signals.
CRACKS OF LIGHT
It’s reasonable to think that these three awards have sent sales of Dragon’s Ark rocketing, lifting my financial outlook, but that’s not been the case so far. The bump has been mild, enough maybe for dinner and beer at Cato’s on Piedmont Avenue. My e-book screenplay The Uglies, has been actually selling at a faster clip since its publication early this year.
One of the regrettable things about this two-tiered recession is that it keeps me from attending any of the relevant award ceremonies. My body has almost completely healed, but I’m still broke, still a stay-at-home, a more unwilling recluse than usual.
Sure, I’m a quiet bookish loner, but this is ridiculous! Thomas Pynchon probably gets out more than I do nowadays. (I’ve heard tales that if you attend enough New York literary soirees, you will eventually find yourself seated across the table from him and that he is very pleasant company. No one wonder everyone keeps his whereabouts secret.)
Another odd, pleasing thing: an essay on the AMC series Breaking Bad, “This Man Must Die,” was the featured article this week on Scrib’d. For the first time, all three of my pages—my own page, the Red Room, and Scrib’d—together scored over 1,000 page views in one day. I read somewhere that authors who hit that number consistently are almost guaranteed to draw keen interest from agents and publishers.
(Note to Self: more columns on Lee Van Cleef and Breaking Bad = publishing success.)
Actually what those page views mean, I don’t know. A page viewed is not necessarily a page read. A column I posted on The Sopranos five years ago scores high, but only because I mention Paulie Walnuts’s hair, a wildly popular grooming topic for middle-age men everywhere. I’m sure though they come away deeply disappointed, swearing to never again read another word I write.
How much I can rely on the various stat counters I employ? I might as well be biased toward those that give me higher numbers. So I am.
Reviews for my books have been few but, on balance, positive. Only one Goodreads reviewer flat-out disliked Dragon’s Ark. Niche reviewers at various niche horror sites don’t care for it either. They seem to prefer zombie gorefests or Twilight para-roms. I’ve learned to shrug these off. I have no choice.
One good thing about online reviewers is that it’s easy to see their other book reviews and get a clue as to why they don’t like your book: My fellow authors may find, as I have, a certain comfort: All you can do is write the book you want to read. I could have rewrote Dragon’s Ark sixty different ways and they still wouldn’t have liked it.
What’s really odd though are reviews by readers who may not actually have read the books: The Uglies has received two of these. One reviewer—giving it two stars—describes it thusly:
“Shoulda coulda woulda, but I didn't (write the review when I was reading it or shortly after finishing it). Which means I don't have total recall. One aspect of this book had a version of what I imagine many people experience in their dreams: There was flight-of-self (i.e. the main character and her group of ‘Uglies’ could fly by standing on what was referred to as ‘hover boards’).”
Well, whatever The Uglies is, it ain’t that. (A look at this reviewers’ other book reviews reveals that this wasn’t her kind of book anyway.)
The biggest head-scratcher of all is this one-star review of The Uglies on the Barnes & Noble site:
“DINT READ IT: It is a bad book.”
An image of a twelve-year-old troll crouched over a laptop in his parents’ basement immediately sprung to mind; I imagine him gleefully hopping all around B&N and Amazon, slapping one-star reviews everywhere on everything—even Anne Frank’s diary—absorbed by his nihilistic genius . . . until Mom hollers down: “Hermie! Turn that computer off and come to dinner!”
I wonder if I should try get this one removed, if possible. Clearly, this is a troll review that contributes nothing. Removing it would not be “censorship.” Further, leaving it up there may well give the wrong impression to hurried customers.
Nah. Too much trouble.
So, right now, that’s my most persistent worry—12-year-old trolls.
That and accumulating capital, to contribute to our financial well-being and to further promote my recent achievements at the level they should be.
Finally, my next book, Butchertown, is blasting along nicely and may be ready by for publication by my Ambler House imprint by late winter or spring. That too will take a fair amount of money.
“God wants you to finish writing Butchertown,” someone close to me advised, “so don’t worry if the editing business is down. That’s the direction He wants you to go. Go there.”
OK, God. Fine. And thanks! Would appreciate it though if You could roll some coin my way.
Dragon’s Ark cover image by Cathi Stevenson
Thomas Burchfield is the author of the contemporary Dracula novel Dragon's Ark, winner of the IPPY, NIEA, and Halloween Book festival awards for horror in 2012. He’s also author of the original screenplays Whackers and The Uglies (e-book editions only). Published by Ambler House Publishing, all are available at Amazon in various editions. You can also find his work at Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, Scribed and at the Red Room bookstore. He also “friends” on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, and reads at Goodreads. You can also join his e-mail list via tbdeluxe [at] sbcglobal [dot] net. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Elizabeth.
Causes Thomas Burchfield Supports
The Nature Conservancy; Africare; Capitol Public Radio