I am Deeply Moved

I am deeply moved… we passed the $150 milestone on my Patreon membership. And it happened fast; I am overwhelmed. And I’m setting a new goal:

“Moving Somewhere ADA-Compliant for Inara
$500 per month
http://www.patreon.com/stantlitore
This important milestone means we’ll be stable enough to transition to a new living space, one that will be much more workable for my disabled daughter. Right now,we are on a third story, with stairs, no elevator … it’s an absolutely wonderful space and very homey, unless you’re disabled. And when we get Inara walking (or wheeling), that’s going to be important. So I have my eyes on moving, though the thought is financially stressful.

And, with the support of friends, fans, and readers, maybe I’ll get lucky and have a writing corner at the new place, something more writerly than the dining room table! Although this dining room table has seen some stories, let me tell you. Characters I loved have DIED on this table.

But even without some kind of nook or “study,” let’s move little Inara and my family somewhere safer.”

That’s my new goal. I know it can be reached. Like my literary ancestors, I now have patrons. Some are contributing $1, some are contributing quite a bit more. These modern-day patrons of the arts are getting sneak previews of my fiction, and are part of redefining what it means to live and work as a novelist. It’s very exciting. When I opened up my membership, I couldn’t have said for certain if I would have even one patron. This morning, I have 20.

Thank you all.

If you are not currently one of my Patreon members, go pledge that $1! I could say “do it for little Inara.” I could say “do it for me.” But the real reason to do it is because you love books, want more of them, and believe that a novelist should earn a living wage for his or her work. Together, let’s make that happen.

(And yes, do it for little Inara, too. That’s where the money made on my books goes. Someday when she is older, I will be able to tell her that she flew through childhood on the backs of stories, their pages spread and catching the sun.)

Stant Litore

Litore_Patreon3

Preparing for the Long Dark of Moria

I have been reading The Lord of the Rings to my daughter Inara, who has spent most the week in the hospital. Together, we have sat at the Council of Elrond and debated what to do with the doom of the earth; we have heard wolves howling in the cold; and we have prepared ourselves for the long dark of Moria. In this respect, it has been a good week.

Stant_and_Inara

We’re Doing It!

A wonderful gift while I tended my daughter’s bedside at the hospital this week: a fifteenth patron signed onto my Patreon membership, which has been growing rapidly this month as readers have shown their support of my fiction and of my efforts to keep my family afloat amid a barrage of medical crises (which you can read about here). I am warmed in my heart by the support:

Stant_Patreon

Will you join us, too? Together, we’re going to fund some incredible fiction. We’re going to remake what it  means to be a working novelist in the 21st century. And we’re going, day by day, dollar by dollar, to carve out a better future for my daughters.

And I am going to let you into my workshop while we do. Here, wear this protective helmet. There are stories being forged. Sparks and fire in the air.

Come join me.

It will be fun.

Outrageous fun.

You have my word on it.

- Stant Litore

A Year on Fire

When I step back and look at all of my confirmed 2014 releases (so far), all of them highly reviewed… I will remember this as the year of a LOT OF WRITING. By all that’s holy and beautiful, a LOT of writing. I usually do one or two releases a year.

Evidently, this year I am on fire.

litore_nlb_small1  Ansible Ansible15716_small Dantes_Heart  IWHMDC_Litore

No Lasting Burial, originally released in serial episodes, was released in full by 47North in April 2014. Ansible 15715, a Westmarch Publishing release, made its appearance at the end of April to considerable acclaim, and Ansible 15716 in June. I Will Hold My Death Close will be forthcoming from 47North on August 26 (available for pre-order now) in a kindle edition and in an audiobook narrated by the wonderful actress Amy McFadden, and Dante’s Heart is forthcoming from Westmarch Publishing in October.

Lest I forget, I’m also included in this 2014-released omnibus:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I13V3L8

DeadMan

And in January, I helped my friend Christine Emmert release her lyrical take on the Middle Ages and the search for paradise:

NunsDragon_Final_Lilith

No wonder I feel breathless!

Stay tuned … more to come.

Want to support my work (and keep me sane)? Come see me on Patreon:

http://www.patreon.com/stantlitore

Stant Litore

 

Awakened at Midnight

When I ever need a refresher, I step outside and find somewhere quiet, and I read Sam Hamill’s translation of Japanese haiku: quiet reminders that the smallest things can evoke an entire world of feeling and memory. I breathe deeper, I write more creatively, I try to live more creatively, when I take the time to notice just a single blade of grass, or to pray in silence, feeling the wind on my face. I try to stop and notice when something flits by — a dragonfly in a flash of blue wings, or the sound of a child’s laugh somewhere far away — something that can make me wake up just a little, for a moment.

Awakened at midnight
by the sound of the water jar
cracking from the ice

- Basho

Why Everyone Talking About ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Is Missing the Point

I’ve seen this idea shared a lot lately: “When used to excuse rape or harassment, ‘boys will be boys’ is actually anti-men because it declares that we should expect men to behave badly or to be incapable of self-control.” I’ve seen that meme and I want to respond, because I think it misses the point. (And because it misses the point, it is pretty useless in helping to actually correct or change anything.)

The implication of “boys will be boys” isn’t that we’re accepting bad behavior, but that the behavior itself is admirable.

“Boys will be boys” suggests an implicit pride in the “go get her” aggressiveness, equating sexual aggression with masculinity, with boldness in the workplace, drive, and ambition. In our culture, saying “boys will be boys” is an appeal to an ideal of masculinity. It suggests that when a man is aggressive toward or assaults a woman, he is exhibiting the same behavior that we find admirable in other contexts.

That’s what makes the statement so insidious and so effective: “boys will be boys” defuses or dismisses accusations of assault or harassment by equating that behavior with behavior that we admire.

Let’s face it: the issue here has nothing to do with self-control or with what we think about self-control. Ultimately, it doesn’t even have to do with whether men regard women as people or as use-objects. It has to do with the fact that in our culture, young men are trained to regard women as opponents in a game, with their bodies and the promise of sexual pleasure as the trophy that goes to the game’s victor. That’s why “first base,” “second base,” etc., are often used as metaphors for degrees of sexual encounter. It’s why we talk about “forePLAY.” It’s why we talk about a rushed approach to orgasm as “racing to the finish line.” We describe both our work in the world and our sexual encounters using metaphors from sports and competition.

When we say “boys will be boys,” we are alluding to a secret pride in competitiveness and a drive for victory, and our culture regards that drive as appropriate for men in the stadium, the board room, and the bedroom. In the stadium, the opponent is the opposing team, and you are merciless in crushing them. In the board room, the opponent may be a coworker or a rival company, and again, we admire the man who is merciless in crushing them. When we say that the bedroom is the same way, the opposing team becomes a sexual partner or potential sexual partner — and we communicate in our language, our choice of metaphors, etc., that young men are expected to be merciless in crushing this opponent, too, and in scoring the goal, whatever the cost.

That’s what “boys will be boys” means, and why it is often said with a smile. The way you beat this idea isn’t by talking about self-control — because the young man who does whatever it takes to “score the goal” in the bedroom may well be self-controlled and driven. And you don’t beat this idea by talking about needing to see women as people, not objects — because the real issue is that the young man may see the young woman not only as prize object but as the opposing team.

If you are going to beat this idea, you need to recast sexual partnership in entirely different language. You need to either (a) decouple it from the idea of goals, trophies, home runs, and competition with the opposing team, or (b) keep the sports metaphor but recast young men and young women as playing on the same team in different roles, rather than opposing teams. The quarterback’s job isn’t to crush his own team’s linebacker; they work together in their different roles, and they either win the goal together or lose it together.

I have absolutely no idea if that recasting works, or what would work. Smarter minds must come up with solutions. But I think I understand the underlying problem well. It’s really simple, and it’s not what you’re seeing in these popular Facebook memes, which largely miss the point. The underlying problem is that young men are told to see young women as the opposing team in the game of Sex, and they are told, as young men, to be absolutely merciless, manly, and powerful in crushing the other team’s resistance. In the bedroom. Just like in the stadium. Just like in the board room.

Stant Litore

Look Who’s Reading The Zombie Bible

Litore_and_Iron_Man

This is Stant Litore, reporting in from Denver Comic Con, where it turns out that superheroes and supervillains alike are getting in on The Zombie Bible

 

Day One

 

Riddler

The books bring up many, many riddles from our past.
Not least of them: the riddle of how we ever managed to survive the living,
let alone the ravenous dead.

StarWars1

These definitely are the books you’re looking for.

Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell looks gleeful!
Who can blame her? I look this way every time I open the first page of a new story.
Except for the wings.
I don’t have wings.
Though I would like to have wings. I would like that very much.

Velocirapture

This friendly carnivore has taken The Zombie Bible to heart!

Villains

Maleficent and Ursula attempted to burn my book to a crisp.
But I forgive them, because they did it with style.

Wolverine

Even X-Men stopped for a moment to check out the stories.

Zatanna

Zatanna thought them magical.

4thDoctor

The Doctor: “Ah yes, I’ve seen this before…I know I have.
There is this library in the 51st century that you would not believe.
I know I read it there. Would you like a jelly baby?”

5thElement

“Multipass?”

AndMore

Completely caught up in it…

Batgirl

Batgirl was very excited!

Doctor10

The Tenth Doctor can get a grim edge to him, sometimes.
We love him for it.
And he is taking the novel quite seriously.
I suspect it’s given him a hint to an extraterrestrial plot in the first century,
likely one the author himself is unaware of.
A quick hop in the TARDIS ought to take care of it.

Ghostbusters

No Lasting Burial is a haunting novel.
But don’t worry.
The Ghostbusters are on it.

Hades_Ursula

These two stylish Disney villains decided to enchant the book.
Given the kind of book that it is, this meant that hordes of the ravenous dead
began leaping from the pages, and we mere mortals had to run for our lives!

Hermione

Hermione, after careful study of the issue, took a quick hop back 24 hours to fix it.

IronMan

This fellow has refined tastes.
I am extremely glad to have caught Stark’s interest!

LordBusiness

Lord Business gravely took a copy of the book,
and then invited me to Taco Tuesday.
I like tacos. I should go…

Meg

Meg’s smirk reveals her suspicion that Greek women
would have handled the crisis in the story much better.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that Iron Man, Wolverine, and The Doctor have been made aware of the recurring and still looming threat of the lurching dead. Our ancestors in centuries past — the rugged and desperate characters of The Zombie Bible — may not have had the resources to adequately confront the zombie menace, but we have David Tennant.

Thank you to all the wonderful and talented cosplayers who took part in my photography project! I enjoyed chatting with all of you! You are the heart of Denver Comic Con, and you made my day. Some of you took books home, and I hope the stories thrill you and move you.

What a great day at the Denver Comic Con! It is the kind of event where people come to celebrate things they really enjoy, things they are really passionate about, and there is so much joy and excitement and wonder. I wish all 365 days of the year were like that — though I’m afraid Chris Angel and Bruce Macintosh and the rest of the team who have created this massive event would faint away from exhaustion.

Day Two

Day Two (Saturday) was a long day, and very exciting. I sat on three panels, led an activity based on The Zombie Bible, and met many excited readers.

ZombiePanel

Here you see me at panel on the evolution of zombie film and literature,
with two professors (Dr. Kyle Bishop on the left, Dr. Rob Weiner on the right)
who make a living studying zombies. I’m in the middle.

Gonzales

I also spent much of the day with Vincent Gonzales, assistant director
of The Walking Dead, and his crew and zombie actors. Our booths
were next to each other, and we quickly hit it off. His crew are the
most absolutely wonderful people, the zombie actors didn’t try to eat me (much),
and Vincent himself is a remarkably humble, deep-hearted, and imaginative man.

I also, of course, introduced many new heroes and villains to The Zombie Bible:

HarryPotter

I met young Master Potter here on the light rail, on the way in that morning.

DayOfTheDoctor

And if you’ve seen “The Day of the Doctor,” you will know exactly who this is.

DoctorThree

The Doctor: “Zombies in 2nd-century Rome? What? What!! WHAT!!”
Rose Tyler: “Oh God, you must be joking.”
Captain Jack Harkness: “Actually, that one looks kind of cute.”
Stant Litore: “That’s actually Father Polycarp on the frontispiece. Not one of the dead.”
Captain Jack Harkness: “Really? Is he single?”
The Doctor: “Jack, not now.”

Joker

The Joker’s reaction to the series was priceless.
Though I have to admit I found the high-pitched laughter chilling!

Loki

Loki: “I have a spear.”
Stant Litore: “We have 10,000 zombies.”

SlaveLeia

Leia calmly suggested that if any of the ravenous dead
come for her, she’ll fashion her slave chain into a weapon
and survive anyway. Considering what happened to the most
powerful and wealthy mobster in the galaxy, I believe her.

Rorshach

Rorshach, whose views tend to be a bit fixed, was incensed
by the series. He quietly informed me that he was not locked in
this convention center with us crazies, we were locked in with him.

I beat a hasty retreat.

Dalek

As a fact, I had a number of close calls on Day  Two.
Here I am using my novel as a last desperate shield against
the advanced weaponry of this raging, genocidal Dalek.

PoisonIvy

In the late afternoon, my heart was warmed to see villains and heroes
united by their newfound love for The Zombie Bible.

Child

She is a hero, too.

Batman

Batman had a copy, but he played it cool.

WheresWaldo

A fan I met at last year’s Denver Comic Con snapped this photograph
on Day Two this year, capturing me in it. In the tradition of “Where’s Waldo,”
can you find Stant Litore?

BeautifulWife_andPaintingbySierra

In a state of considerable exhaustion, I returned home to find a bottle of excellent wine, a very loving wife, and the surprise that she had framed a zombie portrait I acquired on Day One. The artist, Sierra, does fan art for The Walking Dead and I would love to commission her work. This portrait captures the type of emotion and evocative mood that I work with in The Zombie Bible. You can see that Vincent Gonzales signed the portrait, too, which was very kind of him.

My wife Jessica, my bride and my heart, is herself an incredible photographer … and very shy of being in front of the camera. When I returned home from Day Two of Denver Comic Con, she reminded just how blessed I am. She makes me feel like a superhero.

Day Three

Day Three was quieter. I signed many, many books, met many interesting people, and retreated into the back a few times for coffee and a comfortable couch. I fought to stay awake. But I had a wonderful time.

Litore_and_Olmos

Before the convention opened, I took a moment and met Edward James Olmos,
who I’ve always admired. I grew up loving his film Stand and Deliver,
about a math teacher fighting the good fight for inner-city children.
Later I discovered him in Bladerunner, Selena, and of course Battlestar Galactica.
He is a very kind man, and one of those rare actors — and rare people –
who have a gravitas that commands your instant respect.

And, of course, I also met more fascinating cosplayers on Day Three:

SilentBob

Silent Bob’s reaction to The Zombie Bible, while not exactly noisy,
was precisely the reaction I expected.

JackSparrow

Captain Jack Sparrow got completely lost in the story.
He wasn’t even frightened, just entertained.
But then, he has dealt with the wakeful dead before.

Frozen

These two Disney princesses loved the book so much
they simply couldn’t Let It Go.

CaptainAmerica

Captain America was so on edge with suspense that he took a moment’s pause
under his shield in the midst of battle to check what would happen on the next page.

Bane

I believe it was the series’ moments of horror and zombie mayhem
and splattered blood that got Bane’s adrenaline pumping.

Fly

For the Fly, it was the plenitude of rotting corpses. The Fly found those delicious.

ShepherdBook

Shepherd Book found it both troubling and intriguing. Once into it,
the novel’s passionate wrestling with stories that he cared about, too,
won him over. He also liked hearing that my daughters’ names
are River and Inara.

V

V was drawn in by the book’s deconstructionist and anarchic leanings.

EvilQueen

I’m actually wondering if I will regret presenting the Wicked Queen
with a copy. Her murmured response as she turned the pages was,
“What good ideas. What very good ideas…”

Thranduil

Thranduil of the Wood Elves was skeptical.
After all, the book was written by a human.

Batgirl_and_Supergirl

Batgirl and Supergirl found the series riveting.
They’ve always liked strong female characters.

BlackWidow_and_Bucky

Black Widow and Bucky Barnes appeared to consider the series
as a potentially hazardous object. But actually, is that a ghost
of a smile I see on Natasha’s face? It’s entirely possible that for
Black Widow, drawing her firearm is how she says “Hello.”

At least with people (and novels) that she respects.

HeMan

As for He-Man, well … he has the power!

Litore_and_Zombie_Extra

Toward the end of the day, things got dangerous again.

WeepingAngel

And still more dangerous! I blinked…

As I was leaving the Con, I was accosted by one final person: an eager and enthusiastic fan who hurried toward me, calling out, “Stant Litore! Stant Litore!” He caught me and quickly told me how much he loved my novels and how excited he was to meet me. He gave me his name and I plucked a book from my suitcase and signed it for him. He looked nervous and I am sure he worried that he was imposing on me, but the truth is that I was delighted. He reminded me of myself — both shy and eager in approaching people whose work I enjoy — and to be approached by a fan at a full run across a convention floor made me smile. It made me feel very good. It meant that, in at least one sense, I, and my novels, had “arrived.”

So, Adam, if you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you for reading my stories and for enjoying them, and for taking a moment in a very busy place to come tell me so. That really did mean a lot to me. Thank you.

I hope that all of you have enjoyed this photo-journal of my time at Denver Comic Con, and I hope to see you there next year! If you’re new to my fiction, I hope you’ll check out The Zombie Bible. And if you’re not into zombies, try The Ansible StoriesYou will love them.

Yours,

Stant Litore

Stant Litore at Denver Comic Con

I will be at Denver Comic Con this weekend. Come see what I’m cooking up!

1. Spirituality and Comics – Room 102 – Friday 1:30 – 2:20
2. Living with the Dead – Room 106 – Saturday 10:00 – 10:50 am
3. Book Signing: Stant Litore – Booth 136 – Saturday 12:00 – 1:00
4. Stant Litore’s Zombie Bible Series – Room 110 – Saturday 3:30 – 4:20
5. Zombies in the 21st Century – Room 108 – Saturday 6:15 – 7:05
6. Book Signing: Stant Litore – Booth 118 – Sunday 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

See you there!

litore_thezombiebible_1

We Need Larger Hearts

I am livid. I just responded to an author who had posted the following text in a discussion of social justice for an oppressed minority: “Be grateful. This is a very good time and place (the US and the West, generally) for you. The govt supports you. Academia supports you, the cultural opinion makers support you, rogue judges support you at the expense of the Peoples’ will. So gays, stop your whining. You have a very good thing going, and more angry rhetoric and upthrust fists (in the air, I mean) put you past the point of diminishing returns. Through your overreach, you are making enemies you don’t need and otherwise wouldn’t make.”

I don’t even know how to process the small-heartedness of that attitude.

If you want to argue that homosexuality is a sin, fine, do that. As a biblical scholar, I have strong grounds on which to refute you. In fact, argue anything you please, or anything you believe to be right. But regardless of your particular emotional response to or opinion of homosexuals, do not suggest, do not suggest for one moment that homosexuals have reason to be “grateful.”

Speaking here as a straight man, a religious man, and a married one, and one who is passionately a believer in the sanctity of marriage (though sometimes I wonder if I and certain pundits mean quite the same thing when we say that), what on earth are you talking about, when you say that gays are “whining” and should be “grateful”? Gay men and women should be grateful that they cannot visit their life partners’ hospital beds? That in some parts of the country they can’t raise children? That in some parts of the country they are at risk for being beaten and left bleeding on a barbed wire fence? For being raped repeatedly because a straight man decided to “convert” them into heterosexuals? Should they be grateful for a society that constantly judges them as inferior citizens? Should they be grateful for not being permitted to marry in most states of the Union? Should they be grateful that many of the producers of culture — such as the self-styled “award-winning novelist” who posted this — blithely, repeatedly dismiss their appeals for justice and for basic human decency in condescending and patronizing terms?

In the name of God, exposing injustice is never, ever an “overreach.” Challenging popularly-held untruths and making invisible, culturally sanctioned evils visible is never “whining.” If you believe otherwise, then I grieve for you, and hope fervently that some day your heart for your fellow human beings is a larger, more God-shaped heart.

Stant Litore


… P.S. For those of my readers or followers who are, like me, religious, but who have been misled either by tradition or by prominent voices in the church, before responding to this post with ire, I ask that you take a deep breath, make sure first that you have attended Matthew Vines’ work of biblical exegesis in Wichita, Kansas (link, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OiDrbipW34), which pretty thoroughly exploded the traditional view that the Bible condemns homosexuality, and then pray. Then respond with a clear mind and a clear heart.

Thunderclap: Is It a Useful Tool for Writers? 4 Writers Answer.

One of my readers introduced me to Thunderclap, a social media tool that musicians, politicians, and celebrities sometimes use to get word out rapidly. A “Thunderclap” is a campaign that fans sign up for free — and then, at a designated time on a designated day, the Thunderclap tool sends out a message across all of your fans’ social media channels, simultaneously.

ThunderclapPictured here: Thunderclap and its elusive promise of teeming millions who will share your message.

If you are a writer — especially an indie writer — there are probably already wheels turning in your head, right? Get a blast out about a new release, or a literary event, or a temporary sale on one of your books. The idea of a “thunderclap” sounding across all social media channels also sounds attractive because we know that a high burst of simultaneous sales can have a powerful impact on Amazon’s ranking algorithms, which in turn can lead to more sales of our books.

The potential is certainly exciting.

So, in May, I decided to do an experiment, running a Thunderclap campaign to promote the release of my new science-fiction/weird fiction title Ansible 15715. I also told other writers about it, and three joined me in running experiments of their own.

Now we want to report back to you on how it went. In this post, you will hear from me (Stant Litore), from Robert Kroese (author of Mercury Falls, Schrodinger’s Gat, and Starship Grifters), Jodi McIsaac (author of the series The Thin Veil), and bestseller Cheryl Kaye Tardif (author of Children of the Fog, Whale Song, and many other bestselling thriller and YA titles).

Spoiler: Although our experiences varied, three of us were left unsatisfied, and the fourth would try it again, but with reservations.

Here are the details…

DOES THUNDERCLAP WORK FOR WRITERS?
FOUR NOVELISTS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE:

ManuscriptSTANT LITORE: “I tried to use the Thunderclap to simulate the telepathic distress call that is at the heart of my new release. So the idea was an attractive one — send out the distress call, with a link to the book, grab attention rapidly and maybe hit Amazon’s ranking algorithms hard. It was worth a try.

By giving the campaign its own time slot to work prior to other release-related promotions, I was able to check impact on book sales with some reasonable degree of certainty. I saw 10 sales per 100 supporters to the Thunderclap campaign — a very low return.

The campaign did prove effective in generating some enthusiasm among core fans on the day of — when the thunderclap went live — but it was a LOT of work to set up, and there are less work-intensive ways to rally fans for a release. Fans needed to be told what the Thunderclap tool was, whether it cost anything, and I really only got my 100 supporters by having more than 100 individual conversations inviting fans and colleagues to try the project with me.”

KroeseROBERT KROESE: “It’s VERY difficult to get people to support it. I eventually gave up. Stant Litore’s was successful, but I don’t think he saw huge results from it. My feeling is that it’s not worth the effort.”

(Stant’s note: Rob also tried to recruit Thunderclap supporters through his email newsletter, which has a pretty extensive following. Being a humorist, Rob introduced his call for support with the phrase “I Have the Clap!” … which is rather different than how I introduced my campaign. Neither of our approaches were that successful.)


McIsaacJODI McISAAC:
“I reached my goal of 100 (barely), and it was nice to give my friends and core fans a practical way to help on launch day, but I doubt it had any significant impact on sales compared to what Amazon Publishing does marketing-wise during the launch period. But I might do it again, because as I said, it’s a good way to engage your core group.”

 

CHERYL KAYE TARDIF: “As an author/publisher who enjoys experimenting with new ways to promote books, I decided to give ThunderClap.it a try. I set up a promo for DIVINE INTERVENTION, selecting the minimum of 100 supporters.

I ran the promo for over 6 weeks, tweeting it and mentioning it on FB and elsewhere. When my promo time was up, I had only reached 39/100 supporters and my promo was automatically cancelled, as per Thunderclap.it’s rules.

They claim my social reach was 84,153 people. Yet only 39 people responded.

Part of the problem was that many were nervous about the site automatically gaining information from supporters’ FB or Twitter accounts. Many would not support me because of this, even when I explained it was fairly standard, and even when I reassured them that the site wouldn’t do anything with that info.

So my overall rating based on my experience: 1/5 stars. I think it has potential, but they need to revamp the supporters’ end.”

CONCLUSION

Stant Litore again. I think that if Thunderclap is to work for you, you need to already be a celebrity — and by celebrity, I mean an actual celebrity, like Oprah, Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling. Cheryl is already ahead of the rest of us in this post in that her fan base is large enough that she was able to get 39 supporters for her Thunderclap just by mentioning it frequently in her feeds. I suspect that King or Rowling would get a multitude of people behind their Thunderclap in that way.

The rest of us — whether our Thunderclap went live (as it did for me and Jodi) or didn’t (as in Rob’s case) had to invest significant time in making personal invites to our readers and discussing the tool. That is a lot of effort.

If you do try the tool, I recommend having a team of volunteers ready at hand to recruit supporters for your Thunderclap campaign — just as you would do for a kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign. That will help limit the time investment on your part — though you will still need to invest time in interacting with, motivating, and celebrating your volunteers, of course! And if you try it, I recommend treating Thunderclap as a way to engage some of your core readers, rather than as a tool that will generate sales.

But there are certainly other ways to engage and mobilize your core readers that will prove both less time-intensive and will show much greater return.

Yours in truth and fiction,

Stant Litore

New Release from Stant Litore!

Ansible15716_smallIt’s true. The second of the Ansible Stories is here. You can read it and enjoy it even if you haven’t read the first Ansible story, though if you’ve already read Ansible 15715, I think your enjoyment will be increased.

ANSIBLE 15716
Ansible 15715 was sent to a nightmare world that threatened to devour her, a world of endless dark. But the Ansible 15716 team is sent to a planet that burns beneath a white-hot sun … a saline desert where immense objects loom on the horizon, completely buried beneath a hundred meters of salt. 

When this team’s sole survivor finds himself stranded in an alien body, among an alien race, he must search for some connection with home — or for some connection with this desert species, on a planet so vast, it makes the mind itself a desert.

Read Ansible 15716 here.

Inara Finds Gruesome Battles Hilarious

InaraBaby Inara listens to death metal; it comforts her. And when I read her the Silmarillion, she giggles herself into hysterics during the battle and betrayal scenes. For example, tonight, during Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, she collapsed in hilarity when the dragon squished Azaghal king of the Dwarves, giggled herself silly when the Orcs bridged the stream of Rivil with their countless fallen dead, and squealed with delight as Hurin of the House of Hador hewed off the arms of the troll-guard, wielding a great ax two-handed. The smoking of troll-blood on the blade appears to bring her great joy.

She is clearly my daughter.

Gutenberg, Bad for Books: How the Printing Press is Threatening European Literature

I’m going to get clobbered for this in some quarters, but here goes. First, I need to say that I am in awe of the potential of ebooks, which already are making a substantial impact on literacy:

Additionally, the thriving self-publishing platforms now available (including Kindle Direct Publishing, iBooks, Kobo, and others) are giving writers new opportunities for distribution. I am friends with a number of writers who make their living due to e-publishing.

So when James Patterson (of all people) waxes rhapsodic on PBS about how “the digital revolution is threatening American literature,” I just can’t take him seriously. Even setting aside the irony that Patterson earns royalties on thousands of ebook sales every day, … I will take your grouchy millionaire New York novelist and raise you several million book-reading children.

However, in Patterson’s honor, please tune in next week for my double feature, “Gutenberg: Bad for Books” and “How the Printing Press is Threatening European Literature.” I will interview several highly acclaimed monks on how the advent of printed pamphlets and bound volumes is presenting irreversible challenges to the illuminated manuscript industry, threatening literature as we know it.

Stant Litore

P.S. What I’m talking about here is ebooks, not Amazon. Amazon opened up the ebook market in a big way, taking it from tiny to one quarter of publishing revenue in the U.S., but with Apple’s iBooks rapidly taking market share and with other companies in the R&D for innovative e-reader apps and devices, I think the future landscape of digital publishing is going to be hotly contested and highly competitive. You can certainly argue, if you want, that Amazon’s business practices threaten the traditional publishing industry. But the effects of the “digital revolution” on “literature” may be excellent, neutral, or bad at different moments, depending on how writers, readers, retailers, and publishers take advantage of the new technologies. And in the early years of this technological shift, what I see is potential for global advances for literacy, growth (already) in numbers of books sold, and more options for authors.

A Young Girl Discovers She’s a Prophet: Zombie Bible Quote #94

Litore_SITLThe first time Devora ever glimpsed a thing that did not yet exist, she was twelve years old and only recently a woman. The vision came to her the day before her mother’s death. It was just after dawn and there was frost on the heather, one of the last frosts of the year. Devora was carrying a ewer down to the stream outside her parents’ camp to fill with water, humming to herself. The frost made little noise beneath her feet, for she’d wound heavy cloth around her sandals to keep her feet warm, and this muffled the sound. Her mind was on the changes and the soreness in her body and the prospect of being permitted to go to the Feast of Tents for the first time later that year. She broke into a run for the sheer joy of it, just to feel the wind in her hair. This was a pure kind of joy, a kind she would rarely experience again.

Without warning, heat blazed within her as though she’d leapt from the frost right into the smoke above a fire pit. She gasped for air and stopped, almost falling to her knees. Even as she did, she glimpsed across the stream, startling her, a young woman who looked identical to her. A woman who had her face. She was running through the grasses, weeping. Devora held her breath and would have called out, but in a moment the other woman was gone. Just gone.

From Strangers in the LandRead more of the story here.

IWHMDC_LitoreJOIN THE COUNTDOWN!

This is Episode #94 of my countdown of 101 quotes from The Zombie Bible.

At the end of this countdown will be the release of I Will Hold My Death Closea Zombie Bible novella.

Like this post and comment if you like the quote, if you remember it, or if it moves you to respond.

Or share this post with others if you would recommend the book!

PREVIOUS QUOTES IN THE COUNTDOWN:

Father Polycarp’s Gaze: Zombie Bible Quote #95
She Bore Old Lines on Her Back: Zombie Bible Quote #96
God is Also Our Mother: Zombie Bible Quote #97
Hoshekh: Zombie Bible Quote #98
Like Sword and Like Fire: Zombie Bible Quote #99
Where the Waves Eat the World: Zombie Bible Quote #100
The Crisis of the Walking Dead: Zombie Bible Quote #101

The Zombie Bible Bookmark

Here’s a peek at the bookmark I’ll be handing out at Denver Comic Con!

Litore_bookmark_2x8

I am a guest at this year’s Denver Comic Con (June 13-15, 2014). They graciously invited me and my walking dead to their convention, because they are brave and like to live dangerously. I’ll be there at:

A panel on spirituality and comics – Room 102 – Friday 1:30 – 2:20
Stant Litore’s Zombie Bible Series – Room 110 – Saturday 3:30
Zombies in the 21st Century – Room 108 – Saturday 6:15 – 7:05
Book Signing: Stant Litore, Booth 118, Sunday 11am – 12pm

So I hope you’ll come see me! I’ll sign a book. I’ll talk to you about history, and zombies, and weird fiction. If necessary, I’ll defend you against a swarm of ravenous ghouls. I’ll see you there.

Stant Litore

Religion Should Be Like a Baby Bird

“Is your religion real when it costs you nothing and carries no risk? Is your religion real when you fatten upon it? Is your religion real when you commit atrocities in its name? Whence comes your downward degeneration from the original revelation?”
~Frank Herbert, Children of Dune. (A quote my friend Joseph Brassey recalled for me today.)

“It is perhaps one of history’s great ironies that the Church of later centuries fell so often into the same cultural dead ends that the early apostles abhorred, permitting reverence for the dead to take precedence over compassion for the living.” – Stant Litore, What Our Eyes Have Witnessed

These are various thoughts on what might go wrong with religion. Here’s a third, recent thought.

Religion, if it is to be both useful, alive, and vivifying, must be young and vulnerable as a baby bird, as something blossoming in the heart, a fragile but deeply attractive thing that seems, at least for a moment, to be “in the world but not of it,” an experience, a teaching, a relationship that calls out to you to protect the weak and to honor the divine. A still, small voice.

When religion is mighty and militant, it is very much “of the world.” Because we are moved to change our world, it is so easy to think that religion should be about power — the power to change things, to enforce God’s will or our own — when it was never so for the prophets or for Jesus of Nazareth. For them, it was never about power. It was about the weak voice, the insistent voice, the voice crying out in the desert, the voice that you can dampen by turning up your MP3 or even by cranking up the volume on your worship music, but the voice that keeps calling your name anyway, working its way into your heart, asking not to be ignored, asking for your action, for your justice, for your advocacy for others, for your repentance, and for your love. Religion is not about shouting or legislating or campaigning. It can motivate these things, but the one should not be mistaken for the other! Religion was meant to be about listening.

Listening for that quiet voice.

Encouraging others to listen.

When religion becomes a force of evil in our culture, a force of destruction and humiliation and the defeat of the human spirit, I think it is because we forget to listen. Our religion becomes a shout, a battle hymn, a militant cry. It becomes the strong right arm of the world. It becomes the very thing it was founded to disrupt and redeem.

I have seen a meme going around that says “I am a Christian: you may beat me, imprison me, or kill me, but you cannot change my mind.” I find everything about that message abhorrent. In Christianity, it is the FUNCTION of Christianity to repeatedly, daily, hourly change your heart, change your mind, change and reform your very identity. Christianity was founded as a religion of and for change. Its teachings are about challenging stagnation and “hardness of heart.” In that faith tradition, one should hold fast to a trust in God’s goodness, but one’s mind and heart should be subject to change at any moment. “Metanoia” – the change of the heart – that is the whole point of it. The reason our sacred texts put such emphasis on “faith” is because it takes enormous trust to live willing to have your life, your beliefs, your assumptions, and your loyalties constantly questioned, reformed, transformed, turned upside down and around and around at the insistence of God’s still, small voice.

Notice the disciples in our own sacred texts. At their best, they are shown listening. Learning. And the model for “evangelism” in the New Testament is not a radio show but having meals together, listening to each other and sharing stories and sharing the words that blaze in our hearts, writing and reading personal letters, and listening in humility.

We are no longer a nation of listeners. We are a people more frequently led by fear than faith; we bludgeon each other with our political views, our religious creeds, our ideological positions. We walk into conversations wearing them like bulletproof vests, with sound-dampening muffs over our ears, guarding our hearts against any chance of hearing the hearts of others.

That is what I am thinking about this morning.

Stant Litore

The Story of Inara

Inara6A lot of you have been following little Inara’s story with friendship, good wishes, and prayers, and my wife and I are deeply thankful to you. Whenever we post anything about Inara, there is such an outpouring of love that we know we don’t face the tougher moments alone…and neither does she.

Today, Inara had her third MRI (to study the extent of damage to her brain) and a lumbar puncture — a spinal tap to test for rare metabolic disorders. We are all exhausted at the end of it, and the kindness of both friends and readers that we’ve received today means a lot to us.

Especially today. Yesterday, my wife and I attended a beautiful memorial for Inara’s friend Dahlia Blue, who recently passed away. Dahlia Blue and Inara shared many identical symptoms (and even looked remarkably alike). The difference: Inara’s seizures have been under control for a little while now. Dahlia’s remained uncontrollable. Our hearts are stricken for her family. I hold Inara all the more tightly, this evening.

Inara

My Daughter, the Fierce-Hearted

Inara is disabled, partially blind, with scarring in her brain and a history of severe seizures. She is also one fierce, dragon-hearted little girl. Readers who are new to my work have asked me lately about Inara, and I thought I would collect the pieces of her story here.

Woven into her story is the story of my books and how I came to bring them to you; the story of my wife and our love for each other and for our children; and even the quiet patience and exuberant big-sisterness and caring of River, my oldest daughter. You can read about Inara and her family here:

How the Kindle and KDP Helped Save My Little Girl
Inara and the Giraffe Club
We Know the Name of the Wound

Inara and I cope with the more difficult moments by sharing stories:

Preparing for the Long Dark of Moria
The Night I Stayed Up All Night with My Daughter

How You Can Help

Support and encouragement. Comments on Inara’s story, here on my blog. Prayer if you are religious, kind thoughts if you are not.

IWHMDC_LitoreOne more way you can help: pre-order my new book, I Will Hold My Death Close (www.amazon.com/dp/B00JMJYBN2).

Each order quite literally puts food on our table or helps pay a medical bill. Also, no matter who you are, I believe this new book will give you hope.

If you’d like to be more involved in our story, consider becoming one of my patrons on Team Litore:

Litore_Patreon
Screenshot updated July 19, 2014.

Sharing Our Stories

Two more things. These don’t cost a penny.

I’ve opened this page — My Daughters’ Library — where I collect favorite quotations from stories. If you are moved by Inara’s story, I hope you will stop by and leave a quote to fill a Library for her and her big sister River. If Inara never gains much sight or ability to read, we will read her Library to her. And she will know that she is loved and not alone.

I also formed a Facebook group for sharing stories of strong women, or intelligent women, or brave women, or kind women — the heroines that all of our daughters need. River and Inara both are growing up in a world that is not always good to women, and they will need heroes. The group is called Heart of a Goddess, Heart of a Tiger. In this world, my daughters need both.

If you have a daughter, or a niece, or a cousin, or a sister, I encourage you to join the group. Post stories of historical or current-day women. Or share stories that move you with others on Facebook. Sharing a story may not change the world — but it’s an awfully good place to start.

Inara_Hospital_4
In friendship,

Stant Litore

Father Polycarp’s Gaze: Zombie Bible Quote #95

Polycarp

The frontispiece for What Our Eyes Have Witnessed. Polycarp’s gaze.
Photography by Danielle Tunstall. Model: Martyn Dalzell.

…her eyes opened to him, and he gazed inside the rooms of her heart, as he so often had gazed into the eyes of the walking dead. He saw rooms that were locked and chained; he could almost hear the screams behind those shut doors. He saw other rooms that were vast and wide as oceans; in one, her love and faith in him, a faith so profound and unshakable that it shook him to see it. In another room, the many moments when she’d held others in her arms and given them refuge, and the love, deep and maternal and fierce, that she bore now toward each of those she’d sheltered. He saw her loss at having borne no children, and her joy at having found children in the men and women who lived in the insula under Polycarp’s care. He saw her determination to preserve them – and him – a resolve that was like a hard, cold wall of rock in her heart. 

What Our Eyes Have Witnessed

726c3-woehw_cover_litore

That is Father Polycarp gazing into the eyes of Regina Romae, who is the heroine and probably the true protagonist of What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, a novel of the early martyrs’ encounter with the undead in second-century Rome.

But Polycarp doesn’t look into the souls of the living only.

Polycarp has a Gift. He can bring peace and rest to the restless dead. At his touch, each hungering corpse lies still at last. But to do this, Polycarp must first look into each one’s blind eyes and find the remnant of the soul caught within the shambling corpse. He must witness its secrets, its suffering — all that it loved and feared and regretted in its brief life. Only then can he absolve that soul and set it free. Only then will it cease to walk and feed.

Read more in this captivating installment in The Zombie Bible.

 

IWHMDC_LitoreJOIN THE COUNTDOWN!

This is Episode #95 of my countdown of 101 quotes from The Zombie Bible.

At the end of this countdown will be the release of I Will Hold My Death Closea Zombie Bible novella.

Like this post and comment if you like the quote, if you remember it, or if it moves you to respond.

Or share this post with others if you would recommend the book!

PREVIOUS QUOTES IN THE COUNTDOWN:

She Bore Old Lines on Her Back: Zombie Bible Quote #96
God is Also Our Mother: Zombie Bible Quote #97
Hoshekh: Zombie Bible Quote #98
Like Sword and Like Fire: Zombie Bible Quote #99
Where the Waves Eat the World: Zombie Bible Quote #100
The Crisis of the Walking Dead: Zombie Bible Quote #101