Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reading "Farnsworth's Revenge" Nov 4 in Venice

I'll be reading from Farnworth's Revenge: Rollo's End, the third book in the Rollo Hemphill series of comic misadventures. The event on Sunday, November 4 at 2pm is hosted by the Women's National Book Association at Mystic Journey Bookstore, 1319 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291 (phone 310 399-7070). This Reads Its Own event runs until 4pm and will include several WNBA member authors reading their material.

The story so far...

In the first two books, My Inflatable Friend and Rubber Babes, Rollo has masterminded a plot with a life-sized rubber doll made in the image of a famous soap star, Monica LaMonica. Rollo’s former boss, old crusty Hugo Farnsworth, has developed a passionate fascination for the doll. He is currently entertaining “her” as his sole guest aboard his private yacht Shameless Palms, currently anchored at St. Tropez. Meanwhile, Rollo has also fled to France to avoid being arrested for a money-laundering scam he didn’t do. As the book opens, Farnsworth secretly summons Rollo and pleads for his help because the doll has mysteriously disappeared from the boat.

Audio Clip from Farnsworth's Revenge (MP3)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just Released on Kindle Select

Six short stories and an essay on this not-so-serious topic.
"Chemistry" expands on the self-evident premise that you can't tell teenagers anything. The narrator of "Not Quite After Lisette is a forty-something high-tech executive whose wife is divorcing him. "Johnny Halo and Rock, the Tyro Shock Jock" is the first of three episodes from the Rollo Hemphill series of comic novels. In this installment, he falls upward into a job as a shock-jock deejay. "In the Valley of the Happy People" is from the second book, Rubber Babes, and "Spin Cycle" is a chapter from the third book, Farnsworth's Revenge: Rollo's End. "In the Gallery of American Art" is a story about a woman who wakes up on her birthday thinking her life is perfect. And of course it's not. It is excerpted from the novel Bonfire of the Vanderbilts, a work in progress. The afterward essay "Boychik Lit" is a think piece on male-centered comic fiction.

It's available from Kindle Select for $2.99. Always free to Amazon Prime members.

Monday, May 7, 2012

New for Kindle: The Death of Hypatia and the End of Fate

A brief historical essay that offers some new insights based on historical inferences and cultural context.
You might not expect a practitioner of male-centered comic fiction to be writing serious nonfiction about a famous female, much less an ancient one about whom almost nothing is known. This brief essay presents conclusions from research I did for my play Hypatia of Alexandria, which was a finalist in the Long Beach Playhouse New Works Competition. At this time, it's exclusively available from Amazon in Kindle format, free to Prime subscribers and otherwise $9.99, which may seem pricey but not if you are as fascinated by the topic as I have been.

Here's the catalog description: In this historical essay, freelance writer Gerald Everett Jones correlates the few details known about the death of the last Greek-speaking philosopher with the religious and political revolution that overtook her. Jones explains how, centuries earlier, Egyptian priest Manetho and Greek mystic Timotheus created the cult of Sarapis at the behest of pharaoh Ptolemy Soter. Hypatia's identification with this religion got her killed and her works suppressed, but the philosophy today's scholars call Hellenic Neoplatonism was rediscovered in the Renaissance and then again in the New Age.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: The Tattooed Rabbi by Marvin Wolf

Walter Mosely. Michael Connelly. Add Marvin J. Wolf to that short list of masterful detective fiction writers. Here's hoping that his series of Rabbi Ben Maimon books is long and long-lived. This one is set in Los Angeles, where Wolf has been a crime fiction (and nonfiction) author for most of his life. He knows police procedural, forensic science, computer science, and Jewish theology -- all of which inform the book with delicious detail.

The little congregation of Beth Joseph in Burbank has more than a little problem. It seems someone anonymously deposited a couple of million bucks in one of their bank accounts. Is it a gift from God or a ploy by a scammer? They call on Rabbi Ben to sort things out oh-so discreetly, inviting him to journey from his home in Boston to pose as a visiting scholar. He's not fibbing, mind you, in that he is a Talmudic scholar and does happen to be visiting, but with full access to the shul's financial records and in close personal contact with its quirky board of directors, including some very influential megabucks ganser machers who have more secrets than closets in their palatial mansions.

Of course, the problem turns out to be not only the unexpected loot but also a whole nest of related and unrelated complications, and more than one grisly murder.

Wolf knows the form cold as a day-old corpse and gives us a thoroughly entertaining read straight through.

Only, dark as some aspects of this story are, I can't really characterize it as noir. After all, Rabbi Ben is watched over and cared for by the Master of the Universe, even though it will take all of this humble Jew's learning, wits, and martial arts chops to extricate himself and the temple faithful from this unholy mess.

[Cross-posted at]

It Was Nevertheless a Colorful Event

Authors Dan Pirasak, Roberta Edgar (IWOSC Veep), and Gerald Everett Jones at the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) booth, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, April 21, 2012. Photo by Marvin Wolf.
Marv Wolf, author of The Tattooed Rabbi and President Emeritus of IWOSC, decided on a retro B&W treatment when he stopped by the booth to take this happy snap. The event was a delight, as ever, and it's truly encouraging that so many Angelenos not only read but also made the effort to make the trip to USC instead of the beach.

During my two shifts in the IWOSC booth on Saturday, I chatted with a lot of folks, including Lance, who goes by only his first name. Lance at first glance looked like a homeless person who had wandered over accidentally from somewhere east of Figueroa. His clothes had a decidedly used look, and he was incredibly soft-spoken. So much so that I had to ask him to repeat several things he said. Come to find out, Lance is not an aspiring author but a fully published one. He gifted me a copy of his book Confessions of a College Football Rules Violator, which he said was about "sex, drugs, and rock n' roll." My kinda guy, and he autographed it. The book is a not-so-whimsical memoir about big-time cheating at a big-money NCAA campus. It's written in confessional, diary style. And it's a revelation. Find the purchase link below, and thanks, Lance, for seeing through my suspicious gaze and reminding me that the democratization of media is fully under way.

Monday, March 12, 2012

MP3: Reading from Farnsworth's Revenge: Rollo's End

Gerald Everett Jones reads from Farnsworth's Revenge: Rollo's End. Courtesy Flo Selfman, IWOSC
March 11, 2012 - Barnes & Noble - Santa Monica Promenade

7min Audio Clip MP3

The author reads from the third comic novel of the Rollo Hemphill misadventures. The life-sized replica of soap-star Monica LaMonica has mysteriously disappeared from Hugo Farnsworth's yacht off St. Tropez. Rollo has set himself the task of conducting an investigation, as a favor to the old man. His inquiries lead him to the palace of Attaboy Pasha, an eccentric art connoisseur in Istanbul who has a passion for realistic dolls. Attaboy says he doesn't have the Monica doll but dearly covets it. And he says he has something to trade.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's Read an E-Book Week and Rollo Bares All

March 4 - 11 on Smashwords - Rollo's Misadventures are Free!

Pick your fave ebook format - They're all here.

My Inflatable Friend - FREE - Slacker car jockey Rollo Hemphill tries to make his girlfriend jealous by driving the life-sized lookalike doll of a famous soap star around Hollywood.

Rubber Babes - Use coupon code RE100 - Rollo gets the girl and a lot he didn't bargain for when he fails continually upward to head a charity that's laundering money for the Secret Government.

Farnsworth's Revenge -  Third in the series, forthcoming. Rollo gets his just desserts. I'll be reading from it on Sunday, March 11, at 2pm at Barnes & Noble on the Santa Monica Promenade.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Guest Post: On genre in fiction and why it's not very important

So what's a nice literary fiction gal like me doing blogging at a dangerous place like Boychik Lit?  Am I at the wrong party? No, I don't think so.  The way I look at it, good writing is good writing and when it's happening, a genre label is probably little more than something publishers use for marketing purposes and readers use to make sure that the book they're about to read isn't going to bore, bother, upset, or irritate them.  When a novel is superbly written, and the characters are distincitive and 'true', then the reader won't get bored, bothered, upset or irritated no matter whether you call the book chik (or boychik) lit, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, or literary fiction.  Here are two reasons why I don't believe genre really matters:

Few novels stick perfectly well to genre conventions, especially when they're employing the elements of good fiction writing, such as the character arc, a powerful setting (whether that setting is Stavromula Beta or, as in my new novel Black Cow, a remote farmhouse in Tasmania), an exciting dramatic plot, a rich theme, and a unique concept. In fact, the only time that genre conventions are crystal clear and 100% conformed to are when stereotypes are in play and the overall result is cliché laden. I've never written a story or novel that didn't have elements of romance, horror, historical fiction, and even sci fi.  It's all part of the complex spectrum of human experience. Yes the overall tenets of genre may apply and give the story it's distinctive feel, category, set of parameters, and these can add important flavour, but if the story is good, I'll enjoy reading it no matter what the genre, and especially if there is no obvious discernable genre but rather a blend of elements that make up different genres. 

Even the notion of genre is a moveable feast.  Have you heard of "medical-romance"? "Airport fiction?", "beach reads", "steampunk", "squid-lit"? They're all relatively new genres coined by marketers to try and attract a particular audience, based on broad but sometimes (when everything is working well) nebulous criteria.  How about the distinction between "Young Adult (YA)" and "Adult" fiction?  One of my favourite novels The Life of Pi is sold as YA in the US and adult fiction in Australia.  The same goes for The Book Thief.  Sometimes parents use the genre "YA" as a means for ensuring themselves that the book will be suitable for their teenagers.  But some of the best, most sophisticated (and disturbing) adult novels I've read have been tagged as YA.

The best novelists don't get too caught up in genre unless they're writing to a very clear specific spec - and that may well hold true for Harlequin staff writers, but most of us just get on with the writing.  Maybe when it's all done, some canny soul in the marketing department (or the author under duress) will decide that it fits into one or more genre categories. Maybe the cover will hint at a certain type of escapism which will appeal to a certain type of reader.  If these things open new markets to the work, then everyone wins. 

Magdalena Ball is the author of the newly released genre free novel Black Cow (actually some people have called it "Recession-lit", "contemporary fiction", and "literary fiction". If any of those appeal to you - go with them!). Grab a a free mini flip book here:
Check out Gerald's review of Black Cow right here at the blog. Or dive straight over to Amazon now for some instant gratification.