My First Book Is Out!

I must say, after over a year of focused work, it’s a great feeling to open a box and see books with my name on it. It’s a grand feeling to finally hold it in my hands and know it’s real! 🙂

Beautiful Nonsense is an anthology of 35 funny and odd short stories, in the vein of Monty Python, Blackadder, Jack Handey, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Here’s my official description below the photos.

BN2

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An out of touch father trying to teach his bored son a unique form of martial arts.

A flashy superhero who cares more about his image than actually doing anything heroic.

A shy Martian longing to fit into high school in the American Mid-West.

The thirty five short stories within Kris Bather’s debut range from the bizarre (elderly friends hazily recounting their glory days) to the even more bizarre (competitors in a chili eating festival happily willing to die for first prize).

Surreal and silly, Beautiful Nonsense embraces the inherent oddness of interactions, both human and otherwise, and takes them to hilarious extremes.

You can buy the digital version for only $1.49 from the Amazon Australia store. The print version as well as the digital version are also available from Amazon’s other sites worldwide, including America and the UK. Canada! France! Brazil! India! Germany!

You can check out a preview of my book on the links above, but it is a random preview, so you may not get my complete stories. However you can check out full previews on my Wattpad.

It’s published through CreateSpace, which is effectively Amazon’s self-publishing arm, and I highly recommend it. Anyone can publish their books via CreateSpace and with Amazon’s global reach, it makes a lot of sense for indie authors like myself.

It’s been a challenging process at times, but also a very rewarding one. If you do buy a copy, I hope you like it and please let me know what you think.

Elfhunter at Sea Lion Books

It’s a bit unclear by this press release but it appears that relatively new comics publisher Sea Lion Books is creating new comics based on the fantasy book series, Elfhunter. There’s no mention on format (OGN, monthly series), writer or artist, but either way, it sounds kinda cool.

Sea Lion Books is proud to announce a multi-book deal with acclaimed fantasy fiction author C.S. Marks, whose highly successful self-published series has already garnered high praise from readers and critics alike. Set in the remarkable realm of Alterra, ELFHUNTER is the first novel in this three book series, which has sold over 35,000 copies in the United States and UK. An epic fantasy filled with adventure, danger, and suspense, it is scheduled for release Spring 2012.

The Tales of Alterra – The World That Is

A monster roams the last refuge of the Elves–a creature who has sworn to destroy them one by one until none remain. One headstrong heroine is determined to stand between her people and extinction–Wood-elf Gaelen Taldin. When powerful dark magic creates a terrible and irrevocable spiritual link between them, the result is a journey of terrifying transformation. Elfhunter tells a story of savage combat between predator and prey–a deadly dance wherein the hunter becomes the hunted. Who will prevail?

A fantasy setting rich in imagery and very human conflict, the world of ELFHUNTER pits friendship, loyalty, and love against hatred, prejudice, and despair. In a monster-hunt of epic proportions, it sets one small but determined Wood-elf against a complex and fascinating villain to yield a timeless tale that has captivated young readers and parents alike. Join the Company of Elves, dwarves, mortal men, and delightfully intelligent horses. Come to Alterra – the “World That Is”

“We are thrilled to bring the world of C.S. Marks’ ELFHUNTER TRILOGY to new life.” said Derek Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Sea Lion Books. “An amazing new talent, a powerful storyteller, she and her series (newly illustrated by the incomparable Hope Hoover) have an exciting and brilliant future at Sea Lion Books.”

My Best Friend Is A Wookiee Review

If the film Fanboys left your “life revolving around Star Wars” approach to storytelling appetite wanting, then My Best Friend Is A Wookiee is the book for you.

Honestly though, despite the title, Tony Pacitti’s real yet captivating memoir is about so much more than George Lucas’ best creation. The subtitle of the book from Adams Media is “one boy’s journey to find his place in the galaxy” and that’s a more apt description. Using Star Wars as equal parts inspiration, consolation and (with the later prequels) frustration Pacitti weaves an honest tale of his journey from adolescence to adulthood from his love affair after seeing his mother’s VHS copy taped from the TV of The Empire Strikes Back to his orbit around all things Star Wars including the novels, trading cards, a painful tattoo and the assorted merchandise that constitutes every good childhood.

Every geek can relate to his raw anecdotes from the torment of school bullies to the frightening discovery of women to the search for identity.

Occasionally the book gets serious when dealing with typical teenaged issues and the effects of the Columbine school shootings upon himself and his circle of friends, but generally it’s a seamless narrative collecting the kinds of awkward experiences that any pop culture loving kid of the ‘80s and ‘90s can relate to. Honestly, even if you don’t love Star Wars as much as Pacitti does (and he does, for the most part) it’s still an immensely satisfying read. Pacitti is a charming underdog throughout, desperately clinging to his love of Lucas’ galactic epic during all its shifts in quality and popularity.

This really is a must read book for anyone who’s loved and lost in the worlds of reality or fiction.  Perhaps two quotes might best give an idea of the diversity of Pacitti’s understandable feelings.

“I suppose it’s because I felt like one of those midgets in teddy-bear pajamas, watching and listening with eyes and ears open wide as the amazing saga of Luke, Han, and Leia played out before me. If I hadn’t known it before, I certainly knew it then: I was in love.”

and

“The cheers subsided, the text scroll started, and over the next two hours and some-odd minutes, I learned the true meaning of heartbreak.”

Amongst the love and eventual hatred, (but still respect) of Star Wars Pacitti tells consistently entertaining tales of his daily life including his attempt to reveal his ESP abilities in front of his shocked classroom, the popularity of his “Indiana Skywalker and the Rectum of Doom” short story, his flirtation with drug use, the shifting relationships of his circle of friends/enemies, his charming dalliances with trying to understand himself and women and more. It’s 230 pages that seem to go by at light speed because it’s so irresistibly readable.

I remember news reports about The Sixth Sense making so much money because it had the first trailer of The Phantom Menace in front of it. I saw the film three times in its opening week and reading Pacitti’s memoir made me laugh, wince and empathise in equal amounts. After finishing it, it did make me want to see all six films again, and that’s never a bad thing.

My Best Friend is a deservedly widely praised book as a glance at the front and back covers will inform you, but it’s not a book just for geeks, and it’s not a book with a Star Wars reference on every page either. It’s a universal tale of a boy becoming a man and dealing with the stuff that we all do, while emotionally entangled by the ultimate sci-fi adventure, and despite Lucas’ constant tinkering attempts at “betterment” the memories of our childhood stay with us long after the credits.

Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies Review

Well, maybe not a review, but definitely a recommendation. I had a 2 month gap between starting this and finally finishing it this week, so I’m going by my pleasant memories of this over 300 page book. Written by Michael Adams, who writes for my favourite magazine Empire, it chronicles “a film critic’s year-long quest to find the worst movie ever made.” It made my daily train commute fly by as each page turn would bring a new cinematic disaster that would conjur chuckles of disbelief. From home movies made to test out a new video camera that somehow found a distributor to a series of films with an all dwarf cast, this is a wonderfully entertaining look behind the sofa of cinema’s history. Everyone has their favourite “so bad it’s good” film and Adams spent a lot of time and money trawling through forgotten 1950s monster films to straight to DVD messes.

What makes Showgirls…. so enjoyable is not only the hundreds of films, but also the stories behind them, from “auteurs” who don’t know how to give up, to the tragic figures and countless unbelievable tales behind these big screen diamonds in the rough. Adams wisely just didn’t give us a huge list but rather weaves a loose narrative as he details his journey to unearth and view these gems. Using a form of bingo and categories such as stinky sequels and blaxploitation, Adams gives each film a score of 100, with more than a few barely gaining double digits. He’s a fun and funny writer and gives us glimpses of his non-movie watching life involving his day job at Empire (where he occasionally asks well known directors and actors for their recommendations) and his tolerant wife Clare and young daughter Ava. I can honestly say that most of the films mentioned in Adams’ book, I would love to see with a few friends, ready for a laugh. Not all of the films sounds unintentionally hilarious though, and a lot sound downright vile and boring.

Despite the premise of Showgirls… this will indeed quench your thirst for cinema, as it did with Adams, and give you an honest appreciation for that true cinematic gem when you find it. You can download the intro and first chapter of the book for free right here.

Stephen Dixon At Fantagraphics

Time to get literary. Press release below about indie comics publisher Fantagraphics and their publication in May next year of author Stephen Dixon’s short stories. I can’t say I’ve heard of Dixon, but he seems to be well admired. Details below.

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS ANNOUNCES THE ACQUISITION OF STEPHEN DIXON’S WHAT IS ALL THIS?, A COLLECTION OF MODERN FICTION

Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the acquisition of What Is All This?, a 900-page collection of previously uncollected short fiction by two-time National Book Award Nominee (1991, 1995) Stephen Dixon. The collection will be published in May, 2010 and mark the third entry in Fantagraphics burgeoning line of literary fiction, following Alexander Theroux’s Laura Warholic (2007) and Monte Schulz’s This Side of Jordan (2009). Along with Theroux, Dixon is the second National Book Award nominated-author to publish new fiction through Fantagraphics.

“Stephen Dixon is one of the great secret masters — too secret. I return again and again to his stories for writerly inspiration, moral support and comic relief at moments of personal misery, and, several times, in a spirit of outright plagiaristic necessity: borrowing a jumpstart from a few lines of Dixon has been a real problem-solver in my own short fiction. Please read him, you.” — Jonathan Lethem

Dixon is one of the most acclaimed authors of short stories in the history of American letters. He has published previously through acclaimed independent literary presses like McSweeney’s and Melville House, as well as corporate houses like Henry Holt. His work, characterized by mordant humor and a frank attention to human sexuality, has earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy Institute of Arts and Letters Prize for Fiction, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Fantagraphics Books is proud to present his latest volume of short stories, a massive collection of vintage Dixon, eschewing the modernism and quasi-autobiography of his I-trilogy and instead treating readers to a pared-down, crystalline style more reminiscent of Hemingway.

“Dixon is one of the few writers whose new work I will put everything aside to read, which is to say he is in the company of Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, and Lydia Davis…. Put aside whatever you’re reading, and read him.” — J. Robert Lennon

“This is our third book of prose fiction —after Alex Theroux’s Laura Warholic and Monte Schulz’s This Side of Jordan— and readers may notice that the common denominator among these books is that language itself serves as the animating literary force,” says acquiring editor and Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth. “Dixon’s finely chiseled sentences cut to the quick of people’s lives. None of these stories have been collected in any book; they have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals over almost 40 years and Dixon has entirely rewritten all of them. Dixon admirers will be cheered to learn that these stories comprise a wholly original work.”

Centrally concerning himself with the American condition, Dixon explores in What Is All This? obsessions of body image, the increasingly polarized political landscape, sex —in all its incarnations— and the gloriously pointless minutiae of modern life, from bus rides to tying shoelaces. Using the canvas of his native New York (with one significant exception that affords Dixon the opportunity to create a furiously political fable) he astutely captures the edgy madness that infects the city through the neuroses of his narrators with a style that owes as much to Neo-Reaist cinema as it does to modern literature. What Is All This? will be published in hardcover, designed by Fantagraphics award-winning Art Director Jacob Covey. “Stephen Dixon is one of the few writers who completely challenged, then changed how I think about writing and reading,” says Covey. “He was the first writer I recognized as making Art that was as viscerally relevant as painting or music. Designing a book for someone who was so formative to me is one of the rarest and most intimidating opportunities I can imagine.”

“I have read a lot of Dixon’s writing. If I didn’t like his writing I would not have read so many things of his.” — Tao Lin

Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1958 and is a former faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. In his early 20s, he worked as a journalist in radio, interviewing such monumental figures as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Nikita Khrushchev. His witty, keenly observed narratives and sharply hewn prose have appeared in every major market magazine from Harper’s to Playboy and have earned him two National Book Award nominations —for his novels Frog and Interstate. He still hammers out his fiction on a vintage typewriter.

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