It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson, a Review (of sorts)

As I sit and watch the surreal press conference between Trump and Putin after their so-called historic summit, where, after recently treating our allies like dog shit, Trump behaves like a sycophantic lapdog to a murderous dictator who wants nothing more than to destroy and subjugate the U.S. of America in retribution for how the U.S. of America destroyed and subjugated his beloved U.S.S.R., I am reminded of how I felt, or better yet, how my fuzzy, nightmarish memories leave me feeling from the surreal and tumultuous times in the U.S. of America during the late-Sixties through the mid-Seventies, you know, the era of national madness beginning with the Tet Offensive through the Watergate break-ins and subsequent hearings to Nixon’s humiliating yet palliative resignation and ending with America’s humiliating yet palliative retreat from South Vietnam.

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Love is the answer?

WIKIPEDIA

There’s a rather talkative pigheaded brute of a character in my WIP whose name is Rick, Happy, Henderson. Happy loves to philosophize and pontificate to…at?… his work partner about whatever the latest topic is he’s studying during night school as if he’s now a subject matter expert. He’s not of course and he always manages to maneuver whatever it is he’s rambling on about toward a general diatribe of how the weak with their Rule of Law and “societal norms” have managed to upend the universal natural order of might makes right, which, in the end, as he sees it, limits his ability to pick up chicks.

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INSIDE THE SKIN

NOW AVAILABLE*

INSIDE THE SKIN BOOK COVER
[FORMERLY, THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR]

GET YOUR FREE COPY!
 

CURRENTLY TRENDING

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
          #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Psychological
          #6 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
          #12 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Psychological
 

*Only the ebook edition is available and, currently, only at Amazon. It will be several days before the ebook rolls out to other retailers and before the print edition is made available.

 
 

It is with a Heavy Heart that I Bid a Sad Adieu

I came up with the title of my novel, The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, early on in its development and I have grown to love it as I have any other part of my existence, such as my left pinkie finger, my crooked nose, my restless and weary soul. However, after seven years since the book’s publishing, and despite the fond things that have been said and written about the story (and a few not-so fond things), I’m afraid it’s time for me to admit that my beloved title and book cover have failed in their efforts to attract new and varied readers.

The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor

Well, regardless whether it’s the fault of the title and cover or not, it had become glaringly evident to me a long while ago that some serious shaking up with the book was needed. It took me a while, but it has finally come time for the shaking to begin.

My rationale for changing the title – and the book cover, as well – is based upon a gut feeling I’ve had since not too long after the book was published: They were both too navy-centric in their words and imagery, which I suspect have turned off many readers who don’t prefer the military genre, a genre which I have never identified this book to be. I’ve always classified it as literary fiction and a psychological suspense novel.

While the story is certainly set within a military environment – a laid-up warship homeported out of Yokosuka, Japan – its story is not necessarily a military one. It, like most stories written from and of the soul, is a universal story. It is a story about our prejudices, our stereotypes, our identity. The stuff all humans struggle with frequently, regardless the setting they happen to be in.

As it is, the old title and the old book cover essentially scream to prospective readers that this is a military-centric book, and only that.

That being said, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the new title and the new cover for my old novel.

INSIDE THE SKIN BOOK COVER

The new title, Inside the Skin, which is also the title of the story’s second chapter, is derived from the saying inside the skin of the ship, which is navy-speak for simply being or going inside the ship. But seeing how the story’s focus is on one’s identity and sexual orientation, the saying also makes a good metaphor for those themes, as well. We are who we are on the inside, regardless how anyone else wants to label us. As many of us know, one of the main aspects, and sometimes the hardest, of our journey through life is trying to find comfort within our own skin.

As for the book cover, I chose the image firstly because I think it looks cool. I also like how the chain link imagery speaks to the theme of the book – we are trapped within who we are whether we like it or not. It also reminds me of how sometimes it felt like being in a prison when out to sea for long periods of time. The amazing image used for the book cover comes courtesy of Ricardo Gomez Angel of UNSPLASH.COM. If you’d like, you can see it in its original form here. The font, “GOOD TIMES REGULAR,” is courtesy of Raymond Larabie of 1001FONTS.COM and can be seen here.

There is still some work for me to do – new ISBNs, updating the front matter, et cetera – so it will take several days before I begin to initiate the updates to all the various distributors, so you still have some time to get you a copy of the print edition with the old cover.

Hey, never know. It may be worth some money some day…

Fingers crossed.

I guess I should add that I’ve made the ebook version permanently free everywhere (at least for the indefinite future). You can find links to all the various retailers on its About page.

Anyway, regardless whether or not you think the new title intriguing or the new book cover snazzy, I hope you find the story enjoyable because that is what matters most to me.

GET YOUR FREE COPY!
 
 

Is Writing Hard for Everyone or Just Me?

IMAGE COURTESY OF 99DESIGNS.COM

Hey! What’s up?! Long time no speak. Everyone surviving these bizarre times okay?

I must admit that I have grown accustomed to not blogging or socializing on the internet these past several months. Not that I haven’t missed you, it’s just nice to be engaged so heavily in the really real as opposed to the virtually real.

Well, I guess not all my time has been spent in the real real. Much of it has been spent in the imagined real as I’ve been chugging along on a new book.

Yes, I think I’ve finally found a novel-length story with lasting appeal, at least to me, that I may be able to bring to an end instead of just starting and sputtering out like so many others.

Which is why I’ve come to you today…

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