What the Goddamned Book is About

My last post ended with a notice that my next post would be entitled “Banging My Head Against a Stone Wall.” So I’m not even three posts into the blog and I’m already veering wildly away from my plans. But whatever! There are no rules!

I don’t refer to my novel The Language of Bears as the “goddamned book” lightly. After two hair-tearing, soul-sucking years of trying to cajole a literary agent to even take a cursory glance at the actual pages comprising it, and failing absolutely in this humble endeavor, I thought the book must indeed be actually damned. Damned by God.

So, as described in my previous post, I decided to subvert the Almighty’s plans to prevent my book from getting exposure. I decided to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) instead.

Before getting into all that, it might be worth saying a little more about the book itself. The snippet on the Amazon page—

The peaceful life of 17th century New England Puritan farmer Adam Green is ripped apart when he finds a television set in the woods. His discovery enables evil madman animal-skinner and proto-industrialist Obadiah Broke to have Adam arrested for witchcraft and steal the magical black water (oil, that is) seeping onto Adam’s farm. A hairsbreadth escape from the pillory enables the young farmer to discover the incredible truth behind the strange, Edenic land he lives in. Now it is up to Adam, a hunted fugitive, to find a way to defeat the monstrous forces threatening his home and the rest of the world. There is no hope unless he can learn…the language of bears.

–doesn’t give much away. In fact, I’ve been meaning to replace that description with a less cryptic one. Although any summary of the book’s contents will make it appear far less accessible than (I think) it is.

The Language of Bears tells the connected stories of siblings Adam Green, a good-hearted but slightly paranoid young corn farmer and his rebellious 7-year-old sister Daisy Green. They live in a mysterious land called Arcadia, which seems like the bucolic and tranquil pre-industrial New England inhabited by the first Puritans settlers in the 1700s. Some qualities of Arcadia suggest not all is as it seems: a tree that grows giant apples, monstrous twenty-foot tall bears, an absolute lack of disease and crime.

Life for Adam and Daisy is torn asunder when Adam finds a mysterious box in the woods (the reader recognizes it as a television set) with a talking, disembodied head inside. The head tells him, inexlicably, “dry your beans.” Adam runs screaming from the forest to get help, but the television has vanished when he brings others to look at it. Through a series of heartbreaking (but sometimes darkly funny) occurances, the discovery of the TV leads to Adam’s arrest and death sentence for witchcraft. While Adam’s troubles are unfolding, precocious Daisy Green, absolutely intolerant of injustice and bullshit from grownups, becomes furious with the adults in her life who won’t tell her what is going on with her brother. She also grows steadily more incensed at being constantly told that, because she is a girl, she must act “ladylike.” She runs away with her best friend and gets into a harrowing adventure in the caves under Arcadia, where she makes a shocking discovery.

All of these events appear connected to the machinations of child-abusing, mega-wealthy pig rancher Obadiah Broke, who has become horribly deformed and mentally unstable because of an accident caused by making an experimental tanning fluid by mixing apple juice with pig brains.

The accusations of witchcraft against Adam cause a schism in the community. Some of the citizens side with insecure mayor William Gladford in arguing against Adam’s guilt and against the unscientific notion of witchcraft altogether, and some follow dour Puritan reverend Calvin Branch, the community’s spiritual leader, who sees Adam’s vision of the television as a sign of an impending apocalypse and a justification to conspire with Obadiah Broke to overthrow Mayor Gladford and bring back the ancient, viciously draconian Sabbatical Laws (whose legal punishments include flogging and burning at the stake) and make Arcadia great again.

A lot of other beguiling elements abide in the book. A caged goddess, talking animals, etc.

Not exactly airport fiction.

I’m probably being excessively optimistic, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, despite its unconventional nature, my novel potentially could be enjoyed by readers ranging from ordinary folks who like an old-fashioned-adventure-with-a-moral story (think lovers of the Little House on the Prairie books) to a very different kind of reader, fans of authors of experimental novels, like David Foster Wallace (I’m thinking of Infinite Jest in particular). Or perhaps more appropriately, a comic modernist novel like Catch-22. Come to think of it, an accurate elevator pitch for my novel would be:

Little House on the Prairie meets Catch-22. 

If your appetite is whetted, you may purchase the book at the link below. Be aware that from November 10 to November 17, Kindle is holding a “countdown deal” sale of my book, during which the Kindle version is selling for only 99 cents!

Reviews are welcome!

NEXT: Banging My Head Against a Stone Wall: Royalties on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (I promise!)


21 thoughts on “What the Goddamned Book is About

  1. Congrats on the new release! I will share the Countdown deal news on my blog and buy the book. As you will probably discover, Indie publishing is very rewarding but requires good marketing skills. Thankfully, you can find plenty of info on book marketing on my blog (just click on the “Marketing” tab).


  2. John,
    I’m also living in Japan! Where are you?
    Don’t sweat dodging the agent bullet, man. I just spent a week with big name authors who have been in the biz for 30 years, and two big takeaways were: agents are vampires who only care about their own blood, not yours; and big 5 publishers ain’t much better!
    Indie is the way to go. Hardest part is getting noticed, but if your book doesn’t make best seller in the first couple months with a big publisher, they’ll burry and forget it anyway. You lose nothing by going it alone, man.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John, you’re funny. I like funny…a lot. Would you consider writing a post for my Guest in Jest series? It will get you, and your book, a bit of exposure. I ambled over to Amazon and took a look. 99 cents! Are you mad!? Hey, why not? I won’t promise when I’ll read it, but it’s residing in my little Kindle now so anything is possible. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your support, mainpaperpusher! I had a look, read some of the other entries to the series, and experiences spasms of pleasure as a consequence! I’ll be happy to submit something!


  4. Hey John. A westerns author, Charlie Whipple, pen name Chuck Tyrell, lives in Kyoto. He and I have short stories in a anthology, The Posse. Congrats on going Indie with KDP. I self-pubed 2 books in last 6 mos. I’m collecting 10X revenue on KU than from sales, but it all counts in my sales ranking. One suggestion: put a link to Amazon in each post with a link to your email list. I’m ready to buy, but I have to leave your blog to do it. Great your work on your blog. I love the honesty.
    Frank Kelso

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Frank, nice to meet you. I shall look into your and Charlie/Chuck’s books. I too appear to be getting substantial page reads on KU, although I haven’t compared sales with them. Thanks for your suggestion. I had placed a link, but embedded it in a word, which rendered it nearly invisible. Following your advice, I placed a much more visible link on the post, and on other posts as well.


  5. What a fantastic story! I have great love for bears. And, I too am self-published after a hundred query letters failed to get me noticed. but I have made wonderful friends on Facebook, Nicholas is one of them. So stay in touch and join the fun.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s