Where are we headed?

Wonder where this goes?

Recently I watched several TV shows on cable that had scenes that I found offensive. Several involved sex scenes that just seemed inappropriate for viewing unless you’re some kind of voyeuristic peeping-tom, also there were story lines involving extreme violence including mutilation of bodies—it was gory and offensive. These shows were supposedly entertainment and cost me money to watch—both aspects of that statement seem wrong.

Many shows on television have a rating of TV-M. I guess that stands for mature. I really question whether a mature person would watch some of these programs. Not sure who slaps that rating on TV shows but I believe it is not like the movies, where there are people who get paid to spend their days watching some really horrible movies to attach a rating.

Of course, I’m an author and have had a few people compare my works of fiction to trash because I used words they do not approve of. Are vulgar words the same as sex scenes or graphic violence. I don’t think so but maybe I’m wrong.

Why aren’t books rated the way movies are? Sounds like a good question doesn’t it? The answer is kind of silly–because there are too many books and it takes too long to read them.

Maybe a silly answer but it does make sense. There are thousands and thousands of books released every week compared to a small number of movies. Authors would have to pay fees to support the structure to allow for the army of book readers to read and rate each one. Starting to sound like a very bad idea. Movies take a couple of hours to watch– a book can take five times that or more to read. And of course the rating (just like movies) would be subjective.

I know there are people who have sites that rate books. These sites are looking for books that are family friendly–I guess that means no sex, no bad language and only good violence. Probably the bad language would have to be broken down into bad, very bad, super bad or something like that. Or maybe it would just be volume. Say a 70,000 word book can only have 100 bad words and still be okay for general reading–excluding kids.

There is a segment of the reading population that only wants books that have no “vulgar” language–none! A book rating might be nice for them but it is totally unnecessary. The vehicle for this information is the reader review. Somewhere around 5% of my reviews are about language–cuss words, vulgar words, dirty words, potty-mouth words; and these reviewers are not only passing along information but they also find time to scold me for such behavior.

I have written before about the context of my language choice. The gritty language is usually limited to the bad guys or the good guys under stress. There are exceptions–a couple of characters just had a tendency to use crude language in almost all situations. My other defense was that those “words” were not that frequent. But as I said before I don’t think the quantity is too important to the “bad word” people who are offended by any word that they consider bad whether it’s one or fifty.

For funnies I checked one of my books for offensive words. It happened to be Four Corners War which is the third Pacheco & Chino book and will be released in August. I chose that book because it is the one I’m working on and the manuscript was handy. I ran a word count and found a little over a two-hundred words that might be offensive. That is in a 70,000 word book—so less than a half of one percent of the words were gritty. I would guess that’s about average for my books–except for maybe the first one The Bootlegger’s Legacy–in that book most of the bad words were at the very beginning in the prologue where the gangsters are waiting to kill our hero and they are chatting–using a lot of vile words–after-all they are gangsters in a bar, what would you expect.

So what is the point? Where is this headed? We seem to live in a world without clear guidelines on what matters. Some things matter a great deal to some and none at all to others. We definitely don’t have a consensus on what is acceptable and what is not as it relates to entertainment. We have TV shows on cable that are violent beyond reason, where every other word is fuck where sex scenes are thrown in just as filler. Could I write my books without certain words? Sure. Will I? No. Why not? The why not is because it would change the book. The characters would be different—and I don’t want too!

Does that make me a hypocrite if I complain about sex and violence on TV but find crude words acceptable in writing. Maybe it does; but I think it means that I have defined my personal guideline and that is something we all can do. I have never resented the bad reviews related to the “bad” words, I always saw it for what it was—a message that if some words offend you –stay away. I agree.

I use words to tell a story and sometimes a good F-bomb is the best way to tell that story. And if someday someone decides to do a TV series of one of my books I will insist that they limit the violence and keep the sex behind bedroom doors. They would probably tell me to F-off.

Reader Reviews

Arriving sometime in 2019 – see Schedule comments below

Yes, the latest reader review post is back. Mostly I get great reviews and it is immensely appreciated. On occasion I will receive a less than positive review; yeah, I know, hard to believe. Reviewers are tying to be helpful to their fellow readers and have every right to say most anything they want. The majority of my negative reviews are about language. Apparently I use vile language and have a potty-mouth–thanks for the review mom I will try to do better.

I think those reviews are very helpful to me and the potential reader. If certain words offend you then I don’t want you to read my books–because those words are in there; I don’t think a lot of them, but some readers seem offended by only a few. So its best if you are warned by reviewers that the language might offend. I would do that myself if there was some mechanism like movies to attach a rating.

On the other hand I do get some strange reviews that offer little if any benefit.

The latest strange review has to do with an upset reader who complained because there were advertisements for my books buried in the text of the book–and she asked “who would do something like that?” My guess would be no one. An author would not, they would know it would be stupid and just irritate the reader. You might put something in the back but not in the actual book. So how did the ads get in the book? Beats me. I contacted Amazon but did not get a meaningful reply. But my guess is it has something to do with Amazon and their reader sticking ads in inappropriate places. Why would they do that? Once again just a guess, but it would be because they can and it works. One reader might find it offensive but another might just click and generate revenue for Amazon.

Let’s be clear. I don’t begrudge Amazon any revenue generating scheme they come up with–it’s there web site and they should be able to do whatever works for them. As an author if I take offense I have the option to take my greatly in-demand book business somewhere else. More than likely Amazon wouldn’t notice and it would only harm me–so, I will live with a few snags here and there.

It does seem unfair a reader now hates me for something I had nothing to do with. I’m sure that reader will be more than happy to share her thoughts about the idiot author hiding advertisements in his prose with anyone who will listen. They will collectively wonder what kind of moron does things like that–obviously a bad writer who thinks he can secretly steal money from unsuspecting readers. What has the world come to–plus he uses vulgar language.

Well, dear reader, I should apologize for whatever happened; after-all, the book does have my name on it. But let me assure you, I did not write a book with an ad in it. But like so much in life, apparently I cannot control everything that happens with my book once it ventures into the cyber world.

Schedules

Now here is a subject no one cares about; schedules. For much of my working life I met schedules everyday. I was a CPA and lived in the world of hard deadlines. These were not if you can possibly have it done by then deadlines–these were you will be fired if you miss them deadlines.

Now I operate in a different world, where deadlines are often just suggestions. Not sure how it is in your world but missing deadlines drives me crazy. I’m a planner. This has benefits in some things and drawbacks in others. But I plan my day, my months activity, what I’ll accomplish this year, next year–it is disgusting. No, just go with the flow for me–it must be planned.

So I work on my detailed plan for the whole year and somewhere around the middle of January something I need from someone else to accomplish my plan does not arrive on time. My plan is garbage. Less than one month into the year–it is wasted.

So after the beginning of the year fell apart I decided I would just relax, enjoy my free time and I will work when the other stuff shows up. Easy going me–never stressed; schedules don’t matter. No more nasty emails asking where the hell such and such is. Have tried that for a few months and surprise; nothing has been done on schedule, stuff is already months behind–I have stopped working. Now I don’t think this is anyone’s fault but my own. I was a certain kind of person and because that seemed to annoy others I tried to become someone else–didn’t work. My writing has stopped because I can’t stick to a schedule.

Never in the past did I recognize how important it had been for me to stick to a schedule; pushing myself to meet artificially set deadlines. But now without them I have fallen apart. The only way around this is to go back to my schedule setting ways and stop dealing with people who cannot meet my deadlines. Could be a lonely existence but everything will be ready on time.

Book reviews

Like many things in our world today consumer reviews have a major impact in buying decisions–from where you eat to what kind of car you buy.  And of course they are a factor in decisions regarding what books you read.

In the past we looked to “professional” critics to provide us with information about books, movies, plays and restaurants.  Today the consumer’s opinion is king.  I know I use these opinions in my purchase decision process.  When I am shopping on-line the consumer reviews are almost always something I read–and while I will ignore the ones who seem to be out of line with everybody else I do look at both good and bad.

If you have had a chance to read The Bootlegger’s Legacy it would be very helpful for you to contribute your review to one or more of the on-line retailer sites.