How Indie Bookstores are killing Indie Books

The last sacred cow of the book world is planting the seeds of its own irrelevance. The untouchable, most holy of institutions, hailed as the prime literary taste-maker and engine of new discoveries, no longer holds its touted powers, yet none dare voice out loud that the ‘Emperor’ is no longer wearing their clothes.

Until now.

Once upon a time, in the blissful days of the pre-Internet literary world, local independent bookstores played a crucial role in discovering and publicizing new books. Great books on small presses could win the attention of literary agents and major publishers, and the then-Big-Six’s ‘hidden gems’ could find the accolades they deserved.

For the last fifteen years, the Web has been usurping the indie bookstores’ ‘power of influence’. Countless literary review sites and blogs, and book retailers’ online reviews, have, for the most part, taken over the role of “taste-maker and engine of discovery”. Yet, everyone in the literary world still treats the local indie stores as the most sacred of cows.

They shouldn’t.

indie-bookstore-meme

Yes, one of their biggest issues can be summed up nicely in a meme. Yet, the problems here go much deeper than that. Indies are backing away en-masse from “local author” programs and even stocking any books released by small presses. With the Big Five’s ever-increasing risk aversion, and honing of commercial formulas, how much “literary discovery” can the local indie stores really do, when they restrict themselves to carrying only major-publisher books?

Soon, the indie bookstores will be forced to recommend books by “James Patterson” his hired writers, because they’ll be the only titles left on their shelves.

james-patterson

A slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

Due to the aforementioned risk aversion, increasing numbers of excellent books will never be published by the Big Five. And those books have to go somewhere.

Over the last five years, many have headed for self-publishing. The preponderance of best-selling self-published books has long since proven that the Big Five’s commercial formulae are missing many #1 New York Times (e-book) best-sellers, and even “The Martian”, a novel that served as the genesis of a hit movie. No indie bookstore could have discovered or championed “The Martian”, because it was never on their shelves in the first place.

And the indies’ lack of shelf diversity is creating an even bigger problem for themselves.

Given the relative ease of self-publishing, it is safe to say that any author who signed to an independent publisher after, say, the year 2010, was an author who was committed to having print versions of their books available for sale at bookstores.

With the local stores turning a blind eye to small press books, in the process they also shelf-block the authors who committed themselves to the more difficult path of traditional publishing, just to have print versions of their books, that the typical indie bookstore will now no longer stock. In other words, the indies won’t stock the books by the authors who gave up full creative control and self-publishing’s higher royalty rates, just to get print editions for stores that will no longer carry them.

Not a great way to make friends of those authors. Or, for that matter, their independent publishers.

In the face of this trend, some great small presses have had to shut down (R.I.P. Booktrope). Others, like my own publisher PDMI Publishing, LLC, have moved on to targeting large book retailers. For the last several years, PDMI has been holding its author signings at major chains such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, which have proven to be more receptive to the small press, its authors and its books than the typical local indie bookstore.

Other small presses still vainly holding out hope for the indie shelves will probably go the way of Booktrope, sad to say. And once all of their authors realize the “local indie Emperor” is no longer wearing their shiny book-championing armor, they’ll be free to move on.

Once again, their books will have to go somewhere.

“Yes, self-publishing,” you say, “but what about print? Print isn’t dead.”

Which is precisely why Amazon is venturing into brick-and-mortar book retailing. If the indie bookstores thought CreateSpace was bad, “they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Once Amazon’s brick-and-mortar infrastructure is in place, any “Kindle” that catches fire can be on Amazon’s bookshelves in a couple of weeks. Are the Big Five and their self-appointed ‘indie’ taste-makers ready for a world where books that bypass them entirely can become #1 New York Times PRINT best-sellers?

Another hypothetical question: What would happen if more independent publishers followed the path of PDMI and focused on large retailers? Unlike the Big Five, smaller publishers could sign exclusive deals with large retailers, in return for print book shelf space. A “Barnes & Noble Exclusive” title could easily reach #1 NYT best-seller status, if carried in enough stores.

And, given the local stores’ current exclusionary climate, would any of the publisher’s authors really object if their publisher went “Barnes & Noble Exclusive”, especially if it meant their book got shelf space at B&N’s across the U.S.?

And, of course, there are other retailers large enough to be able to sell enough print copies of a title by themselves to push said title to #1 NYT best-seller status.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Jack-Wendell-s-Vampire-Syndrome-Book-1-in-the-Vampire-Syndrome-Saga/53628570

One thing is sure to continue. Once Amazon entries are regularly populating several places of the Top Ten New York Times print best-seller list, the indie stores will whine and complain about it. Yet much of the ‘blame’ will rest with themselves, for turning a blind eye to the smaller publishers and their authors, all parties involved who had dedicated themselves to the difficult task of producing print books, only to be rebuffed at virtually every turn. Killing off some of the geese that laid the golden eggs, but those eggs have to go somewhere.

Straight to Amazon’s waiting nest. 😈

UPDATE 9/08/16: A quote from this excellent Observer article The Truth About The New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists :
“(For the N.Y.T. list) a hardcover copy of your book purchased on Amazon.com is counted differently than the same hardcover book purchased at indie bookstore X.”
Here may be a more valid reason why people are still treating indie stores like sacred cows.
Yet, if you could sell a million books at Wal-Mart alone, you may not make the N.Y.T. list, and you definitely wouldn’t make the W.S.J. list, as Wall Street Journal doesn’t even tally Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club sales, which is a ‘hole’ big enough to drive literal semi-trailers full of books through….

Serial Killer: How The Binging Culture Affects Serial Fiction And Its Authors

The blogging world seems to agree on one thing: Pay the writer.

And we should. Without fiction and its authors, what sort of “culture” would exist?

There are plenty who won’t pay the writer, but even those who pay the writer can cause problems.

I’m talking about the practice of waiting for a book series to be completed, before buying it.

The Netflix Binge-Watching Culture has begun to bleed into the book world, and authors and publishers are already feeling the effects of this change.

Would we be able to read the Harry Potter Series today if everyone had waited until J.K. Rowling had finished writing “Deathly Hallows” to buy the series?

No.

If “The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone” had not sold as well as it did, Rowling’s publisher likely would have dropped her, and the rest of the series might have ended up in the endless lower reaches of Amazon KDP, waiting an eternity to be discovered.

Of late, a few people have even had the nerve to suggest that, in this binge-reading climate, that publishers should not acquire trilogies and the like, until the author has finished writing the entire series. I guess these people would have wanted Joanne to stay on the dole for years and years more than she had to. 😈

In these days of shrinking advances, almost all authors have to work a day job, which consumes a large amount of time that could otherwise be spent writing. The general readership, by and large, seems to be blissfully unaware of this situation, and expects authors to crank out a 100,000 word masterpiece of a sequel in a few weeks.

Holding off on buying the first volume of a series “until the author is finished”, therefore insures the author has to continue to work their day job, slowing down the writing of the sequels, and may even doom the series outright if the publisher sees this as simply “bad sales”. Publishers are becoming more risk-averse by the minute, and they want results. The Big Five New York publishers were once known for developing properties they believed in, and giving them time to grow. Nowadays, you’re lucky if any publisher will ‘invest’ in further series development if the first volume doesn’t take off immediately.

All this notwithstanding, there are some compelling arguments for authors not to shop a series around until they’ve completed writing it. Prospective publishers will know in advance 😉 exactly how the series ends, and they don’t have to ‘worry’ about the author going off on some unforeseen wild tangent. Which makes me wonder if The Twilight Saga would have ever been picked up if they had been able to read the completed “Breaking Dawn” manuscript, replete with its gory birth scene, Jacob’s questionable imprinting, et cetera. Even if publishers reject the author’s completed series, the author can upload the whole series at once to Amazon KDP and (if nothing else) satisfy the “binge-reader” contingent.

We live in an impatient, instant-gratification culture, where authors and publishers will have to adjust their perspectives to stay relevant. We do need to educate the reader body that creating a series under these constraints in never easy, and on how readers’ early sales support keeps the books flowing. Publishers also need to keep in mind how the “binge-reader” culture affects early volume sales of serial fiction.

We may be heading for “don’t quit your day job until after you’ve finished your series” territory, nonetheless….

Five-Star Review from TV/Film Producer Joel Eisenberg

Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome” (mass market paperback) just received a five-star review from Hollywood TV/Film producer Joel Eisenberg. 😀


After Reading “Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome,” I Felt As Though I Had Never Read a Vampire Novel Before.
By Joel Eisenberg, Author of The Chronicles of Ara on October 17, 2015

Really, how many variations of the vampire theme can there possibly be? Surely, this genre is well-worn; what can possibly be done to rejuvenate it?

Welcome, “Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome.” I promise, you have never read a vampire book like this one.

Let’s begin this way: Jack Wendell, a Special Olympics champion with Down Syndrome, is turned into a vampire (hence the Vampire Syndrome in the title). That enough? Then how’s this: Jack strives for acceptance within his new community and is immediately ordered to be killed. Read Daven’s synopsis on this site. It’s all there. He’s not joking about “space alien Pure vampires” either.

Somehow, Daven Anderson makes it all work. The story is metaphoric for sure, but man is this work compelling. There’s a good deal of tongue in cheek here but not once did I feel the author or his story pandered. This is a compelling work.

Jack Wendell is a character unique to modern fiction. Characters with Down Syndrome have been used frequently in media, see the television shows “Life Goes On” or “American Horror Story.” Autistic protagonists too have been used widely in literature over the past 25 years, but in lit circles fully drawn characters with Down Syndrome have been rare.

Here though is something different and I hope I express this as I mean to: Jack is ‘cool.’ Do I feel sorry for him as he runs from his death sentence? Of course. Am I curious about his budding friendship with Lilith, who will attempt to save him? Yes. But more than this, I lose track of any disabilities on the part of the main character, and root for him as I would for anyone. And then it comes back to me that I’m reading a tale about a boy – a vampire – with Down Syndrome and I’m compelled to credit the author all the more.

This is a special novel and certain to be a special series. Daven is clearly a unique author. He is also a special educator and knows this world well. Jack is a real person to me, in an extraordinary circumstance.

The conflicts inherent therein make for the best of fiction. This is one of my very favorite novels that I’ve read all year.

Kudos Mr. Anderson. A remarkable, fun work.

Joel Amazon Review - Screengrab

Drawing Dead: An Interview with Brian McKinley

Interview with Brian McKinley

BM: Drawing Dead is about Faolan O’Connor, who is a NY gangster in the 30s that gets recruited into a society of vampires called The Order. During the course of several years, as he fights his way up the ranks, he reawakens a basic humanity within himself. Naturally, this new consciousness isn’t necessarily a benefit in a ruthless battle for control.

***

CPR: How long has it taken you to write this novel?

BM: I started work on this novel back in 2005. It’s gone through a number of iterations and, to be fair, there have been several years in there when I wasn’t working on it at all. But it’s been a good several years in the writing. I finished it and got it accepted by PDMI in early 2013, which is a little lesson in how long real publishing can take.

***

CPR: Do you think writers today need an agent to represent their work?

BM: Sadly, my experience has been that it’s harder to get an agent than it is to get a publisher. It’s become so exclusive that I recommend that new authors just get their books out there and sell them. If you get big enough, the agents will approach you. Honestly, you don’t tend to need an agent anymore until you’re dealing with a Big 5 publisher.

***

CPR: I have read that you approach writing like a chore, I can empathize with that. How do you get around that? Can you tell me more about your writing practice?

BM: Again, I’m not really sure that I have found a way around it. I still don’t write as often as I should. Mostly, I just have to find a day that I have time and decide that I’m going to get some writing done that day. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Facebook has cost me many a day’s work, I can tell you that!

Order your copy of “Drawing Dead” here:
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1GDEELS
Luxe Premium Edition Mass Market Paperback: http://amzn.to/1NsBd0w

The Social Network Kool-Aid Acid Test, Part Two: Do Tweets Dream Of Retweeting Sheep?

Last night, I scrolled through my blog’s archives and read this. My post from February 26, 2011, “The Social Network Kool-Aid Acid Test.”
What struck me the most is how little the fundamental issues have really changed since then.
Back then, in 2011, the first novel of my trilogy was still a WIP, and I didn’t have to bother with all this social network silliness. Sigh, the “good old days”, when I could just go home and write uninterrupted. 😉
Of course, once the first work was done and I was weighing my publisher offers, it was time to outreach to the world at large. Facebook, for all its relentless ‘time-suck’, has been a blessing, connecting me with prominent independent creative visionaries like Kristen Lamb, T.C. McKinney and Joel Eisenberg.
Even now, my contacts on Facebook are paving the way for ever-greater successes in my (and their) future.

And then there’s Twitter… 😈
Jeremy Light Tweet about VS

Well, okay, if J.K. Rowling can “roll the trolls” on Twitter, I should have no problem with a reasonable comeback Tweet here and there.
Jeremy Light Tweet about VS - My reply

FYI, I’m not saying Jeremy Light was being a troll there, but if he had actually bothered to read “Vampire Syndrome” before commenting about it, he would have found out that Jack is in fact a much wiser character than Bella Swan. One of my main messages is that high IQ, quick wit and cunning do not equal wisdom. Edward Cullen and Bella Swan would both have higher IQ’s than Jack in technical terms, but when it comes down to taking wise actions in life, Jack has more wisdom than Edward and Bella combined.

Even if Jeremy had read only as far as the end of Chapter Seven, by that time Jack has been pursued by cops, pepper-sprayed, jumped out the window of a moving transit bus, chased by a Dodge Charger traveling 80+ mph, attacked by a dog (which he then bit in self-defense!), and bullied by a gang of teenagers. “Cute?”

Jeremy’s now-deleted comment was not really a case of trolling to me, but his Tweet shared one aspect I see in all too many troll Tweets: The tendency to dismiss ideas out of hand, without having any real insight or knowledge into how they are in practice. Since this also happens in other forms of social media…

S Brahm Comment
…we can’t lay all the blame for “trolls” or ‘the increasing tendency to casually dismiss ideas’ on Twitter.

What I will take Twitter to task for, are the issues which may already be laying the seeds for its possible ‘dysTweepian’ future, joining MySpace and Friendster in the Internet’s irrelevancy bin.

Here’s a link I posted in the original 2011 post:
Reuters – Tweeting celebrities risk boring fans: survey
Of course, all the Twitter/social media promotional “experts” continue to ignore this message, because telling under-exposed authors about the dangers of over-exposure seems to be a basic contradiction, something on the order of telling starving people about the dangers of over-eating.

“Seems to be”, because more and more of these “under-exposed” authors are over-exposing themselves on Twitter. The stream of book ads in my Twitter feed is now reaching a point where my feed is getting more than one Tweet every second at peak times.
Ain't Nobody original meme
aintnobodygottime2

The critical difference between Facebook and Twitter is the relevancy of the News Feed. Normal people actually have some good reasons to use Facebook. Does anyone keep in touch with their real-life friends or family members on Twitter, for instance? 😈

Normal people, which if you’re an author would mean the great majority of potential readers out there, have no real reason at all to use Twitter. Sure, you can “follow” some big celeb, but the odds of their answering any of your Tweets are firmly in the “Lightning/Lotto Jackpot” category.

Twitter’s appeal is laser-targeted to those who crave more exposure. A desire that celebrity worshippers, trolls and ‘unknown’ authors all have in common. The celebrity worshippers at least don’t add to Twitter’s ever-growing-feed problem, typically sticking to reading celebs Tweeting about mundane subjects, and the Tweets from those celebrities’ publicists. The trolls, of course, post vitrolic Tweets here and there, but you can at least be somewhat reassured the trolls care enough about their hate-bombs to post each of their Tweets directly to Twitter ‘by hand’.

Which is more than what you can say for ‘unknown’ authors. Under-exposed authors are the first to reach for Hootsuite, Tweet Jukebox and any other number of “social media managers” to paste as many feeds as possible on Twitter. Some also join Retweet groups, to multiply their posts’ reach through cooperative Re-Tweeting. More coverage sounds good in principle, because Tweets have never had the “feed-shelf-life” of Facebook posts. When the general consensus of ‘experts’ is that Tweets ‘die’ within an hour, it seems logical that posting Tweets every hour or so would increase your odds of connecting with readers.

“Seems.” There’s that word again. When (on Facebook!) one famous author complained about all the drama on her Twitter feed, I commented that my feed was “so full of book ads, I never see any drama.” She kindly suggested I thin the herd a bit, but of course if I did that, I’d lose a few hundred followers.

But would that even manner, anyway? Those same ‘under-exposed’ authors I mentioned before are also the prime target of the “follower sellers.”
The Powers Of Twitter 1071 edit

Yes, you read it correctly. Someone with 1,071 followers was trying to sell me “10,000 Twitter followers”. Well, if they won’t buy those “10,000 followers” for themselves, why should I? #MarketingFail 😈

Twitter’s failure to even slightly reign in those selling “Twitter followers” is ironically the main reason why no one with any modicum of intelligence places any sort of value on the number of “Twitter followers” anyone has. Anyone can have “10,000 (fake) followers” for less than the cost of a night out.

The reason why “reality shows” like the Kartrashians’ are beginning to crash and burn is because overexposure kills any “mystique” public figures have, and ultimately paints them in the most mundane and boring of ‘colors’.

From the aforementioned Reuters article:

Easy access to stars through social networking websites has made them less appealing and increases the likelihood of followers getting bored, music consumer research by publishers Bauer Media said.

“In this social media age, it’s all too easy to follow your musical icons on a minute-by-minute basis. There’s a consensus within the industry that this ease of access is leading to artists losing appeal more quickly,” the Phoenix IV report said.

The music industry is starting to consider restricting access to certain types of artists in an attempt to boost their staying power in popular culture and lengthen their careers, it added.

We have now achieved the ultimate in irony: The more ‘unknown’ an author is, the more they will over-expose themselves. Adding more and more Tweets to the ever-blurring pace of the Feeds, until it becomes “white noise” that everyone tunes out by instinct, just as Kristen Lamb predicted in her wonderful book “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World“.

VS Blog 26 Feb 2011 Social Network post comments

These ‘automated authors’ have become the “machines”, or, as Bree Ervin (thinkbannedthoughts) summed it up in her comment here back in 2011, “bots Tweeting to each other”. As I warned here in 2011 and 2012, book ads don’t sell books to each other. When the last human takes the flag with them as they leave Twitter, the dysTweepian future will have arrived. It might even go on without us, posting endless ads to feeds no humans are reading, in hopes of catching the attention of a Retweet bot or two.

Somewhere, the ghost of J.D. Salinger is having a good laugh about all this. 😈

Don’t #AskELJames, Don’t Tell

Before I begin my thoughts on #AskELJames, let me tell you a “secret”.

Back in 2010, the first agent who read the first early draft of “Vampire Syndrome” chucked my manuscript aside after reading just the first two sentences, and expressed an opinion similar to this:

AskELJames Read Tweet
/rant ˅

Even better, I had paid $50 for the ‘privilege’ of attending her workshop, in which I was promised she would read the first two pages of our manuscripts. My experience cost me $25 for each sentence she read. I myself am of the opinion that if you charge $50 per person admission, you had better damn well read the first two pages from all the attendees. Pay me $50 in cash, and I’ll read two pages of anything, and give you my opinion of it. Dinosaur porn, forklift service manuals, Justin Bieber fanzines; no problem, bring ’em to me. 😉

/rantover ˄

This agent’s workshop ended up being worth far more than $50, for me. Not for her unfinished critique of my work, but for the hard-won advice she gave us about the publishing industry. Specifically, the advice she gave us regarding advances for those authors who were prospects to sign on for Big Five (New York) publishing houses. When my ‘time’ came two years later, and my manuscript was in the hands of New York editors, I knew better than to take two of the deals that were offered to me, and that agent’s advice two years earlier was a contributing factor in my decisions.

Also, when someone thinks you’re “illiterate”, you have nowhere to go but up. Even E.L. James can’t say she ever paid $50 just to get that sort of opinion of her work, so I have her beat there. 😈

Some authors like Anne Rice see “jealousy over James’ success” as being the driving force behind the #AskELJames storm. As in, other authors are jealous of her, just because the Fifty Shades trilogy has made her wealthy.

Let me dispel a few of these notions. I turned down a significant advance from a New York house, and signed with PDMI Publishing (an independent traditional publisher) for no advance a few months later. I was in the position where I could have altered a fundamental precept of my work, for the purposes of financial gain. I chose not to, and instead went with a smaller publisher who respects the integrity of my original creative vision.

And, as much as we’d all love to have the money, would most of us really want to trade places with E.L. James, especially right now? I wouldn’t. Her success has come with a whole freighter ship full of baggage. James’ work, the ‘quality’ thereof, and its subject manner, have long been subject to an unprecedented barrage of harsh criticism in all forms of media, not just this latest frightfest on Twitter.

I didn’t join in the #AskELJames trashfest, because there are things I admire about her. James’ success came from fans connecting with her work in a genuine, non-hype-driven manner. She had sold over 100,000 books on her own as an indie author, which to me is much more impressive than her subsequent sales, which had the benefit of widespread Big Five distribution and an even wider-spread media hype machine.

And, whatever opinions one may hold about her writing and the quality thereof, she is a fellow author. We need to support other authors, not tear them down. The #AskELJames Tweet I posted above reminds me in the most personal fashion that any author is, or can be, subjected to this same merciless bullying.  Even the most beloved of authors can be sucked into the trolls’ quicksand trap.

J.K. Rowling vs. Westboro @Twitter

Rowling vs. Political Trolls @Twitter

The real driving issue here, which I haven’t seen anyone else discussing, is not a simple “jealousy” of James’ success. It’s the perception that a work of “inferior quality” has become successful, at the expense of unknown “better-quality” works. What no authors seem to be willing to admit is that they are upset that the public is buying James’ books instead of “better” works, and virtually all of the authors who Tweet-bashed her believe their own work to be “better” than James’. So what we really have here, when you dig down to the core of the matter, is that these authors are upset that the public is buying James’ work instead of “better” works, including, but not limited to, these authors’ own works.

One of the “old” rules of publishing is that authors have to put in years of their time refining the quality of their craft, subjecting their writing to the “sharpening tools” of critique groups, beta readers, etc. Then, after all that, an E.L. James comes along and knocks over their apple cart by directly connecting with her readers and bypassing all the old-school “dues” authors assume everyone has to pay, to be a “success”. The logic behind the mass of knee-jerk reactions thus becomes all too apparent.

Myself, I’m confident I made the right choice in refining my writing craft. I paid the old-school dues with the goal of improving my writing, not necessarily to be a “success”. I prioritize quality over the chase of the dollar. The successes of James, and Stephenie Meyer before her, prove that THE STORY is what connects with the public, not the perceived quality of writing. In today’s post-apple-cart publishing world, what many call “quality writing” may actually hamper your potential for success. Factors such as excess use of descriptions and fifty-cent phrases to “better” your work can act as barriers which will keep busy, time-deprived readers from enjoying your work. Let’s face it, many people are now reading books on their phones. Not to say you have to “dumb down” your work, but you can have quality, good pacing and reasonable brevity in your writing, when you make this your goal. The main point my Vampire Syndrome Saga makes is that wisdom can be expressed perfectly in simple terms, without falling into the common traps of over-analyzing, over-thinking and over-writing.

We can all benefit from following the Golden Rule. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” The ‘simplest’ of wisdoms are often the most profound.

Misconceptions About Down Syndrome

Huffington Post UK: 12 Common Misconceptions About Down Syndrome

The twelve misconceptions listed in this article are important to understand, but they are only the beginning.

In fact, the major driving force behind my creation of the Vampire Syndrome Saga isn’t any of these twelve. The central message of my saga is “Cunning, quick wit and high IQ scores do not equal wisdom.”

A rabid Vampire’s bite thrusts my protagonist Jack Wendell into a world of rapacious, reclusive human monsters who foist quick and lethal judgments upon those they consider to be “too slow” to survive and thrive in their cloaked domain. Soon after, the Venator law enforcers find Jack to be a much more difficult target than they ever suspected. Assuming they could even find Jack in the first place. Try as they may, they fail to realize Jack has a simple yet unimpeachable wisdom guiding his lightning legs across the numerous routes of his elusive escapes. Like many other humans (Vampires or not), the Venators over-think and over-analyze themselves into an inability to compete with those who just do the right things at the right times. The zen of Jack, inverting the concept of ‘disability’ into super-ability. Within the Venators’ pursued “mongoloid” beats a heart as fearless as the Mongol warriors of legend.

Jack’s continued survival unlocks a key the Venators had been burying within all of their previous ‘special’ victims. The key to a possible peace with the fearsome Pure Vampires, shark-like alien carnivores who strike terror in the hearts of all human vampires. Yet the Pures sense something inside Jack that no other human Vampire can match.

The major misconception humans (Vampires or otherwise) make about Down Syndrome is that the average person tends to equate speech level with cognition level. The perception persists that individuals with Down Syndrome have ‘slow’ cognition to match their ‘slow’ speech. If this line of thought was true, mute persons would have no cognition. And we all know that isn’t true.

In the Vampire Syndrome Saga, you are inside Jack’s head, free of the perceived limitations of ‘slow’ speech. From within Jack, you can see the difference between his thoughts and his verbiage. It has been said that people with Down Syndrome have to expend twice as much brainpower as a “normal” person to make the same amount of speech. Which accounts for Jack’s stammering, saying thoughts out loud intentionally, speech-stumbling over certain words, etc.

Some of my readers have commented that Jack seems “too cognizant” for a person with Down Syndrome (never mind that his 90 IQ is quite close to the statistical ‘norm’ of 100, more than enough for fully functional reasoning).

Other persons who have read my book have Down Syndrome, or close family members with Down Syndrome. And all of them so far have told me they consider Jack to be right on target. Guess whose opinions matter more to me. 😉