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Some out there in li.stland prob don't care for country music. But pls hear me out--there's a lot of interesting things happening on the fringes. Perhaps not since the late 60s-early 70s has so much creativity gone on w/in the framework of this art form that, when done well, is truly American & truly human. Here's a few. As always tell me yours.
  1. Sturgill Simpson
    I cannot get enough of this Zen cowboy's latest album. He does a country cover of Nirvana's In Bloom for chrissakes.
  2. Jason Isbell
    Mournful voice and stellar songwriting. When you're listening to him, every once in a while you just shake your head and mumble "Damn" because it's that good.
  3. Kacey Musgraves
    Sweet voice and clever songwriting. She's won a few Grammies so she no secret but not as well known as she should be. Plus, ya know, the weed thing makes her the @snoopdogg of country.
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Because criminal memoirs are a delightful vicarious excursion from this boring old morality.
  1. Education of a Felon by Edward Bunker
  2. You Can’t Win by Jack Black
    Memior by a turn of the century (20th, that is) house breaker. Fascinating look at crime in the "quaint good old days."
  3. Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abignail
    You sweat and have panic attacks reading some of the situations Abignail manages to get out of. Good movie, better book.
  4. My Dark Places by James Ellroy
    Sensational ( in the best sense of the word ) book. Raw, honest, haunting and ultimately redemptive.
Some thoughts and resources on self-publishing e-books. Tip o' the cap to @torrami for the request!
  1. Get Rich...Or Write Trying
    If you're doing it for the money---don't. There are much easier ways to make a lot more money faster. ("Just drive this car up from Miami. Don't look in the trunk. Oh, and don't get pulled over....") Good on ya if you hit it big overnight, but that's rare. Instead, better to approach self publishing as what Seth Godin calls "an organized hobby." You'll be happier and more satisfied.
  2. Know Why You're Self-Publishing
    If you shouldn't do it for money, then why are you doing it? Nonfiction books can show you're an expert in your field and help that biz. I write crime fiction and went the indie route because I wanted to get my stories in the hands of readers and was tired of waiting to be chosen by traditional publishing. You have your reasons, I'm sure.
  3. Read the book "Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck-Required Guide To Self-Publishing Success" by Johnny B. Truant and Shaun Platt
    This was the first how-to book I read when I decided to stop waiting around to be chosen. Looking back now I can see it's been an invaluable roadmap.
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It's a delicate trick to tell a shocking true crime tale without giving in to shock, schlock and salaciousness. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order. Love to hear some of yours.
  1. The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
    A dark story so very well told. As much about our media culture as it is about the criminal and the crime. From an occasionally great writer who knew a thing or two about using the media. You are missed, Mr. Mailer!
  2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    A haunting masterpiece. As a reader, you're enthralled. As a writer (if you are one) you're as intimidated as you are in awe.
  3. Devil In The White City by Erik Larsen
    This story is about a lot of topics in my sweet spot - crime, architecture, America coming of age - so I figured I'd enjoy it. But going in there was no way to predict I would enjoy it as much as I did. Larsen is soooo good.
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I'm amazed at the resistance some people still have toward e-books. As near as I can tell from conversations with some readers, here are a few of the reasons why my digital-only books aren't "real" books.
  1. They don't cost a lot.
    Evidently it can't be "real" if it costs less than $3. Don't you know, silly, that for a book to be "real" it must cost at least $10!
  2. They don't cost me a lot to publish.
    How can it be "real" if it is cheap to get it out to the world? And tell me again why I should want a bunch of copies cluttering my garage?
  3. Evidently format is way more important than story.
    "I like the feel of a book in my hand." So do I. But I like a good story more than tactile gratification. Call me crazy.
Picking a favorite cheese is like picking a favorite child - it depends on my mood and the situation. And knowing about cheese is like martial arts: as good as your Kung Fu might be, there's always someone with Kung Fu better than yours. That said here are some of my faves. Tip o' the cap to @kcupcaker for the request.
  1. Flory's Truckle
    English-style bandaged cheddar actually made in Jamesport, Missouri but with an international rep.
  2. P'tit Basque
    French sheep's milk cheese, great by itself or melted in a variety of dishes (lightly fried eggs over chorizo & p'tit basque)
  3. Gjetost
    Pronounced like you're cheering for toast (YEA-toast!). Has a delicious caramel flavor because it's stirred and heated slowly until the milk caramelizes. Great with fruit and/or chocolate. After every few bites, take a palate-cleansing drink of water and the party in your mouth starts all over again.
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Halfway through Bill Beverly's deftly brilliant Dodgers and reminded of the joys of literary crime fiction (good crime story + great writing = delight). Here's an arbitrary list of some I loved. Pls add to it because, like you, I'm always looking for what to read next.
  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodo Dostoyevsky
    Raskolnikov sticks with me to this day, the poor bastard.
  2. Clockers by Richard Price
    As Dickensian as it is Biggie Smallsian.
  3. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
    From great genre writer to simply great writer.
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  1. Todd calling Chase a "slackass."
  2. Chase teasing Todd by saying, "The banana misses the carrot."
  3. Finding out during a commercial for " Royal Pains " that Savanah will be a guest star this season.
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  1. A wind/rain/hail storm rolling across the prairie toward me as I drove toward it a few weeks ago.
  2. A poster of old cheeses, a few of which even my friend Lincoln the cheese geek/monger hadn't heard of.
  3. Bob
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  1. Dabbing - the move, not the drug
  2. Ayahuasca - the drug, not the move
  3. Blac Chyna
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