Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Spend Way Too Much Time On Goodreads

A few months ago, I discovered Goodreads (the social network for book lovers (I accidentally spelled that "ook lovers" which I think is something entirely different. Anyway --)). I read in one of those "How to Make Money By Publishing eBooks on Amazon Kindle" publications that joining Goodreads and the Goodreads Author Program could help sell lots of eBooks.
Well,I haven't sold lots of copies of my eBook, Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (last count: 15) but I have spent many a fun hour goofing around on Goodreads. I like writing book reviews. Why -- I have no idea. Probably because I had to do so many as a kid in school that I can't live without doing them.
Best book review I've ever read is this one for Shel Silverstien's The Giving Tree by Sava Hecht:
"Co-dependent tree needs to set some fucking boundaries."
Anyway, here's my profile at Goodreads:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The Year Hard Work Hardly Worked

I'm so glad 2014 is nearly over. I'm hoping (not by much) that 2015 will be better.

As the post title suggests, I worked very hard in 2014 and got very little in return. This time last year I was happily chugging away on my e-book Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

It came out on in  October.

So far, it has sold 15 copies.

That's it. 15. That comes to less than $20 for my pocket.  Meanwhile, I had to fork out over $150 to get an ISBN, as well as take time from other clients to work on this book. And I had to do it all -- writing, editing, formatting for Amazon Kindle and promotion. The only thing I didn't have to do was the cover. It was donated.

Speaking of clients, I have very few left. Yahoo Voices went bye-byes in July and Helium kicked the virtual bucket in December. also seems to have gone out of business, although I do not know that 100% for sure.

I worked incredibly hard for these clients and now it means nothing.

Want to be a writer? You're better off slitting your wrists and bleeding to death over a pile of paper. Even garbage men have better jobs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm 45. What the Hell Happened?

It's my birthday again. Didn't I just have one?

So, what have I learned in 45 years?  This: If you want to be sure about getting what you want for your birthday, do what I did -- buy the present yourself.

All else is extra.

(Image was Photoshopped years ago by a Peter Gabriel fan for the now late-lamented website

Monday, November 03, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jeremy Brett -- wherever you are

Today would have been Jeremy Brett's 81st birthday. He is deeply missed. Brett died in 1995 from cardiomyopathy. He also suffered from bipolar disorder (manic depression.)

Such a huge personality like Brett makes a big mark. We don't know what happens when we die. I'm an atheist, but think that dead people live on in other people's memories. Wherever he is, I hope he is at peace -- and has a good pack of smokes with him.

Brett plays a co-starring role in Part V of my eBook, Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I tried to treat Brett honestly but with affection and humor. Perhaps it will help to give more memories to readers and help keep JB alive for many years to come.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" Now Available on Amazon Kindle

On October 15 (or 15 October, depending  on where you live), my first eBook Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes finally went officially on sale at Amazon. It is only available in Kindle so far.  If you don't have a Kindle, Amazon will usually give you a Kindle app for your PC, laptop or whatever free with your first eBook purchase.

I meant to blog about this on October 15 but I've been very busy.  I celebrated the day of the release -- by having to take Mom's urine sample to her primary care doctor's office.  Whee (or, more appropriately, wee.)  I've been spending more and more of my time taking care of Mom as she has been going downhill.

Since I took a few months off to write and rewrite and re-rewrite this eBook, I now have drained my bank account and have to start writing for quicker money than eBooks again. This is going to take up what little free time I have and so I'm disappointed to write that I will not be able to start the sequel to Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes until I can get some money in the bank.

I was going to try and make physical copies of the eBook, but cannot afford another ISBN number or figure out how to navigate Create Space (another Amazon company.)  Since there hasn't exactly been a huge rush in sales, I think I better hold off on making physical book copies until there is a sufficient demand for them.

A big thank you for those who have purchased Not the New Adventure of Sherlock Holmes.  I hope that you enjoy the ride.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why Women Think Sherlock Holmes is Sexy

Back in 1886, a struggling doctor in England was trying to get his first novel published.  It would be rejected by many prestigious publishing houses for many reasons, including that it wasn’t sellable because it lacked romance.  The novel was A Study in Scarlet.  The author was Arthur Conan Doyle and the unromantic character was Sherlock Holmes.

Over 125 years later, Sherlock Holmes still attracts thousands of fans, including women who include the Great Detective in their fan fiction, dreams and sentimental YouTube music videos.  This is not a new phenomenon.  Doyle received many love letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes as well as letters offering their services as a landlady.  Even back in Victorian times, Sherlock Holmes was considered sexy.

Descriptions and Drawings

Doyle never once claimed that Holmes was a handsome man.  He rarely described Holmes’ appearance in anything close to complimentary terms.  Holmes was tall, but seemed taller because he was so thin.  He had gray eyes, dark, thinning hair and a “hawk-like” nose.  It was the illustrator Sidney Paget who first gave Holmes shape.  He based Holmes on himself and his brother Walter.  Doyle claimed that these drawings made Holmes too handsome.

There are other qualities that people can find extremely attractive rather than good looks.  Holmes is a genius.  He can play the violin.  He is a success in his peculiar trade.  He sometimes takes the law into his own hands, but always with good reasons.  He is a self-made gentleman instead of one born in the upper classes who is (almost) always in command of a situation.  He also has very dark shadowy side that can be very appealing.  He is a magnetic personality partially because he keeps most of himself hidden away from others – even Watson.

Actor Portrayals

One obvious reason that Sherlock Holmes stars in many women’s fantasies is due to the more than 150 actors who have portrayed him on stage and screen.  Arguably the current popularity of BBC’s Sherlock is based more for Benedict Cumberbatch than for bringing the Great Detective to the 21st century.  Over the decades, actors who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes have generally been more and more conventionally handsome, including John Barrymore, Jeremy Brett and Robert Downey, Jr.

The first major actor to portray Holmes was the square-jawed American William Gillette.  In 1899, he collaborated with Doyle to write a four act play called “Sherlock Holmes.”  In order to make Holmes more likeable, Gillette asked Doyle if Holmes could get married at the play’s end.  Doyle famously replied, “You may marry him or murder him or do anything you like to him.”  Gillette would wind up playing Holmes for over 30 years.

The Great Unattainable

Holmes is presented as a celibate borderline misogynist in the writings of Doyle.  Holmes never courted, married and claimed that he had never been in love.  He had a low opinion of women.  He explains in The Sign of the Four (1890) that the most winning woman he ever knew “was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance money.”  Doyle never elaborated on this tantalizing memory.  Doyle wrote that Holmes only had his head turned by a woman once in “A Scandal in Bohemia.”  Nothing ever came of it, except that Holmes kept a photo of the woman locked in his desk. 

Doyle was a master at dropping tantalizing hints about Holmes without filling in the blanks. He left those blanks open for fans to fill in with their own imaginations.  Women were able to fill in the blanks with whatever they fancied.  Being able to turn the head of someone who famously ignored women presents a thrilling challenge to the imagination. Unlike real people, fictional characters have the virtue of never failing to live up to your expectations.  They are the great unattainable prize, where the victory is not so much in the getting but in the hunt.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Was Sherlock Holmes Bipolar?

“I have usually found that there was method to his madness.”

“Some folk might say there was madness in his method,” muttered the Inspector.”  -- “The Adventure of the Reigate Square”
Readers in modern times can’t help but wonder, when reading the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, if Sherlock Holmes suffered from bipolar disorder.

One reason why the public is so fascinated with Sherlock Holmes since his first appearance in 1887 is his quirky behavior.  Doyle made a fully formed heroic character complete with very real flaws.  Readers in modern times can’t help but wonder, when reading the Doyle stories, if Sherlock Holmes suffered from bipolar disorder.

Holmes’ Symptoms

Holmes could go for days without sleep when he was focused on a case.  Going for days with very little sleep is a common symptom on bipolar disorder.  Holmes could also be terribly depressed when a case ends.  In “The Adventure of the Reigate Square” Holmes is so depressed at the end of a case that he takes to his bed.  Watson then takes him on holiday to try and make him well again.

Bipolar patients are often very creative.  In the modern world, bipolar patients can function quite well in many types of jobs, such as acting, writing and mathematics.  Holmes’ different way of thinking is vastly different from the average person.  He uses his imagination to help solve cases.  He even chides some policemen for their lack of imagination.  His creative thinking helps make him the world’s greatest detective.

Problems with Modern Diagnosis

It’s very difficult to place modern diagnostic criteria on someone from the past, and a fictional character at that.  It is known that Doyle often used real people to help inspire his stories.  Holmes himself was based on many people, including Doyle himself and one of Doyle’s past teachers from the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Joseph Bell.  Neither Bell nor Doyle are thought by historians to be bipolar.

Bipolar disorder was not recognized in Doyle’s times.  Medical personnel from Greek times and in the Roman Empire wrote about patients that today would seem to be bipolar.  Aretaeus of Cappadocia, writing during the time of Emperor Nero, would “laugh, dance and play” one day and soon after would be “torpid, dull and sorrowful.”  It wasn’t until the 1950s until the disease received the name of manic depression.  By the 1990s, this term was largely replaced with the name bipolar disorder.

Holmes’ Cocaine Addiction

Another complication is Holmes’ cocaine addiction.  Cocaine (spelled “cocaine” in Doyle’s day) was originally thought to be a beneficial painkiller.  By 1887, it was well known in England that cocaine was dangerously addictive.  However, cocaine was still widely available.  Holmes injected it directly into his veins.

Cocaine is known to cause psychological problems, especially paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal behavior.  However, Holmes rarely displayed any of these symptoms.  It could be that Doyle was only vaguely familiar with cocaine addiction rather than trying to suggest that Holmes suffered from a severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

In Conclusion

It’s impossible to know if Sherlock Holmes was intended to suffer from a mental illness like manic depression.  The disease went unrecognized in Doyle’s lifetime.  He certainly exhibited some signs that correspond with that of a bipolar patient.  It could be that Doyle selected some bizarre behaviors he noticed from people he knew in order to make his detective more interesting to the reader.

Modern portrayals of Holmes often show him as suffering from a mental illness.  Since more is known about mental illness, these symptoms are more apparent in modern versions than in Doyle’s original stories.  Still, this hasn’t stopped psychiatrists and Sherlockians from debating on the riveting character traits of Sherlock Holmes.