Adventures in Freethought Publishing



     [This was a speech delivered to Atheists United, Oct. 22, 2006. I had been asked to
discuss my books.]


Members of freethought organizations tend to be fairly articulate. And many people
have approached me over the years with questions about books they are writing or
planned to write, and how to get them published.

Now, you may have noticed that your local Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstore has
special sections for Romance Novels, Ghost Stories, Sword and Sorcery, Mysteries,
Westerns, Science Fiction, and Religion/Inspirational.  It does not, however, have a
section labeled Atheist and Freethought Literature.  And if you asked a clerk where
you might find such books, you would probably be met with a blank stare.

Why is that?

I’d like to talk a little bit about what has happened to the book publishing business
over the last few years.

When you pick up a book and look to see who published it, you’ll see hundreds of
different names.  But what you probably don’t know is that these companies all have
the same owners. There is a book called
The Writer’s Guide to Book Editors,
Publishers, and Agents.
 This book is updated annually... and this is what the editor,
Jeff Herman, says in the latest edition:  

“The most important development in publishing today is the swallowing up of mid-
sized publishing companies by gigantic conglomerates.  The conglomerate houses
are like mazes and we are all the rats...  The conglomerates are owned by investors
who do not necessarily have an intrinsic interest in publishing other than to absorb as
many houses under one roof as possible.  Still, the individual divisions have their
own flavor and personality.  They have
some autonomy over most of their decisions
even though they answer to the ultimate bottom line.”

There are five of these conglomerates, which control about 85% of all American
publishers:

Harper Collins (Australian)
Penguin Putnam (British)
Random House (German)
Simon & Schuster (American)
Time Warner (American)

These five mega-corps control, not only almost all book publishing imprints, but also
newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, music companies, and
film companies.

While researching this subject, I came across a website with the URL of www.
stopbigmedia.com, which lists the mega-corporations that control a majority of
communications media in
addition to book publishers.  I’ll list only the ten largest.  
They are:

Bertelsmann Group is the largest in the world, with $22.2 billion per year in revenues.
(A German Company)

Reed Elsevier makes $9.7 billion

Gannett: (@7.7 billion), etc.

Pearson

McGraw-Hill Companies

Advance/Newhouse Communications

Tribune Co.

Washington Post Co.

New York Times Co.

This means that most of what you read, see, and hear is controlled by one of these
fifteen corporations.

Obviously, the purpose of any corporation is to maximize profits.  So if any
subsidiary is not showing
enough profits at the end of every fiscal year, it is simply
axed.

None of these subsidiaries can
afford to take a risk on an unknown author, a
controversial subject, or experimental style.  Everyone
must play it safe.  And the
subjects that are
guaranteed blockbusters are sex, violence, religion, celebrities,
and books about how to get-rich-quick, or how to lose weight without dieting or
exercise.

The only sure-fire types of
dramatic literature are melodrama and farce.  Serious
dramas or sophisticated comedies are rarely successful.  

The book that I just quoted is divided into four major sections:
I. Major Conglomerates and their imprints
II. Independent American Presses
III. University Presses
IV. Religious, Spiritual, and Inspirational Presses

You might think that University Presses would be interested in Science, Philosophy,
and Freethought books.  But you would be wrong.  University presses are only
interested in publishing the books of their own professors – in order to bring prestige
to their own universities.  In other words, they are the Public Relations arm of the
Board of Trustees – who are usually wealthy conservatives.

The
theoretical purpose of University Presses is to add to the fund of human
knowledge, rather than to benefit shareholders.  So they are normally subsidized by
the university.  Nevertheless, they
must stay within their allocated budget – so that
means they must at least break even every year.  And they certainly
aren’t going to
publish anything that might cause them trouble.

At the end of
The Writer’s Guide, Jeff Herman offers this advice to beginning
authors:

“In the past, most books were acquired not so much for their immediate success, but
because it was hoped they would nourish their ‘backlist,’ which was the surest way
for a publisher to bolster its existence into the future.  But that is not today’s
publishing model.  The large houses and the bookstore chains want mega-selling,
supernova brands, not a smorgasbord of delicacies.  You can almost see the words
written across the proverbial transoms of editors’ offices: ‘Only bestselling writers
need apply.’”

How to you become a Best Selling author?  Well, if you are a big enough celebrity,
they’ll publish almost anything you give them.  Otherwise, if you are writing fiction, it
has to be either a melodrama or a farce.

Let me define those terms.

First, I’ll define the word “Premise.”  That is the philosophical point of a play, film, or
story.  In ancient times, the premise was announced to the audience before the play
began:  “We hope to illustrate with our poor little play that ‘the wages of sin is death,”
for example.  
Today the premise is hidden, and the audience is supposed to feel it,
even if they can’t articulate exactly what it is.

The Characteristics of Melodrama:

a. Both tragedy and melodrama seem to be serious.  But whereas tragedy examines
the nature of good and evil
honestly, melodrama evades the problem through
diverting physical action, excitement and sentimentality.

b. In
tragedy, the premise is designed to provoke thought by challenging the
conventional moral code; in
melodrama, the premise is designed to prevent thought
by reaffirming  conventional clichés:  "Murder will out, the wages of sin is death; virtue
will be rewarded - in the next life, if not this one," etc.

c.
Tragedy deals with noble people wrestling with great moral problems.  
Melodrama deals with ordinary people struggling with common problems and
physical survival.  It aims at maximum identification with the bourgeois audience.  It
exploits xenophobia and ethnocentrism.  It reassures the audience that the viewer is
on the side of the angels, whereas upper-classes, intellectuals, and ethnic out-
groups are portrayed as villains.

d. Tragic characters are three-dimensional; they are complex shades of gray,
whereas melodramatic characters are flat, black-and-white stereotypes.

e. Melodrama is
fascist in spirit.  It is probably so popular because it reinforces a
natural tendency toward oversimplification, intolerance and hero-worship.  It
assumes there are only two kinds of people: good and bad – us and them.  It forces
polarization, or rigid two-valued thinking.  Goodness is defined as blind faith in the
establishment; evil is any deviation from conventional behavior.  By audience
identification with the hero the playwright then manipulates the emotions of terror,
suspense, pathos and hatred.  Tragedy, on the other hand, is
democratic in spirit; it
assumes that people are essentially alike.  What we call "evil" is only an unfortunate
judgment.  We all strive for the good and try to avoid evil, but we sometimes make
mistakes.  Tragedy promotes unity and brotherhood by recognizing the mixture of
wisdom and stupidity, the potential for goodness and evil, inherent in us all.  
Melodrama
allays our anxieties and soothes our guilt feelings by assuring us that
moral decisions are really quite simple choices of good and evil.  And since we
always choose the good, anyone who disagrees with us is evil, and deserves our
contempt.  In other words, it promotes self -righteousness.  Tragedy
arouses our
anxieties by making us realize that we too are capable of making tragic mistakes.  
And it thus promotes
compassion for our fellow man, and forgiveness toward his
mistakes.  If we were accosted by a pan-handler after seeing a tragedy, we would be
likely to feel sorry for him and to give him some money.  But if we've just seen a
melodrama, we would most likely feel indignant and report him to the police.

f. We shed tears in both tragedy and melodrama; but in tragedy they are tears of
compassion – for the existential fate of all men.  In melodrama, they are merely tears
of sentimentality; i.e., after creating a high-pitch of terror and suspense, virtue finally
triumphs over evil and we shed happy tears of relief.  Sentimentality deals in wish-
fulfillment.  Dreams come true; virtue is rewarded; evil is punished.  It uses such
devices as the suffering heroine, sick child, wounded animal, tortured hero, heartless
villain, motherhood, babies, patriotism and piety.

g. Tragedy is concerned with
moral values; melodrama is concerned only with
theatrical values.

h. In melodrama, physical conflict (violence) and spectacle are the most important
elements.

i. In tragedy, plot grows
out of character; in melodrama, plot is imposed on the
characters by external circumstances.

j. In tragedy, there's a relentless inevitability of plot; in melodrama, plot is
manipulated, without internal motivation, to attain chases, escapes, reprieves,
outrageous coincidences, and a last-minute
Deus-ex-Machina resulting in a happy
ending.

k. In melodrama, there's a lack of transition from one emotional state to another.  
Actions are insufficiently motivated.  Characters do things just to fulfill theatrical
requirements instead of realistic psychological reasons.

l. In tragedy, the protagonist faces the ultimate horrors conceived by man – usually
destruction of those he loves most, through his own actions.  But he faces these
horrors with a "stiff-upper-lip."  Emotion is underplayed – causing the audience to
admire his courage.  In melodrama, the protagonist faces
cheaply contrived horrors,
and emotions are
overplayed.  Actors are allowed to "chew the scenery," which stirs
emotions in the audience, but prevents understanding and ultimate wisdom.

A tragedy sticks in your mind.  Melodrama is instantly forgettable.

Clint Eastwood directed
two tragedies in recent years: Million Dollar Baby, and
Mystic River. Virtually every other dramatic movie released during that time has
been a melodrama.


The Characteristics of Farce:

a. The premise is frivolous, or missing altogether.

b. The tone is very light - something like 4/5 comic to 1/5 tragic.

c. The recognition of probability is lacking in the gags.  Surprise and Incongruity are
the main elements of humor.  But the situations are usually
so incongruous as to be
unbelievable.

d. There's an unrelenting pursuit of laughter for its own sake – so the laughs are
"cheap" laughs.  Even though the audience may laugh throughout the play, they feel
dissatisfied and may later say that it wasn't very funny - because it was lacking in
genuine wit.

e. The plots are complex and improbable.

f. The dramatic action is mostly physical, with mock violence – sometimes called
"slapstick."

g. The tempo is very fast.  Life becomes a kind of maniacal rushing-about-in-circles.

h. Characters are two-dimensional stereotypes.  There's often a fool and a knave: i.
e., a comic and a straight-man.

i. Motivations of the characters are always disreputable – usually greed, or lust.

j. Like melodrama, coincidence is predominant in the plot.

k.
All of the characters are stupid.  They are deliberate monuments of stupidity!  
This makes even the dumbest audience member feel superior.  However, the more
mature viewers quickly become accustomed to this state of affairs; so the stupidities
cease to be surprising, and therefore cease to be funny.

l. There's a happy ending; i.e., the knave is punished and the fool is finally rewarded.
Again, a good comedy may become a classic, but farce is instantly forgettable.

There are other types of fictional literature:

There is Tragedy, Comedy, Drame, Black Comedy, Satire, and Parody.  You can go
to my website for definitions of these other types.  You can usually tell what type a
movie is by simply looking at the title and the advertising.

(Demonstrate current display ads)

The most powerful type of dramatic fiction is tragedy, so my last novel,
Regarding an
Angel’s Flight
, was structured as a tragedy.  It was also structured as a
philosophical novel, similar to those of Aldous Huxley and Umberto Eco, and as what
the Germans call a
bildungsroman – or novel of character development . . . in this
case, the making of an atheist.  Finally, it was designed to be what I call a “stealth”
novel.  That is, the readers don’t know what philosophical direction it is going until
the last few pages.  So it makes the ideal present for your religious friends and
relatives, who would never otherwise look at any freethought literature.

I was surprised, however, to find that very few publishers today even accept books
that would be classified as serious literature.  “Literature” is considered a very
rarefied genre – similar to poetry.  Only about ten percent of publishers will even look
at a “literary” manuscript.  Most of them specialize in melodramatic genres, such as
Women’s Romance, Mysteries, Westerns, Horror, Gay and Lesbian, Children’s
Books, Sci-Fi, etc.  Remember all those classic novels you studied back in English
Lit?  I think that most of them would never get published today.

What about the Independent Presses?  Well, there is only one imprint that will publish
freethought material, and that’s Prometheus Books.  But they don’t accept new
fiction.  And if you submit a letter of inquiry about a non-fiction book you have written,
they probably won’t even answer.  I have written them at least four letters and sent
them complimentary copies of three of my books.  I have yet to even to receive a
response.  I suspect that, being the only publisher of its kind, they are simply
overwhelmed by work.

So where does that leave an atheist author?  Well, you can always publish it
yourself.  It’s a lot of work, and in the past you had to invest a lot of money, but you
have complete control over all aspects of the book, and sometimes you can make
more money from it than you would from a conventional publishing contract.  When I
wrote
Lucifer’s Handbook, back in the 1960s, Prometheus Press didn’t even exist,
so nobody would touch it with a fork – except the Philosophical Library.  I quickly
discovered, however, that the Philosophical Library is what is called a “Subsidy
House.”  That means the author has to put up all the money for editing, typesetting,
proof-reading, cover design, printing, binding and advertising.  All the company does
is provide the expertise for those jobs and then list you in their catalog.  Furthermore,
you have to buy somewhere between 500 and 1,000 copies of your book and then
store them somewhere while you try to sell them.  These subsidy houses are
sometimes called “Vanity Publishing Companies” -- which is a bit unfair because it
implies that only bad writers would ever need to use one.  That’s not true.  Some of
the most important authors in history had to publish their own books.  I’ll list just a
few, in alphabetical order:

Tom Clancy
Albert Einstein
T.S. Eliot
Ben Franklin
Zane Gray
John Grisham
Ernest Hemingway
L. Ron Hubbard
James Joyce
Steven King
Rudyard Kipling
D.H. Lawrence
Thomas Paine
Edgar Allen Poe
Marcel Proust
Carl Sandburg
George Bernard Shaw
Upton Sinclair
Gertrude Stein
Henry David Thorough
Mark Twain
Walt Whitman

It’s almost axiomatic that if anybody has something original to say, or a new way of
saying it, they’ll have to publish it themselves.

I started
Angel’s Flight when I first finished my Master’s Degree at UCLA, back in
1961.  I was working at CBS at that time, and I had the idea of writing a somewhat
autobiographical novel about a young man’s search for meaning in his life.  And the
turning point would be when he reads an essay that completely destroys all the
arguments for the existence of God that he had ever heard.

I wrote the first few scenes about his family and childhood – which are still in the book
– but I kept thinking about how I was going to write that essay – which would open,
not only the eyes of my hero, but also the reader.  So I put aside the novel and began
doing research on the history of philosophy.  (I had already read all the major holy
books of the world.)  And as I worked on that essay, it began to grow longer and
longer.  The more I tried to prune it, the faster it grew – until I had an entire book!  I
wondered what the hell I was going to do with it; it was much too long for even a
whole chapter in the novel.  So I decided to publish it by itself.  I knew that nobody
would publish a book with Atheist in the title, so I decided to call it
Lucifer’s
Handbook
, as a variation on The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce.  This was
during the late 1960s, when Satan was just something you made jokes about on
Halloween.  So I thought my target audience of intellectuals and college students
would immediately recognize the title as a satirical joke.  And my major concern was
that the book would soon be irrelevant, since fundamentalism seemed to be dying
out.  I never dreamed that it would not only return with a vengeance, but even take
over the entire government!

As I said, the Philosophical Library agreed to publish it; but when I took all factors
into consideration, I decided to start my own company and publish it myself.  I took
out a business license, under the DBA of Academic Associates – which at that time
consisted of my wife, myself, and another professor.

I had already had a number of people proof-read the manuscript, so the next step
was to hire a typesetter.  In those days typesetting was a very complicated and
expensive process.  Then after the typesetter had finished the paste-up, I hired a
printing company in Valencia to run off 1,000 Perfect Bound paperbacks on their
offset press.

I hired a graphic artist to design mailers, which I sent out to all libraries, bookstores,
and university Philosophy Departments.  I sold a fair number of them that way.  
Several Philosophy Departments adopted them as textbooks for a short time – even
one seminary.  But I suppose they caught a lot of flack about it, because after a few
semesters they dropped it.

American Atheists bought out the remainder of my entire print-run and sold all of
them within a couple of months – then wanted more.  I ordered a second print-run of
2,000 copies.  But Madalyn never finished paying all she owed for the first run.  
Unfortunately, that was at the time when Bill Murray split with Madalyn and the whole
organization nearly collapsed.  So I never did get all the money they owed me.

At any rate, I rented storage space for the 2,000 books and began selling them by
mail order through certain carefully selected magazines, and through what was then
the American Atheists book table (now Atheists United), and also the Humanists
Association book table.  I found that most of the magazine ads cost more than they
yielded in sales.  The one exception was the
Mensa Bulletin – especially after
someone published a glowing review of the book in it.  I found it highly significant that
those with the highest levels of intelligence also had the highest percentage of
atheists.

The book continued to sell for many years afterwards, simply through word-of-mouth
advertising.

In the meantime, at L.A. Valley College, in Van Nuys, I had started the world’s first
professional film school in a Community College.  
All professional film classes, up to
that time, had been available only to
grad students at certain universities.  But my
mandate was to take
anyone off the street, even if they had not finished high school,
and turn them into a professional filmmaker in only four semesters!  
American
Cinematographer
wrote a feature article about this poor professor in Hollywood
trying to accomplish the impossible.

Obviously, there was no beginning course, and no textbook which attempted to teach
students everything they needed to know before they were handed an expensive
motion picture camera and turned loose on the streets.  We didn’t have point-and-
shoot cameras in those days, like video cameras today.  Selecting the correct film
stocks, using filters, light meters, editing and projection equipment was very
complicated.

I quickly devised a course, called
Introduction to Cinema Arts, in which I tried to
teach them everything they needed to know before their first production class.  But
there was no textbook for them to refer to.  So I obtained a one-year sabbatical leave
to write such a book.  They paid me to write the book, but at the end of the year I had
to present them with the finished book.  I started writing on an electric typewriter, but
it was slow going and I began to worry about running out of time.  This was in 1981,
when the first home computers began appearing on the market.  I had to teach
myself all about computers, and went though two different brands before I finally
finished the book – on time.  There was nothing very controversial about this book,
so I sent out letters of inquiry to a number of publishing companies.  I got a response
from a company in Florida, and I actually flew to Tallahassee with all my floppy discs
and photographic negatives.  I signed a contract with them and they said the book
would be ready for the following semester.  When I got back home, I got another offer
from a different company, but told them they were too late.

And then I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.  Every time I asked the publishers
what was happening, they said the book was coming along just fine.  In the
meantime, my students desperately needed a textbook.  Finally, after stalling for a
year and a half, they admitted that they didn’t have the money to publish it, and
demanded that I pay for all expenses.  I told them to go to hell, and to send my
materials back.  They refused to do it.  So I hired a lawyer in Tallahassee who
threatened them with a court order.  They finally sent back all my materials.

By then, I decided I didn’t have time to fool around with any more flaky publishers, I
would publish it myself.  By then I had a Radio Shack TRS 80 computer connected to
an electric typewriter for a printer.  So I printed out the text with a very small font, and
then pasted up each page in a two-column format.  Even so, the book ran 247
pages, at 8½ X 11 inches, with a plastic comb binding.  I took the cardboard master
sheets to Kinko’s and had them print up as many as I thought I would need for my
classes.  Then I sold them to the college bookstore, where my students could
purchase them for their classes.  
Finally, the students had something they could refer
to, and didn’t have to get all that technical information from their lecture notes alone.

Nevertheless, I
still had to spend most of the lectures showing them slides for the
visual concepts they needed to know.  I then hired an artist to draw some of the
illustrations.  I shot about 400 photographs, bought a drafting table and pasted up the
photographs, and the captions, page by page.  I had to get copyright clearance for a
number of scientific photographs.  And finally, I hired the same company in Valencia
to print out 2,000 copies of the 71 pages of high quality photographic images on
slick paper.

I then stored these 142,000 sheets of paper along with my copies of
Lucifer in my
storage unit.  Each semester, I would set up collating tables in my apartment and
inter-collate, by hand, the 71 photographic pages with the 247 pages of text.  Then I
bound each copy with my own binding machine and made them available for sale.

Only then did I mount an advertising campaign for the complete book.  I hired another
graphic artist to make up a mailer.  I bought mailing lists of all the film schools,
libraries, and guidance counselors.  Then I sent out several thousand of these
mailers.

I sold quite a few books.  Several other film schools adopted it as a textbook.

By the time I retired in 1993, I had made enough profit between
Lucifer and
Orientation to Cinema, to qualify for Social Security – that’s above and beyond my
pension from Valley College.  So you
can make money from self-publishing!

I mention all this detail about what is involved in publishing because most people
simply don’t know.  They tend to think that printing is all there is to it.  But the most
boring thing about publishing is order fulfillment.  Every time you get an order for one
book or 20 books, you have to package them up, take them to the Post Office, figure
out the constantly changing postage, and then send the company an invoice and
hope they will pay it.  The most maddening thing about the business is that
sometimes a bookstore will order a dozen books and then refuse to pay for them.  
So you have to keep sending them dunning letters – and maybe eventually write it off
as a bad debt.  Or they will
return some of the books, and you then have to send
them refunds.  Also, a lot of people don’t understand time zones, so they would call
me in the middle of the night from Philadelphia, or Japan, or Sweden, to order books.

By the year 2000 I was almost out of
Lucifers and the technical portions of my
Cinema book were obsolete, so I shut down the company.

Now... I’ve gone into considerable detail about how things
used to be...  because
today everything has completely changed.

Today we have a new technology called Print on Demand, or POD companies.  That
means
you compose your book on your own home computer, burn the data onto a
CD, and then
they put the CD into a giant Xerox machine which prints AND BINDS
the entire book... within a matter of minutes!  They simply punch in the number of
books they want, and it spits them out, one at a time.  The quality is just as good as
any other books on the market.  And although the cost per book may be a few cents
higher than the old method, you make that up by not having to pay storage space for
more books than you need.  Most companies are rapidly converting to this new
technology.

When I published
Everything About the Bible That You Never Had Time to Look
Up,
back in 2002, and Regarding an Angel’s Flight in 2004, I went the POD route,
and paid only a
fraction of what I spent for the first two books.  Furthermore, they do
all the boring stuff
for you – like filing for copyright, typesetting, order fulfillment,
placing the titles in
Books in Print, making them available through Amazon, Borders,
and Barnes & Noble.  All
you have to do is sit back and collect a royalty check every
quarter.

If all you want is a few professionally printed and bound books to give to your friends
and family, you can now do that for two or three hundred dollars.

If you want a custom-made cover, as I did, then it costs a bit more.  Or if you want
somebody else to do the copy-editing and proof-reading, they will provide that
service, too.  But extra services cost extra money.

If you actually want to make
money from your book, there is still one major thing that
only
you can do – and that’s to market it!  So the big problem today is not getting a
book published, but getting people to
buy it!  And before they can buy it, they first
have to know about it.  
That’s where the work and the expense come in.  Even with a
conventional contract, the
author is still expected to do most of the marketing – with
talk shows, speeches like this one, personal appearances at bookstores, and so on.

In today’s world, the
first thing you have to do is create your own website.  You can
either hire a professional designer, which costs a lot of money, or you can buy a
program which will allow you to design your own website.  I signed a contract with
Yahoo to host my website, for $20 per month, and they
gave me a program called
Yahoo Site Builder.  Talk about wrestling with alligators!  The operations manual
alone is over 500 pages!  But after a few weeks of trying to figure out how it works,
finally, in December of 2005 I had a site up and running!  I called it www.
miltontimmons.com.

On my website, I have detailed descriptions of both
Angel’s Flight and Everything
About the Bible
, including excerpts from both of them.  I’ve posted all the reviews
they have received.  Then I have a link to Amazon.com, which customers can click if
they would like to browse through the books electronically, or to buy either of the
books.  Or they can click directly on the publishing companies.  A company called
Xlibris published the biblical book, and one called Author House published Angel’s
Flight.

In addition to pages about those two books, I have a biographical section which
outlines my professional life – with links to organizations with which I’ve been
involved, such as CFI and AU.  I also have several pages of photographs, showing
various stages of my life.


But the section that I hope will attract the
most customers is one called Other Works
by Milt
.  In that section I have reproduced portions of my doctoral dissertation, which
was a scientific study of a theory by Marshall McLuhan – testing the different ways
that people perceive television, versus the way they perceive a motion picture.  I did
find significant differences.

I also reproduce sections from
Orientation to Cinema, which are still valid – even
though certain technical sections are now obsolete.  Mainly the portions that I make
available are about career planning, dramaturgy, and script-writing.

I have posted the
complete text of all the little monographs I used to sell at our book
table.  These include:

SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL MIND CONTROL, or HOW TO START YOUR OWN
CULT.

THE ABSURDITY OF ETERNAL LIFE

ORIGINS OF CHRISTIANITY: THE TRUE STORY

SEX, SIN, AND SANITY (How Christianity Causes Crime)

THE ESSENTIAL ATHEIST LEXICON

A BRIEF SURVEY OF RESURRECTED SAVIOR GODS

HOW THE CALENDAR GOT THAT WAY

Finally, I have scanned in the
complete text of Lucifer’s Handbook.

Eventually, I hope to add several video programs in which I was interviewed about
my books – and various other subjects.

But!   In the Meantime...  I’ve started a new novel.  It’s a science fiction novel, called
2084.  And it’s about global warming and the dangers of allowing churches to regain
control of government.  I started it 20 years ago, before most Americans had ever
heard about the problem of global warming.  But, as you can see, I had a few other
things to do first.  I had finished a complete sequence outline, scene by scene.  But it
takes place in various cities around the country – to show how different places will be
affected in different ways.  I had never been to some of these places before, and so I
wanted to actually visit these cities before I tried to write about them.  Last May, I
decided the time had come to make that trip – before my eyes got any worse – and
before the cost of gasoline made it impossible.  On May 15th I took off for Portland,
Oregon.  That’s where the first scenes take place.  I’m assuming that Portland will be
the major seaport for the West Coast by 2084, because all the existing seaports will
be under water.  Portland is 100 miles inland, but it’s already a major seaport, via the
Columbia River.

The next big scenes are in Chicago. The two western Great Lakes have dried up,
because they were fed by western rivers, which had gone dry.  The three eastern
Great Lakes, however, still have water, because they are fed by eastern rivers which
are constantly overflowing because of repeated storms and hurricanes.  The
Christian city state of Chicago is constantly fighting with the Black Islamic Republic
of Detroit over water rights.

The next major scene is in St. Louis, where my two protagonists, Carlton Smith and
his 18-year old daughter Tori get on a ferry and sail down the Mississippi Lakes to
what is left of Baton Rouge, and then the ship turns west and sails over what used to
be swamp-land – past Houston, which is partially submerged – past Corpus Christi,
which is totally submerged.  Then they turn north and sail up the San Antonio River to
what is then the major seaport for the Gulf Coast: San Antonio.

San Antonio is now controlled by the Roman Catholic Church, and Spanish is the
official language.  My heroes have a number of adventures there, then escape in
their souped-up Humvee and drive through the desert, past the ghost town of Las
Vegas and end up in the megalopolis of Los Angeles – which is only partially under
water.

Los Angeles is controlled by the American Catholic Church, but they are struggling to
maintain their control against a charismatic New Age preacher who calls himself The
Prophet.

Anyway, I drove 8,000 miles in 28 days.  I shot over 300 digital photographs and
wrote up 36 pages of notes after I got back.

Now that I have finished the bulk of the website, I have begun contacting some of the
hundreds of atheist and freethought websites to invite everybody to visit my website
and partake of the free information. It seems to be working; ever since my press
release went out last month, I’ve been getting a lot of traffic on the site.

Finally! I have gone back to work on
Twenty Eighty-four. It is structured as an action-
adventure melodrama – with a handsome hero who must rescue his beautiful
daughter from the clutches of a religious cult.  There are two interlocking love
stories.  And it all ends happily – for the heroes anyway, and at least hopefully for
civilization.

I hope this one will be more commercial – and maybe it will help call attention to my
more serious books.

Thank you!
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