Sunday, December 28, 2014


REVIEW OF HALLOWSEVE BY JAMES PHILLIPS - “A good collection of stories to be read around Halloween. Hallowseve was probably the best story in the book. A well thought out scary tale with a great ending. A highly recommended collection of scary tales.”

Saturday, December 6, 2014


The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children, #1)The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR - It takes an author with a great deal of daring to attempt a tale with such an epic scope as this one. In Jean M Auel's novel, entitled 'The Clan of the Cave Bear', she explores the imagined interaction of our Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal ancestors. Based on interviews I have read, she was greatly inspired by research and archaeology, such as the Chauvet cave (see my blog for related posts). If you love high concept or historical fiction, you owe it to yourself to read this book!

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Sunday, November 30, 2014


Dawn of ArtDawn of Art by Jean-Marie Chauvet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DAWN OF ART - Imagine spelunking in France, stumbling upon a cave filled with wondrous charcoal and ocher paintings, later realizing the environment had remained untouched for 30,000 years! The book, entitled ‘Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave’, includes over 100 pages of stunning photographs of this magnificent art. The writer in me finds imagining the lives of our early human ancestors--their life struggles, obvious spiritually and amazing talents--absolutely enthralling. This discovery led archeologists and historians to reformulate theories of the evolution of human art. At different times, the caves seemed to have been dwelled by humans, as well as cave bears. For a related post, check out ‘The Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, go visit my blog.

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DAWN OF ART vid clip

Monday, November 24, 2014


Sandia Peak tram - At the base of the Sandia Mountains--located in Albuquerque, New Mexico--go for a tram ride experience like none other. The Sandia Peak Tramway ascends the steep western side of the mountain, close to cliffs and pinnacles, from the base to the top. The view from the tram includes all of Albuquerque and roughly 11,000 square miles of the New Mexico countryside. The Sandia Peak Ski Area is on the opposite side of the mountain from the tramway and the city. Skiing is available in the wintertime, and during the summer mountain bike trails are available. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


LITCRAWL – Recently, the Alabama Street Writers Group (ASWG) read at Litcrawl, one of SF’s most anticipated literary events, Over 130 people attended the ASWG event--hosted by City Art Gallery in the Mission District's Valencia Street corridor--listening to the 8 writers who presented work. Enjoy the show, then while you’re at it, check out the ASWG’s website. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2014


When We Were Nearly Young - The inspiration for Mavis Gallant’s short story, entitled ‘When We Were Nearly Young’ was a diary she kept during the 1950’s. The backstory goes that Gallant was living in Madrid, forced to pawn her typewriter, while waiting for a check from her agent. She did what every writer does by turning a real-life situation into fiction. The short story deals with a woman on a quest for self-discovery, living with three friends, all of whom are waiting for money. They eat cheap, loaf around and try to enjoy life on a budget. Gallant is a prolific contributor to The New Yorker, featuring publication of more than one hundred stories in the magazine. I wonder, now that handwritten journals are obsolete, how will writer’s notes be remembered?

Thursday, November 6, 2014


DO YOU READ ME?  - Today’s post is the second in a series of reflections I had after attending a recent book event. Namely, Litquake’s digital publishing conference, digi.lit, which took place in San Francisco on June 21, 2014. This session was all about building an audience, how to promote and building an author identity. One of the panelists blogged her book. Another hosted a series of podcasts featuring authors reading their own stories. Others formed writer collectives, of sorts. They discussed spinoffs, social media, starting local, an effective call to action, comparison titles and emerging themes. The panel was pretty much split into two camps. Namely, authors who figured out their brand (prior to writing anything) and those who made it up (their brand) as they went along. This panel didn’t really offer anything I hadn’t heard before. As it was not so much a how-to, rather it was a cross section of panelists, what they did and what worked for them.

The following conference sessions will be covered in this series of blog posts.
1. Digital 101: Is Digital publishing the best option for me?
2. Do you read me? Author Branding and Marketing
3. Building a Book
4. The Changing Ways we Read

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


SANTA FE PLAZA - The history of the plaza dates back to the era of the Spanish conquistadores along the El Camino Real. The architecture is traditional adobe, with the exception of the Cathedral Basilica, built of yellow limestone chosen by Archbishop Lamy. Like much of New Mexico, there are a combination of cultural influences, including Spanish, Native American, New Mexican and European. Fantastic art, jewelry, galleries and food are a feast for the senses. The literary influences of Santa Fe are rugged and individualistic, such as ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ by Willa Cather, one of my favorite books. Visit at Christmas, when the night time plaza glows with farolitos and luminarias. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014


LITCRAWL - Join the Alabama Street Writers Group at Litcrawl at City Art Gallery (828 Valencia Street in San Francisco) at 7PM on October 18th. Crossroads: Words + Art. Members read brief selections, eat/ drink snacks/ beverages and authors will meet-and-greet, at the end of the presentation. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014


DIGITAL 101 - Today’s post is the first in a series of reflections I had after attending a recent book event. Namely, Litquake’s digital publishing conference, digi.lit, which took place in San Francisco on June 21, 2014. The byline of this panel was as follows: Is digital publishing the best option for me? Specific platforms were mentioned by panelists such as Jukepop, Createspace, Smashwords, Ingram Spark and Kickstarter. There was a discussion about the varied types of publication including self-publish, eBooks, hybrid publication, hard covers, legacy-publish, paperbacks, and POD (print on demand). They talked about how they needed to function as their own agent, cover designers, publicists, editors, interns, tweeters, bloggers and reviewers. The panelists essentially agreed on the fact (?) that nobody knows how to market a book in today’s new digital age.

The following conference sessions will be covered in this series of blog posts.
1. Digital 101: Is Digital publishing the best option for me?
2. Do you read me? Author Branding and Marketing
3. Building a Book
4. The Changing Ways we Read

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


WRITER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO - Look up as you’re walking along Market Street towards Embarcadero. Behold a new multimillion dollar high rise condominium being built on every block. We’ve seen our share of boom times--from the Barbary Coast to Flower Power to the bubble to the ‘new’ Tech Boom of 2014. More condos, less affordable rentals, more tech companies, the same amount of space, more evictions and nowhere to go but up--result in artist-writer types being forced out of ‘The City’.

Hence, this is where the ‘Writer’s Survival Guide to Living in San Francisco’ comes in, serving up a fresh batch of ideas, to get your name in print and promote your work. You call yourself a writer so go ahead and act like one! Unless you’re James Patterson--you need to be your own editor, publicist, layout person, cover designer and publisher--something that has to be done on the cheap, or free. At least initially, anyway. Since we’ve already established it takes a lot of cash to live in SF.  

You don’t actually have to pay anybody to create your own eBook. Make sure to do your research so the book interior looks professional. You can use digital design to create your own cover or use a free stock image. Adding your name and book title to any JPEG file is easy. Use the outline feature in MS Word to link chapter titles to corresponding pages. Smashwords will automatically assign an ISBN for free.

Amazon Author Central
Use the contact form to have Amazon add your eBooks into your Author Central profile. Once the eBooks are live they will be populated to other sites (Barnes & Noble and Scribd for example). We’re still talking eBooks, if your readers can’t find them, your efforts are for naught. Free is good, making money, even better!

What if I’m a diehard fan of physical books, you might ask? In other words, books in print, such as paperbacks. Don’t (and I repeat, don’t) go anywhere else besides CreateSpace. But, “I hate Amazon”, you might say. I’ve researched many of them (Xlibris, Friesen, Ingram, etc.) and while evil Amazon is dead set on putting everyone else out of business, they are the best and cheapest. I am talking about POD (print on demand). This part isn’t cheap except the result is a polished professional trade paperback book. You are going to need these for readings, book signings and some of the best book reviewers insist on physical books. For novel length works I recommend Perfect Binding (square spine with clear coated cover) and nobody does POD better than CreateSpace.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Paperbacks
Most writers don’t know this. But, it really isn’t that difficult, to print your own book that complies (comes close to?) the publishing industry standard. This won’t work for a full novels (70,000 words), because the spine would be too thick, but it will work for long-ish novellas. Once again you will use a built in feature of MS Word. Format your pages in half-letter (8.5 × 5.5 in) with standard margins (don’t worry about gutters and such). You already have your cover so be sure to have both files ready. Go to a big box office supply store and ask them to print the novella in a pamphlet format. The cover is printed on card stock and the book interior is printed on regular white printer paper. It actually works great if the cover image can be printed in black on a single color card stock cover. The centerfold is stapled and voila! You have a cute little physical book. I’ve played around with various formats tape bound, comb bound. For the price and size, the pamphlet works best, trust me.

Social Media
There are so many options here that we have to focus. I realize you’re a writer and want to sell books. However, to have any success in social media, you must be interesting. Say “Buy my book!” enough times and your followers will unfriend you and go elsewhere. Start a blog (Blogger or Wordpress) because you can say lots of interesting things about yourself, besides just harping on your book. Go onto Twitter everyday and interact with your followers. This is the beginning of your fan base slash audience. Set up pages on sites specific to book-ish pursuits such as Goodreads and LibraryThing. Do this enough and readers will naturally begin to gravitate to you. Enlist the best of the bunch and ask them to do book reviews. All of this is free!

Community Resources
Remember, this article started on the premise that you’re a writer trying to make it in San Francisco, right? Here’s where that begins to pay off. You have written books you can talk about, you’re interesting even without them AND there are so many opportunities right in your backyard (SF). Join a writer’s group, go to events such as Litquake, Word Week in Noe Valley, hit up bookstores (you’re a local writer, remember?) and don’t forget to populate your books with colorful characters and locales that are uniquely San Francisco. Get out of the house and go to events! Remember to tell people about your book keeping in mind you’re so much more than that. Be interesting and memorable, in real life, as well as in social media. Nobody said this was going to be easy but it’s worth it. James Patterson didn’t start out as James Patterson, he started out as a nobody with a big idea and lots of confidence. Look how that one turned out.

About the Author
Chad Schimke began as a self-published writer in 2012 with novels, including ‘Picker’, and short stories, including ‘Weirder’. He has appeared on several live radio shows discussing his various books and a wide variety of speculative topics. He’s been reviewed, guested and hosted along the way. Visit him on Twitter (@ChadSchimke), Amazon (, Blogger ( and on the web (, amongst other places.

In 2014 Artifice Comics released special anthology issues, featuring his work, with ‘Midwinter’ appearing in Christmas and ‘Hallowseve’ appearing in the Halloween issue. Later this year, his crime thriller novel entitled ‘Secrets’ will be released, through Seventh Window Publications.

Don’t miss Chad Schimke, organizer of the Alabama Street Writer’s Group (, in cooperation with City Art Gallery (828 Valencia Street). Meet him at the intersection of art and literature, at Litcrawl, on Saturday October 18th! This is part of the larger Litquake festival happening annually in San Francisco, Manhattan and Los Angeles. Come out for short readings, unique performances, art happenings, a feast of refreshments and book signings galore. Oh my! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014


The Maltese FalconThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THE MALTESE FALCON - In his best known book, Dashiell Hammett pens the stylish Sam Spade, protagonist of The Maltese Falcon. He’s tough enough to stand up to thugs or the police. He smells trouble when a buxom dame breezes into his office. Soon enough, his entire world will be turned upside down. Hammett wrote about detectives because he had been employed as one after responding to a vague classified ad. He had a notoriously short writing career, publishing four novels and all of his short stories within nine years. His poor health, struggle with alcoholism and community party membership led to his decline and eventual imprisonment in McCarthy era hysteria. In the final years of his life, he was hounded by the IRS for back taxes, dying penniless.

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Monday, September 22, 2014


Burritt Alley - San Francisco has been the setting for numerous books, TV shows and movies. In many cases she is little more than set dressing. But in Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel, The Maltese Falcon, Burritt Alley plays a major role in the novel, a specific street where the novel accelerates. He is the undisputed master of the hard-boiled private detective genre. Protagonist Sam Spade, in his ruthless quest for justice, sees his partner shot dead in the alley in the opening scenes of the book. Near Union Square, close to Stockton and Bush, there’s a plaque that reads: "On approximately this spot MILES ARCHER, PARTNER OF SAM SPADE, was done in by BRIGID O'SHAUGHNESSY." Sure, you’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge, walked along the Embarcadero and looked down on the city atop Twin Peaks. If you’re a book lover (like me) then take a literary excursion to a lesser known corner of The City. Don your zoot suit with fedora ensemble, to visit Burritt Alley with a copy of Hammett’s noir novel. Read a couple of pages, then stop by Burritt Room Tavern. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Adobe Books Gallery Survival Adaptations - An article I wrote for San Francisco cooperative gallery, entitled ‘Writer’s Survival Guide to Living in San Francisco’, was featured in Adobe Books Backroom Gallery recent exhibition and chapbook. In their press release, Adobe Books says: “Survival Adaptations dictate that in order to survive and thrive in specific environments, animal species have developed a host of amazing characteristics.” In a later post, I will post the entire article verbatim, as it appeared in the chapbook. The article also features content by the San Francisco artist Solis.