Friday, March 19, 2010

JFK Assassination Solved

by John Gilstrap

Actually, today's entry has nothing to do with the JFK assassination, but after Kathryn's post on
Tuesday, I figured we'd seed our audience with some conspiracy theorists. But since I opened this door, let me share the results of my years of research into the JFK murder (I really have done years of research): I can't vouch for the why (I suspect the mob, but there's lots of conflicting data), but as for the how, the evidence is overwhelming that Oswald was the only shooter, and the weapon was the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that was found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

Moving on . . .

I attended my very first Left Coast Crime conference last week, and it was every bit as wonderful as people have been telling me for years. As a return favor, I recommend that all Left Coasties give Magna Cum Murder a try when it comes around at the end of October. Magna is held every year in Muncie, Indiana, and it is, hands down, the best mystery conference around. (Full disclosure: it's in Muncie, Indiana. I know I mentioned that already, but be forewarned that Muncie ain't no Los Angeles.) But that's not what this blog entry is about, either.

Moving on . . .

I attended a panel discussion at LCC about the use of blogs as a means for authors to promote themselves, and I was shocked to hear at least half of the experts say that blogging is a waste of time; that is siphons creative energy away from the creation of good stories. There was some acknowledgement that group blogs like TKZ might be the exception because the burden is spread around, but still, the experts leaned to the negative.

Part of my shock was rooted in the response these same panel of experts received when they asked the audience what single factor is most likely to make them buy one book over another. By an overwhelming margin, people's primary decision factor is whether or not they "know" the author. Is there a better way to get to know an author--I'm talking the person now; not the work--than by reading his or her blog? Single one-off entries like the ones you get from authors on their blog tour might only project a marketing image; but multiple entries, week after week, year after year, reveal not only the personalities of the bloggers, but of the regular commenters, as well.

While we're on the subject, let's address the blog tour for a moment. I think it's wonderful when someone drops in on a blog to write something substantive and thought-provoking while they happen to be on tour, but is there anything more annoying than the guest blooger with the 500-word advertisement for their latest tome? I hate that.

For me, blogging is like a weekly chat with friends. I get to say what's on my mind, and listen to what others think of it. Sometimes I'm in a good mood, sometimes not so much. Sometimes I'm harried and sort of dash something out just to fill the space, but mostly I do this with the hope of entertaining people and maybe sparking a discussion that spreads and brings strangers into the fold of friends.

I suspect I'm preaching pretty much to the choir here--except maybe for the visiting conspiracy theorists--but do y'all agree that over time blogging is a form of friendship? Don't you think it's a way to get to "know" someone? What one factor above others makes you seek out a particular author's work? Do you think Jack Ruby worked for the CIA?


  1. Preach it John, preach it! I'm surprised to hear the "expert" naysayers comment. Billy Coffey (whose first novel Snow Day will be published this year) points much of his success in his proposal's marketing plan to his blog activity. For an unknown author needing a platform, Billy's audience were the hundreds (or thousands?) of people that started reading his feature posts on higher volume blogs (and I believe he also had a local newspaper column). He said the blog activity helped acquire both a reputable agent (Rachelle Gardner) and publisher (FaithWords). His readership was a small following, but it was growing because of blogging, twittering, and facebooking, and he was able to present the numbers.

    I think you stated the blogging community perfectly--a form of friendship. As a 25+ year technology vet, I've been involved with online communities before we even called it "online" (they were called Bulletin Board Systems back then). But as with anything that lacks face-to-face interaction, or even phone conversations, that "knowing" someone part becomes relative in the online world--lots of folks are hiding behind masks or find it tempting to become pretentious in their respective hobbies and fields.

    I know the latter would never be the case with our beloved Kill Zone authors. LOL ;-)

    Good post cranked my 'ol thinker.

  2. Oh, I almost forgot. What one factor above others makes me seek out a particular author's work? I think you nailed it for me, John. For at least the past two years, I've purchased more books from authors I've never read because I "connected" with them on blogs. I got to know a bit about their personality, not just as writers but as human beings (if it's even possible to separate the two...grin). Then I think, "I'd like to read something by this person!" Concerning readers like me, screw the 'experts.' :)

  3. Nicely said, John. I can understand the comments about sapping the creative out of writers if they have an individual blog. I can't imagine coming up with something to write about everyday. That may be why they invented Twitter. Sometimes it hard to do it once a week like we do here at the TKZ Collective. But I certainly have gotten to know my blogmates and our regular visitors. I consider them friends. Our personalities emerge quickly here as each of us tends to go down our favorite paths. At the end of the day, we should treat blogging as just one more marketing tool to reach others and let them get to know us and our work.

    BTW, Brock, I remember using the BBS many years ago to exchange ideas and information. USENET is still around and in use by millions daily. Do you remember Gopher and Veronica?

  4. Actually, I can't think of a single instance where I got a book because I had read an author's blog. However, an author has lost a sale because of a blog. In this case, I had recently posted a link to a news article about a lawsuit involving a book that had recently been thrown out. No commentary--just a link and a few lines summarizing it. Said author was apparently visiting all the blogs that even mentioned the court case and posting a canned response. What he didn't know was that I had just bought one of his books because of the lawsuit and was on chapter 2. I stopped reading after the post and gave the book away. Haven't touched any of his books since.

    I pick books because it looks like they might be a good read in my reading interest areas.

  5. Interesting that blogging can be a plus (Brock) or a minus (Linda), which was another point brought out at LCC. What you put out there sticks around. One well known author put up a blog entry once, with a strong opinion about another author, and it got picked up by the L.A. Times and caused a big brouhaha. That's why I like group blogging. Gives me a chance to think it through before I post.

    As far as the response about "knowing the author," I think the people responding to that meant they were most likely to buy a book by an author they have read and liked. That's word of mouth and brand building, which is by far the most effective form of marketing.

  6. If you're a blogging writer, just keep in mind that your publisher and agent might read it. I'm pretty sure my agent doesn't, but my publisher does, and tells me so.

    Now, Magna cum Murder in Muncie, which I've been to twice, is indeed a fine mystery conference, and you're absolutely right, Muncie ain't LA (or even Twin Forks, Idaho for that matter), but it's a nice enough town. Just... one year I stayed at a cheap motel on the outskirts of town and felt left out, the second year I stayed at the older hotel where the conference is held. Lovely hotel, but it's about a block from the train tracks and for reasons completely mysterious to me a train comes through at just about 6:00 every morning and the engineer blows the whistle looooonnnnnggggg and haaaarrrrrddddd as he apparently parks the train below your hotel window.

  7. Brock, my first experience with the Internet was in the mid-90s, on AOL, back when you had to pay by the minute. There was a group there called the Writer's Club, where you could chat real time as well as post on various bulletin boards. A number of the authors our met there--including my blogmate John Ramsey Miller--became close friends in real life. Other regulars on the Writers Club included Harlan Coben, Tess Gerritsen, Lorenzo Carcaterra and (less frequently than others) Tom Clancy.

    Joe, there's no way I could write a post per day.

    Linda, you raise my greatest fear about maintaining a high cyber-profile. It's far too easy to write something snide with a wink and a smile that doesn't come through on the page. Truth be told, I even hesitated to open my post today with the JFK thing. The last thing I want to do is accidentally turn people off while trying to entertain and inform.

    The key, I think, is the regularity of posting. Over time, if you regularly correspond with someone, I do believe that you get to see the real person behind the typing.

    So, by way of answering my own question, I have to say that I frequently buy books based on online friendships.

    Jim, I think . . . ah, hell, I've spent too much time talking with you this week already. ;-)

    Mark, by the way, brings up a point that my memory had suppressed: the train. If you're on the right (wrong?) side of the hotel, it can sound like there's a locomotive in your room. One year, I witnessed an attending author ask the front desk clerk what time the hotel got into Chicago. Alas, that hotel--the Roberts--has been closed.

  8. I agree completely, John. I get many of my recommendations from reading writers blogs, in part because I feel comfortable with them, and in part because I trust their recommendations of others' work.

    You're also dead on about blog tours. I usually stop reading entries when I see they're blatant self-promotion. I can read the book jacket as well as the next guy. I'm looking for insights into this person that might tell me this will be an interesting read for me.

    I've considered going to the conference in Muncie, and probably will go the next time Bouchercon is too far away for me to get to comfortably. Frankly, the fact that Muncie isn't LA is a selling point for me.

  9. Damn, almost forgot. I think you're also right about Oswald and Ruby, though I think Ruby was working for the Chicago Outfit.

  10. I have my own opinion about JFK's assassination, but in the interest of everyone's sanity, I'll keep it to myself today.

    I have added quite a few "new to me" authors to my list after reading the blogs. And reading them consistently does make it feel like a visit with friends. Not exactly the same, but a pretty good substitute!

  11. I think blogging can make a difference, but I think you need to select your topic well to attract the right audience.

    For instance, if you blog about the mechanics of fiction writing, you'll probably attract other writers, mostly those seeking publication. If your book is fiction, some of them will probably buy it because most writers are also readers. But you haven't drawn your primary audience.

    But if your book is a how-to for fiction writers, you've attracted the primary audience for your book (wannabe writers). That's a perfect match.

    If you blog about your life, the ideal book would seem to be a memoir--readers will get a taste and know whether they want more or not.

    I would expect the writer of a suspense novel to draw his primary audience best by blogging about something his audience would be interested in--perhaps suspenseful short stories.

    But I don't have a blog, and I don't yet have a book either, so I'm just speculating.

  12. I love making friends through blogging, both here at TKZ and at a couple of blogs that I visit regularly. It's a bit like college--I find myself gravitating toward a few people, enjoy their posts, and then I start to read their books. I started reading Tess Gerritsen's books after reading discussions of her work at various blogs.

  13. Joe, ah yes, gopher, Usenet, FidoNet, and s l o w--d i a l - u p--t h a t--s h o w s--E V E R Y--c h a r a c t e r--p a i n t i n g--t h e--s c r e e n. If that was annoying, welcome back to the online dial-up community of the 80's and early 90's. I love broadband. :)

    John, amazing how expensive AOL and CompuServe used to long-distance phone calls. Remember when we used to pay by the minute for those, too? :)

    Linda/Jim, I still purchase books mostly because I know the author's work, or because it was a NYT hit, or by word of mouth. But I think I'm buying more books these days from authors lesser known to me because of their online presence. Like Joe alluded, blog marketing works if done right.

    With fiction, I rarely browse the shelves to purchase books from authors I've never heard of. There are too many choices, all with great covers, and I don't have time to cross my fingers and hope for a good read.

    With non-fiction, I've purchased many books from authors I've never read because I'm less interested in the author's work and more interested in the facts--what's on the back cover, or the contents page? Did one or two chapters pass my spot-check test?

    Lots of reader opinions out there, and that's my $.02.

  14. I've been using the internet / BBS's since the late 80's. Blogging can be distracting if not managed right, on the other hand interacting with people really is the best way to get noticed if you are trying get the word out.

    Digital social networking in general can be a boon for some and a time suck for other others depending on how it's done. Blogging I think is the least problematic of all of them out there though.

    It was blogging that hooke me up with these wonderful folks here at TKZ and a couple of other sites. I just popped my own E-book experiment into Smashwords and now will be relying almost solely on blogging and SN to see if it will do a JA Konrath style thing, or a redneck truck on blocks thing. (Karl's Last Flight is the title if you want to check it out)

    Re: Kennedy
    It was the squirrels. Harvey was getting rid of the squirrels in the park but they deflected the shot with a bent piece of iron pipe. Ricochet got Kennedy, Ruby was pissed because Harvey had shot his cat by accident earlier that day. I heard this from ultra reliable sources in the squirrel resistance movement.

  15. Well, we'll see about the blog tour. I'm doing one for my upcoming book--I'll be here in mid-April, as a matter of fact--and my goal, such as it is, is to just let people know I exist. I plan to try and cater my blog to the interests of the blogs I'm visiting, rather than a here's-how-I-came-to-write-my-book type of thing. We'll see how it goes. & thanks for Joe for letting me visit.

  16. "I plan to try and cater my blog . . ."

    Wow, Mark. I'm impressed. We've never had a catered blog before. Are there goig to be cutting stations with beef or ham, or are you just thinking about a buffet? And booze. Gotta have booze.

    Now I'm really excited . . .

  17. For you, John, anything.

    word verification: faint

  18. I was shocked to hear the publicists on the panel say that. Although given my past experience with publicists, I'm not entirely convinced that they know what works, at least not any more than the rest of us.
    Above and beyond all else, for me blogging is a nice way to chat/vent/rant about all sorts of things that don't have a place in my fiction.

    And as I said yesterday, I felt like I knew Kathryn well even though we were meeting for the first time last week. I've still never met JRM, but suspect I'll recognize him by his chicken honor guard.

    As far as the JFK assassination goes, count me in for Basil's squirrel theory. Although I suspect the rock opera "Jack" might have a different theory...

  19. "Although I suspect the rock opera "Jack" might have a different theory..."

    And so it comes full-circle.

  20. Good post, John. I too was at LCC, serving on a panel in which Lee Goldberg said that blogging was comparable to what athletes do before a game--stretching exercises, minor calisthenics, etc. He said blogging puts his ass in the chair, his hands over the keyboard, his mind in gear, and his fingers striking the keys. When he's done blogging, he's in full writing mode.

    I couldn't've said it better myself.

    And, by the way, Bush killed JFK.

  21. Al Weberman, have a question for you about this citation from a JFK site about Gordon Novel and his neo-Nazi activism as a youth: A. J. Weberman writes, "In his youth, Gordon Novel belonged to a neo-Nazi group and was arrested and charged with bombing a Metairie, Louisiana, theater that admitted blacks. Later, he sold spy devices in New Orleans. Gordon Novel claimed he worked with the Cuban Revolutionary Front during the Bay of Pigs, as a Director of the CIA proprietary, the Evergreen Advertising Agency, and had created cryptographic messages for the CIA" (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 21). This was untrue. The CIA reported: 'There is no record of any utilization of Gordon Novel, Sergio Arcacha Smith [of the Cuban Revolutionary Front] or Evergreen Advertising Agency" (Ibid.).

    Nevertheless, Gus Russo describes the Houma heist as one of a series of CIA weapons transfers, and even Sergio Arcacha Smith's onetime attorney, Frank Hernandez, indicates it to be so. (Arcacha, for his part, denies it.) Since Schlumberger does seem to have aided the CIA in some manner as yet unknown (Russo, 150-1), the possibility for such a thing seems to remain.

    Garrison frequently named Gordon Novel as a crucial material witness whose extradition was denied him, contributing to the acquittal of Clay Shaw (Garrison, 208-11, 266). Yet by Garrison's own admission, he wanted to question Novel "about the munitions he, along with David Ferrie and the anti-Castro Cubans, had taken from the Schlumberger bunker at the Houma blimp base" (Garrison, 193 fn.) -- not relating to the assassination itself or Clay Shaw in particular.

    Garrison advocates have strained their imaginations for over three decades trying to figure out precisely what Novel's role in the assassination was -- since he had to be involved, right? -- even going so far as to note his alleged resemblance to the infamous "Umbrella Man" in Dealey Plaza.

    Novel's status as a "material witness" was nothing but another Garrison ruse. He even could have extradited Novel had he actually wished to do so. He had sixty days in which to complete the necessary paperwork, and he specifically instructed Assistant DA James Alcock not to do so. Garrison also admitted to Bernard Fensterwald that he would "wait," rather than use legal means to bring Novel to Louisiana ("Novel Will Be Returned -- Ohio," New Orleans Time-Picayune, May 10, 1967, "Ohio Frees 'Witness' Sought by Garrison," New York Times, July 4, 1967; Epstein, Counterplot, anthologized in The Assassination Chronicles, 248; Bernard Fensterwald, Notes on interview with Jim Garrison, August 26, 1967).

    I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the "Dear Mr. Weiss" letter of Gordon Novel went to a Frederick Charles Weiss, a pro-Nazi millionaire from New York City who was involved with the likes of Robert Miles from Vonsiatsky's Youth Battalions, James Madole from the ANP who is "Ed Mavole" in Man Cand by Condon, George Lincoln Rockwell, Roy Frankhouser from the Christian Defense League and many, many others. Weiss is tied in with Rev. Gerald L K Smith, the Regnery Family and many others involved with Holocaust Denial including Rev. Gerald B. Winrod from Wichita, KS the site of the meeting attended by the Winnipeg Airport crew in the Spring of 1964. Please Google Fred Charles Weiss, and check him out because I have long postulated him as the target of Novel's letter and now, after finding out that Novel was a neo-Nazi, I AM ABOSOLUTELY CONVINCED that it was him. What do you think?