“Say, Mister, Could You Stake a Fellow American to a Meal?”


That’s the line Humphrey Bogart (as down on his luck gold prospector Fred C. Dobbs) uses on the Man in the White Suit (played by director John Houston) he keeps accosting for a handout in the 1948 film classic, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Down and out in Mexico, Bogie inadvertently hits up the same guy for money, until, on his third time to that same well, the Man in the White Suit says, “Such impudence never came my way. Early this afternoon I gave you money…while I was having my shoes polished I gave you more money…now you put the bite on me again. Do me a favor, will ya? Go occasionally to somebody else — it’s beginning to get tiresome.”

Bogie is humbly apologetic: “I never knowed it was you. I never looked at your face — I just looked at your hands and the money you gave me. Beg pardon, mister, I promise I’ll never put the bite on you again,” and the Man generously lays one last peso on him (“This is the very last you get from me. Just to make sure you don’t forget your promise, here’s another peso.”)…the peso Dobbs uses to buy the lottery ticket that provides him and fellow prospectors Howard and Curtin to their grubstake.

These days, I feel a lot like Fred C. Dobbs. I keep coming up to you, over and over again, hat in hand, asking you for a couple of pesos…or, in my case, to buy my book and the books of my fellow writers involved our own humble little attempt at mining gold out of the cold, hard mountain we call Crazy 8 Press. But unlike Fred C. Dobbs, I’m trying awfully hard not to take advantage of your good will and generosity…and, also unlike the hapless prospector, if you do decide to drop that peso in my cup, you’re getting something in return beyond the warm glow of a good deed done: I hope you’ll find that you’ve exchanged your hard-earned cash for a damned good read, either by me or by fellow Crazy 8 inmates, Michael Jan Friedman, Aaron Rosenberg, Bob Greenberger, Russ Colchamiro, Glenn Hauman, Peter David, and Howard Weinstein.

Crazy 8 authors don’t take our readers for granted, of that I can assure you. I’ve been a writer in the public eye for almost four decades, during which I’ve attended I don’t know how many scores of conventions and book fairs, probably in the hundreds if I bothered to count, and never once has my reaction to a reader or fan who has approached me with something I’ve written to be signed or a hand to shake been anything but a grateful “thank you!” Just this past weekend, I was a guest at the Baltimore Comic-Con where one hyper-apologetic fan stopped me in my wanderings around the convention floor to tell me how much he’s enjoyed my work over the years, repeating how he hated to bother me, but would I mind signing his book…?

What I said to him was the honest truth: He had nothing to apologize for and not only was it not a bother, but I was happy and honored to do it. I know how I feel when I get to meet someone whose work I admire. I also know how it feels to have an admirer tell me what my work has meant to them. It is, quite simply, a win-win situation: One of us has met someone we admire; the other has had the satisfaction of hearing that what we’ve written has touched that reader.

Because without our readers, we’re just a bunch of weirdos hunched over our word processors in the basement, talking to no one.

So even if you don’t have a peso to spare at the moment but you’ve ever enjoyed anything I (or Mike or Aaron or Bob or Russ or the rest of us) have written, or if one of our storirs has touched you or made a difference in your world, you can still do a solid for a fellow American by helping us spread the word about Crazy 8 Press.

Share our blog and website. Talk about us on Twitter; re-Tweet our Tweets. Mention us on Facebook, “Like” the Crazy 8 Press Facebook page, “Share” the posts of Crazy 8 authors, or do whatever it is you do on Tumblr or whatever form of social media you kids are on these days. Tell your friends. Hell, tell your enemies!

And if you’re flush and can support us with your dollars to buy our books, print or electronic versions, let people know what you’ve read and what you think of it. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or better yet, write a quick review on Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com, or post it on your own blog or website. What’s better than a recommendation of a good read from a friend?

We’d like your money, sure, but we’re just as grateful for your moral support and your efforts at word of mouth to spread the word. Support us with the knowledge that the advantage of your support accrues not to some faceless behemoth of a corporate publisher but directly to the authors themselves.

Fred C. Dobbs may not have looked his benefactor in the face, but know full well that the Crazy 8 authors do and appreciate everything you do for us, whether it’s buying our books or posting a link to our website. It takes a lot of time, energy, and sweat to write a book, and just as much to see it through to publication. Which reminds me of one last quote from Sierra Madre, this one spoken by grizzled old prospector Howard (Walter Houston):

“A thousand men, say, go searchin’ for gold. After six months, one of them’s lucky: one out of a thousand. His find represents not only his own labor, but that of nine hundred and ninety-nine others to boot. That’s six thousand months, five hundred years, scramblin’ over a mountain, goin’ hungry and thirsty. An ounce of gold, mister, is worth what it is because of the human labor that went into the findin’ and the gettin’ of it.”

So, yeah, even if you’ve already handed over a peso or two (or three or four!) to me, I’ll be back in your face soon enough, asking for a handout…but in return, I’ll try my damnedest to entertain you. As will the rest of the Crazy 8 gang, so I hope you’ll forgive our impudence.

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