Cliffhanger Research and Development: Stories from inside the rabbit hole

As I promised I have a new project coming which should be obvious by some of the new icons on the side bar to this site. I have hinted at this venture as a second Cliffhanger book which is a sequel to my 2004 novel, The Symposium of Justice. When Tail of the Dragon was released, I heard from many fans that they wanted my work available as uploads to their devices which took me a while to accept. But after my second novel was out for a while and my publisher struggled to keep copies flowing to it was obvious to me that traditional publishing had changed in a way that was not to my liking.

As a writer I was very proud to have Tail of the Dragon move through the process of approval at a traditional publisher and to have it offered through a major book distributer. It was a personal goal of mine to gain that type of acceptance and to go through the process of getting celebrity blurbs and do interviews promoting the novel. It was a fun experience, but what became evident quickly is that really only media personalities already well established are getting play at a book store, and online publishing has changed the industry to such an extent that the new Stephen Kings, and John Grishems are not being moved up the chain in the fashion they once were. It has become much more of a crap shoot just to get exposure to have a chance to write another novel. So I listened to my fans and decided that in the future I would take more personal control over the distribution of my material and make it available in a way that modern audiences want—over their personal devices. My son-in-law spent many hours convincing me that the old publishing model was dead as well—so he deserves considerable credit for this new approach. Publishing in this fashion makes written work available to many more people over a vastly larger area—literally the world is at our feet these days—so any enterprising individual must take those considerations seriously when creating a new product.

14353_845346122153104_1934900240194546747_nBy the time my publisher went out of business bringing to a halt access to my novel, which had been selling well compared to their other titles—it was easy for me to detect much of their problem. For me I had a very good experience with the publisher, their art department, editors and assistants to the CEO. But the trouble started when I had to deal with the marketing department where a snippy liberal leaning young man was lost on how to market anything. He had obvious problems with me personally since all of my blurbs were from very conservative personalities and my views were so contrary to his. My publisher liked my controversial stances and had heard many of my radio interviews on WLW, but their head of marketing had a serious case of the goo when he heard my controversy about the latté sipping prostitutes—which he thought was sexist. Even though everyone I dealt with at my publisher was women, and he was the only man, he was the only one who was offended which I had no sympathy for—and I told him as much on several occasions. He decided to have a contentious relationship with me that lasted during our entire contract—right up until they went out of business in October of the following year—2013.

Clearly to me their failure was because of people like that marketing guy who was picking and choosing the kind of products the publisher would support and he was making the wrong picks. He was trying to sell books to red states offering blue state sentiment—which clearly was the wrong strategy. In hindsight it appears that the publisher was hoping I would find some way to deal with their very liberal marketing department stationed outside of San Francisco—diplomatically—which I know how to do…….I just don’t like it. But from the outset he decided he didn’t like my position, he certainly didn’t like my blog, and he hated my radio interviews especially my latté sipping prostitute interview on WLW where I refused to apologize to women everywhere for calling levy supporters whores and materialistic Obama supporters. Needless to say, we didn’t get off to a good start and in spite of the healthy sales, good blurbs, and media coverage our relationship only got worse over the next year. When they sent me the notification of going out of business I wasn’t surprised. Everyone at the publisher was nice, and we all said our goodbyes—except for that guy. We never spoke again—and likely never will. He was an idiot and he cost their company sales–and ultimately their jobs.

But I’ve been in that position before and my first company Cliffhanger Research and Development was my first experience with that type of issue. I had invented a new tooling concept and was seeking a patent—and the firm I was working with had a similar personality—this time the issue was not my political views, but my age—he simply thought I was too young to be filing patents. I quickly lost patience with the guy realizing that it was people like him who were keeping new products from being created, so I started my own R&D Company— which led to a whole new series of adventures.

Uniquely I have a past that is loaded with these types of experiences, so inevitably those types of plot lines find their way into my stories. They bring richness to my characters that are exceptional to my stories. Most of the time failure of an idea or project comes down to a weak link in the chain, so to guarantee success, fewer links in the chain mean less opportunity for error. So the decision to release my next book The Curse of Fort Seven Mile was made taking into consideration my experience—and input from fans. And as an extra caveat, just for sentiment, my old company of Cliffhanger Research and Development is a major part of the plot of this new story. That is the reason for the sudden appearance of its title and website.

It’s not that everyone in the world is incompetent—but it only takes one in a chain of collaboration to destroy a new concept or idea—when Cliffhanger Research and Development was first brought forth over twenty years ago, I spent more time in court than actually making anything which has provided me with a rich backdrop to create this new novel from. Truth most of the time is stranger than fiction and when I write, it is usually from experience. For instance, I would not be able to write about a character calling a group of prissy, progressive, latté sipping, levy supporters names of castigation unless I had done something similar in real life—which obviously I have. So with a clean conscience I can write with that type of authority which is essentially the nature of the work behind The Curse of Fort Seven Mile. I like to know that whatever I write about I have done in some capacity before. Growing up, one of the people I most admired was Douglas Fairbanks who actually expected himself to be the masked man Zorro, to the extent that he trained hard to be the swashbuckling bandit in real life. I am not the kind of person who is happy to write about fantasy from the comfort of a Starbucks on a laptop—I have to actually do and feel the things I write about.

After The Symposium of Justice came out I had written about that world from a vantage point relevant to my experience up to that point. But to go to the next levels—which was required, I had to plunge myself into the inner workers of my accusations—which I have done over the last five years. The result is what The Curse of Fort Seven Mile and resurrection of Cliffhanger Research and Development are all about. I never planned to be a pawn in politics or a player of the inner workings—I had to know that the characters and their stories that I wanted to write about were ones that I had actually lived through—even when the times and circumstances applied great pressure to be otherwise.

Reading back through my notes from my early twenties when I started Cliffhanger Research and Development I could have written the philosophic stance of The Curse of Fort Seven Mile—but I could not have felt comfortable with the aspects of it that I had to explore because I had not yet went far enough into the void to witness the range of emotions mandated to report such a story. But now I have and it would not be wise not to use the tools of modern distribution in cutting out all the insufficient minds of a collaboration chain when for the first time in history such stories of an unchained nature have the opportunity to be told as in this second Cliffhanger novel.

I am now well into the story and am very happy with the progress so far. I am particularly proud of Chapter II titled “Latté Sipping Prostitutes” which obviously draws from experience. It was a hard story to tell because it’s so relevant to the actual happenings of daily politics and the many tricks that occur which prevent mankind from advancing properly into a destiny driven by thought instead of primitive yearnings. In my experience with publishing, I have done my conventional work—notably with Tail of the Dragon. Thankfully, I am now free of those shackles. It was a relief actually to get the notification that I wasn’t going to have to deal with that liberal marketing guy again. We disliked each other so much that even emails were strained communications that neither one of us enjoyed, so realizing that I’d never have to speak to that guy again was better than realizing that my novel would no longer be offered to the public—even with brisk sales. So in the future, the prospect of direct downloads is far more lucrative and has ignited in me the desire to commit to another project.

There are many exciting things on the horizon for Cliffhanger Research and Development and its fun for me to see that name once again listed like a ghost from my own past—which it is. With age comes more variables—more options that are available, and today there are many more options for such ideas than there was twenty years ago—so it is time to use them to the unchained intentions of my imagination which was always a plan in the back of my mind. And the “research and development” portion of this new/old endeavor should be of benefit to many people—which is something that brings great enthusiasm to my very soul. It is a fun time to work on these kinds of projects and that exultation is driven by the independence that is permitted with these new delivery methods that have not previously been embraced to the full extent of possibility. So it is time to make those things……………..possible……………..little by little as 2015 begins.

Rich Hoffman

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