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The Chihuahua Made Me Do It

The world was new and life was simple then.

author posing with a plastic flamingo on a FL beach
The year, I think, was 1999. Facebook hadn’t yet been founded. The iPhone was a far-off gleam in Apple’s eye. People still had Rolodexes. Google existed, but hardly anybody knew how to use it other than to punch in really stupid questions and try to stump it. The Internet was a neighborhood in 1999; true, a vital, raucous, and quickly expanding neighborhood, but still, just one precinct in the much larger metropolis of human strivings and communication.

Sometime around then, a savvy and hard-working colleague of mine told me he was putting up a website. This struck me as bizarre. Tech firms put up websites. Corporate giants put up websites. Why would a mere writer bother with it? “Because,” my friend said, “pretty soon there’ll be two kinds of authors in the world: those with websites and those without, and those without will be regarded as small-time nobodies.” This colleague was not a guy who sugar-coated things.

I considered his advice and responded as I always do when confronted with a new challenge. I resisted. I stalled. I came up with good reasons to do nothing. A year or two went by. I kept hearing about authors putting up websites. Most of these authors weren’t even famous. Some were the exact opposite of famous, and yet they had blogs, readers’ comments, online presence! Was I missing out? Making myself a dinosaur? Too skeptical and lazy to have been an early adopter, I resolved at least not to be a total laggard. I put up a website. I think it was 2003 by then.

That first version of the site was, excuse me, really pretty cool. Very Key West. Lots of turquoise in the palette. Swaying palms. Dogs in sunglasses. Buy buttons! I liked the site so much that, for the first week or so, I noodled with it every day. Then maybe once a week. Then once a month. Then quarterly. You get the picture. It’s human nature. Besides, I had other work to do. Writing novels, for example.

Cut to early 2019. My site has fallen 27 updates behind. Still gorgeous on desktops, it looks like muddled crap on a phone. Which actually doesn’t matter much, since it doesn’t show up on Google searches anyway. If my first website was a car, it would now qualify for an Antique Vehicle license plate. Meanwhile, the Internet has metastasized so vigorously that, by 2019, everybody seems to have a website. People who’ve never accomplished anything in their lives have websites up and running just in case they ever do. The clutter is astonishing. The fight for eyeballs is brutal. The payoff is uncertain at best. A pretty decent case could be made that it’s no longer worth the time, trouble, and money to maintain an author website.

So what do I do? I decide to invest considerable time, trouble, and money into a completely updated, expanded, and mobile-friendly site. Why?

The Chihuahua made me do it.

Available Kindle / Audiobook / Paperback

Let me explain. Back in February, I published a little novel called Nacho Unleashed https://www.amazon.com/Nacho-Unleashed-West-Capers-Book-ebook/dp/B07MQB69NZ.

Getting the book written was a bit of a struggle, and I was surprised in the end by how much I liked it. It felt fresh. It felt free, liberating–and not only because the story is partly told by a talking dog! The whole novel, and the manner of its telling, felt like a new departure, and therefore the perfect opportunity to reach out to new readers and to assure people that they didn’t need to read the entire Key West Capers series to enjoy the heck out of this one book. These are stand-alone novels! Read them in any order! I’d scream it from the rooftops if I weren’t afraid of heights.

So I guess this new website is my rooftop. I’d like it to be a friendly and inclusive sort of place, a place where people like hanging out and are comfortable inviting friends. A place where conversation happens; so please feel free to comment, and let me know if you’d like to guest-blog sometime. Could be fun! If you’d like to hear from me occasionally—and I promise it won’t be too onerously often—please consider joining my mailing list to receive early notice of new releases and promotions.

In the meantime, let me extend a warm welcome to version 2.0 (or version 15.11.6, if you count the updates I skipped). I’d love to hear what you think of the new site. Thanks so much for your interest and your visit. Enjoy!

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13 Responses

  1. Doug Brown

    Way to go Larry. Love your books and characters.
    I’ll subscribe to the newsletter.
    Cheers, Doug

    • Laurence Shames

      I love my subscribers! Thanks!

  2. Nancy Hunt

    Love it! Loved “Nacho Unleashed.” Looking forward to more Key West capers. I’ve read them all…

    • Laurence Shames

      Thanks, Nancy. So I guess you’ll be re-reading this holiday weekend!

  3. Vicky Carman

    I am a huge fan and love the local references. Can’t wait for more Capers…. read them all more than once.

  4. Susan Harle

    I had a notion to read about “Big Al” again. I’d read all your books 2 or 3 times and suddenly wanted that one. I searched through my bookcases (a small one with paperbacks and regular one with full size books). No Big Al. I opened up my Kindle and searched books (when your lousy Amazon deal made finding your books very difficult!). No downloaded Welcome to Paradise. So I had to reserve the library book from county library- not too many copies available ?. And start the hunt to find the book to buy. I refuse to buy anything from Amazon so it may take me a little while to find the book somewhere. But it’s out there somewhere.
    Thanks for reopening the blog. I’ve missed it. I don’t have Internet anymore as it’s too expensive here for me but have access by phone or friends’ places.

    • Laurence Shames

      Hi Susan–Thanks for reading and re-reading my stuff. I understand and respect that some people would rather not do business with Amazon, but the truth is that, because of the disastrous shrinkage and ill-considered policies of the traditional publishing industry, I would no longer have a fiction career without it. Without Amazon, in fact, it’s extremely unlikely that the last six Key West Capers would even have been written. So it’s complicated. Anyway, your local bookstore should be able to order the new trade paperback edition of Welcome to Paradise through a distributor. Your conscience will be clean and you’ll have a nice new book! Thanks.

  5. Susan Harle

    Thanks. Got it ordered from second favorite bookseller. Favorite is Key West Island Books.

  6. Joan Durbin

    I am beyond happy that you resuscitated your online presence. I started reading your Key West books years ago and everything about your writing struck a chord in me. Used to visit the Keys back in the day, before they became uber commercial and unaffordable. I miss them, or at least the memories of them when they were truly wonderful, and your books bring me back to those days. Plus I love your attitude about life.
    Funny you moved to Asheville, because that has been my go-to city since we moved out of Florida and settled in the Atlanta area. Same offbeat vibe as the Keys, only with mountains and not so many gangsters.
    Anyway, I’m done fangirling. Thanks for coming back strong with Nacho and Bert.

    • Laurence Shames

      Thanks, Joan. I would gladly have read through more “fangirling.” Never apologize for being a fan! Much appreciated.
      PS–There’s definitely a Key West/Asheville axis. Two sweet towns.

      • Joan Durbin

        Have you considered a story set in Asheville? On second thought, it might be too crunchy granola. But that might lend itself to some gentle fun-poking. Just a thought.

  7. Anna Edenfield

    I am among your biggest fans as my husband and I were vacationing in the Keyes, years ago and I asked the bookstore there what local authors they had. What a great, fun read we had going through all the books they had by you! Thank you for adding such wonderful, fun reading sessions during those vacations. I am so thrilled to find you have written more Bert the Shirt/Mafioso books! I am vacationing in Naples Fl, looked up your name for the heck of it to see if me & hubby could pick up more reads. Thank you! Will pick up the newest books !

    • Laurence Shames

      Thanks, and happy reading! As it happens, there are a few scenes set in Naples in TROPICAL SWAP and ONE STRANGE DATE. Enjoy!