Showing posts from October, 2011

Why QA Matters

These things happen ahem ... price check please?

Pay With a Tweet / Amazon France

This appeals to my sensibilities. Thanks to the always interesting Todd Keisling for this tip . My books are always free, but I certainly don't mind a tweet or two about them every now and then :} Note to self. more than 6000 downloads via Amazon this month. Nice. Glad to see they still have more than a dozen still going for free. But 1 download above all was fun to see - a single copy of Squatter With a Lexus at Amazon France. This one download seems to have made it #6 in the Books in English list there - makes you think only six titles have ever been downloaded so far on that site. (even better - it's FREE in France too!!)

The World Ends Tomorrow

It's getting harder and harder to keep up with all the Chicken Little scenarios swarming around us these days. Every week it seems someone is announcing the impending Death Of Blank! Self-publishing is destroying literature, free ebooks are destroying the "craft" of writing, Amazon is destroying the publishing industry, Liberals are destroying 'the family', the list goes on and on. What keeps amazing me is how people assume that the way things have been for a generation or two is the way things have always been and will always remain. Haven't we experienced enough tremendously rapid change in the recent past to be able to understand that things change tremendously and rapidly? It seems not. We still tend to think in the same old way. I just wonder what it's going to take for us to get with the program. I remember a popular newspaper cartoon meme (remember newspapers? Heck, remember memes? And that was only last week!) about crazy guys walking around

Ratings Wars: iTunes versus Goodreads and Barnes&Noble

It's curious that across the board, the star ratings for my free ebooks are fully one star higher on both iTunes/iBookstore and Amazon than they are on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble For example, Snapdragon Alley: on iTunes   (4 stars, 38 ratings) on Barnes and Noble  (3 stars, 215 ratings) on Goodreads  (3 stars, 53 ratings) or Tiddlywink the Mouse: on iTunes   (4 stars, 146 ratings) on Barnes and Noble  (3.5 stars, 75 ratings) on Goodreads  (1.67 stars, 3 ratings) It's pretty much the same for all the titles - iTunes aggregate is around 3.7 for all of them, while it's around 2.7 for Goodreads. Different audiences, I suppose.

For and Against

I've been politically 'aware' for most of my life - one of my earliest memories is of holding my grandfather's hand as we marched in Manhattan in the early 60s for civil rights. My parents and grandparents on my mother's side were rather radical, and even today, my parents (in their 80s) are still quite attuned to political events. Unfortunately they are also somewhat demoralized. Not wanting to share that particular fate, I've sort of partially reconciled myself to a future of humanity that takes a balanced approach. I have reasons for both optimism and pessimism. On the one hand, it seems more and more true to me that inequality is the natural tendency of human groups of every scale, from family to friends to peers to cultures and nations. It's like a law, like gravity or entropy - a permanently weighted tendency. On the other hand, the struggle against inequality is just as natural, brought on when things go overboard. We may be starting to see some of

New Project

Book covers for books that don't exist

CFS and Relapses

Since my 12 year bout with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) began to subside some 15 years ago, I have had long stretches without relapses, but relapses do occur from time to time, and always bring about a great anxiety that the beast is back and back for good. I can't quite convey how terrifying this notion is. This disease stole the prime of my life - literally, like a thief. From the age of 27 to nearly 40 I endured each day more like a zombie than as a living creature. With no financial means and no medical care, I had to drag myself though each waking moment like an ox pulling a plow. No strength, no energy, no clarity of mind or heart, just sheer dogged persistence. I would somehow make it through and then drop as soon as I got home. Weekends were mostly on the couch or sometimes lying in the sun on the front steps if it was warm enough outside. Aching all over, feeling only the urge to sleep but knowing that sleep would not relieve that urge. Cringing at every loud noise, at

The Problem of the Ego in Art

Caveh Zahedi makes some sense on his website when he talks about the problem of the ego for the artist , and the strategies some artists undertake to get past it, because if they want their art to stand for itself, they have to extract themselves from it somehow. How is this to be done? It's difficult precisely because the ego strives to dominate in every situation, inserting itself not only into the art itself, but also in the production, distribution, in fact every aspect of the life of the artist. He talks about how Kafka tried to deal with it by a) not completing his novels and b) not publishing them, but he did complete and publish some stories, so he was not altogether successful in this attempt at overcoming, or transcending the problem. Zahedi says his attempt in his films is to submit his ego to the will of God - to restore God to His central location as it was during the art of the Middle Ages (in Zahedi's conception of it). It's curious how this submission

Nickelheads 2011

Cheese is better than snails

Entropic Quest

New Blurb: In this dystopian fantasy, certain people are stuck at binary ages (8, 16, 32 ...) due to an unknown cause. They cannot age, or change, or become sick or even injured. By turns experimented on, abused, tortured and scorned, they are eventually exiled into a strange prison, an infinite forest world from which there is no escape. There they seek a cure, an antidote, a solution to their problem. Four people are selected, seemingly at random, by an invisible being who communicates to them through wild animals. They are told they must go somewhere, find something, take it somewhere and do something with it. This is all they know. The thing, whatever it is, could be anything, and it could be anywhere. As for the chosen ones, they have other problems. Two are bitter rivals in an endless and seemingly pointless game, another is a novice, newly torn from her everyday life, while the fourth has been an old man for much too long, for all of them are immortal, exiled with nothing into

Consumers want their Culture for Free

Interesting interview with a Scottish author (I'd never heard of, but what do I know) about how cheap self-publishing is killing the publishing world and destroying the profession of authorship. It's nonsense, really, as many people are making money by self-publishing - a lot of people making some money is better than a handful making it all - and to hell with the publishing world anyway. For every good book they produced, they dumped a thousand crappy ones upon us. Still, what interested me in this interview was his discussion about protectionism in Germany and France and how they "value culture more than they value commerce", so they put tariffs in place to protect their native language productions. A losing battle, most likely. It seems to me more and more that oligarchy is the natural tendency of the human species, and much of recent history has been the struggle against that, wherever it rears its ugly head, from the popular revolutions of the 18th century to t

Prisoners and Mortals

Having some ideas for Epic Fail Book Two, which I need to discuss with my son and co-author. As we left it, the frozen-age immortals were stuck in an infinite forest maze with no possible way out and yet no dangers - they could not age, get sick or even injured, they faced no predators, had no needs which could not be met. They wiled away their hours playing an endless stupid game or otherwise dawdling, exiled from the mortal world and held prisoners in a perfect jail. In Book One, four of them were chosen by 'The Hidden One' to perform a seemingly pointless and vague task - to find something, take it somewhere and do something with it. That is all the instructions they had, and yet, in the end, their failure at this quest led to a sort of success - the restoration of mortality to the ancient Hidden One, who then immediately died. Book Two was originally intended to continue this story, but I did not feel any desire to return to that same setup. I felt we had said what we w

A Feminist Cyberpunk

A possible 'feminist cyberpunk' story based on Silas Marner, where a true outsider has something Society wants but can't have. Power is useless. The question is what form such a story would take, what details, what plot, what centrality, whether it is set in the context of a business and an employee, a community and a member, a city and a citizen. Some people argue over details of feminist controversies such as 'porn is bad' or 'all sex is rape', but it seems to me that the essential core of feminism is the struggle for fundamental human right for women, a fight that continues to this day in many parts of the world, including many states in the USA, over a woman's ownership of her own body, of her own destiny at that. It was not that long ago when women were property in the West and are still bought and sold throughout the world (if not always by men). This is what matters most in feminism. In a more general context, the influences of the feminis

On Fiction and Power

Considering the field of cyberpunk I was struck by the centrality of power in its themes, and not only power but great power, society-wide. In stories a la The Matrix, not only does the enemy wield tremendous power (enslaving entire planetary populations) but also the good guys, the loner/outsider/hacker types, end up somehow wielding great power as well, with the ability to save entire planetary populations. Is this just an inherently macho aspect of the genre? There was something in the ideas of feminism where the 'personal is political' and one could talk about power in terms of relationships and smaller-scale human events - which corresponded to classic literature far more closely. We know just how often the little guy happens to wield great power in the real world and to what extent. A hacker-type might bring down a banking website for a day or two, with the total effect on the world being close to zero. Cyberpunk can fantasize and romanticize all it wants, but it's

9-9-9

Herman Cain has a simple tax plan called 9-9-9 that should come under greater scrutiny and will if he continues to advance in the Republican primaries. The numbers stand for a 9 percent across the board national income tax, a 9 percent across the board corporate tax, and a 9 percent across the board national sales tax. This last is the most intriguing. It would immediately raise the price of everything 9 percent, with all of the proceeds going to the federal government. Let's see how the average American likes it. Most Americans would not see their income taxes lowered (half pay no income tax) because their incomes are too low. All of a sudden, with no increase in their incomes, everything costs 9 percent more. That $4 gallon of gas is now $4.36. Same for a gallon of milk. Their entire cost of living jumps more than inflation has over the past decade. Meanwhile, rich people, already enjoying the greatest wealth disparity in more than 100 years, do see their incomes go up, and grea

Nonsense

Those who claim atheism is also faith i say, if a man tells you his fingernail is 37 chocolate-covered infinite rainbows and you say you don't believe him, your disbelief is not equally irrational as his belief. Good luck with that.

One thing leads to another

Although she would hate it. 'Glorious' got its start when I read this truly horryfing ghost/rape story by Quiet Riot Girl . That's how it happens - ideas are viruses that mutate from one brain to the next. It will be interesting to see (if there are ever any reviews or comments) what someone might say about 'Glorious', because I'm not sure what to say about it. I read a tweeted quote from someone famous recently (I think it was the guy who does Dilbert) which went 'creativity is about making mistakes, art is about knowing which ones to save' (or something like that), which made me think that, taken in those terms, "creativity" is more important than "art" because living is more important than commerce, that doing something is more important than selling something - in other words, 'creating' is a verb and 'art' is a noun and in my mind translate to life versus product. 'Glorious' was doing - I had a few i

Spring Lake is my Walden

Love it here. Today up close with night and green herons.

Jobs in other words

Of all the Steve Jobs eulogies I like this the best: 'You show them you have in you something that is really profitable, and then there will be no limits to the recognition of your ability,’ he would say. 'Of course you must take care of the motives—right motives—always.’ From H eart of D arkness by Joseph Conrad

Glorious (The Script based on The Ghost With The You Know What)

                                 GLORIOUS           A script based on the short story           CAST OF CHARACTERS           WILLIS P. ARMSTRONG           SAM           JOSEPHINE           BARNEY           ARLENE LIGHTNING BUG           BUSINESSMAN           ASSORTED MEN           EXT: SIDEWALK OUTSIDE OF SAM'S COFFEE SHOP           Sam's Coffee Shop is a storefront on a small-townish Main           Street, brown around a large dirty plate-glass window and a           narrow door on the right-hand side. The door has a cheap           'Open' sign hanging on it. The words "Sam's Coffee Shop" are           painted in chipping old yellow above the big picture window.           Behind the grime can be seen a few square brown cloth-less           tables inside the diner with cheap metal chairs around them.           The place has an aura of nausea about it. You wouldn't want           to eat there unless it was the end