Right now I feel no desire at all to finish Gingerbread Wolves.

I want to be very clear on what I am saying, here.  This isn’t an angst-filled self-pitying post that is fishing for comments on how wonderful I am.  I’m not at all unhappy.  I feel pretty good, in fact.

I just don’t want to write.  I wanted to, and I did, and now I feel like I’ve done it.  I feel good about the books that I wrote.  I feel good about what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve learned while doing it.

I’ve learned that I’m a good writer, but not a successful writer.  I can live with that.  I won’t go so far as to say that writing was a phase that I was going through–I have always written for my own enjoyment and probably always will–but I do think that trying to be a professional novelist was a phase I was going through.

Right now I am working on a group world-building exercise in a Facebook group that I’m having a lot of fun with, but I don’t particularly want to turn that into a book and go through the whole editing/publishing/promotion circus with that. I’m just having fun.

I am committed to attending a science fiction convention in the fall and running a sales table for a group of indie published books, including mine.  I am still going to be doing that.

I have spent several years spending nearly all of the time not taken by my day job on my novels–either working on them or trying to sell them.  I’m tired of it. I’d rather do other things with my time.

The thing is, it’s okay to stop doing something that I don’t want to do.  It’s my time, I don’t have to do anything other than what I want to do with it.


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Independent Publishing and DMCA Abuse, or “How a Scammer Got My Book Blocked with Very Little Effort”


I had no idea that anyone could do this–disturbing, to say the least.

Originally posted on The Active Voice:

Okay, I’ve got a story. It’s a sort of scary one. I think independent/self-publishing authors need to know about it, and telling it carefully and correctly is also important for my own situation, so I’m going to take my time and lay it all out in order.

Pressed for time? You can skip to the bottom for the TL;DR summation.

Becca Mills - Nolander - 333x500 On Friday, February 27, 2015, I noticed that my bookmarked link to my first novel,  Nolander , was yielding, “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.” I went to my Amazon dashboard and discovered the book had been blocked.

In my spam folder, I discovered an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing arm, informing me that someone had sent in a DMCA notice. In response, Amazon had summarily blocked Nolander from sale.

“DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”…

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Goodbye Internet

I try to stay away from politics in this blog, but it occurs to me that if I don’t say something now I may not get the chance to say it later, and I want to have this on record.  Later, when everyone is standing around in shock saying, “No one could have predicted this outcome!” I want people to remember that, yes, someone did.

I honestly cannot understand how any private individual who uses the internet on a regular basis could possibly support giving the FCC regulatory powers over it.  The consequences of doing so are so obviously disadvantageous for consumers and entrepreneurs.

First, the price is going to go up.  That’s a given.  Any new regulation involves increased cost of compliance–ISPs will have to spend more overhead complying with the regulations and then documenting everything so that they can prove that they have complied with new regulations. This cost will be passed on to consumers.

Next, quality will go down.  Also a given.  Any heavily regulated industry has to ensure that the government is satisfied first.  When forced to make a choice between giving the government what it wants and giving consumers what they want, the consumers are going to lose out.  It’s just like smoking in bars–it doesn’t matter if the majority of the patrons would rather that a particular establishment would permit smoking, government regulations prevent the owners of the bar from offering that option to their customers.

Then we’ll start losing options.  Big companies are better able to absorb the parasitic cost of regulation.  The smaller companies will get squeezed out.  The big companies also have the power to lobby for special exemptions and sweetheart deals with the regulators.  People keep trying to frame this as a choice between big business or big government, but that’s just not true.  It’s a choice between big government and a few big businesses in collusion or small government and many small businesses.

Lastly, we’ll get a politically cleansed internet.  That, in my opinion, is the real goal of “Net Neutrality”.  Sites that are critical of the government are going to find that their ISPs are having problems with the FCC–problems that will stop once the objectionable content is removed.  Does that seem far-fetched? This administration has already proved its willingness to use other federal agencies for political purposes.  What’s more, the internet represents the only channel of information that is open to anyone.  For now.

It is, perhaps, inevitable that the internet become another propaganda tool of the federal government.  What I find infuriating is that so many creative artists–people who rely on the internet to reach customers and distributors, people who simply could not have gotten their work to market any other way–seem to support the government choking off their livelihood.

Posted in On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Cartoon In A Cartoon Graveyard

There is a lot of discussion about the book, and now film, 50 Shades Of Grey on various writer’s communities.  The general consensus seems to be one of incomprehension. Stripped of the oft sparkling invective there are two points which seemed to be central to any discussion of the work:

  1. The events described therein are abusive, not romantic.
  2. The work itself is written in a stilted, unrealistic style.

I submit that it is the latter point that allows the work to be accessible despite the former point.  The violence is, as it were, cartoon violence.

There are works that describe abusive and controlling relationships that are well-written.  John Fowles’ The Collector, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita.

All of those books are very hard to read.  They are gut-punches, books with a strong emotional impact that lasts long after the last page.  And while all of those books are often discussed by critics and debated in Literature classes, none of them have had the mass appeal of the 50 Shades series.

Some stories, I believe, are best told badly.

Or perhaps I should say that some subjects are easier to deal with via a stylized, unrealistic aesthetic.

Recently I rewatched Raiders Of The Lost Ark–one of my favorite films from my youth–and I was struck by just how violent it is.  Indiana Jones kills a lot of people in that movie–several times as many as Francis Dolarhyde kills in Red Dragon. The violence in Raiders is cartoon violence, however.  It doesn’t have the emotional impact, and it is not intended to.  The bad guys die neatly, shot off moving cars, and are gone, never to be seen again.  There are no consequences because the audience doesn’t seem them as real people, just as “bad guys”.

In the same way I believe that the abuse in 50 Shades Of Grey is cartoon abuse. Christian and Anastasia aren’t mean to be real people–they are cartoons.  Does the book promote abuse?  I don’t think so–readers of the work know that none of this would work in the real world, just as they know that  real world you can’t really cling to the outside of a submarine from Cairo to Sardinia.

Fantasies are often things that would be unhealthy and dangerous in the real world.  Honestly, I don’t think that women who enjoy 50 Shades Of Grey are at any more risk of entering into an abusive relationship than men who enjoy Raiders Of The Lost Ark are of going on a shooting spree in a crowded bazaar.

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Review: Cannibal Hearts


Very thoughtful review of Cannibal Hearts.

Originally posted on Planetary Defense Command:

Cannibal Hearts

Flying SaucerFlying SaucerFlying Saucer

Three flying saucers
(3 out of 4 rating)

Cannibal Hearts is the sequel to Catskinner’s Book, which I reviewed last year. Although paranormal/urban fantasy isn’t my favorite sub-genre, I enjoyed Catskinner’s book. To me, the best aspects of the story were a world where it felt like anything could happen, and the dual nature of the main character (not in some boring literary or psychological sense; it’s more like demonic possession).

All of the characters who survived the first book reappear, as do a few of the paranormal elements, such as a dimension-bending garden supply store, heavy metal men, and hermaphrodite love interests. One of the latter appeared in a sex scene which romance readers might find tame, but was the most explicit thing I’ve ever seen in print. So, although I think the main character might resonate with younger readers, I wouldn’t recommend the book to them.

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A Face For Radio

Saturday, the 7th of February at 8PM CST (02:00 8Feb15, GMT), I will be featured on Deidra Hughey’s Outskirts Science Fiction Theater.

I will be reading “We Pass From View”, my short story for the collection Sins Of The Past.

It is pre-recorded, which is a good thing because it took me a lot of tries to get through it without any major fumbles.  I think that it translates into audio fairly well, since most of the story is in the form of an interview.  Once Deidra has broadcast it I’ll be able to provide a link to the show in her archives.

I like this story a lot, and this is going to be the second time I’ve read it for an audience (since I did a live reading at The Book House’s Sins Of The Past launch party.)  It combines two of my passions, Lovecraftian horror and the B-movies of the 1960s.  Plus I snuck in a couple of Book Of Lost Doors references.

Posted in Artists That I Admire, On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stop Begging. Please.

Badly written self-published books don’t make me feel embarrassed to admit that I am self published.

Neither do poorly edited ones.  Or bad covers.  Or even gay dinosaur erotica. As far as I’m concerned if an author wants to publish a text file that is the word “banana” repeated eighty-thousand times and a reader wants to pay money for it, both have my blessing.

No, what makes me ashamed to admit that I am a self-published author is the constant begging.

PLEASE buy my book!
PLEASE leave a review!
PLEASE support my Kickstarter!
PLEASE donate to my website!

Seriously, people, stop it. You’re making us look bad.

Believe me, I understand that it is tough to support yourself with a full-time job and also write full time.  It’s frustrating to spend a year of your life on something and see it selling like pork chops in Mecca. Most writers will never support themselves with their creative work.

Neither will most musicians, most graphic artists, most stage magicians, and poets never make a living from their work until they’re dead.

Deal with it.

I have nothing against honest promotion. Selling a product is part of the job of producing a product.  I know I ought be doing more promotion than I am.  It’s the part of the job that I hate, so I don’t do as much as I should.

There is a difference, to my mind, between offering a product for sale because you believe that customers will get a decent value for their money and asking for people to support you because you are tired of holding down two jobs.

That line has been crossed so often and so quickly by self-published authors that it’s all but eradicated from the skid marks.  And it makes me very hesitant to talk about my work at all, because I know that people, as soon as they hear “self-published” start waiting for the charity pitch.  I don’t want charity.  If my work doesn’t stand on its own it deserves to fall.

My finances are not your problem, and your finances are not my problem.  Neither of our financial states are any business of our readers.

If your work is worth publishing you will find a way to get it to the marketplace.  If it isn’t, then no one else should be asked to subsidize it. I know that’s harsh, and I’m sorry, but life is harsh.

Deal with it.



Posted in Artists That I Admire, On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments