Once I Rose Above The Noise And Confusion

I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now.

At the moment I’m working on a short story for an anthology called Sins Of The Future, which is a followup to a collection that I was in last year called Sins Of The Past.

My story in the last collection was “We Pass From View”, which was about a B-movie director telling the story behind his most famous film.  I wasn’t going to write anything for this collection, but then–at the last minute–I had an idea for a story that blended science fiction and horror in a way that I think would be perfect for it.

So I’m hammering away on that.

This Tuesday I will be going to the first meeting of a local fiction writer’s group at a local bookstore.  I’m looking forward to it but trying not to get my hopes up.  I love face to face writer’s groups, but they are damned difficult to get going and keep going.  In my years of writing I lost track of how many I have attended–or started–that died from lack of interest within a few months.  Still, here’s hoping.

Still on track for Archon.  I’ll start accepting books to bring for the sales table in a couple of weeks, and I’m still waiting to hear back about our panel.  But I think it should all work out.

I need to start working on promoting my Big 99 Cent Sale For The Book Of Lost Doors. I’m going to have the Kindle version of all four novels on sale for 99 cents each the week of my birthday, Aug 6th through Aug 13th.

So there’s that.  My day job has been very busy lately, getting the campus ready for the kids to move back in a couple of weeks, so juggling everything is a bit of a struggle.

But if it was easy everyone would do it, right?

Posted in Artists That I Admire, On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing, Who I am | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You Like It Then You Should Have Glued Some Gears On It

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I have a rather uncomfortable relationship with the concept of genre.  On the one hand, I really, really don’t like it, on the other hand, I absolutely hate it.

Genre has always struck me as the lowest sort of pseudo-intellectual caste system, a hierarchy based on superficial characteristics.  It shoehorns stories into stereotypical circles.  If you write a Science Fiction story, then you must write about Science Fiction characters doing Science Fiction things in a Science Fiction world.  It’s a one-dimensional systematization  driven by a marketing paradigm that internet shopping has made obsolete.

Lately the tendency has been to increase the numbers of genres without altering the basic linear structure of the concept.  Speculative Fiction gets broken down into Science Fiction and Fantasy, then Fantasy splits into Epic and Modern, and Modern Fantasy gives rise to Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Romance undergoes mitosis into Shifter Romance and Fae Romance and so on ad infinitum.

This continual subdivision is like a Cantor dust–an infinite set of infinite sets that nonetheless leaves out everything.

Recently I encountered the term Slipstream, which seems to be a term for the literary set of all sets not included in other sets.  A brief look at the works considered to be Slipstream Fiction includes most of my main influences–William Burroughs, Phillip Dick, George Alec Effinger, Tim Powers, Samuel Delany, Thomas Disch, Umberto Eco, even as far back as my hero of heroes, G K Chesterton.

Consequently, I am going to start referring to my work as Slipstream Fiction.  It’s not a genre, it’s a refusal to abide by the conventions of any genre, a nod to my ontologically perverse imagination.  Any time that I encounter a wall I have a pathological need to break it down, climb over it, or if prevented from doing either of those, simply bang my head against it until someone comes and leads me away to a more open part of the asylum.

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A Math Professor Consults on a Hollywood Movie

MishaBurnett:

Yeah, what he said.

Originally posted on Math with Bad Drawings:

Movie Executive: So, do you have any feedback on the mathematics in the script?

Math Professor: Wait… it had mathematics?

Executive: Yes! That’s why we brought you in and gave you this free lunch.

Professor: Ah, you mean where the bomb counts down from 10 to 1? That was well-done. All the right integers, in just the right order.

Executive: No, no. For example, the villain’s chief scientist uses the secret equation to stop all the traffic in the city.

Professor: Ah… that. Tell me, what is a secret equation?

Executive: Let’s say youwanted to get every car in the city to stop, by hacking into the traffic system and turning the lights to red. What equation would a mathematician use?

Professor: That’s not what mathematicians do.

ExecutiveBut if you did, what would you use?

Professor: Traffic…

View original 525 more words

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Odds and Sods

Well, Gingerbread Wolves is out there and so far the response has been positive.  People don’t hate the ending as much as I expected them to–at least, no one has threatened to lynch me yet.  It is a grimmer ending than my other works, though.  I am taking a break before starting in on earnest on World Edgewise. I need a break from Catskinner’s world.

Brandon, the outstanding voice actor who has done the readings on the first three, has started work on the Audiobook.  We hope to have that out by early October.

In the first week of October I will be attending Archon, a local science fiction and fantasy convention. I’ll be in the Dealer’s Room, working a table for indie authors.  If you’re interested in having your work available for sale at our table, there is still time to get involved–check out the Facebook group for more info.

I will be having a sale–all four Book Of Lost Doors novels for 99 cents each–in early August.  I’m still looking into ways to publicize that.

Life goes on.

 

Posted in Artists That I Admire, Cannibal Hearts, Catskinner's Book, Gingerbread Wolves, On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing, Worms Of Heaven | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gingerbread Wolves by Misha Burnett

MishaBurnett:

A wonderful review of Gingerbread Wolves!

Originally posted on Davetopia:

Gingerbread Wolves by Misha BurnettDrawing the reader deeper into his universe of gnostic metamathmatical outsider gods and human insignificance – but rejecting Lovecraft’s obsession with depressed moaning about degeneracy – Burnett delivers a fast-paced thriller that doesn’t skimp on consequences.

The rest of this review might contain spoilers for the previous volumes: Catskinner’s Book, Cannibal Hearts, and The Worms of Heaven.

Following the oblique hints and tangential moves of The Worms of Heaven, Agony Delapour finally reveals her strategy: to kill a god destined to end existence – or at least the bit that is of use to her. James’ grasp of the limits of flesh combined with Catskinner’s talent for moving other people past them have helped him protect the life he has built, but how can he fight an enemy that is beyond the limits of flesh and time?

On the surface, this is the obvious escalating threat of…

View original 275 more words

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No, Amazon Won’t Tell You The Rules, Nor Should They

Author Imy Santiago rcently wrote a blog post about her experiences with Amazon deleting reviews and blocking her from posting more reviews.

She included a screenshot of her conversation with Amazon’s technical support, and I have copied and annotated it below:

Amazon… A virtual marketplace  or Big Brother    imy santiago

The portion that I have outlined in red seems to be upsetting people, and I can feel a certain degree of sympathy.  The question that people are asking is, “How are we supposed to follow the rules when Amazon won’t tell us what they are?”

That’s a good question, granted.  But Amazon can’t tell you the rules.

The algorithms used to flag and remove suspect reviews are a fraud countermeasure and the first rule of fraud countermeasures is that you don’t talk about fraud countermeasures.

There are two approaches to loss prevention in a business–the first is to make it hard to steal from you and the second is to make it easy to catch people who do.

Type one includes things like putting goods behind the sales counter or on locking shelves.  You want those kinds of deterrents to be obvious.  In fact, you want to make them look even more formidable than they actually are. The best lock is one that looks so damned impressive that no one bothers to try to pick it.

Type two–catching those who are not deterred by the obvious security measures–has to be more covert.  Security companies–the good ones, anyway–that provide exterior sweeps to client businesses work hard to keep those sweeps unpredictable.  The best kind of live guard coverage is 24/7.  The second best kind is random.  A guard who drives by every hour at fifteen minutes past the hour might as well stay home.

Providing paid reviews to sellers on Amazon is  a huge business. Amazon is such a large section of the market that manipulating the review system is a full time job for some people.

This costs Amazon money.  If the Amazon rankings are seen as unreliable then Amazon loses sales and loses customers.  I buy a lot of games for my Kindle and I can tell you that I don’t trust most reviews.  I always read the two and three star reviews first, because they are likely to be the most genuine.

That’s for 2-4 dollar purchases.  I am very unlikely to buy a big ticket item from Amazon unless I am already familiar with the product.  Unreliable reviews are one of the major reasons why.

Looking at it from a loss prevention standpoint, of course Amazon can’t publicize the method by which suspect reviews are flagged.  If they did that, then the scammers would simply change their tactics to avoid being flagged automatically.

The word will get out, of course.  Last year’s unbreakable system is next year’s unlocked door.  Security is a continual race between guns and armor, which is why IT people and locksmiths stay in business.

And when the current algorithms are understood and exploits designed, Amazon will have to change them again.  So knowing what got a review flagged today wouldn’t help you much into the future anyway.

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Oh, Look! Another Petition To Make Amazon Change How It Does Business.

I generally don’t comment on this kind of thing, because it’s pointless and a huge waste of time–companies have no reason to pay attention to petitions and the well run ones don’t.

Like the Stop Allowing Returns On E-Books Petition, the Don’t Delete Reviews Petition is not going to have any effect of how Amazon does business, and for the same reason–what the petitioners are asking for would be a bad business decision.

I was working on a way to explain why I think that when I ran across this excellent blog that explains it better than I would have.  Go read that.

Adding my own thoughts to Dylan Hearn’s analysis, I would like to remind people that Amazon owns the servers and the software and has no obligation to host anyone else’s words on their site.  The reviews that they have on their site are those that they believe will help their customers buy the products that they will be happiest with, because happy customers is what makes money for Amazon.

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