Saturday, December 29, 2012

More inspiration

I had rather given up hope that the copy of Mind the Thorns that I sent to Patricia Tallman had arrived safely. But in just in time for the holidays this arrived and was added to my wall of inspiration:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Genre Fiction For You

Here's the truth about writing genre fiction:

Frankly, no one new to writing should do it.

When I was in college I took creative writing class. It was an entry-level course in the English department. Something like English 140: Intro to Creative Writing. When we got our first assignment, the professor made it clear that she did not want anyone writing genre fiction for her class. If she wanted us to write a love story, she wanted it set in the real, modern-day world, with real, modern-day characters. No alien space scapes, no historical sailing ships. Just two people dealing with a problem.

Likewise, sometime after college, I became involved through my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, on a website for new artists. She had been active therefore sometime and invited me to join. Artists would submit their pictures and they were open to critique from others. And as you critiqued other’s pictures people would follow links back to your page and critique yours. It also had an incredibly active in Email list-serve. Advice about how to become an artist flew around fast and furious. The most common thread among the emails was the debate of whether or not a fantasy artist should go to art school. The prevailing opinion among starting artists was that art school was a waste of time and energy because all they did was make you draw oranges and bottles and useless things. If you were going to do nothing but draw dragons for the rest of your life why did you need to spend hours and hours drawing a cube? It was a waste of time wasn't it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where does the story start?

My latest writing project is something that I consider a crossover between Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Wead, and the video game for Xbox "XCom." In my review last week I played up some of it stronger points. Honestly the game is, hyper addictive, and has me almost wanting to write fanfiction for it. 

In addition, it also has what I consider a fairly underplayed story line for the dystopian world that seems to be very much commonplace. The Hunger Games for example I believe is meant to be a highly evolved American, human society. Revolution, for as long as he managed to keep watch it, was us without electricity. But what about the wasteland caused by aliens? Definitely stories there that need to be told.

The real challenge I'm finding now, is figuring out exactly where the prose will be begin. I know going into my project that I will be posting things out of linear sequence. I know that I want to do flash-forwards and flashbacks all over the map. I want you to find out about something that the main character, well one of the main characters, did 30 days after the alien invasion. Then, in the next update, I want you to see her give a video diary taken three days before the first attack. I want to create that conflict of what is happening now, then give some some of what came before and what you can expect to happen in the future.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Casting Call: Actors for Sci Fi Story

I am developing a web serial that will follow the exploits of the last of humanity as they fight to survive in the midst of an alien-driven Apocalypse.  I am seeking actors and actresses to provide audio interviews, video journals, and other multimedia as part of the evolving story.  The story will be posted online in weekly installments which will range from prose, to journals to multimedia files.

Compensation will be negotiated on an individual basis.

Interested parties should be able to:

  • Take web-cam based videos of themselves in "survival" costume with a neutral or dark background.
  • Work with a one week turn-around schedule
  • Be over the age of 18
  • Of any race, ethnicity or gender.
I am most interested in those able to speak languages other than English, have military experience, or are willing to work in an advisory role in addition to their acting duties.

Please send inquiries to MrOsterman92(at)gmail dot com.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The End of an Era: COH Closes its Doors

It was after Everquest had more or less run its course and before the launch of Everquest II or World of Warcraft.  It was a summer, which for me translates to more time playing games, and it was after several months of the game having been released so that it had time to get the initial hitches out.

I picked up City of Heroes, and it was my go-to MMO for a long, long time.

I was not playing it when the plug was pulled last week.  I had long moved on to other games, and hung up my cape.  Stormherald, my main hero, and one that had been born again and again in other games, was no longer level capped, and my legions of small characters remained where I had last played them.  Had a friend not posted anything on Facebook I would never have known it had finally shuttered its doors.

I could really go on about all the great things the game had, and all the things it did not, but instead I want to talk about something else.

What's left now that the game is gone, and running the client will leave you unable to ever again connect to a server?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

5 Things XCom Could Have Done Better

I know I don't post much about gaming here because really this is supposed to be about my writing, my stories, my process and my work.  But once in a while I just get wrapped up in something and I need to talk about it.

XCom has totally decimated my free time for the last few weeks.  It's a tactical strategy game where, mostly, you manage squad based combat against an alien threat.  It's pretty dang slick.  I completed my second campaign this week, this time on Classic Difficulty.

The game starts out with a basic squad of soldiers armed with conventional weapons and grenades.  As the game progresses, these troops are added to with new recruits.  Each mission earns them experience and new abilities.  You also research better weapons, and armor as you go along, allowing you to take out the easier minions quicker and opening up harder enemies.

But what really kept me going was the overall engagement.  Your soldiers earn nicknames (seemingly randomly assigned, but you can edit them), they level up, and they do get killed.  There is an optional Ironman mode which removes the save game features; you can't save and then reload.  If you save then you're done.  If your guy dies on a mission, then he's gone for good.  Needless to say it's nerve wracking to be in a mission that's going well only to have your favorite medic dropped and killed with a lucky shot.

I guess you could call this a review but it's mostly about the things the game falls short on.  I'm going to have some light spoilers in here but I'll try to keep them limited.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mind the Thorns Reflections

Here I am, 100 posts on Fictional Omens, and 20 chapters of Mind the Thorns and I'm feeling very contemplative.

It's been a very interesting run so far on both counts but mostly I want to think about Mind the Thorns and how that has played out as time has gone on.  It was an experiment, to be sure, and one that I'm proud to have engaged in.  Quite a few things worked, a few did not, and for the most part I feel like my writing has done nothing but improve in the time I've worked at it.

Which, before I get into the nature of Regan and the dangers of trying to write something as immersive as a reader-directed novel, I want to talk about.

Writing is work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Living the iLife

This fall, for my birthday, my parents sprung to get me an iPhone.  There were a few reasons for this, the first being that it made shopping for me unusually easy.  Another is that my mom and sister already had them and the goal, I think, is to bring the entire family into the iUniverse.  I have to admit that it's a pretty slick walled garden to live in.  There's a lot of nice features that work well for a family if everyone has one.

In addition my parents also got themselves an iPad and of course came to me with questions about what to get to put on it, with an eye to letting Xander (who's about to turn 5) play games on it.  Sadly I don't have a lot recommendations on that front but I thought I'd do a little write up of the various apps that have become indispensable in my iLife.

Most of what I'm going to talk about here was free, though many of them were only free for a limited time.  Always check prices before you buy an app and always be aware of the pricing models.  They've made some good changes to how Apple handles In App Purchases, but I still only marginally trust them with Xander around.

So... what's on my iPhone?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Rise of Genre Fiction

Fellow blogger and Author Elizabeth Baxter has a post up over at the Indy Book Blog about the Rise and Fall of Genre Fiction.  I think she offers a good glimpse at it but really there is so much left unsaid.

I shall take this opportunity, dear readers, to say it.

The question of the day:  "What the heck is it with everyone being into Genre Fiction?  How did True Blood become mainstream?  Why do we have everyone and their cousin watching Game of Thrones?  And how can you crack a joke about BDSM at a craft show and everyone laugh it off?"

The answer put forth by Baxter is that it has to do with the global depression.  So summarize- nah that'll take to long, let me sum up: the world sucks, people know the world suck, so they want to get as far away from the world as they can.  Nothing like escaping to Westeros, or to the towers of Grey Enterprises to forget about how far behind on your car payments you've slipped.  Why read about courtroom dramas and political in fighting when you can turn on CNN, MSNBC or FoxNews and get the exact same story, played out as though a cheap hack of a writer were coming up with the predicable and convoluted plots?

Speaking of which, seriously?  If I wrote a political drama I would not have named the guy Wiener.   Just, ya know, sayin'.  A dude needs some cred, amirite?

But I think Baxter only skirts the start of the deeper roots.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FFV: German Star Wars

According to Google the page says:
It felt very spontaneous: the WDR Symphony Orchestra organized a flash mob at the Wallraf Square. Suddenly passersby and visitors turned out to be Cafe Orchestra - and played unabgesprochen apparently to the surprise of passersby a very familiar tune.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Summer Nights (of Writing)

Some time ago I declared that I was going to spend 3 months as a writer, working full time 5 days a week, pounding out a chapter in the sci fi epic novel, a chapter for the online web serial, and at least one short story.  In addition I was going to edit the web novel, promote FantastiCon, promote the web novel and maintain the blog.

I knew it was ambitious.

I knew it was going to take work, dedication, and perseverance.

Writing is hard and I was ~ready~.

So... how'd it go?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing "Real" Fiction

So a while back I waxed poetic on the merits of writing fan fic as a means to practice your art and to establish some kind of reputation as someone who can tell a story, craft dialogue and engage characters.  I stand by that advice, but I would like to deal with some of the negative stigmas that Fan Fic gets and how some of them are legitimate.

One thing that I see in a lot of fan fic, but rarely in quality published writing, is the use of specifics.  The main character does not get into a hot rod to drive to school, she climbs into a 2012 Pontiac Solstice with turbo charged V8, leather seats and the eight speaker stereo.

This makes me want to ask the author:  So?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Book Week: My Love Hate Relationship

This week is Banned Book Week.

This is where we stop and celebrate that we can read books that people want to ban for a variety of reasons.  We can ride a raft down the Mississippi with Huck Finn even though putting such a bright glaring light on the evils of racism and post-slavery Southern States make some people uncomfortable.  We can ride the Hogwarts Express and learn about the power of the individual who cares even though some people don't like that there are witches and magic.  We can come of age with a nervous teenager and What [Her] Mother Doesn't Know even though many mothers would rather we not know.

This is actually a bit of a big deal.

We forget, too easily, that there are parts of the world where the government, or the religious leaders, can forbid their people from having access to words that they don't want them to read.  They can deny that printed books be sold, that internet sites be accessible.  They can lock down Twitter on a whim and can make Facebook posts just vanish.

Even in our own history, not too long ago, having the "wrong" book in your house was a way to get yourself listed a Communist, be blacklisted from your profession and have your life ruined.  We did not tolerate different very well, and most Americans worried more about keeping food on the table, and gas tanks full of fuel then they did making a fuss about their Right To Read.  Thankfully we outgrew that phase.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Write what you know

Write what you know.

This is the mantra of writers.  I sometimes think that the code should be "If you don't know it, don't write it." One of my biggest pet peeves is not so much when someone writes something that's just a little off but when it propagates significant misinformation on a topic.

For example, in the 18th century, women wore pouches under their skirts called "pockets".  It was a relatively new invention to attach these directly to garments as we know them now.  Back then the pockets were separated from the garments and worn on a separate band about the waist and under their skirts.

Despite this fact, over and over, at re-enactments, women will walk around with their pockets on the outside of their skirts and show off the lovely embroidery on there.  They'll talk about the hours women would spend on needle work to adorn the pockets (they did) and the pride they would put into making them (they had it) and how women would be happy to show them off (they did not).  To suggest they did is a bit like talking about how women today would show off their lacy bras to anyone and everyone because they were so proud to wear such cute underthings.

Friday, September 21, 2012

FFV: Bad Horse Ponies

After signing this to every Dr. Horrible we could find at Dragon Con, and then once to Alan Tudeyk, this tune has a very special place in my heart.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Casting for Stories

One of the things that always struck me as very sophomoric with writing was the "Cast List" for a piece of fan fiction or story.  If a writer wants the reader to conjure up a specific mental image for a character, then it's their job to provide that image in the prose itself.  And to be honest even that task is not easy.

In writing FantastiCon, I had an exchange in the first chapter that provided a very indepth description of a walk on character.  Allison was at the desk of her apartment complex with a random, unnamed other woman.  I then went through everything the random girl was wearing and contrasted it with Allison.  Then Allison walks off and we never see random girl again.

This drove my wife nuts.  She got a full paragraph treatment to a character she never sees again, one that doesn't even get a name.  So why did I do it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey Don Draper: Stop lying to my kid!

So it all started when Xander was told that he had to go to the store to buy new shoes.  He was barely fitting into his current light up Toy Story shoes and his toes were hanging over the edge of his sandals.  He was ready for a bigger size.

"Yes!  We need to get Skechers because they make you run super fast and fly and be a superhero!"

I blinked.

"Your shoes make you a super hero?"

"Yeah!  It's so cool you can fly and run super fast and you are Total.  Super.  HERO!"

Skechers is a particular brand of tennis shoes which purchases large swatches of ad time during children's programming on Cartoon network, Nick, Nick Jr, etc.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Save the Pearls: Destroying Eden with Self Publishing

Let me tell you about a proposed book someone had.

It takes place on another planet.  There, a great ecological event has made most of the planet uninhabitable.  It is especially dangerous to one of the three principle races.  Where the Croa's can live in the exposed environment for a few hours, the Wie succumb to a form of skin cancer and die within minutes.  Because they are so fragile, the Wie have become a minority, prized for their rarity but seen mostly as toys, or dolls, or things to keep as possessions.  They are not seen as worthy of the respect shown even the lowest Croa.  In fact they are so admonished that the Wie will hide who they are, wearing long concealing gowns, and hiding their forms so that the Croa are not reminded that useless sub-creatures are among them.

It is against this back drop that a Wie girl dreams of a better life.  She knows that her chances of survival are minimal.  If she cannot marry a Croa, she will be relegated to a short life as a trophy piece.  What can she do?  The story of her struggle against prejudice, against nature and the ghosts of the past.  She must deal with those who discount her because of her racial status.  She must prove herself and endure.

That book, I think, has a lot of potential.

That book, however, is not Save the Pearls: Finding Eden.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Extinction Point

I'm a junky for dialogue.  Buffy, Gilmore Girls, Firefly, The Avengers.  Anything with characters verbally jousting is fun for me.  It's my favorite thing to write.  Two, or three people, put in a room, given a few props to throw between linquisitic fencing and I'm happy.

Why do I open a book review with this?

Because there is nearly no dialogue at all in Extinction Point and I still could not put it down.

I also should say that I thought I was downloading a book called "Extraction Point", with the cover art featuring a city and a girl on a bike.  With that title I thought I was getting cyber punk.

But it wasn't.  And that's perfectly fine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Anatomy of a Teapot Tempest: The Emily Giffin Story

So, a few weeks ago there was another lovely case of "ABB", Authors Behaving Badly.  This time it was Emily Giffin, a fairly well established author.  I say that never having heard of her before this debacle, but she did manage to hit #2 on the NYT Best Seller List.

A small interesting side note is that she commented on only getting to #2 on her Twitter and Facebook feeds with that line between pouting and playing.  This alone is worth mentioning as a sign that the internet has no sub-text.  There is no way to know if when you say "we only got to #2" someone is going to grin with you for the irony of pouting about being #2 on the NYT Best Sellers, or if they're going to chastise you for not reveling in the fact that you're, ya know, #2 on the NYT Best Sellers.

Rather than rehash the time line I'm going to direct you to some required reading, specifically the lovely blog Book Googles.  I've read a few blogs about it now and very few come to BG's fair reporting of the events as they played out.  For those not interested in the long story, let me give you the RD version:

Person A did not care for Giffin's latest work and gave it a 1 star review on Amazon.  Person B commented on the review to call the reviewer a psycho, and questioned the validity of the review since it was the only review that person had on Amazon at the time.  Person C enters the fray to call the B a "horrible human being" and accuses B of being Giffin herself.  B admits to being Giffin's husband.  Lots of comments fly around, mostly with B and C beating up on each other.  Person D enters, and defends B.  D is also Giffin's personal assistant.  Things mostly start to die down.

But then they heat up again.  Person E changes her previous 4 star review (she did enjoy the book a great deal) to a 1 star review.  Wackiness resumes.

Perhaps I should have made a flow chart....

Friday, August 24, 2012

FFV: We're NASA and We Know It

Save the Date: Book Signing

If I haven't talked your ear off about this yet, I'm going to be doing my first book signing a week from today, August 31st, at 21st Century Comics and Games in East Lansing.  The store's located at 515 East Grand River and is in the upper level.  It's also right across from Berkey Hall and Olin Health Center.  I'm going to be there from 2 until 8 so come and by.

Some Linkage:
The Event on Facebook
21st Century Comics and Games Home Page

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Movie Review: Brave - A snippet

I finally saw Brave.


Just Wow.

From a gripping story (for me at least) with well done characters, amazing animation, and a musical score that should be a gold standard for all future Disney releases.  I was practically in tears with joy during the opening third of the movie as Merida embraced her passions and chased after her loves.  It was heart lifting on levels I cannot put to words.

But let me try:  I can only pray, and I mean Pray, that I see that kind of joy in the eyes of my beloved little Kaylee.  I can only hope against hope that she feels so free to be the woman she knows in her heart she is.

But before I really get into a review I'd like to revisit something I posted on several months ago, specifically the scandalous implications that Merida might be the first Gay Disney Princess

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Writing on Tears of Crimson

I was lucky enough to be invited to write a guest post for Tears of Crimson, the blog of one Michelle Hughes, author of "A Night at Tears of Crimson" and other vampire tales.  Feel free to sneak over to her neck of the woods for my take on what makes for a good vampire.

Fellow Authors: How to Deal with Bullies

Okay, I was a nerdy kid.  Socially awkward, nervous, shy and a little behind the game thanks in part to the limited social circles available to me at my first school.  Needless to say I got bullied.  I've got some experience.  It didn't stop with middle school and there were even a few moments in college I look back at painfully.  I remember when a classmate approached me at our 10 year reunion.

"Rob," he said, putting his hand on my shoulder.  "I realize I was an A*****e to you in high school and I want you to know I'm sorry.  Really, really sorry."

"That's okay, dude," I said.  "I don't think about that stuff any more."

"No, no," he insisted.  "I was just watching Billy Madison the other day and I thought, 'Man, I should apologize to Rob.'"

Gee, thanks.

Okay painful anecdotes aside, I want to talk about some ideas on how to deal with the kind of bullying that is often feared by independent authors.  These are cases where a user leaves a personal attack as a review, sometimes going so far as to look up personal information to embolden the attack.  It can include a group that rates the negative review as "helpful" and all positives as "not" so as to push the vitrolic review to the top of the list.

It's frustrating.  It's annoying.  It's painful, especially when that one or two reviews knocks you out of an average that got your new work noticed.

But, there are ways to deal with it and ways not to.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FFV: Gilmore does Star Wars

We were discussing the art of writing dialogue over on Goodreads and I remembered this lovely exchange of banter from Gilmore Girls.

I think Luke has a fair critique though really there are lots of other things to get steamed about in that movie....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Hunger Games Release Rant

Well it's that time again.

The Hunger Games has had its impact at the box office and made a mint for everyone attached to it.  And just when you thought it was safe to go back out into public without seeing preteens running around pretending to kill each other, and then make a three fingered salute over the corpse of their once friend, now mortal enemy, it's time to return to the dystopian land of Panem and their bloodlust.

I saw the fliers up at Walmart (don't judge) for the Midnight Release Party, and I had to ask the gentleman who helped me pick out a printer (Wifi enabled with reasonably priced replacement ink) if they were planning blood sports to see who would get the first copy.  Straight faced, he looked at me and said "Just about."

To date I still have not read the book.  I know I should, and maybe, just maybe, I'll hunker down with it.  For now though, I'm quite content to continue my Sturm und Drang over the whole affair by focusing on the movies.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Pricing Paradigms

Mind the Thorns has finished it's giveaway period on Goodreads, the books have been out in the wild for a week now and many have landed at their destinations.  Yay!  One kind reveiwer has already spotted some typoes that slide past me, my editor, or both of us.  More than likely my editor caught them but I didn't make the transition over to the document from the one he sent me.

This, dear readers, is the glory of Google Documents.  There's no file swapping.  He makes comments and they're right there for me to make the required changes.  It's glorious.

Now that all said there was one little thing I feared would come up, and I'm glad it did because the reviewer was very kind about broaching it.

It was a quick read (about an hour), and the author sets it up for a great series (though I think it would be better to compile it all into one whole book rather than a lot of self published novels). 

So I'm going to, if you'll indulge me, lay some cards out on the table.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I want to begin by saying that it is incredibly hard to write an adequate review of this movie without including spoilers.  While I normally try to provide a spoiler-free reading for those that are on the fence I have to apologize that some of the plot is going to have to come out.
This movie represents the final chapter in the Dark Knight Trilogy directed by Nolan.  It began with the origin story and pitted Batman against his standard rival of The Joker.  In part two we saw Batman fall into disgrace and despair as a hunted vigilante.  And here in three we see his rise and redemption.

The main players reprise their roles.  Bale comes back as Bruce Wayne, Cain as the ever loyal Alfred, Freedman as Fox, and Oldman as Commissioner Gordon.  Simply all of them are spot on in their performances and provide exactly what they brought to the previous films.  It is a little sad that this has been declared that Bale has hung up the cape and cowl with this movie as I do think his Bruce Wayne/ Batman is as solid a pairing as the Batman movies have seen since Micheal Keaton began the modern era of Batman movies.

I also am a huge fan of Micheal Caine and believe that anything he touches is golden.  He ~is~ Alfred and honestly I have a hard time with too many other actors trying to take on that part.

Friday, August 3, 2012

FFV: Exploding Waterheaters

Nothing is as humbling as watching a waterheater "fail" and demolish a house. Happy Belated 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Self Promotion: How many ways can you get yourself out there?

This week I was able to finally put the final touches on Issue 1 of Mind the Thorns.  It's the first three chapters, packaged as a mini-novella, and available as an eBook and in print edition.  This week, over on Mind the Thorns, I'll be posting chapter 6, which will also bring Issue 2 to a close.  Between time to edit it again, format for publication and have the copy editor work over it, I should, in theory, have it ready by the 30th.  It's still a little slower than I would like but it can work.

The real question, though, is if any of this will work to add to the overall exposure of the website, the story and my other writing.  

Just getting into brick and mortar stores is a challenge, too, because there just are not that many traditional book stores in my area any more.  There's still a Borders, about 45 minutes away.  There are a few comic shops that I'm hoping to get into but they're not really known for novels.  Really the best way to get your hands on a dead tree edition of a book is

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mind the Thorns Give Away

While you can always find Mind the Thorns for free on the website, you can also enter to win a free copy of Issue 1 on the website Good Reads.  I'm happy to sign and dedicate any copies I give away if people would like.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mind The Thorns Issue 1 by Rob Osterman

Mind The Thorns Issue 1

by Rob Osterman

Giveaway ends August 03, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

FFV: Dora Movie Trailer

That's right. She's getting a movie, folks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Life Imitates Art?

Yes this is my second blog post on the Aurora shootings.  What can I say?  It does have me thinking.
But first a quote:

There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better.
-Rick Castle

I was thinking about the situation in Colorado and how it was orchestrated like an episode of CSI.  Guy shoots up a location, gets caught, and then goads the police into going to his house which is booby trapped to hell and back, hoping to blow up some more people.

In fact I think it DID happen on an episode of CSI: Las Vegas.

So, here's a question:  Are they related?

Friday, July 20, 2012

FFV: Browncoated Avengers

I always love these spliced up remakes of intros and this one combines my two fav's: The Avengers and Firefly.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Congratulations Graduates: You are Not Special

Something that seems to have become very popular this graduation season is to lay into the new grads by telling them how "not special" they are.  Common themes include:

  • The real world does keep score.
  • You will not have your dream job when you graduate.
  • No one wants to hear the opinion of a twenty-year old with only a few days experience
  • You are not nearly as smart as you think you are.
  • You.  Are.  Not.  Special.
These speeches, including one given by Aaron Sorkin, have created deal of reaction, good and bad.  Many of the older commenters seem to have the "tell those kids a thing or two".  On the other hand, some of the graduates are not taking well to be told that they're not everything and a side of bacon.  One even wrote a lengthy response, effectively blaming her parents, teachers, and everyone else  for the reason she grew up feeling special.

I've got my opinions on the whole "Kids think they're so special"/ "You're the ones who never made us keep score!" debate but I'd like to keep my own politics aside for a while.  

Instead let's look at the "specialness" of two characters that these current graduates grew up with:  Harry Potter and Bella Swan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

KDP Free Promotion: What Worked and What Did Not

Today, FantastiCon is back to full price on Kindle, having spent the weekend of Comic Con as a free download.  I'm glad to have done the promotion but I did learn a few things that I wish I had known going in, and I question if I will do it again in the future.

Now, on the upside and before I get into the not-so-positive thoughts, I do have some points of high honor.  I was retweeted by Molly Quinn who is a wonderful actress and all around good person.  Ms. Quinn also has a significant number of followers and I'm quite sure that the tweet went relatively viral in a short period which helped a great deal with the promotion.  As of Monday morning, FantastiCon was in the top 50's for "purchases" as a Free Title in both the Humor and Romantic Suspense categories.  So on that metric, win.  But that came at a cost.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Free on Kindle

Just a quick heads up:  Fantasti*Con, my first novel, is free this weekend on Kindles.

Check it out on Amazon!

Fantasti*Con is the Midwest's largest convention of science fiction, fantasy and pop culture, and the highlight of Allison Cavanaugh's summer. Only this year she finds a dark cloud over her weekend of geeky fun: a stalker. What begins as enigmatic notes quickly escalates to threats upon her. Only how do you find a madman at a convention, and how do you still manage to not scare away that new guy in the next apartment while doing it?

The weekend should be about fan-girling out at celebrities, wearing fun costumes, getting the inside scoop on the latest games and introducing her best friend Tori to the world of geek culture. Instead they, along with a hyperactive undergraduate student Joanna, are trying to find out who wants to hurt Allison before it's too late.

Set against the back drop of a major convention, Fanasti*Con is a romantic thriller with scenes and vignettes familiar to any attendee. From the costumes to the celebs, this could be any con-goer's weekend of horror.

Google Docs how I love Thee

One of the biggest challenges I have with my writing is dealing with what happens between the end of Draft 1 and the declaration of Draft Last. For all Drafts known as Draft N where N is the set of all counting numbers greater than 1 I struggle to keep track of which N I'm looking at.

Is this the draft that I sent to Maggie for consideration? Is this the one with the revisions that Mrs. Osterman suggested? Did I already update this draft with the comments from my editor? Which draft has the new sex scene?

And where it gets worst is when you've got an email that has a list of concerns, denoted by page, that you then have to go through and item by item figure out where to put them.

Now, dear readers, let me be clear: I ~LOVE~ my Beta Readers. I don't care what formats you use to give me feed back. I will always and forever consider you the only way I have a prayer of getting anywhere as a writer.

So, that said, let us turn to singing the praises of a system I like to call: Google Documents.

Let's start with the catch:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Review

Let's be honest here. This is not a full review of the online game. It's a review of just the collectible card game portion. In a future installment I will review the game itself, the hub and the collectibles and the missions.

No one can work solid for 6 hours at a computer pounding away at the keys, be it writing code, computing expenses or writing a future best selling vampire novel. There is a need for a break and it's time to let you, dear readers, in on a guilty pleasure of mine:

I'm hooked on The Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Collectible Card Game.

Friday, July 6, 2012

FFV: Congrats Grads!

To honor all graduates still celebrating their matriculation I offer up, this week, one of the best collections of life advice I've ever found.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Does Merida being gay matter?

Some disclaimers:  First I'm going to spoil the end of the movie, just a little bit, but no more than I've been spoiled myself in reading reviews and commentary on the sexual preferences of Disney/Pixar's latest heroine. I also have to confess I've not seen the movie first hand.  My wife and son have (they both loved it) and I've read a pretty good number of reviews, and honestly what I have to say about this issue has very little to do with the movie's over all plot.

Which gets us to the question at hand:  Is Merida, Heroine of Brave, a lesbian?  And if she is, does that matter?

Frankly I think that's one of the dumbest questions raised about this movie.  It ignores what actually does matter:

That people are asking the question in the first place.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Today We Celebrate our Independence Day

For the 4th of July I'd like to leave you folks with some videos and transcripts to honor this great nation of ours.

The Gettysburg Address as read Gregory Peck

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Research

"Write what you know."

This is a traditional bit of wisdom thrown at every new writer. If only it were that simple. Now I did get away with it a little when I wrote Fantasticon because I was writing about the con-going experience as I saw it. When I needed a back drop for a scene, or I needed something to happen in and around the main plot I had my experiences and those of my friends to use. Need to Allison to be distracted? How about a group photo shoot? Need a random walk on character? What fandom haven't I used yet?

But it's not always that easy. Quite often you write yourself into a spot and then you realize that you have no idea what so ever how to keep going without looking like you're making it all up.

Now I'm not an expert on many things. But the things I do know I like to see done at least with a nod to being correct when they appear in media. I don't expect them to get overly detailed in their analysis of, say, a bullet's trajectory, but I do get antsy when they screw up Terminal Velocity (that is the speed at which something stops accelerating during free fall, or basically it's maximum speed) with Acceleration due to gravity (that is the rate at which something speeds up while falling).

And I know my friends are like that too. I've seen military folks get flustered when sleeves aren't rolled right. I've seen lawyers pan TV shows because they got case history wrong. I've had colleagues in education give up on a series because of wild errors in plot lines that show little to no understanding of how a school actually operates.

I'm not even going to start on what some people think of House.

Monday, July 2, 2012

MtT: Chapter 3 Temporary Posting

Chapter 3

Her fist clenched around a set of keys, Regan angrily sulked along the gravel road connecting the farmhouse to the barns and garage. She was not even sure which car she had selected, having only been shown a box of arranged keys and chains. Her other hand was still holding onto the plastic Meijer bag containing what was left of her blood-splattered, mud-soaked, dirt-coated wedding dress.

She was alone, in the middle of the country, in nowhere’s-ville Oxford. So far the only people she had met was a vampire had been a jerkwad of an aristocrat, his haughty witch of an assistant, and two thralls who were all about cleaning her clock with digging implements.

“Hey,” a voice said ahead of her.

“Daryl?” Regan stopped. He was leaning against the building, under one of the lights. She had been so busy glaring at the wide car doors that she nearly did not see him at all.

“Yeah,” he said a little sheepishly, “that would be me.”

Regan crossed the distance between them. “I thought you left.”

“We’re supposed to be running some stuff back down to His Lordship’s offices, but I just felt bad leaving you out here.” He reached up and scratched at the brown stubble lining his cheek.

Regan folded her arms. “You wanted to beat me in the head with a shovel.”

Friday, June 29, 2012

FFV: Some Nights I have Inspiration

I keep thinking that this would make a great theme for Alongside the Enemy, perhaps done using pencil sketches of the main characters during the opening battles. Either way, this is one of the best new videos I've seen posted in a long time.

The Civil war mood puts me well in the spirits for Independence Day next week.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - A review

Last August a dear friend Janine Spendlove held up a newly returned to her copy of Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter and asked "Who'll read it?" Most of the assemblage in the room already had so when I put up my hand the book was placed in it.

I read it. Most of it. Well, I got about half way through it before I decided that it wasn't for me. Then, just as I'm deciding I need to "Lem" it, I hear word that it's been optioned for a movie deal, and a few months later I see the first preview. And I'm intrigued. The effects look amazing and the use of full scale battle scenes from the Civil War really catch my eye.

Okay, Mr. Lincoln, you have my attention. Let us see how you fair.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On being a cover band/writer

There's been a bit of a curfluffle as there often is over on Good Reads, this time about 50 Shades of Grey. For those of you who don't follow literary circles (using the term loosely), the 50 Shades series is a trilogy of novels that follow a dominant man as he seduces an innocent, loving, young woman. The works are getting a great deal of attention in part due to the history of the work (it began as Twilight fan fiction) and because it's become the new guilty pleasure: A saucy kinky steamy romance complete with handcuffs and blindfolds.

And while a great deal can be said about the transitory nature of the book and how they've brought a good number of people out of their shells, or rather lead them to think thoughts that they thought only "those people" would think, I'd like to focus on the first of those two, the origin story of the novels.

But first, let's talk about Cover Bands and Harry Potter.

Friday, June 22, 2012

FFV: Interview with Bloodstream

To coincide with the launch of Mind the Thorns I give you this week's Friday Fun Video an homage to my first true vampire novel, Interview with the Vampire.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rock of Ages: A Review

I was born in 1974. That makes me... old. Not yet, as I often say, "Get off my lawn!"-old but old. So imagine my surprise and delight to see a musical that builds on the songs of my youth. Imagine further delight to see that musical being made into a film.

Before I get into the movie itself I do have to comment on what I find curious about my own memory. I was 15 when the 80's started their close. I was in high school during the rise of the Boy Band, and the downswing of MTV and what I think of as a fairly intense shift in Rock and Roll towards more heavy sounds, likely to separate it from the fluffy harmonies of groups like The Backstreet Boys.

Yet 80's rock and roll always seems to feel like the music of my youth. This was the music I first sang along to, even though I had precious little idea what I was singing about. For the lontest time I thought that "Papa Don't Preach" was about a girl who had detention.

But back to Rock of Ages....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mind the Thorns, A Web Novel

On Monday this week I launched Mind the Thorns, A Web Novel. This is my next writing project. Fashioned along similar writing schedules to National Novel Writing Month, it's my intention to publish a chapter a week as I work through the prose, all guided by the readers. Below find the FAQ posted on the Mind the Thorns page to explain the process.

What is a "Web Novel"?

Imagine reading your favorite novel. The main character is a cross roads. She can side with her lover and turn against her friend, or she can push him away and reaffirm that some friendships create bonds worth dying for. You read on knowing in your heart that the best thing to do is to stand with her friend.

And instead, she chooses love.

And you're left wondering, "What if the author had listened to me?"

Well, now you don't have to wonder.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Novella Review: Super Chick

So there I am, rocking a baby who seems to now be old enough to watch Netflix on the Kindle fire rather than focus on her bottle like she's supposed to. So much for back episodes of XMen Evolution. Instead I flip up to the book shelf and see what my wife's downloaded that looks interesting. "Heh," I think to myself, "Super Chick? What the heck why not another super hero novel?"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Finals - On a Break

When I started this blog I was pretty good about getting out two posts a week. As this is intended to help further my writing career I was also very careful to only write on my time from my own computers. That meant no writing at work. Unfortunately with final exams and end of year pushes to wrap up I just can't find the time to do proper blog posts as I'd like. I also have picked up, I believe, some underage readers so it's even more critical that I keep my ducks in a row and only write on my time, of which I have none between now and the end of class.

So, I'm officially going on brief sabbatical to finish up the school year and then ramp up for the summer's writing season. Do stay tuned. I'll be officially announcing the launch of my summer Web Novel as my first post after this short vacation.

Until then, have a nap on me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Short Story: The London Kiss

Again, I used the Weekly Short Story Contest on Goodreads as an excuse to write another bit of backstory for Alongside the Enemy. The topic for this week had been "The London Kiss" with no other description. To this end, I modified the tradition of the first kiss after a tour to fit my world and to provide insight into the relationship between Mercy Lyons and her "friend" Cordelia Leduc. Leduc has gone through more than a few name changes and if you head over to my post on creating cultures you'll see why.

“The London Kiss”

“All hands, this is the Captain.” Commander Bracegirdle’s voice sounded throughout HMS Foxhound. “As you know we are due to dock at Outpost Behn in a few hours where you are to enjoy your well earned three weeks shore leave.”

Midshipman Mercy Lyons lay on her bunk, one hand behind her head, the other holding to a data pad with the day’s gun deck duty roster. Her bunk mate, Midshipman Cordelia Leduc was on the bridge, as she often was when Mercy was not. The two former classmates, while sharing a tiny stateroom, had never been in it at the same time during their entire eight week tour.

“Since the age of sail,” Cmdr. Bracegirdle continued over the ship’s public address, “It has been tradition for one member of the crew to be drawn by lots to be greeted first ashore by his or her sweetheart.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Skyrim vs Dragon Age

So while I’m recovering from some minor surgery I had a day to play my “alternate” game of Skyrim. I broke down a few weeks ago and picked up a copy and started a play-through as a spell caster. This week I started up a sword and board character focusing on heavy armor and direct combat. My magic user on the other hand is all stealth and cloth robes. As an aside, why is it that the super powerful Archmage Robes have to have this dorky hood attached? My mage is rocking out this home enchanted circlet of magicka recovery and it’s hidden in this silly hood.

But as I’m playing through a second time with my warrior (who I have decided looks far better without a helmet than with so screw the armor bonuses for now; if I get in a fight where I think I need that 20% I’ll put one on) I’m left thinking about how these two characters are different.

And I realize why it is that Dragon Age is a superior game in many ways.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dangerous Democracy

A common trope in future sci fi is that Mankind will evolve into a perfect democratic state. There will be a grand Imperial Senate that decides all things in great democratic fashion, or that all the planets of the galaxy will unite to a common pursuit of peace and justice and the Federation Way.

The bad guys in all of these scenarios are the totalitarians, the monarchs, the emperors. When power rests all in the hand of a single Supreme Chancellor they are evil, wicked, corrupt or some combination therein. It is the role of the heroes to fight against this tyranny and prove that the individual with his democratic ideals is the true way forward.

Even Firefly, great speculative fiction that was, presented the unifying force as “the black hats” and the rebellious Outer Rim Browncoats as holding true to this democratic ideal. We really don’t know what passed for law and order on these border planets, only that the Alliance wanted to bring them all under one government, presumably a repressive evil one. Never very well pursued on the show, we really don’t know what kind of government the Alliance had. It could have been a democratic republic just like the Union of the 1860’s, forcing its repressive will on the slave states of the South.

But this is where current events start to show the cracks in this ideal, the marks of tarnish at the borders of the otherwise shiny exterior.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Lanister always pays his... writers?

One of the challenges with not knowing if I'll be able to find an agent (given how many people are trying to find agents and how few are accepting new submissions) also leaves me with the great debate of how to monetize my writing. I've been doing quite a bit of it in the form of shorts (and the occasional chapter), some for the Queen's Fury series* and just some modern fiction for the practice.

I do plan to publish my shorts in a collection this summer as I finish up a few more stories to round the it out. Ideally I'd like to have 4-6 good modern shorts, and 2-3 short stories set in the Queen's Fury world.

But where I'm a little stuck is on the issue of this website and making these stories available for free.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's on the To Read List

Okay, so I know I haven't put out a proper post today. I owe you guys one.

But then this came in the mail today:
It's a little hard to read, I know. Let me clarify:

Thank you so much for the nice letter and the book.

I look forward to reading it as soon as I can.

I am swamped right now, but it is on the "To Read" list.



I dub this moment Squee-worthy.

Short Story: The Next Best Thing

As I work on my next novel I've been doing a lot of short stories to help flesh out the world and the characters. I've debated a lot about posting them here on the website and come down on the "share them" side of the debate."

So here we have a chance to meet the novel's protagonist Mercy Lyons when she was still at the Naval Academy and still just a first year Midshipman. This was originally written for the Good Reads website Weekly Short Story Contest Group.

"The Next Best Thing"
1600 Words

I was in my second year at the Academy.

Alexandria, this beautiful thing from Tyson 4, dumped me that morning because she said she knew her cat better than knew me.

Commander LeGrange had just lit me up in front of my entire Terraforming seminar for missing two equations in my draft term paper.

My roommate was back in our bunk with the Hanover twins, and he let me know that I was not to come home that night.

So there I was, at the junior officer bar, two beers into my charted course to complete inebriation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

TV Review: Smash

So what is Smash?

For those who missed this midseason gem, I've described it (I think best) as Glee for Grown Ups. The show follows the Producer, Director, Writers, and Cast as they begin production on a musical about Marilyn Monroe's life (and death). We start with the initial conception, go through the casting, and finally into the off-Broadway previews.

We get treated to the insights of a horrifically narcissistic director, a divorcing producer, and two actresses vying for the staring role as Marilyn herself.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where's Chapter 2?

For the weekly short story contest over on Goodreads last week I wrote a story about Mercy Lyons called "The London Kiss." In this story I establish that it's a military tradition with the Royal Space Navy for crew to be drawn at random to go "ashore" first and kiss their sweetheart after a tour of duty. (Because I'm also thinking about having it published it's not posted here, yet.) It's a fun story that shows some character background, allows me to engage in some world building, and see what happens.

But a friend read it for me and then immediately lamented "But I want to read chapter 2! I like the vignettes, and the back story, but when do we see more of the novel? Do you know how hard it is to sleep at night not knowing what happens now that the ship is all but adrift in space with only a handful of officers remaining and no active guns? I wasn't this sleep deprived since I babysat my sisters quintuplets who were all at the age of 2 months."

Okay, so I kind of paraphrased a little there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Curse you Joss Whedon, Curse you!

This post contains spoilers for the following movies and TV Shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, Firefly, The Hunger Games, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along-Blog and The Avengers. If you have not seen any of these and do not wish to be spoiled, then please move along. Otherwise, everything from those is open season.

So, we saw the Avengers this weekend. Going in we were excited because it's a Joss Whedon movie, written and directed, and we've been fans of his writing since Buffy (for which he got an Emmy nomination for the one episode, oddly, that had almost no dialogue).

Of course as we sit down, the wife looks at me and says, "you know that since this is a Whedon movie, everyone's gonna die."

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers: A Review

This review is Spoiler Free! Though to really comment on some issues I kind of need some spoilers but I'm going save them for another post and another time.

But this weekend we got a sitter, gave Kaylee another bottle, and trekked out to see the 11 AM matinee. This is relevant because my thought was "Who on earth is going to get their backsides out of bed on a Sunday morning to go see a movie?"

Apparently an entire theater of people. For the first time in a long time there were ushers leaning in to ask "are you saving those seats for someone in the theater?" and "Can you please all move in a seat?" What we did not get was the "Okay, this is a full house, so NO SAVING!" announcement. But still every seat got used.

Let's start with expectations:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Star Wars Day

How do you know you're watching Star Wars with a group of Catholics?

When Obi Wan says "May the force be with you" half the audience calls back in unison:

"And also with you".

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Creating a "Real" subculture

For the Weekly Short Story Contest over on Goodreads I decided to take a stab at doing a story for the Queen's Fury universe in which my novel is going to take place. I want to keep developing the world and force myself to think about the various ways the races interact, as well as some back story on Mercy Lyons, how she interacts with others and what kinds of events would have landed her a place on the bridge of the HMS Diamondback where she finds herself thrust into the role of captain.

But rather than really focusing on Mercy I've been instead putting a lot of creative energy into the development of one of the races of the Royal Commonwealth of Worlds, the Hartishians.

Hartishi Prime is a jungle covered world and home to what are known in less polite slang as "space elves". They feature green skin, white hair and rows of sharp meat-rending teeth. Yes, these elves are strict carnivores. So much so, in fact that they cannot digest plant matter.

They are also intended to be a compliment to the Oresmen, dwarf-like men and women who have, for generations, populated the high gravity mining colonies. I admit that I like the play of elves and dwarves in fantasy and I don't see any reason to exclude them from science fiction. After all, isn't Spok really just Elrond in pants?

But where I'm getting stuck is coming up with a believable culture for the Hartishians.

Monday, April 30, 2012

You Lack Focus

That's what my beloved wife told me, in specific reference to a quandery I've had regarding how to self-promote Fantasti*Con.

As I've often said, self-publishing is dirt easy. You write a book, you upload the PDF, you spend a day or two tweeking the format and you're self published. It's the self promoting that's a pain in the rear.

And one of my biggest challenges has been this: What category do I put the book in?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Get off my lawn! Wait? Your Lawn?

One thing that I find challenging about targeting audiences is to really get my head around who understands what when it comes to technology and modern trends.

Talking to students the today I realized that ten years ago a Palm Pilot was cutting edge technology.  On mine I could read websites, provided I plugged the pilot into a computer and downloaded a snapshot of the pages I wanted with the day's news.  The news was right there in my hand to read at my leisure, provided I didn't want news any more current than the last time I did a manual sync.  In that time not only is color a standard feature (you paid a lot more for a color pilot), but, well... there really is no comparison.

Of course this didn't post didn't come to mind at that moment but last week when I was talking to a fellow teacher, who I will call Mike.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I didn't cry: More Hunger Games Commentary

The following post contains profound spoilers for The Hunger Games as well as mature content.  I'm putting the entire post under the cut so anyone who doesn't want to see any of that can be spared.  I will be spoiling the movie the Hunger Games and more than likely the book as well.

You have been warned....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fear of Success

I know this sounds like an odd fear to have.  Who wouldn't want to make a mint on their creations?  Why would I be at all concerned that anything I write, from the Queen's Fury to Fantasti*Con go on to the level of achievement known by The Hunger Games or Twilight?

It's a fear of the road to get there, that road being the amorphic label "Young Adult".

Especially as I'm not writing with the target audience of "12 year olds".

Monday, April 16, 2012

At Least They're Reading

I will make no secret of a sad fact with the Hunger Games.  I am not a fan.

My dislike for the franchise is based entirely on my reaction to the movie and I've been told time and time again that I'll change my tune as soon as I read the book.  Maybe.  But I doubt that will change my general dislike for the premise, or the major plot points.  As I understand the same characters (for the most part) live and die in both the movie and the book and those facts are part of my general concern.

Now for the three of you still reading, let me really drill down on my concern: what I really dislike is the general attitude of many people in relation to whether or not kids should be reading the book in the first place.  It's the same attitude that came up when Twilight was all rage among teens and tweens.  It seems that every so often something else comes out and I, rapidly approaching the age where I sit on my front porch so I can yell at the kids to get off my lawn, find myself a fairly lone voice in saying "You're letting children read ~that~?"

To which the answer comes:

"Well at least they're reading."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Romantic Robots

Over on Goodreads a rather engaging question was posed:  Can a robot have romantic feelings without violating the three "Laws of Robotics"?

For those unfamiliar, the Three Laws of Robotics were created by Issac Asimov as proposed fundamental rules that we should have to instill in all robots.  First, a robot cannot cause harm to a human, nor can it allow, through its inaction, a robot to come to harm.  A robot, must, by this law, come to a human's aid.   Second, a robot must obey all orders given to it by a human, unless doing so would violate the first law.  The Third law requires a robot to protect itself, unless doing so would violate the other two laws.  A robot would get out of the way of a speeding train, but it would still rush into the train's path to save a life of a human. A robot would also destroy itself if ordered to do so, since obedience trumps self-preservation.

These three laws were more a vehicle for Asimov to explore the Law of Unintended consequences than they were, I think, actual laws we would need to imprint on robots. Throughout his short stories, attempts to adhere to these laws create a variety of odd and unforeseen behaviors, sending his protagonists off to explain how a robot can be following these rules at the same time.  The stories are one part high science fiction and one part logical debate.

Which brings us around, finally, to the issue of "Can a robot be romantic while still following the three laws?"

Monday, April 9, 2012

Movie Review: Mirror Mirror

Once again, Hollywood has affirmed that there isn't a single original idea among them.  It's bad enough that we're re-imagining stories into odd twists (see the novel Cinder, or the recent movie adaptations of Little Red Riding Hood), but we're also going to take a story we know and tell it mostly like we know it.

But, the kids were at "school", I was on break, Jenni had the day off, and we had two free tickets, two free popcorns and two free beverages to burn.  By the time we decided to see a movie, there was only one playing within the next hour:  Mirror Mirror.

Overall, it was an entertaining couple of hours.  As we all know the story of Snow White there were precious few plot twists that surprised us.  Any suspense in the plot was rooted more in a sense of "Ah, so that's how they're going to handle it this time."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Still at least the seats get sold...

Over on Goodreads we've been discussing how to respond to bad reviews as writers, specifically as self published writers.  This lead us, of course, to some classic examples of writers refusing to accept that someone else might not find their writing as brilliant as they and their friends do.

And these reactions are not limited to just self published authors.  One of the criticisms of Amazon's rating system has been that it is easy for a publishing house to use agents, friends, and other industry connections to pump up reviews, or vote down negative reviews.  By using the like buttons, bad reviews can fall down and off the main page, leaving only the glowing reviews provided by "professional" reviewers.  It is an inherent problem with user rankings:  how do you know which users are real users and which are sock puppets?

The conversation turned, naturally enough, to the potential value of bad press.  Really, more to the fundamental question:  Is there such a thing as bad press?  Or is any publicity good publicity?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Short Story: Missed Connections

Hey.  You see me every morning.  I order the same coffee, and the same breakfast.  We make small talk while you make it, and you ask about my day, or my night, or anything to pass the time.  I doubt you even really notice me in the crowds that pass through every morning.  But I have noticed you and hope against hope you’ve noticed me.  If you have, and would like to make more than small talk across the counter, email me back, and tell me what my morning coffee is.

Goeff stared at the screen and the words he’d typed in.  They had joked so much about Craigslist and the dramas.  She let slip that morning that she’d always considered the Missed Connections postings to be sweet and romantic.

“Wouldn’t it be so romantic,” Micky had asked, “to see someone, and share that look?”  She had handed his coffee over, her eyes lost in thought.  “And then see later that it really wasn’t just in your mind, that you really did have a connection?”

“Do people really check those?” he had asked.

She had blushed.  “Well, it’s not that odd to just skim through them for the stories.”

He had nodded and smiled and said something that he had hoped sounded witty.  He couldn’t remember now what it was.  In hindsight he was convinced it was anything but witty.

He reviewed the ad again.  It sounded corny.  It sounded desperate.  He clicked into text box and highlighted all of the text in the ad.  His finger hovered over the delete key.  This was a horrible idea, really.  

But instead he moved his hand to the mouse and clicked “post”.  Now it was just a matter of time to see what happened.