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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The balancing act

One of the things I find difficult as I work on both the Queen's Fury (what I'm calling my space epic; it's one of several working titles) is how I want to balance my sharing of the short fictions I'm writing to complement it.  For example I have mostly finished a short story that details events from Mercy's time at the academy.  Not a bad story, if I do say so myself, but I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

If you're going to be offended...

So it appears there is a little bit of a curfuffle over the use of a sexualized Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Glamour magazine.  Elle LaPraim over at her blog shares the following critique:

Who is the audience they are going for here? It appears to be men over the age of eighteen, which is a demographic extremely unlikely to go see this film. The moviegoers mostly likely to see The Hunger Games are young girls between the age of 12-17, along with their mothers. That is an audience that clearly does not need to see a character’s cleavage in order to want to rush out and buy tickets to the movie.

 Of all the things to be offended by, I'm not sure I understand why this would be the point of rage.

Warning:  There are spoilers for the movie under the cut