Category: Industry


Whose Approval Matters to You?

Last night, I was speaking with an unpublished author who confided a very common fear: that self-publishing isn’t really publishing, because as a newcomer she wants that stamp of approval that comes with a publisher’s imprint.

Now, this author isn’t one of mine, and in fact isn’t even in my category, much less the SF&F genre. She’s a nonfiction author who has written a self-help/motivational book that, frankly, sounds interesting. (And I rarely say that about motivational books, since I find them to be . . . well, less than motivational. Literally the last good one I read was about eight years ago, and it was very atypical.) But this author’s fear is not only understandable, it’s very common.

It’s also part of a misconception. See, as a reader, you naturally look up to authors and their publishers (or, even if you don’t because they suck, you feel that they suck all the more because you’re not able to treat them with reverence). These are professionals. Their opinion has weight, and you would love to be their equal, or at least the rookie on the team. Their recognition is what proves you’ve succeeded.

Not true. Very, oh so very, not trueContinue reading

Hugo-Award-e1422355571917Things have been very busy on my end, as I deal with a few major projects at my other job and launch a new collaborative blog site (more on that later), and also prepare for my presentations at AwesomeCon.

I’m just dashing off a quick post here to cover a bit of Hugo news: the Hugo Awards Voter Packet is out. Continue reading

It’s been a few weeks since my last post on the Hugo Awards. I haven’t had much to say, because my only concern in this matter is on the subject of writing. I’m not interested in responding to every little thing that pops up, such as news articles that repeat lies, Big Five editors who make up new lies, fans who leave one-star, one-word Amazon reviews on Hugo-nominated works . . . I’ll leave that up to others. Sure, it gets me great traffic, but I’m interested in writing, reviews, and fun stuff to share. The Hugo Awards are too serious, yet too inconsequential in the long run, to just keep harping on the same points over and over and over and . . . you get the idea.

Joker Hugo Awards

(Actually, if you want over-the-top Hugo humor, check out my friend Declan’s parody of the Sad Puppies people encountering SWATing and Worldcon. I make my own appearance in the latest installment. Apparently my house is made of Lego. I don’t find this repugnant.)

bullshit-asymmety-principleAnyway, long story short, I’m writing another Hugo post. This is because someone decided to leave a long comment on a previous post that requires a few more counterpoints than is easy to do in an answering comment. As such, I’m doing a full-on fisk, and invoking Brandolini’s Bullshit Asymmetry Principle.

The commenter’s name is pocketnaomi. As such, I’m assuming this person is a woman named Naomi, and will be addressing her that way. Continue reading

On an author’s recommendation, I signed up for BookBub, a service that sends daily emails about ebook deals from multiple sites based on my preferences. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I have to say it’s worth it. Even if the name makes me think of Wolverine.

Actually, the idea of Wolverine sending me emails about books is pretty darn cool.

Actually, the idea of Wolverine sending me emails about books is pretty darn cool.

The service is free to consumers (content providers can pay to have stuff promoted). They do, obviously, collect your email address and taste preferences; but I haven’t noticed any evidence that they’ve sold my information to others (and their privacy terms state that while they share information, they do so anonymously and only in regards to BookBub’s own services as provided by any third parties). That suggests that they might be planning on an expansion later, but for now I can’t find a downside.

BookBub offers the following services: Continue reading

Mary Robinette Kowal is not the easiest person to disagree with. In the past, her response to a difference of opinion has been rather sharp. I know this, as I was the one she was speaking to. We used to correspond, but haven’t in years. I mention this not because I want to defame her in any way, but rather to point out that if she and I are agreeing on something, it’s something worth paying attention to.

On her blog, Kowal has addressed the Hugo Awards controversy, and I agree with her on every major point.  Continue reading

Puppy Poetry

I’m not feeling well today (nausea, exhaustion, pain — basically, my fibromyalgia is being rebellious), so I haven’t been doing much of anything except lie down and hope it passes soon.

Sometimes, when I’m in the right mood and there’s something on my mind, I start composing poetry. I guess today’s one of those days. So, hey, I guess I’ve got another Hugo-related post in me after all.

While once upon a time a fan
Would know a Hugo would impress
In recent years awards began
To seem to lack that same success
Awards for excellence now went
To only those who would express
A social scheme without dissent
And jump on those who might transgress

The story, see, cannot be king,
Not if we’re to fix the mess
For social justice is the thing
And never style or finesse
The value of a tale is found
Only when its words address
A lack of tolerance profound
And so dissent we must repress

These are, we’re told, quite vital jobs
To let society progress
But it just left us with some snobs
Whose way of life was to suppress
This made many puppies cry
And seek a cure for their distress
The best of fiction they could buy
But Hugo wins would just depress

But then one year they tried as one
To get the field to reassess
The old idea that tales are fun
And that’s what Hugos should express
Canine plans weren’t met with glee
But rather lies told by the press
Yet puppies everywhere agree
That they’ll keep trying nonetheless!

The week isn’t over, but it’s just getting crazier. Aside from the “No True Fan” argument, publications like Entertainment Weekly (though the editors almost immediately retracted the hit piece), Salon, the Telegraph, the Guardian, and more, as well as numerous websites like Cracked and various blogs, have been saying over and over that the Sad Puppies campaign is vile, vicious, vulgar, and villainous. It seems that the campaign that nominated works by liberal, female, non-white, and gay artists did so out of a strong desire for a right-wing utopia dominated by straight white men. Who knew?

But I’m not going to get into that right now. I’m going to leave that up to others. For now, if you want my opinion on the subject, I invite you to look at my previous blog posts. In “Piers Plowman and the Hugo Awards,” I discussed the problem of putting a message before the story. I followed that with a look at those who argue differently, with “G. K. Chesterton and the Social Fiction Warriors.” Finally, after the Hugo ballot was released, I talked about the effort to deny the validity of opinions, and what makes a fan a fan, in “You Are All Fake Geek Girls.”

According to the trackbacks and referrals I’ve been getting, these are all considered moderate opinions, and as unbiased as someone who’s taken a side can get. I’m flattered, everyone, and I’m glad the posts have been useful.

However, unless and until more specifically writing-related topics come up, I’m leaving it there. I’ve been enjoying the extra traffic, but my focus here, on this blog, is on writing and reviews. I’ve said as much as I can really think of about that in relation to the Hugos.

. . . well, almost. I still have to get on to reviewing Hugo nominees. I fully intend to crank out as many reviews of nominated material as I can get before the end of July, when the final ballot is due. I already have non-spoiler reviews of Jim Butcher’s Skin Game (nominated for Best Novel) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The LEGO Movie (both nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form).

But, for now, I want to talk about the voting process. Continue reading

EDIT: My apologies to anyone who got double emails and double trackbacks, or has had trouble with a broken link. The original version of this essay disappeared due to an infestation of drunk gremlins causing glitches. I had to rebuild it from the Google cache. If you are someone I linked to and have double trackbacks, I’m sorry for the minor bout of spam. One of those links won’t work now. 

I have an extremely pretty friend. Okay, that’s not unusual — a very high number of my female friends are good-looking, ranging from cute to gorgeous. This particular friend is drop-dead, traffic-stopping kind of gorgeous, with a smile that can stop hearts and a body that can cause accidents in the street. She’s a model, a singer, a dancer, a teacher, amazingly athletic, and huge fun to hang out with. Some of you know exactly who I’m talking about. A few times, it’s been suggested that we date. We both laugh.

Now, I don’t take offense at her laughter, not like I would from someone else. I mean, I’m a geek with a wheelchair; the only thing attractive about me is my brain and my paycheck. The latter is just big enough to be noticed and lacks at least two zeros as far as golddiggers are concerned; and the former, well, face it. It’s not enough. But I don’t find it offensive from my friend, because while we’re very close, we don’t fit well enough to even attempt a relationship, much less have a happy marriage. She’d have to go to her happy place if I start talking about anything other than where our interests coincide, which are actually in very few areas.

If you know me, you know I can’t possibly shut up about my interests. When I get invited to speak at conventions, I quite literally tell the panel coordinator to put me in however many slots he or she wants, because odds are I’m going to be talking to people all day anyway. I get a contact high from geekdom. The idea of even one date with someone who can’t stand to listen to me be enthusiastic about something is horrifying. I care for my friend like she’s family, and I’m there for her anytime she needs help, but we both know it wouldn’t be good for our friendship. So we both laugh.

Of course, the last time this happened, she threatened to punch me if I didn’t stop laughing. Sorry! But I couldn’t help it, considering the exact situation. But that’s beside the point. We’d both bore each other — even though we both deeply care about each other. Neither of us can be something we’re not.

This is why I hate it when people rail about “fake geek girls.” It’s also why I’m finding myself utterly perplexed to be called a fake geek girl.

Yes, I’m male. Bear with me. If it doesn’t already make sense, it will.  Continue reading

This weekend marks a particular event which pilgrims from all over the world have been waiting for. It’s a highly-anticipated event every year, and tomorrow evening, as darkness gathers, groups of the faithful shall come together, united by one desire.

I speak, of course, of the Hugo Awards nominee announcement. Easter’s the next day. Also, Easter involves less shouting, though admittedly it’s associated with at least one dead body.

The Hugo controversy is a hot topic every single year, and it’s only gotten louder in the last several cycles thanks to the campaign known as Sad Puppies. In case you missed my explanation from earlier this week, here’s a shiny and well-crafted link. That post details what the Hugo Awards are, why they matter, and how the controversy started. Or rather, the current controversy. As I said in that previous post, I was voting in the Hugos years ago, before I ever heard of this Larry Correia guy. Disputes happened a lot. That’s okay; I’d actually get worried if everyone was happy about the nominees.

The current dispute over the Hugo Awards boils down to this: books should be judged on their own merits, and good writing rather than ideology should win out. Any push for a book based on its politics, or the politics of its author, is to be treated with suspicion or even outright rejection.

The most interesting thing about this dispute is that both sides are saying the same thing. Continue reading

When I was studying at Christendom College, I had to read a book called Piers Plowman. It was part of the core curriculum that all students had to study, a set of 24 separate classes (plus the math, science, and language requirements) that comprised the entirety of the freshman and sophomore years, as well as some of the junior year. This might sound a bit heavy, but it was actually very efficient and allowed a lot of information in both the lower and upper courses. All professors knew what their students had covered, and so little to no time was wasted on remedial material. This meant more in-depth study of a type normally seen only in graduate courses. With a few exceptions, we were rarely bored.

Piers Plowman was one of those exceptions. The only reason it isn’t a cure for insomnia is because of the torturous pain we suffered by studying it. In fact, in a student parody film based on 24, the villain tortures someone by tying him to a table and reading aloud from Piers Plowman. The actor’s screams were, no doubt, not entirely faked. Continue reading

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