Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Remembrance

veterans cemetery memorial celebration with American Flag

As Memorial Day dawns this year, I find myself once again thinking about those members of my family, as well as friends, who have stepped up to serve in the Armed Forces. Most have come home, but not all. A few made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. I honor them and grieve for them and their families.

I am honored to count as a friend Jonathan LaForce. Jonathan is a veteran of Afghanistan and a Corporal of Marines, formerly with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. The following is something he originally published in 2014 and reading it has become part of my tradition for Memorial Day.

Myrmidon Tears

“Parade rest!”

At once, 600 pairs of boots stamp into the grass,
Palms crossing in the small of our backs.
7 months and 2 weeks after it started,
This is how we end the deployment.

“Murderous muscle-bound myrmidons!”

Two hours under the sun,
Performing a final act to honor a good man.
And though we’d rather leave
Discipline demands we stand,
As if performing the Birkenhead Drill.

“Jack-booted gun-toting thugs!”

The man’s name is stated,
His deeds recounted, and of him,
No foul word nor claim can be said.
A genuine truth this, for he was
In all regards a Christian gentleman.

“War criminals! Baby killers! Rapists!”

He was twenty-one that day
Old enough to drink, to vote, to shave
Old enough to pick up a rifle
Old enough to start a family
Old enough to wear the symbols
Of an American Marine.

But Death cares not for such things
And a roadside bomb laid him low.
It’s why we’re here today,
Listening to his mother plea for her baby.

El Dio, Mijo, Padre Celestial.

“First Sergeants, call the roll!”
We brace ourselves, knowing what’s on the way,
Sure as god, sure as death.
“PFC Josue Ibarra! PFC Josue Ibarra! PFC Josue Ibarra!”
Not once, not twice, but thrice his name’s repeated,
A white hot brand searing into our minds.

The boots come out, placed with care,
Then a rifle, held in place by the bayonet
Stabbed deep into the soil.
Finally a helmet to cap it all off.
This is the marker of a man who fell in battle.
It dates back to earlier days,
Tarawa, Belleau Wood, Chapultepec.

They escort his mother up first
We watch as she faints,
Falling over unable to contain the grief.
And all of it makes us angry.

Rage and grief combine as we approach that marker.
Paying our respects to the fallen.
Wishing for one awful moment to trade him places
Before we send him on to the eternities.

Our society hates us…
The ruling elite despise our symbols
Celebrities mock us at every turn,
Fearing and hating our capacity for violence.

They fervently believe that all we are
Is unthinking, unfeeling, uncaring beasts of war.
They’ll never know what it means
To “stand to” by dawn’s early light;
To run up the colors each day,
Wondering if you’ll live to see them lowered,
In the southern Afghan desert;
To plug a slashed jugular
And save a young marine’s life as bullets crack over head.
To load and fire and load again
Cannons roaring like dragons.

They’ll never see the myrmidon’s tears,
Etching scars not just in our faces
But our minds, our hearts, the fabric of our souls
They never see the drinking, the grief,
The ways we harden ourselves outwardly;
They never see the guilt of surviving
Of living and wishing to die,
If only so that at one better than you could live.
Angels never cry,
We give hope to those we protect.

No one sees the myrmidon’s tears

 

An update and a few thoughts

A week or so ago, I went on a rant about Origin and EA customer support. It wasn’t the first time I’ve had issue with a game through those two stalwarts — and I use that term very loosely. For the second or third time, I had a game that worked just fine and then, without any updates to my gaming laptop, it suddenly quit working. Oh, it would play just fine in off-line mode but trying to log into the EA/Origin servers? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen.

Due to prior experience trying to get help from Origin/EA support, I exhausted every other avenue first. That included uninstalling and reinstalling not only Origin but the game itself. Turning off processes that might be interfering. Making sure all my drivers were updated. Nothing. So, out of desperation, I contacted Origin — multiple times. Once I basically told them to get over themselves when they wanted me to reinstall my OS. What none of them could seem to grasp was that the game worked fine, unless I wanted to play online.

Finally, I was told they were escalating my issue up the chain and when — and if — their techies figured out what was going on, they’d contact me. No other information was available. At some point in the future, near or far, they’d be in contact with me but only if they figured out what was wrong.

I’ll admit I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I’d been told that before. This time, however, my confidence in them was less than it had ever been. Why? Not only couldn’t they seem to understand the game worked fine. The issue was simply logging into that particular game’s servers. Every other Origin game worked and logged into its server just fine. What made it worse was the techs, both the tech dealing with me on the phone and the one up the ladder he supposedly went to for further help before escalating my issue, couldn’t read and understand a date code.

You see, when I’d talked with Origin a week earlier, I’d sent them all the data about my gaming rig, including processes running, etc. That information was no longer accurate because I’d turned off further services, etc., services they kept telling me in the current call to turn off.

So, with nothing accomplished except making me more determined than ever to deal with Origin as little as possible in the future, I rang off and wrote the game off. I knew I’d never hear from Origin again.

You can imagine my surprise when, day before yesterday, I tried the game and — gasp — it logged into the server without a bit of trouble. Nope, I hadn’t heard from Origin. So who knows what changed. At least the game works. Even so, that bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Origin and EA remains. As does, to be honest, the bad taste of having to use a 3rd party platform to play a game because game publishers don’t want to let us have discs any more but want us logging in periodically so they can see what we are doing.

But, the game works and I guess that is all that matters.

Moving on.

E3 is coming up in just a few weeks and the “leaks” and announcements have started. One of those announcements deals with Far Cry 5. Not only has Ubisoft released the official announcement trailer, it has released several teasers trailers as well.

Now, it’s pretty clear the game is going to center around a religious cult of some sort and the resistance against it. As you can imagine, there are already articles coming out praising Ubisoft — as long as they make the right political statement. I’ve seen headlines hoping they are “thoughtful” about how they handle the storyline. (Check out the Dallas Morning News) Gamespot says Ubisoft can make a “serious political statement. . . or get it very, very wrong.”

All of which had me asking when it became more important for a game to make a political statement than it did to have, oh, good game play and a story line that kept the players involved?

That is a lesson Bioware needs to learn — and quickly. It may not have officially announced the death of the Mass Effect franchise but the writing is on the wall. And that’s unfortunate because the original Mass Effect trilogy was a blast to play. Sure, the ending of ME 3 was a serious let down, especially after having thought our decisions through the games would actually make a difference in the outcome of the game. I didn’t mind Shepard sacrificing himself (or in my case, herself) at the end of ME3. Hell, I expected Shep to die. But the way it was handled sucked eggs. Dirty, rotten eggs.

Still, the trilogy was great gameplay with a great storyline that kept fans coming back for more.

I had great hopes when they announced ME: Andromeda — until they started talking about the storyline and I started reading comments from certain members of the design team. Bioware didn’t help itself when it released the game before it was ready. I’ll not go into the problems with facial animations and other issues. Been there, done that.

All that said, the combat system is more than decent and, in a lot of cases, fun. Bioware — much as I’m afraid Ubisoft is going to do in Far Cry 5 — didn’t worry as much about a storyline that would keep fans interested. They looked at current social and political issues and tried to feed those into the game in such a way that everyone would be happy. Then, when someone or some group voiced disapproval, they spent time trying to appease that group instead of working on the quality of the gameplay.

In other words, Bioware and, unless it is very careful, Ubisoft, is going the way of traditional publishing. It is forgetting that appeasing a few voices can and often will alienate their core fans. Sure, any business wants to expand its fan base. But you don’t do that at the expense of losing your core. Why? Simple economics. You know what your core is. You know basically how many units they will buy. If you alienate them, you cut, often sharply, into that number of units sold without a guaranteed new audience to replace the loss.

Am I saying that there shouldn’t be more gay or trans or non-white characters? Absolutely not. I love that modern games, at least most of those I play, allow you to choose not only the sex but the “look” of your character and the way you interact with characters can, at least in some games, choose your sexual orientation. However, that should not be the guiding force of a game.

Developers need to remember that gamers first want a game that looks good and that has mechanics that work. They don’t want to pay $50 or more for a game that looks like it could have been developed 5 or 10 years ago.

They want a game that will challenge their abilities, be it an RTS or a puzzle-solver or a FPS or an MMORPG.

They want a story that is engaging and helps them identify with the characters. Look at it this way, if you don’t grab a gamer and keep their interest, they won’t keep playing. In that they are like readers. If they aren’t invested in the book, they won’t finish it.

As a female gamer, I don’t want to see male characters who only think of female characters as fuck toys. I like being able to play some games as a kick ass female character. But that is all secondary to having kick ass graphics and mechanics as well as an engaging story. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Isn’t it time for game designers and publishers to understand that it really doesn’t matter how good the icing is. That it’s the cake underneath that matters. If that sucks, no one is going to come back for seconds and that is going to impact the company’s bottom line.

Weekend Reading

Yesterday, I listed some of my favorite military non-fiction books. I will admit that I have yet to find an indie military non-fiction book that I like as much. Fortunately for all of us who love mil-sf and space opera, the indie book movement has given us so many more entries into the mil-sf and space opera sub-genres that it is hard to keep up. I love it! So, here are a few of my favorites as well as links to two of my own titles.

The Empire’s Corps

by Christopher Nuttall

You Should Never Speak Truth To Power…

The Galactic Empire is dying and chaos and anarchy are breaking out everywhere. After a disastrous mission against terrorists on Earth itself, Captain Edward Stalker of the Terran Marine Corps makes the mistake of speaking truth to power, telling one of the most powerful men in the Empire a few home truths. As a result, Captain Stalker and his men are unceremoniously exiled to Avalon, a world right on the Rim of the Empire. It should have been an easy posting…

Well, apart from the bandits infesting the countryside, an insurgency that threatens to topple the Empire’s loose control over Avalon, and a corrupt civil government more interested in what it can extort from the population than fighting a war. The Marines rapidly find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of political and economic chaos, fighting to preserve Avalon before the competing factions tear the world apart. They’re Marines; if anyone can do it, they can.

The battle to save the Empire starts here.

Decisively Engaged

by C. J. Carella

They picked a fight with the wrong species.

A NATION AT WAR: The United Stars of America. Born in the conflagration of unprovoked alien attack, the newest entrant to galactic politics took the few crumbs of hypertech gifted to it and ran with them, soon expanding over dozens of star systems and establishing a wide trade network, protected by its powerful Navy and the dreaded Warp Marines.

A FIGHT TO THE DEATH: A single Marine platoon, tasked with protecting an embassy on a hostile alien planet. An embassy – and the human enclave around it – that soon finds itself surrounded by armed mobs. Can the Marines and a ragtag band of civilian and Navy personnel survive long enough to be rescued?

Wraithkin

by Jason Cordova and Chris Kennedy

How far would a man go to protect those he loved? For Gabriel Espinoza, the answer was simple: to the ends of the universe.

When a failed genetic test ruins his life, Gabriel and his fiancée prepare to run to a world where the laws aren’t as strict. There they could remain, in peace, for the remainder of their days, their love unspoiled by the strict regime which controls the Dominion of Man.

But Fate is a cruel, fickle mistress.

Torn from the only woman he had ever loved, Gabriel is prepared to burn the galaxy to get her back.

How far would a man go to protect the empire he was sworn to uphold? For Andrew Espinoza, the answer was a bit more complicated.

Torn between family loyalty and his duty to his country, Andrew must infiltrate a rich and powerful clan to determine if they are plotting against the Dominion of Man, but while undercover he discovers something far darker and more dangerous is lurking in the shadows, and he is the only man who can stop it.

But Fate is a cruel, fickle mistress.

How far will Andrew go to ensure the success of his mission?

One brother must save himself; the other must save the universe. But can either survive long enough to achieve their goal?

Vengeance from Ashes

by Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Each of these books are the first in their series. Enjoy!

 

Weekend Reading Recommendations

Today, across the United States, people are looking forward to a three day weekend. Some view it as the beginning of summer. Others look forward to all the sales and special events that will be taking place. Many others, however, remember the real reason for the extra day off. They don’t celebrate. They reflect on what the day, Memorial Day, stands for. They remember those brave men and women who stood and took a step forward when the country called for volunteers. They did not run and hide when their numbers came up in the draft. In short, they answered the call to serve in our armed forces and they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Across the nation, and in cemeteries around the world, the traditions of Decoration Day will be followed. The graves of those who lost their lives wearing the uniform of the nation will be decorated with flags and flowers. Special ceremonies will be held. Friends, families and strangers will honor the fallen. I will be joining those people, remembering family members who gave their lives for the country they loved.

Below are three books I tend to return to this time of year.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

James D. Hornfischer

“This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”

With these words, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland addressed the crew of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts on the morning of October 25, 1944, off the Philippine Island of Samar. On the horizon loomed the mightiest ships of the Japanese navy, a massive fleet that represented the last hope of a staggering empire. All that stood between it and Douglas MacArthur’ s vulnerable invasion force were the Roberts and the other small ships of a tiny American flotilla poised to charge into history.

Flags of our Fathers

by James Bradley

In this unforgettable chronicle of perhaps the most famous moment in American military history, James Bradley has captured the glory, the triumph, the heartbreak, and the legacy of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Here is the true story behind the immortal photograph that has come to symbolize the courage and indomitable will of America.

In February 1945, American Marines plunged into the surf at Iwo Jima—and into history. Through a hail of machine-gun and mortar fire that left the beaches strewn with comrades, they battled to the island’s highest peak. And after climbing through a landscape of hell itself, they raised a flag.

Now the son of one of the flagraisers has written a powerful account of six very different young men who came together in a moment that will live forever.

To his family, John Bradley never spoke of the photograph or the war. But after his death at age seventy, his family discovered closed boxes of letters and photos. In Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley draws on those documents to retrace the lives of his father and the men of Easy Company. Following these men’s paths to Iwo Jima, James Bradley has written a classic story of the heroic battle for the Pacific’s most crucial island—an island riddled with Japanese tunnels and 22,000 fanatic defenders who would fight to the last man.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the story is what happened after the victory. The men in the photo—three were killed during the battle—were proclaimed heroes and flown home, to become reluctant symbols. For two of them, the adulation was shattering. Only James Bradley’s father truly survived, displaying no copy of the famous photograph in his home, telling his son only: “The real heroes of Iwo Jima were the guys who didn’t come back.”

Few books ever have captured the complexity and furor of war and its aftermath as well as Flags of Our Fathers. A penetrating, epic look at a generation at war, this is history told with keen insight, enormous honesty, and the passion of a son paying homage to his father. It is the story of the difference between truth and myth, the meaning of being a hero, and the essence of the human experience of war.

Band of Brothers

by Stephen E. Ambrose

Stephen E. Ambrose’s iconic New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army.

They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.

From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.

They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler’s Bavarian outpost, his Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.

They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.

This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.

 

Random Thoughts

A couple of things caught my eye this morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee and scanning headlines and social media. The first is that I am really, REALLY glad I don’t have to be on I-30 this morning in Arlington. Traffic is never fun during rush hour but this morning it is much worse than usual. Several hours ago, police began a slow speed chase in Hunt County of an RV. According to reports, the driver allegedly shot a woman who managed to escape and call for help. However, there were children onboard so the cops had to act carefully to make sure nothing happened to them. Long story short, the RV caught fire in Arlington. Fortunately for the kids, the man did go to the back where they were and let them out. Then, according to latest reports, he shot himself. Tragic events that could have been much worse. Over the next few days or weeks, I’m sure we will learn more about what started this terrible chain of events but, no matter what, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved and most especially to the kids.

I’ve kept quiet, for the most part, about what happened in Manchester. For one, I wanted more information before commenting. However, as it becomes more certain the bomber was an Islamic extremist, I have a couple of things to say. First, we can’t condemn every follower of Islam for what this man — and I use that term loosely — did. As with any religion, there are fanatics. Islam has more than its fair share but to paint them all with the same brush would be just as wrong as painting every Christian with the same brush as Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps.

Second, we can no longer sit back and rely on memes and hashtags and “I stand with …” to fight back against those like the bomber. It is time to cut the head off the snake, salt the ground, saturate it with pig’ blood and end the matter. ISIL and organizations like is hide behind the Koran, knowing the West will bend because they are simply following their “religion”. Nope. They are not religious warriors. They are terrorists and the sooner we deal with them as such, the better. We are at war and, whether we want to admit it or not, war is not civilized. We can’t expect the enemy to play by any rules, much less ones we try to impose on them. It is time we adapt and overcome. If not, we will continue to see soft targets being hit and, next time, it might just be on U.S. soil.

On a lighter note, it’s 40 years ago that Star Wars opened. Some of us remember when there were no prequels — hiss, burn them!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased or downloaded through KU, Battle Wounds. I have a favor to ask as well as a question. The favor is simple. If you’ve read Battle Wounds, or any of my other work, would you take a few minutes and go to Amazon to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long. The thing is, reviews help not only entice other readers but Amazon has a threshold number of reviews you have to reach before it starts listing your title in the “other customers bought” section.

Now the question. It takes time to write novels — duh. I’m averaging one every 3 – 4 months. There are a lot of variables. Sometimes is isn’t quite as long and other times it is a bit longer. So, would you like to see more short stories, not only in the Honor and Duty series but my other series as well, in between? This wouldn’t impact release times for the novels. Let me know.

I guess it’s time to get to work. Nocturnal Rebellion is coming along. It looks to be on target to come out next month. Target date is June 20th, give or take a day or three.

Call them what?

I’ve come to expect all sorts of things that have me scratching my head when I scan the morning headlines. Like many of you, when I get up each morning, I take time to check various media sites, both traditional and non-traditional, look at social media and let the brain start working. Almost every morning, at least one story strikes me in such a way that I wonder what sort of world we are going to leave our children and grandchildren. No, this isn’t another post about the bombing in Manchester.

This is a post about an example of going too far to make sure we don’t label someone. Fresh from the state of Washington, we have an internal memo from Acting Department of Corrections Secretary Dick Morgan renaming those incarcerated in the prison system there as “students”.

Yes, you read that right, people like Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer, are now “students” according to the DOC. Why? According to Morgan, “The term ‘offender’ does have a negative connotation and significantly impacts a broad group of people and communities.”

Wait, “offender” has negative connotations that impact a broad group of people because someone has been convicted of a felony. So, to avoid that negative connotation, you are going to call those convicted “students”. What about all those students enrolled in pre-k – college you are now lumping in under the same label as the convicted felons? Are we going to have to find a new name for them so they won’t be negatively impacted as a result of this idiocy?

Yes, it’s a stupid question but so is the ruling. Morgan is worried about communities being tied with a crime or criminal and the negative impact that has on the area or on families. Well, who is it hat propagates this connection? The media. In most cases, it is the media that gives a suspected serial a name, ie the Green River Killer. It is the media that focuses on the family and community instead of on the victims.

But it is soooo much easier to take the stigma away from the ones who were actually convicted of the crime. While Morgan might have nothing but good intentions with this idiotic memo, it is ill-conceived and will do nothing to deal with what he perceives as being a problem. What you call the criminal won’t matter as long as the media continues its circus-style coverage.

But it is all about the feels.

For once, I’d like someone to consider how their actions will impact others. Morgan wants to call those in the state penal system students to keep their families and communities from suffering ill-effects by being called “offender-communities” or “offender-families” (terms I’ve never heard used). Say the new DOC agrees and leaves this order in place when he or she takes office. Somewhere down the road, someone is going to walk into an interview, be it for a job or volunteer position or college admission interview. They sit down and across the desk from them sits someone who is looking at their resume/application.

“Mr. Jones, I see you were a student before you applied here. Tell me, were you a student in the state education system, home school or in our glorious penal system?”

Mr. Jones sits there, wondering whether the interviewer is joking or has lost his mind because he doesn’t know convicted felons were called “students” instead of prisoners or offenders or anything else. “Ummm, state education system.”

“Excellent. Did you attend x-district or y-penal institution?”

You get my drift. It’s silly and stupid and more than a little sad. Why not just call them what they are? Convicted felons. As for the impact on their families or communities, that’s on the media and, let’s be honest, on the felons themselves. Calling them “students” or “zebras” or anything else isn’t going to change that.

So, Mr. Morgan, apply a bandage to your bleeding heart and focus on real issues within the DOC instead of idiotic things like this.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough to make you wonder what the hell is going on in the state of Washington, a story from two days ago recounts how Seattle police are no longer allowed to refer to alleged criminals as suspects but must refer to them as community members.

Manchester, England

My thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the bombing last night at the Ariana Grande concert. What happened is a parent’s worst nightmare. It was an attack on not just a soft target but one filled with children and young adults.

I will blog about what happened later, after more facts are known. In the meantime, I light a candle for the lost and dead. I say a prayer for them all and I damn to the deepest depths of Hell all who might have been involved in bringing about this tragedy.

Origin support sucks

And I m being nice.

Two, maybe three weeks ago, I tried getting help with a connectivity problem I was having. One game and one game only would not sign into the servers at Origin. If I took Origin offline, the game played fine. I’d say beautifully but the game had a ton of potential and it was shoved out the door before it was ready. Still, there’s some fun to be had in it and I like to play on occasion.

So, I report the error and when that doesn’t help, escalate to a call. They have me do everything from turning off Cortana to switching off the DVR capability of Windows game center (or whatever the hell it’s called) to setting a new log-on account with a new gaming profile on my laptop. Origin was uninstalled and reinstalled. The game was uninstalled and reinstalled. Nope, still can’t go online and yet the game plays great in off-line mode.

Today I took time during lunch to call in again and see what can be done. Heaven save me from idiots working support who can’t read dates of uploads. This idiot kept referring to an upload I made as being done today instead of more than a week ago. He went to the next level, telling them it was the current state of my laptop. So, when I told him, for the second or third time that he was referring to an old upload, he got flummoxed and fell back on the old standbye — “you’re video card doesn’t meet the minimum requirements”.

Which is, pardon me, bullshit. Which he would have realized if he had taken time to listen to what I’d said. The game had been connecting without issue up until 3 weeks ago. Even now, with Origin in offline mode, the game plays beautifully. No problem with the game except I can’t log into their crappy servers. Oh, and I have another laptop that is even older that plays the game and logs into the servers without problem. Another reason I know the issue isn’t with my modem at home.

Because I’d done everything in his little book of canned response, I am no in the eternal hell of waiting for them to get back with me. The last time this happened, with a game by the same developer and with almost identical issues, I never heard back. I finally found the answer in some very obscure forum.

And EA wonders why folks hate Origin. Between the debacle of releasing Mass Effect: Andromeda before it was ready and the already sour taste so many of us have in our mouths about Origin, EA shouldn’t be surprised when folks find ways not to use them.

I guess I won’t be holding my breath to hear back from them and I will think long and hard before buying anything else that has to go through Origin.

A few thoughts.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a storyteller. I made up stories when I was young to entertain myself and, later, my friends. Once I learned how to write, I started putting my stories on paper. Somewhere, I have an old spiral notebook with what would now be called fanfic (I didn’t know the term back then) that I showed my 7th grade English teacher. I’ve kept it all these years because she was the first to actually see my creative writing. That was important all on it own. Making it more so is the fact she encouraged me to keep writing.

Now that I write as my profession, I face the same challenge every other writer and want-to-be writer faces — how to get my work out in front of the public. There is no one right way to do so. What works for one person might not work for the next. It is also hard work and something we have to dedicate time to doing. Because self-promotion isn’t something that comes easy to a lot of us, the temptation to take shortcuts is very real. Some authors, and even some publishers, succumb to it. They might get away with it for awhile but they are eventually caught.

Authors have had their accounts closed at Amazon and other e-stores for buying reviews or for creating sock puppet accounts and posting reviews of their own work. It is clearly written out in the rules, and easily found if you search the FAQs at Author Central that an author can’t review his own work. I’ve seen reports of Amazon not allowing friends and family post reviews — those reports have not been substantiated, at least not that I’ve seen but it is something to think about. Amazon has even initiated a rule, iirc, where paid reviews have to be noted as such.

Why has Amazon taken this stance? I can’t speak for them but my guess is it is two-fold. The first is that there is a very definite ethical issue with an author posting reviews for his own work. The second is probably more important to Amazon. It comes down to the bottom line. False reviews, be their bought or straw man reviews, impact the number of books sold and the last thing Amazon wants to do is deal with returns when the customer realizes they’ve been had.

So, when I see authors wanting to review their own work (and, at last count, I’d seen approximately half a dozen contemplating it in the last six weeks or so), my radar goes off. If you are so worried about your ranking that you are contemplating reviewing your own work to get said ranking up, you need to step back and consider why readers aren’t liking your book — or why they aren’t leaving reviews. It’s hard, I know, to look at your baby and admit it might be ugly. But it is necessary sometimes.

Facebook groups and mailing lists are another sore point for a lot of people. Authors, usually indies and that pains me to say it, all too often add people to their groups or pages or mailing lists without asking permission. Don’t. Just don’t. When folks find out they’ve been added without permission you risk not only having them leaving the group but blocking you. That means they won’t see your announcements about upcoming projects or sales. It might also mean they tell their friends what happened, leading to more bad PR for you. The same goes with mailing lists.

This morning, I woke to a couple of emails from the same author but from two different mailing lists. Both had the same message. I posted a generic message on Facebook about how I didn’t want to be added to groups or pages or lists without being asked and that if you have a mailing list, make sure you aren’t sending out multiple copies of the same message to people. Considering the number of folks I’ve seen similar posts from recently, I’m not the only one having this sort of trouble, whether with the same authors or others.

Anyway, the author saw my post and admitted he was the guilty party. That’s his right. Just as it is his right to be a bit defensive about what I said and his own motivations. However, in the end, he asked what he could do to promote his work if it wasn’t by doing this sort of thing.

My first reaction, one I didn’t follow because I was on my way out the door, was to say not to own up to being the guilty party in public. For one, we are in a private writers group on FB where he could ask. If he didn’t want to do that, he could have PM’d me. No, he wanted to do it in public and he is going to have to deal with the consequences of it.

Now, I’ll admit, none of the instances I’ve mentioned rise to the “OMFG, have you lost your mind” level of bad author behavior we’ve seen some folks do. There have been cases of traditionally published authors going off on their editors in public, commenting on not only the editor’s work but getting profane about other aspects as well. Talk about killing one’s career. Then there are the authors who have made it their life’s work to rebut, usually with a full head of steam and no thought to the consequences, every negative review given on their work.

So, no, these two scenarios are nowhere near that level. However, as indie authors we fight an uphill battle. Part of that is a battle of appearances. As I discovered last week, using one word you didn’t mean to can bring down an avalanche of condemnation. Doing anything that doesn’t appear to be on the up-and-up does the same thing. So when I see an author saying she’s putting a book up for a certain award of hers up for an award and wants you to vote for it and spread the word, I take a step back from that author. Sure, ask your fans to nominate the book if they think it worthy, but don’t nominate yourself. That’s like reviewing your own work.

But that’s just me. To each his own.

Shrug. Just remember that people might not remember an author’s name if they dislike what that person does but they will remember the author was an indie. That is changing but that stigma that we aren’t quite good enough, haven’t paid our dues and are taking shortcuts still exists in the minds of all too many. So let’s not play into their hands.

 

Consequences redux

First off, thanks to everyone who came from Instapundit last night and this morning. Welcome, pull up a seat and look around. I do my best to blog M-F and at least once on the weekends. You might not always agree with me but that’s okay — as long as you’re up for a discussion.

Which brings me to this morning’s post. Yesterday, I blogged about taking a step back and thinking about what you’ve just written (or are about to say) before hitting the “enter” button. I knew, when I chose the examples I did that I might rub some folks the wrong way. I’ll even admit to possible poor word choice when I said Ailes was “probably” guilty of sexual harassment instead of using the word “possibly”. That’s on me and I’ll own it.

So far, I’ve had a handful of comments hit the moderation queue. I am about to let one of them through. One and only one and that is not my usual practice. I can’t recall a time when I’ve not allowed a person’s first comment through. Yes, “first” comment. That qualifier is there because there’s a rather inventive troll who keeps changing his handle and IP address. The only thing he, he’s predictable in what he calls himself. So, he gets blocked automatically.

As for the ones I’m not putting through today. I don’t mind anyone not agreeing with me. What I do mind is someone who comes here and simply makes personal attacks and doesn’t even try to have a discussion. That, my friends, pretty much falls under the sphere of what I wrote yesterday. You have to think about what you are about to say and what the consequences are. The consequences in this instance happen to be that the comments won’t go public.

As for the one I’m letting through, it raises a valid point and one I will do my best to answer. Yes, I misspoke (mistyped?) when I said Ailes was “probably” guilty, especially after saying I wasn’t going to comment on his guilt or innocence. That’s what happens when I do these posts before the coffee sinks in. I honestly meant to say he was “possibly” guilty.

Why say “possibly” and not “probably”? And why make the clarification?

First, as for the clarification, it is a consequence of my not using the right word, the word I meant. So, I will own the mistake and do my best to correct it. Unlike all too many, or so it seems, I’ve never claimed to be infallible or to have a crystal ball. So, when I screw up, I do my best to own it.

As I am now.

Second, I still believe in the key building block of our judicial system. You are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. That proof does not take place in the court of MSM. It doesn’t take place in the court of social media. It takes place in a courtroom where the accused has the right to confront his accusers — or to plead guilty. Yes, in some ways, it can also take place in the civil courts. Has that happened where Ailes is concerned? To the best of my knowledge no. So, it is possible he is guilty of doing everything alleged but it has not yet been proven.

Look, let’s make it even more fundamental. There is a group of people out there who claim that we must believe a woman if she claims to be raped. There should be no presumption of innocence for the man because of all the years men have held women down socially, professionally and every other way possible. If the accused is male, he is automatically presumed guilty.

That’s pretty much what we saw with the allegations against Ailes. His accusers were female. He was male and white and rich and that meant, to those condemning him, that the burden should be on him to prove his innocence.

Bullshit!

Anyway, back to yesterday’s post. I will own misspeaking. I will not, however, allow folks to come onto my blog and call me names without at least trying to debate the issue. My sandbox, my rules. Don’t like it, there’s the door and don’t let it hit you on the ass on your way out.

Oh, and for those of you poor guys who were so incensed that I didn’t declare Ailes a victim and condemn his accusers and could only call me “bitch”, “cunt” and even less imaginative names, grow up. Or at least go do some reading and expand your vocabulary. Let me give you a little hint. It’s guys like you that are giving the real men of this country a bad name. You perpetuate the myth of men, mainly gamers, who live in their mothers’ basements, eating Cheetos and drinking Red Bull and never seeing the light of day. In other words, you are not only continuing the stereotype but expanding it until there are too many folks who believe it to be real.

So grow the fuck up.

Now, to answer the questions I think you guys raised. Do I think Ailes was guilty of harassment? I don’t know. We’ve only seen basically one side of the story. I won’t make my mind up based on the biased reports out of the msm. However, he did himself no favors by resigning from Fox and not publicly fighting the allegations against him, especially once more of them began to surface. Hence the stance that it is possible he was guilty.

The consequence of my using the wrong word is this post and having to deal with a-holes like the ones I’m not letting through the moderation queue. Overall, minor complications in what is going to be busy day today.

Until later with a more upbeat post.

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